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Unitarianism

Unitarianism, in general, the form of Christianity that denies the doctrine of the Trinity, believing that God exists only in one person. While there were previous antitrinitarian movements in the early Christian Church, like Arianism and Monarchianism, modern Unitarianism originated in the period of the Protestant Reformation. In Geneva, Michael Servetus was burned at the stake (1553) for his antitrinitarian views. Under Faustus Socinus a strong center of Unitarian belief developed in Poland. In Transylvania, Francis Dávid laid the foundation (c.1560) for the Unitarian Church there. In the 17th and 18th cent. Socinian ideas took root in England, especially under the influence of John Biddle, called the father of English Unitarianism. The development of a separate Unitarian body came about gradually through the efforts of such men as Joseph Priestley and Thomas Belsham. Originally a scripturally oriented movement, in the mid-19th cent. Unitarianism became a religion of reason under the leadership of James Martineau in England and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Theodore Parker in the United States. Reason and conscience were considered the only guides to religious truth; complete religious toleration, innate human goodness, and universal salvation were preached. Unitarianism took hold in the liberal wing of the Congregational churches of New England. At King's Chapel, Boston, in 1785, trinitarian doctrines were removed from the liturgy. In 1796, Priestley, who had fled to America to escape persecution, established a Unitarian church in Philadelphia. Liberal Congregationalists in New England gradually formed themselves into a new denomination, to which the name Unitarian was given (c.1815) by their conservative opponents. The final separation from Congregationalism was hastened by the choice of Henry Ware (1764–1845), a liberal, as Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard in 1805 and by the ordination sermon defending the liberals preached (1819) by William Ellery Channing in Baltimore. Channing's statement of Unitarian beliefs became the platform of the denomination. The American Unitarian Association was formed in 1825, and in 1865 a national conference was organized. A congregational form of government prevails in the Unitarian churches, each congregation having control of its own affairs. Neither ministers nor members are required to make profession of any particular doctrine, and no creed has been adopted by the church. The covenant in general use is simply, "In the love of truth, and in the spirit of Jesus, we unite for worship of God and the service of man." In 1961 the Universalist Church of America merged with the American Unitarian Association to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.

See J. F. Clarke, Manual of Unitarian Belief (20th ed. rev. 1924); D. W. Howe, The Unitarian Conscience (1970); S. E. Almstrom and J. S. Carey, ed., An American Reformation: A Documentary History of Unitarian Christianity (1984); D. Robinson, The Unitarians and the Universalists (1985).

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unitarians

unitarians deny the deity of Christ. They believe that only the Father should be worshipped, but their attitude to Jesus varies, reflecting their application of reasoned individual judgement to the Bible, and their reluctance to formulate creeds. Their views developed with the Reformation, notably through Michael Servetus (1511–53), the physician burned in Geneva, Bernardino Ochino (1487–1564), the friar turned Lutheran whom Cranmer invited to England in 1547, and Lelio and Fausto Sozzini. By the 17th cent. they had communities in Poland, Hungary, and England, where John Biddle's (1615–62) XII Arguments qualify him as the father of English unitarianism. They grew congregationally in the 18th cent. from presbyterian, independent, and general baptist churches, although avowed unitarianism only became legal in 1813. Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) and Theophilus Lindsey (1723–1808) were that century's outstanding unitarians; the former had been an independent and the latter an Anglican clergyman. With no co-ordinating body before the British and Foreign Unitarian Association of 1825, superseded in 1928 by the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, they none the less produced a distinctive social, political, and intellectual culture, represented by such families as the Martineaus, Chamberlains, Wicksteeds, and Holts, and such institutions as Manchester College, Oxford. In Scotland, where Thomas Aikenhead's mockery of the trinity led to Britain's last execution for blasphemy (1697), their corporate existence dates from 1776; in Ireland their strength lies with the non-subscribing presbyterians originating in the early 18th cent. and reinforced after 1829.

Clyde Binfield

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Unitarianism

Unitarianism. A religious movement connected with Christianity. Unitarians are those who reject the Trinitarian understanding of God. Although there are many antecedents, the specific point of origin for the movement is usually taken to be the work of Servetus, and of the Sozzinis (i.e. Socinianism). The first Unitarian congregation in England was formed in 1774, and in the USA in 1782, but the movement did not become fully organized until the Baltimore sermon of W. E. Channing in 1819, on ‘Unitarian Christianity’. The American Unitarian Association was founded in 1825. In 1961, the Unitarians merged with the Universalists, the joint movement becoming known as the Unitarian Universalist Association. It is characterized by an emphasis on members seeking truth out of human experience, not out of allegiance to creeds or doctrines. There is no hierarchical control, each congregation being self-governing. There are more than a thousand congregations, mainly in the USA and Canada.

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Unitarian

U·ni·tar·i·an / ˌyoōniˈte(ə)rēən/ • n. Theol. a person, esp. a Christian, who asserts the unity of God and rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. ∎  a member of a church or religious body maintaining this belief and typically rejecting formal dogma in favor of a rationalist and inclusivist approach to belief. • adj. of or relating to the Unitarians. DERIVATIVES: U·ni·tar·i·an·ism / -ˌnizəm/ n.

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Unitarianism

Unitarianism Version of Christianity that denies the Trinity, accepts God as the father, and rejects the divinity of Jesus Christ. Originally considered a heresy, it flourished in Poland in the 16th century. John Biddle (1615–62) first preached Unitarianism in England in the 1640s. Unitarianism in the 20th century has been identified with liberal politics and the movement for world peace; it has taken an increasingly humanist point of view.

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Unitarians

Unitarians. Arab. al-Muwaḥḥidūn can be translated as ‘the Unitarians’, and it occurs particularly, in Islam, in Ismāʿīlī and Sūfī movements, where the unity of Being is stressed, with human (or sometimes all) appearances being manifestations of that one Being. See also Almohads in Ibn Tumart; Druzes.

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Unitarian

Unitarian a person, especially a Christian, who asserts the unity of God and rejects the doctrine of the Trinity; a member of a Church or religious body maintaining this belief and typically rejecting formal dogma in favour of a rationalist and inclusivist approach to belief.

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unitarian

unitarian one who affirms the unipersonality of the Godhead. XVII. f. modL. ūnitārius, f. L. ūnitās UNITY; see -ARIAN.

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Unitarian

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quadragenarian, quinquagenarian, quodlibetarian, Rastafarian, riparian, rosarian, Rotarian, sabbatarian, Sagittarian, sanitarian, Sauveterrian, sectarian, seminarian, septuagenarian, sexagenarian, topiarian, totalitarian, Trinitarian, ubiquitarian, Unitarian, utilitarian, valetudinarian, vegetarian, veterinarian, vulgarian •Adrian, Hadrian •Assyrian, Illyrian, Syrian, Tyrian •morion • Austrian •Dorian, Ecuadorean, historian, Hyperborean, Nestorian, oratorian, praetorian (US pretorian), salutatorian, Salvadorean, Singaporean, stentorian, Taurean, valedictorian, Victorian •Ugrian • Zarathustrian •Cumbrian, Northumbrian, Umbrian •Algerian, Cancerian, Chaucerian, Cimmerian, criterion, Hesperian, Hitlerian, Hyperion, Iberian, Liberian, Nigerian, Presbyterian, Shakespearean, Siberian, Spenserian, Sumerian, valerian, Wagnerian, Zairean •Arthurian, Ben-Gurion, centurion, durian, holothurian, Khachaturian, Ligurian, Missourian, Silurian, tellurian •Circassian, Parnassian •halcyon • Capsian • 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•Carthusian, Malthusian, Venusian

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