Difference between unitarianism and revivalism place
Unitarianism, as a Christian denominational family of churches, was first defined in Poland-Lithuania and Transylvania in the late 16th century. true religion," he taught his readers (and listeners) "to distinguish between affections, approving some, and rejecting others; separating between the. be used in order to put the person into the place where God's spir could deal with him. enable orthodoxy to withstand the challenge of Unitarianism.5 W. HOW TO HELP THE WORLD BECOME A BETTER PLACE LYRICS
Beecher might have anticipated that his evolving vision of a well-regulated religious diversity, channeled by leaders such as himself into a grand plan to build God's kingdom, would assume an important position in his battle against the Unitarian liberals.
The record of the Unitarian controversy during his tenure certainly suggests that it did. Should differences be emphasized and divisions clearly drawn? To what extent should Christians view religious tolerance as a good in itself? And what were the limits of such tolerance? Such questions often dominated debates between the Unitarians and the orthodox, pushing specifically doctrinal disputes to the side. Indeed, Unitarian writers seldom attacked Beecher and his orthodox brethren for their doctrinal positions, but frequently for their alleged intolerance, arrogance, and desire to coerce all Christians into accepting their own narrow set of beliefs.
While Beecher fought to initiate purely doctrinal disputes, the Unitarians largely succeeded in focusing the controversy on other matters. Prominent among these was the meaning of religious diversity in the young republic. What specific positions, then, did Beecher and his opponents take on religious diversity?
The Unitarian position can best be described as a kind of cosmopolitan universalism. Unitarians reserved their more powerful arguments for discussions of the common mind and the faculty of conscience that bound all Christians and sometimes they even suggested all people together. They were able to celebrate differences because they believed that differences were ultimately of little consequence.
In much of their writing and preaching, they sought to blur distinctions among sects and highlight universal values. Henry Ware, Jr. This vision of consensus, however expansive, had definite limits. For one, an elite New England particularism stood behind much of the Unitarians' cosmopolitanism.
Unitarian descriptions of the universal relationship between God and man often read like descriptions of the enlightened social intercourse of Boston Brahmins; their model of rational piety was simply tailor-made for erudite Bostonians. But Unitarians set more explicit limits on Christian fellowship as well. During this period, they specifically excluded Universalists from the fold. In the s, they would likewise close ranks against Transcendentalists. And throughout the antebellum period, they made it clear that their "charitable judgement" did not extend to Catholics.
Beecher had his own ideas about the meaning of religious difference in his time. He also had his own plans for what was to come and who was to lead the way. Beecher's position can best be described as a millenarian pluralism. Like the Unitarians, he tried to embrace religious heterogeneity, though on very different terms and to a very different end. As we have already noted, Beecher had for some time effectively advocated cooperation among denominations in evangelical enterprises.
While in Boston, he began to call more explicitly for the building of interdenominational coalitions. In The Spirit of the Pilgrims, a religious journal that Beecher founded in , an anonymous author likely Beecher himself made the case this way: "The division of labor is the life of secular prosperity; and God, in his providence, avails himself of the same principle in permitting the existence of different denominations.
Beecher strenuously rejected what he saw as the moral and theological relativism of the Unitarians. Differences among Christians would benefit God's kingdom, but this certainly did not mean that any group should hesitate to defend its own set of beliefs as the one eternal truth. Unitarians accused Beecher and the orthodox of arrogance and bigotry for holding their creed to be the only true one, to which they replied, "Have we not [a] right to associate with a creed?
May we not as properly dictate to them on the subject as they to us? And when we have associated, on the express understanding of a common faith, suppose one of our number widely departs from this faith; have we not the right to call him to account?
Not surprisingly then, Beecher often stood in favor of religious controversy. Sometimes he argued that it was a necessary evil, but just as often he declared that controversy was no evil at all; it was a vital mechanism through which the truth would rise and become visible to the religious public.
Competition insured balance such that no single denomination could unfairly dominate the rest. More importantly though, competition for converts and for influence over the moral life of the republic served as a spur to action and a means by which the gospel would be more widely diffused than it otherwise could be. Among those denominations that he recognized as genuinely Christian--that is, Trinitarian Protestants--he believed that competition had to coexist with collaboration and a spirit of charity.
The great energies of these denominations Beecher wished to direct outward "in deep and copious streams of benevolence. In a sense, his vision of religious pluralism demanded unity within individual bounded groups. But here Beecher confronted the contradictions and limits of his own logic. When, in the interest of sharpening the boundaries of orthodoxy, a group within the orthodox ranks initiated controversy, first against Charles Finney and shortly thereafter against Beecher himself, Beecher began arguing for complete unity at the expense of doctrinal precision or clear group definition.
I have termed Beecher a millenarian pluralist, by which I mean that he supported religious pluralism specifically because he believed that it would lead to the millennium, or Christ's year reign of glory on earth. The whole religious ferment of the early republic was but a great transitional moment in the coming of millennial glory.
Again we see Beecher's faith in ceaseless activity. Because of a great religious stir, people were awakening to God's plan. Pluralism was only preparation for a higher homogeneity. To quote again from The Spirit of the Pilgrims, "The temporary alienation of different denominations may have been intended, by heaven, to prepare the way for the unparalleled efficacy which will attend their evangelical concurrence in the great operations which are to terminate in the subjugation of the world to Christ.
Christians would disagree only until they agreed perfectly. Unitarians had no place in this final union. Nor did Catholics. So Beecher fought, often bitterly, either to bring them over or keep them at bay. Provided he could see people of different views somehow contributing to the advent of a higher harmony, he could welcome differences. But Unitarians appeared to be guiding people toward a final consensus starkly opposed to Beecher's cherished evangelical concurrence.
To Beecher's mind, Unitarianism led toward an anarchic individuation of conscience and a basic defiance of Christian prophecy. This was a difference that he was not prepared to tolerate. Similarly, when differences within the evangelical fold threatened to undermine the march toward the millennium, when even the New England orthodox appeared poised to split, Beecher struggled against the tide of controversy and against the apparently inexorable growth of religious diversity.
Nonetheless, his vision was a sophisticated one, encompassing some of the basic cultural tensions of the time, and it was for many people a quite compelling perspective on a rapidly changing society. It is my hope that by looking at Lyman Beecher in this light we might begin to make better sense of the complex responses to religious diversity in the early republic.
It is instructive just to observe that elites such as Beecher and his Unitarian opponents saw religious difference not simply as something to be either embraced or resisted, but rather as something to be guided and cultivated, defined and limited in specific ways. And regardless of their success in this venture, Beecher and the Unitarians certainly helped to set the terms of debate over the meaning of religious difference, and perhaps cultural difference more generally, in the early part of the nineteenth century.
This debate would remain vital throughout the nineteenth century and indeed, though greatly changed, it remains vital to us today. Notes 1. Three works that have set the standard for discussions of religious pluralism in nineteenth-century America should be acknowledged here: R. Thanks to these studies and others that have followed, we now know a good deal about the diverse and pluralistic character of religious experience in nineteenth-century America.
We still know quite little however about the various and nuanced meanings Americans in this period attached to this growing religious heterogeneity. Works that cite Beecher as an exemplar of opposition to religious heterogeneity are too numerous to list. For a prominent statement of this position, see Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, esp. The quotation comes from "The Toleration Dream," a satirical pamphlet Beecher published just after the defeat of the standing order.
It is reprinted in The Autobiography of Lyman Beecher, vol. Cross, ed. Cambridge, , Beecher's bitter attacks quickly drew heat from a range of denominational and ideological camps. For an example of the resentment that Beecher's arguments drew, see "A Letter to the Rev. Lyman Beecher" Boston, , Garrettson, a Methodist preacher, angrily criticized Beecher for belittling the influence of the Methodists in New England and more importantly in the West.
English Presbyterians were attracted to the second city at Norwich, by its emerging scientific community, which in the wake of the Enlightenment was particularly strong in Scotland. They began to become a formal denomination in when Theophilus Lindsey organized meetings with Joseph Priestley , founding the first avowedly Unitarian congregation in the country, at Essex Street Church in London.
In Lindsey and his colleague John Disney were behind the "first organized denominational Unitarian society", formally The Unitarian Society for promoting Christian Knowledge and the Practice of Virtue by the Distribution of Books  but more simply known as the Unitarian Book Society. This was followed by The Unitarian Fund , which sent out missionaries and financially supported poorer congregations. A century later, this joined with the Sunday School Association to become the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches , which remains today the umbrella organisation for British Unitarianism.
Early beginnings[ edit ] Between John Assheton and we find few anti-Trinitarians, most of whom were either executed or forced to recant. Those burned included the Flemish surgeon George van Parris ; Patrick Pakingham , a fellmonger; Matthew Hamont , a ploughwright; John Lewes ; Peter Cole , a tanner; Francis Kett , physician and author; Bartholomew Legate , a cloth-dealer and last of the Smithfield victims ; and the twice-burned Edward Wightman In all these cases the anti-Trinitarian sentiments seem to have come from Holland; the last two executions followed the dedication to James I of the Latin version of the Racovian Catechism The vogue of Socinian views, typified by men like Lucius Cary, 2nd Viscount Falkland and Chillingworth , led to the abortive fourth canon of against Socinian books.
The ordinance of made denial of the Trinity a capital offence, but it remained a dead letter, Cromwell intervening in the cases of Paul Best — and John Biddle — In — and — Biddle held a Socinian conventicle in London; in addition to his own writings he reprinted and translated the Racovian Catechism , and the Life of Socinus His disciple Thomas Firmin — , mercer and philanthropist, and friend of John Tillotson , adopted the more Sabellian views of Stephen Nye — , a clergyman.
Firmin promoted a remarkable series of controversial tracts — Arian or semi-Arian views had much vogue during the 18th century, both in the Church and among dissenters. It was construed in a broad sense to cover all who, with whatever differences, held to the unipersonality of the Divine Being. Firmin later had a project of Unitarian societies "within the Church". Act of Toleration [ edit ] The first preacher to describe himself as Unitarian was Thomas Emlyn — who gathered a London congregation in This was contrary to the Act of Toleration , which excluded all who should preach or write against the Trinity.
In Presbyterians and Independents had coalesced, agreeing to drop both names and to support a common fund. The union in the London fund was ruptured in ; in course of time differences in the administration of the two funds led to the attaching of the Presbyterian name to theological liberals, though many of the older Unitarian chapels were Independent foundations, and at least half of the Presbyterian chapels of — came into the hands of Congregationalists.
Salters' Hall conference [ edit ] Further information: Salter's Hall controversy The free atmosphere of dissenting academies colleges favoured new ideas. The effect of the Salters' Hall conference , called for by the views of James Peirce — of Exeter , was to leave dissenting congregations to determine their own orthodoxy; the General Baptists had already condoned defections from the common doctrine.
Leaders in the advocacy of a purely humanitarian christology came largely from the Independents, such as Nathaniel Lardner — , Caleb Fleming — , Joseph Priestley — and Thomas Belsham — Isaac Newton was an anti-Trinitarian, and possibly a Unitarian though he may have been Sabellian.
The Unitarian Church [ edit ] Main article: Essex Street Chapel The formation of a distinct Unitarian denomination dates from the secession of Theophilus Lindsey — from the Anglican Church , on the failure of the Feathers petition to parliament for relief from subscription.
Lindsey's secession had been preceded in Ireland by that of William Robertson D. It was followed by other clerical secessions, mostly of men who left the ministry, and Lindsey's hope of a Unitarian movement from the Anglican Church was disappointed. The congregation he established at Essex Street Chapel , with the assistance of prominent ministers such as Joseph Priestley and Richard Price , was a pivot for change. Legal difficulties with the authorities were overcome with the help of barrister John Lee , who later became Attorney-General.
By degrees Lindsey's type of theology superseded Arianism in a considerable number of dissenting congregations. The Act of Toleration was amended by substituting belief in Scripture for belief in the Anglican doctrinal articles. In the penal acts against deniers of the Trinity were repealed by the Doctrine of the Trinity Act , largely pushed through Parliament by William Smith , M. In the British and Foreign Unitarian Association was formed as an amalgamation of three older societies, for literature , mission work and civil rights Attacks were made on properties held by Unitarians, but created prior to The Wolverhampton Chapel case began in , the more important Hewley Fund case in ; both were decided against the Unitarians in Appeal to parliament resulted in the Dissenters' Chapels Act , which secured that, so far as trusts did not specify doctrines, twenty-five years tenure legitimated existing usage.
ETHEREAL CONFERENC E
In , it merged with the American Unitarian Association — a liberal religious denomination emphasizing the social gospel — to form the Unitarian Universalist Association UUA. Today, the UUA is an organization of churches whose members represent a variety of religious faiths, centered on an open-minded view of spirituality and humanistic values.
The UUA does not have a creed or set of theological beliefs. Unitarian Universalists, therefore, are not necessarily Christians, though some remain Christ-centered in their spirituality. Some people today are not aware that Universalism can refer to a Christian theological belief, and was once in fact embodied in a Christian denomination.
The Christian Universalist Association hopes to raise awareness of the Christian origins of Universalism and the fact that Christian Universalism is a coherent, meaningful spiritual belief system that has been shared by many Christians throughout history. Here are a few important things that Christian Universalists believe: The Creator of the universe desires a personal relationship with every person.
We human beings are living souls and continue to exist after death of the body. There is justice for people in the afterlife. All people will eventually be saved from sin and suffering, transformed in the divine image, and become like Christ. Some Unitarian Universalists may believe in these things, but many do not.
Universalismnoun The doctrine or belief that all men will be saved, or made happy, in the future state. Utilitarianismnoun The doctrine that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the end and aim of all social and political institutions. Universalism Universalism is the philosophical and theological concept that some ideas have universal application or applicability.
A belief in one fundamental truth is another important tenet in universalism. Utilitarianismnoun The doctrine that utility is the sole standard of morality, so that the rectitude of an action is determined by its usefulness.
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