Did the Orthodox Christian church have any equivalent to the Protestant movement?

By: | Post date: 2016-08-03 | Comments: 5 Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, History, Modern Greek

Patriarch Cyril Lucaris made overtures towards Calvinist theologians in the 1620s, and many though not all specialists believe he was pursuing a reform of the church along Calvinist lines. His contemporaries certainly thought so, and attributed the Calvinist Confession of Cyril Lucaris to him.

The Synod of Jerusalem (1672) repudiated both the Confession, and Cyril’s authorship of the Confession, three decades after Cyril’s execution.


  • John Cowan says:

    The Old Believers of the Russian Orthodox Church are at least Protestantoid. They don’t have Reformed theology (but neither do Anglicans or Lutherans), but they left the church when Patriarch Nikon reformed the Russian ritual and liturgy to make it more Greek, which they considered a corruption of the True Church. They keep to the older forms to this day. In addition, they come in two flavors, the priestly and the priestless. The latter lack not only ordination but the Eucharist, which is fairly extreme even for Protestants: only the Quakers and the Salvation Army among Western Christians do not celebrate it, though Reformed Protestants think it is only a memorial and celebration, not a miracle.

    • David Marjanović says:

      In a way that’s the opposite of Protestantism, which is all about theology, with ritual & liturgy only an expression of theology; the Old Believers are only about ritual & liturgy, with theology nowhere to be seen.

    • The Salvos and Old Believers rejecting the eucharist has utterly blown me away. (The Quakers came as less of a surprise.) I keep having difficulty thinking of the Salvos as a distinct denomination at all, since philanthropy is so prominent in their raison d’être.

      … They dropped the eucharist? And they’re Russian Orthodox? Wha?

      • John Cowan says:

        Remember that there were two kinds of Old Believers, who only agreed that the Hellenization of the liturgy was Evil and Wrong. The Priestly (popovtsy) held that as long as the liturgy was performed in its original Russian form, all was well; they persuaded a Greek Orthodox bishop to convert and were thereby able to maintain apostolic succession. Later a second convert was obtained, and so there are now two groups of Priestlies who disagree only on the legitimacy of each other’s hierarchies.

        The Priestless (bezpopovtsy) held that any priest or bishop who had celebrated a Hellenized Russian liturgy was irredeemably schismatic, and consequently there was no one left to celebrate any liturgy at all. Consequently, the visible Church no longer existed on Earth, and the Antichrist had already arrived. They kept only baptism, since anyone could do that, and some subsects accepted marriage as well.

        19C research shows that the Priestly Old Believers were correct to claim that their liturgy was aboriginal, and that where it differs from the Byzantine rite as we know it, that is because the latter had changed between 988 and 1652.

        As for the S.A., they just extend mainline Protestantism, which says there are only two sacraments as such, Baptism and Holy Communion, for these are the only ones that Jesus performed himself. They do not reject these or other sacraments, but consider them unnecessary to salvation and the cause of frequent disputes, being only the “outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace” which may be achieved otherwise. Apart from that they have a very typical Reformed theology.

        • John Cowan says:

          Actually, ordinary Calvinists don’t believe baptism essential for salvation either. The case of the repentant thief (“today you shall be with me in Paradise”) is pretty clear-cut, but is usually explained away by saying that God is not bound by his own sacraments.

          Even the Catholics are very cautious: they say that the sacraments are the only methods the church knows that are guaranteed to lead to salvation; that’s two hedges in one sentence.

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