For those of you who know your Bible, you will recognize the title of this post as a re-framing of Jesus’ question to his disciples: Who do people say that I am?
For this post however, I am not worried about what other people think about us but rather what we think about ourselves.
As I was doing some research, I came across this on the Disciples of Christ website. It is from an old survey, but I think it could offer something to the discussion that has been going on in parts of the UU universe of late. Rev. Tony Lorenzen talks about it here. Rev. Victoria Weinstein here. Rev. Peter Boullata here. And Rev. Tom Schade here.
Here’s the introduction:
Who do we say that we are? Identity is a vital concern for all parts of the church. Many long-time (Disciples) worry that we may be losing crucial characteristics of our common life. New (Disciples) want to know about the distinctive gifts of this community of faith. All of us need to have clarity about who we are in order to be faithful and effective witnesses to (Jesus Christ).
A church’s identity must be firmly rooted in scripture and yet flexible enough to adapt to changes in culture and the shifting demands of mission. Early Christians in Jerusalem had to learn what it meant to be faithful in Antioch and Rome. Our (Disciples) forebears, as they moved from the frontier to the city, had to rethink such matters as congregational autonomy and the goal of “restoring” the New Testament church. Today, we wrestle with what it means to be disciples of (our Lord) in a world that is increasingly pluralistic, globally connected, and yet so often violently divided.
Isn’t that interesting? If you change the word Unitarian or Universalist for Disciples, doesn’t this look like something we are wrestling with?
So here are the questions that have come to my mind:
1. What are the crucial characteristics of our common life?
2. What are the distinctive gifts of this community of faith?
3. Since the number of people in our communities of faith do not consider themselves Christian and/or theist is substantial, what are we faithful and effective witnesses to/for?
4. In the same vein, what are we disciples of?