Steve's comment --
I went to college with UCC folks who said they believed in Christ but did not believe in the resurrection or any of the miracles & argued about a lot of other beliefs I had though most Christians believed.
prompts me to ask others to weigh in on what a goodly number of progressive theologians -- Phyllis Tickle, Diane Butler Bass, Harvey Cox, etc -- now are saying:
-- The the earliest Christians lived in the Age of Faith. Christianity for them meant following Jesus, not believing in any specific creed, and diverse beliefs and rituals were acceptable. These theologians point to more recently discovered materials -- the Dead Seas Scrolls, Gospel of Thomas, etc. as the underpinning for this take. These Christians followed "the Way."
-- Then came the age of Belief -- first (obviously) promulgated by the Roman Catholic Church and in part to compete with the secular Roman Emperor/Empire. Creeds were developed, these theologians argue, to justify a religious hierarchy that mimicked that secular Empire hierarchy. Subscribing to creeds became the test of faith -- faith in beliefs rather than in God's revelation through the life of Jesus.
-- That we are now into the Age of Spirit. They point to the growing number of people who say, "I'm spiritual but I'm not religious," (a comment, by the way, that drives Lillian Daniel to distraction for good reason). These theologians argue that the Age of the Spirit is much closer to that earliest Age of Faith than to the 1500 years or so of the Age of Belief. If they are correct, the UCC may have been a bit ahead of the curve in being a "non-creedal" denomination. And yet even in the UCC, many seem to give some litmus test weight to specific creeds or beliefs.
So -- what do you think of this analysis of "the Ages"?