I recently posted about the Lutheran video tribute to the 21 Coptic Martyrs of Libya, going on to address the accusation that the Copts are monophysite heretics. Reader Ori Pomerantz shared the post with Medhat Ghabrial, a Coptic Christian, who wrote a fascinating comment on Facebook that I had to share with you (with his permission).
You can read it after the jump, but basically he says that the heresy charge was a political maneuver by the Church of Rome against its rival, the Church of Alexandria. (Recall the prominence of Alexandria in the Early Church.) Mr. Ghabrial points out that Alexandria was the center of Nicene orthodoxy. After all, St. Athanasius was the bishop of Alexandria! And the Copts to this day recite and consider authoritative the Athanasian Creed! The Coptic Church is emphatically not monophysite, as the Roman Church itself now admits.
I still hear that charge, though, among Protestants, so Mr. Ghabrial’s point needs to be better known. He also acknowledges that Coptic Christology is much like that of the Lutherans, a subject that needs to be better known as well!
A Facebook comment to Ori Pomerantz from Medhat Ghabrial:
Medhat Ghabrial Thank You Ori for the post. You opened -maybe without noticing- an old wound that lasted for almost 1400 years, since the days of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when the Christology of The Church of Alexandria was labeled as heretic Monophysite. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The council, as we see it with major pain and bitterness, was a political ploy through and through when Leo I of Rome, without even attending, outpowered Dioscorus Bishop of ALexandria in the final chapter to punch the Alexandrian, Egyptian Church out of the way by labeling it heretical and bringing Rome in its preferred position with the emperors, and the men in power after over 400 years of Alexandrian, Egyptian, prominence, not politically but theologically.
The Christology of the Church of Alexandria had been the centre of gravity since the days of Clement of Alexandria (185 A.D.) and through the 3 Councils starting with Nicea in 325. The creed, whether you call it the Athanasian Creed or the Nicean creed, is a document primarily conceived by the Alexandrians and it is the CREED of the coptic church. Athanasius was, after all, the Bishop of Alexandria. SO was Cyril and all the other major Orthodox names in the early church history.
SO why all of a sudden did the Egyptians abandon the doctrine of their church and decided to line up with an unknown heretic, the monophysite Eutychus from Byzanta?? !! [smile emoticon]. We took the insult and the pain and hid and the issue was buried for all these centuries because we had much bigger local fish to fry, so to speak, until the 20th centurty when the issues at home got settled reasonably. Then we brought our grievance against the outrageous lie to the public forum again and thank God, it is settled now finally.
BTW Lutherans and Copts, have similar Christology as the article states, so are the Anglicans. Catholics (1975) and eastern orthodox (19th centuryy) already came to the admision that copts are 100 % orthodox as well . So case is closed as far the Egyptian church is concerned. I can go on for another hour or two in more theological details but I must have bored you already. As I realize that I am an outrageous heretic from another kind as far as you are concerned [,smile emoticon smile emoticon]. The tribute given to the 21 noble martyrs is heart- warming and moving of course. Thank you so much, again.