Saturday, August 29, 2009

U or U Christian

Over my past 3 years as an official UU (I was a "friend" for several years before that), I've heard that Christians in our denomination come from the Universalism side of the UUA. There is truth to that if we consider religious approach. At the time of the formation of the UUA, Universalism was the less affluent, less educated group, full of heart, a mystic bent, and a belief in universal acceptance. Unitarians brought more affluence, education and a decidedly intellectual way of viewing religious topics.

The origins of both denominations were in Christianity. Unitarians were so called because they did not believe in the theology of the Trinity, but in one indivisible God. Universalists believed that when Jesus died on the cross, he brought salvation to ALL humankind, not just to Christians. I've read that as Universalism tried to compete with a growing rationalism during the scientific revolution, they reworked the salvation idea to include appreciation and acceptance of all paths that illuminate the light of God. This is my very brief summary, and I'm sure some of you can add details for the rest of us.

Personally, I'm a Unitarian and a Universalist who is closer to our origins. I believe in one God and do not ascribe to a theology of the Trinity and I believe that everyone is saved and all spiritual paths are valid. But in my experience so far, it's how UU Christians approach their faith that sets them with the Universalists. Mystic, expressive, leading with the heart, UU Christians may read and cogitate about the Great Spirit and how nature manifests it, but what energizes them is when they experience the Spirit at the soul level. They seek out opportunities for that experience; they need that experience on a regular basis to feel whole.

And I believe that we, as a denomination, need both approaches. We as humans become our best, do our best when our hearts and minds are engaged at the same time. UU Christians are in a good position to model this reality.

For more perspectives on Universalism, check out The Universalist Herald. My most recent article "The Universalist in Me" appears in the July/August 2009 issue, pg. 14.

What's your experience? Do you think you're more a U Christian or a U Christian? Are you a living example of the merger of Unitarianism and Universalism? Is there any reason to be more evangelical about our Universalist side?


  1. Hello!
    Nice summary! I would just add that historical American Unitarianism itself has been divided into a more decidedly rationist side and a more pietistic side (the people that I call my spiritual guides and blog about over at Boston Unitarian)
    I am enjoying your words.
    Blessings, BU

  2. Thanks for the expansion, BU. I need to do a bit more exploration on the Unitarian side. Have a great day!