Jump to content

A Simple Declaration


minsocal
 Share

Recommended Posts

I propose to this forum a simple declaration. I am a Christian. I follow the teachings of Jesus. I believe God exists. I do not much care for theology; Jesus did not. I believe that creation has not ended. It is a process. I believe that God stands outside time and. yet, is inside time. It is, after all. God's creation, and not our own. God is here, and God is before. God is here, and God is in the future.

Edited by minsocal
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although I suspect that in many ways “it is not that simple” I am struck by a very elemental point that you did or did not intend. You did not mention the word “Christ” and you argued that Jesus was not much of a theologian. As an unpaid theologian I have argued before that TCPC was very wise when it put together the eight points to not mention the word “Christ”. It would seem that to be Christian then means to be a “follow of Jesus”. The theological references within the eight points have to do with God. There is no sense that talking about the “Christ” is an important discussion.

 

To the extent that TCPC is helping to define what it means to be a Progressive Christian this is huge. Every “Christian” denomination that I am aware of makes the “confession of Christ” central for the definition of being a Christian. The most inclusive groups (the UCC, the Disciples, etc) include/exclude based upon the word “Christ”. “Followers of Jesus” who do not become theological with the Christ claim appear to be left out of what it traditionally means to be Christian.

 

Certainly this message board provides a lot of evidence that people still like to use the word “Christ” and people still seem to want to “come together” in the name of Christ. I would suggest that Progressive Christianity surely includes those people, but the circle is much larger and includes those who merely state that “I am a follower of Jesus”.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Following Jesus implies action, aligning one's heart and mind with the love of God expressed in Jesus. Confessing Christ has more to do with indicating one's belief is in line with church tradition. It was very popular in the days of the Inquisition to charge people with the crime of heresy. I do not have all the same beliefs as the traditional church, but I love Jesus, and I am giving my life to loving others (neighbors and even enemies) in God's name to the best of my abilities right now(with God's help).

 

There are some in my Methodist church who are concerned, as you are about what they see as a weakening of religion if church-goers are not required to assent to a particular set of beliefs.

 

I, personally, like being around people who think differently than I do (to a degree). It challenges me. We are all united in the goals of knowing God better and doing God's will. Have you heard the song, "Deeds", by Sanctus Real. It speaks about the faith versus deeds seeming dichotomy in a funny way, but the conclusion is you can't have one without the other. Faith is very personal and individual, but most of the people on this forum have a very strong faith, even if it doesn't align perfectly with tradition. You can tell from the passion and insights they share.

 

I know my declaration would be different (and probably be more complicated). Thanks for sharing yours, minsocial. I agree with you, David, that the progressive circle would include some who are comfortable confessing Christ and some who are not. Good point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although I suspect that in many ways “it is not that simple” I am struck by a very elemental point that you did or did not intend. You did not mention the word “Christ” and you argued that Jesus was not much of a theologian. As an unpaid theologian I have argued before that TCPC was very wise when it put together the eight points to not mention the word “Christ”. It would seem that to be Christian then means to be a “follow of Jesus”. The theological references within the eight points have to do with God. There is no sense that talking about the “Christ” is an important discussion.

 

To the extent that TCPC is helping to define what it means to be a Progressive Christian this is huge. Every “Christian” denomination that I am aware of makes the “confession of Christ” central for the definition of being a Christian. The most inclusive groups (the UCC, the Disciples, etc) include/exclude based upon the word “Christ”. “Followers of Jesus” who do not become theological with the Christ claim appear to be left out of what it traditionally means to be Christian.

 

Certainly this message board provides a lot of evidence that people still like to use the word “Christ” and people still seem to want to “come together” in the name of Christ. I would suggest that Progressive Christianity surely includes those people, but the circle is much larger and includes those who merely state that “I am a follower of Jesus”.

 

David,

 

The "confession of Christ" can take two roles. One establishes a context a priori, the other post hoc. Jesus taught truths the world still finds difficult to accept. In this sense, Jesus was on both sides of time. The term "progressive" means to recognize both sides of time, as I understand it.

 

Minsocal

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So it’s not so simple……?????

Sounds pretty theological for a person (you and/or Jesus) who does not care for theology.

 

I am not entirely clear about the point that you are making. In regards to epistemology the language I would use is a priori versus a posteriori. In regards to time I would use the language of finite/infinite. In philosophical thinking I would suggest the language of existence/essence. I like the objective/subjective language. All of these may apply to christology. I still maintain that christology is not essential for Progressive Christianity (I see some evidence that the fundamentalists are getting quite concerned about taking christ out of Christianity). Having said this, some discussion like christology is necessary for me to have an adequate understanding of my experience. I just think there are better words than christ for that understanding because there is so much baggage associated with the word christ. And then....after having said that.... I have no problem with Progressive Christians continuing to use the word christ as long as they realize that there are other Progressive Christians who do not want to use the word.

Edited by David
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So it’s not so simple……?????

Sounds pretty theological for a person (you and/or Jesus) who does not care for theology.

 

I am not entirely clear about the point that you are making. In regards to epistemology the language I would use is a priori versus a posteriori. In regards to time I would use the language of finite/infinite. In philosophical thinking I would suggest the language of existence/essence. I like the objective/subjective language. All of these may apply to christology. I still maintain that christology is not essential for Progressive Christianity (I see some evidence that the fundamentalists are getting quite concerned about taking christ out of Christianity). Having said this, some discussion like christology is necessary for me to have an adequate understanding of my experience. I just think there are better words than christ for that understanding because there is so much baggage associated with the word christ. And then....after having said that.... I have no problem with Progressive Christians continuing to use the word christ as long as they realize that there are other Progressive Christians who do not want to use the word.

 

In the real world, people suffer. They starve, every day. Children. Mothers. They are ostrasized from society by laws made up by humans, not God. They are denied equality by laws made up by humans, not God. They are killed in wars that are a human contrivance not of their own making. The poor become fodder for the machinery of war. Most of them know nothing of theology. They suffer. They die needlessly. They are not in need of theology. Or epistemology. They are in need of food, clothing, rights, and substantive justice. In short, I am asking for an epistemology of human suffering, if that makes any sense?

Edited by minsocal
Link to comment
Share on other sites

minsocal,

 

If I read you correctly you argue in favor of more reform, social activism, and less focus on individual belief. Isn’t that how the 8 points of PC have always defined it --the search for meaning is more important than absolute certainty, others’ religions are equally valid for them, not insisting others be like us, etc.

 

As you say it’s God creation, and not our own, yet you also say that unjust laws and war are human contrivances, which they are – a result of God giving human beings the freedom to choose. If only we could become more responsible as co-creators of the world --better stewards of the planet, at least. Something that could unite us all.

 

The emphasis needs to be on faith rather than beliefs or epistemology, IMHO- beloving rather than believing, as Marcus Borg would say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Minsocal,

 

I do not see it as an “either/or”. I do not see that a concern with theology means a lack of concern with justice. Nor do I see a concern with justice as meaning a lack of theological concern. “Simple” affirmations can be made about both. I’m not too clear on what you are trying to show as “simple”. There seems to be a jump from post 1 to post 7. That has made your thread “less simple” for me. I apologize if my posts take away from what you are trying to say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I propose to this forum a simple declaration. I am a Christian. I follow the teachings of Jesus. I believe God exists. I do not much care for theology; Jesus did not. I believe that creation has not ended. It is a process. I believe that God stands outside time and. yet, is inside time. It is, after all. God's creation, and not our own. God is here, and God is before. God is here, and God is in the future.

 

Hi Minsocal,

 

I find nothing wrong with your simple declaration. Simplicity works well.

 

Love Joseph

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Minsocal,

 

I do not see it as an “either/or”. I do not see that a concern with theology means a lack of concern with justice. Nor do I see a concern with justice as meaning a lack of theological concern. “Simple” affirmations can be made about both. I’m not too clear on what you are trying to show as “simple”. There seems to be a jump from post 1 to post 7. That has made your thread “less simple” for me. I apologize if my posts take away from what you are trying to say.

 

There is a way the world is now. There is a way we want the world to be. The first has to do with knowledge (beliefs), the second has to do with desires. One is anchored in the past, the other in the future. One seeks affirmation from what has been, the other asks what could be? Which emphasis is Jesus seeking? Progressives look out through the windshield of the moving vehicle, and reference the rear view mirror when needed.

Edited by minsocal
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I love the idea of an epistemology of human suffering! My personal theology affects the way we live my life. If I thought people were going to be damned for an eternity to hell if they did not say a prayer confessing Christ, I would be running around trying to get as many people as possible to say it. Instead, I'm organizing volunteers to try to help make the world a better place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
If I read you (minsocal) correctly you argue in favor of more reform, social activism, and less focus on individual belief. Isn’t that how the 8 points of PC have always defined it --the search for meaning is more important than absolute certainty, others’ religions are equally valid for them, not insisting others be like us, etc.

 

As you say it’s God creation, and not our own, yet you also say that unjust laws and war are human contrivances, which they are – a result of God giving human beings the freedom to choose. If only we could become more responsible as co-creators of the world --better stewards of the planet, at least. Something that could unite us all.

 

The emphasis needs to be on faith rather than beliefs or epistemology, IMHO- beloving rather than believing, as Marcus Borg would say.

rivanna,

 

Benevolance begins with a personal belief system (faith) that can reasonably and rationally answer why it is that benevolance even has any meaning (epistemology). In order to seek any sort of reform, which I assume here is intended to be to guard, aid, or promote prosperity in others, a personal faith must meaningfully be established in order to rationally and reasonably communicate a justification of the effort to reform, not only to oneself but to others.

 

Meaning and certainty depend on each other. Unless something has a certain meaning the meaning of something can't be certain. Belief and faith depend on what can be considered their certainty in meaning. Faith/belief would then have a foundation from which it can be communicated and then put into action.

 

I find the differences between faith and belief don't appear to be much more than the spelling. They're synonymous.

---

You have uncovered the great moral dilemma of man: man can fight and create injustice, he can be noble and he can be cruel. The question: Why is man this way?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The notion that we are somehow other than what God created has always baffled me. Life itself places us in different moral dilemas and God apparently gave us the tools to solve them. It all depends on how one frames the issue. For example, if the focus is on the injustice we create, one set of responses will naturally follow. On the other hand, if we reframe the discusssion to the justice we create, we now have a very different discussion.

 

What has concerned psychologists for a long time is the effect of terms such as "justice" or "injustice" in framing discussions that move in one direction or another. The Old Testament Prophets were concerned about justice. They were concerned about doing justice (the action component). In this sense, the Bible suggests that we focus more on the positive aspects of our nature.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The notion that we are somehow other than what God created has always baffled me. Life itself places us in different moral dilemas and God apparently gave us the tools to solve them. It all depends on how one frames the issue. For example, if the focus is on the injustice we create, one set of responses will naturally follow. On the other hand, if we reframe the discusssion to the justice we create, we now have a very different discussion.

 

What has concerned psychologists for a long time is the effect of terms such as "justice" or "injustice" in framing discussions that move in one direction or another. The Old Testament Prophets were concerned about justice. They were concerned about doing justice (the action component). In this sense, the Bible suggests that we focus more on the positive aspects of our nature.

Good comment. The first sentence is a good enunciation of the dilemma. I would say that it is more than a notion that man behaves morally as well as immorally (justly/unjustly). It is factual. Is that intrinsically normal or abnormal for man?

 

If we were created perfectly, normal would be moral, sinless, and obedient to God; and behaving immorally or unjustly, sinfully, or disobedient to God, is abnormal.

How do we answer this question of man behaving so cruelly, abnormally? Has man somehow become abnormal from how we intrinsically are? The answer could explain your being baffled.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
We were not created perfect. Guess we just have to get over it that "in the image of God" never meant "perfect". No "image" is ever the real thing.

That is no answer to the dilemma of our own cruelty, with such things as bigotry, unjust laws, and war.

If man is now as he always intrinsically has been, then M A N = cruelty.

If man was created by God, we cannot escape the conclusion that God must also be cruel.

Second, if there is a God, then we cannot fight against those social evils, for if we do, we are fighting God who made the world as it is.

 

You would, from the evidence, then have to take a departure into the field of irrationality, a blind leap of faith, to say that God is good.

If you step back into rationality, then all you are left with is pessimism, since, again, the evidence points to a bad God. There is now a tension.

When people spin of into irrationality they know not where to stop. They tend to accept the whole thing as an irrational situation, and decide that there is no meaning to words at all, and that God is good against all reason.

 

Or- man is not what he was.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is no answer to the dilemma of our own cruelty, with such things as bigotry, unjust laws, and war.

If man is now as he always intrinsically has been, then M A N = cruelty.

If man was created by God, we cannot escape the conclusion that God must also be cruel.

Second, if there is a God, then we cannot fight against those social evils, for if we do, we are fighting God who made the world as it is.

 

You would, from the evidence, then have to take a departure into the field of irrationality, a blind leap of faith, to say that God is good.

If you step back into rationality, then all you are left with is pessimism, since, again, the evidence points to a bad God. There is now a tension.

When people spin of into irrationality they know not where to stop. They tend to accept the whole thing as an irrational situation, and decide that there is no meaning to words at all, and that God is good against all reason.

 

Or- man is not what he was.

 

Don't believe a word you are saying.

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