History of Unitarianism
The roots of the Unitarian movement lie principally in the Reformation of the 16th century. At that time, people in many countries across Europe began to claim the right to:
- Read and interpret the Bible for themselves
- Have a direct relationship with God, without the mediation of priest or church
- Set their own conscience against the claims of religious institutions
Some thinkers came to question traditional Christian doctrine and to affirm beliefs of their own such as:
- The unity or uni-personality of God, as opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity – hence the name “Unitarian”
- The humanity, as opposed to the deity, of Christ
- The worth of human beings, as opposed to ideas of original sin, inherited guilt and innate depravity
- The universal salvation of all souls, as opposed to the doctrine that most of humanity is threatened with damnation
The earliest organised Unitarian movements were founded in the 16th century in Poland and Transylvania. ( An account of this period can be found here.) Unitarian ideas spread throughout Europe, winning over such English luminaries as John Milton and Isaac Newton.
In North America, Unitarianism is more than two centuries old, with many of the American founding fathers being Unitarians. Here in Australia, the first congregation was established in Macquarie Street in Sydney in 1850.
If you are interested in learning more, our visiting minister, Steve Wilson, was interviewed on ABC radio. you can find a link on our blog to listen to that interview with Rachael Kohn here.
History of Spirit of Life
The Spirit of Life Unitarian Fellowship was established in Kirribilli in February 2005. Although many Unitarian services are lead by a minister in a church, our group is a fellowship in which the service is led by volunteers from the congregation. We feel this brings a variety to our services which reflects the wide range of perspectives of the members of the fellowship. Nonetheless, ministers are available through our fellowship to perform traditional rites of passage, as well as to officiate gay and lesbian blessings and unions.
Over the years, Unitarianism has expanded beyond its Christian roots with many Unitarians embracing aspects of humanism, agnosticism, atheism, theism, Buddhism, liberal Christianity, neo-paganism and earth spiritualism. Experience has shown that a Unitarian congregation can be coherent and of value to its members, even without one common set of theological beliefs.