LEADER RESOURCE 1 Unitarian and Universalist Roots
These excerpts are background reading for the leader, but are not used directly in the workshop. Read this so you can bring this knowledge to the activity as needed.
Earl Morse Wilbur on Unitarianism, from "The Meaning and Lesson of Unitarian History," a paper read before the Provincial Assembly of Presbyterian and Unitarian Ministers and Congregations of Lancashire and Cheshire at Liverpool, June 10, 1925:
"... the keyword to our whole history, as I interpret it, is the word complete spiritual freedom. It is toward this that from the beginning until now our leaders have consciously or unconsciously struggled; and it is this that I take it we of to-day most earnestly wish to preserve unimpaired, and to hand on confirmed to those that shall come after us. The achievement of this complete spiritual freedom has been accomplished in our history in three distinct stages. First came the revolt against the bondage to the tradition dogmas as expressed in the historic Creeds, and the substitution of new statements of Christian faith drawn directly from the Scriptures. Next in logical development the realization of a conflict, actual or possible, between Scripture and reason led to the recognition of the fact that, if the soul were to be wholly free, reason must be accepted as the supreme authority. Nearly co-incident with this second step historically, though subsequent to it logically, came the further recognition of the equal authority of other men's reason, for them, which, when put into practical effect, issued in the principle of full mutual tolerance of differing opinions."
Russell Miller on Universalism, from A Larger Hope, Volume 1, p. xxiii and xxiv:
"Eschewing the revivalism and emotional fervor which characterized so much of the nineteenth-century Protestantism, Universalist combined reason and Christian faith to propagate their version of revealed religion. The word faith is emphasized in the Professions of Faith for the significance of faith; to John Murray and his plea to go out onto the highways and byways and give the people hope and courage at a time when the orthodoxy of the time gave the people no hope of salvation; and to the reaction to the Great Awakening Camp meeting excesses for insisting on the use of reason in faith and belief."
"... Universalists stressed such principles as freedom of conscience, individual interpretation of the Scriptures, separation of church and state, the inherent worth and dignity of humanity, and the democratic faith and optimism of nineteenth-century America."
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