I am a newbee here - not even sure how to reply to one posting, but . . . this entry is in reply to the original question. I trust the moderator will get me to the right spot.
What is Progressive Christianity
I think Eric333 has probably said it best in this discussion, but I would like to add a bit of a different perspective.
Personally, I have found the deity or God or god to not be a very useful concept in today's world. I was an ardent believer in the deity at one point in my life, but I have matured, as it were. I think we can muster up a Christianity without the deity as at least an option.
To state the matter succinctly, I think Progressive Christianity is a choice to believe that human life has meaning and purpose, and that this Jesus of Nazareth had some profound insights into that meaning and purpose. I choose to work and support the progress of human life and experience, in line with the Christian values that are consistent with our current understanding of that life. It is progressive in that it pays attention to our latest science and insight into what humans are and can become. Tradition is important, but it is not sufficient.
I do not like the term "atheist" as it sounds like aggression against believers. "Non theist" sounds a bit better. I do not wish believers any harm at all. Almost ALL of my friends and family fall into that camp, and I would never want to upset them by attacking that belief. I have also discovered that it is a complete waste of time! You really cannot argue against beliefs and values. Doesn’t work.
I really liked this comment from another discussion in these forums:
"When Marcus Borg visited our church several years ago, I recall him saying about someone who claims not to believe in God, "Describe for me the God that you think you don't believe in." Then, a response. And then "Well, I don't believe in that God either."
I remain an ardent Christian. I like what the man said, what I can discern from the stories and tradition. I think it is a tremendous insight into where humans should be going. There is an excellent book by a Dominican monk called Jesus Before Christianity that pretty much summarizes my assessment of the New Testament and this man called Jesus of Nazareth. It is excellent exegesis in the historical understanding of Judaism.
Belief as a Choice
One comment from that book has stayed with me: Belief is a choice. It is not a feeling, not a gift. it's a choice. And I choose to believe that life has meaning and purpose. I choose to believe that this man Jesus had a great insight into that meaning and purpose. I am personally committed to carrying that forward. If that works as a definition of the deity, fine. If not, it is not that important to me. I find ALL of life utterly amazing. And human life is the most amazing of all. This thing we call a brain, this collection of hormones, and emotions and ideas and values and accomplishments is the most amazing thing in the known universe. I choose to move that forward, and I think the Christian message, without much of the historic baggage, is the best known way to accomplish that.
It appears to be essential to human kind that we do things in and for our “community”. We are innately social beings, and we need that support and love to prosper. So we need to build a community based on this commitment to the meaning and purpose of life. I was born into this one, and I greatly value it. I don't wish any of the others ill - and I would hope that they could adopt the best parts of this one, but . . .
Being part of a community means sharing celebrations, rituals, traditions. It binds us together, gives us a common sense of belonging and motivation. I may not agree with all of the literal meanings of the hymns or readings Christians use, but I can still enjoy them, until we get to the point of creating new ones that better fit our current understanding of reality. A New Reformation!
Progressive or Liberal
I note that some in this discussion use the words “liberal” and “progressive” as though they mean the same thing. That might be confusing. “Liberal” has other connotations in the philosophical and economic realms, meaning “hands off” – “neo-liberal” comes to mind. In the political realm, it tends to mean “leans left” as opposed to “leans right” or conservatism. I think that it would be a mistake to use that term for Progressive Christianity. My suspicion is that most humans are “conservative”, meaning we resist change, we like strong leaders, tradition, social hierarchy and stability in life. “Liberal” in that world means we are more focused on freedom, equality and fairness than our more conservative brethren. Liberals are not as worried about changing things, if it moves toward freedom and fairness.
One would hope that the vast group of conservatives in the political and economic realms, could see their way clear to being progressives in the Christian and religious realm. Or perhaps NOT. We shall see.
And thanks for the Plummer video. https://youtu.be/FBiOA0euuYU He is right – Christianity is seriously at risk if it cannot change. He makes the point that we should not confuse liberal social ideas with this. And I am pleasantly astounded that there is an organized effort to bring this about. You can count on me – I have hope! Thanks.
Life is NOT a competition, and . . .
Remember, I'm pulling for ya. We're all in this together!