THE ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC ORTHODOX CHURCH traces her origins to the apostolic era, when the Church of Christ was established in Armenia through the evangelical efforts of two of the Apostles of Christ, Saints Thaddeus Jude in 66 A.D. and Bartholomew in 68 A.D.
There are two ‘families’ of Orthodox, the Eastern (adhering to the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon) and the Oriental (rejecting this particular council). This Council’s acceptance as Ecumenical is what fundamentally divides them. The theology, church government, hierarchy, understanding of scripture, and Holy Tradition are identical. From the day of Pentecost until today, these Churches of various nations proclaim the same faith of the Apostles.
The Lesser or Oriental Orthodox are the Churches of Armenia, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia and the Syrian Church in India. Though quite different in their outward forms of rite, ritual, worship styles, cultural tradition and language, they share a total organic unity. These Churches accept only the first three councils as Ecumenical in nature. Any member from either Oriental Orthodox Church is privileged to receive all sacramental blessings in any sister church of Oriental Orthodoxy.
The Greater or Eastern Orthodox – the Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Antiochian [Arab Greek Orthodox] Romanian, Bulgarian, American, Japanese, Mexican, Polish, etc. – are the sister Eastern churches to the Oriental Orthodox whose confession of faith is without question consonant, save the Chalcedonian interpretation of Christ’s natures. Unlike the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox accepts seven councils to be Ecumenical. Their church government, hierarchy, theology, understanding of scripture and Holy Tradition are no different from the Oriental Orthodox. They are of the Byzantine or Slavic [and even today Western] rites, meaning that the same Divine Liturgy, according to Saint John Chrysostom, is celebrated in various languages. Unlike the Oriental Orthodox Churches, all their rituals are more unified regardless of the ethnic diversity. The Eucharistic unity with the Oriental Orthodox – broken since the year 451 A.D. as a result of the Council of Chalcedon – in more recent times, with more serious study and with the official meetings of hierarchs, clergy and theologians – has fostered a rapprochement between these two families of Orthodoxy and has sparked a movement towards restored communion between and among all Orthodox Christians.
The Armenian Church
The information above is taken from The Armenian Church in the World Today, a publication of St. John Armenian Church in Southfield, Michigan, prepared by the Rev. Fr. Garabed Kochakian, Pastor. If you would like a copy of the publication, please contact Fr. Kochakian at St. John Armenian Church (248-569-3405) or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Further information on the Armenian Apostolic Church and details
on the Armenian Christian faith and doctrine are available at the official
website of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) at http://www.armenianchurch.net.