Jump to content

Selling Liberal Christanity


Recommended Posts

Let's face it, we've been outflanked by the evangelicals. When people hear the word "Christian" they think of some pushy preacher telling them they better be saved than the Progressive message "love thy brother as thyself". Progressives have to create teir own brand of Christianity. An additional mistake that progressives have made is they focused so heavily on government run programs that we gave the right a single target, and Reagan and Rove have made mincemeat out of it. We put everything on the electoral system, then they stole the vote, and Rove bullied any journalists willing to challenge them. 84 year old Mike Wallace as arrested for assaulting an NYPD cop, Dan Rather's career is over, and noone else is willing to step forward.


We made a mistake no chess player in their right mind would make. Any chess player who attacks with a queen if checkmate isn't immonent will find an opponent very willing to trade a bishop, knight, or a rook for the queen, so can easily chase around the queen.


Our queen was government programs, instead of keeping it back to support other pieces, we advanced it to attack all the problems. Oooooooops! Our biggest problem wasn't Karl Rove, it was ourselves.


We already have an infrastucture for change, our churches. The buildings aren't in use all the time, and doing things is just another excuse for getting together with friends, why don't we use it? If we just rely on government, they'll come up with twisted ideas like the media consolidfation the FCC has decried or an energy bill that includes $180 million to build a Hooters. As volenteers in an organization if we don't like the way things are done we can leave, which is certainly easier than getting Georgie to change his evil ways,


Find the needs of your community then sell it. My hometown includes lots of obese people, my church is doing a weight class. We're selling our church as a community center and we're mailing our church activities as postcards to publise our work, because seems to be the best way to get people to say yes before their sales resistance comes up, and it ends up in the garbage. On the address side we will have a list of activities, on the other, the dates, times and a couple of sentances, to bring people in. The first set of cards at least will have that approach. I plan on hand distributing cards so I can see how people react to them, especially when the answer is no. I think a church that meets the needs of its community can do a large mailing of cards around the town, and get more back than the cost of the mailing itself, although I wouldn't bet the farm on that.





We need to create an identity to the Christian left, in NLP terms, a Christian left brand

Branding the Christian left


Let's start will the basic philosphies:


The Christian Right:


Jesus is Lord.


The Christian left:


God is Love.



The Right wants you to join them, the left wants to join with anyone who can accept love.



The Christian left is likely suffering from the arrogance of the right. Many who are halfway tolerant who hear the word Christian and think of arrogant evangelicals and Domionists. After that, the answer is NO! As dominionism gains hold, their connotations will only get worse on the left.


These are some words to avoid, and my ranking of the words that are "owned" by the right:


1. Jesus

2. religious, religion etc.

3. Church

4. Christ


They all go with the "Jesus is Lord" brand.



Here are words that we can hook to the "God is Love" [empowerment] brand:


Freinds, activities, love, peace, fun,play,childcare etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 57
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Seems to me that you're far too ready to throw the baby out with the proverbial bath-water.


I for one, am a bold and unapolgetic, EVANGELICAL LIBERAL CHRISTIAN (with post-liberal and process theology tendancies).


I also boldly use the words Jesus, Lord, Religion, Church, and Christ!


I also use a lot of other terms as well, but I REFUSE to allow the rightwingers to monopolize these words! The very first Christian creed, "Jesus is Lord!" was and should still be a RADICAL POLITICAL assertion; i.e. that Ceasar isn't Lord, JESUS is! Jesus is Lord over all of the empires and worldly powers that be!


Yes, my theology is more focused upon the religion OF Jesus than the religion ABOUT Him, but I do not dismiss the worship of God through Jesus.

Edited by BrotherRog
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with BR on this (yet again). Although I did like some of the things you have to say.


One thing that BR did not mention is the idea of "liberal politics associated with liberal Christianiy". Although I agree that progressives are more likely to be liberal politically, I feel that neither party represents any kind of real moral alternative, nor can we exactly expect it to. I am for social justice ISSUES, but would rather my church be involved in these (and not give up on them) rather than being involved in partisan politics. So I am not really willing to abandon these in favor of primarily personal concerns. Nothing wrong with dealing with obesity (it is maybe the no. one health issue in America), but I wouldn't be for dealing with such personal matters in lieu of social justice. I think that both UCC churches I have been involved with were not primarily interested in partisan politics. It is really the right that has gotten in there and started defining GWB as the Christian candidate. I think progressives do have a responsibilty to try and reframe the debate, and that morals are more than just sex

and abortion.


I am not willign to take Christ out of Christianity, either. I think we can rephrase the discussion. I think the national UCC did a great job of rephrasing the debate with it's edgy ad (the bouncers one), they didn't take the word Jesus out to do it. (Of course it was a little controversial).


I think fun, friendship, childcare, activity and play are great things. But I wouldn't want a church that was only about those things. I like your statement BR, re: having a religion more "of Jesus" than "about him". Amen Bro.


Just my 1.88¢



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll beat my drum again...It's not an either/or situation.


Jesus IS Lord AND God IS love. They are both completely true, and both found througout the Bible. People WORSHIPPED Jesus during His time on earth, and He never rebuked them, even knowing that only God is worthy of worship. Worship of Jesus is not a bad thing!


From my view on the other side of the fence, this is where "liberal Christianity" (your term) breaks down--i.e., don't talk about Jesus. Jesus Himself said if we do not confess Him among men, He'll not confess in front of the Father. While friends, childcare, activities, fun, etc. are all good and should be a part of any vibrant ministry, people can get those at the local community center. Jesus steps in and changes peoples lives.


My heart is that one day, the church, in unity, won't be pushing "left" or "right" but Jesus--the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, teacher, servant, great sacrifice, Judge of the living and the dead, Redeemer, Lamb of God, Messiah....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have made lots of good points here. For me, and I speak only for myself, the backbone of Christianity is love, and since Progressive Christianity is more focused on it I have joined with it.I started this thread because it's my purpose to bring it back, as a priority and make it more a part of the Church. I have a hard time accepting that a mass murderer who repents 10 seconds before his execution will be granted eternal life while Ghandhi is dead.


The obesity workshop was something ongoing in my church before I started the postcard idea, I use it as an example of how a church can attact people to make a loving community, as for what fits in your church, you certainly have choices, free food, a literacy program. Jesus taught love, sometimes people need a more tangible expression of it than listening to a minister on Sunday. Meet people halfway, it's easier to convert a friend than an adversary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I too am an evangelical Christian, and through a lot of prayer and thinking about the issues, I realize that I am not a fundamentalist. However, I cannot divorce myself from the words Jesus or Christ, because He is the definition of Christian. The Christian Right may say,"Jesus is Lord," but they do not live like they believe what they say. He IS Lord and I'm not willing to give that over to them. The Bible addresses those of the Christian Right, so I don't know why Christians are suprised that they are so numerous. Jesus Himself tells us that not all who call Him Lord really know him. He tells us that there will be false prophets and that Christians will have "itching ears," to hear the message that they want, not the message they need. It's really not suprising at all. The job for the rest of us is to keep on keeping on, knowing that our way is "narrow." Don't forget that the opposite is also true - "wide is the gate that leads to destruction and many will travel it."


God Bless,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

From my view on the other side of the fence, this is where "liberal Christianity" (your term) breaks down--i.e., don't talk about Jesus.  Jesus Himself said if we do not confess Him among men, He'll not confess in front of the Father.  While friends, childcare, activities, fun, etc. are all good and should be a part of any vibrant ministry, people can get those at the local community center.  Jesus steps in and changes peoples lives.


But Darby, most of us don't agree with him (her). YOu see the overwhelming no. of comments so far have not favored his (or her) statements. I absolutely disagree with the idea that since conservatives have "claimed" Jesus that progressives have to say ok, "we give up Jesus". Well it is something but I dont' think it is Christianity.


And I also made a comment about friends, fun, play, while being good things, are not Christianity.


But I think you might have some sympathy among liberals but I think it is sympathy as a reaction or frustration. We see how the terms Christianity tends to mean fundamentalist is many people's minds, even in the liberal media.



Read the 8 points. I think most of us (I am speaking of progressives here would NOT agree with the idea that a mass murderer gets to go to heaven if he repents 10 seconds before his execution, and Gandhi (among others is in hell for eternity). I actually find it laughable that my sister goes to heaven and the Dali Lama doesn't). I find this picture such a horrendous idea of a deity, that I could never worship (regardless of how many Bible verses have been written).


I think you might find this a third way-- you know the leave Jesus behind to get people to come vs the fundamentalist type beliefs.


I'm not opposed to an obesity group or anything else for that matter. Given the serious health threat of obesity it is perhaps a very valid mission. My only comment was that I wouldn't so narrow the focus of the church that it only will deal with such things as daycare services or an exercise group, but won't deal with social justice. I don't see this as either or or. And I don't have trouble having programs to meet people thru. I just think it's important that we have a message to meet them with!


BTW, I heard Brian Laren on Larry King. You might like to read this too, TheMeek. There are other voices, and he is one. Another thing might be www.sojo.net.




Edited by des
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Des, you're right...I made a (wrong) generalization. But as I read things from guys like Spong, there does seem to be a real de-emphazation (is that a word?) of Christ, i.e. no miracles, no virgin birth, no resurrection, etc. It comes awfully close to secular humanism.


With some in the liberal/progressive camp, there seems to be the idea that "well, since fundamentals are all about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, praise the name of Jesus," then we've got to do the opposite. That's why, although I disagree with some of their doctrine, I can agree with alot of what guys like Campolo and others, who are unabashedly "evangelical," say. They are not ashamed in the least of the name of Jesus (nor are many of you, I know).


Someone in a post weeks ago mentioned the "Lord, Lunatic, or Liar" idea mentioned in Josh McDowell's book More than a Carpenter. No matter where you stand, I'd recommend this book. It really challenges the idea that someone can believe that Jesus was just a good moral teacher (which I'm sure, des, most on this board don't believe). He made some pretty big claims about who He was, He let people worship Him, He talked often of His requirement to be sacrificed, etc.


Again, my desire (and I think,by scripture, the Father's) is that in the end, there not be a "liberal" church or movement, or a "conservative" one, but just a unified church movement, with Christians striving to worship Jesus and minister to all people as He showed us, using the Bible as our guide, not our learned ideas and feelings. (that's the hard part for all of us! :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>Des, you're right...I made a (wrong) generalization. But as I read things from guys like Spong, there does seem to be a real de-emphazation (is that a word?) of Christ, i.e. no miracles, no virgin birth, no resurrection, etc. It comes awfully close to secular humanism.



Well Darby, I think we are reading a different Spong. This is perhaps a big difference between progressive Christianity and conservative (although I think progressives may have more diverse views on some of these things-- some of us believing in literal miracles, resurrection, etc. and some not. And some perhaps believing in literal resurrection and some not.) But I would emphasize the term "literal". Because some of us (and Spong) do not believe in a literal resurrection, does not mean that we view it as fantasy. The term myth (I'd prefer the term mythos as it doesn't have the various connotations of telling stories or falsehoods) means that there is a deep and abiding truth, that may even be more important than an actual factual event. (As someone said, the phone book is all fact, but it is not truth.) Why did the various gospels and Acts say several , different things, yet in all of them there is the basic truth of Jesus having a different death than others. That in some way he lives on with God and in our hearts and minds. Spong says: "The power for Easter is, for me, both real and eternal, both real and eternal, but the words used by human beings can only point to the truth. They can never capture it."


>gain, my desire (and I think,by scripture, the Father's) is that in the end, there not be a "liberal" church or movement, or a "conservative" one, but just a unified church movement, with Christians striving to worship Jesus and minister to all people as He showed us, using the Bible as our guide, not our learned ideas and feelings. (that's the hard part for all of us! )


Well it is a goal that we should strive for. A Christian church with one creed only, the earliest creed of the church from what we know, was "Jesus is Lord!" As long as other specific creedal views (either conservative or liberal or somewhere in between) are required, we can never get there. In fact, we could never get beyond a zillion different denominations.

As long as we are of the opinion that one view or another distorts Christianity (one way or another), then we will stay where we are.




Link to comment
Share on other sites



The literal resurrection is where we ( me and Spong, and some others here) will have to disagree. Josh McDowell makes the great point in the book I referred to that the Disciples, who days before deserted Jesus (think Peter's denial), later boldly preached about his resurrection. Why? And early church history says that most died as Martyrs. Again, why? Why did Peter stand in the streets, preaching boldly, calling people to repentance, when he had been a coward earlier? He had seen his Savior risen.


Paul says, "If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up--if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! "


I realize this is a big diffence between me and many of you. Let me add that when I disagree on YOUR board (which seems to be often :) , I appreciate how I am treated, esp. from Des, Cynthia, and Alethia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would maintain that whatever it was it was a transcendent experience, whether it was a literal transcendent experience or no. While all 4 gospels describe this experience differently-- still what they describe is transcendent.


I don't necesssarily feel bound to agree wtih Paul. I believe that he was writing for his time and experience. The question we all need to ask whether conservative, progressive or somewhere in between, is to quote (or maul :-)) Bonhoffer, "Who is Christ for us?"


I appreciate your compliment, and I feel you are always polite and mostly interesting to read whether or not I agree with you.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darby - I also appreciate the compliment and your participation on this board. It is not as interesting to discuss things with people you agree with - less learning, too much comfort ;) . It loses all joy to disagree disagreeably. (especially when arguing who is "more christian" - can't you see Jesus beating his head on the walls of heaven?????) I think all of us love God - however we may conceptualize we all have faith and experience of the More.


Perhaps the difference is that whether or not Jesus literally rose from the dead bodily does not seem important to me nor would it change my faith if I had a decisive answer. My faith is based on my personal, current experience of Jesus/God/More. As Joesph Campbell told Bill Moyers, "I don't need faith, I have experience".


Two things I believe (right now :D ): 1)God is big. 2)Things (even ideas, doctrines, etc) that divide are of man, not of God.


Meanwhile, while I truely believe that spirituality is about doing, not talking. I dearly love the intellectual side of faith. These discussions spare me many "looks" from my friends and associates (they don't have a smiley of "the look" yet - well, maybe this one :ph34r: ).


Go with God.

Edited by Cynthia
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darby, Going from McDowell (fundamentalist) to Spong (extreme liberal) is a huge leap. I think it's more about people coming from different paradigms. A few Spong pieces won't fit the McDowell puzzle picture, if you know what I mean. It just won't make any sense.


Brian McLaren would be less of a leap than Spong. Marcus Borg is liberal, but not as extreme as Spong.


Cynthia, I wonder what Campbell meant by that? I didn't think Campbell was a Christian until right before he died? I'd have to research it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Des-Forgive me for the few times I am uninteresting! Ha! I enjoy Bonhoffer, but the question for me is not, "Who is Christ for us?" or even "for me," but rather, "Who is Christ?" It's a subtle difference, I know, but an important one, I think. I can make Him into what fits my needs at the time, but that might not be who He is. I need to accept Him for who He is.


Cynthia, we AGREE that God is definitley Big, and Alethia, hope that week of yours goes great!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

WindDancer - I don't know what he meant. It was in The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. He had made it pretty clear that he was not involved in religion. I think that he meant experience with what he would call The More. What we would probably call God. It made a big impression on me... such peace and assurance from Campbell. Did he become a Christian before he died??? I didn't know that!


Darby - I think that perhaps it is more important to be LIKE Jesus than to agree on a definition about him. I love BroRog's Radical Follower of Jesus the Christ... I know it would get "the look", but it fits!

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Not trying to split hairs here (as I begin splitting hairs!) but even being LIKE Him requires that we know what He is like. Will we be like Him when when say "no man comes to the Father except through Me"? Will we be like Him as He started His ministry by saying "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." Or when He talked about a narrow gate? Or only when we like what He says or does?


My concern is when people (liberals, conservatives, whatever) say "we want to be like Jesus," and yet they will not deal with some attribute of His that they do not agree with (radical compassion to the poor, ministering to prostitutes, calling for repentance, allowing Himself to be worshipped, etc.) All sides do it. I do it. I just don't think it's right.


You know, the more I post, the more I realize how repetitious I am. Sorry. I just seem to be passionate (and thus repeatedly beat the drum) about the same things. They're just that important to me. I'll try to come up with some new responses!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darby - good point. I tend to do the same, as (you're right), does everybody. I tend to think of my experience of God, the things/messages/morals/values (can't find the right word) when making those decisions. I have a high level of skepticism inherent to me... then knowing the history of the cannonical texts, the non-connonical texts, the political struggles, the church struggles..... that is why I can't take the bible literally and that includes some of the statements that I don't believe Jesus actually said.


I completely agree that we need a consistent picture of Jesus to follow... I don't know if it has to be shared. The way is narrow - - - it often involves doing things we don't want to do, are not comfortable with, and have to sacrifice for... sigh... off to try again. :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I think Campbell meant that he didn't need to have faith in God because he experienced God.


I'm sure it didn't have anything to do with faith in the way Christians think of the term, ie, "faith in Jesus as savior".


Campbell's view of God was somewhat Hindu in nature. Thou Art That. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darby, not to worry that I don't ALWAYS find you interesting. And if you always find me interesting, well then you would have to be a really fast reader!! :-)



I agree that Spong is a lot more of a leap than say McLaren or even Wallis. I haven't yet read Borg, but I suspect that to be the case as well. I'd also think Matt Fox would be quite a leap, unless you were immersed in ancient Christian mystics.



You make an interesting point re: Who is Christ? vs Who is Christ for us? (or Be like Christ).

I actually think the latter is impossible. We can really only do things that he said "go and do likewise" or try to do that "love thy God with all they heart.. and thy neighbor as thyself". (Ok, I was raised on King James, thou should knoweth this. ;-))


Anyway, as a progressive, I have a great deal of challenge with the "Who is Christ?" as some type of absolute. As for Who was Christ for us?", I feel that Bonhoeffer (spellcheck :-)) meant that we need to bring Christ to our own time and experience. (And didn't he do that awfully well!) BTW, I feel substantially more comfortable with "Who is Christ for us" than "Who is Christ for me?", the latter seems too egocentric though I mean this as "centered around oneself" not egotistical.


BUT Since I do not believe that God "wrote" or "dictated" the Bible and that all the statements in the Bible are filtered thru the cultures and the events of the times

as well as their own purposes. I would agree that makes us particularly challenging to have a conversation with. You can say well in Mark:____, Jesus says such and such, and we can always come back with "well did he really?" And then you could say how Paul says we should not _____. And I can say well you know about that Paul. :-) (Progressives tend not to be comfortable with all of Paul-- of course there is, as someone pointed out, a probability that Paul didn't write everything that was not correctly attributed to Paul either.)

It's actually pretty amazing we can have any kind of conversation at all.

So I think we are quite a long ways from being one unified Christian church, if we can't really talk about the same things in the same way or even agree to a common mission.

It's even hard to decide on which (purported) Christian principles we could agree on.

I do think there is something in the Christian principles though that we can HAVE this conversation at all, attempt to really listen to each other, and not deride one another.



Cynthia, Spong goes thru a neat little thing about John (which I am assuming is not Spong's idea at all) about the I am statements that Jesus supposedly says are not to be taken literally at all but are a play on words (of a serious sort) of the I AM statement. God is the I AM. (For example if you put this in caps you see this statement: I AM the way, the truth, the life, no man cometh unto the Father but thru I AM. (it isn't really "me"). ) I find it pretty probable, Jesus said some things close to parables, the Sermon on the Mount (or was it off the mount), etc. And very hard to believe he said other things, esp those I AM statements, or much else in John.


I do agree that the way involves sacrifice and that's the part that is perhaps most difficult.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

My comments about Jesus etc being turnoffs in mailings may seem extreme to some of you, it comes from a sense of frustration that I've dealt with. Let me suggest a compromise: everytime he's mentioned in a mailing, add a couple of sentences about his stance on social issues.


As for activities like the obesity workshop, it's an opportunity to go beyond the "plain vanilla" of something like calorie counting. The person who is leading it at my church is very loving, and I'm sure she talks about loving yourself enough to take care of yourself.



The reason I believe that "God is Love' is a more central tenant than "Jesus is Lord", is the second allows demagauges to twist Christianity anyway that suited their wallet, and Jesus had a strong opinion of the moneychangers.


Let's look at the linguistics here:

"It depends on what your definition of is, is" - Bill Clinton.

At least defining is is pretty simple, isn't it? Is means 100%, that the right hand part of the sentence is pretty much the same as the left hand. In Christianity God's and Jesus' goals are similar, so to know one, you know the other. So both statements, if both true should hold the same clout with God. But "Jesus is Lord" is easier to pervert than "God is Love", so we should stick with "God is Love" as the truer statement of Christianity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service