Unitarianism

Antitrinitarianism. Rooted in the ancient heresies of Monarchianism, Arianism, and Sabellianism, Unitarianism gained great impetus in 16th-century Hungary and especially in Poland, where Faustus Socinus became its leader (see Socinianism).

In England, the founder of Unitarianism was John Biddle (1615–62). At first, unitarian views were confined to scattered individuals, but in the rationalistic atmosphere of the 18th century many Presbyterian and Baptist churches fell prey to the heresy. Indeed, by the second half of the century both had become mainly Unitarian denominations. The first self-styled Unitarian church was opened in 1773 when Theophilus Lindsey left the Church of England and opened his Essex Chapel in London.

In the United States, Unitarianism was introduced to New England as early as 1710, and by 1750 it had largely infected the Congregational churches of the area.

In Ireland, Unitarianism caused havoc in the Presbyterian church. Unitarians dominated the Presbytery of Antrim and found many sympathizers throughout the denomination. Only the heroic stand of Henry Cooke finally (1828) forced them out of the Presbyterian church in Ireland, to form the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian church.

Unitarianism became more and more rationalistic and openly anti-scriptural as it proceeded, repudiating all vestiges of the supernaturalism of Socinus and his followers. It thus became increasingly humanistic and antichristian. It rejects not only the doctrines of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit, but it also repudiates the Bible as the word of God, with particular reference to the doctrines of creation and the fall, the blood atonement and resurrection of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith in Christ. It is universalist in its outlook (see Universalism) and rejects every idea of endless punishment. In a word, Unitarianism is man setting up himself as the supreme authority, making a god on the basis of that authority, and thereby worshipping himself in the god he has created.

Cairns, A. (2002). In Dictionary of Theological Terms (pp. 500–501). Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International.

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