Coptic Studies bring forth more that just the knowledge of our Coptic Orthodox inheritance, but illustrates also the struggle our Coptic fathers, brothers and sisters endured on behalf of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s continued effort to bring all mankind to salvation in unity. This study of Coptic theology brings to light the influence Coptic Orthodoxy has had on Christ’s message throughout the world, through a trail that can be traced back to the Apostolic foundation of our faith. But we should never allow our cerebral ventures to replace faith, for we are not a people to be studied under a microscope, but guardians of the straight path to Unity with the Father.
We Pray for Christian Unity:
“That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.(1) ” Christian Unity, which is to say “Brothership with Jesus Christ”, is a gift from God that Our Lord intended us to be as one family with one Father. Our prayer for unity is a direct return to His purpose. Within the body of our daily liturgical prayers, we say that we are; “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit… There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.(2)” As guardians of the straight path to Unity with the Father, we continually pray for this Unity – both here and after here.
We Believe in Christian Unity
We believe in peace among the churches, and for unity among Christians.“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ,(3) ” we are just as the Lord God yearns for our unity with Him for eternity. For the Church of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is one body. “The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.(4) ”.
St. Paul makes three Biblical analogies to illustrate the Unity of Christianity. First the church is the Body of Christ. “Members of one body of Jesus Christ.” Second, the Church is the Bride of Christ; “For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.(5) ” Third, it is the Household of God; “you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (6)” The Eucharist is the manifestation of Christian Unity, “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.(7)”
We Endeaver to Keep Christian Unity
We started as one church, as one faith, and as one baptism, but through the interpretations and wills of man this unity became divided over time. “It is not desirable that we should leave the service of God to serve tables.(8)” Orthodoxy can be perceived as strict and unyielding, but that is because we guard the straight path that returns us to the Father, which was founded by the Apostles. And as such, we serve the Will of God, not the will of man.
The Acceptance of Gentiles was a challenge; for many Jewish people believed that the Gentile should first become Jewish before being Christian. This was the first council for decisions with respects to the church’s growth. Even then the Apostles had to deal with the world’s attempt to break apart the word of God and dissect it into confusion, decent and bruised pride. And since the beginning, the Guardians of Christ’s path have endeavored to maintain Christian Unity among all mankind.
Through group efforts, prayers and councils, there has been an endeaver to prevent the world (and the Devil) from breaking apart the Unity of Christianity. There have been many, many more examples of these endeavors over the years. Some of the more famous ancient endeavors include: the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), the Council of Constantinople (381 AD), and the Council of Ephesus (431 AD).
During more modern times, there has been Orthodox Theological Dialogue for Unity in Faith and Modern Ecumenical Movements, which have both been important steps to re-unify the churches. Such as in Switzerland in 1993 there was an Orthodox Theological Dialogue for the lifting of Anathemas-Chambesy (you can view the details of this meeting HERE).
Some examples of Ecumenical Organizations are: (WCC) World Council of Churches, which unified over 300 churches through the acknowledgement of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit as One God. Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT) brings together Evangelical, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Orthodox – bringing together 43 churches. Each meeting produces a small step in unifying the churches. Though there have been many achievements, we still face many obstacles in this endeavor for Christian Unity. Please prayer for all the efforts our Christian Fathers, brothers and Sisters
The Future of Ecumenism
To know each other and to recognize the contributions of each other in our unifying efforts will help to bring us together – that the only argument of equality is that we remember to approach Christian Unity is that we are equal before God. We need to focus on common ground and not let the little details deride our efforts for unity. For if we are driven by the Pride of Man (that natural feeling that we are right and everybody else is wrong) we are destined to fail. For in any discussion, nitpicking breaks away the respect. Advancing Patristic Studies helps to open the minds of us all to the valuable contributions of those who live both now and then. But most of all we must come together to Want to Carry the Cross together – for even Jesus Christ needed help to carry the cross.
May the Lord God bless our efforts and return us all to Him through Unity of the One Word, the One Father, the One Son and the One Holy Spirit. And Glory be to God. Amen.
1 – John 17:21
2 -Ephesians 4:3-6
3 – Romans 12:4-5
4 – Acts 4:32
5 – 2Corinthians 11:2
6 – Ephesians 2:19
7 – 1Corinthians 10:17
8 – Acts 6:2