Derby Unitarians

Building Your Own Theology

An article by Rev Chris Goacher. Written 2002.

In September of last year (2001) we, at Ullet Road Unitarian Church, embarked upon a religious education programme called "Building Your Own Theology." This programme was developed in the United States by Richard Gilbert and adapted for use in the UK.

BYOT is a ten-week programme designed to enable participants to reflect upon their religious upbringing and to enable the development of a theological language/framework. This enables, by the end of the ten weeks, participants to write a 'Credo' (I believe) statement. Notice, this is an I believe statement, not a we believe statement. So the variety of Credo statements will only be limited by the number of participants. This reflects the diversity found within Unitarianism and is something we celebrate.

What follows is my Credo statement from that programme, it reflects where I found myself (theologically/spiritually) at one particular moment in time, it does not restrict me in travelling further on my journey or stand over or above the Credo statements of others. Revd Chris Goacher

I believe we are spiritual beings, in that we need to make sense of our lives at a greater depth than the mere animal and the physical.

Our lives need to be orientated in terms of the past - a tradition, a present - values, ethics, and connectedness, and a future - even unto eternity. This orientation we express in story, myth and religious tradition; we use culturally defined language in an attempt to define our stories, but for me, all roads lead to God.

What do I mean by God?

I believe there is order in the universe; creation has a beauty and a direction over which we, mere humans, have no control ( yet?).

I believe we humans have been given, inherited, or developed moral choice, a response to life that is either positive or negative, some would say good or evil, I prefer the former.

I believe the most positive and creative response to life is to love unconditionally, although we find this the most difficult thing to do.

I believe there is a connectedness in and through all things; God is not only 'out there' but also present. God is in us and we are in God, our task is to make this manifest.

God, the word, is the root of our understanding, our orientation. In God we can make sense of our lives;
  • through tradition - a story, a history,
  • a present - through the expression and manifestation of values and love,
  • a future - through the hope of life eternal, that is the on-going life of humankind, the on-going expression of values and tradition, the on-going value of love and goodness.

Somewhere in the above is what I mean by God.

© Rev Chris Goacher.