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How Progressive Christianity Has Changed Me


emilylauren
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I've been thinking lately on how I have grown, how my beliefs have shifted and my focus has changed since I've spent more time really thinking about my faith and started leaning towards a more "progressive" view of the Christian faith. So I just wanted to share a few things, both positive and negative, that I have noticed in myself and would love to hear from others what they believe has changed in their own lives as well.

 

+ I am more willing to take risks in life. I've been really focusing on God's Grace and forgiveness, and it has freed me to take risks and do things that may be questionable. Instead of being frozen in fear of doing the wrong thing, I've found myself banking on God's forgiveness if I make a wrong choice. I tend to micro-manage my life anyway, and in the past it was only made worse by me being terrified of dissapointing God with my failure.

 

+ I am more comfortable accepting people as they are. Without condoning behavior that I would believe to be wrong, I've found that I am less likely to judge people harshly. More often, I feel compassion for them.

 

- As I begin to question more, I feel my whole life falling apart. So much of my faith is crumbling around me and it is leaving me terrified. Part of me just wants to crawl back into a more safe and secure faith that had pat answers and definite conclusions... :(

 

- I have found myself judging my more conservative friends, often too harshly. I have a few friends that have always been more conservative than me... and this new look into progressive Christianity is only creating a larger rift. I have to remind myself that we are still brothers and sisters in Christ and that God loves them despite everything they do. It just hurts me to think that what they do may be pushing people away from God and hurting people emotionally and spiritually. (And yet, can I really say that I am free of doing the same thing at times?)

 

This isn't to say that I feel I can't disagree with them! Far from it, rather I seek a way to disagree respectfully with them without trying to demonize them. I do believe that they all have the best intentions, even if I also believe those intentions are misguided...

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Hi Emily,

 

I very much like your focus on forgiveness both for yourself and others. It indeed is very freeing. When one considers that we are to a large degree a product of our conditioning and unique experiences, it is easy to see that for the moment and most part people could be no other than they are. Not that progress cannot happen but that choices for that moment in time are unconscious for the most part and influenced heavily by a myriad of variables unique to that person. Hence the words recorded even of Jesus, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do".

 

Accepting people for where they are at the moment without judgement even though it is not the choice we might personally make seems to me to be founded in wisdom. If we look hard enough within, it seems to me we will find the potential to do the same things. For if we are graced to be different, then where is our room to boast? For what do we have that has not been given us?

 

As one grows, it does seem as if ones life is falling apart. That is because it is. One must lose ones life to find it. Yes? The part that is crumbling is built with the sand that was laid for you through tradition, fear, and what i believe is the herd instinct which assumes that since so many believe and follow something that it must be true.

 

It no longer bothers me what other more traditional Christians say or do. After all, was i not also a part of it? Is not God's grace sufficient that "in the fullness of times all things shall be gathered together into Christ, both which are in heaven and in earth"?

 

Being respectful of different beliefs to me seems an act of love founded in wisdom which is kind, not arrogant, not puffed up, long suffering and patient with others. You seem well on your way to a more meaningful encounter with Christ.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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Hello Emily,

 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am very much inclined to agree with Joseph on this, especially with regard to life falling apart.

I myself am beginning to be able to articulate this point for myself. That life confronts us with change, ambiguity, and death is a reality that I think all of us would rather not be the case. But if there is any grace in this fact at all, it is that it actively shows us a truth about who we are that we would otherwise overlook. By forcing us to look beyond ourselves, to 'the other', we can find truth. Love also accomplishes this end - it introduces tension in our idea(l) of our self, and what I am realizing is that this very tension is the truth, it is the true self, the divine, working its way into our lives, shining through. So yes, life is falling apart, and this fact impels us to go beyond the ego-centered self. Shih-t'ou concluded one of his poems by saying, 'I respectfully urge you who study the mystery, don't pass your days and nights in vain.'

Love and death are teachers here - I say this existentially and beyond any thought of what I think 'ought' to be. One could well say that all of religion is predicated on the realization of these two facts, of death and love, and the struggle to understand their significance. These facts teach us that there is more to life than us. And that is where meaning comes from, meaning comes from reaching beyond the self, for nothing that is absolute unto itself has any meaning at all. I would say that this contradiction, between self and beyond-self, cannot be resolved by thinking or theory; it can only be lived.

This might not directly address your points, but this is something I've been thinking about a lot lately and for me it ties in with the thought that life is falling apart. Yes, it is scary, but that this is so I think teaches us what it means to rely on grace. Our need for grace becomes more than theoretical and something that we can feel in our bones, so to speak.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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