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Jake

My Perspective On Point 1

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Discuss Point 1 of the TCPC 8 Points...

"By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus."

Although I have not posted much lately, I have been lurking. I have always been a little concerned that this section of the forum seems to get little attention compared to others, since this section of the forum is the defining statement of "Progressive Christianity". I have been uncertain whether or not to describe myself as "PC" or as a "Christian Mystic", or "Spiritual yet Agnostic" or just plain confused. I decided to take a page from billmc's book and work my way through the questions pertaining to each of the 8 Points, so that I might better understand my own faith and approach to Christianity.

 

1. How does language “an approach to God” fit your spiritual needs?

 

At the risk of some deep theological theorizing that has been explored by greater minds than I, I can accept this language. If God is manifest in action, as a blessing then God's presence is revealed through acts of love and liberation beyond the confines of human understanding. Jesus is the manifest happening of God in action. Jesus lived in complete harmony with the initial aim of God. I will not testify that he is exclusive in this harmony, or that his is the only method of achieving it, but he is the one I am most familiar with and have chosen to follow.

 

 

2. What language would you have used for you own spiritual journey?

 

A work in progress. My journey is one of questions without many answers. I am at sea level between the heavenly realm of "certain knowledge", and the eerie depths of "absolute ignorance".

 

 

3. Do you feel as the life and teachings of Jesus have brought you closer to an experience of God? How so?

 

I would find it more accurate to say that the life and teachings of Jesus have given me a different perspective on an experience of God. I was raised in the church, but had no experience of God. I turned my back on the teachings of that particular church. Later on I had an experience that I know was of God. Jesus has since become the instrument through which I experience the continued presence of God. The initial experience of God stands outside of anything I can grasp intellectually.

 

 

 

4. How does the absence of salvation language help or detract from your spiritual path?

 

It is respected and appreciated. The salvation language tends to turn faith into a repent/reward scenario. True faith should exist beyond the expectation of a reward for compliance. The salvation language also presupposes that there is something inherently flawed in the character of humankind, something we need to be saved from. I do not believe we are a flawed creation in need of salvation, just confused creatures in need of guidance.

 

 

5. How does the Jesus of history or his teachings affect your understanding of God?

 

That's a loaded one, because the Jesus of history differs greatly from the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible differs greatly from book to book within the Bible itself. I would say the teaching of Jesus are paramount to the understanding of how I honor God in my life, how i worship God, and how I engage the rest of God's creation in my day to day life. It brings me closer to the presence of God in my life, but God continues to remain beyond any hope of understanding.

 

 

6. How might our understanding of who and what we are, as human beings, change if we remove the need for the sacrifice of Jesus as the Pascal Lamb, our redeemer?

 

I have a little gnostic bend to my understanding of Jesus, and the necessity for his sacrifice. That being said, i don't think his sacrifice had anything to do with our salvation, or redemption from our sins. It is an example of the Aqedah story that is common on all Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). It was necessary to assure his influence on the world, it was necessary to free Jesus from the confines of his physical body, and it was necessary as the final lesson of conviction in his faith of God, but I do not feel that it was as a sacrificial atonement for our sins. That is a Pauline and Johannian theme, and cannot be attributed directly to Jesus in any academically defendable manner.

 

 

7. What is the difference between savior, hero, master, teacher, or prophet for you?

 

I think I have illustrated above my dislike for the term savior, or the concept of sacrificial atonement. In his message he was a teacher, in his practice of the presence of God in daily life, he was a master, in his courage facing his accusers, and in facing his death he was heroic, and finally his call to action, to love God, love one another, and follow him, he was prophetic.

 

I hope I don't come off too scattered or confused, but rational and religious never really seem to exist for long on the same playing field for me. Faith, by nature, sometimes requires a suspension of rational thought or proven knowledge. If it didn't, we would call it something other than faith.

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Jake I am glad you are here. The other day a friend pointed out atonement.............at-one-ment. Salutations to the Divinity within you

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I decided to take a page from billmc's book and work my way through the questions pertaining to each of the 8 Points, so that I might better understand my own faith and approach to Christianity.

 

Excellent approach, Jake. I think some of this would be useful for me too.

 

 

1. How does language “an approach to God” fit your spiritual needs?

 

At the risk of some deep theological theorizing that has been explored by greater minds than I, I can accept this language. If God is manifest in action, as a blessing then God's presence is revealed through acts of love and liberation beyond the confines of human understanding. Jesus is the manifest happening of God in action. Jesus lived in complete harmony with the initial aim of God. I will not testify that he is exclusive in this harmony, or that his is the only method of achieving it, but he is the one I am most familiar with and have chosen to follow.

 

I think the concept of a mountain is useful here. The Western approach to a mountain is to think, great, a mountain; let's climb it. The Eastern approach is more to think, great, a mountain; let's embrace it.

 

Christians climb that mountain, and when they have done so, they think they own it. Buddhists walk around the base of the mountain, and when they have done so, they do it again and again and again. They do not have any concept of owning or conquering the mountain, but more of becoming aware of everything that it is in relation to them, in order to become aware of who they are in relation to it.

 

I think very often our approach to God is similar. Christians think, great, God, let's define who he is. Let's get to the top. In fact, we cannot approach God, and we cannot reach the top. The more we think we are doing so, the more we are creating God in our own image.

 

Therefore, language about approaching or getting nearer to are really pretty well meaningless, imo. I prefer language to do with resting in God, and accepting that he is who he is, regardless of my ability to define what that actually means. If we, like the Buddhists, would accept walking around the base of the mountain which is God, without conquering and without defining, we might find out more.

 

 

2. What language would you have used for you own spiritual journey?

 

A work in progress. My journey is one of questions without many answers. I am at sea level between the heavenly realm of "certain knowledge", and the eerie depths of "absolute ignorance".

 

Sea level is good. Access to fish and fresh water. :)

 

For me, the language of journey is what I use. I am a pilgrim, alongside other pilgrims. Often I have to remind people that our faith is a journey, not a destination, and that none of us has actually arrived anywhere as yet. Lots of Christians think they have arrived, and that it is their job to coerce the rest of us to be where they are, and stay there. They are travellers in an airport lounge, who think that because it is warm and cosy and bright, that it is necessarily the holiday resort. Sadly, they have a long way still to go, as we all do.

 

3. Do you feel as the life and teachings of Jesus have brought you closer to an experience of God? How so?

 

I would find it more accurate to say that the life and teachings of Jesus have given me a different perspective on an experience of God. I was raised in the church, but had no experience of God. I turned my back on the teachings of that particular church. Later on I had an experience that I know was of God. Jesus has since become the instrument through which I experience the continued presence of God. The initial experience of God stands outside of anything I can grasp intellectually.

 

I agree with this.

 

I find God relatively inaccessible, but God as brother is fine. I find God through Christ, and then find Christ in those around me.

 

4. How does the absence of salvation language help or detract from your spiritual path?

 

It is respected and appreciated. The salvation language tends to turn faith into a repent/reward scenario. True faith should exist beyond the expectation of a reward for compliance. The salvation language also presupposes that there is something inherently flawed in the character of humankind, something we need to be saved from. I do not believe we are a flawed creation in need of salvation, just confused creatures in need of guidance.

 

Quite right.

 

The problem with man as creature needing to be saved is that this is how we were created. Many Christians behave as if Adam's sin was choosing to be imperfect, rather than perfect, and that we need to reverse his decision for ourselves. Perfectionist Christianity. Quite simply, perfectionism is dysfunctional in human behaviour, and is not a viable option for anyone. Fine for the Lord, not so fine for the rest of us.

 

5. How does the Jesus of history or his teachings affect your understanding of God?

 

That's a loaded one, because the Jesus of history differs greatly from the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible differs greatly from book to book within the Bible itself. I would say the teaching of Jesus are paramount to the understanding of how I honor God in my life, how i worship God, and how I engage the rest of God's creation in my day to day life. It brings me closer to the presence of God in my life, but God continues to remain beyond any hope of understanding.

 

God without the Lord (ie the OT version alone) would be inaccessible to me. I think without the Lord I would choose Odin. Not the neo pagan version, but the Odin of norse mythology. And why not? :)

Edited by Anglocatholic

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I decided to take a page from billmc's book and work my way through the questions pertaining to each of the 8 Points, so that I might better understand my own faith and approach to Christianity.

 

 

Hi Jake,

 

I found all your responses most interesting and well thought out as concerning the questions of Point one of the study guide. Thanks for your contribution to the database.

 

My only question is for clarification. What is the "page from billmc's book"? Did you mean post? I am aware of the study guide and the questions you responded to that were authored at our main TCPC site and under the pinned 1st topic under point 1 but it was not authored by our billmc. He only gave his personal response to those questions.

 

JosephM (Admin)

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Yes, I was referencing billmc's post concerning the 1st Point. I meant to take the proverbial "page from his book", or, in other words, follow his example, and respond to the posted study guide questions in the same manner.

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Discuss Point 1 of the TCPC 8 Points...

"By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus."

Although I have not posted much lately, I have been lurking. I have always been a little concerned that this section of the forum seems to get little attention compared to others, since this section of the forum is the defining statement of "Progressive Christianity". I have been uncertain whether or not to describe myself as "PC" or as a "Christian Mystic", or "Spiritual yet Agnostic" or just plain confused. I decided to take a page from billmc's book and work my way through the questions pertaining to each of the 8 Points, so that I might better understand my own faith and approach to Christianity.

 

1. How does language “an approach to God” fit your spiritual needs?

 

At the risk of some deep theological theorizing that has been explored by greater minds than I, I can accept this language. If God is manifest in action, as a blessing then God's presence is revealed through acts of love and liberation beyond the confines of human understanding. Jesus is the manifest happening of God in action. Jesus lived in complete harmony with the initial aim of God. I will not testify that he is exclusive in this harmony, or that his is the only method of achieving it, but he is the one I am most familiar with and have chosen to follow.

 

 

2. What language would you have used for you own spiritual journey?

 

A work in progress. My journey is one of questions without many answers. I am at sea level between the heavenly realm of "certain knowledge", and the eerie depths of "absolute ignorance".

 

 

3. Do you feel as the life and teachings of Jesus have brought you closer to an experience of God? How so?

 

I would find it more accurate to say that the life and teachings of Jesus have given me a different perspective on an experience of God. I was raised in the church, but had no experience of God. I turned my back on the teachings of that particular church. Later on I had an experience that I know was of God. Jesus has since become the instrument through which I experience the continued presence of God. The initial experience of God stands outside of anything I can grasp intellectually.

 

 

 

4. How does the absence of salvation language help or detract from your spiritual path?

 

It is respected and appreciated. The salvation language tends to turn faith into a repent/reward scenario. True faith should exist beyond the expectation of a reward for compliance. The salvation language also presupposes that there is something inherently flawed in the character of humankind, something we need to be saved from. I do not believe we are a flawed creation in need of salvation, just confused creatures in need of guidance.

 

 

5. How does the Jesus of history or his teachings affect your understanding of God?

 

That's a loaded one, because the Jesus of history differs greatly from the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible differs greatly from book to book within the Bible itself. I would say the teaching of Jesus are paramount to the understanding of how I honor God in my life, how i worship God, and how I engage the rest of God's creation in my day to day life. It brings me closer to the presence of God in my life, but God continues to remain beyond any hope of understanding.

 

 

6. How might our understanding of who and what we are, as human beings, change if we remove the need for the sacrifice of Jesus as the Pascal Lamb, our redeemer?

 

I have a little gnostic bend to my understanding of Jesus, and the necessity for his sacrifice. That being said, i don't think his sacrifice had anything to do with our salvation, or redemption from our sins. It is an example of the Aqedah story that is common on all Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). It was necessary to assure his influence on the world, it was necessary to free Jesus from the confines of his physical body, and it was necessary as the final lesson of conviction in his faith of God, but I do not feel that it was as a sacrificial atonement for our sins. That is a Pauline and Johannian theme, and cannot be attributed directly to Jesus in any academically defendable manner.

 

 

7. What is the difference between savior, hero, master, teacher, or prophet for you?

 

I think I have illustrated above my dislike for the term savior, or the concept of sacrificial atonement. In his message he was a teacher, in his practice of the presence of God in daily life, he was a master, in his courage facing his accusers, and in facing his death he was heroic, and finally his call to action, to love God, love one another, and follow him, he was prophetic.

 

I hope I don't come off too scattered or confused, but rational and religious never really seem to exist for long on the same playing field for me. Faith, by nature, sometimes requires a suspension of rational thought or proven knowledge. If it didn't, we would call it something other than faith.

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Goodguy,

 

There was no response other than the quote and no one here deleted anything. Jeannot seemed to be having a similar problem. I deleted her post on the other thread because there was no response recorded by her. Perhaps you double tapped reply and your response was lost? Try again.

 

JosephM

 

PS We never delete a posters personal response without a note and explanation

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