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

Handout 2: A Collection of Covenants and Statements of Belief

Rule of Faith, Philadelphia Convention of Universalists (1790)

Section 1. OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES. We believe the scriptures of the old and new Testament to contain a revelation of the perfections and will of God, and the rule of faith and practice.

Section 2. OF THE SUPREME BEING. We believe in one God, infinite in all his perfections; and that these perfections are all modifications of infinite, adorable, incomprehensible and unchangeable love.

Section 3. OF THE MEDIATOR. We believe that there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; who by giving himself a ransom for all, hath redeemed them to God by his blood; and who, by the merit of his death and the efficacy of his spirit, will finally restore the whole human race to happiness.

Section 4. OF THE HOLY GHOST. We believe in the Holy Ghost, whose office it is to make known to sinners the truth of this salvation, through the medium of the holy scriptures, and to reconcile the hearts of the children of men to God, and thereby dispose them to genuine holiness.

Section 5. OF GOOD WORKS. We believe in the obligation of the moral law as to the rule of life; and we hold that the love of God manifested to man in a redeemer, is the best means of producing obedience to that law, and promoting a holy, active and useful life.

Winchester Profession, New England Convention of Universalists (1803)

Article I. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain a revelation of the character of God, and of the duty, interest and final destination of mankind.

Article II. We believe that there is one God, whose nature is Love, revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of Grace, who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness and happiness.

Article III. We believe that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected, and that believers ought to be careful to maintain order and practise good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men.

As we believe these to be truths which deeply concern the honor of the Divine character and the interests of man, we do hereby declare that we continue to consider ourselves, and our societies in fellowship, a Denomination of Christians, distinct and separate from those who do not approve the whole of this Profession of Belief, as expressed in the three above Articles.

...Yet while we, as an Association, adopt a general Profession of Belief and Plan of Church Government, we leave it to the several Churches and Societies, or to smaller associations of churches, if such should be formed, within the limits of our General Association, to continue or adopt within themselves, such more particular articles of faith, or modes of discipline, as may appear to them best under their particular circumstances, provided they do not disagree with our general Profession and Plan.

And while we consider that every Church possesses within itself all the powers of self-government, we earnestly and affectionately recommend to every Church, Society, or particular Association, to exercise the spirit of Christian meekness and charity towards those who have different modes of faith or practice, that where the brethren cannot see alike, they may agree to differ; and let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Boston Declaration, Universalist General Convention (1899)

The conditions of fellowship in this Convention shall be as follows: The acceptance of the essential principles of the Universalist faith, to wit: The Universal Fatherhood of God; The Spiritual authority and leadership of His Son, Jesus Christ; The trustworthiness of the Bible as containing a revelation from God; The certainty of just retribution for sin; The final harmony of all souls with God.

The Winchester Profession is commended as containing these principles, but neither this nor any other precise form of words is required as a condition of fellowship, provided always that the principles above stated be professed.

Universalist Bond of Fellowship (1935)

The bond of fellowship in this Convention shall be a common purpose to do the will of God as Jesus revealed it and to co-operate in establishing the Kingdom for which he lived and died.

To that end, we avow our faith in God as Eternal and All-Conquering Love, in the spiritual leadership in Jesus, in the supreme worth of every human personality, in the authority of truth known or to be known, and in the power of men of goodwill and sacrificial spirit to overcome evil and progressively establish the Kingdom of God.

National Conference of Unitarian Churches Statement of Purpose (1865)

Whereas, the great opportunities and demands for Christian labor and consecration at this time increase our sense of the obligations of all disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to prove their faith by self-denial and by the devotion of their lives and possessions to the service of God and the building up of the Kingdom of his Son, therefore, the Christian churches of the Unitarian faith here assembled unite themselves in a common body to the end of reorganizing and stimulating the denomination with which they are connected to the largest exertions in the cause of Christian faith and work.

Things Common Believed Today Among Us, William Channing Gannett, Western Unitarian Conference, 1887

The Western Conference has neither the wish nor the right to bind a single member by declarations concerning fellowship or doctrine. Yet it thinks some practical good may be done by setting forth in simple words the things most commonly believed among us—the Statement being always open to re-statement and to be regarded only as the thought of the majority.

All names that divide "religion" are to us of little consequence compared with religion itself. Whoever loves Truth and lives the Good is, in a broad sense, of our religious fellowship; whoever loves the one or lives the other better than ourselves is our teacher, whatever church or age he may belong to.

The general faith is hinted well in words which several of our churches have adopted for their covenant: "In the freedom of the Truth and in the spirit of Jesus Christ, we unite for the worship of God and the service of man." It is hinted in such words as these: "Unitarianism is a religion of love to God and love to man." Because we have no "creed" which we impose as a condition of fellowship, specific statements of belief abound among us, always somewhat differing, always largely agreeing. One such we offer here:

  • We believe that to love the Good and to live the Good is the supreme thing in religion;
  • We hold reason and conscience to be final authorities in matters of religious belief;
  • We honor the Bible and all inspiring scripture, old and new;
  • We revere Jesus, and all holy souls that have taught men truth and righteousness and love, as prophets of religion.
  • We believe in the growing nobility of Man;
  • We trust the unfolding Universe as beautiful, beneficent, unchanging Order; to know this order is truth; to obey it is right and liberty and stronger life;
  • We believe that good and evil invariably carry their own recompense, no good thing being failure and no evil thing success; that heaven and hell are states of being; that no evil can befall the good man in either life or death; that all things work together for the victory of Good.
  • We believe that we ought to join hands and work to make the good things better and the worst good, counting nothing good for self that is not good for all;
  • We believe that this self-forgetting, loyal life awakes in man the sense of union here and now with things eternal—the sense of deathlessness; and this sense is to us an earnest of the life to come.
  • We worship One-in-All—that life whence suns and stars derive their orbits and the soul of man its Ought—that Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, giving us power to become the sons of God,that Love with which our souls commune.