Chiesa Cristiana in Italia
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (June 2012)|
The Chiesa Cristiana in Italia ("Christian Church in Italy", acronym CCI) is a small biblical Unitarian group in Italy which separated from the Assemblies of God in the 1990s. The group considers itself inspired by the Christian doctrine of the early Church and by early Italian Unitarians such as Laelio Sozzini.
The Christian Church in Italy was founded by a group of Founding Brothers who prefer to call themselves Saints or followers of Christ. All believers of CCI seek perfectly to follow Jesus Christ’s footsteps in a process of continuous sanctification. The "Founding brothers" of Christian Church in Italy after 40 years have considered it necessary to split from the Assemblies of God in Italy for purely doctrinal reasons.
The doctrinal question, in fact, has forced CCI's Founders to carefully readdress its roots. Formerly associated with Assemblies of God in Italy, the Church was connected to what is known as the Pentecostal revival of 1900, now, being an Independent Organization on national territory, it relates to the experience of the oldest Biblical Unitarian movement of the 1500s.
The Founding Brothers of CCI, studying the Word of God and praying, have come to their own conclusion: "it is always right, for every Christian movement, to evaluate all tradition handed down from past generations in the light of the truth expressed in the Bible." In this context, the doctrine of the Trinity has been revalued and CCI came to the doctrinal truth that God is One and there are not three distinct Persons in the One God. On this point, however, the Christian Church in Italy chooses to have peaceful and ordered dialogue with other Christians without wanting to dogmatize as to their own experience of faith and theology.
Affinity with other Christian movements
The Christian Church in Italy has significant similarities with the Biblical Unitarian movement, although it maintains a cautious position on some doctrinal points. Wilbur wrote about this: "The religious movement whose history we are endeavoring to trace...became fully developed in thought and polity in only four countries, one after another, namely Poland, Transylvania, England and America. But in each of these it showed, along with certain individual characteristics, a general spirit, a common point of view, and a doctrinal pattern that tempt one to regard them as all outgrowths of a single movement which passed from one to another; for nothing could be more natural than to presume that these common features implied a common ancestry. Yet such is not the fact, for in each of these four lands the movement, instead of having originated elsewhere, and been translated only after attaining mature growth, appears to have sprung independently and directly from its own native roots, and to have been influenced by other and similar movements only after it had already developed an independent life and character of its own.". From the analysis of documents that you can find on the official site of the CCI, it is clear that the doctrinal position of this Christian confession of faith is therefore akin to the so-called Biblical Unitarian movement  and on the other hand, far from that of Unitarian Universalist Association who, although they have the same origin in 1500 AD, through the centuries, have suffered the influence of many non-biblical ideas (cf. Universalism).
The Christian Church in Italy believes that God is only One Person in direct contrast with the doctrine of the Trinity which defines God as Three coexisting Persons in one Substance (Essence), merged into one being. So CCI adheres to strict monotheism by believing that Jesus was a perfect and holy man, virginally begotten in Mary, the promised Christ, the Son of God and that, as the glorified man, now is at the right hand of God praying for the whole Church. The movement the Christian Church in Italy was inspired from, rejects other doctrines taught for centuries, including the soteriological doctrines of original sin and predestination. The CCI for its peculiarity has no common trait with other religious movements which exalt Jesus as the only true God, as for example the Oneness Pentecostalism, the United Pentecostal Church International and the True Jesus Church.
The Christian Church in Italy defines its doctrinal features as follows:
- "We believe that Jesus is the Lamb of God provided for the sin of mankind. The blood which he shed on the cross covers all sin, when repented, past and present. Jesus is the only way to God. Whoever does not accept the sacrifice of Christ, and Jesus Gospel preaching of the Kingdom (Mark 1:14, 15) does not have peace and communion with God, and thus does not have eternal life. All those who accept Jesus as the Christ, as the only ' Redeemer ', and live out a holy life, devoting themselves to God, just as Jesus did on Earth, will be eternally in the future Kingdom of God on earth ("new heavens and new Earth"). We believe that when a person accepts the forgiveness which God, lovingly, based on the work of Christ, he receives the Holy Spirit which will lead him in the paths of righteousness through a process of full consecration. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit we cannot do anything like the spirit of God and then God. Without this sanctification nobody will see the Lord. "
There are some more specified doctrinal points (with supporting verses from the Bible):
The following quotes are from their website------
- We believe and accept the entire Bible that in its original manuscripts are the inspired Word of God, the only infallible, authoritative rule of our faith and our conduct. We are also sure that no version of the Bible today is inherently reliable at 100% but that we must make, from time to time, an analysis of existing copies of the originals to locate the version that best translates a specific verse (II Tim 3:15-17; II Pt 1:21; Rom 1:16; I Te 2:13).
- We believe in the one true God, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, creator, all-wise and Lord of all things. (Eph. 4:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6; John 17:3).
- We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ (Heb. Messiah) and the Prophet longed for, our Savior, our high priest and also our brother who is heir of God and our coheirs (Deut 18:15-22; John 20:17).
- We believe in the sinless life of Jesus Christ in the miracles which God did through him in his vicarious death, as a "ransom for all" men, in his resurrection, in his Ascension to the right hand of the father, as the sole mediator in his personal and future return to Earth accompanied by the power and the glory of God to establish his reign (I Pt 2:22; II Co 5:21; Acts 2:22; I Pt 3:18; Rom. 1:4; I Co 15: 4; Acts 1:9-11, John 14:1-3; I Ti 2:5).
- We believe in the existence of Holy Angels. But a portion of these, fell into an irreversible destruction and corruption, under the direct action of Satan, a rebel angel. These will be with him eternally punished (Mt 25:41; Eph 6:11-12).
- We believe that only repentance and faith in Christ's propitiatory sacrifice (which opens the doors of eternal life so we can have free access to God), the only high priest, are essential for purification from sin for anyone who relies on God (Rom 3:22-25; Acts 2:38; I Pt 1:18, 19; Eph 2:8).
- We believe that regeneration (new birth) through the work of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential to salvation (John 3:3; I Pt 1:23; Tt 3:5).
- We pray to God to receive every good thing from him and we do it by the powerful and glorious name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:24-31; Mt 6:9-15).
- We believe in divine healing, according to the Holy Scriptures, through prayer, anointing of oil and the laying on of hands (Isaiah 53:4-5; Mt 8:16-17; TI Pt 2:24; Mk 16:17-18; James 5:14-16).
- We believe in the fullness of the holy spirit that manifests itself, according to the Scriptures, practically, with a lifetime of progressive sanctification, in obedience to the truth of Scripture, in the power of the preaching of "the Gospel of the Kingdom" to the world. The Spirit is promised to every believer (Acts 2:4; 2:42-46, 8:12-17; 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9; 19:2-6; Mark 16:20; John 16:13).
- We believe that the believer should always seek in prayer the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). We believe in the charisma of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians who, in the exercise of universal priesthood of believers, are for the edification, exhortation and comfort of the Christian community and, consequently, of human society (I Co 12:4-11; Ga 5:22; Heb 13:15; Rom 12:1).
- We believe the lists of charismas we find in the New Testament are only approximate and that the Holy Spirit will move the believers in the way God wants with any kind of charisma that brings edification. Everything must lead to edification, if it is a real gift from God.
- We believe the ministries given to the Church in light of the work accomplished by Christ on the cross, as a means of authoritative guidance, teaching, construction and service in the Christian community, refraining from any form or hierarchical structure (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:11-13; 5:23; Col 1:18).
- We believe in the future resurrection of the dead, the condemnation of reprobates and glorification of the redeemed, who persevered in the faith until the end (Acts 24:15; Mt 24:12,13; 25:46).
- We celebrate the baptism in water by immersion for those who have repented of their sins and who want to make profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, wishing to start a new journey under the guidance of the Spirit of God (Acts 2:38; 8:12).
- We celebrate the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion under the emblems of bread and wine, remembering the Lord's death and pointing to his return, administered to anyone who has been baptized according to the rules of the Gospel and lives a worthy and Holy life before God and society. We believe that the Lord's Supper should be celebrated as it was 2000 years ago: all the brothers gathered around a table at the end of the dinner, they broke the bread and drank the wine (I Co 11:23-29; Lu 22:19-20).
The function of worship
Each community associated with the Christian Church in Italy maintains administrative and organizational autonomy. In general, the CCI’s members worship God with:
- elevating hymns and spiritual songs to God,
- witnessing their faith publicly,
- telling what God has done in their lives,
- meditating together on the Bible.
The preaching of the word of God has an important place.
The conduct of each community is entrusted to a senior pastor who is assisted by a group of elders (pastors).
Administrative Affairs are managed by a Council of the Church chosen by the community itself.
The most glaring differences from the traditional Evangelical churches are:
- Absolute Monotheism believing that God is one ("hear, O Israel: the Lord (YHWH), our God is the only LORD (YHWH)." Deuteronomy 6: 4) and not a Triune God.
- The Lord's Supper is celebrated as the first believers did (in the 1st and 2nd century AD): having dinner together and, at the end of the meal, breaking bread and drinking wine.
- Women during the worship cover their heads with a veil.
- Each Member leads a life as holy as possible according to the pattern of Jesus Christ, believing to be a divine command becoming perfectly equal to Christ Jesus in all things.
- Opening respectful and loving to all Christians, whatever the confession and their doctrine.
- A very small body of doctrines and this, according to leaders of the CCI, to avoid restricting doctrines and dogmas on very minor points of the Bible which have generated over 2000 years of history many unjustified Division in the Christian part of the world.
Traditions and customs
The churches associated with the Christian Church in Italy do not observe:
- Pentecost (the feast in use by other Pentecostal churches),
- also, not believing in the veneration for Saints, don’t celebrate the Saint's days and other practices related to the cult of the dead.
- Infant baptism,
- First Communion and confirmation,
- Neither veneration or worship of the Saints,
- Cult of the dead,
- belief in purgatory and limbo
- Salvation for meritorious works.
- Tuggy, Dale, "Supplement to 'Trinity'", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Wilbur, Earl Morse (1925) (PDF), Our Unitarian Heritage, Berkeley, CA: Starr King School for the Ministry.
- Joseph Henry Allen, Our Liberal Movement in Theology (Boston, 1882)
- Joseph Henry Allen, Sequel to our Liberal Movement (Boston, 1897)
- Anthony F. Buzzard and Charles F. Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound (Lanham, Maryland, 1998) ISBN 1-57309-309-2.
- John White Chadwick, Old and New Unitarian Belief (Boston, 1894).
- George Willis Cooke, Unitarianism in America: a History of its Origin and Development (Boston, 1902).
- Patrick Navas, Divine Truth or Human Tradition: A Reconsideration of the Roman Catholic-Protestant Doctrine of the Trinity in Light of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (Bloomington, Indiana 2007). ISBN 1-4259-4832-4.
- Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism: Socinianism and Its Antecedents, Harvard University Press, 1945.
- Andrew M. Hill, 'The Unitarian Path', Lindsey Press (London 1994) ISBN 0-85319-046-1
- Charles A. Howe, 'For Faith and Freedom: A Short History of Unitarianism in Europe', Skinner House Books (Boston, 1997) ISBN 1-55896-359-6
- Smith, Matthew F (2005), "Unitarians", Christianity: The Complete Guide, London: Continuum, ISBN 0-8264-5937-4.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- "Siamo dei credenti cristiani meglio definiti biblicamente santi, che si riuniscono insieme in un locale di culto per adorare Dio e predicare il Vangelo di Cristo." www.chiesadifrosinone.it/Chi_Siamo.html
- Similarities with Pietism
- Alcune Domande
- "La Chiesa Cristiana che si riunisce a Frosinone ha circa 40 anni di storia. In tutti questi anni è sempre stata una chiesa associata alle Assemblee di Dio in Italia (ADI)" www.chiesadifrosinone.it/Chi_Siamo.html
- La Parola come fondamento
- "Come abbiamo già detto, tutta la Scrittura ci presenta un Cristo uomo...Il nostro obiettivo tuttavia non si esaurisce a questo, in quanto abbiamo il dovere di approfondire anche gli altri versetti che, negli anni, sono stati interpretati a favore della preesistenza di Cristo, della sua incarnazione, della sua divinità." www.chiesadifrosinone.it/Trinità.html
- "Che ne è della divinità di Cristo? Per rispondere a questa domanda desideriamo aprire delle discussioni accademiche su quei versi che vengono utilizzati dagli studiosi per testimoniare la veridicità della dottrina della divinità di Cristo e della Trinità." www.chiesadifrosinone.it/Trinità.html
- Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952), p. 166.
- Chiesa Cristiana di Frosinone, Una delle Chiese o gruppi associati alla CCI.
- Chiesa Cristiana in Italia
- Polish Brethren
- as Atlanta Bible College and The Worldwide Scattered Brethren Network
- Knight, Kevin, ed.,"The dogma of the Trinity", Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent.
- Chi è Gesù?
- Miano, David (2003), An Explanation of Unitarian Christianity, AUC, p. 15.
- J. Gordon Melton Encyclopedia of Protestantism 2005 p543 "Unitarianism - The word unitarian [italics] means one who believes in the oneness of God; historically it refers to those in the Christian community who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity (one God expressed in three persons). Non-Trinitarian Protestant churches emerged in the 16th century in ITALY, POLAND, and TRANSYLVANIA."
- Joseph Priestley, one of the founders of the Unitarian movement, defined Unitarianism as the belief of primitive Christianity before later corruptions set in. Among these corruptions, he included not only the doctrine of the Trinity, but also various other orthodox doctrines and usages (Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism, Harvard University Press 1952, pp. 302-303).
- From The Catechism of the Hungarian Unitarian Church in Transylvanian Romania: "Unitarians do not teach original sin. We do not believe that through the sin of the first human couple we all became corrupted. It would contradict the love and justice of God to attribute to us the sin of others, because sin is one's own personal action" (Ferencz Jozsef, 20th ed., 1991. Translated from Hungarian by Gyorgy Andrasi, published in The Unitarian Universalist Christian, FALL/WINTER, 1994, Volume 49, Nos.3-4; VII:107).
- In his history of the Unitarians, David Robinson writes: "At their inception, both Unitarians and Universalists shared a common theological enemy: Calvinism." He explains that they "consistently attacked Calvinism on the related issues of original sin and election to salvation, doctrines that in their view undermined human moral exertion." (D. Robinson, The Unitarians and the Universalists, Greenwood Press, 1985, pp. 3, 17).
- Unitarianism Worship
- We are non-trinitarian (that is, we believe in one God, literally - The Father). We adhere to a solo scriptura standard of verifying truth (that is, we view the Bible as the sole standard for truth). And we insist on a consistent theology (that is, all our doctrinal beliefs hang together seamlessly and are consistent with Scripture from Genesis to Revelation). (http://www.nontrinitarian.com/index.php)
- Celebriamo la cena del Signore o Santa Cena, sotto le due specie del pane e del vino, rammemorando così la morte del Signore e annunziandone il ritorno, amministrata a chiunque sia stato battezzato secondo le regole dell’Evangelo e vive una vita degna e santa davanti a Dio e alla società. Crediamo che la Cena del Signore vada celebrata come si faceva 2000 anni fà: tutti i fratelli riuniti intorno a un tavolo, al termine della cena o durante, spezzano il pane e bevono il vino (I Co 11:23-29; Lu 22:19-20)www.chiesadifrosinone.it
- "be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1
- "9.WE BELIEVE...Sanctification Initially Occurs at Salvation and is not only a declaration that a believer is holy, but also a progressive lifelong process of separating from evil as believers continually draw closer to God and become more Christlike." http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Statement_of_Fundamental_Truths/sft_short.cfm
- "Ogni confessione di fede ha il suo ‘credo’ e sono proprio i ‘credi’ umani che stabiliscono le divisioni tra credenti. Noi, però, pensiamo che debba esserci un elemento unificatore...." www.chiesadiforsinone.it.
- having his roots in the evangelical tradition of Assemblies of God, some references about that could be read in Statement_of_Fundamental_Truths
- May, Samuel Joseph (1867) , What Do Unitarians Believe?, Albany: Weed, Parsons, and Co
- Henderson, AC (1886), What Do Unitarians Believe?
- Dewey, Orville (1873), The Unitarian Belief, Boston.
- Clarke, James Freeman (1924) , Manual of Unitarian Belief (20th ed.).
- Ellis, George H (1890), What Do Unitarians Believe About Jesus Christ?, Boston.
- Sunderland, Jabez T (1891), What Do Unitarians Believe?, New York: AUA.
The following are links to other organizations that are doctrinal and fraternal joined with the Christian Church in Italy. These should illustrate with more accuracy the background and roots of the Italian movement.