Unitarian's apologia fails to convince

02 November 2006


From the Revd William Hogg
Sir, - Although I would regard myself as a liberal Christian, and would passionately defend the right of the Revd Dr David Usher ( Comment, 24 March) and his co-Unitarians and of anyone to believe and practise as they feel right, I totally support Chester Cathedral's right to say no to Unitarian worship in that place, and that of any Christian church to say no to acts of worship that implicitly or actually deny Trinitarian Christian belief.

Indeed, it is surprising that the Cathedral has allowed such services in the past, as it can only cause more upset to revoke such a decision than to take a firm line in the first instance.

In this mixed-faith community, where 25 per cent of the population is Jewish, we allow the local synagogues to hold overflow services in our church hall at festival times, but they would not wish, and we would not allow them, to use the church itself. We can be friends in the community, but our doctrines are mutually exclusive. We share many values, and much of our history and scripture, but both understand the other to be fundamentally different in belief.

The Trinity is not something that the Church of England, and other Christian denominations, just "get excited about", as Mr Usher argues. Perceiving God to reveal himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is something essential to the Christian understanding of God, not an optional extra.

But it is not always easy to get to the heart of such a mystery, and down the ages there have been those of "Christian" tradition who have opted to take the line of least resistance and go for a unitarian concept of God, while claiming to share Christian values and ethics - the "heretics" of the early centuries, the "sects" of more recent years.


Judgement by deed, not by creed, is another pretty basic issue, as Dr Usher will obviously be aware.

Most mainline churches are able to welcome ecumenical and even multifaith services when appropriate in the community, but something that claims to be Christian when it actually isn't is at best confusing, and at worst potentially harmful to the Church's mission.
The Vicarage, Church Field
Radlett, Herts WD7 8EE

From the Revd John Clegg
Sir, - If the Revd Dr David Usher's article accurately represents the heart of Unitarian religion, it illustrates why Christians have no partnership in the gospel with Unitarians: "all Unitarians believe that if there is salvation, it will be according to our deeds, not our creeds."

Christian faith is not primarily about ticking the right boxes alongside creeds, Articles, and formularies (although Anglicans affirm the place of these in understanding historic Christianity). It is about gospel, good news.

Dr Usher's Unitarian "creed" appears to allow no place for grace, no role for Christ. It renders the Passion pointless, and the cross powerless. Gospel? Good news? Who needs it? I, for one.
St Paul's Rectory
37 Erskine Road
Blackley, Manchester M9 6RB

From Susan Parkinson
Sir, - I would have a lot of time for Unitarians had they not dispensed with baptism and the eucharist, essential marks of Christianity from its beginning.
49 Abingdon Road
Maidstone, Kent ME16 9EE


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