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Progressive Christianity!


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Hi everyone,

Talking with some of the Christian faith a while back, and the "apparent" differences in God's attitude towards certain themes (such as war/killing) from the OT to the NT, some have stated that they view God and the Scriptures as "progressive." If I understand correctly, this is the gist of it:

- the people of the OT times were basically barbaric. God gave the Jews the Law, and He even commanded them to kill. But He real desire was for the Jews to forgive and love one another, although they were not able to do so.

- then, the message of Jesus Christ: "love your enemies, resist not evil..." etc. Here was God revealing much of His True Nature, in His Son, who commanded all to "follow Me." Yet there was still talk about punishment, damnation, etc.

- then came the early church, people who also had visions and understandings of things that Jesus was not able to tell them when He was still in His earthly ministry, because they "couldn't hear it yet." But He said that He had "many things to tell them." What were these things?

 

Well, this age we are in ought to therefore be a very special age, because we can begin to see even MORE of what God's real plan and nature are like. 1 Cor. 13 tells us that Love is the greatest thing that there is. It is not selfish, irate, touchy, resentful, etc.

Paul and the early church never preached about hell. Why is this? If he was preaching the full gospel message, why don't we see him telling people that they were going to hell (like we see so often on our streets today)? Did he know something that we don't? What exactly did he see when he was "caught up to the third heaven??" He described these visions as "unlawful to utter."

 

So perhaps Christianity is "progressive" is another sense, too. God first gives a glimpse of Himself to the Jews. Then comes Jesus, and we see things much much clearer. Then there's the early church, which never spoke of hell.

 

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

 

Blessings to all here (it's been a while since I stopped by!),

brian

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the message of Jesus Christ: "love your enemies, resist not evil..." etc. Here was God revealing much of His True Nature, in His Son, who commanded all to "follow Me." Yet there was still talk about punishment, damnation, etc.

 

There is a higher way and it is not about punishment and damnation. I feel people set up these alarms, but they are all only about security and power. The higher way transcends these tensions, anxieties and conflicts and flows into acceptance and love for all. As people gain some spiritual experience they seem to become calmer, more peaceful, loving individuals. It seems as people become quieter they start to be more sensitive, insightful and perceptive. They are no longer scattered, inefficient and confrontational as they tune themselves to the higher energies of love. May we all enjoy the deeper inner life and not let others kill the tender merciful presence of God. Good to hear from you and thanks for sharing.

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Guest billmc

A lot of what you wrote seems to be the case, AHW, but I would, perhaps, tweek it a bit by putting it like this:

 

1. The OT Jewish understanding of God was that he was their territorial protector, warrior, and king. They felt that in order for them to garner and keep his protection, they needed to be faithful to the Law which they felt he had given to them.

2. Jesus' understanding of God was that he was the Father. He felt that his mission was to reveal God's dream for the earth i.e. the kingdom of God. And he said that the Father desires us to love one another. But the disciples interpreted this to be all about Israel.

3. The early church, headed up by Paul, felt that God's Fatherhood and kingdom was not an 'Israel-Only' agenda, but meant to include the whole world and all of creation i.e. that God was in the process of making all things new.

 

As far as hell goes, I believe Jesus was warning people of the impending War of the Jews. See my posts here for elaboration. Paul does talk of everlasting punishment also, as does Revelation.

 

I'm not to sure I would call this "progressive revelation" as if God was in heaven and slowing pulling his shower curtain back so that we can see more and more of him. I would rather call it "progressive understanding" in that we, as humans, have come to understand God better as time has passed.

 

Along with Soma, good to hear from you again!

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If the people of OT times were "barbaric", then how different are we from them? Can anyone here name the five most devasting examples of genocide and the centuries in which they occurred? It seems to me that the term "progressive" is a relative term in regards to time. There would have been "progressive" Jews during the OT times. Rather than seeing history as barbaric, the Bible leaves us a history of experimentation, with some success and some failure. Thus, Whitehead would regard these times as heroic, not barbaric. The progressive hertitage that I am most familiar with asks these three questions (with special emphasis on the third question):

 

Where have we been?

 

Where are we?

 

Where are we going?

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A lot of what you wrote seems to be the case, AHW, but I would, perhaps, tweek it a bit by putting it like this:

 

1. The OT Jewish understanding of God was that he was their territorial protector, warrior, and king. They felt that in order for them to garner and keep his protection, they needed to be faithful to the Law which they felt he had given to them.

2. Jesus' understanding of God was that he was the Father. He felt that his mission was to reveal God's dream for the earth i.e. the kingdom of God. And he said that the Father desires us to love one another. But the disciples interpreted this to be all about Israel.

3. The early church, headed up by Paul, felt that God's Fatherhood and kingdom was not an 'Israel-Only' agenda, but meant to include the whole world and all of creation i.e. that God was in the process of making all things new.

 

As far as hell goes, I believe Jesus was warning people of the impending War of the Jews. See my posts here for elaboration. Paul does talk of everlasting punishment also, as does Revelation.

 

I'm not to sure I would call this "progressive revelation" as if God was in heaven and slowing pulling his shower curtain back so that we can see more and more of him. I would rather call it "progressive understanding" in that we, as humans, have come to understand God better as time has passed.

 

Along with Soma, good to hear from you again!

 

First of all, thanks to everyone here! Input helps me grow, and it's always nice to have!

 

I would like to ask about point no1 above. Could the Jewish understanding also be applied to Christianity today? We say that we are not under the Law, but it seems that Christendom has a whole "new" set of Laws that are required!

Any thoughts?

 

Blessings,

brian

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If the people of OT times were "barbaric", then how different are we from them? Can anyone here name the five most devasting examples of genocide and the centuries in which they occurred? It seems to me that the term "progressive" is a relative term in regards to time. There would have been "progressive" Jews during the OT times. Rather than seeing history as barbaric, the Bible leaves us a history of experimentation, with some success and some failure. Thus, Whitehead would regard these times as heroic, not barbaric. The progressive hertitage that I am most familiar with asks these three questions (with special emphasis on the third question):

 

Where have we been?

 

Where are we?

 

Where are we going?

 

Good points, minsocal.

Maybe it would be more correct to focus, not on man's progress, as God's relation to us.

 

Before: God in a bush, on Mount Sinai, two stone tablets, still small voice, etc.

 

Then: Jesus, and image of the invisible God, but still "apart" from man.

 

Now: Christ within man, again the "still small voice" of the Old Testament. (Perhaps a "return" of sorts?)

 

In fact, another understanding that God gives us, Paul mentions as "the message that we preach," in your heart and in your mouth. This message of something "already within us" and not "beyond the skies" also existed in OT times (see Deut. 30: 10-14.)

 

So maybe things are also "circular?"

 

Blessings,

brian

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Guest billmc

First of all, thanks to everyone here! Input helps me grow, and it's always nice to have!

 

I would like to ask about point no1 above. Could the Jewish understanding also be applied to Christianity today? We say that we are not under the Law, but it seems that Christendom has a whole "new" set of Laws that are required!

Any thoughts?

 

Blessings,

brian

 

You're right, Brian, Christendom has a whole BUNCH of laws. But that's Christendom, not Jesus. Jesus gave us two commandments - love God and love others. That's it. It is that simple and it is that difficult. :D

 

Personally, I don't care what laws Christendom or Christianity has. I don't follow that 'religious system,' I just value and try to live out what Jesus said about love. But, even being "under" Jesus' laws if, IMO, different from OT Law. We are led by the Spirit. So I don't believe that Jesus' laws are of the kind that says, "Do this or you will suffer the consequences." I just think they are more of guidelines for living together in a community of compassion.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't think the Christian bible is necessarily more progressive than the Hebrew bible but both contain beautiful and inspiring passages and both contain immoral and barbaric passages, such is the nature of books written by flawed human beings. The Hebrew bible does attribute a lot of commandments of genocide to God but then there are beautiful passages and inspiring wisdom which is still powerful and more Christians need to read in the Wisdom literature and the Poetry books and there is no hell in the Hebrew bible. In the Hebrew bible, the afterlife is Sheol which is a place everyone went to when they died regardless of their faith or actions. The Christian bible has the loving teachings of Jesus and I think Paul has a lot of progressive values as well. But the Christian bible has the horrific passages promoting the torture of non-Christians in Revelation, the sexism in the Pastoral epistles, and there's that passage in Acts where God murders a couple simply for lying. I think both texts have corruption and both have progressive values and I think we can find value in both. Even the barbaric passages I think have important lessons to teach us about religious dogmatism and the importance of distinguishing between the word of God and the words of humans.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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