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Handout 2: Defining Moments
These readings accompany Leader Resource 2, From Antitrinitarian to Unitarian.
SECTION 1: Arius's Letter to Eusebius (319 C.E.)
But what is it that we say and believe, and that we have taught and teach? That the Son is not uncreated or any part of an uncreated being, or made of anything previously existent. He was brought into being by the will and counsel (of God), before time and before the ages, as unbegotten God in the fullest sense, and unalterable; and before he was begotten, created, determined or established, he did not exist. But we are persecuted because we have said, "The Son has a beginning, but God is without beginning" We are also persecuted because we have said, "He is made from nothing." But we have so said because he is not a part of God or made from any thing previously existent. It is for this reason we are persecuted; the rest you know.
SECTION 2: Faustus Socinus, the Racovian Catechism (1605)
What are the things relating to his Person, which I ought to know?
This one particular alone,—that by nature he was truly a man; a mortal man while he lived on earth, but now immortal.
SECTION 3: John Biddle, His Confession of Faith Touching the Holy Trinity (1648)
article iii. I believe, That Jesus Christ, to the intent that he might be our Brother, and have a Fellow-feeling of our Infirmaties, and so become the more ready to help us, (the consideration whereof, is the greatest Encouragement to Piety that can be imagined) hath no other than a Human Nature, and therefore in this very Nature is not only a Person (since none but a Human Person can be our Brother), but also our Lord, yea our God.
article iv. Whence, though he be our God, by reason of his Divine Sovereignty over us, and Worship due to such Sovereignty, yet he is not the most high God, the same with the Father, but subordinate to him.
SECTION 4: Jonathan Mayhew, Seven Sermons (1749)
Thus it appears that a regard to our own interest ought to put us upon examining and judging for ourselves religious concerns. The same thing might be argued for the faculty of reason itself, which is common to all. If we suppose an intelligent author of our nature, who had some design in giving us our present constitution, it is plain that his end in endowing us with faculties proper for the investigating of truth and right, was, that we should exercise them in this way.
SECTION 5: Willam Ellery Channing, Baltimore Sermon, 1819
We do, then, with all earnestness, though without reproaching our brethren, protest against the irrational and unscriptural doctrine of the Trinity... "To us," as to the Apostle and the primitive Christians, "there is one God, even the Father." With Jesus, we worship the Father, as the only living and true God. We are astonished, that any man can read the New Testament, and avoid the conviction, that the Father alone is God. We hear our Saviour continually appropriating this character to the Father. We find the Father continually distinguished from Jesus by this title... "God sent his Son." "God anointed Jesus." Now, how singular and inexplicable is this phraseology, which fills the New Testament, if this title belong equally to Jesus, and if a principal object of this book is to reveal him as God, as partaking equally with the Father in supreme divinity! We challenge our opponents to adduce one passage in the New Testament where the word God means three persons, where it is not limited to one person, and where, unless turned from its usual sense by the connexion, it does not mean the Father. Can stronger proof be given that the doctrine of three persons in the Godhead is not a fundamental doctrine of Christianity?