Ethiopian Sahlitemihret Church Controversy
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Christian Churches. One of the few pre-colonial Christian Churches in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has a membership of between 45 and 50 million people, the majority of whom live in Ethiopia. It is a founding member of the World Council of Churches. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is in communion with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandriahaving gained autocephaly in 1959.
The Ethiopian Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the first half of the 4th century until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa, Cyril VI. As one of the oldest Christian churches and a non-Chalcedonian Church, it is not in communion with the Ethiopian Catholic Church. Ethiopia is the second country only after Armenia to have officially proclaimed Christianity as state religion (in 333 AD) though some argue it may even be the first; due to biblical references.
Tewahedo is a Ge'ez word meaning "being made one". This word refers to the Oriental Orthodox belief in the one perfectly unified Nature of Christ; i.e., a complete union of the Divine and Human Natures into one nature is self-evident in order to accomplish the divine salvation of humankind, as opposed to the "two Natures of Christ" belief commonly held by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and most Protestant Churches. The Oriental Orthodox Churches adhere to a Miaphysitic Christological view followed by Cyril of Alexandria, the leading protagonist in the Christological debates of the 4th and 5th centuries. Miaphysitism holds that in the one person of Jesus Christ, Divinity and Humanity are united in one without separation, without confusion, without alteration and without mixing where Christ is consubstantial with God the Father in as much as He is with Mankind. Around 500 bishops within the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem refused to accept the Dyophysitism (two natures) doctrine decreed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, an incident that resulted in the first major split in the main body of the Christian Church.