What does the Council of Nicea in the year 325 have to do with Unitarians?
(Now Unitarian Universalist)
The Council, birthplace of the Nicene Creed, a statement of Christian dogmatic theology established In 325 AD, was the first formal claim of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus. But that was not a unanimous decision. There were those who continued to believe in one god (Unitarians in ideology, but not in name at this point.) One reason was the word trinity does not exist in the Bible. The Council made the declaration of the trinity. The one god theory was not prevalent but continued into the Reformation. In 1539 Katherine Vogel of Poland was burned at the stake for denying the trinity and Francis David preached against the doctrine of the trinity in Transylvania. He later died in prison for being a heretic. So it seems our roots go deep.
In the United States, Unitarian beliefs surfaced in the late 1700s and grew in the 1800s with interest and support from intellectuals like; Joseph Priestley Thomas Jefferson, and William Channing. The Unitarian Association was founded in 1825.
The arguments that were thrown at the Unitarians or the liberal ministers in the 1800s was; if you question the trinity, if you question Jesus' place in Christianity, then you're basically going to have a slow slide towards atheism. “But whatever we call ourselves (Christian, Jew, theist, agnostic, humanist, atheist), most of us would agree that the important thing about Jesus is not his supposed miraculous birth or the claim that he was resurrected from death, but rather how he lived. The power of his love, the penetrating simplicity of his teachings, and the force of his example of service on behalf of the disenfranchised and downtrodden are what is crucial. “A Chosen Faith, John A. Bueherns & Forrest Church, 1989, p7.
Watch next month for an article on Universalists.