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Apostolic Church of the East
ACoE
Type Hosian
Theistic philosophy Monotheistic, Unitarian
Supreme divinity Elyon
Major Prophets Ariel, Elior, Eliyahu
Governance Episcopal, Conciliar
Synod Holy Synod
Region Hobrazia, Cildania, Al'Badara, Aldegar, Barmenia, Kanjor, Cobura, Zardugal, diaspora
Denominations
Merge of Hobrazian Orthodox Church and Patriarchal Church (Eastern Rite)


The Apostolic Church of the East is the name of the variety of Patriarchal Hosianism that rejects the Council of Auroria. The Church was founded in 3412, following the Synod of Aldegaria that reunited the Hobrazian Orthodox Church and the Patriarchal Church (Eastern Rite), which had become separated in the 9th-10th centuries. The Church is distinguished by its Unitarian theology, according to which the Spirit of God is not a distinct person participating in the Godhead, but is the power of God and the means by which He becomes immanent in Creation (while God Himself is fully transcendental).

HistoryEdit

The origins of the Church lie in the Council of Auroria of 533 CE, which unified most of the local Hosian churches into a single international body, with an Arch-Patriarch ruling over the entire Church. The Hobrazian Orthodox Church, represented by Saint Evdemoz, rejected the creation of an Arch-Patriarchy and the Pneumatological (re. the Spirit of God) definition adopted at the council, thus causing the first major Hosian schism.

During subsequent centuries, Hobrazian missionaries brought their faith to various regions in Majatra, leading to the creation of the Patriarchal Church (ER). In time, following the Ahmadi invasions, the two churches lost contact. Although they maintained doctrinal unity, the Churches essentially became separate bodies.

In 3409, Patriarch Zartosht III of the Aldegarian Patriarchal Church (ER) called for an Ecumenical Synod in the city of Aldegaria to reunite the two churches. The resulting Synod of Aldegaria, functioning between March 23 3412 and July 7 3412, agreed to unite the two churches, creating the Apostolic Church of the East.

Throughout the centuries since the creation of the reunified Eastern Hosian Church it has experienced a number of schisms and theological controversies. The largest of these was the Barmenian Schism that created the Barmenian Church, based on the different theological views of Kathuran Hosianism. The schism eventually led to the convocation of the Ecumenical Synod of Qart Qildar of 3977-3981 that resulted in the official adoption of Kathuran theology and a number of ecclesiastical reforms. The reforms were further entrenched with the subsequent Synod of Kathura of 4232-4237, that recognized the Barmenian Apostolic Church's prominent position over all continental Majatra and also recognized the ordination of women.

BeliefsEdit

St origen

Modern icon of Saint Origen, considered one of the founders of Eastern Hosian theology

GodEdit

The Apostolic Church of the East believes that there is only one God, with a single ousia (essence), parsopa (person), and qnoma (hypostasis), fully incomprehensible and fully transcendental. Eastern Hosians thus subscribe to Unitarianism, rejecting the binitarianism of the Western Churches and the polytheism of the Terran Patriarchal Church, as they do not believe that the Spirit of God is a distinct person belonging to the Godhead. Instead, the Apostolic Church of the East believes that the Spirit is God's creative energy (called "the Wisdom, the Mind, the Power, and the Light of God"), and the means by which He created the world and becomes immanent in creation.

EliyahuEdit

Eastern Hosians believe that Elijah of Yishelem is the incarnation of the Spirit of God. Following the Synod of Qart Qildar, the Church adopted as official the position that the Spirit and Eliyahu are two distinct hypostases united in one person, subscribing to the theological formula introduced by St. Origen according to which the Incarnate Spirit has two qnome (hypostases or natures), which are unmingled but everlastingly united in one parsopa (person). The Church believes that the Spirit of God became man as Elijah of Yishelem in order to purify mankind and unite it with God in the same process of union of divine and human natures in all humans.

Henosis and TheoriaEdit

The main focus of the Apostolic Church of the East is henosis, meaning the union of the individual with God, defined as the process of man becoming free of unholiness and becoming joined with the Spirit of God in a new cration. Eastern Hosians believe that through prayer and asceticism one may take part in the nature of God, not directly, but through the mediation of the Spirit of God. The Church believes that there is a difference of degree rather than in kind between the henosis of human and divine in Eliyahu and the one that all holy men can experience, and as such it does not believe that this union cancels the individuality of the person or their human nature, but that the person remains fully human, and in full communion with the divine. In the view of the Church, henosis is the same as salvation, which begins in this life and reaches fullness with resurrection.

Eastern Hosians also do not believe that God Himself can be known and understood in His nature, but He can be known in His Spirit. This process of knowing God is named theoria, which is defined as the loving contemplation of God by man. This form of knowledge involves the whole person, not just the mind, as the Church rejects the rational understanding of God.

AfterlifeEdit

Coburan priests

Apostolic Tewahedo priests in a procession in Cobura

The Church defines heaven as the unspeakable bliss caused by the full union with the Spirit of God. This condition is perceived as the burning fires of hell by those who are unreconciled with the Light of God; for them, the Spirit of God is perceived as suffering. However, the Church subscribes to Universalism, believing that God is loving and merciful and cannot allow limited sin cause unlimited suffering. In other words, man can repent even after death, so that by the time of the resurrection, there will be no more souls in hell. Even demons are believed to repent and become angels once again at the End of the World.

HierophaniesEdit

Hierophanies are defined as acts by which God manifests Himself in the physical realm. The Incarnation of the Spirit is seen as the greatest hierophany. Hierophanies are equivalent to the 7 sacrifices in the West, which are also accepted by the Apostolic Church of the East. However, they are not limited to a certain number, as many Church rituals are accepted as hierophanies (such as monastic tonsure, anointing a monarch, etc.)

Continuous RevelationEdit

Although it rejects the Council of Auroria, which defined the Hosian scriptural canon, the Apostolic Church of the East generally uses the same holy books as the other Hosian churches. The Church does, however, reject any attempt to establish a distinction between scripture and tradition. To do so, the Church believes, is to take the Scriptures out of context, and to deny the ability of God's Spirit to continue to inspire after the completion of the Holy Books. Instead, the Eastern Hosians believe that the Spirit constantly works to illuminate the Fathers of the Church, just as He illuminated the biblical prophets, and that divine revelation is continuous. The Church did nonetheless establish a biblical canon at the Synod of Qart Qildar, incidentally identical to the one established at Auroria.

PracticesEdit

Aldegarian Qurbana

Celebration of Holy Qurbana (Mass) in Aldegar

The Church accepts the local practices of the autocephalous churches that make up the communion. The liturgies accepted as inspired are the Divine Liturgy of Saint Evdemoz (Hobrazian Rite; OOC: Armenian Rite), the Divine Liturgy of Saint Sebastian (Kathuran Rite; OOC: West Syrian Rite), the Divine Liturgy of Saint Aladdin (Aldegarian Rite; OOC: East Syrian Rite), and the Divine Liturgy of St. Shenouda (Coburan Rite; OOC: Alexandrian Rite).

As the Apostolic Church of the East is comprised of a number of fully autocephalous (independent) Churches, each of them has the right to its own liturgy, theology, spirituality, discipline and hierarchy. Due to their long independent history, the five Churches have in time developed divergent practices and liturgical rites. The Church as a whole recognizes as official four main rites, i.e. the Kathuran, Hobrazian, Aldegarian, and Coburan. Moreover, three of the five Churches, namely the Church of the Isles, the Barmenian Church, and the Aldegarian Church use the Kathuran language in their liturgy, leading to their characterization as Kathuran Hosianism, considered the largest and most influential branch in the Eastern Church.

There are however some practices that are common to all Churches in the Eastern communion. As liturgically-oriented Churches, they are considered to fall within Patriarchal Hosianism, especially due to their hierarchical structure, ancient monastic tradition, high concern for mystery, emphasis on Apostolic succession, and strong belief in the central role of Church Tradition. As such they share numerous common elements with Aurorian Churches (the Aurorian Patriarchal Church and the Terran Patriarchal Church), which, in spite of their very different theological views, has sometimes led to attempts at communion or the conversion of individuals and even whole communities from one to the other. Moreover, all Eastern Churches allow for married clergy (except for monastics and bishops), similarly to some branches of the Aurorian Churches, and, following the Synod of Qart Qildar, the ordination of women as deacons was (re)introduced, on a limited basis.

OrganizationEdit

The Apostolic Church of the East is organized into 5 autocephalous (independent) Churches, each led by a Patriarch. Following the Synod of Qart Qildar and the merger of the Cildanian and Badaran Churches, the Patriarch of Qart Qildar was granted the primacy of honour, followed by the Patriarchs of Hobrazia, Barmenia, Aldegar, and Cobura, in this order. The Patriarch of Cildania is considered the first among equals, and no bishop rules over the whole church. The governance of the Church belongs to an elected council of Patriarchs, led by a High Patriarch who serves for a five-year term. Each autocephalous Church is governed by a Synod, headed by the Patriarch of that Church.

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