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Socinus

 The Racovian Catechism

 Daniel Hames

  • Photo of: Daniel Hames Daniel Hames trained for ordination at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He has degrees in Theology and Ecclesiastical History, and is a Theology Network Associate Staff Worker for UCCF. View all resources by Daniel Hames

The Racovian Catechism is a statement of Unitarianism. It was drawn up by Valentin Schmalz and Johannes Völkel, two followers of Faustus Socinus, and published at Raków, in southern Poland in 1605.  Socinus had joined with followers of another heretic, Michael Servetus, and they formed the Minor Church.  Their distinctive heresy was nontrinitarianism: they believed that the doctrine of the Trinity was an invention of the devil.  The Catechism states that the only true God is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that Jesus is the human Son of God, and called 'God' only secondarily by virture of his bestowed authority to act for God.  It teaches that Jesus did not exist or act before his birth; his only pre-existence was as a plan in the mind of God- the word- later to take flesh at the incarnation.  As a result of this, there was fierce debate among the Socinians whether worship and prayer should be offered to Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is likewise seen not as a Person, but simply as the power of God.  To Socinus and his followers, the doctrine of the Trinity was a manifestation of the spirit of Antichrist.  The catechism demands footwashing during the celebration of the Lord's supper, promises eternal life in heaven (rather than in the new creation), and rejects subsititionary atonement.

You can read the full text of the Racovian Catechism at Google Books.