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Progressive Thought In The Bible


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I think it is obvious that Jesus and the early Christians were progressive in outlook. The manner in which Jesus spoke against the Temple, his eating with sinners suggest this. The apostles were also progressive in the way they changed their opinion about the relevance of circumcision. (I doubt Jesus taught anything about not requiring circumcision anylonger, the change came with the disciples).

 

An example of Jesus' progressive thinking is also found on Matthew 19. In Matthew 19:4 Jesus refers back to the creation narrative Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 to argue that the expressed will of God is for husband and wife to be one flesh. Furthermore, “what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matt 3:6). At this point we should note that the Pharisees replied by asking why did Moses allow for a certificate of divorce (19:7)? This question suggests that the Pharisees understood that what Jesus was saying seemed to be a contradiction as to what Moses allowed, therefore they wanted clarification (really they wanted to trap Jesus). Jesus’ response was that Moses permitted divorce as a concession. It was not how it was meant to be in the beginning, but because of the Jew’s hardened heart Moses allowed men to divorce their wives (v.8). The only exception for divorce was marital unfaithfulness (v.9).

 

There is no reason to suggest that Moses’ concession changed God’s original intention for humanity. God hates divorce - it is not in accord with his will. The creation account (as Jesus argued from) reveals this. Divorce was never intended to be normal. However, it was given to avoid abuse. What we have here is a recollection of Deut 24, which according to Jesus, cannot be satisfactorily harmonised with God’s expressed will for man and woman from creation. The writer of Deut 24 has put in a clause that allows for an action (divorce) which is not truly reflected in God’s expressed will as revealed in creation. A paraphrase of the issue might go something like this, “Whatever God has combined let no man separate, but because of the abuse that is going around I (the prophet) will permit divorce for certain situations.” Therefore we have in early Jewish tradition a verse that goes against what God originally had intended for mankind. And for Jesus this seemed fine.

 

So not allow Jesus and the apostles show evidence of progressive thought, but likewise do the early prophets of Israel's history. This is something that the church nowadys need to consider seriously.

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  • 1 month later...

I sometimes feel awkward referring to myself as a "progressive" Christian.

In fact, a good case could be made that I am highly conservative - it's just that the things within the Christian (and Jewish) faith that I seek to conserve are not typically the things that the so-called "conservative" Christians seek to conserve.

Indeed, I think that this same thing could be said about Jesus as well; i.e. that he was an enigma - one who was highly progressive in some areas and radically conservative in others.

 

In fact, there are times that when obviously conservative Christians ask me if I'm conservative or not, I respond saying "Yes, I'm a conservative Christian! I'm conservative about being opposed to war; opposed to capital punishment; opposed to nationalism; opposed to economic exploitaiton; opposed to the hypocracy of criticizing homosexuals while allowing straight people to divorce for reasons other than adultery and allowing divorced straight people to remarry; and I'm conservative in being strongly in favor of social and economic peace and justice."

 

One aspect of all of this is that Jesus and the prophets spoke out against "royalist" (conservative/status quo/accomodated) theologies in favor of conserving what they perceived as the more truly authentic and essential theology of their heritage.

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"We need Liberal "televangelist" to come OUT with their faith."

 

I agree. Accept they'd call a teleProgressive pastor. We 'NEED" a good speaker Progressive Christian on tv.

 

"Heck, I recently found out Billy Graham is a registered Democrat. "

 

 

"Billy GRaham even had one of his crusades at a MCC church. "

 

Billy Graham is a very sincere man and I am sure he has helped many people. But I don;t concure with his conseravtive explaination on salvation. I will explain why in a new thread intield, "Billy graham's Take On Slavation."

 

 

" I sometimes feel awkward referring to myself as a "progressive" Christian. "

 

I don't. Not one bit. Infatc, I am very puzzeled as to WHY So many moderates and and some Progressives even 'WANT' or "wish" to indentify with the the very term "Evangelical" when they see what the term has come to mean. I myself surely do not wish to embrace the term "Evangelical" in terms of my Christianity

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re: Billy Graham

 

the latest Christian History magazine had an interesting article on Billy Graham, titled "Billy Graham's Bible Dilemma"

 

According to the article, in 1949 "Graham's faith wavered." He began questioning the gospel as he new it after reading Reinhold Niebuhr and Karl Barth. The main issue was the reliability of Scripture - "The Bible's seeming contradictions haunted Graham."

 

An evangelist friend of his Charles Templeton enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary inviting Graham to join him. Graham did not want to go to Princeton but mentioned to Templeton that he would go to Oxford if Templeton would also join him - "But Templeton had his eyes set on Princeton alone."

 

Templeton became persuaded by liberal theology telling his friend "Billy, you're 50 years out of date." I quote the following at length...

 

"But Graham was not prepared to surrender just yet. 'Chuck, look, I haven't a good enough mind to settle these questions,' Graham said with characteristic humility. 'The finest minds in the world have looked and come down on both sides of these questions. I don't have the time, the inclination, or the set of mind to pursue them. I have found that if I say, 'the Bible says, and 'God says' I get results. I have decided I am not going to wrestle with these questions any longer.'"

 

Templeton accused Graham of not thinking - of comitting "intellectual suicide." Graham was put at some ease when he encountered Henrietta Mears. The article says that she was one who "understood liberal theology." Though put at ease, many questions were left unanswered for Graham.

 

Graham's burden lifted when he confessed to God "Father, I am going to accept this (the Bible) as thy Word - by faith!...I'm going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be your inspired Word." The rest is history.

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You know, that account of Billy Graham kinda reminds me of that book, "Leaving The Fold," accept in her case, she did go to liberal education and ended up turning non-theist. The problem is...many, if not most fundamental christianity here/see and see these types of stories..that is..where a Evangelical has doubts...is exposed to liberal or humanist views..and the next thing you know that are atheist. I have known many JWs like this. They are affraid that if they examine any other interpreation on the Bible or world thought than their own..then the Devil will trick them into being decieved and turn against God.

 

However, Christ asked what type of foundation do you build your faith on anyways? solid rock or sand? If you build your relationship with God on a solid rock of reason and not on a sand of emotionalism than when you are exposed to counter beliefs it won't wash your belief from under your feet.

 

Maybe if Graham would have looked at liberal theology he would have learned that hell simply means the grave and that God does not send people to a burning fire pit forever..then he would not feel such an inner conflict about preaching that God is love and wished no one to perish one minute and then teaching people they's better accept Jesus before it's too late and they end up in hell

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You know, that account of Billy Graham kinda reminds me of that book, "Leaving The Fold," accept in her case, she did go to liberal education and ended up turning non-theist.

 

What I forgot to mention in that Billy Graham account is that his friend Chuck Templeton, left the Christian faith.

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Yeah, I know I read that book, "A Cause For Faith." In that book, towards the end, the author tries to convince the reader why 'he' believes that the fundamental view of hell is bibical rather than the conditional view. To me...his challenge does the opposite and makes a cause in support of conditionalism.

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Chuck Templeton, left the Christian faith

 

I read the last book he wrote before he died, Farewell to God. I read it right after it was published actually. It was a gift from my husband to help me come to grips as to why I left Jehovah's Witnesses. I read "Losing Faith in Faith" by Dan Barker at the same time.

 

I respect the choice Templeton made in leaving the Christianity he knew, because he saw the flaws in a literal, infallible view of the Bible. That is why I left JW's.

 

In hindsight, now that I've opened my mind to a new way of imaging Christianity, I wonder what kind of progressive Christian he would have been if he had made that choice instead. He admitted in an interview to Lee Strobel that he missed Christianity. It's sad when everything is tossed out because people believe that literalism is the only way.

 

Aletheia

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"I read the last book he wrote before he died, Farewell to God. I read it right after it was published actually. It was a gift from my husband to help me come to grips as to why I left Jehovah's Witnesses. I read "Losing Faith in Faith" by Dan Barker at the same time."

 

" When God Becomes A Drug," Is the book that helped me get out of JW.

 

"I respect the choice Templeton made in leaving the Christianity he knew, because he saw the flaws in a literal, infallible view of the Bible. That is why I left JW's."

 

I think I will start a thread intiled,"The Bible WithOut Error?"

 

"In hindsight, now that I've opened my mind to a new way of imaging Christianity, I wonder what kind of progressive Christian he would have been if he had made that choice instead. He admitted in an interview to Lee Strobel that he missed Christianity. It's sad when everything is tossed out because people believe that literalism is the only way."

 

Precisely what I was/am thinking. In the Evangelical book,"A Cause For Faith," when Strobel admited that he missed Christ..I was thinking how the shame of it is that the author of this book, being Evangelical will only continue to insist to his questioning friend that THEE 'ONLY" Christianity to choose from is the fundamental kind. If only Strobel and others like him, like the author of "Leaving the Fold" could have come to ecounter Progressive Christianity as a non-fundamental option.

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