Universalism: not heresy

I’ve long ago rejected the tittering proclamation that Universalism is a heresy — said like this was a good thing. And also the self-serving etymology; that since heresy is derived from the Greek word meaning to choose that this it’s necessarily, again, a good thing. The implication of the word is clearly and honestly one of a false choice meant to mislead others. I won’t joke about that, or align myself with it. I’m a Universalist — particularly a Universalist Christian — and I’m no heretic.

I’ve also been pleased that the universalist theology angle of Evangelical minister Rob Bell — and whether or not universalism is honestly heresy — has been carefully and theologically considered in the Quaker end of the blogosphere. See, in particular, this blog post by Quaker minister and blogger Micah Bales. I’d like to think I had an influence, as we lunched yesterday and Bell and kin came up.

Quakers, as you might know, have their own version of Universalism which isn’t unlike the more general, non-Christian meaning found in Unitarian Universalism today, and which I don’t uphold. A meaning and understanding of Universalism that makes me wonder if most Unitarian Universalists really see a fellow-traveller in Rob Bell, or just an opportunity to get some press.

"Everlasting Gospel" in PDF, October 2

Well, I figured the best way to carefully read Siegvolck’s The Everlasting Gospel is to clean up a scan for re-publication. (It’s worked before.) And the best way to get to out is to promise a PDF (and text file of the LaTeX markup) to my readers.

So, on October 2, I will publish both. I will not promise they will be beautiful. That’s for a later iteration. Both will, however, be in the public domain.

Paul Siegvolck's The Everlasting Gospel

Just a quick note. It’s hard to find The Everlasting Gospel by Paul Siegvolck — pseudonym of George Klein-Nicolai — even though it’s continued mentioned in Universalist history, particularly for its value in converting then-Baptist Elhanan Winchester to faith in the universal restoration.

Copies of a 1840s reprint hide at Google Books, anthologized in the Select Theological Library, published for a later generation of Universalists. Unfortunately, it was printed cheaply as a serial with very thin margins. Between this version (start at page 77) and this one (start at page 135, though the numbering restarts, so about half way through or page 438 if you download the PDF; better quality) you should be able to make it out.

The extra principle in the Philippines

I was reading a blog post at Inspired Faith, Effective Action about one of the churches of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines (UUCP) which building is at risk by rising water.

One of the photographs illustrating the story showed three persons (presumably church members) in front of a poster entitled UU Principles & Purposes. Before the principles adopted by the Unitarian Universalist Association — and recall the UUCP is in the anomalous situation of being both a national denomination and, in sum, a member congregation of the UUA — an additional principle,

We believe in one God, the God of Love

Recall, too, their heritage is Universalist. That one line explains and illuminates all those that follow; it makes the rest believable and their faith one I want to hear. I don’t think I’ve felt as warm towards “the P&P” in years.

  1. The UUCP’s official Principles page.

James Relly's book, "Union"

While I’m cleaning out and finding useful files, I thought I would re-share the PDF book I made of James Relly’s 1759 “Union: or, a Treatise of the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and his Church.”

I have made this available at my (somewhat dormant) UniversalistChurch.net site, so I think this is the first time I’ve made it available here.

Union

"Blessed city, heavenly Cylon"

OK: not this hymn. But I’ve watched nearly all of the broadcasted episodes of Battlestar Galacticaall but episode 10 “Revelations” — in the last few weeks (thanks A.M. for the DVD loan) and the religion threads therein are fascinating. I’m not so keen even now to bring it up because just discussing them brings up spoilers, but there are unlikely elements of Universalist theology that came up in an inauspicious place.

Care for a discussion, below the fold? Which means “spoiler alert” if you’re not up to date. I’ll pipe up if there’s interest.

The desert island list

Hubby and I became homeowners yesterday, and we move Monday. Much of what we own is in boxes. But there are a few handfuls of books I can’t bear to put away yet. As if I might be called to preach this Sunday or lead a retreat . . .

Add in the fact that I am working my way through the third season of Battlestar Galactica, (which if you don’t know) the story of the human race — on other planets — fleeing a genocidal apocalypse with hope of finding Earth. So a continuing plot device is considering what was brought along — some quite improbable things — and what might be found along the way.

So what books — and I’m skewing to the theological — would you pack last and take first?

What is our gospel?

OK: I’ve asked before and I’ll surely ask again, but what is the “saving gospel” that I hear some Unitarian Universalists talk about? You know: the one “the world needs to hear.”

There’s something rather Rorschach test-like about it, in that the discussion of a gospel is in relation to the desirability for one. Still, I trust that it exists, but I’m not so sure that there’s a consensus of what it may be. Or perhaps, even more likely, there are multiple gospels and vagueness is our way of holding them together. (I know what I believe as a Christian, and it’s not belief or a Unitarian Universalist version of the gospel that keeps me attracted.)

So what is it, or are they? I’m not asking for anything prescriptive, merely some detail that would help me distinguish Unitarian Universalism from cultural endowments of goodwill, self-esteem or beauty.