Unitarian Universalism (UU), known officially as the Unitarian Universalist
Association of Congregations in North America (with headquarters in Boston, Mass.),
was officially formed in 1961 with the merger of two separate religious groups whose roots
date back to the early 1500s -- the American Unitarian Association (1825) and the
Universalist Church of America (1793). Unitarian Universalism is one of the most liberal
of the denominations, being more akin to a society of free thinkers than a traditional
In America, the religious liberalism that came to be known as Unitarianism appeared within the congregational churches in Massachusetts as a reaction against the revivalism of the Great Awakening (1740-43). Unitarianism prospered in the late-18th century among the Harvard elite, and emerged full bloom in the early-19th century as a rational, mystical, liberal religion that rejected the divinity of Christ as well as the Calvinist view of man as totally depraved. The Unitarians believed that man was not only morally perfectible, but that education was the only true way to salvation. Since they believed that evil was caused by ignorance, poverty, and social injustice, they were convinced that only a good liberal education, provided by the government at no charge, would solve society's problems (1/96, The Blumenfeld Education Letter, p. 2).
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.
There are currently about 205,000 Unitarian Universalist members in 1,040 congregations in North America. The beliefs of Unitarian Universalism appeal greatly to the "yuppie" generation of today -- no penalty for sin, no hell, salvation for all, ecumenism with all other religions, and extreme theological liberalism with no official creeds. Many in this "church" do not believe in Biblical Christianity, and some do not even want to be known as Christians. According to the Unitarian-Universalist 1985 revised statement, no minister, member, or congregation "shall be required to subscribe to any particular interpretation of religion, or to any particular religious belief or creed." Four of their seven Principles and Purposes are these: The inherent worth and dignity of every person; a free and responsible search for truth; the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
In their attempt to be "free thinking" and "non-creedal," the UUs have become so liberal that they deny almost every doctrine of the Christian faith, replacing the worship of God with a worship of self, teaching that human reason and experience take precedence over the Word of God. Below are the highlights of what the Unitarian Universalists "believe" concerning their source of authority, the Trinity, God, Christ, salvation, and heaven and hell:
1. Source of Authority. The UUs deny the divine inspiration and absolute authority of the Scriptures. They claim the Bible was merely the creation of men, and therefore, the Bible contains many "inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and errors." They substitute human reason for revelation as their source of authority, and believe there are no absolute or infallible guides, including reason. [HJB] In fact, UUs desire a world religion that "draws from and honors the teachings of all of the great religious traditions."
2. Trinity. The UUs deny that one God exists in three Persons. Instead, they claim that Trinitarian doctrine was added by the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. [HJB]
3. God. The UUs hold a variety of liberal views about God: Some do not believe that He is a Person, but instead claim He is an impersonal spirit, a natural force, or a principle. Some even claim that He is a created being, not supernatural. Others even deny His existence completely.
4. Jesus Christ. The UUs deny the deity of Christ -- that He is not God and Savior, but only a good man and teacher. They claim that the apostles and other Christian writers added to the Scriptures the teachings concerning Christ's atonement for sin.
5. Salvation. The UUs teach that the essence of salvation is character development ("deeds not creeds"), rather than faith in Jesus Christ alone -- the "social gospel" reigns supreme in UU. This belief allows every person to do whatever is right in his own eyes as long as he is sincere about it (including homosexual behavior -- UU became the first denomination to call for the legal recognition of same-sex marriages [Associated Press:6/25/96]; as early as 1970, UUs called for an end to discrimination against homosexuals and bisexuals, and in 1980, UUs resolved that homosexuals should be ordained.).
6. Hell. The UUs hold the "universalist" belief that no one will be eternally condemned. They, therefore, deny the existence of hell, claiming it is unreasonable for a loving God to send people to a place of eternal torment. They believe that we suffer the consequences of sin in this life only. [HJB]
* Unless otherwise cited, three primary sources were used for this report: (1) Grolier's 1995 Multimedia Encyclopedia, (2) Funk & Wagnall's Encyclopedia, and (3) What They Believe, Harold J. Berry [HJB] , BTTB:1990, pp. 269-287.