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Witnessing For Progressive Christianity


louis
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The title for this may be a bit odd for the topic, but I'm curious about other people reaction to more of a process question. I spend some time in several circles in which progressive Christianity is greatly misunderstood and often under attack. I'm sure this is nothing unfamiliar to many of you. I find that it doesn't take long for the misunderstandings to occur, which I think is often related to defensiveness agaisnt the ideas of progressive Christianity.

 

My hope in these discussions is not to convert the more traditionalists to progressive Christianity, but to try to promote some healthy dialogues about differences. I think it is valuable for progressive Christianity to be in dialoge with more traditional Christians and for us to decrease the distrust, frustration, and anger which often exists between these groups.

 

This is particularly hard in some web-based discussions I've been involved with. In these, it is very common for people to look up the TCPC's site and after the first point become quite upset. Recently, this led to proclaiming of anyone associated wtih TCPC as "profane," "heretics," and "accursed of God." Part of me wants to write off the conversation, but part of me wants to remain hopeful that even in these extreme cases there are possibilities to create space for dialogue.

 

So, my question is whether other people have had any success finding ways to open doors in these type of conversations.

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I would agree this is nice in many or most situations and generally do this myself. However, I think there are also places for dialoguing in the context of labels while acknowledging their inherent limiitations. There is generally as much diversity within groups sharing a label as there is between. Yet, this site is hosted by the Center for Progressive Christianity for a reason. Had this site just spoke about ideas, then I probably would not have found it, as I'm sure is true of many others. There is also a nice thing about being able to discuss identify people who share beliefs and who don't.

 

I think the same can be true about language. Language is used differently by different people, yet we need to use language to engage. If we "always treat language as a dangerous toy" (Anselm), then we often avoid many unnecessary problems. Avoiding labels can prevent conflict, but also, at times, limit communication. The same is true of language.

 

In my professional role as a psychologist, I rarely would use the label. However, in other realms I find it useful when I treat the label with the appropriate understanding and acknowledgement of its limitations.

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I often talk about ideas and perhaps preface with a "while a more fundamentalist approach would be... a more progressive approach would emphasize....". It seems to leave people more able to hear. Kind of a compare and contrast with no value judgement... I try to emphasize the commonalities and scriptural base of both - assuming good intentions. :)

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I've done this on a nonreligious forum. The off-topic areas often turn to religion, and mostly very anti-religion/Christianity. I have said there is a more progressive view of Christianity-- emphasizing his love and works in the world ( can't go into everything). I feel this view is not usually even considered.

 

--des

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I've done this on a nonreligious forum. The off-topic areas often turn to religion, and mostly very anti-religion/Christianity. I have said there is a more progressive view of Christianity-- emphasizing his love and works in the world ( can't go into everything). I feel this view is not usually even considered.

 

--des

 

 

Good post Des...."emphasizing God's love and works in the world"...you can't get more progressive than that! If only the 'religious' world could get that picture.

 

Blessings

Jerryb

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This is particularly hard in some web-based discussions I've been involved with. In these, it is very common for people to look up the TCPC's site and after the first point become quite upset. Recently, this led to proclaiming of anyone associated wtih TCPC as "profane," "heretics," and "accursed of God." Part of me wants to write off the conversation, but part of me wants to remain hopeful that even in these extreme cases there are possibilities to create space for dialogue.

 

 

I don't know whether a sincere dialogue of the type you seek is possible. I believe that anyone who can observe and understand what is going on in the world these days would eventually come to the conclusion that the world, especially in the United States is changing in an accelerated manner, and not for the better. Many people simply will not acknowledge these changes and prepare themselves accordingly. Our major belief systems simply are ceasing to have much meaning to the people, especially those who reject any meaningful changes in traditional social institutions. When weaving was mechanized in England in the late 18th and early 19th century, these sorts of people were called "Luddites".

 

After working for a long time in administration at a large research university in a capacity which required me to look into the future in many ways and ascertain what the new sciences and technologies were going to do to change the world, I did a lot of writing about my opinions regarding the levels of change that were likely, and which were already underway. This was in the 80's and 90's. I usually don't feign modesty, but if I were the sort of person who doted on telling others "I told you so " I certainly could have done it many times in the past fifteen years or so. The information's out there. Most people refuse to absorb and acknowledge it for what it is.

 

Nobody even tried to dialogue with me regarding my findings. They only wished to attack me personally, and they were quite successful in destroying everything I had going in my life except for my spiritual beliefs. A classical case of nearly killing the messenger. But I did not and do not take any of it personally. Creative people are here to do one thing, create meaningful things and then move on with their lives. I've done that.

 

Progressives look into the future and attempt to plow the ground for the planting of seeds that will grow into things that will benefit humankind in general in as many ways as possible. Reactionary people ALWAYS try to bury new viewpoints and put them where the sun will never shine on them. The current administration's many faceted assault on basic scientific research is a reflection of its primary directive of serving the political interests of such reactionary people, or should we refer to them as a contemporary version of the legendary Luddites.

 

I for one DO NOT believe that dialogue is likely, but that opinion is based on my personal experiences and what I have observed and learned about the passing scene. Maybe you can make it come to be. I wish you well.

 

I don't know. Maybe I've given up on some of my brothers and sisters who do not seem to care about humanity and the vicious world that they seem to be creating while we watch the process as daily entertainment. Maybe I'm too old. Maybe I'm too cynical. Probably so, but I'm quite willing these days to sit back and let future chips fall where they may.

 

I have a favorite cartoon on my refrigerator. It shows two penguins facing each other. One of the penguins has a very large orange fish swallowing him from his head down to his waist. The Penguin who is not being swallowed by the fish is saying to the other, "Relax, God's in charge". That's good enough for me these days. In that spirit I'm with Aletheia's opinion on this one .

 

Sorry for the rant, But you're a psychologist so I figured that you could take it for what it is and see my side of things.

 

flow.... <_<

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  • 1 month later...

The more they call us heretics, the better, as long as we don't react with hate, their hate will become ovibious, and their followers will become alienated, and leave. I once started a thead on Hannity's site, my intention was to get people to realise that they shouldn't always vote Republican, my poll question was: Who would you rather vote for Kerry or Hitler? The poll was about 50-50, and the posts really poured it on, many saying why Hitler would be a better President. I kept the thread going as long as possible, hoping that moderate donseratives would see what kinds of lunatics they were in bed with. :D

Edited by TheMeekShall
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Marcus Borg in THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY suggests that we stop spending so much energy on those who are not interested in change and reform and, instead, spend our energy on those who are interested in change and reform and, he says, there are millions and millions of them. Most people, I believe, are pragmatic and are open to ideas which are innovative even if they prefer tradition and preservation.

 

There are some who are very judgmental in all of the religious and secular camps. Sometimes we just need to let go of the need to change these people and let them stew in their judgmentalism until they realize how unhappy this is making them. God is at work in every one and events will cause change in even the most ideologically driven of our sisters and brothers.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I often talk about ideas and perhaps preface with a "while a more fundamentalist approach would be... a more progressive approach would emphasize....".  It seems to leave people more able to hear.  Kind of a compare and contrast with no value judgement... I try to emphasize the commonalities and scriptural base of both - assuming good intentions.  :)

 

How about: "while some Christians believe .... others believe ....

 

While labels do sometimes become necessary, avoiding them as much as possible might be a good thing. I don't really fit the label of Progressive Christian because I am envisioning the day when a new integrated faith replaces traditional Christianity taking the best of our Christian tradition along with the best of many other wisdom traditions and new spiritual movements.

 

An essential Christian belief for me is the trinity (so I can't be a Unitarian). An essential practice is Holy Communion. What I like to call the new church for the new age has to incorporate many of the great teachings of our Christian tradition while welcoming many more great teachings. I believe God is making this happen and I'm simply one of many messengers telling humanity that the day has come for something new to happen. The motto of my Presbyterian denomination says it well: "Reformed and always being Reformed". God is reforming us in new and mysterious and wonderful ways now.

 

Rather than saying I am a Christian or even a progressive Christian, I say I am a person of faith rooted in Christian tradition, open to wisdom from all other wisdom traditions and movements of the Spirit.

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This is particularly hard in some web-based discussions I've been involved with. In these, it is very common for people to look up the TCPC's site and after the first point become quite upset. Recently, this led to proclaiming of anyone associated wtih TCPC as "profane," "heretics," and "accursed of God." Part of me wants to write off the conversation, but part of me wants to remain hopeful that even in these extreme cases there are possibilities to create space for dialogue.

 

 

I don't know whether a sincere dialogue of the type you seek is possible. I believe that anyone who can observe and understand what is going on in the world these days would eventually come to the conclusion that the world, especially in the United States is changing in an accelerated manner, and not for the better. Many people simply will not acknowledge these changes and prepare themselves accordingly. Our major belief systems simply are ceasing to have much meaning to the people, especially those who reject any meaningful changes in traditional social institutions. When weaving was mechanized in England in the late 18th and early 19th century, these sorts of people were called "Luddites".

 

After working for a long time in administration at a large research university in a capacity which required me to look into the future in many ways and ascertain what the new sciences and technologies were going to do to change the world, I did a lot of writing about my opinions regarding the levels of change that were likely, and which were already underway. This was in the 80's and 90's. I usually don't feign modesty, but if I were the sort of person who doted on telling others "I told you so " I certainly could have done it many times in the past fifteen years or so. The information's out there. Most people refuse to absorb and acknowledge it for what it is.

 

Nobody even tried to dialogue with me regarding my findings. They only wished to attack me personally, and they were quite successful in destroying everything I had going in my life except for my spiritual beliefs. A classical case of nearly killing the messenger. But I did not and do not take any of it personally. Creative people are here to do one thing, create meaningful things and then move on with their lives. I've done that.

 

Progressives look into the future and attempt to plow the ground for the planting of seeds that will grow into things that will benefit humankind in general in as many ways as possible. Reactionary people ALWAYS try to bury new viewpoints and put them where the sun will never shine on them. The current administration's many faceted assault on basic scientific research is a reflection of its primary directive of serving the political interests of such reactionary people, or should we refer to them as a contemporary version of the legendary Luddites.

 

I for one DO NOT believe that dialogue is likely, but that opinion is based on my personal experiences and what I have observed and learned about the passing scene. Maybe you can make it come to be. I wish you well.

 

I don't know. Maybe I've given up on some of my brothers and sisters who do not seem to care about humanity and the vicious world that they seem to be creating while we watch the process as daily entertainment. Maybe I'm too old. Maybe I'm too cynical. Probably so, but I'm quite willing these days to sit back and let future chips fall where they may.

 

I have a favorite cartoon on my refrigerator. It shows two penguins facing each other. One of the penguins has a very large orange fish swallowing him from his head down to his waist. The Penguin who is not being swallowed by the fish is saying to the other, "Relax, God's in charge". That's good enough for me these days. In that spirit I'm with Aletheia's opinion on this one .

 

Sorry for the rant, But you're a psychologist so I figured that you could take it for what it is and see my side of things.

 

flow.... <_<

 

I find hope in the tradition of the prophets who spoke truth to power and sometimes convinced people to change and sometimes didn't and sometimes were even killed but they spoke boldly because God told them to speak boldly and to ask people to confess and repent. Americans, particularly privileged and powerful Americans, need to confess and repent for we have misused our privileges and our power and we are continuing to do so.

 

We must keep speaking out in hope and love not knowing how effective our message will be in changing the collective mind of our society but know ing that we must try.

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MT

Of course you are right, but back in the day I had the energy and time to speak out on such things. Today I have neither and cannot, even though I've tried to keep fairly current on the issues.

 

Speaking one's truth to power has it's aphrodesiac benefits and its deadly backlash consequences. I've tried to cope with both and have recovered to a fairly middling life these days.

 

My major priorities these days are to work my job (50) hrs a week, look after the affairs of parents who are both about 90, and try to pass on a little of what I know here on this board from time to time. But this year there don't seem to be many of the old gang around to kibitz with anymore. Hmmmmmm. Someone trying to tell us something ?

 

Been there before and it always passes. Thanks for the thoughts.

 

flow.... :)

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But this year there don't seem to be many of the old gang around to kibitz with anymore. Hmmmmmm. Someone trying to tell us something ?

 

I am a bit burned out and am finding I don't feel I have much to contribute right now. I still read the board everyday though. :)

 

AR Miss You !!! Get unburned and come back when you're ready, not before.

 

Dr. flow.... :P

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But this year there don't seem to be many of the old gang around to kibitz with anymore. Hmmmmmm. Someone trying to tell us something ?

 

I am a bit burned out and am finding I don't feel I have much to contribute right now. I still read the board everyday though. :)

 

AR Miss You !!! Get unburned and come back when you're ready, not before.

 

Dr. flow.... :P

 

AR...I second Flow's post. We do miss you,but I also understand that 'burned-out feeling. Take care.

 

Blessings to you my friend,

 

Jerry

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Guest wayfarer2k

In my experiences on forums, I find that it is usually the skeptics that are more interested in what I would consider progressive Christianity than the fundamentalists are.

 

The skeptics have asked some of the same questions that we have. And they continue to ask those questions. PC certainly doesn't provide all the answers but it does, at least, ask relevant questions.

 

The fundamentalists, at least to me, flourish in an environment where all the answers are already given (thus saith the scriptures) and questions are not encouraged.

 

For instance, I find doubt to be a powerful stepping-stone in my faith that often leads me to new understandings and experiences with God. But for the fundamentalist, doubt is the enemy or opposite of faith so no admission to doubt is acknowledged.

 

I, for one, would love to have ongoing conversations with fundamentalists. After all, I came out of that background and love the people in that worldview. But their own worldview tells them that someone either progressive or liberal is either a heretic, a non-believer, or an antichrist and so the barrier is thrown up from their side.

 

If someone is 100% convinced that the world is flat, they would have to be open to scientific and rational data to have their mind changed. If they are not open, I think communication is next to impossible. Better to entrust them to God and let them proceed down their own path until they discover from within that it just doesn't work or make sense.

 

wayfarer

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In my experiences on forums, I find that it is usually the skeptics that are more interested in what I would consider progressive Christianity than the fundamentalists are.

 

The skeptics have asked some of the same questions that we have. And they continue to ask those questions. PC certainly doesn't provide all the answers but it does, at least, ask relevant questions.

 

The fundamentalists, at least to me, flourish in an environment where all the answers are already given (thus saith the scriptures) and questions are not encouraged.

 

For instance, I find doubt to be a powerful stepping-stone in my faith that often leads me to new understandings and experiences with God. But for the fundamentalist, doubt is the enemy or opposite of faith so no admission to doubt is acknowledged.

 

I, for one, would love to have ongoing conversations with fundamentalists. After all, I came out of that background and love the people in that worldview. But their own worldview tells them that someone either progressive or liberal is either a heretic, a non-believer, or an antichrist and so the barrier is thrown up from their side.

 

If someone is 100% convinced that the world is flat, they would have to be open to scientific and rational data to have their mind changed. If they are not open, I think communication is next to impossible. Better to entrust them to God and let them proceed down their own path until they discover from within that it just doesn't work or make sense.

 

wayfarer

 

I agree, wayfarer. I still talk with fundamentalists from time to time, just to see if I ever find any who think another Christianity could even possibly be valid, not "another gospel" in the sense of being false, but a truth that people in the past weren't ready to see. One exchange on something like whether one can be a Christian and not believe in a substitutionary atonement usually blows that up.

 

The thing I wish fundamentalists could understand is that I am not a liberal to avoid believing in substitutionary atonement, the virgin birth, that God can do utterly anything at any time or any such belief. I would have believed the Bible to be the Word of God if that's how it read to me, but it didn't. And in my discouragement over a false Bible, false rituals, false church, and hypocritical believers, I gave up on Christianity as a teenager. Then in my thirties, I needed something of God. I needed direction, strength and hope, and found them not just in a renewed prayer life, but in some elements of Christianity, about love, about transformation.

 

I would believe in substitutionary atonement if the traditional view of sin made any sense, if all disease really were due to sin, so it made sense to see "arise and walk" and "your sins are forgiven" as synonymous. Experience has taught me otherwise. Experience has changed how much of society sees Christianity.

 

I still don't know how to get that across to someone who hasn't traveled there for himself or herself, that there is a valuable truth between atheism and fundamentalism, whether one summarizes that as "love" or something else.

 

If someone were to complain to me that liberal Christianity is right about valuing love, but confused about what to do beyond that, I would agree, as a liberal Christian. Few stop there, though. They want to belittle liberal Christianity into nonexistence, both theists and atheists. I don't think they'll ever succeed. Maybe that's the best there is right now.

Edited by DavidD
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