How Universalism affects modern day Unitarian Universalism

How Universalism affects modern day Unitarian Universalism a sermon preached by Shawn Koester (as Kwana Rosca) at the First UU Church in Second Life September 27th, 2007 Tonight I'm going to discuss Universalism and its impact on our free faith. this comes with a confession- I am an unapologetic Universalist. Universalism since the merger of the Universalists and the Unitarians in the early 60s has been lost as the Unitarians had stronger finances, with a larger population. Since they were stronger they had substantial influence. What is Universalism? Universalism can mean one of two things- our founding doctrines of God as love, there's no hell, and all souls reach salvation. or if looking back at the new generation of Universalists starting with Ken Patton can mean universal religion. Now some of you are asking- How does Universalism distinguish itself from Unitarianism? Good question Universalism seeks to express our values through Biblical, theological language, and the tradition symbolism in new ways. Take for instance the cross- I recognize some of you came from backgrounds where the cross was seen as buried in dogma- of God requiring a sacrifice of an innocent- Jesus- to accomplish atonement. Instead, Universalism seeks to use the cross as a sign of empowerment. the Romans used crosses to silence those who were deemed threats to the Empire, Jesus being the itinerant Rabbi, and prophetic voice he was scared the living daylights out of those who would seek to embrace the letter of the law, and not the spirit. Preaching a message of radical inclusion, the transformative power of love, and that each person is worthy in the eyes of the Eternal no matter who far-off we stray. This is a love that will never let us go.So with that in mind the cross becomes a warning that among other things, "Defending the powerless is a risky business" Universalism seeks to solve the class issue in that Universalists were of the lower strata of society farmers, workers, and students. Whereas the Unitarians were drawing the professional trades in. So this too might solve the ethnic diversity issue as well. An example of how Universalists framed their faith in a non-creedal sense was in the 1935 Principles. We avowal our faith in God as eternal and all conquering love. By linking God to love that people are in harmony with the divine when they are in right relations with one another.that God is the x, the mystery at the heart of the universe. So love is the closet thing we will understand to this mystery. In the spiritual leadership of Jesus. this does not mean the leadership only of Jesus, or referring to the Jesus of orthodoxy. Since 1805 Universalists have been drawing from world religions and other sages as Moses, Confucious and Lao Tzu the supreme worth of every human personality basically the first principle of our denomination today. the authority of truth known, or to be known. a responsible search of truth from where ever it may come from. and the power of persons of goodwill and sacrificial spirit to overcome evil and progressively establish the Kingdom of God. the Kingdom of God in Universalism is right here and now, the world made whole. Universalism deals with those coming out of oppressive backgrounds in that it challenges people to look at their childhood faith and tear it apart so the poisonous aspects of the faith can disappear, and those positive and enriching can stay to form your current theology. another interesting feature of Universalism is the off-centered cross. the circle representing the universe, God. at one end is the cross, representing our liberal Christian and Jewish witness is set to the side to leave room for other paths towards the holy and truth. Universalists also had a claim on the unity of God and the humanity of Jesus before the Unitarians. It was in 1805 with Hosea Ballou, a popular Universalist preacher who wrote Treatise on Atonement stripping Universalism of Calvinism, legalism, and the trinity. That was at least 30 years before the Unitarians under Channing formed in the 1820s. Bringing out our message, or evangelism was a major point for Universalists taking it to whoever was willing so by going out they were able to be in the marketplace of ideas. May our lives preach more loudly than our lips. Amen and Blessed Be.

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Acknowledgments is made possible in part by generous support from the Fahs Collaborative