Non-Chalcedonianism

Non-Chalcedonianism is a religious doctrine of those Christian churches that do not accept the Confession of Chalcedon as defined at the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451. This is in contrast with Chalcedonian Christians who accept the doctrines of all previous Ecumenical Councils. Some Christian denominations do not accept the of the Confession of Chalcedon, for varying reasons, but accept the doctrines of the previous council at the Ephesus in 431. The most substantial non-Chalcedonian tradition is known as Oriental Orthodoxy. Within this tradition are a number of ancient Christian churches including the Coptic Orthodox, the Syriac Orthodox (sometimes referred to as "Jacobite"), the Armenian Apostolic, the Ethiopian Orthodox, the Eritrean Orthodox and the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox.

The Christology of the Church of the East (i.e., Nestorian Christianity) may be called "non-Ephesine" for not accepting the First Council of Ephesus, but did finally gather to ratify the Council of Chalcedon at the Synod of Mar Aba I in 544AD.

Within the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch, the rejection of the Chalcedonian definition became a cause of schism. While the common people of Egypt and Syria mostly objected to the Council, the Byzantine-Greek minority that formed the ruling class mostly accepted the Council. These two parties vied for possession of the ancient sees of Alexandria and Antioch that formed, at the time, the third and fourth most prestigious sees in "Christendom", respectively. Ultimately, neither group absolutely dominated either church. The end result was the existence of two distinct patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch for almost 1500 years, continuing in the present time. What is now known as the Coptic Orthodox Church is the native Egyptian patriarchal faction of Alexandria that rejected Chalcedon, whereas the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria is composed of those who accepted Chalcedon. For Syrians, the Syriac Orthodox Church forms the patriarchal faction of the native Syrian-Semitic population whereas the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch is composed of those who accepted Chalcedon.

In India and to a lesser degree in Persia, the schism that occurred was between the Oriental Orthodox and the Assyrian Church of the East. Even today in Kerala, there is a continuing presence of both the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syriac Orthodox Church along with an Independent Oriental Orthodox Church called the Indian Orthodox Church.

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