Assyrian church of the east

I have noticed a few threads regarding the AcOE their ecumenical relations and such. I know about the nestorian debate but I really don’t want this thread to degenerate into that. What I am interested in learning is their status today? Are they an ethnic enclave or are they active with regards to missions and engaging other churches with regard to theology and common evangelical witness?

Very interested in the third apostolic church!

There are a few Assyrian churches around me. They are pretty insular IMO. I don’t know any non Assyrian person who attends.

What’s cool about this church is that the liturgical language is Syriac - a dialect of Aramaic.

So are they just an ethnic enclave? If that’s what you mean by insular? I live in the southern United States so I have never seen one. And yes it is fascinating that they have a dialect of the liturgy that was used in Jesus day.

Sorry, I really don’t know much about them other than about their liturgical language - their version of the Pater Noster is perhaps the closest to the original as it never needed translating to another language :slight_smile:

Well is there anyone else who does?

At the time I lived in Midland Texas there were a few that lived in the same apartments as I did. They never spoke at the mail area or laundry room.

I found out the address of their church and visited. They were all Iraqis (before the war) and the men stood on the gospel side and the women and small children sat on the epistle side. The women wore long dresses and head scarves and the men wore shirts buttoned to the collar with no ties.

A heavy curtain was drawn across the altar, and they showed me a sink where they baptized babies with water supposedly from Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan added.

The clergy there were definatly Nestorian (sorry).

But it was for sure an Iraqi enclave, no non Iraqis were there and as I said before they were very unfriendly. I did not return esp since my Orthodox priest cautioned against it.

They had no icons or other images other than a plain cross.

They themselves say they are not nestorian that is the whole deal was a scandal and misunderstanding? Also didn’t they affirm the same christology as the RCC at the joint pontifical council? Sorry I had to ask? So I would assume they are definitely an enclave. Do they do any mission work or are they evangelistic at all?

How were they unfriendly? Were they “your a foreigner and don’t need to be here”? Or why don’t you go to your own church, we have no place for you- I mean is that the jibe of how they acted?

Let me just say this. The only time and place one of them spoke to me was in the church it’self. At the apartments it was like I was invisible. And the only ones that spoke were two clerics.

So I would venture to say that they weren’t too interested in evangelization. At least in that one case. But really that is usually the case of people in ancient churches. We are less interested in evangelizing or proseletysing others. Much less than members of Evangelical denominations. I was raised in the Southern accappella churches of Christ. We were convinced we were the only Christians to exist. We were constantly proseletysing Southern Baptists who returned the favor because we did not “get saved” which made c of C members not Christian to them. :frowning:

But on a higher level the Church of the East has become much more ecumenical. A lot of them have returned to Catholicism in the Eastern Catholic Chaldean church. I think that is a good sign. It just has not settled down to the local parishes…yet.

What is your reasoning for this being a good sign? Is it for church unity or do you consider them heretical? Or ignorant or blasphemous or both?

While I am, of course, very much against attempts to rehabilitate the Nestorians (see: my jurisdiction…), something should be said for the history of the ACoE, which is filled with missionary activity from the near east to China. You do not see nearly as much missionary activity in our time (or really for the past several centuries) for the same sorts of reasons that you did not see much evangelization on the part of the Armenians or the Copts for many centuries: suppression by outsiders (pagans, Zoroastrians, Muslims, etc.) leading to marginalization into an ‘ethnic’ community on the one hand, and opportunistic evisceration by other forms of Christianity and its missionaries on the other (e.g., Americans, Britons, and Scots in Iraq, Iran, and India; for example, the first Assyrian church set up in America in 1906 was by Assyrians from Urmia, Iran who had been converted to Presbyterianism by foreign missionaries working among them in their homeland prior to their immigration). Thus the number of ‘Assyrians’ (that itself is a loaded term, though I’ll use it here because it’s what the particular ecclesiastical community being talked about here usually calls themselves) in the ACoE is now very small when considered within the overall population of Christians adhering to some form of Syriac Christianity (some 500K vs. approximately 3-3.5 million, according to Assyrian historian Fred Aprim in his book on the political plight of the modern Assyrians; I cannot remember if he includes Maronites in that figure or not; I’m thinking not, or else it seems quite low…it is probably taken from language surveys, which would exclude Maronites and all Syriacs in India in favor of only those of the Middle Eastern churches which have kept some form of the language as a vernacular too, in Iraq/Iran/Syria/Turkey – Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholics, Chaldeans, and ACoE).

One good entry-level book on the historical spread of the ACoE prior to the spread of Islam and the Mongol invasions (the two forces that really turned back Assyrian gains in the East, leaving them with only tiny pockets/‘ethnic enclaves’ in our time) is Suha Rassam’s Christianity in Iraq, now in its second printing. Rassam is some kind of Catholic, if I remember correctly, but writes extensively (or as extensively as one can in a few hundred pages) on the history of the various Christian communities in Iraq (Catholic, Orthodox, and other), detailing the spread of the ACoE at its height in quite impressive terms. I don’t have the book at hand while I write this, but from memory I believe it is relayed there that at one point around 25% of all Christians in the world paid allegiance to the Mesopotamian Patriarch, and at some point (certainly many centuries later, after this was no longer the case) the existence of this Christian community which had its own leader and did not recognize the Roman Pope baffled the likes of early Western explorers of the East such as Marco Polo. :slight_smile:

Yes, the world was an interesting place then, no doubt…

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Yes I read about their the missionary endeavors-all the way to Japan! It is an interesting story no doubt. Do you ever think even as a pipe dream-an apostolic church from turkey all the way to Japan perhaps the AcOE ever coming to be once again? In other words do you have any hope for there restoration?

No, of course not. While what has happened to them over the centuries as a community is a tragedy that should not be allowed to continue, I’d be lying if I said I were hoping for the restoration of the Nestorian church as a major force within world Christianity. God forbid.

Are you being farcical?


Is there a reason why what I said ought not be, I am interested to hear it.

As per your request in the OP, this is not the place to discuss it.

I see.

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