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Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being.[1]

For most of its history, Unitarianism has been known for the rejection of several orthodox Protestant doctrines besides the Trinity,[2] including the soteriological doctrines of original sin and predestination,[3][4] and, in more recent times, biblical inerrancy.[5] In J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions it is classified among "the 'liberal' family of churches".[6]

The first Unitarians, although not called Unitarians initially, were found in Poland and Transylvania from the 1540s onwards, though many of them were Italians.[7][8] In England the first Unitarian Church was established in 1774 on Essex Street, London, where today's British Unitarian headquarters are still located.[9] 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.[10]



"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, etc.).[11] The term existed shortly before it became the name of a religious movement, and thus occasionally it is used as a common noun and would describe any Christology (i.e. understanding of Jesus Christ) that denies the Trinity or believes that God is only one person. In that case it would be a monotheistic belief system not necessarily associated with the Unitarian religious movement.[12][13][14] For example, the Unitarian movement has never accepted the Godhood of Jesus, and therefore does not include those nontrinitarian belief systems which do — such as Oneness Pentecostalism, United Pentecostal Church International and the True Jesus Church — that 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.

The term Unitarian is sometimes applied to those who belong to a Unitarian church but who do not hold a Unitarian theological belief.[15] In the past, the vast majority of members of Unitarian churches were Unitarians also in belief. Over time, however, some Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists moved away from the traditional Christian roots of Unitarianism.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18] 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).

Recently some religious groups have adopted the 19th Century term "biblical unitarianism" to distinguish their theology from Unitarianism.[19] Since it has no direct relation to the Unitarian movement, it is not discussed here.


Unitarianism, both as a theology and as a denominational family of churches, was defined and developed in four countries: Poland, Transylvania, England and America. Although there were common beliefs 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.[20]

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.[21] 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 became the standard in the church, and these doctrines were quite removed from Arianism. So important was Sozzini 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." Sozzini's grandson Andrzej Wiszowaty Sr. in 1665-1668 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),[22] 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, 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 (1759–1853) 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 & 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.


Unitarian Belief System
Christology: Nontrinitarian
Soteriology: Arminian
Anthropology: Pelagian


Unitarians adhere to strict monotheism, and maintain that Jesus was a great man and a prophet of God, perhaps even a supernatural being, but not God himself.[23] 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 Jesus is believed to have had a pre-human existence. Both forms maintain that God is one being and one "person"—the one Jesus called "Father"—and that Jesus is the (or a) Son of God, but generally not God himself.[24]

"Socinian" Christology

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,[25] Artemon[26] and Paul of Samosata[27] denied the pre-existence of Christ but accepted the virgin birth.[28] This was continued by Marcellus of Ancyra and his pupil Photinus in the 4th century AD.[29][30] In the Radical Reformation and Anabaptist movements of the 16th century this 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,[31] which continued with English Unitarians such as John Biddle's Twofold Catechism (1654).

In the early days of Unitarianism, the stories of the virgin birth were accepted by most, but there were a number of Unitarians who questioned the historical accuracy of the Bible (such as Symon Budny, Jacob Paleologus, Thomas Belsham, and Richard Wright), and this made them question the virgin birth story.[32][33][34][35] 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.[36] 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 Frederick 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.[37][38][39]

The denial of the virgin birth is also 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.[40] The Chambers Biographical Dictionary (1897) incorrectly ascribes denial of the virgin birth to Ferenc Dávid, leader of the Transylvanian Unitarians.

"Arian" Christology

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.

Proponents attempt to associate this Christology with early church figures such as Justin Martyr, Lucian of Antioch, Eusebius of Caesarea, Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Asterius the Sophist, Eunomius, and Ulfilas, as well as Felix, Bishop of Urgell. Michael Servetus did not deny the pre-existence of Christ.[41] Isaac Newton had Arian beliefs as well.[42][43][44] Famous 19th century Arian Unitarians include Andrews Norton[45] and Dr. William Ellery Channing (in his earlier years).[46]

Other beliefs

Though there is no specific authority on convictions of Unitarian belief aside from rejection of the Trinity, the following beliefs are generally accepted:[47][48][49][50][51][52]

  • One God and the oneness or unity of God.
  • The life and teachings of Jesus Christ constitute the exemplar model for living one's own life.
  • Reason, rational thought, science, and philosophy coexist with faith in God.
  • Humans have the ability to exercise free will in a responsible, constructive and ethical manner with the assistance of religion.
  • Human nature in its present condition is neither inherently corrupt nor depraved (see original Sin), but capable of both good and evil, as God intended.
  • No religion can claim an absolute monopoly on the Holy Spirit or theological truth.
  • Though the authors of the Bible were inspired by God, they were humans and therefore subject to human error.
  • Traditional doctrines that (they believe) malign God's character or veil the true nature and mission of Jesus Christ, such as the doctrines of predestination, eternal damnation, and the vicarious sacrifice or satisfaction theory of the Atonement are rejected.

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. Adherents generally accept religious pluralism and find value in all teachings, but remain committed to their core belief in Christ's teachings.[citation needed] Unitarians generally value a secular society in which government is kept separate from religious affairs. Most contemporary Unitarian Christians believe that one's personal moral convictions guide one's political activities, and that a secular society is the most viable, just and fair.[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. They believe that righteous acts are necessary for redemption in addition to faith.[citation needed]

In 1938, The Christian leader attributed "the religion of Jesus, not a religion about Jesus" to Unitarians,[53] though the phrase was first used by Congregationalist Rollin Lynde Hartt in 1924.[54]


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, Unitarian services lack liturgy and ritual, while containing readings from many sources, which may include sermons, prayers, hymns and songs.[55]

Modern Christian Unitarian organizations

First Unitarian Meeting House in Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, designed by Unitarian Frank Lloyd Wright

This section relates to Unitarian churches and organizations today which are still specifically Christian within or outside Unitarian-Universalism, which embraces non-Christian religions.

Hungarian and Transylvanian Unitarian Churches

The largest Unitarian denomination worldwide today is also the oldest surviving Unitarian denomination (since 1565, first use of the term "Unitarian" 1600[56]); the Unitarian Church of Transylvania (in Romania, which is 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 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.[57] Unitarian high schools exist only in Transylvania (Romania), including the John Sigismund Unitarian Academy in Cluj-Napoca, and the Berde Mózes Unitárius Gimnázium in Cristuru Secuiesc (Székelykeresztúr); both teach Rationalist Unitarianism.[citation needed]


The Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship (UUCF, founded 1945) 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.

ICUU (international)

Other 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.[58] 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, Sri Lanka.

The ICUU includes small "Associate groups", including Congregazione Italiana Cristiano Unitariana, Turin (founded in 2004)[59] and the Bét Dávid Unitarian Association, Oslo (founded 2005).[60]


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.[61] The AUC has four congregations in the United States.


The Unitarian Christian Association (UCA, UK) was founded 1991 by Rev. Lancelot Garrard (1904–93)[62] and others to promote specifically Christian ideas within the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (GAUFCC). Just as the UUCF and ICUU maintain formal links with UUA in America, so the UCA does with the GAUFCC in the UK.

The majority of Unitarian Christian publications are sponsored by an organization and published specifically for their membership. They generally do not serve as a tool for missionary work or encouraging conversions.[citation needed]


The Sydney Unitarian Church, was founded 1850, under a Reverend Stanley and was a vigorous denomination during the 19th Century. The modern church has properties in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne, and smaller congregations elsewhere.[63]

South Africa

The Unitarian movement in South Africa was founded in 1867 by the Reverend Dawid 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. On his return to South Africa he preached a probationary sermon in the Groote Kerk, Cape Town. This led to a public appeal to him to found a community based upon what was called the ‘new theology’. The ‘new theology’ as preached by Dawid Faure was grounded in what he described as “the very essence of religion” – Love of God and love of neighbour.

Responding to popular appeal Dawid Faure gathered a congregation of people who felt the need for a church unfettered by traditional dogmas, open to the advances of modern knowledge and receptive to new spiritual insights. From 1867 to 1890 the fledgling church, known as the Free Protestant Church, rented premises in a commercial building in Cape Town, and in 1890 a warehouse in the city was purchased and converted into the present church.

Rev Faure continued as minister until 1897 when he was succeeded by Rev Ramsden Balmforth, from England. He conducted a thriving ministry to 1937 and brought the Free Protestant Church into the international Unitarian Movement in 1921. Ministers who followed Balmforth were William and Wilma Constable (1937 to 1941), Donald Livingstone (1941 to 1949), Magnus Ratter (1949 to 1960 and 1971 to 1976), Victor Carpenter (1962 to 1967), Eugene Widrick (1968 to 1971), Leon Fay (1977 to 1979), Robert Steyn (1979 to 1997).

The Cape Town church isn't exclusively Christian since formal members and friends in the congregation maintain their own personal beliefs. There is no specific dogma or creed that members must follow. They consider Unitarianism as a way of life with spiritual dimensions. The church is in the central city but has congregations in the suburbs as well. The website for the Unitarian Community of Cape Town is at [1] . There are also independent fellowships in Durban and Johannesburg. The national website is at [2] .


When Unitarianism developed in the 17th century during the Protestant era of the evolution of Christianity, the strongholds in Transylvania, Poland, and eventually Britain and the northeastern parts of the United States were firmly in the congregational tradition. In the Hungarian-speaking territories it adopted a governance system that combined the Synodal and Episcopal models.[citation needed]

For those churches under the congregational model, each church governed itself independently of a hierarchical authority. These small congregations belonged, however, to more formal associations of churches. The American Unitarian Association, formed in 1825, was one of these. Later, in 1961, the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America merged to form the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), which is the largest organization of Unitarians in the US. The UUA is no longer an explicitly Christian organization and does not focus exclusively on the core teachings of Jesus Christ or Christianity.[citation needed]

Several Unitarian organizations still promote Christianity as their central theme. Among them, Unitarian Ministries International,[64] the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship (UUCF, an affiliate of the UUA),[65] the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (GAUFCC) of the United Kingdom, and the Unitarian Christian Association (UCA, an affiliate of the GAUFCC).[66]

In the US, the newest organization promoting a return to the theistic roots of Unitarianism is the American Unitarian Conference (AUC), formed in 2000. The AUC's stated goal is to formulate and promote classical Unitarian-based, unifying religious convictions, which balance the needs of members with a practical approach to inclusion and progressive free thought.[citation needed]

Interfaith dialogue and relations

Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant creeds generally insist on Trinitarian belief as an essential aspect of Christianity and basic to a group's continuity of identity with the historical Christian faith.[citation needed] As a result, Unitarians have often been excluded from fellowship with churches that accept the creeds of the Nicene and pre-Chalcedonian churches.

However, occasionally, especially in Protestant history, traditionally Trinitarian groups have accepted Unitarians. Friendliness toward Unitarianism has sometimes gone hand-in-hand with anti-Catholicism. In some cases non-Trinitarian belief has been adopted by some, and tolerated in Christian churches as a "non-essential."[67] This was the case in the English Presbyterian Church, and in the Congregational Church in New England late in the 18th century. The Restoration Movement also attempted to forge a compatible relation between Trinitarians and nontrinitarians, as did the Seventh Day Baptists and various Adventists. The Seventh Day Baptists hold nontrinitarian doctrines in their International Conference but became Trinitarians in the US. The nontrinitarian tendency in these latter groups emerged from their original theology and their rejection of Catholic traditions regarding the Trinity.[citation needed]

In some cases, this openness to Unitarianism within traditionally Trinitarian churches has been inspired by a very broad ecumenical motive. Modern liberal Protestant denominations are often accused by Trinitarians within their ranks, and critics outside, of being indifferent to the doctrine, and therefore self-isolated from their respective Trinitarian pasts and heritage. In some cases, it is charged that these Trinitarian denominations are no longer Christian, because of their toleration of unitarian belief among their teachers, and in their seminaries.[citation needed]

At a local level, many Unitarian Christian groups (or members) have links with congregations affiliated with the United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and Unity Church; some argue they feel more at home within these denominations than Unitarian Universalism. A small proportion of Unitarian Christians also have links with Progressive Christianity.[citation needed]

Despite the close friendship and shared heritage that exists between adherents to Unitarian Universalism and Unitarian Christianity, there is an element within Unitarian Universalism that opposes specifically Unitarian Christian groups, believing them to be exclusive and intolerant of non-Christian thought. Likewise, some Unitarian Christians also believe that Unitarian Universalists are intolerant of Christian thought and tend to marginalize Christians.[citation needed]

Notable Unitarians

Notable Unitarians include Béla Bartók the 20th century composer, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Theodore Parker in theology and ministry, Joseph Priestley and Linus Pauling in science, George Boole in mathematics, Susan B. Anthony, John Locke in civil government, and Florence Nightingale in humanitarianism and social justice, Charles Dickens, John Bowring and Samuel Taylor Coleridge in literature, Frank Lloyd Wright in arts, Josiah Wedgwood in industry, Thomas Starr King in ministry and politics, and Charles William Eliot in education.

Eleven Nobel prizes have been awarded to Unitarians: Robert Millikan and John Bardeen (twice) in Physics; Emily Green Balch, Albert Schweitzer, Linus Pauling, and Geoff Levermore for Peace; George Wald and David H. Hubel in Medicine; Linus Pauling in Chemistry, and Herbert Simon in Economics.

Five presidents of the United States were Unitarians: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, and William Howard Taft. Other Unitarians include Sir Tim Berners-Lee,[68] Lancelot Ware, founder of Mensa, Sir Adrian Boult, the conductor, and C. Killick Millard, founder of the Euthanasia Society.

See also


  1. ^ Knight, Kevin, ed., "The dogma of the Trinity", Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm 
  2. ^ Joseph Priestley, one of the founders of the Unitarian movement, defined Unitarianism as the belief of primitive Christianity before later corruptions set in. Among these corruptions, he included not only the doctrine of the Trinity, but also various other orthodox doctrines and usages (Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism, Harvard University Press 1952, pp. 302-303).
  3. ^ From The Catechism of the Hungarian Unitarian Church in Transylvanian Romania: "Unitarians do not teach original sin. We do not believe that through the sin of the first human couple we all became corrupted. It would contradict the love and justice of God to attribute to us the sin of others, because sin is one's own personal action" (Ferencz Jozsef, 20th ed., 1991. Translated from Hungarian by Gyorgy Andrasi, published in The Unitarian Universalist Christian, FALL/WINTER, 1994, Volume 49, Nos.3-4; VII:107).
  4. ^ In his history of the Unitarians, David Robinson writes: "At their inception, both Unitarians and Universalists shared a common theological enemy: Calvinism." He explains that they "consistently attacked Calvinism on the related issues of original sin and election to salvation, doctrines that in their view undermined human moral exertion." (D. Robinson, The Unitarians and the Universalists, Greenwood Press, 1985, pp. 3, 17).
  5. ^ "Although considering it, on the whole, an inspired book, Unitarians also regard the Bible as coming not only from God, but also from humans.... Unitarians therefore do not believe in the infallibility of the Bible, as some other Christians do." (D. Miano, An Explanation of Unitarian Christianity, AUC, 2003, 2007)
  6. ^ ed. J. Gordon Melton Encyclopedia of American Religions (8th ed.) "Brought together in this chapter as the 'liberal' family of churches and 'religious' organizations are those groups that have challenged the orthodox Christian dominance of Western religious life: Unitarianism, universalism, and infidelism" (p. 611).
  7. ^ James Hastings Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics: Algonquins-Art p 785 - 2001 "The first Unitarians were Italians, and the majority took refuge in Poland, where the laxity of the laws and the independence of the nobility secured for them a toleration which would have been denied to their views in other countries."
  8. ^ The encyclopedia of Protestantism 137 Hans Joachim Hillerbrand - 2004 "The so-called Golden Age of Unitarianism in Transylvania (1540–1571) resulted in a rich production of works both in Hungarian and Latin".
  9. ^ Erwin Fahlbusch The encyclopedia of Christianity 5 603 2008 "Lindsey attempted but failed to gain legal relief for Anglican Unitarians, so in 1774 he opened his own distinctly Unitarian church on Essex Street, London, where today's British Unitarian headquarters are still located."
  10. ^ American Unitarianism: or, A Brief history of "The progress and State of the Unitarian Churches in America, third edition, 1815 "So early as the year 1786, Dr. Freeman had persuaded his church to adopt a liturgy, which the Rev. ... Thus much for the history of Unitarianism at the Stone Chapel. "
  11. ^ L. Sue Baugh Essentials of English Grammar: A Practical Guide to the Mastery of English (9780844258218) Second Edition 1994 p59 "Religious Names and Terms: The names of all religions, denominations, and local groups are capitalized."
  12. ^ J. Gordon Melton Encyclopedia of Protestantism 2005 p543 "Unitarianism - The word unitarian [italics] means one who believes in the oneness of God; historically it refers to those in the Christian community who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity (one God expressed in three persons). Non-Trinitarian Protestant churches emerged in the 16th century in ITALY, POLAND, and TRANSYLVANIA."
  13. ^ Letter from Matthew F. Smith to Editor World faiths Encounter 7-12 World Congress of Faiths - 1994 - "In an otherwise excellent article by Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, 'Sikh Spirit in an Age of Plurality' (No. 6, Nov. 1993), the writer makes a number of pejorative remarks about 'unitarianism', associating the term with a striving for a monolithic polity and reductionism to a common denominator. This is a very unfortunate misuse of the word. A correct definition of 'unitarianism' (small 'u') is the monotheistic belief system of someone not directly associated with the Unitarian movement, almost always applied to a person from the Christian tradition, as the word was coined in distinction to the orthodox 'Trinitarian' doctrine of Christianity. 'Unitarians' (capital 'U') are, of course, those who follow the Unitarian approach to religion and are formally associated with the movement. In neither case can it be claimed that there is an underlying agenda towards reductionism and uniformity. Quite the reverse, in fact. Modern Unitarianism is remarkable among religions in not only welcoming the variety of faiths that there are to be found but also, as a creedless church, welcoming and encouraging acceptance of the same. We readily accept that not all our members are 'realist' theists, for example. Our long-standing commitment to interfaith understanding, evident in our practical support of the International Association for Religious Freedom, the World Congress of Faiths and the newly-established International Interfaith centre in Oxford cannot be taken to mean that Unitarians are seeking the creation of a single world religion out of the old. I do not know a single Unitarian who believes or seeks that. On the contrary, we reject uniformity and cherish instead the highest degree of spiritual integrity, both of the existing religious traditions of the world and of religious persons as unique, thinking individuals. Matthew F Smith, Information Officer" (Essex Street Chapel, Unitarian Church headquarters, UK)
  14. ^ "The name originated at the time of the great dispute at Gyulafehérvár in 1568, in the course of which Mélius quite often concluded his argument by saying, Ergo Deus est trinitarius.... Hence his party naturally came to be called Trinitarians and their opponents would naturally be called Unitarians. The name seems thus to have come into general use only gradually and it was long before it was employed in the formal proclamations of their Superintendents.... It is not found in print as the denomination of the church until 1600, when the unitaria religio is named as one of the four received religions in a decree of the Diet of Léczfalva (cf. Magyar Emlékek iv, 551) in the extreme southeastern part of Transylvania. The name was never used by the Socinians in Poland; but late in the seventeenth century Tran­sylvanian Unitarian students made it well-known in Holland, where the Socinians in exile, who had never adopted Socinian as the name of their movement and were more and more objecting to it, welcomed it as distinguishing them from Trinitarians. It thus gradually superseded the term Socinian, and spread to England and America." Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism, vol. 2, pp. 47-48.
  15. ^ Robinson, The Unitarians and the Universalists, p. 159-184.
  16. ^ AW Gomes, EC Beisner, and RM Bowman, Unitarian Universalism (Zondervan, 1998), pp. 30–79.
  17. ^ George Willis Cooke, Unitarianism in America (AUA, 1902), pp. 224–30.
  18. ^ (PDF) Engaging Our Theological Diversity, UUA, pp. 70–2, http://www.uua.org/documents/coa/engagingourtheodiversity.pdf .
  19. ^ Tuggy, Dale, (2009). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  20. ^ "The religious movement whose history we are endeavoring to trace...became fully developed in thought and polity in only four countries, one after another, namely Poland, Transylvania, England and America. But in each of these it showed, along with certain individual characteristics, a general spirit, a common point of view, and a doctrinal pattern that tempt one to regard them as all outgrowths of a single movement which passed from one to another; for nothing could be more natural than to presume that these common features implied a common ancestry. Yet such is not the fact, for in each of these four lands the movement, instead of having originated elsewhere, and been translated only after attaining mature growth, appears to have sprung independently and directly from its own native roots, and to have been influenced by other and similar movements only after it had already developed an independent life and character of its own." Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952), p. 166.
  21. ^ Hewett, Racovia, pp. 20-1.
  22. ^ Earl A. Pope, "Protestantism in Romania", in Sabrina Petra Ramet (ed.), Protestantism and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia: The Communist and Postcommunist Eras, Duke University Press, Durham, 1992, p.160. ISBN 0822312417
  23. ^ Miano, David (2003), An Explanation of Unitarian Christianity, AUC, p. 15 .
  24. ^ Hastings, James, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 2, p. 785, "Unitarianism started, on the other hand, with the denial of the pre-existence… These opinions, however, must be considered apart from Arianism proper" .
  25. ^ Hoben, Allan (1903), The virgin birth, "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" .
  26. ^ Bright, William, Some Aspects of Primitive Church Life, p. 127, "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" .
  27. ^ Charles, Tutorial prayer book, p. 599 .
  28. ^ Stead, Christopher (1996-01-27), Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521469555  189 pp.
  29. ^ Houdt, Toon, Self-presentation and social identification, p. 238, "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" .
  30. ^ R. P. C. Hanson (1916-1988), Lightfoot Professor of Divinity The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381 (9780801031465): 1973 "Photinus' doctrine appears to have been a form of what might be called middle Marcellism, i.e. what Marcellus originally taught before his vicissitudes caused him to temper the edge of his doctrine and take account of the criticisms of his friends as well as of his enemies, a little more moderated."
  31. ^ Watson, R, A Biblical and theological dictionary, p. 999 .
  32. ^ Webb, RK (2007), "Miracles in English Unitarian Thought", in Micale, Mark S; Dietle, Robert L; Gay, Peter, Enlightenment, passion, modernity: historical essays in European Thought and Culture, p. 120 .
  33. ^ Belsham (1806), "Remarks on Mr. Proud's Pamphlet", Monthly Repository, p. 423 .
  34. ^ Wright, Richard (1808), An Essay on the Miraculous Conception of Jesus Christ, London .
  35. ^ Wright, R, A review of the missionary life and labors of Richard Wright, p. 68, "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" .
  36. ^ Gura, Philip F. American Transcendentalism: A History. New York: Hill and Wang, 2007: 7–8. ISBN 0-8090-3477-8
  37. ^ Placher, William Carl (1983), A history of Christian theology: an introduction, p. 265, "Rationalist Unitarians like William Ellery Channing had argued from the Bible and the evidence of its miracles" .
  38. ^ Chadwick, John White, William Ellery Channing: Minister of Religion, p. 440 .
  39. ^ Mendelsohn, Jack (1971), Channing, the reluctant radical: a biography, "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" .
  40. ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey W (1982), International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, E–J, p. 9, "Origen was the first to distinguish between two types of Ebionites theologically: those who believed in the Virgin Birth and those who rejected it" .
  41. ^ Odhner, CT (2009), Michael Servetus, His Life and Teachings, p. 77, "It will be seen from these extracts how completely without foundation is the assertion that Servetus denied the eternal pre-existence of Christ" .
  42. ^ Pfizenmaier, Thomas C (1997), "Was Isaac Newton an Arian?", Journal of the History of Ideas, pp. 57–80, "Among contemporary scholars, the consensus is that Newton was an Arian" .
  43. ^ Wiles, Maurice F (1996), Archetypal Heresy: Arianism Through the Centuries, p. 133, "modern Unitarianism emerged after Newton's death" .
  44. ^ Nicholls, David (1995), God and Government in an 'age of Reason', p. 44, "Unitarianism ideas emerged after Newton's death" .
  45. ^ A Statement of Reasons for Not Believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians, 1859 .
  46. ^ "Unitarian Christianity", The Works of WE Channing, DD, 1841 .
  47. ^ May, Samuel Joseph (1867) [1860], What Do Unitarians Believe?, Albany: Weed, Parsons, and Co. 
  48. ^ Henderson, AC (1886), What Do Unitarians Believe? 
  49. ^ Dewey, Orville (1873), The Unitarian Belief, Boston .
  50. ^ Clarke, James Freeman (1924) [1885], Manual of Unitarian Belief (20th ed.) .
  51. ^ Ellis, George H (1890), What Do Unitarians Believe About Jesus Christ?, Boston .
  52. ^ Sunderland, Jabez T (1891), What Do Unitarians Believe?, New York: AUA .
  53. ^ An esteemed Unitarian minister (1938), "2", The Christian leader, 120, p. 1034, "This view finds pat expression in the dictum that Christianity is the religion of Jesus, not a religion about Jesus" .
  54. ^ Hartt, Rollin Lynde (1924), The Man Himself .
  55. ^ Unitarian worship (BBC - Religions)
  56. ^ a the Diet of Lécfalva 1600, in Gordon A. Heads of Unitarian History
  57. ^ Keyes, David (1999), Most Like An Arch, p. 106, "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" .
  58. ^ ICUU webpage with world map
  59. ^ Rosso, Rev. Roberto (in Italian), Protestanti radicale, Cesnur, http://www.cesnur.org/religioni_italia/p/prot_radicale_04.htm .
  60. ^ (in Norwegian) Unitarforbundet Bét Dávid (Den norske unitarkirke), http://unitarforbundet.org/ .
  61. ^ The Connection of Deism to American Unitarianism - Nathan De May
  62. ^ "The Rev. Lancelot Garrard", Obituary, The Independent, 1993, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-the-rev-lancelot-garrard-1479893.html .
  63. ^ Stephen Crittenden: The President of the Unitarian church in Sydney, Peter Crawford, speaking to John Russell.
  64. ^ Unitarian Ministries International, http://unitarianministries.com/ .
  65. ^ Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship, http://www.uuchristian.org/ .
  66. ^ Christian, UK Unitarians, http://www.ukunitarians.org.uk/christian/ .
  67. ^ According to a 2002 survey published by the Barna Group (http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=122), only 79% of Christians in the United States believe God is one being in three separate and equal persons—God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. According to the 2001 US Census, section 79 (http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/03statab/pop.pdf), 159,506,000 adults identify themselves as Christians. This would mean that, circa 2001-2002, 33,496,000 American Christians (21% of 159,506,000) were nontrinitarian, a number some ten times greater than the number of Christians in the UUA.
  68. ^ Tim Berners-Lee, The World Wide Web and the "Web of Life"


  • Tuggy, Dale, "Supplement to 'Trinity'", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/unitarianism.html .
  • Wilbur, Earl Morse (1925) (PDF), Our Unitarian Heritage, Berkeley, CA: Starr King School for the Ministry, http://www.sksm.edu/research/publications/ouh.pdf .
  • Joseph Henry Allen, Our Liberal Movement in Theology (Boston, 1882)
  • Joseph Henry Allen, Sequel to our Liberal Movement (Boston, 1897)
  • Anthony F. Buzzard and Charles F. Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound (Lanham, Maryland, 1998) ISBN 1-57309-309-2.
  • John White Chadwick, Old and New Unitarian Belief (Boston, 1894).
  • George Willis Cooke, Unitarianism in America: a History of its Origin and Development (Boston, 1902).
  • Patrick Navas, Divine Truth or Human Tradition: A Reconsideration of the Roman Catholic-Protestant Doctrine of the Trinity in Light of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (Bloomington, Indiana 2007). ISBN 1-4259-4832-4.
  • Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism: Socinianism and Its Antecedents, Harvard University Press, 1945.
  • Andrew M. Hill, 'The Unitarian Path', Lindsey Press (London 1994) ISBN 0-85319-046-1
  • Charles A. Howe, 'For Faith and Freedom: A Short History of Unitarianism in Europe', Skinner House Books (Boston, 1997) ISBN 1-55896-359-6
  • Smith, Matthew F (2005), "Unitarians", Christianity: The Complete Guide, London: Continuum, ISBN 0-8264-5937-4 .
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 


  • Buzzard, A. and Hunting, C. (1998). The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound. International Scholars Publications. ISBN 1573093092
  • Rowe, Mortimer, B.A., D.D. The History of Essex Hall. London:Lindsey Press, 1959. Full text reproduced here.

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