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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Unitarians

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a general name for those bodies of professed Christians who do not fully recognize the equality of the three Persons in the Godhead. The essential errors of Unitarianism, as evangelical Trinitarians regard them, are a denial (a) of the true divinity of Jesus Christ; and (b) of the inherent and total moral depravity of human nature. These two are claimed to be not simply dogmas, but facts sustained by observation and history as well as by the plain and constant teachings of the Holy Scriptures. They are intimately correlated to each other; for if Christ be not truly divine, then there is no adequate atonement for human sin; and, conversely; if man be not essentially a sinner, he needs no such divine Savior. Hence our Lord in treating with Nicodemus announced the necessity of a radical, moral change as the first and all-important condition of Christianity (John 3, 1-13). Accordingly the doctrine of a spiritual and fundamental regeneration will be found to be the true touchstone of all evangelical orthodoxy, and those branches of Christendom who lay most stress upon it prove to be the most efficient in the moral renovation of mankind. Humanitarianism alone can never be more than a negative and powerless, because a really false, view of the actual condition and relation of the race as respects their Creator and Redeemer. (See HUMANITARIANS).

In the same summary manner, Unitarians reject, as being to them unphilosophical and unintelligible, the divinity of the Holy Spirit, a doctrine which all who have passed through the pangs of true contrition into the joys of conscious pardon and heavenly communion find so comforting and necessary to the explanation of their own religious experience (Romans 5, 1-5; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14). (See TRINITY).

While pointing out these, as we deem, radical defects in Unitarianism as a system of Christian faith, we nevertheless are bound to bear witness to the literary culture, social refinement, and moral virtues which Unitarians as a body have exhibited, and to their amenity and ameliorating influence in the defense of civil rights and the general cause of philanthropy. These we attribute, however, not so much to their creed as to the hereditary effect of early Puritan training and the power of a sound Christianity diffused through the community in the midst of which they live and operate. (See UNITARIANISM).


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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Unitarians'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/u/unitarians.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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