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A very constructive feedback from a very humble observer

September 19, 2018

The feedback is in response to the article entitled “The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church: History, Doctrine, and Challenges” by Dr. Ghelawdewos Araia that was posted on November 20, 2017, and it comes from Great Britain. We are publishing the feedback with the permission of the author in its entirety and without editing, in order to maintain its originality and authenticity. For persons interested in reading the article on the Ethiopian Church, you could simply open the following link: www.africanidea.org/Ethiopian_Orthodox_Tewahedo.pdf

Dear scholarly brother in Christ our Lord and elder Brother, Dr. Ghelawdewos Araia,

I have just read your excellent essay on the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the primary challenges it faces today. I wish to encourage you in your very valuable contribution to the thoughts on this subject and encourage you in your obvious patriotism towards the people of Ethiopia and the Tewahedo Church in particular.

Firstly, a little about myself; I am a British-born subject of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II of England, Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland. Of ethnicity I am of the standard descent of northern Europe and therefore today I am classed as “White British”. Such labels, however, mean little to me though I do feel the same patriotism towards the people of Britain as you obviously feel towards the people of Ethiopia. I differ from many of my British contemporaries, however, in that I regard as British any person who comes to my land and has the best interests of these isles at heart, regardless of ethnicity or descent. I do this without neglecting to fully respect and value the individual contributions, cultures and temperaments of the variety of peoples who have come to dwell here.     

My Christian journey has comprised of primarily being a member of what is loosely grouped together as the Protestant tradition of Christianity, from Methodist and Anglican to the newer “churches” such as the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. I note that one of the grave threats to the Tewahedo Church and Ethiopia in general is the invasion and underhand tactics of those following the Pentecostal teaching and methods. As one with firsthand experience of this – both as a witness and, to my deep regret, participant – I share your deep concern.

I have very recently begun to seriously explore the Orthodox Church and am most drawn to the Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia. Hitherto, however, the only Orthodox congregation I have visited is of the Greek Orthodox Church, which is due entirely to this being the only Orthodox congregation in my local area. I was greatly encouraged to learn, however, that there has been recently founded a Tewahedo Church in London. I will soon, God willing, be contacting the leaders there and my personal perspective is that the Tewahedo Church will not only be of immense beneficial influence on the Afro-Caribbean community – but also of immense effect upon Britain as a whole as we, as a nation, face the most severe challenges we have faced since the end of WWII.

I desire to greatly thank you for your short but deeply informative essay. I was already aware of the ancient history of the Church in Ethiopia, the first outside of the churches founded by the Apostle Paul and the Church of Jerusalem, and its profound and inextricable connection with the Ethiopian people. Yet your well put summation of the primary doctrinal issues and your highlighting of some of the primary challenges was extremely useful to me and prompted me to now often pray for the church in Ethiopia.

I do not wish to take up too much of your precious time by any further unnecessary words, so I will come to a point in which I wish to present a warning – with as much humility as my present condition allows and with the utmost respect.

It concerns your proposed solution of a centralized administration of the Tewahedo Church. I fully appreciate your desire that this does not come at detriment to the autonomy of the regions and individual churches, yet I feel the two cannot comfortably and sustainable co-exist.

As a person from a nation which has a huge degree of centralization in both political and ecclesiastical matters I want to present to you my understanding of the grave dangers this process and the end result has.

The greatest difficultly with centralization is that it produces an insular administration and authority which naturally becomes disconnected from the very people they were intended to serve and be a blessing to. Hence, in my experience at the very least, we see a feedback-loop occurring, or, in modern internet parlance, an echo-chamber. If a wayward or heretical development occurs – from whatever source – then very quickly the whole centralized administration and authority is corrupted to greater or lesser degree once it has started in the process. We see this extremely clearly in the degeneration of the Church of Rome from around AD 500 onwards but also see it in the situations now a reality in Britain whereby people have no effective voice in the political discourse despite being on the surface a democratic society.

One other great danger is that positions of authority, power and influence naturally attract the very sorts of people who are most unsuitable for such positions, whether due to pride, arrogance, self-centeredness or a desire to carry out abuse of those under their authority who are vulnerable. This tendency amongst the more depraved is sadly and inadvertently facilitated by a centralized system.

In closing I must say that I am no expert in political nor in ecclesiastical matters, yet I feel that I would be doing my Lord and yourself a disservice if I did not present these warnings for your considerations, prayer and further study. Yet I found the vast majority of your essay both usefully informative, well-written and well thought out and with a very good degree of wisdom.

With many thanks to you and my request that you don’t forgot to pray for me and the people of Britain.



Sussex, Great Britain