A while back I responded to repeated requests that I articulate my personal theology by writing the 14-point document below, which expresses the Christianity that I have believed to be true since the moment of my sudden conversion experience.
In February of 2012, I and a small group of people who had read and liked my mini-manifesto quietly started a Facebook page called Unfundamentalist Christians. We put my document under the page’s What We Believe tab, and then just … sat back to see what happened. I personally did nothing to promote the UC Facebook page, because I did not want to influence its growth; I wanted it to grow organically or not at all.
As of this (updated on 3/6/2014) writing, the UC Facebook page has 31,800 members. The admin team of that page has done a terrific job with it. I’m as proud of what those guys do over there as I am of anything I’ve ever been part of.
About six months ago we launched the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog, which I consider a privilege to oversee and edit.
Here are the tenets of Unfundamentalist Christians:
Generally speaking (because do any two people anywhere believe the exact same things?) we here at UC hold that:
- Jesus Christ was God incarnate. He performed miracles; as a means of providing for the irrevocable reconciliation of humankind to God he sacrificed himself on the cross; he rose from the dead; he left behind for the benefit of all people the totality of himself in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
- Following the word of God means taking into account the entirety of God’s words. The Bible itself tells us that it consists of songs, visions, histories, dreams, parables, commandments. It instructs Christians that New Testament moral directives supersede Old Testament moral directives. It asserts that moral principles supersede moral “rules.” The relevant context of any Bible passage is as integral to its meaning as the passage itself. It may be appropriate to give equal weight to each clause within a business contract or a game rulebook. But the Bible itself tells us that the Bible is not a uniform document, with each passage spelling out something clear and specific, and all passages having equal value. The Bible is not a rulebook for being Christian. Isolating a Bible passage from its context, and then claiming a sort of moral helplessness because “it’s in the Bible,” is failing to take the Bible either literally or seriously.
- Christianity is supposed to be all about nothing more (and nothing less!) than living a life of love, compassion, fairness, peace, and humility.
- The Biblical scholarship supporting the idea that Paul never wrote a word condemning natural homosexuality is more credible and persuasive than is the scholarship claiming that he did. Moreover, we remain mystified as to how any follower of Jesus could choose damning an entire population over obeying Jesus’ Great Commandment to love God and one’s neighbor as oneself.
- God does not want any woman “submitting” to any person.
- Using masculine pronouns to refer to God is strictly a matter of convention, a profoundly unfortunate necessity of the English language, which to date offers no satisfactory alternative. But God is neither male or female. God is both. God is all.
- The belief that throughout history God chose to introduce himself in different ways into different culture streams is more reasonable, respectful, and compassionate than is the conviction that there is only one correct way to understand and worship God.
- There is no support in the Bible for the morally repugnant idea that hell is an actual place to which God sentences people to spend eternity in mortal agony.
- God’s will and intention is to forgive and teach us, not to judge and punish us. [Tweet this.]
- Anyone desiring to mix Church and State has failed to understand the nature and proper role of either.
- God can handle converting people. Our job is to love people.
- An all-powerful God and the theory of evolution are not incompatible.
- Getting a divorce is painful, and if at all possible should certainly be avoided. But in and of itself divorce is not immoral.
- The single most telling indicator of a person’s moral character has nothing to do with how they define or worship God, and everything to do with how they treat others.
Recently we added an addendum to the above, which reads:
A question we are sometimes asked is: “Why the name Unfundamentalist Christians? Wouldn’t it be better to define yourself by what you’re for, rather than what you’re against?”
Christian fundamentalism is defined by and vigorously promotes everywhere authoritarianism, the oppression of women, homophobia, xenophobia, the “danger” of education, corporal punishment, a literal and inerrant view of scripture, “all or nothing” thinking, and a God whose primary function is to judge and punish.
We are Christians who are for none of those things. And we think it’s high time Christianity stopped being associated with them. Hence our name.
Also, there is nothing wrong with defining oneself by what one opposes, if what one opposes is prevalent and evil. Martin Luther defined himself by opposing the wrongs of the Catholic Church. Gandhi defined himself by opposing the British occupation of India. Martin Luther King, Jr. defined himself by opposing racism.
To state that you oppose a negative is a positive.