The Syrian Orthodox Church

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The Syrian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Christian churches related to the Church of Antioch that was established as the second Christian church after the Church of Jerusalem. Antioch is a city located in southeastern Turkey. However, at the time of Christ, Antioch was the capital of the Roman province of Syria. People spoke Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. Aramaic is still the language used for worship. The New Testament says that it was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus, the Apostles, were called Christians, "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch". (Acts 11:26). Thousand of years later, and despite many percussions and isolation, the Syrian Orthodox Church is still surviving in a very troubled region, the Middle East. Today, you will find Syrian Orthodox Christians in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, but also in India, North and South America, Europe and Australia. However, due to the conflicts in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, many families are fleeing the region.

The Syrian Orthodox Church claims its birth from the very early days of christianism. The church was established in Antioch by St. Peter, head of the Apostles, who is considered to be the first patriarch of the "Holy Universal Church". The successive patriarchs, also called bishops, of Antioch were recognized as heads of Christianity like the Roman and Byzantine patriarchs. Everything was going well until the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451 when the Syrian Orthodox Church separated itself from the Byzantine Church of Constantinople and the Latin Church of Rome because of a different view on the definition of the Faith of the Universal Church. The Byzantine and Roman Churches declared that "there are two natures and two persons in Christ, therefore, He is two Christ, One is Son of God, and the other is Son of man, One that Mary did not give birth to an incarnate God, but to a pure human who is Jesus Christ". The Syrian Orthodox Church refused to accept that new definition and continued to believe in "one nature in Christ after the union of the two natures" versus "the two natures in Jesus Christ even after the union of the two natures", which is the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.

This division was the start of terrible persecutions and adversity for the Syrian Orthodox Church. After the council, the Syrian Orthodox Christians were considered heretics by the other Christian churches. The Byzantine Empire started persecuted them in the 6th and 7th centuries. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the Crusaders persecuted them as well, followed by the Mongolians, and from 1400, they suffered discrimination under the Ottoman Empire. More misery followed when, at the end of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire got weaker and started losing territories to Western Christian powers, thus viewing Christians as a threat. According to the records of the Church , from 1895 onwards, the persecutions were so bad that about one third of the Syrian orthodox population was destroyed and a massive emigration started. Ten thousands of them settled in different parts of the Middle East, especially in Syria, and other parts of the world like India, Europe, Australia, and North and South America. According to these records, about 25,000 were massacred in Turkey between 1895 and 1986; in 1915, about 90,314 people, including 154 priests, were killed in 346 villages.

Like other Christian denominations, the Syrian Orthodox Church believes in the Trinity, that there is one God, living in 3 separate persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The church also believes in the mystery of the incarnation and the Virgin Mary. They have their saints. Centuries ago, they built many monasteries that were centers of education. However, there are some very important differences between the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, specifically in the definition of faith in God, the biblical faith...
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