Faith In Action: Sources of Religious Authority in Our Congregation
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The 2005 publication by the Commission on Appraisal (COA), Engaging Our Theological Diversity, includes a section entitled "2004 Statement of Agreement and Tensions." This is the result of a session held by the COA at the 2004 General Assembly, in which they asked, "What would such a statement look like if an earnest effort to state plainly the areas of Unitarian Universalist points of agreement and disagreement were undertaken today?" Their answers were collated into several categories, including Human Nature, Knowledge and Revelation, Reason, Freedom of the Individual, Human Responsibility, Value of Community, Democratic Process, Nature of the Divine, Interdependent Web, Source of Evil, Spirituality, Worship, Institutions, and Sources of Authority. The COA's hope was that congregations might create their own lists of points of agreement and disagreement, and that such a document "could be of great benefit in visioning and goal-planning, acculturating new members, guiding publicity efforts, and inspiring adult religious education offerings."
In their summation, the COA offered these "agree and disagree" statements about Reason:
We agree that reason is a necessary part of religious inquiry and that the abilities of the human mind to think and choose must be brought to bear on religious questions in a disciplined and rigorous way.
We disagree as to whether reason is a sufficient route to understanding by itself or whether other processes that go beyond the boundaries of reason are necessary.
Research whether your congregation participated in the 2004 call to develop a statement of agreements and disagreements. If so, was reason discussed specifically? If no statement was drawn up in 2004, what would such a statement say about the use of reason in your congregation today?
Review existing congregational documents such as covenants, vision or mission statements, bylaws, and pamphlets for any statement your congregation makes about sources of religious knowledge, including reason. Invite a congregational discussion on the sources of religious authority in your community.