Theology: Some Frequently Asked Questions
What is special about the Unitarian church?
The shortest answer is that it is a church without a creed. It sees faith as something personal, developing and changing as we mature and acquire knowledge and experience. The same is true in macrocosm — the world gains ever more scientific and social data which affect our understanding of humankind, its origins, its environment and its behaviour. It seems no longer viable to think of ‘truth’ as something fixed in time, or for any institution or community to claim a monopoly of it.
In the light of this the Unitarian Church provides a supportive religious environment, but does not preach any dogma, nor does it attempt to exercise any institutional authority over anyone’s life. There is no rite of passage into the church.
It follows then that within the church there is wide diversity of belief. In the West, Unitarianism grew out Christianity, but it attracts like thinkers from all the other great faith traditions. Some Unitarians have no formal religious background and might describe themselves as ‘humanist’ — committed, out of reverence for life, to work towards a better world, the only one we can be sure we have.
In view of such diversity, what unites Unitarians?
Unitarians affirm that:
- Everyone has the right to seek truth and meaning for themselves;
- The fundamental tools for doing this are your own life experience, your reflection upon it and the promptings of your own conscience;
- The best setting for this is an understanding, supportive and welcoming church community.
What do Unitarians reject?
Claims that there is only one true religion;
Claims that God is approachable only through clergy and scriptures;
The doctrine of Original Sin;
The conviction that humankind is innately evil;
The idea that everything knowable is now known.
What do Unitarians think about God?
They recognise that the word ‘God’ has no single definition. It can mean that which a person or community feels to be the ultimate in their belief system, or that which is of supreme worth and significance in their own lives.
What do Unitarians think about the Bible?
The Bible is valued by most Unitarians as: the human record of a people’s long struggle to understand their origins, their destiny and their God; a deep fund of wisdom and insight deserving attention and respect.
What do Unitarians think about Jesus?
Unitarians hold Jesus in high regard. Generally they see him as: A teacher in the rabbinic prophetic tradition of Judaism; a powerful example of integrity, courage and compassionate living; fully and unequivocally human, divine only in the sense that his life and work revealed — or came to symbolise — the divinity and high potential in everyone.
What do Unitarians turn to in their quest for truth and values?
The writings and scriptures of the world’s great faith traditions; the discipline of critical and philosophical thought; the ongoing creative work of artists, musicians and writers; nature and the studies of the scientific community; their own experiences and insights, and the example of others. Unitarians respect and learn from people of other faiths.
What happens at a Unitarian church service?
Our services usually consist of readings, hymns, prayers and an address. More details and service times….