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Why Those 8 Points?


Demas
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Hello everyone,

 

I've been browsing through the tcpc site and reading the 8 points. I think I've got a handle on them, and agree with many of them (with some reservations).

 

My question for you all is why those 8 points were chosen as being the most important facets of Progressive Christianity?

 

Do you consider anything to be missing that should be there?

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Hello everyone,

 

I've been browsing through the tcpc site and reading the 8 points.  I think I've got a handle on them, and agree with many of them (with some reservations).

 

My question for you all is why those 8 points were chosen as being the most important facets of Progressive Christianity?

 

Do you consider anything to be missing that should be there?

 

Welcome to this great forum, Demas.

 

Maybe you should answer the question you have raised. There has been a lot of discussion on these 8 points over the years. What do you think is missing?

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Welcome to this great forum, Demas.

 

Maybe you should answer the question you have raised.  There has been a lot of discussion on these 8 points over the years.  What do you think is missing?

 

Hmm, OK will give it a go.

 

At this stage I'm not talking about the truth or otherwise of the points, just the question of why those points were chosen.

 

The biggest thing missing for me is an underlying sense of coherency - why, for example, is Point 3 so important? Point 8 seems very important - why is it last and not up with Point 1 which introduces the concept of Jesus in the first place?

 

Who are these points speaking to? I can think of three groups: Non-Christians, Traditional Christians and Progressive Christians.

 

Non-Christians are going to struggle, I think. I'm interpreting Point 3 as a technical statement about the Eucharist (I could be wrong), but how would a non-Christian know that?

 

I also have a feeling that the elephant in the room is the Bible, which isn't mentioned. What do Progressive Christians think about the Bible? (Many varied things, I assume) Is there a consensus? After all, the Bible is going to be the primary source of information about Jesus, no matter what you think about its accuracy etc.

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Hi Demas,

 

Welcome. This is a really good forum for progressive thought and we're happy to have you here!

 

I think someone sat down and wrote them (prob. in a committee :-)). Is something missing, likely. I feel differently about different points. For example, about others having valid truths (not the wording, I know)-- that one I feel strongly about (pro). I would make a stronger point on social justice for one, but I am guessing there is some tendency to play it down just a mite as for a long time that was all there was to some liberal churches. Or at least the major and most important point.

 

I think if you put 8 of us in the room there might be 10 opinions. :-)

So I do think it is a great job of trying to put something together.

 

I would guess that progressives feel differently on the Bible. I think that the Jesus seminar (not sure to what extent that is progressive or not) plays it down quite a lot. Yes, it is certainly a historical document (though i wouldn't place a lot of stock on much of the history in there-- 7 days, 3 days, 5 days, if you get my drift). I would guess that most of us are not literalists (there are some non-progressive readers/posters). I would guess many of us believe much of the Bible to be metaphorical. For myself, I don't think that entirely explains everything but I would say that it is not JUST metaphorical. That is I place metaphorical truth at a higher level than I think most literalists would place it.

 

I don't know if you are a Star Trek fan, but there is an episode in Star Trek Next Generation where Worf tells a group of lost Klingon kids their stories. One of them says, "Is this true?" And Worf says, "I have studied them for years and find in them many truths."

I guess that sums it up nicely. Another example is that Native Americans often resist the use of the term "is it true?" The trouble is that "mythology" implies fairy tales and fantasy.

 

 

--des

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I can’t imagine any statement of liberal or progressive Christianity turning out as crisp or dogmatic as that of Bible-believing Christianity, but to me, the 8 points seem more vague with words of compromise than I would think desirable. For example there’s point 1:

 

“Have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus.”

 

“approach”? “way” would have been offensive or have undesired implications? Is this about following God? Is this about having an understanding of God or a relationship with God? Can God substitute for my earthly father who didn’t love me? I know I can agree with this point to the extent that it says Christianity is about Jesus. Does it say anything else? I don’t mind if it doesn’t. I believe in liberty in coming to the God of my understanding, different things from God for different people. I just would prefer it say something clearly.

 

It seems this sort of language is used for the sake of being inclusive. This goes too far for me in point 2:

 

“Recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God’s realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us.”

 

If I thought that the God of my understanding was utterly subjective instead of having some basis in reality, I don’t know that I’d bother with Him. There is objective truth. There may even be absolute truth. Who knows enough to deny that?

 

I can’t imagine God condemning Gandhi while favoring someone who just gave lip service to Jesus. Well, I can imagine it, but if so, I’m way off on knowing who God really is. Still the idea that God decides whom to favor, not me, is a long way from saying, “All religions are true.” I think a better argument can be made that all religions are false to some degree, including Christianity.

 

This is one of the tensions of our time. 200 years ago the mainstream of biology was to believe in the special creation of species. Now it is evolution. The mainstream of geology 200 years ago was Noah’s flood. Now it’s plate tectonics. Fundamentalists strain to deny any problem to their faith from this, yet it is an absolute truth that the order of creation presented in Genesis is contradicted by the fossil record. The Bible is wrong, unless one accepts a metaphysics by which science is meaningless. It is at least objective truth that the Bible is wrong, if not absolute truth. So who is going to respond to fundamentalism by saying that they have their truth and we have ours? I can’t go along with that. How about for Scientology? How about for atheism? Lots of us prefer being nice guys to standing for anything, but I don’t think that’s an attractive position.

 

I am inclusive to some degree, maybe even to the same degree as those who crafted points 2, 3, and 4, but there are some limits to that in practice. Love is inclusive, but it’s not utterly permissive and passive.

 

I wish to come across a strong statement in favor of experience-based Christianity, where it is said explicitly that the Bible does not replace God, but provides an experience that while it is unique, as it is the sole source of writings about Jesus, it is writing with the shortcomings any other human writings have. I remember hearing a sermon by an Episcopal member of TCPC on science and religion. He described himself as having one foot in the Bible and one foot in science. This describes liberal Christianity in general, I think, being still heavily attached to tradition while trying to respond to modern stresses like evolution. When are people going to trust God while moving into the 21st century? I don’t want one foot in the Bible. I want both feet in God. I find that I can have both feet in both God and science at the same time. Maybe I couldn’t do that if I were the sort of scientist who denies spiritual experiences, but I don’t. I don’t find reasons to believe in physical miracles, but God can have powerful effects on us mentally, even miraculously so. So I live with some tension between being like the most skeptical scientist or the most gullible mystic, but somewhere between those two, God speaks to me.

 

I don’t know how many liberal Christians are ready to say that empiricism and faith are not only perfectly compatible, but require each other, that one can learn who and what God is from looking out in the world and measure one’s own devotion to God by looking inside us and looking at our actions. Prayer doesn’t require knowing how it draws us closer to God, but it does require something positive to keep going.

 

More points aren’t going to help me with that. I want to hear clergy who aren’t ashamed of experience-based Christianity. I want to hear clergy who aren’t embarrassed to call for an end to poverty. In my retirement, I volunteer at a charity helping a variety of needy people. When clergy make them more of a priority, I’ll notice. Otherwise, the 8 points are just words.

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I have no particular allegiance to the 8 Points myself, so answering this question is easier for me. ;)

 

Demas: To me, the "point" of point 3 seems to be what's between the lines -- i.e., that the sharing of bread and wine is not the presence of Christ, not instituted by Jesus as a religious sacrament or ceremony, not limited to those who profess a particular faith tradition, etc. Its positive language is a thinly veiled rejection of traditional Christianity. As far as the Bible goes, I see point 6 addressing that topic in the same between-the-lines kind of way -- a rejection of the "dogmatic certainty" that traditional Christianity places in the Bible, the creeds and doctrines of the church, etc. This agreement on what the Bible isn't is probably the only progressive consensus you'll find. You could call me a cynical traditionalist, except for the fact that I'm neither one.

 

My fundamental issue with the 8 Points is that it's conspicuously missing any notion of the quest for understanding -- something which, it seems to me, is so critical to the concept of a religious tradition, that it could hardly be imagined without it. Imagine an "8 Points of Progressive Physics" wherein we "recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other theories, models, and hypotheses, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them." How absurd! Of course we acknowledge that all religious concepts and models, including our own, are correct and useful to some degree (or else nobody would use them), and incorrect and misleading to some degree. But that doesn't imply that all paths and ideas are equally valid, as point 2 seems to imply; on the contrary, it suggests to me that they're all amenable to criticism, correction, and improvement -- and to improve implies an ideal.

 

There is something of an irony in a manifesto of progress which denies by its absence any notion of a transcendent ideal of understanding to which one might, in theory, progress. Alas, the postmodern contradiction.

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Fred, I wholeheartedly agree with your astute observation of the progressive contradiction, that all ways to the divine are equally valid.

 

The most liberal "progressive Christian" scholars exemplify this contradiction to the greatest degree, I believe. The verbiage of the 8 points, along with the rhetoric of the far-left liberal wing of progressive Christianity says they believe all ways are equally valid. However, with a nod and a wink they proceed to seek to trash, deconstruct and impugn any form of evangelical Christianity that does not completely subscribe to their "metaphorical" interpretation of scripture and its claims.

 

This to me is a very striking contradiction that I take issue with.

 

What do others think?

 

Peace,

 

John

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I am of the belief that the TCPC experience is better delineated on the first page of the website than anywhere else.

 

As I pointed out on another thread here, I believe that it is "very" important that the "creators" of this concept and discussion forum chose the number "eight" as the predominant symbolic element of the TCPC experience. Yes there are the eight points, but as we all know words are imprecise and scream out for interpretation even when they are used in any sort of context. But there are also eight corresponding symbols on the page some with ancient roots and some not. And then there is the eight-pointed blue star. It might not be widely known, but stars of this sort were predominant symbols designating "the Gods or God" in ancient Sumer (Shinar in the Bible, Iraq in modern times). Is this significant?

 

What IS the significance of all that? Do they correspond to the "worded eight points" in some symbolic ways, or do they open up another avenue of cultural pursuit to lead us into our individual addressing of ultimate questions and transitory answers.? And what of the questions that lead us into the experience?

 

The first question is very enticing and informative. It invites us to explore the experience extensively, and it implies that the "exploration" is the important thing, that we may well derive more "grace" merely by asking questions. It is not implied that we may find more "grace" in the finding of answers or "certainties".

 

It is very important to study the first iteration of any novel process. In the study of the establishment and operation of complex systems and processes, it is always true that the final outcomes of the systems or processes are critically dependent upon the "initial conditions" of the complex being established.

 

This all may seem to be some sort of analytical semantic exercise on my part and I apologize for that, but I believe that this sort of studying of the conceptual aspects of the TCPC experience is necessary before we as a group may hope to benefit from its outcomes.

 

flow.... :rolleyes:

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Yes, I do see the contradiction, but I also see that sometimes the reaction to evangelical Christianity is defensive-- that is based on a reaction to how some fundamentalists (though realize those two terms aren't identical) act towards non-fundamentalists. At least it is for myself. If I am not attacked, I see my attack mode going way way down. I wouldn't contend that is an especially Christian response but I do think it is a human one.

 

I also agree with Fred's comments re: thinking all things are equally valid that that point of view is absurd. Yes, I agree. I think that there are POVs that are for lack of a better word, just wierd. :-) (Whatever point that might go against. :-))

 

 

 

--des

 

 

Fred, I wholeheartedly agree with your astute observation of the progressive contradiction, that all ways to the divine are equally valid.

 

The most liberal "progressive Christian" scholars exemplify this contradiction to the greatest degree, I believe.  The verbiage of the 8 points, along with the rhetoric of the far-left liberal wing of progressive Christianity says they believe all ways are equally valid.  However, with a nod and a wink they proceed to seek to trash, deconstruct and impugn any form of evangelical Christianity that does not completely subscribe to their "metaphorical" interpretation of scripture and its claims.

 

This to me is a very striking contradiction that I take issue with.

 

What do others think?

 

Peace,

 

John

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Thank you for your answers - I'm going to have to think a bit before replying!

 

In the meantime, I'd like to share another list, which has taken a different approach than the propositionally based 8 points. This is a statement of Core Values, made by a group of Christocentric Quakers - Friends in Christ.

 

This list is in the form of a personal commitment, I Will ... as opposed to I Believe ...

 

What think ye?

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Ken Wilber deals with this particular postmodern contradiction at length in many places in his writing -- the hilarious but quirky novel Boomeritis being the most notable. I can hunt for exact sources in his scholarly works if anyone cares. Basically the idea is, when you try to argue that all truth claims are mere subjective opinion, you end up reducing your own argument to the status of mere subjective opinion as well.

 

G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis leveled a similar, but even more penetrating, blow to scientific naturalism in the early 20th century: that it was inconsistent for science to speak of processes like "evolution" or "development," while at the same time rejecting any notion of ideals or purposes in the universe. Lewis made the same argument in moral terms, quite ingeniously, to those who reject the existence of God on the basis of the evil in the world: how would you know what evil is if you didn't have goodness to compare it with? The recognition of evil as evil actually implies God -- or at the very least some absolute standard against which good and evil can be objectively measured. I think scientific naturalism -- which is in many ways the direct philosophical ancestor of the modern liberal-critical method -- has yet to satisfactorily answer this criticism. I wrestled intensely with this very inconsistency in my own thought for many years, and this simple argument dragged me kicking and screaming back to theism.

 

Anyway, to tie it back into the original thread before I get too far off topic (!) -- you can have progress, or you can have unbridled pluralism, but you can't have both. Progress implies something to progress toward, even as we acknowledge that in our limited situation we'll always fall short of it. Perhaps ironically, to truly criticize and correct traditional Christianity, we have to rigorously maintain -- not reject -- its insistence on absolute truth.

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Fred, I'm not an expert on the literature of evolutionary psychology, but you would find there ideas on how we can have a natural morality. One book that discusses that is Religion Explained by academic anthropologist Pascal Boyer. It's a pretentious title. It really only addresses beliefs, not all of religion. It doesn't prove God didn't make us the way we are. It won't be a complete story until genetics demonstrates all 25,000 of our genes and sees if the genetic traits hypothesized by evolutionary psychology are in fact genetic. That still wouldn't prove there isn't something spiritual to our morality, but this is how an atheist would respond about how there can indeed be evil without God determing that.

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Fred, I'm not an expert on the literature of evolutionary psychology, but you would find there ideas on how we can have a natural morality. [...] It won't be a complete story until genetics demonstrates all 25,000 of our genes and sees if the genetic traits hypothesized by evolutionary psychology are in fact genetic. That still wouldn't prove there isn't something spiritual to our morality, but this is how an atheist would respond about how there can indeed be evil without God determing that.

I know the argument has been tried numerous times, I just remain unconvinced by it. The science of evolutionary psychology can tell us all kinds of things about the hows and whats of our genetic situation, what's genetic and what isn't about our drives and choices, selfishness and altruism, etc., all of which is very fascinating. But ultimately, why is altruism better? Longer-term survival of the species? Ok, for what purpose? Oh, there is no purpose beyond survival? Then why exactly are we trying to survive in the first place?

 

I believe it was Camus who said the only interesting question in philosophy is whether I should commit suicide. Clearly the question is about whether there is any ultimate purpose in the universe, and it's a question that science by its own self-definition cannot answer. I don't mean to denigrate good rigorous science in any way -- in fact, I'm deeply critical of religious pseudo-science (by Fundamentalists and New Age folks alike) for applying sloppy theology to understand the natural world when they should be using real science. But I'm just as critical of a practically religious faith in the reductionistic methods of science, pretending to tell us "all we can know" about matters of ultimate concern.

 

Ack, now we're officially way off topic. B)

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Would it be fair to say that there appears to be tension between two underlying concepts in Progressive Christianity - that all paths are valid, and the old paths are no longer credible/valid? (ie a Liberalism vs. Modernism split?)

 

My initial reaction to the name "Progressive Christianity" was that it was a statement of superiority. To call yourselves Progressive is to call the others Reactionary. (It also has unfortunate connections with Left Wing in a political sense).

 

I'm not sure that the 8 points undo that.

 

On a tangent, the early Protestants thought of themselves not as changing their religion in the light of the knowledge of the world, but as reforming their religion to get back to the true roots, before the world had tainted it. It was the Reformed Church, not the New Church. Does Progressive Christianity hold itself in the tradition of Semper Reformanda, or does it hold itself to be something new?

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I never thought of the use of progressive as a "superior" thing, but as a kind of alternative to the use of the word "liberal". First of all, liberal has had a bad reputation of late. People almost are apologizing when they use the word liberal. The other thing I thought of is that "liberal" in religion has been lately characterized by a tendency to be very liberal social and to not be esp grounded in anything spiritual.

 

OTOH, progressive has a very long and distinguished history in politic terms (just about tied to every major important political issues) and is clear of ramifications of how others see the word "liberal"-- either spiritually or politically.

 

--des

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I've come across a few individuals on beliefnet who have the same negative, knee-jerk reaction to the term "progressive" but for different reasons. I dunno, it's never bothered me much, but I can also see the viewpoints of those who it does bother. Labels are a pain ... a necessary pain ... but a pain nonetheless. :rolleyes:

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Sigh, well I had hoped it didn't have so much baggage, but maybe not by very much. Anyway, in political terms "progressive" used to conger up pictures of the New Deal and

the Progressive wing of the Democratic party and getting rid of child labor and that sort of thing.

 

--des

 

>I've come across a few individuals on beliefnet who have the same negative, knee-jerk reaction to the term "progressive" but for different reasons. I dunno, it's never bothered me much, but I can also see the viewpoints of those who it does bother. Labels are a pain ... a necessary pain ... but a pain nonetheless.

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Would it be fair to say that there appears to be tension between two underlying concepts in Progressive Christianity - that all paths are valid, and the old paths are no longer credible/valid?  (ie a Liberalism vs. Modernism split?)

 

I believe that you have uncovered a kernel of truth at the center of all this.

 

We do not know and are unable to determine if paths into the future of belief are valid because so much information about the beginnings of our faith have been obscured in the past, and in my opinion, repeatedly and purposefully so throughout the past 2,ooo years. But to throw aside 2,000 years of belief and just accept the proposal that all paths are valid would amount to religious anarchy, and we all know where that would lead, chaos. That's what evil has always been aiming to do to believers over time, divide and conquer.

 

Any serious scholarly investigations into these hidden things, like the Jesus Seminar, are almost doomed from the get go because of orthodoxy's historical role of always steering the faithful to the familiar stories accepted in 325 a.d.

 

That is the keystone of the dilemma because the gathering of the "wise" at Nicea "officially" determined through political and democratic consensus the "true" nature of the divine in the persona of the man Jesus. Constantine picked up that agreement and, with the help of his wife who officially designated the holy sites from the life of Jesus as known from the accepted stories, began to dilligently construct the world that has resulted in what we see and openly know today. The rest IS history. As I've said elsewhere here, whichever "white guy" wins the augument writes the history and runs the show. That's western culture and it is not going to change anytime soon.

 

I have directed attention on this site to the continuing efforts of officialdom to limit the scope and dissemination of science research and its results for a reason. It is important that the average person understand how important science is to activities that might uncover enough information to officially alter the assumptions that have supported past history and lead us to the construction of possible new "validities".

 

There are also plans cooking to allow federal agencies to have access to virtually all knowledge creation activities at American universities in order to determine who is sending what information to whom. It's going to cost an already financially strapped higher education system $20 billion plus to alter their information infrastructures to accomodate these unilateral regulations. They have been published by the government and are in the comment period at present before their adoption and implementation. Of course the primary reason being given for this move is to further bolster the protection of critical knowledge from being accessed by "terrorists".

 

The real results of all this will be to further monitor and limit the sharing of novel information in order to determine if it represents some sort of "possible threat" to the status quo. The current approach is to annoy researchers who happen upon new things that fall into these categories of novelty such that they tend to engage in self-censorship in order to preserve their established positions and status.This approach, of course, is nothing new as there has been peer review of research publications for a long time now, but this would take the "big brothering" of the research enterprise to a whole new and more threatening level.

 

The creation of new ideas and concepts is really a pretty lonely and tedious process, especially in the academic arena. When a "breakthrough" is obtained it is not usually generally known about until the creator(s) feel sure enough of its viability through replication of results by colleagues and repetetive verifications of the processes to obtain said results. A constantly "on" observational plug-in to this critical cycle of work would work to "chill" critical inputs into the final results of any novel discovery.

 

I guess the bottom line is that we should probably adhere to traditiional belief forms to the extent that they apply to the circumstances we are led to deal with in life's ups and downs on a day-to-day basis. But as has been noted several times on this site, they just do not seem to apply very often these days. But to intervene too much and too often in the critical processes that may lead to new vistas of belief is simply too dangerous to the viable progress of humanity into the future. It's all about moving forward in time together and that will take a "magical" balancing act by officials who are too blinded by lots of comparatively trivial things to even begin to understand just how much is at stake here.

 

 

flow.... :unsure:

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The real results of all this will be to further monitor and limit the sharing of novel information in order to determine if it represents some sort of "possible threat" to the status quo.

C'mon Flow, your local bookstore is overflowing with "novel information." Nobody cares about censoring it because most of it is crap; but even the worthwhile stuff, most people would rather numb their brains on pulp anyway.

 

We censor ourselves by our own laziness and apathy. There's no grand conspiracy to keep us from learning new things, we just don't feel like doing it. Have you read Postman's comparison of Orwell's 1984 to Huxley's Brave New World in Amusing Ourselves To Death? Very appropriate to this line of discussion. Perhaps the coolest observation in the whole thing is: "In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure."

 

http://www.howhist.com/jfraser/foreword_fr..._ourselves_.htm

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The real results of all this will be to further monitor and limit the sharing of novel information in order to determine if it represents some sort of "possible threat" to the status quo.

C'mon Flow, your local bookstore is overflowing with "novel information." Nobody cares about censoring it because most of it is crap; but even the worthwhile stuff, most people would rather numb their brains on pulp anyway.

 

We censor ourselves by our own laziness and apathy. There's no grand conspiracy to keep us from learning new things, we just don't feel like doing it. Have you read Postman's comparison of Orwell's 1984 to Huxley's Brave New World in Amusing Ourselves To Death? Very appropriate to this line of discussion. Perhaps the coolest observation in the whole thing is: "In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure."

 

http://www.howhist.com/jfraser/foreword_fr..._ourselves_.htm

 

I agree that we do censor ourselves with our laziness and apathy, however that is not the phenomenon that I'm talking about here.

 

In this instance I'm talking about a purposeful governmental intervention in a process that has served civilization brilliantly for at least a century and a half, and that has engendered all sorts of "progress" for the collective good, and to an extent, bad.

 

That we are discussing this in positive terms on an entirely novel medium of person-to-person understanding that can be simultaneously shared with potentially countless others in a timely manner, talks volumes about the good of the current status of things. But my point is that this open sharing of information model is being, in my opinion, critically threatened by a potential set of regulatory interventions that can only stifle our collective scientific progress and understanding in the long run. The end point of my argument is that this will also cut off new avenues of valid and new beliefs since the potential for the discovery of novel information about the world and universe around us and its history will be significantly limited in the process.

 

I agree that the bookstores are filled with novel information. What I'm talking about is the choking-off of novel information WAY BEFORE the point that it even has the chance to appear in bookstores.

 

Hmmmm, while I have observed many times in my life the slowing of progress through the infliction of pain from the outside, it would be a novel switch to experience the slowing of progress through the infliction of pleasure (from the inside?). While it might be said that we humans are basically pleasure-seeking meat machines, that tends to deny the purity that exists at the core of most of us that cries out in its longing to find some sort of unification as a meaningful portion of the eternal. Just maybe that's what sexual experiences are all about?

 

flow.... ;);)

Edited by flowperson
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Would it be fair to say that there appears to be tension between two underlying concepts in Progressive Christianity - that all paths are valid, and the old paths are no longer credible/valid?  (ie a Liberalism vs. Modernism split?)

Yes, this is the crux of the contradiction exactly. I've already tried to argue that I regard #1 to be false. As for #2, I guess it depends on who you're asking: no longer credible for whom? The general idea here is that Christianity is grounded in a philosophical, historical, scientific, etc. framework that is no longer meaningful; and so Christianity needs to be "translated" into another framework -- one which modern, scientific, liberal-critical, etc. scholarship is more than happy to provide. Spong, for example, has beaten this to death in his last I forget how many books. There is some truth to this claim; however, it breaks down by making the assumption that the modern outlook is immune from difficulties of its own.

 

What I have found is that "Progressive Christianity" does correctly criticize one very particular type of contemporary worldview: namely the view that takes the central narratives of Christianity to be literal history. However, when stacked up against the robust philosophical traditionalism of, say, a C. S. Lewis or a Chesterton, it fails embarrassingly to even comprehend what it's trying so hard to criticize. I'm not saying that these forms of traditionalism don't have their philosophical problems: on the contrary, I think they have some big ones. What I am saying, however, is that the historical and scientific critiques made by liberal and/or progressive Christianity seem only to be capable of attacking the very narrow range of worldviews occupied by biblical literalism, and therefore don't address those problems at all.

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Good observations, Fred. Postman's books are very astute and insightful, although I would have to say are also a bit alarmist in some respects.

 

One could also make the stretch and say that the Orwellian negative utopia is how things played out in the rise of communism with the state-sanctioned repression; whereas in capitalist, free-market nations like the U.S. and western europe, it has been control through saturating the pleasure-inducing media with messages that sub-consciously control or influence the populus, a la Huxley.

 

The eight points, in essence, to me, seem to amount to a sort of paradoxical exclusivist (or dare I say liberal elitist) inclusivity.

 

Peace,

 

John

 

We censor ourselves by our own laziness and apathy.  There's no grand conspiracy to keep us from learning new things, we just don't feel like doing it.  Have you read Postman's comparison of Orwell's 1984 to Huxley's Brave New World in Amusing Ourselves To Death?  Very appropriate to this line of discussion.  Perhaps the coolest observation in the whole thing is: "In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure."

 

http://www.howhist.com/jfraser/foreword_fr..._ourselves_.htm

Edited by peacemover
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I agree that we do censor ourselves with our laziness and apathy, however that is not the phenomenon that I'm talking about here.

 

In this instance I'm talking about a purposeful governmental intervention in a process that has served civilization brilliantly for at least a century and a half, and that has engendered all sorts of "progress" for the collective good, and to an extent, bad.

I hear what you're saying, but I just don't think that governmental intervention into the information web has created the problem we're facing. If We The People would actually take some responsibility for our minds, there is no government in the world that could stop us from creating a world worth living in. Where the government is at fault is in granting corporations practically unlimited freedom to opiate the minds of Americans to satisfy its own greed. (I guess I just imported this from another thread, but hey it fits!)

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What I have found is that "Progressive Christianity" does correctly criticize one very particular type of contemporary worldview: namely the view that takes the central narratives of Christianity to be literal history. However, when stacked up against the robust philosophical traditionalism of, say, a C. S. Lewis or a Chesterton, it fails embarrassingly to even comprehend what it's trying so hard to criticize. I'm not saying that these forms of traditionalism don't have their philosophical problems: on the contrary, I think they have some big ones. What I am saying, however, is that the historical and scientific critiques made by liberal and/or progressive Christianity seem only to be capable of attacking the very narrow range of worldviews occupied by biblical literalism, and therefore don't address those problems at all.

 

I agree.

 

I do really appreciate Borg and his criticisms of fundamentalist Christianity. His views helped me to not leave Christianity altogether.

 

HOWEVER, it took the recommendations of some of my more conservative friends for me to find authors like Chesterton, Yancey, Ward and Lewis. As I read them I realized that I only knew two kinds of Christianity: Liberal (Borg, Crossan, Spong) and literalist, legalist Conservative (my ex-religion). I didn't know there was anything "in between" at all.

 

I avoided reading anything outside of the Jesus Seminar for so long because the way the JS talked about other Christian beliefs, you would think that the only other option was fundamentalism.

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So far on this thread I have met a number of people who have presented critiques of Progressive Christianity/8 Points, but none who have presented a strong defence of the 8 Points or the belief system they point to.

 

Are there people on this board who are very happy with the 8 Points and Progressive Christianity, happy to the extent that they would want others to follow their belief system? If I were to go over to Beliefnet or (shudder) Christianforums I could find thousands of eager proclaimers of the truth of Calvinism, or Roman Catholicism. Are there such people for Progressive Christianity?

 

If there aren't, doesn't that make Progressive Christianity more philosophy than religion? Or is that the aim?

 

For those people who have posted critiques of some areas of Progressive Christianity, why are you here? What do you feel that this forum or Progressive Christianity has to offer you/the world?

 

I must say I am enjoying the range of views expressed here; please do not feel that I am in any way motivated by hostility towards you - I'm just curious.

Edited by Demas
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