Cyril Lucaris, Patriarch of Constantinople (1572–1638)

Cyril Lucaris (Kyrillos Lukaris), Patriarch of Alexandria (1602-1621) and Patriarch of Constantinople (1612, 1620-1623, 1623-1633, 1633-1634, 1634-1635, 1637-1638) a martyr within the Orthodox Church, occupies a remarkable position in Church history. His treatise “The Confession of Orthodox Faith” is a mere episode, and passed away apparently without permanent effect, but (like the attempted reformations of Wycliffe, Huss, and Savonarola) it may have a prophetic meaning for the future, and be resumed by Providence in a subsequent form.

The Confession of Orthodox Faith (1629)

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Cyril, Patriarch of Constantinople, publishes this brief Confession for the benefit of those who inquire about the faith and the religion of the Greeks, that is of the Eastern Church, in witness to God and to men and with a sincere conscience without any dissimulation.

Chapter 1.

We believe in one God, true, Almighty, and in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Father unbegotten, the Son begotten of the Father before the world, consubstantial with the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father by the Son, having the same essence with the Father and the son. We call these three persons in one essence the Holy Trinity, ever to be blessed, glorified, and worshipped by every creature.

Chapter 2.

We believe the Holy Scripture to be given by God, to have no other author but the Holy Spirit. This we ought undoubtedly to believe, for it is written. We have a more sure word of prophecy, to which you do well to take heed, as to light shining in a dark place. We believe the authority of the Holy Scripture to be above the authority of the Church. To be taught by the Holy Spirit is a far different thing from being taught by a man; for man may through ignorance err, deceive and be deceived, but the word of God neither deceives nor is deceived, nor can err, and is infallible and has eternal authority.

Chapter 3.

We believe that the most merciful God has predestined His elect unto glory before the beginning of the world, without any respect of their works and that there was no other impulsive cause to this election, but only the good will and mercy of God. In like manner before the world was made, He rejected whom He would, of which act of reprobation, if you consider the absolute dealing of God, His will is the cause; but if you look upon the laws and principles of good order, which God’s providence is making use of in the government of the world, His justice is the cause, for God is merciful and just.

Chapter 4.

We believe that one God in Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to be the Creator of all things visible and invisible. Invisible things we call the angels, visible things we call the heavens and all things under them. And because the Creator is good by nature, He has created all things good, and He cannot do any evil; and if there is any evil, it proceeds either from the Devil or from man. For it ought to be a certain rule to us, that God is not the Author of evil, neither can sin by any just reason be imputed to Him.

Chapter 5.

We believe that all things are governed by God’s providence, which we ought rather to adore than to search into. Since it is beyond our capacity, neither can we truly understand the reason of it from the things themselves, in which matter we suppose it better to embrace silence in humility than to speak many things which do not edify.

Chapter 6.

We believe that the first man created by God fell in Paradise, because he neglected the commandment of God and yielded to the deceitful counsel of the serpent. From thence sprung up original sin to his posterity, so that no man is born according to the flesh who does not bear this burden and feel the fruits of it in his life.

Chapter 7.

We believe that Jesus Christ our Lord emptied Himself, that is He assumed man’s nature into His own substance. That He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the ever virgin Mary, was born, suffered death, was buried, and risen in glory, that He might bring salvation and glory to all believers, Whom we look for to come to judge both quick and dead.

Chapter 8.

We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ sits on the right hand of His Father and there He makes intercession for us, executing alone the office of a true and lawful high priest and mediator, and from there He cares for His people and governs His Church adorning and enriching her with many blessings.

Chapter 9.

We believe that without faith no man can be saved. And we call faith that which justifies in Christ Jesus, which the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ procured, the Gospel published, and without which no man can please God.

Chapter 10.

We believe that the Church, which is called catholic, contains all true believers in Christ, those who having departed their country are in heaven and those who live on earth are yet on the way. The Head of that Church (because a mortal man by no means can be) is Jesus Christ alone, and He holds the rudder of the government of the Church in His own hand. Because, however, there are on earth particular visible Churches, every one of them has one chief, who is not properly to be called [head] of that particular Church, but improperly, because he is the principal member of it.

Chapter 11.

We believe that the members of the Catholic Church are saints, chosen unto eternal life, from the number and fellowship of which hypocrites are excluded, though in particular visible churches tares may be found among the wheat.

Chapter 12.

We believe that the Church on earth is sanctified and instructed by the Holy Spirit, for He is the true comforter, whom Christ sends from the Father to teach the truth and to expel darkness form the understanding of the faithful. For it is true and certain that the Church on earth may err, choosing falsehood instead of truth, from which error the light and doctrine of the Holy Spirit alone frees us, not of mortal man, although by mediation of the labors of the faithful ministers of the Church this may be done.

Chapter 13.

We believe that man is justified by faith and not by works. But when we say by faith, we understand the correlative or object of faith, which is the righteousness of Christ, which, as if by hand, faith apprehends and applies unto us for our salvation. This we say without any prejudice to good works, for truth itself teaches us that works must not be neglected, that they are necessary means to testify to our faith and confirm our calling. But that works are sufficient for our salvation, that they can enable one to appear before the tribunal of Christ and that of their own merit they can confer salvation, human frailty witnesses to be false; but the righteousness of Christ being applied to the penitent, alone justifies and saves the faithful.

Chapter 14.

We believe that free will is dead in the unregenerate, because they can do no good thing, and whatsoever they do is sin; but in the regenerate by the grace of the Holy Spirit the will is excited and in deed works but not without the assistance of grace. In order, therefore, that man should be born again and do good, it is necessary that grace should go before; otherwise man is wounded having received as many wounds as that man received who going from Jerusalem down to Jericho fell into the hands of thieves, so that of himself he cannot do anything.

Chapter 15.

We believe that the Evangelical Sacraments in the Church are those that the Lord instituted in the Gospel, and they are two; these only have been delivered unto us and He who instituted them delivered unto us no more. Furthermore, we believe that they consist of the Word and the Element, that they are the seals of the promises of God, and they do confer grace. But that the Sacrament be entire and whole, it is requisite that an earthly substance and an external action concur with the use of that element ordained by Christ our Lord and joined with a true faith, because the defect of faith prejudices the integrity of the Sacrament.

Chapter 16.

We believe that Baptism is a Sacrament instituted by the Lord, and unless a man has received it, he has no communion with Christ, from whose death, burial, and glorious resurrection the whole virtue and efficacy of Baptism proceeds; therefore, we are certain that to those who are baptized in the same form which our Lord commanded in the Gospel, both original and actual sins are pardoned, so that whosoever has been washed in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit are regenerate, cleansed, and justified. But concerning the repetition of it, we have no command to be rebaptized, therefore we must abstain from this indecent thing.

Chapter 17.

We believe that the other Sacrament which was ordained by the Lord is that which we call Eucharist. For in the night in which the Lord offered up Himself, He took bread and blessed it and He said to the Apostles, “Take ye, eat, this is my body,” and when He had taken the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Drink all of this, this is my blood which was shed for many; this do in remembrance of me.” And Paul adds, “For as often as ye shall eat of this bread and drink of this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death.” This is the pure and lawful institution of this wonderful Sacrament, in the administration of which we profess the true and certain presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; that presence, however, which faith offers to us, not that which the devised doctrine of transubstantiation teaches. For we believe that the faithful eat the body of Christ in the Supper of the Lord, not by breaking it with the teeth of the body, but by perceiving it with the sense and feeling of the soul, since the body of Christ is not that which is visible in the Sacrament, but that which faith spiritually apprehends and offers to us; from whence it is true that, if we believe, we do eat and partake, if we do not believe, we are destitute of all the fruit of it. We believe, consequently, that to drink the cup in the Sacrament is to be partaker of the true blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the same manner as we affirmed of the body; for as the Author of it commanded concerning His body, so He did concerning His blood; which commandment ought neither to be disremembered nor maimed, according to the fancy of man’s arbitrament; yea rather the institution ought to be kept as it was delivered to us. When therefore we have been partakers of the body and blood of Christ worthily and have communicated entirely, we acknowledge ourselves to be reconciled, united to our Head of the same body, with certain hope to be co-heirs in the Kingdom to come.

Chapter 18.

We believe that the souls of the dead are either in blessedness or in damnation, according as every one has done, for as soon as they move out of the body they pass either to Christ or into hell; for as a man is found at his death, so he is judged, and after this life there is neither power nor opportunity to repent; in this life there is a time of grace, they therefore who be justified here shall suffer no punishment hereafter; but they who die, being not justified, are appointed for everlasting punishment. By which it is evident that the fiction of Purgatory is not to be admitted but in the truth it is determined that every one ought to repent in this life and to obtain remission of his sins by our Lord Jesus Christ, if he will be saved. And, let this be the end.

This brief Confession of ours we conjecture will be a sign spoken against them who are pleased to slander and persecute us. But we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and hope that He will not relinquish the cause of His faithful ones, nor let the rod of wickedness lie upon the lost of the righteous.

Dated in Constantinople in the month of March, 1629. Cyril, Patriarch of Constantinople.

6 thoughts on “Cyril Lucaris, Patriarch of Constantinople (1572–1638)

  1. How can the “Orthodox Church” be -One- when there are diverse opinions about what happens to the soul after death..There are some so called ‘Church Fathers”, who believe -demons judge a departed soul through a series of tollhouses”..Dositheus states the opposite…If the Orthodox Church was really THE Church, a historical fact remains. In Matthew 28 the Lord Himself commands “going into all the nations”..There was a whole part of the world devoid of missionaries of the Orthodox Church for several centuries…..

    1. Which of the Church Fathers advocated the teaching of “tollhouses”? It is a speculative idea put forth by a few as an allegory to explain something that is not clearly explained in the Scriptures. It is hardly a reason to divide a church. The Orthodox Church is united in following the clear pronouncements of the seven Ecumenical Councils. The several “national churches” are united in communion around a common Creed and the Eucharistic Divine Liturgy. I can go to an Orthodox Church in America, Romania, Greece, Syria, Russia, Indonesia, Japan or Australia, for example, and receive communion. I would not be welcome to receive communion in a Roman Catholic Church. I would not attempt to participate in communion at a Protestant/Evangelical church because they do not believe the same thing about the Eucharist that I believe.

      You do not name the “several centuries” during which the Orthodox Church did not have missionaries, or the “whole part of the world” devoid of such missionaries, so it is hard to answer that objection. If Islam had not taken over the Middle East, the Eastern Church would likely be as numerous today as the Western Roman Church is. It is hard for a church struggling under the Islamic yoke to survive, let alone send missionaries to foreign countries. The Russian Church continued to be a missionary church, sending missionaries to China and Alaska. But the Orthodox were limited by the strength of the Roman Church and Protestantism as to what they could do in the Americas.

      In the peace of Christ,

      1. If you please, there is no allegory concerning what happens after death. In the Holy scripture, Hebrews 9:27 it states “it is appointed unto men to die once and after this the judgement. In the Holy Gospel of John5:24 it states Whoever believes in Jesus will pass from death to life.. Luke 16:19-31 explains what happens after death… far as “Toll Houses” goes, one can read writings of Fr Seraphim Rose and the refutations By Bishop Lazar Puhalo to see sources of disagreement of various Church Fathers concerning the issue.If after 1064 the Roman Church was “excommunicated” the Eastern Church should have sent missionaries into Europe,Africa, etc to provide the “Correct Church” Both Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries went worldwide without regard to lives nor comfort…It wasn’t until 30 or less years ago that ant sincere missionary work by Orthodox Churches was done here in the USA. Alaska was a Russian Colony, but St Herman of Alaska must be given credit for his work which was eschewed by ethnic orthodox, if you study his life. All Orthodox Churches are not in communion. Constant anathemas take place, Just 10 years ago Antiochians were turned down for communion by Romanians. The Old Believers vs regular Russian Orthodox feud led to much bloodshed. Over issues such as doing the sign of the cross with two or three fingers..Please just go to an -Old Calendar-GOC/TOC church and see if they will give you communion or even recognize your baptism…….

    2. John Bunyan would be surprised to be told that allegory has no place in Christian teaching. If indeed Fr Seraphim Rose and Bishop Lazar Puhalo name certain Church Fathers, I still maintain that this dispute is not sufficient cause for schism in the Church.

      As for what happens after death, the scriptures give us glimpses, through a glass darkly, but not a systematic treatise. Using Luke 16:19-31 to refute the toll house doctrine would be using argument from silence. Would you say that Luke 16:19-31 represents the environment that the Christian believer will find himself in after death? Where does the resurrection fit in you scheme of things? What is the difference, if any, between the judgment seat of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment? Can you be sure? Does a difference of opinion on these points warrant a church schism?

      You seem to misunderstand the significance of excommunication. Denying communion is intended to bring the offender to repentance, not to cast them into outer darkness. Dissensions and schisms are to be healed, not hardened. I Cor 1:10. There were efforts over the centuries on both sides to heal the rift between East and West after the events of 1054. But Islam had been strengthening its hold on the Middle East since the seventh century. It is easy in hindsight to say what should have happened in history, but history is what it is.

      You claim that St Herman of Alaska’s efforts were eschewed by the folks back home. Like how William Carey’s Particular Baptist associates told him to stay home? Yet the work went forward. I am certainly aware that there are splinter groups in Orthodoxy. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was out of communion with the Moscow Patriarchate for decades, yet they reconciled in 2007. I am sure that I could find Orthodox groups that would deny me communion, but in the big picture, those are a minority. We pray that these divisions will be healed.

      The Scriptures tell us that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Eph 4:5. There are not to be divisions between the brethren. I Cor 1:10, Phil 4:2. Are you part of the historic church? Or are you in a recent splinter group? “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” John 17:11. Please consider these things.

      In the peace of Christ,

      1. Allegory has a place in prophecy,and parables.I never said it had no place in Christian thinking. .It has no place in Basic Salvation Scriptures..A Church that is ethnocentric is not an historic church. The resurrection will occur and the Dead in Christ will rise. The Lord will dispense His Justice! Please check once more with various Orthodox Churches, and you will find out that excommunication can be a lot more than just for repentance.The intrinsic need for schism in the Orthodox scheme shows this is not historic, They chomp at the bit for divisions, so to speak. There’s no analogy between the rare missionary St Herman of Alaska and the other missionaries who were told to stay home….The One Lord said, Go ye into ALL the nations…… The worship of ethnic groups is contrary to the Gospel…..So, I’ll stick with the Lord Jesus …………………………….and leave it at that..

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