UNITARIANISM.—a system of Christian thought and religious observance, deriving its name from its doctrine of the single personality of God the Father, in contrast with the Trinitarian conception of His threefold being as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Frothingham, in his book Boston Unitarianism, says: "It calls itself Unitarian simply because that name suggests freedom and breadth and progress and elasticity and joy. Another name might do as well, perhaps be more accurately descriptive. But no other would be so impressive on the world, so honorable."
I. FOUNDER OF UNITARIANISM.
John Biddle—father and martyr of English Unitarianism in 1615. His confession of faith
1. There is but one divine essence.
2. God in this highest sense exists in but one Person.
II. UNITARIANISM IN NEW ENGLAND.
a. Great Awakening of 5735.
b. First Unitarian church—King's Chapel in Boston 1785.
c. Dr. Channing's famous sermon.
d. Dr. Lyman Beecher's testimony—"In 1823 all the literary men of Massachusetts were Unitarian. All the trustees and professors of Harvard were Unitarian."
III. UNITARIANISM'S TWOFOLD TRADITION. Demand for personal religious freedom.
a. Large number of Unitarian churches began with ejection of 1662.
b. Act of Uniformity ejected 2,000 clergymen.
c. Demand for clear, distinct, and coherent religious thought and teaching.
IV. PERIODS OF UNITARIAN THOUGHT IN AMERICA.
Semisupernatural, imperfectly rationalistic. Dr. Channing—the exponent.
b. Period influenced by German idealism 1835-1885.
Increasingly rationalistic. Theology flavored by mysticism. exponents—Emerson and Theodore Parker.
c. Period of rationalism—I885 and onward.
Recognition of universal religion, large acceptance of scientific methods and ideas, and an ethical attempt to realize higher affirmations of Christianity. This period marked by harmony and unity and widening fellowship with all other progressive phases of modern religion. "Unitarians no longer find the seat of their authority within the pages of the best and broadest of books, but in religious history and experience, interpreted by the reason and conscience of mankind."
V. PRESENT ORGANIZATION.
a. International Congress of Free Christians and other religious liberals.
b. American Unitarian Association.
c. National Conference.
d. Twenty-five local conferences.
e. Five "Alliances."
Bodies of women organized for Christian work.
f. Thirty-two organizations formed for special objects, under the names of "club," "guild," and "association."
VI. MISSIONARY ENDEAVORS AND SCHOOLS.
a. Help for humanitarian work.
b. Unitarian college in Transylvania.
c. Missionary work of instruction in Japan.
d. Missionary work in Calcutta.
e. Provision for divinity school at Cambridge.
f. Pacific Unitarian school in Berkeley.
g. Tuckerman school in Boston.
h. Meadville Theological School in Pennsylvania.
VII. UNITARIAN PERIODICALS.
a. The Christian Register.
c. Pacific Unitarianism.
VIII. WELL-KNOWN UNITARIAN LEADERS. Dr. Gannett, Dr. Putnam, Dr. Bellows, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Dr. Channing, James Freeman Clarke, Edward Everett Hale, Charles W. Eliot.
a. Headquarters—American Unitarian Association—Boston.
b. Number of churches-422 with 491 ministers. C. U.S. Membership in 1927-131,912.
X. UNITARIANISM'S CHALLENGE TO US. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Rom. :16.
"For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." I Cor. 2:2.