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Readings: Unitarianism

The differences between the various denominations are being lessened with the growth of ecumenism, and within most of them a greater diversity of belief is tolerated and perhaps even encouraged. The old emphasis on orthodoxy and uniformity is yielding to a more open and experimental attitude. The ordinary Christian who now wants to question his attitudes may well feel that he is quite able to do so and in some cases may find himself in the company of like minded people. So the Unitarian movement is no longer so special or unique; as has happened several times before, the other denominations are gradually coming to a position in which for a long time it was a solitary pioneer. And this development threatens its continued existence. Only by maintaining a distinct identity can it have a role that will sustain it, a part that will help it to endure. As H.L. Short has wisely observed, "a church must not only preach to its already converted members a doctrine which they consider true; it must have an effective place in the wider world. It must have some contemporary relevance, some function in the social order, some contribution to make to the intellectual life of the time. Unitarianism must therefore create a new role for itself if it is to continue as a living and vital movement. It has got to discover a future place in English religion as distinct and important as that which it has occupied in the past, for if it does not it will inevitably be redundant. (Hostler, Unitarianism, 1980, 77-8).