Assyrian Church of the East

Does the Assyrian Church of the East believe in the intercession of Mary and the saints? This link here suggests that they don’t >>>

Thank you in advance.

I’m not completely sure. There used to be parish of the ACOE in Midland Tx where I grew up.

They were commited Nestorians, the deacon became quite heated denying that Our Lady is Theotokos, but only the mother of the human body of Jesus.

It stands to reason that people with those theological views would not ask intercession of the Theotokos, or any other saint.

These individual coming from a land that is heavily Moslem would tend to be quiet about the differences for suvival’s sake.

Also for the same reason the ACOE has no iconography at all, not even crucifixes.

Why would a Muslim care at all whether a Christian believed in Nestorianism? In the Iraqi homeland of the Nestorians, Muslims bombed Siadat an-Najat Syriac Catholic (read: not Nestorian) Church over a rumor about Copts in Egypt. Something tells me they don’t understand or care about theological differences between Christians, except maybe to exploit them for their own religion’s sake, if possible (example: I had a Muslim once tell me that he and I were “brothers” since [he believed that] Copts don’t believe in Christ’s divinity, either… :eek: :nope: :banghead:).

Also for the same reason the ACOE has no iconography at all, not even crucifixes.

This must be news to ACoE Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV:

They do use decorated plain crosses a shown in the Mar’s hand and behind him, but no crucifixes or icons.

It may not be becuase of Muslim influence, but they are iconoclasts for some reason.

Ahhh, I see what you meant now, Andrewstx. Apologies for my somewhat limited reading comprehension skills. I think I just spent too much time with Arabic-speakers, where as far as I can tell, it’s “Salib” or “Salib”. :slight_smile:

Yes, I don’t think they have crucifixes, either. But I think that’s mostly a Catholic thing, is it not? They don’t really feature prominently in the Coptic Church, either. The pulpit at my church has one affixed to it, but I guess I’d chalk that up to the fact that there is no Orthodox religious supplier here, only RC, so we have all kinds of weird stuff that you probably wouldn’t find in an Orthodox Church outside of this part of the country. Just yesterday before Vespers we stopped at the religious supply store so that the priest could get some candles and after waiting in the car for quite a long time, the priest came back to the car and said “Sorry it took so long…it took me a while to find the section without the Roman Pope’s picture on everything.” (I don’t know whether or not these were bought yesterday, but I did notice upon leaving liturgy this afternoon there was a small box of shabbat candles next to one of the icons of the Theotokos! :eek: :))


I really am not that familiar with Copts, the few here go to the Eastern Orthodox church and are full members. There are to few of them locally to have a church of their own.

My ex doctor was a Copt for that matter, his wife had terrible rhuematic arthritis and would often throw up the holy gifts after taking her meds fasting.

We do have cucifixes, but they are flat painted iconographic, not statues like the Catholic ones.

Crucifixes with the body done in relief are also permissible. Something like 3/4 of the figure can be shown (basically a high relief). A body which is more free than that is discouraged.

The ACOE for one thing is not “Nestorian.” They do not really hold to the views condemned as Nestorian at the Third council. To my knowledge they beleive in Saints, they venerate the Virgin Mary and seek intercessions from Saints and the Christotokos (as they call her). They refuse her the title “Theotokos” because their theology of the Incarnation is not Cyrilian, but it is perfectly orthodox (by Catholic standards) and there have been joint declarations between the Catholic and ACOE on the matter. They do not have Icons or images, most likely due to Islamic domination, not due to any particular theological matter.

ACoE believers affirm the doctrines of Nestorius, so yes, they are. I guess you could question whether or not Nestorius was actually a ‘Nestorian’, though that’s not a question that I will personally entertain (and is not the topic of this thread).

So I think it is reasonable to continue calling them that, so long as they continue to agree with Nestorius.

You’re Chaldean for goodness sake! How could you even ask such a question? How don’t you know the answer to this? Have you even been to a Chaldean mass, which is nearly identical to the one used by the Assyrian Church of the East? The source you posted is not even real! It’s a mock Wikipedia…

By the way, the Church of the East only sided with Nestorius over confusion with the title Theotokos, assuming it meant the Virgin Mary was a source of Christ’s divine nature, misunderstanding the translation. Obviously this confusion in terminology did not last very long, and the Church never really was Nestorian! The Common Christological Declaration from 1994 signed by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Dinkha IV states:

“The humanity to which the Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth always was that of the Son of God himself. That is the reason why the Assyrian Church of the East is praying the Virgin Mary as “the Mother of Christ our God and Saviour”. In the light of this same faith the Catholic tradition addresses the Virgin Mary as “the Mother of God” and also as “the Mother of Christ”. We both recognize the legitimacy and rightness of these expressions of the same faith and we both respect the preference of each Church in her liturgical life and piety.”

That is completely inaccurate, the Church of the East does not affirm the doctrines of Nestorius, and it is derogatory to call the Church and its believers as Nestorian. Please refrain from using the term Nestorian in the future.

Also, at the time of the third ecumenical council, the ACoE believed iconography to be a form of graven images, so the tradition remained in parishes, but at homes Assyrians often venerate icons.

-God Bless

That too.

With due respect, I take bishops and believers of the ACoE to be accurately reflecting the beliefs of the ACoE in that video and in other sources. As they say, they believe in what Nestorius taught. I do not care to be politically correct about this matter any more than they do. They are Nestorians. It’s not an epithet; it’s an affirmation that they have their own theology that is rooted in ideas which Nestorius taught, as is explained already by Bishop Narsli De Bas (perhaps watching the video from the beginning will eliminate charges that I am misrepresenting anyone). The fact that for us OO he is a heretic…well, that’s why the Copts stopped any dialogue with the ACoE after the meeting at the Monastery of St. Bishoy in the mid-1990s. As is explained by H.E. Metropolitan Bishoy, we thought we were meeting to get the ACoE to agree to cease any veneration or propagation of the teachings of Nestorius, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Diodore of Tarsus (all of whom are objectionable, from the OO view) in their churches, as would be necessary if we were to ever be in communion again, but instead it was put forth at a subsequent gathering by ACoE theologian Mar Bawai Soro that “as we (ACoE) do not ask anyone to revile the memory of Cyril, we would respectfully ask not to be required to abandon our long held admiration of and appreciation for Nestorius.”

Lacking as we are in any “appreciation” of heretics and heresy, it is hopefully understandable why the ecumenical dialogues were halted and have not since resumed. If there has been some massive change in the Christological and theological positions of the ACoE, I do not know about it. So, as they wish to be known to be upholding what they see as the correct teachings (of Nestorius), I once again see no problem, from either a historical or a contemporary viewpoint, in continuing to call them Nestorians. If they do not like it, or you do not like it, or anyone does not like it, let those who are so slandered by having their beliefs branded under that name prove that they do not affirm what Nestorius affirmed. After all, we would like to see Nestorianism go away once and for all. So far, all I have seen is affirmations and attempts to say that Nestorius’ view is Orthodox. It’s not.

I completely agree with you that the continued veneration and defense of the heretical persons Nestorius, Theodore, and Diodore are major obstacles and lingering burdens from the past stopping further ecumenical dialogue. However, the theology of the ACoE is not Nestorian, as the video you posted incorrectly states, as it rejects the Christology of Nestorius, but continuing to contradict itself by defending him. I think it’s akin (but in a more extreme way) to Eastern Orthodox churches continuing to venerate St. Augustine, yet rejecting his major theological doctrines. The official and accepted Christology of the ACoE is that of Mar Babai the Great, which is a part of Chaldean Catholic theology as well:

“In the same on parsopa of the one Lord, Jesus Christ, the properties of the two natures and two qnome of the Godhead and manhood of Christ are made known. As the nature of God is made manifest in the property of the three qnome of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so in the same one parsopa of one Lord, Jesus Christ, the two qnome of God and man are made known – the likeness of God and the likeness of a servant, one Son in one union in one authority, worship and Lordship.”

I’d go so far as to say this is basically Calcedonian Christology. Mar Bawai Soro himself would probably disagree with the statements he formerly put forth, as he’s entered union with the Chaldean Church. Yet, in the spirit of ecumenism and love towards our ethnic brothers and sisters, and to move on forward from the past, we should reject the title Nestorian and work towards emphasizing our common Christian theology. Rejecting veneration of Nestorius and the others is an important step, but isolating them from continued dialogue and ecumenical discussions as had been done in the past (by themselves and by others) would not help.

-God Bless

I have been to plenty of Chaldean Liturgies but never to an Assyrian Church of the East liturgy. I knew that they were very similar and this is why I posed the question in the first place. I was shocked to read that but since that’s a bad source then I’ll take your word for it. Thank you for answering the question. I guess I could have just asked Mar Bawai. :wink:

While this thread is not really about the orthodoxy of Nestorius, at the very least the condemnations of the Third Ecumenical Council do not match up with the doctrines he taught in his Bazaar of Heraclides which was his last written work( It is hard to judge his earlier views since all we have left are fragments of his letters preserved by his enemies), where he endorses the Tome of Leo (so I suppose he must still be heretical to OO eyes in that respect). In any event, the controversies between Cyril and Nestorius were far from solely theological and many in the Imperial Court were all to happy to see this Syrian moralist get taken out of town just like John Chrysostom had been before.

So yes, the Assyrians may be “Nestorian” in that they follow Nestorius’ theology (which is not all that different from what Chaldobyzantine quoted from Mar Babai), but they are not “Nestorian” in that they do not follow the theology condemned as “Nestorian” at the Third Council.

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