Principles of Faith

"We cannot learn anywhere from the Scripture of God,
that his words and the religion are meant to be spread by fire and sword."
"God allways took care of his truth Himself and He will allways do that in the future as well."

Francis David

"Urunk őfelsége, amint az ennek előtte való gyűléseken országával együtt végzett a religió dolgáról, azonképpen a mostanin is ezt megerősíti, hogy ti. a prédikátorok minden helyen hirdessék az evangéliumot kiki az ő értelme szerint, és a közösség ha venni akarja jó, ha nem, senki rá ne kényszerítse, az ő lelke azon meg nem nyugodván; de tarthasson olyan prédikátort, akinek tanítása ő neki tetszik. És ezért senki a szuperintendensek közül, se mások, a prédikátorokat meg ne bánthassák, a religióért senki ne szidalmaztassék, az előbbi konstitutiok szerint. Nem engedtetik meg senkinek, hogy a tanításért más bárkit is fogsággal vagy helyétől megfosztással fenyegessen; mert a hit Istennek ajándéka, az hallásból lészen, mely hallás Isten igéje által vagyon."

"As it was the will of our Lord Sovereign, his Highness, to bring decisions along with his country on the sessions of the Diet the preceding days, regarding the matters of religion, he is willing to confirm the same this very day, namely that preachers are supposed to propagate the Gospel in all places, according to their own understanding, and if the community is willing to accept, it is well, if it is not, no one is allowed to press them to adopt it in spite of their not being reassured in their heart; but they may keep a preacher whose teachings they like. And no one among the superintendents, or others are allowed to hurt them for this, for on account of the religion no one is to be sneered at, according to the former rules. No one is allowed to threaten anyone with imprisonment or deprivation of his office; for faith is the gift of God, this comes from listening, listening to the words of God."

With the proclamation of this law began the history of unitarian spirituality. A peculiar moment of the European history. Maybe it is due to the free spirit of the tall pine-wood-covered mountain-slopes on the eastern edge of Europe. The mild valleys, flowery meadows and rustling leaves of Transylvania's "Fairyland". Maybe it is due to the privileges of certain freedom the warrior székely nation enjoyed in being appointed to defend the border of the country. Maybe the warm friendly spirit of these free farmers living in the enchanted Transylvanian wilderness made them open to accept all people with its beliefs and superstitions alike. Undoubtedly the almighty nature was the only authority they aknowledged. And the history brought along a chance when human religious authorities thrown over, this hidden conviction became confessed and aknowleged officially. It seems they were not afraid of any other spiritual power. They denied all authorities-created dogmas, and on the same time they let all people believe what they liked, and find sooth in their own belief. It seems it was enough and sufficiently strong their confidence in "God who is only one".

The law of religious freedom and constience proclaimed in January, the year of 1568 carried the success of one of the main unitarian principles. The whole country accepted this principle, first time in the Christian history. But it lasted only 3 years. These short years of golden age were followed by long centuries of hard compromises and heavy losses. The humanitarian and rational cultural trends upraised, and the enlivened missionarian spirit suppressed this spirituality which obstinately tried to remain loyal to following Jesus instead of adoring him in the clouds of Heaven.

What is it like this Christian faith today which tries to stick to the rules of reason beside constience in the matters of faith as well? What - after centuries of dogmatism and atheism - the Hungarian Unitarism does it look like?

The Unitarians - due to their minority and constant need to defend themselves - in the dogmatic world were known of what they did not believe in. Unitarianism is a positive belief with simple principles. The simplicity originated from the endeavour starting in the age of reformation to bring the religious world closer, rendering it more understandable, for feelings more perceptible. The intermediary persons and tools as sacraments are missing. The childish-hearted believer stands alone in a living universe with inward and outward misteries.

The following ideas are called by the unitarians principles of faith, meaning that they are subjects to the evolution just like any other science in human culture.

Principles of Faith
God is one, spirit, creator and preserver of the world. The unitarians adopted the scientifical world-wiew in all times believing in addition that a conscious spirit is working behind the evolutionary events. They believe in God as a personal and spiritual power who takes care of his creatures by his providential act manifested in nature and history, on the universal and personal level alike. On public prayers you can often hear John 4,24 quoted: "'God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is.' Come therefore my brethren, let us all listen to the voice of the spirit, and pray for a moment retired in utter silence."

The human kind is God's most noble creature, with the faculties of reason, awareness and constience. God gave man the ability to do good and free will. Due to reason and constience man is able to distinguish between moral good and evil. Further he is able and free to chose. If he is choses the good, he acts according to God's will and his own welfare. But due to the free will he can act on the contrary too, out of weekness, imperfectness, ignorance. Free will means moral independence, the chance of learning and spiritual growth, and the chance and guarantee in addition in attaining personal salvation out of one's own in the same time. Man is supported in this endeavour by providence and the holy spirit, which is God's spiritual power. The purpose of human kind is accomplishing the kingdom of God on Earth, which means fulfillment of the good natural endowments of men, on personal and social level. Most valuable virtues are: faith, free will, constience and love. Humans are all children of God, equal brethren and sisters.

Jesus was God's best child as he lived his life according entirely to God's will. Jesus was a man. Jewish religious teacher, prophet, regarded by the unitarians as an example to follow, a master of religious and ethical life in teaching and acting. It is from Jesus' teaching you can find out what kingdom of God should be like. Most important part in his teaching is the "twofold commandment of love": "Love your God and love your neighbour as you do your own self".

The Bible is a collection of man-created writings, including teachings of Jewish and Christian teachers, historical accountings and literature. These works were inspired by God but we are not to forget that this inspiration was grasped by those who lived long-long time ago in a certain historical time and place. This is why each writing has the marks of a cultural trend from ancient times, with that characteristical world-wiew, containing precious inuitive insight but mistakes too. This is why the unitarian theology follows and accepts the results of the scientifical criticism of the Bible in adopting it's ethics in life and philosophy. Most valueable part of the Bible is the New Testament, more closely the four gospels, where you can learn about Jesus' life and teachings.

The purpose of one's life is to attain the salvation. This physical and spiritual state of mind and the reward for the good conduct are not always attained in this earthly life. The unitarians believe in eternal life, beyond this earthly one, where the immortal soul will win it's reward according to one's way of life. The unitarian philosophy is a practical one (faith and act having the same value), an earthly religion which means that contrary to the above principles this last one is not detailed, the belief in it being sufficiently reassuring for them.

Christian holidays (generally three days long) according to the above principles gain the following meaning:
- Christmas is the commemoration of Jesus' birth.
- Easter holiday is the manifestation of the belief in the immortal soul.
- Pentecost is the holiday held to the victory of Jesus' ideas in the confession of the disciples.
- Autumn Thanksgiving for the crop (last sunday of September).

- Baptising ("in the name of the one, true God", "for following Jesus").
- Confirmation (held usually on the one of the main holidays mentioned above, after one year of study and on the basis of the catechism booklet: question-answer).
- Wedding.
- Funeral.
- Lord's supper (on each above mentioned holiday's first and second day). Meaning: commemoration of Jesus and giving evidence of the intention to belong to the community of his followers.

Written by Árpád Gazdag

All comments and corrections regarding the correct English are welcome.

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First saved on: January 25, 2000.
Last updated on: March 7, 2000.

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