|Four key learnings that guide liberal public theology|
We rarely fail to love because we hate. Yes, there are people who do terrible things, arouse us to great anger and are difficult to love. We test ourselves against our Universalism by trying to imagine those we could not love. But Adolph Hitler and Ted Bundy are not the real test of our Universalism. Our failure is that we regard so many with indifference. We just don't know their story.
Respect for a person's dignity, loving them, is not abstract and general. It is specific and particular. Once we know a person's story, we cannot still remain indifferent or hate them. Why? Because we then see them as a person, like ourselves, trying to do their best for themselves and those they love, in their circumstances, with their history, with their material conditions, with their family history, with their brain chemistry, with their culture. It is humbling.
Our first principle, the worth and dignity of every individual, is not just linked to our seventh principle, the interdependence of all life. It is its dialectical twin. To love somebody is to hear their whole story, to see them whole against the wider sky. And then we see them, the individual, as one node in a network of interdependence, part of the systems and structure of our social life and history together. Everything causes everything else.
Finally, our public theology follows from our embrace of Darwin and the principle of evolution. Just as God did not create all the species of plants and animals at one time, fixing them forever, God did not create human society and its hierarchies of power. Just as important, human society was not created by a 'social contract' voluntarily created by free and equal human beings during some unknowable pre-history.
Most human social institutions were created by the imposition of power by the strong over the weak. But they are changing and evolving. There was no golden age in the past. There was no original or natural intention for human society. There is no going back, and the future has not happened yet.
Humanity could move toward greater equality, greater justice, greater love. It could also end in disaster, war and misery. But liberal public theology is based on hope, and a faith in human agency to make a better future.