Question:

Hi. I got your site from Google. I have a few questions that I hope you can answer:

  1. What is your statement of faith?
  2. What happened to the twelve apostles; for example, Mark started Coptic Orthodoxy in Egypt, Thomas in India, Paul in Rome, etc.?
  3. How did they die?
  4. Is the original church the Coptic Orthodox?
  5. Does this make it the correct way to worship; for example, the importance of the priesthood, having an altar and incense, going to heaven by baptism, communion, and salvation by faith and works.
  6. How about the importance of following the traditions of the early church fathers; in other words not sola scriptura.
  7. Orthodoxs believe that protestantism is a new cult, started by people like Martin Luther who are heretics because they don't follow their original way of worship, such as the priesthood came from Jesus, they have the power to absolve you from your sins, and perform all the important sacraments that will allow you to enter heaven.

Thank you very much.


Answer:

You probably have a copy of our statement of faith in your home; it is usually titled "The Holy Bible." No, I am not joking with you. Christians are made Christians by following the teachings of Christ. All denominations must add something to it, such as a statement of faith or a creed, to create their particular brand of Christianity. Since Paul stated, "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10), we reject all methods of dividing the church of Christ, including the use of statements of faith. After all statements of faith are man-made documents. Why add a man-made document when we have the original inspired words of God?

In regards to the apostles, see the answer to an earlier question: "How did the twelve apostles die?" By the way, Mark was not one of the twelve apostles. See the article "Apostleship" for more information.

The apostles warned before their death that there would be a departure from the faith. "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears" (Acts 20:29-31). "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth" (I Timothy 4:1-3). "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed" (II Peter 2:1-2).

This depature did not happen all at once, but involved a gradual shift in thought. From this shifting came the various catholic faiths, including the Roman Catholic church and the Coptic Orthodox churches. The Roman Catholics and the Orthodox churches had a major division around 1000 A.D. over many of the innovations that the Roman Catholics wanted to continue adding to their beliefs.

The reason Coptic Orthodox churches reject the idea of using solely the Scriptures (sola scriptura) is the simple fact that many of their defining beliefs cannot be found in the Bible. They are rooted in the gradual corruption of the original church and are recorded by early Christian writers.

Let's take just one example that you mentioned: the priesthood. Peter stated, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy" (I Peter 2:9-10). Thus according the New Testament, the priesthood of the Old Testament was replaced with every believer becoming priests. No longer do we have men interceding for us to God. In Christianity, each Christian has the right to approach the throne of grace to offer the sacrifice of our lives (Romans 12:1-2).

The Bible does not teach that men have the authority or right to absolve people of their sins against God. Only God has the right to absolve or forgive sin because the debt of sin is against God, not man. He has told us under what conditions He will grant forgiveness (Acts 2:38 and I John 1:9 are examples). Forgiveness is not controlled by men.

Yes, Protestantism began as a protest against the Roman Catholic church and was seen as a way to bring Christians back closer to the original teachings. In my view, they didn't go far enough. They tried to retain some of the innovations of man while rejecting others. Christians believe that only the original plan is worth following. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10).