Is the Armenian Church Apostolic or Orthodox? What is the difference?
A definition of the words Apostolic (Arakelakan) and Orthodox (Oughapar), both adjectives, is necessary here.
Apostolic means 'of the Holy Apostles' of Christ or 'relating to the cited in the Nicaean Creed: We believe also in only one universal and apostolic Church. This refers to the fact that the church founded by Jesus Christ is not a nebulous idea or a floating doctrine that can attract followers, but an institution that has been established throughout the world through the preaching of the Holy Apostles and through people ordained by them to their successors. Historically, the Apostles received their authority from the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:16-20) and in their turn they bequeathed it to others by ordaining overseers (bishops) and presbyters, and that line continues to this day.
The Armenian Church is Apostolic because it was founded by two of Christ's Apostles. St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew. The catholicoi-- chief bishops of the Armenian Church - trace back the origin of their ordination to the latter. this is why since ancient times the throne of the Catholicos of All Armenians has been referred to as Apostolic throne or Apostolic See.
The word Orthodox is of Greek origin and means 'of right belief.' The Armenian Church is not only apostolic but also orthodox, since her dogma and doctrines are neither erroneous nor heretical. The Armenian Church has adamantky held on to the teachings of the Holy Apostles, their followers and successors, as well as the early orthodox fathers of the church, shunning from heretical doctrines and controversial views. Both adjectives are integral parts of the name of the Armenian Church, Hayastaneayts Arakelakan Oughapar Ekeghetsi [Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church].
The church as a whole is also referred to as Holy Catholic Church. Catholic is a Greek word meaning universal. The term is used to emphasize the universality and the oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ. The Armenian Church is an integral part of the Holy Catholic Church.
The Church of Rome began to use the term Catholic only for herself, since it considered and still considers herself the Universal Church. The Armenian Church is not under the jurisdiction of Rome, and from the Armenian point of niew, the Church of Rome, like the Armenian Church and the other ancient churches of apostolic origin, is a part of the Universal Church. In response to the Roman use of Catholic, the Eastern churches affiliated with the Patriarchate of Constanttinople have used and still use the term Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and so on. The Armenian Church is not affiliated with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but considers herself orthodox or 'of right belief.'
The churches closest to the Armenian Church in matters of dogma and doctrine are: the Syrian Jacobite Church, the Coptic Church of Egypt, the Ethiopian Church, and the Malabar Malankara Church of India. These five churches are usuallu refferred to as the Oriental Orthodox churches in order to distinguish them from the Easter Orthodox churches. Each of these churches has its chief bishop and is independent, yet all five are in close relations with one another.