Aviva Directory » Faith & Spirituality » World Religions » Abrahamic Religions » Christianity » Church Divisions » Orthodox » Assyrian Church of the East

Officially named the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, the Assyrian Church of the East is an Eastern Christian Church that follows the traditional Christology and ecclesiology of the Church of the East. The Assyrian Church of the East is part of the eastern branch of Syriac Christianity. The Church uses the East Syrian Rite in its liturgy, its most common spoken language is Syriac, a dialect of Eastern Aramaic, and most of its adherents are ethnic Assyrians. Headquartered in Erbil, in northern Iraq, its original area was ancient Assyria, which spreads into what is now eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran. Members of the Assyrian Church of the East are sometimes known as Nestorians, as they are the descendants of Nestorius of Constantinople, who taught that Jesus Christ was two conjoined persons: God the Son (the Word) and the man, Jesus. According to Nestorian beliefs, Jesus was the habitation of the Word, and that it was Jesus alone who was born of the Virgin Mary, and that it was Jesus, and not the Word, who died upon the cross. Controversy surrounding the teachings of Nestorius had to do with the use of the title, Theotokos, or mother of God, which was used of the Virgin Mary. Because Nestorius rejected this, he was condemned by Pope Saint Celestine I, and by the 3rd Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431, a condemnation that was later confirmed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The Assyrian Church of the East adopted these teachings of Nestorius and, for that reason, fell out of communion with Rome, declaring itself to be independent in 425. The Church considers itself to be the continuation of the Church of the East, as developed among the Assyrians during the 1st Century AD. It is an Apostolic Church established by Thomas the Apostle, Thaddeus of Edessa, and Bartholomew the Apostle. Saint Peter acknowledged the Syrian Church in 1 Peter 5:13, when he wrote, “The elect church which is in Babylon, salutes you; and Mark, my son.” The liturgy of the Church is that of the Holy Apostles of Addai and Mari, and the Assyrian Church of the East practices the seven traditional sacraments (baptism, ordination, eucharist, anointing, absolution, holy leaven, sign of the cross). In 1994, Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Mar Dinkha came to a new understanding and interpretation of Nestorian Christology which affirmed that Roman Catholics and the Assyrian Church are united in the confession of the same faith in the Son of God, and doors to further cooperation were opened. Currently, the Assyrian Church of the East is headquartered in the United States, as the Nestorian Patriarch Mar Simon XXIII was forced to flee to the United States, where he was assassinated in 1975. The current Patriarch resides in Morton Grove, Illinois. Church members can be found in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, North America, England, Sweden, Australia, and India.

 

 

Recommended Resources


Search for Assyrian Church of the East on Google, Bing, or Yahoo!