Unitarian Universalism-Part 7

By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon; ©2006
Keep in mind while talking with members that, even though most Unitarian Universalists seem to have an irrational and unjustified bias against Christianity, some might be open to a balanced presentation of Christian truth claims and a reasoned apologetic for faith.

Talking With Members

Even though most Unitarian Universalists [UU] seem to have an irrational and unjustified bias against Christianity, some might be open to a balanced presentation of Christian truth claims and a reasoned apologetic for faith. For any UU who truly values the ideals of tolerance, openness to all religious convictions, a search for truth and individual freedom, it could hardly be otherwise. Unfortunately, UU ideals are often held in biased fashion. But the very claim to honor such ideals can be pressed to advantage. No UU could easily stomach being properly charged with intolerance, closed-mindedness and bigotry. So how can any UU logically reject a frank evidential discussion of things like religious truth claims, absolute moral val­ues, biblical reliability or the uniqueness and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Discussion with a Unitarian Universalist might begin with the question of the historical reliability and authority of the Bible. As far as sound biblical scholarship is concerned, the integrity and trustworthiness of the biblical text is established.[1] If the text is uncorrupted, and if what its authors wrote is true, then the Christian view of Christ is the only possible one because no facts anywhere suggest otherwise. Indeed, the truth of Christianity is shown historically by the resurrection of Christ, which proved His claims. UU members may reject Jesus’ words, but they cannot logically maintain that He never spoke them or deny His unique deity and universal authority. In all history, who ever made His claims, did His miracles, spoke His teachings? Who else in history ever returned from the dead, let alone was seen alive after death by over 500 people at one time (1 Cor. 15:6)? It was this same Jesus who stated that the spiritually blessed were “those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28), and that “Man does not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).

UUs, however, do not acknowledge the revelation of the biblical God: instead, they “depend on life’s unmerited favors,” which is their idea of grace.[2] Yet, who gave us these favors? Their view of God is that “this personified God has been declared inadequate by the Unitarian Universalist churches.”[3] One can but marvel at the power of a declaration. This rejection of God stands even though UU leaders admit “our constant dependence on forces beyond ourselves.”[4] If UUs are really open and tolerant, why such a bias against the God of Scripture? Can they reason this out? As we have seen, the truth is that Unitarian Universalist philosophy is illogical and self-contradictory. It is the Christian philosophy that is established as reasonable. So how can UUs, who pride themselves on rationality and openness, refrain from seriously considering the Person of Jesus?

Biblical teaching is clear that those who reject God’s love and mercy in Christ cannot expect to inherit eternal life. Instead, they will separate themselves from God forever. Biblical authority is logically undeniable, and the claims of Christ on everyone’s life is unassailable. Can UUs reasonably deny the truth?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)
As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. (John 12:47-48)
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:9-12)

If the Gospels do not contain the Word of Christ, then we have none. UUs who desire to openly consider the words of Jesus may be surprised that their own reli­gion offers some support. In the Constitution of the American Unitarian Association (1825), point 2 states, “The objects of this Association shall be to diffuse the knowledge and promote the interests of pure Christianity throughout the Country.”[5] Channing declared, “Jesus is the only master of Christians, and whatever he taught, either during his personal ministry, or by his inspired apostles, we regard as of divine authority, and profess to make the rule of our lives.”[6] For Parke, “the Word of Jesus was real Christianity.”[7] Today, UU leaders make the following claims:

It is the religion of Jesus and other notable exemplars of a history, not theological attitudes toward them that will save men and women.[8]
UU’s make “Jesus teachings, rather than a conception of his nature, central to their worship.”[9]
UU’s “join a church as an expression of their faith in religious ideals which Jesus proclaimed and may describe themselves as followers of him.”[10]
They “prize the teachings of Jesus rather than the theological ideas about Jesus,” and “they appreciate the Biblical text”; “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.[11]

The CLF Directed Reading Course states that they “love the person and mes­sage of Jesus of Nazareth,” and they say, “Christianity should be a religion which seeks to put into practice the ethical principles taught by Jesus, and the Hebrew Prophets, and this we try to do.”[12]

For Jesus, the two greatest ethical commandments were to love God with all one’s heart, mind, soul and body (which demands love for His word) and to love one’s neighbor as oneself (which requires one to express Jesus’ own concern for people’s salvation). One must ask, “How do the foregoing claims of ‘accepting Jesus’ teachings square with UU beliefs? And is this hypocrisy?”

UUs may criticize Christians for “dogmatism,” and for producing “their” version of truth; however, UU people are just as dogmatic in their view of the “truth,” so how can we determine who is right if not on the basis of logic, reason and the historical evidence? If they are really “open to all presentations of the truth,” UU followers cannot escape their own personal commitment to consider Christian truth. With Pilate, they may ask themselves, “What is Truth?” Hopefully, they will seriously consider the words of Jesus, investigate their credibility and act accordingly. “For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Every­one on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37).

For a more detailed discussion and suggestions for sharing the true gospel, see our book Fast Facts on Defending Your Faith.

Notes

  1. See our Knowing the Truth About the Reliability of the Bible.
  2. Jack Mendelsohn, Why I am a Unitarian Universalist (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1966), p. 107.
  3. R. A. Storer (ed.), “Unitarian Universalist Views of God,” p. 2.
  4. Mendelson, Why I Am a Unitarian Universalist, p. 108.
  5. R. E. Meyers, “Can I Be a Unitarian Universalist and Still Be a Christian?” UUA pamphlet, p. 7.
  6. David Parke, The Epic of Unitarianism Original Writings from the History of Liberal Religion (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1969), p. 89.
  7. Conrad Wright, Three Prophets of Religious Liberalism: Channing, Emerson, Parke (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1978), p. 117.
  8. John Booth, “Introducing Unitarian Universalism,” UUA pamphlet, p. 13.
  9. Ibid., p. 19.
  10. A. Perry, in Brandock Lovely (ed.), “Unitarian Universalist Views of Jesus,” UU Pamphlet, p. 9.
  11. Waldeman Argow, “Unitarian Universalism: Some Questions Answered,” UUA pamphlet, pp. 10- 11.
  12. George N. Marshall, Challenge of a Liberal Faith (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1978), pp. 239, 242.

 

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