The retired dean for religious life at Stanford University presents this engaging and thoughtful inquiry into Christianity for Unitarian Universalists and other spiritual seekers—including skeptics, non-religious people, liberal Christians, and those who consider themselves "spiritual but not religious."
With his customary warmth and hospitality, McLennan poses and responds to a series of provocative questions. They address Jesus as historical figure and Jesus as the present Christ; they explore the reality and meaning of the Christmas and Easter stories, the Trinity, Christ's divinity, miracles, salvation, religious pluralism and exclusivism, and more.
Rather than proselytize, Christ for Unitarian Universalists seeks to stimulate dialogue about Jesus Christ, whether or not we find him central to our faith life. It aims to build bridges and cross the great cultural gulfs in our society. It addresses frank questions with integrity and intellectual honesty. Yet it also presents a sincere and genuine sense of love as embodied in Jesus Christ that is so heartfelt, so unconditional, and so revolutionary it will take your breath away.
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Foreword by Harvey Cox
1. What does it mean for Unitarian Universalists to talk about the living Christ?
2. Who was and is Jesus, really?
3. The birth story: Why put Christ in Christmas?
4. What's in the Trinity for us as Unitarians?
5. What significance can we find in crucifixion?
6. What could Christ's resurrection mean to Unitarian Universalists?
7. What can we do with Jesus Christ's supposed miracles?
8. What does it mean to be saved? (And is salvation universal?)
9. How can we deal with Jesus Christ as the way, truth, and life?
10. What's really left of Christianity in the face of Unitarian Universalist rationality and doubt?
11. Could Unitarian Universalists adopt Martin Luther King Jr.'s understanding of Christ?
12. How can Christ help us in our social justice efforts?
13. How might we talk to evangelical Christians about Christ?
14. What can we say to people of other religions (or none) about Christ?
Sources of Epigraphs
Why in the world a book on Christ for Unitarian Universalists (UUs)? Less than 20 percent of us identify as Christians. But more than 70 percent of Americans identify as Christian, and we UUs are only 0.3 percent of America at best. So this is primarily a book to help us talk intelligently about Christ with our Christian friends. We Unitarian Universalists actually have had a lot to say about Christ over the years as well (that is, centuries, and perhaps even millennia), and we have generally done that in dialogue with mainstream Christians. But not much anymore. This book is meant to encourage us to do so again, not just by referencing our history, but also by speaking freshly as Unitarian Universalists in the twenty-first century.
Why in the world a book on Christ for Unitarian Universalists, when we virtually never use that title for the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth? Again, primarily because that's how the rest of the world speaks. They refer to themselves and others who stand in the tradition of Jesus as Christ-ians, not Jesus-ians. Why? Because they tend to be less interested in the Jesus of history than in the Christ of their present faith. Jesus lives with them in their daily lives now as the Christ. Christ is an honorific title that technically means "the anointed one" of God. For most Christians, Jesus is the post-Easter Christ, the resurrected Christ, who is actually with them now in real time—who companions them and comforts them and challenges them in their daily lives—not just a prophet and teacher of first-century Israel.
"Anyone interested in the swiftly moving changes within and among religions today, and in the way they shape and are shaped by social and political events, needs to read this book. McLennan has been around the block more than once and he knows whereof he speaks."
—Harvey Cox, author of The Future of Faith and How to Read the Bible
"If all Scotty McLennan offered in Christ for Unitarian Universalists was his superb chapter on what we know about the historical Jesus, I would still call it required reading for Unitarian Universalists. Yet he gives both those who claim a Christian identity within Unitarian Universalism and those who wouldn't dream of doing so, a lot more. Even Christians outside of Unitarian Universalism will find in these pages a refreshing perspective on their faith. I cannot recommend Rev. McLennan's book highly enough."
—Rev. Erik Walker Wikstrom, author of Teacher, Guide, Companion: Rediscovering Jesus in a Secular World
"Scotty McLennan has produced a profoundly personal, theologically deep exploration of key Christian concepts and how they have been used in service to liberal values by Unitarian Universalists, and by respected theologians ranging from the writers of the canonical epistles to Marcus Borg to Martin Luther King Jr.
While it is not intended to convert Unitarian Universalists to UU Christianity, it may well open some doors to spiritual exploration and growth that had previously been impenetrable to people who thought Jesus or Christianity had nothing to offer them.
This book offers a wonderful opportunity for Unitarian Universalists to open our own internal dialogue about Christianity and its dynamic, living place in our tradition."
—Rev. Dr. Anita Farber-Robertson, co-author of Called to Community: New Directions in Unitarian Universalist Ministry
"Having left Christian orthodoxy, many Unitarian Universalists today hold hurt-filled stereotypes about Christianity. Unchallenged, this cuts many of us off from needed spiritual healing, from deeper dialogue and interfaith collaboration. Even those of us who think we know the heart of those trying to embody the spirit of the living Christ will gain much from this gracefully written, profound apologetic. I know I did. Dare yourself and your atheist friends to read and discuss this book!"
—Rev. Dr. John Buehrens, author of Universalists and Unitarians in America: A People's History
Scotty McLennan's Christ for Unitarian Universalists confronts head-on the doubt and fears that Unitarian Universalists have had about Christianity and re-interprets them through the lens of our liberal religious faith. Written for both Christian and non-Christian Unitarian Universalists, this book is a goldmine of history, theology, and wisdom from his lived experience as college chaplain, Unitarian Universalist minister, and practicing Christian.
—Rev. Kathleen C. Rolenz, editor of Christian Voices in Unitarian Universalism
As a Unitarian Universalist and a Christian, as a sceptic and a believer, Scotty McLennan has brought together his disparate worlds in a remarkable book. He presents us with thoughtful, serious, and compassionate Christians who live their faith—and question it. His clear, sensible writing and irenic intelligence make this a must for any Unitarian Universalist interested in moving beyond caricatures to real people, however different from most of us.
—Rev. Carl Scovel, author of Never Far from Home: Stories from the Radio Pulpit