Of the weaknesses of New England religious life, none is more apparent than that of Unitarianism, which has its administrative and numerical center in this area. It cannot be denied that Unitarianism has failed to reproduce itself; and, except for participation in the general growth in the population of the country, it has been able to count no significant increase in its constituency. The Universalists have also met an essentially similar fate, attested by the recent association of the two groups for self-preservation. Thus, one may raise the question, why the enfeeblement of a movement which, at the outset, seemed as though it might sweep all else before it?

Origin And Development

Believers in the unity to the exclusion of the tri-personality of God have ideological roots reaching as far back as the Ebionites of the early Church. These Ebionites represent a combination of Jewish-Gnostic teaching. By the fourth century the Arians had arisen to carry on the emphasis. They held that Christ had been brought into being at the beginning of creation, and hence was a creature not of being or substance with the the Father. He was called God because, assertedly, he was next in rank to God and had been delegated the power to create. In the sixteenth century the emphasis of Arius was continued by a group of humanists in Italy, the leaders of which were Laelius and Faustus Socinus. The latter understood his position to be based completely on Scripture, but for him Christ was never more than a miraculously endowed man who effected salvation by setting an example for other men. So, Socinus did not approach orthodoxy as closely as Arius.

The movement spread from Italy to Poland, to Transylvania, and finally through Holland to England, which ...

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