Intro

Unitarian Christianity is, like other forms of Christianity, a religion that asserts the divine character, divine spirit, and divine foundation of the teaching of Jesus Christ. It places particular emphasis on reason, conscience, and free will in religion and uses contemporary methods to understand myths and symbols of the past.

History and Development

Over the past two millennia, many believers have sought to interpret the teachings of Jesus, and there have always been individuals and groups who have taken a Unitarian position (the Ebionites and Arians are examples of this).

It was not until the 16th Century that Unitarianism became an organised denomination with Francis David, a priest residing in Transylvania, setting up the first Unitarian church in the mid 1500s. He was later martyred but his distinct ministry spread across Europe, to North America and then across the world.

Francis David (also known as Dávid Ferenc) founded the first Unitarian church in 16th century Transylvania. His ministry also lead to the conversion of the Transylvanian monarch of the time, King John Sigismund (1540 - 1571), who enacted the first proclamation of religious freedom in European society known as the Edict of Torda. Unfortunately, the end of his reign marked a return to Catholic rule and our founder was forced to spend the rest of his life in prison on charges of heresy.

Other figures that stand out when looking at a history of Unitarian Christian thought include Michael Servetus, Faustus Socinus, Joseph Priestley, William Ellery Channing and James Martineau. In addition, many famous figures from history including John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, William Howard Taft, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale and Harriet Martineau have had links with Unitarianism. Many were attracted to the faith because of its rational approach to religion and its strong emphasis on social action.

Doctrine

It is a progressive religion, founded on and patterned after the elemental Christianity of Jesus and his disciples. Like that model, it seeks to form understandings of God, laying great stress on the ethical responsibility of individuals, of the Church, and of the human race. Unitarian Christianity is distinguished from other Christian belief systems in four main respects: 

 1) the belief that human nature in its present condition is neither inherently corrupt nor depraved, but exactly as God created it and intended it to be from the beginning, capable of both good and evil;

2) The conviction that no religion has a monopoly on Holy Spirit or theological truth;

3) The belief that the Bible, while inspired of God, is written by humans and therefore subject to human error;

4) the rejection of traditional doctrines that malign God’s character or veil the true nature and mission of Jesus, such as the doctrines of predestination, eternal damnation, the Trinity, and the vicarious sacrifice or satisfaction theory of the Atonement.

It is the rejection of the Trinity doctrine that gave rise to the name “Unitarian,” although disavowal of the Trinity teaching is hardly the emphasis of Unitarianism. Unitarians have great respect for all forms of Christianity, but are convinced that their Christianity best reflects Jesus’ own vision.

A trained and educated professional ministry is found within most Unitarian Christian communities. However, it is important to note that there is nothing a minister does that, in principle, a lay person may not do.

Appointment of a minister or lay preacher is in the hands of the congregation, not the denomination. Consequently, the Unitarian Christian ministry is open to all.

In recent years, new Unitarian Christian communities have been served well by lay persons and it is expected that this trend will continue and grow.


Unitarians Today

There are Unitarian Christians across the world - some with their own distinct groups, some within the Revisionist Unitarian movement and some within liberal Christian churches.

Unitarian Christian churches and fellowships are currently present within Romania, Hungary, Norway, Great Britain, Italy and North America. The largest group is the Unitarian Church in Transylvania, Romania.

Many of these groups have a presence on the World Wide Web.


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