It is my hope that in the future Free Christianity will be defined primarily not by the theological and the negative but by the spiritual and the positive. As a step towards this, 'Wayfarer' seemed to me a good name for those of us who are following in the Way of Christ as travellers, pilgrims perhaps; not rooted to a particular expression of faith but being open to new experience as we journey on.
'Faith is more basic than language or theology. Faith is the response to something which is calling us from the timeless part of our reality. Faith may be encouraged by what has happened in the past, or what is thought to have happened in the past, but the only proof of it is in the future. Scriptures and creeds may come to seem incredible, but faith will still go dancing on. Even though (because it rejects a doctrine) it is now described as "doubt". This, I believe, is the kind of faith that Christ commended'.
‘I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us. He dances that shape and pattern which is at the heart of our reality. By Christ I mean not only Jesus; in other times and places, other planets, there may be other Lords of the Dance. But Jesus is the one I know of first and best. I sing of the dancing pattern in the life and words of Jesus.
Whether Jesus ever leaped in Galilee to the rhythm of a pipe or drum I do not know. We are told that David danced (and as an act of worship too), so it is not impossible. The fact that many Christians have regarded dancing as a bit ungodly (in a church, at any rate) does not mean that Jesus did. The Shakers didn't’.
'Your holy hearsay is not evidence
Give me the good news in the present tense
So shut up the Bible and show me how
The Christ you talk about is living now'.
One might have thought that Free Christianity would be entirely at home under the umbrella that bears the name of the 'General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches'. But it is a fact that many Unitarians today are not only in no sense Christian but they regard themselves as members of a non-Christian religion. Indeed a significant minority are hostile to Christian witness within the movement. This, together with the seemingly relentless tide in favour of establishing a single corporate identity for the movement (to portray it less as a general assembly and more as a single entity), means that the Free Christian aspect is under continual threat. Every other year there is a new initiative to rid the movement of what many see as an awkward and (even worse) out-of-date appendage to its title.
The Unitarian Christian Association is doing good work to restore the fortunes of Christian witness within the movement and the concerns of Free Christianity very largely overlap with Unitarian Christianity. It is also true that Unitarian Christianity is far less 'sectarian' and more Free Christian in its outlook than it was once (the two earliest Unitarian organisations in England both had constitutions that excluded Arians for example, and in later times strict Unitarians would denounce Free Christians' 'sickly' non-sectarianism).
While Free Christianity is not quite identical with Unitarian Christianity and there is a need for the Free Christian aspect of the movement to have active and explicit witness, the 'Free Christian' part of the name General Unitarian of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches also bears witness to the general commitment in the General Assembly's Object to uphold the liberal Christian tradition.
While Free Christians share much with Christian groups that use words like 'Progressive' and 'Radical' to describe themselves, such groups can have an agenda that Free Christians do not have and their material can sometimes seem rather negative.
This may be because such groups are formed in opposition to a conservative, even fundamentalist, view of Christianity, whereas Free Christians are likely to be seen as on the more traditional wing of the Unitarian and Free Christian movement.
And perhaps for this reason, it is probably true to say that Free Christians are more sympathetic to traditional Christian forms and formulas, simply asking that they are not oliged to agree with them in order to be accepted as Christians. It is also probably true to say that Free Christians are more interested in the flesh and blood Jesus of Nazareth than in a symbolic, mythical Christ-figure that is sometimes encountered in 'progressive' circles.
Of course, the word 'Free' has its drawbacks (which is partly why the Christian Compass journal dropped it in favour of 'Inclusive' - which in turn sends out its own message) but as long as it is understood to mean no more than unfettered by credal obligation, it is probably a reasonable adjective. The name Wayfarers has been chosen as an alternative for this site, more on that later.
A quick look at the 'blogosphere' shows that the nature of the medium means it is all too easy for a 'blog' to convey the impression that its compiler is, at best, self-indulgent and verbose, and at worst, a narcissistic bore. Religious blogs are by no means immune from this.