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romansh

Why I Am Not a Progressive Christian

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Non-Progressive Christian are not allowed post in the Progressive Christianity thread. Which is fair enough.

Anyway this led me to clarify for myself, if no one else, Why I am not a Progressive Christian.

 

Progressive Christians:

Point 1: Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life;

  • Not sure I believe in the Sacred.
  • The uppercase Oneness and Unity fill me with a little trepidation, I suspect it could be pointing to something that is not really there.
  • I can see a unity and a oneness in existence but ...

Point 2: Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey;

  • Sacredness and Oneness of life, again the upper case. 
  • Sure the teachings attributed to Jesus might lead to the understanding the S and O of life. 
  • But I would argue it is not that we can draw from diverse sources ... we have to.

Point 3: Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, ...

  • I have no problem with this, but the wording is strange (I thought). While the word all is in upper case atheists are not mentioned but agnostics are.
  • Also the incentive to write this post to some degree is caused by a lack of "complete" inclusiveness.
  • OK I understand the wish to protect parts of the community; but ...

Point 4: Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe;

  • In a way I agree with this statement.
  • It is a bit more complex than that. My behaviour alone is not the "fullest" expression of what I believe.

Point 5: Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes;

  • Again not sure what is meant by grace ... but using my definition (an ease) I would agree.
  • But I have admit I find value in reconciling the results of our searches with the scientific method.

Point 6: Strive for peace and justice among all people;

  • I have no problem with this, but it is a bit of a motherhood statement,.

Point 7: Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth;

  • This brought me head to head with the free will debate. Can the Earth be any other way than it is?
  • Now I might want it be different/cleaner/whatever but then, the universe unfolding will determine whether or not I will do anything about it

Point 8: Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love.

  • Well I have had a life-long path of learning. All of us do that to some degree or another.
  • When the universe unfolds I may or may not find compassion
  • Selfless love? "Love your neighbour as you love yourself"? 

Overall this 2011 version (for me) is harder to argue against than the original eight points highlighted in the front page of the forum. Perhaps it is time to update the points to the new Eight Points? Overall I cannot call myself a Progressive Christian, though (I think) I see fairly closely eye to eye with Paul when it comes to the profane and Joseph when it comes to oneness and unity (note the lower case :) )

Would others like to comment on where they agree or see differences in their take on the 2011 Eight Points.

Edited by romansh
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Hello Romansh,  I agree or sympathize with much of what you are saying.  My concern is not so much the 8-points definition, which you are reconciling to.  None of us have proof of the divinity aspects, or what degree divinity applies.  For me, the exciting concept is convergence between the Six Jesuit Values, the UUA Seven Principles (unitarian universalists, ie humanists), and any well-done categorization of the 37 parables of Jesus and Sermon on the Mount.  There is convergence which I refer to as "the real Trinity". 

The positive value of those principles does NOT require metaphysical connotations in Jesus, though it does not deny it either (frankly, debating/guessing is of less interest to me).  Actually, I believe the UUA Principles are the finest extract of Jesus' moral teachings that can be found --- far better than my UCC creeds.  And only 12% of UUA members consider themselves Christians, or believers is some degree of divinity of Jesus.  So that coincides with some of your rationale as well . . . what's sacred or not.

As some might know based on my earliest post, I believe "Apostle" Paul was a fraud, a canard.  "Romans" is the 90-proof vodka that dominates "Christianity", the Gospels only the chaser or mixer in Paul's cocktail.   And I believe the fraud evokes Matthew 7:13-23, that nearly all believers would be misled to doctrines which grew "thorns and thistles" (ie Calvinist indignation, elitism, intolerance). That passage also says Jesus ultimately returns., and on that day "Then I will declare to them, I never knew you, go away from me, you evildoers".  As Gomer Pyle said, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise".  The point is, Jesus disowned what would become of the church in his name.  

It would be easy for me to give up on Christianity, except for my prior life as a Mormon and Southern Baptist, where I experienced the radiance of brotherly love and service in the Beehive.  Qualities which also apply to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  I believe that type of community, or agape, is the life of the era of the Didache, of the early communal church . . . and it is what maximizes what we as human beings were designed for.  That does not depend upon belief or creeds or communion.  While the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith turned out to be a charlatan,  and there is that toxic Mormon sexuality so well dramatized in "Angels in America", I still retain much enthusiasm for the Beehive (where most of my family remains).

Frankly, the UCC where I find myself now, is so atrophied and anemic that while it tries to be progressive, it is unsatisfying.  It straddles both Paul and Jesus, afraid to alienate anyone. Yet back at the UUA,  shucks, you hear more about Native American Totems, or Paul Bunyan, than you do Jesus. 

Still in terms of some creed or list, as you are reconciling to, I like how the UUA and Jesuits both parallel the teachings of Jesus, with or without the "Sacred" or "Divine".  And one of the Jesuit values is about allowing for a wide diversity of faith and belief traditions.

Thank you,  Craig

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I had never noticed that the 8 Points listed on the front page weren't the current ones.  I can only imagine they were left like that because they have a number of discussion threads listed against them and I guess to compensate in some way the 2011 version of the 8 Points is listed lastly as its own discussion thread.  Perhaps it is time to archive the old version in some way.  I'll look into it.

As for the points themselves, like you Rom I find the latter 8 points much easier to adopt and agree to, with only some minor differences to you (possibly).  I found shelter in PC when escaping biblical inerrancy and the whole 'Jesus is the only way' mentality associated with fundamental Christianity.  I am loathe to move away from it because I find value in delving into Christianity taking into account historical and biblical scholarship.  Sometimes I struggle with Christianity per se, even here, but find that in the main it is an excellent place to bounce around ideas and discuss thoughts and beliefs.   As it is the religious tradition I grew up in I am much more comfortable relating to thoughts and beliefs from this point of view than I am say with Islam or other religions.

I think I am pretty flexible with my beliefs and if something should be presented that makes more sense than what I currently believe then I think my beliefs might change (or elements of them).  Clearly that sort of flexibility is not everyone's bag and a number of times I have been told I am not considering the 'evidence' properly, or I have a closed mind, or I'm choosing to ignore the 'correct' way to understand Jesus, blah blah blah.  But even then such people have something to offer in a discussion thread so I try to smile and push on.  But as for the 8 points:

Point 1. I think much of what is attributed to Jesus does offer a take on humanity that can see us be our best selves and get along together.  To that end I think Jesus' teachings can assist with understanding the sacredness, oneness and unity of all life.  I think Jesus' teachings can help with this irrespective of whether there is actually a 'God' or not.  Like you, I don't see the need for capitals.

Point 2. Probably the easiest of the 8 to affirm for me and like you I think it is just one source of wisdom and not an exclusive one.

Point 3. Communities are tricky things.  Clearly we all have opinions and beliefs which don't always agree.  To me the important thing is that we can put aside our disagreements and still be a community that shares.  I think we're always going to get people that want to exclude others, but we can only try our best.  Language is limiting and I suspect 'atheists' weren't invited either because of a conatation that they wouldn't want to participate or simply because it was easier and more efficient to list agnostics in contrast to believers.  Maybe catchier?

Point 4. I agree with this point and suggest that your behaviour probably does fully express what you believe.  Controlling yourself and perhaps not saying something that you'd like to is still an expression of your belief.  Maybe you mean something else but I would have thought our behaviours can't help but represent what we believe, even when behaviours seems to be cognitively dissonant with what we outwardly say we believe.  

Point 5. For me, taking grace as 'courteous goodwill' as well as ease, elegance, and smoothness, feels more to me like gently bobbing down a stream floating in and out of different thoughts, beliefs and viewpoints.  I am comfortable in this search and have learnt that most of the time absolutes are not what they seem.

Point 6. Yes, it probably is a bit motherhood-ish, but I feel like I agree with it.  I'm sure there are those who strive much more than I do, but I like to think I do my little bit.

Point 7. Again, there are others who strive more than I, but I like to think I am doing my bit to some degree.  Maybe like you suggest we don't have the free will to decide that, but I'm not sure how that is different to anything else we think we choose to do, so I'm content to take the point on as one for me.

Point 8: I think by my very nature I am committed to a path of life-long learning, as is everybody else to varying degrees.  Certainly I express compassion, and selfless love at times, but like everybody else I think this is present in varying degrees in varying circumstances.  It's not a one size fits all as was reportedly demonstrated by Jesus in a variety of ways - sometimes loving the little children, other times overturning tables and cursing fig trees.

For me the 8 Points simply 'point' to a way - they are not THE way.  Like all creeds, these 8 Points don't capture all things in all ways and they still leave things to be desired.  I don't see them as a tool to weed out people who some regard as not precisely fitting the mould, but more as a guideline to suggest why you may wish to participate here.  After all, we aren't the only progressive christian movement in the world with all the right opinions and views, but just a tiny little corner of the universe in this current time.  Progressive Christianity existed long before this forum and it's parent site coined it, but being humans we like to categorise and put things into certain boxes for convenience.

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4 hours ago, Craig V. said:

For me, the exciting concept is convergence between the Six Jesuit Values, the UUA Seven Principles (unitarian universalists, ie humanists), and any well-done categorization of the 37 parables of Jesus and Sermon on the Mount.  There is convergence which I refer to as "the real Trinity". 

I like that thought, Craig - the real Trinity.  They seem like solid values and principles and both compliment what I think the 'more' is that so many seek.  I think Jesus was on the money with his parables and the sermon on the mount (or plain for that matter) - it's the other bits that got twisted in translation, interpretation and scribing, in my opinion.  Thanks for sharing.

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10 hours ago, Craig V. said:

None of us have proof of the divinity aspects, or what degree divinity applies. 

Thanks for your reply Craig.  I am not expecting proof, but a little bit of evidence would be a first step at least for me. We drop the word God and replace it with surrogates like Unity and Oneness, even Sacred. Are we allowed to question divinity and the Sacred and if so how vociferously?

 

10 hours ago, Craig V. said:

The positive value of those principles does NOT require metaphysical connotations in Jesus, though it does not deny it either (frankly, debating/guessing is of less interest to me).

Fair enough. I can't help thinking it is the spin we put on the these principles. Every action has a reaction and in a societal context the reaction can be vastly more complex than the original act. You assume a positive value in these principles; perhaps? But every principled action will have unintended consequences, some could very well be harmful. So working off a set of principles might be a useful shortcut but we do need to evaluate how they might be applied and are they effective. 

 

10 hours ago, Craig V. said:

It would be easy for me to give up on Christianity, except for my prior life as a Mormon and Southern Baptist, where I experienced the radiance of brotherly love and service in the Beehive.

If I were to be critical of the secular community, is that it is not really a community. This in part we are coming out quite religious societies and it is not always easy to display a lack of belief; some parts of the world it is downright dangerous. I can't help to some extent the secular community has thrown out the baby with the bathwater when disavowing religion. Or at least the broader concept of religion. Having said that the more socialistic governments have at least taken on the mantle of caring for the disenfranchised, allowing the general community to distance themselves from the problems a little.

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9 hours ago, PaulS said:

Point 2. Probably the easiest of the 8 to affirm for me and like you I think it is just one source of wisdom and not an exclusive one.

Hi Paul

Just to pick on one the points ... perhaps one I hold dear.

We have to pick from a diverse set of sources; we have no choice, free or otherwise. Even if we use just one translation of the Bible as the source, our interpretation of it will be affected by experiences in our daily lives. It will be affected by our ability to understand complex inter-related issues. The question for me is how do we work out whether a particular principle (or set of)  in a particular situation will get the result we are striving for. 

How do we error check?

 

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11 hours ago, Craig V. said:

Frankly, the UCC where I find myself now, is so atrophied and anemic that while it tries to be progressive, it is unsatisfying.  It straddles both Paul and Jesus, afraid to alienate anyone. Yet back at the UUA,  shucks, you hear more about Native American Totems, or Paul Bunyan, than you do Jesus. 

Hi Craig

As an afterthought ... are you after modern interpretations of how the Bible could be interpreted or effective fellowship?

Going to point 4

22 hours ago, romansh said:

Point 4: Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe;

Perhaps finding out about service clubs and their activities might be for you? In that it is what we do that matters and not some academic debate of Paul, Jesus and Totems?

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Posting what one believes about God is interesting.

Posting what one does not believe is a waste of space.  

 

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

Posting what one believes about God is interesting.

Posting what one does not believe is a waste of space.  

Then do yourself a favour and avoid my posts Burl.

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Burl,

You should know better by now. Drama is far from the purpose of this forum.. Comments such as that one to Romansh add nothing to the discussion. If that is what you believe it is best left unsaid on this forum and kept to oneself. https://progressivechristianity.org/message-boards/

JosephM (as Admin)

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A while ago there were an alternative (secular) set of ten commandments floating around, which I thought were not bad, but could not agree with completely.

Anyway had a go at them back then for myself ... only came up with eight points:

1)            Be aware of ourselves, our environment and how we interconnect.

2)            Make an attempt to understand this interconnectivity and its ramifications.

3)            Be aware of our desires and the likely consequences of their implementation.

4)            Avoid thinking in terms of right (good) and wrong (evil).

5)            Remember we came into this world as stardust; we will leave in the same way.

6)            Our access to existence is incomplete, so cut ourselves and others some slack.

7)            Evaluate our beliefs by corroborating them with observation using logic; it is an iterative process.

8)            Be a little uncertain in our personal beliefs.

Edited by romansh

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Yes, Romansh --- Indeed I have  a post-progressive view (I think my 80-pg renunciation of Paul and Pauline Christianity would earn me the heretics' fire a few years ago) and yes, I believe in the service clubs.  I was president of my Key Club (Kiwanis for young men) and in Kiwanis.  Was moderator of a weekly Sunday radio program on current events, sponsored by Kiwanis, for years in the LA area.

But as was said above,  too often we have "thrown out the baby with the bathwater when disavowing religion" there is something special about the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, or even the Mormon Beehive (noting the horrible drawbacks in other aspects, which I mentioned, and got me excommunicated).  There has always been something special to me about the parables. Not just in terms of the content, but in the style of teaching.  The parables stimulate the neocortex (heart, empathy, compassion) with appeal to reason (justice, fairness) and do exactly that so distinctively. A wonderful change from religiosity.

The Nicene Creed focused on Paul’s Religion, while it skips Jesus' most remarkable and gifted achievement:  Which is, that Jesus perceived that traditional religion of asceticism and astringency was not righteous or productive.  To maximize perpetuity of control, it enshrined myth and denied life.  Jesus reversed that.  In the Sermon on the Mount he takes the Torah and infuses it with reason, caring, desire, and love. His revelation is of holiness which is not based on fear or contempt and goes even beyond the equity and justice of the Psalms . . . to a morality driven by empathy and compassion. Think how radical that was to perceive, the contrast to heartless conformity and restriction.  A catharsis and revelation that Jesus, himself, must have felt excited about. 

Jesus introduces us (our Judeo-Christian tradition, I do not know enough outside of Western tradition) to the authentic Supreme Being.  His therapeutic wisdom, not blood, is the real agent of redemption.  Miracles, healings, even the resurrection are not denied but tend to distract.  The a-priori value in what Jesus taught, standing alone, becomes even more clear and compelling, to set us free from selfishness and greed, to radically advance human community.  The Jesuit legacy reflects this. 

Thank you, and to PaulS too, for your comments.  Thanks, Craig

Edited by Craig V.

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31 minutes ago, romansh said:

4)            Avoid thinking in terms of right (good) and wrong (evil).

That's evil.

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1 minute ago, Burl said:

That's evil.

Genesis 3:22

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9 minutes ago, Craig V. said:

Jesus introduces us (our Judeo-Christian tradition, I do not know enough outside of Western tradition) to the authentic Supreme Being

I do not need this particular vessel Craig, but I wish those who sail in her well. 

Is this vessel your destination Craig?

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12 minutes ago, romansh said:

Genesis 3:22

I thought you 'did not need this vessel'.  Now you are referencing scripture.  

You know the difference between good and evil Rom, and you can freely choose between them.

Edited by Burl

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Just now, Burl said:

I thought you 'did not need this vessel'.  Now you are referencing scripture.  

You know the difference between good and evil, Rom.

Come now Burl ... I know you are smarter than this. Confounding an authentic Supreme Being with script? 

Difference between good and evil? Perspective, bias, indoctrination ... at least from post modernist perspective.

They are illusions Burl ... Illusions all the way down.

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4 hours ago, Burl said:

Posting what one does not believe is a waste of space.  

Burl,

Your insults are not welcome here.  Please keep them to yourself.

Paul

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1 hour ago, PaulS said:

Burl,

Your insults are not welcome here.  Please keep them to yourself.

Paul

Insults?  Where?  Who?

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23 minutes ago, Burl said:

Insults?  Where?  Who?

"Posting what one does not believe is a waste of space."  You know what you are doing.

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6 hours ago, romansh said:

Hi Paul

Just to pick on one the points ... perhaps one I hold dear.

We have to pick from a diverse set of sources; we have no choice, free or otherwise. Even if we use just one translation of the Bible as the source, our interpretation of it will be affected by experiences in our daily lives. It will be affected by our ability to understand complex inter-related issues. The question for me is how do we work out whether a particular principle (or set of)  in a particular situation will get the result we are striving for. 

How do we error check?

 

I'm not sure we need to error check or determine what results we should be striving for.  Just be and do.

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5 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I'm not sure we need to error check or determine what results we should be striving for.  Just be and do.

OK

Let's say we implement a new safety policy at work, say with respect to MSIs. The following year we find the incidences of MSIs increased dramatically - could be just a fluke, but would you not check that there was something in the policy that was causing the increase?

That's what I mean by error checking ... looking for unintended consequences as an example.

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The error checking mechanism I was referring to is simply what works for you.  You are free to apply whatever principle you want to make you feel like you have found the right answer.  Ultimately, somebody else will probably disagree with that - so is your error checking mechanism faulty or accurate?  Where does it stop in determining when an error is found or not?  

I'm not saying not to have such a mechanism, we all do by default, and they are all usually different to one another's in some way, I'm just saying there isn't a right answer.  The right answer is what works for you and you alone.  That's how I see it currently anyway.

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