Unitarianism - Questions and Answers
Article in The Pacific Unitarian 1895
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1. Q. What have the other churches taught about salvation?
A. That the human race is born wicked and lost, and that salvation depends upon belief in certain doctrines.
2. Q. For what is this teaching largely responsible?
A. For the Spanish Inquisition and the religious persecution of the "Middle Ages."
3. Q. Are these doctrines true?
A. No; Jesus did not teach them, science contradicts them, and even church people are ceasing to believe them.
4. Q. What is it to be truly saved?
A. To become intelligent, good, healthy, happy, and useful.
5. Q. Can a person be saved alone?
A. No one can be perfectly good and happy and free until all are so.
6. Q. Where is Heaven?
A. Wherever truth, righteousness, and love are supreme in the lives of men. It may be in the home, in school, in business, or wherever you try to make life beautiful.
1. Q. Is there a hell, a place of eternal punishment?
A. No; the idea is a relic of barbarism.
2. Q. Can a person escape the consequences of wrong-doing?
A. There is no forgiveness by God's laws. According to laws, we reap what we sow.
3. Q. Does the wrong-doer pay the penalty alone?
A. An evil deed often brings suffering upon the innocent, upon the family, friends, and posterity of the evil-doer.
4. Q. If a person has been leading a wrong life, what should he do?
A. He should "cease to do evil and learn to do well."
5. Q. What is the only thing we should fear?
A. To do wrong.
6. Q. Who are the saviors of men?
A. All who have taught them truth and made them better and happier.
7. Q. When you gain a good character, do you gain salvation?
A. Yes; the only salvation there is.
1. Q. Did Jesus establish a church?
A. No; he tried to prepare people for the Kingdom of God, which he thought would come in the lifetime of his generation.
2. Q. Who were the first Christians?
A. They were Jews, who, like all other Jews, kept the Jewish laws, but who believed Jesus to be the expected Christ.
3. Q. Were the Gentile churches founded by Paul, like the Jewish churches founded by the apostles of Jesus?
A. No; Paul's churches were associations to study, to teach, and to practice Christianity.
4. Q. Did the Jews have anything like churches?
A. Yes; the synagogues. The churches were copied after them.
5. Q. Did the first churches have a creed?
A. Only this, that Jesus was the Messiah or Christ.
6. Q. Did the first churches have any forms and ceremonies?
A. Probably only the communion (which was an ordinary meal taken together), and the ceremony of baptism by immersion.
1. Q. What is the origin of the creeds, doctrines, ceremonies, and forms of modern churches?
A. They have all grown up gradually in the course of ages.
2. Q. Were there at first priests, bishops, cardinals, and a Pope?
A. No: this great system was 300 or 400 years growing up.
3. Q. How did the Catholic Church arise?
A. When the Roman empire became Christian, the bishops of Rome (the capital) naturally became the leaders of the Church.
4. Q. Did the Church keep to the simple life and teachings of Jesus?
A. No; it became a great empire, with the Pope as Prince. He claimed to be God's representative on earth.
5. Q. When the Church ruled Europe, were people free to think and study?
A. No; any one who discovered a truth of nature, or found errors in the Church's doctrines, was persecuted or put to death.
1. Q. What is the origin of the Protestant churches?
A. They have resulted from attempts to reform or purify the Church, or to restore its original simplicity of form and teaching.
2. Q. What was the first Protestant church?
A. The Lutheran Church, started by a German monk named Luther, in the sixteenth century.
3. Q. How many kinds of Protestant churches are there?
A. More than 100.
4. Q. Why do they all claim to be orthodox?
A. Because each one thinks it has the true doctrine.
5. Q. How do the orthodox churches of to-day differ among themselves?
A. Chiefly as to ceremonies and forms of church government.
6. Q. Are so many churches built because they are needed?
A. No; fewer churches would be better. Most of them are only survivals from the past ages of religious thought.
1. Q. What is a heretic?
A. One who thinks freely, uses his reason, and follows truth wherever it leads.
2. Q. Is it a disgrace to be called heretic?
A. No; it is often an honor. The name is usually given by the ignorant and narrowminded to the most intelligent.
3. Q. How old is Unitarianism?
A. The Jews were Unitarian; so were Jesus and the Apostles. This means that they believed in the unity of God, not that they held all our present beliefs.
4. Q. What is the fundamental principle of Unitarianism?
A. Freedom to study, to learn, and to accept all truth.
5 Q. How long would it take to learn all that there is to be known?
6. Q. Why do we think the Unitarian Church to be the best?
A. Because it offers perfect freedom and exists solely to help people to find and live out the truth