Have you been told that you need salvation? That you could be saved from eternal punishment through belief in Jesus Christ? Unitarians do not believe in that kind of salvation. We think that it is an unfortunate theological concept which degrades man and distorts the meaning of the life of Jesus. To us, Jesus was a sage and prophet of tremendous insight and wisdom, and it was to his glory that he was able to reach such heights as a human being, not as a god. We do not think that it was his mission to die for mankind but to teach men how to live.
As religious liberals, we are interested in this world, not in the next; in this time, not in some heavenly future. In the here and now there is much from which we do need salvation. We need salvation from the suffocating mediocrity of much of modern life; from distraction and boredom; from bigotry and prejudice. We need salvation from the threat of annihilation by the weapons we have stockpiled around the world.
Rev. Manuel R. Holland is minister of the First Parish in Framingham, Massachusetts, Unitarian Universalist.
We believe that the church which is to serve modern man must be concerned with such matters and we seek to build such a church.
We seek salvation from the dangers, injustices and weaknesses of this age because we know the kind of world we want to see. Most of all, we want a world in which there is peace. We want a world in which there is freedom to express ideas without fear and to work for change within a democratic society, in which equality of opportunity is denied no one because of his race, religion, or social class. We want a world in which all persons are encouraged to develop their creative talents, in which truth is faced head-on, and in which the person of integrity is honored. We want a world in which children are not told "white lies" in the name of religion and in which myths and legends are treated as such. We want a world in which life is looked upon with reverence and the individual is respected in his uniqueness. These are but a few of the conditions which we hope will some day exist, if not for us, at least for our children.
We know that the kind of world we seek will not appear miraculously while we dream of pie in the sky and avow this world is not our home, that we are just passing through. This world is our home. Even though this universe often appears to be cold and impersonal, it still nurtures and sustains life. This earth, even though it also nurtures disease and goes on with its processes as if we did not exist, is still the only home we have and upon it we must fulfill our destinies. We have decided that we will live in the world as we know it; that in this world we will seek to find our happiness and meaning. We would prefer to remain on the narrow ridge of understanding rather than to take the leap into pleasant illusions.
Unitarians and Universalists believe in rolling up their sleeves and doing the job at hand. The salvation we seek will not be easily achieved. The forces of hate, of bigotry, and of greed are strong in this world. The problems created by sociological, political and economic changes throughout the world are numerous and complex. We cannot be certain that sanity will prevail; or that if it does it will be enough to prevent destruction. Nonetheless, we believe that the dream of a better life for all people on this planet offers humanity its greatest hope. This world, our home, can be what we choose to make it. To this type of salvation religious liberals are committed.
For fuller information, visit the Unitarian or Universalist Church or Fellowship in your community, or write direct to the Church of the Larger Fellowship, Unitarian-Universalist, 25 Beacon Street, Boston 8, Massachusetts.