The Liberal Catholic Universalist Church
I was doing a bit of reading the other day (*) and something jumped off the page in a section on Esoteric Christianity. For those who don't know, the Liberal Catholic Church and the broader Liberal Catholic Movement of which LCUC is one group, was founded by Christian theosophists who intended it to be a home for all those who are Catholic but not Roman, and liberal rather than conservative in thought. As a consequence we have always been open to and welcoming of esoteric teachings, and more on that later. The something in question is this:
...the esoteric communities have a focus on inner spiritual processes, and often look at the sacraments as [processes of] inner transformation, or initiation into a deeper experience of God.
This is very much where I stand and although I speak for myself here and not for the Movement, I think it encapsulates what makes us unique. I see life as a process of spiritual development in which we're constantly looking for the next step on the path and seek wisdom and inner strength to take it. That's all of us, every person of all religions and none, not just those who have been baptised or those who have found the correct church or those who have said the sinner's prayer or those who have made appropriate sacrifices to the right gods. The Scriptures use the idea of running a race with a prize at the end. That race is lifelong - even lives-long for those of us who believe a single life is not enough to complete the transformation - and trying to boil it down to a single moment just does not make sense to me. It gives rise to the old, old questions from the early days of Christianity such as "Why should I be baptised before I'm dying if I can lose salvation after baptism?" or "If I am saved by my faith in God, why should I stop robbing the guy next door?" (my paraphrase, obviously).
In the Liberal Catholic Movement we have a wide spectrum of people. Traditional Catholics who can't accept Roman teachings on excluding LGBT+ people from the life of the Church or women from the priesthood, Anglicans who see beauty and mystery in the Liturgy we use, esoteric Christians for whom we are a natural home, people from a New Age, neo-pagan or magical background who see truth and goodness in the life of Jesus Christ, those who fuse Buddhist practice with Christian theology, people of all sorts of religious backgrounds who have been hurt by mainstream churches, all kinds of people. I am some of those things myself - I'm not getting into which! But we are largely agreed on a few core things. That life is a race to be run, a process that leads us higher towards the divine, an existence with a beautiful and marvellous purpose. That the true Christian story - not the harsh, rigid, at times hateful form that some churches have made of it - is one of hope and transformation, and that we will all reach the finish line in the end.
* Who Are The Independent Catholics? - Plummer and Mabry