BISHOP BUCKLEY'S CREED
By: The Reverend Dr Martin Pulbrook
Minister - Unitarian Church - Blackpool, England.
Sermon - Sunday 12th Janauary 2014
If I had been given a thousand pounds for every time I have heard or read that Unitarianism did not have creeds - in other words that it was a non-credal religion - I should be a very welcome man. And I wish to spend some time today investigating this commonplace assertion, which I hope to show to be an over simplification, and a misleading over-simplification at that, or a rather more complex situation.
I am a proud Unitarian. But that is not my only religious affiliation. I am also very honoured to be a member of The Oratory Society, holding since 1999, membership card number 16.
The Oratory Society is the religious organisation of Bishop Pat Buckley in Larne, the liberal and dissident Catholic cleric. Let me read you his "Credo", which was published in the booklet setting out the founding Constitution of The Oratory Society. I have on occasion used this "Credo" as a reading at Services, and I imagine that there is very little in it that any Unitarian will have difficulty with. It is a truly remarkable statement for a Catholic priest to have made - if only the Catholic Church as a whole held similar views:
I believe in this world it is impossible to understand God.
I believe that God made this wonderful universe and all that exists.
I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds and in the enviornment.
I believe that God made all men and women.
That he made them all equal.
And that he loves and cherishes them all equally.
I believe that the whole human race is the family of God.
I believe that there may be intelligent life on other planets.
And if so they too are part of God's family.
I hold that religion and faith are two different things.
That religion can be both good and bad.
And that it is spirituality that counts.
For me your religion is an accident of your birth.
Or a gift of God's great providential diversity.
There is no one true church.
All churches and all religions contain aspects of the truth.
But only God is Truth.
No man is infallible.
A Buddhist or a good atheist is as acceptable to God as a good Catholic.
I believe in people, especially suffering people.
I believe in the power of weakness.
I believe that all men and women will be saved.
I believe in a packed heaven and an empty hell.
And even Satan might get another chance.
I believe in the freedom of God's sons and daughters.
I believe that dogma is often evil.
I believe that life is a journey towards God.
And that no one has the right to insist you go a certain road.
I believe that God and reality are too big for my poor words.
I believe therefore that I am only at a beginning.
Only knocking at a door.
And I believe that the best is yet to come.
Do you either agree generally with the sentiments of this "Credo" - as I do - or perhaps (which might be true of some, perhaps a tiny minority) dislike it and disagree with it? We are a free and non-compulsive religion grouping, and so of course you are perfectly at liberty to reject this "Credo" if that is your preference. But those of us who can go along with it have already, from first principles, disapproved the contention that Unitarians are against all Creeds. Against specific Creeds, yes; but against Creeds uniformly and in the abstract, no. So a greater selectivity of definition is required.
Just before this address we sang the famous anonymous hymn WE BELIEVE IN HUMAN KINDNESS. The origins of this hymn are obscure, and it it is not mentioned at all in Julian's Dictionary of Hymnnology (1892) - which is strange. But it is included in the Essex Hall Hymnal (1896), and was most probably written at some stage in Victorian times. But that is by the way. The same issue, precisely, arises with the humn as with Pat Buckley's "Credo". If we can go along with the hymn, we are clearly not, as Unitarians, "against all Creeds".