Unitarians and God

Views on God

Not all Unitarians believe in God or even use the word. Some find the word ‘God’ meaningless, others believe it is too burdened with wrong ideas to be useful.

But many Unitarians continue to believe in God in a real sense, or use the term with a more limited meaning.

God is one

Unitarianism rejects the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity, or three Persons in one God, made up of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

They typically believe that God is one being – God the Father, or Mother. Jesus was simply a man, not the incarnate deity. For some, notions of the Holy Spirit offer a closer fit with their understanding of the divine.

God the Father or Mother

Unitarians may accept many ideas of God as valid – for example:

  • the principle that unites all things
  • the ground of existence
  • the source of original and ongoing creation
  • the ultimate good
  • the ideals and aspirations of humanity
  • a loving (parental) power with which human beings can have a personal relationship (some see this power as masculine, others as feminine)
  • the still small voice within each of us
  • a great mystery

Jesus Christ

Many Unitarians, particularly in North America, do not identify themselves as Christian. Those Unitarians who continue to regard Jesus as central to their faith will typically hold some or all of the following views about him:

  • Jesus was a man, not God
  • Jesus was not physically resurrected
  • Jesus was a Jewish prophet with a mission of reconciliation
  • Jesus was filled with divine inspiration
  • Jesus is a supreme example of living with integrity and compassion
  • Jesus’ life is reflective of the divine potential in all of us

Unitarians maintain that Jesus didn’t think of himself as God – and although he sometimes seems to speak of himself as God in the Bible, they are inclined to say that this is based on a misunderstanding of the text and the culture of his time.

Jesus did not survive in a physical sense. He survives in a poetic or metaphorical sense in that his spirit lives on in the churches and believers inspired by him.

This view of the effect of Jesus’ life is reflected in the Unitarian belief that human beings can really change the world for good.

(Source: BBC-Religions-Unitarians.  BBC copywrite-2014)