A New Definition of Discipleship

Discipleship. That’s a loaded word for anyone with a background in Christianity.

I was always taught that discipleship was all about following someone. Specifically for Christians it is about following Jesus. What if instead we all were disciples to advancing truth?

On June 7, 2015, my family was officially welcomed into the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship. During the service we recited the following purpose of the fellowship:

“The purpose of this society is to promote the fellowship of those who, because of belief in human dignity, or reverence for God, or adherence to the teaching of the great spiritual leaders, or for other reasons esteemed by the individual conscience, are dedicated to fostering liberal religious attitudes and living; and to further the following principles: Individual freedom of belief, discipleship to advancing truth, the democratic process in human relations and recognition of the bond that joins all people.”

Could all religious teaching be a catalyst for our search for truth?

Could all religious teaching be a catalyst for our search for truth?

The phrase “discipleship to advancing truth” caught my attention. What would that look like, if we were really to become disciples of truth? What if we took things that Jesus and all religious figures say not as essential, substantive things, but as catalysts for our own journey to truth?

Jesus (according to the version of the gospel story we now possess) said, “I am the truth.” But it could be that Jesus (or the tellers of the story) wanted to point us to a higher divine truth, one that was beyond Jesus himself. In that case we could envision a Jesus who was open to other ways of reaching that divine truth.

What if discipleship is not subordination to a single person’s teachings, or even a single god’s teachings, but rather a gathering of all teachings, and a sifting through of all of it to find what is truly good, right, and beautiful?

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