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Acquitted of Universalism
Acquitted of Universalism
Meditation

In the newspaper there was a story about a seminary professor in Kansas City 
who was put on trial by the Southern Baptists, accused of being a Universalist.
It's no wonder they were suspicious. He had stated publicly his belief that all people born into the world are children of God. And as if that were not enough, he also supported the ordination of women. Case closed?

The professor denied the charges. "I'm not a Universalist," he said, and he convinced them. After four hours of deliberation they voted 21 to 11 to let him keep his job. 

Now, I confess to being a Universalist. In fact, I am a Unitarian Universalist. But I wonder. If I were arrested and charged with being one, would there be enough evidence to convict me?

The Kansas City story proves that having the right beliefs is not enough. The professor believed that we are all siblings, that every person has a piece of the divine spark, that women are the equals of men in the sight of God. That was not enough to bring in a guilty verdict.

No, if they are going to pin Unitarian Universalism on me they will have to be able to show that I participated in and supported a Unitarian Universalist church. That is the only way to be sure. Beliefs, no matter how noble, must be embodied in a living institution or they will have no convicting power.

About the Author

  • The Rev. Robert R. Walsh is minister emeritus of the First Parish Church in Duxbury, MA., and the author of Stone Blessings: Meditations .

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