2021-03-25

UU Minute #33

Rakow, and the Racovian Catechism



The town of Rakow, Poland is 120 kilometers northeast of Krakow and 190 kilometers south of Warsaw. The antitrinitarian Polish Brethren, also known as the Minor Reformed Church – founded Rakow in 1569, 10 years before Fausto’s arrival in Poland.

Rakow was founded specifically to be a place of religious tolerance – illustrating once again the connection between critique of the Trinity and religious toleration. In 1602, the Socinian Racovian Academy was founded there, based on the ideas of Fausto Sozzini. Although Rakow, Poland today is a small village of 1200, in the 1630s, its population had grown to 15,000, with faculty, students, and businesses centering on the Academy, and the Minor Reformed Church’s Press.

Fausto Sozzini wrote prolifically, and both his books and his church spread.
“Much of Sozzini’s writings never appeared in print during his lifetime because of lack of funds. After his death, however, the Minor Church, determined to preserve his legacy, collected his writings, publishing those that had appeared only in manuscript and reprinting those that had been previously published. For the next quarter of a century, a steady flow of his books emanated from the church’s press at Rakow, some of them in German and Dutch translation” (Howe 75).
The best seller amidst Sozzini’s vast posthumous output was his Racovian Catechism, which first appeared in Polish in 1605, one year after his death.

The Racovian Catechism outlined Sozzini’s basic beliefs. Socinian Christology says that Christ did not exist in any way before being born from Mary. This distinguishes Socinian AntiTrinitarianism from Arian Antitrinitarianism, which said that, while Christ was not coeternal with the Father, Christ was the incarnation of the preexistent Logos – and so, in some abstract form, pre-existed his birth from Mary.


NEXT: Roots Intertwined with Mennonites

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