Sometimes when people ask me if Unitarian Universalism is Christian, I’ll reply: No, it’s post-Christian. It’s a good way to describe us, partly because it’s so ill-defined, and let’s face it we are an ill-defined religious group. But recently I’ve been thinking that maybe I should start saying that Unitarian Universalism is a post-believing religion; not that we believe nothing, but that for us belief is not the way we define ourselves.
One of the books I’m reading at the moment is From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, by Shane J. D. Cohen (1987), part of the “Library of Early Christianity” published by Westminster John Knox. Cohen examines the side-by-side emergence of early Christianity and rabbinical Judaism. In a chapter titled “Sectarian and Normative,” Cohen writes:
Christianity is a creedal religion, and Christian sectarianism too is creedal. The vast majority of the sectarian debates of early Christianity centered on theological questions, especially the nature and interrelationship of the first two persons of the Trinity. Judaism, however, was not (and, in large measure, is not) a creedal religion. The ‘cutting edge’ of ancient Jewish sectarianism was not theology but law. Abundant evidence makes this point clear… [Cohen gives a number of examples]. All this material emphasizes the legal character of the debates among the sects and ignores or slights philosophical and theological matters. [p. 128]
Obviously, we Unitarian Universalists are not concerned with correct behavior in terms of laws set forth by religious authorities (thus our ministers do not have to learn some Unitarian Universalist equivalent of the Mishnah and Talmud, a body of law). As a non-creedal religion — as post-Christian religion — Unitarian Universalism certainly doesn’t concern itself much with correct belief.
Indeed, as someone who grew up as a Unitarian Universalist, I find that I have basically no interest in knowing what someone merely believes;I want to know who they are as a religious person including where they fit into a covenantal community. I find myself talking about theology a lot, but the branches of theology that interest me are ecclesiology (i.e., how people come into religious community together) and theological anthropology/sociology (i.e., who persons/peoples are religiously speaking).