Unitarians/Is UU christian?
Is the UU church a Christian based religion? Does members consider themselves Christian?
Dear Alvin -
What a great question ! ! !
Quick answer: Yes, we have members who consider themselves Christian.
Much, much longer answer: I’m going to answer your question based on my being around UUs for thirty years. I was raised a Presbyterian. So, I’ve seen two sides of a belief system.
I’d like to divide my answer into three parts: first, a background of our association; second, how we incorporate Christians into the UU fold; and third, outline how UUs believe in and interpret the Bible.
FIRST– a background (including where the two groups (Unitarian and Universalist) originated):
The concept of Unitarianism generally looks to a Catholic priest, Michael Servetus, as a spiritual originator. Servetus was born in Spain in 1511 and died in 1553, after attacking the doctrines of the Trinity. Unitarianism is a doctrinal system characterized chiefly by a belief in the unipersonality of God and the normal humanity of Jesus, as contrasted with the Trinity and the eternal deity (divinity) of Jesus. Most Unitarians I’ve spoken with reject the divinity of Jesus, but do recognize him (Jesus) as a great moral teacher
Universalism is the theological doctrine that all souls will ultimately be saved and that there are no torments of hell. Universalism has been asserted at various times in different contexts throughout the history of the "Christian church"--e.g., Origen in the 3rd century. The Universalists also denied the miraculous element in Scripture, and rejected such important Bible doctrines as the total depravity of man and the Trinity.
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) was created in May of 1961 as a merger of Unitarians and Universalists.
SECOND – In this part of my answer, Alvin, I will answer your question on how UUs include Christians. I must point out that the Unitarian Church (hereinafter referred to as UUA) has no creeds, only statements of purpose. We pride ourselves in welcoming atheists and humanists, as well as Christians. Some time ago, the UU organization took a survey to find out what we believe is important in our religious lives.
Almost 10,000 Unitarian Universalists took the time to fill out and return the survey, giving us all an invaluable snapshot of who we are. Our association has been enriched by the knowledge gained from the answers many UUs provided.
This survey began a process designed to reach out to all UU individuals and congregations called "Fulfilling the Promise." This Concept was set in motion by the Unitarian Universalist Association's Board of Trustees. Its goal was to help us move toward agreement about why we come together as congregations and as an association, and what we hope to accomplish.
The survey questions came from individual UUs, as did the suggested responses. More than 500 people helped create this survey. We hope you will find your own experience reflected in the questions and answers, even if the exact language you would use is not perfectly captured here.
What follows are the total tabulations for the first 8118 surveys. At least one question deals with theological perspective. Question number 30 results follow:
Please check the one of the following which best describes your theological perspective:
• Humanist: 46.1%
• Earth/Nature centered: 19.0
• Theist: 13.0
• Christian: 9.5
• Mystic: 6.2
• Buddhist: 3.6
• Jewish: 1.3
• Hindu: 0.4
• Moslem: 0.1
• Other: 13.3
The balance of the questions (age, sex, length of church membership, etc.), gave us a picture of who are demographically and as church persons. They provide a picture of what we say our values in religious community are.
As you can see, fewer than 10% of the UUA consider themselves Christian. Those in the UUA who consider themselves Christian may believe Jesus is god or son of god. However, many may consider Jesus a prophet of god like the Muslims. BOTTOM LINE – There is a belief in Jesus as the highest model of the religious life: At the same time, there is an interpretation of Jesus that equates his ministry with that of Moses, Buddha, Socrates, and Mohammed. The main differences would be the fact that the UUA welcomes people from all faiths (see results of survey.)
THIRD – In final part of my answer, Alvin, I will attempt to outline how UUs believe in and interpret the Bible which is fundamental in the Christian faith. No one, to my knowledge, believes in the infallibility of the Bible. Our Unitarian and Universalist forebears accept the authority of biblical truth, but affirmed that it must be reasonable interpreted. The advancement of human knowledge and experience over the years has led the UUs to find truth in many written works as well as to accept scholarly criticism of the Bible. Nevertheless, this speaking of the truth, as the minister or other speaker best understand it, is still basic to us. Each individual congregant (member of UUA) must, of course determine for him or herself what rings true. It is not required that people agree with all that is said. You might even try typing in “biblical contradictions” with any search engine you choose to show your mother that there is room for infallibility in reading the bible.
For more information, please feel free to check out our web site http://uua.org/
A good book to check on is “A Chosen Faith” – ISBN 0-8070-1617-9.
Alvin, remember that I’m one of over 250,000 people and, if you ask another UU (Unitarian Universalist), you may get a different (but, hopefully, not conflicting) answer. I must thank you for taking the time to question how Christians fit into the UU framework.