29 December 2005

A Religion Still Seeking Definition -- Explicit and Implicit Theology

On Chris Walton's Philocrites blog (commentary on "Unitarian Universalism, liberal Christianity, American religion, and liberal culture"), there's been an extensive discussion on whether Untarian Universalism has a "religious definition" or "theological core." This discussion can be found here:

A religion still seeking definition

One part of this discussion that is missing is the role of implicit theology. We may not have a shared creed or a shared confession of faith, but we may have an implicit theology that is defined by shared assumptions.

In 2002, Rev. Rebecca Parker spoke at the Liberal Religious Educators' Fall Conference on "theology of religious education." Two useful summaries of Rebecca's theme talk can be found online here:
  • Unitarian Universalist Identity (UU Young Adult Curriculum - see pages 19 - 28 of this PDF document written by Katie Erslev, UU Religious Educator, UU Fellowship of Lafayette CO)
  • The Theology of Religious Education (Summary notes from 2002 Fall Conference - PDF file written by Laurel Amabile, Lifespan RE Consultant, Thomas Jefferson District - UUA)
And you may be able to borrow a copy of the audiotapes of this theme talk from your congregation's religious educator if you want more than just the summary information.

One other online writer has commented on what we share in common in terms of theology and culture:

Children of a Different Tribe (Sharon Hwang Colligan's observations on UU young adult developmental issues)

One section of Sharon's paper talks about Unitarian Univeralists as a "recognizable people" with a shared culture (and perhaps a shared implicit theology):

A recognizable people

Until we acknowledge, describe, and make explicit our implicit theology and shared culture, we will have a very hard time seeking and finding our religious definition.

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