« Prev The Confession of Cyril Lucar, A.D. 1631. Next »

§ 15. The Confession of Cyril Lucar, A.D. 1631.


Cyrilli Lucaris Confessio Christianæ fidei, Latin, 1629; c. additam. Cyrilli, Gr. et Lat., Genev. 1633; (? Amst.) 1645, and often; also in Kimmel's Monumenta fidei Ecclesiæ Orient. P. I. pp. 24–44. Compare Proleg. pp. xxi.–l. (de vita Cyrilli).

Thom. Smith: Collectanea de Cyrillo Lucari, London, 1707. Comp. also, in Th. Smith's Miscellanea (Hal. 1724), his Narratio de vita, studiis, gestis et martyrio C. Lucaris.

Leo Allatius (d. at Rome, 1669): De Ecclesiæ Occidentalis atque Orientalis perpetua consensione, libri tres (III. 11), Gr. et Lat. Colon. 1648. Bitter and slanderous against Cyril.

J. H. Hottinger: Analecta hist. theol. Dissert. VIII., Appendix, Tigur. 1653 (al. 1652). Against him, L. Allatius: J. H. Hottingerus, fraudis et imposturæ manifestæ convictus, Rom. 1661.

J. Aymon: Lettres anecdotes de Cyrille Lucaris, Amsterd. 1718.

Bohnstedt: De Cyrillo Lucari, Halle, 1724.

Mohnike: On Cyril, in the Studien und Kritiken, 1832, p. 560.

Several articles on Cyril Lucar, in the British Magazine for Sept. 1842, Dec. 1843, Jan. and June, 1844.

Twesten: On Cyril, in the Deutsche Zeitechr. f. christl. Wissensch. u. chr. Leben, Berl. 1850, No. 39, p. 305.

W. Gass: Article 'Lukaris,' in Herzog's Encyklop. 2d ed. Vol. IX. pp. 5 sqq.; and Symbolik, pp. 50 sqq.

Aloysius Pichler (Rom. Cath.): Der Patriarch Cyrillus Lucaris und seine Zeit, München, 1862, 8vo. (The author has since joined the Greek Church.)

The Confession of Cyril Lucar was never adopted by any branch or party of the Eastern Church, and even repeatedly condemned as heretical; but as it gave rise to the later authentic definitions of the 'Orthodox Faith,' in opposition to the distinctive doctrines of Romanism and Protestantism, it must be noticed here.

Cyrillus Lucaris (Kyrillos Loukaris114114   Properly 'the son of Lucar,' hence τοῦ Λουκάρεως. The word λοῦκαρ in later Greek is the Latin lucar, or lucrum, stipend, pay, profit, whence the French and English lucre.), a martyr of Protestantism within the orthodox Greek Church, occupies a remarkable position in the conflict of the three great Confessions to which the Reformation gave rise. He is the counterpart of his more learned and successful, but less noble, antagonist, Leo Allatius (1586–1669), who openly apostatized from the Greek Church to the Roman, and became librarian of the Vatican. His work is a mere episode, and passed away apparently without permanent effect, but (like the attempted reformations of Wyclif, Huss, and Savonarola) it may have a prophetic meaning for the future, and be resumed by Providence in a better form.

Cyril Lucar was born in 1568 or 1572 in Candia (Crete), then under the sovereignty of Venice, and the only remaining seat of Greek learning. He studied and traveled extensively in Europe, and was for a while rector and Greek teacher in the Russian Seminary at Ostrog, in Volhynia. In French Switzerland he became acquainted with the Reformed Church, and embraced its faith. Subsequently he openly professed it in a letter to the Professors of Geneva (1636), through Leger, 55a minister from Geneva, who had been sent to Constantinople. He conceived the bold plan of ingrafting Protestant doctrines on the old œcumenical creeds of the Eastern Church, and thereby reforming the same. He was unanimously elected Patriarch of Alexandria in 1602 (?), and of Constantinople in 1621. While occupying these high positions he carried on an extensive correspondence with Protestant divines in Switzerland, Holland, and England, sent promising youths to Protestant universities, and imported a press from England (1629) to print his Confession and several Catechisms. But he stood on dangerous ground, between vacillating or ill-informed friends and determined foes. The Jesuits, with the aid of the French embassador at the Sublime Porte, spared no intrigues to counteract and checkmate his Protestant schemes, and to bring about instead a union of the Greek hierarchy with Rome. At their instigation his printing-press was destroyed by the Turkish government. He himself—in this respect another Athanasius 'versus mundum,' though not to be compared in intellectual power to the 'father of orthodoxy'—was five times deposed, and five times reinstated. At last, however—unlike Athanasius, who died in peaceful possession of his patriarchal dignity—he was strangled to death in 1638, having been condemned by the Sultan for alleged high-treason, and his body was thrown into the Bosphorus. His friends surrounded the palace of his successor, Cyril of Berœa, crying, 'Pilate, give us the dead, that we may bury him.'115115    Πίλατε, δὸς ἡμῖν τὸν νεκρόν, ἵνα αὐτὸν θάψωμεν. The corpse was washed ashore, but it was only obtained by Cyril's adherents after having been once more cast out and returned by the tide. The next Patriarch, Parthenius, granted him finally an honorable burial.

Cyril left no followers able or willing to carry on his work, but the agitation he had produced continued for several years, and called forth defensive measures. His doctrines were anathematized by Patriarch Cyril of Berœa and a Synod of Constantinople (Sept., 1638),116116   Cyril of Berœa seemed to assume the authenticity of Cyril's Confession. He was, however, himself afterwards deposed and anathematized on the charge of extortion and embezzlement of ecclesiastical funds, and for the part he took in procuring the death of Cyril Lucar by preferring false accusation against him to the Turks. See Mouravieff, Hist. of the Church of Russia, translated by Blackmore, p. 396. Blackmore, however, gives there a wrong date, assigning the death of Cyril to 1628 instead of 1638. then again by the Synods of Jassy, in Moldavia, 1643, and of Jerusalem, 1672; but 56on the last two occasions the honor of his name and the patriarchal dignity were saved by boldly denying the authenticity of his Confession, and contradicting it by written documents from his pen.117117    The Synods of Jassy and Jerusalem intimate that Cyril's Confession was a Calvinistic forgery, and the Synod of Jerusalem quotes largely from his homilies to prove his orthodoxy. Mouravieff, l.c. p. 189, adopts a middle view, saying: 'Cyril, although he had condemned the new doctrine of Calvin, nevertheless had not stood up decidedly and openly to oppose it, and for his neglect he was himself delivered over to an anathema by his successor, Cyril of Berœa.'

This Cyril was the same who seat the famous uncial Codex Alexandrinus of the Bible (A) to King Charles I. of England,118118   Not to James I. (who died 1625), as Kimmel and Gass wrongly state. Cyril brought the Codex with him from Alexandria, or, according to another report, from Mount Athos, and sent it to England in 1628, where it passed from the king's library into the British Museum, 1753. It dates from the fifth century, and contains the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, the whole New Testament, with some chasms, and, as an Appendix, the only MS. copy extant of the first Epistle of Clemens Romanus to the Corinthians, with a fragment of a second Epistle. The New Test. has been edited in quasi-fac-simile, by Woide, Lond. 1786, fol., and in ordinary Greek type by Cowper, Lond. 1860. and who translated the New Testament into the modern Greek language.119119    Published at Geneva or Leyden, 1638, and at London, 1703.

The Confession of Cyril was first written by him in Latin, 1629, and then in Greek, with an addition of four questions and answers, 1631, and published in both languages at Geneva, 1633.120120   The Latin edition was first published in 1529, either at the Hague (by the Dutch embassador Cornelius Van der Haga) or at Geneva, or at both places; the authorities I have consulted differ. The subscription to the Græco-Latin edition before me reads: 'Datum Constantinopoli mense Januario 1631 Cyrillus Patriarcha Constantinopoleos.' Another edition (perhaps by Hugo Grotius) was published 1645, without indication of place (perhaps at Amsterdam). I have used Kimmel's edition, which gives the text of the edition of 1645. It expresses his own individual faith, which he vainly hoped would become the faith of the Greek Church. It is divided into eighteen brief chapters, each fortified with Scripture references; eight chapters contain the common old Catholic doctrine, while the rest bear a distinctly Protestant character.

In Chapter I. the dogma of the Trinity is plainly stated in agreement with the œcumenical creeds, the procession of the Spirit in the conciliatory terms of the Council of Florence.121121   'Spiritus Sanctus a Patre Per Filium procedens,' ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς δἰ υἱοῦ. Chapters IV. and V. treat of the doctrines of creation and divine government; Chapter VI., of the fall of man; Chapters VII. and VIII., of the twofold state of Christ, his incarnation and humiliation, and his exaltation and sitting on the right hand of the Father, as the Mediator of mankind and the 57Ruler of his Church (status exinanitionis and st. exaltationis); Chapter IX., of faith in general; Chapter XVI., of baptismal regeneration.

The remaining ten chapters breathe the Reformed spirit. Chapter II. asserts that 'the authority of the Scriptures is superior to the authority of the Church,' since the Scriptures alone, being divinely inspired, can not err.122122   'Credimus Scripturam sacram esse θεοδίδακτον (i. e., a Deo traditam) habereque auctorem Spiritum Sanctum, non alium, cui habere debemus fidem indubitam. . . . Propterea ejus auctoritatem esse superiorem Ecclesiæ auctoritate; nimis enim differens est, loqui Spiritum Sanctum et linguam humanam, quum ista possit per ignorantiam errare, fallere et falli, Scriptura vero divina nec fallitur, nec errare potest, sed est infallibilis semper et certa.' In the appendix to the second (the Greek) edition, Cyril commends the general circulation of the Scriptures, and maintains their perspicuity in matters of faith, but excludes the Apocrypha, and rejects the worship of images. He believes 'that the Church is sanctified and taught by the Holy Spirit in the way of life,' but denies its infallibility, saying: 'The Church is liable to sin (ἁμαρτάνειν), and to choose the error instead of the truth (ἀντὶ τῆς ἀληθείας τὸ ψεῦδος ἐκλέγεσθαι); from such error we can only be delivered by the teaching and the light of the Holy Spirit, and not of any mortal man' (Ch. XII.). The doctrine of justification (Chapter XIII.) is stated as follows:

'We believe that man is justified by faith, not by works. But when we say "by faith," we understand the correlative of faith, viz., the Righteousness of Christ, which faith, fulfilling the office of the hand, apprehends and applies to us for salvation. And this we understand to be fully consistent with, and in no wise to the prejudice of, works; for the truth itself teaches us that works also are not to be neglected, and that they are necessary means and testimonies of our faith, and a confirmation of our calling. But, as human frailty bears witness, they are of themselves by no means sufficient to save man, and able to appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, so as to merit the reward of salvation. The righteousness of Christ, applied to the penitent, alone justifies and saves the believer.'

The freedom of will before regeneration is denied (Ch. XIV.).123123    Πιστεύομεν ἐν τοῖς οὐκ ἀναγεννηθεῖσι τὸ αὐτεξούσιον νεκρὸν εἶναι. This is in direct opposition to the traditional doctrine of the Greek Church, which emphasizes the liberum arbitrium even more than the Roman, and was never affected by the Augustinian anthropology. In the doctrine of decrees, Cyril agrees with the Calvinistic system (Ch. III.), and thereby offended Grotius and the Arminians. He accepts, with the Protestants, only two sacraments as being instituted by Christ, instead of seven, and requires faith as a condition of their application (Ch. XV.). He rejects the dogma of transubstantiation and oral manducation, and teaches the Calvinistic theory of a real but spiritual presence and fruition of the body and blood of Christ by believers only (Ch. XVII.). In the last chapter he rejects the doctrine of purgatory and of the possibility of repentance after death.

« Prev The Confession of Cyril Lucar, A.D. 1631. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection