June 23, 2011

The Wright Stuff

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:15 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

I have had the pleasure of being part of study group with a great group of clergy, mostly Baptist. We have read some wonderful books and talked about them, mostly encouraged each other that we were not alone in enjoying these books. We read Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” and decided that we were all willing to call Rob and ourselves universalists, even if Rob was afraid of that label. We went on from there to read the much more dense, or at least wordy, theological work of N.T. Wright “Surprised by Hope” which we also liked. Wright is an Anglican Bishop, but we won’t hold that against him. He is a good, creative and Universalist Christian who affirms the bodily ressurection as literally as possible.

After the great food and good conversation the Baptists gave me a certificate as a parting present naming me “An Honorary Baptist” and I conferred on them all honorary UU status.

Looking back over Wright’s writings I came across this quote:

“Just as many who were brought up to think of God as a bearded old gentleman sitting on a cloud decided that when they stopped believing in such a being they had therefore stopped believing in God, so many who were taught to think of hell as a literal underground location full of worms and fire…decided that when they stopped believing in that, so they stopped believing in hell. The first group decided that because they couldn’t believe in childish images of God, they must be atheists. The second decided that because they couldn’t believe in childish images of hell, they must be universalists.”
— N.T. Wright (Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church)

It made me laugh. In part because after the meal one of the Baptists told me that in all the decades of his ministry, in several different cities, he had heard of Unitarian Universalists but he had never met one.  “Never met one” were his exact words.  It seemed sad to think of how many opportunities had been missed over the decades because UUs who should know that the light shines everywhere had not reached out to find this person who had been for me an ally and friend.  Through these sorts of ecumenical groups I always find that the Beloved Community has more members than we usually can see.  From Anglicans to Baptists the universalist spirit lives.  If we have that spirit then we all have the right stuff.

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