The Malankara Church‘s name sounds exotic enough already – finding out that it’s an Orthodox Syrian church only makes one even more curious about its practices. And while the name might imply an unusual system of beliefs, the doctrine of the church is a fairly common one.
What members of the Malankara Church believe in
To better understand what the Malankara Church is all about, it helps to compare them with other Orthodox Christians and their beliefs – doing so shows that Malankara’s members are simply another branch of the Orthodox Church.
For the most part, members of the Malankara Church assume a standard Orthodox doctrine (or, rather, a Christian one): they believe in Jesus as our savior who died for our sins, the supreme divinity of God, the innate sin in every human being and so forth. Malankara members also become baptized at an early age and confess their sins similarly to how other Christians would.
The biggest difference between Orthodox and non-Orthodox churches comes in the form of holidays: those who are familiar with Orthodox rituals know that they celebrate Easter and Christmas the same as Catholics do but sometimes on different dates.
And what about the hierarchy? Well, the Malankara Church hardly differs from other Orthodox groups in this regard: the standard ministry consists of bishops, priests and deacons with priests forming the majority of the clergy. Churches are generally ruled by metropolitan bishops and the position of a Malankara Metropolitan is the highest one can achieve in this religion.
How the Malankara Church stands out
While the doctrine of the church is nothing unseen, there are several differences between the ways of its practitioners and those of members in other congregations.
One of them is the simple fact that the Malankara Church is an Asian Christian organization: this alone makes it somewhat of a rare sight and therefore misunderstood at times. With Syrians and Indians form a large part of the church’s body, some people might be surprised that Christianity is established in these regions.
Another important thing to note about the church is their focus on worship. While some Christians might lead a devout life with little praying or church-going, those adhering to the Malankara doctrine believe group worship in sacred places is of utmost importance. Malankara Orthodox Christians are therefore likely to take their congregation very seriously and will usually be unwilling to miss masses and even smaller gatherings.
The church is also notable for having a distinct patron in Saint Thomas. Thought to be one of Jesus’ disciples, Saint Thomas is responsible for planting the seeds of today’s Malankara Church and many members direct their worship towards him. Since the church was purportedly established thanks to the influence of a disciple of Jesus himself, some Malankara believe their church’s doctrine is the most accurate one. While this stands true for most religions, the specifics of Malankara’s history in close proximity to the Christian savior can translate to church members being more rigid in their beliefs and less willing to make compromises than other Christians.
Top Image By Malankara Syrian Catholic Church (http://www.catholicate.net/) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons