Bible Class Curricula - Denominational Doctrines (Part 2) - Lesson #2 - The Unitarian Universalist Religion
- History of the Unitarian Universalists Association (UUA) Denomination
What is the Unitarian Universalists Church? Here is how its official website describes them:
Our history has carried us from liberal Christian views about Jesus and human nature to a rich pluralism that includes theist and atheist, agnostic and humanist, pagan, Christian, Jew, and Buddhist.1
Unitarian Universalist members say:2
"I want a religion that respects the differences between people and affirms every person as an individual."
"I want a church that values children, that welcomes them on their own terms – a church they are eager to attend on Sunday morning."
"I want a congregation that cherishes freedom and encourages open dialogue on questions of faith, one in which it is okay to change your mind."
"I want a religious community that affirms spiritual exploration and reason as ways of finding truth."
"I want a church that acts locally and thinks globally on the great issues of our time – world peace; women's rights; racial justice; homelessness; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights; and protection of the environment."
When did this denomination start?
In 1825 , Six years later [after 1819 ,] the American Unitarian Association was organized in Boston, MA.
… After officially organizing in 1793 , the Universalists spread their faith across the eastern United States and Canada. …
By the middle of the twentieth century it became clear that Unitarians and Universalists could have a stronger liberal religious voice if they merged their efforts, and they did so in 1961 , forming the Unitarian Universalist Association.3
To understand the Unitarian Universalist church, it is necessary to look at the main tenets of Unitarianism and Universalism before they merged. Their official website reads:
[Some believers chose] a belief that Jesus was an entity sent by God on a divine mission. Thus the word “Unitarian” developed, meaning the oneness of God. Another religious choice … was universal salvation. This was the belief that no person would be condemned by God to eternal damnation in a fiery pit. Thus a Universalist believed that all people will be saved.
… Frances David … converted … to Unitarianism because he could find no biblical basis for the doctrine of the Trinity. …
The Universalists believed in a God who embraced everyone, and this eventually became central to their belief that lasting truth is found in all religions.4
Some have said that there was only one difference between the two denominations:
Thomas Starr King, who is credited with defining the difference between Unitarians and Universalists: "Universalists believe that God is too good to damn people, and the Unitarians believe that people are too good to be damned by God."5
What set of beliefs composes a Unitarian Universalist? In a survey (not sponsored by the UUA), Unitarian Universalists in the United States were asked which provided a term or set of terms best described their belief. Many respondents chose more than one term to describe their beliefs.6The Survey’s Top Choices
- Where is their headquarters? Boston, Massachusetts7
- Where did this movement start? North America (in the northeastern United States)8
What is their authority? Marta Flanagan, co-minister of one of the largest UUA congregations, notes:
We believe that personal experience, conscience, and reason should be the final authorities in religion. In the end religious authority lies not in a book, person, or institution, but in ourselves. We put religious insights to the test of our hearts and minds.9
- Doctrines of the Unitarian Universalist Church Examined
- Unitarian Universalists have a skewed view of God.
Concerning Him, they state:
Some Unitarian Universalists are nontheists and do not find language about God useful. The faith of other Unitarian Universalists in God may be profound, though among these, too, talk of God may be restrained. …
Whatever our theological persuasion, Unitarian Universalists generally agree that the fruits of religious belief matter more than beliefs about religion – even about God.10
- How can you be a “church” that claims to believe in any form of “Christian” religion without having a firm belief in God? A belief in God is essential (Genesis 1:1, 26-27; Psalm 19:1; Philippians 2:5; Matthew 1:21; Romans 1:18-21; Acts 17:30-31).
- Unitarian Universalists believe that Jesus was a good human being, but not God.
Classically, Unitarian Universalist Christians have understood Jesus as a savior because he was a God-filled human being, not a supernatural being. He was, and still is for many UUs, an exemplar, one who has shown the way of redemptive love, in whose spirit anyone may live generously and abundantly. Among us, Jesus’ very human life and teaching have been understood as products of, and in line with, the great Jewish tradition of prophets and teachers. He neither broke with that tradition nor superceded it.11
The UU church in Nashua, NH, succinctly states, "We do not believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, performed miracles and was resurrected from death."12
- Was Jesus merely a “good” human being and prophet? No. Jesus is God in the flesh (Matthew 1:20-21; Philippians 2:5; Mark 9:1ff.; John 20:28; Matthew 27:54; John 10:30).
- This group takes an irreverent and flippant view toward the Holy Scriptures.
Concerning the Bible they say:
We do not, however, hold the Bible – or any other account of human experience – to be either an infallible guide or the exclusive source of truth. Much biblical material is mythical or legendary. Not that it should be discarded for that reason! Rather, it should be treasured for what it is. We believe that we should read the Bible as we read other books (or the newspaper) – with imagination and a critical eye.13
- The Bible can be proven to be infallible, accurate, and authoritative (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Isaiah 53; Matthew 27; 2 Peter 1:3; Psalm 119:160; John 12:48; 17:17).
- Salvation for a Unitarian Universalist is not salvation from sin.
- Rather, it is described as a "yearning for, and our experience of, personal growth, increased wisdom, strength of character, and gifts of insight, understanding, inner and outer peace, courage, patience, and compassion. The ways in which these things come to, change, and heal us, are many indeed."14
- According to this belief, since everyone is going to Heaven anyway, “salvation” is actually little more than living the best life in the here and now. Jesus’ teaching of salvation is much different than the belief of those in the Unitarian Universalist religion (John 8:24; 14:6; Mark 9:44; Hebrews 9:27; Luke 16:19-31).
- Unitarian Universalists openly accept homosexuality.
- Their "proud history of supporting full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people"15 demonstrably extends to marriages, church leadership, and even curricula taught directly to youth.16
- The Bible sternly warns against homosexual activity (Romans 1:26-29; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13).
- Unitarian Universalists do not believe in life after life.
Their central website vaguely states:
Two of the big questions religions have sought to answer over the years are: "Why does life exist as we know it?" and "What happens after we die?" Unitarian Universalism won’t promise you ironclad answers to these questions. But we will promise you a community of learning and support in which we are all making meaning of life and death.17
However, the UU Church in Nashua, NH, offers the following answers:
Very few UUs believe in a continuing, individualized existence after physical death. Even fewer believe in the physical existence of places called heaven or hell where one goes after dying. We believe immortality manifests itself in the lives of those we affect during our lifetime and in the legacy we leave when we die.18
Most UUs regard death as the final and total end of our existence. Rather than seeing this in a morbid or despairing sense, we view the finality of death as a compelling reason to live life as fully as possible.19
- The belief in Heaven and Hell is a fundamental principle of Christianity (John 5:28-29; 14:1-6; Hebrews 9:27).
- Unitarian Universalists also believe wholeheartedly in organic evolution.
- One can find many articles (and even printed books) by using the UU’s main website’s search tool, but the Nashua, NH, UU Church once again gives a very clear, short question and answer: "Do you believe in the concept of evolution? Yes. We believe that more complex life forms have evolved from less complex life forms."20
- Organic evolution and God are incompatible (Genesis 1:1, 31; 2:7; Psalm 19:1).
- Unitarian Universalists do not believe in or teach about sin as the Bible does.
- From the Nashua, NH, UU Church: "You could attend a UU church for years and seldom hear the word sin."21
- This is what makes this religion so popular and pleasing to many people (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 3:23; Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23).
- Here are some of the more famous Unitarian Universalist members. (Remember Moses’ admonition not to follow a multitude to do evil (Exodus 23:2).)
- Susan B. Anthony ( 1820 – 1906 ), organizer of the women’s suffrage movement
- Alexander Graham Bell ( 1847 – 1922 ), inventor of the telephone, founder of Bell Telephone Company
- Charles Darwin ( 1809 – 1882 ), scientist and evolutionist, author of The Origin of Species
- Ralph Waldo Emerson ( 1803 – 1882 ), Unitarian minister, philosopher, essayist
- Daniel Webster ( 1782 – 1852 ), orator, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, presidential candidate
- Benjamin Franklin ( 1706 – 1790 ), scientist, writer, statesman, printer
- P.T. Barnum ( 1810 – 1891 ), well-known showman, owner of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, a founder of Tufts University
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ( 1807 – 1882 ), poet, author of Paul Revere’s Ride
- Beatrix Potter ( 1866 – 1943 ), author of Peter Rabbit and other children’s stories
- Joseph Priestly ( 1733 – 1804 ), Unitarian minister, discoverer of oxygen
- Unitarian Universalists have a skewed view of God.
- Does the Unitarian Universalist denomination describe itself as being a "liberal religion"? What exactly do they mean by that description?
- Since the Unitarian Universalist denomination grew out of Unitarianism and Universalism, describe what each of these denominations beliefs.
- Of all Unitarians, 54% describe themselves as being what? What other terms do they use to describe themselves?
- Marta Flanagan describes this group’s authority as "personal experience, conscience, and reason." What is wrong with these being our final authority in religion?
- What does it mean to say "the fruits of religious belief matter more than beliefs about religion – even about God"?
- How does this denomination view Jesus Christ? Is their view of Christ in line with Scripture?
- How does this denomination view the Holy Scriptures? What is meant by the statement, "We believe that we should read the Bible … with imagination and a critical eye"?
- When this group talks about salvation, what do they mean?
- Do Unitarian Universalists accept homosexuals? What do the Scriptures teach about homosexuality?
- Does this denomination believe in life after death?
- Does this denomination believe in organic evolution? Do the Scriptures teach evolution as the form of creation?
- Do you believe this denomination should even be labeled as "Christian"?
- 1Online: (http://www.uua.org/beliefs/history/151249.shtml), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 2Online: (http://www.uuav.org/aboutuu.htm), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 3Online: (http://www.uua.org/beliefs/history/151249.shtml), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 6Dart, John, Churchgoers from elsewhere in The Christian Century ( December 5, 2001 ).
- 7Online: (http://www.uua.org/headquarters/index.shtml), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 8Online: (http://www.uua.org/beliefs/history/151249.shtml), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 9Online: (http://www.uuav.org/aboutuu.htm), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 10Online: (http://www.uua.org/beliefs/faq/151250.shtml), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 12Online: (http://www.uunashua.org/100q/c1.shtml#q12), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 13Online: (http://www.uua.org/beliefs/faq/151250.shtml), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 15Online: (http://www.uua.org/lgbtq/witness/index.shtml), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 16Online: (http://www.uua.org/lgbtq/history/185789.shtml), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 17Online: (http://www.uua.org/beliefs/welcome/life/index.shtml), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 18Online: (http://www.uunashua.org/100q/c1.shtml#q14), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 19Online: (http://www.uunashua.org/100q/c3.shtml#q27), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 20Online: (http://www.uunashua.org/100q/c1.shtml#q15), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
- 21Online: (http://www.uunashua.org/100q/c3.shtml#q28), retrieved June 23, 2014 .
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