A Repeat Essay from the Past

Will Rogers was quoted as having said “I am not a member of an organized political party.   I am a Democrat.”

Irrespective of partisan politics, democracy may be messy, but it best respects people.   When any group of people gathers to discuss or decide most any question, there are differences of perspective and differences of opinion.     That is one of the reasons I love being a minister in the United Church of Christ.   In the UCC we debate many issues and we hold a variety of views.

But, these efforts are always to find the Mind of Christ, to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

The Christian Church is in a transition period.   Is it our duty to venerate ancient culture, ancient values and ancient thought forms?   Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins, a biologist, has written books and articles attacking the idea of God, published several months ago in the WALL STREET JOURNAL. At the bottom of his argument however, is an attack on trying to use ancient views for contemporary understanding.   Before the solar system, or the atom, or microbes and viruses were known, mankind explained the world in ways unacceptable to knowledgeable people today. It is a huge challenge for “traditionalists” to hold that all spiritual truth was recognized in one ancient culture before there was scientific knowledge of the universe.

To me the Biblical declaration “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever” speaks of the unchanging power of divine love.   It does not mean that we must perpetuate ancient culture, ancient thought patterns, ancient language and ancient values. We must apply eternal principle to contemporary needs in relevant ways.

UCC believes that we ought not be prisoners committed to maintaining the ancient culture where women are uneducated chattels; nor should we uphold ancient culture where slavery was tolerated.   Even in the Holy Bible itself, Saint Paul writes of a slave that he should be content with his slavery! (Philemon 16)   Does this not fly in the very face of the notion of divine love that recognizes the dignity and worth of all people? That direction is culture conditioned; not eternal word!

While “the faith once delivered to the saints” may be the same from age to age, its understanding must always be in terms of the contemporary age and culture.   As the poet wrote “new occasions teach new duties.”   That is why justice is so important to UCC Christians.