By Maria Cory
The Evangelical movement has been marked by its union of four emphases: on the Bible, on the cross of Christ, on conversion as the entry to the Christian life and on the responsibility of the believer to be active. Acknowledging that this vast subject could provide enough content for copious forums, April stepped us through the political, religious and psychological climate surrounding a number of significant published declarations, to include:
In Evangelical Thought: John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards, author Frederick Dreyer states: "What John Maynard Keynes once said of ranting politicians in the twentieth century works for ranting preachers in the eighteenth: 'Mad men in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler a few years back.' Faith, like thought, is a historical event that occurs in a specific historical context and ultimately it must be explained in that context. It may be our deepest wish to think like St. Paul, but it is hard to do so in ways that St. Paul would have understood. Few men can insulate themselves against the intellectual influence of their time."
In light of extreme confirmation bias in our everyday lives, forum participants noted how challenging it is to extrapolate truth and positivism from the media or from any source of communication. Worthy is our time to engage in historical study and contemporary application, including the exegesis of sacred texts and the hermeneutics of all forms of communication. Faith is a deeply personal experience; and one's perception—one's truth—is one's reality until someone or something changes that understanding. Relationship takes time and a willingness to open the door of our minds (and our hearts!).
The propensity to prove "my way is right, so yours must be wrong" may be difficult to surrender. In some ways, it seems a natural desire to know one is on "the right path"—not necessarily regarding solely spirituality, but in all things in life. Topics like April's enlarge our frame of reference. After all, As Unitarian Universalists, we assert that our tent is large and inclusive by welcoming and respecting diversity in this faith journey.
In the spirit of this season of gratitude and generosity, let us continue in self-education to know and reach out to those who remain strangers to us. After all, the heart of the Beloved Community, for which we strive to create here on earth, would suggest there is room at the table!
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