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Socinianism

Christian doctrines taught by Lelio and Fausto Sozzini
Fausto Sozzin (Faustus Socinus)

Socinianism is a system of Christian doctrine named for Fausto Sozzini (Faustus Socinus), which developed during the 16th and 17th centuries by the Polish Brethren in the Minor Reformed Church of Poland and by the Unitarian Church of Transylvania. It is most famous for its Nontrinitarian Christology and contains a number of other unorthodox beliefs.

QuotesEdit

  • Against Socinians, Arians, and all other enemies of the truth, the surest defence will be found to be the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Would mankind take their faith from the holy scriptures, and not rest it upon the unstable foundation of human systems, and would no man presumptuously aim at being "wise beyond what is written," heresies would soon vanish away.
  • In the late 1690s, as a result of the increased prominence of... antitrinitarian views, the English minister Jonathan Edwards launched a sustained attack against John Locke's use of reason in scriptural interpretation and Socinianism. His was the first of many such attacks against the unitarian dissenters, who had yet to declare themselves outside the parameters of the Church. Edwards noted that it was "absolutely necessary, to make one Member of the Christian Church, to believe a Trinity in the Unity in the Godhead." As he noted in Socinianism Unmask'd, this idea was but the "One article of Christian Faith necessarily to be believ'd to make a man a Christian." Edward's ideas... were often adopted verbatim in the writings and sermons of American ministers. ...Edward's ideas went on to form the core of the American rejections of Socinian and unitarian beliefs.
    • J. D. Bowers, Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in America (2010)
  • Nathaniel Lardner, the author of Letter on the Logos, the work [that] Priestley credited with his own conversion from Arianism to Socinianism, had published anonymously to avoid retribution from both the civil authorities and private citizens—in vain as it turns out.
    • J. D. Bowers, Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in America (2010)
  • The Trinitarian believes in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, in essential union with the One living and true God; the Arian believes that the Son, and Spirit, are Creatures; while the Socinian... rejects the personality of the Spirit (except as identified with the Father,) the Pre-existence of Christ; the Atonement; Eternal punishment, (believing that all will be saved;) affirms the materiality, or sleep of the soul; denies the existence of Satan, and the reality of Hell; rejects the Incarnation, and the Fall; and asserts our Lord Jesus Christ to have been a mere man, the Son of Joseph and Mary.
  • Socinians denominate all who advocate the Divine Nature of Christ, "Idolaters;" and if Christ be only a man, they are such. We reply, The men who believe the conformation of our Earth to have resulted from fire, could never be called Neptunists, and the admission of the Newtonian system could not comport with the denial of gravitation; why therefore should those who degrade the Saviour, in rejecting his Divinity, by declaring him to be, a mere man, and who renounce almost all the peculiar features of our Holy Religion, retain the name of Christian? Let them call themselves, rather, by the term Mr. Belsham has chosen, Theophilanthropes, or any other name which describes what they are, rather than what they are not.
    • Joseph Cottle, Essays on Socinianism (1850)
  • Charles Hartshorne... informed me that my theological standpoint is Socinian. ...The main tenet of the Socinian heresy is that God is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. He learns and grows as the universe unfolds. ...I ...find it congenial, and consistent with scientific common sense. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. ...We are the chief inlets of God on this planet at the present stage... We may later grow with him as he grows, or we may be left behind. ...If we are left behind, it is an end. If we keep on growing, it is a beginning.
  • Both narrow-minded science and narrow-minded theology stand opposed to free will. ...The philosophical problem of chance and free will are closely related. The Socinian theology deals with both together. Free will is the coupling of a human mind to otherwise random processes inside the brain. God's will is the coupling of a universal mind to otherwise random processes in the world at large.
  • I will make the world believe that I never heard of such a man as Socinus: and if they tell me that I speak his very language as perfectly as if I were a Native of Sienna, I'll face them down that I had it not by fingring of any Socinian Authors, but by a kind of Natural Revelation. Well, this cause must be carried on, and I can do it as well as any man by maintaining that there is but One Article of Christian Faith necessarily to be believ'd to make a man a Christian, necessarily to be believ'd in order to salvation. For if there be but One Point necessary to be believ'd, then the doctrines concerning the Trinity, concerning the Incarnation and Divinity of Christ, concerning his Satisfaction, &c. are rendred unnecessary as to the making us Christians. And this I will shove on under the colour of being serviceable to the bulk of Mankind, of being obliging and merciful to the Multitude and Rabble, and Poor People; though (to say the Truth) I shew my self to be so far from obliging the Multitude that I do them an infinite deal of Mischief. Yet if I compass my End, it is enough, and I care for no more. And my End is this, to hale in Socinianism after a new manner.
  • Eph. i.6. "Who hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Our being in him is the ground or our being accepted. So it is in those unions to which the Holy Ghost has thought fit to compare this. The union of the members of the body with the head, is the ground of their partaking of the life of the head; it is the union of the branches to the stock, which is the ground of their partaking of the sap and life of the stock; it is the relation of the wife to the husband, that is the ground of her joint interest in his estate; they are looked upon, in several respects, as one in law. So there is a legal union between Christ and true Christians; so that (as all except Socinians allow) one, in some respects, is accepted for the other by the Supreme Judge.
    • Jonathan Edwards, Justification By Faith Alone (1738)
  • Whatever the Causes have bin of this suddain Appearance of Socinianism, or whoever were the Authors that have secretly and in masquerade, abetted and encouraged it; much of which lies as yet in the dark; the pernicious effects of it have bin, and are, at this day too Visible. The minds of men... throughout the Nation being strangely corrupted; Infidelity and Scepticism universally prevailing. Some deriding all Religion, which they either laugh at as the effect of Folly and Superstition, or detest as a meer Cheat and Contrivance of some Cunning and designing men.
  • I all along intended... to observe a part of what is said by Dr. Clarke in his Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity; which I have now done. And I cannot forbear saying, that his interpretations of texts are generally false, arising, as from some other causes, so particularly, from an aversion to Sabellian or Socinian senses: some of which may be absurd, and unnatural. But I must prefer Grotius's interpretations upon the comparison, above Dr. Clarke's. So far as I am able to judge, Grotius explains texts better than the professed Socinians. The reason may be, that he had more learning, and particularly was better acquainted with the Jewish style. But I am apt to think, that their later writers have borrowed from him, and improved by him.
  • ...the church of England, when she baptizes any one, makes him not a Christian ...the church of England is mistaken, and makes none but socinians Christians.
    • John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity. (1695)
  • He [John Edwards] hopes to fright people from reading my book by crying out Socinianism, Socinianism! Whereas I challenge him again, to show one word of socinianism in it. ...Truly, I did not think myself so considerable, that the world need be troubled about me, whether I were a follower of Socinus, Arminius, Calvin, or any other leader of a sect among christians. A christian I am sure I am, because I believe "Jesus to be the Messiah," the King and Saviour promised and sent by God... and left upon record in the inspired writings of the apostles and evangelists in the New Testament; which I endeavoured to the utmost of my power... to understand in their true sense and meaning. To lead me into their true meaning, I know... no infallible guide, but the same Holy Spirit, from whom these writings at first came. If the unmasker knows any other infallible any interpreter of scripture, I desire him to direct me to him: until then I shall think it according to my master's rule, not to be called, nor to call any man on earth, Master. No man, I think, has a right to prescribe to me my faith, or magisterially to impose his interpretations or opinions on me: nor is it material to any one what mine are any farther than they carry their own evidence with them. If this, which I think makes me of no sect, entitles me to the name of a papist, or a socinian, because the unmasker thinks these the worst and most invidious he can give me: and labours to fix them on me for no other reason, but because I will not take him for my master on earth, and his system for my gospel: I shall leave him to recommend himself to the world by this skill, who, no doubt, will have reason to thank him for the rareness and subtilty of his discovery. For I think, I am the first man that ever was found to be at the same time a socinian, and a factor for Rome.
    • John Locke, A Second Vindication of The Reasonableness of Christianity, &c (1697)
  • Our justification before God is that we are regarded by God as just, or righteous.
    • Fausto Sozzini, "Altera synopsis" as quoted by John C. Godbey, "Fausto Sozzini and Justification," Continuity and Discontinuity in Church History (1979) ed. Frank Forrester Church, Timothy Francis George
  • It can now be sufficiently established... what is the cause and ground in man himself of that faith: namely, love, zeal of doing right and avoiding wrong.
    Now this love and zeal are able to be present already either before man heard anything of the commands given to him by God or before he was awakened through this hearing. But if neither occurs this faith of which we speak will never be able to exist in man.
    • Fausto Sozzini, "Theses de Causa et fundamento in ipso homine, ejus fidei in Deum, qua hominem justificari, Sacrae Lierae testantur," Socini Opera, as quoted by John C. Godbey, "Fausto Sozzini and Justification," Continuity and Discontinuity in Church History (1979) ed. Frank Forrester Church, Timothy Francis George
  • In order to examine ourselves thoroughly, let the case be proposed in the strongest manner. What, if I were to see a Papist, an Arian, a Socinian casting out devils? If I did, I could not forbid even him, without convicting myself of bigotry. Yea, if it could be supposed that I should see a Jew, a Deist, or a Turk, doing the same, were I to forbid him either directly or indirectly, I should be no better than a bigot still.
    • John Wesley, "A Caution against Bigotry," Sermon 38, Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)
  • We believe Christ to be the eternal, supreme God; and herein we are distinguished from the Socinians and Arians. But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.
    • John Wesley, "The Character of a Methodist" (1739), The Works of the Rev. John Wesley in Ten Volumes (1826), Volume IV, p. 407

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