All attempts to have the heretical character of the Bosnian church, as it was considered by both Western and Eastern Church, resolved within the framework of the conception of F. Rački or his opponents, did not give the desired results. The organization, teaching and rituals of the Bosnian church imply that it was in all its manifest forms the immediate outgrowth of an older, unreformed anchorite monasticism spread outside the Byzantine sphere of influence as well, which, in Bosnia due to historical circumstances of the early 13th century was attacked by the Western church, rather than the resultant schematic of the perceived straight line branches of the Eastern Bogomilism or the Western Pataria, which in the first half of the 13th century, or somewhat earlier, gave the Bosnian monasticism, separated from its core, heretic structure and dualistic doctrine.
The direct connection of the Bosnian church with older anchorite monasticism, which was placed under the firmer control of the church in the rest of the South Slavic countries only at the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century, and through construction of churches and introduction of the monastic rules was as a whole adapted to organization of Byzantine cenobitic monasticism, is confirmed by hierarchical organization, internal organization and teaching of the Bosnian church, as we know it partially from the Latin and Dubrovnik, and partly from the local original historical sources originated in the bosom of the Bosnian church. Common for both types of sources is highlighting that the dominant power in the Bosnian church rested in the hands of those suspected of heresy whom, not by accident, Western and Dubrovnik sources call regulars (regulantes) or monks (monachos), while domestic ones name them as "regulars", "monks" "sacred" or "gods people," terms that were reserved in the Eastern Church only for monastic hermits.
Instead of dividing into perfect (perfectos), believers (credentes) and listeners (audientes), who represented different categories, in the Eastern Bogomilism and the Western Pataria, of a unified church organizations linked with common rituals, in the Bosnian church there was only a division along the line Christians - monks, who represented the "church of God" or "the church of Christ", and the "lay people", "worldly people" or "people of this age" who were outside the church and its organization.
This essential difference in the understanding of the "church of God" between the Bosnian Christians and the medieval dualists further accentuates, that on the one hand, the structure of the Bosnian church, whose hierarchical titles "the old man" and "guest" were taken from the East and hierarchy of the Eastern monasticism do not coincide with the hierarchical organization of the Pataria churches, which besides the bishop had the "older son", "the younger son" and the "deacon", and on the other, the internal organization of the Christians, whose fraternities were gathered under a common roof, lived in houses that domestic sources called hiže, Dubrovnik sources call houses of Christians and Pataria, while Western call monasteries or convents. It is therefore illusory to compare the houses of Bosnian Christians, which, as monasteries in the Eastern or convents in the Western church, enjoyed the right of asylum and were used as houses of trust, with the "houses of heretics", which in the West, according to the data of the Inquisition archives, were temporary shelters for members of the heretical hierarchy who secretly assembled their believers in them at night for a joint prayer gatherings.
The Bosnian Christians differed from the western Patari and eastern Bogomili not only by the understanding of the church, its organization and the hierarchical organization, but also by their theological teachings and religious rites. They held, for example, special respect for the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament and numbered them into “God people” while the medieval dualists despised and included them in the servants of Satan. Abraham, was for them, like he was for the mystics of the Eastern Church, symbol of heavenly hospitality while Moses and Elijah, the representatives of the Old Testament, were only, as "God people", worthy to witness the glory of the heavenly father. The Law of Moses, rejected by the Western Patari and seen as an invention of Satan, Bosnian Christians copied in their biblical books and gave it importance until the worlds end, opposing it to the "law of Christ" of the western Patari.
Instead of the John the Evangelist, whom the medieval dualists especially respected and, with Jesus and the Virgin Mary, saw as an angel of God, the Bosnian Christians, on one hand shown respect the "chief apostle Peter" as the "guest" of the church of God, and, on the other, "the universal teacher Paul ", whose life was transcribed from the records of the Eastern church and whose image they used to illustrated their biblical books.
Unlike the medieval dualists who rejected the temples of God, ridiculed the icons, the dead human bodies compared to the dead bodies of animals, despised graveyards and ignored prayers for the dead, the Bosnian Christians raised grave churches, but, like the hermit monks prayed to the heavenly father under the open sky. The symbol of the cross was drawn in their biblical books, the figures of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Old Testament prophets, the apostles and Christian saints, whose holidays were celebrated, illustrated their biblical books, they buried their dead and raised tombstones for them. They prayed for their dead, and turned to their dead as advocates before God, because they, like the teachings of some mystic monks, believed that Christians being "saint" and "God people" do not arrive at "the great tribunal" but after the death in eternal life cross, inhabiting, through the "Abraham's hospitality" the "heavenly Jerusalem."
The Bosnian Christians challenged the sacraments of the orthodox churches through their “ordination”, which, like the monks of the Eastern Church, they called "real" or "Christ's baptism," considering it as the only rite "which brings salvation." The negative attitude towards the sacramental inheritance of the orthodox churches the Bosnian Christians based on a partially redacted belief, taken from the practice of the Eastern monasticism, that every man, through monastic vows, that is “ordination”, can achieve, by allowing into his soul the “Holy Spirit” or the “spirit of the heavenly Father”, “godlikeness” and “holiness of the apostles” through “enlightenment by glory of the great God”, which opened the way towards heavenly Jerusalem to a man, even during his life within material form. Simplifying this fundamental teaching of monastic mysticism, which linked the possibility of "godlikeness" with special ascetic practice, the Bosnian Christians distanced themselves, on the one hand, from the official learning of the two great churches, who in turn condemned them, not without reason, as heretics, but on the other hand, from the practice of medieval dualists as well, who, by building their own anti-church, challenged the sacramental inheritance of great churches by their own sacraments of the same functional purpose, to which, in the spirit of dualistic teaching they gave other ritual content and another theological background. This is precisely the boundary line that separates the Bosnian Christians, regardless of some apparent similarities, from the theory and practice of medieval dualists.
The Bosnian krstjani, according to few records and inscriptions, believed only in the "one Almighty God", understood in the Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in "one Lord Jesus Christ", the son of "Holy Mother of God", the creator of "everything created" and "without wome nothing become what it become", and in "one holy and inseparable Trinity", which is completely contrary to the teachings of medieval dualists who disputed even "the omnipotence"of the God Father and the "divinity" of Jesus Christ, considering him an angel of God and lesser than God, and the "inseparability" of the Holy Trinity.
Accepting the mystical dualism of the Eastern church, Bosnian krstjani in a consistently implemented symmetry opposed to the "heavenly Father" the devil who did not the renegade Satan, as the elder son of God of the moderate dualists, or "the infallible Satan" as the evil god the extreme dualists saw, but only the "prince" And the "Lord of time”, "the devil tempting" human souls to evil and sin, the "disobedient to God " and "rival" in the struggle for the human souls; to the heavenly world, where high Jerusalem and home of "God people” is – “this world" where “wrongdoings rule”; to “angels who faithfully serve the Father of heaven” – "the angels who Satan seduced"; to "God people " who were worthy of "the mercy of God" by taking the “ordination” and through it accepting "the spirit of the heavenly Father" within their soul – to "the sons of the age" or "the turncoats whom brings into bare hideouts"; the "church of God" in this world, whose "host" is the "highest apostle Peter” – the "idol church" of the "prince of time" with the "icon", the elder of his church and the "codes", Catholic priests, who “forgive all sins man gives into thus loosing human souls. "
By rejecting the cosmic dualism of the two beginningless gods, the god of good and the god of evil, the god of light and the god of darkness, the Bosnian krstjani rejected the anthropological dualism of the soul and the body. For them, human souls are not "demons banished from the heavens", nor "the angels of God" whom Lucifer in mislead in heavens and imprisoned in material bodies, but "prey" of the body within which they sully themselves, like in the mud, but able to through "grace of God" purification from sin "accept" within themselves, “the spirit of the heavenly Father", and freed from the power of the "prince of ages" count themselves into the "God people", whose "home" in heaven is in heavenly Jerusalem.
All of this demonstrated that the organization, ritual and teaching of Bosnian krstjani can be understood only within the theological mysticism of the Eastern Church, which they accepted through the domestic monasticism, whose offshoot they were, and not within the medieval dualist heresies, whose teaching, organization and religious rituals, judging by the preserved original material created within the Bosnian church, they were not familiar with.
Source: Dragoljub Dragojlović, Krstjani and heretical Church of Bosnia, Belgrade 1987.
Prepared by: Boris Radaković