Christ as one

The anaphora of St Basil includes a statement of faith preceding communion that underlines certain convictions about Christ:

I believe, I believe, I believe. I confess until my last breath that this is the life-giving body of Your only Son, Our Lord, Our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. He took it from Our Lady and Queen, Holy Mary, Mother of God. He made it one with his divinity without mixture, without confusion, without change . . . I believe in truth that His Divinity was never separated from His humanity, even for one moment or for one blink of an eye.

The goal is to avoid both the errors of Nestorius (who separated the two natures of Christ) and of Eutyches (who subsumed the human to the divine in Christ by asserting that Christ's flesh was God-made). Since Chalcedon speaks of Christ 'in two natures' (physis, a term that Coptic Church leaders consistently equate with person), it is unac-ceptably Nestorian. However, ecumenical meetings in recent decades have enabled

Coptic leaders to find common ground with Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox (e.g., the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Shenouda III in 19 73 and the conference of Greek/Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox in 1989).

Another assertion in the liturgy separates Copts and other non-Chalcedonians from fellow Christians. Before the gospel, the Trisagion is chanted, including the phrase, 'Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, who was crucified for us, have mercy on us', which was added to the liturgy by Peter the Fuller, patriarch of Antioch (d. 490). As a result, Copts and other non-Chalcedonians were accused of theopaschitism, the belief that the Trinity suffered. But Copts and others assert that the Trisagion is addressed to the incarnate Word, not to the Trinity.

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