Sunday, 1 February 2015

Comparative Theology, by Pope Shenouda III

HH Pope Shenouda III, Comparative Theology, 1988 Coptic Orthodox Publishers Association, London

When people ask "Is the pope Catholic?" they are probably unaware that the Coptic Christians of Egypt have their own pope. This is a book by a late Coptic pope, Shenouda III.

The late pope offers comparison between the doctrines and practices of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Protestant churches. By Protestant, he means Evangelicals, Charismatics and Pentecostals (in the introduction, he points out that Anglicans and some other Protestants would not fit the characterisation in the book). Clearly this work is aimed at Coptic Christians who are at risk of the powerful and persuasive lure of Evangelical Christianity. The author offers Biblical support for infant baptism, an high view of the sacraments, the veneration of Mary and other distinctives. Catholics will find much to agree with and will appreciate the Biblical support mustered.

I like the section on speaking in tongues. The late pope gave no quarter to the Charismatic movement. Orthodoxy, both Oriental and Eastern seems to be much less accomodating to Charismatic claims than Catholicism has been. There are some great Charismatic Catholics like Dave Armstrong and Peter Kreeft, but having grown up as an Evangelical Charismatic, I see little value and much delusion in the Charismatic movement.

This is not a particularly deep book. It's simple apologetics for lay Christians. If you are wanting to understand the background of the Coptic Church and why it split from Catholicism/ Orthodoxy after Chalcedon, you won't find anything useful here.

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