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In a recent post, my 'credentials' as a Progressive Christian (yes, I use that label for myself) were called into question based on, amongst other things possibly, my leanings as an Atheist. In fact, I was told that in regard to the 8 Points that I had "justified myself in a way that works for me".

As timing would have it, an article in today's Weekly Progressive Christianity.org Recap really spoke to me and summed up where I have been personally going on this journey (still to yet arrive possibly). I would go so far as to say that the author represents word for word much of my feelings and thoughts. I think it is an article that may also speak to a variety of others in this forum - past, present and future, who find the 'old model' of God not necessarily working for them, yet still associate themselves with PC.

Sometimes we are accused of not 'getting' God, of not being inclined to think 'hard enough' about spirituality, and quite often accused of shutting ourselves off to 'spiritual learnings'. This article might help those so accused at understanding they are by no means alone in their seeking, their thinking, their 'philosophising' and indeed, their spritual quest.

I have included the link below for your convenience. I hope you enjoy the article.

https://progressivechristianity.org/resources/resurrection-as-change-part-iii/

Peace & goodwill.
Paul

 

Footnote: I probably should have pointed out when I originally posted above a few hours ago, that of the hundreds and hundreds of posts I have contributed to this forum over the years, most often I have received nothing but encouragement and fair and reasonable discussion from other PC's participating here. Throughout that time I have openly discussed my atheism and lack of traditional belief, and recent events are the first I have seen here of anybody asserting that I am not a PC. What I am trying to say is that overall, I have found PC and those participating here to be generally encouraging on my journey. Thankyou.

Edited by PaulS
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I think the point made is evidenced by PC here changing the 1st of the 8 points to eliminate the word God and substitute it with the Sacred, Oneness and the Unity of all life. Many at the time here found it somewhat offensive yet it was announced at the time that PC will probably continue to evolve and there probably would be more changes in the future to more accurately describe Progressive Christianity. This was not meant to orphan those who had found some sense of community and a more free expression of views outside fundamental Christianity. However, in some cases it seems to me it has and such seems the inevitable unavoidable case where there is change. Personally i still choose to use the word with a different meaning than most traditional Christians and as far as language goes even the author of the article commented " I also readily acknowledge this is the place to which I have only tentatively arrived; and, for the time being, along the way. This is what I now understand. "

 

I think that speaks well for both the individual and Progressive Christianity and hopefully people will have benefited by taking something useful from their time spent here if even only for a short time in their journey.

 

Joseph

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Paul I have always found your post informative, respectful and challenging. I like the Christianity of unity and not exclusive separatism

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I think many people end up deleting "God" from their minds, if not their vocabulary, Paul. Some of the great Christian mystics ended up befuddled from trying to comprehend what "God" even meant so they just gave up trying. At some point the concept must, for many people, just be abandoned! "Pray to God that you may be free of 'God'"- Meister Eckhart.

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I think many people end up deleting "God" from their minds, if not their vocabulary, Paul. Some of the great Christian mystics ended up befuddled from trying to comprehend what "God" even meant so they just gave up trying. At some point the concept must, for many people, just be abandoned! "Pray to God that you may be free of 'God'"- Meister Eckhart.

I can't find that Eckhart quote. The closest I have is in sermon VII.

 

“Wouldst thou be free from all grief and trouble, abide and walk in God, and to God alone.”

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The quote is contained in Sermon #87, Burl, although it may be a different number in some texts. Rather than take it completely out of context, I'm including a few more paragraphs from that Sermon below:

 

 

 

 

"While I yet stood in my first cause, I had no God and was my own cause: then I wanted nothing and desired nothing, for I was bare being and the knower of myself in the enjoyment of truth. Then I wanted myself and wanted no other thing: what I wanted I was and what I was I wanted, and thus I was free of God and all things.

 

 

But when I left my free will behind and received my created being, then I had a God. For before there were creatures, God was not 'God': He was That which He was. But when creatures came into existence and received their created being, then God was not 'God' in Himself - He was 'God' in creatures.

 

 

Now we say that God, inasmuch as He is 'God', is not the supreme goal of creatures, for the same lofty status is possessed by the least of creatures in God. And if it were the case that a fly had reason and could intellectually plumb the eternal abysm of God's being out of which it came, we would have to say that God with all that makes Him 'God' would be unable to fulfill and satisfy that fly!

 

 

Therefore let us pray to God that we may be free of God that we may gain the truth and enjoy it eternally, there where the highest angel, the fly and the soul are equal, there where I stood and wanted what I was, and was what I wanted."

 

Steve

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Thank you, Steve. Meister Eckhart was the real deal.

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I think many people end up deleting "God" from their minds, if not their vocabulary, Paul. Some of the great Christian mystics ended up befuddled from trying to comprehend what "God" even meant so they just gave up trying. At some point the concept must, for many people, just be abandoned! "Pray to God that you may be free of 'God'"- Meister Eckhart.

 

I never took it as befuddlement (but then again perhaps). Rather, I think, they began to move from God as object to be considered or worshipped to the 'experience' of the All. So, I agree, the concept, especially (for me) a theistic concept is (must be) abandoned because it is both distraction and inadequate in the face of the truth.

 

What strikes me is that for Eckhart, in this sermon, there is truth (to be gained or lived) in which is (found) what he wants and wants what he is. He partakes of a tradition in Christianity that what one wants is God (again not theistically understood); what one want is IS and IS (is) what he is. Elsewhere, Eckhart writes that in God "there too the soul loses itself in wondrous enchantment."

 

I agree that some people end up deleting God from their mind but continue to use the word (if that is what you mean), but others do the exact opposite: some delete (or change) the word "GOD" but not God.

Edited by thormas

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The history of humanity on Planet Earth is filled with new ideas, new philosophies, new religions, and new ways of relating to each other and to God.

 

Christianity has had many different branchings and turning points over the centuries. This, too, is part of life.

 

At some point, though, the branchings become so different from their origins that they become, in effect, or a new or different philosophy with nothing in common with the "root" except for a few vague ideals such as love and peace. When the doctrines change drastically compared to the root, when the spiritual practices change drastically compared to the root, then something new is created and it's best to be honest about the changes and not cling to the old words just for tradition's sake.

 

For those who wish to follow the path being espoused on this thread, I would suggest that you not only stop using the word "God," but that you consider letting go of all reference to "Jesus" and "Christianity" as well.

 

Be honest with yourselves and free yourselves to explore what it is you wish to be and wish to create. You wish to be free of all that Jesus taught, so stop referencing Jesus. Find yourselves a new mentor, one who better reflects your goals and your ideals. Perhaps you'd be happier referencing only the Buddha.

 

I wish you gentlemen the joy and happiness of your own choices. May be find comfort in what you seek.

 

God bless,

Jen

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I think the point made is evidenced by PC here changing the 1st of the 8 points to eliminate the word God and substitute it with the Sacred, Oneness and the Unity of all life. Many at the time here found it somewhat offensive yet it was announced at the time that PC will probably continue to evolve and there probably would be more changes in the future to more accurately describe Progressive Christianity. This was not meant to orphan those who had found some sense of community and a more free expression of views outside fundamental Christianity. However, in some cases it seems to me it has and such seems the inevitable unavoidable case where there is change. Personally i still choose to use the word with a different meaning than most traditional Christians and as far as language goes even the author of the article commented " I also readily acknowledge this is the place to which I have only tentatively arrived; and, for the time being, along the way. This is what I now understand. "

 

I think that speaks well for both the individual and Progressive Christianity and hopefully people will have benefited by taking something useful from their time spent here if even only for a short time in their journey.

 

Joseph

Although I understand PC moving from or broadening the term God to Sacred, Oneness and Unity to be more inclusive, it still seems to posit something 'more' that the profane, the many and the separateness that we experience in life; PC seems to posit there is other than what is or a transcendent possibility/reality to be gained or lived. The terms PC has moved to are also terms traditionally associated with 'God.' Be that as it may, some continue to use the word God because it is the instantly recognizable term of religion and they then make efforts to broaden that term beyond a theistic understanding.

 

I don't believe the orphaning is inevitable - or we should take pains to make sure it isn't. I believe care can be taken (as it would be for anyone you truly care about) to be respectful to a more 'conventional' Christianity while at the same time broadening that theistic understanding to (hopefully) a richer appreciation of divinity and humanity. I realize of course that, no matter how careful or thoughtful, not all will agree with such a broadening.

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A quick note . . . Jesus has just reminded me about the Oasis Network, which some of you may already know about (http://www.peoplearemoreimportant.org/). They describe themselves in this way: "The Oasis Network is a growing movement building a sense of community outside of religious affiliation through human empowerment, intellectual exploration and humanitarian service," and as far as I can tell it's a movement that blends atheism with spirituality. Thought you might be interested.

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The history of humanity on Planet Earth is filled with new ideas, new philosophies, new religions, and new ways of relating to each other and to God.

 

Christianity has had many different branchings and turning points over the centuries. This, too, is part of life.

 

At some point, though, the branchings become so different from their origins that they become, in effect, or a new or different philosophy with nothing in common with the "root" except for a few vague ideals such as love and peace. When the doctrines change drastically compared to the root, when the spiritual practices change drastically compared to the root, then something new is created and it's best to be honest about the changes and not cling to the old words just for tradition's sake.

 

For those who wish to follow the path being espoused on this thread, I would suggest that you not only stop using the word "God," but that you consider letting go of all reference to "Jesus" and "Christianity" as well.

 

Be honest with yourselves and free yourselves to explore what it is you wish to be and wish to create. You wish to be free of all that Jesus taught, so stop referencing Jesus. Find yourselves a new mentor, one who better reflects your goals and your ideals. Perhaps you'd be happier referencing only the Buddha.

 

I wish you gentlemen the joy and happiness of your own choices. May be find comfort in what you seek.

 

God bless,

Jen

However Jen, there are those who remain 'rooted' and for them (and others), love is more than a vague ideal. So too, they realize that each generation must take its turn to nurture and care for what has been given to them and they see that for many of their fellows, what springs from the root, no longer provides shade, nor do they eat its fruit. So, they attempt to cut away what has withered, to prune where necessary and, hopefully, allow the tree of life to once again nourish the lives of those in the present generation. Gabriel Moran once wrote that revelation must have one food firmly planted in the Bible (the NT), which is the root as the other foot steps into the future. The back food supports and guides but the other foot, stepping into 'now,' allows the word to be hear by each new generation (in their words, within their world view) so there is always a 'Present Revelation.' Revelation is not facts or information handed down by the ancients in sacred books; revelation is always self-revelation, God's giving of himSelf so each generation might respond and live in relationship with the Sacred / with Love. The NT is the story of those who went before, who experienced the self-giving Love in the man Jesus; it is our beginning, our roots, but it means nothing unless, guided by it, we have our own present story of living in relation to the Sacred.

 

I see this thread as one venue to do that and the words God, Jesus and Christianity still speak to me and, with some watering and careful pruning, open dialogue with a new generation so the vine does not wither. Plus, I like what Chesterton wrote that the Christian is sure (in faith) of the ground on which he walks, so how can one fear a dialogue with God's children?

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A quick note . . . Jesus has just reminded me about the Oasis Network, which some of you may already know about (http://www.peoplearemoreimportant.org/). They describe themselves in this way: "The Oasis Network is a growing movement building a sense of community outside of religious affiliation through human empowerment, intellectual exploration and humanitarian service," and as far as I can tell it's a movement that blends atheism with spirituality. Thought you might be interested.

Thanks, but no thanks. I like the intellectual exploration, I like the service but, for the Christian, for me, the human is empowered in God. As Gregory Baum said, "God is what happens to man on the way to becoming human."

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10 hours ago, Realspiritik said:

For those who wish to follow the path being espoused on this thread, I would suggest that you not only stop using the word "God," but that you consider letting go of all reference to "Jesus" and "Christianity" as well.

Be honest with yourselves and free yourselves to explore what it is you wish to be and wish to create. You wish to be free of all that Jesus taught, so stop referencing Jesus. Find yourselves a new mentor, one who better reflects your goals and your ideals. Perhaps you'd be happier referencing only the Buddha.

Jen,

I think you missed the point that this article was published and promoted by Progressive Christianity.org - the main website that this forum is a subset of.  That organisation, and I would suggest Progressive Christianity as a whole, has no issue with other Progressive Christians understanding God and the teachings of Jesus in a way very different to what you may suggest is the 'correct' way to understand.

As Joseph has pointed out before, we have seen the 8 Points themselves progress and change, and I am pretty certain they will continue to develop and evolve as the Progressive Christian movement does.  I think their changing (some would say diminution of Jesus, God, and the Bible) are a reflection of the journey PC finds itself travelling.  Where it will end, if it should, is yet to be seen.

If you think myself or others are not being honest, well I doubt we can convince you otherwise it would seem.  I don't think anybody here currently has ever suggested desiring to be free of all that Jesus taught - to the contrary, even many atheists still take away things from Jesus teachings.  They just don't see him as you and many other Christians do. There is a big difference in that between intending to cause offence and people simply being offended because they don't like what is said.

Peace and goodwill

Paul

 

 

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This is a very interesting development and a very interesting thread.  I think it is critical that we come to a God of our own understanding in order to leave behind the baggage of a God forced upon us that just isn't helping us along our paths.  I think this is the notion that God is with us, not only in the form of Jesus, but in the form of our own understanding.  Our understanding doesn't change God, but it does change the way we experience God (the Sacred) in our lives and I think it matters.

Also, let's say that when we talk about God or the Sacred, we don't always mean the same thing.  If God is some thing, then our words may point to some other thing than the next person.  This is critical in understanding each other...that we not compare apples to oranges.   In AA, we talk about a God of our understanding or a higher power.  I think that the common core of our understandings of God stems from the concept that there can be something greater than the individual to relate to.  Community, creator, inner divinity or spirit, or something nameless that we relate to that we can derive some support from.  Whatever it is, it seems important that we don't make our selves the greater thing or make our egos our God.  And perhaps that even works for some people. Who am I to judge?

 

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Indeed Fatherman.  We all have our own understanding of what 'God' and "Sacred' means to us.  

In fact the tagline in my signature under the old software  (this new software version seems to have dropped that) was a quote from an Italian Poet named Antonio Porchia which read:

Because they know the name of what I am looking for, they think they know what I am looking for!
 

I'm thinking for me it might be time to drop that as I am not so much actively 'looking for' as I am more so 'floating down the river and observing what i come across' (that and also the new software seems to have made the decision for me anyhow :) ).  Nonetheless, what I meant was using the term God (big G or little g) is loaded with assumptions, personal biases, experiences, etc which can make it hard to share that word.  When we can openly discuss this and sometimes even challenge it (if appropriate such as in the Debate & Dialogue threads) then I think the experience is useful for all (and for many to come or who may sit silently in the wings observing).  

Edited by PaulS
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I think this definition of a non-theistic Christianity is hard for me to wrap my head around as a Lutheran.  It's sort of a non-sequitur for us.  I guess the typical ELCA Lutheran doesn't fit easily with conservative evangelical protestants, but most of us have a "selective" liberalism and we are a bit more practical minded and not so introspective or mystical.

Edited by FireDragon76

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In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the ones who, a few years back, did not care for the 8-Points removing God-language from their tenets, and I said so. My thinking at the time was, "God was at the center of Jesus' life and teachings, so how can we remove something Jesus believed in and experienced, and still call ourselves Christians?"

My thinking has changed since then. It will, no doubt, continue to do so. So I reserve the right to change my mind. :)  Nevertheless:

All words are human words. None of them are divine, as such, at least not in the way that most religions teach (from the mouth of God). We are the ones who fill these combinations of vowels and consonants with meaning. This is especially true with the words that we have elevated to divine status, such as 'God', 'Jesus', 'Spirit', 'Bible', etc. I doubt that our human propensity to idolize and worship words can be helped. We are, by nature, meaning-seeking and meaning-making creatures, and these words are boiler-plates that we use to categorize our best understandings or descriptions of our deepest meanings.

But the fact of the matter is that the word 'God' means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There is a sense in which I don't believe in the same 'God' now as I did when I was younger. God may not (or may) change, but my understandings and experiences of God certainly have. Knowing this, I was wrong to be dogmatic on who/what God is. Jesus was, no doubt, a Jew, a first century Jew. It is very doubtful that his understanding of God has much to do with the popular Christian concept of God.

Which brings me to my conclusion. We have no concrete knowledge of anything. All we have available to us is our concepts. I think some concepts are better than others, that some concepts of God are better than others. But I think we should hold to these concepts lightly and be ready to modify them if necessary. It is much the same with the word 'Christian'. I no longer wear the label because, in the West, a Christian is someone who holds to the Creeds, which mention nothing Jesus taught. I still respect Jesus greatly and endeavor to live out his humanistic teachings, although I reject the mythical aspects that, IMO, have grown up around him. So I doubt I would fit most people's definition of 'Christian.' And that's okay. It is just a human word. If I'm defined these days, it is by my actions, not by my beliefs. I still have my own thoughts about 'God', but they belong to me and are not binding on anyone else.

 

 

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