I believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Leadership of Jesus.

This was almost a creed with Unitarians until recent years when they abandoned all statements of belief in favor of “absolute freedom of belief.” This descent from Channing’s Arianism to a relegation of God himself to the personal idiosyncrasy of each individual, as is now the case, was quite logical. Commenting on the growth of Unitarian theories among Methodists and Congregationalists in particular, a New England minister once said: “We are now where Channing was. In 50 years we will be where Unitarians are now—in humanism.” It seems to me he was right.

More than 10 years ago, after serving 22 years as a Unitarian minister, I returned to the church of my ordination. On that first Sunday after my restoration to the priesthood, I stood at the altar and recited with the congregation the Nicene Creed. Its articles to which I was bearing witness included this:

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ …

God of God, Light of Light, Very God

of Very God, being of One Substance

with the Father.…

There the issue is struck: Jesus as the ideal, good man, the world’s supremely ethical and spiritual leader, yet a product of his time; or God having taken upon himself our flesh so that he might do for us what no mere human leader could do. My experience as a Unitarian clergyman convinced me that there was no halfway house between those two positions.


At interdenominational meetings, I had heard clergymen pile adjective upon adjective in glorification of Jesus, and yet the speaker was talking about one whose difference from the rest of us was only one of degree, not of kind. Our denomination was largely made up of refugees from ...

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