I think I may have a different view of Unitarian Universalism than many other people. My sense is that many people see UUism as a hodgepodge of beliefs, practices, and quasi-religious rituals that has little coherence or relevance; many other people see UUism as a radically liberal Christian faith which now welcomes non-Christians as well. Still others see UUism as a nontheistic, social justice movement.
I think UUism has been all of these things in the past, but that it has evolved (or is evolving) into something different. The "salad bar" image of view #1 (hodgepodge) is fairly negative, because it implies that we are flailing about uselessly, pretending to be religious. View #2 (radical liberal Christian) is accurate for some congregations but not for all and it too implies something negative----that Christianity is our rootstock and we will tolerate non-Christians but not change for them. View #3 (the humanistic outlook) implies that humanity is all that matters and that referring to a Power beyond human power is unnecessary.
Let me define who I am, to establish some credibility for taking the position I'm about to take:
I am Christian bred and born, a Baptist preacher's kid who has spent nearly all of my life in church work. I am a theist with a mystical understanding of God and I use mystical language to refer to the Power beyond human power (PBHP) because "God" as a word is too small. For me, the Divine requires poetry, not prose. I found UUism in the 60's, when it was primarily a humanistic movement. I felt comfortable at that time because I was rethinking my Christianity and content to let the issue ride for the time being. I felt pulled in and energized by the civil rights struggles and my opposition to the war in Vietnam.
I have been an active member of a UU congregation for nearly 40 years and have had many conversations with people about why they chose to become UU. I am an observer of human behavior and I noticed that some of these folks came for view #1 and some came for view #3. Then many started coming for View #2, acknowledging their deep commitment to a Christian theology and hoping that UUism would acknowledge its own deep Christian roots. I watched the "theist vs. atheist" controversy heat up and boil over. I watched folks on both sides of this issue be hurt and excluded on the basis of their deeply held convictions.
I am not particularly a student of Hegel, but it was clear to me that we had something of a Thesis/Antithesis/Synthesis motif going on. Having been a teacher and counselor of early adolescents for 25 years, I saw something of that generational rebellion occuring as well in UUism. Non-theistic humanism was the dominant view, with theistic views taking a back seat. Then the UU Christian movement began to flourish as Christians and other theists insisted that their views be taken seriously.