It would have been truly a blessing if the preaching of the Gospel had forever shone brilliantly in Christ’s Church in all its unspeculative simplicity. It would have been genuinely salvific if the seal imprinted by the invocation of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit upon those undergoing regeneration through baptism had been seen by all as the one and only seal of godliness. But since Sextuses and Pyrrhons (I mean those people who, at various times, have discredited the true teachings by their argumentation) have thrown ecclesiastical matters so far off center that, on the one hand, unspeculative simplicity of faith now appears as stupidity to our theological connoisseurs and religious intelligentsia, and those who know no more than their confession of faith in the Holy Trinity are scarcely counted as belonging to our religion, while, on the other hand, variety and hyper-speculation in doctrinal matters are considered a form of wisdom and of nearness to God, perished is the blessedness of simplicity of faith, perished is the common salvation which was expected to be enjoyed once and for all by all who are imprinted with the seal of baptism; for theological divergence over the Trinity, united above all reason, and theoretical variety over the Unity, ineffably made Three, have splintered the Christian people into competing denominations.
– Patriarch John IX (Bekkos) of Constantinople
(Read more here)
Some commentary by Peter Gilbert:
… [T]his quotation from the work On Peace already shows that Bekkos is not a relativist, as some people make him out to be; he differentiates between orthodoxy and heresy, and he goes on in the book to specify what some of these heresies are. As for his understanding of catholicity, that is a more difficult question. The passage suggests that Bekkos identifies Christ’s Church, in some way, with the totality of the baptized. (St. Augustine, in his debates with the Donatists, said exactly the same thing.) There is a “common salvation, which was expected to be enjoyed once and for all by all who are imprinted with the seal of baptism.” Even though Bekkos says that this “common salvation” has “perished” (along with the “blessedness of simplicity of faith”), I sense that he is engaging in at least slight rhetorical exaggeration here. At the very least, he does not want to be too quick about defining the Church’s mystical boundaries. His business is to heal a division; he knows he cannot succeed in that task if he starts off by sharply differentiating between “us” and “them,” between what is “mine” and what is “yours,” employing “cold terms that banish godly concord.” He thinks that at least some of those differentiations have been made prematurely and stupidly, and that the Church has suffered because of it.
Other interesting Bekkos posts at Peter Gilbert‘s blog De Unione Ecclesiarum:
- On Photius’s Motives (11/1/07)
- John Bekkos’s Dream (10/6/07)
- Gregoras on Bekkos (10/3/07)
- The God of Measure (10/2/07)
- De unione §§ 1-2 (10/27/07)
- Some propositions [on Bekkos] (10/24/07)
- Why “De unione ecclesiarum?” (10/8/07)
- On cursing Bekkos (10/5/07)
- Poem: John Bekkos in jail (10/1/07)