Wednesday, May 03, 2006

'Faith Without Certainty' by Paul Rasor - a book review

I must say I was disappointed by this. It is good, it's just not what I expected, or wanted. This book is a survey of liberal theology. It explains what liberal theology is, and then it explains the challenges that it faces in a postmodern age. It's basically a book that lists the things you have to take into account before you begin to do liberal theology today. Mainly the understanding that we are social beings, not autonomous individuals.

What I wanted the book to do was to begin to do contructive liberal theology, which it doesn't. What I really want is a theologically coherent answer to the question 'what is Unitarian Universalism?' This book does not even begin to answer that question.

Also I'm not sure there is such a thing as 'liberal religion' and 'liberal theology' - at least not a coherent thing. There is liberal Christian theology, and Unitarian theology, but I'm not sure you can be general and simply say 'liberal theology.' It's trying to be more general than is possible. Christian theology, even liberal Christian theology, is still necessarily about Jesus and God. UU theology is not necessarily. Unless you entirely maintain that UUism is a part of Christianity, and I assume the author does not. I do not. (well, sort of, it is complicated). To me there is a false kind of (lower case u) universalism, in that the author believes he is talking to a big thing called 'liberal religion' when in fact he is speaking out of his own UU community. He fails to take his own advice into account in realising we are all social beings. Because we are social beings, we cannot speak universally (from above) but only from our own place, within our own tradition (again it is more complicated than this, but I can't express my opinions coherently now). I wish Rasor had realised this and spoke explicitely out of his UU tradition.

I want explicitly Unitarian theology. This book gives some foundations for doing this. But it does not do it.


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