Cyril Lukaris was was the Patriarch of Alexandria (1602-1620) and the Patriarch of Constantinople from 1620 until his death in 1638. He corresponded with several European Protestants for many years, eventually resulting in his acceptance of the Reformed Faith. He was accused of treason against Murad IV, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and was arrested and strangled to death. His confession was anathematized by the Eastern Orthodox Churches at the Synod of Constantinople (1638 and 1642), Jassy (1640), and the Council of Jerusalem (1672). The Confession of Dositheus is a direct response to and condemnation of the basic tenets of Reformed Theology as expressed in Lukaris’ confession. The following is the confession of Cyril Lukaris in full.
The Eastern Confession of the Christian Faith.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Cyril, Patriarch of Constantinople, to those that ask and inquire concerning the faith and worship of the Church of the Greeks, that is, of the Eastern Church, how it thinks concerning the Orthodox faith, in the common name of all Christians publishes this concise Confession for a testimony both before God and before man, with a sincere conscience, and devoid of all dissimulation.
We believe in one God, true, almighty, and infinite, tri-personal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: the Father unbegotten; the Son begotten of the Father before the ages, and consubstantial with Him; and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father through the Son, and consubstantial with the Father and the Son. These three persons in one essence we call the All-holy Trinity—by all creation to be ever blessed, glorified, and adored.
(Deut. 4:35; 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; Matt. 19:26; Jer. 23:24; Rom. 11:33; Gen. 1:26; 3:12; Matt. 28:19; Eph. 4:4–6; Gal. 4:6; Isa. 40:4, 6; 46:9; Luke 1:37; Rev. 1:20; 1 Kings 8:27; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 John 5:7; 1 Cor. 12:4; John 15:26; 2 Cor. 13:13.)
We believe the Sacred Scriptures to be God-taught; whose author is the Holy Spirit, and none other. Which we ought to believe without doubting; for it is written: “We have [as] more sure the prophetical word, whereunto ye do well to take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a darksome place.” And so the witness of the Sacred Scriptures is of higher authority than that of the Church. For it is not the same for us to be taught by the All-holy Spirit, and [to be taught] by man; for man by reason of his ignorance, is liable to err, and to deceive, and to be deceived, but the Sacred Scriptures, neither deceive, nor are deceived, nor are subject to error; but are infallible and have perpetual authority.
(2 Tim. 3:16; John 16:13; Acts 15:28; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Cor. 3:10; John 3:31; Ps. 116; Acts 5:29; Matt. 15:9; Gal. 1:8; Ps. 12:6; Ps. 119:86, 104, 142; Rom. 1:17; 15:4; Matt. 5:18; 24:35; 2 Peter 1:8; Matt. 10:20; Gal. 1:11; Eph. 2:20; Jer. 23:28; Ps. 61:8; Rom. 3:4; Col. 2:8; Ezek. 20:18; Prov. 30:5; Ps. 19:8; Heb. 4:12; John 20:31; 10:35; Isa. 40:7; 1 Peter 1:23–25.)
We believe the most good God to have, before the foundation of the world, predestinated unto glory those whom He has chosen, without having in any wise regard to their works, and having no actuating cause for this election, except His good pleasure, the divine mercy. In like manner to have, before the world was, rejected those whom He has rejected; and of this rejection, if any one will look to the absolute power and authority of God, he will find the undoubted cause to be the divine will; and, if again any one will turn to the laws and rules of good order which the providence above uses in the governing of the world, he will perceive the cause to be His righteousness. For God is merciful and withal righteous.
(Eph. 1:4; Rom. 9:11–12; 3:9; 5:12; Eph. 2:3; John 17:6, 9; Acts 13:48; Titus 1:1; Matt. 13:10; John 6:37, 44; 12:37; 2 Tim. 2:19; Matt. 15:13; Rev. 13:20; Rom. 9:13, 18; Ps. 147:20; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 4:7; Titus 3:3; Rom. 8:28–29; 2 Thess. 3:2; Luke 10:21; Mark 4:11; Rom. 11:7; John 1:27; 1 John 2:19; Matt. 20:16; Deut. 10:14; 7:6; Acts 14:6; Rom. 11:33–36.)
We believe the tri-personal God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to be the Maker of visible and invisible creatures. And by invisible we mean the angelic powers, but by visible, heaven and what is under heaven. And because the Maker is good by nature, He made all things good whatsoever He has made; nor can He ever be the Maker of evil. But if there is any evil in nature, it is either of the devil or of man. For it is a true and infallible rule that God is in no wise the author of evil, nor can any such by just reasoning be attributed to God.
(Gen. 1:1; Col. 1:16; Acts 17:24; Eccl. 7:30; James 1:13; Deut. 32:4; John 1:1; Ps. 33:6; Gen. 1:27; Ps. 8:4; John 8:44; 1 John 2:16.)
We believe all things to be governed by the providence of God, which we ought to adore, but not to curiously pry into, as being above our comprehension; nor are we able of ourselves to accurately attain unto the comprehension of the reasons thereof. Wherefore, concerning this matter, we feel we ought rather in humility to observe silence than to indulge unedifyingly in vain discourse.
(Ps. 115:3; Heb. 1:3; Ex. 7:3; 1 Chron. 21:1; John 1:12, 21; 19:11; Rom. 1:24; 11:33; Eph. 1:9; Matt. 1:29; 2 Sam. 12:11; 24:1; 1 Kings 3:22–23; Isa. 10:5; Acts 2:23; 4:27; Jer. 32:19; Deut. 29:29.)
We believe the first man created by God to have fallen in Paradise, when, disregarding the divine commandment, he yielded to the deceitful counsel of the serpent. And hence hereditary sin flowed to his posterity; so that none is born after the flesh, who bears not this burden, and experiences not the fruits thereof in this present world.
(Eccl. 7:30; Ps. 51:5; John 3:6; Gen. 8:21; Gal. 3:22; John 3:3; Rom. 3:12; 1 John 1:8; Prov. 20:9; Rom. 5:12, 15, 19; Job 14:4; 5:14; Eph. 2:3; Rom. 8:7; 3:9, 26; Eccl. 7:21; 1 Kings 8:46; James 3:2; Rom. 7:7; 6:23.)
We believe the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, to have emptied Himself, that is, to have taken into His own person human flesh, being conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the ever-virgin Mary; and becoming man, to have been born, to have suffered, to have been buried, and to have risen again in glory, and so to have procured for all believers salvation and glory. Whom also we look for to come to judge the living and the dead.
(Phil. 2:6; Luke 1:35; Rom. 1:3; Heb. 2:14; Rom. 4:25; Matt. 1:22; Gal. 4:4; John 1:14; 1 Cor. 15:3; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 4:1.)
We believe our Lord Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father, to be a mediator there, and to intercede for us, alone exercising the office of a true and genuine high priest and mediator; wherefore also He alone is solicitous for His own, and presides over the Church, adorning her with all variety of blessings, and ever enriching her.
(1 John 2:1; 1 Tim. 3:5; Matt. 11:28; 18:19; Acts 4:12; Eph. 2:18; 3:12; Rom. 8:34; John 14:6; 10:9; John 16:23; 14:13; Rom. 5:1, 5, 9; Heb. 4:15; 5:4; 12:22; 7:24; 10:12, 18.)
We believe no one to be saved without faith. And that we call faith which justifies in Christ Jesus, which the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ has procured for us, and the Gospel proclaims, and without which it is impossible to please God.
(Heb. 11:6; 11:1; John 5:24; 20:31; Gal. 5:6; Eph. 2:8; Rom. 5:2; 8:16; Heb. 10:22; James 1:6; Rom. 14:23; 10:17; Luke 8:11; James 2:14, 17, 22; Phil. 1:29; Eph. 3:12; 1:13; 1 John 4:13; 3:19; Rom. 14:5; John 3:18.)
We believe that what is called the Catholic Church contains generally the faithful in Christ, whether fallen asleep and in their home in the Fatherland, or yet pilgrims on their journey; of which Church, since a mortal man can in no wise be head, our Lord Jesus Christ is Himself sole head, and Himself holding the rudder, is at the helm in the governing of the Church: yet, nevertheless, because the particular Churches sojourning here are visible, and for order each have their President, he is not properly called the head of that particular church, but by abuse, because he is the leading member therein.
(Gal. 4:26; Eph. 2:14; 1:10; 4:4; Gal. 3:26; Acts 4:32; 2:42; Matt. 18:20; 28:20; Eph. 4:5; Heb. 5:4; Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18; Matt. 16:18; Ps. 118:20; 1 Cor. 3:11; Matt. 23:8; 1 Tim. 3:1; 1 Cor. 14:32; Heb. 13:17; 2 Cor. 5:20; 12:11; Heb. 12:23; Col. 3:11; 1 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 10:24; John 10:24; James 4:12; John 3:27; 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 2:19; 1 Peter 2:6; Acts 4:11–12; Matt. 20:25; Luke 22:25; 1 Peter 5:2; 2 Cor. 1:24; 1 Cor. 4:1; Gal. 2:16.)
We believe that the members of the Catholic Church are the saints that are elected unto eternal life; from whose lot and fellowship hypocrites are excluded; though we perceive and see that in particular churches the chaff is mingled with the wheat.
(Rom. 8:29; 9:23; Acts 2:39; 13:48; Matt. 7:21; Rom. 2:18; Rev. 21:27; Gal. 4:26; Rom. 9:19; John 5:35–36; 12:32; Matt. 20:16; 13:24, 47; Luke 13:26; Isa. 4:7; Heb. 12:22; John 17:6, 10, 28; 1 John 2:19; 2 Tim. 2:19.)
We believe that during its sojourn here the Church is hallowed and taught by the All-holy Spirit. For He is the true Paraclete whom Christ sends from the Father to teach the truth, and to drive away darkness from the minds of the faithful. For it is true and certain, that the Church while on its way is liable to err, and, instead of truth, to choose falsehood. From which error and deception the teaching and light of the All-holy Spirit alone delivers us, not that of a mortal man; though this may be wrought through the instrumentality of such as faithfully minister in the Church.
(1 Cor. 3:16; 6:11; John 17:17; 6:45; Jer. 31:32; Eph. 1:13; Joel 2; 1 Cor. 2:10; Rom. 8:9; Eph. 4:4; Judg. 2:12; 2 Chron. 29:6; Dan. 9:11; Jer. 18:18; Jer. 23:11; 2:8; 1 Tim. 4:3; 1 John 2:18; Rom. 11:22; Rev. 2:2; Acts 5:29; Hos. 2:2; 1 Thess. 5:19; Matt. 22:29; Gal. 1:8; 2 Thess. 2:13; Isa. 54:13; Ezek. 11:19; John 14:16; 16:13; Acts 2:16; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 1 John 2:27; 1 Cor. 12:7; 2 Chron. 15:3; 1 Kings 19:10; Jer. 11:10; Isa. 1:21; Ezek. 7:26; 1 Tim. 4:1; Acts 20:30; 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 John 4:1; Rom. 3:4; Ezek. 2:18; Matt. 7:5; Acts 17:11; John 5:39; 2 John 9; John 8:31.)
We believe that man is justified by faith, not by works. But when we say by faith, we mean the correlative of faith, which is the righteousness of Christ; on which faith, as it were, fulfilling the function of a hand, lays hold, and applies the same unto us for salvation; which we declare to be for the sustaining, and not for the detriment, of works. And that works are not to be neglected, since they are necessary means for a witness to faith, and for certification of our calling, the truth itself teaches us. But withal they are of themselves in no wise sufficient to give boldness at the tribunal of Christ, and to claim a recompense as by merit of condignity, and to save the possessor; and that this is so human frailty testifies. But the righteousness of Christ applied to such as repent and imputed unto them alone justifies and saves the believer.
(Gal. 2:16; 1 Cor. 1:30; 6:11; Isa. 53:4–6; John 1:29; 6:11; Acts 4:12; Eph. 1:7; Gal. 3:10; 3:13, 22, 24; Rom. 9:31; 10:3; 11:6; Titus 2:11; Rom. 8:13; 6:1; 3:31; Phil. 3:8; Prov. 29; Dan. 9:18; Luke 15:21; 17:10; 18:9; Rom. 3:20; 4:2; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; Matt. 20:29; Heb. 9:12; 1 John 1:7; Rom. 5:9; 10:4; James 2:10; Acts 13:38; Titus 3:5; Eph. 2:8; James 2:14, 17, 20; 1 Cor. 4:4; Pss. 130, 143, 32:1–2; Isa. 53:6; 64:6; Matt. 8:8; Rom. 8:8; 5:20; 6:23.)
We believe that in those that are not regenerated free will is dead; they being in no wise able to do what is good; and whatever they do is sin; but in those that are regenerated by the All-holy Spirit, free will is revived, and operates, yet not without the assistance of grace. So, therefore, for a regenerated man to do what is good, it is necessary that he be guided and prevented by grace, without which he is wounded, and has as many stripes as he received from the robbers who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho; so that he is of himself powerless, and able to do nothing.
(Matt. 7:18; John 15:5; 1 Cor. 2:11, 14; 12:3; Eph. 2:1; Rom. 3:9; John 1:5; 6:44; Rom. 6:17; 14:23; John 3:3; 8:34; Col. 1:12; 2:13; 2 Cor. 3:5; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13; 1:29; Ezek. 11:19; 36:26; 1 Cor. 12:2; 2 Peter 1:3; Acts 16:14; 2 Cor. 4:16; Rom. 7:14ff.; Mark 9:24; Rom. 11:24; 8:7; 2 Cor. 3:5; Col. 1:21; Matt. 16:17; Eph. 5:7; 1 Peter 2:19; Eph. 2:8; 1 Peter 1:3; Rom. 6:18; 8:2; Eph. 2:5; Ps. 100; 2 Cor. 5:17; Deut. 30:6; Jer. 31:33; 32:39; James 1:17; 1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Tim. 2:25; 1 Cor. 1:8; Gal. 5:17; Ps. 119:34, 36–37; Pss. 143:11–12; 86:10; 103:2–3.)
We believe that there are in the Church Evangelical Mysteries, which the Lord delivered in the gospel, and that these are two. For so many were delivered unto us; and the Institutor delivered no more. And that these consist of a word and of an element; and that they are the seals of God’s promises, and procure grace, we hold firmly. But that the Mystery be perfect and entire, it is necessary that an earthly matter and the external act concur with the use of that earthly thing, which was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, united with sincere faith; for when faith is wanting in the receivers the entirety of the Mystery is not preserved.
(Matt. 28:19–20; 1 Cor. 11:13; 10:23; 12:13; Eph. 5:25; 1 Cor. 11:23; Ex. 12:11; 13:9; Col. 2:11; Acts 8:36; Mark 16:16; Luke 22:19; Gal. 3:15; Mark 1:4; Rom. 4:11; 1 Peter 3:21; Rom. 2:28–29; John 3:5; Heb. 10:22; 1 Cor. 11:27.)
We believe that Baptism is a Mystery instituted by the Lord, which, except any one receive, he has no communion with Christ, from whose death, burial, and glorious resurrection, flow all the virtue and efficacy of Baptism; wherefore, as to those that are so baptized, as is commanded in the Gospel, we doubt not that their sins are forgiven, whether hereditary, or any such as the baptized have committed; so that those who are washed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, are regenerated, cleansed, and justified. But concerning a second repetition of Baptism, we have no commandment, so as to reiterate Baptism. Therefore we ought to refrain from this irregularity.
(Mark 1:4; Matt. 28:19; Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:12; Luke 3:13; Titus 3:5; John 1:6, 33; 3:32; Mark 16:16; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:26; Acts 2:38; 10:47; 22:16; Eph. 4:5; Heb. 6:4.)
We believe the other Mystery instituted by the Lord to be what we call the Eucharist. For in the night wherein the Lord gave Himself up, taking bread and blessing, He said to His Apostles, “Take, eat ye; This is my body.” And taking the chalice and giving thanks, He said, “Drink ye all of it, This is my blood which for you is poured out; this do ye for my memorial.” And Paul adds, “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this chalice, ye proclaim the death of the Lord.” This is the simple, true, and genuine tradition of this wondrous Mystery, in the performance and administration of which we acknowledge and believe is the true and real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; nevertheless, such as our faith presents and offers unto us, not such as transubstantiation vainly invented teaches. For we believe the faithful that partake in the supper eat the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, not by perceptively pressing and dissolving the communion with the teeth, but by the soul realizing communion. For the body of the Lord is not what is seen in the Mystery with the eyes and received, but what faith spiritually apprehending presents unto us and bestows. Whence it is true that we eat, and partake, and have communion, if we believe. If we believe not, we are deprived of all benefit of the Mystery; consequently to drink the chalice in the Mystery is to really drink the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the same manner as is said of the body. For as the Institutor gave commandment concerning His own body, so also did He concerning His own blood, which commandment ought not to be mutilated according to the fancy of every one; but rather the tradition of the institution should be preserved entire. When, therefore, we worthily partake, and entirely communicate in the Mystery of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are already, we confess, reconciled to our Head, and united with Him, and one body with Him, with certain hope of also being co-heirs with Him in the Kingdom.
(Matt. 26:26; Luke 22:19; Acts 1:9; 3:21; Eph. 3:17; 1 Cor. 12:13; Heb. 11:1; Mark 14:22; 1 Cor. 11:23; 10:16; Col. 3:1; Gal. 2:30; 2 Cor. 5:7; John 6:35, 53, 56–58, 60.)
We believe that the souls of those that have fallen asleep are either in blessedness, or in condemnation, according to what each one has wrought. For when they depart from their bodies, they depart immediately either to Christ, or to condemnation. For as any one is found in death, he receives the corresponding talent, there being no repentance after death. For the time of grace is the present life. Therefore, they that are justified here, will hereafter in no wise be subject to condemnation. And again as many as are not justified when they fall asleep, will inherit eternal condemnation. From which it is evident, we ought not to admit the fable of Purgatory; but to maintain in truth, that each one ought to repent in the present life, and seek forgiveness of sin through our Lord Jesus Christ, if he would be saved. And this is so.
(Heb. 9:27; Eccl. 11:3; Isa. 57:1; Rom. 14:8; Phil. 1:21–22; Luke 2:25; 23:42; Ps. 32:6; John 9:4; 11:9–10; 12:35; Eccl. 9:6; Heb. 3:7; 4:1; 10:26; 2 Cor. 5:10; Ezek. 18:4; 1 Peter 1:18; 1 John 1:7; 2:1; Heb. 9:12, 22, 25; 10:10; 1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 5:25; 1 Cor. 1:30; Acts 15:9; Isa. 43:25; Col. 2:13; Luke 16:22; Rev. 14:13; 1 Thess. 4:13; 2 Cor. 5:1; 2 Tim. 4:6; Isa. 55:6; 2 Cor. 6; Matt. 25:1; 25:19; 24:42; Gal. 6:5; Matt. 16:26; Ps. 49:6; Hab. 2:4; Heb. 1:3; 7:25; Titus 2:13; Rom. 3:24; Rev. 1:5; John 15:3; Pss. 32; 103:12; Ezek. 18:21; 36:25; Rom. 5:1; 8:1, 30, 38; John 3:16, 36; 5:24.)
This, our concise Confession, will, we conjecture, be for a sign to be spoken against by those that love to unjustly calumniate and persecute us. But we, taking courage in the Lord, are sure that He will not neglect His own, nor forsake them, nor will He altogether leave the rod of the malignant upon the lot of the righteous.
Dated in Constantinople in the month of March, 1629. Cyril, Patriarch of Constantinople.
4 thoughts on “The Confession of Cyril Lukaris (1629)”
This is so full of light and lovely, I can hardly believe it! His word-choices reveal so much biblical and Reformed insight! To think that this came out of the East — is a marvel! His expression, like a compass needle, always chooses due North! Thank you so much for sharing. I did not know of this faithful Confessor.
“We believe that man is justified by faith, not by works. But when we say by faith, we mean the correlative of faith, which is the righteousness of Christ; on which faith, as it were, fulfilling the function of a hand, lays hold, and applies the same unto us for salvation”
This is one the best, concise statements on faith, justification, and the righteousness of Christ I’ve seen in confessional literature.
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