The denominations of Unitarianism and Universalism originated in the 18th century as separate movements, and both find inspiration in some of the earliest Christian controversies.
Early 18th-century Unitarianism and Universalism began as reactions against the strict predestinarian theology of Calvinism. Unitarianism emphasized the oneness of God and humanity's capacity for salvific moral behavior, and Universalists believed in universal salvation for all, without the punishments of a hell.
Both Unitarianism and Universalism look back to several 18th- and 19th-century ministers who played leading roles in the young movements, including William Ellery Channing for the Unitarians and Hosea Ballou and John Murray for the Universalists.
Although initially the Jewish-Christian Bible formed the primary scripture for both traditions, contemporary Unitarian Universalism draws from a wide range of inspirational sources, including scriptures from around the world as well as secular literature.
Scholarship on Unitarian Universalism currently focuses on four main areas: early Christian through Reformation antecedents, denominational history, the wider context of religious liberalism, and, in an effort to balance the numerous studies of Unitarianism, a renewed interest in Universalist history.