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JosephM

Just What Is Progressive Christianity To You ?

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Stopman I have found that believing and doing go hand in hand. There has to be a balance. I have come to be more understanding towards Christians who believe radically different things about the faith than idea. There is nothing in what you said about PC that isn't true for most other Christisns I have encountered. I'm reluctant to consider PC better because then it just makes it another denomination with its own dogma and doctrine. I think PC can be better than it is and should live up to what It's adherents think it can be. And I accept all PCers for their failings too just like I accept all humans for their faults. Being a PC doesn't make you a better person.

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Oops! I forgot that I am not in agreement with the 8 Points. Deleted post. Sorry, admins! Please delete this, okay?

Edited by BillM

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I feel Progressive Christianity most accurately describes those who I can have spiritual fellowship with. In terms of beliefs I am more accurately a Christian Deist (as I believe in God, but not that Jesus was God), however I choose to identify myself as a Progressive Christian because the specific beliefs are not that important to me, but rather the overall progressive outlook and moral grounding (the 8 points). In other words, if another Christian believes in Jesus as God but still has a progressive outlook, then I would consider myself in fellowship with that person (although the other party may not reciprocate).

Edited by Karlfischer

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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".

 

I've been giving this question some very deep thought since happening across it the other week... and as an initial disclaimer, I have not read the replies to the opening threat (yet--I will read them later this evening).

 

To me, Progressive Christianity is a reformed and extremely contemporary version of Gnostic Christianity.

 

Buck

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To me, Progressive Christianity is a reformed and extremely contemporary version of Gnostic Christianity.

 

Buck

 

Hmm. I am somewhat familiar with Gnostic literature. How is it, in your opinion, similar to Progressive Christianity?

 

NORM

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Hmm. I am somewhat familiar with Gnostic literature. How is it, in your opinion, similar to Progressive Christianity?

 

NORM

 

 

Because of the end-result of personal transformation that it produces.

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Hi Norm.

 

I can offer some additional feedback to add to my last comment.

 

It's been a long time since I've looked into Gnostic Christianity -- perhaps over 25 years, so I am not current with its current activities or new developments. A lot of the insights I gained of Gnostic Christianity was through the now defunct magazine Gnosis.

 

My basic understanding of Gnostic Christianity is this:

  • Practitioners do not necessarily believe in Jesus Christ as a physical human being but rather a concept where Christ is discovered within oneself,
  • Practitioners may read texts other than the Bible,
  • Practitioners seem to have a propensity towards intellectualism and enjoy constructive philosophical debates,
  • Practitioners seem to be very liberal, embodying many humanitarian values.

And that's about all I know or remember about it. I'm not certain if it has a hocusy-pocusy-spooky-wooky aspect to it or not.

 

Progressive Christianity seems to embody many of the points I mentioned above, and if it doesn't, it seems to be accepting of the practitioner who does.

 

So that's why I liken it to Gnostic Christianity.

 

At least at this time... my opinions change as I discover new information.

 

Buck

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Hi Norm.

 

I can offer some additional feedback to add to my last comment.

 

It's been a long time since I've looked into Gnostic Christianity -- perhaps over 25 years, so I am not current with its current activities or new developments. A lot of the insights I gained of Gnostic Christianity was through the now defunct magazine Gnosis.

 

My basic understanding of Gnostic Christianity is this:

  • Practitioners do not necessarily believe in Jesus Christ as a physical human being but rather a concept where Christ is discovered within oneself,
  • Practitioners may read texts other than the Bible,
  • Practitioners seem to have a propensity towards intellectualism and enjoy constructive philosophical debates,
  • Practitioners seem to be very liberal, embodying many humanitarian values.

And that's about all I know or remember about it. I'm not certain if it has a hocusy-pocusy-spooky-wooky aspect to it or not.

 

Progressive Christianity seems to embody many of the points I mentioned above, and if it doesn't, it seems to be accepting of the practitioner who does.

 

So that's why I liken it to Gnostic Christianity.

 

At least at this time... my opinions change as I discover new information.

 

Buck

 

Hi Buck,

 

That makes sense to me when you put it like that. Good analysis!

 

Phil.

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Progressive Christianity to me is getting closer to what Jesus actually intended. Love your neighbour as yourself, love God with every part of your being-- that's the essential bit.

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Hello, Jason.

 

Thank you for your definition. I am not as far down the path, I still tend to work in the negative space and strip away what it is not to hopefully reveal what it is.

I have many ideals to reconcile. The notion of God as *A*being still doesn't sit well with me. Nor does the notion of God as a panacea (i.e. God is love.) Currently God *AS* being resonates to a greater level, although I've yet to distinguish the idea(l) of something transcendant from simple consciousness.

Speaking of love, I find a commonality of expression of Love in relation to anthropomorphized God-types vs. impartial and brute nature of impersonal types.

Thanks again.

 

F

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To me it means I can believe in whatever helps me behave more like Christ. It's about giving myself the space to be open. Open to anything whether it be orthodoxy or new age or humanism or anything. It means that i don't have to believe a certain way to be a Christian.

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What is Progressive Christianity to me?

 

What is religion to me, would be the better question?

 

It is all about story to me, and how it is more important on how the story gets you to live than the content of the story. this is true for all religions or stories although some stories are just light entertainment. True stories don't have to be factual to be true. I have been a church goer, member all my life that is 58 years, and I never bought into the idea that the bible stories are literally true. I see baptism as group entry ritual. It has nothing to do with God. I see communion as a ritual meal sharing which tells all the participants that they are equally valued in the group.

 

I don't know if this is answering the question directly, but what I shared makes me more a Progressive Christian that an traditional one.

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Progressive Christianity for me is a Jesus-centered method of deepening my personal, conscious contact with God.

 

It prefers finding new questions in Scripture rather than rummaging through it for old answers.

 

It uses theology as a means of circumventing intellectual barriers to enlightenment rather than as a means of sharpening religious doctrine to a wire edge.

 

Progressive Christianity elevates the activity of God in everything, including other faith traditions and agnosticism/athiesm. It believes that God is holy and not religious. Similarly, it does not disparage juvenile, rote, superstitious, outdated or incomplete attempts at faith but instead humbly encourages humanity to aspire towards a superior exemplar. Progressive Christians avoid anything which would disrupt the faith of others.

 

Progressive Christians share what they personally find valuable without pressuring others. They actively seek out and seriously consider divergent viewpoints as a spiritual exercise. They can weigh an uncomfortable opinion objectively, and actively reflect upon their own inevitable prejudices while doing so.

 

Progressive Christianity is human. It adheres to reason yet it encourages imagination. It is both individual and societal. It respects tradition but is not bound by it. It is pious but it also enjoys a good laugh. It is tolerant of error yet brave enough to sternly confront true lies and injustices.

 

Progressive Christianity is positive, creative, edifying and uplifting. It defines itself by what it is and not simply as counter point to what it is not.

 

It is the restoration of a muddled and fading religion into fresh clarity and vibrancy.

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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.

 

A Definition

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.

 

NOT Atheism

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.

 

Christian Community

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.

 

ProgressiveChristianity.org!

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!

Red Green

 

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I haven't taken the time to read this thread, but I likely will eventually! Since "God is Love" as I understand it progressive "Christianity" or as I prefer "Progressive Spirituality" is loving ALL your neighbors as they are. The main thing that transformed my life since leaving my old life behinds is the revelation that God loves, likes, accepts, and considers me perfect as I am. That understanding freed me to consider myself the same and that in turn freed me to consider all of my neighbors the same. Which in turn freed me to love and seek their good regardless our differences and when justice of any sort is denied them fight beside and for them.

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Tom, the Catholic monk Thomas Merton once said that a "saint" is not so much one who has reached a certain level of sanctity, but more that they always see something to love in others.

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On 3/24/2019 at 6:45 AM, Dee said:

Do you call yourself “progressive christian” or “christian?”

As you can see, Dee, progressive Christianity is as dead as this site.  If you search for Christian discussion boards, you will find many evangelical sites, but almost no progressive Christian sites, though there are some small Facebook progressive chat groups.  Why is that?  Well, consider this Wikipedia definition: "Progressive Christianity is characterized by a willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice and care for the poor and the oppressed, and environmental stewardship of the earth." 

Sounds good enough.  But our regional United Methodist Conference is progressive and lacks any meaningful discipleship programs.  When one attends their annual conference, one looks in vain for evidence of a rich inner life or any strong belief in the power of intercessory prayer.  So their social focus is basically a means of compensating for the fact that their faith just doesn't work well and their social focus is virtually indistinguishable from secular organizations like the Rotarians, Kiwanis, et al.  My United Methodist denomination (13 million) is currently being rocked by schism due to their recent rejection of gay marriage and gay ordination.  The progressive wing is in steady decline and the evangelical wing in Africa and the Philippines is growing in leaps and bounds.  So the Progressives just don't have the votes to advance their agenda.

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Deadworm,

She got no answer not because this site is dead but because we don't know who she was asking. All participants at the time of thread identified at least in principle with the tenets of progressive Christianity which is, if dead, is perhaps dead only in your mind. Progressives in my view, do not seek to proselytize the world so only personal support and individual growth through sharing is  in our purpose here. We have no private agenda to advance or need to grow a church system.. 

Joseph

Edited by JosephM
changed

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There is a wise old saying, "A faith nor worth sharing is not worth believing."  To grow in any faith, one needs to explore varying experiences and unanswered questions.  Those evangelical sites primarily serve the needs of Christian fellowship and faith support, and are not proselytizing sites.  Omo the lack of comparable progressive sites is a deafening silence that bears witness to an impoverished spirituality that creates no hunger for growth and spiritual exploration.  

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8 hours ago, Deadworm said:

As you can see, Dee, progressive Christianity is as dead as this site.  If you search for Christian discussion boards, you will find many evangelical sites, but almost no progressive Christian sites, though there are some small Facebook progressive chat groups.  Why is that?  Well, consider this Wikipedia definition: "Progressive Christianity is characterized by a willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice and care for the poor and the oppressed, and environmental stewardship of the earth." 

Sounds good enough.  But our regional United Methodist Conference is progressive and lacks any meaningful discipleship programs.  When one attends their annual conference, one looks in vain for evidence of a rich inner life or any strong belief in the power of intercessory prayer.  So their social focus is basically a means of compensating for the fact that their faith just doesn't work well and their social focus is virtually indistinguishable from secular organizations like the Rotarians, Kiwanis, et al.  My United Methodist denomination (13 million) is currently being rocked by schism due to their recent rejection of gay marriage and gay ordination.  The progressive wing is in steady decline and the evangelical wing in Africa and the Philippines is growing in leaps and bounds.  So the Progressives just don't have the votes to advance their agenda.

It seems to me that progressive Christianity is more a community that gets away from systematized, exclusive absolutes, happy to question what evangelicalism tries to sell, and as such is not 'driven' by faith.  Faith 'working well' seems to be an already arrived at decision, whereas questioning one's faith, even to the point that that faith then falls down, seems to me to be more genuine and have more integrity.  Personally I hold those values higher than maintaining faith.  As for you looking in vain for evidence of a rich inner life, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

This site is quiet, no doubt.  But thousands of people are reviewing the archives and discussion threads every year, they just don't participate in many of the threads.  Where Evangelical Christians seem to require a different level of support and hand holding (i.e. a more stringent need to be reassured they are 'right'and that socializing with others who agree with their views supports them in that), I think progressive Christianity attracts those who are tired of being told this is what you must believe, and so they take a back seat when it comes to 'discipleship' and blind adherence to what preachers and pastors tell them is the truth (when oh so often they have gotten the truth 'wrong').  Others see that as threatening or diminishment of a person's faith, I see it as honesty and integrity.

As opposed to evangelical christianity which likes to keep people in little boxes and labels, PC welcomes participants of all stripes including  conventional Christians, questioning skeptics, believers and agnostics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities and those of all classes and abilities. So it can be very hard to have discussions which intimately involve all those different opinions and interests and which engage a greater audience.

Personally, I prefer PC with a little 'p' - that is that I don't like it to be seen as another religion or stream of dogma that has to be adhered, but rather it should stand for the opportunity for others to question what they doubt, to have some confidence that the people who flog all the answers actually don't have them, to provide an opportunity for people to think for themselves and determine conclusions about the unknown because frankly, it is unknown.

That is by far less attractive than absolutism, than certainty, than reassurance from the already convinced that this is what you must believe, which is something that we humans as pack animals, as a troupe, find reassurance in.  You get that with evangelical Christianity - thank god you don't with progressive Christianity.

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Deadworm,

If you will check our main site here https://progressivechristianity.org/ and search our global network of churches you will find 35 pages of them. PC is by no means dead, but perhaps you are not aware of its sharing and global outreach programs. You post a lot on this Discussion Board site which is self-sustaining from members and we allow you to share your journey and criticisms of it , perhaps you would be willing to share in its expenses so we can continue to do so.

 

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