UU Minute #29

Antitrinitarianism in Poland: The Minor Reformed Church

As you’ll recall – 1517, the Protestant Reformation began. At first all the Protestant churches were called Reformed, as opposed to the unreformed Roman Catholic church. Then, within the Reformed Churches, a big fight arose over the communion – the Lord’s Supper. One side held that the body and blood of Christ are present in the bread and wine; the other side said the bread and wine are symbols of Christ’s body and blood. The first side, followers of Martin Luther, began calling themselves Lutheran. The other side, followers of John Calvin, kept the name Reformed.

In Poland, the first Reformed – i.e. Calvinist – Church service wasn’t until 1550, near Krakow. Within 15 years, the Reformed Church had itself schismed, and this schism was over the issue of the trinity. By 1565 the trinitarians in Poland refused any further association with the antitrinitarians, who formed their own association of congregations as the Minor Reformed Church.

The new Minor Reformed Church had its own divisions. They were divided about Baptism. For infants, or only for adults who can make a considered decision? While the Minor Reformed Church was antitrinitarian, and agreed that Christ was not God, some said Christ was a deity, subordinate to the Father, and existed prior to conception in Mary. Others, Unitarians, said Christ was not a deity, and did not exist prior to conception in Mary.

And here’s where something special happened. This Minor Reformed Church adopted a principle. Not a doctrine, but a principal that said freedom of conscience would be allowed. Once again, the people who rejected the trinity were the people who embraced toleration.

NEXT: Our Socinian Roots

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