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What's The Point? No, Really.


Suz C
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This may have been discussed at length already-- if so, please post the link to a previous thread and I will happily go there for review.

 

I recently identified myself as a PC (6 mos or so ago), having had the thoughts/feelings for a long time but just not realizing there were others sharing a similar path. This basically came about, like several of you, as a result of close textual examination of what Jesus is actually saying, hearing speakers discuss issues surrounding Aramaic primacy/what was lost in translation, Borg, other scholarship, Merton, Pema Chodron, etc.

 

I grew up in the uber-fundamentalist Church of Christ, and understand what it feels like to be so passionately convinced you are indeed the guardian of TRUTH.

 

I have found now, primarily as a result of reconnecting with random people normally not on my radar/Facebook, that I desperately want to retreat from interacting with those whose ideas I find so off the mark. It just annoys me, even when I consciously try to view their perspective(s) with compassion. I've been there; I used to believe that; for now, I have landed here. But when I joined the CPC Facebook group, I got a couple of unsolicited emails from people challenging the tenets of the CPC and who were REALLY eager to argue about it. (Kind of blew my mind...)

 

I have a feeling my not wanting to interact/argue/etc is either stemming from my ego, from laziness, or from the fact that I in no way seek to proselytize. Live and let live. You'll figure it out for yourself.

 

But as someone who really loves God, is deeply invested in matters of the spirit and wants to grow/share with like minds/etc, should I be more open to discussions with those who spiritually have little in common with me? Am I being selfish or sensible? What has been your experience with this?

 

Thoughts welcome and appreciated. Thanks for reading.

 

Suzanne in TN

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Hi Suzanne,

 

Welcome! Like you I have little or no interest in debating or arguing about my faith or beliefs. I grew up in a church that was big on converting others and no doubt that plays into it. I certainly did my best to try and convert my friends with no success (at least lasting success). Anyhow, my take is this. I did not become progressive because someone somehow convinced me that it was the right way to go. It was a long and very personal journey. I did most of it in the beginning on my own. The only real help I had was what I sought out by going to seminary. So in that sense a few of the people I went to seminary as well as my professors helped. Although none did it intentionally. Truth (or lack there of in what I grew up) was staring me in the face and I for one am more about the facts. So my sense from my own experience and others I've met is that it is a personal journey that takes time and is very personal. There is no point in trying to convert someone to progressive Christianity. For me it is more letting people know that Conservative/Fundamentalist Christianity is not their only option. If they want a compassionate, respectful, intelligent version of Christianity those people and churches exist. (By respectful I mean respectful of people of other or no religions).

 

So yeah, I think your instinct to stay away from argument and debate is right on. I don't think it is ego or anything like that but simply a recognition that debate is useless with someone who has not gone through your journey.

 

Hope that helps! And again, welcome!

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Hi Suz C,

 

Welcome to the TCPC discussion board. You can have it both ways here. You are currently in the safe area that is only for those who agree in principle to the 8 points of TCPC thereby considering themselves as Progressive Christians. When we were unmoderated this area was violated numerous times but not any longer. If you feel as you do in your first post then I believe you will find this area most comfortable. Any disrespectful or posts you may deem inappropriate should be reported by the report button at the bottom left of the post rather than engaging a provoking member. With the help of all, we should be able to maintain this site as both safe and respectful for all concerned.

 

If you do decide you want to learn or understand more about other traditions that may even expand your view of Christianity, there is the 'Other wisdoms traditions' section and if you want to discuss things with those who may have views differing significantly and those who are not considered PC's you can engage them in a respectful fashion in the debate/dialog area.

 

Anyway, welcome again and I hope you find this site supportative, satisfactory and edifying for your personal journey.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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Hi Suz C,

I find that I have to take each opportunity on its merits. Sometimes, a person keen on debate, is genuinely fearful about their belief system falling away, and in that case I might persist, but only as far as I am happy to do so. There are many who enjoy the fight for its own sake and I am respectfully opting out of the conversation in that case. I also have to consider where I am feeling, personally, on any given day. On a day that I am tired and frustrated, I am not going to add much of value, so if a person really wants to persist, I am happy to have that conversation on another day. In cyber space, discerning people's motives is far tougher, as irony can come across as anger, or disrespect, and depths of feeling are almost impossible to make out. (The English language differs greatly across the globe too. I know, I have wounded friends uninentionally with my Aussie idioms.)

I was never raised with evangelism on my radar; Australia is a very secular country, and intrusions into people's beliefs generally not welcomed, so talking about faith issues is something that I have only done fairly recently, with my more mature faith behind me. And yet...despite the reticient culture here, I find myself having those conversations. (And I am too busy to purposely seek them out!)

This board is a good place for progressive Christians to talk safely and I know that I don't have all the answers anyway, ready to dispense to angry questioners.

I try to remind myself that each journey is different and that I have been angry and alienated at various stages of mine.

If you are not someone who wants to debate your faith that's okay.

I am new here too, so I look forward to reading more from you.

Regards Timeflows.

:D

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I am one of those who doesn't mind being in dialogue with those who think significantly differently theologically than I do. I have a friend of 19 years who is evangelical, and we have had to agree to disagree on many issues, but I enjoy hearing about what she is learning about in her church, because they are so much more Bible-focused than my church is. Sometimes she picks up tidbits and I have taken them on in personal study. Sometimes thinking deeply about why I disagree with her or why I am so angry about what she has said shows me a lot about my own faith or personal weaknesses. Talking about God with her is extremely fulfilling, because I get different insights than I get from my PC friends.

 

However, I think situations like mine are extremely rare, and the relationships are built with great care and quite a bit of time. It is okay to stay away from religious dialogue in my opinion.

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I am one of those who doesn't mind being in dialogue with those who think significantly differently theologically than I do. I have a friend of 19 years who is evangelical, and we have had to agree to disagree on many issues, but I enjoy hearing about what she is learning about in her church, because they are so much more Bible-focused than my church is. Sometimes she picks up tidbits and I have taken them on in personal study. Sometimes thinking deeply about why I disagree with her or why I am so angry about what she has said shows me a lot about my own faith or personal weaknesses. Talking about God with her is extremely fulfilling, because I get different insights than I get from my PC friends.

 

However, I think situations like mine are extremely rare, and the relationships are built with great care and quite a bit of time. It is okay to stay away from religious dialogue in my opinion.

 

I'd be very wary of anything Bible-focused she is telling you. Those churches are notorious for being clueless when it comes to misinterpreting the bible. They tend to possess very little knowledge about language or culture which are major keys to understanding what the various writers of the bible were saying to their prospective audiences.

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(snip)

Sometimes she picks up tidbits and I have taken them on in personal study. Sometimes thinking deeply about why I disagree with her or why I am so angry about what she has said shows me a lot about my own faith or personal weaknesses. Talking about God with her is extremely fulfilling, because I get different insights than I get from my PC friends.

(snip)

 

I share that same thinking. Looking inside ourself to find out what makes us so angry at anothers words is so freeing when we get to the root of the problem which is always in us, in my view. It seems to me real growth takes place when we approach it as you have said.

 

Joseph

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  • 2 months later...

I’m a newbie, as least as far as being an actual board member, but I’d been reading this site for months before I decided to join. I finally got away from an ultra conservative fundamentalist church in 2005, after a 20+ year association with them. In retrospect, I believe they are a cult. They do a number on your psychic. You don’t just walk away from them you have to be deprogrammed as part of the process.

 

As part of that process I became obsessed with studying and researching religion, Christianity, the Jewish culture, and the bible. All that resulted in me wondering if I’d lost my mind. My religious thinking and beliefs drifted so far outside the mainstream after that I began to wonder if I should seek professional help.

 

My friends seemed convinced that I had lost it because I no longer believed the bible was either inspired nor inerrant. Additionally, I dared to voice the opinion that I thought the majority of Christian fundamentalist were intellectually lazy, gullible and hopelessly naïve. That clearly didn’t help my image. I obviously had some unresolved issues that needed to be dealt with. I have since learned it best to keep those kind of opinions to myself.

 

I haven’t fully embraced all the concepts associated with Progressive Christianity yet, mostly because I’m not comfortable wearing any kind of tag right now, but I don’t have any particular problems with any of the stated concepts either.

 

Actually, I haven’t found anything that I disagree with, at least not yet. So far, I’m pretty much blow away to discover so many other believers here have come to conclusions that are so similar to mine.

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I'm a newbie, as least as far as being an actual board member, but I'd been reading this site for months before I decided to join. I finally got away from an ultra conservative fundamentalist church in 2005, after a 20+ year association with them. In retrospect, I believe they are a cult. They do a number on your psychic. You don't just walk away from them you have to be deprogrammed as part of the process.

 

As part of that process I became obsessed with studying and researching religion, Christianity, the Jewish culture, and the bible. All that resulted in me wondering if I'd lost my mind. My religious thinking and beliefs drifted so far outside the mainstream after that I began to wonder if I should seek professional help.

 

My friends seemed convinced that I had lost it because I no longer believed the bible was either inspired nor inerrant. Additionally, I dared to voice the opinion that I thought the majority of Christian fundamentalist were intellectually lazy, gullible and hopelessly naïve. That clearly didn't help my image. I obviously had some unresolved issues that needed to be dealt with. I have since learned it best to keep those kind of opinions to myself.

 

I haven't fully embraced all the concepts associated with Progressive Christianity yet, mostly because I'm not comfortable wearing any kind of tag right now, but I don't have any particular problems with any of the stated concepts either.

 

Actually, I haven't found anything that I disagree with, at least not yet. So far, I'm pretty much blow away to discover so many other believers here have come to conclusions that are so similar to mine.

 

Javelin,

 

There is much in your post that I can personally relate to.

 

It seems to me, the wonderful thing about progressive Christianity is its progressive nature. One doesn't have to remain fixed in outdated church rules, regulations and positions that place us in bondage to how religion interprets or says we must believe. There are similarities among progressives in their beliefs but never a requirement to agree or disagree about any specific dogma and doctrine. The 8 points are pretty well the principles and the focus is on grace and the search rather than an agreed upon specific doctrine or dogma or understanding that evolves with ones journey. To me it seems more spiritual than religious because we can differ on our position and still love one another as Jesus taught. Perhaps there will come a time when all of our beliefs will be even closer but the moment we lock them in and form a doctrine it seems to me we will have stopped our growth and just formed another religion.

 

Inevitably you will find someone here to disagree with but the wonderful thing, in my opinion, is it is okay. It is not unacceptable and your point of view is just as welcome and valid in this community as is the others. Perhaps, with a freedom to share and receive without nonacceptance as a person, personal growth is not inhibited.

 

Just my two cents,

Joseph

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Good thoughts Joseph.

 

Many years ago I came to the personal conclusion that traditional Christians were confused. I found their traditional teachings and beliefs to be both muddled and contradictory. They teach and preach salvation is obtained and retained by faith and grace one day, but then contradict themselves the next day and teach salvation by works. Every traditional believer I know seems to believe that salvation is obtained by faith & grace but retained by works at least thats what their words and lifestyle portray.

 

Actually, it seems to me they are just attempting to comply with what the bible says. Scripture appears to support both doctrines. If a believer is also a biblical literalist it becomes nearly impossible to resolve this apparent conflict.

 

I’ve personally resolved this apparent conflict by acknowledging that the Jewish and Gentile believers understood Christ in a different context. The Jewish believers, who later became known as Ebonites, continued to follow all their Jewish laws & traditions. They rejected Paul as an apostle and his teaching. The Gentiles embraced Paul and followed his teaching. It seems to me the Ebonites and Gentiles did not believe or teach the same things and did not understand Christ in the same context. That is why the book of James and Paul’s epistle to the Galatians are saving very different things.

 

Once I separated the Jewish believers writings (James, John’s epistles, Hebrews, Peter likely didn’t write I & II Peter so I discard those writings) from Paul’s epistles the New Testament began to make a lot more sense. Anyway, that resolved the conflict to my satisfaction, but the majority of believers continue to believe that the Jewish & Gentile believers were all on the same theological page. Christianity continues to be a diverse religion that reflects a multitude of differing theological concepts and beliefs. I would identify it as a cafeteria religion where folks pick and choose what they want to believe.

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(Snip)

 

Christianity continues to be a diverse religion that reflects a multitude of differing theological concepts and beliefs. I would identify it as a cafeteria religion where folks pick and choose what they want to believe.

 

Javelin,

 

Yes, I saw what you are saying in the part I snipped from your post here, in the Jesus versus Paul thread post you wrote. It was very interesting.

 

It seems to me you are correct that Christianity is a diverse religion as it exists today and in a sense is a cafeteria religion. People have always been picking and choosing what they want to believe anyway. We can not change that even by force. Personally, I find no fault in them doing so. In time we all will follow the paths we choose and find they either dead end and we can then take up a new one or the path will take us to where we really want. Coming from the same fundamental beliefs, I can be inclusive of all, knowing that if I were in their shoes with the identical genetic make-up and the same identical past experiences and pains, I would be no different. It could not be otherwise. With that realization, I can be inclusive and find compassion, unconditional forgiveness and peace with all.

 

Just my thoughts on the issue,

Joseph

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I agree with your thinking Joseph. The only issue I have with traditionalist is with those who project an uncompromising demeanor and attempt to bind their beliefs and interpretations on others.

 

I like the image of faith being a journey rather than a destination. There is potentially so much that remains unknown and the interpretation process is complex and highly subjective.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This is similar to my refusal to debate politics. When a person is identified with a belief system, there is no dialogue. No give and take with ideas, no honest inquiry. Debating with people's conditioned belief systems is like trying to talk rationally with a decompensated schizophrenic. Or like talking to a wall.

I questioned belief systems in general when, as a preteen, I saw adults, including my parents, identifying with an abstract political idea, and being against the abstract "other side." It seemed hypocritical that all these adults called themselves Christian, and still had this abstract "other" in their heads that they were against at all times.

That's a great gut feeling you have there.

I also want to add that I think that many secular materialists are just as self-righteous as the religious zealots. It's the same disease in either case. Identification with belief systems that can only represent reality at best.

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Good thoughts Joseph.

 

Many years ago I came to the personal conclusion that traditional Christians were confused. I found their traditional teachings and beliefs to be both muddled and contradictory. They teach and preach salvation is obtained and retained by faith and grace one day, but then contradict themselves the next day and teach salvation by works. Every traditional believer I know seems to believe that salvation is obtained by faith & grace but retained by works at least thats what their words and lifestyle portray.

 

My friend, who is an evangelical, would say that salvation is obtained and retained by faith and grace. The works are just a byproduct of someone who is trying to glorify God. Works are evidence of strength of relationship, but repenting and confessing Jesus are the ways to salvation.

 

I am not an evangelical. The Bible clearly shows evidence to me that there were multiple thoughts at the time, including avoiding hell through good works.

 

I discuss both politics and religion with my friends. That's because I firmly believe no one of us has all the truth. I believe each of us has a piece of it, and we can learn from each other.

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  • 3 weeks later...

That would probably have to do with me misunderstanding the guidelines of this forum. My bad and my apology. I will refrane from posting for a short period while I simply read the posts and learn what is and isn't appropriate to post. I meant no offense. Again, my bad and my apology.

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