What Do Unitarian Universalists Believe?
Unitarian Universalism is a noncreedal religion. We do not describe ourselves or our dynamic spiritual journeys with an unchanging set of beliefs. As our lives unfold, new wisdom and fresh beliefs arise, further informing and enriching our journeys.
Our Unitarian Universalist tradition is also based in covenant: the promises we make to treat each other with respect and compassion (in contemporary terms, we choose to live in right relationship). In other words, how we are together is more important than sharing the same specific theological beliefs.
Ours is a faith that embraces questions. We don’t profess to hold any single, irrefutable Truth, nor do we claim that Unitarian Universalism is the “right” religious path for everyone. Instead, we honor the complexity of life, with all of its ageless questions, and strive to “live the questions themselves” (in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke), even when the questions become so messy as to be painful.
Because of our deep regard for the many sources of wisdom, solace, and inspiration, Unitarian Universalists respect and embrace those sources. On any given Sunday, our “sacred text” might include readings from the Bible, Transcendentalist poetry, the Upanishads, or contemporary prose. We regard Jesus of Nazareth as a great teacher of radical love; most Unitarian Universalists find greatest meaning in his life and teachings, rather than his death and resurrection. We hold Jesus in the same esteem as we do the other prophets and sages throughout history who have led their communities into deeper levels of justice and love.
Indeed, Unitarian Universalism is a religious tradition that calls us all to broaden our awareness of suffering and injustice, and to take up the work of justice however we can. Our Universalist forebears believed that they were called “to create the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.” Today, we still believe that we’re responsible for one another as members of the human family. Each of us is an agent of the Holy in making that love visible, co-creators with the Source of Life as we give shape to the world that we envision.
As an Assocation of Unitarian Universalist congregations, we are guided by the Principles and Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association:
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
- Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.