Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Are Creeds so bad?

I am loosely following various blogger comments about our seven principles and the proposed revisions. I am stuck wondering, though, is it so bad to have a creed? Why does that bother people so much? Is it the word "creed" or is it because people don't want to feel like they have to commit to something as a group? I, personally, feel like the principles are open enough that just about any sort of UU could feel at home with them. I am not sure what is so bad about having a unifying statement. I know we claim to be a faith of "deeds not creeds", but why can't there be a creed and deeds? Why are they considered mutually exclusive? I feel that I am in the minority about this, but feel free to chime in with your thoughts and I may be swayed!

4 comments:

Bill Baar said...

....feel like the principles are open enough that just about any sort of UU could feel at home with them.

That indeed is often the problem. They are some vague anyone can agree with them.

Sometimes it's better for two people to have clearly different sets of belief yet their unity is uniting in a covenant instead of muddying up their beliefs to find the least common denominator between the two.

That muddying does yield a yield a truth. It creates a fog.

My Social Justice Committee arrived at a peace making resolution that is vague just because they wanted almost all to be able to agree with it.

We can, but it offers little in the way of real guidance on making peace.

Allogenes said...

I suppose it depends on what the word "creed" means to you. To me, it is a statement of belief, a set of propositions that the adherent affirms to be true.
In the case of most of the things that have been handed down as "creeds," this seems to me rather silly, because the vast majority of adherents have no direct evidence regarding the subject matter, no reason to affirm the truth of the propositions other than that they are handed down by the group that one is adhering to.
Our principles however I regard not as propositions that I affirm to be true, but as resolutions to try to behave a certain way. So they are not what I call a 'creed," and I do not want them to be.
Does this make sense?

Robin Edgar said...

@ allogenes: No.

::....feel like the principles are open enough that just about any sort of UU could feel at home with them.

:That indeed is often the problem. They are some vague anyone can agree with them.

You would be surprised at how many U*Us claim not to agree with some or even all of the principles. . . Certainly too many U*Us, including too many U*U clergy. . . flagrantly disregard the Seven Principles and outright flaunt them. AFAIAC They are a de facto creed despite questionable official UUA claims to be a "creedless" religion.

ogre said...

is it so bad to have a creed?

Yes--unless you want a standard by which people can be defined out as unbelievers, outsiders... other. Them.

Historically, creeds have been used for that purpose.

And the Principles aren't a creed (though some keep trying to make them one) because they're NOT obligatory on members. No UU can be held up, shaken down, pressed to admit that they don't agree with one and then ejected, excommunicated from the body of the faithful. The Principles are affirmed by the member congregations, yes--even as they're explicitly NOT held as something to which any given UU must accept.

Hell, our former President of the UUA, Bill Schulz, disagrees with the first principle--and has publicly criticized the assertion of "inherent worth and dignity" in print (in UU World, in fact), and at G.A., and in class at a UU seminary. Such an action against a creedal statement would have gotten someone in some other faith expelled....

They're an approximation of the basic values which we--desite wildly varying beliefs--share... and do not impose.

And therefore they're not a creed.