Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Faith Like a River: A Program on Unitarian Universalist History for Adults

Activity 2: Arius the Heretic

Activity time: 35 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story. Decide how to convey the introductory information and how to tell the story.
  • Optional: Plan how you will engage participants to reenact the Nicean Council debate about Arius's beliefs. You might choose to break the story where suggested to invite this role play, or invite the group to do the role play after you tell the story.

Description of Activity

Tell or read the story of Arius. You may choose to do this either as a narrative, or to invite participants to reenact the debate.

Emphasize that while contemporary Unitarian Universalists may not hold the same theological beliefs as Arius did, we do share a sympathy for his process of discerning a different teaching and willingness to hold on to his own, known truth. Point out that our sympathy is based on our theological principle that "revelation is not sealed."

Post two sheets of newsprint. Invite participants to list all the big ideas and values on which people in their congregation agree, and another list of the big ideas and values on which there is disagreement. Steer the group away from logistical conflicts such as, whether there should be one service or two. Guide the group, instead, to name theological concepts and values on which congregants agree and disagree.

When the lists seem complete, invite participants to examine the list. Ask:

  • What are the basic agreements in our congregation?
  • What are the concepts, values, and theologies about which congregants agree to disagree?
  • Are there disagreements which might best be described as cultural? Are these matters of style, rather than belief?