Socinianism was a rationalist movement within Christianity leading in a Unitarian direction. It developed from the ideas of Lelio Sozzini (1525-1562) and his nephew Fausto (1539-1604). The followers of the Sozzinis, i.e. Socinians, hoped to restore primitive Christianity, rejecting the accretions of Rome. Scripture was subject to the analysis of reason, and while Jesus was accepted as the revelation of God, he was regarded only as a man.

The separation of Church and State was urged, along with a non-resistant attitude. Only those obeying the commands of Jesus would survive death, A basic statement of faith was drawn up in Fausto’s revision of the Catechism of Recov, i.e. the Recovian Catechism, and more generally in his De Jeso Christo Servatore (1578).

At this time persecution in Poland led to a widespread diffusion throughout Europe. The influence of Socinianism was seen in men such as Isaac NewtonJohn Locke, and among the Cambridge Platonists. A description of the movement is in Stephen Nye’s The History of Unitarianism, Commonly Called Socinianism (1687). A.G.H.


Bowker, John. ed. The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. New York. Oxford University Press. 1997. p. 909
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