Unitarianism (from Latin unitas "unity, oneness", from unus "one") is a Christian theological movement named for its belief that the God in Christianity is one person, as opposed to the Trinity (tri- from Latin tres "three") which defines God as three persons in one being; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Unitarian Christians, therefore, believe that Jesus was inspired by God in his moral teachings, and he is a savior, but he was not a deity or God incarnate. Unitarianism does not constitute one single Christian denomination, but rather refers to a collection of both extant and extinct Christian groups, whether historically related to each other or not, which share a common theological concept of the oneness nature of God.
While the uncompromising theological monotheism at the heart of Christian Unitarianism distinguishes it from the major Christian denominations which subscribe to Trinitarian theology, Christian Unitarianism is analogous to the more austere monotheistic understandings of God in Judaism, and nearer to the concept of the oneness of God in Islam.
Unitarianism is also known for the rejection of several other Western Christian doctrines, including the doctrines of original sin, predestination, and the infallibility of the Bible. Unitarians in previous centuries accepted the doctrine of punishment in an eternal hell, but few do today.
Unitarianism might be considered a part of Protestantism, depending on one's stance or viewpoint, and some exclude it from that term due to its Nontrinitarian nature. Despite common origins during the Protestant Reformation, some scholars call it a part of Nontrinitarianism, while others consider it both Protestant and Nontrinitarian, seeing no contradiction between those two terms. None of the three views are universally accepted.
The Unitarian movement is tied to the more radical critiques of the Reformation. First organized in Eastern Europe during the Reformation, Unitarian communities have developed in Britain, South Africa, India, Canada, the United States, Jamaica, Nigeria, and Japan.
Unitarians began almost simultaneously in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and in Transylvania in the mid-16th century. Among the adherents were a significant number of Italians who took refuge in Poland. In the 17th Century, significant repression in Poland led many Unitarians to flee or be killed for their faith, notably Katarzyna Weiglowa. From the 16th to 18th Centuries, Unitarians in Britain often faced significant political persecution, including John Biddle, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Theophilus Lindsey. In England, the first Unitarian Church was established in 1774 on Essex Street, London, where today's British Unitarian headquarters are still located.
In the United States, different schools of Unitarian theology first spread in New England and the mid-Atlantic states. The first official acceptance of the Unitarian faith on the part of a congregation in America was by King's Chapel in Boston, from where James Freeman began teaching Unitarian doctrine in 1784, and was appointed rector and revised the prayer book according to Unitarian doctrines in 1786.
In India, three different schools of Unitarian thought influenced varying movements, including the Brahmo Samaj, the Unitarian Church of the Khasi Hills, and the Unitarian Christian Church of Chennai, in Madras, founded in 1795.
Unitarians place emphasis on the ultimate role of reason in interpreting sacred scriptures, and thus freedom of conscience and freedom of the pulpit are core values in the tradition. Reformation is an ongoing process, to be celebrated. Constant study and new experiences can lead to new insights for teachings and community practice. In varying contexts, Unitarians seek to affirm the use of reason in religion and freedom of conscience.
Unitarianism is a proper noun and follows the same English usage as other theologies that have developed within a religious movement (Calvinism, Anabaptism, Adventism, Wesleyanism, Lutheranism, etc.). The term existed shortly before it became the name of a religious movement, thus occasionally it is used as a common noun that would describe any understanding of Jesus Christ that denies the Trinity or which believes that God is only one person. In that case, it would be a nontrinitarian belief system not necessarily associated with the Unitarian religious movement. For example, the Unitarian movement has never accepted the Godhood of Jesus, and therefore does not include those nontrinitarian belief systems that do, such as Oneness Pentecostalism, United Pentecostal Church International and the True Jesus Church and the writings of Michael Servetus, and which maintain that Jesus is God as a single person. Although these groups are unitarians in the common sense, they are not in the proper sense. To avoid confusion, this article is about Unitarianism as a religious movement (proper noun). For the generic form of unitarianism (the Christology), see Nontrinitarianism. Recently some religious groups have adopted the 19th-century term biblical unitarianism to distinguish their theology from Unitarianism. These likewise have no direct relation to the Unitarian movement.
The term Unitarian is sometimes applied today to those who belong to a Unitarian church but do not hold a Unitarian theological belief. In the past, the vast majority of members of Unitarian churches were Unitarians also in theology. Over time, however, some Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists moved away from the traditional Christian roots of Unitarianism. For example, in the 1890s the American Unitarian Association began to allow non-Christian and non-theistic churches and individuals to be part of their fellowship. As a result, people who held no Unitarian belief began to be called Unitarians because they were members of churches that belonged to the American Unitarian Association. After several decades, the non-theistic members outnumbered the theological Unitarians. A similar, though proportionally much smaller, phenomenon has taken place in the Unitarian churches in the United Kingdom, Canada, and other countries, which remain more theistically based. Unitarian theology, therefore, is distinguishable from the belief system of modern Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist churches and fellowships. This article includes information about Unitarianism as a theology and about the development of theologically Unitarian churches. For a more specific discussion of Unitarianism as it evolved into a pluralistic liberal religious movement, see Unitarian Universalism (and its national groups the Unitarian Universalist Association in the United States, the Canadian Unitarian Council in Canada, the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches in the United Kingdom, and the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists).
Unitarianism, both as a theology and as a denominational family of churches, was defined and developed in Poland, Transylvania, England, Wales and the United States. Although common beliefs existed among Unitarians in each of these regions, they initially grew independently from each other. Only later did they influence one another and accumulate more similarities.
The Ecclesia minor or Minor Reformed Church of Poland, better known today as the Polish Brethren, was born as the result of a controversy that started on January 22, 1556, when Piotr of Goniądz (Peter Gonesius), a Polish student, spoke out against the doctrine of the Trinity during the general synod of the Reformed (Calvinist) churches of Poland held in the village of Secemin. After nine years of debate, in 1565, the anti-Trinitarians were excluded from the existing synod of the Polish Reformed Church (henceforth the Ecclesia maior) and they began to hold their own synods as the Ecclesia minor. Though frequently called "Arians" by those on the outside, the views of Fausto Sozzini (Faustus Socinus) became the standard in the church, and these doctrines were quite removed from Arianism. So important was Socinus to the formulation of their beliefs that those outside Poland usually referred to them as Socinians. The Polish Brethren were disbanded in 1658 by the Sejm (Polish Parliament). They were ordered to convert to Roman Catholicism or leave Poland. Most of them went to Transylvania or Holland, where they embraced the name "Unitarian." Between 1665 and 1668 a grandson of Socinus, Andrzej Wiszowaty Sr., published Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum quos Unitarios vocant (Library of the Polish Brethren who are called Unitarians 4 vols. 1665–69).
The Unitarian Church in Transylvania was first recognized by the Edict of Torda, issued by the Transylvanian Diet under Prince John II Sigismund Zápolya (January 1568), and was first led by Ferenc Dávid (a former Calvinist bishop, who had begun preaching the new doctrine in 1566). The term "Unitarian" first appeared as unitaria religio in a document of the Diet of Lécfalva, Transylvania, on 25 October 1600, though it was not widely used in Transylvania until 1638, when the formal recepta Unitaria Religio was published.
The word Unitarian had been circulating in private letters in England, in reference to imported copies of such publications as the Library of the Polish Brethren who are called Unitarians (1665). Henry Hedworth was the first to use the word "Unitarian" in print in English (1673), and the word first appears in a title in Stephen Nye's A brief history of the Unitarians, called also Socinians (1687). The movement gained popularity in England in the wake of the Enlightenment and began to become a formal denomination in 1774 when Theophilus Lindsey organised meetings with Joseph Priestley, founding the first avowedly Unitarian congregation in the country. This occurred at Essex Street Church in London.
The first official acceptance of the Unitarian faith on the part of a congregation in America was by King's Chapel in Boston, which settled James Freeman (1759–1835) in 1782, and revised the Prayer Book into a mild Unitarian liturgy in 1785. In 1800, Joseph Stevens Buckminster became minister of the Brattle Street Church in Boston, where his brilliant sermons, literary activities, and academic attention to the German "New Criticism" helped shape the subsequent growth of Unitarianism in New England. Unitarian Henry Ware (1764–1845) was appointed as the Hollis professor of divinity at Harvard College, in 1805. Harvard Divinity School then shifted from its conservative roots to teach Unitarian theology (see Harvard and Unitarianism). Buckminster's close associate William Ellery Channing (1780–1842) was settled over the Federal Street Church in Boston, 1803, and in a few years he became the leader of the Unitarian movement. A theological battle with the Congregational Churches resulted in the formation of the American Unitarian Association at Boston in 1825.
Unitarians believe that mainline Christianity does not adhere to strict monotheism, but that Unitarians do by maintaining that Jesus was a great man and a prophet of God, perhaps even a supernatural being, but not God himself. They believe Jesus did not claim to be God and that his teachings did not suggest the existence of a triune God. Unitarians believe in the moral authority but not necessarily the divinity of Jesus. Their theology is thus opposed to the trinitarian theology of other Christian denominations.
Unitarian Christology can be divided according to whether or not Jesus is believed to have had a pre-human existence. Both forms maintain that God is one being and one "person" and that Jesus is the (or a) Son of God, but generally not God himself.
In the early 19th century, Unitarian Robert Wallace identified three particular classes of Unitarian doctrines in history:
Unitarianism is considered a factor in the decline of classical deism because there were people who increasingly preferred to identify themselves as Unitarians rather than deists.
The Christology commonly called "Socinian" (after Fausto Sozzini, one of the founders of Unitarian theology) refers to the belief that Jesus Christ began his life when he was born as a human. In other words, the teaching that Jesus pre-existed his human body is rejected. There are various views ranging from the belief that Jesus was simply a human (psilanthropism) who, because of his greatness, was adopted by God as his Son (adoptionism) to the belief that Jesus literally became the son of God when he was conceived by the Holy Spirit (see Virgin birth of Jesus).
This Christology existed in some form or another prior to Sozzini. Theodotus of Byzantium, Artemon and Paul of Samosata denied the pre-existence of Christ. These ideas were continued by Marcellus of Ancyra and his pupil Photinus in the 4th century AD. In the Radical Reformation and Anabaptist movements of the 16th century this idea resurfaced with Sozzini's uncle, Lelio Sozzini. Having influenced the Polish Brethren to a formal declaration of this belief in the Racovian Catechism, Fausto Sozzini involuntarily ended up giving his name to this Christological position, which continued with English Unitarians such as John Biddle, Thomas Belsham, Theophilus Lindsey, Joseph Priestley, and James Martineau. In America, most of the early Unitarians were "Arian" in Christology (see below), but among those who held to a "Socinian" view was James Freeman.
Regarding the virgin birth of Jesus among those who denied the preexistence of Christ, some held to it and others did not. Its denial is sometimes ascribed to the Ebionites; however, Origen (Contra Celsum v.61) and Eusebius (HE iii.27) both indicate that some Ebionites did accept the virgin birth. On the other hand, Theodotus of Byzantium, Artemon, and Paul of Samosata all accepted the virgin birth. In the early days of Unitarianism, the stories of the virgin birth were accepted by most. There were a number of Unitarians who questioned the historical accuracy of the Bible, including Symon Budny, Jacob Palaeologus, Thomas Belsham, and Richard Wright, and this made them question the virgin birth story. Beginning in England and America in the 1830s, and manifesting itself primarily in Transcendentalist Unitarianism, which emerged from the German liberal theology associated primarily with Friedrich Schleiermacher, the psilanthropist view increased in popularity. Its proponents took an intellectual and humanistic approach to religion. They embraced evolutionary concepts, asserted the "inherent goodness of man", and abandoned the doctrine of biblical infallibility, rejecting most of the miraculous events in the Bible (including the virgin birth). Notable examples are James Martineau, Theodore Parker, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frederic Henry Hedge. Famous American Unitarian William Ellery Channing was a believer in the virgin birth until later in his life, after he had begun his association with the Transcendentalists.
The Christology commonly called "Arian" holds that Jesus, before his human life, existed as the Logos, a being created by God, who dwelt with God in heaven. There are many varieties of this form of Unitarianism, ranging from the belief that the Son was a divine spirit of the same nature as God before coming to earth, to the belief that he was an angel or other lesser spirit creature of a wholly different nature from God. Not all of these views necessarily were held by Arius, the namesake of this Christology. It is still Nontrinitarian because, according to this belief system, Jesus has always been beneath God, though higher than humans. Arian Christology was not a majority view among Unitarians in Poland, Transylvania or England. It was only with the advent of American Unitarianism that it gained a foothold in the Unitarian movement.
Among early Christian theologians who believed in a pre-existent Jesus who was subordinate to God the Father were Lucian of Antioch, Eusebius of Caesarea, Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Asterius the Sophist, Eunomius, and Ulfilas, as well as Felix, Bishop of Urgell. Proponents of this Christology also associate it (more controversially) with Justin Martyr and Hippolytus of Rome. Antitrinitarian Michael Servetus did not deny the pre-existence of Christ, so he may have believed in it. (In his "Treatise Concerning the Divine Trinity" Servetus taught that the Logos (Word) was the reflection of Christ, and "that reflection of Christ was 'the Word with God" that consisted of God Himself, shining brightly in heaven, "and it was God Himself" and that "the Word was the very essence of God or the manifestation of God's essence, and there was in God no other substance or hypostasis than His Word, in a bright cloud where God then seemed to subsist. And in that very spot the face and personality of Christ shone bright.") Isaac Newton had Arian beliefs as well. Famous 19th-century Arian Unitarians include Andrews Norton and Dr. William Ellery Channing (in his earlier years).
Unitarians have liberal views of God, Jesus, the world and purpose of life as revealed through reason, scholarship, science, philosophy, scripture and other prophets and religions. They believe that reason and belief are complementary and that religion and science can co-exist and guide them in their understanding of nature and God. They also do not enforce belief in creeds or dogmatic formulas. Although there is flexibility in the nuances of belief or basic truths for the individual Unitarian Christian, general principles of faith have been recognized as a way to bind the group in some commonality.
Unitarian Christians reject the doctrine of some Christian denominations that God chooses to redeem or save only those certain individuals that accept the creeds of, or affiliate with, a specific church or religion, from a common ruin or corruption of the mass of humanity.
In 1938, The Christian leader attributed "the religion of Jesus, not a religion about Jesus" to Unitarians, though the phrase was used earlier by Congregationalist Rollin Lynde Hartt in 1924 and earlier still by US President Thomas Jefferson.
Worship within the Unitarian tradition accommodates a wide range of understandings of God, while the focus of the service may be simply the celebration of life itself. Each Unitarian congregation is at liberty to devise its own form of worship, though commonly, Unitarians will light their chalice (symbol of faith), have a story for all ages; and include sermons, prayers, hymns and songs. Some will allow attendees to publicly share their recent joys or concerns.
This section relates to Unitarian churches and organizations today which are still specifically Christian, whether within or outside Unitarian Universalism. Unitarian Universalism, conversely, refers to the embracing of non-Christian religions.
Some Unitarian Christian groups are affiliated with the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU), founded in 1995. The ICUU tends to contain a majority membership who express specifically Unitarian Christian beliefs, rather than the religious pluralism of the UUA, but nevertheless remain liberal, open-minded and inclusive communities. The ICUU has "full member" groups in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, South Africa, and Sri Lanka.
The largest Unitarian denomination worldwide today is also the oldest surviving Unitarian denomination (since 1565, first use of the term "Unitarian" 1600); the Unitarian Church of Transylvania (in Romania, which is in union with the Unitarian Church in Hungary). The church in Romania and Hungary still looks to the statement of faith, the Summa Universae Theologiae Christianae secundum Unitarios (1787), though today assent to this is not required. The modern Unitarian Church in Hungary (25,000 members) and the Transylvanian Unitarian Church (75,000 members) are affiliated with the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) and claim continuity with the historical Unitarian Christian tradition established by Ferenc Dávid in 1565 in Transylvania under John II Sigismund Zápolya. The Unitarian churches in Hungary and Transylvania are structured and organized along a church hierarchy that includes the election by the synod of a national bishop who serves as superintendent of the Church. Many Hungarian Unitarians embrace the principles of rationalist Unitarianism. Unitarian high schools exist only in Transylvania (Romania), including the John Sigismund Unitarian Academy in Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár), the Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj, and the Berde Mózes Unitárius Gimnázium in Cristuru Secuiesc (Székelykeresztúr); both teach Rationalist Unitarianism.
The Unitarian Christian Association (UCA) was founded in the United Kingdom in 1991 by Rev. Lancelot Garrard (1904–93) and others to promote specifically Christian ideas within the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (GAUFCC), the national Unitarian body in Great Britain. Just as the UUCF and ICUU maintain formal links with the Unitarian Universalist Association in the USA, so the UCA is an affiliate body of the GAUFCC in Great Britain.
The majority of Unitarian Christian publications are sponsored by an organization and published specifically for their membership. Generally, they do not serve as a tool for missionary work or encouraging conversions.
The Unitarian Christian Conference USA is a network of congregations and ministers in the United States identifying with the historic Unitarian Christian tradition. The Unitarian Christian Conference USA promotes the concept of the unity of God and the message and example of Jesus of Nazareth as a rational and enriching spiritual path for personal development and a guide for creating a world of justice, peace and human dignity.
The Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship (UUCF) was founded in 1945 and as such predates the consolidation of the American Unitarian Association (AUA) and Universalist Church of America (UCA) into the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in 1961. UUCF continues as a subgroup of UUA serving the Christian members.
The American Unitarian Conference (AUC) was formed in 2000 and stands between UUA and ICUU in attachment to the Christian element of modern Unitarianism. The American Unitarian Conference is open to non-Christian Unitarians, being particularly popular with non-Christian theists and deists. The AUC has four congregations in the United States.
Unitarian Christian Ministries International was a Unitarian ministry incorporated in South Carolina until its dissolution in 2013 when it merged with the Unitarian Christian Emerging Church. The Unitarian Christian Emerging Church has recently undergone reorganization and today is known as the Unitarian Christian Church of America.
Unitarian Universalist Faith Alliance And Ministries (UUFAM) is an independent UU Christian / Deist post-denomination that serves non fellowshiped and non affiliated UU’s. Website reference: www.uufam.weebly.com
The Sydney Unitarian Church was founded 1850 under a Reverend Mr Stanley and was a vigorous denomination during the 19th century. The modern church, no longer unitarian Christian, has properties in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne, and smaller congregations elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand.
The Unitarian movement in South Africa was founded in 1867 by David Faure, member of a well-known Cape family. He encountered advanced liberal religious thought while completing his studies at the University of Leiden in Holland for the ministry of the Dutch Reformed Church in Cape Town.
Biblical Unitarianism (or "Biblical Unitarianism" or "biblical unitarianism") identifies the Christian belief that the Bible teaches God is a singular person, the Father, and that Jesus is a distinct being, his son. A few denominations use this term to describe themselves, clarifying the distinction between them and those churches which, from the late 19th century, evolved into modern British Unitarianism and, primarily in the United States, Unitarian Universalism. In Italy the Biblical Unitarian Movement powered by the ideas of Sozzini and others is represented today by the churches associated with the Christian Church in Italy.
Notable Unitarians include classical composers Edvard Grieg and Béla Bartók, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Parker and Thomas Lamb Eliot in theology and ministry, Oliver Heaviside, Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, John Archibald Wheeler, Linus Pauling, Sir Isaac Newton and inventor Sir Francis Ronalds in science, George Boole in mathematics, Susan B. Anthony in civil government, Florence Nightingale in humanitarianism and social justice, John Bowring, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Elizabeth Gaskell in literature, Frank Lloyd Wright in the arts, Josiah Wedgwood and Samuel Carter MP in industry, Thomas Starr King in ministry and politics, and Charles William Eliot in education. Julia Ward Howe was a leader in the woman suffrage movement, the first ever woman to be elected to the Academy of Arts and Letters, and author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic along with volumes of poetry and other writing. Although raised a Quaker, Ezra Cornell, founder of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, attended the Unitarian church and was one of the founders of Ithaca's First Unitarian Church. Eramus Darwin Shattuck, a signatory to the Oregon State Constitution, founded the first Unitarian Church in Oregon in 1865.
Eleven Nobel prizes have been awarded to Unitarians: Robert Millikan and John Bardeen (twice) in Physics; Emily Green Balch, Albert Schweitzer, and Linus Pauling for Peace; George Wald and David H. Hubel in Medicine; Linus Pauling in Chemistry; and Herbert A. Simon in Economics.
Four presidents of the United States were Unitarians: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, and William Howard Taft. Adlai Stevenson II, the Democratic presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956, was a Unitarian, and he was the last Unitarian to be nominated by a major party for president. Although a self-styled materialist, Thomas Jefferson was pro-Unitarian to the extent of advocating that it become the predominant religion in the United States.
British prime minister Neville Chamberlain was raised by his Unitarian statesman father, Joseph Chamberlain. Certainly, in the United Kingdom, Unitarianism – the religion of only a small minority of the country's population – had an enormous impact on Victorian politics, not only in the larger cities – Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool – but in smaller communities like Leicester where there were so many Unitarian mayors that the Unitarian Chapel was known as the "Mayors' Nest".
In Birmingham a Unitarian church was opened in 1862. The Church of the Messiah, as it was called, was more than the centre of a small sect: it was a cultural and intellectual centre of a whole society, a place where ideas about society were openly and critically discussed. Henry W. Crosskey’s Birmingham Unitarian congregation included: Joseph Chamberlain, as well as Arthur, his younger brother, who was married to Louisa Kenrick; William Kenrick, his brother-in-law, who was married to Mary Chamberlain; and Sir Thomas Martineau, who was the nephew of Harriet Martineau, another outspoken public figure and author of the time. Sir Thomas Martineau (died 1893), was related to the Chamberlain family by marriage; Sir Thomas had married Emily Kenrick, the sister of Florence Chamberlain, née Kenrick.
In Lambeth, South London, another two members of the Martineau family, Caroline and Constance, worked at Morley College, the former acting as (unpaid) principal for over 11 years. Several other prominent Unitarians were involved in the development of this liberal arts college, which was founded by actors at the Old Vic theatre.
These elite British Unitarian families: the Nettlefolds, the Martineaus, the Luptons, the Kitsons and the Kenricks, found a most significant place in the social and political history of Victorian through to mid-20th-century Britain.
Other Unitarians include Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web Lancelot Ware, founder of Mensa, Sir Adrian Boult, the conductor, Ray Kurzweil, notable inventor and futurist, and C. Killick Millard, founder of the Dignity in Dying society to support voluntary euthanasia. Ram Mohan Roy, an Indian reformer of the 18th century, was a Unitarian who published a book called Precepts of Jesus.
Unitarianism started, on the other hand, with the denial of the pre-existence... These opinions, however, must be considered apart from Arianism proper
Of the above-stated beliefs that of Theodotus of Byzantium is perhaps the most striking, in that, while it admits the virgin birth, it denies the deductions commonly made therefrom, attributing to Christ only pre-eminent righteousness
His original view was put into more definite form by Artemon, who regarded Jesus Christ as distinguished from prophets by (1) virgin-birth, (a) superior virtue
Christian apologists traced the origin of Socinianism to the doctrine of Photinus (4th century), who according to St. Augustine denied the pre-existence of Christ
Origen was the first to distinguish between two types of Ebionites theologically: those who believed in the Virgin Birth and those who rejected it
After they were excited to think freely, some gave up the doctrine of the miraculous conception, from reading the scriptures only, and observing certain things there with which it could not be reconciled
Rationalist Unitarians like William Ellery Channing had argued from the Bible and the evidence of its miracles
A Suffolk County grand jury indicted him on three charges of blasphemy and obscenity: (1) he had quoted a scurrilous passage by Voltaire disparaging the virgin birth of Jesus
It will be seen from these extracts how completely without foundation is the assertion that Servetus denied the eternal pre-existence of Christ
Among contemporary scholars, the consensus is that Newton was an Arian
modern Unitarianism emerged after Newton's death
Unitarianism ideas emerged after Newton's death
This view finds pat expression in the dictum that Christianity is the religion of Jesus, not a religion about Jesus
And for those [UUs] who take the time to understand Transylvanian Unitarian beliefs, there may be some surprising discoveries to be made. They are humanists! Their Unitarian Christianity is steeped in rationalism, is heavily influenced by judaism
mr Thomas martineau....will rise "Sir Thomas"....he (Sir Thomas) is a nephew of Harriet Martineau
The American Unitarian Association (AUA) was a religious denomination in the United States and Canada, formed by associated Unitarian congregations in 1825. In 1961, it consolidated with the Universalist Church of America to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.The AUA was formed in 1825 in the aftermath of a split within New England's Congregational churches between those congregations that embraced Unitarian doctrines and those that maintained Calvinist theology.According to Mortimer Rowe, the Secretary (i.e. chief executive) of the British Unitarians for 20 years, the AUA was founded on the same day as the British and Foreign Unitarian Association: "By a happy coincidence, in those days of slow posts, no transatlantic telegraph, telephone or wireless, our American cousins, in complete ignorance as to the details of what was afoot, though moving towards a similar goal, founded the American Unitarian Association on precisely the same day—May 26, 1825."The AUA's official journal was The Christian Register (1821–1961).American Unitarian Conference
The American Unitarian Conference (AUC) is a religious organization and a missionary and publication society which serves the needs of individual Unitarian believers. It was founded in 2000 by several Unitarian Universalists who felt that the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) had become too theologically liberal and too political. They decided their mission was to promote classical Unitarianism, which they argued as being based on Christian beliefs though not solely confined by them. They also hoped their organization would be of interest to non-Christians who embrace generic or philosophical theism and Deism.
Unitarianism as understood within the AUC has as a main tenet the belief in God as one person as opposed to trinitarianism which holds to the belief in a God of three persons. Among the classical Unitarian principles that the AUC promotes are the unity and providence of God, the compatibility of faith and reason, and the ability of religion and science to work together to improve the human condition.
In classical Unitarian fashion, the AUC does not require adherence to a creed to become a member. All who are in agreement with the AUC's religious principles, regardless of denominational affiliation or lack thereof, may join. The AUC does not exclude non-Christians, but many if not most of its members are Unitarian Christians.
The AUC does not engage in political activism or release political statements except in cases that involve religious freedom and church/state separation.
The AUC is run by volunteers. Their motto is "Faith, Freedom, Reason."Biblical unitarianism
Biblical Unitarianism encompasses the key doctrines of nontrinitarian Christians who affirm the Bible as their sole authority, and from it base their beliefs that God the Father is a singular being, the only one God, and that Jesus Christ is God’s son, but not divine. The term "biblical Unitarianism" is connected first with Robert Spears and Samuel Sharpe of the Christian Life magazine in the 1880s. It is a neologism (or retronym) that gained increasing currency in nontrinitarian literature during the 20th century as the mainstream Unitarian churches moved away from belief in the Bible and, in the United States, towards merger with Universalism. It has been used since the late 19th century by conservative Christian Unitarians, and sometimes by historians, to refer to Scripture-fundamentalist Unitarians of the 16th–18th centuries. Its use is problematic in that Unitarians from the 17th to the 20th centuries all had attachment to the Bible, but in differing ways.
A few denominations use this term to describe themselves, clarifying the distinction between them and those churches which, from the late 19th century, evolved into modern British Unitarianism and, primarily in the United States, Unitarian Universalism.
The history of Unitarianism was as a "scripturally oriented movement" which denied the Trinity and held various understandings of Jesus. Over time, however—specifically, in the mid-19th century—Unitarianism moved away from a belief in the necessity of the Bible as the source of religious truth. The nomenclature "biblical" in "biblical Unitarianism" is to identify the groups which did not make such a move.British and Foreign Unitarian Association
The British and Foreign Unitarian Association was the major Unitarian body in Britain from 1825. The BFUA was founded as an amalgamation of three older societies: the Unitarian Book Society for literature (1791), The Unitarian Fund for mission work (1806), and the Unitarian Association for civil rights (1818 or 1819). Its offices were shared with the Sunday School Association at Essex Street, on the site of England's first Unitarian church. In 1928 the BFUA became part of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, still the umbrella organisation for British Unitarianism, which has its headquarters, Essex Hall, in the same place in central London.Cross Street Chapel
Cross Street Chapel is a Unitarian church in central Manchester, England. It is a member of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, the umbrella organisation for British Unitarians. Its present minister is Cody Coyne.Flaming chalice
A flaming chalice is the most widely used symbol of Unitarianism and Unitarian Universalism (UUism) and the official logo of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and other Unitarian and UU churches and societies.General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (GAUFCC or colloquially British Unitarians) is the umbrella organisation for Unitarian, Free Christians and other liberal religious congregations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was formed in 1928, with denominational roots going back to the Great Ejection of 1662. Its headquarters building is Essex Hall in central London, on the site of the first avowedly Unitarian chapel in England, set up in 1774.
The GAUFCC brought together various strands and traditions besides Unitarianism. These included English Presbyterianism, General Baptist, Methodism, Liberal Christianity, Christian Universalism, Religious Humanism and Unitarian Universalism. Unitarians are now an open faith community celebrating diverse beliefs; some of its members would describe themselves as Buddhist, Pagan, or Jewish, while many others are humanist, agnostic, or atheist.History of Unitarianism
Unitarianism, as a Christian denominational family of churches, was first defined in Poland-Lithuania and Transylvania in the late 16th century. It was then further developed in England and America until the early 19th century, although theological ancestors are to be found as far back as the early days of Christianity. It matured and reached its classical form in the middle 19th century. Later historical development has been diverse in different countries.Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj
The Protestant Theological Institute (Romanian: Institutul Teologic Protestant; Hungarian: Protestáns Teológiai Intézet; German: Protestantisch-Theologisches Institut) is a Protestant seminary and private university in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The state-recognized institution trains ministers for four separate Protestant denominations: Calvinism (the Reformed Church in Romania), Lutheranism (the majority-Hungarian Evangelical Lutheran Church, the majority-Saxon Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession), and Unitarianism (the Unitarian Church of Transylvania).
The Protestant Institute is coordinated by five bishoprics: one Unitarian and two Lutheran, together with the Reformed Piatra Craiului District and Transylvania District. Its Cluj-Napoca center houses two branches — the Reformed-Evangelical Faculty (offering training for members of the Reformed Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church), and the Unitarian Faculty. In addition to these, the Institute includes a Saxon-Evangelical Faculty, which is based in Sibiu and is maintained by the Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession.
The Institute was founded in 1948, uniting the Cluj-based Reformed Theological College and the Unitarian Theological Academy as two faculties, as well as being the first local seminary for Lutherans. It has a claim to being the sole Protestant theological institution to teach in two languages (Hungarian and German) and to have two separate local sections.Socinianism
Socinianism () is a system of Christian doctrine named for Fausto Sozzini (Latin: Faustus Socinus), which was developed among the Polish Brethren in the Minor Reformed Church of Poland during the 16th and 17th centuries and embraced by the Unitarian Church of Transylvania during the same period. It is most famous for its nontrinitarian Christology but contains a number of other unorthodox beliefs as well.Transcendentalism
Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that developed in the late 1820s and 1830s in the eastern United States. It arose as a reaction to protest against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality at the time. The doctrine of the Unitarian church as taught at Harvard Divinity School was of particular interest.
Transcendentalism emerged from "English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Schleiermacher, the skepticism of David Hume", and the transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kant and German Idealism. Miller and Versluis regard Emanuel Swedenborg as a pervasive influence on transcendentalism. It was also strongly influenced by Hindu texts on philosophy of the mind and spirituality, especially the Upanishads.
A core belief of transcendentalism is in the inherent goodness of people and nature. Adherents believe that society and its institutions have corrupted the purity of the individual, and they have faith that people are at their best when truly "self-reliant" and independent.
Transcendentalism emphasizes subjective intuition over objective empiricism. Adherents believe that individuals are capable of generating completely original insights with little attention and deference to past masters.Unitarian Christian Association
The Unitarian Christian Association (UCA) is a relatively small, though growing fellowship of Christians who feel an affinity with traditional Unitarianism and Free Christianity. The association is based in the United Kingdom and is an affiliated society of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, and has formal links with the European Liberal Protestant Network.
The UCA also has fraternal relations with European groups such as the Assemblée Fraternelle des Chrétiens Unitariens (AFCU) and Congregazione Italiana Cristiana Unitariana, along with North American groups such as the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship and American Unitarian Conference.
As such, the UCA should be considered to be part of three Christian subcultures—the distinct traditions of Unitarianism and Free Christianity, and the broader 'umbrella movement' of liberal Christianity.Unitarian Church of Transylvania
The Unitarian Church of Transylvania (Hungarian: Erdélyi Unitárius Egyház; Romanian: Biserica Unitariană din Transilvania) is a church of the Unitarian denomination, based in the city of Cluj, Transylvania, Romania. Founded in 1568 in the Principality of Transylvania, it has a majority-Hungarian following, and is one of the 18 religious confessions given official recognition by the Romanian state.
The Transylvanian and Hungarian Unitarians represent the only branch of Unitarianism not to have adopted a congregationalist polity, and remains quasi-episcopal; the Irish Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church, a distinct body closely related to Unitarianism, has a presbyterian structure. The Unitarian Church of Transylvania is administrated by a Bishop and two Curators-General, being divided into five Archpriestships. Since March 2009, its Bishop is Rev. Ferenc Bálint Benczédi. The Church, which uses Hungarian as the liturgical language, also endorses and teaches a catechism.Together with the Calvinist Reformed Church and the two Lutheran churches of Romania (the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession), the Unitarian community runs the Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj, wherein Unitarianism is represented by a distinct section. In addition, it has two high school-level theological educational institutions.Unitarian College, Manchester
Unitarian College Manchester is one of two Unitarian seminaries in England. It is based at Luther King House in the Brighton Grove area of Manchester, and its degrees are validated by the University of Manchester.It has been preparing students for ministry and lay leadership positions in the Unitarian and Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Churches since 1854, when it was established by the Unitarian Home Mission Board. The College has a tradition of providing occasional overseas scholarships for students from kindred churches, particularly from Hungary and Romania (see Unitarian Church of Transylvania). It is now part of the Partnership for Theological Education.It is to be distinguished from the only other Unitarian college in the country, which confusingly shares a similar name. What is now Harris Manchester College, Oxford started off as a dissenting academy based on the famous one in Warrington. "The Manchester Academy" or "Manchester College", named after its birthplace in 1786, kept the name when it moved to York (1804-1840), and back to Manchester (1840-1853). It then moved to the capital as "Manchester New College, London", in University Hall, Gordon Square (i.e. Dr Williams's Library) 1853–1889. Its final move was to Oxford, where it has remained, becoming in 1996 a full constituent college of Oxford University, and adding "Harris" after a donor. It was the move of the original academy to London in 1854 which occasioned the need for a separate establishment in Manchester.Unitarian Earth Spirit Network
The Unitarian Earth Spirit Network (UESN) is an association of Unitarian Universalists based in the U.K. that seeks to represent a Nature/Earth/Creation centred religious voice within the church. It was assisted by Jo Rogers as Secretary/Treasurer. The UESN provides a forum for this group and became a recognised, credible part of the British Unitarian movement.Unitarian Universalism
Unitarian Universalism (UU) is a liberal religion characterized by a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning". Unitarian Universalists assert no creed, but instead are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. As such, their congregations include many atheists, agnostics, and theists within their membership. The roots of Unitarian Universalism lie in liberal Christianity, specifically Unitarianism and universalism. Unitarian Universalists state that from these traditions comes a deep regard for intellectual freedom and inclusive love. Congregations and members seek inspiration and derive insight from all major world religions.The beliefs of individual Unitarian Universalists range widely, including atheism, agnosticism, pantheism, deism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, neopaganism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Humanism, and many more.The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) was formed in 1961 through the consolidation of the American Unitarian Association, established in 1825, and the Universalist Church of America, established in 1793. The UUA is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, and serves churches mostly in the United States. A group of thirty Philippine congregations is represented as a sole member within the UUA. The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) became an independent body in 2002. The UUA and CUC are, in turn, two of the seventeen members of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists.However, some Unitarian Universalist churches today have statements of faith that profess a Protestant Christian identity.Unitarisk Kirkesamfund
Unitarisk Kirkesamfund (English: Unitarian Church Society) is the Danish Unitarian Church, founded on 18 May 1900 as "Det fri Kirkesamfund" (literally, The Free Congregation) by a group of liberal Christians.
In 1992 they changed the name to the now "Unitarisk Kirkesamfund".Since 1908, the church has been outside the Church of Denmark. Unitarisk Kirkesamfund is a member and co-founder of the International Association for Religious Freedom and the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists.Young People's Religious Union
The Young People's Religious Union (YPRU) was a Unitarian Youth organization founded in 1896. The organization celebrated by the Unitarian Young People's Sunday held annual meetings beginning in 1918 through 1950. Of note was the annual conference held at the Isle of Shoals, Portsmouth, NH in 1935. Topics discussed at meetings of the organization included Christian Patriotism.It was superseded by Liberal Religious Youth in 1953, as Unitarianism and Universalism came ever-closer together, but before the official consolidation in 1961.