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The Big Question And A Big Answer


Adi Gibb
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THE BIG QUESTION AND A BIG ANSWER

 

Recently on the TCPC facebook page a member suggested we, as PC's, should be asking these questions: "1)Why be a Progressive Christian as opposed to being a Progressive Agnostic or Progressive Buddhist, 2) What are the theological and/or philosophical underpinnings of Progressive Christianity, 3) Should we have our own denomination or stay in the denominations we are already in, 4) To proselytize or not, 5) What are our ethics and ways of dealing with the world around us." All of these issues, for us, crystalise in a question some have asked on these boards, 'What are we progressing to?'. We are very fortunate. The 8 points of TCPC do a fantastic job of showing the world who PC's ARE, it is a wonderful broad descriptive set of parameters, showing anyone who is interested our core and shared identity. But the above questions and other recent posts have led us to begin to ask the big question. What is PC trying to achieve? What is its ultimate goal? Because we need one. We need one because whether we like it or not the PC movement is becoming a part of mainstream Christianity. As this transformation takes place, TCPC is becoming the central point, the authority which one looks towards to determine PC theology or values on any given point. And ultimately we need to ask ourselves if this is something we WANT to happen. As the above questions suggest, if we decide to become a part of the mainstream establishment there is much introspection involved. We need to know where we stand on many issues which, for now, the PC movement tries to have no policy on. In short, if the PC 'movement' wishes to become a 'church', there needs to be more defining of what being PC is. If that is NOT something we wish, and we decide we would rather stay a 'movement', then we have to also deal with the question of what we stand for, as growth in numbers inevitably leads to a need for clarification. If PC is not about joining another organization or church, it is about people who are moving (movement) in the same direction -- for the good of humanity and our world, we can perhaps describe that movement WITHOUT giving an exact destination. But we need a big picture that we are moving toward, not so that we can determine who is in and who is out, but so that we know if we are wisely on course.

So what is the answer?

 

We firmly believe that PC should raise as its banner the cause of Christianity as a PHILOSOPHY. The PC movement should be the first to declare that Christianity is NOT a faith, and that as PC's we are not engaged in a religious practice, but that Christianity is a philosophy, a way to live life, find meaning in life, and experience a comfort, perhaps spiritual, in the TEACHINGS of Jesus, and not in any kind of metaphysical aspect to Jesus. Many believe, including me, in that metaphysical aspect, passionately (but not thoughtlessly), but there is a difference between the FAITH of Christianity, and the PHILOSOPHY of Christianity, which is adhering to Jesus as a great wisdom teacher and a template on which we should live. Buddhism is open to being seen as either a faith or a philosophy, and it is up to adherents to choose the various schools etc which fit into their chosen category. We believe that the PC movement should be at the vanguard of allowing Christians to have that same choice, faith or philosophy, and that PC, well, TCPC, seems to me to be the place for the Philosophy school.

 

By becoming a philosophical school of Christianity, it doesn't have to go through the processes we believe it would have to if it set itself up as another 'church' or 'denomination' within the umbrella of the 'faith' of Christianity. It is this which perhaps the PC movement should be progressing to.

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Adi, yes that is a big question and answer. It makes a lot of sense to me, though since I’m not involved with church I can only respond to one small part. Do you think point 7 of the tcpc list is not specific enough? if so how would you modify or expand it?

 

“….striving for peace and justice among all people, protecting and restoring the integrity of all God's creation, and bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers.”

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Hi Adi,

 

I see the ultimate goal as to create a network of people united in a common interest to support one another along life's journey and in faith.

 

I see the means and ends of the progressive movement as one and the same. PC to me means an open-ended expression of faith. If we are 'progressing' it is in the sense that we each as individuals are progressing on our lives' journeys in the pursuit of meaning or God or the good life or whatever you want to call it. The point of being progressive is more or less its own point, then, because it allows us to support one another in our respective paths. I don't feel as if PC itself is moving me closer to an ultimate goal or as if I am progressing along with PC. Perhaps the 'progressive' part of PC doesn't refer to the organization but rather to the individuals that comprise it?

 

Now I agree with you in that I would like to keep this a 'movement' and not a church or a denomination with specific doctrines and/or centralized oversight. The moment that happens what makes PC unique and attractive to me is compromised.

 

But, I'm not sure that the line of demarcation between 'philosophy' and 'religion' is so clear. It is true, for example, that Buddhism may either be approached philosophically or religiously, but that is because what Buddhism actually is has elements of both. As I understand only in modern Western category does this distinction between philosophy and religion exist.

 

Nevertheless you do make a good point in that perhaps this modern category would help to detach PC from any impetus to turn into a 'church' or seek to creedalize what are now simply a few intimations and guidelines that catch a sense of, or characterize, the movement's disposition and vision.

 

I'm not really sure though, as philosophy itself, unfortunately, can tend to be kind of dry and perhaps too detached from the alive and intuitive nature of the movement at its heart. (Perhaps I'm overstating the negative connotations that philosophy may carry, I simply get an image of a rather abstract or detached attempt at systematic thought, hammering points into ever more defined and refined details :lol:).

 

But your idea is intriguing and worth considering, these have simply been my reactionary thoughts.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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I tend to agree with Javelin that there may be no pressing need to transform PC into a separate and distinct religion. Also i think the goals stated by Mike in his own words pretty well lines up with my understanding. The mission of TCPC is pretty well spelled out here.... along with how we are working to fulfil it.

 

Also i found these words in the history of TCPC interesting..

 

"From its inception, the focus of TCPC has been primarily about rethinking and re-conceptualizing the theological and Christological foundations of the Christian faith. The leadership of the organization was and has remained convinced that our supporters and readers are expressing a deep desire to find resources and constructive ways to understand and teach what the newest science, biblical, sociological and historical scholarship has to say about the Christian religion and ways to integrate that information into one's faith and to create healthy, dynamic Christian communities."

 

Personally, I don't believe that PC wants to become just another 'church' . Perhaps the problem with more defining of what a PC is or isn't, or its theology, is that doing so may take away from the focus of finding "more grace in the search (wherever that will lead us) for understanding than we do in dogmatic certainty- more value in questioning than in absolutes. " (Point 6)

 

Having said that, I realize there are many who seek answers to the 5 questions posed in Adi's post, which is understandable and very logical. However, I personally believe PC at least at TCPC is very unique as it is. It is even called an experiment by Fred Plumer, TCPC president, here. As he said, progressive churches seem to have separated themselves from the standard model of doctrines and dogma of Christianity.

 

In it Fred Plumer writes....

"Maybe progressive churches will find new ways to get our message out to more people who are searching for a new expression of Christian Spirituality that fits their current understanding of reality. There are some indications that the Internet, websites like TCPC.org and scholars are helping that endeavor. Perhaps the progressive movement will continue to find language and terminology that can better communicate the unique nature of a religion that does not depend on a belief in a "sacrificial savior" but rather on a trust in a path taught by in an enlightened teacher, a belief in themselves and a faith in life. Perhaps we will discover a way to maintain spiritual communities that do depend on buildings, overhead, staff and administration."

"Or maybe we will discover what part of the first century church discovered more than 1900 years ago, that without the myth of the fall of humankind and the resultant need for a human/God/Savior to fix things, and the fear of damnation, the church cannot survive over the long term."

 

"But in the mean time, trust me, the progressive movement is an experiment, albeit an important and beautiful one, but an experiment just the same."

 

Just a couple of my own related thoughts on the questions and not an official TCPC position,

More official information can be found by looking through the site at www.TCPC.org

Joseph

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Guest billmc

Adi, your OP has a lot of good questions and valid concerns in it, and I appreciate that you brought this up. My mind is in such a whirl from considering this topic that I think I’ll address just one point at this time and then see where the conversation goes.

 

First off, I know more about the Christian religion than I do about philosophy, per se. From my exposure to PC, I’d say that it is not primarily a religion, but I don’t know if it is a philosophy either. From my perspective, it is what I would call a movement. In calling it that, at least for me, it helps me analyze my overall thoughts about Christianity and PC.

 

Christianity, though it does entail good works and a good deal of philosophy, is one of the world’s three major religions. Despite what many Christians might say about, “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship”, most of the 6 billion people on our planet would call it a religion, probably a way of connecting with God. PC is, IMO, too young to be called a religion. And I hope it doesn’t go down that road. Here’s why:

 

To me, it is like the difference between building a house and building a space shuttle.

 

A house has a foundation. Although most foundations are built to “give” a little, for the most part the foundation is immovable, unchanging; for the rest of the house is built on it. If the foundation goes, the whole structure is affected, if not destroyed. In religion, the foundation is usually sacred writings, a certain person, tradition, or revelation. For the most part, because these things are foundational, they are seldom questioned. They are taken to be sacred “givens” and the rest of the religious structure is built on them.

 

The house then needs a structure that will serve to protect the people inside, to give them a place of safety, warmth, identity, fellowship, and so on. In religion, these are probably beliefs, doctrinal statements, liturgies, and sacraments – things that make people feel safe about their relationship to God.

 

The house is then finished out and furnished with everything that turns it into a “home”. Again, the purpose of the home is to provide protection and identity, a safe harbor, so to speak. And I want to make it clear that I do not disparage the house or the home. Probably the first need that we humans have is for safety and identity. Houses provide that. So do religions.

 

But houses are not very transportable. And they are, for the most part, unchanging. They can be modified, of course, but it is usually costly to do so and the changes still do not make them portable. They are a place of retreat and shelter, not of exploration and new experiences.

 

The space shuttle, on the other hand, is designed for exploration and new experiences. Like a house, it has a structure that keeps its occupants safe (most of the time, thankfully). But it is not designed to stay in one place. It is designed to go from point A to point B in hopes that a mission will be accomplished that is, hopefully, for the betterment of humanity. It is designed to endure changing environments, both hot, cold, maneuvering in vacuum, flying in the atmosphere, withstanding thrust and G-forces. Yes, it keeps its occupants safe, but it is more than about safety; it is about progress, moving forward into the unknown. It acknowledges the past and prior accomplishments, but it looks to the future. It is more about a dream than a memory.

 

So this is why I would hope that PC is more like a space shuttle than a house. I would hope that it is more of a movement than a religion. I think that is why it is called “progressive” Christianity instead of “static” Christianity. We dare, as the old show Star Trek says, “to go where no one has gone before.” Not for personal glory or gain, but for the betterment of ourselves and our world (and maybe, someday, for other worlds). We need homes to come back to. Or we can, if we wish, build new ones as we move ahead. But I think it is important that we continue to grow and move into the unknown. I don’t know if it is our destiny or not, but we seem to have the option. As a PC, I want to take it.

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Bill,

I, too, love the space shuttle analogy!!

 

I've been thinking about the overall topic a bit.

 

I think the term religion includes not only a set of beliefs but also the outward acts people do to glorify God. When I first found P.C., I looked at the 8 points to understand the commonality of belief, but I think religion is more than just a doctrine agreed to.

 

I share Mike's "ultimate goal as to create a network of people united in a common interest to support one another along life's journey and in faith."

 

There are some pretty negative views (many deserved) of the words "organized religion" and "church" out there, but I'm hoping we can keep the good things about "church" (mutual support and encouragement, banding together to make a bigger difference, group learning experiences, etc.) as we explore the worlds of faith unknown in our shuttles.

 

The term "movement" is exciting. People often prefer to join movements rather than committees. Calling PC a "school of philosophy" would possibly turn people off. It sounds to the general public more like a mental gymnastics/resoning thing than an action thing. I think it would be a good thing for groups of PCs that want to get together to come up with something to call themselves besides a "church", because there is too much baggage that comes with that word.

 

I see what you're saying, Adi, about the difference between faith and a philosophy by which to live. I think you are getting at the idea that PC is about adding meaning/purpose to this life rather than attaining heaven through faith in Jesus' atonement.

 

Where I think PC should be progressing to is to formally declare that we believe Christianity has progressed past tradtional Bibilical understandings, past the days of the Council of Nicea, past the days of slavery, past the days where homosexuality was considered a defect, past the days when we believed in a God of substitutionary human-sacrifice. We need to apologize for the past hurts Christianity has caused. We can state that PCs believe that the defining theme of Jesus' message is LOVE (for ALL) and that God continues to help us today to make decisions based upon the kind of LOVE Jesus challenged us to. We organize in groups in a "movement" to love our enemies and love those society typically abandons. We seek to understand God better so that we may look through God's eyes. We support anyone who wants to journey with us. We don't know exactly where LOVE will take us, but we pledge to carefully (heart-wrenchingly) consider others' needs before our own and to make our decisions based upon scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.

 

Maybe we could be called "The Love-in-Action Re-Jesus Movement" (formerly known as Progressive Christianity) :D because traditional Christianity would no longer claim us.

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Guest billmc

I share Mike's "ultimate goal as to create a network of people united in a common interest to support one another along life's journey and in faith."

 

Me, too. I might call it a "progressive web" - A web that has a fluid, mobile structure. If any one point in a spider's web becomes unanchored, other points take up the slack.

 

Calling PC a "school of philosophy" would possibly turn people off. It sounds to the general public more like a mental gymnastics/resoning thing than an action thing.

 

True. What about, possibly, "a way of wisdom". For me, wisdom implies discovering the best way to live, for myself and for others.

 

 

I think it would be a good thing for groups of PCs that want to get together to come up with something to call themselves besides a "church", because there is too much baggage that comes with that word.

 

I know the Emerging Movement uses the word "cohort", but people go, "Huh?" :D What names would you suggest (and any others reading this)?

 

We support anyone who wants to journey with us. We don't know exactly where LOVE will take us, but we pledge to carefully (heart-wrenchingly) consider others' needs before our own and to make our decisions based upon scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.

 

I like this.

 

Maybe we could be called "The Love-in-Action Re-Jesus Movement"

 

Hmmm...the LIARJM? I don't know, maybe we should beware of TMA (Too Many Anachronyms). :lol:

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Guest billmc

As I’ve mentioned in my prior post, Adi’s OP is pregnant with good and relevant questions. I’m not known for short, concise answers but I’ll endeavor to share my brief responses to the OP. Please note that these are must MY responses and I might change my mind next week or after reading others’ posts:

 

1)Why be a Progressive Christian as opposed to being a Progressive Agnostic or Progressive Buddhist?

 

From the point of values or works, there would, hopefully be much of a difference.

 

2) What are the theological and/or philosophical underpinnings of Progressive Christianity?

 

Rooted in historical Christianity but moving away from religious dogma into a way of wisdom.

 

3) Should we have our own denomination or stay in the denominations we are already in?

 

Stay in our denominations (if we have them) but maintain and foster relationships within the progressive web.

 

4) To proselytize or not?

 

Not through “churchy” methods. I would rather live out my PC values and hope/trust that others who share or are interested in similar things would make the connections and come alongside.

 

5) What are our ethics and ways of dealing with the world around us?

 

To be decided. But going back to compassion and justice, especially for “the least of these.”

 

6) What are we progressing to?

 

Mature humanity and, hopefully, what Jesus called the kingdom of God/

 

7) What is PC trying to achieve? What is its ultimate goal?

 

The longevity of our children and their children (ad infinitum) and our world.

 

8) So what is the answer?

 

Many answers coming from many people. Some going back to ancient wisdoms. Some simply lived out in our hearts and lives today. Some to be discovered in the future. If we look at humanity’s best notions of heaven and the afterlife, we see a humanity bound together in love. Yes, it is doubtful that we can create heaven here on earth. But we needn’t have a hell here either.

 

Rich Mullins, a contemporary Christian music artist who gave up the spotlight to go live among and help “the least of these” once wrote:

“What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be human? I cannot help but suspect that at one time in the history of thinking that people believed that it meant that we were spiritual and that we could make choices and were capable of aspiring to higher ideals... like maybe loyalty or maybe faith... or maybe even love. But now we told

by people who think they know, that we vary from amoeba only in the complexity of our makeup and not in what we essentially are. They would have us think as Dysart said that we are forever bound up in certain genetic reigns - that we are merely products of the way things are and not free – not free to be the people who make them that way. They

would have us see ourselves as products so that we could believe that we were something to be made - something to be used and then something to be disposed of. Used in their wars - used for their gains and then set aside when we get in their way. Well, who are they? They are the few who sit at the top of the heap - dung heap though it is - and

who say it is better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven. Well, I do not know that we can have a Heaven here on earth, but I am sure we need not have a Hell either. What does it mean to be human? I cannot help but believe that it means we are spiritual - that we are responsible and that we are free - that we are responsible to be free.”

 

Being PC not only makes us responsible to be free – free from religion and dogma, but it also enables us to be free to be response-able. If we will not or cannot respond to each other and the world around us, then we become just another church or denomination. Yes, we are an experiment. But even an experiment has some design and hoped-for outcome to it. What is ours?

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Guest billmc

Okay, Adi’s OP has me all fired up and dominating the thread. Sorry. No, really. I’d just like to say one more thing and then I’ll do my best to be quiet.

 

In a spider’s web, all the anchor points which attach the web to its environment are simply the ends of strands that intersect at the middle of the web. Because of this, every point in the web is essentially tied to every other point, making the web strong.

 

I propose, as I have already mentioned that the intersection of the progressive web be “good fruits” or acts of compassion or works that make us and our world better.

 

But this in no way disallows for anchor points of various kinds – theology, reason, tradition, experiences, etc. These other anchor points would allow the people of the PCWeb to “touch” the world in ways that are most meaningful for them and in accordance with their own gifts.

 

In this way, if parts of the web want to focus on theology or religion, there is freedom to do so. If other parts want to affect change through wisdom traditions, there is freedom to do so. If people are more inclined to simply be involved locally or globally in charity or humanity organizations, there is freedom to do so. No one anchor point dominates another. In fact, the whole web is stronger when there are more anchor points, when there are more places where we each touch the world around us. What is central is the core values that Jesus and other great wisdom teachers have given us, values that most people agree have a lot in common. How these values are implemented is left up to the wisdom and gifts of the individual organizations and people who are part of the web.

 

So, to me, the PC web is not about getting everyone to agree about the anchor points are and what they should look like. It’s about common values that we share that can help us connect with each other and with the world in a myriad of ways.

 

Okay, I’ll shut now…at least until my next post. Pray for me! :D

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Bill,

I've been thinking about Adi's post all day, too.

 

I was thinking that focusing on what unites us (actively trying to make the world a better place, trying to make ourselves better people) is what we've done in my diverse (theologically) Methodist congregation. Our minister says "Even when we don't see eye to eye, we see heart to heart."

 

Maybe it is best to say that we are diverse theologically, but each of us has been uniquely touched by Jesus' message of LOVE and want to focus on uniting for the purpose of organizing action to spread that kind of LOVE in the world.

 

Janet

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Hi Everyone,

 

Thank you all so much for your responses. It has clarified a lot of issues for me.

 

1) It seems from the posts that PC is, indeed, considered to be more a philosophical movement than a faith. I agree with Janet, perhaps 'philosophical' has intimidation written all over it, and I like Bill's 'Way of Wisdom'. The point is, however, that PC should perhaps be considered outside, while inexorably linked to, the 'faith' of christianity. This is not a judgment issue, some will think a move away from the metaphysical aspects or 'faith' of Christianity is incredibly necessary, some may not, the point is that PC is focused on other aspects of adhering to Christ's messages. This is something that is important to acknowledge. For me anyway.

 

2) I liked what one of the posters said, that PC is a tool. And the consensus seems to be that perhaps PC is a 'way' within the 'way' of Christianity. It is about an approach to adhering to a Christian (Christ-like) way of life. I like this a lot.

 

3) It seems there is a consensus that PC should NOT become a denomination. This is vitally important to note and remember, and I really hope the hierarchy take notice of this retisence. It also means that if one wishes to remain a part of the 'church', ie, widely accepted mainstream denominations of today, and affect radical change WITHIN that Church, then it needs to be done by using PC as a tool with which to achieve this change, rather than see PC as an ALTERNATIVE to mainstream church and denominations. So, to take my personal perspective, it is unlikely that I will see a radical change in 'church' by leaving the Anglican denomination and attending a purely PC church. Rather, a PC approach WITHIN Anglicanism should be fostered to achieve change. This may sound like semantics, but incredibly important.

 

3) I still think that a solid and focused goal for PC needs to be achieved, and this seems to be agreed with by a few of the posters. We can't adopt a 'wait and see' approach if we wish to affect real change or provide a real alternative. One of the fundamental things we still need to determine is are we a 'Christian' movement? I would say yes, but many would disagree. From these posts perhaps one can be moved towards:

 

"The PC movement has as its aim the desire to focus on Christianity as a 'way of wisdom', and place emphasis on the non-metaphysical aspects of Christ and his teachings. The PC movement aims to serve as both an alternative to mainstream christian denominations, while never becoming a denomination in its own right, as well as serve as a means by which these same denominations can affect radical change within their ranks. The PC movement wishes to affect a 'kingdom of god' on earth, where no child will be poor or homeless, no person will be living on the streets, no person will be placed on the margains of society, war will become a thing of the past, and where food, education, health, spiritual satisfaction, peace and dignity are plentiful and available to all. We believe this can be achieved by a focusing on social justice issues and sincere inter-faith dialogue."

 

Well, that's what I have come up with anyway. What do you think?

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Guest billmc

Great post, Adi, both for thought and for encouragement. I especially appreciated your last paragraph. It puts a fine point on things without being preachy. :)

 

And here are a few more of my thoughts on this subject:

 

PC is a great movement. And we are starting to see some movement within the movement, some momentum. But I humbly ask, what are we moving toward? If we are going to use the moniker of Christian, then it seems to me that we need to be moving towards the same thing that captured Jesus’ heart and life, the dream or worldview that he called ‘the kingdom of God.’ I’m sure most of us have some concept of what this is and how this might look in our day and time. But my question is: how do we get there?

 

One of my concerns is that PC is starting to turn inward on itself, perhaps becoming a little too concerned with its own place in the world versus making a change in the world. We are becoming a bit myopic about defining exactly who and what we are instead of simply doing what we feel we need to be doing and leaving the definitions up to others.

 

So again the question comes back to: what should we be doing? What is it that PCs do? Are we mainly about trying to define a new kind of Christianity over and against an older kind of Christianity? Are we mainly about trying to discover modern approaches to theology? Are we mainly about differentiating ourselves from other forms of Christianity and even the darker sides of our own religion? Or are we about trying to find ways to implement Jesus’ teachings, not to save our souls from hell, but to help us mature as human beings and provide a better world for future generations?

 

I advocate that we begin to work on what I might call a ‘progressive web’. This would be a fluid, flexible structure of connections that allow organizations, associations, and individuals who share the values of what we call the kingdom of God to make contact with each other and to begin making a difference in the lives of people and cultures around us. I am not at all advocating that all of these entities be ‘Christian’, simply that they reflect the same life-affirming and life-connecting values that Jesus did. This web would not at all be about making ‘cookie-cutter Christians’ or even evangelizing. It would be about allowing people to recognize their own gifts, their own dreams for good, and about giving them points of contact in order to hook up with others to help make a difference.

 

This web would be about what we do, not necessarily about what we believe. It would be about what Jesus called “good fruit”, not about doctrines and creeds. It would be about healing communities, not about building more churches. It would be about wisdom, not about religion. As a web, it would have no limits except to the people that comprise it. And it could grow as more and more people participate. No one need lose their distinctiveness to participate, they only need to be able to do what Jesus taught us – serve others first.

 

PC is a good thing. But it shouldn’t be good for its own sake. It should be an influence for good in our world. I believe with all my heart that we can do this. I believe we should do this. I’m even tempted to say that we must do this. Otherwise, we will just become another denomination of Christianity, another church, or another social club that exists only to ensure that its members have a good time.

 

The PC movement is starting to move. People involved in it want to know where or what it is moving to. What do we tell them?

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A lot can happen when you are gone for a while. I confess that I come away a bit confused when I look at the answers posted so far. They all make sense, but they are kind of all over the place. Perhaps this is because what we call progressive Christianity (PC), and sort of define with the eight points, can be applied to such a wide range of perspectives. That seems like a good thing to me. So I will just add some random thoughts in the hopes that they may be useful.

 

I think of the word progress as meaning moving toward some desirable goal. I don't know if that is what I mean by PC. It may be more desirable for me, but maybe not for everyone. In almost every Protestant denomination there are individuals and congregations that would be comfortable with the eight points. Some of these folks act out the eight points both in their services and in the activities they participate in both within and outside their congregations. And from what I have observed in the comments made above, there are people from other faith traditions and from other personal perspectives who agree with and/or engage in activities that support the eight points. I think that PC encourages us to bloom where we are planted. And though I don't want to be pushy I would encourage folks to find or remain in the communities they agree with or are part of rather than seeking to form a specifically PC organization. And except for the eight points, I am really skittish about creedal statements that are explicitly PC. However, for Christians, the statement of the United Church of Canada that begins "We are not alone..." is very appealing to me.

Edited by grampawombat
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Grandpawombat,

 

I would agree with your encouragement.

 

PC is, of course, not looking to to steal church members or build up a new church. Through its encouragement and support we hope to find effective means to be heard and to influence the behavior of the churches, with the focusing toward the principles that Jesus taught rather than just doctrine.

Joseph

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Adrian,

Thanks for getting us thinking! This group should really take time to focus on the issue and come up with the best answer, so each of us can take the conclusions into our local communities. It seems like a good way to try to make a difference.

 

Here's Adrian's summary. Can everyone take a moment to comment on it? And maybe we can think about the best way to move forward with such a mission...

 

---

"The PC movement has as its aim the desire to focus on Christianity as a 'way of wisdom', and place emphasis on the non-metaphysical aspects of Christ and his teachings. The PC movement aims to serve as both an alternative to mainstream christian denominations, while never becoming a denomination in its own right, as well as serve as a means by which these same denominations can affect radical change within their ranks. The PC movement wishes to affect a 'kingdom of god' on earth, where no child will be poor or homeless, no person will be living on the streets, no person will be placed on the margains of society, war will become a thing of the past, and where food, education, health, spiritual satisfaction, peace and dignity are plentiful and available to all. We believe this can be achieved by a focusing on social justice issues and sincere inter-faith dialogue."

---

I think I might leave out the "place emphasis on the non-metaphysical aspects of Christ" and instead say something about "rather than arguing theological points, we'd like to focus on truly loving our neighbor, as Jesus taught."

 

Does PC have anything to do with personal transformation?

 

If our focus is to be on social justice and inter-faith dialogue, instead of organizing conferences about church reform, TCPC could instead sponsor "The Faith Club" lecture to be held in cities around the globe and become a major partner in "The Charter for Compassion", which is to be unveiled Nov. 12.

 

Does TCPC become politically involved to try to effect social justice or do we individually organize service projects in our local areas?

 

Janet

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Unfortunately, I must confess that I need to read this thread more thoroughly before posting something of significance. Time constraints at the moment make this difficult.

 

Yet, I wanted to comment briefly on something mentioned earlier regarding structure. Structure is important. When organizational structures are aligned with the "family romance" (a vision of how families and societies should be structured in order to be authoritative) of a culture (and here I'm most concerned with what I would call the "Postmodern Family Romance"), then it is possible for the organization to be culturally meaningful. As the organization's structure becomes more and more disconnected with the dominant family romance, it naturally becomes more and more meaningless as it cannot relate or be related to dominant cultural narratives.

 

Flowing from that understanding, I want to offer this TED video for thought.

TED: Clay Shirky on Institutions vs. Collaboration

 

Sorry for the run-n-gun, but I've gotta get back to work. Will try to pop in another time...hopefully soon

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As a Progressive Christian I have come to understand that the progressive 'experiment' is certainly not new. I believe it began before the time of Jesus but it was Jesus who gave the perspective a giant 'kickstart'. It was, as Whitehead put it, a light that was lit in Galalie and "flickered uncertainly down through the ages". My initial involvement with PC traces back to the late 1950's where, as an adolescent, I learned that PC and progressive politics has long been intertwined. The relationship of PC to political activism walks a fine line as the separation of church and state remains crucial to the preservation of religious freedom. However, as MLK correctly noted, injustice frequently becomes institutionalized in governement, where 'government' is taken to mean any governing (controlling) entity (including the Church itself).

 

Recently, I realized that I needed to take a step back from the philosophical perspective of PC and open up to the emotional experience of community and care. These days, it is a rare Sunday that I am not moved to the point of tears during worship at my church. It varies from week to week. One Sunday it was the Chancel Choir singing the 23rd Psalm, then it was a frank sermon about ending child abuse. Most importantly, as I look around the congregation during these moments ... I know that I am not alone.

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...there is a difference between the FAITH of Christianity, and the PHILOSOPHY of Christianity, which is adhering to Jesus as a great wisdom teacher and a template on which we should live. ...By becoming a philosophical school of Christianity, it doesn't have to go through the processes we believe it would have to if it set itself up as another 'church' or 'denomination' within the umbrella of the 'faith' of Christianity. It is this which perhaps the PC movement should be progressing to.

I'm not sure yet whether I agree with the idea of separating the faith and philosophy of Christianity. Yet, I can see Christianity as a philosophy first, and a faith second (quite an inversion). In other words, it is possible to uphold a Christian philosophy and be an atheist, but it is not possible to have a Christian faith and not uphold a Christian philosophy.

 

I really like the implications you have drawn out of this. It allows for two different "structures" to emerge. One could be the general "church" structure, with liturgical worship as its primary function. The other could be, well, something else, if anything. Effectively, it legitimizes the non-church-going Christian as a valid identity within Christianity (something that is generally rejected by the institution). No longer would the church have the right to say who's in and who's out, who's Christian and who isn't.

 

The more I think about this, the more I like it.

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