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Does Anyone Know Of Online Course


Pete
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Does anyone know of any online Christian courses that are from a progressive/liberal perspective?

I know of some that are conservative but I just do not follow the logic to be able to study those courses. I would be therefore grateful for a few pointers. Thanks.

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Many Thanks AdrainC. There is a lot there and I am grateful. I have seen the Burke lecture before but it always sounds fresh each time I hear it. I feel Spong has a real message and is great at delivering it.

 

I would love to study Christianity further and but I always get stuck when the first thing many qoute is 2 timothy 3:16 as if it should mean some thing that I should believe. Few ever mention that the bible did not exist when whoever wrote 2 Timothy made that statement. I say whoever as I understand it is often said that Paul wrote it to Timothy but I also understand it is likely that it was written just after Paul's death and originated in an area that there is no record of Paul ever going or due to his imprisonment was ever able to i.e spain. Unless one is argueing that during the conditions of Roman imprisonment, which is said to be very harsh, he found time to write it. Yet, even if that is a given the NT was not finally settled till 398AD and it is likely the scripture suggested is refering to the Torah (IMO). It just seems to me that if one wants to study Christainity today that all the conservatives have all the opportunity and little is given to training those of liberal theology.

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Thanks George. I have like many of the progressive viewpoint many books that i enjoy. I just want to study something more formal. Yet, even if one was to study at the local colleges in the UK few ever mention that there are people who are Christians but do not see the bible as inerrant of even the word of God. It just feels to me if one wants to follow a formal study then they have to follow conservative doctrine. It feels unfair to me.

I just wonder where liberal ministers get trained nowadays. Most that I know of started with conservative studies and then went on to find out things for themselves and became progressive or liberal. I just do not think I could write an essay on how wonderfully accurate the bible is. Although I respect many of the teachings of the bible I really do not think it is the word of God. Like Spong suggested. It is the word of man about God and reflects their humanity. Scripture is not God and niether is religion (IMO). I still feel there is a place that is much needed for liberal minsters and those wanting to train further without having to sell their beliefs off in order to achieve it.

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I don't know what might be available online, or at all as to other kinds of opportunities in the UK. While i can't speak for the Religious Studies departments at all US (non-relgious affiliated) universities, I know the perspective where I attended, at the University of Houston, was very definitely liberal and progressive. The conservative evangelical and findamentalist religious orgnaizations that are active on most college campuses wouldn't even take advantage of the free rooms for use as base and meetings that were available to them in the Religion Center there, lol!

 

The big problem I've seen in looking at anything like I think you are looking for on-line is that most 'bible study' or 'Christian study' I've found are offered through denominational organizations, mostly conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist oriented denominational organizations. So naturally that is their perspective and focus. They are aimed at 'teaching' their own doctrines and traditions...ie at indoctrination, which is quite different from education.

 

But another problem is that, if you will consider the many perspectives you find expressed on this board, what we are calling progressive Christians DON'T have a set formula of doctrines and teachings, no universally approved and accepted sets of creeds and dogma. And that's exactly WHY many of us have gravitated toward one another to express and discuss freely and openly our thoughts and ideas.

 

I would have to say, as others here, there are many books you can read, quite a few different influential theologians considered progressive in their ideas, but I don't think there is or even could be a "study course" on progressive Christianity, at least at this time. And if there eventually were to be, i suspect many of us here will have moved on, as well.

 

Jenell

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I guess you have a point. The reason I suggested online was because I am unable to leave my home town and also training in the US is not possible unless there is a online element. There are theology courses around me if I was a Baptist or a conservative Episcopalian but alas, that is not the case.

I know not having some sort of credentials can prevent people from working in some areas. Even my local hospital would not accept me unless I had some sort of degree in theology. The hospital chaplin said that he worked as a minister for all faiths but would not accept anyone working as a chaplin unless they had a traditional (meaning conservative) theology degree. There is a glass ceiling.

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I didn't realize this was relevant to your work. I suppose then you'd have to go according to the requirments of a particular job field.

 

I went over and read your intro, to see what work field you are talking about, and I'm confused. You mentioned counseling? Added to your above comment about being hired at something like a hospital, I'm not understanding the theology degree thing. I'm of course not familiar with the UK, but professional counseling here in the US doesn't involved religious training, but training in psychology through secular college education.

 

Perhaps you could clarify just what your goal is, intended purpose, for the study you are trying to find?

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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Hi Jenell,

I am sorry if I am sounding confusing. I have worked in mental health as a registered Nurse for many years and I also trained in Counselling. About two years ago I took early retirement and since then I have been looking for new goals and occupations to work in. I have an ever growing interest in Religious studies and I would like to find ways of taking this further. Talking to a hospital chaplin was a first step in trying to sound out how I could use the skills I had aquired over the years and also follow that which I have become so much interested in and has meaning for me.

 

As a point of information in the UK, psychology, counselling and psychotherapy are seen as three seperate but overlapping fields. People from each area usually learn skills in the other areas. That said, it is quiet possible to get a degree in psychology in the UK without taking any studies in counselling or psychotherapy. However, a "clinical psychologist" would be qualified in all three area to a very high level (usually a doctorate). I have only trained and qualified as a counsellor.

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Ok, now it makes sense. As for how those areas are qualified in the UK, yes, that's pretty much the same as here in the US, separate but some overlap often. Counseling here can be anywhere from a 'course certification' in a small specialized capacity to a 2 yr associates degree in also a relatively limited specilized capacity to a MA with board certified "Licensed Professional Counselor" or Master in Social work. I hadn't caught that you had the previous training. Males more sense now. i assume now you mean as in something like a chaplaincy position.

Here in the US it is common too encounter two quite different things called "Christian Counseling". One is professionally certified or trained in some counseling capacity, but with the individual additionally being Christian and incorporating Christian principles and even doctrines into their counseling of usually Christian clients. As example, one of my instructors in a cross-over psychology/Religious studies course was both a retired ordained Episcipalian (sp?) priest and a Psychologist PhD. He also has an active practice as a counselor and psychotherapist.

The other, has been, at least in my own state, quite problematic at times. A person can call themselves a "Christian counselor" operating within a church or religious organization, with absolutely no professional secular training or education, generally they are "ordained ministers", though that gets pretty loose here in the US. It may be a recognized denominational ordination, or not. They can generally counsel only within context of a church congregation or church sponsored counseling program. It is generally considered to be under "pastoral counseling." Because of our US laws of separation of church and state, they are not required to be certified or lisenced by any civil authority, and therefore also not bound by or subject to discipline by any such authority. They may be "good people" or not. I don't know how this compares to the UK.

 

Chaplains may be "cross-trained" in traditional counseling plus have relgious ordination, or, in some case, religious ordination or at least formal education at a seminary or bible college only.

 

Jenell

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Jenell,

 

My first wife (now deceased) was treated for 6 months at M.D. Anderson in Houston. While there, she met with a couple of hospital chaplains who were ordained Episcopalian priests. It was impression that there were other denominations represented by full-time chaplains as well. The hospital also provided secular, professional counseling for those who desired or needed it.

 

George

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George, M.D. Anderson HAS to be the best place to be, for a cancer patient. My late sister was under care there for about 5 years. They have support of more kinds than anyone can imagine...she even got complimentary hair cuts, wigs, massages, Reiki...

She could never have afforded it, she wasn't even able to hold onto insurance when she got so sick even before getting there...but her case fit a 'protocol' for research there into her type/stage cancer, and she was bless in having a Dr contact in her home ft Worth that 'pulled strings' for her to get there. Those complimentaries are complimentary for ALL patients, whether insurance/paying or under a research program acceptance. Additionally, some of them, like the massages, we available to a caregiver as well.

Over the course of 5 years, i got to know the layout of that place better than i wish I had to. They have a full range of chaplains and religious/spiritual support resources and facilities. There are even multiple chapels/prayer and meditation rooms for many different religions, some I'm personally aware of are those for Christians, even separate ones for Catholics and non-Catholics, Jewish, Muslim, and Vedic religious traditions. And the people, from doctors and staffing, to volunteers, have such a wonderful caring attitude.

 

Jenell

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Btw, in the Religious Studies dept at UH, the dept head is a Church of Christ ordianed minister as well as academincally qualified theologian, and the requirement throughout the entire department if at least "double-qualification"...ie, all instructors were both PhD or post-doc in one or more, Religious Studies, Psychology, Sociology, etc, depending on the coruses they instructed, AND had formal ordination or other clergy qualifications under a major religious tradition...many Christian ordained ministers, many also active as pastors, the denominations among those i encountered were Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalian, and one Presbyterian. But really impressive to me was that whenever a course pertained to a particular religious tradition, that formal qualification had to be IN that religious tradition...i.e., courses on Judism were instructed only by Rabbi, Islam by an Imam, Hindu by a Hindu, Buddhism by a Buddhist.

Now, the most overall amazing thing...the whole environment was SO ecumenical and solidly PROGRESSIVE. For me that alone was one of the most incredible experiences of a lifetime, just to have experienced it, to know it was even possible.

 

Jenell

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George and Jenell, It is complicated here in the UK. There is the BACP that supervise standards but there is no legal compulsion to join the organsation and if you were kicked out there is nothing to stop a person continuing to practice. Anyone can say they are a counsellor. The last time I looked most of its members were not BACP recognised but they just followed the BACP code of ethics. The problem as I understand it is that there are so many schools of thought in counselling that it is difficult to set rules for them all. Most people see a counsellor as a person who is at the very least professionally supervised and has a Professional Diploma in Counselling or higher training. The BACP has more requirements if a person want sto be recognised by the organisation. http://www.bacp.co.uk/

Equally anyone can say they are a psychologist but usually people would expect that they have at least a degree in psychology. However, a "Clinical Psychologist" is not a title that anyone can use and they are trained to a much higher degree and the title "Clinical Psychologist" is legally protected. A counsellor is not usually trained to that degree.

There is other organisations that also have codes of ethics for counsellors and one of these is the Association of Christian Counsellors who also recognise some degree courses, but after my experience I would not personally give them the time of day. I believe they are more about fundamentalist preaching than counselling..http://www.acc-uk.org/

 

AdrianC - you have been very helpful and I am grateful to your recommendations.

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Here, "Psychologist" is limited to only those with PhD or PsyD.

 

A "LPC", or "Liscensed Professional Counselor" is a Masters plus board exam/liscensing.

 

Generally, certifications for specialized counseling, such as substance abuse, working UNDER a doctor are needed for health insruance coverage.

 

Certain kinds of specialized therapists, such as Behavior Modification Therapists that work with such as children with Autism require trainiing and board exams/certification.

 

"Psychoanalist" is also protected and limited to those meeting certain qualifications.

 

However, beyond those, yes, here, too, virtually ANYBODY can 'hang a shingle' presenting themselves as a 'therapist' or 'counselor'. But, at least here in my state, there are laws that are directed at anyone acting in a therapy or counseling capacity, in cases of certain kinds of abuses. Except those operating under a religious structure, although that may be changing at least in some areas, particularly involving knowledge of child abuse or domestic violence. In a case here a couple years ago, they did come down pretty hard on a pastor of a church that had been "counseling" a woman member, advising her to submit to her husband's violent abuse, and to whom the woman's son (I think 12 or 13) has turned asking for help with his step-father's abuse of him as well. Supposedly the pastor had told the child to submit to parental discipline, and told the mother to 'have a talk with' her husband about it. When the step-father beat the son to death, and it all came out, they cane down on the pastor not only on laws that requires anyone with knowledge of child abuse to report it to authorities, but with some of those laws that specifically address the vulnerability of a person under a counselor or therapist to that therapist in having greater than ordinary burden of responsiblity. "Lay" counselors/therapists are subject to laws above the ordinary for taking sexual advantage of a client, for example, and can be ordered by courts to not practice, but there again, that is more limited under one affiliated with a church, becasue of the separation of church and state. This has been a real problem especially in 'non-denominational', but also some denominations, with preachers that just get shifted from one church to another after sex scandals, the new congregation often knowing nothing of their 'past'.

 

However, all of this is something of an aside to a situation such as your own, hoping to find some professional application, either paid employment, or even volunteer in something like a hospital or such, becasue generally those positions are NOT open to those without professional training and certification/liscensing of some kind. That really makes sense, because of the legal liability they could face, should there be abuse or even question of mal-practice by someone they've given access to clients or patients.

 

Jenell

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I have a professional diploma in counselling. Confidentiality is important but If I become aware of any sexual abuse or child abuse or that someone is at risk then I am legally not allowed to keep that confidential. It would have to be investigated by the authorites whether or not I worked in a clinical setting within the health service or any other setting. One of the big problems in the UK, Ireland, and other parts of Europe has been that in some churches they have not informed the authorities of abuse and tried to hide the matter. They have also tried to protect ministers who have abused and in those cases I feel they should stand trial. As the vulnerable and children must be protected (IMO).

 

In the UK, ministers or those working in faith areas do not get access to client records within the health service. They are also usually independently insured as are most independent counsellors. A independent counsellor would not be given access to any records belonging to the health service and the health service would not be able to access the independent counsellors records of the clients they work for. I apologise but this conversation seems to me to have moved from my wish to train in ministry within a liberal field to that of whether one is recognised as a counsellor by the health service.

If one can be trained in ministry then one can work as a chaplin within the health service but they will never be allowed to access client records or get involved in clinical therapy with clients being treated by the health service. They are there for spiritual support and this is an area I am interested in.

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no apology, I was just trying toget a clearer picture of where you are and what you are trying to do. It seem to me the best course for youat this point is talkto already in those postions, find out what is needed and how to get it. Theology dregree might be a pretty long hual..4 yrs I think?

 

Anyway good luck

Jenell

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  • 2 months later...

While I don't know of any on-line courses, I currently lead a casual discussion class at my church using DVD's from Living the Question series. The first "First Light, Jesus and the Kingdom of God" and follow it up with "Saving Jesus". There are several other subjects available.

 

"First LIght" is a 12 session study recounting the historical Jesus and the Kingdom of God from the first century, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossen are moderators on site throughout Galilee and Jerusalem. Each session is about 20 minutes long leaving time for discussion.

 

"Saving Jesus" is also a 12 session study exploration of a credible Jesus for the third millennium. Moderated by a host of experts for a conversation around the relevance of Jesus for the 21st century. Among others, are John Shelby Spong, Matthew Fox, Bernard Brando Scott, Marcus Borg and John Dominic are hosts.

 

We have also used "Living the Question20". This series included 3 DVD discs with twent-one, 29 minute sessions, each on a different subject.

 

I believe these can be purchased through the Progressive Christianity bookstore and well as direct from the LtQ2 webpage.

 

I wish you well in your search.

foljes

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