- History of Unitarianism
- Can Unitarian Universalists Make It Another 50 Years?
- Unitarianism at a glance
- List of Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists - Wikipedia
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 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 , and was appointed rector and revised the prayer book according to Unitarian doctrines in 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 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.go to link
History of Unitarianism
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. Gordon Melton 's Encyclopedia of American Religions , the Unitarian tradition is classified among "the ' liberal ' family of churches". 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.
In that case, it would be a nontrinitarian belief system not necessarily associated with the Unitarian religious movement. 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. The term Unitarian is sometimes applied today to those who belong to a Unitarian church but do not hold a Unitarian theological belief.
Over time, however, some Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists moved away from the traditional Christian roots of Unitarianism. After several decades, the non-theistic members outnumbered the theological Unitarians. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 Henry Hedworth was the first to use the word "Unitarian" in print in English , and the word first appears in a title in Stephen Nye 's A brief history of the Unitarians, called also Socinians The movement gained popularity in England in the wake of the Enlightenment and began to become a formal denomination in 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 — in , and revised the Prayer Book into a mild Unitarian liturgy in In , 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 — was appointed as the Hollis professor of divinity at Harvard College, in Harvard Divinity School then shifted from its conservative roots to teach Unitarian theology see Harvard and Unitarianism. Buckminster's close associate William Ellery Channing — was settled over the Federal Street Church in Boston, , 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 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.
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.
Can Unitarian Universalists Make It Another 50 Years?
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. Several tenets of Unitarianism overlap with the predominant Muslim view of Jesus and Islamic understanding of monotheism , although no direct link between the two is suggested.
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. 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.
- List of Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists.
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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. 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.
Unitarianism at a glance
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. 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.
It is still Nontrinitarian because, according to this belief system, Jesus has always been beneath God, though higher than humans. It was only with the advent of American Unitarianism that it gained a foothold in the Unitarian movement. Proponents of this Christology also associate it more controversially with Justin Martyr and Hippolytus of Rome.
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Antitrinitarian Michael Servetus did not deny the pre-existence of Christ, so he may have believed in it. And in that very spot the face and personality of Christ shone bright. William Ellery Channing in his earlier years. Although there is no specific authority on convictions of Unitarian belief aside from rejection of the Trinity, the following beliefs are generally accepted: 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 , 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  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.
List of Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists - Wikipedia
Unitarian Universalism, conversely, refers to the embracing of non-Christian religions. 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 largest Unitarian denomination worldwide today is also the oldest surviving Unitarian denomination since , first use of the term "Unitarian" ;  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 , though today assent to this is not required. 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. 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 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 American Unitarian Conference is open to non-Christian Unitarians, being particularly popular with non-Christian theists and deists. Unitarian Christian Ministries International was a Unitarian ministry incorporated in South Carolina until its dissolution in when it merged with the Unitarian Christian Emerging Church.
The Sydney Unitarian Church was founded 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. 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. 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. Eleven Nobel prizes have been awarded to Unitarians: Four presidents of the United States were Unitarians: Adlai Stevenson II , the Democratic presidential nominee in and , 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. Unitarians, who believe in one God, rather than Christianity's traditional Trinity; and Universalists, who hold that God's salvation extends to all, regardless of race, creed or religion. Nearly 4, Unitarian Universalists gathered in Charlotte, N.
As usual, progressive politics prevailed, with pledges for an "institutional commitment" to ethical eating, an anti-discrimination rally and a special collection taken for ministry to immigrants. Such activism dates to 19th-century Unitarian godfather William Ellery Channing, who argued that the aim of religious life is to encourage public virtue. John Buehrens, a former president of the UUA. A separate Pew survey found that 65 percent believe multiple religious paths can lead to eternal life. Green, a political scientist who worked on the Pew studies and has studied the UUA. But the opportunity is certainly there.
Peter Morales, the UUA's current president, calls those trends, as well as the exodus of Americans from most Christian denominations, "an amazing opportunity. Many UUA members say they find meaning and purpose in the familial bonds forged in congregations -- regardless of religious beliefs. He says the UUA has always shied away from God-talk for fear of offending members and shattering congregations.
But Bumbaugh has made the rounds recently at regional UUA conferences, encouraging them to publicly wrestle with foundational questions. Whom do we serve? To whom or what are we responsible? Those are the questions with which every viable religious movement must wrestle," Bumbaugh has said. The whole association could go toes up if members continue to muffle religious discussion, the report said. Scott, said the UUA has stepped -- albeit gingerly -- in a spiritual direction.