A UU Feels Moved - 04/18/2004
I feel moved to respond to your bit on Unitarian-Universalism on your site.
First, you may want to quote deeper sources than the UUA website - I certainly wouldn't critique Christianity based on the pamphlets distributed on the subway, which would be the equivalent of what you are doing. You make strong charges; do the work to back them up. UU is a very old and very rich tradition; take the time to read up on it before blithely attacking it.
Second, a great many very important figures in American history are UUs or are from similar liberal faiths. Jefferson, for example, stripped all the miracle stories, healings, and the resurrection (all of which he deemed later additions to Jesus' biography) from the Bible to produce "The Jefferson Bible" - which is nothing more than a book of moral teachings and liberation theology. Shall we tear down the Jefferson Memorial? He is a heretic in your view, yes? Burning in hell? A cult figure?
Third: It is true that UUs grant equal validity to all the great faith traditions. We consider it an act of cultural hubris to think that our culture's mytho-historical tradition is "right" and that everybody else is wrong (and there's no rational grounds for the exclusivist position). Further, we think all traditions are trying to get at God (by any name)... there is "one Light, but many windows." You may be content to accept one truth (small t), but some people are more comfortable with a plurality of approaches to get at the Big T.
Fourth: UUs do have faith - a radical faith in human beings. As I read on a t-shirt the other day: "I was born ok the first time." We don't believe anything is to be gained from the tearing down of the human person - we rather lift him up. We don't believe in orginal sin, etc. We don't believe there is anything innately shameful in the human condition; we are born plenty good. This is not pride; it's love. We do believe in the worth and dignity of every person, and in the full development of all human faculties: reason, imagination, AND faith. You need them all, not just one.
Fifth: Responsibility is the core of UU philosophy. Nobody gets a free ticket. We have a deep commitment to responsbility in our personal dealings and in the work of the community as a whole (social justice). Our commitment to other human beings, in community, is the foundation of our moral code. We believe that the only way to sin against God is to sin against your neighbor.
Sixth: I am both a UU and a student of theology, which means my life is dedicated to the study of the same scriptures you study. It deeply offends me when I am told that I cannot be trusted to read them, study them, and then come to my own conclusions (alone or with my community). Apparently, you are smarter and more devoted than me, because you have all the right answers; I'm just a misguided cultist and an unrepentent sinner - and ultimately I'll burn. (And you blame others of condscending to you?)
Actually, point 6 gets to the crux of the matter: UUs respect individuals enough - and other traditions enough - to invite all to the table, and to encourage the full flower of human faculties: reason, faith, imagination, etc - and not just obedience.
You can drop a book in my lap, but you may not tell me what to think, or condemn me for not accepting your interpretations. I think it is far braver - and authentic - to find one's own spiritual path, with the support of a community of open-minded fellow seekers.
One last note: You would be hard-pressed to find a UU website or book, etc, that attacks your faith, or labels you in any fashion. Leave it up to the pluralists to accept you as you are - while not expecting the favor to be returned - who's the more Christ-like? Hmmm. Anyway, sorry to disturb you, please resume dispensing judgment...
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Hi James. I'm glad we moved you. First, your analogy
comparing the UUA website to subway tract distribution doesn't stack up. The
UUA is the mouthpiece of the UU organization, and should therefore be trusted,
at least in regards to UU beliefs. Second, while Unitarianism and
Universalism are both very old, the UU movement is quiet young. The
Unitarians of old (including Jefferson) share little in common with Unitarian
Universalists. It is not my job to judge any person's soul -- the Bible tells
us that will be Jesus' job. All I judge is beliefs, and if Thomas Jefferson
died without accepting the salvation that comes only through Jesus Christ,
then yes, he will suffer eternal punishment in hell. That is a fate that God
wants for no one, and neither do we. Anyone who ends up so condemned has
condemned himself by rejecting the free gift of salvation that comes from
Is it an act of hubris to say that the sun is the center
of our solar system? Is it an act of hubris to state that all humans need 18
to 21% oxygen to live? Then how is stating the fact of the gospel an act of
hubris? While you fail to acknowledge the absolute truth that IS Jesus Christ
(John 14:6), you will eventually face it, just as we all will. The question
remains, how will you stand when that time comes? You say there are no
rational grounds for this position, and I say there are no rational grounds
for that statement. Truth is what it is, regardless of what you think of it.
You are right in that religion is man's attempt to reach God, but the fact of
the matter is we can't do that. Jesus Christ did not establish a religion.
He provided God's path to reach man.
I find your faith in mankind sorely misplace. You say
humans are "born plenty good", and there is nothing "innately shameful in the
human condition." Hmmm... The Crusades. The Inquisition. Stalin. World
War I. Hitler. World War II. Korea. Vietnam. Saddam Hussein. September
11, 2001. March 11, 2004. Rape. Murder. Pedophilia. Genocide. Greed.
Avarice. Hatred. Bigotry. Pride. Envy. Adultery........ Are THESE indicative
of the "plenty good nature" of mankind? If man is innately good, how do these
things happen? The signers of The Humanist Manifesto believed as you do.
After World War II, they tempered their view on the nature of man. On his
own, man is sinful. You don't think you're sinful? Have you ever envied,
cheated, or stolen? Even as a child? Have you ever committed adultery? No?
Well have you ever looked lustfully at an attractive woman? Jesus said that
"anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her
in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Considering that, my guess is you probably have
committed adultery of the heart. But you say we're without sin? I have news
for you James. We're all sinners. There's only One Way to keep from
suffering our just punishment for that, and His name is Jesus.
I never said that you aren't allowed to read, study, and
interpret the Bible, and I'd thank you to avoid fabricating lies about my
statements in the future. Lying is a sin too, by the way. You ARE misguided
though, if you think the UUA is at all biblical. You ARE an unrepentant
sinner, destined for hell. The only difference between you and me is that I
recognized my sinful state, and sought forgiveness. You can choose to
disbelieve that, because it's "just not pluralistic," but you do so at the
risk of your own condemnation.
-- "UUs respect individuals enough - and other
traditions enough - to invite all to the table, and to encourage the full
flower of human faculties: reason, faith, imagination, etc - and not just
obedience." -- So you want me to respect the ideas of all others, but
you have shown a blatant disrespect for my beliefs. Perhaps you should
practice what you preach, or simply come to The Truth. Reason, faith, love,
logic, and imagination are all in play within Christianity, despite your
assertions to the contrary.
-- "You can drop a book in my lap, but you may not
tell me what to think, or condemn me for not accepting your interpretations."
First, this website is not about interpretations. We recognize that people
can disagree on various interpretations. But if you reject the plain truth of
the Bible, then you WILL be condemned -- by your own actions, with Jesus as
your judge -- but not by me.
-- "One last note: You would be hard-pressed to find
a UU website or book, etc, that attacks your faith, or labels you in any
fashion." You're right. The Unitarian Univeralists prefer to do this
directly via email, as you have so aptly demonstrated.
James, first let me say I'm growing weary of UU's who
malign my faith, then tell me I should accept and "tolerate" the beliefs of
others. This double standard is getting old. Second, the Truth is out there,
and if you have read the Bible, then you cannot claim ignorance as an excuse
when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ. When that time comes, you
can wish to high heaven that you could make it all go away, or dismiss Him as
being too exclusivist.....or you can face him with full assurance of your
salvation. The choice is yours. He gave you free will to accept Him or
reject Him. In the meantime, we will continue in this ministry, to fulfill
our biblical mission to Him. No one will force you to return to our website.
The choices are, and always have been, yours. I pray that you will exercise
your God-given free will to make the right choice.
Ben and Jennifer Rast
"Have I now become your enemy by telling you the
truth?" Galatians 4:16