1 Beliefs, Creeds and Doctrines
Come return to your place in the pews,
And hear our heretical views:
You were not born in sin
So lift up your chin,
You have only your dogmas to lose.
Leonard Mason, UU Minister
What do Unitarian Universalists believe?
- Every individual should be encouraged to develop a personal philosophy of life.
- Everyone is capable of reasoning.
- We do not need any other person, official or organization to tell us what to believe.
- We should be able to present religious opinions openly, without fear of censure or reprisal.
- All people should be tolerant of the religious ideas of others.
- Truth is not absolute; it changes over time.
- Everyone should continue to search for the truth.
- Everyone has an equal claim to life, liberty and justice.
- People should govern themselves by democratic processes.
- Ideas should be open to criticism.
- Good works are the natural product of a good faith.
Which values do you hold highest?
We regard the highest values to be integrity, caring, compassion, social justice, truth, personal peace and harmony. Advancing these values is a major purpose of our congregations.
Does the UUA have a creed?
No. Although the bylaws of the association do contain a section on purposes and principles, it is not a statement of a religious creed.
Do you subscribe to any doctrines?
We have no specific doctrines to which members are expected to subscribe. However, the bylaws of the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association) and member churches and societies do contain a Statement of Purpose and Principles (see page 18). These are the basis of a solemn agreement that member churches will support the UUA and that the UUA will support the individual churches.
What do you NOT believe?
We do not believe that any religious precept or doctrine must be accepted as true simply because some religious organization, tradition or authority says it is. Neither do we believe that all UUs should have identical beliefs.
Do some UUs have different beliefs than other UUs?
They certainly do. Since individual freedom of belief is one of our basic principles, it follows that there will be differing beliefs among us. Found in today's churches are humanism, agnosticism, atheism, theism, liberal Christianity, neo-paganism and earth spiritualism. These beliefs are not mutually exclusive--it's possible to hold more than one. While we are bound by a set of common principles, we leave it to the individual to decide what particular beliefs lead to those principles.
Do you believe in God?
We do not have a defined doctrine of God. Members are free to develop individual concepts of God that are meaningful to them. They are also free to reject the term and concept altogether.
Most of us do not believe in a supernatural, supreme being who can directly intervene in and alter human life or the mechanism of the natural world. Many believe in a spirit of life or a power within themselves, which some choose to call God.
Do you believe in a personal God?
A personal God is one with whom someone feels a one-to-one relationship, a deity who cares specifically for that individual and to whom that person can appeal directly. Few UUs would characterize God in such personal terms.
What role does God play in the Church?
In most services, there are few, if any, mentions of a deity. The emphasis is on issues of human growth, human potential and personal human issues that we all face in day-to-day living. There is also an emphasis on social, moral and ethical issues that confront us. Although subjects are presented from the religious perspective of the minister or the speaker, it is never assumed that all present have a common belief in God.
God means different things to different UUs. To some, the term has little or no meaning. Whatever the case may be, we offer an accepting congregation where each person can discover what gives life meaning, purpose and direction.
Do you believe in the existence of spiritual beings?
Not in the sense of something that is disembodied. Most agree that there is a spiritual dimension to life that is connected to the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological aspects of life.
Do you believe in miracles?
We do not believe in miracles in any supernatural way since our ideas of God generally do not include a deity who has the ability to alter the workings of the natural world. Most UUs feel that the gift of life itself is sufficient miracle, and that we should live as fully, joyfully and responsibly as we can.
Do you believe in Jesus?
We do not believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, performed miracles and was resurrected from death. We do admire and respect the way he lived, the power of his love, the force of his example and his system of values.
Most UUs regard Jesus as one of several important moral and ethical teachers who have shown humans how to live a life of love, service and compassion. Though some of us may question whether Jesus was an actual historical figure, we believe his teachings are of significant moral value.
How do you regard the Bible?
We regard the Bible as one of many important religious texts but do not consider it unique or exclusive in any way. We do not interpret it literally. We think some parts of it offer more truth and relevance than other parts. Although UUs respect the Bible and regard some of its content as great literature, it is not a central document in our religion.
Do you believe in life after death?
Very few UUs believe in a continuing, individualized existence after physical death. Even fewer believe in the physical existence of places called heaven or hell where one goes after dying. We believe immortality manifests itself in the lives of those we affect during our lifetime and in the legacy we leave when we die.
Do you believe in the concept of evolution?
Yes. We believe that more complex life forms have evolved from less complex life forms.
What are the bonds that unify UUs?
While there are no written or verbal doctrines designed for that purpose, we have both stated and unstated bonds which unify us. The stated bonds are the Principles and Purposes of the UUA which we support individually and collectively.
Among the unstated bonds are our mutual respect for each other and our appreciation of the many religious, philosophical and spiritual paths which our members pursue. We are bound together in our mutual concern for one another's well being, and our willingness to aid each other in time of need.