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Is Mainline Christianity Waning?

Rev. Robert Dorris

As people become more educated and read the information about past histories, read about new discoveries in science and archaeology, watch TV Specials on all the wonders in the world around them, and are exposed to religious teachings from around the world, it becomes harder and harder to persuade people to follow teachings which can easily be determined to be a lie. It is harder and harder to persuade people to follow teachings which defy all reason and logic.

The church has become like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand.  It denies all the new discoveries and refuses to amend its teachings because they have worked to control the people for hundreds of years.

Because of all the conflicting teachings available individuals are left in a state of confusion as to what to believe.  Ministers are left in a state of confusion -- they are torn between teaching the truth as they understand it or maintaining the church doctrine which they know to be in error. They are afraid to undermine the beliefs and faith of the few parishioners which they have. They are afraid that if they teach the truth it will add to the confusion. Above all they are afraid to preach the truth because they will be out of a job.

Confusion on top of Confusion -- What are we to do?

Many have flocked to churches which make them feel good.  Many have turned their back on the church in any form.  Many have taken up the practice of Wicca because it gives them purpose and direction.  A few have set out to pursue the truth and question every teaching and every conclusion which is presented to them, but have not the courage to say this is what I believe; this is a teaching in which I have faith.  And -- Yes, there are very, very many who just want to be told what to believe.  There are a few who insist that all scripture must be accepted just the way it is written or rejected in full.

Now where does this leave us?

I view the members of the American Unitarian Conference as a group of searchers and seekers of the Truth.  We all believe there is one God for all of humanity, and we rightly have many individual ways in which we relate to God.  We all, I think it is safe to say, believe in the use of both the heart and the mind in relating to God and the teachings which we have been given.  Additionally we, as individuals, believe we have the freedom and the responsibility to follow the truth as we understand it.

To follow the truth is not just to know what our truth is, but it is also to put that truth to work in our daily activities.  Right or wrong we have to live what we say we believe.  God will let us know if we have been mistaken.  I know—I have been corrected many, many times.  I am fairly new to this journey and still make many mistakes and receive correction.  I am still learning and will continue to learn as long as I exist on this earth.  I have been on this journey only for 44 years, some would say 56 years, but I feel I am maybe at the grade school level of all that there is to learn.  Learning, I feel, is the key to this life.  We are here to learn and when we stop learning -- we depart from this life.

Many are asking how do we separate the true from the false?  How are we to know the correct teachings?  How are we to learn?

If you follow the scripture teachings; the true scriptures are written upon your heart; God speaks to you through the "Still Small Voice"; and whatever you do or whatever you accomplish must be done with a clear conscience and without doubt.  You will pray for wisdom and knowledge and the ability and opportunities to apply what you have learned.  As you apply what you have learned, more will be given for you to learn.  Will it be easy? -- No!  Will it be an adventure? -- Most definitely!!

You will find that true teachings are hidden everywhere around you.  You will develop your own sense of what is true and false.  I have developed several filters which I apply to all written scripture.  These filters work for me.  Maybe you can also develop your own set of filters.

Now, there are a few who will object to this notion and state that each individual is not capable of interpreting scriptures for themselves because they lack the proper knowledge or education.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  No one is in a better position to interpret scriptures for you than you.  You know your own level of understanding and you know which of the teachings you can apply in your own actions.  As you learn to apply a few of the teachings, others will become meaningful and you will learn to apply them also.  This is a never ending process of growth and learning.

As a minister, I have five prime responsibilities. 

First, to expound and live the truth as I know it.

Second, to serve as a guide to individuals who are on the journey by sharing my thoughts and experiences.

Third, to keep learning and then applying what I learn.

Fourth, to love God and serve Him with heart, body, soul, and mind.

Fifth, to love humanity and serve it with the talents I have and in the opportunities which I am given.

These are not just a ministers responsibilities, but the responsibilities of all who wish to take the journey of being a child of God.

This brings us full circle back to the question:  Is Christianity Waning?

Mainline churches may be fading, but Christianity is not.  Christianity is slowly being redirected away from teacher or Elder Brother worship back to the authentic teachings of Jesus.  A careful reading of his teachings will show that he was very Unitarian in his thoughts.  He taught the gospel of the Kingdom of God being at hand.  He taught the worship of the Father, the One God.  His teachings transcends Judaism, modern Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Druidism, Huna, Buddhism, and many other forms of worship.  He taught the brotherhood of all mankind, our relationship to the Father, and the possibility of the further development of mankind.  He did not want to be worshipped.  He wanted his teachings to be followed and expanded.  He wanted humanity to strive to reach its full potential.

Unitarianism was not new with Jesus, but is one of the oldest belief systems known to mankind.  The teachings of Jesus, however, can be rightly ascribed as the foundation of Christian Unitarianism.  Our American Unitarian Conference is striving to bring back the Unitarian perspective or faith system.  This is a religion and we are looking to establish our own churches but this takes time and a lot of effort on the part of many dedicated individuals.  It can be done and will be done with much hard work and prayer.

We are not starting a new religion but reviving an ancient one.  I would hope and pray that you will want to be an active part of this rebirth of a true religion, maybe the most ancient one known to mankind.

Each of us, as individuals, have been given unique talents and abilities.  We each have the responsibility to use these talents in an appropriate way.  The American Unitarian Conference needs each and every one of us to dedicate a portion of our time and talents to the success of the conference and to the reestablishment of the American Unitarian Tradition.  Meditate on this, pray about it, and bring what you will, with Love, to assist in God's work.

© 2003 American Unitarian Conference