Belief, schmelief

Forget those beliefs, we do have a unifying theology.

I’ve decided I’m bored with the ongoing debate about whether Unitarian Universalists have a unifying theology or not. It bores me because all too often instead of getting into the really interesting areas of Unitarian Universalist theology, it winds up with someone declaring, “Well, I don’t believe there’s any unifying theology. I can believe whatever I want to believe in this church.”

Well — no. You can come up with counterexamples to disprove this last statement just as easily as I can. Obviously, we simply won’t tolerate outright sexist beliefs that proclaim men are superior to women. We have a low tolerance for charismatic authoritarian leaders who would control how we think and act. We would never require our young people to spend a year or two trying to convert people to Unitarian Universalism. If you want to believe these things, it will be easy to find you a church where you can believe ’em — but you can’t believe ’em in a UU church.

It is equally clear that we strongly affirm certain theological points. We strongly affirm insights of feminist theology, including that women are equal to men, that children are valuable, and that we are embodied beings. We affirm what William R. Jones has called the “functional ultimacy of humankind”; which is to say, whether or not we believe in God, we must act as if we have ultimate responsibility for our actions. We also remain strongly influenced by the insights of the social gospel movement of a hundred years ago, and we affirm that it is not enough for persons to try to save themselves, because in addition we all have a responsibility to save the world and make it a better place.

There you have three theologies which unify all us Unitarian Universalists: feminist theology, the functional ultimacy of humankind, and the theology of the social gospel. Bet we could come up with a few more, but that should be enough to get us started — and we do have to get started. All this boring bickering about beliefs is keeping us from acting out our theologies in the world.