Jump to content

Moderate Christians


Recommended Posts

In my personal experience, liberal Christianity comes as 3 types. There are those like JS Spong who like to be completely rational about faith. There is New Age or those in that direction. Then there are those who are just a little away from traditional Christianity on the inerrancy of the Bible, homosexuality, whatever traditional doctrine they can't accept. I don't know if Marcus Borg would put himself in the last group. He is someone who believes in an active Spirit and being transformed by faith spiritually not just intellectually. Maybe he would see himself closer to Spong. Whoever is in that third group, one could call that moderate Christianity, but I don't know that anyone uses that term. I think many in the middle prefer to just call themselves Christian.

 

I wanted to just call myself Christian at one point, but that seems to be the most ambiguous label of all, so I call myself liberal Christian to warn anyone that I don't believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. I would suppose that's the most consistent meaning of "liberal Christian". I also suppose that's why there's no middle ground. Someone who believes in the inerrancy of the Bible is automatically conservative, traditional, evangelical, fundamentalist, something like that. Anyone who denies inerrancy at all is liberal. That's how I would use those words. If you look at so many sites condemning liberalism, that's what they're complaining about, any deviation from inerrancy. So there's no room for "moderate", unless someone wants to try really hard to squeeze in there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there are moderate Christians. I would guess that many people are in that

category but they dont' tend to categorize themselves.

 

They most likely believe in the Bible as inspired by God but probably don't take it

completely literally or inerrantly. OTOH, they wouldn't be too comfortable,

as progressives are, in discussing the men who wrote it and

what their motivations, "agendas", background or history was.

 

I think you have a point, David, about inerrrancy, but I do think there

are people who might more pick and chose what they think is inerrant.

For instance , I know many people--- not too liberal-- who dont' think

the earth was created literally in 6 days. They might say, it really was

6 epochs or periods or something like that. They might more readily

say that Noah's ark or Jonah was a myth or that sort of thing. But still think that

on the really important stuff, ie the Gospels, it's inerrant there. I think that would tend

to be a more moderate position. The more conservative it seems the more

is inerrant down to the idea that the earth is actually 10,000 years old, regardless

of little details like the fossil record. I think moderates more typically will accept

scientific understandings. BTW, I think this is where LOTS of the support

for stem cell research is coming from. Of course it is comign from liberals

but I am guessing it is coming from many Americans who want to see the cure/

treatment of diseases aren't arent' convinced that an embryo is equivalent to

a fully formed human.

 

They most likely believe in Jesus, his resurrection and

crucifixation, but are less than sure that Jesus died for their personal salvation-- perhaps

something like for the evils of the world, humanity, or something like that. I think

progressives are less comfortable with "dying for" concept.

 

I think they tend to view others religion as their right and choice versus the "one true

path", but wouldn't be too comfortable with other paths as being true, or having truth.

 

They wouldn't be comfortable with "born agains", and don't believe in proselitizing.

Probably believe gays should have

civil rights but not be their pastor (perhaps that it is an illness?).

 

I think this description, such as it is, probably includes many people in the boomers and older.

And in many of the mainline protestant denominations and if push came to shove even some

of the more progressive and even some of the more conservative ones. After all, I think

people tend to go to "averages" so it makes sense that in this area it would happen too.

 

BTW, I dont' really wish to get into an argument on this but would like feedback if someone thinks

this might be an accurate asssessment or no. After all, I am not a moderate.

I'm sure moderates could find their own points, and I would guess there might be more general

agreement than progressives have, as I think with moderation their aren't as many strong

opinions going by.

 

I think in terms of theologians, Jim Wallis, Tony Campala, McLauren, etc are moderates.

You look at what they say, and it isn't entirely conservative. Yet, I personally dont' think

they are too liberal either. Jim Walllis has said fairly negative things about "liberal theology".

But I can join him on his progressive social ideals.

 

bTW, I think moderation is a good thing. Probably holds things together.

 

 

 

--des

Edited by des
Link to comment
Share on other sites

bTW, I think moderation is a good thing. Probably holds things together.

--des

 

 

My motto: Do MOST things in moderation! Of course if you did EVERYthing in moderation you'd be extremely moderate!

 

I've met many a moderate Christian. Most of my college professors and some of my seminary professors would qualify as moderates. What they disagree with fundamentalists/conservatives on varies from person to person. It is always inerrancy but may also be divorce, homosexuality (Tony Campolo, for example believes that it is not a choice but that people who are gay should be celibate), women in authority, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My motto: Do MOST things in moderation! Of course if you did EVERYthing in moderation you'd be extremely moderate!

 

I've met many a moderate Christian. Most of my college professors and some of my seminary professors would qualify as moderates. What they disagree with fundamentalists/conservatives on varies from person to person. It is always inerrancy but may also be divorce, homosexuality (Tony Campolo, for example believes that it is not a choice but that people who are gay should be celibate), women in authority, etc.

 

What I say is, everything in moderation, including and especially moderation.

 

Tony Campolo seems to really have the moderate sentiment. The conservative one is clearly that homosexuality is wrong and is a lifestyle choice and can be cured. There is no convincing evidence anywhere that suggests homosexuality can be cured. But I wouldnt' say science is a conservative "strong

suit". Progressives would tend to say that homosexuality is not chosen and moreover isn't an evil. I believe in monogamous relationships which with guys might be difficult (I have heard it said that lesbians tend to be very strongly monogamous.) Campolo's statement is clearly a moderate or middle position. He isn't saying it is ok, but is also not pretending that there is some sort of usual cure for it. I've also heard him on tv and he talks about meeting homosexuals and finding out about them as people. OTOH, I feel if it is not a choice then it is cruel for some people to have to live as celebates. Jim Wallis, also clearly moderate, has said that people should just calm down about the whole homosexuality gay marriage issue and just let it go for a period of time. I think he quoted the suggestion of taking legal marriage out fo the church entirely, which is a sort of newer thing anyway.

 

Elsewhere on Jim Wallis' site is an article (negative) on the Da Vinci Code and The Book of Judas. I wish I could read it (having trouble with sojo.net). I got the idea from the title that they dislike them because it changes the meaning of Christianity. I wouldn't mind the current version of Christianity to change or die, as a progressive. The conservative response has been almost hysterical. My sister was happy the movie was considered bad so that more people wouldn't see it. I never got the idea from Jim Wallis that he cared if anyone read the book, etc.

 

Jim Wallis has also said we should stop arguing about abortion and try to REALLY seriously get abortions to be reduced by social means (services to women of various kinds, dealing with poverty, etc). I could actually sign on to that idea, but I don't think that conservatives would respect that opinion as it comes across like a half way thing, actually I heard someone say this to him. The thing is, it kind of is a half way thing, it's moderate.

 

I think there are a lot of moderates and I think they frustrate conservatives and sometimes liberals as well. But in some ways I think they are the most important group. You know we need the middle class and we need moderates.

 

 

--des

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I say is, everything in moderation, including and especially moderation.

 

Tony Campolo seems to really have the moderate sentiment. The conservative one is clearly that homosexuality is wrong and is a lifestyle choice and can be cured. There is no convincing evidence anywhere that suggests homosexuality can be cured. But I wouldnt' say science is a conservative "strong

suit". Progressives would tend to say that homosexuality is not chosen and moreover isn't an evil. I believe in monogamous relationships which with guys might be difficult (I have heard it said that lesbians tend to be very strongly monogamous.) Campolo's statement is clearly a moderate or middle position. He isn't saying it is ok, but is also not pretending that there is some sort of usual cure for it. I've also heard him on tv and he talks about meeting homosexuals and finding out about them as people. OTOH, I feel if it is not a choice then it is cruel for some people to have to live as celebates.

 

I think that the notion that guys can't be monogamous is hogwash. It plays into a stereotype. I disagree with Campolo. An individual must decide if they will celibate. It isn't something you can put on someone else. It is no more right to say that all gay people must be celibate than it is to say all woman should stay home and have babies.

 

Jim Wallis, also clearly moderate, has said that people should just calm down about the whole homosexuality gay marriage issue and just let it go for a period of time. I think he quoted the suggestion of taking legal marriage out fo the church entirely, which is a sort of newer thing anyway.

 

I think we should do as the Europeans do. A civil union is a legal matter. A "marriage" is a religious matter. Of course, currently the religious folks are more advanced than those who deal with legal issues as churches & synagogues are already performing the rituals for same-sex couples!

 

Elsewhere on Jim Wallis' site is an article (negative) on the Da Vinci Code and The Book of Judas. I wish I could read it (having trouble with sojo.net). I got the idea from the title that they dislike them because it changes the meaning of Christianity. I wouldn't mind the current version of Christianity to change or die, as a progressive. The conservative response has been almost hysterical. My sister was happy the movie was considered bad so that more people wouldn't see it. I never got the idea from Jim Wallis that he cared if anyone read the book, etc.

 

I agree with you I hope it will someday be a sad footnote in history. The funny thing was how much the movie made! I haven't seen it yet. I rarely see movies in theaters.

 

Jim Wallis has also said we should stop arguing about abortion and try to REALLY seriously get abortions to be reduced by social means (services to women of various kinds, dealing with poverty, etc). I could actually sign on to that idea, but I don't think that conservatives would respect that opinion as it comes across like a half way thing, actually I heard someone say this to him. The thing is, it kind of is a half way thing, it's moderate.

 

I also think people should work toward reducing the number. Birth control education will do more than anything to reduce the number. In fact, I think it has dropped regularly. Not because less people are having them but because there are less people with unwanted pregnancies.

 

I think there are a lot of moderates and I think they frustrate conservatives and sometimes liberals as well. But in some ways I think they are the most important group. You know we need the middle class and we need moderates.

--des

 

My frustration with moderates is that they can come across (in my experience) as not willing to stand up for what is right. It is almost a fear of daring to be criticized. Deep down I think Tony Campolo knows that gay people should be allowed to be married (I know his wife believes that) but he fears losing his more conservative followers if he takes that stand. OTOH, people listen to him who might not other wise. In a sense he is a stepping stone -- he was for me, anyhow -- on the way to becoming a proud LIBERAL! :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>I think that the notion that guys can't be monogamous is hogwash. It plays into a stereotype. I disagree with Campolo. An individual must decide if they will celibate. It isn't something you can put on someone else. It is no more right to say that all gay people must be celibate than it is to say all woman should stay home and have babies.

 

I also think it is hogwash. Clearly there ARE many gay guys who are monogamous (though I think there is a physiological reason that lesbians are almost always monogamous, heterosexuals are sometimes monogamous, and gay guys *can* be monogamous).

 

I also disagree with Campolo but I do think is a "moderate" position. I don't care for the notion. Some people will be celibate but it isn't something you should require of people, which is basically what he is suggesting.

 

>I think we should do as the Europeans do. A civil union is a legal matter. A "marriage" is a religious matter. Of course, currently the religious folks are more advanced than those who deal with legal issues as churches & synagogues are already performing the rituals for same-sex couples!

I agree with you I hope it will someday be a sad footnote in history.

 

It would completely leave the "marriage" issue to individual churches who can make their own decisions.

 

>My frustration with moderates is that they can come across (in my experience) as not willing to stand up for what is right. It is almost a fear of daring to be criticized. Deep down I think Tony Campolo knows that gay people should be allowed to be married (I know his wife believes that) but he fears losing his more conservative followers if he takes that stand. OTOH, people listen to him who might not other wise. In a sense he is a stepping stone -- he was for me, anyhow -- on the way to becoming a proud LIBERAL! :D

 

 

It is a frustration I share. But OTOH, some people aren't particular bold in any aspect of their lives.

And yes, I think that both sides may listen to a moderate, and perhaps share some views.

 

--des

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also disagree with Campolo but I do think is a "moderate" position. I don't care for the notion. Some people will be celibate but it isn't something you should require of people, which is basically what he is suggesting.

 

Ha! I think a moderate position is saying people should be in a monogamous relationship :P

 

It would completely leave the "marriage" issue to individual churches who can make their own decisions.

 

Yup. Separation of Church and state and all!

 

But OTOH, some people aren't particular bold in any aspect of their lives.

 

Very true!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have searched the web to find a Moderate Christians web page..and have found nothing. Do they exist? If they did, I would like to compare and see how much like Progressive Christians they might be or how different? Where are such web sites?

 

 

What kind of webpage are you looking for? A discussion forum? I haven't found a discussion forum that solely moderate (what a boring place that would be), but there are many where there are lots of moderates.

 

What kind of moderate Christian are you looking for? Moderate Catholic? Moderate Evangelical?

 

Most in the "Emergent" movement fall into the "moderate" category, overall. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I think "moderate" Christians are "progressive" Christians by definition. Progress means to me a dynmaic process of change improving the lives of people. "Moderates" can accept that. Many "moderates" would have no trouble affirming most if not all of our 8 points. As a Pastor of "moderate" congregations for many years, I assure you that the ranks of many mainline churches are filled with "progressives" who would probably be more comfortable with a designation of "moderate" because of the baggage associated with "progressive."

 

In other words, unless you are totally "conservative", you are "progressive," or open to change and new ideas, even if "moderate" in your approach. Or so I think at this moment. Maybe I will progress to new ideas on this topic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's probably something to that. I doubt most moderates would be so comfortable with accepting Eastern or even pagan beliefs however, I am pretty sure they would be loathe to say that they will automatically go to hell. I imagine we could all agree on LOTS of things. I'm sure many UCC folks are moderate.

 

--des

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
I have searched the web to find a Moderate Christians web page..and have found nothing. Do they exist?
IMHO a "moderate" in religion and an "independent" in politics is like a sports fan who has no sport or team preference. You know, someone who doesn't care for any particular sport or team, but just likes "sports"!!!!

 

And it reminds me of people who think people of another race "all look alike". The further away you are from any reality, the less you can differentiate. When you are close to things and really care about them, you see them much better and care about the details. When people say that they don't care for labels, or don't want to be on this side rather than that, that's because they aren't close enough to know the differences.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMHO a "moderate" in religion and an "independent" in politics is like a sports fan who has no sport or team preference. You know, someone who doesn't care for any particular sport or team, but just likes "sports"!!!!

 

And it reminds me of people who think people of another race "all look alike". The further away you are from any reality, the less you can differentiate. When you are close to things and really care about them, you see them much better and care about the details. When people say that they don't care for labels, or don't want to be on this side rather than that, that's because they aren't close enough to know the differences.

 

Interesting comment Rayosun,

 

The only thing I would question is your statement "The further away you are from any reality, the less you can differentiate. " It may indeed seem that way execept it seems to me that there is only one true reality and the rest is make believe fiction or psuedo-realities. The closer you get to true reality, the more you see labels and sides and positions as absurdities of mind. The reason that people "all look alike" the closer you get to true reality is because they are really One.

 

Just a view to consider,

Love in Christ,

JM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMHO a "moderate" in religion and an "independent" in politics is like a sports fan who has no sport or team preference. You know, someone who doesn't care for any particular sport or team, but just likes "sports"!!!!

 

Interesting thougths. I am and "independent" not an Independent in politics. That is because I don't trust polititians, though!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Moderates fill the pews of most mainline churches and are also found in their highest offices. Most mainline denominations have to steer very carefully between their Right Wings and their Left Wings and come out somewhere in the Center. So, I would say you could go to many, many websites associated with the mainline denominations and find Moderate Christianity. In other words, most mainline denominations are filled with Progressives and Moderates and Conservatives and so they can't affirm the Progressive agenda as much as we would like. I guess that makes them Moderate. The National Council of Churches, for example, will embrace some progressive beliefs but not all. They have to be very careful if they are going to hold that coalition together.

 

My own denomination, Presbyterian Church (USA), has a very progressive wing which is very active and a very conservative wing which is very active. The Witherspoon Society is wonderfully progressive and the website is quite comprehensive and illuminating > http://witherspoonsociety.org/

 

The PC(USA) website -- http://www.pcusa.org/ -- is not as progressive so I guess that it is Moderate.

 

There are many people in the highest offices of the PC(USA) who would love to see the PC(USA) be as progressive as the Witherspoon Society but they can't say so out loud in most situations. We are envious of the United Church of Christ where Progressives have pretty much won and people in the highest offices of the UCC can proclaim progressive Christianity boldly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Presbyterianism (if I could use that word :-)) has an interesting kind of image. You can say that and the most conservative and most progressive of images comes to mind. A lot of the white leadership in the civil rights movement were Presbyterians. But then you have the other side. My sister is Presbyterian (PC I think). I think there are so many branches it all gets a little confusing to the masses. Presby USA is liberal and there are other wings that are more conservative, and I think in the public mind it is all the same thing. Since UCC started as several progressive churches combining into one we have a bit of an advantage of being able to be progressive. Whereas, the Presby church started as one and has splintered off. I think it comes across as an acceptable and not very controversial church. Even the conservatives aren't quite as conservative or fundamentalist as say SBC. They would never buy into the Rapture or other silliness. I have been to a PresbyPC church and it didn't strike me as offensive.

 

I know for a fact, that some of the most progressive folks are Presbys, and I knew a very socially active Presbyter or whatever they call these.

 

--des

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMHO a "moderate" in religion and an "independent" in politics is like a sports fan who has no sport or team preference. You know, someone who doesn't care for any particular sport or team, but just likes "sports"!!!!

 

And it reminds me of people who think people of another race "all look alike". The further away you are from any reality, the less you can differentiate. When you are close to things and really care about them, you see them much better and care about the details. When people say that they don't care for labels, or don't want to be on this side rather than that, that's because they aren't close enough to know the differences.

 

I believe your first statement is true. The second, I believe, is misinformed BS. Yes, Moderate Christians are like such fans. I know two baseball fans like that. One is a professor of U.S. history and actually teaches a course on Baseball History. The second is my father, who in one recent season memorized the entire MLB roster with name, position, number, and some vital stats and kept it up-to-date for then entire season. Neither of these men are far from the details or the reality of the sport. In fact, their knowledge and appreciation for the sport is so comprehensive that they couldn't possibly choose one team over the other.

 

My father is also a Presby minister who is a Moderate Christian. It's the same situation. He has gained a perspective of breadth that someone on the extreme might not. We need the extremes to explore the boundaries, and we need the moderates to keep us in balance.

 

Another way of thinking of a moderate Christian is:

 

A moderate is a Christian who finds wisdom in Tradition and seeks the wisdom to know when it is time to break with Tradition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A moderate is a Christian who finds wisdom in Tradition and seeks the wisdom to know when it is time to break with Tradition.

 

I like the idea of that but the reality (in my personal experience with moderates) is that there is a fear of breaking with tradition and that, not wisdom, is what acutally makes the decision. It seems that for these people (a few people, granted) they will break the tradition when it is safe to do so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just 2 cents to add to this pile. Placing and defining tags such as moderate, liberal etc. as relates to christians is in my opinion, not a fruitful practice. It is merely an attempt by the mind to measure or judge people based on perceptions that may or may not be accurate. People are more complicated and perhaps attempts to put them under a label such as moderate when in fact they may have beliefs that place them under numerous labels depending on circumstances is a waste of energy. What fasination is this of the mind that it always wants to catagorize people and limit them to words that at best are intrinsically fallacious when applied to people and the complexities of mind?

 

Love in Christ,

JM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you're right, at least sometimes, Joseph. OTOH, it is pretty clear that some of us are

progressives, and some of us are conservatives (not too many here). Just as there are some who

are moderate.

 

I think it is not always fear or indifference. Sometimes it does really come from genuine conviction.

I think there is something like what I call "soft literalism", that is definitely moderate. They wouldn't take the stance that much of the Bible should be read metaphorically, and believe pretty much in the literal word.

OTOH, I think they are not likely to think that many stories are really actually true, that the Earth was literally made is 6 days and so on. I know very intelligent, intellectually rigorous people that take that view.

Heck, I was one once. (Of course I was also a Christian Scientist, an agnostic, a deist, etc. etc.)

:-) If you are around long enough you can be anything. :-)

 

--des

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service