History Articles

These are full length articles on various topics of history that I have written over the years. They span several topics and include notes and further reading.

Antitrinitarians of the Reformation - From Michael Servetus to the Socinians

Portrait of Michael Servetus

Michael Servetus has the singular distinction of having been burned by the Catholics in effigy and by the Protestants in actuality. - Roland H. Bainton.

Has there ever been such a strange uniting of efforts by two powerful rivals of both Protestants and Catholics to expunge from amongst themselves someone they considered so repulsive? Probably so, but Michael Servetus was considered so diabolical that in the midst of the rupture between Rome and the Protestants, both were determined to stamp out this radical whose teachings they considered too dangerous for Christianity.

Servetus had crossed that boundary by rejecting two of the most fundamental teachings of orthodox Christianity. This was simply intolerable for the Churches and Servetus forfeited his life for his impiety. Yet Servetus did succeed. His influence survived. This article outlines his teachings and follows his contributions not so much on the course of the Reformation but on specific developments during that period. This was first and foremost an increasing tolerance for religious dissidents. And secondly, the emergence of antitrinitarianism and infant baptism as the “third way” that ultimately became the distinguishing feature of the radical Polish Brethren, otherwise known as the Socinians.

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William Tyndale – Independent Thinker in the Lollard Tradition

Portrait of Michael Servetus

“If God spare my life, ere many yeares I wyl cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture, than he doust.” - Tyndale (as quoted by John Foxe).

Tyndale's contribution to the development of the English Bible is well known. His Theology is less so and these series of articles are an attempt to define in general terms his particular form of Christianity. Tyndale's theology is here seen as influenced by several movements, the first being Lollardy, the second Humanism, the third Lutheranism, and the fourth his own study of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament. From these influences Tyndale developed a unique theology, for which he suffered a heretic's death, but who nevertheless became a forerunner of the Separatist tradition in English religious history.

To examine Tyndale's theology, this essay will consider the influences on his thought by Lollardy, Humanism, Lutheranism, and his own study.