In "What Moves Us," a Tapestry of Faith program
And let me tell you, if you have indeed been renewed in the spirit of your minds, it will [show] it self in your lives. — Charles Chauncy
This workshop introduces Charles Chauncy's Theology of Spiritual Renewal. The workshop translates Chauncy's mid-18th-century theological program for spiritual wholeness and moral action into viable theological steps relevant to our own lives today as Unitarian Universalists.
Called the "historical progenitor" of American Unitarianism in David Robinson's 1984 book, The Unitarians and The Universalists (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press), Chauncy was pastor from 1727 to 1787 at the First Church of Boston, the city's oldest and most prestigious congregational church. He was also the leading defender of the religious interests and political power of Boston's ruling elite merchant class against a rising tide of evangelical preachers of the Great Awakening. These evangelical preachers made public, intensely charged, emotional conversion experiences foundational to Christian faith. They condemned congregational ministers like Chauncy and urged the members of these ministers' churches to abandon ship and join the rising tide of revivalism.
Chauncy refused to accept emotional conviction as the sole criterion and foundation for religious faith. The human mind, he insisted, must also give assent to the written word of God, and human behavior toward self and others must also be transformed. His rigorous use of reasoning to find, analyze, and explain the fundamental human elements entailed in spiritual experience is his legacy to us. Can Chauncy's legacy help us construct a Unitarian Universalist Theology of Spiritual Renewal relevant to our lives today?
Before leading this workshop, review the Accessibility Guidelines for Workshop Presenters found in the program Introduction.
Preparing to lead this workshop
Read background information about the Great Awakening from Answers.com, About.com, or another encyclopedia and read the story, "Introducing Charles Chauncy."
Read the five excerpts from Charles Chauncy's sermon, A Sermon on the Out-pouring of the Holy Ghost, in Handout 2. As you read, reflect on some of the following questions, looking for connections he makes among emotion, reason, behavior, and what he calls a Christian spiritual state. Keep in mind that Chauncy was a traditional, conservative Christian whose own reasoning began to challenge the Christian Doctrine of Original Sin, which claims that humans, because of their fallen sinful nature passed down to them from Adam in the Garden of Eden, lack the capacity to call forth and participate in their own spiritual salvation.
You may wish to write your reflections in your theology journal.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
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Last updated on Tuesday, February 19, 2013.
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