Tuesday, 1 June 2010


Post by Graham

Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday and an Anglican friend who knows that most Unitarians don`t subscribe to the Trinity, asked me what our church service was about. When I told her that our theme was `The Nature Of God`, and that we held a mock court scene discussing whether in fact God existed or not, you could see that she was clearly horrified, although she was too polite to say so.

To her and most churchgoers, you go to church to worship and praise God, not to question his exitence. Why not ? Perhaps it`s because, as I read on an official church`s website: `If you probe the depths of God too deeply you are likely to slip into heresy`. This is a view that I simply cannot accept. Surely, it is not heresy to seek answers to the mystery of the Universe? Perhaps it is because there have always been so many ready-made answers in the established church that so many people are put off going there.The age of blind acceptance is past and the sooner the church realises this the better.


  1. Whether you think God exists or not really depends on your attempt to define God. Is He/She/It, an omnipotent creator of heaven & earth?. Is God love ? or is God the mysterious life-force which flows through all living things.I can connect with the latter definition better than the first, this lets God off the hook when natural disasters occur and enables Him/Her/It to share our grief & sorrow.
    Perhaps the physical universe has always been there, but could it truly exist without the presence of the non-physical mind and spirit to affirm it.
    Equally, could mind & spirit exist without the physical universe providing the elements needed to form our brains !!

  2. Mmmm I like Roger's definition of the Divine as the mysterious life force (but then that's a very Unitarian take on what it is).

    Heresy is good - it comes from the Greek haeresis, meaning a school of thought, and is derived from the word for choice. Nothing wrong with either thought or choice!

    I like to slip into heresy, much as I like to slip into something more comfortable when I get home from work ;) Or perhaps the way one slips into a refreshingly cool swimming pool on a hot day.

  3. There is a lovely story about a group of Jews in a concentration camp during World War II, who looked around and decided to put God on trial, since He seemed to have abandoned them. They spent a whole day discussing whether He existed, and came to the conclusion that He did not.
    At the end of the proceedings, an old man stood up, and announced that he must leave, as it was time for evening prayers ...

  4. Posted by Ash

    Thanks Yewtree. I like the `take` on heresy. It`s interesting how certain words, particularly in a religious context, take on the thump of certainty; a sort of "thou shalt not" warning default mode.

    I guess some people find comfort in acceptance and direction. Not for them the questioning of contradictions, or the search for contemporary interpretation to traditional religious teaching.Such a route is perfectly fine if works for them and doesn`t damage others. Hopefully it was made through free choice and after due consideration.

    Others though,including of course many Unitarians, demand a free-thinking and critical approach to their spirituality.Sue`s following comment, the story about the holocaust, reminds us that both approaches, whether we like it or not,may have their place.Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in commenting on such challenges summarises the position neatly: "faith does not mean certainty;it means the courage to live with uncertainty" .

    So I guess we should all keep that in mind next time we read one of those `thumping` words. And anyway, cross `heresy` with `choice`, and you get enough letters to spell `cherish` !

  5. Yes, I love Sue's story very much, but I think it points to the idea that religion is about spiritual practice, not about belief in ideas we cannot be certain of. I'm currently reading Karen Armstrong's A History of God which points out that no-one except Western Christians pretends to have the least inkling of what God is.

    In other news, I have created a UK Unitarian blog aggregator at http://unitariancommunications.blogspot.com/p/blogs.html and wondered if you would like to link to it.