Two Unitarian Universalists (UUs) have now commented on posts of mine, and it has come to my attention that there are some who think my responses to them were rather too harsh. Given that fact, I think it beneficial to give my readers a quick lesson on UU theology and beliefs, in order to help you understand these folks and my responses to them. I will say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I am by no means an expert on UU – preferring instead to focus my energy on Socinian and Ebionite Unitarians – and will thus be primarily citing UU sources to give you a look inside.
Let’s start with a few reference websites. This one was linked by the first UU who posted (Ron) and gives a pretty good cursory glance at what UU represents. And this one is a bit more of an in-depth look at what UU is all about.
Now let’s take a few quotes from the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations website (the second of the above links) belief statement.
“Unitarian Universalism is a theologically diverse religion that encourages seekers to follow their own spiritual paths. Our faith draws on many religious sources, welcoming people with different beliefs. We are united by shared values, not by creed or dogma.
“Our congregations are places where we gather to nurture our spirits and put our faith into action through social justice work in our communities and the wider world. There is no formal conversion process, so becoming a Unitarian Universalist is simply a matter of self-identification. Newcomers are always welcome at Unitarian Universalist churches. Membership is voluntary and does not require renouncing other religious affiliations or practices.”
– http://www.uua.org/visitors/index.shtml, accessed 4/11/11
Yes, they mean what they say. You can be an atheist, a Hindu, or a Satanist, and as long as you share a humanitarian mission/goal set and refuse to denounce other religions as false you can be a Unitarian Universalist. In other words, without saying it they are communicating that their basic creed is “do good stuff and believe whatever you want”.
Don’t buy it? Their beliefs page goes on to state the following:
“Unitarian Universalism is a theologically diverse religion in which members support one another in our individual search for truth and meaning. We have historic roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions, but today individual Unitarian Universalists may identify with Atheism, Agnosticism, Buddhism, Humanism, Paganism, or with other philosophical or religious traditions. Interfaith families often find that Unitarian Universalist congregations are a good fit for them.
“We promote reason and tolerance in our communities and embrace a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. As members of a non-creedal religious tradition, we Unitarian Universalists are encouraged to discern our own beliefs about various spiritual topics. Our members hold wide-ranging opinions on topics like the afterlife, God, and scripture. What unites us is our acceptance of diverse spiritualities and our commitment to making the world a better place for everyone.”
Key in on that last sentence: “What unites us is our acceptance of diverse spiritualities and our commitment to making the world a better place for everyone.”
Yep, that’s just a wordier way of saying what I already told you above was their essential creed: “do good stuff and believe whatever you want.” They will of course say they have no creed, but the fact is that everyone has a creed (that is, a system of beliefs, which is the basic definition of a creed – look it up), and this is simply theirs whether they set it out in a caption that says “UU Creed” or not.
Next, to drive the point home I present the UU statement of where they derive their doctrine from:
“Unitarian Universalism draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.”
This is not Christianity, I hope you all see that. It is a theological homogenized stew, pasteurized to remove any hint of “intolerance” such as saying that one belief system is any more correct than any others. Unitarian Universalism holds that you are to find (or create) your own truth, and everything bad I’ve hammered about postmodernism in recent posts is true of it.
Ultimately, it is a self-gratifying religion in which you get to keep whatever feels good (a loving God, heaven, angels), and jettison everything that makes you uncomfortable (a wrathful, just God, hell, demons, and your own sin and depravity).
So, I re-post the UU comments and my responses here. After seeing the above I think you will see that far from unloving hateful attacks my words of reply were actually frank statements about the facts as they are. It’s kind of like saying to someone, “You’re a pot-smoking communist.” If you’re talking to most people, that’s a slap in the face, but if you’re talking to a free-lovin’ hippie, he’s liable to say “Darn right, I am!” In the same way, the UUs would most likely affirm my statements to them below, and be proud of it.
“Ron” on Challenging Unitarians #1
As a Unitarian Universalist of over 40 years, active in our faith in several congregations, I can’t recognize the “Unitarians” that you describe. Are these another tribe that somehow bases their faith on the authority of scripture…that call God a “he,” etc.? Honestly, I haven’t encountered these folks, and I interact with many fellow UU’s and kindred spirits every day. Just curious…
Hey Ron, nice to have you sir!
My assessment here comes from interactions with Unitarians both personally and in the online community, and I believe I’m being accurate. However, I am open to being proven wrong. That said, I’m not completely sure I understand your comments/question, so maybe you can help me out…
1) You say you can’t recognize the Unitarians I describe; can you refer me to exactly what description above you mean?
2) You say:
“Are these another tribe that somehow bases their faith on the authority of scripture…that call God a “he,” etc.? Honestly, I haven’t encountered these folks…”
Are you saying that you do not a) base your faith on the authority of Scripture nor b) call God a “he”? Because that is the way your language seems to read – though I doubt this is actually your position (and I definitely don’t want to ascribe a false position to you!). Could you clarify?
3) Maybe you could provide a succinct doctrinal statement that you subscribe to re: the nature of God so I can be certain I’m accurately representing your beliefs.
And in a follow-up comment I said:
Ron, upon re-reading your comment, I think I see where the confusion stems from (yours and mine): I am referring primarily to “Biblical” Unitarians, as opposed to Unitarian Universalists. Perhaps I should be more specific in my posts in the future… but I find it nigh impossible to use the words “Biblical” and “Unitarian” in the same sentence (think of the Fonz in Happy days trying to say “I love you” – that’s the basic picture), so you understand my difficulty.
Apologies for any confusion,
“UUFreespirit” on Jesus the Big Fat Liar
This “conversation” never happened, did it, Fox? All Unitarians I know would never debate scripture, simply because we feel that it would be a waste of time. The scriptures are all human constructs…filled with all of the various temptations, vested interests, delusions and illusions and politics that we fallible human beings have had since the very beginning. (On this I recommend the “Misquoting Jesus” videos by Dr. Bart Ehrman, if you haven’t seen them. ) So, please do go ahead with your Unitarian strawman stories, but I wouldn’t expect any of us card-carrying UU’s to buy them.
And my response (and I will note how ironic it is that I was accused of lying in response to a post about lying, LOL!):
Hi there UUFreespirit, welcome to the blog!
In all truth, this conversation did indeed happen. However, the gentleman in question was a unitarian of the ebionite variety (i.e. one that holds scripture with some degree of respect, though not to the extent of the socinians when it comes to the New Testament), not of the Unitarian Universalist sort as you have assumed. When I use the term “Unitarian” I’m broadly referencing all those who deny the Deity of Christ and hold that only the Father is God (Christadelphians, Arians [like JW’s], UU’s [like yourself], ebionites [like the gentleman in my story], etc.). Sorry for the confusion, I’ll clarify in the text!
With regard to the scriptures being human constructs and Ehrman’s arguments, I have studied these in sufficient detail to conclude that the text of scripture we have received is itself the very word of God. I do not find Ehrman to be convincing, personally.
Finally, I wouldn’t expect myself to be listened to by UU’s either. To be frank, the “doctrine” of the standard UU, being grounded on personal opinions and pet philosophies instead of the objective and infallible word of God, is not interested in submitting to an external rule and standard from which to approach a reasonable dialogue. Not saying that describes you, necessarily, but generally speaking.
So, no, I’m not just some jerk who reamed the UU commenters and tried to tear them a new one. I just stated the facts as found on their own official websites and documents.