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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 in many other branches of Christianity 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. As is typical of dissenters, 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.
Christian theology is the theology of Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, as well as on Christian tradition. Christian theologians use biblical exegesis, rational analysis and argument. Theologians may undertake the study of Christian theology for a variety of reasons, such as in order to:
Various sociological classifications of religious movements have been proposed by scholars. In the sociology of religion, the most widely used classification is the church-sect typology. The typology states that churches, ecclesia, denominations and sects form a continuum with decreasing influence on society. Sects are break-away groups from more mainstream religions and tend to be in tension with society.
God in Christianity is the eternal being who created and preserves all things. Christians believe God to be both transcendent and immanent. Christian teachings of the immanence and involvement of God and his love for humanity exclude the belief that God is of the same substance as the created universe but accept that God's divine nature was hypostatically united to human nature in the person of Jesus Christ, in an event known as the Incarnation.
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 closer to the monotheistic understandings of God in Judaism, as well as the concept of the oneness of God in Islam.
Monotheism is the belief in one god. A narrower definition of monotheism is the belief in the existence of only one god that created the world, is all-powerful and intervenes in the world.
In Judaism, God has been conceived in a variety of ways. Traditionally, Judaism holds that YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the national god of the Israelites, delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and gave them the Law of Moses at biblical Mount Sinai as described in the Torah. According to the rationalist stream of Judaism articulated by Maimonides, which later came to dominate much of official traditional Jewish thought, God is understood as the absolute one, indivisible, and incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Traditional interpretations of Judaism generally emphasize that God is personal yet also transcendent, while some modern interpretations of Judaism emphasize that God is a force or ideal.
Tawhid is the indivisible oneness concept of monotheism in Islam. Tawhid is the religion's central and single-most important concept, upon which a Muslim's entire faith rests. It unequivocally holds that God is One and Single ; therefore, the Islamic belief in God is considered Unitarian.
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.
Western Christianity is a religious category composed of the Latin Church and Protestantism, together with their offshoots such as Independent Catholicism and Restorationism. The large majority of the world's 2.4 billion Christians are Western Christians. The original and still major part, the Latin Church, developed under the bishop of Rome in the former Western Roman Empire in Antiquity. Out of the Latin Church emerged a wide variety of independent Protestant denominations, including Lutheranism and Anglicanism, starting from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, as did Independent Catholicism in the 19th century. Thus, the term "Western Christianity" does not describe a single communion or religious denomination, but is applied to distinguish all these denominations collectively from Eastern Christianity.
Original sin, also called ancestral sin, is a Christian belief in the state of sin in which humanity has existed since the fall of man, stemming from Adam and Eve's rebellion in Eden, namely the sin of disobedience in consuming the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred to as a "sin nature", to something as drastic as total depravity or automatic guilt of all humans through collective guilt.
Biblical infallibility is the belief that what the Bible says regarding matters of faith and Christian practice is wholly useful and true. It is the "belief that the Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose. Some equate "inerrancy" and "infallibility"; others do not."
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.
Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than also by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.
Nontrinitarianism is a form of Christianity that rejects the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity—the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases or persons who are coeternal, coequal, and indivisibly united in one being, or essence. Certain religious groups that emerged during the Protestant Reformation have historically been known as antitrinitarian, but are not considered Protestant in popular discourse due to their nontrinitarian nature.
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.
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth – formally, the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland – was a dual state, a bi-confederation of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch, who was both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. It was one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th- to 17th-century Europe. At its largest territorial extent, in the early 17th century, the Commonwealth covered almost 400,000 square miles (1,000,000 km2) and sustained a multi-ethnic population of 11 million.
The Principality of Transylvania was a semi-independent state, ruled primarily by Hungarian princes. Its territory, in addition to the traditional Transylvanian lands, also included eastern regions of Hungary, called Partium. The establishment of the principality was connected with Treaty of Speyer. However Stephen Báthory's status as king of Poland also helped to phase in the name Principality of Transylvania. It was usually under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire; however, the principality often had dual vassalage in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Katarzyna Weiglowa (Wajglowa), was a Roman Catholic woman from the Kingdom of Poland who converted to Judaism or to Judaizing nontrinitarianism. She was burned at the stake in Kraków under the charge of apostasy when she refused to call Jesus Christ the Son of God. She is regarded by Unitarians and Jews as a martyr.
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.
New England is a region composed of six states in the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick to the northeast and Quebec to the north. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the south. Boston is New England's largest city, as well as the capital of Massachusetts. Greater Boston is the largest metropolitan area, with nearly a third of New England's population; this area includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.
King's Chapel is an independent Christian unitarian congregation affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association that is "unitarian Christian in theology, Anglican in worship, and congregational in governance." It is housed in what was for a time after the Revolution called the "Stone Chapel", an 18th-century structure at the corner of Tremont Street and School Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The chapel building, completed in 1754, is one of the finest designs of the noted colonial architect Peter Harrison, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 for its architectural significance.
James Freeman was the minister of King's Chapel in Boston for 43 years and the first clergyman in America to call himself a Unitarian. Unlike New England liberal Congregationalist ministers, who approached Unitarianism through Arianism, he was Socinian in theology and developed links with Unitarians in England.
In India, three different schools of Unitarian thought influenced varying movements, including the Brahmo Samaj, the Unitarian Church of the Khasi Hills [ citation needed ], 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.
In J. 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.).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, all of 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. [ citation needed ]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).
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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. [ citation needed ]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), [ citation needed ]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.[ citation needed ]
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.[ citation needed ]
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. [ citation needed ]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.
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).[ citation needed ]
This Christology existed in some form or another prior to Sozzini. Theodotus of Byzantium, [ citation needed ]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.[ citation needed ] 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.[ citation needed ]
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. [ unreliable source? ] (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).
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.[ citation needed ]
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.[ citation needed ]
In 1938, The Christian leader attributed "the religion of Jesus, not a religion about Jesus" to Unitarians, [ citation needed ]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. [ citation needed ]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 ICUU includes small "Associate groups", including Congregazione Italiana Cristiano Unitariana, Turin (founded in 2004)and the Bét Dávid Unitarian Association, Oslo (founded 2005).
The largest Unitarian denomination worldwide today is also the oldest surviving Unitarian denomination (since 1565, first use of the term "Unitarian" 1600); [ citation needed ]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) [ citation needed ]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.[ citation needed ]
The leadership of the Church is made up of Accredited Lay Preachers and Professional Ministers.
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.[ citation needed ]
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. [ when? ] four congregations in the United States.[ citation needed ]The AUC has
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.
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 Newtonand 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.[ citation needed ]
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.[ citation needed ]
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".[ citation needed ]
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 [ citation needed ]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.
Arianism is a nontrinitarian Christological doctrine which asserts the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was begotten by God the Father at a point in time, a creature distinct from the Father and is therefore subordinate to him, but the Son is also God. Arian teachings were first attributed to Arius, a Christian presbyter in Alexandria of Egypt. The term "Arian" is derived from the name Arius; and like "Christian", it was not a self-chosen designation but bestowed by hostile opponents—and never accepted by those on whom it had been imposed. The nature of Arius's teaching and his supporters were opposed to the theological views held by Homoousian Christians, regarding the nature of the Trinity and the nature of Christ. The Arian concept of Christ is based on the belief that the Son of God did not always exist but was begotten within time by God the Father.
Denial of the virgin birth of Jesus is found among various groups and individuals throughout the history of Christianity. These groups and individuals often took an approach to Christology which understands Jesus to be human, the literal son of human parents.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity holds that God is one God, but three coeternal consubstantial persons or hypostases—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—as "one God in three Divine Persons". The three Persons are distinct, yet are one "substance, essence or nature" (homoousios). In this context, a "nature" is what one is, whereas a "person" is who one is. Sometimes differing views are referred to as nontrinitarian. Trinitarianism contrasts with positions such as Binitarianism and Monarchianism, of which Modalistic Monarchianism and Unitarianism are subsets.
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.
Socinianism is a system of Christian doctrine named for Italians Lelio Sozzini and Fausto Sozzini, uncle and nephew, respectively, 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.
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The Polish Brethren were members of the Minor Reformed Church of Poland, a Nontrinitarian Protestant church that existed in Poland from 1565 to 1658. By those on the outside, they were called "Arians" or "Socinians", but themselves preferred simply to be called "Brethren" or "Christians," and, after their expulsion from Poland, "Unitarians".
Fausto Paolo Sozzini, also known as Faustus Socinus or Faust Socyn (Polish), was an Italian theologian and founder of the school of Christian thought known as Socinianism and the main theologian of the Minor Reformed Church of Poland.
Nicene Christianity is a set of Christian doctrinal traditions which reflect the Nicene Creed, which was formulated at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 and amended at the First Council of Constantinople in AD 381.
In Christian theology, the incarnation is the belief that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son or the Logos, "was made flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos. The doctrine of the incarnation, then, entails that Jesus is fully God and fully human.
In Britain, the term Free Christian refers specifically to individual members and whole congregations within the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.
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 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.
Christian universalism is a school of Christian theology focused around the doctrine of universal reconciliation – the view that all human beings will ultimately be "saved" and restored to a right relationship with God.
Servetism refers to the theology of Michael Servetus, which affirms that Christ was God manifested in the flesh, yet not as part of a tri-personal God, and that he did not exist previously as the Son, but as the divine Logos that became the Son after incarnation.
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.
The pre-existence of Christ asserts the existence of Christ before his incarnation as Jesus. One of the relevant Bible passages is John 1:1–18 where, in the Trinitarian interpretation, Christ is identified with a pre-existent divine hypostasis called the Logos or Word. There are nontrinitarian views that question the aspect of personal pre-existence or the aspect of divinity or both.
The Protestant Reformation began in 1520s in the Italian states, although forms of pre-Protestantism were already present before the 16th century. The Reformation in Italy collapsed quickly at the beginning of the 17th century. Its development was hindered by the Inquisition and also popular disdain.
The Chiesa Cristiana in Italia 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.
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
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Unitarianism .|