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Should We Interfaith With Conservatives?


BeachOfEden
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I got the lastest issue of the TCPC newsletter today. On page#3 under News & events there is an article intitled," President's Report, in which author James R. Adams says that "Progressive Christians have done a lousy job of making any effort to innerfaith with Conserative Christians." Any of us Progressive Christians who manage to escape or overcome a past fundamental church background and had to learn to deal with our devote still conservative family members or friends that we better return to the fold of "orthodox" Christianity before the end comes...knows by past attempts of trying to reason with such conservative family and friends that unforuantly this is like talking to a brick wall.

 

I have read many a booklets at Christian book stores in which Evangelical Protestant author's and pastors warn people that they view even their Progressive and liberal Protestant peers as New Age false cults. This kinda puts a damper on any attempt to inneract with them. Another thing is the far right Protestants, Catholics, LDS, and JW's..each of these conserative faith groups views everyone ELSE as lost unsaved and hopelslly false heathens who they should not wast any chance at getting spiritual koodies from. Such groups will only innerfaith with groups who agree with THEM.

 

Our best chance is to focus on those who would be best discribed as "Evangelical Lites", Liberal-minded Catholics, and any Mormon, JW or the like who voices to us a strong interest in social justice that they themslves voice as being missing in their own church groups.

 

To help in this...the more Progressive Christians who come and join here who came from these conseravtive faith group backgrounds...the more we can be ready and capable of relating to their jounry towards a more Progressive view of Christianity and that the Golden Rule should surpass our doctrinal views..So what i would sugest? Well, what fundamental faith group background did YOU come from? Do you know friends who came from the same? Do they voice agreemnt in your Progressive views on Christianity that you have shared with them? if so, then by all means, invite them here to join us!

 

Also considering creating a free web page of your own with the word "Progressive Christian" attatched to the name of the former conservative faith group you came from. Example "Progressive Mormons Alternative Network." Or replace the titled, "mormon" here with YOUR own former faith group name here. Then advertise it on Progressive themed web links and on the googel directory or Yahoo search.

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My wife came from Free-Will Baptist (conservative) and I came from Presbyterian (moderate). I've had quite a lot of positive dialogue with conservative Christians (Church of Christ, Non-denom, Catholic, Baptist) over the last few years. The most helpful dialogue tools that I've used is 1.) finding a common language and 2.) finding a common ground.

 

 

Progressive, Evangelical, Mystic, and Catholic Christians each speak with a different jargon. It struck me as interesting that one definition given for 'jargon' is :

 

Nonsensical, incoherent, or meaningless talk.

 

We are very attached to our words, but if we give a little we will quickly find common ground. We basically say the same things, but we tend to get hung up on terms like "saved", "born again", "cleansed in the blood of the lamb", "repentance", "evil","sin", etc

 

Common Ground.

 

For me, the common ground is usually in talking about the Holy Spirit. I've also managed to find common ground in talking about Grace, Salvation (sometimes), Forgiveness, Surrender, Love, Compassion (all the good core stuff). It's the more political issues that are more difficult to talk about (abortion, homosexuallity, school prayer) or who receives salvation that are trickier. In those cases I prefer to listen more than I speak (I find that very valuable).

 

Once they see that I don't have a "watered down" faith, that I read the Bible, and that I'm not going to try to shove anything down their throat they are usually very receptive (and a little surprised!)

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I suppose another issue is that progressives and conservatives both call themselves Christians. So, how do you interfaith? Conservatives often refer to other denominations as different religions (or was that just in high school...."What religion are you?" "Well, I'm Christian", "No, I mean what church do you go to?" "Oh, Presbyterian, but that the same religion" )

 

Is it? Is it the same religion? Perhaps we should come up with a new name ("Christies", "Christers", "Christites", :D )

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As I understand it, Inter-Faith discussions/relations refers to when Hindus and Christians, or Jews and Muslims, or Christians and Jews and Muslims, and Hindus, etc. get together for discussions/relations.

 

Intra-Faith discussions/relations refers to when various sects and denominiations within on major religion get together for discussion/relations/worship, etc. e.g. Presbyterians, Methodist, Catholics, Baptists, and even independent evangelical or fundamentalist groups get together. Christians often refer to such gatherings as "ecumenical" (all the people). This said, fundamentalist churches rarely participate in ecumenical gatherings as they don't wish to associate with (as they see it) "liberal, backsliding, deviant bastardizations of the true Christian faith."

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"This said, fundamentalist churches rarely participate in ecumenical gatherings as they don't wish to associate with (as they see it) "liberal, backsliding, deviant bastardizations of the true Christian faith."

 

Yes, that is correct. You'll noticed that when Calvary Chapel's pastor Greg Laurie has his Harvest Crusades...no Progressive or even moderate mainstream churches join. He has voiced dissapointment in this..but the moderates and progressives know from personal experinces that if they tried something like this then they'd have to endure sermons about things they don;t feel are in harmony with Social Justice. They may talk about other faith groups claiming to be Christian are really unsaved and angerous cults. They may say something sexist.

 

Having said this...while it may not be pssoble to inner faith with the most extrem versions of the far right...Still there ARE those who consider themselves to be more Lite Evangelicals, Catholics, JW's LDS,SDAs..ect. That is..while their churches may NOT be moderate or Progressive...still THEY MAY BE..and thus such individuals might be really glad to learn that people like THEM ARE welcomed to join US.

 

I think that IS our best bet..to try and reach out and innerfaith with moderate and Progressive minded individuals who may be in churches that are not.

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I believe in the Christian’s consciousness of acceptance that there is one God and that He created all things is a conceptual truth that frees the mind to think of God all the time. This should relax the emotions so we can praise everything as good because it came from God. Some Christian philosophies have a lack of total explanation; therefore, they have lost the power to bring about the original experience of oneness and have become superstitions and an impediment on the road to spiritual development. Christ consciousness is beyond the normal mundane world of time and space and is the living expression of the pure consciousness of God where everyone can find fulfillment. Turning from material beliefs to spiritual beliefs will change our perspective and reveal the ever-present divine Love that is in pure consciousness. Therefore, we should not be afraid to mingle with other groups or individuals from those institutions, but the organization of those other groups are afraid to mingle with us because their superstitions will be exposed.

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I am concerned about an attitude of exclusivity that underlies the statement or assumption that non-progressive Christians won't really hear what we have to say.

 

On the other hand, it might have more to do with the way we say it.

 

Someone wiser than I said "Preach the Gospel. If necessary use words."

 

I interact with many other people (most of whom I have no knowledge of their religious affiliation) in my activities to promote Social Justice and Human Compassion. I talk to many of them about these issues. I try very hard not to burden compassion and justice with specific religious and/or political labels.

 

Two areas where I expend effort are access rights for those with disabilities and food/clothing/shelter provision for the homeless. I have become great friends with some fellow laborers in these fields and believe that my friendship and witness by action has softened their worldview and allowed them to be more sensitive to human suffering. This could not happen if I went about trumpeting myself as a "Liberal" or "Progressive" Christian, although I am both.

 

amarado

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That is why I sugested inneracting with those of whom I call "Evangelical Lites" or "Catholic Lites", "Mormon Lites", ect. By the term "Lite" I mean they may not be Progressive..but through conversations and inneractions with them you can tell that they are NOT "extra dark fundamentalists". These types show the most promise of leaning towards social justice/The Golden Rule.

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BeachofEden, Thank you for your Liberal Catholic links. I just had a book published and I am willing to give free classes and lectures to groups in the Reno vicinity or California. I feel the ideas in the book are progressive Christian. The fundamental Christians will not read it and feel threatened by it. The Christians you have been referring to have given me a lot of positive feedback.

 

"Evolution of Consciousness" is a book that merits serious and quality attention. I lived as a monk and have written some refreshing ideas on Christianity.The book is appealing in particular because it explains the Christian mysteries so everyone can understand them. The book evolves in stages as the reader is taken on a transforming journey through the layers of the mind, the parts of the mind and evolution. Among the themes explored are: Christ Consciousness, Trinity, and the Soul. It answered many questions that I had and it leads one to Christian Mysticism. I would recommend Evolution of Consciousness as a resource for spiritual renewal because the book outlines, with specific and practical guidelines, a life any person in the world—no matter their station—might adopt with great benefit. Here is ancient Christian wisdom written so contemporary Christians may understand.

 

If you have any more sites or places that might be interested please let me know. I wrote the book to appeal to Christians who want more and want to go deeper in themselves and Christianity. This is my mode for spreading Progressive Christian Beliefs.

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Another thing is the far right Protestants, Catholics, LDS, and JW's..each of these conserative faith groups views everyone ELSE as lost unsaved and hopelslly false heathens who they should not wast any chance at getting spiritual koodies from. Such groups will only innerfaith with groups who agree with THEM.

THIS is the big issue where I come from. Very often, before you have a conversation with "conservatives," they have to have a sense that you are of their ilk, otherwise you are assumed to be outside of the reach of the Holy Spirit, and thus cannot (by definition) be trusted to talk about spiritual things. It's hard to converse when you've been dismissed before the real conversation starts.

 

I can understand this though. I went through a period of fundamentalism. I suspect we all do at some time or another. Therefore, when I try to relate with those of a more "evangelical" bent, I (as Fatherman suggested) tend to focus on the Holy Spirit. My little joke is that in contemplative prayer one sits still, doing nothing, and just enjoys being in the presence of God...hence it is the Presbyterian version of charismatic ecstatics. I've found that relating the mystical to the charismatic is quite helpful, sometimes even identifying them as two sides of the same coin.

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