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Unitarianism is the name of a Christian theology and a movement based on that. Unitarianism as a theology is the belief in the single personality of God, in contrast to the doctrine of the Trinity (three persons in one God). It is the philosophy upon which the modern Unitarian movement was based, and, according to its proponents, is the original form of Christianity. Unitarians believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, as found in the New Testament and other early Christian writings, and hold him up as an exemplar. Adhering to strict monotheism, they maintain that Jesus was a great man and a prophet of God, perhaps even a supernatural being, but not God himself. Unitarians believe in the moral authority, but not necessarily the divinity, of Jesus. Their theology is thus distinguishable from the theology of Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, mainline Protestant, Pentecostal and other Christian denominations which hold the Trinity doctrine as a core belief.
Some Christians hold a unitarian theology in that they see God as a single person, and are thus antitrinitarian. But because they perceive Jesus to be God himself, so they do not fall into the general theology discussed here, which sees Jesus as subordinate to God and a finite being. Instead see: Sabellianism, Oneness theology, Oneness Pentecostalism, Monarchianism, Binitarianism.
The term "Unitarian" (with an upper case "U") usually refers to the liberal branch of this theology, but the term "unitarian" (lower case "u") is sometimes used descriptively to refer to anyone adhering to the teaching of the single personhood of God. In the United States, "Unitarian" is sometimes used as a shortened way of referring to present-day adherents of Unitarian Universalism.
Conservative (Biblical or Evangelical) unitarians strictly adhere to the principle of sola scriptura and their belief that the Bible is both inspired and inerrant and uphold "fundamentals" of belief. This version of unitarianism is more commonly called Nontrinitarianism, rather than Unitarianism.
Liberal Unitarians sum up their faith as "the religion of Jesus, not a religion about Jesus." Historically, they have encouraged unorthodox views of God, Jesus, the world and purpose of life as revealed through reason, scholarship, science, philosophy, scripture and other prophets and religions. They believe that reason and belief are complementary and that religion and science can co-exist and guide them in their understanding of nature and God. They also do not enforce belief in creeds or dogmatic formulas. Although there is flexibility in the nuances of belief or basic truths for the individual Unitarian Christian, general principles of faith have been recognized as a way to bind the group in some commonality. Adherents generally accept religious pluralism and find value in all teachings, but remain committed to their core belief in Christ's teachings. Liberal Unitarians value a secular society in which government stays out of religious affairs.
Unitarians are not to be confused with members of the United Church of Christ, the Unity Church, the Universal Life Church, the Unification Church, the United Church of Canada, or the Uniting Church in Australia. Furthermore, not all members of a Unitarian Church or the Unitarian Universalist Association are theological Unitarians (explanation below.)