Skip to main content

What does it mean to be non-creedal?

Steve Caldwell says

"The problem here isn't humanism vs. theism for theist Unitarian Universalists -- it's the non-creedal nature of Unitarian Universalism"

This is a good point. We need to think much more deeply about what it means to be a non-creedal religion.

The first thing I want to say is that there is more than one possible understanding of non-creedalism. The Disciples of Christ are a non-creedal church, they say here:

"Freedom of belief. Disciples are called together around one essential of faith: belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Persons are free to follow their consciences guided by the Bible, the Holy Spirit study and prayer, and are expected to extend that freedom to others."

Quakers are also non-creedal and say here:

Quakers have no set creed or dogma - that means we do not have any declared statements which you have to believe to be a Quaker. There are, however, some commonly held views which unite us. One accepted view is that there is that of God (or the spirit or divine) in all people and that each human being is of unique worth. This shared belief leads Quakers to value all people and to oppose anything that harms or threatens them.

So there is more than one way to be creedless.

What I want to say is that we are a creedless religion. And that word "religion" has to have some meaning. And it has to be something more than ethics and politics.

My answer to this question is that we gather around the Sacred - "that transcending mystery and wonder" but accept that it is mysterious. It cannot be contained in a creed or any static form.

Humanism, as I understand it, refuses to engage with the Sacred. So I don't see how it fits. If it does fit within this understanding, then I don't really understand what it is.


Steve Caldwell said…
Stephen writes:
"Humanism, as I understand it, refuses to engage with the Sacred. So I don't see how it fits. If it does fit within this understanding, then I don't really understand what it is."


Actually, I'll disagree with the humanist strawman that you're proposing here.

As a humanist, it's not that I refuse to engage with the sacred. There are many things that I find sacred in Unitarian Universalism.

The relationships that we form in our congregations and other UU groups are sacred. As a youth advisor, I've heard many youth say that their YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists) youth group has saved their lives.

As a curriculum trainer for the denominational OWL (Our Whole Lives) lifespan sexuality education program, I feel that we touch on the sacred with our sexuality education program. Again, through programs like OWL, we offer salvation from those things that deny life or make life less whole -- salvation in the here and now instead of the afterlife.

However, none of these very sacred concerns in my church life require the presence or absence of god or gods.

This is one reason that I feel that Unitarian Universalism as it exists today isn't god-accepting or god-rejecting. It's god-optional or god-neutral.
Anonymous said…
I also think that your understanding of both theism and sacred are different to mine.

I don't think that there is anything supernatural. That doesn't mean that some times, places and things are special to me, in a way that I would describe as sacred.

My non-belief in God is not strictly relevent to my view that human connectedness, curiousity, goodness and badness are instrinsically important. I could view those things as sacred regardless of whether I believed in god(s) or not.

Believing in the reality of something is not really the same as saying that everyone else has to believe in it to. Some views, such as humanism, or on the importance of the man Jesus are extremely common in Unitarianism, they aren't compulsory though.
Anonymous said…
"Believing in the reality of something is not really the same as saying that everyone else has to believe in it to."

isn't it? If one believes in something, anything, including the psychological construct "me", then one is fragmented. Thought has created the fragment "me" and the fragment "you", even though i can never know "me" or "you", because those things are always changing, never the same. I have past knowledge of them, but I cannot say i know "you". So belief is fragmentary. Its a mistake to be fragfmented and defend it by then saying, "while I dont make it compulsory for others to have that view". That makes no difference whatsover. The fragmentation that belief engenders is protected by that very statement, not dissolved by it..."You can have your own beliefs.....just allow me to have mine". The result, we all believe diffent things, and this fragmented broken up world caused by belief goes on.

Popular posts from this blog


When I started this blog nearly 4 years and nearly 300 posts ago one of the labels I used for it/me was "radical." Perhaps I used it a little unreflectively. Recently I've been pondering what radical means. A couple of things have made me think of this. Firstly this blog series from my friend Jeremy, which explores a distinction between "radical progressives" and "rational progressives." There is also this definition of radical, liberal and conservative from Terry Eagleton quoted at Young Anabaptist Radicals : “Radicals are those who believe that things are extremely bad with us, but they could feasibly be much improved. Conservatives believe that things are pretty bad, but that’s just the way the human animal is. And liberals believe that there’s a little bit of good and bad in all of us.” What interests me is finding a way to express the tension I feel sometimes between myself and the wider Unitarian movement. One way to express this is to say I tend

What is Radical Christianity?

Radical Christianity is about encountering the God of love . It is first and foremost rooted in the discovery of a universal and unconditional source of love at the heart of reality and within each person. God is the name we give to this source of love. It is possible to have a direct and real personal encounter with this God through spiritual practice. We encounter God, and are nourished by God, through the regular practice of prayer, or contemplation.  Radical Christianity is about following a man called Jesus . It is rooted in the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet living under occupation of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago. It understands that's Jesus' message was the message of liberation. His message was that when we truly encounter God, and let God's love flow through us, we begin to be liberated from the powers of empire and violence and encounter the  "realm of God" - an alternative spiritual and social reality rooted in love rather th