Unitarian Universalist Ancestors

October 18, 2014 at 12:18 am 2 comments

Honoring ancestors is a key part of many polytheist & animistic traditions, however “ancestors” are much more than our blood relations, though they are certainly important. There are many groups of ancestors, spiritual, cultural and socio-political, that I consider worthy of honor- one of them is Unitarian Universalist ancestors, heroes, founders and martyrs. This is complex because while the American Unitarian and the Universalist denominations only merged in 1961, our spiritual roots go back much further to the beginnings of Christianity. Why do these people who questioned orthodox Christian doctrine matter to a Pagan UU? Because we are still UUs, and many of these people were promoting freedom of thought and religion far before the Enlightenment or the Bill of Rights! So anyone in the Western world, in particular who is not Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox can be thankful to these folks. (Pagans- whether UU or not certainly should be!) Since this is such a long time span- enough that I took a series of 3 classes on UU history at Unity Unitarian- I will start with some early heretics.

Early Christianity was much more diverse before 325 C.E. when the Council of Nicea formed and hashed out the Nicene Creed. After that, sorry unitarians* and universalists, you’re heretics now!

Some early unitarians like Arius, interestingly had Neo-Platonic influences on their beliefs. Neoplatonism is a classical Greek philosophy which also had a great deal of influence later on the development of Jewish mystical traditions like Kabbalah and some modern polytheists like Edward Butler are now taking a new look at Neoplatonism.

Arius– denied the full divinity of Christ. This was one of the biggest scariest heresies for the early church.

Pelagius– a British monk whose ideas became influential in early Celtic Christianity. He was very ascetic but also had a strong emphasis on human free will and the potential for humans to improve themselves spiritually and morally.

The Ebionites were a Jewish-Christian sect that viewed Jesus as the Messiah, but rejected his divinity. After migrating to Arabia, they may have later influenced Islamic views of Jesus. They had an emphasis on voluntary poverty (the word ebionite is related to the Hebrew word for poor or needy) and may have been vegetarians (as they believed Jesus and the Apostles were)

*Lowercase for unitarian and universalist as theological positions, rather specific sects that called themselves that

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Entry filed under: Ancestors/Heroes, History, Path-Forging, Unitarian Universalism. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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