Overview Plenary Sessions Scholarly-Papers Workshops Performances Exhibits Sunday Service Biographic Info Acknowledgment Unitarian Universalist History & Heritage Society  UU History & Heritage Convocation 2010 Proceedings UUHHS
WORKSHOP Fulfilling the Universalist Promise: The Evolution of a Professing Faith”  Kelly Mason Murray Grove Retreat and Renewal Center Description: This workshop explored the impressive range of historic affirmations of faith declared by Universalists during the centuries between 1790 and 1961. Close consideration of these affirmations challenges our very popular but seriously flawed notions about the history of Unitarian Universalism as “a non-creedal faith.” What emerges will be a deeper understanding of the theological imperatives compelling Universalists in America to promote their beliefs without embarrassment or prejudice. How is their legacy being kept alive today? The following handout was a basis for workshop discussion. Universalist Professions of Faith, 1790 -1961 1790 – Philadelphia Articles of Faith Section 1. OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments 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 Jesus Christ, in whom dwelleth all the fulness 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 their [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 WORK We believe in the obligation of the moral law, as to the rule of life; and we hold that the love of God manifest to man in a Redeemer, is the best means of producing obedience to that law, and promoting a holy, active and useful life. _____________________________________________________________________________ 1803 - Winchester Profession Article I. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament 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 practice good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men. ______________________________________________________________________________ 1865 - Rhode Island (Universalist) Catechism Adopted by the Universalist Church (state convention) of Rhode Island in 1865 We believe in one God, the Creator of all things, and the Father of Mankind; in Jesus Christ his Son, who is the true Teacher, Example, and Savior of men; in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter; in the certainty of retribution; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of all men from the dead; and their final holiness and happiness in the immortal life. ______________________________________________________________________________ 1899 - Boston Declaration of the Five Principles 1. The Profession of Faith adopted by this body at its session at Winchester, N. H., A. D. 1803, is as follows: 2. The conditions of fellowship in this Convention shall be as follows: Article I. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament 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 practice good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men. I. 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 the principles as stated above be professed. II. The acknowledgment of the authority of the General Convention and assent to its laws. 2c. These historic declarations of faith with liberty of interpretation are dear and acceptable to many Universalists. They are commended not as tests but as testimonies in the free quest for truth that accords with the genius of the Universalist Church. 3. These conditions of fellowship in this Convention (church) shall be acceptance of the essential principles of the Universalist faith and acknowledgment of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Universalist General Convention. _____________________________________________________________________________ 1903 - Universalist Creed Found in the Gloria Patri Revised prayerbook, 1903 and Book of Prayer, 1941. A CREED embodying the Conditions of Fellowship affirmed at the session of the General Convention held in Chicago and in Boston.  “I believe in God, the Father Almighty and Universal; and in Jesus Christ his Son, the true teacher, example, and Savior of the world. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the quickener and comforter of men. I believe in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as a revelation of righteousness, truth and love. I believe in the Holy Church Universal; in the communion of saints; in the certainty of punishment for transgression; in the forgiveness of sins; in the life immortal; in the final triumph of goodness and mercy; and in the union and harmony, at last, of all souls with God.” ______________________________________________________________________________ 1917 - A Declaration of Social Principles In the present general confusion of thought we deem it wise to restate the essential principles of the Universalist faith and their social implications in relation to modern life. We proclaim the doctrine of the essential divinity of man, of God’s universal Fatherhood, and of man’s universal brotherhood. Upon this we build our claims to the divine and inherent right of democracy, which does not mean the pulling down of the few to the level of the many, but implies the giving to the many the culture, the responsibilities which beget self-restraint and rulership, and the arts and refinement of life which are now the possession of the few. While in no wise minimizing the responsibility of the individual for his own life, we denounce as superstition the teaching that men are led into sin by inherent depravity as by devils of an unseen world; but we hold it to be self-evident that mankind is led into sin by evil surroundings, by the evils of unjust social and economic conditions, which condemn one to be born in the squalor and filth of the slums and another amidst the equally demoralizing influences of unearned luxury. We hold, therefore, that all systems that attempt to load the blame on Adam, upon Satan, or upon human depravity, tend to weaken human self-respect, and to lead men away from the discovery and cure of the real causes of human sin and misery. In view of these conclusions, which we believe were plainly taught by the great Founder of Christianity, we insist that we should not judge one another any more, but rather, that we should remove the stumbling block and the barriers to the kingdom of heaven out of our brother’s way. We conclude also that democracy is not only an inherent right, but also a divinely imposed duty. We find that none of us liveth or dieth to himself, and that true men and women should consider nothing foreign to them which is common to humanity. Specifically, therefore, we urge that a full and free democracy be set up in our country, and that every man and woman be allowed to exercise the divine right and duty of personal responsibility in the acts of government, first, by the full extension of the franchise to women, and second, by granting each citizen a direct vote in the vital affairs of his own government. We brand as infamous the practice of subordinating human interests to “business interests,” and we urge that the National Government should not hesitate to assume immediate control of the management of the production and distribution of the necessaries of life to prevent want and starvation and the economic enslavement of the people to predatory interests in time of crisis. We assert that the claims of the religion of Jesus, the religion of democracy and of international brotherhood, transcend all the claims of race and of nationality, and that the highest form of patriotism demands we endeavor to place our nation in the position of one that seeks its permanent glory in subordinating selfish interests to those of the coming Federation of the World, in which “the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe.” We confidently affirm our faith in God with us and in us, the assurance of the ultimate triumph of good. As our great Teacher has taught us to respect and reverence him in the very lowliest of humanity, and as one of his disciples wrote that love of God is shown in love of man, so we urge a higher and better morality than that based upon escaping hell and winning a heaven. We assert the old maxim, “Whatsoever ye do, whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.” — the welfare of His children. We believe it to be the duty and the privilege of each one to be a co-worker with God towards that “long desire of the nations.” It is our duty, and our privilege, to keep ourselves at our best in body, mind, and spirit for the sake of the service which is ours to give. In this faith and in this service we invite the co-operation of all. Program The Universalist Church recognizes the fact that no individual and no nation can live a completely effective Christian life in an unchristian social order. We therefore declare the primal task of the church of to-day to be the reconstruction of the world’s civilization in terms of justice, peace and righteousness, so that the spiritual life of all may develop to its fullest capacity….The Universalist Church offers a complete program for completing humanity: First: An Economic Order which shall give to every human being an equal share in the common gifts of God, and in addition all that he shall earn by his own labor. Second: A Social Order in which there shall be equal rights for all, special privileges for none, the help of the strong for the weak until the weak become strong. Third: A Moral Order in which all human law and action shall be the expression of the moral order of the universe. Fourth: A Spiritual Order which shall build out of the growing lives of living men the growing temple of the living God. ______________________________________________________________________________ 1935 - Washington Declaration 1. The bond of fellowship in this Convention (church) 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 of 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 good-will and sacrificial spirit to overcome evil and progressively establish the Kingdom of God. Neither this nor any other statement shall be imposed as a creedal test, provided that the faith thus indicated be professed. 2a. Article I. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament 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 practice good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men. 2b. 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. 1. The Profession of Faith adopted by this body at its session at Winchester, N. H., A. D. 1803, is as follows: Article I. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament 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 practice good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men. 2. The conditions of fellowship in this Convention shall be as follows: I. 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 the principles as stated above be professed. II. The acknowledgment of the authority of the General Convention and assent to its laws. 2c. These historic declarations of faith with liberty of interpretation are dear and acceptable to many Universalists. They are commended not as tests but as testimonies in the free quest for truth that accords with the genius of the Universalist Church. 3. These conditions of fellowship in this Convention (church) shall be acceptance of the essential principles of the Universalist faith and acknowledgment of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Universalist General Convention _____________________________________________________________________________ 1961 - Six Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association In accordance with these corporate purposes, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Association, dedicated to the principles of a free faith, unite in seeking: 1. To strengthen one another in a free and disciplined search for truth as the foundation of our religious fellowship; 2. To cherish and spread the universal truths taught by the great prophets and teachers of humanity in every age and tradition, immemorially summarized in the Judeo-Christian heritage as love to God and love to man; 3. To affirm, defend and promote the supreme worth of every human personality, the dignity of man, and the use of the democratic method in human relationships; 4. To implement our vision of one world by striving for a world community founded on ideals of brotherhood, justice and peace; 5. To serve the needs of member churches and fellowships, to organize new churches and fellowships, and to extend and strengthen liberal religion; 6. To encourage cooperation with men of good will in every land. The UUA revised these Principles in 1985. The revised statement includes seven Principles, six “Sources of the Living Tradition,” and a statement of the Association’s Purposes.