Creating people's geographies
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Latin for “Unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things”
or, alternatively with syntax more closely aligned;
“In necessary things unity; in uncertain things freedom; in everything compassion”.
This theological dictum is also less commonly rendered as
In necessariis unitas, in non necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas.
In essentials, there should be unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in both cases, charity [love].
Origin: traced to German Lutheran theologian, Rupertus Meldenius, in a call for peace among theologians of the Augustinian confession (ca. 1625), though sometimes attributed, perhaps incorrectly though it fits in with his ethos, to St Augustine of Hippo (354-430AD).
This is likely because August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben (1798-1894), a poet laureate who also wrote the words to the German national anthem “Das Lied der Deutschen”, penned a poem based on this famous saying for which German theologians and church historians have coined a special term: “Friedensspruch” or “Peace Saying”:
St. Augustine says:
In necessariis unitas,
In essentials unity,
In dubiis libertas,
In doubtful things liberty,
In omnibus autem caritas,
But in all things love.
Yet I say: not only in all things,
But before all things
And thus I praise love.*
In Christian theology caritas at once means charity and love (agapē), or a loving-kindness towards all others as a higher octave of the human spirit and encapsulated in another Latin phrase Deus caritas est – “God is love”. Biblically, it is the greatest of the three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity/love (1 Corinthians 13:13):
“And now abideth faith, hope, and love, even these three: but the chiefest of these is love“.
For further information about the use of this Peace Saying, see Hans Rollman, “In Essentials Unity”: The Pre-History and History of a Restoration Movement Slogan.
* Hoffman von Fallersleben, Gesammelte Werke, edited by Heinrich Gerstenberg (Berlin, 1892), 6: 54; cf. A. Eekhof, De Zinspreuk In Necessariiis Unitas, In Non Necessariis Libertas, In Utrisque Caritas: Eenheid in het Noodige, Vrijheid in het Niet Noodige, in Beide de Liefde: Oorsprong, Beteekenis en Verbreiding (Leiden: A.W. Sijthhoff’s Uitgevermaatschappij, 1931), 77-8.