“…On one hand, its theology is based on nothing outside the scriptures. On the other hand, the doctrines agree in all parts with those of the Early Church i.e. the tradition which has the proper interpretation and application of the teachings of our Lord and the Apostles as understood and practiced by the Christians and the leaders of the Church during the period of the One Universal Church until the division of 451 A.D.” Bishop Athanasius of Ben-Swef and Bahnassa (1977)
The Coptic Church was established in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by St. Mark the Evangelist in the city of Alexandria around 43 A.D. The church adheres to the Nicene Creed. St. Athanasius (296-373 A.D.), the twentieth Pope of the Coptic Church effectively defended the Doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ’s Divinity at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. His affirmation of the doctrine earned him the title; “Father of Orthodoxy” and St. Athanasius “the Apostolic“.
The term “Coptic” is derived from the Greek “Aigyptos” meaning “Egyptian“. When the Arabs arrived in Egypt in the seventh century, they called the Egyptians “qibt“. Thus the Arabic word “qibt” came to mean both “Egyptians” and “Christians“.
The term “Orthodoxy” here refers to the preservation of the “Original Faith” by the Copts who, throughout the ages, defended the Old Creed against the numerous attacks aimed at it.
Less changes have taken place in the Coptic Church than in any other church whether in the ritual or doctrine aspects and that the succession of the Coptic Patriarchs, Bishops, priests and Deacons has been continuous.
An Ancient Christian Church. It is one of the most ancient Churches in the world, having been founded by Saint Mark the Apostle, the writer of the second gospel, in the first Century. The word ‘Coptic’ comes from the ancient Egyptian word ‘hekaptah’ meaning ‘Egypt’, and thus ‘Coptic’ merely means ‘Egyptian.’ As a conservative Church, the Coptic Church has carefully preserved the Orthodox Christian Faith in its earliest and purest form, handing it down from generation to generation, unaltered and true to the Apostolic doctrines and patterns of worship.
Trinitarian. She believes in the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (being one God); and that our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, became incarnate, was born of the Virgin Saint Mary, died for us on the Cross that He may grant us Salvation, rose on the third day that He may grant us everlasting life with Him, and ascended to heaven after forty days, sending the Holy Spirit to His disciples as He promised them, on the day of Pentecost.
Apostolic. She was founded by Saint Mark the Apostle and Evangelist who preached to the Egyptians around 60-70 A.D.
Scriptural (Biblical). Her main point of reference is the Holy Scripture, as depicted in literal translations such as King James (KJV), New King James (NJKV), and the Revised Standard Version (RSV). Although the Coptic Orthodox Church accepts any New Testament translation that is faithful to the Greek Textus Receptus translation, She prefers only the Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Old Testament and not the Masoretic text found in most Bibles today.
Traditional. One of the pillars of her faith is the teachings of the early Church Fathers as well as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed as a statement of Her Faith.
Sacramental. She has seven primary Mysteries: Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, the Eucharist (Communion), Marriage, Priesthood, and the Anointing of the Sick.
Conservative. She does not change basic matters of Faith, Dogma or Tradition to suit current trends (this does not mean however that matters such as language and day-to day practices are not changed to suit conditions of ministry and the needs of the congregation). Holding on to such matters of Faith and practice has not been an easy task, as the Coptic Church has always lived persecution of one form or another since its establishment in the first century.
The Nicene Creed (“Orthodox Creed”) is the statement of faith of the Coptic Orthodox Church, written in the early fourth century by one of the Coptic Church’s most important figures, St. Athanasius the Apostolic.
- Believe in the Trinity – One God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit;
- Believe in One God the Father Almighty, Creator of all things visible and invisible;
- Believe in Jesus Christ, God’s One and Only Begotten Son:
- Who was born Jesus of Nazareth, both fully human and fully divine, Who was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the Holy Virgin Mary,
- Who suffered and was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
- Who died on the Cross for our sins and was buried, and Who rose from the dead on the third day,
- Who ascended into the Heavens and now sits at the right hand of His Father, and
- Who will return again to earth to judge both the living and the dead
- Believe in the Holy Spirit, Who is the third Hypostasis of the Holy Trinity of the Trinity and;
- Believe in the Bible – God’s Holy Word, scripture; teaches that man, created by God, willfully sinned against God and is consequently lost and without hope apart from Jesus Christ, but he is restored and saved through the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.