Because of our liberal Christian theology, All Souls Miami appeals to those with religious questions and spiritual longings who cannot accept the belief systems central to much of “traditional” Christianity. We draw those who can no longer recite ancient creeds or those for whom such creeds no longer express their faith. We attract those hurt by other churches where there seems to be more judgment than acceptance. But what is liberal theology? Here are some central affirmations at the heart of All Souls Miami.
Our General Approach to Religion
1. We affirm free thought. All church members can believe what their consciences, minds, experiences and emotions lead them to affirm. The minister at All Souls Miami simply shares from the pulpit his own faith understandings, hoping that helps others on their faith journeys.
2. We affirm a fundamental unity of experience. There is no intrinsic conflict between faith and knowledge, religion and the world, sacred and secular. Rather than seeing culture, especially science and the arts, as a threat to religious faith, liberal Christians understand their faith with reference to their experience within contemporary culture.
3. We define ourselves as a community of seekers. We want to be a house of truth-seeking for those with searching minds and hearts. We find more value in questions than in absolute answers. We are not afraid of doubt.
4. We respect the human mind and its thought processes. This is a church where you don’t have to check your mind at the door. You are encouraged to think for yourself.
5. We do not limit the quest for religious truth to the intellect. We are a community of yearning spirits crying out for experience. Our focus on reason is balanced by a conviction that our hearts and souls must be fed along with our minds.
6. We celebrate and respect the religions of every age and culture. There is wisdom in all the world’s living faiths. We recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God’s realm and we acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us.
7. We affirm the worth and dignity of every human being. All people have equal claim to life, liberty and justice. So our faith community welcomes men, women and transgender people of all races, backgrounds, classes, abilities, and sexual orientations. Acknowledging the reality of sin and failure, we affirm the goodness and potential in everyone.
8. Most of us see the Bible as a collection of helpful ancient human reflections about God and the meaning of life. The biblical narratives arose from a particular group of Middle Eastern people who were seeking meaning in their journey through life. For many of us at All Souls Miami, the Bible is not literally God’s word as it is a collection of human words, many divinely inspired, with the potential to liberate and propel us on a wondrous excursion of exploration.
9. The historical Jesus opens for us a pathway to God. Jesus, a Palestinian peasant teacher, began a reform movement within Judaism. His life and teachings offered hope and transformation to those at the bottom of society. To some at All Souls Miami, Jesus is a divine figure sent from God to pay for the sins of a fallen humanity, but for others, it is a human Jesus who serves as an inspiration and role model. Either way, for liberal Christians, Jesus opens a pathway to God which becomes for us a mirror into our own human potential and a window into God’s love.
10. We understand God in various ways, but affirm in common that God’s presence, filled with unconditional love, is everywhere. Some may believe in the traditional definition of God, for others at All Souls Miami, God is a life force, a divine spirit that can be experienced by everyone. Forrest Church, the Senior Minister of All Souls Church in New York City, speaks for many liberal Christians: "God is our name for that which is greater than all, yet present in each. God is the mystery that looms within and arches beyond the limits of my being."
11. Liberal Christians and others want to create communities of faith where people care deeply for one another and seek to help heal a wounded world. For most of us religion is more about relationships than commandments, and communities of faith affirm relationships where we nurture and sustain one another in difficult moments, where we encourage one another on our spiritual journeys and where we work together to create a better world.
Most of those who attend services at All Souls Miami probably accept the majority of the affirmations found above. But because of our respect for free thought, many members may reject a few of the affirmations. But the eleven affirmations at least offer a picture of the kind of theology at the heart of our liberal congregation.