Is this an oxymoron?
|I'll leave the details and arguements to
other pages. But briefly, the story runs like this: In the
early days of the formation of Christianity, the idea that Christ was almost,
but not quite God was probably the dominant understanding of
Jesus. The other was, of course, that he is God.
There were many "denominations" throughout the
Mediterranean shores in the first 300 years. In 325AD, after Emporer
Constantine made Christianity the state religion as the result of a
dream and a bargain, bishops and others clamored to settle this
question. The famous, or perhaps infamous, Council of Nicea was
formed. One Arius,
was the outstanding proponent of the simpler, more rational
understanding of Jesus. (Did my bias just show?) However,
the emporer - who, may I add, was both new to Christianity and probably
theologically illiterate - was swayed to the opposing viewpoint led by Athanasius.
Guess who won? Certainly, by claiming that your messiah IS God,
you become superior in your arguements.
Arius and his followers were now heretics. However, his ideas merely went underground, they were never vanquished. After 1300 years, they once again became part of religious discourse and were the foundations of the Unitarian faith in Europe. Contrary to popular misunderstanding, most of the "Founding Fathers" of the United States were not Christians, but Deists, an offshoot of a unitarian understanding of Christ. The history of the Unitarian Church in America is long and varied. Currently, Christians within the Unitarian-Universalist Church are a minority, having been displaced by humanists, atheists, wiccans, and others.
Most of the early Church Fathers were decidedly
unitarian, as have been many of the western world's greatest scientists
and artists in the last few hundred years. Lists of these
individuals may be found here.
|So What Do Unitarians Believe?|
|Unitarians, whether of a "capital" u or a
"small" u, do not have a creed. Therefore, there is
variation in belief and understanding amongst individuals. (Not
that individuals from creedal denominations don't hold widely varying
beliefs!) So don't take the following as being mandatory or
Unitarians typically believe that Jesus was greater than a
"mere" prophet, but less than God. The salvation of
Jesus lies not in his death and resurrection, but in living as he told
us to. The idea of God, a oneness, being subdivided into three
entities of equal stature of divinity, is where the real oxymoron
lies. The spiritual world is not a battle of good and evil, God
and Satan, Heaven and Hell*. If God is All, there can be no other.
It is between the love and will of God and our own selfish
desires. The kingdom of God IS here now if we set aside our
will for God's will. The Bible is a great guide to understanding
both divinity and humaness, but is not the only source, nor is it infallible
and consistent.** Our understanding is monistic, just like
Judaism, the parent faith.
|How Can You Say This?|
|There are three possible sources for understanding matters
of faith, including who is this Jesus? They are, tradition,
ration, and revelation. (If you add experience and consider
scripture as substitute for revelation, you have The Methodist
Tradition relies on what our faith predecessors have taught each succeeding generation. It's primary source has been revelation, subsequently tempered by ration and tradition itself. No revelation happens without prior understanding or constructs!
Ration is the analytical thinking ability given to us by God. For that reason, it is a valid source of understanding. One's faith should not defy ration, otherwise it leads to cognitive dissonance and increasingly illogical constructions of explanations. Unitarians rely heavily on observation and ration.
Revelation is the source of all religious understanding. It might be as "minor" as an insight, as strong as a dream, or as major as being in the presence of a holy one. It has been argued that religion is a defective way of understanding a revelation that occured once and where. With changing time and geography, we can only hold relatively weak comprehension of what once was.
Using the Bible as source, unitarians simply don't see what
trinitarians do. The understanding of the trinity held by most
Christians is not in the Bible. It is believed because it has been
told, over and over, until it appears true (tradition).
However, it does not stand up to the critical eye of ration.
While the miracles of God certainly may lie beyond the comprehension of
humankind by degree, they cannot be logically absurd. Recall, we
are made in God's image. Is that image confounding? I think
|Show Me the Theology!|
|Thought you'd never ask. Check these
out, all inquirers of the truth:
A Description of Unitarianism from 1865 I found a beautiful old leatherclad volume in a booksale called Religious Denominations of the United States by one Joseph Belcher. Price: $2! This is the text on Unitarians; Belcher was not one himself. Notice that this is also before the 1960's merger with the Universalists.
As Above, only modified by pronoun usage, gender inclusiveness, and conjugation. More like, dare I say, a creed!
A Unitarian Manual. About turn of the century. The one 100 years ago, that is. I think I got this off of the internet; I'm sorry I don't have the source.
Pelagius: Definer of Orthodoxy and Ancestorof Modern Thoughts How to get the full text of this paper by myself.
The Paul Paradox An examination of the differences between the writings of Paul and the gospels of Jesus. Link to original source on web, author unknown. Quotes from many famous people throughout history who have pondered this matter. Did Paul ever bother to learn about Jesus from those closest to him?
Paul vs. Jesus An additional writing about the same problem by Davis Denizier.
Jesus as Human Sacrifice An excellent piece also by Davis Denizier that analyzes the flaws of the theology of the vicarious atonement.
Site of the Unitarian-Universalist Christian Fellowship.
If you want to find out about unitarian Christian activiites in the Denver area, mailto:unitarian email@example.com