Letter on Doubt – from Rev. Welch

 

Dear Friends and Members of the United Church of Norman-UCC

My most recent letter to the editor

I appreciate the Norman Transcript, which has provided a space for Richard Harvey and me to discuss the resurrection. This is my last response in the form of a letter.

This debate may seem like religious minutia for many, but it touches on wider questions. What must one believe to be part of a religious community? Is there a space for doubt, not as something to be overcome, but a good in its own right?

For I am convinced that a good number people, in the pews, have doubts. Doubts about religious doctrine. Doubts about beliefs they are told they must hold if they are to be part of their religious communities.

Some keep them quiet, feeling they must not be the Christian they are supposed to be, because they have their doubts. Others are more vocal, challenging their faith communities. Often, they are forced out. And others quietly leave, joining the growing ranks of the growing church alumni association. Today, religious nones, those who do not identify with any religious tradition, are the second largest group of folks in the state of Oklahoma.

The initial impulse of my column was to provide some solidarity to those with doubts. To show they are not alone, that even clergy in some churches have doubts. The physical resurrection is a good test case, because most churches would make belief in the physical resurrection, a marker, that defines who is in and who is out of the church.

At which point, the resurrection, ceases to be good news. It becomes a burden and a barrier to the church. Beliefs don’t need to be compelled nor should they be a litmus test for church membership. Good doctrines, once heard and explained make sense of the world. They provide coherence for us, matching up with our beliefs in every area of life.

Thinking of resurrection as a kind of transformation, does this, because we have all seen it. We know what a transformed life looks like. For any of us who came out of the closet, the image of Jesus calling out Lazarus from the tomb has a special meaning. For anyone who has battled addictions, who had children that changed their life and priorities, for anyone whose involvement in a religious community has set them on a new path, this kind of resurrection is recognizable.

So I don’t believe Paul took understood personal transformation as a metaphor for the resurrection. I believe he understood it as an example of resurrection. Christ’s resurrection is the first fruits, then the church second, with the goal lastly, the entire world, will be transformed. See Romans 8. Paul’s concerns about ethics in the church, was not nitpicking, it was a salvation question. If the church failed to demonstrate transformation, reconciliation, the beloved community the story was in doubt.

The only way, in the end, to defend the resurrection is to live as if its transformative power is real and afoot in our world.

Blessings,

Rev. Dwight Welch

 

 

Church Events

April 30th Sunday Congregational meeting as we discuss growth recommendations of David Wheeler, building site, and the work of the committees of the church. 9:30 a.m

May 7th Sunday Conversation Sunday

Join us at (9:30 for brunch and a conversation with award-winning academic and author, Nyla Ali Khan. Nyla is from Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. Bring a dish to share and join us.

Nyla was made a member of the Advisory Council of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women. She will be speaking to us about women and politics and the comparison between Kashmir and Oklahoma on this topic.

 

 

Book Club May 8th

We’re discussing the new novel by Anthony Doerr at Nancy Logan’s home 3200 Summit Bend at 7pm.

 

 

Food and Shelter Needs

Resident and Shelter Needs include soap, cleaning supplies, furniture, diapers. Kitchen Needs are dry sealed foods. Care Packets for the homeless include deodorant, self care products, snack foods

 

 

A New Recycling Box

Given the number of paper products we use for our morning gatherings and conversation box the Social Justice committee has set up a recycling box to discard those items. Look for it on Sundays!