We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:


THEOLOGY

We share the idea that religious belief is a right and a responsibility; that each caring person will grow spiritually as they grow mentally and physically. For us, there must be room to test beliefs, to doubt, and to explore. In that way, we live by our beliefs because they are ours alone. We choose and decide because we have the right to.

We do not seek to merely tolerate differences of opinion in religious thought. We want to live in harmony with others, allowing the differences of others to enrich our beliefs and guide us in understanding.

We have a vision to affirm, defend and promote the worth and dignity of every human person. We are dedicated to a free and meaningful faith -- to express our individual beliefs, to learn from teachers and prophets of every age and tradition, and to seek truth, love and peace upheld in the free religious experience. We strive for freedom, brotherhood, and equal rights for all human kind.


COMMON ATTITUDES

UNIVERSALIST BEGINNINGS

Modern Universalists draw their inspiration and find evidence of their philosophy in many cultural streams. Universalism is not exclusively Christian in origin, having roots in pre-Christian religions as well as the world's religions. The basic pretext of our beginnings is the belief in universal salvation rather than the election of a few. Hence the name Universalists. From the sixth century on, however, this belief has been generally considered heresy.

American Universalism had its origins in the works of Dr. George DeBenneville, who first preached in Pennsylvania in 1741; John Murray, an anti-Calvinist; and Hosea Ballou, an original Universalist thinker. Murray became minister of the Independent Christian Church of Gloucester and in 1779 this became the first organized Universalist Church in America. It was Hosea Ballou who in 1805, in his book "Treatise of Atonement" gave Universalists their first consistent philosophy.

The Winchester Profession of Faith, written by Universalists at a convention in 1803, humanized Jesus, largely withdrew from trinitarian theology and re-emphasized salvation for the "whole family of mankind." The Bible was recognized as "containing a revelation of the character of God." In 1899, after wrestling with Darwinism, Universalists brought their statement up-to-date and in 1935 it was again modernized, this time with the important phrase "our faith in the authority of truth, known or to be known." No doctrinal statement however, has ever been put forth to be used as a credal test. In May, 1961 the Universalist Church of America merged with the American Unitarian Association to become the Unitarian Universalist Association.

CWL 1984


Home