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date: 08 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay describes the version of Christianity set out by Faustus Socinus, including his critique of the Trinity and the atonement, and his understanding of Christian ethics. It shows how his theology was taken up and developed by later Socinians, and describes how the role of reason in Socinian theology changed. The challenges which Socinianism posed to mainstream theology, especially in a period when new philosophies were being explored, are outlined. From the middle of the seventeenth century, Arian and then Unitarian ideas were heard, but these then receded into the background in the eighteenth century. It is suggested that the anti-Trinitarians benefited from changing attitudes toward philosophy and human nature during the Enlightenment, but that the French Revolution ushered in a new era of conservatism and hostility toward Socinianism and Unitarianism, at least in Europe.

Keywords: Socinianism, Unitarianism, Atonement, Trinity, Reason, Faustus Socinus, Joseph Priestley

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