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A Handbook of Church History
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A Handbook of Church History
Dean C Blackwell   
Church of God

Died: April 14, 2003
Member Since: 1952
Ambassador College: 1956
Office: ACE - Evangelist

Chapter III:


   Remember what God said to the church of Pergamos:
   These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
   I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith..." [Rev.2:12-13].
   So, they did maintain the true name, Church of God. They kept themselves in the true name. They believed you have to have the faith of Christ that Christ has to come and live His life in you.
   One thing we are going to see about the Bogomils is that they were looked on as radicals. In fact, some information you may have a hard time understanding because opponents got the wrong idea from what they believed. They thought that to believe Christ had to come and live in you was reincarnation of a unique type.

Entrance of Images and Idols

   Notice the outstanding points about these people. They dwelt where Satan's seat of rule was. They held fast to the true name and that Christ had to live in you that Christ has to live His life over again in you spiritually.
   Then reference is made to the one man who was martyred where Satan's throne was. And God had a few things against them. They had, within the Paulicians, allowed themselves to be misconstrued as Catholics. They allowed the universal church to baptize, also to give communion to some of their members in order not to be picked out as Paulicians.
   "You have them there that hold the doctrine of Balaam" (Rev. 2:14). These were among the true members. The great debate which dwelt in this age of church history from all sources was the great struggle with images and idols. The great struggles previous to this dealt with the person of Christ, the trinity, and also the Passover. These were the two main arguments in the church system at this time. At this time, the main struggle and debate was over what is designated the iconoclast movement, or whether you should allow idols, images, crosses and beads in the church worship service. Even the Bible points out that in this church age, the Paulicians were contaminated by this doctrine of Balaam, which dealt with idolatry and eating things sacrificed to idols, Christmas dinners. So they ate of the communion tables of the idols and they committed spiritual fornication with the churches around them rather than be persecuted and martyred.


   Actually, when you begin to deal with the Bogomils, you deal with a different persecution because with the Paulicians the main persecution was by the universal church, whereas with the Bogomils, the main persecution was by the Greek Orthodox church. That was their main difficulty. In addition to this struggle, of spiritual fornication and allowing their members to eat of the table of idols, they also had among them those who had the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes which God hates and is actually paganism the Babylonian mysteries tied in with the name of Christ and the name of religion. That is what the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes really was.
   God said they had to repent or he would come to the Paulicians and Bogomils and would fight against both those churches with the sword of His mouth dealing with condemnation and His judgment upon them. Then He says if any of us have ears, we should hear what the Spirit says to these churches and if any people overcome that particular stage or attitude, they will be given to eat of the hidden manna.
   From Blunt's Dictionary of Sects and Heresies, the article on "Athingaini" (or as in some "Athyngani" or "Athyngany"): "A title bestowed in the eighth century upon [not the name they used for themselves] a sect of the Paulicians which rose in Asia Minor."1
   So, notice when this particular section of the true church came up in this area. They were called by different names. They were not called the same in every place. We saw in Turkey, or in the region of Greece, they were called "Paulicians," but down in Asia Minor in the region of Constantine Pogonatos, 668 to 685 A.D., they were given the title of "Athangani." They began to be so called in the days of the Empress Irene, who was from 797 to 802 A.D.
   As you remember, that is about the date when the Paulicians began to take up arms and units in an army began to unite with the Saracens and actually war against the Romans and ceased being the true church.

Varied Names of Separatists

   One section of them were moved into Bulgaria and this one captain began to lead them as warriors. Then notice! In Asia Minor they began to be called "Athangani." In the days of the Empress Irene, around 800 A.D., they acquired the name of Attingians, another name. The more you look, the more names you come up with. "Attingians," or as this word means, "Separatists," because they rejected image worship.
   So, notice the outstanding point mentioned here is the very thing the Bible mentions in tying in with Balaam, committing idolatry, committing spiritual fornication. So they were called "Separatists" because they rejected image worship. They also rejected the veneration of the cross, rejected the veneration of relics. So you see, the reason for which they were called "Separatists" was because of this doctrine of Balaam and they cut themselves off with all connection with the hierarchy of the dominant party. They were also called "Paulojohannites," or "Johanites."
   Their distinctive practice, apart from other Paulician heretics, appears to have been that of baptizing with the words, "I am the living water," instead of the Catholic formula. So, that was the distinguishing trait about this particular sect of the Paulicians. They baptized with the words that Christ spoke, that Christ is the living water, instead of the rigamarole that the Catholics recite the Apostle's Creed which Paulicians were against.

The True Name

   Why did God put so much emphasis on the name of the church in Rev. 2 to 3? In John 17, in the last prayer, there are two words mentioned more than any others. The words "world" and "name." By what name? I have kept them in your name, Holy Father. I have given them your name. It is mentioned over and over in John 17. In the very last prayer Christ offered before He was crucified, He asked that God would keep them in His name. That name would not be changed.
   That is why, when you are reading in Rev. 2 and 3, you find so many references to it. They hadn't denied His name. They held fast to His name. That is why in these church histories you will find there is a great deal of confusion about the name and how they got the name. They called themselves the Church of God. As individuals, they are called Christians, but as a body there was only one name and that was "Church of God."


   We learn from Johnson's Universal Cyclopedia, in the article on "Bogomils": "...so named from their leader, the Bulgarian priest Bogomil, in the middle of the tenth century." Remember the date! We have previously seen that the Paulicians ceased being the true church after 800 A.D. This source says the Bogomils began to arise in the middle of the tenth century.
   Their description: "A dualistic Manicheist sect" two words we have dealt with already. "Dualistic" means there are two forces moving the world's activities: good force and evil force, or a good spirit and an evil spirit. There are good angels and there are evil angels. There are material things which are bad and not good for man, spiritual things are good for man. If you have that attitude, then you are called a dualist. If you think that your human nature is against your mind and you think you are actually a two-fold creature warring against yourself, then you are a dualist. "A dualist and a Manicheist" a follower of Mani, which they of course always denied they were.
   The Paulicians in the Key of Truth denounced Mani as fanatical and radical. But nonetheless, they are always called a dualistic Manicheist sect. They were first "of Thrace, Macedonia and Bulgaria." We have previously dealt with true believers in Thrace. "Originated in the early part of the tenth century, spread over Servia, Boznia, Dalmatia and Croatia...In the latter countries, the church was called Patarenes."
   Actually, some of these names of the smaller segments give you the background of the doctrines of the true church better than the name of the larger segments because they called all the heretics in Bulgaria, "Bogomils." They called all the heretics in Italy, "Waldenses;" all the heretics in France, "Albigenses." Some church histories even admit such.
   "The church in Boznia by itself had many adherents among the aristocracy ...It survived persecution, but when the Turks overran the country in 1463 [now remember the question we always ask had the Bogomils ceased being the true church by then? Were the Bogomils still the true church in 1463? That is the date when the Turks overran the country], its members, almost to a man, became Mohammedans."

Saved by Christ's Life

   Its principle doctrines were the origin of evil and the declension from God. Their docetic views of the person of Christ and all that. They affirmed that Christ saved all men by...by what do you think? By His death? No. That surprises people when Mr. Armstrong mentions you are not saved by the death of Christ. You are reconciled by the death of Christ, but we shall all be saved by His life. That's what the Bible says. Notice!
   They had docetic views. Docetic? What does that mean? "They had docetic views about Christ, in that they affirmed that Christ saved men by His teaching." That's what saves you. That's what makes you righteous: living by God's word by His ways, studying God's Word and putting into your life, by the teachings of Christ. All the way through the New Testament, it says that the scriptures are able to make you wise unto salvation. That seemed odd to the other churches that the Bogomils had this docetic view: that they thought Christ actually ended up saving people by His way of living, by His living by the Scriptures, by His life and not by His death. "Also, the principle doctrines included the rejection of the sacrament, the rejection of the use of images in worship."
   Here we have several outstanding things we want to remember:
   Its principle doctrines were the origin of evil and declension from God the principle which actually shows that man has drifted away from God and that is the cause of man's error; the cause of war and everything that is bad for man because man has turned away from God and from God's law and God's way.
   I would have to say I believe that, too. I would have to say that I would be a Bogomil, too, if that particular thing is one of their points of belief.
   "A religious sect which came into notice in the twelfth century." Notice, he did not say it began. It came into notice, became prominent. Actually, by the time it became prominent, it was not even the true church. That is why some of the things you read about them are not characteristic of the Bogomils whatsoever. Where was their chief seat? It was in Thrace.

Derivation of Bogomili Name

   "They resembled the Paulicians." They had to resemble them, because they were the next step from the Paulicians. "Their name, derived from the Bulgarian word 'Gog', means "Lord and Milui", which means have mercy." Actually, then, the word "Bogomili" means "God have mercy" which refers, he says, to the frequency of their prayers. That is how they got the name, because they were so frequent in their prayers, so they called them, "God have mercy."

Satan's Origin

   "The beliefs of their creed were as follows: 'Out of the Eternal divine essence [that is the way they described God "The Eternal divine essence"], spring two principles.'" That is where they get this dualistic description of these of these people. Is this so? Is this the truth? "Out of the Eternal divine essence," spring two principles? That's right. God created Satan, but He did not create him as Satan. He created him as a light bringer, as an archangel, as one of His spirit servants.
   "Out of the Eternal being sprang two principles: Satan and Logos. The former, Satanical, first good, afterwards rebelled." Do you see anything wrong with that? I don't, but to them, that was really radical and rabid.
   Nevertheless, that is what they believed. They knew about Satan, and what he was before he fell. He was the one who fell, not Adam and Eve.

Satan Author of Human Naturea

   The former, Satanical, was good. He afterwards rebelled and then Satan created in opposition to the original spiritual universe the human nature. Satan is the one who created that. These human beings, however, received from the Supreme Father, a life spirit. That was not of Satan. That part of man is of God.
   [The mind, the character, the personality, is the part of man that Satan cannot lord over, unless you give it to him. So, they believe that there is a part of man that was received from the Supreme Father that is life spirit.]
   But even this very spirit, this personality, this character of man, was kept in slavery by Satan until the logos, or Christ, came down from heaven.
   [Is that true? Did Satan have the world? Is he the god, the ruler, of the world? Was he the instigator of all that was human nature? Did not he take man in the first place and build his nature? He certainly did. (See Rev. 12) They said that Christ assumed a phantom body. What does that mean?]
   That he broke the power of the evil spirit, who was henceforth called only Satan.
   Did not Christ say that He triumphed over the powers and principalities and the authorities in Himself, in Colossians 2? And doesn't the Bible say that man was in prison; that Christ came to proclaim deliverance to the captives? And wasn't man in subjection to the Satanic world? And wasn't his character made by Satan until Christ came down and gave the power of the Holy Spirit by which we can be freed from that nature and from the world of Satan? In a way, would you say that Christ assumed a phantom body? He was God in the flesh. He did assume a body, in the way they word it, they say they believed He assumed a phantom body.

Laying on of Hands

   "The Bogomili despises images and rejected the sacraments... Instead of baptism, they placed their hands on the head of the neophite." Is that one of the basic doctrines of Hebrews 6? But is that done instead of baptism, or is it done after baptism? We will prove from other records that they did believe in baptism. They did not believe baptism was a ritual. It was symbolic, spiritual, a matter of picturing a burial of your own nature. "Instead of baptism, they placed their hands and an apocryphal gospel of John on the neophrite, singing at the same time, the Lord's prayer." So, they had a prayer with the baptismal service. They laid hands on the newly baptized man, and they had a prayer along with it. They sang the Lord's prayer, which they repeated seven times. The number is rather significant, isn't it? Seven and five are twelve. What does the number twelve signify? It is always the foundation number of beginnings, that is, twelve apostles, twelve patriarchs.
   "They repeated the Lord's prayer seven times during the day of their baptism, and five times during the night of their baptism."2
   In 1118, that vehement hater of heretics, Alexius Comnenus, burned their leader, Basilius. Persecution, however, didn't put an end to the Bogomils and at the time of the Mohammedans conquest of Boznia in the sixteenth century we find that the greatest numbers of the renegade Christians who embraced the religion of the conquerors belonged to this sect. There are some Bogomils even at the present day (1884).
   There were some in Russia as well as in Greece and some other areas in 1884, though their names vary slightly.
   We learn from Larned's History for Ready Reference, article "Bogomils": "A religious sect which arose among the Slavonians of Thrace and Bulgaria in the eleventh century and suffered persecution from the Orthodox Greek Church."

Derived from Paulicians

   They sympathized with the iconoclasts of former times. They were hostile to the adoration of the virgin. [Notice that! You don't pray to a saint. There aren't any saints in heaven who can do you any good. That is why they were hostile to the adoration of saints and to the adoration of the virgin.]
   And they took more or less from the heretical doctrines of the Paulicians. [So tracing these to the Paulicians is easily done in history.]
   Their name is derived by some from the two Slavonian words: "Bog" signifying God, and "Milui" meaning have mercy.
   Others say that "Bogumil" meaning "one beloved by God" is the correct designation.
   Basilios, the leader of the Bogomilians, was burned by the emperor, Alexius Comnenus in the hippodrome at Constantinople in 1118.3
   From the Cyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, by Sanford, article "Bogomils":
   A heretical sect of the Greek church of the twelfth century. Their doctrine was a strange mixture of Manicheism, docetism, and fancy...They rejected baptism by water only, and the symbolic rites of the Lord's supper, and they were opposed to the worship of images and relics.4
   Notice, it doesn't say they rejected baptism. It says they rejected it by water only.
   Notice, also, in this stage of the church that in every one of these sources, it mentions relics, images and idols. That was one of the earmarks of that church as is mentioned in Rev. 2.
   From an opposition source, the Catholic Encyclopedia, article on Bogomili:
   A Neo-Manichean sect found in the latter middle ages, at Constantinople and in the Balkan states. Doctrinal principles: Admission of a two-fold creative principle, one good and one evil formed the doctrinal system of the Bogomili. And as of all Manichean sects, originally they seem to have claimed eternity of these two principles, but their teaching in its fuller development was less dualistic. God the Father, according to [Bogomili] them, had a human appearance...The Holy Spirit was sent forth but dwells only in the Bogomils.
   Wouldn't they claim that about you today? Would they say that we are the only ones who claim to have God's Spirit? Do you think that? Instead of baptism by water, they admitted only a spiritual baptism. What? One source said they rejected water baptism only, not that they rejected water baptism! If that is all it is, and there is no baptism of the Holy Spirit, then you have to be rebaptized. They rejected the baptism in which you were not baptized for the receipt of the Spirit. In other words, they were Anabaptists or Rebaptizers.

Real Presence in Passover

   "They rejected the real presence in the eucharist." Do you deny the trans-substantiation? They denied that the priest can actually make the flesh and blood of Christ again out of the wine and bread. The Bogomili denied the real presence in the eucharist.

Food Laws

   "They condemned marriage, they rejected images and prohibited the eating of meat." Be careful here! They got pretty close to the truth. They prohibited the eating of meat?
   History: The name of the Bogomili has been traced by some to Bogomilui, or God have mercy. A formula of prayer believed to have been in frequent use among them.
   It mentions that probably in their prayers, they said "God have mercy" or at least when the public heard their prayers, that is what they were saying. The only time the public heard their prayers was when they were martyred. So, they branded them Bogomilui, or "God have mercy."

Names Given by Adversaries

   Others have sought to originate it in Bogomil, or beloved of God. A different meaning of the name is also said to have been a prominent representative of their doctrine in the tenth century. [So notice the possibility that this priest, Bogomil, lived in the tenth century.]
   Other names were also applied to the members of the sect by its adversaries, but they called themselves Christians.
   [Notice this definite comment and point of truth given by the Catholic Encyclopedia! Other names were also applied to members of the sect, but they called themselves Christians.]
   The Bogomili probably developed from the Euchites and although they existed previously, came into prominence in the twelfth century.

Transplanted Paulicians

   "They are first mentioned by name in 1115 at Philippopolis." Remember that name? They transplanted all the Paulicians; moved them up into that territory on the border of that region in the land of Bulgaria. Here is that same town mentioned again and as the first place the name Bogomili is used, referring to the people at Philippopolis, European Turkey. "More definite knowledge concerning them was obtained when their leader, Basil, a monk and physician [Why physician? Because as among the Waldenses, they believed in miraculous healings by God through their ministers. Notice the Catholic Encyclopedia brands their leader...], who had surrounded himself with twelve apostles, became known at Constantinople to the emperor, Alexius I, Comnenus. The latter cleverly obtained from Basil a frank exposition of the doctrine of the sect." Notice, it says "cleverly"! It was really a lie, a trick. They said, "Come on down. We're interested in your beliefs." So he came down and was preaching to them his beliefs. After he got through, he never did leave. Yet he was promised he would have free protection back. They said, "You don't have to keep your word to heretics." That is a firm belief of the Catholic church. You are not obligated to keep your word to the heretics. They call it cleverness.
   Having received this information, he demanded from the leader and those of his followers who could be seized, a retraction of their errors. Some complied with this demand and were released. Others remained obstinate and died in prison. Basil alone was condemned and put to death in 1118. He was burned. Severe as the repression was, it did not suppress the heresy. The synod of Constantinople in 1140 ordered the destruction of writing, propagating the errors of the sect. [So you see why it is hard to get their history? Because these councils condemned their writings to be burned at this date.]
   In 1143, two bishops of Capadosia deposed for embracing its tenets and the favor extended to one of its adherents, the monk, Nyphon, caused the deposition of Cosmos, the patriarch of Constantinople in 1147. The patriarch, Germanus, from 1221 to 1239, continued to combat the pernicious doctrine. New condemnations were issued by the synods of Constantinople and were sent out in 1316 and 1325. The Bogomili, however, remained until the conquest of the Balkan states by the Mussimans in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.5

Bogomil The Founder's Name

   A very interesting note on their origin is seen in the Shaff- Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, article on Bogomils:
   A branch of the Cathari [A name which was used to designate all the heretics in that age, whether the Waldenses, Albigenses, Bogomils, Paulicians] developed in Thrace. Their name was formerly derived from Bogomilui, or God have mercy, or Bogomil, meaning beloved by God.
   But, Schaferic, the great authority on Slavic antiquities, has found in some old Slavic record a Bulgarian bishop by the name Bogomil, who in the middle of the tenth century was the representative of the biggest heresies of the sect. This seems to give a better clue to the name. The mythology which the sect developed was very fantastic a mixture of Manicheism, docetism and wild fancy. But their views of morality were easily those of other Cathari. [An admission there were other branches of the Cathari.] They were decidedly anti-clerical. The church, with its hierarchy, its worship of relics, images and saints, they considered the work of Satan. [That is very strong almost as strong as 2 Cor. 11, isn't it?] Their system of doctrines is completely expounded in Euthenius Zigabanus.6

Offshoot of Paulicians

   We learn from the Dictionary of Sects and Heresies, by Blunt, article on Bogomils, or as it is corruptly written, Bogarmitae:
   A name assumed by a sect of heretics who appeared in the twelfth century, in the Bulgarian city of Philippopolis. They appeared to have separated off from the Paulicians. [Notice it very clearly tells you what was the previous stage of the true church!]
   They appear to have separated off from the Paulicians, the Manichean heretics who were predominant in Danubian provinces from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries. The founder of the Bogomils was a heretical monk named Basil.
   They were better known to the Orthodox Greek world under the title of Phundaite. We also meet them in contemporary literature under the name Massalians. It is presumable from some fancied resemblance in doctrine to the earlier semi-Paulicians. This sect was drawn from the dregs of the population and made poverty and ignorance a necessary tenet.7

Rebaptisms or Anabaptists

   What valuable facts are added by the Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, by Brown, article on Bogomili, or Bogarmitae:
   A group of heretics which arose about the year 1179. They held that the use of churches, the use of the sacraments of the Lord's supper, and the use of written prayers, except the Lord's prayer, ought to be abolished. The baptism of Catholics is imperfect.8
   Does that sound like they rejected baptism? Not on your life it doesn't. The way they rebaptized people: unless you repented and were baptized for receiving God's Spirit, you never were baptized. "The baptism of Catholics is imperfect." If you are baptized by one of them, you have to be baptized over again.

Transplanted to Bulgaria

   The History of the Christian Church, by Fisher, adds:
   The chief religious controversy in the East about this time (seventh and eighth centuries) was that caused by the Paulicians. The origin and history of the movement is obscure. They called themselves Christians, simply; their name being apparently due to their reverence for Paul the Apostle rather than as is sometimes claimed, any regard for Paul of Samosata. The movement appears to have begun with Constantine Silvanus of Mananali near Samosata with its ancient heretical beliefs akin to and perhaps derived from the Marcionites and Gnostics. Though the Paulicians repudiated Manicheism, they were dualistic, holding that this world was the creation of an evil power while souls are from the kingdom of the good God. The Paulicians seem to have spread rapidly in the Eastern empire and seem to have taken strong root in Armenia. Persecuted by the orthodox, their military powers procured them considerable respect. Constantine V transplanted colonies of the Paulicians to the Balkans (peninsula) in 752 as a defense against Bulgarians, a process which was repeated on a larger scale by the emperor, John Tizimscus, in 969. [But you remember in 969 they were not transplanted to Thrace as they were in 752, but to Philippopolis.]
   When they were transplanted by Constantine V to the Balkan peninsula in 752, there they seemed to have given origin to the very similar Bogomils who in turn were to be influential to the development of the Cathari of southern France.
   So, notice who comes next after the Bogomils. He mentions the Paulicians seem to have given origin to the very similar Bogomils. The Bogomils in turn were influential in the development of the Cathari. Now don't use that word in an overall way, as he says the Cathari of southern France. "Driven to seek refuge among the Saracens, some sections of the Paulicians harassed the borders of the empire in the ninth century and even penetrated deeply into it with their military success."9

Two-Fold Trinity

   The Mosheim Ecclesiastical History has all these dissenters listed together by the various centuries. Listed under the History of Heresies in the twelfth century, we notice how many classes in the same group:
   Fanatics among the Greeks, the Bogomils; Sectarians among the Latins and the cause of them; Cathari two sects of them and their organization the Petrobrusians; the Henricians; disturbance of Arnold of Brecia; the Waldenses their history, their doctrine, and their opinions, constitution of their churches; minor sects, the Pasageni, Greeks and other Oriental Christians of this century had sharp contests with various sorts of fanatics who were represented as believing in a two-fold trinity.
   That's really crazy, isn't it? Not just one group, but various sorts of fanatics. Actually, the Henricians, the Arnoldists and the Albigenses all were in the twelfth century along with the Waldenses.
   The Greeks and other nations of the East were accustomed to designate all persons of this description by the odious names of Massalions, which were Euchites.

All Roman Adversaries Named Waldenses or Albigenses

   Notice this, from one of the most reliable historians, Mosheim, quote:
   The Greeks and other nations of the East were accustomed to designate all persons of this description by the odious names of Massalions, which were Euchites [just as the Latins denoted all adversaries of the Roman pontiffs as Waldenses or Albigenses].
   This name was applied to all who disliked public ceremonies, who censored the vices of the clergy who maintained that piety alone was necessary to man. From the class of persons, it is said the Bogomils originated, whose founder, one Basil, a monk, when he could not be reclaimed, was burned alive at Constantinople under the emperor, Alexius Comnenus. The emperor devised a singular method for detecting the opinions of this man which would do honour to the inquisition.

Betrayed by One of Twelve Apostles

   Mosheim is rather perturbed about this lying emperor and his tricks. He says some of the dirty tricks that were pulled in the inquisition this man's deeds would do honor to even some of them.
   Basil had, after the example of Christ, twelve of his followers as his apostles in order to propagate his doctrines. One of these, named Dibladuius, was arrested and he acknowledged that Basil was at the head of the sect. Basil was accordingly searched out and brought to the emperor who received him very flatteringly, admitted him to his table and called him his very dear father. Thus deceived, Basil disclosed to the emperor all the mysteries of his sect and the emperor caused the whole disclosure to be written down by a stenographer who was concealed in a chamber for the purpose. The emperor then laid aside the character of a learner and attempted to confute the opinions of the enthusiast. He defended himself vigorously and was not to be terrified by menaces of death. Upon this, the emperor commanded all Bogomils who persevered in their opinions, to be burned alive. Among these, Basil was one and was burned. This account was given to us by Anna Comnena in the passage referred to in the following note, daughter of the same emperor.
   Such things according to the Catholic Encyclopedia were referred to as clever. According to Blunt, the zeal of a reformer a man with zeal for converting. What has been handed down to us regarding this man Basil and his opinions is undoubtedly mixed with some falsehoods and false statements by the Greeks, concerning the beliefs of the Bogomils.

Satan's World

   "He maintained that the world and human bodies were not created by God." How were they? Is Castro's body created by God? Did God create Castro? No, this world created Castro. Satan was the one who created Castro. Of course, Castro's mother gave birth to him, but that isn't what is meant. That isn't creation. Everything you see around you in the world, and everything you see about humans isn't what God has created. God has taken hands off this world. This is Satan's world, and Satan is the god of this world (Rev. 12:9).


   Besides these larger sects which had numerous friends and advocates, many other smaller and obscure ones started up especially in Italy and France, but some of which have become extinct. In Italy and especially in Lombardi which was the principle seat of the heretics, a singular party spread itself among the people called Pasaginic or Pasagii, and was called the circumcised.
   I wonder why they called them that? Notice where they were, "In Lombardi, the home of the heretics." This was just mentioned as the home of the Waldenses, where they were called "insabotati." Were they Jewish Christian Sabbatarians or Sabbath keepers, too? We will find out why.
   Which in common with the other sects, was adverse to the Romish church and its regulations. It was also distinguished especially by two peculiarities of sentiment. First, they thought that the law of Moses ought to be observed under the New Testament.

Sabbath and Holy Days Kept

   That was one of the peculiarities of sentiment:
   First, they thought that the law of Moses ought to be observed under the New Testament with the exception of sacrifices and accordingly, they practiced circumcision and believed they should abstain from the meats prohibited by Moses. [Did they eat any meat? Only that meat which was not prohibited by Moses.] They observed the Sabbath of the Jews and the like. [This means the Feast Days.]
   Secondly, they corrupted the doctrine of three persons in the divine nature. [They were anti-trinitarian, they were Judaizers, they were called Pasagenic.]10

Church's Debt to Heretics?

   The Church's Debt to Heretics, by McFayden, relates:
   The Paulicians, unlike the Manicheans, were Christians, though they were very positively opposed to the Roman Catholic church. They show some affliction in ideas with the followers of the Manicheans and with the followers of Marcian, though they probably had an independent origin. [That is a very good point. They didn't derive from Mani or from Marcian; they are not to the extreme of the ideas that there is light and dark in the world, and that dark is Satan and that light is God and that the sun is God, or some of the dualistic extremes.] Some authorities suppose they were called Paulicians like the Marcionite church, because they exalted the position of St. Paul and his anti-legalistic attitude. It is, however, much more likely they are named from Paul of Samosata with whose views about the nature of Christ they were in sympathetic accord. [They didn't agree with him on everything.]

Over-Conservative and Old-Fashioned

   They appear to have emerged from the confusion of sects in the Byzantine Empire in the fifth century. [They didn't begin in the sixth or seventh century.]
   We have little information about them before the seventh century. They formed the blend of ideas drawn from the Marcions and Manicheans, the adoptionist heretics, and with all that, developed a temper hostile to the church. Instead of being innovators, as used to be supposed, they were on the contrary, over-conservative and old-fashioned. They were entrenched in a world outlook that belonged to the early period of Christian thought as it was in their isolated regions and when at a later time they came in contact with the developed church, they set themselves against its innovations. They were opposed to the worship of the virgin Mary, also to the worship of saints and images. They insisted upon adult baptism. [The Bogomils descended from the Paulicians, so do you think they didn't baptize at all?]
   The Paulicians insisted upon adult baptism as against the baptism of infants. They put the authority of scripture above the authority of the church.

Dress and Title of Clergy

   They rejected the Roman Catholic priesthood and hierarchy and attacked monastic life. They rejected the distinction in garb between the clergy and the laity. And they used simple, natural titles for their spiritual leaders. [They had spiritual leaders. They weren't Jehovah's Witnesses, where everybody is a teacher.]

Old Faith vs. New Ritual

   They revealed the inevitable antagonism felt by an older and simpler form of faith toward a developed, dogmatic and ritualistic system.
   Their early stages of history are obscure. They probably lived apart from the great currents of life and movement, hidden away beyond the Torris Mountains in southeastern Armenia, where their heresy attracted little attention. But early in the ninth century, large movements of these Paulicians, probably at least 100,000, were transported from their retreats in Armenia into Thrace [Remember where we ran across that in the Bogomils? They started in Thrace, they were moved up on into Armenia, and then on up into Bulgaria] to form a buffer along the Danube. By thus using them as a defense against invisible foes, the Christian world gave them an opportunity to spread invisible forces over Europe.

The Key of Truth

   F. C. Conybeare provides us an invaluable translation of a manual of the Paulician church in Armenia called the Key of Truth, written about 800. Notice it was written at the end of the time when they were the true church. Anything you read about them after 800 doesn't come from their own statement or creed, their Key of Truth. Realize they don't call it the "Apostles' Creed" or the "Creed of the true church" or the "Key of our Creed." Notice what they call it the Key of Truth. They don't say, "The Key of Sabbath Truth" or the "Key of the Advent Sabbath Truth" or the "Key of the Fourteen Truths" of the true church. The truth is singular.
   The Key of Truth has supplied us with much new material about this mysterious sect. In his extensive introduction, Conybeare has made an important contribution to the views and practices of these heretics. He has brought out very emphatically the adoptionist character of the Paulician faith. They hope that Jesus was born as a man, although he was, they believed, a new creation. At his baptism, when he had fulfilled all righteousness, he was anointed the Messiah by the Holy Spirit and was chosen to be God's only and well beloved Son. He was thus not God, but a newly created Adam and the beginning of a new spiritual race. [Is that so? The Bible calls Him the second Adam, the beginner of our faith, the forerunner, the firstborn of many brethren.]

Deny Infant Baptism

   They considered Christ's baptism to be the true form of baptism for all his followers, and they denied the legitimacy of the baptism of infants. [Even the writer admits that the baptism of infants is not after Christ's baptismal example.]
   Their church they called the holy universal and apostolic church. [Notice, that isn't the name of the church. That is the way they described their church as the holy, not a holy.]
   It consisted for them of persons who had received baptism in faith, and who professed unbroken the apostolic traditions.

No Trinity

   They believed that the Holy Spirit entered the Christian at the moment of his baptism and by this act, he became a Christian, that is his measure of a Christ. [That's really blasphemy, isn't it? Become a Christ or God!]
   They regarded the word trinity as unscriptural. [Really a lot of weird doctrines among these Paulicians.] They denied the reality of purgatory, they didn't believe in the intercession of saints for the dead, they condemned as idolatrous the use of pictures, images, crosses, incense and candles.
   They maintained that the Roman Catholic church had corrupted the rite of baptism. They themselves had a simple grade of ecclesiastics who were called the elect. Unlike the Manicheans, who used the same term, the Paulicians required that their elect persons should be married and should be fathers of families. The elect were recipients of the spirit, as Christ had been at Jordan. These views, or similar ones, were in evidence almost everywhere in Europe in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries. [I'll say they were among the Albigenses, the Petrobrusians, the Arnoldists, the Waldenses, the Bogomils and the Pasaginians.]

Varied Names of Paulicians

   And we shall see that many forms and types of anti-church movements came into operation, often with sudden and surprising potency during the middle ages. The Paulicians appear in church documents under a variety of names. They are often called Publicani and by this latter name they were condemned in 1179 in the third Lateran Council.
   Notice, these weren't real Paulicians. They were members of the true Paulician church who had come into another area. They were given a different name there, yet they carried the truth of God into other areas under the name Publicani.
   They were condemned as Paulicians in the Council of Oxford in 1160. The Chronicle of Gunielmus, reporting their condemnation, says, "They took their rise in Gasconi from some unknown author and have multiplied like the sand of the sea in France, Spain, Italy and Germany."
   I'll say they did. Under Carlstadt in Germany, under Peter Waldo in Italy, under the Pasaginians in Italy, under the Albigenses in Spain, and the Henricians and the Petrobrusians in Italy and France.

Bogomils from Paulicians

   Another branch [notice what he says, just another branch] of this great tree of heresy was the sect of the Bogomils. They were in reality only a Bulgarian variety of the general far-flung dualistic anti-Christian or church movement and they constituted a kind of bridge between the far Eastern and the distinctive far Western heretical sects. They were the result of a missionary enterprise on the part of the Paulicians in the Tarus who effectively invaded the Bulgarians with their message in the ninth century.
   Notice that! It plainly states that God caused the Paulicians to write their Key of Truth in 800 A.D., and immediately after that, in the ninth century, the Paulicians took the truth into Bulgaria and were named Bogomils!
   The Bogomils are more obviously dualistic than the Paulicians appear to be in the Key of Truth, but the former sect, Bogomils, shows quite conclusively that the entire movement, all its varying principles and ramifications, go back to the dualistic roots, and they all come from the same root. [This historian recognizes that! He happens to be tracing the true church, yet he thinks he is tracing heresies or false churches.]
   The same movement [Bogomil] in the East was called in Cyriac, "Massaliani." It would appear that out of these Balkan states, there emerged not only wars that have desolated Europe, but heresies that have undermined whole regions of the Roman Catholic scene. [That's fine! That's great! He noticed it came out of the Balkan states.]

Water Baptism

   Once more we find strong adoptionist tendencies, opposition to the worship of Mary, and the disapproval of the use of images, relics and the crucifix. The Bogomils regarded the baptism of the Roman Catholics as that of John of Jordan as that of water and not of the spirit. Those who took it, as those who took John's baptism, were Pharisees.11
   Now you finally find explained what we have read. Did they reject baptism? No, they didn't! They held that Catholic baptism was no good that it was invalid. Why did they? Because the Bogomils regarded the baptism of the Catholic church as like that of John of Jordan, the baptism of water and not of the spirit.

Mass Sacrifice to Demons

   The mass, too, was considered a sacrifice to demons and not a spiritual service. They didn't mince words, did they? The mass was a sacrifice to demons. If you read 1 Cor. 11, doesn't it say that you can't eat at the Lord's table and at the table of demons? What does that mean? It is talking about communion, mass, or the Lord's supper. Rev. 2 warned Pergamos about eating at the table of idols. Remember that?

Apostles' Spiritual Successors

   Their own elect were, they believed, true spiritual successors of the apostles. Were these people ever out-spoken! They believed their own ministers were the true spiritual successors of the apostles.
   Witnesses for Christ, by Backhouse and Tyler, relates their transplanting:
   Meanwhile, in the eighth century, a numerous body of this people [the Paulicians] had been transported into Thrace and Bulgaria by the Emperor Constantine Comprinymus. [That's where the Bogomils originated and the Paulicians were transplanted.]

Paulicians Become Militarists

   The Paulicians were by no means free from errors, if we may trust in the evidence which has come down to us.
   It is justly so that we should reject their claim as the true witnesses for Christ in the latter stages of their history when they had become a military power. [What about before they became a military power?]
   But with all their errors and faults, the Paulicians wrought good work in the midst of a corrupt church, leading a Godly life and on many and most important doctrines, pointed men to the first principles of the gospels. Thus the Paulicians maintained that the multiplication of external rites being added in the church had imperiled the true life of religion. [The same external rites are imperiling the true life of religion today as well.]
   They contended against dependence upon the magical effect of the sacraments, the use of which indeed, they entirely disregarded. They despised the wood of the cross, then an object of universal adoration. [And believe it or not, the corrupted church claimed they had come up with splinters of the original cross on which Christ was crucified, and sold them to people.]

No Ascetic Spirit

   They protested against the worship of the virgin Mary. Although their doctrines fostered the practices of strict morality, no trace is to be found of the ascetic spirit. [That certainly refutes some previous false claims!]
   On the contrary, they treated the church fasts with contempt.

Bogomils from Paulicians

   They had amongst them, rulers and church officers, but these were not distinguished by dress or badge any more than by a supposed peculiar holiness. Out of the Paulicians and a kindred sect called the Euchites arose the Bogomils. [There is the plain truth! Out of the Paulicians and out of the kindred sect, arose the Bogomils.]
   In whom a clearer insight into spiritual truth than that of the church around them was marred by some of the other fancies. Their doctrine spread from Thrace and Bulgaria to the Slavonian country of Boznia which thus in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries became the seat of a numerous Protestant church.12

The Cross or Prison

   Church History, by Kurtz, relates concerning the Bogomils:
   A sect in Bulgaria in the twelfth century.
   The sect attached great importance to fasting, but they rejected the prescribed fasts on set days as listed by the church. At the commencement of the eleventh century, the Euchites attracted the attention of the government. But a century afterwards, the same tenets were again broached by the Bogomils, only more fully developed, and assuming the form of more true opposition to the Catholic church, the Emperor Alexius Comnenus gave the Bogomils the following choice: two stakes were lighted, the one to which a cross was affixed. The emperor now intreated them to now at least die as Christians and as a sign of it, to choose the stake to which the cross had been affixed. Those who complied were pardoned. The others were condemned to prison for life.13
   Notice once again the same thing we read about the Paulicians, Waldenses and Albigenses if you will bow down before this cross, then we will pardon you. We know then that you are no longer a heretic. You think the cross wasn't important to them? A lot of people lost their lives because they wouldn't bow down before it.
   We gather from a Manual of Church History, by Funk:
   The Bogomils make their first appearance in the tenth century. At the beginning of the twelfth century, their increase caused some anxiety at Constantinople and the Emperor Alexius Comnenus ordered their leader, the physician, Basil, to be burned and his followers to be imprisoned. In spite of these measures, the sect continued.

Associated with Catholics

   Worship given to images was reckoned idolatry and the churches of the Catholic were looked upon as places of evil spirits. In spite of this, the Bogomils had no scruples in taking part in Catholic worship and justified themselves by appealing to Matthew 23:3. "All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do [to which they have added the word "outwardly"].14
   See what it says in Revelation 2. Didn't God say these Bogomils also partook of the table of idols and they had the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes?

Syrian and Slavonic Counterparts

   The Encyclopedia Britannica mentions that the sect healed the sick and cast out devils and adds further:
   The word is a direct translation in Slavonic of Massaliani, a Syrian name of the sect corresponding to the Greek Euchites. The Bogomils are identified with the Massaliani in Slavonic documents of the thirteenth century.
   They are also known as Paulicians and Paulekini. 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 the opponents. The heretical literature has to a great extent either perished or been completely changed, but much has also survived in a modified written form or through oral tradition.
   Much may also be learnt from the doctrines of the numerous heretical sects which arose in Russia after the eleventh century. The Bogomils were without doubt the connecting link between the so-called heretical sects of the East and those of the West. [So you see, they are the stepping stone from the Paulicians in the East to the Albigenses, Waldenses and the Pasagini in the West no doubt about it.]
   They were, moreover, the most active agents in disseminating such teachings in Russia, and among all the nations of Europe. They may have found in some places a soil already prepared by more ancient tenets which had been preserved in spite of the persecution of the official church and handed down from the period of primitive Christianity.

Albigenses and Local Bogomils

   In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Bogomils were already known in the West as "Bulgari." [Notice that, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries they were already known in the West as Bulgari. So, they had left the East in the twelfth century.]
   In 1207, the Bulgarium heresy is mentioned. In 1223, the Albigenses are declared to be local Bogomils. [Notice that! This is 1223, and the Bogomils aren't the true church in the East. And in this case, the word is "Bougres," which is the spelling in French.]
   And at the same period, mention of the "Pope of the Albigenses who resided within the confines of Bulgaria" is made. [The head of their church, the human apostle and leader of the church of the Albigenses, resided in Bulgaria. It would be needless to ask, "I wonder if the Albigenses came from the Bogomils?" because the very "pope" of their church resided within the confines of Bulgaria.]
   The Cathars and Patarenes, the Waldenses, Anabaptists, and in Russia, the Strigolniki, Molokani and Jukhoborsti have all at different times been either identified with the Bogomils or closely connected with them. [Did you notice that they traced right down for you the next three of four stages of like believers: Patarenes, Waldenses, Anabaptists, and even gave you the name of three in Russian?]

Russian Sabbatarians

   These Paulicians' doctrines have survived in the great Russian sects and can be traced back to the teachings and practice of the Bogomils.

Healed the Sick

   Satan was the originator of the whole Orthodox community with its churches, vestments, ceremonies, sacraments and fasts, with its monks and priests. [Satan was the originator of all of the above.]
   This world being the work of Satan, the perfect must eschew any and every excess of its pleasure. But the Bogomils did not go as far as to recommend asceticism. They held the "Lord's Prayer" in high respect as the most potent weapon against Satan, and had a number of conjurations against "evil spirits."
   Each community had its own twelve "apostles." And, women could be raised to the rank of "elect." They could be among the deacons and physical workers which is another proof of the deaconesses. But a woman could never be raised to the rank of apostle.
   The Bogomils...were known as keen missionaries, travelling far and wide to propagate their doctrines. Healing the sick and conjuring the evil spirit, they traversed different countries and spread their literature along with some of the books of the Old Testament, deeply influencing the religious spirit of the nations and preparing them for the Reformation.

Trail to Southern Europe

   The Bogomil propaganda follows the mountain chains of Central Europe.
   Notice where they went right along the mountain chain in the Alps area, starting from the Balkans, the Carpathian and the Pyrenees. Where do all these take you? Italy, Spain, France and Germany.

Russian and Balkan Bogomils

   In 1004, scarcely fifteen years after the introduction of Christianity into Russia, we hear of a priest, Adrian, teaching the same doctrines as the Bogomils. He was imprisoned by Leontie, bishop of Kiev.
   In 1125, the church in the south of Russia had to combat another Heresiarch named Dmitri. The church in Bulgaria also tried to extirpate Bogomilism. The popes in Rome whilst leading the Crusade against the Albigenses did not forget their counterpart in the Balkans and recommended the annihilation of the heretics. Large numbers took refuge in Bosnia where they were known under the name of Patarenes, or Patareni.
   From Bosnia their influence extended into Italy [Piedmont]. [If you have ever read anything about the Waldenses, you have read about Piedmont.]
   The Hungarians undertook many crusades against the heretics in Bosnia, but towards the close of the fifteenth century the conquest of that country by the Turks put an end to their persecution. [But the church was already gone by then long before.]
   It is alleged that a large number of the Bosnian Patarenes, and especially the nobles, embraced Islam. Few or no remnants of Bogomilism have survived in Bosnia. The Ritual in Slavonic, written by the Bosnian Radoslavov and published in Vol. XV of the Starine of the South Slavonic Academy at Agram, shows great resemblance to the Cathar ritual published by Cunitz, 1853.
   Under Turkish rule, the Bogomils lived unmolested at Pavlikeni in their ancient stronghold near Philippoplis, and farther northward.
   In 1650, the Roman Catholic Church gathered them into its fold. No less than fourteen villages near Nicopolis embraced Catholicism, and a colony of Pavlikeni in the village of Cioplea near Bucharest followed the example of their brethren across the Danube.15

Pasagian Judaizers

   Another fringe group of the Paulician and Bogomils were the Pasagians. Blunt's Dictionary of Sects and Heresies relates:
   Pasagians: A sect of Judaizing [which everybody calls Sabbath keepers]; "Catharists" [which they called the Albigenses, Waldenses, Patarines and others.]
   Sect of Judaizing Catharists which appeared in Lombardi late in the twelfth or early thirteenth century. [No longer in Boznia in the Balkans, but by this time, it was in Lombardi, under the name Pasagians.]
   But which probably originated in the East [that's true, from the Paulicians], and took its name from the fact of the immigration and wandering life of those who composed it as they were Passegeri, meaning "birds of passage." [They were wanderers, nomads, strangers, pilgrims just passing through.]
   Either from habit or from fear of persecution, or they got their name from some association with the crusades for which Pasagian was an ordinary name. They observed the law of Moses (except as to sacrifices), circumcision, the Sabbath, distinction of clean and unclean foods all forming part of their system and hence, they were also called, "Circumcisi, circumcissi, circumsisi."
   The Pasagians appealed to the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments in support of their doctrines.

Paterini and Italian Paulicians

   They gave the chief authority for their history as Bonacursus, in the 1400's. From the same book, Paterini, an Italian name for the Paulicians, migrated from Bulgaria to Italy in the eleventh century.
   They are very plain. The group had gone to Italy where they didn't call them Paulicians, but Paterini. When some were removing off to Russia in the eleventh century, the chief body of the true church was moving over into the Western part of Europe into Italy, southern France and Spain.
   The name was used as a common designation of heretics in the twelfth and thirteenth century. [Do not, then, just assume everything you read about the Paterini applies to the one group of people in northern Italy.]
   It has been supposed by some that the opponents of the clergy were called Paterini on account of the popularity, and that these were generally infected with the Albigensian errors.
   The Paterines were among the sects condemned by the Council of Laterane in 1179.16
   So notice; these Paterini were generally infected with the Albigensian errors. That isn't so. They were the Albigenses, except that they were the Albigenses in northern Italy where the Italian name for them was Paterini; but they had the same views and doctrines as the Albigenses.

Pasaginian Judaizers

   We learn from the Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, by Brown, article "Pasaginians,"
   A denomination which arose in the twelfth century, called the circumcised. Mosheim says, "the meaning of the term Pasaginian is unknown, but they seem to have been a remnant of the Nazarenes." [He jumps a couple of stages, and traces the Pasaginians all the way back to the Nazarenes that's their ancestral lineage.]
   They seem to have been a remnant of the Nazarenes, and have distinguishing tenets:
   (1) that the observance of the law of Moses in everything except the offering of sacrifices was obligatory upon Christians.
   (2) that Christ was no more than the first and purest creature of God which was the doctrine of the semi- Arians.
   Isn't that about right, though? He is the firstborn of many brethren. Wasn't He the forerunner? Wasn't He the author and finisher of our faith? Wasn't He the one who set the example so that we can become Christians; so we can become members of that family? Wasn't He the first to become one of God's family? He certainly was.
   They had the utmost aversion to the dominion and discipline of the church of Rome.17


1. "Athingaini," Blunt's Dictionary of Sects and Heresies.

2. "Bogomils," Johnson's Universal Cyclopedia.

3. J. N. Larned, History for Ready Reference, (Springfield: C.A. Nichols, 1895), Vol.I, p. 286.

4. "Bogomils," Cyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, p. 117.

5. "Bogomils," Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol.II, p. 611-612.

6. "Bogomils," Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. I, p. 306.

7. "Bogomils," Dictionary of Sects and Heresies.

8. "Gogomili" or "Bogarmitae," Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, pp. 252- 253.

9. George Fisher, History of the Christian Church, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920).

10. John Von Mosheim, Institute of Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern, (New York: Harper and Bros., 1858), Vol.II, pp. 463-465, 477-478.

11. Rufus M. Jones, The Church's Debt to Heretics, John McFayden, ed., (New York: George H. Duran Co., n.d.) pp. 173-178.

12. Edward Backhouse, Witness for Christ, (London: Hamilton Adams & Co., 1885), Vol.II, pp. 263-266.

13. W. Robertson Nicoll, Kurtz Church History, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1844) p. 426.

14. F. X. Funk, A Manual of Church History, (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., n.d.), pp. 266-267.

15. "Bogomils," Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. III, IV, pp. 119-120.

16. "Bogomils," Blunt's Dictionary of Sects and Heresies.

17. "Pasaginians," Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, p. 908.

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Publication Date: 1973
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