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The Polish Brethren

Edited by George Huntston Williams

The Proceedings of the Unitarian Historical Society

(vol. XVIII, Part 11, 1978 – 79, pp. 431-45)

George Huntston Williams

George Huntston Williams

George Williams (1914 -) was a long time church historian at Harvard Divinity School, now with emeritus status.

This is taken from Chapter 3 of the First Book of Ecclesiastical Polity explained by Peter Morzkowski, a minister, in 1646.

Since the Unitarian movement in Poland was destroyed over 300 years ago, no direct influence from it reaches into contemporary UU polity. But besides being of historic interest, the polity of the Polish Brethren suggests that despite our contemporary assumptions, Unitarians need not be restricted to any particular form of governance.

This section can also introduce the long continuing argument (and how it was advanced) about what polity is biblically correct. The idea (see Aphorism 2) was to return to the “cradle,” i.e. the primitive church’s way of governance. Note in Aphorism 4 that the form is Presbyterian, yet the next aphorism warns pastors not to claim for “himself any right over another”. Aphorism 12 ends with a warning to the Brethren “not to lay down the way to monarchy” in the church.

The following PDF is scanned from Raible’s compendium.

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Another version of the full text can be found here at the HathiTrust Digital Library by locating the archives of the Proceedings of the Unitarian Historical Society and specifying the volume listed above.

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