UU Christians


There is an organization within Unitarian Universalism called the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship (UUCF). At one time, I had heard or read somewhere that about 10% of Unitarians consider themselves Christians. I don't know if that figure is still accurate; more interestingly, the question arises as to how they define "Christianity"--how does it differ from the Christianity of liberal mainline denominations from, for example, the United Church of Christ?

In general, my guess is that the answer differs from person to person, but it would seem that most UU Christians probably reject out of hand the trinitarian language found in mainline churches. Perhaps many as well reject other aspects of Christian language or Christian dogma found in such churches. Perhaps UU Christians are attracted to the openness and lack of dogma that characterizes the UU church. In order to find answers to these questions, I have begun taking a look at the book Christian Voices in Unitarian Universalism, just published and available from the UUA online bookstore.

Some UU Christians in that book and elsewhere may use stronger Jesus-language than I admit to being comfortable with. Some even talk about him as their "Lord and Savior"--words I would never choose to use myself. Others may choose a different way of expressing their understanding of Christianity.

I remember years ago, while a regular attender of a UU church in Colorado that was searching for a new full time minister, hearing that some members of the congregation were not happy when a visiting minister used Christian language of some sort during a sermon. The details of the incident escape me now, but I remember being appalled at the time that a church that freely borrowed from other religions wasn't allowed to borrow from Christianity. This was the kind of intolerance that is sometimes found within UUism. I am sure that this is not true in all UU churches, but it appears that it does exist in some locations.

I took a look at the web site of my local UU denomination. It has a page that lists committees and organizations. The list is pretty long, and includes the a host of social justice committees, as well as the Covenant of UU Pagans; but I saw no mention whatsoever of the UUCF. Whether that was an oversight or not isn't clear, but it does suggest that perhaps at my local UU church, you can be a UU pagan but not a UU Christian; at the very least, this denomination may be lacking in any kind of interest in liberal Christianity--whatever that might mean.


GloryintheMorning said...

Although I'm not among the UUs who call/consider themselves "Christian," my observation is that UU Christians, like their Transylvanian cousins, study and take inspiration from Jesus' LIFE, and his teachings -- in my language, as the Teacher of Love.

"Other" Christians (that is, Protestants, Catholics, and Evangelicals) seem to take inspiration from Jesus' DEATH and resurrection. In seminary I shared a lot of classes with Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc., and they all spoke with hushed reverence about "The Cross," which was shorthand for, well, for all that is Atonement Theory.

As a general rule, atonement theology doesn't fly with UUs. See "Proverbs of Ashes" by Rebecca Parker and Rita Nakashima Brock.

So, I'd say that the most salient characteristic of UU Christians is their general rejection of the belief that Jesus' suffering and death "saved" us (which is, these days, counter to Universalism) -- its lack of meaning, relative to the radical love and social re-ordering that Jesus proclaimed.

My two cents. : )