UU Minute #31

Sozzini and the Minor Reformed Church

This church in Secemin, Poland, 90 kilometers north of Krakow, is where, in 1556, Peter Gonesius issued Poland’s first challenge to Trinitarianism. Twenty-three years later, in 1579, Fausto Sozzini moved to Poland. He investigated the churches in the area. And he liked the antitrinitarian Minor Reformed Church best. They were the most liberal game in town.

They weren’t all that liberal though, then. They required that he be baptized as a condition of membership. So he never joined. He offered to be baptized
“on the condition that he first could state publicly that he believed baptism unnecessary and that he was participating simply for the sake of closer fellowship. His proposal was rejected, and repeated attempts to persuade him to change his mind all failed.” (Howe)
He worshiped with them, participated in their discussions, lent his administrative skills to the development of their organization, taught their students, trained their church leaders, defended them in correspondence and public debates. But he never actually joined.

When Sozzini first arrived
“the Minor Church at that time was in a state of disarray, with neither leadership nor doctrinal agreement. Perhaps forty congregations existed of varying sizes, composition, and emphases. Some were little more than chaplaincies on the estates of nobles; a few were sizable congregations in the larger towns and cities.” (Howe)
In his writing and his public speaking, Sozzini brought a coherence to the fledgling movement. We can admire two things about that church. It was tolerant, for its time. And under Sozzini’s influence, it came increasingly to emphasize Jesus’s life, rather than his death, as the model which can save us. This lead to an emphasis on social action, social compassion, and pacificism.

NEXT: Sozzini Feels the Love -- and the Hate

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