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The Epic of Unitarianism

The Epic of Unitarianism

Original Writings from the History of Liberal Religion

This collection of writings spanning the 16th through the 20th centuries provides a rich portrait of early Unitarian thought

Editor: David B. Parke

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This collection of writings spanning the 16th through the 20th centuries provides a rich portrait of early Unitarian thought.
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The Sixteenth Century: Antitrinitarianism and Toleration

Introduction

Michael Servetus, On the Errors of the Trinity (1531)

Syndics of Geneva, sentence against Servetus (1553 )

Sebastian Castellio, Concerning Heretics (1554)

Caspar Schwenckfeld, "The Office and Scope of Civil Government" (1548)

King John Sigismund, Act of Religious Tolerance in Transylvania (1568)

Francis David, propositions of the Debate at Nagyvarad (1569)

The Seventeenth Century: Socinianism, a Mature Heresy

Introduction

Faustus Socinus et al., Racovian Catechism (1605)

John Biddle, "XII Arguments Drawn Out of the Scripture" (1647)

John Biddle, "Confession of Faith" (1648)

John Locke, "A Letter Concerning Toleration" (1689)

John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695)

The Eighteenth Century: Toward a New Principle of Authority

Introduction

Thomas Emlyn, An Humble Inquiry into the Scripture Account of Jesus Christ (1702)

Theophilus Lindsey, a letter describing the opening of Essex Street Chapel (1774)

Theophilus Lindsey, a statement of faith (1790)

Joseph Priestley, History of the Corruptions of Christianity (1782)

Charles Chauncy, Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion in New-England (1743)

Jonathan Mayhew, Seven Sermons (1749)

John Murray, portions of letters and sermons (1770 and after)

King's Chapel, preface and contrasting passages from the revised Book of Common Prayer (1785)

Thomas Jefferson, "Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom" (1779)

Thomas Jefferson, a letter to his nephew (1787)

The Nineteenth Century: Individualism and Denominationalism

Introduction

Richard Wright, Review of Missionary Life and Labors (1824)

James Martineau, "Three Stages of Unitarian Theology" (1869)

Jedidiah Morse, The True Reasons on which the Election of a Hollis Professor of Divinity in Harvard College. . . was opposed (1805)

Hosea Ballou, Treatise on Atonement (1805)

Thomas Belsham, "American Unitarianism" (1812)

Jeremiah Evarts, review of "American Unitarianism" in The Panoplist (1815)

William Ellery Channing, "Unitarian Christianity" (1819)

Massachusetts Supreme Court, decision in the Dedham Case (1820)

Christian Register, first editorial (1821)

Thomas Jefferson, letters prophesying a Unitarian America (1822)

James Walker, minutes of a meeting to explore the desirability of forming an American Unitarian Association (January 27, 1825)

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Divinity School Address" (1838)

Theodore Parker, "The Transient and Permanent in Christianity" (1841)

Theodore Parker, "The Fugitive Slave Law" (1851)

National Conference of Unitarian Churches, portions of debate and of Constitution (1865)

Free Religious Association, Francis Ellingwood Abbot's "Fifty Affirmations" of Free Religion (1870)

Jabez T. Sunderland, "The Issue in the West" (1886)

William Channing Gannett, "Things Commonly Believed Among Us" (1887)

The Twentieth Century: Humanism and Theism in a New Age

Introduction

Curtis W. Reese, "The Content of Present-Day Religious Liberalism" (1920)

J. A. C. F. Auer et al., "A Humanist Manifesto" (1933)

Commission of Appraisal, Unitarians Face a New Age (1936)

Lon Ray Call, memorandum on "Unitarian Lay Groups" (1946)

James Luther Adams, "A Faith for Free Men" (1946)

This work, first published in May 1957, has been continuously in print since that date. It was degenderized in 1985 but otherwise, except for one or two corrections involving dates, has not been revised. I conceived of this project in the fall of 1952 as a graduate student at the University of Chicago. The second volume of Earl Morse Wilbur's History of Unitarianism having appeared that year, I wanted to get behind Wilbur's narrative prose to the original writings of those who had made the history. Aware of the formative power of the Hebrew prophets in the development of Israel, and of the gospels in the development of Christianity, I decided to search out and publish the formative documents of Unitarian and Universalist history, as an extended footnote, as it were, to Wilbur's work. Beacon Press, then directed by Melvin Arnold, was receptive. I started reading, consulted my professors and colleagues, and led workshops on Unitarian history at summer youth conferences. Newly settled in November 1955 at the Unitarian Church of Peterborough, NH (which granted me a timely leave of absence for the purpose), I completed the manuscript in the fall of 1956.

What would I change if I were doing it again? A classic has been defined as something that doesn't have to be rewritten. In place of the severely edited versions included here, I would include the full text of Channing's Baltimore Sermon (1819), Emerson's Divinity School Address (1838), and Parker's South Boston Sermon (1841). It is perhaps no coincidence that Beacon Press published Three Prophets of Religious Liberalism: Charming, Emerson, Parker in 1961, a year after this work appeared in a paperback edition. I would incorporate more women's voices-including Judith Sargent Murray's writings on women's rights, Margaret Fuller's journals and letters, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody's views on childhood, and the writings of Mary Augusta Safford, Caroline Bartlett Crane, and other members of the Iowa Sisterhood. I would include Anna Garlin Spencer's views on the role of women in marriage, family, and marketplace, and Sophia Lyon Fahs's writings on religious education. Thirty years ago a colleague reproached me for omitting Fahs's "A New Ministry to Children" (1945). He was right to do so.

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