More Channing Theology

The next doctrinal issue I will discuss is the Unitarian's emphasis on reason and rational thinking rather than the zeal of emotions. While this topic is addressed briefly in the aforementioned Baltimore sermon, Channing's view is better understood by examining a selection of quotes from later in his life. For example, Channing referred to himself as a "rational Christian," which often resulted in contemporaries thinking he wasn't Christian at all. He said, "I am surer that my rational nature is from God, that that any book is an expression of his will." In other words, he didn't trust the human emotions, and thus didn't put much faith in personal revelations. He founded the Unitarian Church based on his logical evaluation of the Bible and general Christian faith. Channing was a Christian not because he had a life changing miracle occur in his life, but because he viewed Christianity as the religion that was best suited to most fully develop human spirituality. He explained that people shouldn't be lured to Christianity by the emotion of the Cross, but rather by logically examining the Bible and deciding that Christianity is the best religion for self improvement.

This same reason led Channing to deduce that other people could come up with differing interpretations of the Bible that result in different doctrine, thus he was tolerant of other denominations and even other faiths. This rational approach to religion had a vast impact on the country's growing religious communities. While not exploding like the Methodist or Baptist movements, Channing's Unitarianism became popular mainly in the Northeast, in New England. Despite frequent criticism for being a religion of the elite and affluent of society, the ideology and principles of Unitarian faith are what spread throughout the country.