Friday, November 11, 2011

Letter to a Unitarian Minister

The following is an extract from a letter we once sent to a Unitarian minister, whose sermon "Where Is Our Holy Text?" we happened to hear one Sunday morning. The minister was emphatic in denying that the Bible is a divinely inspired text, and cited a canon of several feminist authors as her own "holy text."


    "I appreciate the candor and frankness with which you expressed your opinions, but I do feel that they call for some sort of response. I was fortunate to have attended an evangelical seminary (Westminster, in Philadelphia), and to have been exposed to a body of conservative biblical scholarship that has examined liberal critical objections to the Bible and nevertheless found the Scriptures to be trustworthy. I was especially privileged to have taken courses under Leon Morris and Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, both of whom have written a number of very fine commentaries on various books of the New Testament. Personally, at the end of the day, I can see no reason to question the veracity and authority of the Bible.

    "I might also point out that the 'Sunday school faith' you described in your sermon was the faith of Athanasius and Augustine, of Thomas Aquinas and the Protestant Reformers, of Jonathan Edwards and the great Princeton theologians of the 19th century. It is the historic faith of the Christian Church. It deserves to be treated with more respect than you gave it in your sermon.

    "I think that you probably approached the crux of the issue when you quoted a statement from the Humanist Manifesto of 1933 to the effect that 'All reality is self-creating.' If this statement were actually true, then you would be perfectly justified in your attempt to marginalize God. The statement, however, is palpable nonsense. If something does not yet exist, then by the very nature of the case it lacks the power to do anything. It can cause no effect, and it certainly cannot bring itself into existence. Or, to rephrase the question in more concrete biological terms, we might ask 'How did life begin'? Under a strict evolutionary scenario that excludes the possibility of 'Intelligent Design,' at some point what amounts to spontaneous generation must have occurred, which, as we know from scientific experiment, is impossible. This, then, brings us right back to the inescapable question of God. If, in fact, we have been created by a Supreme Being, then the Westminster Shorter Catechism is absolutely correct when it says that 'The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.'

    "I know that the Unitarian Universalist Association is proud of the freedom of thought that it seeks to foster within its fellowship. But at some point we as human beings have to deal with questions of ultimate truth. Is there a God? Does life have meaning and purpose? Is there really a difference between good and evil? Is there life after death? At death these issues will be inescapable, no matter how hard we tried to avoid them in life. And apart from some form of divine revelation we have no means of answering these questions, and we are left in profound ignorance of the matters most important to us. Given the attitude of Unitarians toward Scripture it is hard for me to see what can save you from the kind of abject nihilism typified by Friedrich Nietzsche. You profess to believe in a very idealistic set of social principles, but they are suspended in metaphysical thin air. The ever looming danger is that someday your ethics will catch up to your intellectual skepticism, and then you will have nothing left at all to offer society. That kind of moral skepticism is, in fact, the general trend in society today. . .

    "I will probably decline any further opportunities to participate in Unitarian church services. I have no desire to give human beings the place of honor that rightfully belongs to God alone. I noticed that your responsive reading last Sunday came from the writings of William Ellery Channing. William Ellery Channing did not give me life and health, the air I breathe or the bread I eat; much less did he die for my sins. I owe Channing nothing; I owe Christ everything. I shall worship Him Who deserves my praise and no one else. 'Therefore God has also highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father'(Phil. 2:9-11; NKJV)."



Robert W. Wheeler



1 comment:

  1. Well said, Robert. Due to time constraints, I'll post as Anyon, but you'll know (for now) it is I -Tony Cowley