The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Assyrian Church of the East


I recently learned of this denomination. Apparently it’s an entirely separate denomination from Eastern Ortho and Oriental Ortho. Anybody here familiar with the Assyrian Church of the East?


You can read about it from Wiki at

Which raises this question for me: Why are you interested in this church? As a former R.C (as you mention in posts), the E.O. have just as rigid requirements, as the R.C. church. Plus the liturgies are most likely in a foreign tongue. Mainly cratering to folks, who are natives and speak in the same tongue. And they also have rigorous fasts.

Having said that, I have adopted theological elements,from the E.O. Just as I have adopted elements, from R.C. mystical theology. But I’m still neither E.O. nor R.C.


Randy, I’m interested because ACE is conservative but not fundamentalist, and (unlike EO or RC) have open communion.


They also have a strong history of universalism. :slight_smile: (As do the Oriental Orthodox, i.e. the Coptics, Ethiopians, Arminians-not-to-be-confused-with-Protestant-Arminians. :mrgreen: )


Too bad information on their interpretations of scripture are so scarce.


Their interpretation of scripture, would be the same, as any Eastern Orthodox Church. Where they see Sacred Tradition and Holy Scripture, as one organic whole.

If you want to see, how an Eastern Orthodox universalist sees things…look at the posts here by Geoffrey.


Randy, Eastern Ortho and Assyrian Church of the East are two different branches of Christianity.


Yes and no. See Quota discussion:

On what beliefs and doctrines does the Assyrian Church of the East differ from Eastern Orthodoxy?


Yet another split because of a disagreement over ‘hypostatic union’? And it is so clearly taught!! :laughing:


The issue of how exactly the two natures of Christ (which are also often acknowledged by unitarians, btw, also usually by modalists where they agree on the full humanity of Jesus) connected with each other, isn’t a scriptural problem but a soteriological one – one with lots of relevance to universal salvation, and so not surprisingly one that the patristic universalists had brought up and insisted on in their debates against the Gnostics and others: that which is not fully divine cannot give full assurance of salvation (for various reasons), and that which was not brought into Jesus sacrifice cannot be saved.

The three sides involved, Central Orthodoxy (which became the RCCs and EOx eventually), Oriental Orthodoxy (the Alexandrians and their allies, eventually known as the Coptic Orthodox), and the Church of the East (the Antiochian schools, i.e. Nestorians and their allies), all accepted the full divinity of Christ and the full humanity of Christ. (And they all accepted the three Persons, one God of the Trinity, which isn’t quite the same topic.)

The Alexandrians were concerned to stress the full cooperation of the human and the divine nature in Christ, but they stressed it so hard that it seemed like the humanity was functionally nothing, only accidentally there at best, and/or that the mix had become a single human-divine nature which would be categorically different from the highest possible divine nature and also categorically different than the fully human nature.

Antiochians and the Centrals thought the Alexandrians were verging (one way or another) into an effective denial of the full humanity of Christ which had massive soteriological implications. And also a denial of the full divinity of Christ which had massive soteriological implications. It didn’t help that historically the Alexandria area had produced a lot of Gnostic Coptic literature which featured less-than-fully-divine and less-than-fully-human Christ figures, so those got thrown back as being connected with the Alexandrian school all along.

The Antiochians on the other hand, somewhat in reaction to the Alexandrians (whose dispute came first historically), stressed the cooperation of the two natures in such a way that no one could ever accuse them of eliding out the human nature leaving only the divine, nor of eliding the two natures into one nature which would be categorically different than either humanity or maximal divinity. But they stressed this distinction so hard to avoid those problems, that they came under accusation from Central Orthodoxy (which by then was looking for reasons to denounce the catechetical schools so as to consolidate doctrinal authority either in one central bishop or in the Emperor) of splitting Jesus into two separate persons, the human Christ and the divine Christ. This was also related to the problem over whether ultimate divinity could truly suffer in any way, and so whether God truly suffered on the cross and in less obvious ways. But if Jesus was two different persons (which the Antiochians weren’t really trying to argue), then there must be two Saviors, human and divine, with the human Savior being un-divinely inept at salvation, and the divine Savior not having actually acted in any way in the sacrifice of Jesus to save anyone. (This was also the charge from the Coptics to the Centrals in supporting the Antiochians earlier; and later once the Antiochians had schismed out or had been schismed out, they charged Imperial Orthodoxy with the supposed errors of the Coptics.)

The position in the middle trying to mediate peace got lumped by both sides for the supposed errors of the other sides; and you could say the central ‘side’ eventually decided: screw this peacemaking crap, we’re gonna denounce you both, and if you want out fine, don’t let our boots hit your asses on the way out. :wink: That’s radically oversimplifying things, and the central side as I noted was looking politically for ways to undermine the catechetical authorities in order to centralize doctrinal authority (which the central ‘side’ itself eventually split over).

Anyway, no, while the two natures themselves could be (and was) argued as scriptural testimony, how they interacted with each other in Jesus wasn’t at all a scriptural topic. But it wasn’t a topic originally thrown up as an excuse to be hatefully exclusive of each other either (though that’s how it ended up for a long time). The various authorities on each side cared so much about the topic because of earlier debates with non/alt-Christians (from the perspective of all these three sides) that argued for the massive importance of both the full humanity and the full divinity of Jesus in saving humanity (and through humanity also saving other fellow-creatures with humanity, although that topic was more disputed among the orthodox).


Guys, it sounds like some of the Assyrian Church’s prominent members were universalists.


“The wicked who have committed evil the whole period of their lives shall be punished till they learn that, by continuing in sin, they only continue in misery. And when, by this means, they shall have been brought to fear God, and to regard Him with good will, they shall obtain the enjoyment of His grace. For He never would have said, ‘until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing,’ [Mat. 5:26] unless we can be released from suffering after having suffered adequately for sin; nor would He have said, ‘he shall be beaten with many stripes,’ [Luke 12:47] and again, ‘he shall be beaten with few stripes,’ [vs. 48] unless the punishment to be endured for sin will have an end.”
-Theodore of Mopsuestia