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JosephM

Just What Is Progressive Christianity To You ?

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Here is a thread for those who relate to Progressive Christianity to elaborate on their own perspective of "What is Progressive Christianity to You". Perhaps we will all get a deeper insight by sharing what we see and reading what others have to say?

 

Thanks in Advance,

Joseph

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For me, Progressive Christianity provides me a paradigm for something I've been seeking all my life...a context, a framework, for constructing a personal religous/faith beliefs system within which I can work to bring that which is above down into that which is below, to make the outer consistent with the inner, to faciliate the doing of God's will on Earth as it is in Heaven.

 

A most frustrating and painful irony for me has been that the very most basic underlying cause of me having rejected so much of the Christian religious traditions of the circumstances of my time and place of birth and life has been and still is the core values instilled within me by that very same religious tradition! As surely as Christ was my cornerstone for the foundation of my system of values and beliefs, so has that been the foundation upon which my objections to and rejections of so much within Christian religious traditions, dogmas, beliefs, and practices as I encounter them in real life, and interpersonal relationships. This has been especially so in my attempt to align my social positions in my outer reality with my inner core values, rooted in my faith, that inform them.

 

Jenell

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To me, Progressive Christianity means applying the “new story” of science and anthropology to the myths and beliefs of traditional Christianity and thus opening the door to probe for a deeper meaning. It means looking beyond bible inerrancy and dualistic thinking to a more meaningful relationship with God who is always present and active in, with, and through all. Progressive Christianity, to me, means letting go of ideas of exclusivity, accepting that my faith is not the one and only truth. And, by learning of other faiths, enriching my own faith. Finally, it means being allowed to explore ideas that mainstream churches would find uncomfortable, if not blasphemous, and find both tolerance and agreement.

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Progressive Christianity, to me, means letting go of ideas of exclusivity, accepting that my faith is not the one and only truth. And, by learning of other faiths, enriching my own faith.

Yes, I think this is an important, maybe the most important, feature of Progressive Christianity.

 

George

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I think of Progressive Christianity as a place to have my spiritual questions answered and/or asked. Religion seems to need celebration and intellectual pursuit. My home church provides liturgy and community. I just need more intellectual persuit which this Forum does so well.

Kay

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As others have similarly expressed, Progressive Christianity to me is a path that embraces pluralism and gets away from systematized, exclusive absolutes, and where intellectual honesty is much more likely to be valued. This is, of course, a risky endeavor, because it opens us to uncharted terrain. There is much potential for tenderness, love, and meaning to be creatively discovered. That word, 'creative', is essential. Creativity - in practice, social realization, philosophy, theology, metaphysics, art, etc., - I think can truly develop into a unique hallmark feature of PC, because of PC's inclusiveness. Without that creativity, I think we risk superficiality, again, because of its inclusiveness -- it might become somewhat amorphous and ambiguous, lacking bite.

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For me progressiveness is not having to make excuses, while living in a sense of purpose. I am perfectly comfortable with bible passages that conflict, I no longer feel a clash between my spirituality and science or reason. I don't have to rationalize.

 

steve

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Thanks so much for all the inputs so far. For those who have not participated, feel free to continue to add your own view. I don't believe there can be any wrong answers since we are looking for what PC is to you and only you can answer that question. Perhaps it would be appropriate now for me to also share what PC is to me. At the risk of being somewhat verbose, here goes....

 

To me, Progressive Christianity is not a religion but a dynamic and living way or path of relating to life and our relationship with God. A way whose foundation was introduced to me by the reported teachings of Jesus without the bonds of having to accept the formal dogma and doctrines of man disguised as the church system, holy books, laws or rituals. A path that allows for a diversity of writings, words, interpretations, logic, reasoning and changeable conclusions without rejection based on ones present personal interpretation. A spiritual journey or quest that retains the potential to be ever progressing in God on an individual basis all the while adhering to basic principles in line with the simplicity of the reported teachings of love and inclusiveness of but not limited to Jesus and expressed in general as the 8 points of PC.

 

Joseph

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I'm similar to Joseph regarding this issue. Progressive Christianity, for me, is a point of intersection between the fields politics and religion. I think that it is a relatively loose term that defies rigid and stable definition, but that is precisely its point: to be a flexible boundary object. Or, more accurately, a boundary public, a place where diverse people can come together to talk about matters of common concern, and we don't want that agenda narrowed too far.

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Something I've thought about, this being a "progressive" Christian idea....discovering others of similar perspective and views to my own among what are called "progressives", or even "liberal", whether as Christians, or even social/political, my progressive or liberal views really did not originate within such a designation, and most of what I and in general around us is now called progressive or liberal, didn't really seem to be thought of or called that until recently. I've basically accepted the mantle of liberal/progressive because that is what has been laid upon me over recent decades of changes in our society, politics, and it seemed, many Christian religious communties.

 

Actually, the differences I percieve in myself and recent/present general social/religious/politcal trends pretty much how I had always thought of how being a Christian, Jesus, His teachings and message, and just a general good, honest and moral citizen and good neighbor was "supposed" to be, or "should" be...at least as the ideals toward which I or any might strive toward.

 

Until recently, I didn't think of myself, and I don't think others that knew me thought of me, as a "progressive" or "liberal" Christian, but simply as a Christian. And if I thought anything of how those more fundamentalist saw things we now are calling progressive or liberal ideas, they would have been more often associated with "modernism", and some of those communties aversion to that as opposed to their ideas of "that good old-time religion", the nostalgia of an idealized "old-fashioned" better time.

 

Jenell

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To me Progressive Christianity is a more spacious place where I can be myself and express myself without having to look over my shoulder to see who's disapproval I have gained by something that I spoke out about. In my old life as a church worker in a charismatic/evangelical church you had to speak a certain way about things they did not agree with, being careful to suggest that you to understood other points of view about Jesus and faith, but that you only understood them to mock or compare them to your own church and its faith. Where your church was right and they were unbiblical or under the influence of evil spirits. So to me Progressive Christianity is the beginging of a journey into grace, forgiveness and hope.

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romanpantera, while that was for me, too, the religious envirnoment and community into which I was born and place within the circumstance of my life, it was one I was never able to accept or embrace or really ever feel a part of. I was always standing outside the door, excluded from that world, I knew it, and so did they. So it is really very hard for me to try to put myself in that place of "other", those that do or have previously accepted, embraced, and been accepted, embraced by, that community.

 

As in my post above, as I was never a part of it, neither is it a place i have come from, come out of, to become as I am now, "progressive". For me, "progressive" is just a recent tag upon what i already was, of faith as I understood and embraced it.

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB

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To keep related 5 Posts were moved from here to the debate and dialog section. The question of this thread is for those who identify as Progressive Christians and asks "Just what is Progressive Christianity to you? It is not for debatable topics such as does Christianity have any real meaning?

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For me Progressive Christianity is a place where I can stop repressing my questions about the evangelical Christianity I was introduced to earlier on in my life. These questions and thoughts would most likley get me labeled as a "non-Christian", or as someone too "of this world" by my more orthodox Christian friends. PC is a place where I don't have to be afraid of exploring and learning. The mostly Pentecostal and Baptist traditions I came from warned against knowing too much that was outside the tradition itself - For the very reason that it often conflicted with the tradition. I'll never forget in my college senior psychology course where the students (most of who planned on being counselors at some point) came to the conclusion that people with mental disorders were demon-possessed, and that homosexuality is a choice and therefore, wrong. :blink: They didn't want to know anymore than what they were comfortable with.

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Six additional Posts moved from this thread to NEW THREAD . Please keep thread focused on stated intent of Post 1 (opening post) which is to get each persons opinion on what Progressive Christianity is to them. Off topic discussions should have their own thread.

 

JosephM (as Moderator)

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Hi Everyone, I have been reading and digging for some time to better understand the progressive movement. Below is what I have boiled it down to at this time, and I would be curious to hear your thoughts:

 

First off, the Progressive Christian would probably balk at any attempt to categorize, define, or "boil down" the movement to begin with, as by definition that "no walls" approach to the theology is an inherent trait of the movement :-) But below is my current take on the movement.

 

1) PC is made up of mostly people who were raised in the Christian experience but have come to realize that most of the scriptures, dogmas, creeds, and traditions are not literal, and should not be taken as authoritative. In fact, most PC's would likely agree / admit that many of those scriptures, dogmas, creeds, and traditions can be harmful to humanity if taken literally (or even figuratively in many cases...).

 

2) That said, PC's see that the common culture that binds Christians is worth holding on to. PC's would likely agree that the positive aspects of Jesus have made a beneficial difference in their lives, even if the divinity and message of Jesus has changed substantially in their minds as they've evolved intellectually and spiritually. Within that would be a common sympathy for those who’ve grown so fond of certain scriptures and hymns which had to be reinterpreted in light of changed theology, but which are difficult to let go of all together…. Some might even share a similar mourning experience when intellectually they were forced to officially abandon most of the traditional Christian beliefs they held dear since being young children. And some might also share an experience of being judged and abandoned by close friends and family who still hold fundamental views and think the PC has lost their way or become “watered down “ or compromised.

 

3) Most PC's would share a place in their heart for the plight of atheists, who struggle mightily to battle the prevalent fundamental - evangelical views that dominate much of the western world’s politics and culture. Especially those views which would cause the judgments others of other orientations, and those views which would seek to stymie scientific advancement and compromise scientific education. PC’s would also value questioning and disagreeing with traditional Christian viewpoints, which means they would understand and sympathize with many of the atheists arguments.

 

4) Most PC’s would be open to unity and pluralistic rhetoric, but even then the astute progressive would see the many pitfalls and limitations of those systems as well, and would prefer that everyone evolve beyond any particular bent on “their” systems scriptures, dogma’s, creeds, and traditions. And on the other end of the spectrum, many PC’s would resonate with much of the New Age movement, but would struggle to fit into the culture of the movement. These facts would make it quite difficult for a PC to find a Church or faith community in their area to be a part of, therefore many PC’s either don’t go to church or do go to a more traditional service in which they don’t really fit in.

 

5) Most PC’s would also be bound by the fact that with all of their belifs which have come into question, they retain a steadfast belief in a loving God of some type. Although without being able to lean on the Hebrew scriptures it has become impossible to classify that God. When asked by the Atheist why they still hold to that point of God’s existence, the PC is likely to hold on to the idea that a God is behind the whole thing, but certainly not in the form of Yahweh.

 

6) PC’s tend to lean liberal politically and socially, and would resonate a bit more with the Jesus of non-attachment and communal caring. Many PC’s would see this slight political integration as a limitation and strive to be agnostic to such things. One where Love is the dominating theme of the message (as opposed to rules, tough love, judgments, or revelation theology). If asked about Hell, the PC would almost never say who will and won’t go there, and would likely say that hell and the devil are misunderstood archaic tribal notions.

 

7) And lastly, many PC's would see a funny irony in the other abbreviation of "PC" as it sometimes means "Politically Correct" which is definitely not a common characteristic of the other kind of PC (Progressive Christian) :-)

 

Thanks for the stimulating conversation! :-)

 

- Eric

Edited by Eric333
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Eric,

 

That is a very good analysis and more descriptive than prescriptive.

 

George

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but even then the astute progressive would see the many pitfalls and limitations of those systems as well, and would prefer that everyone evolve beyond any particular bent on “their” systems scriptures, dogma’s, creeds, and traditions.

Eric, it is a good summary but I guess that I am not astute. While I believe there can be meaningful conversation, communion and shared values among systems I do not prefer we evolve beyond our particular bent towards - what? one religion. Diversity rather than unity is a higher value in expression of our religious practices.

 

Otherwise, good job.

 

Dutch

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Eric, it is a good summary but I guess that I am not astute. While I believe there can be meaningful conversation, communion and shared values among systems I do not prefer we evolve beyond our particular bent towards - what? one religion. Diversity rather than unity is a higher value in expression of our religious practices.

 

Otherwise, good job.

 

Dutch

 

Dutch, I think we actually agree... so maybe I didnt state that clearly enough. What I meant to convey was that Progressives seem to be very open minded and loose when it comes to dogma's, creeds, rules, regulations, and labels, etc... I wouldn't say that the striving would be toward "one religion" but rather PC's tend to lean toward thousands (or millions) of unique expressions of religion, which like drops of rain form something called a "lake." It would be like the polar opposite of one religion but it would certainly have a auro of unity to it.

 

Also, as it involves specifically unity and pluralism in their formal definitions. My point was that the PC, while seeking unity with other religions, would also prefer the Muslim for instance to loosen up their grip on their literal interpretation of their text, dogma's, and creeds... So maybe the ideal would be a pluralistic embracing of "progressives" of all religions.

 

Does that make more sense?

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Eric,

 

That is a very good analysis and more descriptive than prescriptive.

 

George

 

Thanks George. My goal was exactly that, to simply describe the traits of a "garden variety" progressive Christian if I dare suggest there's such a thing :-) I noticed your title of "Sr. Spong Subscriber" so to use one of his sayings, I agree that the fastest growing denomination is the "Christian Alumni Association" and many folks are looking at what's next. I think the PC vibe is a nice landing place but to many people lacks sufficient definition to look into it.

 

PS, on that note, what's the story behind your spong subscriber title? I'm going to see him speak in 8 weeks in Asheville, very much looking fwd to it!

 

Eric

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My point was that the PC, while seeking unity with other religions, would also prefer the Muslim for instance to loosen up their grip on their literal interpretation of their text, dogma's, and creeds... So maybe the ideal would be a pluralistic embracing of "progressives" of all religions.

 

Eric,

 

While it is probably true that there are more progressive Christians than progressive Muslims, they do exist. In fact, there is a book titled "Progressive Muslims" (Omid Safi, Editor) which is a compilation of essays written by 16 different Muslim writers addrssing "justice, gender and pluralism." In many of the essays, one could easily substitute Christian and it would comfortably fit the context.

 

George

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My point was that the PC, while seeking unity with other religions,

 

Eric,

I think we are struggling for the words which best express our thoughts. I would rewrite the fragment above thus:

 

while seeking dialog and conversation with other religions

 

The real challenge is to be in dialog with non-progressives in our own Christianity.

 

Dutch

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Eric,

I think we are struggling for the words which best express our thoughts. I would rewrite the fragment above thus:

 

while seeking dialog and conversation with other religions

 

The real challenge is to be in dialog with non-progressives in our own Christianity.

 

Dutch

 

Well put.

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