An Abusive Mother: Why the Coptic Church Does More Harm to Her Children Than Good

If you know anything about abusive relationships, you’ll know that the pattern is generally “Abuse >>> Buy off >>> Abuse >>> Buy off.” Kind of like “Husband beats wife, wife weeps, husband feels guilty and/or wants to get back in Wifey’s good graces, husband buys flowers and jewelry for the wife, wife agrees to “kiss and make up,” then he hits her again.” You may ask yourself why the wife would take him back even once, much less all the time, but the truth is that abusive people are oftentimes thousands of times more scintillating and attractive than The Average Joe, and are very talented at reminding their prey, I mean women, of their good points. But, like the nursery rhyme warns, “When he’s good, he’s very very good… but when he’s bad, he’s very very bad.”

That, in a nutshell, is what I’m going to be talking about today.

 But first, a caveat: If you are an average, moderately religious member of the Coptic Orthodox Church, you will likely want to stone me for the title I’ve pasted on this article.  

Since you’re the upstanding paragon of virtue that you are to belong to such a sterling denomination, I ask you to bear with me as I explicate the reasons I’ve chosen to use such strong language, and keep in mind that I would never say a bad word about Jesus Christ or the Bible.

I cannot, however, keep silent regarding my thoughts as to why the Coptic Orthodox Church—I said CHURCH, not FAITH, by the way—is to blame for the ills of modern-day Egypt.

As I see it, the majority of today’s clergy commit three main sins that keep the vicious circle going; in addition to this, it was actually the Coptic Church that let Islam into
Egypt. 
 

You did know that the Church welcomed the Muslims in (with open arms), thinking they would save our ancestors from the Evil Romans (who were, admittedly, bad news), right?

And you did know that it was a Copt who killed Youssef Bek (the also-Christian successor of Botros Ghaly 100 years ago) right?

I believe the word for this is “Sellout,” kind of like when some black Africans sold some other black Africans into slavery, but that’s beside the point and I think I just confused myself more than you.

For now, here are the three biggest problems that so many Aboonas contribute to.

 

  1. If there is a problem of any sort, their first—and sometimes only—advice is “Ok, child, go and pray, and God will solve it.” This is not to say that there is anything wrong with praying, only that if we relied on prayer for everything and neglected to do our part, then WE, not God, are to blame for any mishaps or non-actions that come about. For example, if I pray for 5 hours that I will get an A+ on my test, and yet neglect to study for it, then is God to be blamed for my failure? Or if my husband wants to lose 20 kilos and prays daily, or lights candles around a framed portrait of Baba Kyrillos, then do you think he (hubby) will slim down if all he eats are Twinkies, Twizzlers and Moon Pies? Of course not. We have to do our part in everything—from the cessation of our 2-packs-a-day smoking habit, to making
    Egypt a great place for everyone to live and thrive. Unfortunately, though, and as I mentioned above, the clergy aren’t—and, admittedly, can’t be (if they want to preserve their not-so-horrible relations with the largely Muslim government in
    Egypt, or the non-Orthodox in the west, anyway)—as supportive of action as they could be. This “Settle Down” philosophy is contributed to by the second main sin of the clergy, which is:
  2. The priesthood are on pretty good, or at least decent, terms with the government.  This could be why they counsel us to “just pray” rather than stand up and get something done. They don’t want to rock the boat. They feel it’s better to keep the peace with outside factions than it is to make a stand for once in their fat lives and make a difference! But maybe, just maybe, they don’t understand what the ruckus is all about (in
    Egypt or in the west). It doesn’t hit close enough to home. They don’t go through what their parishioners go through. In other words, for the most part, the clergy don’t get attacked, they aren’t egregiously impoverished, they always have food to eat and a car to drive, and they don’t have to constantly worry about being fired. An old Public Enemy song called “911 is a Joke” has the line “They don’t care coz they get paid anyway.” I don’t mean that the clergy don’t care, just that they would be more compassionate, fight so much harder for their people if they walked for even one day in a shoe that wasn’t made of gold.
  3. The last main thing that I feel is problematic is the fact that the clergy (for the most part) don’t believe in the “Three Musketeers” motto of “All for one and one for all.” That is, everyone stands behind them, but they can’t—or just plain don’t—stand behind everyone. Meaning, if someone badmouthed Baba Shenouda, you know that thousands of Copts from everywhere—
    Egypt,
    Australia,
    Canada, the States, etc.—would be all over the badmouther. They would lodge complaints, post comments on websites, send nasty emails, and maybe even physically attack someone who cast the slightest shadow on their Baba. On the other hand, while Copts would certainly feel the situation of a fellow Copt who was in danger—praying for them, searching for them if they were lost, or whatever—how many times out of 100 would the clergy themselves band together and stand up and take action to save this poor fallen individual? It seems as though the people are doing all the work and the clergy are the ones reaping all the rewards: getting kisses on their hands, getting tons of dinner invitations, and making a great name for themselves.

 A runner-up in this contest of “What’s more wrong?” is the fact that the Church always seems to act in its own best interest, in a manner that will not only preserve its sovereignty, but its financial and sociocultural well-being. And by that I mean that the church is protecting its role as “The Last Word” in every Copt’s life.  

You have to know where this is going: they’re making sure people will always be beholden to them, so that they won’t lose their jobs.

Some might even say that that’s why the Orthodox church even bothers with Sacraments that need to be administered BY a priest—so they’ll always be needed. (Flashing back to the start of this article, let it be said that parishioners who think they’re in God’s good graces, as evidenced by their partaking in the solely priest-administered Sacraments, could be said to feel “very very good.”)

And if the priests were acting with the best interest of the people in mind, I would fully support this. But as I mentioned above, the main concern is with preserving the hierarchy and finances. (This is a prime example of the Church being “very very bad.”)

You know, that’s why many Copts convert: because the Muslims are generous enough to help their people and their potential people (meaning people they think are good candidates to convert to Islam), whereas the Coptic church rarely digs into her own pocket to help out a poor family or an individual who’s fallen on hard times (of any sort).

This phenomena (of the Church having to be in control) is very sad, my friends, because it allows people to think they can just “go through the motions” to attain salvation. “Oh, I did what Aboona said, so I’m good now.” But I don’t want to get into theology right now, as I have a few things left to say about the Church and her lack of good parenting skills.

Have you noticed that when the Church supports something, EVERYONE goes along with it, almost unthinkingly? And how a scant turnout is almost guaranteed if the Church didn’t put their stamp on it?

This could be because the clergy (being Egyptian) sometimes drag their feet on some things, and take ages to get back to the people who need them (apparently their family life is more important than the spiritual lives of their spiritual children. Maybe the Catholics have the right idea…?).

This could also be because the Church is smart enough to know that if they support something they aren’t going to directly benefit from, they might find themselves in a situation where they basically created a monster, a monster who might one day fight them for material resources and food (members, I mean).

I really wish that the people reading this would realize once and for all that the Church isn’t the ultimate authority for what’s ok and what’s not ok. (The Bible is!)

I wish people would understand that they have minds to think with, and that the church—while important—doesn’t always consider things from our angle, from the parishioner’s angle.

In fact, I daresay that the church doesn’t consider any angle other than the angle of “What’s good for the Church.”

And may I add that this is NOT a case of “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” where the goose is the Church and the gander is the average, run-of-the-mill, “I just want to live my life and make a difference and not get killed for wearing a cross”  Copt.

 By Sara Ghorab

https://saraghorab.wordpress.com

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40 Responses to “An Abusive Mother: Why the Coptic Church Does More Harm to Her Children Than Good”

  1. Christine A Says:

    Dear Sara,
    The 2nd article to appear in under the Google News search results for “Coptic” was yours. Intrigued by the heading, i clicked the link and decided to read on.
    Strangely enough, and much to my own astonishment I found stark truth and honesty in your points, although they may have been exaggerated to some degree.
    I believe as a Copt what the church lacks is the basics. As a teenage Australian Copt I find the church wrapped up in a tangle of politics and governing bodies which have made the church to some extent lose its touch, its beauty, its heritage.
    Keep on writing as I shall now look forward to reading your views.

  2. Father Michael Sorial Says:

    Dear Sara,

    I am thankful for the zeal you have to search out the truth and believe that you have written many of your comments with an honest belief that your statements are well-intended and based on truth through your own experiences.

    I do want to clarify a few points:

    1. As a Priest serving a Coptic Community in NY and serving in a pastoral capacity for youth and young adults, I will assure you that priets are encouraged to help provide counsel to those who come and seek it. Although, your posting implies that all of the clergy simply suggest that you “just pray” without providing further guidance, I can assure you from personal experience (in both seeking counsel, as well as providing Godly Biblical counsel to those who seek it) that this view is probably based on a small pooling sample of clergy.

    That being said, for those who do not seek to provide further guidance (rather than just saying “just pray”), although this may be problematic and need to be addressed, I think it is rather erroneous to claim this to be a “sin”, as I am not familiar with any scripture (from the Bible) that would support this claim. Likewise, this is an overall incomplete view of the “Coptic Church” at large.

    2. As a Priest, who was born & raised in the U.S., I do not feel qualified to respond to the second claim, because I believe the implication is that this would more so affect those who are serving in Egypt.

    3. It has been said that “Perception is reality”. Unfortunately, perception is a very personal thing, which brings us to understand that one’s own reality will be very subjective based on personal environment & situations.
    Based on your comments, I must assume that you are unaware of what goes on behind closed doors with the clergy & servants who are chasing down & crying for the souls of the lost.
    Furthermore, it is unfair (and quite un-biblical) to assume that we are supposed to band together and “be all over the badmouther” that “badmouthed Baba Shenouda”…should this type of thing happen. Please support the claim that we are supposed to behave in such a manner with Biblical Scriptural evidence (as you appear to rely so heavily upon the Inspired Word of God for your guidance and direction).

    4. As for the runner-up in the contest is your claim that the Orthodox Church has led a Sacremental & Liturgical life based on self-gain, rather than based on being led by the Holy Scriptures & early Church worship, I find this claim to be completely unfounded & absolutely unfounded. As you search the scriptures, you will certainly see a vast number of references to the sacraments, as well as the description of the Clergy in 1 Timothy.
    In addition, if you are interested in learning further about the early church and the journey of 2,000 Evangelical Protestant Lay Person’s & Pastors who ended their search for the “True” New Testament Church when they discovered Orthodox Christianity, I would like to direct you to a book that I am currently reading & am finding quite interesting. You may find the book “Becoming Orthodox” by Peter Guilquist on Amazon.com. If you are unable to locate the book, please let me know & I will be happy to order it and send it to you personally.

    Certainly, it would be unfair for me to claim that the people (including the clergy) are perfect, as we are all obviousely struggling sinners in need of God’s grace and the life-giving blood of Jesus Christ.

    If you are intersted in having further dialogue, I would be glad to speak with you further. Please feel free to contact me initially via email at frmichael@sorial.net & we can then further exchange telephone (if you wish).

    May God bless you and grant you the wisdom & clarity to obtain of His fullness.

    In Christ,

    Abouna Michael
    Queens, NY

  3. Emad Eskander Says:

    Dear Sara,
    Thank you very much for your wonderful article. I was raised to believe that the Coptic orthodox Church is a church founded on authentic teachings of the Apostles and that any deviation from its teaching would be consisdered defective and antagonistic. The dominion of clergy over their congregations is very offensive to me, as most of the uneducated people would follow blindly. Although, I believe that most clergy have good intentions and are dedicated individuals, but the emphasis on rituals has to be minimized. Also, separation of Church and politics has to be firmly implemented. You are right that the religious leaders at the time of the Arabic invasion sold Egypt to the devil as they became very hateful to the Catholic Romans fighting over stupid terminology of Monophysite and Diaphsite and all these nonsense. Also remember the great Hepatia the philosopher who was burned alive by the angry Coptic mob because of her pagan religion. Our Coptic church needs to be reformed and our religious leaders should learn to abstain totally from expressing their political views and allow secularism to florish. I would like also to fault the Egyptian government for its sneaky tactics by trapping our religious leaders to assume a political role so that they can be easily manipulated and controlled.
    Best regards,
    Emad Eskander

  4. Hany Says:

    Corrections:-

    1) The Church and Christians didn’t welcome arab invasion, The pope was hiding and found newcomers to Egypt, what would you do if u were in his place?!!!!
    plz check this link
    http://www.islameyat.com/arabic/islameyat/hal_ra7ab/hal_ra7ab2.htm

    2) Ibrahim El Wardani was a MUSLIM!!!!

  5. Hany Says:

    After thoroughly reading the article. I was surprised of such unfair generalization in attacking priesthood and the church. There r a lot of points that needs discussion but unfortunately it’s a waste of time to discuss it on a message board.

    Regards.

  6. Egypeter Says:

    What a beautiful, articulate and eloquent response by Abouna Michael.

    Thank you Abouna. Next time I come to NY I am searching you out 🙂

    God bless you Abouna and the Coptic Orthodox Church!!

  7. clear Says:

    Sara Ghorab,

    Very well put sara, you’re right about most things. thank God for showing you the light. The coptic church is not about Jesus, it’s about Abouna and el baba etc ie about man.

    Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. Noone comes to the father except through ME (not through ‘el baba’ or ‘abouna’, through JESUS!)”

    “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. “Hebrews 4:14

    Jesus is the great high priest people not man! not pope shenouda!

    Finally, when people bowed before Peter in the bible, this was his response:

    25As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

    Never heard a coptic ‘leader’ say that, they usually expect you to bow AND kiss their hand. If the bible doesn’t say to do it, then why do it? I mean, if you’re a christian, you’re basing your life on the bible, right? So if it’s not in there, why are you doing it again?

    To all people in general, if you want to find out about Jesus, read the bible, don’t be content to get it second hand.

  8. clear Says:

    Biblical truth v Copticism

    ‘Father/Abouna’ Michael? According to Jesus, he said that he is the only one to be called father.

    Matthew 23:8-9
    8″But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

    Any explanation then why you put yourselves in the place of God?

  9. Davidschanter Says:

    I hope people listen to the words i am about to say:
    I am not pleased with this article. It is truly based on the views of one person. Not that this person is bad, but this view is too limited to take as truth of the Coptic Church.
    The priest is not an object to disgrace, like this article does. The priest’s job is probably one of the most stressing and burden carrying jobs a human being can be responsible for. The priest does not merely live in luxury while the congregation feeds him (very very very disrespectful comment by the way). The priest feeds the congregation the word of God…for free. The priest does not just say “go and pray.” The priest gives his great advice. How many people go to the priest for help? Through the guidance of God, and the priest’s experience with many problems that the congregation comes ot him with, he does his absolute best to help.
    I cry for the situation of priests. While he helps this congregation to the best of his ability, they turn around and curse him! I urge you to talk to your priest (i beg you to go with humbleness, because the man you aproach is the man who gives you the BODY AND BLOOD OF YOUR GOD).
    He is also the man who left his previous job to dedicate his life to bringing people to Jesus Christ. Ridiculous is the statment that the pope or the priest replaces God! They are the ones who BRING the people to God. The ones who make sure the sheep do not stray from the shepherd.
    Please be logical when you say that you can not call a priest father. Everyday you call someone your father. The priest is your spiritual father. Jesus Christ is your Father of course, but respect is due to the one who baptizes babies and adults into the house of God (the family of God) The priest being the father and God being the King. Put it this way…no one is worthy to call God his father! Out of his infinite grace and love of mankind he has given this ability.
    I am so lucky to have the chance to kiss the hand of the priest. If you think you should not have to kiss the hand of the priest, do me a favor and never kiss anyone who is less holy than the person who lives for Christ (if you think that it is blasphemous to kiss a priest’s hand).
    I beg all who hated my comment, to rethink your argument. But i beg it of you to get to know your priest better.

  10. Davidschanter Says:

    d615m@aol.com if you want to talk to me (feel free)

  11. clear Says:

    “it is truly based on the views of one person. ”

    David, where did i get my post from? The bible- if you have issue with what i said, then please go back to the bible and check what was written.

    Matthew 23:8-9
    8″But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

    It’s not that i am not happy to call people father. It’s that God is not happy for anyone to take his place. Matthew 23:8-9 are not my words- they’re Jesus’ words. I call my father father because he is my earthly father but Jesus says that our only spiritual father should be JESUS- not MAN. He said it NOTme!

    It is interesting that in your entire disagreement with me, you did not once quote from the bible to show me that this is not your opinion and actuallywhat God has commanded you to do.

    Like yourself, i am willing to discuss this further if you have issues with what has been posted.

    You really exalted priests in your posts- made them seem like they are the highest above us all, like we’re not worthy to kiss their hand. Do you want to know what Paul the greatest priest said about himself:
    Ephesians 3:8
    Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.

    Paul’s words, NOT mine

  12. clear Says:

    david- if you are basing what you ‘re saying on the bible, then why are there no quotes from the bible to support what u are saying

  13. Davidschanter Says:

    i contradicted a view with my point of view. I did not need to use the bible to contradict the original statement which was in fact, from a person’s point of view. I posted to give my point of view.
    now for you:
    no where in my statement did I say that the words from the bible your are using is wrong. In fact they are to be taken as the word of God.
    But the way in which you use these versus, is not a humble way.
    For the purpose of this passage in particular, was to teach the people humbleness.
    continue reading in this chapter and you see “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” This chapter is showing that there is no one greater than God on earth. The priest never exalts himself to the point where he replaces God!.
    Continue reading and you see that Jesus calls the scribes and pharisees hypocrites. This is the false ‘rabbi,’ the false ‘teacher,’ and the false ‘father.’
    Now look at the power Jesus gave to the disciples; “Recieve the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” The disciples took this gift from the Holy Spirit. And they gave it to the chosen ones whom they ordained. Only the ordained can have this power.
    I am not here to exalt priests, if that is what you think i am doing. I am here to restore the respect which this argument completely does not have.
    I have a question. Where in the bible does it say that the priest is replacing God according to your words? it would shock me if you could find it. I highly doubt you will.
    God is my God. God is my Father. God is my Spiritual Father. Is not God also my earthly Father? For is he not also the creator of my father? Yes. God is my earthly Father. (God created Adam and Eve see Genises)
    The priest serves as the father that brings the people to the Father.
    There are many reference wit the term father, elder, and son used by the apostles. For instance, 2 Peter 1 towards the end peter calls Mark his son. Peter takes it upon himself to be the father of Mark. Why? Because Peter is an elder who works with Mark ultimately with God.
    Another question. Do you think that John is talking to people that are replacing God when he says “I write to you fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.” (1John1:13)
    If your argument God is mad at priests for taking the title of spiritual father, in the same context i can say that God is mad at your father for taking the title of spiritual father.
    My point is that respect is due to the one who flocks the people of this world to God. The ones who God gave the Holy Spirit to. The ones who he gave power to. Not the ones who merely say ‘go and pray.’

    By the way Ephesians 3:8 is a perfect verse to contradict the original argument of this thread. It is exactly what priests are thinking.

    Again, ofcourse, the priest is not God; moreover, the priest does not intend to replace God. The priest deserves respect because he gives the love of God, and the word of God to the people.

  14. Davidschanter Says:

    *In your argument God is mad at priests for taking the title of spiritual father, in the same context i can say that God is mad at your father for taking the title of *earthly father.

  15. Davidschanter Says:

    Also, in that passage saying call no one on earth father, notice who Jesus is talking to. He is talking to the disciples. Jesus told the apostles to call no one on earth father. Why? Because they are the new fathers!
    The disciples are the leaders who pass on this leadership through ordination. They are the new (after the pharisees) lords(rabbis),teachers, and fathers.

    Please guys, just get to know your priest. Invite him over. You don’t have to feed him if you don’t want to. I guarantee you this though….he will feed you.

  16. clear Says:

    i call my earthly father father because he is my biological father- i do not look to him as being my spiritual father. The bible even refers to biological fathers with the title ‘father’. ‘a man shall leave his father and mother….’ So is the priest your biological father? Our only spiritual father is Jesus Christ. If you have any verses in the bible which specify somehting else, then please tell me.

    “Jesus told the apostles to call no one on earth father. Why? Because they are the new fathers!”
    How did you come to that conclusion, since Jesus didn’t make mention of it and nowhere in teh bible does it say that they are fathers?

    I am not anti- pastors david- i have invited my pastor over and even cooked him and his family dinner. I am anti putting man in the place of God. I have no respect for anyone who does that- remember the devil comes as an ‘angel of light’- God’s words not mine!

  17. ahmedsalib Says:

    Re: The wise and Godly Clear: I like this guy!

    GBU Clear and may your faith and understanding always be strong!

    Best Regards,

    Salib
    ahmedsalib.com

  18. Orthodoxy is The Way Says:

    Clear,

    You expose the typical ignorance of sola-scripturist Protestants, who being void of the divinely inspired Tradition of the Church are defective in their reading and interpretation of the very book that the Tradition of the Church gave birth to.

    If you knew the Scriptures you would know that there are many instances where the term “Father” is used in reference to persons other than God in a spiritual rather than biological sense: 1 Cor. 4:15, Col. 3:21, John 3:10, Acts 13:1, 1 Cor. 12:28, Eph 4:11, 2 Tim. 1:11.

    Furthermore, if you understood the verse in its Greek context, instead of merely abusing the verse by distorting its implications in face value consideration of the text in translation, you would understand that Christ’s exhortation was not intended in a literal or absolute sense, but rather it was a hypoerbolic emphasis of the paternal characteristics of God which surpass all mankind.

    But then again, you are a Protestant reading the Bible in translation and using your own flawed conscious as the standard of interpretation, so I can understand the ignorance you exhibit; it is not something that suprises me.

  19. Orthodoxy is The Way Says:

    I would also have to remark upon the fact that Sara exhibits severe ignorance herself with respect to the so-called historical “sell-out” of the Copts against the Byazantines. Sara, does your common sense dictate to you, that when person X assists enemy Y against enemy Z that person X has sold-out on enemy Z? I hope you realise the stupidity of such logic. The Copts were experiencing severe persecution under Byazantine rule; 30, 000 Coptic martyrs were slaughtered in just one day under the decrees of Marcion, and thousands upon thousands followed under the rule of Justinian. Coptic Patriarchs were exiled, and the Orthodox Truth was being challenged by a compromise of the Ephesian Tradition.

    Note that I am not addressing the idea of the Coptic contribution to the reception of the Arabs in Egypt, which itself is a whole other dispute, but am addressing the idea that such can be classed a “sell-out”, assuming such contribution for arguments sake; there is no such thing as a “sell-out” between a victim and that victim’s oppressor. One sells-out another when they betray due loyalty to that other, not when they seek to find alternatives to free themselves of oppressive subjugation to that other.

  20. clear Says:

    “You expose the typical ignorance of sola-scripturist Protestants…..”
    “If you knew the Scriptures …”
    “But then again, you are a Protestant…”

    thankyou for engaging in discussion even if your responses were rude and you made quite a few negative personal remarks. I won’t sink to that level but I’ll be back to respond when i have more time.

  21. Alison Says:

    Clear, Are you Protestant? Are you married? ARE YOU A MIRAGE?? (Sooooooooorry, hard ta find in this day-and-age, and anyway, I’m asking for a friend!! 😉

  22. clear Says:

    alison, you’re funny. No i’m not a mirage. I ‘m gonna be a bit pedantic here and say that i don’t like the label protestant because it immediately puts up walls with Copts as protestantism is perceived as the ultimate rebellion.

    I am simply a christian, a believer- warts an’ all.

    Protestants are not that rare a breed- there are pockets of them here and there so they do exist!

    anyways, how abouts you?

  23. clear- part un Says:

    In response to david schanter and othodoxy is the way and anyone else who thinks that putting man as spiritual father as well as or instead of Jesus is advocated by the bible. Below are the verses in full of the references given by orthodoxy is the way. I have gotten all the verses from the original English version of the bible (King James Version) as it is supposed to be the most accurate English version to the original. Anyhow, it is always good check everything out for oneself.

    1 Corinthians 4:15
    For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

    does paul ask to be put in Christ’s place as father here? It says i have begotten you since it is paul who brought the gospel to the corinthians and they were converted because of this. Nowhere is it implied that because of paul had nurtured their faith that he was now their spiritual father. If that is what he meant then surely you would find evidence of it in the bible. In fact Paul only gives the title of father to one person:
    “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” 1 corinthians 1v3. REad the verses in the context of paul’s letters and come back to me if you find any verses where he puts himself in the place of God.

    Colossians 3:21
    Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
    is actually regarding the father in the biological sense because it is commanding them to treat their children well. How do we know that? because if you read up, you will see that it talks about the family. ie the context is of the family because v19 talks about husbands and wives and v20 talks about children respecting parents- sounds fair?

    John 3:10
    Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

    Now this verse, i don’t know if it was a typo, because there is no reference to father here and i tried reading around it and nothing jumped out. Nicodemus was part of the jewish ruling council and he was a pharisee so i do not think that Jesus was saying that he is ‘father’ of israel as we all know that Jesus called pharisees ‘white washed tombs’.

    Acts 13:1
    NOw there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

    1 Corinthians 12:28
    28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

    Ephesians 4:11
    11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

    2 Timothy 1:11
    Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

    In all the above verses that have been given the word father is not used once in any of them so I don’t know why they were given in regard to this topic. Surely if the bible meant fathers it would have used the term father right? When Jesus talked about himself he referred to himself as father.Matthew 23:8-9
    8″But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

    so why didn’t they use the word for father that Jesus uses for himself in the verses given INSTEAD of the word of teacher? I mean if Jesus wanted all these great preachers in the church to have the same title, why are they called teachers???

    Could it be because the word intended is teacher and NOT father? is that a fair conclusion or not?

    (This is not about titles, whether you call someone father or not, it’s more than that- it’s because by calling someone baba, abouna people are putting them in the place of God. The point is to always look to God for guidance and not for man. )

  24. Alison Says:

    Hahaha Clear, I know what you mean! My beliefs and nomenclature are very much like yours–they would line up with the Protestants, though I dislike that name. Unlike many Egyptians, I chose this path after a relatively wild life, instead of growing up “Coptic” and staying in the Church all my life and not really knowing what I believe and why I believe it, or not believing what lines up with the Bible. I’m glad you know pockets of like-minded people, but I only know 4 (who are also Egyptian), and they’re all writers (as opposed to normal people..!) and all online.
    All in all, I’d say that I, too, am a “believer, warts an’ all” only that would sound pretty bad, since I just finished saying that I led a relatively wild life, and… Wait, never mind, I really hope you didn’t follow that nonsequitur!! Cheers!! 🙂

  25. clear Says:

    hi di hi hi alison,

    ha you keep makin me laugh. You’re saved, that’s what counts. ‘Wild’ is just the same as ‘non wild’ to God- morality without being saved gets you zilch. You’re in, you’re in, you’re in!
    About the pockets, I am in the same situation as you! I know there are pockets in other places but i don’t live near any of them :(( I say you, sara and the 4 other people and anyone else who wants to join all get together and make a pocket! Okay now, im gettin the whole marriage thing, you’re encouraging breeding to stop us from becoming extinct- got ya! Do you know any christians at all? I mean I know egyptian christians are ofcourse more superior but hey we can make do with the next best thing….(just joking ofcourse people).

    Well I hope to see you posting here all the time now as sara and i keep getting our posteriors kicked. Where are those other 4 people? tell em to pop in and say hi.

  26. Alison Says:

    Hi again, Clear! Yes, I’m in and nobody’s snatchin’ me outta God’s hands! And I agree about Christian Egyptian “Bible-Believers” (or “Protestants who don’t like that name”) kicking everyone else! 😉
    I will email Sara and J and A and Sally (Bishai, she’s another “Coptic Protestant” writer) and inform them that they’re going to join our Commune (I would have said “Pocket” but that sounds like a dental condition and I didn’t wanna gross anyone out! Oops, I guess I just did!).
    Then you can marry all of us and we can have 20 kids and finally build up our population and take over the world!
    Hahaha. Anyway, take care and start scouting out hi-rise buildings in the inner city.
    Love, Wife #3
    niles_ali at yahoo.com

  27. Father Michael Sorial Says:

    Dear All,
    I came back on to the posting and see what great controversy that my title (not my actual post) has created. I am not offended by any of this because I recognize it is just a title. As I often times tell my Protestant friends, if you are not comfortable calling me father michael, you can call me whatever you want. I have been called much worse things than my first name. I will share one personal statement & then refer you to the following article which came from the following website: http://www.synaxis.org/cn/stjohn/call-no-man.html.

    When St. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 4:15 “for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel”, what he is explaining is that the TRUE father is not the biological father but the one who gives instruction that leads to life. In other words, as it was understood in the Ancient Near East, the father of a child was not the biological father, but the one who raised him with instruction. That is why you even see today that when a child is adopted that they call the one who instructed him as father. We must understand that without instruction, we are not truly human beings but animals. If you were to take a child & put him in seclusion, he would become like an animal, unruly in all his ways. However, he grows & increases in maturity through the spoken word of the one who instructs him. That is why St. Paul is saying that he begot the Corinthians, because as a father would do, he is giving the instruction to them which leads to life. I pray that we would search the scriptures & understand it with the “Spirit of the Law” rather than interpreting it with the “Letter of the Law”. This is not isolated to any single sect of Christians. When we truly search the word & rightly divide the word we will come to a more complete understanding. I would also encourage anyone who is a reader to Amazon the books “Becoming Orthodox” by Father Peter Gilquist & “Orthodoxy & Catholicism: What are the differences” by Father Theodore Pulcini. These books speak of the journey of a Protestant Pastor (who was responsible for the largest organized Campus Crusade for Christ region) and a Catholic Lay Person towards the Orthodox Faith. It searches scripture, the early church documents & address’ the issues that Clear & Orthodoxy is the Way have been bringing up. May God bless you all & bring you into a fuller understanding of the meaning of His word.
    Enjoy the article & please feel free to email me if you would like to dialogue more (frmichael@sorial.net).

    THE ARTICLE:

    Certain statements made by Jesus have often been the basis of great controversy, both inside and outside the Church. His saying, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven,”‘ has proven to be no exception.

    AT ISSUE IS INTERPRETATION
    Some Protestant interpreters are sure that Jesus is warning here against addressing Church leaders as “father.” They, of course, are interpreting “father” in this Scripture to mean, “spiritual father.” Therefore, they refuse to call their clergymen “father,” preferring instead such titles as “pastor,” “reverend,” or perhaps even “brother.” At the outset, therefore, let me point out that “spiritual father” is an interpretation of the Lord’s statement rather than what He actually said. Mind you, I am not denying the need for interpretation of Scripture. Instead, I am pointing out that the Lord said “father,” not “spiritual father.” What is at issue here? Simply this: taken at face value, Jesus’ warning against calling any man “father” would not only seem to rule out calling a clergyman “father,” it would also keep us from using that title for earthly fathers and grandfathers, ancient Church fathers, or even city fathers, would it not? For in reality, the Lord’s statement, as it appears in the text, is that only one Person is ever to be called “father,” namely, our Father who is in heaven. But is Christ’s saying to be taken at face value? If so, several other passages in the Bible are immediately in conflict, including some statements by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. To the church at Corinth he wrote, “For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.”2 Does not Paul claim to be the spiritual father of the Corinthians–“Father Paul,” if you please? Furthermore, he boldly refers to his spiritual ancestry as “our fathers.”3 And he did address earthly fathers in Colosse in this way: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”4 It would appear the Apostle Paul certainly did not interpret the Lord Jesus Christ’s words to mean only One was to be called “father,” that is, the heavenly Father. In addition to this, when the rich man saw Abraham in heaven with Lazarus in his bosom, and addressed him as “Father Abraham,” Abraham’s response was not, “Do you not realize that only God the Father is to be called `father’?” Rather, he replied, “Son, remember…”5 Instances like the above could be multiplied from Scripture to show that a great many people are acknowledged to be “fathers.”

    OTHER TITLES
    But let us not stop here. For after saying only “One is your Father,” Jesus proceeded to declare, “And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.”6 Yet He Himself acknowledged Nicodemus to be a “teacher of Israel.”7 And in the church at Antioch certain men were called “prophets and teachers.”8 Then again, the Apostle Paul not only recognized teachers as gifts of God to the Church,9 but he also did not hesitate to call himself “a teacher of the Gentiles.”10 Furthermore, in this present day, almost all of us have at one time or another called certain people Sunday School teachers. The discussion thus goes far beyond any Protestant-Catholic lines. Therefore, in saying we should call no one “father” and “teacher,” except God the Father and Christ Himself, the Lord Jesus appears not to be taking issue with the use of these particular titles in and of themselves. The context of the passage gives us the interpretive key we are looking for. In this “call no man father” passage, our Lord is contending with certain rabbis of His day who were using these specific titles to accomplish their own ends. And had these same apostate rabbis been using other titles, such as “reverend” and “pastor,” Jesus, it seems to me, would have said of these as well, “Call no one reverend or pastor.”

    WHAT DID THE RABBIS MEAN?
    To what ends, therefore, were the rabbis using the titles “father” and “teacher”? The answer revolves around at least two critical areas of leadership: teaching and personal character. Consider first the teaching of these particular rabbis. They had begun their teaching at the right place, the Law of Moses. Said Jesus, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.”11 Moses’ Law was the true tradition. God had given it to Israel through Moses. The rabbis’ responsibility was to preserve that tradition and faithfully pass it on to the next generation. All too often, however, a rabbi would add his own grain of wisdom to the true tradition, thereby clouding it. Instead of passing down the sacred deposit along with the true interpretations of that deposit, he would add his own private interpretation. In turn his disciples, like their teacher, would, after becoming rabbis, do the same thing. (Some things never change, do they!) The final outcome of all this was a tradition of men that made the true Mosaic tradition of no effect. To these very rabbis Jesus said, “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men,”12 and again, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition . . . making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down.”13 The summation of their private interpretations did in fact “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men.”14

    JESUS’ CASE FOR TRUE TRADITION
    In order to cut through all this tradition of men that had made the Mosaic tradition of no effect, and to bring people back to the truth, Jesus told His disciples, “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.'”15 In other words, He was telling them not to use their positions as fathers and teachers as an opportunity to build disciples around their own private opinions. For to do so would only serve to “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men.”16 Instead, with the coming of Christ, these rabbis-and indeed all who would teach God’s Word-are to hand down faithfully the true tradition of only one Rabbi: Christ Himself. The Bible, through the pen of the Apostle John, calls this particular tradition “the doctrine of Christ.”17 In fact, this is why the specific teaching of the Twelve became known as “the apostles’ doctrine.”18 Since their time, successive generations of fathers and teachers in the Church have handed down and guarded the apostolic doctrine concerning Christ very carefully, for it represents the true interpretation of Holy Scripture. This faithfulness to true Christian doctrine, by the way, can especially be seen in the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Church, held between the fourth and eighth centuries. It behooves anyone who claims to be a teacher of Christ’s doctrine to be faithful to the apostles’ doctrine handed down in those Councils. Otherwise he runs the risk of inserting his own “private interpretation.”19 While it is true that all teachers of Christ’s doctrine must begin at the right place, namely, the Holy Scriptures, it is also true that they should give the correct and true interpretation of Holy Scripture as passed down by holy and godly teachers and fathers of the Church, especially in the Seven Councils. Why are the Seven Ecumenical Councils so important? Because they point out what the Church universally held to be the true teaching concerning the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity. They are faithful to what the Holy Scriptures teach concerning the one true Rabbi and Teacher, Jesus Christ. Teachers and fathers who teach private interpretations contrary to the doctrine of Christ as taught in the Seven Ecumenical Councils should not, I believe, be recognized as true teachers and fathers.

    THE RABBIS AND PERSONAL CHARACTER
    A second critical area of rabbinic leadership with which Jesus was concerned was personal character. He had detected a major flaw in the character of the scribes and Pharisees, a sin that might be called self-exaltation. They were using their position as fathers and teachers among God’s people to exalt themselves. They wanted to be sure they received appropriate recognition. In light of this lack of character, Jesus said, “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”20 Their self-exalting spirit had manifested itself in several ways. First, in hypocrisy: “for they say,” said Jesus, “and do not do.”21 All talk and no walk. Their talk was cheap because it was totally contradicted by their behavior. In pretense they would make long prayers, but in behavior devour widows’ houses.22 They would make oaths, swearing by the gold of the temple rather than by the temple that sanctified the gold, thereby revealing their secret love of money.23 Although they paid tithes of mint, anise, and cummin, which they should have done gladly, they neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith.24 Because they were hypocrites in these and numerous other ways, the Lord summed up His critique by saying, “Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.25 Plainly, their “insides” did not match their “outsides” because they were filled up with a self-exalting and self-serving spirit. A second manifestation of their selfexalting spirit was the noticeable lack of actual service on their part. “For,” said Jesus, “they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”26 No dirt was to be found under their fingernails. They were simply a group of lazy leaders who wanted to be served rather than to serve. No wonder, then, Jesus said not to be like them, for from God’s standpoint, “he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”27 A third manifestation of their self-exalting spirit was self-love, demonstrated by a desire to be seen by men,28 by their love for the best seats at the feasts and in the synagogues,29 and by their love of greetings in the marketplaces, being called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi.”30 This self-love was a clear transgression of the Mosaic Law, which they professed to be keeping. For Moses’ entire law could be summed up in the two great commandments, the greatest of which is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”31 The second greatest is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”32 Thus, these fathers and teachers were not leading their people into the love of God and neighbor. Quite to the contrary, they were exhibiting a self-exalting, self-serving spirit, filled up with a love for self.

    THE VERDICT OF CHRIST
    In the face of the stench and shame of the apostasy of these religious leaders, therefore, Jesus commanded His disciples, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.”33 While Father Abraham by his faithfulness deserved the title, as did others of Israel’s greats in history, these men had forfeited their role as fathers. They were to cease and desist in their use of the term and, in turn, bow to God Himself as the fountainhead of all fatherhood. And in issuing His warning, Jesus addresses us today with the greatest of all commandments, pointing the fathers and teachers in His Church and those they lead to a primacy of love for God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and to a love for one’s neighbor.

    AND WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
    From the beginning of Church history, as was true throughout Israel, those anointed by God for service were called by certain names: “prophet,” “teacher” (rabbi in Israel), and “father.” In that same spirit, other titles have emerged, such as “reverend,” “pastor,” “professor” (teacher), or “brother” (for some evangelical pastors and Catholic monks). These designations speak of both warmth and dignity. Just as in our family units there is one who with love is called “father,” so in God’s household we have honored and will continue to honor those who have brought us to the new birth through our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, what better term for them than “father”? Jesus warned against calling men “father” or “teacher” in order that the leadership of His holy nation would remain pure. Whether bishop, father, teacher, deacon, or pastor, all leaders must remain faithful to the true doctrine of Christ and manifest a personal character befitting godly humility, a humility that leads the Church into the love of God the Holy Trinity and of one’s neighbor.

    May the Lord have mercy on all of us who lead the flock, regardless of the title we are given.

  28. Light Says:

    Clear, I am very dissapointed in your opinion of a person who respects a priest.
    A priest is not God. From where did anyone say that the priest replaces God? The priest is the servant of God. Your logic is flawed when you state such things such as ” In response…putting man as spiritual father as well as or instead of Jesus….” No one in this thread said that. In contrast, David said many times that the priest does not replace God.

    “if you find any verses where he puts himself in the place of God.”
    Your argument is not right. No one here says that the priest replaces God.
    You are confusing me with this argument because no one is arguing against you saying that the priest is God.

    What is your definition of a priest?
    From what your saying so far, you are empty in your knowledge of a what a priest’s purpose is.

    Forgive me with your love,
    Light

  29. Light Says:

    I believe you are being overly superficial when you say that calling someone father is giving that person higher ranking than God.

    In your response to me in explaining what a priest is, please tell me how you see priests and if you think they deserve respect.

    Calling a priest father is just like calling a teacher Mr/Ms/Mrs.
    You give respect to the more knowledgable in his field.

    I am no way against you clear. I am just not supporting of your overly superficial philosophy.

  30. clear Says:

    alison- darn that husky voice of mine, always makin people think im a guy……..when im not 😛 now that im not offerin a dowry, we can still get our commune together right? by the time im finished preachin at some of these coptic guys on here, who knows alison, who knows :P. hehe yeah maybe not pocket but then commune sounds like some hippy hangout….far out man. how about ‘shella’ or this one this one elmosha3’ebeen? apt, no? :))

    mr. sorial and mr. light, thankyou. i would like to give a reply to your comments but i haven’t got much time now so i’ll be back some time later

  31. clear Says:

    There has actually been no answer to any of the questions posed above in the post september 29. The father thing and the problem with the coptic/catholic church rests on one thing: the coptic/catholic church insists on the importance of man.

    Just think about what iam saying for one moment before cursing me. You confess your sins to ab el e3teraf, you call him father, you ask him for guidance in your life eg everyone always asks them about who they should marry- (many an engagement has been wrecked because abouna forbade it because the partner was a christian but a protestant), pray to dead people. (light, these are all examples of putting man in the place of God, no?)

    All the copts who have commented on here are so angry that people can have the audacity to give all the glory to God, to confess to God only, to pray to God only, to have only ONE spiritual father, to ask God for spiritual guidance. Funny that people are getting angry because we are telling them to focus on God and not on man, no? Why does the coptic/catholic church fear this declaration and call those heretics who say so because it takes away the power from the abounas and the babas and gives it to God, so men are not longer controlled by abouna’s wishes but focus on God’s wishes.

    my only exhortation is read your bible- im not asking you to listen to me or to billy graham or martin luther- just read your bibles and pray and in doing so you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

  32. saraghorab Says:

    wow, many good responses , tesharafoona! if ali would get around to inviting me, would be pleased to join the non-hippie commune of moshaghebeen, and THEN we could start a cult of ‘girl power’ coptic protestant (i know, i hate that word, too!) warriors for Christ. go us!

  33. Father Michael Sorial Says:

    Actually Clear, I have answered your question in my previous post. In short, the Lord in Matthew 23:9-11 tells them to not call anyone father & to not be called teachers.

    23:9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
    23:10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.
    23:11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

    The Jewish leaders were misusing & abusing their power, the same way that the Catholic Priests did during the medievel days in collecting indulgences, the same way that the Protestant Pastors of megachurches collect tithes in order to support their own financial desires, and how false teachers (such as the like of Joel Olsteen) are more concerned with fame & power than they are teaching the truth. The Lord is telling those in the ministry to be servants.

    Unfortunately, I will not be able to continue a dialogue with you Clear b/c you approach the scriptures with your presupposition & allow that to guide your understanding of scripture, rather than read the scripture & allow that to guide your understanding. We know that the Lord always wanted us to understand the meaning & motive behind what He was saying, rather than just being superficial.

    Please re-read my previous post & you will see a more thorough explanation of this matter. However, I believe that this will still not suffice b/c anything that appears to be “too Catholic” for a protestant that is without understanding of the origin will not feel comfortable with what they hear or see in an Orthodox church. The problem that Luther & Calvin had was not Orthodox Christianity, however it was the travesties in the Roman Catholic Church. I will conclude my dialogue with you Clear in saying that I pray that God would soften your heart & lead you into a deeper & richer understanding His Word through a complete hermeneutical approach to reading the scripture. It is far beyond the point of “titles” into dogmatic issues that are the real basis of faith.

    Sara,
    Please forgive me as I have not responded to your email yet. I am hoping to email you back in the next few days. I look forward to a continued dialogue with you & hope to meet you some day.
    God bless you!
    Father Michael Sorial
    St. Mary & St. Anthony Church
    Queens, NY
    http://www.copticchurch.org

  34. clear Says:

    well it’s fortunate that i find bristly coptic responses quite endearing…. i know i got the coptic boot but i decided to post a reply since it seems we agree on nearly everything- i said before and again that this is not about titles. The titles merely bring to surface the unbiblical beliefs of the coptic church.

    You disagree with the catholic church’s abuse of it’s powers- so do i! except, that’s exactly what the coptic church does, whether you wish to acknowledge that or not. The priesthood in the orthodox church puts itself at the centre instead of God, just like the catholic church! Instead of telling people to go to God, you command them to come to you. Confessing sins to priests to get forgiveness, praying to dead priests, believing the coptic leadership to be infallilble, having a human ‘leader’ of the church (Shenouda-coptic/Benedict-catholic)….im sure if i delved deeper into doctrinal issues, i could come up with a whole load more.
    correct me if im wrong, but does it not say in the bible that only God can forgive sins. i don’t remember Jesus telling people to confess their sins to Peter or Paul after his ascension or pray to dead people like moses or elijah to help them out.
    the funny thing is you have a go at the catholic church for collecting indulgences. I was kinda gobsmacked because the coptic church is notorious for its money hoarding tactics and this is not a one off thing- it’s commonplace. there used to be a joke that went around when people used to emigrate to the gulf, people would say why are you emigrating to the gulf? If you wanna quick buck then just become a coptic priest for a couple of years. Yes there are protestants who abuse the church financially and that’s wrong but it’s not ccommon accepted practice like it is in the coptic church. hmm. the last askof i met had his own secretary, wore raybans, had a flash saloon car (just for him!) and a family sized home- all bought by the faithful worshippers. Has the world run out of poor people that the people serving God’s people use the faithful’s money to run around in raybans and saloon cars? remind me again where was Jesus born? He didn’t even have a donkey for crying out loud, he had to borrow one. His family didn’t even have a tomb to bury him in, he had to borrow that one too. Spot any similarities between teh coptic church and Jesus’ lifestyle?

    mr. sorial, i think you must be a closet protestant really because you are perhaps the first coptic person that i have encountered who tells me to read the scriptures with God’s guidance as oppose to the church’s guidance. In any discussion, copts always always come back to the fact that the coptic church is the oldest church and that we use history to interpret the scriptures. The conversation always starts and ends with the coptic church is the oldest church and therefore it’s right regardless- sound logic? Also, the copts are always told to interpret the bible in light of the man made traditions of the church as oppose to just taking the bible. If the traditions are from God, then howcome they weren’t incorporated in the bible? I mean if the very old coptic church came before the bible, you would expect that the bible which came after the coptic church would have incorporated some of the practices, no? whenever i go to a ctopic church there is very little reading and exposition of the scriptures. Most of it is repeating suff in coptic (now let me see, which other church repeats stuff in a dead language, say latin?) and wathcing the priests follow each other banging cymbals and burning incense. fun to watch but it does little for our relationships with God. why do you repeat stuff in a dead language that your congregation doesn’t understand? don’t you want them to understand?

    Please don’t reply by telling me this protestant and that protestant have done evil things blah blah. I could cite you quite a few examples of wayward coptic priests. Im not ehre to defend protestants or have a go at coptics- i’m attacking a wrong belief system as oppose to individuals.

    yEs i do come with a presupposition- that i don’t need man to tell me what is right and what is not. I can find it in the bible and i can pray directly to God for guidance. why is that such a heresy?

    finally, thankyou for your prayers. I hope that God would reveal the truth to me and that if i have understood anything wrongly that he would give me his understanding.

  35. Father Michael Sorial Says:

    Unfortunately Clear, you have read around the points and are still making general statements about the coptic orthodox church that do not have to do with complete understanding of the churches dogmatic teaching.
    If you are really interested in learning what Orthodox Christianity is about from an Evangelical Christian become Orthodox, read the Book entitled “Becoming Orthodox” by Peter Gilquist.
    God bless you! Like I said previousely, feel free to contact me directly via email ANYTIME!
    Take care…

    2 Timothy 2:23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.

  36. not so clear Says:

    some sections of my previous post, i did not express with the love that i should have and so for that i am sorry- human nature unfortunately prevailed that day. i’ve asked for it to be withdrawn so that i can rephrase and repost later. the points are still valid, as in making God the focus not man by not confessing sins to priests, praying todead saints having a human leader, redirecting money from the priesthood to those who need it etc.

    i am disappointed that you have whipped out this verse in this context:
    “2 Timothy 2:23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. ” because the points made relate to fundamental areas of the church’s focus. Is it foolish to point out that the church’s focus is around the priesthood and not God? Is it foolish to question how the money of the faithful is used? These are vital issues.

    I have not read a single book about the coptic church- most of my knowledge comes from attending coptic church and discussions with copts. If there are any helpful web resources that delve deeper into copticism then please do post them. I am not asking to become a copt- do i need to be a copt to go to heaven? now that’s for another day surely. thankyou for offering to receive emails ANYTIME, if im no clearer, i;ll drop you a line.

  37. foreign Says:

    Nice Blog

  38. Orthodox Convert Says:

    I spent my first 45 years as an Evangelical Protestant Christian. After 14 months of Orthodox Christian study, prayer, and questioning through my own research and attendance of an Eastern Orthodox Antiochian church, I converted to Orthodoxy.

    Amazingly enough — and surprising to myself — not only did my husband and I become Orthodox, but we became Coptic Orthodox!!!!! Long story laden with little miracles along the way.

    I can’t say it all hasn’t been difficult — socially, physically and spiritually — but it has been very God-blessed.

    My experience has been completely different from Sara and Clear, who apparently went from Coptic to Protestant.

    So many things that I just experienced partially as an evangelical protestant, I now experience more fully as Orthodox. Communion (Eucharist), Sacramental Marriage, Chrismation were things that were without power and fulfillment before.

    I have only been Coptic Orthodox for a year, and I have only known two priests — one baptized me and the other was ordained before our very eyes less than six months ago. They are both lowly servants — no fancy cars, clothes or Ray-ban sunglasses. They both have had to serve two Coptic communities 90 miles apart. They spend hours doing two liturgy services, two evening Bible studies, two evening prayer services, and assorted funerals, weddings, engagements, etc.

    And of course they spend a lot of time with confessions. They never told me I was confessing to them; they always told me I was confessing to God, but out loud in their presence, because they also give Christian council — neither ever said, just go pray about it. Although they both have been excellent in encouraging me to pray.

    Without getting to the nitty-gritty of linguistics, culture and translation, anyone who thinks the Orthodox model of Church leadership is wrong needs to read Paul’s letters for the feel and thrust of his exortation on submission for the benefit of the body of Christ:

    children to parents, wives to husbands, saints of the Church to the apostles and their appointees — elders and Bishops, younger women to the older women, etc.

    Paul clearly says he and the rest of the apostles were the examples to be followed…. Why? Not because they were above or equal to God — although he calls himself and the appointed authorities in the Church “Fellow-workers with God” — but because they were slaves to Christ, and therefore worthy to be immitated. And with that worthiness came a lot of Church- goers who rebelled against Paul’s God-given authority.

    Paul reminded the Corinthians that his leadership role as their father — which he clearly states — was God-appointed. He only had the authority of spiritual father to them because he had emptied himself of his ego to preach Christ Only. If he had preached another Gospel, he would not have been their spiritual father.

    My two priests — through ordination and lowly example — are my spiritual fathers under my Big Father, in heaven, the Great Triune God!!!!!!

    If anyone finds priests who aren’t doing their job properly, then they need to raise the issue with the priest’s bishop.

    One other comment: Most Evangelical Protestants I know do not think that the term Father is wrong in the sense used in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Many of the misconceptions Protestants had a century ago are now looked at as incorrect and misunderstandings today.

    May all of us who follow Christ and worship him as our Divine Saviour pray for the unity of the Church, which Jesus himself sweat blood over while he prayed before his Passion.

  39. clear as day Says:

    Sadly, orthodox convert your experience is not representative of the coptic church….there are many things to comment on what you said but for now this example should sum up the leadership of the coptic church.

    “If anyone finds priests who aren’t doing their job properly, then they need to raise the issue with the priest’s bishop.”

    Have you heard of father Zakaria, he is one of the good example of the coptic church. Do you know that in Egypt and all over the Middle East, there are literally thousands of muslims coming to Christ because of his exposition of the truth and discussions in the koran?

    Q: So what do you think Pope Shenouda (the leader of the coptic church) did to support him to help bring the truth to muslims?

    A: He ousted him

    don’t take my word for it, read up…..

  40. Crazy4Jesus Says:

    Grace and Peace of Jesus Christ be with you all,

    I cannot add or take away a letter of what has been said, there have been amazing testimonies by Orthodox Convert and Father Michael.

    I just want to say as Christians, not orthodox or protestant, we seek to build each other up in Christ Jesus our Lord. For too many years, the devil has pitted us against each other, as a house divided against itself. The only union between the churches was in people arguing, most of the time in ignorance, myself fitting that role.

    I pray that as believers in the one true God, we open our eyes to see more than what the devil has put in front of us in this world. The 12 apostles had one focus – spreading the news – Christ is Risen from the dead, by death he has trampled down death and raised us to eternal life.

    Four years ago, St Marks Coptic Orthodox Church (www.stmarkdc.org) started doing mission work with Christians of other denominations. In Bristol, Tennessee, we went out serving others in the name of our Lord alongside our protestant brothers. Next year, they went to Tampa, Florida to serve in the projects, ministering to the spiritual needs of the people, once again Orthodox and Protestant alongside each other. These missions have grown by the grace and to the glory of our God. (www.missionlifecenter.org)

    Personally, i believe these dialogs occur too much at an intellectual level, and too little at a spiritual level with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And its hard for me to miss that many of the attacks are similar to the arguments atheists use, saying God cant exist or is wrong because wars and too many evil things have happened under His title.

    Brothers and Sisters, we must be weary and sober minded to see who we truly fight against, as the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.

    Pray for me and each other, as the love of our Lord is manifest in these prayers.

    Peace and Love of our Lord Jesus,
    Crazy4Jesus

    P.S. Father Zakaria is a great man, but you must not be as the ignorant and foolish in addressing topics. As St. Paul addressed the church many times practically (as Sara had wished originally from her priest) according to the situations people were in.

    In the same way, the Pope cannot OPENLY support a priest preaching the truth about Islam in a Muslim country while maintaining peace, as Christ as tells us to, with our rulers.

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