UU Minute #69

"May Your Life Preach More Loudly than Your Lips"

William Ellery Channing’s Baltimore Sermon of 1819 was the manifesto of our American Unitarianism. The principles Channing laid out were:
  • We must follow where reason leads.
  • God is one, not three.
  • Jesus was fully human.
  • We reject original sin and limited atonement.
  • Atonement does not come from the crucifixion.
  • The key virtues are to love God, love Christ, and live morally.
Beyond such doctrinal points, Channing also made clear that ours is a faith of deeds not creeds – that we must live our religion and not merely profess it. As Channing was preaching on the occasion of the ordination of fellow liberal Jared Sparks, toward the end of his sermon Channing turned to Sparks and said:
“My friend and brother; -- You are this day to take upon you important duties,...to devote yourself to that religion, which the most hallowed lips have preached,...I have spoken of the doctrines which you will probably preach; but...remember, that good practice is the end of preaching,…Be careful, lest the desire of defending what you deem truth,...turn you aside from your great business, which is to fix in men's minds a living conviction...If any light can pierce and scatter the clouds of prejudice, it is that of a pure example. My brother, may your life preach more loudly than your lips. Be to this people a pattern of all good works, and may your instructions derive authority from a well-grounded belief in your hearers, that you speak from the heart, that you preach from experience, that the truth which you dispense has wrought powerfully in your own heart.”

NEXT: Unitarian "Sparks" Spread

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