Ignorant Faith Is Dangerous…or Until You Know Who Origen Is pt. 2

The charge has been leveled against my last post that it is an “elitist piece of crap” (I believe I’m quoting that right.) Since I know that what I wrote wasn’t any such thing, I went to the dictionary to look up the definition. Here it is:


[ih-lee-tiz-uhm, ey-lee-]



practice of or belief in rule by an elite.


consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group.
So…using that definition, what part of the last post was “an elitist piece of crap?” Did I say that only certain people should KNOW something and then hang it over anybody? No. What I said was that before you read AND comment on Rob Bell’s universalism, you ought to know something about universalism. And if all you know about universalism is that the name of your church is Podunk Unitarian Universalist, how can you say whether Rob Bell is or isn’t a Christian universalist? It isn’t elitism to say that you ought to know something of which you speak before you speak.
Anyway…I’m going to quote somebody else from our movement on our movement. For those of you who were at the Minns lectures, you will remember hearing these words spoken by the Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt. She says, in more eloquent words than I can at the moment, what I think needs to be said.
     And we could do more. Many of us could embrace our intellectual life, the underpinnings of our faith tradition, and renew it for this new age. We could return to the religious marketplace of ideas, re-engage our sister and brother faiths not just in the streets and the courthouses and the sanctuaries, but also in the classrooms and in the libraries. It has become fashionable to decry the deep well of intellect from which we have always drawn, and we have joked for decades about being terminally overeducated. But that is hardly a fault in a world overrun with ignorant religiosity. It has never been okay to be dumb and in these times, an ignorant faith is dangerous. Somebody ought to know something about who and what we are as a religious people; somebody-a lot of somebodies–should be asking the same questions we are, then writing and teaching others about the answers they get. And it is never okay to leave your religious legacy to be interpreted only by others, however brilliant or sympathetic they might be.  

Until You Know Who Origen Is…Don’t Read Rob Bell

Yes…I am being harsh in that statement, but I mean it. Until you know who Origen is, don’t read Rob Bell.


Because you are entering in the middle of a conversation and you don’t know the vocabulary. Learn the vocabulary before you read Rob Bell.

And while you’re at it, brush up on your history. Because too many of you seem to think that UUism started the day you walked into a UU church, or, conversely, seem to think that it started with the consolidation of 1961.  It didn’t. Unitarianism and Universalism have a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong history; going all the way back to 70 CE (bonus points for anybody who can name the event that happened that year….ministers and those who are seminarians should not answer this question).

If you want to grow…if you want to be a part of the wider theological conversation that is going on…if you want the UU “movement” to be relevant going forward…

know who Origen is before you read and comment on Rob Bell.