top of page

De Moor V:19: The Socinians among the Anti-Trinitarians

Faustus Socinus

[The Socinians object in vain:] see HOORNBEECK’S Socinianismum confutatum, tome 1, book II, chapter V, section I, pages 386 and following, especially pages 414-419; SPANHEIM’S Elenchum Controversiarum, opera, tome 3, column 811, § 19; Catechesin Racovianam, de Cognitione Dei, chapter I, questions 21-24, page 32, on which place ARNOLDI, in his refutatione Catecheseos Racovianæ, § LXXIII, observes: “As many as the questions, so many are the errors. And in question 21 two palpable ones are discovered. One is in the question itself, in which the doctrine of the knowledge of the divine persons is reckoned among the doctrines useful only, but not among the doctrines absolutely necessary for salvation. The other is in the response, in which the author says: in the divine essence there is only one person. The second, question 22, in which it is supposed that the numerically one essence is not able to be communicated to many. The third error is committed in question 23, in the specification of one divine person only, He is that one God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The fourth, question 24, in the proof of that specification, through Scriptures alleged contrary to the mind of the Holy Spirit. Each of those errors is to be more thoroughly weighed and refuted:” upon which matter see ARNOLDI, refutatione Catecheseos Racovianæ, § LXXIII-CVII, pages 110-122, who shows on question 26 how the Socinians also blasphemously traduce the doctrine of the Trinity, § CIX, page 123. The πρῶτον ψεῦδος, fundamental error, of the Socinians is, that they evaluate this Mystery according to the Ideas of finite things: also as if our doctrine concerning the Trinity had its rise from the School of Simon Magus or Sabellius.

Emo Vriemoet

[Who today especially follow the footsteps of the Jews and ancient Anti-Trinitarians.] See our AUTHOR’S Orationem IV, after Exercitationes Miscellaneas, pages 463-466, 469, 470; SPANHEIM’S Elenchum Controversiarum cum Judæis, column 956, § 7; STAPFER’S Theologicæ polemicæ, tome 3, chapter XI, section I, § 279-283, pages 179-184; VRIEMOET’S Adnotationes ad Dicta classica Veteris Testamenti, tome I, chapter IV, pages 166, 167, speaking in this manner concerning modern Jews as enemies of the Trinity: “But with what arguments the Jews assail this most holy Mystery, and with what jeers principally they impiously abuse it, it is not necessary that I should multiply words, after others have so thoroughly treated the matter. Let a sufficiently memorable example suffice, whereby they show, what impudent audacity sometimes tempts, under the very eyes of exceedingly merciful noblemen, as it were, where it hopes to be concealed. Namely, it is read in the Jewish Liturgy, Seder Arbah Tehanijoth, published anew in 1716 of the Christian era at Amsterdam by Salomon Props, folio 54.2 (just as no less in any former edition that I have seen), with complaints concerning the calamities of the Jews people, as a poor dove abandoned by God, prefaced, accompanied by a prayer for the obtaining of greatly desired liberation: יועצים עליה עצות היא אנושה צרים העובדים אלילים שלשה אב בין ורוח כי אין להם בושה גדול מכאובי, Plans are adopted against it, while it is afflicted, by foreigners, worshippers of three godlings, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit; for they have no shame. Great is my sorrow! Whether these things ought to be borne by Christians, to whom due honor and reverence of the highest Deity is agreeable, let others judge.

“That vestiges of a sounder doctrine are found among the more ancient Jews, in their diverse writings that survive, the learned have long shown. Among whom are, besides Galatinus and Raymundus Martinus, Rittangel,[1] Pierre Allix,[2] Josua Arnd,[3] Johannes Meier, a philologist and theologian of Harderwijk,[4] Andreas Norrelius,[5] in his Phosphoro fidei e libro Zohar; and most recently Gottfried Christoph Sommerus, in his Specimine Theologiæ Zoharicæ. Nevertheless, it is to be admitted that, just as for the conviction of modern Jews those are able to have no other use, than that, with prejudices posited, they might more studiously turn their attention to the arguments that we set forth from the Sacred Codex itself, so those are to be employed against them only with a certain circumspection, concerning which a learned man, Justus Martin Glæsenerus[6] recently taught some things with prudence, in Parergis Gottingensibus, tome I, book III, Dissertation XI.”

The Mohammedans also deny the Trinity, as also the Saracens before them, believing in one God: see SPANHEIM’S Historiam Ecclesiasticam, Century VII, chapter VII, columns 1210, 1211. The Objections of the Mohammedans, partly striking upon scholastic expositions of the Mystery of the Trinity, partly upon the matter itself, which the have in common with other Anti-Trinitarians, HOORNBEECK reviews, and produces an argument for the Trinity from their own principles, Summa Controversiarum, book III, pages 134-137. VRIEMOET, in Adnotationibus ad Dicta classica Veteris Testamenti, tome I, chapter IV, page 165: “The Mohammedans are enemies to the most sacred doctrine of the Trinity. What things they oppose to us, see in Maraccius,[7]Prodromo ad Refutationem Alcorani, P. III, chapter 5 and following. They follow hard after the footsteps of their false prophet, who takes up this matter against the Christians so many times in his Quran, that Servetus, while he was living in Africa, chiefly drew his error from it, with Lubieniecki[8] himself as witness in his Historia Reformationis Polonicæ, book II, chapter V, in the celebrated Gerdesius’ work, in his Dutch Dissertationibus most recently published concerning today’s controversies, page 73.”

Johannes Hoornbeeck

Among Christians of the more recent age the Trinity is also verily denied by those that represent to themselves Three Essences numerically diverse and mutually subordinated to one another in God; of which sort SPANHEIM among the Remonstrants reckons Episcopius and Curcellæus, Elencho Controversiarum, column 861, § 11; compare HOORNBEECK, Socinianismo confutato, tome 2, book I, chapter I, section I, pages 68-70; and what things I have already related above on Chapter IV, § 23, Chapter V, § 5. Thus certain Anabaptists affirm that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three Essences, or substances, distinct and unequal; so that the Unity that is predicated of them ought only to be understood of their Unity of will, agreement, doctrine, operation, Dominion: from which error, nevertheless, the Mennonites of Waterland free themselves, after Menno[9] himself, who profess that the same does not at all pertain to them: see SPANHEIM’S Elenchum Controversiarum, columns 779, 780, § 6, 7. Hence HERMAN SCHIJN does not consider the Mennonites to be joined with the Socinians in negative belief of the Trinity, Historia Mennonitarum,[10]Preface * * * 3, versa 4, compared with chapter VII, articles 2, 3, pages 173, 74; compare what things I related on Chapter IV, § 23.

Concerning this, whether the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are a single divine Essence, but distinguished in three persons? there was a dispute at the Frankenthal Colloquium,[11]articles V-VIII, pages 85-124; and it was at last concluded, page 123, that agreement on both sides obtained among those assembled on this article. ENGEL ARENTSOON VAN DOOREGEEST,[12] in his Epistola ad Spenhemium, pages 48-59, also acknowledges his agreement with us in this primary article of faith, following the various Confessiones of the Mennonites, and expresses detestation for Photinianism,[13] Arianism, and Sabellianism. That Menno’s doctrine of the Trinity was orthodox, in which he would stand firm with all his genuine disciples, DOUWE FEDDRIKS[14] asserts at length in his Mennonitisch Onderzoek, etc., preface, * 8 versa, * * 1, 3, and pages 10-13, 36-38, 40, 46-48, 93-96, 102-106, 108-112, 116, 200, 238-244; but at the same time he accuses Galenus,[15] as guilty of denying the true doctrine of the Trinity, since he holds the Father alone as the truly eternal God, assigns a beginning of existence to the Son, and judges it to be vain to dispute concerning the manner of the Pre-existence of Christ before His nativity from Mary; yet he himself appears to approach very closely to the Arians in the assertion concerning the Creation of the Son of God before the Mosaic beginnings, with the Son of God thus held to be a mere Creature, while he considers the Holy Spirit, with His true, divine Personality denied, as a Gift and Power of God, preface * 5, 8 versa, * * 1-3, and pages 17, 18, 30, 35, 38, 40-42, 48, 93, 102, 106, 107, 110-113, 241, 243, and appeals to Galen’s korte Grondstellingen, articles 14, 17, 28-30, 84. But however many followers Galen might obtain among those that call themselves Mennonites, they themselves would know better than I; but this creates no prejudice against genuine Mennonites: compare the reverend KULENKAMP’S[16]Animadversiones contra Epistolam Anonymi in Bibliotheca menstrua Belgica, m., October 1740, pages 499-534, and what things out of HERMAN SCHIJN are mentioned by DE STOPPELAAR in his Preface to chapter XVIII, van Stapfers wederleggende Godtgeleerdheid, § 5, pages 4, 5.

Hermann Deusing,[17] Jurisconsult, also denied the Trinity in his Revelatione Mysterii Sacræ Triados, 1690, explaining the Mystery of the Father begetting, the Son begotten, and Holy Spirit denominated from spiration, allegorically of a Generation typical and improper, whereby the Father took the Church as a wife, raised the Son from the dead, who by His Resurrection began to spirate, and to give life to sinners, etc.: see Judicium Ecclesiasticum laudatum, chapter II, § 12, pages 55, 56; SPANHEIM’S Elenchum Controversiarum, column 1007. The Author of the book, Philosophia Scripturæ Interpres, likewise denies this Mystery, as noted by SPANHEIM, Elencho Controversiarum, column 999. And also Hobbes in Leviathan, who believes that God is corporeal, and that Moses is the first Person of the Trinity, as the representative God, while the second person was the Son coming into the world, the third the Holy Spirit sanctifying the people: see SPANHEIM’S Elenchum Controversiarum, column 996. To all these add Pontinaus van Hattem,[18] who in explaining the Trinity follows Spinoza, whatever else his words might appear to indicate: see SPANDAW, bedekte Sponosist ontdekt,[19]preface **** versa, 3; likewise chapter VII, pages 106-118. It is also truly contended that the Deurhovists, in a tractate entitled Goed Kond Goed Zeeuws, pages 37-40, which has already been observed by us above, Chapter V, § 5. With all the others all Naturalists also deny the Mystery of the Trinity: see STAPFER’S Theologicæ Polemicæ, tome 2, chapter X, § 10.

That in various modes erroneas opinions concerning the doctrine of the Trinity have flourished among the English, Baxter, Clark, Thomas Burnet, Howe, Watts, you may learn from Phillip Doddrigge in his Lectionibus Academicis, part VII, reading CLXIII, tome 2, pages 406-410; to what extent he himself is holidng fast to sound words in this doctrine, or is deviating from the straight path, let the skilled reader judge from those things that precede, reading CLV-CLXI, pages 362-401.

[1] Johann Stephan Rittangel (1606-1652) was a German Lutheran Hebraist, serving as Professor of Oriental Languages at Konigsberg. He translated Rabbinic works into Latin, and wrote Veritatem religionis christianæ in articulis de Trinitate et Christo ex Scriptura, Rabbinis et Cabbala probata. [2] Pierre Allix (1641-1717) was a Huguenot pastor. With the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he was forced to flee to London, where he continued his ministry. He wrote The Judgement of the Ancient Jewish Church Against the Unitarians in the Controversy Upon the Holy Trinity and the Divinity of Our Blessed Saviour. [3] Josua Arnd (1626-1687) was a German Lutheran theologian and historian, serving as Professor of Logic at Rostock (1654-1656). He wrote Diatriba de mysterio trinitatis e scriptis Rabbinorum veterum pro orthodoxia contra Christomachos novantiquos. [4] Johannes Meier (1651-1725) was Professor of Theology and Oriental Languages at Harderwijk (1684-1725). [5] Andreas Norrelius (1679-1749) was a Swedish librarian and orientalist, serving as librarian at the Uppsala University. [6] Justus Martin Glæsener (1696-1750) was a German Lutheran churchman and theologian. He wrote Dissertatione de Trinitate Rabbinorum et Cabbalistarum non Christiana sed Mere Platonica. [7] Luigi Marracci (1612-1700) was an Italian Orientalists and Professor of Arabic at Rome. He published an edition of the Quran in Arabic and in Latin. [8] Stanislaw Lubieniecki (1623-1675) was a Polish Socinian theologian and historian. [9] Menno Simons (1496-1561), a former Roman Catholic priest, was an Anabaptist leader, and founder of the Mennonites. He was orthodox in his views on the doctrine of the Trinity. [10] Herman Schiyn (1662-1727) was a leader among the Zonist (conservative) Mennonites. He spent most of his adult life as an elder in the Zonist congregation in Amsterdam, but his enduring legacy is to be found in his historical works, setting forth the historical origins and doctrinal commitments of the Mennonites. When the Zonist congregation of Rotterdam merged with the Waterland congregation, resolving to admit all professing Christians, not just Mennonites, to communion, Schiyn set himself in opposition, writing Aenmerkingen op het formulier van benodiging. [11] Held with the Anabaptists in 1571. [12] Engel Arendszoon van Dooregeest (1645-1706) was a Mennonite minister and apologist. [13] Although the exact character of Photinus’ (died 376, Bishop of Sirmium [in modern Serbia]) beliefs are not clear, he appears to have in some way denied the full and proper Deity of Jesus Christ. [14] Douwe Feddriks (flourished around 1700) was a Dutch Mennonite minister. [15] Galenus Abrahamsz de Haan (1622-1706) practiced medicine and preached in Amsterdam. [16] Gerardus Kulenkamp (1700-1775) was a Dutch Reformed minister, serving in Amsterdam. He wrote polemical treatises against the Moravians and the Mennonites. [17] Hermann Deusing (1654-1722) was a Dutch theologian. He gave himself to an extreme, typological interpretation of the Scriptures, which led to an allegorization of the doctrine of the Trinity. Over time, Deusing appears to have receded from his heretical view. [18] Toward the end of the seventeenth century, Pontinaus van Hattem, a minister in Zealand, started a sect, similar to the Leenhovists in their Spinozistic fatalism. They also denied the reality of sin, and the atoning nature of Christ’s death. [19] Spandaw was a pastor of Oudelande. He was an opponent of Spinozism, and he accused Van Hattem of Spinozistic doctrine.

1 Comment

Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Apr 30, 2021
bottom of page