Tuesday, February 15, 2011

That's a New One...

Canon Andrew White, who is the Anglican vicar of Baghdad and a personal acquaintance of mine, noted in a Facebook update the other day that Christians in Iraq were beginning the Fast of Jonah. This was a new one on me. I had never heard of such a thing.

I queried him as to what that was, and he directed me to this page, which has a good English explanation. Ironically, it is from a Coptic Orthodox church in...you'll never guess this...Greenville, South Carolina!

This triggered a recollection of mine that the Coptic church (largely Egyptian in origin) had started several Coptic mission churches in the American South in the last ten years that have been fairly successful. They have certainly built a Coptic church in Tennessee near Nashville that is truly gorgeous.

The Coptic Church follow the first four ecumenical councils, at which point they and several other churches known as Oriental Orthodox (as opposed to Eastern Orthodox) broke away from other parts of Christianity over the issue of the nature(s) of Christ. The West argued that Christ has two distinct natures (human and divine.) Many of the Oriental Orthodox rejected that doctrine in favor of what is misunderstood in the West as monophysitism, which said that Christ only had one nature, i.e. a divine nature. However, the Coptic church is technically Miaphysite, holding that in the one person of Jesus Christ, Divinity and Humanity are united in one single nature, the two being united without separation, without confusion, and without alteration. Most Churches today hold that miaphysitism is not necessarily contrary to the creed of the Council of Chalcedon that most Christians hold to, and therefore should not be labelled as heresy per se.

But that is neither here nor there. The point of this was to enlighten you on the Fast of Jonah. I thought it was interesting...I rarely hear a term from Christianity that I have never heard before (I might have to refresh my memory on what the term means, but at least I've heard of it in some context.)

So that was a new one on me...

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