Unitarian Universalist Congregation
of the South Jersey Shore

What is Unitarian Universalism?


Frequently asked questions about Unitarian Universalism:

Who are the Unitarian Universalists?

The denomination came from primary sources. The Unitarians essential belief was the oneness of God, in contradistinction from the Trinitarian belief that God was Father-Son and Holy Spirit. This belief goes back to the first centuries of the Christian Era, but the Council of Nicea in 325 CE declared Unitarianism to be heretical.

Unitarian ideas persisted, however, and returned in force in the sixteenth century in the wave of the Protestant Reformation. The first Unitarian congregations were formed by Italian exiles living in Poland, Lithuania and Transylvania. In Transylvania (now a Hungarian-speaking part of Romania) the first Edict of Toleration in history was passed, assuring the people religious toleration.

The Universalist tradition also dates back to the second century, notably in the writings of Church Father Origen. Origen believed that the goodness of God was incompatible with eternal punishment, and postulated that at the end of time, even the devil himself would repent and see salvation. This notion was revived in the seventeenth and Eighteenth century, notably in Great Britain and the United States, and became the Universalist Faith.

In 1961, the Unitarians and Universalists merged to form the Unitarian Universalist Association. Congregants are free to form their own creeds, without being bound by historic traditions. Besides the Christian tradition, we are now enriched by humanist, pagan, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, and other teachings, as well as the enlightenment and the scientific age.

Do Unitarian Universalists believe in God?

Some do and some donít. We believe that what we do in our lives is more important than any natural or supernatural beliefs someone may have.

What do UUs believe about Jesus?

Unitarian Universalists most often see Jesus as an inspired human being and a moral exemplar. Many of us honor Jesus, and many of us honor other masters, such as Moses or Buddha.

What do UUs believe about the Bible?

Many of us love the Bible, in whole or in part. Some are disturbed by its violence and its inconsistencies. Most see the Bible as a valuable record of what generations have believed in the past, and a guide to our belief options in the present and the future. We see it as a collection of human works, not infallible, however God-inspired it may be.

Do Unitarian Universalists have special ceremonies?

We celebrate the birth or adoption of a child, marriage, civil unions, commitment ceremonies, divorces, and memorialize and honor those that have died. Each ceremony is different and will reflect the spiritual needs of each member.

Are Unitarian Universalists "Christian"?

Many are. Many are not. We are not creedal Christians, nor do we believe that only Christians are "saved." Many of us believe in God, many do not.

Can Unitarian Universalists believe whatever they want to?

No. One cannot be considered a Unitarian Universalist and believe that subscription to particular creeds are necessary for access to God. One cannot be considered a Unitarian Universalist and believe that God favors any group of people based on skin color, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability. We believe in democratic systems of church government and of society in general. And we believe that human beings do not have the authority to exploit the environment or destroy the ecology of our planet.