I have been considering becoming a member of the Uniting Church for some time. I am a member of the Progressive Spirituality Network which has regular services in conjunction with the West End (Bris) Uniting Church.
I am from an Irish and English ancestry.
I was particularly inspired to join the Uniting Church in response to media releases proclaiming that the church had amended the preamble of the its constitution to acknowledge the existence of God in this country before European missionaries arrived.
I have been a bit disappointed to learn that the church has not yet adopted the changes as the media releases stated. The various presbyteries and synods are still in the process of deciding whether to accept the changes.
I have decided I want to become a member of the Uniting Church. This however is not a simple matter because I disagree with some fundamental pillars of the church as defined in the Basis of Union. In particular, the Jesus I find in the bible is not the Jesus I find in the Roman Creeds.
I believe I am lead by the spirit to join the church and I have already become a part of the church’s life. This being the case I have abandoned my own legalism and decided it doesn’t matter to me that I disagree with orthodox doctrine.
The question is, can the church accept me on the same basis?
The tipping point for me deciding that I wanted to join the church was in taking communion recently, the first time for decades.
When I arrived at church I did not know whether I would partake of the bread and wine or not. I believe the Eucharist is a construction of Rome and has nothing to do with the passover meal of the Lord’s Supper.
During the service I decided to participate in the spirit of the New Testament teaching not to fuss about food. I acknowledge the communion of the congregation in this ritual.
However, I would like my concerns about the Eucharist to be known. I do not want them to be brushed under the carpet if I join the church.
The Christian Eucharist is based on the Greek agape meal, where the gods are conjured to the table of the banquet. These Pagan rituals are of the very same culture that the New Testament repeatedly warns against.
At the last supper Jesus told the disciples to continue to remember the Passover meals. Jesus clearly identifies his mission and his impending death in the context of the Passover, the liberation from slavery. This has a very different meaning and purpose to the Pagan agape meal.
This is not a one-dimensional obsessive doctrinal issue. It is just the tip of the iceberg of the different perspectives of the Hellenic religious tradition of which Christendom is a part and the indigenous ancestral spiritualties represented in the old and New Testament.
It goes pretty deep, to our basic understanding of God. Do we believe in the Old Testament Eloihim – a collective creator spirit or the Greek Theos – based on a personalised concept of the divine such as Zeus/Jupiter, the old man in the sky?
The imperial Roman perspective is the perspective of the coloniser. Its focus is personal sin and guilt. Roman religion is an ideology for good citizens of the empire.
The indigenous Jesus proclaimed the Jubilee – the return of tribal land to its traditional owners and in so doing eliminate debt and slavery.
To understand and worship God in this country we must abandon the Roman imperial Jesus and embrace the Aboriginal Hebrew Jesus of the bible.
Aboriginal people are the people of the ancient covenant in this country. Like Jesus’ countrymen and countrywomen, they are suffering under foreign colonisation.
Aboriginal people can rightly identify with Jesus and the disciples because they are in the same situation. We gentiles, however, need to understand the faith and controversies of the gentiles in Jesus’ holy land in order to find a biblical spirituality. We are the foreign Samaritan society in the northern kingdom of Israel.
We cannot take Jesus to Aboriginal people for he is already with them. We must find Jesus, and therefore the path to the Kingdom of God, in Aboriginal people just as the Samaritans in the Northern Kingdom depended on the Hebrews for their reconciliation with people, God and land.
Jesus creates unity between Jew and gentile, in particular the Samaritans. The whole Samaritan nation, we are told in Acts, turned to God. Jesus by his blood offers the legacy of Abraham to the gentiles so that all in the land of Abraham – the land between the Nile and the Euphrates – can be brothers and sisters.
This reconciliation can only happen in this country in terms of God’s covenant in this land, just like the Middle East. It has nothing to do with the corrupted Roman Jesus or the historical Roman church that banned the Passover and Sabbath laws and re-aligned itself with the Hellenic deities, philosophies and calendars. The Roman church and ideology underpinned the most brutal wars in human history and the colonisation and genocide of indigenous people and spiritualities around the world.
The church that crowned Charlemagne has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God, yet this is the tradition that the Uniting Church embraces as its own and as the foundation for its contemporary theology and mission.
I believe the Australian church must abandon the Roman Jesus and the Roman Creeds, or it will drown in its own irrelevance (perhaps it already has?).
We are blessed, by the invitation of Jesus, to be sons of Abraham and hold the Middle Eastern dreaming as our own. We live on the land of Aboriginal dreaming and Gods covenant here. These are the building blocks for Australian Christianity. This is where we find Jesus.
We need to repent from the Roman imperial tradition.
Is there room in the Uniting Church for a heretic such as I?
I invite private responses from Uniting church people by email to email@example.com and public responses here.