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What Kind Of Progressive Are You?


BrotherRog
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There are several models/visions of alternative/progressive Christianity. For example: those articulated by John Shelby Spong (Why Chrisitianity must Change or Die, etc.), Bruce Bawer (Stealing Jesus), Marcus Borg (The God We Never Knew, Jesus: A New Vision, etc.); the pacifistic visions held by Stanley Hauerwas, Wes Howard-Brook (Unveiling Empire), and the Pax Christi and Fellowship of Reconciliation organizations; as well as the evangelica/communal/social justice models encouraged by the Bruderhoff Community (The Plough magazine/catalog), Sojourners Community (Sojourners Magazine), Evangelicals for Social Action (PRISM magazine), The Other Side magazine. etc.

 

I'd like to ask the people of this forum which models/visions you gravitate toward and why.

 

As for me, while I affirm some of the theology held by Spong, I feel that his vision for Chrisitianity is somewhat "Star Trekie" (i.e. largely unitarian, secular, and milk-toast). I seem to prefer the more musclar and vital visions held by Stanley Hauerwas, Howard-Brook, Sojourners, and PRISM as they maintain the vital connection to the life and practices of the earliest Christians to a higher degree

- perceptions and practices which can still lead to abundant life, social transformation, and salvation in ways that I can't really imagine the views which seek to distance us from our past heritage providing.

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I don't have a clue how to categorize myself! I am progressive, but I don't know what model fits me.

 

I have over the past few years worked my way through all of Spong's, Borg's, Crossan's books, the Jesus Seminar stuff, etc. This reading guided me away from Roman Catholicism. I sought out a new community that better allowed me to be and express myself, but within the Christian and sacramental tradition. I landed on my feet in the Episcopal church two years ago.

 

What I find compelling from all the reading I have done is the insight that from the earliest days, Christianity took the religion OF Jesus and turned it into a religion ABOUT Jesus. This is not a condemnation, but an observation of fact.

 

I am most moved by the writings of Don Cupitt, most particularly TAKING LEAVE OF GOD. I believe that this whole enterprise (religion) is about what Jesus called the Kingdom of Heaven, or Kingdom of God. I see it as both a way of interpreting our experience and a way of living in the world by which we experience to a greater or lesser degree the mystery summed up in Jesus' enigmatic words "If you want to save your life you must lose it."

 

Theologically I am non-realist. I worship on Sunday and look forward each week to Communion which I see as a Kingdom ritual. (I like the language in the new 8-points) I rejoiceed at the confirmation of Gene Robinson's election as bishop of New Hampshire because we are living through a sea-change in attitudes toward gays -- another step in the progressive march toward justice. (pun intended)

 

If all of this fits one of the models of Progressive Christianity, I am surprised!

 

Lou

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My take is that the difference between a fundamentalist and a liberal (progressive?) approach is that fundamentalism tries to fit people into ideas where as liberalism fits ideas into people. With fundamentalism we have as many sects as we have ideas or rather sets of ideas. The liberal approach would have as many sects as there are people, which is why progressive churches are invariably broad. From this basis, I treat the question “What kind of Progressive are you?” with suspicion.

 

I resonate with a lot of what Lou said, but rather than claim that we have discovered another model for Progressive Christianity, I think that mutual acceptance of the uniqueness of our individual approaches is a better way forward.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I happen to be a gothic Christian--it doesn't get much more progressive than that. ;-) I also identify strongly with the pacifism of Hauerwas, Campola and others. One of my favourite books of all time was Travelling Mercies by Anne Lamott...anyone read it? Two of my other favourites are Marcus Borg and NT Wright. I actually dislike Spong's views immensly. Not because they are liberal, but because they are usually historically implausible and lack academic appeal.

 

I'm still waiting for a gothic Christian church... anyone interested?

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Hmm... Aside from the form of Christianity that was present during the middle ages in Europe, I've never heard of "gothic Christianity" I'm aware of the current fashion/lifestyle trend among teens called "Goth." Can you define/describe what you mean by this form of being Christian?

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Yes. It is an entire interpretive lens in and of itself (gothic existentialism). Of course, the worldview to which the lens is being held up to is the Christian worldview. It is much like what one would consider existential Christianity (found through Kierkegaard and discussed even in the works of Bultmann). The gothic element comes in more of a current trend (here I speak of the European movement with its focus on reflection and introspection, not necessarily the American counterpart which is more dress and outwardly focused though the two may be compatible). My personal identification with it comes out of my experiences in childhood, what I listened to and read; as well as my current faith journey through contemporary theology and philosophy. Hope this helps...

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I was brought up Roman Catholic, became a charismatic evangelical as a teenager, and became an Anglican in my twenties. There are elements of each of these traditions I continue to value. I have been influenced by Feminist and Liberation theologians, and try and hold my theology together through an Orthodox(Eastern) understanding of the Trinity and deifiation. \books that have meant a lot to me include Texts of Terror by Phyliss Trible, Liberating Sex by Adrian Thatcher and Being as Communion by John Zizioulas. If anyone can tell me what kind of Progressive I am, I would love to know.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

I was discussing this forum with friends in Manchester at the weekend. What had struck us was how open people were, and the marked individualism of most contributors.

 

But Christianity is always collectivist in some sense (I find the meditation group I attend more effective than when meditate on my own). Certainly the catholic tradition (Roman Catholic or within Anglicanism) seems able to sustain many 'progressives'. I agree that means not explicitly forcing issues within the parish, but the tradition and its liturgy and social action wouldn't exist without coexsitence.

 

Perhaps it has to do with our (Roman Catholic's) minority status (10% of the population in England) and ethnic origins (in this part of the world we are overwhelmingly2nd and 3rd generation irish); we are culturally and socially Catholic, despite what we think of the church's teaching or actions on any particular point.

 

As to being liberal/progressive, catholics of my generation and background are overwhelmingly Labour - but decreasingly New Labour! Most of us opposed the iraq war.

 

Can we have our cake and eat it?!

 

Gerard

(after discussion with Neil and Nora)

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  • 5 weeks later...

I have no Liking for labels, but within the context of this discussion I'm broadly Spong/Cupitt, out of Robinson.

 

For me the big issue is the retention of Christian (Biblical;) language and liturgy whe one has relinqished belief inthe Supernatural. For a long time I felt Cupitt and Robinson's conclusiosn that one can kept he language of paryer and lituirgyu to eb a bit of a cop-out, but increasingly I find that the Bibel still makes sencse when interpreted in a progressive light. For example, whe Jesus says 'before Abraham was, I am.' it makes sense in terms of the transmission of DNA. S. Paul's 'see youtrselves as dead to Sin and Alive in Christ Jesus' makes sense as the use of the Christ -event as an image of how we can renew our lives and live new, fulfilling ones.

 

Perhaps mostly I see the need to renew Christianityas away of rescuing from the Fundamentalists what is good about it.

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