Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Can a fundamentalist be a unitarian?
I had never come across a Unitarian ad on Google until this afternoon. But now that I've scouted out the Biblical Unitarian Web site (apparently launched earlier this week) and its parent, Christian Educational Services, I am here to tell you that you can be a unitarian and a fundamentalist at the same time! (But you'll have to believe these doctrines.)
(They're not the first, however. The Jehovah's Witnesses have already managed the trick — as I realized from reading a copy of the Watchtower a year or two ago that featured Francis David and the court of King John Sigismund in Transylvania. Talk about two groups you never quite expected to claim shared roots . . .)
Which leads us to ask what distinguished Unitarian Christianity circa 1819 (the historic Unitarian tradition) from the biblical unitarianism of our fundamentalist friends. I find a theme or pattern in much early American Unitarian writing that one can call "liberal" or "modernist" or some other term that locates a significant degree of revelation in the contemporary world and in the exercise of human thought. That notion appears to be missing from "biblical unitarianism," but it has been cultivated (and occasionally perverted) into the defining feature of Unitarian Universalism.
The Biblical Unitarians are not a variety of "classical Unitarianism." Their perspective is a variety of bibliolatry. But do check it out.
Update 8.14.03. Wait, you say, wasn't William Ellery Channing a biblical inerrantist? And how did nineteenth-century Unitarians interpret the Bible, anyway? Some selections from the Philocrites archives . . .
Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 13 August 2003 at 5:41 PM