UU Minute #27

Fausto in Transylvania

Fausto Sozzini, also known by the Latin form, Faustus Socinus: at age 38, in Basel, he finished “On Jesus Christ the Savior,” which argued that Jesus saved us not by dying, but because his example shows us how to live. Sozzini’s previous works had argued that
  • reason is an authority equal to scripture, that
  • Jesus was divine by office rather than by nature, that
  • the soul was not immortal, and that
  • scriptures were historical texts.
Meanwhile, in Transylvania, where Ferenc David, Giorgio Biandrata, and King John Sigismund had established Unitarianism, the fledgling religious movement was encountering setbacks. King John had died [in 1571], Biandrata faced charges of immorality, and David had gone a little too far when he took the position that prayers need not be addressed to Jesus – for which he faced imprisonment for “innovation” if he wouldn’t recant.

Biandrata’s charges of immorality left him with no influence with his erstwhile friend and colleague, David, but Sozzini’s works had come to Biandrata’s attention, so he called on the young Italian to come to Transylvania to see if some sense could be talked into David.

Fausto Sozzini went to Transylvania, via Kracow, and spent four and a half months in 1578 and into 1579 under David’s roof trying to convince David of the compromise position of saying that no matter who the prayer is addressed to, it is received by Christ as mediator, for transmission to the father.

But David’s position’s hardened, and from his pulpit he began denouncing the worship of Jesus. David was arrested, incarcerated at the Fortress of Deva, where the old man miserably perished in less than three months.

Fausto Sozzini left before David’s trial began. He went to Poland, where, as the father of Unitarianism there, his life would have its greatest impact.

NEXT: Poland Before Fausto

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