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#1 MJ



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Posted 19 February 2001 - 03:50 PM

A dualistic heretical sect, derived originally from Manichaeism. The origin of the name Paulician is obscure. Gibbon (Decline and Fall, liv), says it means "Disciples of St. Paul" (Photius, op. cit., II, 11; III, 10; VI, 4). Their special veneration for the Apostle, and their habit of renaming their leaders after his disciples lend some colour to this view. On the other hand, the form (Paulikianoi, not Paulianoi) is curious; and the name seems to have been used only by their opponents, who held that they were followers of Paul of Samosata (Conybeare, op. cit., cv). The birthplace of their founder evidently suggested this; but there is no connection between their doctrine and his. Photius relates that a certain Manichee woman, named Kallinike sent her two sons Paul and John to Armenia to propagate this heresy; the name is corrupted from Pauloioannoi (Friedrich op. cit., I). The existence of such persons is now generally denied. The latest authority, Ter-Mkrttschian (Die Paulicianer, 63), says the name is an Armenian diminutive and means "followers of little Paul", but does not explain who little Paul may be. It occurs first in the Acts of the Armenian Synod of Duin in 719, a canon of which forbids any one to spend the night in the house of "the wicked heretics called Pollikian" (Ter-Mkrttschian, 62).


The cardinal point of the Paulician heresy is a distinction between the God who made and governs the material world and the God of heaven who created souls, who alone should be adored. They thought all matter bad. It seems therefore obvious to count them as one of the many neo-Manichaean sects, in spite of their own denial and that of modern writers (Ter-Mkrttschian, Conybeare, Adeney, loc. cit.; Harnack, "Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschicte", Tubingen, 1909, II, 528). But there is a strong Marcionite element too. They rejected the Old Testament; there was no Incarnation, Christ was an angel sent into the world by God, his real mother was the heavenly Jerusalem. His work consisted only in his teaching; to believe in him saves men from judgment. The true baptism and Eucharist consist in hearing his word, as in John, iv, 10. But many Paulicians, nevertheless, let their children be baptized by the Catholic clergy. They honoured not the Cross, but only the book of the Gospel. They were Iconoclasts, rejecting all pictures. Their Bible was a fragmentary New Testament. They rejected St. Peter's epistles because he had denied Christ. They referred always to the "Gospel and Apostle", apparently only St Luke and St. Paul; though they quoted other Gospels in controversy.

The whole ecclesiastical hierarchy is bad, as also all Sacraments and ritual. They had a special aversion to monks. Their own organization consisted first of the founders of their sect in various places. These were apostles and prophets. They took new names after people mentioned by St. Paul, thus Constantine called himself Silvanus; apparently they claimned to be these persons come to life again. Under the apostles and prophets were "fellow-workers" (synechdemoi) who formed a council, and "notaries" (notarioi), who looked after the holy books and kept order at meetings. Their conventicles were called, not churches, but "prayer-houses" (proseuchai). They maintained that it was lawful to conceal or even deny their ideas for fear of persecution; many of them lived exteriorly as Catholics. Their ideal was a purely spiritual communion of faithful that should obliterate all distinctions of race. Their enemies accuse them constantly of gross immorality, even at their prayer-meetings. One of their chief leaders, Baanes, seems to have acquired as a recognized surname the epithet "filthy" (ho ryproz). They would recognize no other name for themselves than "Christians"; the Catholics were "Romans (Romaioi), that is, people who obey the Roman emperor, as the Monophysites called their opponents Melchites. Harnack sums them up as "dualistic Puritans and Individualists and as "an anti-hierarchic Christianity built up on the Gospel, and Apostle, with emphatic rejection of Catholic Christianity" (Dogmengeschichte, II 528).

Since Gibbon the Paulicians have often been described as a survival of early and pure Christianity, godly folk who clung to the Gospel, rejecting later superstitions, who were grossly calumniated by their opponents. Conybeare (op. cit. ) thinks they were a continuation of the Adoptionists. Dr. Adeney calls them "in many respects Protestants before Protestantism" (The Greek and Eastern Churches, 219). This idea accounts for the fact that the sect has met among modern writers with more interest and certainly more sympathy than it deserves.


Constantine of Mananalis, calling himself Silvanus, founded what appears to be the first Paulician community at Kibossa, near Colonia in Armenia. He began to teach about 657. He wrote no books and taught that the New Testament as he presented it (his "Gospel and Apostle") should be the only text used by his followers (Georgios Monachos, ed. Friedrich, 2). The other Paulician Apostles after Constantine were Symeon (called Titus), sent by the emperor Constantine Pogonatus (668-85) to put down the sect, but converted to it; then Gegnesius an Armenian (Timothy); Joseph (Epaphroditus); Zachary, who was rejected by many and called a hireling; Baanes; Sergius (Tychicus). They founded six congregations in Armenia and Pontus, to which they gave the names of Pauline Churches (Kibossa was "Macedonia", and so on).

Constantine-Silvanus, after having preached for twenty-seven years and having spread his sect into the Western part of Asia Minor, was arrested by the Imperial authorities (by Symeon), tried for heresy and stoned to death. In 690 Symeon-Titus himself, having become a Paulician, was also executed with many others. The history of these people is divided between their persecutions and their own quarrels. An Armenian Paul (thought by some to have given his name to the sect) set up congregation at Episparis in the (Armenian) district Phanaroea (d. c. 715). His two sons Gegnesius-Timothy and Theodore quarreIled about his succession. Gegnesius went to Constantinople in 717 and persuadeed the emperor Leo III and the patriarch Germanus I that he was orthodox. Armed with an imperial safe-conduct he came to Mananalis and succeeded in crushing Theodore's opposition. After his death his son Zachary (the "hireling") and his son-in-law, Joseph-Epaphroditus, again quarrelled and formed parties as to which should succeed. Zachary's party went under; many of them were destroyed by the Saracens.

Joseph (d. 775) founded communities all over Asia Minor. Then came Baanes (Vahan; d. 801). Under him the sect decreased in numbers and influence. But a certain Sergius-Tychicus, who made a new schism, reformed and strengthened the movement in his party. The Paulicians were now either Baanites (the old party), or Sergites (the reformed sect). Sergius was a zealous propagator of the heresy; he boasted that he had spread his Gospel "from East to West. from North to South" (Petrus Siculus, "Historia Manichaeorum", op. cit., 45). The Sergites meanwhile fought against their rivals and nearly exterminated them. From the Imperial government the Paulicians met with alternate protection and persecution. Constantine IV, and still more Justinian II, persecuted them cruelly. The first Iconoclast emperors (Leo III and his successors) protected them; Conybeare counts these emperors as practically Paulicians themselves (op. cit.). Nicephorus I tolerated them in return for their service as soldiers in Phrygia and Lycaonia. Michael I began to persecute again and his successor Leo V, though an Iconoclast, tried to refute the accusation that he was a Paulician by persecuting them furiously. A great number of them at this time rebelled and fled to the Saracens. Sergius was killed in 835. Theodora, regent for her son Michael III, continued the persecution; hence a second rebellion under one Karbeas, who again led many of his followers across the frontiers.

These Paulicians, now bitter enemies of the empire, were encouraged by the khalifa. They fortified a place called Tephrike and made it their headquarters. From Tephrike they made continual raids into the empire; so that from this time they form a political power, to be counted among the enemies of Rome. We hear continually of wars against the Saracens, Armenians, and Paulicians. Under Basil I the Paulician army invaded Asia Minor as far as Ephesus, and almost to the coast opposite Constantinople. But they were defeated, and Basil destroyed Tephrike in 871. This eliminated the sect as a military power. Meanwhile other Paulicians, heretics but not rebels, lived in groups throughout the empire. Constantine V had already transferred large numbers of them to Thrace; John I Tzimiskes sent many more to the same part to defend it against the Slavs. They founded a new centre at Philippopolis, from which they terrorized their neighbours. During the ninth and tenth centuries these heretics in Armenia, Asia Minor, and Thrace constantly occupied the attention of the government and the Church. The "Selicians" converted by the Patriarch Methodius I (842-46), were Paulucians. Photius wrote against them and boasts in his Encyclical (866) that he has converted a great number. In Armenia the sect continued in the "Thonraketzi" founded by a certain Smbat in the ninth century. Conybeare attributes to this Smbat a work, "The Key of Truth", which he has edited. It accepts the Old Testament and the Sacraments of Baptism. Penance, and the Eucharist. This work especially has persuaded many writers that the Paulicians were much maligned people. But in any case it represents a very late stage of their history, and it is disputed whether it is really Paulician at all. Constantine IX persuaded or forced many thousands to renounce their errors.

The emperor Alexius Comnenus is credited with having put an end to the heresy. During a residence at Philippopolis, he argued with them and converted all, or nearly all, back to the Church (so his daughter: "Alexias", XV, 9). From this time the Paulicians practically disappear from history. But they left traces of their heresy. In Bulgaria the Bogomile sect, which lasted through the Middle Ages and spread to the West in the form of Cathari, Albigenses, and other Manichaean heresies, is a continuation of Paulicianism. In Armenia, too, similar sects, derived from them, continue till our own time.

There were Paulician communities in the part of Armenia occupied by Russia after thc war of 1828-29. Conybeare publishes very curious documents of their professions of faith and disputations with the Gregorian bishop about 1837 (Key of Truth, xxiii-xxviii). It is from these disputations and "The Key of Truth" that he draws his picture of the Paulicianis as simple, godly folk who had kept an earlier (sc. Adoptionistic) form of Christianity (ibid., introduction).


There are four chief documents: (1) Photius, Four books against the Paulicians(Diegesis peri tes ton neophanton manichaion anablasteseos), in P.G., CII, 15-264. (2) Euthymius Zigabenus, in his "Panoplia", XXIV [P.G., CXXX, 1189, sqq., separate edition of the part about the Paulicians, ed. Gieseler (Gottingen, 1841)]. (3) Peter the Abbot, "Concerning the Paulicians and Manichees", ed. Gieseler (Gottingen, 1849), who idlentifies the author with Petrus Siculus, who wrote a "Historia Manichaeorum qui Pauliciani dicuntur", first published by Rader (Ingolstadt, 1604 ), of which work Gieseler considers "Concerning the Paulicians" to be merely an excerpt. (4) George Monachos, "Chronikon", ed. Muralt (St. Petersburg, 1853).

Of Photius's work only book I contains the history; the rest is a collection of homilies against the heresy. There is interdependence between these four sources. The present state of criticism (due chiefly to Karapet Ter-Mkrttschian) is this: — Photius's account (book I) falls into two parts. Chapters i-xiv are authentic, xv-xxvii a later edition. The original source of all is lost. George Monachos used this. Peter the Monk either copied George or used the original work. Photius may have used Peter (so Ter-Mkrttschian ) or perhaps the original. Derived from these are Zigabenus and the spurious part of Photius's book. Bonwetsch (Realencyklopadie fur prot. Theol., 3rd ed., Leipzig 1904, XV, 50) represents (according to Friedrich and as probable only) the order of derivation as: (1) An account contained in a MS. of the tenth century (Cod. Scorial. I, phi, 1, fol. 164 sqq.) ed. Friedrich in the "Sitzungsbericht der Münchener Akademie", (1896), 70-81; (2) Photius, i-x; (3) George Monachos; (4) Peter the Abbot; (5) Zigabenus; (6) Pseudo-Photius, x-xxvii; (7) Petrus Siculus.

Other sources are the Armenian bishop John Ozniensis [ed. by Aucher (Venice, 1834) and used by Dollinger and Conybeare] and the "Key of Truth" [Mrkttschian in "Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte", 1895, and Conybeare's edition, Armenian and English, with introduction and notes (Oxford, 1898)].

TER-MKRTTSCHIAN, Die Paulicianer im byzantinischen Kaiserreich und verwandte ketzerische Erscheinungen in Armenien (Liepzig, 1893); DOLLINGER, Beitrage zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalters, I (Munich, 1890), 1-31; LOMBARD, Pauliciens, Bulgares et Bonshommes (Geneva, 1879); HERGENROTHER, Photius, III (Ratisbon, 1869), 143-53: GIBBON, Decline and Fall, ed. BURY, VI London, 1898), liv, and appendix 6; ADENEY, The Greek and Eastern Churches (Edinburgh, 1908), v.

Transcribed by Richard L. George
Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI
Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company
Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor
Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York http://www.newadvent...then/11583b.htm

#2 MJ



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Posted 19 February 2001 - 04:17 PM


member of a dualistic Christian sect that originated in Armenia in the mid-7th century. It was influenced most directly by the dualism of Marcionism, a Gnostic movement in early Christianity, and of Manichaeism, a Gnostic religion founded in the 3rd century by the Persian prophet Mani. The identity of the Paul after whom the Paulicians are called is disputed.

The fundamental doctrine of the Paulicians was that there are two principles, an evil God and a good God; the former is the creator and ruler of this world, the latter of the world to come. From this they deduced that Jesus was not truly the son of Mary, because the good God could not have taken flesh and become man. They especially honoured the Gospel According to Luke and the Letters of St. Paul, rejecting the Old Testament and the Letters of St. Peter. They rejected also the sacraments, the worship, and the hierarchy of the established church.

The founder of the Paulicians seems to have been an Armenian, Constantine, who took the additional name of Silvanus (Silas; one of St. Paul's companions). He gave a more distinctively Christian character to the Manichaeism that at the time was prevalent in the Asian provinces of the Byzantine Empire. The sect seems to have started a widespread political and military rebellion within the empire shortly after its appearance. Between 668 and 698 Constantine III and Justinian II sent two expeditions to repress it. Constantine (Silvanus) was stoned to death, and his successor, Simeon (Titus), was burned alive.

In the early 9th century Paulicianism was revived. It expanded into Cilicia and Asia Minor under Sergius (Tychicus), who made it strong enough to survive the persecution and massacre instigated by the emperor Michael I and the empress Theodora. The number and power of the Paulicians were greatest under Karbeas and Chrysocheir, the leaders in the third quarter of the 9th century. An expedition sent by Basil I in 872 broke their military power, but they survived in Asia at least until the Crusades. After the 9th century their importance lay chiefly in Thrace, where many Paulicians had been forcibly located to serve as a frontier force against the Bulgarians.

Paulician doctrines were disseminated among the Macedonians, Bulgarians, and Greeks, especially among the peasants, and it seems that they contributed to the development of the doctrines and practices of the Bogomils, another neo-Manichaean sect, who first appeared in Bulgaria in the early 10th century.
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Posted 19 February 2001 - 04:19 PM

Christian dualist heresies in the Byzantine world c. 650-c. 1450
Selected sources translated and annotated
by Janet Hamilton and Bernard Hamilton

Assistance with the translation of the Old Slavonic texts
by Yuri Stoyanov

Christian dualism originated in Armenia in the mid-seventh century, when Constantine of Mananalis, basing his message solely on the New Testament, began to teach that there were two gods: the good God who had made men's souls, and the evil God who had created the entire physical universe including the human body. His followers, who became know as Paulicians, led perfectly normal lives, despite their belief that the world was evil, and were renowned as good fighting men.

An new form of Christian dualism, know as Bogomilism, developed in tenth-century Bulgaria, which combined a dualist belief system with an ascetic, world-renouncing life-style. Although there was some interaction between the two movements, Paulicianism and Bogomilism remained distinct. Bogomilism spread in the Byzantine world and also in Western Europe where its adherents were called Cathars. The Bogomils came to enjoy a certain esteem among some Orthodox Byzantine Christians who believed that they were skilled in controlling demons, whom most Byzantines considered very powerful. Despite sometimes fierce persecution by the Orthodox Church and the Byzantine state, both Paulicians and Bogomils survived until the Ottoman empire.

These translations include the principal sources for the history of the Paulicians and the Bogomils, many of which have not previously been available in English. These texts shed light on the cultural and religious history of the Byzantine word and also the origins of Western Catharism.

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I: Historical introduction: The origins of Christian dualism
1. Paulician population transfers under Constantine V (741-75)
2. The empress Irene (780-802) and the Paulicians
3. Alleged Paulicians in Constantinople in the early ninth century
4. Theodore of Studium (d. 826) opposes the death penalty for heresy
5. St Macarius of Pelecete converts a Paulician in prison
6. Renewed persecution of the Paulicians in Asia Minor and the martyrs of Amorium
7. Peter of Sicily's History of the Paulicians (870)
8. Peter the Higoumenos: an abridgment of Peter of Sicily
9. The death of the Paulician leader Chrysocheir (c. 878)
10. Theophylact Lecapenus (933-56) writes to Tsar Peter of Bulgaria about Bogomils
11. Abjuration formulae (tenth century) for Paulician converts to orthodoxy
12. Theodore, metropolitan of Nicaea (956- ), writes about Paulicians in Euchaita
13. St Paul of Latrus (d. 955/6) converts Paulicians near Miletus
14. John I Tzimisces (969-76) settles Paulicians at Philippopolis
15. The discourse of the priest Cosmas against Bogomils (after 972)
16. The Synodikon of Orthodoxy: clauses about Bogomils
17. Paulicians in eleventh-century southern Italy
18. St Lazarus the wonder-worker converts Paulicians near Ephesus (before 1054)
19. Euthymius of the Periblepton condemns Bogomils (c. 1045)
20. The Paulicians of the Philippopolis ally with the Patzinaks (c. 1050)
21. A letter of the patriarch Cosmas (1075-81) against the Bogomils
22. Alexius Comnenus (1081-1118) and the Paulicians
23. Extracts from the Euthymius Zigabenus' Dogmatic Panoply against the Paulicians and the Messalians
24. Anna Comnena's account of the trial of the Bogomil Basil (c.1098)
25. Extracts from Euthymius Zigabenus' Dogmatic Panoply against the Bogomils
26. Abjuration formula and form of reception into the Church for Bogomil converts
27. A sermon against the Bogomils for the Sunday of All Saints (c. 1107)
28. The posthumous trial of Constantine Chrysomallus
29. The Patriarch Michael II (1143-46) orders the burning of Bogomils
30. Two Cappadocian bishops are condemned for Bogomilism (1143)
31. The monk Niphon is condemned for Bogomilism (1144)
32. The Patriarch Cosmas (1146-47) is deposed for favouring Bogomils
33. St Hilarion of Moglena (1136-64) converts Bogomils in his diocese
34. An Anti-Bogomil work, possibly by Nicholas of Methone
35. Popular beliefs about Bogomilism recounted by George Tornices (1154)
36. Hugh Eteriano (a Pisan) writes a treatise against the Bogomils of Constantinople (c. 1165-80)
37. The mission of papa Nicetas of Constantinople to the West (c. 1170)
38. The Secret Book brought from Bulgaria (c. 1190)
39. Pope Innocent III and the Bogomils of Bosnia (1198-1203)
40. The Fourth Crusade and the Paulicians of Philippopolis (1205)
41. The Synodikon of Tsar Boril against the Bogomils (1211)
42. Pope Honorius III and the Balkan pope of the heretics (1221-23)
43. Pope Gregory IX (1227-41) urges the king of Hungary to crusade against the Bogomils
44. The Patriarch Germanus II (1222-40) writes and preaches against Bogomils
45. An Italian inquisitor's view of Bogomilism (c. 1250)
46. Evidence of Bogomilism in a liturgical commentary (date unknown)
47. Pope John XXII alleges that Cathars are fleeing to Bosnia (1325)
48. St Gregory Palamas (1296-1359) and the Bogomils
49. St Theodosius of Trnovo (c. 1350) legislates against Bogomils
50. Symeon, archbishop of Thessalonica, preaches against the Bogomils (before 1429)

Appendix 1. The Ritual of Radoslav the Christian
Appendix 2. Armenian sources and the Paulicians


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Posted 19 February 2001 - 04:20 PM

Rev. Giragos H. Chopourian Ph.D., was born in Adana, Cilicia in 1914. In June 1945 he received simultaneously a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the American University of Beirut and a diploma in religious education with distinction from the Near East School of Theology. He received his Master of Religious Education degree from Andover Newton Theological School and obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Temple University of Philadelpia in 1971. Rev. Chopourian has served as pastor of a number of Armenian Evangelical Churches. He is the past Executive Director of the Armenian Missionary Association of America and holds the title of Honorary Executive Director of that organization.
On the occasion of the 140th Anniversary of the Armenian Evangelical Movement, the Armenian Missionary Association of America presented a booklet, written by Rev. Chopourian, to our Churches and the Armenian Communities in North America as a ministry of evangelism and teaching. The text of that booklet is below.


Fundamental Armenian Evangelical Teachings

Rev. G.H. Chopourian, Ph.D.


All religions, or parts of them, such as denominations, have a way of deteriorating. It happens when followers gradually distance themselves from the essential and fundamental truths and teachings of the founder. This is true whether it is Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism or Judaism. Unfortunately, it has been true in the case of Christianity as well. Superstition, tradition, dogmatism and extraneous practices have and do make their entry.
One natural consequence of such deteriorating trends has been a call for return to the teachings of the founder - a call for reform!

The Reverend Roger Minassian, a colleague in Christian ministry serving in the Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church of Fresno, wrote:

“Recently I and my congregation have become quite excited by a historical discovery, which many of you may already know about. In reading Leon Arpeés, A Century of Armenian Protestantism and G.H. Chopourian’s, The Armenian Evangelical Reformation: Causes and Effects, (both available through the AMAA) I was impressed with the biblically-sound confession of faith which launched our movement as a separate church on July 1, 1846. By preaching a series of sermons on this confession, I have also discovered the following:
A. Our Armenian Evangelical appreciate gaining a stronger Theological identity as to who they are and what they are to believe.

B. Our Reformation began on a firm biblical foundation, which foundation has been less than clear to our people in the Armenian-American experience.

C. The placing of this confession in our people’s hands is often revolutionary.

“While preparing for these sermons, I became interested in the beliefs of the Armenian Apostolic Church as well. Most Armenians I know here in Protestant America assume that Apostolics and Evangelicals believe about the same, but differ in worship forms. This assumption, I am discovering, is due to ignorance on both sides. Although fairly clear on who Jesus Christ is, we both have been less than clear to our people when it comes to the important questions of salvation, faith and works, the Sacraments, the Priesthood, the Holy Scriptures, Worship, Eternal Life, and Missions.”

The Rev. Minassian’s emphasis on the rediscovery brings to mind the story of an ascetic. Having withdrawn to the desert and pitched a tent, he discovered his prayers and devotions were interrupted by desert rats. He asked a friend to find a cat for him. He had not requested a cat with special features so he readily and happily accepted the pitch black cat his friend brought to him. Two generations later, there were many more tents in the desert area the ascetic had first settled. They had been attracted there as a result of the quality of Christian devotion the Founder had. Each ascetic had a pitch black cat tied to the tent like the Founder had done. But the ascetics did not know why they had a cat tied to the post of the tent. neither were there lives like that of the Founder.
Life is too important for God’s creatures to be ignorant of truth, especially, of Christian truths of redeeming nature.

Armenians in general are ignorant of the occurrence of Reform Movements among Armenians. Most of those who are aware, are prejudiciously informed about one Reform Movement, the one that occurred in 1846 when the Evangelical Church of Armenia (Hayastaniatz Avedaranagan Yegeghetzee) was founded. “Prejudiciously” informed because the criticisms that are directed against the Movement are unfounded (one can’t respond to those criticisms because they need to be treated as a separate chapter). Few, for instance, realize that there were other Armenian Evangelical Reform efforts in the Seventh and Ninth Centuries each lasting two centuries and which some writers believe were the harbingers (forerunners) of the Protestant Reformation under Martin Luther in Germany. The Evangelical Reform efforts referred to are the (1) Paulician Movement from the Seventh to the Ninth centuries and (2) the Tonrakian from the Ninth to the Eleventh.

But first, a definition of the word EVANGELICAL.

Evangelism is derived from the New Testament Greek word “Evangelistis,” viz., a proclaimer of the “Evangelion” or Gospel. In the New Testament the word is used three times of a traveling missionary.

1. In Acts 21:8: “And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came into Casesaria: and we entered into the House of Philip the EVANGELIST....”
2. Ephesians 4:11: “And he gave some, Apostles; and some Prophets; and some, EVANGELISTS; and some Pastors and Teachers.”

3. II Timothy 4:5: “But watch Thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an EVANGELIST....”

The Evangelist therefore is one who reveals the Gospel by broadcasting the Evangelion (the Gospel of Christ). In a wider sense the term “Evangelical” has been applied since the Reformation (1517) to “the Protestant Churches by reason of their claim to base their teaching preeminently on the ‘Gospel’.” The term has been in long use in Germany (Evangelische Kirche); Switzerland; England; and the United States, which received all forms of it from immigrants from Europe and England. Theologically, Evangelicals have held these beliefs: (1) The verbal inspiration of the Bible; (2) The Scriptures the sole binding authority over the Christian (not the Church or Church tradition); (3) The near return of Christ to redeem His elect; (4) The supreme importance of “Kyrigma;” (5) Justification comes by faith alone; (6) Rejection of five of the seven Sacraments and acceptance of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as the two valid Sacraments; (8) Depravity of man; (9) God, Christ and the Holy Spirit as a Unified Trinity.
Let us get back to the early Evangelical Reform Movements among Armenians. The first organized and strong resistance against the established Armenian Church came from the Paulician-Tonrakian Movement which showed Adoptionist-Unitarian strain of the so-called Monarchian type that some have suggested was evident among Armenians in the first three centuries. (The Adoptionist view, considered to be heretical, originated in Spain in the Eighth Century according to which Christ was considered to be in His Humanity, not the true, but only adoptive Son of God. In other words, Christ was Son only metaphorically. The Unitarian view, on the other hand, rejects the doctrine of the Trinity of Christ in favor of the Uni-personality of God. The unfortunate thing about the Paulician-Tonrakian Movement was this particular Adoptionist-Unitarian emphasis which gave the conservatives cause to suppress it). The movement extended in time from the middle of the Seventh to the middle of the Ninth Century for the Paulician portion, and from the middle of the Ninth to the middle of the Eleventh for the Tonramian portion. It was almost after complete annihilation that the sect showed itself active again under Smbat in the village of Tonrak, from where they received the last-stated name. Joining the Great Exodus at the end of the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, many Tonrakians settled in Russian-Armenia. In the period between 1837-1945 the Synod of Etchmiadzin held an inquest into the tenets and usage of the sect at which time a manuscript volume was seized from the secretaries, The Key of Truth. This Armenian text turned out to be “a copy of a copy” made in 1782 from a lost sample by a certain John Vartabedian. Conybeare published the text in 1898 with an introduction and translation. The “Key,” suggesting their roots might be in Paul of Samosota, makes it clear that the Paulicians and the subsequent Tonrakians were Unitarian-Anabaptists (we might define Anabaptists to be Rebaptizers since they rejected that infant baptism was true baptism) believing Christ to have become the head of a new creation by wroth and by obtaining adult baptism.

Arpee and Conybeare both demonstrate that the beliefs of the Paulician sect were diametrically opposed to the traditions and beliefs of the Armenian Church. The Paulicians held to the following doctrines which contain important Evangelical teachings.

1. They held against the beliefs of the Church that Mary was a perpetual virgin. They maintained Mary bore other children after Jesus. (This is an opinion that is held to be true by all Evangelicals today).
2. The Paulicians also rejected the intercession of the saints believing that because of Christ individuals have direct access to God through Christ.

3. They condemned the veneration of the Cross on the grounds that there was no biblical authority for it and that the practice only made ignorant Christians.

4. They denounced the hierarchy of church as unscriptural.

5. They challenged the Scriptural basis of the liturgical aspects of worship and rejected the concept of Seven Sacraments, accepting only the spiritual intent of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. By “Spiritual Intent” they meant that it was a matter of commitment and remembrance.

For such beliefs and others these believers endured “Scourgings, Imprisonments, Tortures, Reproaches, Sufferings and al the tribulations of the world” (Conybeare). The Paulician-Tonrakian Movement was crushed in its effectiveness by the combined strength of the state and the church between the Seventh and Eleventh Centuries.
However, resistance to the “Errors” of the Armenian Church showed itself again in the Eighteenth Century with the criticism of Priest Dibajian. A prominent Armenian historian wrote the following about him:

“But long before the coming of the Protestant Missionaries of the East, an Armenian Priest in 1760 had raised a voice regarding the Reformation of the Armenian Church.” (Y. Kassouny) Priest Dibajian is given the honor of being the first in modern times to attempt the reformation of the Armenian Church. In an unpublished book, he had exposed the glaring errors of his church, the inconsistencies in faith, practice and conduct of the priests and bishops, and the superstition of the people. He had tested every principle and ceremony against the high standard of the Bible, with the exception of the doctrine of justification by faith to which he had made no allusion. Priest Dibajian raised his voice while at Samatia quarter of Constantinople and hand-written copies of his book found circulation until 1820. Dibajian’s reflections about the past showed evidences that the Fourth and early mid-Fifth Century Armenian Church had a simple, apostolic form of worship, and was considered to be “A fellowship of believers” and not a hierarchy of priests.

We have taken a long, circuitous route to come to the current Armenian Evangelical Church (The Evangelical Church of Armenia) and to the tenets, but better, to the teachings it holds.

Does the Armenian Evangelical Church have a formulated updated Creed to which one can go for instruction? Technically speaking, the answer has to be in the negative. No Theologian has written on the Theology of the Armenian Evangelical Church. We have no specifically formulated, researched and written creed. That is because the Armenian Evangelical is satisfied by his ability to refer to The Book; and by the facility by which he can refer to the general prevailing Evangelical tenets of the main Protestant Denominations and the Lutheran Reformation.

The Evangelicals do have, however, the confession of faith that the forty members of the first constituted church accepted. All the important Evangelical beliefs are contained therein, a summary of which follows:

1. GOD

A. God exists as creator, sustainer and governor of the universe and is the only worthy object of worship.
B. God’s nature is accepted as omnipotent, self-existent and infinite in wisdom, benevolence, holiness, justice, mercy and truth.

C. God exists in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Ghost and the three are one. Besides God, no other being is to be worshipped and adored - no golden calf, no mammon (wealth), no philosophy, no prestige, no status - nothing, absolutely nothing, is to replace the living God.


Where does a Christian go for final authority on questions of belief and conduct? Does he go to a Priest, Monister, Bishop, Pope? Does he rely on tradition, dogma, creed? The Evangelical Armenian has been taught, and hopefully he has learned, that final authority is in the Bible. All are called to submit to the Bible as the final authority - Popes and Catholici, Patriarchs and Priests, Emperors and Eminent laymen - because the Scriptures are the inspired revelation of God.
The Bible records the revelation of the Will and character of God. Christ, through His life teachings, death and resurrection, clarified God’s Will for all men to understand, practice and become perfect and holy. Thus, the Bible is the source of final authority for religious life and moral conduct. Because of this profound nature of the Bible, it is a Holy Book. The Result of this understanding has led the Evangelical to be a daily student of the Bible and to carry the burden of putting a copy in every hand and in every home.


A. Christ is the only savior, mediator and intercessor between God and man. No other mediation is acceptable. Relics, pictures, crosses, images confession, forgiveness (absolution) uttered by priests in the name of Christ are worthless efforts for salvation. Only a personal response to, a close relationship with Christ, are acceptable avenues of salvation.
B. How can one be saved? Is it by good works? Fastings? Alms? Penance? Confession? The New Testament is absolutely clear on this point: No externals, such as observances of works, can save because justification is through faith only. Has good works no place/ Not if it is practiced for the purpose of achieving salvation. Good works are valid as the fruit of salvation. A Christian is saved to serve not to serve to be saved.

Those who enter the circle of faith are sharpened with a sense of responsibility: To achieve holiness of life; to discharge our duties to God, fellowmen and ourselves. To engage in works just as the source of a rich spring of water that rushes down to refresh thirsty souls. That will save, not pietistic practices for the purpose of earning salvation.


A. The Orthodox and Catholic Churches accept and practice Seven Sacraments and consider a Church is a Church when unbroken grace is transferred by the laying of hands on the servant of the Church. Evangelicals are not threatened by the continuity concept of grace. They believe where Christ is present with his Holy Spirit, there is the Church. They reject assigning any intrinsic or inherent value to the laying of hands. Ordination is seen as full commitment to serve Christ.
B. According to the teachings of the ancient churches, Christian faith and life are achieved by the intrinsic power contained within the “Sacraments.” The Sacraments, as though by inoculative power in them, make every participant a believer. For the Evangelical, Creed, Baptism, Sacraments are only external “Signs” of an inner “Experience.” In other words, the Christian faith is a matter of “New Birth” rather than a process of “Naturalization,” or inherited through church procedures. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom” (John 3:3).

The unscriptural concept of inherited faith is due to the misconception that the repository of the Christian Sacraments, namely, Confirmation or Holy Unction, Communion, Penance or Confession, Ordination or Holy Order, Matrimony and Extreme Unction (The latter is not practiced in the Armenian Church) mediates between God and man the sinner through the Sacraments in the belief that divine grace dwells in the Sacraments. The priest as mediator, therefore, is invested with authority to grant absolution. When the priest, the wine, and the water to celebrate the Mass are present, the elements through transubstantiation represent the physical presence of Christ. The partakers become Christians, the administrators, the “Priestly order,” different from other men.

It should be observed then that when the priest baptizes a newborn babe, the child becomes Christian; when he pronounces absolution, the sinner receives forgiveness; when he serves communion, the wine and bread change into the actual flesh and blood of Christ and the participant becomes cleansed and justified as a believer. The Evangelical is concerned that the practice of the Apostolic Churches belittles personal faith, conversion and covenanting with God. The Evangelical Church emphasizes the fellowship of the believers who are reborn through personal faith in Christ. Baptism and Communion do not possess efficacy in themselves. They are the visible signs of an invisible experience. The preacher has no power over the life of the believer. Only the ministry of the word has virtue, power and authority over his destiny. The penitent is free to come to Christ directly for He is the only mediator and intercessor. Every believer is his own priest.

Finally, the Evangelical believes that the Gospel is the appointed instrument of Christ for the conversion and edification of humanity. That is because wickedness prevails in the world and all are destitute of holiness. Christians are expected to obey Christ’s command: “Go Ye Into All The World, and Preach the Gospel to Every Creature.”

In conclusion let us summarize the most fundamental truths revealed in the Scriptures:

1. Evangelicals believe in the priesthood of all believers: Spiritual life is based on personal relationship with and discipleship to Christ, and all believers are priests;
2. Final authority for Christian life and conduct is the Bible, God’s revealed word;

3. Justification is by faith alone, and not by any other external means: “Lord, I believe” is the key for entry into God’s presence;

4. The true Christian knows he is an Apostle, sent out to practice the spirit of loving service on God’s creatures everywhere but specially to our Armenian nation and the dispersed communities. Life is too precious to be lived haphazardly, carelessly or ignorantly.

“What doth it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”


#5 MJ



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Posted 19 February 2001 - 04:22 PM

The heretical Paulicians of Armenia
From The Crossing Place by Philip Marsden


None of the Balkan miseries had left a mark on this landscape: no bloody civil war or hated occupation, none of the concrete edifices – rest camps, picnic areas, statues – that I came to recognize as apparatchiks’ way of dealing with nature. It appeared clean and unbruised. But it had not always been so still. When Anna Comnena wrote about medieval Bachkovo she threw in a description of the surrounding villages. The people of these villages, she said, were restless, fidgety, always moving – hardly the normal characteristics of peasant groups. Who were these people? Historians have suggested that the site of Bachkovo was chosen to offset a group of local heretics: a centre of Orthodox faith would help counter their heresies. The villages must have been peopled by Paulicians, the sect banished to the Balkans from Armenia in about the ninth century. That would explain too Anna Comnena’s observation – restless, pious exiles with no attachment to anywhere but the land they’d left behind. But there are none left now. By the nineteenth century the Paulicians and Armenians had all but assimilated.

Not long after midday I came across a man with a goat. I’d heard his tuneless whistling through the trees long before I saw him. He was standing in front of a simple homestead and his goat was pissing against the bare earth. When he saw me he started talking in low, unsurprised tones as though carrying on a conversation we’d interrupted earlier. But I couldn’t understand a word.

’Niema Bulgarski,’ I said.

’Turkski?’ ’Turkski, yok.’

’Russki?’ ’Nyet.’

We’d reached an impasse. I admired his goat in Russian and he smiled. Then we stood in silence and watched it nose through the leaves for food.

’Armenski,’ he announced. ’Armenian! You speak Armenian?’

’I am Armenian.’

But before I could put any of my questions about how he came to be there, or to make any link, however tenuous, with the Paulicians. his easy-going manner suddenly snapped. He pointed into the forest. A figure was approaching through the trees.

’Oh! You must leave!’

’Who is it?’

’Wife – quick, go!’

He ran inside his house and came out clutching a broom and, as I left, was franticallv sweeping the yard.

I carried on into the hills and soon the silence of the forest had cocooned me from this strange figure. I didn’t envy that man and consoled myself that had he been a strict Paulician, he would not have married at all. It was a miracle – or rather a hypocrisy – that the sect survived so long.

Of all the things Armenians helped introduce to Europe from the East, none had quite the impact as the Paulician heresies. Unwelcome in Armenia, the Paulicians were exiled to the Baikans in the ninth century. There they persisted with their deviant beliefs, a continuing irritation to the Byzantine authorities. In 1130, the time of the first Gothic cathedrals, Christian heresy appeared in earnest for the first time in Europe. It spread rapidly, divisively, turning people against the Church, and Church against people. Anxious synods were called in Rome; whispers of heresy filled the markets and monasteries. Women who refused the advances of priests were branded heretics and tortured. The Papal authorities resorted to a sweeping campaign of inquisition and sponsored a series of crusades to flush out the heretics who named themselves Cathari, ‘the pure’.

Unlike earlier crusades, these ones, which began in 1208, were not to some far-flung dusty land, but to southern France. In one purge, fifteen thousand heretics were slaughtered; many others were blinded, mutilated, dragged behind horses and lined up for archers to use as targets. For the first time, Europe was tearing itself apart over an idea. The idea was Manichaean dualism, and its progress can be traced from France back to the Balkans, back to Armenia, to a whole host of ancient roots. In Europe its success depended on two persuasive notions: the inherent corruption of any established Church, and the prevalence of demons whose wicked ambitions taunted the lives of every medieval peasant. For dualism addressed the question which has troubled theologians and philosophers from Job to Kant: if God is all-powerful and all-good, how can the existence of evil be explained?

The dualist world is classified by two elements, spirit and marter. Spirit is God’s domain, and is good; matter is Satan’s, and is bad. Everything that is associated with the visible world is therefore evil. The problem began when Satan and his rebel angels were cast out of Heaven. In retaliation they created the material world, the mountains and oceans, the beasts and the trees. But when it came to rnan, Satan found he was unable to breathe life into him. So an agreement was reached with God to share this creature: God provided the spirit, Satan the body. Because man combines both elements, his mortal life is a continuous torment. His corporeal desires vie constantly with the better wisdom of his soul. He is a divine spirit entombed in an evil body and the earthly duty of all is to do everything to end this devilish conspiracy. Fierce piety and iconoclasm were one thing, but dualists went too far for the Church authorities. These were people, after all, who scorned not only all images, but also any elevation of the Virgin. They abhorred the Cross which was the symbol of Christ’s earthly suffering. And the Church itself, its buildings and clergy, was nothing more than a corrupt and worldly agency pandering to the whims of the devil.

For most dualists, eating and drinking were necessary evils. But marriage and all that encouraged procreation ranked as great sins: having children extended the domain of the demiurge, creating new bodies, new prisons for the spirit. Conversely, non-procreative sex was permitted and, by all accounts, indulged with vigour. Sexual orgies were standard practice; many dualists held that the body was intrinsically evil below the navel so it didn’t matter what you did with it. The French called all heretics Bougres, after the Bulgarian Bogomils, and from this, with the suspicion that dualists also promoted sodomy, came the verb ’bougrire’ and the English ’to bugger’. The notion of spirit and matter, and the eternal conflict between them, is common to all sorts of religious traditions: Buddhist, Gnostic, Zoroastrian, Manichaean. In the early Christian years it emerged in dozens of bizarre sects, each adopting their own rites, antagonizing the authorities, but all having an essentially dualist belief. Among the more austere were the Montanists, famous for luring women from their husbands, who were known to receive their prophecies through dreams, to hate their own breath, eat radishes and actively seek out persecution. When the Emperor Justinian came after them, they burnt themselves alive.

The Borborites, the ’muddy ones’ (so called from the Greek for ’mud’), considered any show of bodily hygiene as unnecessary pampering; they used both semen and menstrual fluid for their liturgy. The Carpocratians could not achieve salvation unless they had experienced every known sin. There were also the Helvidians and Paternians who were well-known for licentiousness. The Adamites were expected to pray naked, as if still in the Garden, and the Messalians required initiates to pray until the evil spirits bubbled out of their mouths; they would then fast for three years, after which, purged and pure, they could indulge again in all manner of bodily pleasures.

What really went on in these sects is hard to discover – to many of them written records were also evil, and those reports that do survive were largely put around by their detractors. The Paulicians, strict dualists though they were, appear to have been more temperate in their rites and did leave for posterity a curious Armenian text entitled The Key of Truth. Most of the sects had been whittled away by the seventh century; those that hadn’t were swamped by the Arab invasions, and many dualists became Muslim. But for the Armenians, ever the exception, clinging to Christianity in the mountains, the spread of Islam spawned a dualist revival and saw the rise of the Paulicians.

No less attuned than previous dualists to the mantles of the devil, the Paulicians’ The Key of Truth, written in Armenian, identifies twelve guises of evil:
1. Serpents
2. Ravens (for their love of lewdness)
3. Beasts of the field
4. Calves (or seals – the Armenian word is the same)
5. Light
6. Women (who adorn themselves and chase men)
7. Men (who agree to things)
8. Teachers of the school
9. Clerics of the church
10. Apostles
11. Bishops
12. Monks (who love vegetables and damp places)

’We have only mentioned twelve,’ warns The Key of Truth, ’in order not to be tedious to you, my loved ones.’ But the list is enough to show the Paulicians’ particular disdain for the Church. In Armenia that was hardly surprising – ordination was a hereditary right and dioceses were often run like little fiefdoms. For the laity, isolated and pious, Manichaean dualism was an appealing alternative. ’Nowhere else were the two strands of early Christianity more evenly intertwined than in Armenia. From the west, from Byzantium, the creed had come wrapped in gold-threaded cloth, with gilded icons and teams of saints to honour. It was a pompous, authoritarian institution, dishing out Christianity from above. Such a faith was never any more than a gloss on the bucolic paganism of the Armenian peasants. They were steeped in less worldly beliefs, Zoroastrian and Manichaean among them. The Christian evangelists from the south impressed them more: holy men from Syria ’with words like honey’. The desert had nurtured a purer, more austere faith and it was this strand of Christianity that was closest to dualism.

The established Church in Armenia lashed out at the heretics: they must forfeit their land, have their foreheads branded with the image of a fox and be hamstrung if they relapsed, and, if all else failed, be banished to the far west of the Byzantine world. In Thrace, the exiled Armenians and dualists dominated Philippolis (now Plovdiv), the region’s capital. It was a dumping-ground for Byzantium’s misfits, Anna Comnena’s ’polluted waters’, a handy buffer for the Scythian invaders who would periodically sweep down from the north. And when the Crusaders passed through the town it was the Paulicians who alone did not flee.

The Knights Templar, with their esoteric traditions and strange rites, clearly had strong dualist leanings. One account tells how they were required, among other things, to spit on the Cross. They had encountered Paulicians and Armenians not only in Philippolis but also near Antioch – Templars and Armenians even joined forces to take the castle of Baghras. It is popularly supposed that the Templars ’caught’ their heresies from the Cathars in France. But in fact it may well have been the other way round. Cloth and rug merchants also helped spread dualism and, in Europe, heretics were often called ’weavers’. Already in the thirteenth century, the Armenians were selling carpets widely.

Many scholars contend that dualism spread not only from the Paulicians but also from Messalians and others. But it is telling that of all the various names used for heretics in western Europe, the only one with a specific Eastern derivation was Publicani, a Latinization of Paulician. At Vezelay, seven Publicani were burnt alive in 1167. Even in England a number of Publicani were discovered and had their foreheads branded.

The heresies didn’t last. The Bogomils, Balkan dualists spreading from Paulician and Messalian roots, were crushed by the Turks. Rome succeeded in ridding itself of the Cathars, the Paterenes and the Albigensians. But the Paulicians survived in the Balkans as they did in Armenia itself. They survived in the same way the Armenians have always survived, and for which they have always been persecuted: by doggedly refusing to conform. As late as 1717, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu rode into Plovdiv and wrote home that she had found ’a sect of Christians that called themselves Paulines’. And in the mid-nineteenth century, Plovdiv’s Russian consul reported Paulicians in the city. Perhaps the hen-pecked goatherd was indeed a lapsed dualist.

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#6 MJ



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Posted 19 February 2001 - 04:24 PM

The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Chapter LIV
Supine superstition of the Greek church
In the profession of Christianity, the variety of national characters may be clearly distinguished. The natives of Syria and Egypt abandoned their lives to lazy and contemplative devotion: Rome again aspired to the dominion of the world; and the wit of the lively and loquacious Greeks was consumed in the disputes of metaphysical theology. The incomprehensible mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation, instead of commanding their silent submission, were agitated in vehement and subtile controversies, which enlarged their faith at the expense, perhaps, of their charity and reason. From the council of Nice to the end of the seventh century, the peace and unity of the church was invaded by these spiritual wars; and so deeply did they affect the decline and fall of the empire, that the historian has too often been compelled to attend the synods, to explore the creeds, and to enumerate the sects, of this busy period of ecclesiastical annals. From the beginning of the eighth century to the last ages of the Byzantine empire, the sound of controversy was seldom heard: curiosity was exhausted, zeal was fatigued, and, in the decrees of six councils, the articles of the Catholic faith had been irrevocably defined. The spirit of dispute, however vain and pernicious, requires some energy and exercise of the mental faculties; and the prostrate Greeks were content to fast, to pray, and to believe in blind obedience to the patriarch and his clergy. During a long dream of superstition, the Virgin and the Saints, their visions and miracles, their relics and images, were preached by the monks, and worshipped by the people; and the appellation of people might be extended, without injustice, to the first ranks of civil society. At an unseasonable moment, the Isaurian emperors attempted somewhat rudely to awaken their subjects: under their influence reason might obtain some proselytes, a far greater number was swayed by interest or fear; but the Eastern world embraced or deplored their visible deities, and the restoration of images was celebrated as the feast of orthodoxy. In this passive and unanimous state the ecclesiastical rulers were relieved from the toil, or deprived of the pleasure, of persecution. The Pagans had disappeared; the Jews were silent and obscure; the disputes with the Latins were rare and remote hostilities against a national enemy; and the sects of Egypt and Syria enjoyed a free toleration under the shadow of the Arabian caliphs. About the middle of the seventh century, a branch of Manichaeans was selected as the victims of spiritual tyranny; their patience was at length exasperated to despair and rebellion; and their exile has scattered over the West the seeds of reformation. These important events will justify some inquiry into the doctrine and story of the PAULICIANS; (1) and, as they cannot plead for themselves, our candid criticism will magnify the good, and abate or suspect the evil, that is reported by their adversaries.

Origins of the Paulicans, or disciples of St. Paul, A.D. 660, etc
The Gnostics, who had distracted the infancy, were oppressed by the greatness and authority, of the church. Instead of emulating or surpassing the wealth, learning, and numbers of the Catholics, their obscure remnant was driven from the capitals of the East and West, and confined to the villages and mountains along the borders of the Euphrates. Some vestige of the Marcionites may be detected in the fifth century; (2) but the numerous sects were finally lost in the odious name of the Manichaeans; and these heretics, who presumed to reconcile the doctrines of Zoroaster and Christ, were pursued by the two religions with equal and unrelenting hatred. Under the grandson of Heraclius, in the neighbourhood of Samosata, more famous for the birth of Lucian than for the title of a Syrian kingdom, a reformer arose, esteemed by the Paulicians as the chosen messenger of truth. In his humble dwelling of Mananalis, Constantine entertained a deacon, who returned from Syrian captivity, and received the inestimable gift of the New Testament, which was already concealed from the vulgar by the prudence of the Greek, and perhaps of the Gnostic, clergy. (3) These books became the measure of his studies and the rule of his faith; and the Catholics, who dispute his interpretation, acknowledge that his text was genuine and sincere. But he attached himself with peculiar devotion to the writings and character of St. Paul: the name of the Paulicians is derived by their enemies from some unknown and domestic teacher; but I am confident that they gloried in their affinity to the apostle of the Gentiles. His disciples, Titus, Timothy, Sylvanus, Tychicus, were represented by Constantine and his fellow-labourers: the names of the apostolic churches were applied to the congregations which they assembled in Armenia and Cappadocia; and this innocent allegory revived the example and memory of the first ages. Their bible In the Gospel, and the Epistles of St. Paul, his faithful follower investigated the Creed of primitive Christianity; and, whatever might be the success, a Protestant reader will applaud the spirit, of the inquiry. But if the Scriptures of the Paulicians were pure, they were not perfect. Their founders rejected the two Epistles of St. Peter, (4) the apostle of the circumcision, whose dispute with their favourite for the observance of the law could not easily be forgiven. (5) They agreed with their Gnostic brethren in the universal contempt for the Old Testament, the books of Moses and the prophets, which have been consecrated by the decrees of the Catholic church. With equal boldness, and doubtless with more reason, Constantine, the new Sylvanus, disclaimed the visions, which, in so many bulky and splendid volumes, had been published by the Oriental sects; (6) the fabulous productions of the Hebrew patriarchs and the sages of the East; the spurious gospels, epistles, and acts, which in the first age had overwhelmed the orthodox code; the theology of Manes, and the authors of the kindred heresies; and the thirty generations, or aeons, which had been created by the fruitful fancy of Valentine. The Paulicians sincerely condemned the memory and opinions of the Manichaean sect, and complained of the injustice which impressed that invidious name on the simple votaries of St. Paul and of Christ.

The simplicity of their belief and worship.
Of the ecclesiastical chain, many links had been broken by the Paulician reformers; and their liberty was enlarged, as they reduced the number of masters, at whose voice profane reason must bow to mystery and miracle. The early separation of the Gnostics had preceded the establishment of the Catholic worship; and against the gradual innovations of discipline and doctrine they were as strongly guarded by habit and aversion, as by the silence of St. Paul and the evangelists. The objects which had been transformed by the magic of superstition, appeared to the eyes of the Paulicians in their genuine and naked colours. An image made without hands was the common workmanship of a mortal artist, to whose skill alone the wood and canvas must be indebted for their merit or value. The miraculous relics were a heap of bones and ashes, destitute of life or virtue, or of any relation, perhaps, with the person to whom they were ascribed. The true and vivifying cross was a piece of sound or rotten timber, the body and blood of Christ, a loaf of bread and a cup of wine, the gifts of nature and the symbols of grace. The mother of God was degraded from her celestial honours and immaculate virginity; and the saints and angels were no longer solicited to exercise the laborious office of meditation in heaven, and ministry upon earth. In the practice, or at least in the theory, of the sacraments, the Paulicians were inclined to abolish all visible objects of worship, and the words of the gospel were, in their judgment, the baptism and communion of the faithful. They indulged a convenient latitude for the interpretation of Scripture: and as often as they were pressed by the literal sense, they could escape to the intricate mazes of figure and allegory. Their utmost diligence must have been employed to dissolve the connection between the Old and the New Testament; since they adored the latter as the oracles of God, and abhorred the former as the fabulous and absurd invention of men or daemons. We cannot be surprised, that they should have found in the Gospel the orthodox mystery of the Trinity: but, instead of confessing the human nature and substantial sufferings of Christ, they amused their fancy with a celestial body that passed through the virgin like water through a pipe; with a fantastic crucifixion, that eluded the vain and important malice of the Jews. They hold the two principles of the Magians and Manichaens..A creed thus simple and spiritual was not adapted to the genius of the times; (7) and the rational Christian, who might have been contented with the light yoke and easy burden of Jesus and his apostles, was justly offended, that the Paulicians should dare to violate the unity of God, the first article of natural and revealed religion. Their belief and their trust was in the Father, of Christ, of the human soul, and of the invisible world. But they likewise held the eternity of matter; a stubborn and rebellious substance, the origin of a second principle of an active being, who has created this visible world, and exercises his temporal reign till the final consummation of death and sin. (8) The appearances of moral and physical evil had established the two principles in the ancient philosophy and religion of the East; from whence this doctrine was transfused to the various swarms of the Gnostics. A thousand shades may be devised in the nature and character of Ahriman, from a rival god to a subordinate daemon, from passion and frailty to pure and perfect malevolence: but, in spite of our efforts, the goodness, and the power, of Ormusd are placed at the opposite extremities of the line; and every step that approaches the one must recede in equal proportion from the other. (9)

The establishment of the Paulicans in Armenia, Pontus, etc .
The apostolic labours of Constantine Sylvanus soon multiplied the number of his disciples, the secret recompense of spiritual ambition. The remnant of the Gnostic sects, and especially the Manichaeans of Armenia, were united under his standard; many Catholics were converted or seduced by his arguments; and he preached with success in the regions of Pontus (10) and Cappadocia, which had long since imbibed the religion of Zoroaster. The Paulician teachers were distinguished only by their Scriptural names, by the modest title of Fellow-pilgrims, by the austerity of their lives, their zeal or knowledge, and the credit of some extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit. But they were incapable of desiring, or at least of obtaining, the wealth and honours of the Catholic prelacy; such anti- Christian pride they bitterly censured; and even the rank of elders or presbyters was condemned as an institution of the Jewish synagogue. The new sect was loosely spread over the provinces of Asia Minor to the westward of the Euphrates; six of their principal congregations represented the churches to which St. Paul had addressed his epistles; and their founder chose his residence in the neighbourhood of Colonia, (11) in the same district of Pontus which had been celebrated by the altars of Bellona (12) and the miracles of Gregory. (13)Persecution of the Greek emperors. After a mission of twenty-seven years, Sylvanus, who had retired from the tolerating government of the Arabs, fell a sacrifice to Roman persecution. The laws of the pious emperors, which seldom touched the lives of less odious heretics, proscribed without mercy or disguise the tenets, the books, and the persons of the Montanists and Manichaeans: the books were delivered to the flames; and all who should presume to secrete such writings, or to profess such opinions, were devoted to an ignominious death. (14) A Greek minister, armed with legal and military powers, appeared at Colonia to strike the shepherd, and to reclaim, if possible, the lost sheep. By a refinement of cruelty, Simeon placed the unfortunate Sylvanus before a line of his disciples, who were commanded, as the price of their pardon and the proof of their repentance, to massacre their spiritual father. They turned aside from the impious office; the stones dropped from their filial hands, and of the whole number, only one executioner could be found, a new David, as he is styled by the Catholics, who boldly overthrew the giant of heresy. This apostate (Justin was his name) again deceived and betrayed his unsuspecting brethren, and a new conformity to the acts of St. Paul may be found in the conversion of Simeon: like the apostle, he embraced the doctrine which he had been sent to persecute, renounced his honours and fortunes, and required among the Paulicians the fame of a missionary and a martyr. They were not ambitious of martyrdom, (15) but in a calamitous period of one hundred and fifty years, their patience sustained whatever zeal could inflict; and power was insufficient to eradicate the obstinate vegetation of fanaticism and reason. From the blood and ashes of the first victims, a succession of teachers and congregations repeatedly arose: amidst their foreign hostilities, they found leisure for domestic quarrels: they preached, they disputed, they suffered; and the virtues, the apparent virtues, of Sergius, in a pilgrimage of thirty-three years, are reluctantly confessed by the orthodox historians. (16) The native cruelty of Justinian the Second was stimulated by a pious cause; and he vainly hoped to extinguish, in a single conflagration, the name and memory of the Paulicians. By their primitive simplicity, their abhorrence of popular superstition, the Iconoclast princes might have been reconciled to some erroneous doctrines; but they themselves were exposed to the calumnies of the monks, and they chose to be the tyrants, lest they should be accused as the accomplices, of the Manichaeans. Such a reproach has sullied the clemency of Nicephorus, who relaxed in their favour the severity of the penal statutes, nor will his character sustain the honour of a more liberal motive. The feeble Michael the First, the rigid Leo the Armenian, were foremost in the race of persecution; but the prize must doubtless be adjudged to the sanguinary devotion of Theodora, who restored the images to the Oriental church. Her inquisitors explored the cities and mountains of the Lesser Asia, and the flatterers of the empress have affirmed that, in a short reign, one hundred thousand Paulicians were extirpated by the sword, the gibbet, or the flames. Her guilt or merit has perhaps been stretched beyond the measure of truth: but if the account be allowed, it must be presumed that many simple Iconoclasts were punished under a more odious name; and that some who were driven from the church, unwillingly took refuge in the bosom of heresy.

Revolt of the Paulicans, A.D. 845-880.
The most furious and desperate of rebels are the sectaries of a religion long persecuted, and at length provoked. In a holy cause they are no longer susceptible of fear or remorse: the justice of their arms hardens them against the feelings of humanity; and they revenge their fathers' wrongs on the children of their tyrants. Such have been the Hussites of Bohemia and the Calvinists of France, and such, in the ninth century, were the Paulicians of Armenia and the adjacent provinces. (17) They were first awakened to the massacre of a governor and bishop, who exercised the Imperial mandate of converting or destroying the heretics; and the deepest recesses of Mount Argaeus protected their independence and revenge. A more dangerous and consuming flame was kindled by the persecution of Theodora, and the revolt of Carbeas, a valiant Paulician, who commanded the guards of the general of the East. His father had been impaled by the Catholic inquisitors; and religion, or at least nature, might justify his desertion and revenge. Five thousand of his brethren were united by the same motives; they renounced the allegiance of anti-Christian Rome; a Saracen emir introduced Carbeas to the caliph; and the commander of the faithful extended his sceptre to the implacable enemy of the Greeks. They fortify Tephrice, In the mountains between Siwas and Trebizond he founded or fortified the city of Tephrice, (18) which is still occupied by a fierce or licentious people, and the neighbouring hills were covered with the Paulician fugitives, who now reconciled the use of the Bible and the sword. During more than thirty years, Asia was afflicted by the calamities of foreign and domestic war; in their hostile inroads, the disciples of St. Paul were joined with those of Mahomet; and the peaceful Christians, the aged parent and tender virgin, who were delivered into barbarous servitude, might justly accuse the intolerant spirit of their sovereign. So urgent was the mischief, so intolerable the shame, that even the dissolute Michael, the son of Theodora, was compelled to march in person against the Paulicians: he was defeated under the walls of Samosata; and the Roman emperor fled before the heretics whom his mother had condemned to the flames. The Saracens fought under the same banners, but the victory was ascribed to Carbeas; and the captive generals, with more than a hundred tribunes, were either released by his avarice, or tortured by his fanaticism. The valour and ambition of Chrysocheir, (19) his successor, embraced a wider circle of rapine and revenge. In alliance with his faithful Moslems, he boldly penetrated into the heart of Asia; the troops of the frontier and the palace were repeatedly overthrown; and pillage Asia Minor. the edicts of persecution were answered by the pillage of Nice and Nicomedia, of Ancyra and Ephesus; nor could the apostle St. John protect from violation his city and sepulchre. The cathedral of Ephesus was turned into a stable for mules and horses; and the Paulicians vied with the Saracens in their contempt and abhorrence of images and relics. It is not unpleasing to observe the triumph of rebellion over the same despotism which had disdained the prayers of an injured people. The emperor Basil, the Macedonian, was reduced to sue for peace, to offer a ransom for the captives, and to request, in the language of moderation and charity, that Chrysocheir would spare his fellow-Christians, and content himself with a royal donative of gold and silver and silk garments. "If the emperor," replied the insolent fanatic, "be desirous of peace, let him abdicate the East, and reign without molestation in the West. If he refuse, the servants of the Lord will precipitate him from the throne." The reluctant Basil suspended the treaty, accepted the defiance, and led his army into the land of heresy, which he wasted with fire and sword. The open country of the Paulicians was exposed to the same calamities which they had inflicted; but when he had explored the strength of Tephrice, the multitude of the Barbarians, and the ample magazines of arms and provisions, he desisted with a sigh from the hopeless siege. On his return to Constantinople, he labored, by the foundation of convents and churches, to secure the aid of his celestial patrons, of Michael the archangel and the prophet Elijah; and it was his daily prayer that he might live to transpierce, with three arrows, the head of his impious adversary. Beyond his expectations, the wish was accomplished: after a successful inroad, Chrysocheir was surprised and slain in his retreat; and the rebel's head was triumphantly presented at the foot of the throne. On the reception of this welcome trophy, Basil instantly called for his bow, discharged three arrows with unerring aim, and accepted the applause of the court, who hailed the victory of the royal archer. Their decline. With Chrysocheir, the glory of the Paulicians faded and withered: (20) on the second expedition of the emperor, the impregnable Tephrice, was deserted by the heretics, who sued for mercy or escaped to the borders. The city was ruined, but the spirit of independence survived in the mountains: the Paulicians defended, above a century, their religion and liberty, infested the Roman limits, and maintained their perpetual alliance with the enemies of the empire and the gospel.

Their transplantation from Armenia to Thrace.
About the middle of the eight century, Constantine, surnamed Copronymus by the worshippers of images, had made an expedition into Armenia, and found, in the cities of Melitene and Theodosiopolis, a great number of Paulicians, his kindred heretics. As a favour, or punishment, he transplanted them from the banks of the Euphrates to Constantinople and Thrace; and by this emigration their doctrine was introduced and diffused in Europe. (21) If the sectaries of the metropolis were soon mingled with the promiscuous mass, those of the country struck a deep root in a foreign soil. The Paulicians of Thrace resisted the storms of persecution, maintained a secret correspondence with their Armenian brethren, and gave aid and comfort to their preachers, who solicited, not without success, the infant faith of the Bulgarians. (22) In the tenth century, they were restored and multiplied by a more powerful colony, which John Zimisces (23) transported from the Chalybian hills to the valleys of Mount Haemus. The Oriental clergy who would have preferred the destruction, impatiently sighed for the absence, of the Manichaeans: the warlike emperor had felt and esteemed their valour: their attachment to the Saracens was pregnant with mischief; but, on the side of the Danube, against the Barbarians of Scythia, their service might be useful, and their loss would be desirable. Their exile in a distant land was softened by a free toleration: the Paulicians held the city of Philippopolis and the keys of Thrace; the Catholics were their subjects; the Jacobite emigrants their associates: they occupied a line of villages and castles in Macedonia and Epirus; and many native Bulgarians were associated to the communion of arms and heresy. As long as they were awed by power and treated with moderation, their voluntary bands were distinguished in the armies of the empire; and the courage of these dogs, ever greedy of war, ever thirsty of human blood, is noticed with astonishment, and almost with reproach, by the pusillanimous Greeks. The same spirit rendered them arrogant and contumacious: they were easily provoked by caprice or injury; and their privileges were often violated by the faithless bigotry of the government and clergy. In the midst of the Norman war, two thousand five hundred Manichaeans deserted the standard of Alexius Comnenus, (24) and retired to their native homes. He dissembled till the moment of revenge; invited the chiefs to a friendly conference; and punished the innocent and guilty by imprisonment, confiscation, and baptism. In an interval of peace, the emperor undertook the pious office of reconciling them to the church and state: his winter quarters were fixed at Philippopolis; and the thirteenth apostle, as he is styled by his pious daughter, consumed whole days and nights in theological controversy. His arguments were fortified, their obstinacy was melted, by the honours and rewards which he bestowed on the most eminent proselytes; and a new city, surrounded with gardens, enriched with immunities, and dignified with his own name, was founded by Alexius for the residence of his vulgar converts. The important station of Philippopolis was wrested from their hands; the contumacious leaders were secured in a dungeon, or banished from their country; and their lives were spared by the prudence, rather than the mercy, of an emperor, at whose command a poor and solitary heretic was burnt alive before the church of St. Sophia. (25) But the proud hope of eradicating the prejudices of a nation was speedily overturned by the invincible zeal of the Paulicians, who ceased to dissemble or refused to obey. After the departure and death of Alexius, they soon resumed their civil and religious laws. In the beginning of the thirteenth century, their pope or primate (a manifest corruption) resided on the confines of Bulgaria, Croatia, and Dalmatia, and governed, by his vicars, the filial congregations of Italy and France. (26) From that aera, a minute scrutiny might prolong and perpetuate the chain of tradition. At the end of the last age, the sect or colony still inhabited the valleys of Mount Haemus, where their ignorance and poverty were more frequently tormented by the Greek clergy than by the Turkish government. The modern Paulicians have lost all memory of their origin; and their religion is disgraced by the worship of the cross, and the practice of bloody sacrifice, which some captives have imported from the wilds of Tartary. (27)

Their introduction into Italy and France.
In the West, the first teachers of the Manichaean theology had been repulsed by the people, or suppressed by the prince. The favour and success of the Paulicians in the eleventh and twelfth centuries must be imputed to the strong, though secret, discontent which armed the most pious Christians against the church of Rome. Her avarice was oppressive, her despotism odious; less degenerate perhaps than the Greeks in the worship of saints and images, her innovations were more rapid and scandalous: she had rigorously defined and imposed the doctrine of transubstantiation: the lives of the Latin clergy were more corrupt, and the Eastern bishops might pass for the successors of the apostles, if they were compared with the lordly prelates, who wielded by turns the crosier, the sceptre, and the sword. Three different roads might introduce the Paulicians into the heart of Europe. After the conversion of Hungary, the pilgrims who visited Jerusalem might safely follow the course of the Danube: in their journey and return they passed through Philippopolis; and the sectaries, disguising their name and heresy, might accompany the French or German caravans to their respective countries. The trade and dominion of Venice pervaded the coast of the Adriatic, and the hospitable republic opened her bosom to foreigners of every climate and religion. Under the Byzantine standard, the Paulicians were often transported to the Greek provinces of Italy and Sicily: in peace and war, they freely conversed with strangers and natives, and their opinions were silently propagated in Rome, Milan, and the kingdoms beyond the Alps. (28) It was soon discovered, that many thousand Catholics of every rank, and of either sex, had embraced the Manichaean heresy; and the flames which consumed twelve canons of Orleans was the first act and signal of persecution. The Bulgarians, (29) a name so innocent in its origin, so odious in its application, spread their branches over the face of Europe. United in common hatred of idolatry and Rome, they were connected by a form of episcopal and presbyterian government; their various sects were discriminated by some fainter or darker shades of theology; but they generally agreed in the two principles, the contempt of the Old Testament and the denial of the body of Christ, either on the cross or in the eucharist. A confession of simple worship and blameless manners is extorted from their enemies; and so high was their standard of perfection, that the increasing congregations were divided into two classes of disciples, of those who practised, and of those who aspired.Persecution of the Albigeois, A.D. 1200, etc. It was in the country of the Albigeois, (30) in the southern provinces of France, that the Paulicians were most deeply implanted; and the same vicissitudes of martyrdom and revenge which had been displayed in the neighbourhood of the Euphrates, were repeated in the thirteenth century on the banks of the Rhone. The laws of the Eastern emperors were revived by Frederic the Second. The insurgents of Tephrice were represented by the barons and cities of Languedoc: Pope Innocent III. surpassed the sanguinary fame of Theodora. It was in cruelty alone that her soldiers could equal the heroes of the Crusades, and the cruelty of her priests was far excelled by the founders of the Inquisition; (31) an office more adapted to confirm, than to refute, the belief of an evil principle. The visible assemblies of the Paulicians, or Albigeois, were extirpated by fire and sword; and the bleeding remnant escaped by flight, concealment, or Catholic conformity. But the invincible spirit which they had kindled still lived and breathed in the Western world. In the state, in the church, and even in the cloister, a latent succession was preserved of the disciples of St. Paul; who protested against the tyranny of Rome, embraced the Bible as the rule of faith, and purified their creed from all the visions of the Gnostic theology. The struggles of Wickliff in England, of Huss in Bohemia, were premature and ineffectual; but the names of Zuinglius, Luther, and Calvin, are pronounced with gratitude as the deliverers of nations.

Chracter and consequences of the reformation.
A philosopher, who calculates the degree of their merit and the value of their reformation, will prudently ask from what articles of faith, above or against our reason, they have enfranchised the Christians; for such enfranchisement is doubtless a benefit so far as it may be compatible with truth and piety. After a fair discussion, we shall rather be surprised by the timidity, than scandalized by the freedom, of our first reformers. (32) With the Jews, they adopted the belief and defence of all the Hebrew Scriptures, with all their prodigies, from the garden of Eden to the visions of the prophet Daniel; and they were bound, like the Catholics, to justify against the Jews the abolition of a divine law. In the great mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation the reformers were severely orthodox: they freely adopted the theology of the four, or the six first councils; and with the Athanasian creed, they pronounced the eternal damnation of all who did not believe the Catholic faith. Transubstantiation, the invisible change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, is a tenet that may defy the power of argument and pleasantry; but instead of consulting the evidence of their senses, of their sight, their feeling, and their taste, the first Protestants were entangled in their own scruples, and awed by the words of Jesus in the institution of the sacrament. Luther maintained a corporeal, and Calvin a real, presence of Christ in the eucharist; and the opinion of Zuinglius, that it is no more than a spiritual communion, a simple memorial, has slowly prevailed in the reformed churches. (33) But the loss of one mystery was amply compensated by the stupendous doctrines of original sin, redemption, faith, grace, and predestination, which have been strained from the epistles of St. Paul. These subtile questions had most assuredly been prepared by the fathers and schoolmen; but the final improvement and popular use may be attributed to the first reformers, who enforced them as the absolute and essential terms of salvation. Hitherto the weight of supernatural belief inclines against the Protestants; and many a sober Christian would rather admit that a wafer is God, than that God is a cruel and capricious tyrant.

Yet the services of Luther and his rivals are solid and important; and the philosopher must own his obligations to these fearless enthusiasts. (34) I. By their hands the lofty fabric of superstition, from the abuse of indulgences to the intercession of the Virgin, has been levelled with the ground. Myriads of both sexes of the monastic profession were restored to the liberty and labours of social life. A hierarchy of saints and angels, of imperfect and subordinate deities, were stripped of their temporal power, and reduced to the enjoyment of celestial happiness; their images and relics were banished from the church; and the credulity of the people was no longer nourished with the daily repetition of miracles and visions. The imitation of Paganism was supplied by a pure and spiritual worship of prayer and thanksgiving, the most worthy of man, the least unworthy of the Deity. It only remains to observe, whether such sublime simplicity be consistent with popular devotion; whether the vulgar, in the absence of all visible objects, will not be inflamed by enthusiasm, or insensibly subside in languor and indifference. II. The chain of authority was broken, which restrains the bigot from thinking as he pleases, and the slave from speaking as he thinks: the popes, fathers, and councils, were no longer the supreme and infallible judges of the world; and each Christian was taught to acknowledge no law but the Scriptures, no interpreter but his own conscience. This freedom, however, was the consequence, rather than the design, of the Reformation. The patriot reformers were ambitious of succeeding the tyrants whom they had dethroned. They imposed with equal rigour their creeds and confessions; they asserted the right of the magistrate to punish heretics with death. The pious or personal animosity of Calvin proscribed in Servetus (35) the guilt of his own rebellion; (36) and the flames of Smithfield, in which he was afterwards consumed, had been kindled for the Anabaptists by the zeal of Cranmer. (37) The nature of the tiger was the same, but he was gradually deprived of his teeth and fangs. A spiritual and temporal kingdom was possessed by the Roman pontiff; the Protestant doctors were subjects of an humble rank, without revenue or jurisdiction. His decrees were consecrated by the antiquity of the Catholic church: their arguments and disputes were submitted to the people; and their appeal to private judgment was accepted beyond their wishes, by curiosity and enthusiasm. Since the days of Luther and Calvin, a secret reformation has been silently working in the bosom of the reformed churches; many weeds of prejudice were eradicated; and the disciples of Erasmus (38) diffused a spirit of freedom and moderation. The liberty of conscience has been claimed as a common benefit, an inalienable right: (39) the free governments of Holland (40) and England (41) introduced the practice of toleration; and the narrow allowance of the laws has been enlarged by the prudence and humanity of the times. In the exercise, the mind has understood the limits of its powers, and the words and shadows that might amuse the child can no longer satisfy his manly reason. The volumes of controversy are overspread with cobwebs: the doctrine of a Protestant church is far removed from the knowledge or belief of its private members; and the forms of orthodoxy, the articles of faith, are subscribed with a sigh, or a smile, by the modern clergy. Yet the friends of Christianity are alarmed at the boundless impulse of inquiry and scepticism. The predictions of the Catholics are accomplished: the web of mystery is unravelled by the Arminians, Arians, and Socinians, whose number must not be computed from their separate congregations; and the pillars of Revelation are shaken by those men who preserve the name without the substance of religion, who indulge the license without the temper of philosophy. (42)


This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library
at Calvin College. Last updated on August 27, 1999.
Contacting the CCEL. http://www.ccel.org/...ume2/chap54.htm

#7 MJ



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Posted 19 February 2001 - 04:26 PM

And so True Believers in small fractured groups, still maligned and branded as heretics merely because they attempted to walk more closely to Apostolic teachings, made their way through Europe and continued to spread the shreds of God's Truth they still possessed and had faithfully preserved for more then eleven hundred years.

Stewart Easton in his book, "The Western Heritage" tells us that:

"The common element of all 12th century heresy was the belief that true Christianity consisted in leading a life more consistent with the life of Christ as it had been portrayed in the Gospels" (page 234)
The Bogomil's evangelistic zeal had spread their Paulician teachings throughout the Alpine regions of France and Italy, as well as Germany and Servia, where many so called "heretical" Christian sects flourished during this time period.

In Germany we find references to "The Friends of God".
In Servia there were "The Paterenes".
Others were called Passagi, Bulgarians, Cathari, Publicani and were sometimes referred to collectively by their adversaries as Albigenses.
It would be incorrect to assume that all these different groups believed the same things, let alone preserved and faithfully followed all the Paulician beliefs of their ancestry.
As the Encyclopedia Britanica makes clear in an article on the Bogomils:
"It is a complicated task to determine the true character and the tenets of any ancient sect, considering that almost all the information that has reached us has come from opponents" (vol 4, pg 119)
Some of them such as "The Cathari", who had been influenced by Manichaeism (a Persian cult), did in fact hold many heretical beliefs.
But Christ's Church, as God had promised (Mt 16:18), would survive.
Near the turn of the 12th century, the Roman Church became concerned about the "Heresies" that were over running the Valley Louise in Duaphiny, France.
Around 1104, a man from this valley, Peter of Bruys and later, one Peter Waldo were both said to have preached a Gospel of repentance.
Waldo, a business man, brought the same skills that had made him successful in business to his organization of the church.
He and his followers dedicated their lives to preaching the Gospel and gave up all they owned to be used by the church as was needed; believing that Christ who Himself owned no possessions, had set this example.
According to Stewart C. Easton, Waldensians based the creed of their Church:
"... on the ideal of the early Christian church as far as they understood it." Easton, The Western Heritage, pg 234
Waldensianism was condemned by a council of the Roman church and in later years even pursued by the Inquisition.
However the movement was never totally stamped out.
In the early thirteen hundreds, Waldensian sects in the Netherlands were called Lollards.
And by 1315 a Waldensian minister "Walter the Lollard", brought the Gospel of Christ and the seventh day sabbath to England, where it remained for centuries in relative obscurity.

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Posted 19 February 2001 - 04:29 PM

The Lord Raises up the Paulicians in the East to Engage the Gates of Hell

One of the enemy's more ingenious ploys is to suppress critical knowledge of the past. This would include knowledge of our Protestant forefathers. Men and women who died protesting Satan's lies, holding to sola Scriptura and sola fide. In order to taint the witness of these Christians, Satan has planted seeds of doubt as to their orthodoxy. These same seeds of doubt, planted by our adversary centuries ago, are still taught and believed today. The truth can often times be difficult to assess, due to the fact that the enemy has taken great pains to destroy the original writings of those who oppose. Thus, we are often left with the difficult task of discerning fact from fiction, truth from lies, as stated in the only surviving biased records of the enemy. Let us compare two views to determine the orthodoxy of the Paulicians. First we will examine the view of the adversary, one which deems them heretics. Our first citation is that of Roman Catholic theologian, the Rev. John Dowling, who reproduces translations of 9th century histories written by opponents of the Paulicians:[15]

"Petrus Siculus [i.e., Peter of Sicily] addresses his history to the archbishop of the Bulgarians….These Paulicians, he says, 'are the same as the [heretical] Manichæns, whose impurities they disclaim, but whose doctrines they carefully hold and defend.'….He states the principal heads of the heresy of the Paulicians in six particulars:

1- They asserted that there are two principles of things, and that the Maker and Governor of this world is not the same as the Maker and Governor of the world to come.

2- They denied that honour is due to the Virgin, as Christ was not born of her, but brought his body down from heaven.

3- They rejected the Eucharist.

4- They dishonoured the cross.

5- They rejected the Old testament, and called the prophets deceivers and robbers….

6- They refused to allow the ministry and priesthood of the church.

In contradistinction to this translation by a foe of the Paulicians, Dowling gives the Protestant translation of the same history, by the Rev. Blair:

1- That there is one supreme God, and another God who introduced sin.

2- That the Virgin Mary does not deserve divine adoration.

3- That there are three persons in One God, and that Jesus became incarnate. They believe the other Christian doctrines, but refuse [to believe] the conversion of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ [i.e., transubstantiation]…..

4- That the sign of the cross is to be contemned, and is a ground for their separation.

5- That the Scriptures are to be read,[16] and the Pope is not supreme. They did not deny, though they might possess the Old Testament.

6- That there is no ground for the different orders of clergy in the Roman Church, and that pastors are fellow-pilgrims.[17]

To this account of the Paulicians, the Encyclopedia Britannica makes these observations: That they denied Jesus was made of the Mary's flesh, they smashed up crosses when they could, they repudiated Peter, calling him a denier of Christ, the garbs of monks originated from the mind of the devil, and that they, the Paulicians, were the universal church, not buildings of wood and stone.[18] If this present writer could make a few comments on interpreting these alleged doctrines: First, if the Paulicians held to the sin nature of Mary, which the Bible teaches and the Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox repudiate, it would seem that Christ could not have partaken of that aspect of her, thus making His flesh of a significantly different and higher order than hers. Second, because the Roman Pontiff falsely claims apostolic descent from Peter, the alleged 'first pope', it could be seen by them that rejection of the Papacy constituted rejection of Peter. We know the Papal Antichrist denies Christ, so it would be correct to cite Peter's dark side as describing the inherited nature of Christ-denying popes. Third, it was not the garb of the monks which the Paulicians denounced, but the orders themselves, as originating from Satan, not from Scripture. Fourth, the original meaning of the Greek word for 'church' is 'called out ones.' The Paulicians were simply stating their separation from the idolatrous apostates, claiming God's people did not constitute literal buildings or cathedrals, rather faithful humans.

Rev. E. B. Elliott, renowned author of the unequalled 19th century commentary on the Revelation, gives a synopsis of Paulician history:

"It was about the middle, then, of the seventh century that the Paulikian[19] sect had its rise. At that time, as I have already elsewhere shown, the most grievous corruptions were not only admitted into, but enforced in, both the doctrine and the worship of the Catholic Church, as it was called, in Greek Christendom. The images of saints suspended on the church walls, and the votive offerings beneath them, the glare of lamps and the fumes of incense, told everywhere to the eye, too clearly to be mistaken, of the almost universal departure from the simplicity and the spirit of the Gospel. Other mediators (the Virgin Mary more especially) had been substituted for the one and only true Mediator between God and men, the God-man Christ Jesus; and other protectors, like the old pagan tutelary deities, for his Almighty protectorship…..The very principle of salvation, simply by faith in the dying and ascended Saviour, was so obscured as to be almost lost." [20]

Elliott traces the origin of the Paulicians through one Constantine, in A. D. 654, not Paul of Samosata, the heretical Manichæn Bishop, as their enemies held. Rather, the Paulicians derived their name from the great teacher of election by grace, the Apostle Paul.

Constantine, founder of the Paulicians, Stoned to Death for Heresy, His Disciples Burned Alive By Eastern Orthodox 'Christians'

Citing the hostile testimony of historian, Peter of Sicily, Elliott details the martyrdom of Constantine and his Christian followers: "…an edict of persecution was issued against him and his Paulikian congregations by the Greek government…the penalty of death was declared against both teacher and disciples, such as might persist obstinately in heresy, but with the injunction of mercy to such as might recant…The result was that Constantine himself at least was theron stoned to death…The report of the revival of heresy reached the ears of a neighboring Bishop, after three years…and Simeon [the new Paulician leader], and a large number of his followers…were all thrown on (a vast funeral pile); and burnt alive." [21]

Elliott then proceeds with their history down to the time of two great Paulician leaders, Gegnæsius and Joseph, whose ministries paralleled the rise of Iconoclasm, "that grand movement against image-worship." Elliott postulates this movement against images to have originated with the Paulicians themselves, citing the hostile history of Georgius Hamartolus: "…the Iconoclasts were the protectors of the abominable and demoniacal worship of the Manichæns, from whom in fact they derived their origin."[22] In other words, the Paulicians, who were accused of the Manichæn heresy, were the very Iconoclasts who originated the movement against image-worship in the Eastern empire.

Both Elliott and Milner View the Paulicians as One of the Two Witnesses of Rev.11:

They Take the Historicist View of Revelation

Let us now resume our investigation into the history of the persecuted Paulicians by quoting Milner once more:

"The reigning powers, both in the east and the west, were overgrown with false worship: ….(and by) the submission of all the European Churches to the domination of the Roman See. There the seat of Antichrist was firmly fixed…….From the year 727, to about the year 2000, we have the dominion of the Beast;[23] and the prophesying of the witnesses in sackcloth, which was to continue 1260 days, or forty and two months, that is for 1260 years.[24] We must now look for the real Church, either, in distinct individual saints, who, in the midst of popery, were preserved by effectual grace in vital union with the Son of God, or, in associations of true Christians, formed in different regions, which were in a state of persecution and much affliction. Where then was the Church in the eighth century? She still subsisted; and the opposition made to idolatry…demonstrates her existence…….

"The enemies of the Paulicians give them the name from some unknown teacher; but there seems scarce a doubt, that they took the name from St. Paul himself. For Constantine gave himself the name of Sylvanus; his disciples were called Titus, Timothy, Tychicus, the names of the Apostle's fellow-labourers…Their enemies called them Gnostics or Manichees; and confounded them with those sectaries…We know nothing of these men but from the pens of their enemies. Their writings, and the lives of their eminent teachers are totally lost….This people also were perfectly free from the image-worship, which more and more pervaded the east. They were simply scriptural in the use of the sacraments: they disregarded relics…and they knew of no other Mediator but the Lord Jesus Christ…..'To their other excellent deeds,' says the bigoted Peter, the Sicilian, 'the divine and orthodox emperors added this virtue, that they ordered the Montanists and Manichæns [i.e., Paulicians] to be capitally punished; and their books, wherever found, to be committed to the flames; also, that if any person was found to have secreted them, he was to be put to death, and his goods to be confiscated.'…….For a hundred and fifty years these servants of Christ underwent the horrors of persecution, with Christian patience and meekness; and if the acts of their martyrdom, their preaching, and their lives were distinctly recorded, there seems no doubt, but this people would appear to have resembled those, whom the Church justly reveres as having suffered in the behalf of Christ during the three first centuries….The blood of the martyrs was, in this case, as formerly, the seed of the Church: a succession of teachers and congregations arose, and a person named Sergius, who laboured among them thirty-three years, is confessed by the bigoted historians to have been a man of extraordinary virtue. The persecution had, however, some intermissions, till at length Theodora,[25] the same empress who fully established image-worship, exerted herself beyond any of her predecessors against them. Her inquisitors ransacked the lesser Asia, in search of these sectaries; and she is computed to have killed by the gibbet, by fire, and by sword, a hundred thousand persons." [26]

"The Key of Truth' Delineates Paulician Teachings

A late 19th century find by the Rev. Fred Conybeare, of Oxford, The Key of Truth purports to be an ancient manuscript of Paulician doctrines.[27] Citing an excerpt from the record of an 1837 Inquisition of Armenian Paulicians, we find that these 'heretics' rebaptized all whose foreheads the sacred oil of the wild beast is laid, and that on their faces they make no sign of the cross.[28] In his summary of the ancient tenets of the Paulicians, Conybeare gives the following principles:

- They called themselves the true Church, the Elect.

- They repudiated infant baptism.

- The Virgin Mary is no longer a virgin, nor does she intercede for us.

- Purgatory is a falsehood.

- Images, pictures, holy crosses, incense, candles are all to be condemned as idolatrous, alien to the teaching of Christ.

- The Paulicians were not dualists [i.e., Manichæn].

- Denied confession to a priest.

- Their canon contained the entire New testament, nor did they reject the Old Testament.

- The false priests deceive the simple-minded with mere bread. The devil's favorite disguise is that of a monk.

- The Scriptures and a knowledge of divine truth are not to remain the exclusive possession of the Orthodox priests.

We will continue Part 2 with a look into the reasons why the Paulicians and other true Christian sects were falsely labeled Manichæns.



[1] German theologian and professor of Church history at numerous universities (d. 1930), Eng. transl. by Neil Buchanan, Little, Brown & Co., 1898, Vol. 4, p. 318 ff.

[2] Original publication, 1788. We quote from the 1952 Britannica edition, Vol.2, pp. 195-96.

[3] Original publication, 1562. We quote from the 1823, Baltimore edition, p. 179 ff.

[4] The History of the Church of Christ, 2nd Edition, Revised by Rev. Isaac Milner, London, 1810.

[5] Ibid., pp. 151-52.

[6] Ibid. pp. 153-57.

[7] Ibid. p. 198.

[8] Ibid. p. 200

[9] I.e., evil spirits subordinate to Satan.

[10] Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Ed. By Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Hendrickson Publishers reprint, 1995.

[11] Ibid., p. 207.

[12] Gibbon, loc. cit.

[13] Let the reader note: this is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, attributing to the Holy Spirit an evil work in the name of holiness.

[14] Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, op. cit., pp. 571-73. [Special thanks to Rick Hutson for the material.]

[15] A Letter to the Rev. S. R. Maitland on the Opinions of the Paulicians, London, 1835.

[16] I.e., by the laity, which the 9th century Greeks forbade.

[17] History of the Waldenses, pp. 169-70.

[18] 1959 edition, article, Paulicians.

[19] Elliott prefers to use this term, a corruption of the term Publicans used by their opponents.

[20] Horæ Apocalypticæ, London, 1863, vol.2, p. 249 ff.

[21] Ibid., pp. 254-55.

[22] Ibid. p. 256. Elliott cites Dowling, op. cit., p. 42.

[23] Milner cites Rev. 11 & 13 as his authority.

[24]The Protestant Year-Day Principle: one year for each prophetic day.

[25] Eastern Orthodox Empress, A. D. 842-55.

[26] Ibid. pp. 204-8.

[27] Oxford, 1898. All subsequent writers on the Paulicians quote this source as authoritative.

28 Ibid. pp. xxiv-v. This 'heretical' doctrine follows, exactly, prophetic wisdom which warns against taking such a mark of the beast (Rev. 14:9).

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Posted 19 February 2001 - 04:30 PM

Paulicians [pôlish'unz]
Pronunciation Key

Paulicians , Christian heretical sect. The sect developed in Armenia from obscure origins and is first mentioned in the middle of the 6th cent., where it is associated with Nestorianism. The teachings of the Paulicians seem to show some gnostic influence, possibly that of Marcion or Paul of Samosata, and many of the adherents leaned toward adoptionism. The sect especially valued the Gospel of Luke and the Pauline Epistles. They rejected the sacraments but nevertheless considered baptism of the greatest importance. They were iconoclasts and rejected extreme asceticism. By the 7th cent. the sect spread to the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire, where it met with strong persecution. The Council of Dvin (719) brought on new persecutions of the Paulicians in Armenia, but the permissive Isaurian emperors allowed them to flourish and even settled them as allies in Thrace. Renewed persecution caused them to side with the Muslims against Byzantium. By 844, at the height of its power, the sect established a Paulician state at Tephrike (present-day Divrigu, Turkey) under the leadership of Karbeas, or Corbeas. In 871 the Byzantine emperor Basil I ended the power of this state and the survivors fled to Syria and Armenia. In 970 the Paulicians in Syria were deported to the Balkans, where they combined with the Bogomils. Those in Armenia became identified with a minor sect, the Tondrakeci. They ceased to be a threat after the 11th cent. and did not survive to modern times.

See N. G. Garsoïan, The Paulician Heresy (1968).

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Posted 19 February 2001 - 04:32 PM

Medieval Sourcebook:
Anna Comnena: The Bogomils, c. 1110


After this in the course of the years of his reign, a very great cloud of heretics arose, and the nature of their heresy was new and hitherto unknown to the Church. For two very evil and worthless doctrines which had been known in former times, now coalesced; the impiety, as it might be called, of the Manichaeans, which we also call the Paulician heresy, and the shamelessness of the Massalians. This was the doctrine of the Bogomils---compounded of the Massalians and the Manichaeans. And probably it existed even before my father's time, but in secret; for the sect of the Bogomils is very clever in aping virtue. And you would not find any long-haired wordling belonging to the Bogomils, for their wickedness was hidden under the cloak and cowl. A Bogomil looks gloomy and is covered up to the nose and walks with a stoop and mutters, but within he is an uncontrollable wolf. And this most pernicious race, which was like a snake hiding in a hole, my father jured and brought out to the light by chanting mysterious speels. For now that he had rid himself of much of his anxiety about the East and the West he turned his attention to more spiritual matters. For in all things he was superior to other men; in teaching he surpassed those whose profession was teaching; in battles and strategy he excelled those admired for their exploits.

By this time the fame of the Bogomils had spread everywhere. (For Basil, a monk, was very wily in handling the impiety of the Bogomils; he had twelve disciples whom he called "apostles," and also dragged about with him some female disciples, wretched women of loose habits and thoroughly bad, and he disseminated his wickedness everywhere.) This evil attacked many souls like fire, and the Emperor's soul could not brook it, so he began investigating the heresy. He had some of the Bogomils brought to the palace and all proclaimed a certain Basil as the teacher and chief representative of the Bogomilian heresy. Of these, one Diblatius was kept in prison, and as he would not confess when questioned, he was subjected to torture and then informed against the man called Basil, and the disciples he had chosen. Accordingly the Emperor entrusted several men with the search for him. And Sotanael's arch-satrap, Basil, was brought to light, in monk's habit, with a withered countenance, clean shaven and tall of stature.

The Emperor, wishing to elicit his inmost thought by compulsion under the disguise of persuasion, at once invited the man on some righteous pretext. And he even rose from his chair to greet him, and made him sit by him and share his table, and threw out his whole fishing-line and fixed various baits on the hooks for this voracious whale to devour. And he made this monk, who was so many-sided in wickedness, swallow all the poison he offered him by pretending that he wished to become his discliple, and not he only, but probably his brother, the Sebastocrator Isaac, also; he pretended too to value all the words he spoke as if they came from a divine voice and to defer to him in all things, provided only that the villain Basil would effect his soul's salvation. "Most reverend father," he would say (for the Emperor rubbed sweets on the rim of the cup so that this demoniac should vomit forth his black thoughts), "I admire you for your virtue, and beseech you to teach me the new doctrines your Reverence has introduced, as those of our Churches are practically worthless and do not bring anybody to virtue." But the monk at first put on airs and he, that was really an ass, dragged about the lion's skin with him everywhere and shied at the Emperor's words, and yet was puffed up with his praises, for the Emperor even had him at his table. And in all this the Emperor's brother, the Sebastocrator, aided and abetted him in the play; and finally Basil spued out the dogmas of his heresy. And how was this done? A curtain divided the women's apartments from the room where the two Emperors sat with the wretch who blurted out and openly declared all he had in his soul; whilst a secretary sitting on the inner side of the curtain committed his words to writing. And the nonsense-monger seemed to be the teacher while the Emperor pretended to be the pupil, and the secretary wrote down his doctrines. And that man, stricken of God, spun together all that horrible stuff and did not shun any abominable dogma, but even despised our theology and misrepresented all our ecclesiastical administration. And as for the churches, woe is me---he called our sacred churches the temples of devils, and our consecration of the body and blood of our one and greatest High Priest and Victim he considered and condemned as worthless.

And what followed? the Emperor threw off his disguise and drew the curtain aside; and the whole Senate was gathered together and the military contingent mustered, and the elders of the Church were present too. The episcopal throne of the Queen of Cities was at that time occupied by that most blessed of patriarchs, Lord Nicholas, the Grammarian. Then the execrable doctrines were read out, and proof was impossible to attack. And the defendant did not deny anything, but immediately bared his head and proceeded to counter-demonstrations and professed himself willing to undergo fire, scourging and a thousand deaths. For these erring Bogomils believe that they can bear any suffering without feeling pain, as the angels forsooth will pluck them out of the fire. And although all reproached him for his impiety, even those whom he had involved in his own ruin, he remained the same Basil, an inflexible and very brave Bogomil. And although he was threatened with burning and other tortures he clung fast to his demon and embraced his Satanael. After he was consigned to prison the Emperor frequently sent for him and frequently exhorted him to forswear his impiety, but all the Emperor's exhortations left him unchanged.

Before the Emperor had begun to take severe measures against him, after his confession of impiety he would occasionally retire to a little house which had recently been prepared for him situated fairly close to the royal palace. It was evening and the stars above were shining in the clear air, and the moon was lighting up that evening, following the Synod. When the monk entered his cell about midnight, stones were automatically thrown, like hail, against his cell, and yet no hand threw them, nor was there any man to be seen stoning this devil's abbot. It was probably a burst of anger of Satanael's attendant demons who were enraged and annoyed because he had betrayed their secrets to the Emperor....



From: Elizabeth A. S. Dawes, trans., The Alexiad of the Princess Anna Comnena, (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., Ltd., 1918), pp. 412-415, reprinted in Alfred J. Bannan & Achilles Edelenyi, eds., Documentary History of Eastern Europe, (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1970), pp. 7-11.


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© Paul Halsall, September 1998

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Posted 19 February 2001 - 05:05 PM


By G.H. Orchard
Baptist Minister, Steventon, Bedfordshire, England, 1855

Taken from the New Testament, the first fathers, early writers, and historians of all ages; chronologically arranged; exhibiting their churches with their order in various countries under different names from the establishment of Christianity to the present age: with correlative information, supporting the early and only practice of believers’ immersion: also observations and notes on the abuse of the ordinance, and the rise of minor and infant baptism.

[Note from the publisher. This valuable out-of-print book was prepared for electronic publication by Way of Life Literature. The scanning was done by Pastor Doug Hammett and his sons, Lehigh Valley Baptist Church, Emmaus, Pennsylvania. For a catalog of other books, both current and old, in print and electronic format, contact us at P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, Michigan 48061-0368. 866-295-4143 (toll free), fbns@wayoflife.org (e-mail). Canada: Bethel Baptist Church, 4212 Campbell St. N., London, Ontario N6P 1A6, 519-652-2619 (church), 519-652-0056 (fax).]

[Table of Contents for "A Concise History of the Baptists" by G.H. Orchard]



"It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."--Jude 3.

1. The council of Nice, already referred to, took notice of two sorts of Dissenters, who held separate assemblies. These were the Cathari and Paulianists, the latter were a kind of semi-Arians; the former were Trinitarians (Novatianists,) who viewed the Catholic church as a worldly community. These Puritans or Novatianists were exceedingly numerous in Phrygia. [Lardner, Cred. of the Gos. v. iii. p. 2, c. 47, p. 310] These Dissenters baptized all that joined their assemblies by immersion in the name of the Trinity, on a personal profession of faith; and if they had been baptized before, they re-baptized them. Canons now were enacted by aspiring prelates,+ yet the Greek Christians paid very little regard to any ecclesiastical rule, and though successive assemblies were called, the more the bishops tried to enforce uniformity, the faster what they called heresy spread; so that, in the twelfth century, the world was full of (dissidents,) heretics. [Rob. Res. pp. 71-3]

[+ During the last century, baptism was viewed as preparing the soul for glory, and subsequently, it was delayed for years, or till death approached. This delay and neglect, these prelates were anxious to recover the people from, and in their expressions and zeal for the ordinance, they brought the people to the other extreme, and pernicious consequences ensued.

360 Basil expressed to his people the bitter complaints those would make, who died unbaptized.

360 Gregory Nazianzen speaks of different punishments for different persons, in another world, which is to be regulated by their treatment of baptism.

374 Ambrose says, "For no one comes to the kingdom of heaven but by baptism. Those not baptized may have a freedom from punishment, which is not clear."

380 Chrysostum declares, there is no receiving the bequeathed inheritance before one is baptized.

388 Augustin asserts, "Salvation of a person is completed by baptism and conversion."

These assertions awakened each person under these prelates’ charge, to receive baptism; the penitent, the prisoner, sickly persons and children, the dying, and dead bodies, received the purifying rite, in order to avoid the purgatory of the unbaptized. This was the strong limb to paedobaptism!]

2. It appears highly probable, from many circumstances, that both the greater and lesser Armenia were enlightened with the knowledge of the truth, not long after the first rise of Christianity. The interests in communion with Rome and Constantinople were, in this fourth century, incorporated with the parent society. The character of the Armenians was, that they were a frugal, laborious, stern, and peaceable people, if let alone, but formidable and warlike, if oppressed; which accounts for the policy of the government at early periods, and the evils resulting in its change of measures towards Dissenters in these and other provinces. [Rob. ut sup.] While the catholics were engaged about the relics of Palestine, and professors in hierarchies were subsiding into an awful and secure slumber, a reformer appeared, in the person of one AERIUS, a presbyter monk. "He excited divisions," says Mosheim [Mosh. Hist. c. -1, p. 2, ch. 3, ~ 21], throughout Armenia,+ Pontus, and Cappadocia, by propagating opinions different from those that were commonly received. He condemned prayers for the dead, stated fasts, the celebration of Easter, and other rites of that nature, in which the multitudes erroneously imagine that the life and soul of religion consists. One of his principal tenets was, that the bishops were not distinguished from presbyters by any divine right; but, that according to the institution of the New Testament their offices and authority were absolutely the same. His great purpose seems to have been that of reducing Christianity to its primitive simplicity.++ He erected a new society, and we know, with the utmost certainty, that it was highly agreeable to many good Christians, who were no longer able to bear the tyranny and arrogance of the bishops of this century.

[* Mosheim History, C. 4, pt. 1, chapter 1, ~ 19. note. No one circumstance ever gave such footing, or ever strengthened national establishments so much, as infant baptism. Minor baptism was confined to no age; it might have been at fourteen years, as in the Georgian nation, which embraced Christianity under Constantine, Wall, pt. 2, p. 260, or at seven or six, as recorded, Rob. Hist. Bap. pp. 144, 299. But the general delay of baptism was a distress to the clergy, Id. 249. 381 Gregory at Constantinople, A.D., 381, and Austin, at Hippo, introduced new views and rites. The first considered children might be dipped at three years of age, Id. 3-19, and also babes, if in danger of death, Id. 249, as dying unbaptized, left their future state uncertain, ut sup.; the latter asserts, infants are baptized for the pardon of sin, Wall, i. 303. The anxiety on the part of the orthodox, to rescue children from the errors of the Arians, was in this age manifest. No way promised so much success as the obligations to keep the creed into which each was solemnly baptized. This charity in both parties, Arians and Trinitarians, furthered the infant cause, and gave additional importance to those interests which aspired to orthodoxy or eminency in numbers. See Eight causes furthering Paedobaptism, Rob. Bap. c. 27.]

[+ Wolf, the Missionary, says, "The priest (of Armenia) puts the child into the water, and washes the head with three handfuls of water, and prays, and saith, ‘I baptize thee in the name, &c., and then dips the child," &c., Bap. Mag. 1826, v. xviii. p. 29. This is confirmed by Missionaries Smith and Dwight, who say, according to the rules of the Armenian church, baptism consists in plunging the whole body in water three times, as the sacred formula is repeated. Miss. Reseat. in Armenia, p. 312, &c. See Simon’s Critical History of the Relig. and Customs of Eastern Nations, chap. 12 and 13, p. 134, &c.]

[++ We are unacquainted with the reformer’s views and success. The mode of baptizing in the East, is farther stated by Millar, who asserts, "In all the oriental provinces with the northern nations, immersion is the only mode of baptism, the child is dipped three times in Russia, as in the Greek church." Geog. v. ii. p. 480, col. 1.]

3. We have now no interesting matters to give, nor can we detail any information, to break the monotony of the aspect of the interests generally, for nearly two centuries. The Nonconformists continued to be dispersed all over the empire, and had trusted to Providence for liberty to worship. Their history is large, and has proved difficult to many. The clergy were always troublesome, but never attempted their conversion. Some emperors had been indifferent to them, others had cherished them, others had persecuted them. We shall leave the general history, and endeavor to identify one class of consistent Puritans. Few of the clergy of the establishments could compose a discourse in the seventh century, when Mahomet arose to scourge the nations.

[Mahomet has rendered baptizo in the Koran, divine dying. Immersion is only one part, the tinging of the soul with faith and grace, is the other; or tincturing the mind with the doctrines of the gospel, we should say. In this way all through the Koran, he has fully translated the word, Rob. Bap. p. 7, and 493. But dying is not done by sprinkling or pouring, but the subject dyed is dipped. Gale’s Ref. Let. 3, p. 83. The Mahometans are totally immersed, or bathed in water. Sale’s Koran, v. i. s. 4, pp. 13840. This mode of baptizing is further evident from the most respectable historians. The mosque of Damascus, says Dr. Po****, has an octagon baptistery, View of the East, v. ii. b. 2, c. 8, p. 120. On each side of the mosque, are fountains for the purpose of washing before worship, Id. v. ii. b. 3, oh. 1, p. 128. No unbaptized person may enter a Mahometan church, Lon.]

Mosheim speaks of a drooping faction, in this century, "The Russians baptize adults in the river, by trine immersion," with whom the Greek church was engaged in the most bitter and violent controversy. This drooping faction in Armenia, he calls Manicheans, and says they were revived by Paul and John, two brothers, who revived the doctrine, and modified it, from which sprang a new sect. But as Dr. Mosheim’s account is at variance with others, we shall select our materials of this new sect from other sources. [by Millar’s Geog. ib. and see authorities quoted in Robinson’s Letter to Dr. Turner, Works, iv. p. 235]

Bathing was a practice of great antiquity; the Greeks, as well as the heroic age, are said to have constantly bathed. Immersion would to such be very agreeable. [Floyer’s Hist. of Bathing; Dr. G.S. Howard’s New Royal Encyclo. v. i. Art. Bathing; Sir R. Ker Porter’s Travels, v. i. p. 231]

4. It was about the year 653, that a new sect came into notice in the East,* under the name of PAULICIANS, which deserves our attention. There resided in the city of Mananalis, in Armenia, an obscure person of the name of CONSTANTINE, with whom this sect appears to have originated. One day, a stranger called upon him, who had been a prisoner among the Saracens, in Syria, and having obtained his release, was returning home through this city; he was kindly received by Constantine, and entertained some days at his house. To requite the hospitality of his generous host, he gave Constantine two manuscripts, which he had brought out of Syria; and these were the four gospels, and the Epistles of the apostle Paul. From the nature of the gift, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the stranger set a value upon these manuscripts, that he was acquainted with their contents, and was one who knew the truth, all which receives corroboration from the fact, that he had been an office-bearer, a deacon in a Christian church. It is equally probable that the conversation of Constantine and his guest would occasionally turn upon the contents of these manuscripts. That his conversation and present had some effects on the mind of Constantine, is evident, for, from the time he got acquainted with the contents of these writings, it is said he would touch no other books. He threw away his Manichean library, exploded and rejected many of the absurd notions of his countrymen. He became a teacher of the doctrines of Christ and his apostles. [Jones’s Lecr. on Ec. Hist. v. ii. p. 179. 9, ch. 2] "He formed to himself," says Milner, "a plan of divinity from the New Testament; and as Paul is the most systematic of all the apostles, Constantine very properly attached himself to his writings with peculiar attention. From the attention this sect paid to this apostle’s epistles and doctrine, they obtained the name of Paulicians." "In the present instance," continues Milner, "I see reason to suppose the Paulicians to have been perfect originals. The little that has been mentioned concerning them, carries entirely this appearance; and I hope it may be shortly evident that they originated from a heavenly influence, teaching and converting them; and that, in them we have one of those extraordinary effusions of the divine Spirit (on his word), by which the knowledge of Christ and the practice of godliness is kept alive in the world." [History of Church, Cent. 9, ch. 2]

These originals, or rather, restorers of the New Testament order of things, being allowed by all historians to have been the encouragers, if not the main strength of the Albigensian churches in France, at after periods; we shall be the more particular in our attention to their character and practice. [Gibbon’s Ro. Hist. Ch. 54]

[* In Vaughan’s Life of Wickliff, v. i. c. 2, s. 1, p. 115, the denominational aspect of this sect is suppressed, though Gibbon has spoken out; this course is pursued through that work. Those who neglect part of the commission, are afraid to mention its performance in other denominations.]

[The Syrians, the Armenians, the Persians, and all the oriental nations, who must have understood the Greek word baptizo, have practised dipping, and it is so rendered in their versions of the Scriptures. Rob. Hist. Bap. p. 7; Ryland’s Cand. Reasons. Baptizo is rendered to dip, by the Peshito, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Coptic, Gothic, German or Luther, Dutch, Danish, and Swedish versions. See Greenfield’s Del. of the Mahratta version, pp. 40-44]

5. The Paulicians sincerely condemned the memory and opinions of the Manichean sect, and complained of the injustice which impressed that invidious name on the simple followers of Paul and Christ. The objects which had been transformed by the magic of superstition, appeared to the eyes of the Paulicians’ in their genuine and naked colors. Of the ecclesiastical chain, many links were broken by these reformers; and against the gradual innovations of discipline and doctrine, they were strongly guarded by habit and aversion, as by the silence of Paul and the Evangelists. They attached themselves with peculiar devotion to the writings and character of Paul, and in whom they gloried. In the gospels, and epistles of Paul, Constantine investigated the creed of the primitive Christians; and whatever might be the success, a Protestant reader will applaud the spirit of the inquiry. In practice, or at least in theory, of the sacraments, the Paulicians were inclined to abolish all visible objects of worship, and the words of the gospel were, in their judgments, the baptism and communion of the faithful. A creed thus simple and spiritual, was not adapted to the genius of the times, and the rational Christian was offended at the violation offered to his religion by the Paulicians. [Gibbon, ut sup]

6. In confirmation of the above historian, as to their views of the ordinance of Baptism, we subjoin the authorities of a few respectable writers.

In these churches of the Paulicians, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, they held to be peculiar to the communion of the faithful; i.e., to be restricted to believers." [Jones’s Lect. v. ii. p. 181]

The Paulicians or Bogomilians baptized and re-baptized adults by immersion, as the Manicheans and all other denominations did in the East, upon which mode there was no dispute in the Grecian church. [Rob. Bapt. p. 211; and Res. pp. 90]

"It is evident," says Mosheim, "they rejected the baptism of infants. They were not charged with any error concerning baptism." [Mosh. Hist., Cent. 2, pt. 2, oh. 5, ~ 4 and note]

"They, with the Manicheans, were Anabaptists, or rejecters of infant baptism," says Dr. Allix, "and were consequently often reproached with that term." [Rem. Ch. Pied. eh. 15, p. 138, and Rob. Bap., p. 497]

"They were simply scriptural in the use of the sacraments," says Milner, "they were orthodox in the doctrine of the Trinity, they knew of no other Mediator than the Lord Jesus Christ." [Ch. Hist. Cent. 9, ch. 2]

7. These people were called ACEPHALI, or headless (from having no distinct order of clergy or presiding person in their assemblies) and were hooted in councils for re-baptizing in private houses, says Robinson, and holding conventicles; and for calling the established church a worldly community, and re-baptizing such as joined their churches. [Res. p. 92] The religious principles and practices of these people are purposely mangled and misrepresented, but it is possible to obtain some evidences of what they were. They are charged with neglecting the Old Testament; but they knew that economy was abolished, they therefore rejected it as a rule of faith, not as history. The expounders of Genesis filled the church with vain disputes about matter and spirit, the origin and duration of the world. They saw the priests set up Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, as rules for an hierarchy. The books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, gave kings authority to slay and kill in the cause of Jesus. And the infant cause not complied with, required the cutting off, which has been but too successfully prosecuted by the advocates of the rite. The Paulicians, with other dissenters, rejected the Pentateuch and the historical books down to Job, as a rule of faith and practice in a Christian community, and received the devotional and prophetical parts with the New Testament, as a law for the Lord’s house. [Res. p. 90, and Hist. of Bap. p. 450] The writings and the lives of their eminent ministers are totally lost; so that we know nothing of these men but from the pens of their enemies, yet even these confess their excellency. [Milner’s Ch. Hist. Cent. 9, ch. 2]

8. But we now return to their efforts. Constantine gave himself the scriptural name of SYLVANUS. He preached with great success in Pontus and Cappadocia, regions once enlightened and renowned for Christianity and suffering piety (1 Pet. 1) were again blessed with the gospel through his exertions. Great numbers of disciples were made and gathered into societies. The body of Christians in Armenia came over to the Paulicians, and embraced their views. In a little time, congregations were gathered in the provinces of Asia Minor, to the westward of the river Euphrates. Their opinions were also silently propagated in Rome, Milan, and in the kingdom beyond the Alps (France).

Churches were formed as much upon the plan and model of the apostolic churches as it was in their power to bring them. Six of their principal churches took the names of those to which Paul addressed his epistles, Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica; while the names of Sylvanus’s fellow-teachers were Titus, Timothy, Tychicus, "This innocent allegory," says Gibbon [Ro. Hist., ch. 54], "revived the memory and example of the first ages." The Paulician teachers were thus distinguished only by their scriptural names. They were known by the modest title of fellow-pilgrims, by the austerity of their lives, their zeal or knowledge, and the credit of some extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit. They were incapable of desiring the wealth and honors of the Catholic prelacy; such antichristian pride they bitterly censured; and even the rank of elders or presbyters was condemned as an institution of the Jewish synagogue. ["The candor of Gibbon is remarkable in this part of his history."--Milner] There is no mention in all the account of this people of any clergy among them. [Rob. Res. p. 80] Though charged with the Manichean errors, they have been honorably freed from this reproach by respectable writers. [Jortin’s Rem. on Hist. v. iii., p. 498, and Lardner’s Cred. of the Gosp. History, pt. 2, oh. 63, v. iii., p. 546] They called themselves Christians, but the Catholics they named Romans, as if they had been heathens. [Lardner, Id. p. 407]

9. We have here exhibited a confession of simple worship, a scriptural constitution to their churches and its officers, with a blameless feature in the manners of these Christians, which has been conceded by their enemies. Their standard of perfection was so high in Christian morals that their increasing congregations were divided into two classes of disciples. [These two classes can be traced through the Albigensian, Waldensian, German, and Dutch Baptist Churches, from this parent stock.] They had not any ecclesiastical government, administered by bishops, priests, or deacons: they had no sacred order of men distinguished by their manner of life, their habit, or any other circumstance from the rest of the assembly. They had certain teachers whom they called companions in the journey of life; among these there reigned a perfect equality, and they had no peculiar rights, privileges, nor any external mark of dignity to distinguish them from the people. They recommended to the people without exception, and that with the most affecting and ardent zeal, the constant and assiduous perusal of the Scriptures, and expressed the utmost indignation against the Greeks who allowed to the priests alone an access to those sacred fountains of divine knowledge [Mosh. Hist. C. 9, p. 2, ch. 5,~5]

No object can be more laudable than the attempt to bring back the Christian profession to its original simplicity, which evidently appears to have been the aim of the Paulicians, though for this commendable conduct, terms of reproach and epithets of disgrace have been heaped on their memories by interested historians and dictionary writers. In this good work of preaching and evangelizing provinces, Sylvanus spent twenty-seven years of his life, taking up his residence at Cobossa, and disseminating his opinions all around. The united exertions of these people, their scriptural views, doctrine, discipline, and itinerating system, were attended with evident displays of divine approbation, and multitudes embraced a gospel simply and fully preached.

10. Alarmed at the progress these novel opinions were making, and discovering the growing importance of the Paulicians, the church party "engaged in the most bitter and virulent controversy with them." Ineffectual in their efforts, the Greek emperors began to persecute them with the most sanguinary severity. The Paulicians were sentenced to be capitally punished, and their books, wherever found, to be committed to the flames; and further, that if any person was found to have secreted them, he was to be put to death, and his goods confiscated.

A Greek officer named Simeon, armed with legal and military authority, appeared at CORONIA to strike the shepherd, Sylvanus, and to reclaim, if possible, the lost sheep. By a refinement of cruelty, this minister of justice placed the unfortunate Sylvanus before a line of his disciples, who were commanded, as the price of their pardon, and as proof of their penitence, to stone to death their spiritual Father. The affectionate flock turned aside from the impious office; the stones dropped from their filial hands; and of the whole number, only one executioner could be found. This apostate, Justus, after putting Sylvanus to death, gained by some means admittance into communion, and again deceived and betrayed his unsuspecting brethren; and as many as were treacherously ascertained, and could be collected, were massed together into an immense pile, and by order of the emperor, consumed to ashes. Simeon, the officer, struck with astonishment at the readiness with which the Paulicians could die for their religion, examined their arguments, and became himself a convert, renounced his honors and fortune, and three years afterwards went to Cobossa, and became the successor of Constantine Sylvanus, a zealous preacher among the Paulicians, and at last sealed his testimony with his blood. [Milner and Jones, ut sup] To free the East from those troubles and commotions said to arise from the Paulician doctrines, a great number of them were transported into THRACE during this century; but still a greater number were left in Syria and the adjoining countries. From Thrace these people passed into Bulgaria and Sclavonia, where they took root, and settled in their own church order.

From these churches, at after periods colonies were sent out, and they are said to have inundated Europe, [Mosh. Hist. c. 11, p. 2, ch. 5, ~ 2, 3] though some relics of these ancient communities were to be traced till the fifteenth century.

11. From the blood and ashes of the first Paulician victims, a succession of teachers and congregations repeatedly arose. The Greeks, to subdue them, made use both of arguments and arms, with all the terror of penal laws, without effecting their object. The great instrument of this people’s multiplication was, the alone use of the New Testament, of which some pleasing anecdotes are related. One Sergius was recommended by a Paulician woman to read Paul’s writings, and his attention to the sacred records brought him to embrace their views. For thirty-four years he devoted himself to the ministry of the gospel. Through every city and province that Sergius could reach, he spread abroad the savor of the knowledge of Christ, and with such success, that the clergy in the hierarchies considered him to be the forerunner of Antichrist; and declared he was producing the great apostasy foretold by Paul. The emperors, in conjunction with the clergy, exerted their zeal with a peculiar degree of bitterness and fury against this people. Though every kind. of oppressive measure and means was used, yet all efforts for their suppression proved fruitless, "nor could all their power and all their barbarity, exhaust the patience nor conquer the obstinacy of that inflexible people, who possessed," says Mosheim, "a fortitude worthy of a better cause"!

12. The face of things changed towards the end of the eighth century, and the prospects of this harassed people brightened under the emperor Nicephorus, who restored to them their civil and religious privileges. During this auspicious season the Paulicians widely disseminated their opinions, and it is recorded that they became formidable to the East. [Chambers’ Cyclop. Art. Paulicians] Those persecuting laws which had been suspended for some years, were renewed and enforced with redoubled fury under the reigns of Michael and Leo, who made strict inquisition throughout every province in the Grecian empire, and inflicted capital punishment upon such of them as refused to return to the bosom of the church. These decrees drove the Paulicians into desperate measures. "Oppression maketh a wise man mad." [Gibbon renders an indirect apology for the conduct of these people at this period. Hist. ch. 54] The Paulicians are now charged with having put to death some of their clerical oppressors, and also of taking refuge in those provinces governed by Saracens, and that in union with those barbarians, they infested the Grecian states.

The power and influence of these dissidents were found to be so great as to suggest the policy of allowing them to return to their own habitations, and dwelling there in tranquility. The severest persecution experienced by them was encouraged by the empress Theodora, A.D. 845. Her decrees were severe, but the cruelty with which they were put in execution by her officers was horrible beyond expression. Mountains and hills were covered with inhabitants. Her sanguinary inquisitors explored cities and mountains in lesser Asia. After confiscating the goods and property of one hundred thousand of these people, the owners to that number were put to death in the most barbarous manner, and made to expire slowly under a variety of the most exquisite tortures. The flatterers of the empress boast of having extirpated in nine years that number of Paulicians. Many of them were scattered abroad, particularly in Bulgaria. Some fortified the city of Tephrice and Philippopolis, from which last city they were called Philippopolitans; and though they were driven hence, yet the spirit of independence was not subdued. A portion of this people emigrated from Thrace, and their doctrines soon struck deep root in European soil. Such as escaped from the inquisitors fled to the Saracens, who received them with compassion; and in conjunction with whom, under experienced officers, they maintained a war with the Grecian nation for the period of one hundred and fifty years. During the reign of John Zimicus, they gained considerable strength, and during the tenth century, they spread themselves abroad throughout different provinces. From Bulgaria they removed into Italy, and spreading themselves from thence through the other provinces of Europe, "they became extremely troublesome to the Roman pontiffs upon many occasions.’’ Here the history of this interesting-people rests, so far as it respects the Levant; but we shall give a slight statement of their migratory movements in order to make our future sections illustrative of these people, though under different names.

13. "From Italy," says Mosheim, "the Paulicians sent colonies into almost all the other provinces of Europe, and formed gradually a considerable number of religious assemblies, who adhered to their doctrine, and who realized every opposition and indignity from the popes. It is undoubtedly certain, from the most authentic records, a considerable number of them were, about the middle of the eleventh century, settled in Lombardy, Insubria, but principally at Milan; and that many of them led a wandering life in France, Germany, and other countries, where they captivated the esteem and admiration of the multitude by their sanctity. In Italy, they were called Paterini and Cathari. In France, they were denominated Bulgarians, from the kingdom of their emigration, also Publicans, instead of Paulicians, and boni homines, good men; but were chiefly known by the term Albigenses, from the town of Alby, in the Upper Languedoc. The first religious assembly which the Paulicians formed in Europe is said to have been at Orleans, in the year 1017, on which we shall enlarge under the churches in France, to which we shall repair after we have traced their existence and labors in the kingdom of Italy.

14. Here we may be permitted to review the apostolic character and exertions of this extensive body of people, while we may express our surprise at the virulent opposition, the cruel measures used, and the extensive sacrifice of human life, for successive ages, on the alone ground of religious views. A special instance of divine grace was displayed in this people’s rise and early success; and we must attribute their preservation and enlargement to the exercise of the same compassion. An evident mark of apostolic spirit possessed by this people must be admitted by all; without any funds or public societies to countenance or support the arduous undertaking, otherwise than their respective churches, the Paulicians fearlessly penetrated the most barbarous parts of Europe, and went single-handed, and single eyed, to the conflict with every grade of character. In several instances they suffered death or martyrdom, not counting their lives dear, so that they could promote the cause of their Redeemer. [See Mosheim’s History; Gibbon’s Ro. Hist. ch. 54; Robinson’s Eccl. Res. ch. 6, pp. 77-79; Jones’s Lectures on Eccl. Hist. v. ii., pp. 179--184]

#12 MJ



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Posted 19 February 2001 - 05:11 PM

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The Sources of Information—The Greeks, The Armenians—"The Key of Truth."—The Apostolic Origin—They Rejected Other Communions—The Story of Constantine—The Connection of the Mohammedans—The Sabians—The Numbers of the Paulicians—Religious Liberty—The Free State of Teprice—Among the Albigenses in France—Persecuted—Conybeare on Baptist Succession—Justin A. Smith—Widely Scattered in Europe—the Paulicians not Manichaeans—Their Doctrines—The Synod of Arras—A Confession of Faith—The Adoptionists—The Form of Baptism—Macarius—The Oriental Church—The Bogomils—Brockett—Their Persecutions—The Form of Baptism.


It is to be regretted that most of the information concerning the Paulicians comes through their enemies. The sources are twofold. The first source is that of the Greek writers, Photius (Adv. recentiores Manichaeans. Hamburg 1772) and Petros Sikeliotes (Historia Manichaeorum qui Pauliciani. Ingolstadt, 1604), which has long been known and was used by Gibbon in the preparation of the brilliant fifty-fourth chapter of his history. Not much has been added from that source since. The accounts are deeply prejudiced, and although Gibbon suspected the malice and poison of these writers, and laid bare much of the malignity expressed by them, he was at times misled in the facts. He did not have the completeness of information which was necessary for a full delineation of their history.

The second source of information in regard to the Paulicians is Armenian in its origin and has recently been brought to light and illustrated. There was an old book of the Paulicians called the "Key of Truth," mentioned by Gregory Magistos, in the eleventh century. Fortunately, Mr. Fred C. Conybeare, M, A., formerly Fellow of University College, Oxford, was much interested in affairs in Armenia. He was a second time in that country, in 1891, in quest of documents illustrative of the history of the Paulicians. He fell upon a copy of the "Key of Truth" in the Library of the Holy Synod at Edjmiatzin. He received a copy of it in 1893; and the text with an English translation was printed by Mr. Conybeare in 1898. He also accompanied the text with important data received from Armenian histories and from other sources. As may be judged this is not only a new but a very important source of information. The Paulicians are at length permitted to plead, in a measure, for themselves. We are able, therefore, practically to reconstruct the Paulician history.

The Paulician churches were of apostolic origin, and were planted in Armenia in the first century. "Through Antioch and Palmyra the faith must have spread into Mesopotamia and Persia; and in those regions become the basis of the faith as it is spread in the Taurus mountains as far as Ararat. This was the primitive form of Christianity. The churches in the Taurus range of mountains formed a huge recess or circular dam into which flowed the early Paulician faith to be caught and maintained for centuries, as it were, a backwater from the main for centuries" (Bury’s edition of Gibbon’s History, VI. p. 543). The earliest center of Christianity in Armenia was at Taron, which was the constant home and base of operations of the Paulicians.

They claimed that they were of apostolic origin."The Key of Truth" says:

Let us then submit humbly to the holy church universal. and follow their works who acted with one mind and one faith and taught us. For still do we receive in the only proper season the holy and precious mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Heavenly Father:—to-wit, in the season of repentance and of faith. As we learned from the Lord of the universal and apostolic church, so do we proceed: and we establish in perfect faith those who (till then) have not holy baptism (Margin, That Is to say, the Latins, Greeks and Armenians, who are not baptized); nay, nor have tasted of the body or drunk of the holy blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore according to the Word of the Lord, we must first bring them into the faith, induce them to repent, and give it (Margin, Baptism) unto them (pp.76,77).

Upon this point Adeney says: "Therefore, it is quite arguable that they should be regarded as representing the survival of a most primitives type of Christianity" (Adeney, The Greek and Eastern Churches, 217). He further says: "Ancient Oriental Baptists, these people were in many respects Protestants before Protestantism" (Adeney, The Greek and Eastern Churches, p. 219).

The Paulicians did not recognize persons of other communions as belonging to the churches. "We do not belong to these," they said. "They have long ago broken connection with the church and have been excluded." Such is the testimony of Gregory Magistos, A. D., 1058, whose history is one of the chief sources of information.

We can only lightly touch upon a few events connected with their history. The story of the conversion of Constantine, A. D. 660, is interesting. This young Armenian sheltered a Christian deacon who was flying from Mohammedan persecutions. In return for his kindness he received a copy of the New Testament. "These books became the measure of his studies and the rule of his faith; and the Catholics, who disputed his interpretation, acknowledged that his text was genuine and sincere. But he attached himself with peculiar devotion to the writings and character of Paul and the name of Paulicians is derived by their enemies from some unknown leader; but I am confident that they gloried in their affinity to the apostle to the Gentiles" (Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, V. p. 386).

Constantine felt that he was called upon to defend and restore primitive Christianity; being greatly impressed by the writings of Paul, he took the name of one of his followers, Silvanus; and the churches founded by him received names from the primitive congregations. The entire people were called Paulicians from the apostle. These statements of the apostolic simplicity of these devout Christians tell more of the manners, customs and doctrines than volumes of prejudiced accounts left by their enemies. With Paul as their guide, they could not be far removed from the truth of the New Testament.

Professor Wellhausen, in his life of Mohammed (Encyclopedia Britannica, XVI. 571, 9th Edition), gives a most interesting account of the Baptists of the Syro-Babylonian desert. He says they were called Sabians, Baptists, and that they practiced the primitive forms of Christianity. Indeed, "Sabian" is an Arabized word meaning "Baptist" They literally filled with their members Syria, Palestine, and Babylonia (Renan, Life, of Jesus, chap. XII). They were off the line of the main advance of Christianity, and were left untouched in their primitive simplicity. From them Mohammed derived many of his externals. The importance of this must not be undervalued. "It can hardly be wrong to conclude," continues Prof. Wellhausen, "that these nameless witnesses of the Gospel, unmentioned in church history, scattered the seed from which sprung the germ of Islam." These Christians were the Paulicians.

This bit of history will account for a fact that heretofore has been hard to understand. The emperors had determined to drive the Paulicians from their dominions. They took refuge "in the Mohammedan dominions generally, where they were tolerated and where their own type of belief never ceased to be accounted orthodox." This we learn from John the Philosopher. The Arabs had since the year 650 successfully challenged the Roman influence in Armenia. The same protection, probably, preserved the Paulician churches through many ages. It is certain that the Paulicians were true to the Arabs, and that the Mohammedans did not fail them in the hour of trial.

The number of the Paulicians constantly increased, and they soon attracted the attention of their enemies. In the year 690 Constantine, their leader, was stoned to death by the command of the emperor; and the successor of Constantine was burned to death. The Empress Theodora instituted a persecution in which one hundred thousand Paulicians in Grecian Armenia are said to have lost their lives.

The Paulicians, in the ninth century, rebelled against their enemies, drove out Michael III, and established in Armenia the, free state of Teprice. This is a well-known site, some seventy miles from Sivas, on the river Chalta. They gave absolute freedom of opinion to all of its inhabitants (Evans, Historical View of Bosnia, p. 30). From the capital of this free state, itself called Teprice, went forth a host of missionaries to convert the Slavonic tribes of Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Servia to the Paulician faith. This is positively stated by Sikeliotes. Great was their success—so great that a large portion of the inhabitants of the free state migrated to what were then independent states beyond the emperor’s control. The state of Teprice lasted one hundred and fifty years, when it was overcome by the Saracens. All around them were persecutions for conscience sake—they themselves had lost one hundred thousand members by persecutions in the reign of Theodora—yet here was a shelter offered to every creed and unbeliever alike. This is a striking Baptist peculiarity.

The Baptists have always set up religious liberty when they had opportunity. Conybeare, speaking of the Paulicians, justly remarks:

And one point in their favor must be noticed, and it is this, Their system was, like that of the European Cathars, in its basal idea and conception alien to persecution; for membership in it depended upon baptism, voluntarily sought for, even with tears and supplications, by the faithful and penitent adult. Into such a church there could be no dragooning of the unwilling. On the contrary, the whole purpose of the scrutiny, to which the candidate for baptism was subjected, was to ensure that his heart and intelligence were won, and to guard against the merely outward conformity. which is all that a persecutor can hope to impose. It was one of the worst results of infant baptism, that by making membership in the Christian church mechanical and outward, it made it cheap; and so paved the way of the persecutor (Conybeare, The Key of Truth, xii).

In the year 970 the Emperor, John Tzimisces, transferred some of the Paulicians to Thrace and granted them religious liberty; and it is recorded to their credit that they were true to his interests. In the beginning of the eighth century their doctrines were introduced and spread throughout Europe, and their principles soon struck deep into foreign soil.

It was in the country of the Albigenses, in the Southern provinces of France, that the Paulicians were most deeply implanted, and here they kept up a correspondence with their brethren in Armenia. The faith of the Paulicians "lived on in Languedoc and along the Rhine as the submerged Christianity of the Cathars, and, perhaps, also among the Waldenses. In the Reformation this Catharism comes once more to the surface, particularly among the so-called, Anabaptists and Unitarian Christians between whom and the most primitive church ‘The Key of Truth’ and the Cathar Ritual of Lyons supply us with the two great connecting links" (Key of Truth, x).

They were persecuted by the popes; and all literary and other traces of them, as far its possible, were destroyed. But "the visible assemblies of the Paulicians, of Albigeois, were extirpated by fire and sword; and the bleeding remnant escaped by flight, concealment, or Catholic conformity. In the state, in the church, and even in the cloister, a latent succession was preserved of the disciples of St. Paul; who protested against the tyranny of Rome, and embraced the Bible as the rule of faith, and purified their creed from all the visions of the Gnostic theology" (Gibbon, Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire, V. p. 398).

Many historians, besides Gibbon, such as Muratori and Mosheim, regard the Paulicians as the forerunners of the Albigenses, and, in fact, as the same people. One of the latest of these, already frequently quoted, is Professor Conybeare, one of the highest authorities in the world on Paulician matters. He affirms that the true line of succession is found among Baptists. He says:

The church has always adhered to the idea of spiritual regeneration in baptism, although by baptizing babies it has long ago stultified itself and abandoned the essence of baptism. Indeed the significance of the baptism of Jesus, as it presented itself to St. Paul, and the evangelists was soon lost sight of by the orthodox churches. . . We hear much discussion nowadays of the validity of orders English, Latin, and oriental. The unbiased student of church history cannot but wonder that it has never occurred to any of these controversalists of the Church of England to ask whether they are not, after all, contending for a shadow; whether, in short, they have, say of them, real orders in the primitive sense in which they care to claim possession of them. The various sects of the Middle Ages which, knowing themselves simply as, Christians, retained baptism in its primitive form and significance, steadily refused to recognize as valid the infant baptism of the great orthodox or persecuting churches; and they were certainly in the right, so far as doctrine and tradition count for anything. Needless to say, the great churches have long ago lost genuine baptism, can have no further sacraments, no priesthood, and, strictly speaking, no Christianity. If they would reenter the Pale of Christianity, they must repair, not to Rome or Constantinople, but to some of the obscure circles of Christians, mostly in the East, who have never lost the true continuity of the baptismal sacrament. These are the Paulicians of Armenia, the Bogomil sect round Moscow whose members call themselves Christ’s, the adult Baptists (those who practice adult baptism) among the Syrians of the upper Tigris valley, and perhaps, though not so certainly, the popelikans, the Mennonites, and the great Baptist communities of Europe. This condemnation of the great and called orthodox churches may seem harsh and pedantic, but there is no escape from it, and we place ourselves on the same ground on which they profess to stand. Continuity of baptism was more important in the first centuries of the church than continuity of orders; so important, indeed, that even the baptism of heretics was recognized as valid. If store was set by the unbroken succession of bishops, it was only because one function of the bishop was to watch over the integrity of the initiatory rite of the religion. How badly the bishops of the great churches did their duty, how little, indeed, after the third century they even understood it, is seen in the unchecked growth, from the year 300 A. D. onward, of the abuse of the baptismal rite, resulting before long in its entire forfeiture (Conybeare, The History of Christmas. In The American Journal of Theology).

Dr. Justin A. Smith, so long the scholarly editor of The Standard, Chicago, says of the Paulicians:

The sum of all this is, that whether or not a succession of Baptist churches can, as some think, be traced through the centuries of the Middle Ages down to the time when our denominational history in its strict sense begins, we may at least say that our ancestry goes upward along a line of descent in which, if any where in the world, pure Christianity survived; and that among our Baptist progenitors, in this sense, were men and women who had the conspicuous honor to be maligned by those whom history proves to have been adepts in the two trades of murder and slander (Smith, Modern Church History, p. 227).

One thing is certain, that in Italy, in France, and along the Rhine, the Paulicians and the Albigenses were found in the same territory, and there were no great differences between them in practice and doctrines. Writers go so far as to assert that there was a succession of churches and of interests. It is well attested, that in the middle of the eleventh century they were numerous in Lombardy and Isurbia, but especially in Milan, in Italy; and it is no less certain that they traveled through France, Germany and other countries, and by their sanctity they won large numbers of common people to their way of thinking. In Italy they were called Paternes and Cathari, and in Germany, Gazari. In France they were called Albigenses. They were called Bulgarians, particularly in France, because some of them carne from Bulgaria, and they were also known by the name of Boni Homines (Mosheim, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, II. pp. 200-202). Their enemies extolled their piety. A succession of them is found through the Middle Ages.

The Paulicians were accused of being Manichaeans, and much prejudice has been excited against them on this account. "The Paulicians," says Adeney, "have been most egregiously libeled of all of the Christian sects" (The Greek and Eastern Churches, p. 216. New York, 1908). The Roman Catholics have always denounced the teachings of Marcion with singular hostility. It is now clearly known that the Paulicians were not Manichaeans. The Key of Truth settles this matter (p. 18). Modern Armenian scholars do not hesitate to correct this error (Ter Mkittsehain, Die Paulikianer im Byzantinischen in Armenien, Leipzig, 1893). Conybeare has no doubt on the subject.

Turning to the doctrines and practices of the Paulicians we find that they made constant use of the Old and New Testaments. They had no orders in the clergy as distinguished from laymen by their modes of living, their dress, or other things; they had no councils or similar institutions. Their teachers were of equal rank. They strove diligently for the simplicity of the apostolic life. They opposed all image worship which was practiced in the Roman Catholic Church. The miraculous relics were a heap of bones and ashes, destitute of life and of virtue. They held to the orthodox view of the Trinity; and to the human nature and substantial sufferings of the Son of God.

Baptist views prevailed among the Paulicians. They held that men must repent and believe, and then at a mature age ask for baptism, which alone admitted them into the church. "It is evident," observes Mosheim, "they rejected the baptism of infants." They baptized and rebaptized by immersion. They would have been taken for downright Anabaptists (Allix, The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont. Oxford, 1821).

Something of the opinions of the Paulicians is gathered from a Synod held in Arras, in the year 1025, by Gerard, Bishop of Cambray and Arras. One Gundulphus, a Paulician, was condemned. He had taught his doctrines in many places. It was found on examination that the Paulicians held:

The law and discipline we have received from our Master will not appear contrary either to the Gospel or apostolic institutions if carefully looked into. This discipline consists in leaving the world, in bridling carnal concupiscence, in providing a livelihood by the labor of our hands, in hurting nobody, and affording our charity to all who are zealous in the prosecution of this our design.

Concerning baptism they made reply:

But if any man shall say, that some sacrament lies hid in baptism, the force of that is, taken off from three causes: the first is, Because the reprobate life of ministers can afford no saving remedy to the persons to be baptized. The second, Because whatsoever sins are renounced at the font, are afterwards taken up again in life and practice. The third, Because a strange will, a strange faith, and a strange confession do not seem to belong to, or to be of an advantage to a little child, who neither wills nor runs, who knows nothing of faith, and is altogether ignorant of his own good and salvation, in which there can be no desire of regeneration, and from whom no confession of faith can be expected (Allix, The Ecclesiastical Churches, p. 104).

A better answer could not this day be given. There is a Confession of Faith which is attributed to the Paulicians, A. D. 1024, which declares:

In the beginning of Christianity there was no baptizing of children: and their forefathers practiced no such thing and we do from our hearts acknowledge that baptism is a washing which is performed in water, and doth hold out the washing of the soul from sin (Mehrning, Der heiligen Tauff Historie, II. p. 738).

It is possible that the Paulicians were Adoptionists. This is the view of Conybeare (lxxxvii), but his views are often inferential (xiv). He further says: "My Suggestion that the European Cathars were of the Adoptionists origin also rests on mere inference" (xiv).

The connection of this view with that of modern Baptists is set forth by Conybeare as follows:

It is therefore a promising field of research to enquire whether the Paulicians were not partially responsible for many sects which at the Reformation made their appearance and exhibit, some more, some less, an affinity to Paulician tenets as set out in the Key. This is not the place to embark on such an inquiry, which would require a separate work. Perhaps the data no longer exists which would enable one to trace the channels of communication. To do so would require in any case a vast amount of research; but it does seem probable that in at least two of the sects of the age of the Reformation we have a survival of the same ancient form of the Catholic Church which the pages of the Key reveal to us. These two sects are the Anabaptists and the Unitarians, afterwards called Socinians from their great teacher Socinus. From the former are derived the great Baptist churches of England and America, and also the Mennonites of Germany. The arguments of the sixteenth century Baptists against Paedobaptism are the same as we have in the Key, and—what we might also expect—an Adoptionist view of Christ as a rule went with them in the past; though the modern Baptists, in accepting the current doctrine of the Incarnation, have both obscured their origin and stultified their distinctive observances. From the first ages Adoptionist tenets have as naturally and as indissolubly been associated with adult baptism, as has infant baptism with the pneumatic Christology, according to which Jesus was from his mother’s womb and in his cradle filled with the Holy Spirit, a pre-existent Divine being, creator, and controller of the universe (Conybeare, The Key, cl, cli).

Whatever may be the final conclusions in the matter, it is certain that the Adoptionist views of the Paulicians accentuated their opposition to infant baptism.

The form of baptism was to dip the subject into the water once, while the Greeks dipped three times. There is much evidence that in Armenia the form of baptism was immersion. Macarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, A. D. 331 to 335, writing to the Armenians, says that baptism was administered with triple immersion burying in the water of the holy font" (Library of the Mechitarist Fathers of Vienna. MSS. Cod. Arm. No. 100). There is an oration preserved out of the twelfth century ascribed to Isaac Catholicos of Armenia, which gives the practice of the Paulicians. John Otzun, A. D. 718, speaks of the Paulicians descending into the baptistery (Otzun, Opera, 25. Venice, 1834). And he further tells how the Mohammedans tried to prevent them from baptizing in the running rivers, for fear that they would bewitch the waters and render them unwholesome.

The constant practice of the Oriental Church was immersion. Rev. Nicholas Bjerring says of its baptism: "Baptism is celebrated sometimes in the church and sometimes in private houses, as needs may be. It is always administered by dipping the infant, or adult, three times" (Bjerring, The Offices of the Oriental Church, xii. New York, 1880). And further on in the Liturgy he gives the ceremony of immersion. Thus did the Paulicians practice immersion as the Scriptures indicate.

The Bogomils were a branch of the Cathari, or Paulicians, who dwelt in Thrace. Their name appears to have been derived from one of their leaders in the midst of the tenth century, though others declare that their name comes from a Slavic word which is defined, "Beloved of God." The Bogomils were repeatedly condemned, and often persecuted, but they continued to exist through the Middle Ages, and still existed in the sixteenth century.

Their historians claimed for them the greatest antiquity Dr. L. P. Brockett, who wrote a history of them, says:

Among these (historians of the Bulgarians) I have found, often in unexpected quarters, the most conclusive evidence that these sects were all, during their early history, Baptists, not only in their views on the subjects of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but in their opposition to Pedobaptism, to a church hierarchy, and to the worship of the Virgin Mary and the saints, and in their adherence to church independency and freedom of conscience in religious worship. In short, the conclusion has forced itself upon me that in these Christians of Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Armenia we have an apostolic succession of Christian churches, New Testament churches, and that as early as the twelfth century these churches numbered a converted, believing membership, as large as that of the Baptist churches throughout the world today (Brockett, The Bogomils of Bulgaria and Bosnia, pp. 11, 12).

Some Roman Catholic writers have affirmed that the Bogomils did not practice baptism, or observe the Lord’s Supper; and, that further, they denied the Old Testament Scriptures. This probably means no more than that they rejected infant baptism, and quoted the New Testament as supreme and authoritative in the matter.

The persecutions of the Bogomils, as of other Paulicians, were continuous and severe. Every effort was made to destroy them. "Yet it was not stamped out," says Conybeare, "but only driven under ground. It still lurked all over Europe, but especially in the Balkans, and along the Rhine. In these hiding places it seemed to have gathered its forces together in secret,. in order to emerge once more into daylight when an opportunity presented itself. The opportunity was the European Reformation, in which, especially under the form. of Anabaptism and Unitarian opinion, this leaven of the early apostolic church is found freely mingling with and modifying other forms of faith. In engendering this great religious movement, we feel sure that the Bogomils of the Balkan States p1ayed a most important part" (The Key of Truth, cxcvi).


Books for further reading and reference:

Fisher, p. 142.

John C. L. Gieseler, A Compendium of Ecclesiastical History, II. pp. 208-212; III. pp. 494-500.

Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Edition of Bury.

F. C. Conybeare, Rituale Armenorum.

F. C. Conybeare, The Key of Truth.

John L. von Moshiem, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, II. pp. 101-105, 135, 136, 201-205.

Augustus Neander, A General History of the Christian Religion and Church, V. pp. 337-370.

http://www.pbministr... ptist_vol1.htm

[ January 25, 2003, 02:08 PM: Message edited by: MJ ]

#13 dragon



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Posted 20 February 2001 - 02:49 AM

Hi MJ,
The articles you posted are very interesting.
Can you tell me please if Paulicians in armenian are the ''Bavghigianner''?

What is Manichaeism in armenian?

#14 MJ



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Posted 20 February 2001 - 03:23 AM

Hello Dragon,

Welcome to the forum.

Your guess is right, subject to correct pronoounciation. "Paulicians" are "Bavlikianner."

I am not aware of an Armenian version of the term "Manichaeism."

[ February 23, 2001: Message edited by: MJ ]

#15 dragon



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Posted 21 February 2001 - 03:33 PM

Thanks for your warm welcome.

Bavlikianner are the same bavghikianner. No mistake in pronounciation. In armenian L and GH are ''ldzort'' kirer, i.e. they replace each other. For example, Jerusalem is YEROUSAGHEM in Armenian.

Have a nice day

#16 MJ



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Posted 21 February 2001 - 06:29 PM

Reading over the highlighted material above, I recalled a story that my paternal grandfather has told me when I was a youngster. He told me that there has been a Christian priest of Armenian origin, with a name Menas, who has traveled with Mohammed, and has taught him much. That Mohammed has come up with his prophecy in the result of Menas’ teachings. Later, Menas has been killed - don't remember the circumstances. He has also told me that there is an Islamic tradition preserved all the way to our days, of throwing stones to the grave of Minas on a special day of the year, not far away from Mekka. I wonder if Menas has been Paulician, and has been (one of) the person(s) who is referred in the material above. Does anybody know any details about this story?

#17 MJ



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Posted 21 February 2001 - 07:59 PM

Cramp, J. M., D.D
Baptist History



FROM A.D. 604 TO A.D. 1073.



The Manichaeans—Cautions to the Student—All Opponents of Infant-baptism not Baptists—Account of the Paulicians—Their Views of Baptism.


Some may wonder that we have as yet said nothing about the Manichæans, a sect which first came into notice about the latter part of the third century, and continued in existence, if historians are to be believed, a thousand years or more. They were charged with denying infant-baptism. But we wish it to be understood that we consider those only as Baptists, in the New Testament sense of that term, who hold baptism as an ordinance binding on all believers, and refuse it to all other persons. Now, Manichæism was a compound of Oriental philosophy and Christianity. The fanciful and wild speculations in which Manes indulged were as ill-founded in reason as in Scripture, and justly entitled their author to the appellation “fanatic.” He incorporated sundry portions of Christianity into his incongruous system, and therefore the party has been ranked among the heretics, though, as we think, with little propriety. The heretics, as they are called, were seceders from the established or Catholic Church. Manes originated an independent body, on entirely original principles, and ought to be placed in the same list as Mohammed and other founders of systems. It is said that he admitted baptism and the Lord’s Supper among the services enjoined on his followers; but the Supper was celebrated with water instead of wine, and baptism was optional; those only who wished it were baptized; those who did not desire it were not debarred from membership on that account, and infants were excluded from participation in the rite. After these explanations it will not be deemed strange that we have refrained from classing the Manichæans with the revivers of primitive religion.[1]

We are now entering on the period which we have denominated “obscure.” It is so called because the information is generally scanty, and sometimes of very doubtful character. We may begin by remarking that the student of ecclesiastical history must beware lest he be led astray by the misrepresentations of bigoted historians. Manichæism was soon looked on as a concentration of all that was outrageous and bad in religious opinion, and it became the fashion to call all heretics “Manichæans.” Hence many excellent men have been so stigmatized, whose views and practices accorded with the Word of God. It is necessary to repair to the original sources of history, and even then to scan very closely the statements handed down to us, that they may be disentangled, as far as possible, from mistake or misrepresentation.

Further: it is not safe or proper to report all opponents of infant-baptism as Baptists, in our sense of the word. Throughout the middle ages there were many dissenters from the Catholic faith, as it was called, who rejected baptism altogether, holding sentiments respecting that ordinance which much resemble those of the Quakers in these times. Possibly they were driven to those extreme views by contemplating the absurd ceremonies connected with baptism, and the superstitious notions entertained by the majority. It seemed to them better to have no baptism at all than to countenance such follies. Doubtless they were wrong, although much might be offered in excuse for them. But when these parties are adduced as witnesses for infant-baptism, an unfairness is sometimes committed. Their opposition was against all baptism, and not against infant baptism only. We are not disposed to regard any persons as Primitive Baptists unless they practiced the baptism of believers; their rejection of infant-baptism will not warrant the imposition of that worthy name on them. Mr. Orchard’s “History of Foreign Baptists,” and other works of a similar kind, have now and then fallen into this error.[2]

At the same time it must be confessed that there is often the utmost difficulty in forming a satisfactory judgment in regard to the opinions held by the reformers of the Middle Ages. We know nothing of them but by the reports of their adversaries, who were predisposed against them, and who, for want of religious sympathy, were unable to appreciate or even to understand their peculiar views. The same words were sometimes used by opposing parties in different senses, and truths were seen in different aspects. Hence the confusion and contradictoriness which are too often apparent.

These observations apply to the case of the Paulicians. They first appeared about the middle of the seventh century, in Armenia, and soon spread wonderfully, till they were numbered by hundreds of thousands. Their enemies accused them of Manichæism, which accusation they indignantly repelled. The only ancient authorities whence we can derive a knowledge of their sentiments are Photius and Petrus Siculus, who wrote against them with great bitterness, and on that account can scarcely be considered as worthy of entire credence. Photius was Archbishop of Constantinople, and died A.D. 890; Petrus Siculus, a learned nobleman, died a few years later. He was sent by the Emperor Basil to Tibrica, a Paulician town, in the year 870, to negotiate an exchange of prisoners. He remained there seven months, and availed himself of the opportunity of learning the opinions and practices of the Paulicians, both by disputing with them and by instituting inquiries among the Catholics in the neighborhood. It is unfortunate that there is no better authority to consult, for Petrus Siculus was so bitterly prejudiced against the people that his statements cannot be received without doubt and distrust. The only safe course is to endeavour to disentangle facts from opinions, insinuations, and invectives, and thus to ascertain the truth. Yet even then it is impossible to furnish a complete picture. Petrus Siculus deals chiefly in negatives. He tells us what the Paulicians denied, and rails at them for presuming to differ from the Catholic party, but he leaves us to guess what they really believed, in many important particulars. We mention these things that the reader may perceive the difficulty which lies in the way of an impartial narrator.

About the year 653, during the reign of the Emperor Constans II., a young man named Constantine, resident at Mananalis, in Armenia, rendered hospitable attentions to a stranger whom misfortune had brought under his roof. The stranger proved to be a deacon of a Christian Church, and he had in his possession a precious treasure, which he gave to Constantine on his departure, in return for the kindness shown him. It was a copy of the Gospels and the Epistles of Paul. Constantine read, believed, and obeyed. Manichæism, by which he had been deluded, was immediately renounced. His Manichæan books were thrown aside, and the sacred writings were exclusively studied. Shortly afterwards he removed to Cibossa, where he lived and laboured for twenty-seven years. He was a diligent and successful preacher. Great numbers received the truth. In what manner he proceeded to form them into societies or churches, and how they were governed, we have not the means of knowing. We may conjecture and infer, but inference is not history. If the report of Petrus Siculus be correct, they lay under considerable disadvantage in not having the Book of the Acts in their hands, from which they would have gathered the practices of the Apostolic churches, and perhaps this circumstance exerted an unfavorable influence on their arrangements. But we must not affirm positively on this subject.

Constantine died the death of a martyr. The Emperor Constantine Pogonatus sent Simeon, one of his officers, to Cibossa, with a military detachment. He apprehended Constantine, compelled the congregation to present themselves before him, and ordered them to stone their minister. They stood in silence for a while, no one lifting up his hand in obedience to so cruel a command. At length a man named Justus stepped forward, and the murderous deed was done. Simeon then undertook the work of conversion. He disputed with the followers of Constantine, and laboured hard to restore them to the Catholic Church. But he laboured in vain. Not only so, the arguments used on the other side were too powerful for him. He yielded to the force of truth, and returned to Constantinople a Paulician in heart. At first he did not avow the change that had taken place, but at length he found it impossible to conceal it, and consequently he left the Imperial service, retired to Cibossa, joined the persecuted sect, and became the successor of the very man whom he had murdered by the hand of Justus. After several years of usefulness, Justus, who had professed repentance and had been restored to the Church, quarreled with him and betrayed him to a neighboring bishop, by whose means all the members of the Church then resident in Cibossa were seized and burned alive in one vast pile. Paulus only escaped. He fled to Episparis. His two sons, Genesius and Theodotus, became Paulician ministers. Genesius was on one occasion apprehended as a heretic and taken to Constantinople, where he underwent an examination before the Patriarch. It is thus reported by Petrus Siculus:

Patriarch.—“Why hast thou derided the orthodox faith?”

Genesius.—“Anathema to him who denies the orthodox faith” (meaning thereby his own heresy, which he boasted of as the true “orthodox faith”).

Patriarch.—“Wherefore dost thou not believe in and adore the venerable cross?”

Genesius.—“Anathema to him who does not adore and worship the venerable and life-giving cross” (meaning Christ Himself, whose outstretched arms present the figure of the cross).

Patriarch.—“Why dost thou not worship and adore the holy mother of God?”

Genesius.—“Anathema to him who does not adore the most holy mother of God, the common mother of us all, into whom our Lord Jesus Christ entered” (meaning the heavenly Jerusalem, into which Christ has entered, as our Forerunner).

Patriarch.—“Why dost thou not partake of the immaculate body and precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but dost rather despise the same?”

Genesius.—“Anathema to him who despises the body and blood of Jesus Christ” (meaning thereby the words “ body and blood,” and nothing more).

“In like manner,” says Petrus Siculus, “he spake of baptism, saying that Jesus Christ Himself is baptism, and that there is no other, because He said, ‘I am the living water.’ And thus, perverting everything by his own false interpretations, he was acquitted and honorably dismissed.”

After this, Mananalis was again the headquarters of the Paulicians. Genesius lived there thirty years, and died in peace. Various troubles and disasters followed. Joseph, who seems to have succeeded Genesius, withdrew to Episparis, and afterwards to Antioch, in Pisidia, where he laboured thirty years. He was succeeded by Bahanes. But there must have been many more engaged in the work besides these, for the imperfect notices that are left indicate an extensive series of operations, embracing a large number of churches, and a powerful body of adherents.

About the year 810 the Paulicians were joined by Sergius, who became one of the most eminent men of their community. The account of his conversion is exceedingly interesting. He was an intelligent, well-educated young man, and much esteemed for his many excellent qualities; but he was profoundly ignorant of religion. One day a Christian woman (evidently a Paulician) met with him and entered into conversation. “Why,” said she, “do you not read the Holy Gospels?” “Because,” he replied, “it is not lawful for us laymen, but only for the priests.” “You are altogether mistaken,” she rejoined, “for there is no respect of persons with God; He will have all men to be saved.” She then proceeded to expose the priestly tyranny of the age, and the gross superstitions by which the people were deluded, urging the young man to examine the matter for himself. He did so. He read, and thought, and prayed, and became a Christian “in deed and in truth.” The genuineness of his conversion was proved by his eminently holy life and incessant zeal. He traversed a large part of Western Asia, preaching everywhere, and calling on the people to abandon the follies of a corrupted Christianity, and “worship God in the spirit.” Thirty‑four years were thus spent, and marvelous results accompanied his efforts. Multitudes were converted. So general was the defection from the established Church, that the Greek emperor was greatly alarmed, and adopted the severest measures for the suppression of the Reformation. The Paulicians had endured persecution from the beginning, and had “increased and multiplied” under it. But the storm raged with such terrific fierceness during the first half of the ninth century, that utter extermination seemed inevitable. It is affirmed that under the auspices of the Empress Theodora, who held the regency during the minority of her son Michael, from A.D. 832 to A.D. 846, no fewer than one hundred thousand Paulicians were put to death, “by the sword, the gibbet, or the flames.” Sergius was one of the victims. He and his brethren went to join those of whom it is said that they constantly cry, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10)

“Oppression maketh a wise man mad.”

There is a point at which resistance becomes venial, if not obligatory. Imperial cruelty provoked retaliation and revenge. The Paulicians took up arms in defense of their families and their homes. The transition from self-defense to active rebellion is easy, and the provinces of the East were convulsed with civil war, for all the miseries of which the persecutors were responsible. It continued many years. The co-operation of the Saracens was sought, and many provinces of the Empire were desolated. But we will not pursue the history further. It is difficult to trace the progress of religion when carnal weapons have been taken up. We will only observe that the Paulician revival had early extended to Thrace, now the Turkish province of Roumelia that in the tenth century a large number of Paulicians were removed to Philippoplis in that country, and also to Bulgaria, the adjoining province; and that in the following age they began to migrate into Italy, France, and other parts of Europe.[3]

When Petrus Siculus sat down to write his history, he was predetermined to blacken the Paulicians to the utmost. Consequently, he maintained that they were Manichæans, notwithstanding the disclaimer of Constantine, their founder; and having taken that position, he was resolved to hold it. We shall not think it worth while to discuss the question. There may have been some among them who still retained a regard to the philosophic speculations with which they were familiar before conversion, and which had for many ages proved very injurious to spiritual Christianity; and that unworthy persons sometimes crept in among them may be readily admitted. That is the fate of all parties. But here was their distinction;—they withdrew from the Greek Church because that Church had abandoned the high ground of Gospel truth and spiritual worship. They asserted the right and duty of searching the Scriptures, and would admit no other rule. They abhorred saint-worship. They would not adore the cross, nor bow down before images. They abjured the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In a word, they appear to have been Protestants before the Reformation, and even before those who have been commonly reckoned as its precursors. The meager accounts of them which remain, tinged as they are with obstinate prejudice, fail to give us satisfaction. Had we the letters of Sergius, which Petrus Siculus tells us his followers valued highly, we should be able to obtain full and accurate information. This, however, is certain, that a religious movement, springing from God’s word, and so firmly maintained against opposition, that two hundred years after its rise the astonishing number of one hundred thousand of its adherents were cut off without destroying the body, must have possessed a mighty influence. We agree with Joseph Milner, the ecclesiastical historian, who observes that in this case we have “one of those extraordinary effusions of the Divine Spirit by which the knowledge of Christ and the practice of godliness is kept alive in the world.”[4] But we cannot agree with that writer in the statement, that the Paulicians “were simply scriptural in the use of the Sacraments.” Neander says, more truly, that “they combated the inclination to rely on the magical effects of external forms, particularly the Sacraments: indeed, they went so far on this side as wholly to reject the outward celebration of the Sacraments.”[5]

On the question of baptism, Photius writes to this effect that though the Paulicians despise “saving baptism,” they pretend that they have received it, inasmuch as they received the Gospel, wherein Christ declares that He is the “living water;”[6] and he adds, that they are willing that the priests should baptize their children, notwithstanding their disbelief in any saving benefit accompanying the rite. Admitting the correctness of this account, the Paulicians rejected water-baptism, teaching that the knowledge of Christ, which is spiritual baptism, is sufficient. If they allowed the priests to baptize their children, as Photius states, it was probably to save themselves from annoyance, perhaps from persecution; and as, in their opinion, the baptism did the children neither good nor harm, it was looked on as a matter of indifference. We do not justify or commend them. Whatever their views were, the priests judged that they had saved the children by baptizing them, and there should not have been any opportunity given for cherishing that anti-Christian notion. Still it is to be remembered that we are by no means certain of the truth of the statement, as the writer was a virulent opposer of the Paulicians, and aimed to excite hatred against them. The same remark will apply to Petrus Siculus, who, as Gibbon very properly says, wrote “with much prejudice and passion.”

Some maintain that the Paulicians did not reject either baptism or the Lord’s Supper (which also they are said to have held in a spiritual sense only), but the unauthorized additions that had been made to the ordinances, and the current opinions respecting their design and efficacy. In other words, they rejected baptismal regeneration, and transubstantiation. The progress of perversion, it is truly affirmed, had brought men to this point, that baptism was no longer regarded as a profession of Christ, nor the Lord’s Supper as a memorial of His love; the former was held to be the instrument of regeneration, and in the latter there was said to be an actual reception of the Savior’s body and blood. Whoever refused to acquiesce in these representations was reproached as a denier of the ordinances, whereas his opposition was confined to corruptions and abuses. This is not an improbable supposition, but we have not the means of verifying it, for want of historic materials.

It is, however, to be considered, that the Paulicians were not altogether agreed among themselves. There were divi­sions and parties. It may possibly be that Photius and Petrus Siculus designedly referred to those of them whose opinions were, in their judgment, the farthest removed from Catholic verity, and that while some wandered into errors and excesses, the remainder pursued a scriptural course. Photius himself states that some of them observed the Lord’s Supper, though, as he affects to believe, they did it “to deceive the simple.” This indicates the existence of two parties. Those who observed one ordinance were not likely to neglect the other. We are therefore not indisposed to believe that there were among the Paulicians many who preserved the truths and worship of Christianity, as derived from the New Testament.



[1] Manes was a Persian. He was put to death by order of Varanes I., King of Persia, in the year 278. Se Beausobre’s Histoire Cyitique de Manichee et du Manicheisme, and Mosheim’s De Rebus Christianis, &c., p. 728-903.

[2] It is not pleasant to be compelled to make any statements calculated to throw discredit on other writers ; but the interests of truth are paramount to all other considerations, and Baptists ought to be especially careful in this matter

Gibbon writes thus: “In the practice, or at least in the theory, of the sacraments, the Paulicians were inclined to abolish all visible objects of worship, and the words of the Gospel were, in their judgment, the baptism and communion of the faithful.”—Decline and Fall, chap. 54.

The Rev. W. Jones, referring to Gibbon as his authority, says: “The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper they held to be peculiar to ‘the communion of the faithful,’ that is, ought to be restricted to believers.” —Lectures on Ecclesiastical History, ii. p. 181. It will be observed that this is not by any means a correct representation of Gibbon. It is quoted by Orchard as an independent testimony.

Mr. Orchard (History of the Baptists, p. 130) gives the following as a quotation from Mosheim: “It is evident they [the Paulicians] rejected the baptism of infants. They were not charged with any error concerning baptism.” We are sorry to say that the first part of this alleged quotation is not to be found in Mosheim. The second part is a mutilation. The words of the historian, which occur in a note, are here copied: “The Greeks do not charge the Paulicians with any error in respect to the doctrine of Baptism. Yet there is no doubt that they construed into allegory what the New Testament states concerning this ordinance. And Photius (Contra Manich. lib. i. p. 29) expressly says, that they held only to a fictitious baptism, and understood by baptism, i.e., by the water of baptism—the Gospel.”—Ecclesiastical History, cent. ix. part 2. chap. v. sect. 6.

Mr. Orchard gives also the following, as a quotation from Dr. Allix: “They, with the Manichæans, were Anabaptists, and were consequently often reproached with that term.” We have looked in vain for this quotation. Dr. Allix, speaking of the Manichees, says: “In those barbarous and cruel ages, a small conformity of opinion with the Manichees was a sufficient ground to accuse them of Manicheism who opposed any doctrines received by the Church of Rome. Thus would they have taken the Anabaptists for downright Manichees, because they condemned the baptism of infants.”—Remarks upon the Ancient Church of Piedmont, chap. xv.

Mr. Orchard says (p. 300), Ecbertus Schonaugiensis, who wrote against this people, declares, “They say that baptism does no good to infants; therefore, such as come over to their sect they baptize in a private way, that is, without the pomp and public parade of the Catholics.”—Wall’s History, part 2, p. 228.

This seems to be clear and explicit testimony. According to the statement, as here presented, the Cathari not only rejected infant-baptism, but also baptized adults, “in a private way.” The reader will be astonished to learn that the very opposite was the fact. These people, according to Eckbert, as very fairly quoted by Wall, rejected baptism altogether. Here is the entire passage, copied from Wall. He is speaking of Eckbert, or, as be calls him, Ecbertus Schonaugiensis: He says, Sermon I. “They are also divided among themselves; for several things that are maintained by some of them, are denied by others.” And of baptism particularly, he says, “Of baptism they speak variously; that baptism does no good to infants, because they cannot of themselves desire it, and because they cannot profess any faith. But there is another thing which they more generally hold concerning that point, though more secretly, viz., that no water baptism at all does any good for salvation. And therefore such as come over to their sect, they re‑baptize by a private way, which they call baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” This was the “ consolamentum.” It is described in the next chapter.

Mr. Benedict copies Orchard, and thus unwittingly propagates the mistake.—History of the Baptists, p. 67, edit. 1848. The original passage, translated by Wall, is in Biblioth. Maxim. Lugdun. xxiii. p. 601.

[3] The “Historia” of Petrus Siculus is printed in the sixteenth volume of the Biblioth. Maxim. Lugdunens. Gieseler has given an abstract of the statements of Photius in his Ecclesiastical History, ii. pp. 209-212.

[4] History of the Church, cent. ix. chap. ii.

[5] History of the Church, iii. p. 263.

[6] Ibid, i. p. 9.

Providence Baptist Ministries © 1999 - 2001
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Revised: January 27, 2001

[ May 09, 2001: Message edited by: MJ ]

#18 dragon



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Posted 22 February 2001 - 07:13 PM

Dear MJ
''Bavlikianner'' are the same ''bavghikianniar'' in Armenian culture.

L and GH are ldzort kirer. They replace each oter, as YEROUSAGHEM for JERUSALEM.


#19 MJ



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Posted 22 February 2001 - 07:46 PM

Originally posted by dragon:
Dear MJ
''Bavlikianner'' are the same ''bavghikianniar'' in Armenian culture.

L and GH are ldzort kirer. They replace each oter, as YEROUSAGHEM for JERUSALEM.


It seems like you don't want to let it go.

I have to just tell you that this is the least of the things I would like to engage in. It is not worth the while.

Additionally, I have more than sufficient knowledge of, both, Eastern and Western Armenian dialects.

I am sure you know what I would've claimed next, was I intended to continue discussion of something which is not warranted.

#20 dragon



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Posted 24 February 2001 - 01:44 AM

Dear MJ,

I have heard a different version on your ''story'' posted above.

Here is my version.-
Minas was an assyrian vartabed not armenian. He was the boyfriend of Mohammed's mother, most probably his father. When Mohammed became a young man, Minas Vartabed told him about the religions and encouraged him to start preaching about God's things.

To be able to convience people about Mohammed not only as a new preacher, but also as a prophet, Vartabed got an idea. He told the guy to collect people around the dried well and tell them that God has spoken to him as he is one of God's chosen prophet, evidence for that is the holy book that he will bring out now from dried well. After doing what he was told, Mohammed is throwing a cord in the well, where was the Vartabed hiding, and a holy book comes out! Yuppy! He is a real prophet! People are amazed... But Mohammed has to keep the secret for his own, to not get blackmaled from the Vartabed!
What he has to do is to kill him! So, he asks everyone who believed him to throw a stone in the deep well!

Life of Assyrian Vartabed ends here and begins the new one... story of prophet Mohammed.

I tried to help...

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