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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Gary Dorrien will address UU Christian conference.

How exciting! Gary Dorrien, who is now the Niebuhr Professor at Union Theological Seminary, is the keynote speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship's "Revival" conference in New York City this November. (My apologies to UUCF executive director Ron Robinson: I hadn't noticed the announcement before.) Dorrien is the leading historian of the liberal theological tradition in the United States; the first two volumes of his trilogy, The Making of American Liberal Theology, are indispensible. I heard him discuss the upcoming final volume — on theologians active in the second half of the twentieth century (James Luther Adams among them) — at the American Academy of Religion convention in Philadelphia last November; I'm eager to get a copy when it's published this fall. (I praised the first volume and its discussion of Unitarianism's contribution to American liberal theology in a UU World review back in 2002.) Dorrien is also the author of an intellectual history of the neoconservative movement, so I can't wait to hear what he has to say.

Also featured at this year's Revival: Jim Mulholland, an Evangelical Quaker and the coauthor of a book promoting the doctrine of universal salvation that has caused a stir among Evangelicals. [Update 3.26.06: See Kenneth's clarification about Mulholland's denominational affiliation.]

The first weekend of November is a great time to be in New York. I hope to see you there.

Update 3.31.06: Don't know how I missed this, but Dorrien is also the author of a new book, Imperial Designs: Neoconservatism and the New Pax Americana, which I learned about from his essay about Iraq in this week's Christian Century. He is — how shall we put this? — not a fan.

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 25 March 2006 at 5:29 PM

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March 25, 2006 10:56 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks for the tip, Chris. Sounds like an interesting weekend.

FYI, I probably wouldn't call James Mulholland an evangelical Quaker. For one, I'm not sure he's a Quaker. I did find a Friends Journal article in which he says he joined the Religious Society of Friends, but his various online author biographies don't say he's a Quaker. He pastors a Friends church, but that in itself doesn't make him a Quaker.

More to the point, his church, Irvington Friends, may be evangelical (though I doubt that), but it isn't an Evangelical Friends church. Phil Gulley, with whom Mulholland wrote two books on grace, is now a popular Harper San Francisco author because his former Evangelical Quaker press dropped him when he espoused a universalist position.

Actually, it wasn't even a universalist position, if I recall correctly; Phil just said something about not being sure people need to know Jesus in order to be saved. (Classical Quakerism has some wiggle room about how salvation happens, but it doesn't claim that everyone will be saved.)

So I think Mulholland's views make it unlikely that Evangelical Friends would recognize him as one of their own.

Ron Robinson:

March 26, 2006 09:42 AM | Permalink for this comment

Thank You, Chris. The final volume is due to be released the day before Revival begins. People can register now. We are putting a list of lodging opportunities up soon on the website or they can get them from me by email, and we encourage booking asap because its NYC and also the weekend of the New York Run. I don't have Dorrien's title yet but it will be on universalist theology. More will be coming soon on the worship leaders and workshops and small group experiences.

Derek P.:

March 26, 2006 09:09 PM | Permalink for this comment

Hi folks... I serve with Jim Mullholland at the Friends Meeting of Irvington. Irvington could be considered more Mainline than Evangelical, although it is part of Friends United Meeting (which has both liberal and evangelical wings). As far as denomination goes, Jim is an ordained American Baptist pastor, and also a member of the Society of Friends. Friends, even those with pastors, do not ordain. Every adult member is a minister. A pastor is simply a minister who is financially freed from secular work for specialized service among Quakers.

Jim has also written some books on his own, most notably PRAYING LIKE JESUS, which was a response to the whole Prayer of Jabez craze. Jim is currently working on a book about his ministry with prisoners.


March 27, 2006 07:28 AM | Permalink for this comment

Derek, thanks for the clarification! I thought Irvington wouldn't be considered evangelical. And I'm glad to know about Mulholland's membership. So many pastored meetings have to hire non-Friends.

My former meeting (a liberal, unprogrammed meeting in Philadelphia) had a long conflict years before I arrived about the membership application of an ordained minister (I think he was a Presbyterian). They insisted he renounce his ordination before they'd accept him into membership. I was on a membership clearness committee where we asked the applicant to prepare a letter to the Roman Catholic Church resigning her membership.

I'm not sure anything like that would be required today in that meeting. I know that there are members who are public about their involvement in a wiccan coven and various Buddhist groups. Of course, there may just be a bias for non-Christian religions!

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