In the circles I run in, hardly anyone believes in original sin. But what do they believe? Mostly they believe in not original sin. This is where simply deconstructed theology gets iffy because not believing in original sin means that you can believe in a whole host of other things that most folks not believing in original sin don't stop to consider. Here's just a few:
- Born perfect, then we get messed up because of...
- Human weakness
- Human ignorance
- Distance from God
- Presence of evil
- ...but can be saved by:
- Human willpower
- Connection to God
- Cleansing from evil
- Born perfect. End of story.
- Born human. Things get messy. Die human - imperfection implied. Thank God for grace.
There are plenty of other scenarios to consider but that's just a few. But consider the radically different implications of all of these philosophies - Do people need saving? Who/what saves them? Can anyone be saved at all? What's God's/the church's/the individual's responsibility in all this? Consequentially speaking, what theological stance leads to healthier behaviors for the world? Or put more faithfully, what's best for bringing the Kingdom?
Personally, I'm more in the 1st and 3rd buckets above. But I have found that a lot of my fellow Universalists, especially those in the Unitarian Universalist denomination, fall into bucket #2 without even thinking about it. Consider the implications of this sign that I recently came across**:
I could not think of a more theologically slippery statement if I tried. This church does not save people. This church helps people explore their own perfection. Wow - has this church ever met any people? Why not just write - "We welcome all upper middle class families who are either comfortably in a state of denial or already in therapy elsewhere."
Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, who is fast becoming a mainline denominational rockstar, had this to say about us in a recent Denver Post article:
As a young adult, she was a hard-drinking ne'er-do-well. Clean and sober for 19 years, she said, one awakening led to another.
She tried out the Unitarian Universalist Church, where they have "a high opinion of humans" that didn't fit with her experience. People are flawed, she said.
"It's dark in there," she said tapping her chest over her heart. "We're all simultaneously sinners and saints. We live in response to God's grace. Nobody's climbing the spiritual ladder."As an addict, Rev. Bolz-Weber has a clear theological view on human nature. We would all benefit by figuring out ours - individually and collectively. What do you think? What is the good news that you are helping to bring into the world?
**(this sign was created by a congregant of UUs of the South Bay, although it has come to my attention that it is a web-generated sign.)