David — whose new Waking Eutycus blog [2009. blog defunct; was at waking-eutychus.blogspot.com] I neglected to note, given I was in a bit of a slowdown — wrote this in a recent comment:
On another issue, I like to consider the UUA as the only entity that has â€œapostolicâ€ connection/succession to American Universalism (as well as American Unitarianism). However, (and I hate to resort to this tired complaint) I feel that the UUA has failed in safegaurding and promoting these two traditions (despite the efforts of the UUCF).
I used to feel something like this. Where else would a Unitarian or Universalist Christian go? Better to stay and fight the good fight. I’ve since changed my mind. There’s no real respect for Christianity in the UUA — there is use made of it; I’ll get to this later — and I’m too old to fall for Quixotic battles. There, too, is so little to keep a Christian within the UUA. Given the continuing fast pace of change in the UUA, my old standby “I stay because I became a Christian in the UUA” doesn’t quite work . . . because that doesn’t quite work. I mean, Moses got water out of a rock, but I wouldn’t want to rely on that for my thirst. And see how he came out of that situation.
A friend stays — he’s also a Trinitarian Universalist — because (paraphrasing) the UUA should not be bereft of a part of the body of Christ. Christians, he continue, need to hold the rest accountable for the formal pluralism that’s lifted-up as a virtue in the UUA. I used to agree, and now I ask, “Why not leave?” This argument is the flip-side of the UUA’s “success” based on our unique community.
But I don’t think it is a Christian virtue to be used by other people so they can attain something that Christians can’t. The other option is that Christians remain as a sacrifice for the sake of mission within the UUA, but that strikes me both a conceited and futile. Wrap all of the above up in “stay or go if you want, but don’t manipulate others’ intentions in the process.”
Now, as to “apostolicity.” Universalists and Unitarians, institutionally are unusual in being gathered nationally out of congregations and regional (informal) fellowships that sought to normalize and organize their unusual situation. There was no apostle, save those Christians who through their study and experience Unitarians or Universalist. Indeed, there have been other Unitarian and Universalist “volunteers” over the years and new ones even now. David’s elsewhere mention of the Emerging church is illustrative because the theological opportunity (or spectre) of Universalism is alive and well there.
All of which is a way of saying that one can at least faithfully try to be a Unitarian or Universalist Christian elsewhere, because the prospects of doing it in the UUA are remarkably poor.