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Thoughts On The Future Of Christianity


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In his latest weekly message, Bishop Spong elaborates on many issues that seem to be causing a decline in active Christian practice, especially church membership and participation. To add that list, recent events seem to suggest that the delusion of a God-protector is just that, a delusion, leading to a possible conclusion that the historic church has been promulgating falsehood or at least false hopes. It may also be seen that the historic, institutional church's reading of it's holy book is also false in that the message of the writer has been taken literally rather than metaphorically. Spong was right, Christianity Must Change or Die.

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I don't think Christianity will die off anytime soon but I think it'll become more privatized in the future. The surveys show the fastest growing religious identification in the U.S. is the non-religious but the vast majority of the non-religious are not atheists but do in fact believe in God and are seeking an authentic spirituality but they just don't want anything to do with organized religion. I think we'll see an increasing number of "spiritual but not religious" Christians and Christians will start to expand the spiritual community beyond the walls of a church building to include a more global community.

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Dear Georgewerkema,

 

I'm responding to this because I have some personal conclusions regarding this particular point. Thank you for your post.

 

First of all, I think while it's true about the decline in active Christian practice in most denominations, the evangelicals are strong in number from what I've been reading.

 

Yes, "Christianity must change or die" was the first book I read by Bishop Spong. I have to say that I didn't really grasp his many explanations of that conclusion, but I agree on the premise.

 

But, I think that many Christians have the right thought process, but have been led down the wrong path of belief. Most people, I've learned, are basically sheeple and their beliefs have been based on what their family believed or what literature or verbal communication made sense to them. Rarely have I found a person who took the time to investigate, as I have, and as the Spongites and obviously members of this forum have done to form their own conclusions.

 

But they have no alternatives unless they continue to dig and think, so they can't be blamed. What they do know, most of them, is that in their hearts they know there is 'something' and that something is good and gravitate toward the belief that 'it' is there for us to believe in. A higher entity.

 

It doesn't matter what it's called, and that's one problem, because for most orthodox Christians, it's called God, which is really okay, no matter how you spell it. G-d, etc. Spelling and naming this entity only reveals one's insecurity or ignorance. I have no problem calling this entity, or force, "God" because it's only a name given, and an established name, a universal name and so be it.

 

The thing is, whatever "God" or "Jesus" really is, is beyond our ability to actually know, so it's all relative to our own beliefs.

 

What I think, is that we are really all on the same path, but have been led down different forks of that yellow brick road because we buy into what others before us have said.

 

I have a book written by Wallace Waddles (1860-1911), called, "The Science of Growing Rich" which is what the new wave "the Secret" is based upon. It's an amazing book and I wasn't ready for it until a year ago. I'm 63 and have been open to the 'power of positive thinking' and all that for a while, but I didn't really 'get' it until last year when I read that book. I was particularly taken by the fact that he wrote this so many years ago, and his premise is now becoming so appreciated.

 

What I take from this, is that we've been so misled as a culture for so long to believe that a 'theistic' God described in the bible is the "it" man, or the "go to" man for all our problems, when in fact, as I see it, the problem with that is that we relinquish our abilities in ourselves to accomplish that which we need. We put it all onto a man in a white robe in the sky, when our sky is nothing but a miniscule spot in the vast creation.

 

Waddles says that the universe (which could be defined as God) is all about giving you what you want, providing you are about love and what you want is not selfish. I have to go along with that. He also said that if you focus on and believe you will get it, you will. You've heard this in many other contexts, I'm sure, but if anyone is interested, I'll send the link to the ebook if I can find it. If not you can buy his book online for about $15.00.

 

So, what I'm saying is that we've been disillusioned by the bearded man in the sky in the white robe because we've been told that is what it is, and in reality, that is not what it is.

 

Dorothy has had the power all along to get there by herself.

Because of whatever force you want to give a label to.

 

Kath

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George,

 

First, welcome to the TCPC forum.

 

As to the question you pose, I am not inclined to think that Christianity will die, or "must die." First, religion is a human universal; it has existed in every known society going back into prehistory 40-50K years. Even when attempts have been made to suppress it like in the USSR and Red China, it persisted.

 

As to Christianity specifically, while I personally subscribe to the tenets of progressive Christianity, I would hesitate to assert this as a prescriptive universal. I don't think that within religion, there is, or should be, a one-size-fits-all theology. And, this applies to progressivism as well as conservatism. There is a wide diversity existing within all the major religions. This diversity exists because of different individual needs and worldviews.

 

IMO, some people need a clear, unambiguous belief system supported by authoritative sources. The fuzzier, more ambiguous aspects of PC may not work for everyone. As long as traditional Christians are doing no harm, I see no reason that they must be denied their belief system as it suits their needs. If they are using it as justification to do harm, that is another thing altogether and should be addressed as such.

 

Again, welcome.

 

Another George

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In his latest weekly message, Bishop Spong elaborates on many issues that seem to be causing a decline in active Christian practice, especially church membership and participation. To add that list, recent events seem to suggest that the delusion of a God-protector is just that, a delusion, leading to a possible conclusion that the historic church has been promulgating falsehood or at least false hopes. It may also be seen that the historic, institutional church's reading of it's holy book is also false in that the message of the writer has been taken literally rather than metaphorically. Spong was right, Christianity Must Change or Die.

I can't disagree more. Yes, there are issues; yes, church enrollment is on the decline in some church denominations; I won't deny that. The reasons are not so clear cut, however, as Mr. Spong may surmise. Christianity does NOT need to change, people need to change. Biblical Christianity will never die.

 

As an example, my church (Affiliated with Southern Baptist Convention) is thriving and growing and always has since I joined it some 13 years ago. Yes, the primary staff has changed several times due to callings, but our church is stronger today than at any time since joining. Maybe we are the exception, I do not know, but I can tell you there are a lot of churches with our kind of record and growth.

 

Just my own experience...

 

Doug

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Christianity does NOT need to change, people need to change. Biblical Christianity will never die.

 

Just my own experience...

 

Doug

 

Doug, this from my own experience. Yes, often people need to change, and often people do. I see people change when their children are diagnosed with some life threatening illness, leading to many superficialities being thrown out of the window as their hearts are opened by the call of empathy and love. Within my own Pure Land tradition, their are endless testimonies of those caring for elderly relatives who experience the reality of a life transformed by their need to care for another, beyond themselves. I could go on, but the point seems to be that though no one would actively seek suffering, or the suffering of someone close to themselves, such a situation is often the catalyst for a change, and a change for the better. As The Rolling Stones once sang so eloquently, "You don't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need".......Mick Jagger, "zen master"!

 

And change seems, paradoxically, often the result of people being able to accept themselves, or feeling totally accepted by another, just as they are, unconditionally. For me, this is where we can play our own part....

 

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them. (Thomas Merton)

 

And for me, Christianity is always changing, changing as the "spirit that blows where it will" leads those who - by grace - open to it, into "all truth". Luther initiated such a change in the 16th century when he declared the doctrine of sola scriptua, and over the past couple of centuries, as more have become literate and able to read for themselves, and Bibles have become more readily available, "Biblical Christianity" has come to be in ways not envisaged or even possible before. Theologies have been tweaked, for better or worse......

 

I also think there is much to reflect upon in the words of the Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, who said that sometimes, for the self same truth to be expressed, the actual words used need to change.......but perhaps such a thought would need a tread of its own?

 

Anyway, all the best

Derek

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just some thoughts here on an often overlooked, or at least, unstated factor in the matter of decline in some churches, even within the same denomenation, while others may be thriving and growing.

 

It's hard to draw any valid conclusions about what is going on in this without consideration of shifting demographics. I remember a study a few years ago, sorry, I wish I could recall enough details so as to give a reference, but it involved a survey of all churches within one region of SBC churches. May have been a Barna group project. The findings of that study were that even among those congregations that were experiencing growth in membership, less than 1 1/2% was new conversions. The majority were biological(raised from childhood in a chruched family) and transfer additions. Likewise, the findings for baptisms, only a very tiny percentage involved first baptism of new converts, again most baptisms of biological growth, and/or re-baptisms of previously baptized that made re-commitment.

 

In the area in which I live, located at the outer fringes of commuting distance from a large metropolitan city, many churches are experiencing strong growth that began within the last 5-10 yrs. This has the effect of stirring up a good bit of "revival" excitement among some in those churches that want to see it as some signficant spiritual 'bringing in the harvest', but...

 

This area has been one of those areas locked in economic stagnation for many decades, as many left the farms and migrated to more urban areas where there was more employment. For many years, most local congregations were mostly made up of an older generation that had grown up here, and the small number of their children that had stayed. But as the leading edge of the baby boomer generation approached and began to enter retirement, both many of those that had moved away when younger, as well as a swelling tide of complete newcomers began to move into the area. The same factors that are driving overall population growth, increased new home construction, and rising property values are those driving growth in local churches. Attending local churches, that is readily observed, as most new members are older baby boomers, that are not newly churched, but transfers from other churches as they moved into this community. At the same time, the effect on churches in that metropolitan area tends to be the reverse, their numbers dwindling as older members leave, whether moving away to retire, or passing away.

 

This puts these local "growing" churches, and any others whose growth is dependent upon shifting demographics of the older, and baby boomer generation, at risk of rather sharp declines in the near future as these people naturally die off. Some may be even putting themselves at risk of serious financial crisis a few years down the road, as they take out loans based on present rates of growth and revenues to expand and build new facilities to accomadate this influx of new, but aging, members. As those older die off, it will be not only membership numbers that will fall, but church revenues, as well.

 

Jenell

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  • 2 weeks later...

According to most research in the area, Christianity is growing worldwide by a rate of about 2.3% annually (mostly in Africa and South America), but Islam is growing at a rate of 2.9% worldwide (none of the research sites I looked at - Barna, US Center for World Religion, Wikipedia, Reader Digest and US News & World Report to name a few - defined a particular geographic area).

 

According to Barna, mid-sized churches with aggressive marketing campaigns are growing fastest:

 

Demographically, mid-sized and large churches attract a higher proportion of "upscale" adults - those whose education and income levels enable the church to take more risks, be more aggressive in marketing, and draw resources from deeper pockets and broader backgrounds. Barna also noted that upscale individuals are more often comfortable with leadership requirements and decision-making, and tend to be more excited about organizational growth. He pointed out that large churches, in particular, appeal to Baby Boomers - one-quarter of church-going Boomers (25%) attend churches of 500 or more adults, compared to just one-sixth of church-going Busters (17%) - and Boomers are infamous for equating success with growth and large-scale operations.

 

One of the most intriguing patterns emerging from the study portrayed mid-sized churches as having the highest proportion of born again believers. Barna suggested that many mid-sized churches grow numerically because their born again members actively invite non-born again people to the church. This often has the effect of swelling the church's numbers so that it reaches the "large" category while simultaneously diluting its born again proportion. Source (Emphasis mine)

 

 

 

Barna also had some very interesting essays on how the church that is growing is changing, which tends to support (at least in theme) Spong's assertions. See This graphic

 

I don't think that Christianity will disappear any time soon, and it certainly won't change into something I could tolerate within my lifetime. There is hope for my children, though. I think the changes noted in Barna's research (Barna calls these changes "Very Bad News," btw) are a positive step toward a less dogmatic and structured institution. They are more accepting of homosexuality, gender equality and most definitely moving away from a literal interpretation of scripture.

 

These days I hang with the Reformed Jews (I'm half Jewish on my mother's side), who tell me they became secularized very soon after the Shoah. They reasoned that if G-d would not deliver them from the atrocities committed by the Nazis, then it is not realistic to believe that G-d is actively involved in the world at all. If there is any hope for mankind, it is we who are responsible for that change:

 

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

 

NORM

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IMO, some people need a clear, unambiguous belief system supported by authoritative sources. The fuzzier, more ambiguous aspects of PC may not work for everyone. As long as traditional Christians are doing no harm, I see no reason that they must be denied their belief system as it suits their needs. If they are using it as justification to do harm, that is another thing altogether and should be addressed as such.

 

I'm glad this topic came up when it did. Last night my niece invited me to attend a contemporary Christian concert. Being generally amenable to new experiences, I went. I enjoyed the music, but not the underlying message which had its roots in fundamentalist teaching. However, the atmosphere was one of worship, and that, I very much enjoyed!

 

I was amazed at the crowd, which consisted largely of teens and 20-somethings - an age group that is under-represented in my church. I was happy to see so many young people so obviously wanting this religious experience. Yet, I was somewhat dismayed as well. What happens to their faith when life throws them curve balls? Is this enough solid ground to build a life-time of faith? I don't know.

 

I'm very new to progressive anything. I haven't degrees in ministry or theology or philosophy (my degrees are in business and education). What I know of progressive Christianity I learned on my own. I wade through posts on this forum and do not really understand a good percentage of it, nor have I much (if anything) to contribute. But, I believe that this is solid ground, something on which to build..

 

My question to all of you is this: can and should we, as progressives (or whatever we call ourselves) proselytize? I am accepting of others' faith, and know that there are other paths, but do I have any kind of responsibility go teach others what I believe? When I have faith discussions with my fundamentalists family & friends, I always try to plan seeds of progressive ideas. Should I do that? If so, how do I get from where the majority of the people in this forum appear to be coming from (ie, erudite) to the rest of us ?

 

Does this make sense? I am concerned that my enthusiasm for what I believe is going to turn me into an aggressive anti-fundamentalist!

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My question to all of you is this: can and should we, as progressives (or whatever we call ourselves) proselytize? I am accepting of others' faith, and know that there are other paths, but do I have any kind of responsibility go teach others what I believe? When I have faith discussions with my fundamentalists family & friends, I always try to plan seeds of progressive ideas. Should I do that? If so, how do I get from where the majority of the people in this forum appear to be coming from (ie, erudite) to the rest of us ?

 

Does this make sense? I am concerned that my enthusiasm for what I believe is going to turn me into an aggressive anti-fundamentalist!

 

I don't think proselytize is the correct word. It has a rather negative connotation due to the baggage connected with some of the more hyper-evangelical groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Born-Again Christians, etc...

 

Even when I was among the evangelicals, I was not a fan of "spreading the Word," as we called it. Back then, I would encourage others to "be an example." But, even that came up short, because we all do stupid stuff. And, if I'm telling others to "be like me," do we then tell them then, to "OK, only be like me when I'm doing everything right?" No, that's just silly.

 

I am, however, a firm devotee of striving for harmony with each other, different cultures and the planet itself. I think that the more other folks see how much enjoyment we progressives (I prefer humanist, myself) derive from life, it will naturally draw others to seek in the same places we find our strength.

 

I realize that this philosophy is very similar to "be an example," but with one major difference; knowing that we all have shortcomings, and that we can all learn equally from each other.

 

BTW, I hope you're not lumping me in with the erudite in this Fora! I do not have degrees in theology, philosophy or science. I'm just a crummy journalism major who sells high definition equipment to television producers. Some of the high level conversations I tend to steer clear of for fear of looking stupid.

 

I relate really well to a song that was popular in the 90s called One of Us by Joan Osborne:

 

If God had a name what would it be?

And would you call it to his face?

If you were faced with him in all his glory

what would you ask if you had just one question?

 

Yeah, Yeah, God is great

Yeah, Yeah, God is good

Yeah Yeah yeah yeah yeah

 

What if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us

Just a stranger on the bus

Trying to make his way home

 

If God had a face

What would it look like?

And would you want to see

If seeing meant that you would have to believe

In things like heaven and Jesus and the saints

and all the Prophets

 

Yeah Yeah God is great

Yeah Yeah God is good

Yeah Yeah yeah yeah yeah

 

What if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us

Just a stranger on the bus

Trying to make his way home

Just trying to make his way home

Back up to Heaven all alone

Nobody callin' on the phone

cept for the Pope maybe in Rome

 

Yeah Yeah God is great

Yeah Yeah God is good

Yeah Yeah yeah yeah

 

What if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us

Just a stranger on the bus

Trying to make his way home

Like a holly Rolling Stone

Back up to Heaven all alone

Just trying to make his way home

Nobody callin' on the phone

'cept for the Pope maybe in Rome

 

NORM

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I have to agree, my example is my witness, my testimony. But a part of that is also that I am no more 'perfect' than anyone else, I've made and continue to make mistakes, use poor judgement at times...I don't try to hide that, but rather use even that as part of my witness, that even when I fail, I still feel a mutual love and acceptance between me and God, I just lean on Him for a bit of support getting back up and trying again.

 

I don't think of myself prosylitizing (sp?) but do try to be ready to open up to and talk about my faith walk if another seems genuinly interested. I've been told by some that have known me for years, especially some of the young people that grew up alongside my own kids, that I've been a role model for faith, and that has meant much to me, to have had that influence. They've seen me through some really bad times, and some really nasty falls and crash and burns in my life, and how I've always just accepted what was, got back up, and kept going. To me, that is the most effective testimony, for others to see something in me they would hope for, seek toward, in their selves and their own lives.

 

Jenell

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What if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us

Just a stranger on the bus

Trying to make his way home

 

Theme song of one of my favorite TV shows, Joan of Arcadia. In the TV series God appeared in many different guises to to bring a breath of fresh air, a new idea of who or where to serve and occasionally words of comfort. Although God often discomforted and mystified her. And we are called to be that voice.

 

If we are concerned about proselytizing itself, what are we proselytizing to? Worship? Community? Study? Work? Spiritual Walk? Proselytizing to what we find important. If I am going to come to church on Sunday morning and attend worship I want the worship to reflect our best thoughts and theology. If worship contains only imagery and language of a 1st, or 4th or 12th or 15th century view of the faith and of the universe then why would I invite anyone to worship? Language in worship isn't important to everyone. Where do we want others to join us? If we are reflecting our progressive views then one place I think we need to be speaking to and working with is the people in our churches whether it is a call for justice or a call to think about our faith. I was once introduced to a new person in Bible study as one who had "challenging ideas". And I teach Adult ed occasionally.

 

A friend, recently ordained, said that house churches will be a major element of Christianity in the future. Yvonne, didn't you say that you were interested to starting a study group? That is proselytizing and equipping and community. In a world of house churches maybe large worship experiences only happen once a month or so.

 

This is kind of muddled. For me - my proselytizing is within the church with the aim of "improving" worship in a Progressive sense and being available to occasionally lead adult ed classes (Progressive ideas about God,etc.) It is by 'allurement and persuasion' because there is no committee and I am not musically inclined. Just strong suggestions to the interim pastor. It is working. The average age of the songs we sing is 50-100 years younger in the last month.

 

Dutch

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Georgewerkema: Thoughts on the Future of Christianity

“…Must Change or Die.”

 

Neon Genesis: “will (not) die off anytime soon” but “become more privatized in the future.”

 

GeorgeW: “First, religion is a human universal”…” and, “As to Christianity specifically, while I personally subscribe to the tenets of progressive Christianity, I would hesitate to assert this as a prescriptive universal.”

 

Mysaviorjc: “Christianity does NOT need to change, people need to change. Biblical Christianity will never die.”

 

Tarki: “And for me, Christianity is always changing, changing as the "spirit that blows where it will" leads those who - by grace - open to it, into "all truth".”

 

Yvonne: “My question to all of you is this: can and should we, as progressives (or whatever we call ourselves) proselytize?”

Norm: “I don't think proselytize is the correct word. It has a rather negative connotation due to the baggage connected with some of the more hyper-evangelical groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Born-Again Christians, etc...”

 

Dutch: “If we are reflecting our progressive views then one place I think we need to be speaking to and working with is the people in our churches…” and, “A friend, recently ordained, said that house churches will be a major element of Christianity in the future. Yvonne, didn't you say that you were interested to starting a study group? That is proselytizing and equipping and community. In a world of house churches maybe large worship experiences only happen once a month or so.”

Friends,

 

From the foregoing posts, it seems generally agreed that historical changes in religion (whether by evolutionary or revelatory impetus) begin with individual experience and eventually migrate into institutions and other social avenues. There is much doubt that static “Biblical Christianity” will persist in the face of advancing progressive pressures.

 

Personally, I’m attracted by the positive potentials emerging in the “house-church” movement, especially if/when inspired by the fifth epochal revelation. From the snippets below, you may surmise a vast wealth of further valuable material related to the needed changes in Christianity.

 

Imo, proselytizing (inducing/recruiting) or evangelizing (converting) may have relative positive or negative connotations, depending on the actual degree of living spiritual content and the unselfishness of motive.

 

Mistake not! there is in the teachings of Jesus an eternal nature which will not permit them forever to remain unfruitful in the hearts of thinking men. The kingdom as Jesus conceived it has to a large extent failed on earth; for the time being, an outward church has taken its place; but you should comprehend that this church is only the larval stage of the thwarted spiritual kingdom, which will carry it through this material age and over into a more spiritual dispensation where the Master's teachings may enjoy a fuller opportunity for development. Thus does the so-called Christian church become the cocoon in which the kingdom of Jesus' concept now slumbers. The kingdom of the divine brotherhood is still alive and will eventually and certainly come forth from this long submergence, just as surely as the butterfly eventually emerges as the beautiful unfolding of its less attractive creature of metamorphic development. 170:5:21

 

Divine truth is a spirit-discerned and living reality. Truth exists only on high spiritual levels of the realization of divinity and the consciousness of communion with God. You can know the truth, and you can live the truth; you can experience the growth of truth in the soul and enjoy the liberty of its enlightenment in the mind, but you cannot imprison truth in formulas, codes, creeds, or intellectual patterns of human conduct. When you undertake the human formulation of divine truth, it speedily dies. The post-mortem salvage of imprisoned truth, even at best, can eventuate only in the realization of a peculiar form of intellectualized glorified wisdom. Static truth is dead truth, and only dead truth can be held as a theory. Living truth is dynamic and can enjoy only an experiential existence in the human mind. 180:5:2

 

The true church—the Jesus brotherhood—is invisible, spiritual, and is characterized by unity, not necessarily by uniformity. Uniformity is the earmark of the physical world of mechanistic nature. Spiritual unity is the fruit of faith union with the living Jesus. The visible church should refuse longer to handicap the progress of the invisible and spiritual brotherhood of the kingdom of God. And this brotherhood is destined to become a living organism in contrast to an institutionalized social organization. It may well utilize such social organizations, but it must not be supplanted by them. 195:10:11

 

Many spiritually indolent souls crave an ancient and authoritative religion of ritual and sacred traditions. Human evolution and spiritual progress are hardly sufficient to enable all men to dispense with religious authority. And the invisible brotherhood of the kingdom may well include these family groups of various social and temperamental classes if they are only willing to become truly spirit-led sons of God. But in this brotherhood of Jesus there is no place for sectarian rivalry, group bitterness, nor assertions of moral superiority and spiritual infallibility. 195:10:14

 

A Dios mi amigos,

Brent

 

PS: Trusting my $.02 not confused with “…spammers and new members with agendas of their own…” JosephM

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For myself, I too have been in an uncomfortable position relative to anything that could be called prosylitizing (never can remember how to spell that!) is that when the question arises, which it almost always does, to "invite" them to or suggest a church to attned, I have no place to suggest. I am myself "unchurched", and not really comfortable suggesting any particular local church to another for the same reasons I'm not there myself.

 

The enormous gulf that lies between me and my faith based positions and the predominantly conservative, fundamentalist leaning evangelical traditions of my community seems too wide to bridge.

 

On the other hand, I do find myself longing for a "place of belonging" among other people of faith in my community or residence. Past efforts toward that haven't gone too well.

 

But I find myself feeling, quite strongly at times, almost as a calling, that this is something I need to learn to do. To find a way to be there, interact with others in that environment, in ways that do not reasult in conflict, that does not cause others to feel threatened or antagonized. To stay true to myself and my beliefs, yet learn ways to leave some things perhaps unsaid, to respect their beliefs and positions, and yet at the same time, carrying my true witness, testimony, in ways that may even make some positive difference. I feel I have much to offer this community, that there is potential for making a positve contribution, while avoiding the same old pitfalls experienced in the past that resulted in conflict, even rejection.

 

Maybe that is the greatest call for those of us that consider ourselves Progressive, to in some way influence the faith communities around us, to genuinely help them toward, well, progress?

 

Jenell

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I concede that the term “proselytize” was the wrong word. I want to spread the “Good News” of progressive thinking – which, IMO, is quite liberating.

 

Nor do I invite others to a church or community, as I don't have one just now. (Oh I wish I did!!) However, I plant seeds – like sending them to progressivechristianity.org, or dropping some ideas. My favorite is to ask the question, “What does that say about God?” when someone makes an anthropomorphic or fundamentalist statement about God. For example, when a dear friend said that the tsumani was God's will, I did not argue the point, I gently threw out the question. Generally, when I ask, people do not appear to be offended. My hope is that I at least I get them thinking. :)

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George,

 

First, welcome to the TCPC forum.

 

As to the question you pose, I am not inclined to think that Christianity will die, or "must die." First, religion is a human universal; it has existed in every known society going back into prehistory 40-50K years. Even when attempts have been made to suppress it like in the USSR and Red China, it persisted.

 

As to Christianity specifically, while I personally subscribe to the tenets of progressive Christianity, I would hesitate to assert this as a prescriptive universal. I don't think that within religion, there is, or should be, a one-size-fits-all theology. And, this applies to progressivism as well as conservatism. There is a wide diversity existing within all the major religions. This diversity exists because of different individual needs and worldviews.

 

IMO, some people need a clear, unambiguous belief system supported by authoritative sources. The fuzzier, more ambiguous aspects of PC may not work for everyone. As long as traditional Christians are doing no harm, I see no reason that they must be denied their belief system as it suits their needs. If they are using it as justification to do harm, that is another thing altogether and should be addressed as such.

 

Again, welcome.

 

Another George

Hello George,

This quote of yours troubles me; [b]"If they are using it(Christianity) as justification to do harm, that is another thing altogether and should be addressed as such."[/b] This raises the specters of the Inquisition, The Papal Bulls, The Doctrine of Disvcovery and The Holocust. All Christian Intolerant creations, devised to intimidate and coerse those that have and practise other beliefs. Isn't this Spong's premise in a nutshell?

 

As the history of the organized Christian Church is delved into by the unwashed masses, they're starting to realize, that all as presented, isn't as "kosher" as they've been led to believe and coersed to accept. This inspite of the Church's claim of adherence to the tenents of a Judaic foundation, instead of the Moseic/Israelite one alluded to. IMO, this deviation can only be attributed to the enlargement of Japheth via the Greek Translation, a/k/a, The Septuagint. All of the tenents and dogmas of Christianity as currently practised, are established upon this errant compilation.

 

It is via the alleged authority of the Septuagint which sanctioned all of the Papal Bulls and the authority of Christendom to set sail globally until this very day and to confiscate all Lands of Indigenous Unbelievers via the creation of the Christian Doctrine of Discovery. [i]"Papal Bulls of the 15th century gave Christian explorers the right to claim lands they "discovered" and lay claim to those lands for their Christian Monarchs. Any land that was not inhabited by Christians was available to be "discovered", claimed, and exploited. If the "pagan" inhabitants could be converted, they might be spared. If not, they could be enslaved or killed."[/i] This is why your quote above troubles me

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Hello George,

This quote of yours troubles me; [b]"If they are using it(Christianity) as justification to do harm, that is another thing altogether and should be addressed as such."[/b] This raises the specters of the Inquisition, The Papal Bulls, The Doctrine of Disvcovery and The Holocust. All Christian Intolerant creations, devised to intimidate and coerse those that have and practise other beliefs. Isn't this Spong's premise in a nutshell?

Juan,

 

What I am proposing is that Christianity is not the cause of bad behavior but is sometimes used as a justification. If we were to eliminate Christianity from the face of the earth, I don't think we could expect all humans to suddenly become humanists.

 

Not all Christians act as you describe and some non-Christians do some of the same awful things. Greed, xenophobia, intolerance, etc. are not exclusive to Christians. Therefore, Christianity is not the underlying cause.

 

Also, you cite examples of bad behavior committed by Christians. But, you failed to mention examples of good behavior like Amish pacifism, the abolitionists, Mother Teresa, etc. I don't think these examples prove that Christianity is always benign as your examples do not, IMO, prove that Christianity is always malevolent.

 

George

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Yvonne wrote: "My favorite is to ask the question, “What does that say about God?” when someone makes an anthropomorphic or fundamentalist statement about God. For example, when a dear friend said that the tsumani was God's will, I did not argue the point, I gently threw out the question. Generally, when I ask, people do not appear to be offended. My hope is that I at least I get them thinking."

 

I like that idea. I think you are onto something very positive here. Actually, it strikes me as being very much in principle like the approach in Rogerian Client-Centered psychotherapy, in which the therapist probes the person's thinking and feelings behind statements they make, with the question, "and how do you feel about that?" or "how does that make you feel?" A very effective technique for getting someone to really think about why they think or beleive or feel as they do about something.

 

Jenell

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As the history of the organized Christian Church is delved into by the unwashed masses, they're starting to realize, that all as presented, isn't as "kosher" as they've been led to believe and coersed to accept. This inspite of the Church's claim of adherence to the tenents of a Judaic foundation, instead of the Moseic/Israelite one alluded to. IMO, this deviation can only be attributed to the enlargement of Japheth via the Greek Translation, a/k/a, The Septuagint. All of the tenents and dogmas of Christianity as currently practised, are established upon this errant compilation.

 

I don't think that Christians - at least what we can loosely refer to as "traditional Christians" ever adhered to the tenets of Judaism, since they believe that G-d is in human form - a fundamental divergence from Judaic orthodoxy.

 

I'm really not sure where you are going with the Japheth thing. You do realize that the Nazis spread a lot of propaganda surrounding the belief that the white race -in particular, the German peoples - were descendants of Japheth (Gog of Magog), who received special blessing from G-d to destroy the descendants of Abraham (the Jewish peoples).

 

Please tell us where you are going with this line of thought. I'm curious.

 

 

I think that I agree with George that Christianity in and of itself was not the impedance for the global conquest of European powers. They were doing that sort of thing long before they could use the power of the Church to justify their greed. The early Scandinavian sailors were conquering lands in Europe under the "guidance" of the Norse gods long before St. Lucia brought Christianity to their shores.

 

NORM

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Norm,

Before the topic was clsed, I'd sent a post titled "A shout out to Rabbi Ben". I'd wanted him to elaborate on the statement he'd made regarding the rest of the blessing Japheth received from G-D, in addition to his enlargement.

I Joe archieves the replies, before closing topics, should still be contained in that data base. What theTalmudic perspective the Rabbi stated was that Jews were proselytes and that all of the progeny of Japheth would be White and dwell in the tents of Shem. what I wanted to ask the Rabbi , was this lack of Melanin in Japheth's progeny, a perpetuation of the mark of Caine?(Gen.4:14-15) As we reread the conversion of The Roman, Paul/Silas, the idigenous people of Damascus Syria were the first to call these two proselytes preachers,Christians. From that point, it was all downhill and bloody.

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Juanster said.....

Before the topic was clsed, I'd sent a post titled "A shout out to Rabbi Ben". I'd wanted him to elaborate on the statement he'd made regarding the rest of the blessing Japheth received from G-D, in addition to his enlargement.

I Joe archieves the replies, before closing topics, should still be contained in that data base.

 

Hi Juanster,

 

None of the replies from that thread were deleted and it is still visible to all. Rabbi Ben never responded up to the time of the closing post. You can always PM him directly with the question using your private messenger. The thread was closed because its responses up to that time was not producing constructive positive dialog.

 

JosephM (as Moderator)

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I don't think that Christians - at least what we can loosely refer to as "traditional Christians" ever adhered to the tenets of Judaism, since they believe that G-d is in human form - a fundamental divergence from Judaic orthodoxy. I'm really not sure where you are going with the Japheth thing. You do realize that the Nazis spread a lot of propaganda surrounding the belief that the white race -in particular, the German peoples - were descendants of Japheth (Gog of Magog), who received special blessing from G-d to destroy the descendants of Abraham (the Jewish peoples). Please tell us where you are going with this line of thought. I'm curious. I think that I agree with George that Christianity in and of itself was not the impedance for the global conquest of European powers. They were doing that sort of thing long before they could use the power of the Church to justify their greed. The early Scandinavian sailors were conquering lands in Europe under the "guidance" of the Norse gods long before St. Lucia brought Christianity to their shores. NORM

Norm,

What you alluded to is a vivid discription of the perpetuation of the bloodlust of Caine via one of his descendants, Japheth's progeny. I base this conclusion on the Talmudic revelation that all of the progeny of Japheth would be White, Enlarged and dwell in the Tents of Shem.

As I mentioned in several posts previously,the M.E.isn't the only location of Shem's Tents, as the seed of the Shemite, Abraham is proof of. The sands of the seashore is wherever the Deep touches Dry Land. That Sand equates as the number of the Shemite/Abraham's Seed. When this number is juxtapose next to the enlargement of Japheth,and that enlargement was seen as a blessing, It wasn't to bless only Japheth but the whole of the human Family through Japheth's ingenuity. Ten Gnerations before Japheth the father of all mankind received instructions to be Fruitful and Multiply. These instructions were cast aside and ignored via the sudden unsupressed bloodlust of Caine's envious anger at G-d's refusal to accept his offering. Unable to kill G-d, the next best thing was to kill the object of G-d's acceptance, Abel, his brother. Ten generations later and after the Flood, this enmity between G-d and the Seed of Man still festered, perpetrated and unsupressed within the lone White seed of Japheth, per the Talmudic perspective that has been revealed.

Time marches on and ten generations later, The Shemite Abraham is blessed with a coupla sons, Ishmael and Issac who became the patriarchs of two nations of non-white people of which, one became the Chosen of Hashem,. the other a Fearer of Hashem, thus establishing an eternal link of compatability between these two brother's seed.

 

Lurking in and around the perifery of Shem's Tents Is the Seed of Japheth with his envious bloodlust, contemplating a tactic of how to get into Shem's Tents. When it dawned on a son of Japheth "that it would less expensive to rule a people via the manipulation of their religious superstitions, than at the point of a sword." Alex the Great,300BC.

 

Time marches on and we now find our selves on the road to Damascus where an alleged Conversion of another son of Japheth's is about to happen. well you know this story. The irony of it is that a group of Damascan indigious Shemitic/Syrian people lable these two Japhethite preachers, CHRISTIANS, due to the manipulated message they were delivering about a ressurected dead man, neither had ever met during his alleged lifetime.

Time marches own, and Christianity becomes one of the Politically Correct forms of worship over a majority all of the newly conquored rising empires. Time marches on, the City established on Seven Hills bcomes bloated via it's enlargment and starts to spread it's manipulated religious beliefs throughout the whole of it's empire, then it implodes, leaving behind nations of confused and gullible people it had fed it's drivel. As a result of This Japhetic Drivel, foisted upon humaity are The Papal Bulls of Nicholas V which morphed into The Doctrine of Discovery, which led to the Holocust of indigenous Shemitic peoples of the Continent of the Americas, the theivery of the Bloodlusting Japhethite/English Pirate Queen and her Seadogs, all Christians, mind you, which brings to te present and the still perpetrated bloodlust of the Seed of Japheth, to wit:

http://www.readersupportednews.org/opinion2/282-98/6894-uncovering-the-militarys-secret-military

 

As/if you read this, ask yourself of the numbers given how many of the leaders and boots on the ground are Christians, subsisting of your needed tax dollars for our infrastructure, you've been manipulated to pay for this Murderous Bloodlusting military group and realize that the people they're being arrayed against are their fellow humans with hearts that also are seeking love. As Chomsky says, "If you want to stamp out Terrorism, Don't Indulge In it Yourself."

The Juanster

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Juan,

 

You are painting Christianity with a very broad brush. This is not descriptive of many Christians that I personally know. It is not descriptive of virtually all the mainline church leaders who opened opposed the Iraq War and, by the way, including the Pope. It is not descriptive of pacifists such as the Amish. It is not descriptive of Abolitionists who fought against slavery. This is not descriptive of a number of members of this forum who identify with Christianity.

 

Further, you fail to mention non-Christians such as Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot and the like who committed unthinkable atrocities in our lifetimes.

 

George

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