UU Minute #21

The Connection: Reason

Unitarians have been around 450 years, and our history is rooted in two ideas:
  • rational critique of the trinity, and
  • tolerance of diversity of opinion.
Is there a logical connection between them, or is it an accident of history that these two ideas happened to come in the same package?

Actually, there is a logical connection: reason. It was the exercise of reason that produced the rational critique of trinitarianism. And the proper function of reason depends on the freedom allowed by tolerance. Any ideology that isn’t rationally defensible can only rely on authoritarian coercion to secure adherents.

Ferenc David, the Transylvanian theologian and King John Sigismund’s court preacher, was an impassioned advocate for both the unity of God and freedom of conscience. His words are part of Unitarian Universalism to this day, and appear in the back of our hymnal, reading number 566, which includes the words in David’s native Hungarian:
Egy Az Isten
– meaning, God is one. As selected, adapted, and arranged by UU minister Reverend Richard Fewkes, here is that reading from Ferenc David:
In this world there have always been many opinions about faith and salvation.
You need not think alike to love alike.
There must be knowledge in faith also.
Sanctified reason is the lantern of faith.
Religious reform can never be all at once, but gradually step by step.
If they offer something better, I will gladly learn.
The most important spiritual function is conscience, the source of all spiritual joy and happiness.
Conscience will not be quieted by anything less than truth and justice.
We must accept God’s truth in this lifetime. Salvation must be accomplished here on earth.
God is indivisible.
Egy Az Isten.
God is one.

NEXT: Transylvanian Unitarianism Down to this Day

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