Saturday, February 14, 2009

A UU Seminarian in Bibleland 2

So, another issue with being a UU Seminarian in Bibleland is that I'm listening to the rhetoric, and reading the Bible, but being a UU, I introduce reasoning into the mix, unfettered by the need to have everything neatly equal Jesus is Lord and the Bible is Inerrant.

So, I'm studying for my test Monday and my mind wanders, questioning certain suppositions.

Belief: The Bible is inerrant.

Question: Was Scripture written by men?
Answer: Yes, but they were inspired by God.

Question: Did those men have free will or did God strip them of it?
Answer: Everyone has free will.

Question: Has there been any person, other than Jesus, who was perfect?
Answer: No, and that's blasphemy to even think about it. Jesus is and was the only perfect human.

Question: So the apostles weren't perfect?
Answer: No.

Question: And the early church leaders, who decided on what would be canonical, were they perfect humans?
Answer: No.

Question: And all of the people who have translated the Bible, were they perfect?
Answer: No.

Question: But the Bible is the inerrant word of God?
Answer: Yes.

I sometimes wonder, as I'm studying, if going to a school that is so NOT a UU seminary is the right thing to do. Much like when I memorized geometry theorems in high school, I wonder, as I try to memorize Romans 10:9-10*, how much this will help me in life.

But I can't deny that this makes me pause, unpack, and think through assumptions of religious logic.

*9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.


ms. kitty said...

Whew, LE, I don't envy you! Iliff School of Theology in Denver was very Christian but also very liberal. There would have been very different answers to your questions! But sometimes I longed for Starr King or Meadville, just to get away from the constant Paulian interpretations of Jesus' message.

Rev. Ricky Hoyt said...

I have to say I'm feeling a little concerned about the education you're getting. I went to Claremont School of Theology, a liberal methodist school. I appreciated the taste of orthodox Christian thought that I got there (we do need to be Bible literate and conversant with traditional theologies) but I also needed room to explore my own beliefs, and Claremont encouraged me (and the 6 other UUs at the school) to do that. The process theology I learned there has actually informed and inspired my own faith life. Seminary shouldn't be just about earning the necessary degree, it should be about deepening and expanding your spiritual life. Best wishes to you.

Earthbound Spirit said...

The question I have is: Are you expected to share the same beliefs as your classmates/professors? Or can you explain that your faith is different - e.g., "I know that the dominant belief here is that the Bible is inerrant, but as a UU I believe that..."

I'm in a very liberal Christian seminary (UCC affiliated), and that was the key for me. Best of luck on that test.

Ms. Theologian said...

So what is the atmosphere like? Do people raise these questions ever?

Although there were a lot of UUs at HDS, some of the ministerial classes for MDivs had lots of folks who thought along the way you describe.

Kari said...

I have a hunch that this is a time when being a cradle UU gives you a long-view perspective that folks who find Unitarian Universalism as adults just don't have. I know in my bones what the core of my faith is. Some of the surface stuff may evolve, adjust, shift, but the identity as a Unitarian Universalist has a breadth and a depth that is just different. Maybe anyway?


The Eclectic Cleric said...

I think the theme I'm hearing here is that there are Non-UU Theological Schools, and then there are Non-UU Theological Schools...which is to say that some are merely NUUTS, and some are bat-shit crazy. You should definitely NOT be attending a seminary where Biblical Inerrancy is the default belief, and any non-Christian faith community (along with Catholics and liberal Protestants) are considered infidels or worse. You simply won't receive the kind of education that will allow you to thrive in a UU context. Of course, that's easy for me to say -- I attended Harvard 30 years ago, and received what I honestly feel was one of the best theological educational opportunities in the world. So think long and hard about how much of your money and your life you want to invest in something that isn't going to deliver what you need, and whether or not it might be worth the extra sacrifice to get what you actually desire.


ogre said...

Tell me that your notebook has tucked into it a laminated Matt Groening cartoon--one of the old "School is Hell" series, in which the character rattles off all the "right" answers to "what did we learn in school today" to the teacher, in panel after panel.

... but the thought bubble over him in the last panel reads "... and to be cunning little weasels."

You're getting to see what's expected. You'll have to figure out what's applicable to UU Christianity, and to UUism in general, mostly on your own or in other readings.

But you're going to be well-prepared to deal with such folk, and with the people who flee their congregations because they're too straitened and too closed to reason.

Lunasea said...

I just want to tell you that I so appreciate these posts - as a Catholic-schooled UU newbie, I find your reflections on the parallels and paradoxes of traditional Christianity and UU-ism fascinating, since it mirrors so much of what I'm struggling with right now. I've found these posts, along with, of course, Little Warrior's journey, to be very inspirational.