Malankara World

Church Politics

A Suggested Approach to Solve the century old disputes between (Jacobite) Syrian Christians and Indian Orthodox Church

by Rev. Fr. V.V. Paulose, Toronto, Canada

"Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." (Romans 12: 18)

The high court of Kerala has directed the two factions of Syrian Christians to settle their disputes through mediators and outside courts. The secular courts never could solve any problems in the matters of religions except the parties involved are genuinely wanted to live in peace and solve it. The century old disputes between Jacobite Syrian Church and Indian Orthodox Church will have no end till the concerned parties are ready to submit to their higher authority - God. If anyone acts and thinks differently, they should be shown the doors.

The present fight involves brain washed faith, faith in proper, and mainly the temporal powers and its by products. History tells that even in the matter of faith and its interpretation done by our holy fathers could be put in to scrutiny and be reviewed and be corrected. By- passing the excommunication of Roman church in the fifth century, in the name of Blasphemy, the Syrian church has now started partial communion with them. Now they have requested the Pope for full communion by detaching the authority. The relationships with protestant churches are not different. Both churches are in the forefront of WCC and other interring church councils and make use of all its benefits.

De-facto, majority of people in both community that I know of are in union with each other in their actions and day to day life, even in the matters of faith. When we go deep in to the life of each individual we could see that the division is only skin deep or mere pretension for personal gains or the matter of ignorance and for temporal matters. The love of God or the fear of God is not at all anywhere near our door steps. Bringing it back is the only solution for this cockfight as per the point of view of outsiders.

Bible says, "I'm saying this to shame to you. Isn't there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues? But instead, one believer sues another - right in front of non-believers"? (1 Corinthians 6:5,6) We Christians are the messengers and light and salt of God on earth to non-believers. But we fight each other and to go to the unbelievers to settle it. How shameful it is! Secular court verdicts, most often, are not according to the biblical standards and values but per the standards of the world. Most of the church cases go for the wrong motives. It has very negative impact on the believers.

The solution.

"If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads." (Romans 12:20). Forgiveness involves both attitudes and actions. Deep-rooted hurts are very difficult to forget. But if there is a will then we could do concrete action to change the hurt attitude by a stoke of pen simply by withdrawing all the church cases from all the courts. That is biblical and practical. Right actions always lead to right feelings.

If we won't start acting now that means we are publically telling to the world:

  1. Our church is a worldly institution
  2. If there is God he is no more
  3. We are not believing in the supernatural power to solve any problems
  4. We are mere humbug by acting against our conscience
  5. This is a technique to satisfy the mob psychology
  6. We are not ready to obey Jesus
  7. We haven't learned any lessons from the history
  8. We don't have a strong spiritual leader and leadership.
  9. We still linger on the barbaric law of Moses "an eye for an eye a teeth for a teeth." and
  10. We stamped out Jesus from our entire realm.

There is no problem without remedies - the real problem is our willingness to solve it.

Here are some recommended steps to seek a solution:

  1. Withdraw all cases from the secular courts
  2. All the hierarchy should go into seclusion. Let them fast 40 days without solid food.
  3. Church, as a whole, should fast and pray for 25 days in the lent time, meals only after 3 pm that also simple, frugal meals. Black out all entertainments.
  4. Listen to the voices of other Christian churches and their leaders.
  5. A reality check up for the costs and benefits of litigations till now.
  6. Temporal matters should be settled in light of modern science and knowledge.
  7. Spiritual matters and faith should be settled by spiritual guidance under learned spiritual leaders not by arguments and unending discussions.
  8. Withdrawal of all excommunications without any pre-conditions.
  9. A pledge not to approach any secular courts for faith and spiritual matters except for criminal matters.
  10. All powers should have checks and bounds and should be accountable and transparent. Have proper advisory body constituted with the inclusion of pious spiritual leaders, learned men and women, legal luminaries, experienced executives and theologians of the church. and
  11. Eternal vigilante for all the activities of spiritual and temporal heads.

It is the high time for:

(a) a self-evaluation and reflections of the % of faith in the century old litigations.

(b) To see the prick of conscience about our disputes and quarrels inside and outside the churches.

(c) Answer the question, how far hell, heaven, and final judgment have impacted the litigants and litigations.

(d) Ask a question to ourselves what are the roles we have been playing to corroborate and accomplice these disputes. and

(e) Say yah or nay, do you love Jesus and your neighbor?

It is better to ponder the words of Archbishop William Temple: "When religion goes wrong it goes very wrong."

I conclude with a heavy heart and earnest appeal to the leaders and the laity, quoting Jesus, "If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat too." (Mathew 5:40)

See Also:

Full Text of Recent High Court Judgement on Mediation

Comments on A Suggested Approach to Solve the century old disputes between (Jacobite) Syrian Christians and Indian Orthodox Church
The mystery of salvation through the church is very simple. It is related to our meeting God and establishing a relationship with Him. Our God loved us so much that He created man in His image and likeness. His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, voluntarily sacrificed Himself for us on the cross out of pure love for us. Therefore we can meet God through Love and Sacrifice.

Tribulations within the Church- Optimistic Approach
Suggestions from an Orthodox faction member as to how to bring peace to the church.

Malankara's Mythical Minefields
Debate between Georgy S. Thomas, Bangalore for Indian Orthodox Church and Very Rev. Kuriakose Moolayil for Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church.

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