Here's a realisation I came to during my dissertation last year, that I think is worth sharing, if not preaching evangelically. I may begin to bang this drum more in the future.
Unitarianism is creedless: there is no written creed that members or minister are asked to sign up to.
But what does it mean to be creedless?
This is often the way we speak about being creedless, we use words and phrases such as:
"supported in your individual search for truth and meaning"
"each individual is encouraged to find their own beliefs"
"many beliefs, one faith"
"free to discern our beliefs"
"celebrate diverse beliefs"
Here's my insight. This is not non-creedalism. This is what I would call credo-ism. (credo = I believe).
Creedalism is the belief that all individuals within a community should sign up to a particular set of beliefs.
Credoism is the belief that each individual should be primarily concerned with finding their own individual beliefs.
My theory is this: credoism is not the opposite of creedalism. In fact credoism is simply creedalism that has been made deeply individualistic. It's the child of creedalism, and it isn't that far removed.
Both creedalism and credoism emphasis that faith is really about beliefs, whether communal beliefs or diverse individual beliefs.
Non-creedalism, rather than simply indivdualising beliefs should rather point away from beliefs as the foundation of faith.
But point towards what? "Values" is often the answer but I find that unsatisfactory. I want my political party to be rooted in its values, but I want my religion to be rooted in something, well, religious. "Values" does not make a religion.
So how about this? A spiritual practice and a comprehensive way of life that emerges out of that practice.
That sounds like a faith to me: something emboddied in actions.
My elevator speech/lift pitch used to be something like this, "We're at the very liberal end of Christianity, but each person is encouraged to come to their own beliefs."
But now I'm thinking of something like this, "we're rooted in Christianity but what is really important to us is not beliefs, but a way of life based on a spiritual life, and what we do in the world."
This is an invitation not to come to your own beliefs, nor to understand a historical story/argument, but an invitation to a way of life. I think this is both more appealing to an enquirer and also more true to an authentic faith tradition.
The only trouble with the statement is that we have to live out the truth of it. It's only if we witness in our lives a joyfulness of spirit and a loving concern for the world that our words will be true. Otherwise our words will ring hollow. In some ways this is the most difficult "growth strategy", yet the only one really worth pursuing.