The Outer Church

This pastor of the Outer Church wears the color purple, considered as a symbol of love and majesty, and the clerical collar borrowed from catholic traditions. The white dot on their forehead signals that they are married according to the Eloran rite.

The Outer Church, sometimes known as the Church of the Outer Stars, is a branch of Christianity that developed in the Low Age and found prominence among interstellar Christian communities during the past century. Though it originated as a simple offshoot of the Catholic Church, the Outer Church has significantly diverged in doctrinal and practical aspects, to the point many theologians do not consider it as Christian anymore, albeit Outerian believers generally see themselves as such. With 200 million believers, the Outer Church is among the three largest divergent interstellar faiths and is very well-represented in the solar system.

A Tritheist Church

The most striking theological divergence of the Outer Church is its refusal of the Trinity. The Outer Church negates the consensus of the Council of Nicaea and does not accept the idea of one God existing in three equal, eternal and consubstantial divine persons. This refusal is more radical than the usual forms of nontrinitarianism in Christian theology, which generally hinge on denying the full divine nature of Jesus Christ (such as Arianism) or stating that the distinctiveness of the Father, the Son and the resurrected Spirit are merely perceptions of the believer (such as Modalism). Instead, the Outer Church considers that the Trinity is in fact three separate, equal and almighty deities which act in unison but possess their distinctiveness: the Parent, the Child and the Word (Holy Spirit), all referred to with a singular They. Thus the fundamental creed of the Outer Church is tritheism, which denies Christian monotheism.

The origins of this tritheist belief are unclear even to historians. While the Low Age saw many a spiritual resurgence, from paganism to simpler, older forms of monotheist spirituality, there are no records of prominent Christian sects defending an actual tritheist doctrine in history -- the notion was generally used as an accusation, not as a self-proclaimed creed. Critics of the Outer Church in the Christian community consider the emergence of Outerian tritheism as the consequence of a loss of theological knowledge during the Low Age and multiple misreadings of the Bible. The Outer Church itself defends tritheism on the basis of nominalist thought: if the Parent and the Word were truly one substance, then it would mean both of them what have to be incarnate as well. In that regard, Outerian theologians align on medieval thinker Roscelin of Compi├Ęgne, though the reference is likely unintentional.

Many Christians, and Catholics in particular argue that tritheism makes the Outer Church non-Christian and de facto heretical, to which the Outer Church -- which itself considers trinitarian Christians as merely misguided, but believing in the same creed -- responds with utmost contempt.

Stellar Saints, Elected Pastors, the One Sacrament and Inherent Salvation

The Outer Church refuses the cult of human saints, which it considers as a disguised form of idolatry -- however, it encourages and enshrines a form of "stellar sanctity", where astronomical objects are imbued with the values of the Church. Star saints are meant to direct prayers and provide a concrete, physical anchor to the worship of the faithful, not to be an object of worship themselves -- despite what misguided Papist might say, Outerians do not "pray the stars", they merely consider them to be the direct evidence of the existence of God, through natural wonder. As the Outer Church, like all Abrahamic faiths, is concerned with eschatology, out-of-sequence stellar remnants are of particular interest to its pastors -- the holiest site of the Outer Church is Saint Magdalene's Abbey, a sanctified station orbiting Sagittarius A*, at the core of the Milky Way.

The Outer Church prides itself on not having any hierarchy, as its pastors are elected by the communities of the faithful (generally at the scale of a parish) and do not obey bishops or a Pope; instead, the canon of the Outer Church is established through Councils, which in the absence of the Papacy are organised through referendums among pastors. Due to this, the Outer Church is a very dynamic sect, at the forefront of modern theology. It is fairly common to see sub-sects orbiting in and out of the Outer Church as the accepted canon is changed with every new Council.

The pastors of the Outer Church lead the prayer in the parish's local language and only carry out a single sacrament -- the holy communion, which is done with unleavened sacramental bread and heavy water; following the tradition of the Plymouth Brethren, the Outerians believe the communion to be a symbolic re-enactment of the Last Supper, with no real presence of the Child. As the doctrine of the Outer Church considers any and all sophonts -- and not only humans -- to be already saved and within God's realm, the pastors do not carry out baptism. They thus hold the view that even non-human intelligences can receive the Gospel, including Sequence, Forgotten Traveller or Vriij aliens.

Illustration for Starmoth by Tiucoo

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