30 9 / 2011
(Authors like the aforementioned Harvey Cox, as well as those like John Shelby Spong, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and Philip Gulley come to mind, though I don’t believe exactly as they do, it is nice to have others represent a not so orthodox side of Christianity)
31 7 / 2011
03 9 / 2010
But let me familiarize you with what, exactly, Christian Universalism is, and what it is about.
The first part (Christian) isn’t really that hard to understand, although what people typically understand about the word Christian is what makes the second part (Universalist) confusing.
Most people accept that being a Christian means to be Christ-like, to make the conscious effort and take on the conscious responsibility/obligation to be like Jesus, to follow in his example in being compassionate, loving, kind, gracious, etc. Most accept that it also implies some sort of discipleship in terms of a teacher/disciple relationship, that it indicates “following” the example and teachings of Christ, and having him, in some way at the center or head (or other equivalent) of one’s beliefs and one’s relationship with God.
So, I feel pretty reasonable saying that my definition of a Christian is someone who believes in the person of Jesus, the message of love, compassion, and humility shown through his life, the thought that he reveals to us the character of God, Who is love and compassion, and who believes that living by his teachings and following his example can bring us closer to God as well as our fellow man. And I also feel rather confident in expressing my belief that the main point is that Jesus shows us the Way in which God wants us to live (with love and compassion), the Truth about God’s character (that He is love), and a new Life full of meaning, purpose, and love for God and our fellow man.
But I don’t believe that there is a set standard of belief or doctrine when it comes to meeting the above definition. Christian, in my opinion, doesn’t imply an adherence to specific criterion of faith, but instead indicates a specific standard of heart, a criterion of love, if you will.
Given that, the second part seems a little less confusing.
Universalism, generally speaking, is the belief in the universal salvation/reconciliation of mankind, that God is love and that all of His children will return to Him.
The Christian Universalist Association, specifically, defines Universalism as that which teaches “that God’s essential nature is Love, that all religions contain both truth and error, that the only commandment that really matters is to love other people as oneself, and that all souls will eventually be saved and perfected as part of God’s unfailing plan.”
So when I call myself a Christian Universalist, for me personally, this means that I have rooted my spiritual foundation in the Christian faith, but that I also believe in the universal salvation of all mankind, not through religious endeavors, but instead through the mere grace and love of God.
2. We believe that the universal commandment is to love and serve one another as each loves oneself.
3. We believe in the law of justice by which actions generate consequences, whether to be manifested in this life or the life to come.
4. We believe in the ultimate triumph of divine mercy and grace: that no being ever created will be condemned or allowed to suffer forever, but God has arranged through a benevolent plan of learning and growth for all souls to attain salvation, reconciliation, restoration, and reunion with the Source of All Being, in the fullness of the ages.
5.We believe every person is the divine offspring of God, created in the image of the Heavenly Parent of all; and that every person is destined to be raised up from imperfection to maturity according to the pattern of the archetypal Christ, the Son of God, the Perfect Human in whose image all humanity shall be transformed.
6. We believe in miracles and mysterious spiritual phenomena, such as the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which transcend materialistic views of reality.
7. We believe that God’s Holy Spirit has inspired numerous prophets, saints, philosophers, and mystics throughout history, in a variety of cultures and traditions; and that by reading the Bible and other great texts of spiritual and moral wisdom with a discerning mind, and meditating to connect to the Spirit within, we may all gain a greater understanding of truth, which should be applied for the betterment of ourselves and our world.”
2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
Unitarianism is, basically, a rejection of the concept of the Trinity, an insistence of the unity of God as One. The original Unitarians “could not see how the deification of a human being or the simple recitation of creeds could help them to live better lives. They said that we must follow Jesus, not worship him,” and most Unitarians today would agree.
The articles and explanations found therein are far more educating than my simple little overview.
(next post : A Digression of Sorts)