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Socinianism(sōsĭ`nēənĭzəm), anti-Trinitarian religious movement organized in Poland in the 16th cent. by Faustus SocinusSocinus, Faustus
or Fausto Sozzini
, 1539–1604, Italian religious reformer, founder of Socinianism. Socinus left the Roman Catholic Church when, influenced by the writings of his uncle, Laelius Socinus, he came to deny the Trinity and other traditional doctrines.
..... Click the link for more information. . Antecedents of the movement were such Italian humanist reformers as Bernardino Ochino, Georgio Blandrata, and Laelius SocinusSocinus, Laelius
or Lelio Sozzini
, 1525–62, Italian religious reformer. After becoming interested in Protestantism, Socinus left Italy in 1544 for the Swiss cantons to escape the newly established Inquisition.
..... Click the link for more information. , who fled to Poland from persecution first in Italy and then in Calvinist Switzerland. Michael ServetusServetus, Michael
, 1511–53, Spanish theologian and physician. His name in Spanish was Miguel Serveto. In his early years he came in contact with some of the leading reformers in Germany and Switzerland—Johannes Oecolampadius, Martin Bucer, Wolfgang Fabricius Capito,
..... Click the link for more information. appears to have influenced their anti-Trinitarian views. Socinianist reformers organized (1556) the Minor Reformed Church of Poland and established Rakow as an intellectual center. Faustus went to Poland in 1579 and became the movement's leader and principal theologian. Socinianism represented an extreme attempt to reconcile Christianity with humanism. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity was rejected, the Scriptures were considered authoritative but were interpreted in the light of the new rationalism, and the sacraments were viewed as spiritual symbols. The Nicene and Athanasian creeds were rejected and Jesus was held to be only the human instrument of divine mercy and the Holy Spirit merely the activity of God. Under Faustus the movement became known as the Polish Brethren, and communities were formed in imitation of the early Christian church. Its members refused to hold serfs or to participate in war. Never strong, the movement dissolved (c.1638) in the face of severe Roman Catholic persecution. Some of its members settled in Holland and there played a part in liberalizing Reformed doctrine. Faustus's teachings were compiled by disciples as the Racovian Catechism (1605). Socinianism is sometimes called Old Unitarianism and, erroneously, Polish Arianism.