Tag Archives: Unitarianism

Reforming the Reformation

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Rev. Clay Nelson

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Rev. clay Nelson © 19 March 2017

Until 500 years ago this year, one church had controlled all of Christianity for more than a millennium. It had become grievously corrupt, in part because it had become interwoven with the state. One particular abuse was the last straw that enraged a young monk, Martin Luther, so much that he sent a message to his bishop condemning the practice of selling indulgences to political leaders to raise money to build St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. An indulgence was like a “Get out of jail free” card. No matter how serious the sin, the rich and powerful could buy an indulgence and have the church’s guarantee that they could get into heaven, without having to confess and do penance. Continue reading Reforming the Reformation

Building A Beloved Community

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Rev. Clay Nelson

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Rev. clay Nelson © 5 March 2017

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on why, since the age of five, I’ve more often than not been in church on Sundays. Of course, for most of my adult life it has been my vocation. It paid the bills. But in my reflections I’ve wondered, if that was not the case, would I still find myself here almost every Sunday? What need does it fulfil? Continue reading Building A Beloved Community

Reflections on the Sea of Faith

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Rev. Clay Nelson

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Rev. Clay Nelson © 16 October 2016

I gave up having a Plan A or B or even C a long time ago. The old joke is they just make God laugh anyway. But the real reason is repeatedly in my life I have watched myself travel from point to point without benefit of an itinerary and yet get to some fascinating and unexpected places that seem unrelated on the surface, but which, in retrospect, were all connected. With the advantage of hindsight, they looked like a well-thought out plan or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. In truth, each place led to a new place I could not have booked in advance. None were foreseen or could have been planned for. Continue reading Reflections on the Sea of Faith

Why Unitarians need to Save Jesus

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Rev. Clay Nelson

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Rev. Clay Nelson © 11 September 2016

As someone who has self-identified as a “progressive Christian,” for more than a decade, I have often been asked why I needed that modifier. My answer is that I can’t say, “I’m a Christian” without choking. I explain that I used to think of myself as a liberal Christian, but while liberal Christians are usually on the right side of history regarding social justice and human rights issues, they still adhere to the traditional liturgies, creeds and doctrines of the church, which too often have perpetuated the abuse they oppose. A time came when my consciousness was raised. I could no longer adhere to them with integrity. A progressive Christian is willing to let go of those traditions and formularies to seek new ways of being the church. But after nearly ten years of exploring that avenue while at St Matthew-in-the-City and nearly thirty years of following scholarship on the historical Jesus, I’ve come to accept that the institution as it is cannot permit such deviation from the company line and still maintain control. It would prefer to die than change. Continue reading Why Unitarians need to Save Jesus

Why the Church killed Christ

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Rev. Clay Nelson

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Rev. Clay Nelson © 15 May 2016

Opening words are from Meeting the Messiah by Jeffrey B Symynkywicz

One of the paradoxes Unitarians live with is our acceptance of people of all faith perspectives including those who claim none while maintaining a deep suspicion of the faith that gave birth to Unitarianism—Christianity. The reasons are understandable. Most Unitarians didn’t start life as Unitarians. They are mostly refugees from the dominant faith in western culture—Christianity. They were drawn here to escape what they experienced as toxic, such as being judged and condemned as sinful for just being who they are. Continue reading Why the Church killed Christ