That is, he [West] asserted free will for man in opposition to Calvin's doctrine of fore-ordination and irreparable election, and man's ability of moral choice in opposition to the doctrine of "total depravity."Should we not take a person's own words over another's testimony? Where are the smoking guns affirming unitarianism from his contemporaries? Reading his Ordination he was an Orthodox Christian:
This..Christ..as our high priest who offered himself up to God a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the world.. he is to be preached up as the only Mediator between God and man..that he came to redeem us both from the penal consequences of Adam's first transgression..to increase our knowledge of the doctrines of, the gospel..that through his atoning blood and perfect righteousness..Can anyone imagine faithfully that he preaches Christ, who very seldom in his discourses mentions his name; and who never insists on the doctrine of atonement, with which the new testament so much abounds? Shall gospel ministers leave out the principle end of Christ's coming..?Where is West's words to refute this? I have read Christians who claim West was a unitarian, however, affirming Arminianism is not synonymous with heterodoxy--at least in the 18th century. Moreover, Timothy Dwight was a sort of Arminian. The fact is, none of these unitarian preachers: Jonathan Mayhew, or Ebenezer Gay, et al., were rationalists in the mold of Thomas Jefferson. Any attempt to label a system of rationalism to any "group" of founding fathers, or founding preachers contradicts the evidence. If Thomas Jefferson truly denied the supernatural, West had a stiff rebuke for him:
[C]an anyone think, that he has faithfully discharge the trust reposed in him, who insists altogether in what is called natural religion, without ever mentioning the pecularly doctrines of revelation? Why should we separate what God has joined together?..Where the doctrines of meer natural religion are insisted on to the neglect of the pecular doctrines of revelation; we can at most expect to find a few fashionable, civil, gentlemen, but destitute of real piety.However, there is evidence as to West's heterodoxy:
With reference to Dr. West's position on the doctrine of the Trinity, his granddaughter, Mary C. West, of Tiverton, (recently deceased,) wrote in a communication printed in the Evening Standard of this city in March, 1883, as follows: "If his children were competent witnesses (my father and aunt) I can say that they have often told me that their father was an Arminian Unitarian. * * * I have heard my aunt many times tell this story. When she was a little girl her teacher set her to learning a catechism, — I think it was the Westminster, but at any rate it had the Trinitarian formula in it: 'The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.' She was at home studying her lesson in a loud voice, and her father heard her repeating the above formula and called her to him and held up three of his fingers (as she always did when she told the story), and asked her how three could be one, took the book from her and put it in his pocket, and told her to tell her teacher that he would get her another catechism, which he did. I think the one he got her was called 'The Franklin Catechism,' or 'The Franklin Primer."Who do we believe? Do we believe West's own words, or this statement years after the fact?