Socinianism refuted

Socinianism is a serious deviation from orthodoxy within Protestantism named after Fausto Sozzini (or Socinus, 1539-1604), a product of the radical skepticism of the Italian Renaissance. He denied the full deity of Christ, predestination, original sin, total inability (of man to convert himself), atonement by penal substitution and justification by faith alone. The “salvation” he retained was gained by works, similar to Roman Catholicism.

"The main office of Christ was prophetical. He taught a new law. Gave an example of a holy life. Taught the personality of God. And illustrated the doctrine of a future life by His own resurrection." (A.A.Hodge, summarizing the Socinian view).

What follows is a refutation of such a low view of Christ.

Christ is indeed a Prophet, but much more than a Prophet. It is erroneous to say that his main office is such. Rather Christ is to be confessed and believed upon as Prophet, Priest and King. Specifically the Son of God became incarnate to offer himself a propitiatory sacrifice to the Father. He takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He bore our sins in his body on the his stripes we are healed (1 Peter 2:24). He was made sin for us...that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21). He was made a curse for us, that we might inherit the promise and the gift of justification (Galatians 3). By his blood we have forgiveness (Colossians 1:14). This aspect of his mission is so crucial, that he himself said that he came not to be ministered unto but to minister and (as the fitting climax of his coming) to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Did he teach a new law? In a sense, yes, since by his coming the apex of God's revelation was reached. This it was fitting for him to say, "A new commandment I give unto you..." seeing how our relationship to God was to be interpreted in the light of his coming: he is the culmination and fulfilment of all that went before.

And yet, John says, "I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning....Again a new commandment I write unto you, which is true in him and in you; because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth." The true light is the new and latest revelation in Christ (Hebrews 1:1ff.).

Rather than teach a new law, Christ re-enforced and interpreted correctly the Law of Moses, in all its spiritual and abiding significance (Matthew 5), in all its depth and application to all men in all generations, as exemplified in his perfect obedience.

Christ gave an example of a holy life, but it would have been no help to us if he stopped there. It would have been our greater condemnation. "For if your righteousness does not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven." His active obedience is imputed to believers, and that is was really matters. Christ is our example, but no one can be saved by following his example.

Christ taught the personality of God, according to the Socinians. But God's personality is already very much evident in the Old Testament, in his communication with man, in his Tri-unity, in his Names and covenant, etc. Christ re-enforced this truth for he said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father," and just as he was a person, so must the Father be.

Socinians also teach the Christ illustrated the doctrine of a future life by his own resurrection. But the OT had already indicated a future life. Job said, "After worms destroy this body, in my flesh shall I see God." Isaiah. says, "The dead shall arise;" Daniel prophesied, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (12:2).

There was no need for Christ to resurrect just to teach us this truth. Rather he brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, and the gospel is woven in his death and resurrection. If he did not rise, we are still in our sins; our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15). He arose for our justification (Romans 4:24).

All these Socinian points contain an element of truth and yet they are so unbalanced and partial that in the end they teach error. One simply cannot stop where Socinianism stops. The Christian faith is so much richer.