Minister and blogger Dan Harper thinks we should “get rid of covenant as an organizing principle.”
I think he’s right and lays out a good case, particularly about how covenantalism — as now extolled — was not what Universalists had. Consider the Gloucester, Massachusetts 1786 Charter of Compact — this was John Murray’s pastorate — and in a day when the church-parish split was well understood, and public worship was state supported. They could have had a classically covenantal church should they have chosen. (Read Dan’s blog post if you’re more convinced by Unitarian models.)
But I think the appeal of neo-covenantalism is that it dignifies and gives form to Unitarian Universalist theological libertarianism (and decorates its decent into bald sectarianism.) I’ve long been bothered by what institutional Unitarian Universalism has been unwilling and unable to celebrate with me an affirmation of universal salvation in Christ — even as one option among many — as a present reality. What’s the likelyhood such a church organized as Murray’s would be admitted to the UUA today? The Universalists turned to their professions — principally the Winchester Profession — for order and unity, for strength in this life and a guide to the next.