Originally, Unitarianism was not a movement independent of the Christian churches, nor strictly, a schismatic group, but an intra-church movement apostatizing from Christ, His church and the confessions. Its purpose was not to form another denomination, but to gain control of the churches in the ecclesiastical association. The Calvinist members, rather, had to relinquish their church properties and withdraw. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in buildings, furnishings and funds fell to the Unitarians as a result of litigation. The peculiar church-political situation contributed to the great loss the Calvinist party suffered. The churches resided in parishes. Fund and Wagnalls define a parish: “in New England, originally a district (usually a town) under the control of one church and taxed for its support; hence the people in such a district, either as controlling the temporalities of the church (society), or the district as the field for the Christian work of the church.” The town contributed to the support of the church, and so had a hand in the choice of pastors. The church was answerable to the parish (town), being under its control for material support, and so in most instances was outnumbered by the parish. A parish could elect a minister without the consent of the church. This was upheld by the worldly court. The church was adjudged as having no legal rights apart from the parish. Properties were awarded to the minority in the church which went along with the decisions of the parish. Thus the olive tree of the true church was replaced with the cactus of heterodoxy.
In order to win Protestant young people to their liberal philosophy, Unitarians made a practice of securing property near the universities, with churches or offices close by so that propaganda for the cause of modernism might be most effectively executed. What university does not feel the influence of Unitarianism? Appeal is made to students to cut loose from the historic Protestant faith for the more intellectual humanism. Students are called to exchange their childhood sola Scriptura for a mature bonae literae. The devil tempted our first parents to eat of the forbidden tree. Now he tempts college students with grafts into the deleterious cactus. When any turn from historic Christianity, Unitarians regard it as a “breaking a hole through the Chinese wall.” In breaking down the hated Christian faith, it regards as helpful allies the Masonic lodges, the granges, Odd-Fellows, the labor unions, and sects such as the spiritists, Universalists, Reformed Jews, Christian Scientists and Hicksite Quakers.
Unitarianism cannot be recognized as Christian any more than Islamism or Judaism. It is more akin to atheism than to any of the above. It has no place for prayer, claiming that casting one’s care on the Lord is failure to bear one’s own responsibility. Progress intellectually in religious ideals and one soon reaches the point where prayer is abandoned as childishness. Prayer is uncivilized. It is a waste, for God is not a personal being. The sooner we realize that we live in an impersonal universe, the sooner we may carve a civilization out of the wilderness. There is no sovereign Friend behind, above and directing the world toward a predestined goal. Then there can be no redemption, for that has the goal of immortality and glorification of man, soul and body. There is no immortality. To even broach such a subject is to commit the world’s worst social faux pas.
Unitarianism has been dubbed “honest modernism” because while modernism, dishonest in using orthodox terminology with altogether different meaning, and dishonest in being crypto-Unitarian, it (Unitarianism) has never pretended to the biblical faith. Passing up an infallible Bible does not make the bottom drop out of the universe. For the word of god may also be found in Plato, Holmes, Emerson, or Sears-Roebuck. Still if it were strictly honest, it would take a position as unhypocritical as blank atheism. For Unitarianism denies everything atheism does: the doctrine of the trinity, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the personality of the Holy Spirit, and especially the truth of man’s total moral depravity. It never sings, “I am evil, born in sin, Thou desirest truth within, Thou alone my Saviour art, Teach Thy wisdom to my heart: make me pure, Thy grace bestow, Wash me whiter than the snow.” It never admits, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe,” nor will it pray, “Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.” The Unitarian will not admit to having a “defenseless head.” It may be bloodied, but is always unbowed. Man is inherently sublime; He is principally good. He need only let the good will which flows from his fellowman flood his own soul. Jesus on the cross praying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” is legend which via hero worship reveals: (1) what man is capable of doing, and (2) the pent up goodness just bursting to blossom from his bosom. This is the old, moth-eaten, fly-specked, skid-row “theology” in Fifth Avenue attire. It is the old Pelagianism gone stark, raving mad.
Unitarianism is no mere step-sister to atheism. The dress of humanism cannot disguise the twin-sister relationship. The idea of religion is somehow important to this movement, but not the idea of God. Theism is bound to end in zero. Humanism alone will finally add up. Ethical liberalism will stand even if it could be proved that no God exists. God is simply the good which lurks in humanity. The holy communion, if ever observed, is a memorial for our dear departed dead. The rejection of Jesus is worthy of emulation. The communion elements may be placed on a table, while “He Was Rejected of Men” from Handel’s “Messiah” is rendered, and then the audience is dismissed without any partaking. Jesus, of his day, was the paragon of ethicists who came to give us a religion, not his religion, but to teach every man to develop his own ideas and work out a religion for himself. Progression is attained when one’s religion graduates to a point beyond the need for Christ, the Church or God himself. The underlying principle of Unitarianism is that a man must be free to stand for anything or for nothing. Heaven is for the birds, and the sparrows at that. Sun-worship is far more respectable than the worship of Jesus or of a personal God (Theosophy!), and furnishes “God” enough for any man. Hell is the vicious continuance of a Protestant Inquisition. The doctrine of a last judgment is a superstition more hateful than witch-burning, its adherents worse than Ku Kluxers.
More than this, more than the few articles of Fundamentalism, Unitarianism hates the Reformed Faith and the Five Points of Calvinism. It prefers naturalism, humanism and incipient atheism. Unitarianism’s method is the insinuating of the lie “into the back door of the mind unawares when the front entrance has been barricaded.” The policy is, in distinctly Christian circles, never to be suspect of Unitarianism, which would discredit the cause and bring opposition, but rather to inoculate, to permeate with the leaven of liberalism. Liberalism is cowardly atheism. So conceal your radicalism. Give the auditors heresy in such a way that even the saints cannot detect it. This is admittedly bad ethics, but in war all’s fair. Ultimately all denominations must be merged in one world church, then to enervate any vestiges of Christianity of their power and content, so that the amalgamated church may be free of all divisions and become thoroughly humanized. They call this process “spiritualization.” Nazis and Communists employing the same tactics call it “liberation.”
This new “liberation” replaces living membership in Christ’s church with active service in the socialist state. The sin against the Holy Spirit is made the “refusal to co-operate with the principle of self-improvement.” The liberal method used to be “survival of the -fittest,” now it is “survival of the most cooperative.” The Apostolical, Nicene and Athanasian creeds are discarded for the universal brotherhood of man and the universal fatherhood of God. Preaching of the word is displaced by “quiet talks” on sociological topics. The sacraments are given up for the service of the cause of “world peace.” The church is used as a secret society to secularize the whole of humanity. The church has been made a “back-door nightclub.”
If we were to attempt a compilation of Unitarian tenets, it might look something like this: 1) Christ is not truly a divine person, nor as Socinus taught, a mere man exalted to the throne of the whole created universe, but a paragon of human perfection. 2) Scripture is not a divine revelation, but an exclusively human book. 3) The Sabbath day is to be used in resting from secular business, but is not “set apart from our common lives to religion.” 4) The soul is probably a personality distinction separate from the body. 5) There are no such spirit beings as devil, angels or demons. 6) The Scripture does not teach the doctrine of the eternal punishment of the wicked. 7) Also rejected are: the miraculous conception of Christ, the doctrine of the atonement as a satisfaction to divine justice, the doctrine of imputation of Adam’s sin and of Christ’s righteousness. The doctrine of predestination is a product of the age of dragons.
The Unitarian movement is not a Christian movement. It may be an ethical or philosophical society. But it is not Christian. It makes this plain when it honestly admits that it does not hold to “the Christianity of the apostolic church nor to any ecclesiastically controlled scheme of salvation, but rather to the teachings concerning human relations in the religion of Jesus.” Jesus himself was merely “a normal man . . . endowed with powers differing in degree but not in kind from those of other men.” (The Presbyterian Guardian, Vol. 27, No. 35, p. 5). It has no creed. It is a free-thinker’s society established for the purpose of developing human character in the name of “charity” and “liberality.”