The Orthodox Confession of Mogilas, A. D. 1643.
The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church [124] was originally drawn up about the year 1640 by Peter Mogilas (or Mogila), Metropolitan of Kieff, and father of Russian theology (died 1647), in the form of a Catechism for the benefit of the Russian Church. [125] It was revised and adopted by a Provincial Synod at Kieff for Russia, then again corrected and purged by a Synod of the Greek and Russian clergy at Jassy, in 1643, where it received its present shape by Meletius Syriga, or Striga, the Metropolitan of Nicæa, and exarch of the Patriarch of Constantinople. As thus improved, it was sent to, and signed by, the four Eastern Patriarchs. The Synod of Jerusalem gave it a new sanction in 1672 (declaring it a homologia, hen edexato kai dechetai hapaxaplos pasa he anatolike ekklesia). In this way it became the Creed of the entire Greek and Russian Church. It has been the basis of several later Catechisms prepared by Russian divines.

The Orthodox Confession was a defensive measure against Romanism and Protestantism. It is directed, first, against the Jesuits who, under the protection of the French embassadors in Constantinople, labored to reconcile the Greek Church with the Pope; and, secondly, against the Calvinistic movement, headed by Cyril Lucar, and continued after his death. [126]

It is preceded by a historical account of its composition and publication, a pastoral letter of Nectarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, dated Nov.20, 1662; and by a letter of indorsement of the Greek text from Parthenius, Patriarch of Constantinople, dated March 11, 1643, [127] followed by the signatures of twenty-six Patriarchs and prelates of the Eastern Church.

The letter of Parthenius is as follows:

'Parthenius, by the mercy of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and OEcumenical Patriarch. Our mediocrity, [128] together with our sacred congregation of chief bishops and clergy present, has diligently perused a small book, transmitted to us from our true sister, the Church of Lesser Russia, entitled "The Confession of the Orthodox Faith of the Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ," in which the whole subject is treated under the three heads of Faith, Love, and Hope, in such a manner that Faith is divided into twelve articles, to wit, those of the sacred [Nicene] Symbol; Love into the Ten Commandments, and such other necessary precepts as are contained in the sacred and divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments; Hope into the Lord's Prayer and the nine Beatitudes of the holy Gospel.

'We have found that this book follows faithfully the dogmas of the Church of Christ, and agrees with the sacred canons, and in no respect differs from them. As to the other part of the book, that which is in the Latin tongue, on the side opposite to the Greek text, we have not perused it, so that we only formally confirm that which is in our vernacular tongue. With our common synodical sentence, we decree, and we announce to every pious and orthodox Christian subject to the Eastern and Apostolic Church, that this book is to be diligently read, and not to be rejected. Which, for the perpetual faith and certainty of the fact, we guard by our subscriptions. In the year of salvation 1643, 11th day of March.'

The Confession itself begins with three preliminary questions and answers. Question first: 'What must an orthodox and Catholic Christian man observe in order to inherit eternal life?' Answer: 'Right faith and good works (pistin orthen kai erga kala); for he who observes these is a good Christian, and has the hope of eternal salvation, according to the sacred Scriptures (James ii.24): "Ye see, then, how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only;" and a little after (v.26): "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." The divine Paul adds the same in another place (1 Tim. i.19): "Holding faith and a good conscience; which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck;" and, in another place, he says (1 Tim. iii.9): "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience."' This is essentially the same with the Roman Catholic doctrine. It is characteristic that no passage is cited from the Romans and Galatians, which are the bulwark of the evangelical Protestant view of justification by faith. The second Question teaches that faith must precede works, because it is impossible to please God without faith (Heb. xi.6). The third Question treats of the division of the Catechism according to the three theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity.

The Catechism is therefore divided into three parts.

1. Part first treats of Faith (peri pisteos), and explains the Nicene Creed, which is divided into twelve articles, and declared to contain all things pertaining to our faith so accurately 'that we should believe nothing more and nothing less, nor in any other sense than that in which the fathers [of the Councils of Nicæa and Constantinople] understood it' (Qu.5). The clause Filioque is, of course, rejected as an unwarranted Latin interpolation and corruption (Qu.72).

2. Part second treats of Hope (peri elpidos), and contains an exposition of the Lord's Prayer and the (nine) Beatitudes (Matt. v.3-11).

3. Part third treats of Love to God and man (peri tes eis theon kai ton plesion agapes), and gives an exposition of the Decalogue; but this is preceded by forty-five questions on the three cardinal virtues of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and the four general virtues which flow out of them (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance), on mortal and venial sins, on the seven general mortal sins (pride, avarice, fornication, envy, gluttony, desire of revenge, and sloth), on the sins against the Holy Ghost (presumption or temerity, despair, persistent opposition to the truth, and renouncing of the Christian faith), and on venial sins. In the division of the Ten Commandments the Greek Confession agrees with the Reformed Church in opposition to the Roman and Lutheran Churches, which follow the less natural division of Augustine by merging the second commandment in the first, and then dividing the tenth.


[124] Orthodoxos homologia tes katholikes kai apostolikes ekklesias tes anatolikes. It is uncertain whether it was first written in Greek or in Russ. First published in Greek by Panagiotta, Amst. 1662; then in Greek and Latin by Bishop Normann, of Gothenburg (then Professor at Upsala), Leipz. 1695; in Greek, Latin, and German by C. G. Hofmann, Breslau, 1751; by Patriarch Adrian in Russian, Moscow, 1696, and again in 1839, etc.; in Kimmel's Momum. I. 56-324 (Greek and Latin, with the letters of Nectarius and Parthenius). Comp. Kimmel's Proleg. pp. lxii. sqq. The Confession must not be confounded with the Short Russian Catechism by the same author (Peter Mogilas).

[125] The following account of Mogilas is translated from the Russian of Bolchofsky by Blackmore (The Doctrine of the Russian Church, p. xviii.): 'Peter Mogila belonged by birth to the family of the Princes of Moldavia, and before he became an ecclesiastic had distinguished himself as a soldier. After having embraced the monastic life, he became first Archimandrite of the Pechersky, and subsequently, in 1632, Metropolitan of Kieff, to which dignity he was ordained by authority of Cyril Lucar [then Patriarch of Constantinople], with the title of Eparch, or Exarch of the Patriarchal See. He sat about fifteen years, and died in 1647. Besides the Orthodox Confession, he put out, in 1645, in the dialect of Little Russia, his Short Catechism; composed a Preface prefixed to the Patericon; corrected, in 1646, from Greek and Slavonic MSS., the Trebnik, or Office-book, and added to each Office doctrinal, casuistical, and ceremonial instructions. He also caused translations to be made from the Greek Lives of the Saints, by Metaphrastus, though this work remained unfinished at his death; and, lastly, he composed a Short Russian Chronicle, which is preserved in MS., but has never yet been printed. He was the founder of the first Russian Academy at Kieff.' It was called, after him, the Kievo-Mogilian Academy. He also founded a library and a printing-press. See a fuller account of Peter Mogilas in Mouravieff's History of the Church of Russia, translated by Blackmore (Oxford, 1842), pp. 186-189. It is there stated that he received his education in the University of Paris. This accounts for the tinge of Latin scholasticism in his Confession.

[126] See 15. Mouravieff, in his Hist. of the Church of Russia, p. 188, distinctly asserts that the Confession was directed both against the Jesuits and against 'the Calvinistic heresy,' which, 'under the name of Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople,' had been disseminated in the East by 'crafty teachers.' As Cyril and the Calvinists are not mentioned by name in the Orthodox Confession, another Russian writer, quoted by Blackmore (The Doctrine of the Russian Church, p. xx.), thinks that Mogilas wrote against the Lutherans rather than the Calvinists; adding, however, that it is chiefly directed against the Papists, from whom danger was most apprehended.

[127] This is the date (achmg') given by Kimmel, P. I. p. 53, and the date of the Synod of Jassy, where the Confession was adopted. Butler (Hist. Acc. of Conf. of Faith, p. 101) gives the year 1663; but the Confession was already published in 1662 with the letters of the two Patriarchs. See Kimmel, Proleg. p. lxii.

[128] he metriotes he mon, a title of proud humility, like the papal 'servus servorum Dei,' which dates from Gregory I.

 15 the confession of
Top of Page
Top of Page