Jump to content

dblad

Members
  • Content Count

    15
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    2

dblad last won the day on October 28 2012

dblad had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

3 Neutral

About dblad

  • Rank
    New Member
  • Birthday 07/13/1959

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    North Carolina
  1. I must say, George, I do wonder how much of this sentiment is actually from Dr. Graham, and how much is from his son, Franklin. Dennis
  2. I do think that is one of the primary differences between American Protestant Fundamentalism® and other forms of Christianity: is it about orthodoxy or is it about action? I tend to appreciate the words of Jesus on the topic: I know what you mean, too, about calling yourself "Christian," but I can't give up the idea that even the Christians whose theology gives me indigestion are still my brothers and sisters in the same tradition. I do realize that they are not reluctant at all to say that I'm not really Christian, but I think it's a battle worth fighting. Jesus had some things to say about that, too. I think it's important to remember that Jesus loved the Pharisees, too. Dennis
  3. Steve, we do get caught up in words sometimes. I think it's also true that words are important; they aren't the only way we communicate with each other, but they are the principal way we communicate complex ideas, and if different people have different understandings of what a word means, it can cause great confusion. In this particular case, I confess to a certain amount of curmudgeonliness, simply because over the years I've seen the Christian right become the "owner" of so many words that have traditionally belonged to the whole church. I have always seen "evangelism" as, to use your words, "spreading the word because I find it to have enriched my life and maybe it would enrich yours." Definitions are malleable and evolutionary, so I suppose if churches have the right idea about how to do it, it makes less difference what they call it. I get a pang, though, when I hear it referred to as "marketing," because I've always thought of that as having to do with sales, rather than with genuine sharing. I'm not as interested in convincing people as having alternatives available that have the evidence of positive experience associated with them. One of the implications of my question is whether progressive churches do this systematically. Is there a way to teach people to do this sharing in a way that is consistent with progressive approaches to Christianity? Has anybody come up with an effective evangelism strategy for progressive churches? Thanks for chiming in; I'd love to hear more from you on this topic. Dennis
  4. George, From my earlier post: "…the larger and more general argument is based on premises that are neither provable nor disprovable; to say "society has seldom made laws against same-sex marriage because for most of history, the concept was not considered possible" is apparently true. In the ancient world, there was a recognition of the existence of homosexual behavior, sometimes disapproved of, but other times approved of; there was, however, not a recognition of the possibility of same-sex marriage. The premise, in this case, is that there is a lengthy history of recognition of heterosexual marriage, and that to change the conditions of marriage is to change its definition. This is a rational argument against same-sex marriage; I disagree with the part of the premise that requires me to give credence to a long-held proposition by virtue of its persistence and its ubiquity, but I cannot prove that this value is wrong. I see no flaw in the logic leading to the conclusion: if long held precedent creates a value, and heterosexual marriage is a long-held precedent, then heterosexual marriage is the definition that meets the value. I disagree with the premise, but I can't disprove it, as such; I can only make a strong case for a different value. I can't dismiss the argument as irrational, but I can say that I think it's wrong and based on error." You don't say why a religious value cannot be a premise in a rational argument; do you feel the same way about other statements of value, which cannot be proven or disproven? It seems to me you're on the verge of wiping out much of the history of syllogistic logic, from Aristotle to Aquinas. I suggest that the reason such arguments seem irrational to you is that you start from a different premise, not because you have shown them to be irrational. Some in our culture believe that all religion is irrational, since it can't be demonstrated empirically, but I'm going to argue that the limitation of rationality to the empirical is founded on a premise that is, in itself, a value to which someone has made a commitment. Almost everything we as a society do is based on one or more values, and values can't be strictly empirical. I'm starting to sound repetitive, too, I'm sure; I know I'm too wordy, but I think I've made some interesting arguments and would love to hear your response to them.
  5. Persuasive, then. I can agree with that. But that isn't the same as saying that those arguments aren't rational. Dennis
  6. All right, but not sufficient for what? To be rational? Or to be persuasive?
  7. Hornet, this formulation certainly works well for a subset of people, but it doesn't work for everyone. I think most everyone posting here would agree that you have correctly stated the core argument against same sex marriage from the point of view of that subset. And yes, I agree that it's better for people to be honest about the religious sources of their arguments than to try to frame it as though it were not religious. From outside that subset, there isn't a lot of agreement, because there isn't agreement on how to understand the authority of sacred texts. I could say, for example, that all the passages in the Bible regarding sexual behavior are not what God says, but what people said while they were looking for or experiencing God. Alternatively, I could say that those texts are authoritative, but that you don't understand them correctly. I could even say that I have been given a new revelation, and that that supersedes the prior revelation. Since our society is comprised of religious people of many different inclinations, along with a healthy number of non-religious people, there isn't a way to present a definitive account of what God says that would be persuasive for society as a whole. George, it sounds to me as though you're suggesting that no argument derived from anything but empirical data may be rational as far as you're concerned. If that's what you mean, then no argument from values of any kind, religious or otherwise, can be considered rational. It sound to me more like you mean that there can be no empirical argument against same-sex marriage more than that there can be no rational argument. This may be the source of our disagreement over this topic. I think that the argument I mentioned above is perfectly rational, even though it's wrong; you didn't address it except to say that you consider the premise to be unsound, but I would argue that you can't PROVE the premise is unsound, you can only disagree with it. Values are not empirical, but they can be rational. Blessings, Dennis
  8. That's true, but do all religious premises lead to conclusions that are inconsistent with logic or empirical evidence? I s'pose what I'm suggesting is that if a person has accepted a religious premise, and their logic, though dependent on that premise, is otherwise sound, then their argument is rational, even if wrong. I'd also suggest that neither rationalism nor empiricism get at religious experience, which is highly subjective and personal, which implies that matters of personal belief will always fail the test of rationality if the test is limited to empirically verifiable data. I note the example of the "argument from nature." Among the arguments for denying marriage equality, this one is based on empirical premises that are easily disproven; homosexuality DOES occur in nature, and among the 'lower' animals, relationship does not always equate to sex. In addition, other things DO occur in nature that we would not want emulated in human society. I find the "argument from nature" entirely unconvincing and inconsistent, and since it is based on a mistaken premise, I can dismiss it as irrational. On the other hand, the larger and more general argument is based on premises that are neither provable nor disprovable; to say "society has seldom made laws against same-sex marriage because for most of history, the concept was not considered possible" is apparently true. In the ancient world, there was a recognition of the existence of homosexual behavior, sometimes disapproved of, but other times approved of; there was, however, not a recognition of the possibility of same-sex marriage. The premise, in this case, is that there is a lengthy history of recognition of heterosexual marriage, and that to change the conditions of marriage is to change its definition. This is a rational argument against same-sex marriage; I disagree with the part of the premise that requires me to give credence to a long-held proposition by virtue of its persistence and its ubiquity, but I cannot prove that this value is wrong. I see no flaw in the logic leading to the conclusion: if long held precedent creates a value, and heterosexual marriage is a long-held precedent, then heterosexual marriage is the definition that meets the value. I disagree with the premise, but I can't disprove it, as such; I can only make a strong case for a different value. I can't dismiss the argument as irrational, but I can say that I think it's wrong and based on error. People can disagree and still be rational; to claim that all arguments against marriage equality are automatically irrational is unnecessarily pejorative, and likely to set the conversation back rather than move it forward. Blessings, Dennis
  9. For me, it was the idea that God is, finally, unknowable, which made it okay for me to stop trying to fathom God and enjoy being known by God. This opened the door to a much larger world than I had experienced up to that point. It led me to the conclusion that my spiritual well-being had nothing to do with theological accuracy. I began to realize that religious truth-claims were joyfully and gloriously subjective, and therefore liberated from any responsibility to be absolutely right. I found that I could be unsure, but still be secure; I could embrace my own tradition, recognizing it as a tradition, but one of many traditions as different people seek to describe their subjective and personal religious experiences. It's been fun.
  10. Please forgive me for butting in, but this conversation presents an interesting question of definition; it seems to me that in this conversation, there are different definitions of "rational" being used. Any syllogism requires premises, arguments and a conclusion. In order to say an argument is irrational, you could disprove a premise or you could find where an argument is flawed. With religious premises, there's a problem with disproving a premise; all the evidence for religious truth-claims is locked inside people's heads. There is no proving or disproving them. To show them as irrational, you'll have to begin with their premises and demonstrate a mistake in their logic. Otherwise, they're not really irrational, merely mistaken, and only that because they've made a commitment to a religious premise that you disagree with. I don't mean to put words in Joseph's mouth, but if I understand his point (and I may not) it is that arguments against same-sex marriage may, in fact, follow logically from the religious premises their proponents have committed to, and if they do, they are rational. If you say they are irrational because your own religious premises are different, then you have to show why your faith commitments are more "rational" than theirs, which sounds to me as though it would lead to the very kind of religious intolerance we find so distasteful in conservative Christianity. If I understand Joseph (and, again, I may not) this is the limb he was speaking of. If you do not accept the premise, then you can't accept a conclusion based on the premise, no matter how rational the process of arriving at it may be. If religious premises are by definition irrational, then why would any of us call ourselves progressive Christians? Our behavior and our positions are based on our own religious premises, else we're merely progressives and not Christians.
  11. I have been a student of Bowen theory for the last twelve years or so, and I actually provide training in it for a regional Interim Ministry certification program. It has been extraordinarily valuable to me in ministry, but even more so in my personal and spiritual journey. Bowen's student, Edwin Friedman, wrote the book on Bowen Theory in Church and Synagogue (Generation to Generation) but his book, A Failure of Nerve, is an easier read if you already have a handle on the fundamentals. Some of these insights helped keep me sane during a crises years ago, and I've been a strong advocate of this approach ever since. Dennis
  12. This is critical for understanding the conversation going on in the world, I think. Biblical inerrantists believe they have made a commitment to the inerrancy of the text of the Bible, but in fact the commitment they've made is to a hermeneutic--an interpretive tradition--about the Bible. Dennis
  13. Thanks for thoughtful replies. In the conversation about religion in the United States, "Evangelical" has come to mean what Corbett describes, as George referred to, but its original, biblical meaning has to do with a sharing of the good news about God's love for humanity. I admit that I don't care much for the way it's been co-opted by the conservative wing of the church, and I'm also not fond of how people in the more progressive areas of the church have ceded it to them in the way Corbett and others have. I'm fairly progressive, I think, and yet I find that I believe that my life has been changed by God's grace as I've experienced it. If I am able to share my own story of God's grace with someone else, it is an example of evangelism; churches that offer a message of God's grace, it seems to me, ought to be able to call themselves evangelical. I don't want to think I'm only being cranky about a word whose meaning has changed because of usage, but I suppose that's what it may boil down to. In any case, I'm more and more convinced that progressive Christians need to have a better understanding of evangelism and of personal spirituality; it's wonderful not to be bound by exclusive ideas about salvation, so the sharing of alternatives is a happy thing. Clearly we haven't found any particular value in the idea that 'salvation' is about what happens to us after we're dead; we think of salvation as something that gives meaning to our current lives, and we tend to be somewhat agnostic about afterlife in general. We are also freed from the need for a personalized and malevolent Beelzebub; when it comes to evil, human beings require no supernatural assistance. These ideas are quite liberating, so it seems to me that we do have good news (euangellion) to share. As for spirituality, many of the progressive Christians I know are fond of the medieval Christian mystics, and that's fine, but I think congregations could be more intentional about teaching spiritual disciplines, and could have a more contemporary approach to them that emphasizes the presence of the divine in our lives. Of course, it's also possible that I'm full of beans, and that my experience is too limited to say anything at all about what progressive congregations do or don't do about evangelism and spirituality, and I think it'd be good for me to know that, too. Blessings! Dennis
  14. It's my hope to begin a discussion about the practice of Christian spirituality among progressive Christians; I'll share a little of my experience, and then pose some of the questions I've been pondering. I haven't searched the forum much to see whether these ideas have been covered before, so please forgive me if I'm resurrecting something that ought to stay entombed. Like many progressive Christians, I have one foot in more primitive religion. My parents became active in the Charismatic movement of the 60s and 70s, so I am familiar with contemporary American conservative Protestantism and fundamentalism (I don't care to use the word "evangelical" to describe these folks, only because I want to believe that there are "evangelical" progressives as well) and understand their insider language fairly well. We did everything from Pentecostalism to Southern Baptistism. I grew up, went to college and then to seminary, and over the years my education and experience led me to more progressive ideas about Christianity, and in many ways, that's what has kept me from jettisoning religion altogether. I found the religious ideas of my childhood to be incompatible with my sense of how the universe works. My dad considers me to be excessively liberal now, and so we don't talk much about religious ideas. My experience with the liberal mainline churches was better in many ways than what I had known in my childhood, but it wasn't perfect either. I don't suppose it's the fault of "liberalism" per se, but within the churches I attended and/or served, it seemed that there wasn't much of a personal, emotional investment in either spirituality or evangelism. I encountered a lot of "the church is a business" nonsense; the idea that the church exists to earn a profit seems to me to be a non-sequitur. I also encountered other painful attitudes from folks who believed that the mission of the church was to serve its own members, or to keeps its own doors open, or even to raise money for the denomination's agenda. I arrived at a place in which I really missed some things about my childhood religious experience. Where was the joy? Where was the sense of being loved by God? Where was the idea transformative spirituality? I can't go back to the theology of all immanence with no transcendence, but I also don't want to live with all transcendence and no immanence. I need to be able to hold those ideas in tension: yes, God is incomprehensible and unknowable, but also yes, I believe that God knows and loves me as an individual. Yes, God is far beyond anything we can express in human language, but also yes, I love to tell the story. I don't need the ubiquitous "miracle of the car keys and parking space," and I certainly don't need the personalized demonic underworld, but I do need to be able to say "God is, and God loves creation, and God's love has transformed my life." Now I serve a congregation (very small, about a dozen folks) very much like myself: we've moved beyond tolerance towards inclusiveness and understanding, but we grew up with a joyful, vibrant understanding of God's nearness in addition to God's "other-ness." We are progressive, but we are also given to contemporary music, and prayers for the sick, and laying on of hands, and washing of feet, and deep personal commitment to a living and active Christ. Are we unusual? Am I missing something? Are we hideously out of step with reality? I would love to hear how other people have approached this, and what things people did to work it out. It looks to me as though this approach gives us a niche in our community that no other congregation seems to be fulfilling. Progressive churches around here seem to be more liturgical and more cerebral; we worship like churches that regard themselves as "evangelical," but none of them seem to be theologically progressive. How can I explain this to seekers and inquirers in a succinct and meaningful way? And how do progressive churches feel about evangelism? How is it done? I know that we try to be evangelistic by encouraging random acts of compassion and kindness, and then being ready to give our story if someone asks and shows interest, but I also know that some churches think of evangelism as "marketing" and gaining members for the sake of the institutional budget. Well, this has been a bit of a ramble, but if you've made this far, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for thinking! --Dennis
  15. I'm Dennis, from western North Carolina in the US. I was brought up in the charismatic movement of the 60s and 70s, but college and seminary raised a lot of questions for me about faith, the authority of the Bible, and generally the ways human beings experience God. I am currently the pastor of a small progressive congregation, and I'm enjoying my life, but I'm also interested in making theological and relational connections with others who are progressive in their faith. I'm working through some ideas about evangelism and also about spirituality; these are areas that seem to have gotten short shrift in 'liberal' churches I've been part of. I'm hoping there will be opportunities to discuss things with other open-minded folks. Have a lovely day full of blessings! --D
×
×
  • Create New...