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Is The Ucc Really Progressive?


Gnosteric
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Is the UCC as progressive and welcoming as their tv ads imply? I asked the following questions, posted below with their answers, by using their still speaking website. I was not made to feel welcome. :angry:

 

Do you consider Gnostic Christianity (as found in the Nag Hammadi texts) to be a valid form of Christianity?

1) This is considered a Christian heresy. To the extent that it holds a number of tenets which are foreign to Christian theology in its broadest terms, I can't see why a Gnostic would want to be involved in a mainstream Christian church--unless for the purpose of persuading its members to accept these deviant interpretations of God, the world, and Christ.

 

Are Gnostics welcome in your church?

2)Even having said this, our welcome of all persons into the UCC does indeed include all persons--so we would welcome anyone who wished to come into our worship and fellowship and service life. This does not mean that we would roll over for anyone with different beliefs to persuade us to change ours, or church practices growing from them; we operate in a thoroughly democratic manner and all changes must find support from at least a majority of members.

 

Would you allow a Gnostic to become active in a leadership role?

3) If the leadership role such a person seeks is one which would seek to change the beliefs and practices of the church, I doubt if that person would be placed in such a role.

 

Is it me or does the person responding sound a little bit paranoid? I have no wish to change anyone's beliefs.

 

IMO, it also makes their "welcome" feel more than abit hypocritical. :huh:

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Your definition of "progressive" appears to be "anything goes." That is not what progressive means. Beliefs are based on reason and intellect not by making an idol of the bible but by seeing it for what it is. Or as Borg says: Taking the bible seriously but not literally. Where you would be welcome, beliefs and all, depends on the congregation. At my church you would be welcome and would even find people interested in dialoging with you about your beliefs.

 

So is the UCC progressive? Absolutely. Is everyone going to feel welcome there? No. A Conservative would not feel welcome nor would a Fundamentalist.

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My understanding is that the UCC has a lot of variation among its congregations, and that some congregations are truly progressive and others are not. So it probably depends on which UCC church you happen to find. If you look at various web sites for some UCC churches, you find a lot of variation, with some actually coming across quite conservative, and others quite progressive.

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While I have belonged to two UCC churches, I had to leave the UCC forum. Reason: they would not allow

me to use a pseudonym, even though I have a very good reason to want to. Doesn't matter, if you have

friends that have been stalked. Too bad. Nice place.

 

Also I thought it was a mean and vicious web forum. There were several vehemently anti-gay folks who ranted on and on, and were allowed to by the forum manager (we love our admin. thanks!).

 

So please do not judge the UCC by its web forum. I think it is run by inexperienced folks who don't have the time or knowledge to police it. It also draws all the Right Wingers out from Biblical Witness and the other Fundie group. (Right wingers who want to take over UCC, go get your own church!) So I'm not surprised to see you ran into some trouble there.

 

UCC can be great. But remember it is a totally (or nearly so) congregationally run church (one of it's partner churches was Congregationals). So it is only as good (and also as progressive) as the congregation itself.

There are conservative UCCs. The are moderate UCCs. The one I went to in Chicago has a history for being just about the most progressive.

 

As far as a Gnostic feeling welcome. Well I would NEVER (nor would any of the members of my church, I would guess) say someone's views are heretical. Heck, some of us in UCC take views that others would see as heretical (for instance, I think belief in a virgin birth is not common, belief in a literal resurrection, maybe held by half the members, I don't believe in a literal trinity and I don't think I am alone in this). And I doubt your going to get Gnosticism preached at a UCC church, or any other mainline church. But if you respect others beliefs they will too.The UCC does follow the typical mainline church's Christian calendar though.

I'm not sure to what extent everyone gets the same messages out of them or does. Put ten UCCers in a room together and you probably have eleven opinions.

 

I think what would be pretty common, among progressive UCC churches would be a belief in the teachings of Jesus re: the poor etc.

 

Yes, it does sound like this individual was a bit on the paranoid side. I wouldn't assume that someone who felt a bit differently than I did was trying to come in and change things. I don't see why you wouldn't even be able to become a pastor. You might not like seminary so well. And you might find it hard to get a church to call you-- because the congregation would have to agree to call you

 

OTOH, regular types of leadershp roles-- are you kidding! People will be begging at your door to be on the church council. This is one of the more grueling things I have ever done. :-)

 

So go look at the websites of different churches (don't worry so much if they are on the "stillspeaking.com" website, you have to pay to get on it). Go visiting. And get back with us. Might also try UU.

 

 

--des

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So please do not judge the UCC by its web forum.

Thanks for mentioning that....I tried that forum before posing my question to the still speaking site. They weren't a very friendly group.

 

Do you know who answers the questions from the website? I had assumed that the person responding to such inquiries and representing their international site would be a minister within the leadership of the Church.

 

As far as a Gnostic feeling welcome. Well I would NEVER (nor would any of the members of my church, I would guess) say someone's views are heretical. Heck, some of us in UCC take views that others would see as heretical (for instance, I think belief in a virgin birth is not common, belief in a literal resurrection, maybe held by half the members, I don't believe in a literal trinity and I don't think I am alone in this).

That is the type of congregation that I'm looking for.

 

And I doubt your going to get Gnosticism preached at a UCC church, or any other mainline church.

I agree. Nor would I ever expect that to happen. Gnostics get very good at appreciating the sermons and experiencing the mystical apsects of communion while accepting that our understanding is vastly different than the majority.

But if you respect others beliefs they will too.

That is EXACTLY what I'm looking for!

 

I think what would be pretty common, among progressive UCC churches would be a belief in the teachings of Jesus re: the poor etc.

That is definitely common ground.

I don't see why you wouldn't even be able to become a pastor.

I would like to believe that, but doubt that to be true. :( At least from my experience thus far.

 

It would be nice if more folks approached things as you do. Thanks. :)

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What makes you say that? :huh: What did I write that leaves you with that impression.

 

 

It is a general misconception about what it means to be Progressive. For you to say that the UCC is NOT progressive because your beliefs would probably not be accepted is what led me to say that.

 

So go look at the websites of different churches (don't worry so much if they are on the "stillspeaking.com" website, you have to pay to get on it). Go visiting. And get back with us. Might also try UU.

--des

 

 

Are you talking about the i.ucc? I've posted there and have not had to pay. Perhaps it is a different site then the one I've been on.

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>Thanks for mentioning that....I tried that forum before posing my question to the still speaking site. They weren't a very friendly group.

 

>Do you know who answers the questions from the website? I had assumed that the person responding to such inquiries and representing their international site would be a minister within the leadership of the Church.

 

I'm not sure which UCC website. The main one at UCC.org (I think) has a forum and is a general forum open to anyone, not all UCC members. I didn't see a forum on the stillspeaking site. If there is a blog

or somethign, that person might be a minister or then again might be a blogger. I saw a question area on the site where you submit a question. This is one indivdual (perhaps a minister, speaking for himself).

I'm surprised he didn't accept doctrinal freedom and would talk about heresy. But it is a single indivdual.

He can't talk for the whole church, because while there is a synod of sorts, it isn't the church. The churhc is

the individual demoninations that are totally self-governed. I didn't see them making that point clear.

That's why you get conservative to very liberal churches, and some in between. Even October's basic ideas here from Borg, though I agree wiht them, you wouldn't find universal agreement in UCC (not on anything).

They are somewhat creedal. It might even be the majority of the opinion but it is still not addressing the central creedal freedom.

 

On the UCC.org site there are various people that answer. I'm just not sure it was a real UCC member or some Biblical Witness (or other Fundie pretending to be UCC) or someone from a very conservative UCC. These are people who take our creedal freedom and use it as a take-over method. There are a few of these. I doubt the vast majority of people in UCC would care what you believe.

 

As for is UCC anything that goes (I don't think you said that). I'm not sure what was exactly meant by that But I'll answer it anyway, even though I didn't think you said it. No, it is NOT anything goes, for instance morally anything doesn't go. (We lost a pastor because he was having sex with a parshionser). But on a creedal level, one of the tenets (if you can call it that) is somethign with a long history in the US-- creedal freedom and the conscience fo the believer. Therefore, the indivdual has the freedom to believe what he/she wishes as long as his/her beliefs would not trample on the beliefs of others. BTW, The Baptist church was started this way (little known fact). Of course they have changed in time. But at one time they opposed abortion laws, not because they were so gung ho abortion. But because the freedom of the individual to read and interpret is so sancrasanct. Just to say that creedal freedom is not so radical or at least unusual. There are creedal statements. I don't take them very seriously, because creedal freedom is a much stronger tradition.You can believe in the virgin birth, literal resurrection, and even substitutional atonement, as long as you believed it was ok for someone not to believe any of them. Funny thing, though we have a recent history in the US of people not tolerating those differences, it is not so hard to have a church like that. So your relatively, in my view, different creedal views would be not so significant. As long as you could be able to share in relatively similar worship service-- call to worship, various hymns, music, prayer, a sermon, communion, etc. You are not required to be baptised though, etc. And you don't have to actively participate in any of them.

 

At the church I go to, if you shared your creedal beliefs someone would say "that's interesting, tell me more". You might even be able to dialogue in some shared way, like a group discussion. If the group discussion were at my church, I'd probably go. We actually had å discussion re: the Gospel of Thomas. A lot of people have read some of the gnostic gospels. You might get an argument or a discussion but I am sure no one would say you weren't welcome. But the thing is there are differences in congregations, being congregational. So while some might say "that's interesting" some others might say "that's junk". You need to look at the websites, if any. Go visit, etc.

 

I'd say someone who didn't believe in the social justice ministry of Jesus would have more difficulty than someone who shared some other kinds of different views.

 

I would not recommend any church sponsored website including Unitarian. I was suggesting he(she) check out UU by lookng at their INDIVIDUAL websites and attending services. There is more of a range of beliefs in UU and some people do not consider themselves Christian in any sense. Før instance, there are those who are pagans and believe that way. I wouldn't go to any church sponsored website as I think they draw out the extremes of the churches, those who want to "take them back". A long time ago, Congregational was conservative. UCC is made up of Congregationals.OTOH, they were active in the underground railroad and so forth, so the social justice piece has been around awhile. So I'm not sure just how many years they are talking about. :-) UCC was never conservative.

 

When I said you could become a pastor, I think I meant you could go to seminary. I think it unlike that any church would actually call you. You might be able to be ordained. The thing is there are a lot of non-called

UCC ordained pastors. Some of them work in social justice types of positions or at nursing or assisted living faclities or even prisons. The reason you wouldn't get called is the congregation would have to call

you.

 

>It would be nice if more folks approached things as you do. Thanks. :)

 

You might not find that so uncommon.

 

I think what you would do is go and listen first. What are people saying, then you can start talking if you think that the group would be accepting. I think you can learn a lot from listening.

 

You might say where you live, and someone here might live there as well. We would know, perhaps, which churches to check out and which not to bother with. I'm sorry you're probably not in NM or I'd take you.

 

 

 

 

--des

Edited by des
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It is a general misconception about what it means to be Progressive. For you to say that the UCC is NOT progressive because your beliefs would probably not be accepted is what led me to say that.

 

What's interesting is that the person who responded from http://www.stillspeaking.com/contact/index.html never asked me what I believe. If she/he (or you) had done so they (and you) would have realized that I believe in all eight of the TCPC points. Every one of them.

 

The only item for question, I guess, would be whether or not I am *allowed* to use the term "Christian." That was the purpose of my first question: is Gnostic Christianity a valid form of Christianity? If it is, then I believe Gnostic Christians should have a place at the table of a church that identifies itself as the UNITED Church of Christ and promotes itself as being welcoming of everyone. No "bouncers" and/or "ejection seats" unless one happens to be Gnostic? ;)

 

What type of Christ must one believe? Maybe that is the problem: I don't believe, I Gnow! :rolleyes:

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When I said you could become a pastor, I think I meant you could go to seminary. I think it unlike that any church would actually call you. You might be able to be ordained. The thing is there are a lot of non-called UCC ordained pastors. Some of them work in social justice types of positions or at nursing or assisted living faclities or even prisons. The reason you wouldn't get called is the congregation would have to call you.

Interesting that you say that because if I were to ever attend seminary it would be for the purpose of chaplaincy. I currently work as a clinical social worker and seem more drawn to the spiritual/religious needs of clients. Hospice work would be the most likely role.

 

You might not find that so uncommon.

 

I think what you would do is go and listen first. What are people saying, then you can start talking if you think that the group would be accepting. I think you can learn a lot from listening.

So true. Unfortunately, I don't like what I am hearing from the ministers of the UCC, at least in Maine where I live.

 

I'm sorry you're probably not in NM or I'd take you.

I'm sorry too. I would have been quick to take you up on that offer.

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What's interesting is that the person who responded from http://www.stillspeaking.com/contact/index.html never asked me what I believe. If she/he (or you) had done so they (and you) would have realized that I believe in all eight of the TCPC points. Every one of them.

 

I don't find the 8 points to be the end all and be all on what makes a person Progressive.

 

The only item for question, I guess, would be whether or not I am *allowed* to use the term "Christian."

 

You can use it if you like, I personally hestitate to use if for myself. I don't care what you believe but to push yourself into a congregation and demand recognition isn't going to work anymore than if a Fun/Con did it. Like I said, you'd be welcome at the church I go to, just as I am. I am unitarian and I don't take communion. When someone finds out they are curious why but don't try to change my beliefs or convince me I'm wrong. But I also don't insist they stop taking communion or stop talking about the trinity because they aren't part of my belief system. And when I was the liturgist one Sunday morning I read the scripture as it was written because it was for the congregation, not me. Had I been in the pew I would have probaby skipped some things.

 

That was the purpose of my first question: is Gnostic Christianity a valid form of Christianity?

 

The true form of gnosticism is long dead. We don't have very little information on what it was. We mostly know about it from what is written against it in the New Testament.

 

Is it valid? To me it is irrelevant. I do not believe in Heaven or Hell so I'm more concerned with how people live in the here and now than I am with what is "valid" or "invalid" as far as beliefs go.

 

If it is, then I believe Gnostic Christians should have a place at the table of a church that identifies itself as the UNITED Church of Christ and promotes itself as being welcoming of everyone.

 

And as I've said and Des has explained you would be. But being "United" has nothing to do with allowing or disallowing Neo-Gnostics in the pews. It comes because the denomination comes from several different congregations coming together to form a new denomination.

 

No "bouncers" and/or "ejection seats" unless one happens to be Gnostic? ;)

 

What type of Christ must one believe? Maybe that is the problem: I don't believe, I Gnow! :rolleyes:

 

 

I don't believe in any "Christ." And the UCC, as I experience it, doesn't require such beliefs. We have Jewish people in our congregation.

 

I don't know why you would really want to be part of the UCC. As a gnostic aren't you anti-body? The UCC is very much concerned about the body more so than anything. I would think you would see it as anti-gnostic to the extreme. It seems you'd be more comfortable in a more fundamentalist type church were they are solely concerned with the hereafter.

 

Perhaps I'm not fully understanding what you mean by gnosticism.

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The 12 points is a view from The Center for Progressive Christianity. It is their own view. Personally I agree with most of them, but I don't think they represent everyone's view. For all I know the person who answered you was not even progressive (to be in UCC doesn't guarantee that). I don't consider the use of the term "heretic" very progressive, but maybe that is just me.

 

Even though there may not be an organized group of gnostics, doesn't mean it still isn't going on to some extent. I don't know that gnostics don't want to be in community because they definitely did during the early years of Christianity. I think there is probably some widespread interest in it. The sales of books like The book of Thomas are going very well. People are reading this and discussing it. I think they probably started the whole idea of the priesthood of the believer. As I understand it they had no central authority (certainly Paul didn't come lecture to them or write letters to them), as far as that goes they were the first UCC. :-)

Or at least congregationalists. For me they have attitudes that seem to be a little bit to Christian Sciency for my liking, but then I am pretty sensitive to those thigns. But still, ask me who is Christian or no, and you get into, afaik, a discussion that gets way more fundamentalists than I would like.

 

>You can use it if you like [Christianity], I personally hestitate to use if for myself. I don't care what you believe but to push yourself into a congregation and demand recognition isn't going to work anymore than if a Fun/Con did it. Like I said, you'd be welcome at the church I go to, just as I am. I am unitarian and I don't take communion. When someone finds out they are curious why but don't try to change my beliefs or convince me I'm wrong. But I also don't insist they stop taking communion or stop talking about the trinity because they aren't part of my belief system. And when I was the liturgist one Sunday morning I read the scripture as it was written because it was for the congregation, not me. Had I been in the pew I would have probaby skipped some things.

 

I just mentioned being called by a church as a possible position. As I said, I think you could do something else like Hospice. Sometimes people change dramatically in seminary, so why would they worry to much how you went in? To my knowledge you don't make creedal statements.

 

I really don't think that "trinitarian" and Christianity go together. Jesus only said he was God in John, written years after the event. I think to be a Christian mean to be, or try to be, a disciple of Jesus. That is REALLY hard by itself, but I think no where does Jesus demand any kind fo doctrinal statements. I like to think of the trinity as kind of a metaphor for God the creator (ok gnostics not getting into that again :-)), God within, and God's face or action in the lives of people (you could have other aspects of God too). The later is the Christ, as Jesus embodied. But I don't see God literally divided up in pieces like 3 in one oil or something.

That's a quote from someone. I'm sure there are UCC members that are unitarians. (I have yet to meet any truly Jewish ones though.)

 

That's true, United, doesn't at all ahve to do with being welcoming. There are three (possibly some other minor ones) denominations that joined up to make UCC, including Congregational, Disciples of Christ, and one other. They "united". (There still are Congregational and Disciples of Christ that didn't join up).

 

BTW, I wouldn't characterize UCC as concerned about the body so much, unless that means the commmunity. But I would say they/we would be more concerned about this life than the next one.

 

Whether you are welcomed depends on the individual congregation-- I mean fully welcomed to feel that you are accepted for who you are.

 

Doesn't seem you are having much luck with the Maine UCC? But don't go to the stillspeaking website. Do a search on google. Or the phone book. Since you are on the east coast you might also look into Congregational. And also UU.

 

 

--des

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I don't care what you believe but to push yourself into a congregation and demand recognition isn't going to work anymore than if a Fun/Con did it.

OK, now you're starting to sound like that person from the UCC site. I never even hinted at doing something like that.

The true form of gnosticism is long dead. We don't have very little information on what it was. We mostly know about it from what is written against it in the New Testament.

Is the "true" form of Christianity dead? Should we use the term Neo-Christian? Saying that someone's religion is dead sounds insulting. :angry:

 

If you don't know (but, somehow, I expect that you might) there are several existing Gnostic texts/scriptures. I'll list a few:

 

The Secret Book According to John

The Revelation of Adam

The Reality of the Rulers

The Thunder-Perfect Intellect

The Egyptian Gospel

Zostrianos

The Foreigner

The Three Tablets of Seth

 

The Gospel of Truth

A Prayer of Paul the Apostle

Treatise on Resurrection

The Letter to Flora

The Gospel According to Philip

Valentinian Liturgical Readings

The Round Dance of the Cross

 

The Hymn of the Pearl

The Gospel According to Thomas

The Book of Thomas: The Contender Writing to the Perfect

 

The Gospel of Mary

The Naassene Sermon

The Gospel of Judas

 

I've purposely left out the fragments, the Mandean, the Manichaean, the Cathar, the Hermetical, the Islamic mystical literature and the writings attacking the Gnostics. I think we have enough to establish a stable foundation from which we can safely evolve into a modern Gnosticism. No "Neo" needed. ;)

 

I don't know why you would really want to be part of the UCC. As a gnostic aren't you anti-body? The UCC is very much concerned about the body more so than anything. I would think you would see it as anti-gnostic to the extreme. It seems you'd be more comfortable in a more fundamentalist type church were they are solely concerned with the hereafter.

 

Perhaps I'm not fully understanding what you mean by gnosticism.

Please remember that Gnostic Scripture is meant to be poetic and symbolic. Most modern Gnostics are no more anti-body than most modern Christians. The material is not considered "evil" ...... it's just not as important to us as the spiritual is. Our inmost divine essence (or Divine Spark) often gets lost in traps such as materialism, consumerism, greed, lust, power, envy, etc. These things were "created" by something other than God (maybe evolution is the Demiurge :o ) and can prevent us from our full potential.

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OK, now you're starting to sound like that person from the UCC site. I never even hinted at doing something like that.

 

I was giving an example of how someone would not be welcome. I wasn't suggesting (nor was the person who responded to you, from what I read) that that was your intent.

 

Is the "true" form of Christianity dead? Should we use the term Neo-Christian? Saying that someone's religion is dead sounds insulting. :angry:

 

Actually, it is. You are welcome to use the term neo-Christian if you feel it applies. I'm more inclined to call it pop-Chrisitianity. I didn't say your relgion was dead but that gnosticism in its original form is long gone. You even say so yourself later in this very post!

 

If you don't know (but, somehow, I expect that you might) there are several existing Gnostic texts/scriptures.

 

I found references to the Nag Hammadi, when I did a search. I'm no expert on gnosticism so I can't determine the legitimacy of what you reference nor what you practice, nor do I have any interest in doing so. If it works for you, so be it.

 

I've purposely left out the fragments, the Mandean, the Manichaean, the Cathar, the Hermetical, the Islamic mystical literature and the writings attacking the Gnostics. I think we have enough to establish a stable foundation from which we can safely evolve into a modern Gnosticism. No "Neo" needed. ;)

 

What do you think neo means? It means new, iow, modern.

 

 

Please remember that Gnostic Scripture is meant to be poetic and symbolic. Most modern Gnostics are no more anti-body than most modern Christians.

 

Then it is not very Gnostic, is it? Unless I'm confusing Gnostics with another group the basis of their beliefs is anti-material, anti-body.

 

There is a passage (I TImothy 2:15) about women being saved in childbirth. It is confusing because salvation is supposed to be through faith. It can't mean that women are protected in childbirth, because obviously they aren't and weren't. The best theory for what the author was doing was teaching against a gnostic belief that women could not be saved if they had sex/gave birth. This act made them very womanly plus they were bringing another soul to earth trapped into a human body.

 

 

 

http://www.answers.com/topic/gnosticism

 

The gnostic texts are late (3rd, 4th century) written in coptic. Hard to say if they are the same practices as just after Jesus' time in the early church.

Edited by October's Autumn
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Actually, it is. You are welcome to use the term neo-Christian if you feel it applies. I'm more inclined to call it pop-Chrisitianity. I didn't say your relgion was dead but that gnosticism in its original form is long gone. You even say so yourself later in this very post!

If you hold all religions to the same standard, then everything becomes "Neo." Doesn't that make the term rather superfluous? Is there a religion in existence that practices the exact same way as they did 2000 years ago? I would hope that they allow for some change/evolution as culture makes advancements.

 

Then it is not very Gnostic, is it? Unless I'm confusing Gnostics with another group the basis of their beliefs is anti-material, anti-body.

You are referencing a minority of Gnostic sects and assuming that all Gnostics hold those beliefs. We are (and were) as varied as Christian denominations. Just as not all Christians believe in ....say snake handling.......or speaking in tongues......or discriminating against gay/lesbian/transgendered folks.

 

The best theory for what the author was doing was teaching against a gnostic belief that women could not be saved if they had sex/gave birth.

Yes, those early Christians engaged in much propaganda. They were concerned that the Gnostics were attracting too many followers.

 

The gnostic texts are late (3rd, 4th century) written in coptic. Hard to say if they are the same practices as just after Jesus' time in the early church.

That was the timeframe that had Constantine and the government really starting to establish orthodoxy. Those Gnostic texts are the ones that were hidden for protection. Others were most likely destroyed.

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I don't think modern gnostism is more or less NEO than any other form of Christianity. In fact, it is highly unlikely that Jesus really thoguht he was going to be the center of a new form of religion (the line about "on this rock I will build my church, notwithstanding). Certainly Catholism or the Eastern Orthodox church today bares little resemblance to any kind to early Christianity. And we know that Protestantism is reform, so it definitely wasn't. So why do we have any different standards on gnostism than we have on our own practice?

 

I would guess that modern gnostics might place a little higher interest and so forth to the gnostic scriptures, but like the others they have a big range between them, actually even a bit more in some cases. I actually think that Thomas sounds very genuine and can really see the attraction to this book particularly. Certainly I have more attraction to that than John, which I feel is very remote and doesn't sound like anythign Jesus would ever have said (based on the other three books).

 

I think there is logically some current interest with the popular publications of these books that in are libraries and book stores, and not in dusty jars in some museum.

 

--des

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Modern Gnosticism isn't Gnostic at all, at least not as I understand Gnosticism. And Pop-Christianity isn't Christian at all, at least not as I understand Christianity.

 

But that really wasn't the point of the thread. The question was: Is the UCC really Progressive? The answer of course is yes. Gnosteric's experience aside. From what I read the person was trying to explain to you the only circumstances underwhich you would have problems in a UCC church. It seems like you expected a no and so you heard a no. I saw no paranoia in their response.

 

You are referencing a minority of Gnostic sects and assuming that all Gnostics hold those beliefs.

 

Can you reference this? My recollection is that anti-body was the defining characteristic of Gnosticism. Much like adult baptism is the defining doctrine of anabaptists.

Edited by October's Autumn
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Well we don't know what the ancient Gnostics were like (very probably more than one thing) any more than we know what other ancient Christians were like. I think Elaine Pagels says(haven't read her books but have seen her on tv, and she is something of an expert on this) that Gnostics did not think of themselves as Gnostics back then, they just thought of themselves as "Christian". In fact, she thinks Christianity in the most ancient world was much more diverse than anyone would think. I think to call something "pop" is to slam it. You might consider it so, but I think it isn't too respectful. I actually don't know what Gnosteric believes but I think that common respect is called for. He/she did not attack you, after all. We could say the whole of Christianity is some kind of pop thign because we honestly don't know what Jesus envisioned, if he envisioned any separate thign at all, which I doubt. Why not take the gnostic scriptures, dust them off and read them and see what wisdom they might hold?? I'm sure plenty.

 

For Progressives to say what we think is Christianity or isn't is heading on rather rocky ground as we know that many Christians don't want us saying we are Christians, they don't believe us to be Christians. Right now I don't care, but at one time I did. It made me rather angry. So I think you should weigh your words a little more.

 

It is obvious by this, that you would not be welcomed everywhere (I knew that anyway). I mean acceptance of who you are-- not hiding your beliefs. My experience though has been very welcoming. I came to UCC fresh out of reading and studying Matthew Fox (ex-priest and current Anglican). I found that some people had read him (actually the church had been mentioned by him) and we were able to discuss it.

 

 

--des

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For Progressives to say what we think is Christianity or isn't is heading on rather rocky ground as we know that many Christians don't want us saying we are Christians, they don't believe us to be Christians. Right now I don't care, but at one time I did. It made me rather angry. So I think you should weigh your words a little more.

 

I weigh my words very carefully, thank you.

 

I don't call myself a Christian AND it is intended to be insulting to call many forms of "Christianity" as "pop." I can't reconcile Jesus' teachings with prosperity theology or gay bashing.

 

I don't put any weight on rather or not a group I have no respect for considers anyone a Christian. The only purpose of the label, afaic, is to decide who is going to heaven and who is going to hell. If either exists it is for God to decide.

 

Jesus obviously did not intend to start a new religion. But that is really irrelevant to the conversation.

 

When new religions begin they are usually very closed. Gnosticism from ancient times was a secret religion. We know little about it for good reason -- because most of what it was hidden intentionally from outsiders. It would have also been fairly stringent in practice because of the followers having to adhere to a strict code of secrecy. That doesn't exactly allow for debate and discussion. I really am just interested in knowing if Gnosteric can document what s/he is saying. It would be interesting to learn more, for sure. I've no doubt there are some great things in Gnostic texts just as there are in many religious and non-religious texts outside the Protestant Christian canon. (Personally, I'd do away with Jude). Your comment is puzzling, to be honest.

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For Progressives to say what we think is Christianity or isn't is heading on rather rocky ground as we know that many Christians don't want us saying we are Christians, they don't believe us to be Christians.

Amen to that! :)

 

I really am just interested in knowing if Gnosteric can document what s/he is saying. It would be interesting to learn more, for sure. I've no doubt there are some great things in Gnostic texts just as there are in many religious and non-religious texts outside the Protestant Christian canon.

If you are interested in understanding the complexities of Gnostic thought/practice, then a great place to start is the one that seems to be causing you some concern. It's not just about duality. It's far more subtle than that. Gnostics, classical and modern, view things from a "unity in duality" standpoint. Think yin/yang with a snake! :lol:

 

A great link: http://www.webcom.com/~gnosis/naghamm/nhlintro.html I like the article and you can also explore the Gnostic texts as well. The Thunder-Perfect Intellect has much to say about "unity in duality." Give it a read.

 

(BTW, if we are to continue discussing Gnosticism, instead of the UCC, we should probably move to a Gnosticism thread.)

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A great link: http://www.webcom.com/~gnosis/naghamm/nhlintro.html I like the article and you can also explore the Gnostic texts as well. The Thunder-Perfect Intellect has much to say about "unity in duality." Give it a read.

 

(BTW, if we are to continue discussing Gnosticism, instead of the UCC, we should probably move to a Gnosticism thread.)

 

 

I read the opening article (?) It was very interesting and educational. I will get to the Gnostic texts. I found this part interesting from it:

 

 

Classical Christian Gnosticism was lost to the Western world during the fourth and fifth centuries. But the Gnostic world view -- with its comprehension of humankind's true uncreated nature and inherent affinity with God; its affirmation of interior individual experience granting certain knowledge; and its awareness of demiurgic forces binding human consciousness -- was not so easily extinguished.

 

What I'm interested in learning more about is the second part the "Gnostic World View." If you'd like to start a new thread, that would be awesome. But, I have no problems with continuing the discussion here. If Moderators want to move it then they can. If you do start a new thread, let me know. Now I have to bookmark the www you gave me. THanks!

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I would like to speak to the original question “is the UCC progressive” since the question combines my primary interests of polity and being Progressive. Like the Episcopal denomination the UCC has taken a strong stand on sex and all of the resulting polity problems are focused on sex. The UCC has evidently lost over 200 churches and the Anglican community is most ripe for an actual split.

 

When we look at polity it should be noted that the sex issue is being seen at the denominational level and so in spite of the suggestion that all power in the UCC is at the local level the sex issue (and the TV ads, etc) show that the UCC is a denomination with power at the top. That power is based upon a democracy but to ignore the “will of the majority” is like saying the President of the US has no power because the position is elected. The Episcopal denomination also prides itself for being local in spite of having Bishops, etc., but again the sex issue is being played out “at the top” even though those in power depend upon that local support.

 

It is interesting to me that Progressives can support denominational positions based upon ethics but shy away from talking about denominational positions based upon theology as though ethics and theology can be separated. In fact I would suggest that the fight over sex is really a fight over how theology is done. In the UCC the Conservatives point to the UCC Constitution and the founding process of the UCC which was based upon a balance between individual conscience and the traditional creeds of the Church which were taken as “testimonies not tests” for faith. The Conservatives seem to think that the Liberals have left the testimonies behind and want to recover some theological power beyond the individual ego. The Liberals seem to want to ignore this plea and go straight to talking about ethics based upon individual conscience. I think the Progressives need to bring theology back into the discussion but they are afraid to do that because that would suggest that theology can be discussed and decided “at the top” (again based upon a democratic process, not based upon the Pope’s thinking).

 

Progressives need to find a way to bring theology and polity into conversation within the framework of the “priesthood of all believers”. It is understood that the UCC positions on sex are not “controlling” on any member. There is no reason that theological “testimonies” can not be seen in the same manner. Both can be seen as the current status of the majority based upon a democratic process. The “essentials” would be the Christian symbols but in “diversity” it would be recognized that you do not climb the signpost that leads down the road.

 

I would welcome Gnosteric’s participation in such a process because I am more concerned with how one knows rather than what one thinks one knows. It seems that at least some of Gnosteric’s community shares this. I also think that had Gnosteric asked the UCC whether the UCC would accept someone who bases knowledge upon direct experience with the Divine a different answer would have been given. With this as a foundation it could be decided by democratic process whether any of the books listed by Gnosteric could be added to the list of UCC’s “official” theological testimonies. Such a process could eventually lead to the Conservatives finding a real reason to leave since their reason for staying is based upon the hope provided by the traditional creeds of the Church. Listen to them. They are not saying that marriage is based upon ethics they are saying that marriage is based upon theology. If the UCC can clarify a Progressive theology then there is no reason for them to stay. If the UCC can not do this then I would repeat the original question: Is the UCC really Progressive?

 

I guess my question to those within the UCC is whether this may ever happen and if it will never happen why put your energy in beating your head against the wall instead of trying something new?

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Like the Episcopal denomination the UCC has taken a strong stand on sex and all of the resulting polity problems are focused on sex.

 

Not true. The UCC has focused on the message of Jesus. As a result of that we have come to the conclusion that people, regardless of sexual orientation, color, ethnicity, disability, socio economics are welcome.

 

 

When we look at polity it should be noted that the sex issue is being seen at the denominational level and so in spite of the suggestion that all power in the UCC is at the local level the sex issue (and the TV ads, etc) show that the UCC is a denomination with power at the top.

 

Not true. It is the congregations who have put their money where their mouth is in support of the tv ads. The UCC is grass roots. A MAJORITY of UCC folks are in support of gay rights, civil rights for ethnic minorities, women's rights, rights to basic needs (ie socio economic rights), etc.

 

It is interesting to me that Progressives can support denominational positions based upon ethics but shy away from talking about denominational positions based upon theology as though ethics and theology can be separated.

 

Not true. As stated above the decision to recognize the civil rights of people of the GLBTQ community comes directly from Jesus' teaching. It IS a theological issue.

 

In fact I would suggest that the fight over sex is really a fight over how theology is done.

 

The fight isn't over sex. The fight is over rather or not we follow God's will as manifested in Jesus' teachings.

 

In the UCC the Conservatives point to the UCC Constitution and the founding process of the UCC which was based upon a balance between individual conscience and the traditional creeds of the Church which were taken as “testimonies not tests” for faith. The Conservatives seem to think that the Liberals have left the testimonies behind and want to recover some theological power beyond the individual ego.

 

I've never met a UCC Conservative, so I can't comment on that.

 

The Liberals seem to want to ignore this plea and go straight to talking about ethics based upon individual conscience.

 

Not true. Liberals (this one and many I go to church with) came to the conclusions that ethics surrounding GLBTQ issues is a theolgoical issue and refer to Jesus' teaching as the starting point.

 

I think the Progressives need to bring theology back into the discussion but they are afraid to do that because that would suggest that theology can be discussed and decided “at the top” (again based upon a democratic process, not based upon the Pope’s thinking).

 

Theology never left the discussion.

 

Progressives need to find a way to bring theology and polity into conversation within the framework of the “priesthood of all believers”.

 

I can't speak for all progressives but for this one and most that I know in the real word theology never left.

 

They are not saying that marriage is based upon ethics they are saying that marriage is based upon theology. If the UCC can clarify a Progressive theology then there is no reason for them to stay.

 

If that is in fact what they are saying then they are confused. Support of marriage for GLBTQ people is a theological decision for this progressive and those I know.

 

If the UCC can not do this then I would repeat the original question: Is the UCC really Progressive?

 

It has already been done. In which case by your standard, yes the UCC is progressive.

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I do not want to question your experience but I am wondering if that experience is limited given the fact that you have never met a Conservative member of the UCC. I have had many discussions with them. They are very active now in a struggle at the denominational level. I have suggested that the Conservatives have the support of the Constitution and the history of the UCC:

 

“Constitution of the United Church of Christ

PREAMBLE

2 The United Church of Christ acknowledges as its sole Head, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior. It acknowledges as kindred in Christ all who share in this confession. It looks to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world. It claims as its own the faith of the historic Church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant Reformers. It affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God. In accordance with the teaching of our Lord and the practice prevailing among evangelical Christians, it recognizes two sacraments: Baptism and the Lordês Supper or Holy Communion.

 

Testimonies, not tests of the faith:

The United Church of Christ embraces a theological heritage that affirms the Bible as the authoritative witness to the Word of God, the creeds of the ecumenical councils, and the confessions of the Reformation. The UCC has roots in the "covenantal" tradition—meaning there is no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members. Christ alone is Head of the church. We seek a balance between freedom of conscience and accountability to the apostolic faith. The UCC therefore receives the historic creeds and confessions of our ancestors as testimonies, but not tests of the faith.”

 

It seems clear to me that the goal here is to “seek a balance between freedom of conscience and accountability to the apostolic faith”. That would obviously include Paul and the Bible as sources of authority. The teachings of Paul are included as well as the teachings of Jesus. Paul presents some problems to Progressives but he is often quoted by Conservatives. The creeds that are listed as approved testimonies also provide problems for Progressives but are quoted by Conservatives. If you only take the “teachings of Jesus” without this extra baggage then how to do reconcile your position with the official position of the UCC?

 

I see that we agree that the fight about sex is really a theological fight. Although it is not this simple I see the ethical discussion taking place based upon "rights" whereas the theological discussion is based upon "truth". Obviously they are related. However, I find many times that Progressives argue based upon "rights" supported by the dignity of individuals. This argument may or may not be related to larger "truths" since one can recognize the "right" to do something without agreeing that it is "true".

 

Anyway I am glad that you are happy with your local UCC group. My local UCC group was most nasty to the only Progressive minister they ever had and drummed him out of the building.

Edited by David
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