The biggest mistake people in Unity are making today ... is assuming that we all arrive at Truth in the same way. Because Truth is universal and unchanging, we assume that the way we come to know Truth is also universal and unchanging. But that is not so. The Truth we come to know comes to us in at least three ways.
For Traditionalists, Truth is REVEALED — revealed by the church or by the Bible, through intuition, as taught by the Transcendentalists, or, as taught by the Fillmores, by "going to headquarters" or "in the Silence". Revealed Truth orders our thinking according to God Mind and aligns our consciousness with the perfect image of God of which we are true expressions. Tradition revealed monism, a Truth that God and the world are one, that they are "categorically distinguished but nowhere disjointed" and where "all things fall into [their perfect and right] place."1 In Unity, we know this as oneness.
For Moderns, Truth is DISCOVERED — discovered by observation of nature, scientific discovery and deductive thinking. Truth discovered by moderns taught us that all persons are created equal and that the pursuit of happiness is a noble cause. Moderns in Unity are enthusiastic about the insights gained from quantum physics, near-death experiences, neuropsychology, crystals, energy-medicine and a slew of other pathways that straddle the unknown world and the world which we can grasp by the senses. While the moderns are also interested in how science may order our thinking ("order is heaven's first law"), the true hope of modernity is progress, or, as we refer to it in Unity, prosperity.
For Postmoderns, Truth is known in RELATIONSHIPS — what is "right and true" leads to loving relationships, or else it is not based on rightness nor Truth. Many of our accepted Truths from tradition and from modernism have rapidly been discredited and rejected in the past 100 or so years. Postmoderns have stepped in with a way of acquiring Truth that moves us forward. We have learned that ending slavery could not address racism; we have learned that scientific achievement could not prevent the barbarism of the holocaust; we have learned that extending voting rights to women could not fully open them to their human potential; and most recently we have learned that what is typically called "family values" never brought about the renaissance of commitment to marriage and family that gays and lesbians are leading in today's society. Postmoderns in Unity are especially attached to A Course in Miracles, the Peace Song and the Beatles ("Imagine" and "All You Need Is Love"). The love they teach leads to what we know in Unity as wholeness.
While you are in church this Sunday, look around at your fellow congregants; and especially consider the person with whom you are not all that familiar. Is it not possible that he or she beholds the same Truth as you, but that his or her Truth comes in a different way than it comes to you? And, if that is so, can you not recognize the unique way he or she expresses that Truth? And if the minister's lesson isn't quite resonating with you, can you look beyond the preacher's illustrations and words to the deeper Truth of the message?
Awareness of these differing ways of coming to Truth enables Unity to reach its potential in the current (digital) age: the traditionalists teach us to commit to Unity's spiritual pathway, to support the church congregation and to tithe; the moderns teach us to think of new discoveries as spiritual truth and to use our intellect as much as our understanding; and the postmoderns stretch us to be more loving, open and tolerant to all people and all creation.
These new ways of how we come to know Truth expand our consciousness. We need to embrace the diversity of acquiring Truth in our fellow congregants for the simple fact that we need to embrace it in our own thinking. You don't need me to tell you that when we judge the other fellow, we constrict our own soul.
Unity has often said that it is "Positive, Practical, Progressive Christianity." That statement was, almost for certain, written by a committee. I can imagine well a group of Unity editors thrashing out Unity's tagline. The traditionalist says "Unity is positive thinking that brightens my day!" Oh, no," says the modernist, "Unity gives me a practical way to express prosperity in this technical world I live in." The postmodern, certain that all we need is love, asserts that "our form of Christianity has progressed" beyond that of orthodox Christianity. So it is that we in Unity have unconsciously adopted a hybrid statement of who we are; one that is strengthens Unity while acknowledging diversity.
Before we launched Unity of Georgetown, I organized an evening workshop entitled "How To Talk About Unity With Your Friends." I invited a panel of three persons — a traditionalist, a modern and a postmodern — and asked them questions for an hour. I then asked the 30+ people in attendance if they would be comfortable forming a church community with these three. All I can say is that our mailing list grew from 75 to over 250 in the next two weeks and we launched a short time later with 103 people attending.
I am a traditionalist and the material I post on TruthUnity is especially appealing to those who also find that Truth is revealed. But I am also aware that I often switch to modernist and postmodern thinking when it is necessary. I become a modernist when the doctor is prescribing my medicine and I become postmodern when my emotions run wild listening to PosiPalooza. In fact, I often cry when I think about the goodness of relationships and when I am aware that all we need is love. But my traditional God and my modern mind hold me when I cry.
So, while it sometimes feels like there is a culture war in Unity, there is also a culture war in our own consciousness. If so, think about how healthy each of us would be if we were aware of the diverse ways each of us may acquire Truth. If we could do that, then we will have manifested the Truth expressed by St. Paul,
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).
While I confidently stand in the Truth that has been revealed to me, I am happy to be a part of a culturally-diverse denomination and I am grateful for the fellowship of those who accept me at the table regardless of how I receive Truth and who remind me that "all we need is love."
- Smith, Huston; Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit In An Age Of Disbelief; p.4