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Forrest
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Progressive Christianity is great! I love it! It’s a beautiful thing. But it lacks the mass appeal that the religious right offers.

 

Progressives say the search is more important then the answers.

 

The right tells you the answers.

 

Average Joe in the street is drawn to the simplistic appeal of the right. The progressives don’t reach out to him the way the right does.

 

Why not?

 

I think the PC’s have much to offer Joe but they need to give him something that fits into his outlook of the world. Something he can hold onto, something positive. But it must be presented in a way he can understand and appreciate.

 

Kindness, compassion, generosity, peace, tolerance, respect for the earth and all life, these are our “absolutes.” These values given in the name of Jesus are just what Joe’s looking for and needs. This should be the strong, unwavering foundation on which we build our movement and on which Joe can build his life.

 

But blogs at Jesus-isa-pagan.com aren’t reaching Joe. He’s watching NASCAR.

 

To get to Joe we must hit him where he lives, the TV, radio, newspapers, bumper stickers, billboards.

 

We need to take our message to the street, door to door, face to face.

 

We have just what Joe needs. His support is just what we need.

 

 

 

Forrest

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Forrest:

 

First of all, welcome to the board !

 

Second, I'm not so sure that you are seeing the trees clearly (couldn't resist that one ).

 

Seriously though, I would have to agree with OA on this. Jesus wasn't seeking mass appeal, He was planting seeds for something that has yet to be fully discovered and grow to fullness. Progressive are dedicated to seeking that fullness. It is a work in progress.

 

If progressives were to use the methods and values of the right in trying to "sell" our program to average Joes and Janes in the wider world, then we would be lowering our standards and values of expression of our principles to theirs. Is this what you really want ? Or do you want Joe and Jane to seek the fullness of Christ's teachings along with us. It is a path of exploration and discovery, and you logically cannot teach discovered things until they are found.

 

The joy and novelty is in the seeking and not in developing contrived answers as has been done all too often in the past by those on the right.

 

flow.... :)

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Christ reaches out to everyone especially the common man, those least among us.

 

Sometimes I think that Progressive Christianity smacks of elitism. A religion for the spiritually sophisticated not meant for those of meager intellect and spirituality.

 

The truth must be sought, true. But is it right to concede the common man to the religious right. Let him go to those who wish to capitalize on his ignorance.

 

I feel that if Progressive Christianity wishes to counter the negative influences of the RR they must find some way to reach out to those common folk who are being manipulated, misguided, and taken advantage of for political and material gain.

 

I feel that as good Christians we should be compelled to help these poor people, to “save” them from the tyranny of the RR.

 

Or will Progressive Christianity be just for academia, egg heads and tree huggers.

 

 

Forrest

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Hi Forrest and welcome to the board.

 

First off I'd like to say that without authors of a liberal to moderate bent, I wouldn't be here. In that sense PC evangelization works. All of Marcus Borg's books certainly fit into that category. He might not have gone door to door, but his books are evangelizing nonetheless. His books brought me back to Christianity in that they made me take a second look at my presuppositions and prejudices towards the Christian tradition. After Borg's books, I moved on to other authors who, while some consider them liberal, are of a more traditional and moderate bent. While I still qualify as a progressive Christian, my views would be considered a bit to the right of Borg.

 

Which leads me to my second point.

 

The difficulty, as I see it, lies in the message that would be preached as representing "Progressive Christianity."

 

Would it be a traditional Christianity with a liberal political bent (ala Jim Wallis)? Would it be a message that Jesus was a wise sage and mystic who was divinized by his followers after his death (ala Marcus Borg)? Would it be a gnostic, contemplative, mystical Christianity (ala Elaine Pagels)? Is PC universalist? Pluralistic? Inclusivistic? Perennial?

 

Still, I'd like to see PC become more public, more seen, more available. I don't think PC is (or should be) elite. It does need to break out of academia. The question is how and what is the message?

 

:)

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Hello Forrest, welcome to the board. This is a great but difficult topic.

 

One problem for PC , particularly in America, is that this is a legalistic country. In America things of consequence have to be in writing. We have leases ,contracts, constitutions, etc. I think that's why fundamentalism is strong in this country. The RR goes around saying"the Bible says this, the Bible says that".

 

Many of the truths that PCs see come from personal revelations and experience and such. We need to back up our beliefs and ideas with scripture to communicate with many people in this country, otherwise they'll just ask,"where did you get that from" ?

 

 

MOW

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Hello All,

 

Thank you for the warm welcome.

 

I’m fairly new to posting and Progressive Christianity as you may have already discerned.

 

I considered editing my last post because in retrospect it seemed harsh, my apologies to you who may have found it offensive.

 

It’s just that a lot of good people are being misled by the RR. This enrages me. They need an alternative.

 

AletheiaRivers mentioned some PC aspects, terminology, and authors with which I am unfamiliar.

 

Thank you. It shall be my reference guide for future study.

 

But perhaps in my naivety I see the core, simple and pure, that lies at the center of the PC spectrum.

 

Its values: Love, honesty, kindness, respect, tolerance, charity.

 

This seems like a pretty good message to me. :)

 

 

Forrest

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Forrest

 

Also go to the books thread below and check out the recs there. I just started a book on sufi mysticism recommended by mystictrek and it's terrific. I don't believe that you can go very far wrong reading what the TCPC'rs suggest there.

 

And don't worry about being harsh and offending anyone. We're all pretty ordinary people here and not elitist as far as I can tell. Thick skin is automatically inherited by all ordinary people. But I believe that we all have in common the burning desire to discover G-d and the works of his/her hands, and it's all about love.

 

Best wishes on your journey !

 

flow.... :D

Edited by flowperson
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PCs as a seperate group haven't had enough motivation to create their own identity until recently. "The Moral Majority", gaybashing, and Bush's "Crusade", have motivated it recently. PCs unfortuantely, are a bit too intellectual in their values, love comes from the heart. We need to come up with ideas that create community. The Christian right has, and as people who believe in nutrurance, we'll do even better.

 

If we're true to our values, empathy will be our strong suit, so talking to the average Joe can be easy. :lol:

Edited by TheMeekShall
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Christ reaches out to everyone especially the common man, those least among us.

 

Sometimes I think that Progressive Christianity smacks of elitism. A religion for the spiritually sophisticated not meant for those of meager intellect and spirituality.

 

The truth must be sought, true. But is it right to concede the common man to the religious right. Let him go to those who wish to capitalize on his ignorance.

 

I feel that if Progressive Christianity wishes to counter the negative influences of the RR they must find some way to reach out to those common folk who are being manipulated, misguided, and taken advantage of for political and material gain.

 

I feel that as good Christians we should be compelled to help these poor people, to “save” them from the tyranny of the RR.

 

Or will Progressive Christianity be just for academia, egg heads and tree huggers.

 

 

Forrest

 

My experience is most of them are quite comfortable with the simple answers and aren't willing to seek or have in interest in seeking truth. Try and tell them the truth? They just respond by telling you that you are going to hell ;)

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October's Autumn wrote: "My experience is most of them are quite comfortable with the simple answers and aren't willing to seek or have in interest in seeking truth. Try and tell them the truth? They just respond by telling you that you are going to hell ;)"

 

+++

 

I don't believe most people who have been attracted to the churches associated with the Religious Right will tell us that we are going to Hell. I believe that most of them were attracted to a congregation which offers a simple message coupled with a lot of love and music which rocks. The threat of Hell is background noise these days. It's still there but quite diminished in most of the rhetoric. That's why their success has been so big lately.

 

Most Americans and most people of privilege and power everywhere don't want to deal with our society's sinfulness which is threatening to destroy our nation and even our whole planet. This includes greed, environmental destruction, addiction to pleasure, militarism, projection of all sin on to other people and nations and religions and ... you know the drill! They know that they won't be confronted with our society's sinfulness in the churches associated with the RR.

 

What we have to do is get in there and care and proclaim the true Good News of shared and sustainable abundance, of justice and peace, of liberation and compassion while not neglecting the need to change, the need to confess and repent. We need to keep trying to get our message through to the many, many people who want a more mature faith, the mature faith of PC.

 

We need to believe that most people really do want a faith fit for an adult, a faith fit for the global village of the 21st century, a faith which promotes the search for more and more truth and wisdom from whatever source provides truth and wisdom.

 

But we must never forget that people always also want a faith fit for a child, a faith which rocks! We PCs so often neglect the obvious.

 

I understand that the great Karl Barth was asked by someone in an American audience to state his theology in a sentence. He started singing: "Jesus loves me This I know For the Bible Tells me so ... " It's that simple. It's that profound. It's that fantastic. It's Good News. (I guess I will always be a preacher!)

 

The churches associated with the RR have learned to sing this song anew with drums and keyboards and guitars. Why can't we do that?

Edited by mystictrek
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>I understand that the great Karl Barth was asked by someone in an American audience to state his theology in a sentence. He started singing: "Jesus loves me This I know For the Bible Tells me so ... " It's that simple. It's that profound. It's that fantastic. It's Good News. (I guess I will always be a preacher!)

 

>The churches associated with the RR have learned to sing this song anew with drums and keyboards and guitars. Why can't we do that?

 

Maybe I am analyzing this too but..

I don't know if it's just me, but I really don't like that hymn/song very well (nice tune and all) but it annoys me. It is in the Jesus=God idea. The only way Jesus can actually love you is for him to be here in the physical sense (since I see Jesus as a person), which he isn't. So it stands to reason the only reason that he would actually love you is for Jesus to be God.

 

I also have a bit of a problem with Amazing Grace which I think is quite beautiful as music goes. There are maybe a zillion verses and one of them goes "we've been here 10,000 years (humankind).." well that all goes with the fundamentalist view of the humans existence for 10,000 years. Then there is the major problem with it of "saved a wretch like me". Well the guy who wrote it was a slave trader, nice of him to say. :-)

 

Gosh sorry for my ranting. I understand that if you want to work as clergy in a nursing home you absolutely MUST know Jesus loves me. And as I think I think Amazing Grace is very beautiful as music and sometimes the words aren't that important I think.

 

--des

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October's Autumn wrote: "My experience is most of them are quite comfortable with the simple answers and aren't willing to seek or have in interest in seeking truth.  Try and tell them the truth?  They just respond by telling you that you are going to hell ;)"

 

+++

 

I don't believe most people who have been attracted to the churches associated with the Religious Right will tell us that we are going to Hell.  I believe that most of them were attracted to a congregation which offers a simple message coupled with a lot of love and music which rocks.  The threat of Hell is background noise these days.  It's still there but quite diminished in most of the rhetoric.  That's why their success has been so big lately. 

 

 

Like I said it is my experience. And the most common response to why not believe in God/Jesus/Church when is usually the "you'll go to hell if you don't!" You may have a different experience, but this is my experience.

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Then there is the major problem with it of "saved a wretch like me".

 

Funny on the comment about the slave trader being a wretch :lol: Well, not funny because it is a horrible, nasty, evil activity...

 

anyhow...

 

I just spent the weekend with High Schools students cabin camping in the mountains and we share the experience with the DOC who are more conservative. Anyhow, they sang the amazing grace song in the old way and I still think the wretch part ruins the song. I did notice in the UCC camp program it changes it :D I can't remember what to, but not derogatory. There was another one that would have been awesome had it not been for the "I don't know why" of why God loves us. Well, duh! God created us (or so Christian theology goes -even if not taken literally) so of course God loves us!

 

*sigh* SOme great songs made messy!

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Hi des

 

In the UMC hymnal the words to verse 6 of Amazing Grace are

 

"When we've been there 10,000 years bright shining as the sun : we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we'd first begun".

 

I think it's to convey a sence of eternity.

 

As far as whether PC can have mass appeal ,I still don't know . Could you imagine The Bishop Spong Show, or The Marcus Borg Hour?

 

 

 

MOW

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It is in the Jesus=God idea. The only way Jesus can actually love you is for him to be here in the physical sense (since I see Jesus as a person), which he isn't. So it stands to reason the only reason that he would actually love you is for Jesus to be God.

 

Unless you believe that Jesus was a man who was ALSO raised to heaven. I guess in that sense he could love you now, and not be God. ;)

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Ummm, about the 10,000 years thing. It was, I believe Bishop Ussher of Northern Ireland who issued a decree in the dark ages sometime that the world was created by G-d in 4,004 bc. At least that's what I remember. He did some esoteric calculating using older translations of the Bible. I don't think that Ussher was the guy who created Green Stripe Scotch though, but I could be wrong about that.

 

This is probable due to the fact that the Jews celebrate their founding yearly and it is around 3,700 bc if I recollect, and Chinese year count is at about the same level. The fundies likely picked up on all this as a "proof" that the world is not really that old, and that fossils, carbon dating, etc., are really bogus contrivances used by hypocrites and apostates to negate the true story of creation. But look at it this way, if the 6,000 total year count is close to true, then we've got 4,000 years left yet to... party on dudes and dudettes !!

 

Whoohooo !!

 

flow.... :D

Edited by flowperson
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Re: the ten thousand years bit. I believe it was to express the eternity of God, yes. But in the eyes of a more fundamentalist type than me, well it was to express eternity of 10,000 years (it was NOT a propaganda statement-- they really believed that was it). But I don't. And I find the idea of 10,000 years as eternity almost laughable. But the views of 10,000 year "history" of humanity was started on ignorance of the real eternity-- but currently fundamentalists, with all the knowledge there is now are still expousing this. That's what I find offensive. If they want to sing that verse fine. I feel it makes God "puny". I always sing it ten million (even outloud), it's not quite right, but it's closer.

 

The "wretch" thing does ruin the song imo. If you take the history of the song it makes sense. But I think it is read by fundamentalists as the reason Jesus had to die on the cross was due to our wretchedness. I find it an offensive viewpt. Why would God in

"Goodness" create a wretched creation. I don't see why the New Century Hymnal doesn't change the words (I have heard, I think it was Joan Baez or... sing "to save a soul like me".

Not entirely happy with that one either. When we come to those words I just don't sing it.

 

Good thing I'm not in the choir. :-)

 

As for Jesus loves me, Ok I'll buy your argument that Jesus was fully human and not fully God. But then if Jesus is taken into the right hand of God, he is not still in bodily form is he?

I mean if you lost your dad, you wouldn't say my dad "loves" me (present tense), I mean I wouldn't. Even if you believe in a life after death. Saying God loves me is not quite the same, I guess I don't see it as that much of a personal love like a friend exactly. (I think this is another discussion). But the song to me sounds like a personal love that Jesus really knows you and so on. Of course it doesnt' say that , so I guess you can go and interpret it any old way you want. :-) It's a nice happy song. The New Century Hymnal has it translated to I don't know a dozen or more languages (the more familar ones, Navajo, Swahili, Hawaiian, etc.)..

 

 

 

--des

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Average Joe in the street is drawn to the simplistic appeal of the right. The progressives don’t reach out to him the way the right does.

 

Why not?

 

Forrest

 

Hi Forest, Hi everyone else. :)

 

This is my first time to this message board. I am enjoying it so far.

 

I am a former Evangelical who started asking questions about ...well, everything. I read Borg, Spong, etc. and made connections and progression out of the mire of literalism. But the draw of the Evangelical world is strong.

 

Someone in this thread, I think it was Mystictrek, mentioned that what evangelicals have going for them are simple messages and rocking music. I think the part about the rocking music is dead bang on. I personally miss the theological rigor and contemporary style of evangelical circles. I still have a deep need to worship in the forms that I am familiar with and long for discussions about who Jesus is and how to make sense of all that has gone on in his name.

 

Am I an average Joe on the street? Probably not, I work for a Christian non-profit organization which runs emergency shelters and crisis homes and I attend the progressive ministerial in my city called the Fellowship of Christian Leaders. This group is made up of clergy from Anglican, United, Unity, and Lutheran churches. I live in Canada, so the majority of PC churches are United Church of Canada.

 

PC folk I have met seem to like to talk about how bad conservative Christians are and how awful the doctrines of the past have been. They don’t tend to talk about Jesus (after all how can we really know anything about the man, seeing as how he is so shrouded in layers of human invention) and they don’t tend to talk about their personal relationship to God. In my limited experience these are what matter to the person on the street. The people I know want to have a relationship with God, to really feel some connection to the Devine, and they are intrigued by the person of Jesus. I personally ad to that list intellectual connection.

 

I look forward to exploring this message board and would be interested in people’s comments on what I have experienced. Am I the only former evangelical who has trouble fitting in with Progressives?

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PC folk I have met seem to like to talk about how bad conservative Christians are and how awful the doctrines of the past have been.

There comes a time when you just have to let it go I think. Being a progressive Christian isn't about being anti-conservative. It's about (imo) being "pro" something. It's about taking the best that the Christian Tradition has to offer and moving forward.

 

They don’t tend to talk about Jesus (after all how can we really know anything about the man, seeing as how he is so shrouded in layers of human invention) and they don’t tend to talk about their personal relationship to God.

I agree and I have to wonder why? The Gospels (as literature) have an awful lot to say about Jesus and God and their relationship to each other. What the Gospels have to say, while maybe not being literally true in all aspects, is still profoundly true. I think that many PCers have lost sight of that.

 

I look forward to exploring this message board and would be interested in people’s comments on what I have experienced. Am I the only former evangelical who has trouble fitting in with Progressives?

While I'm not a former Evangelical, I do relate to your difficulty with fitting in with progressives (although not on this board, overall).

 

Welcome to the board! Looking forward to the dialogue. :)

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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What the Gospels have to say, while maybe not being literally true in all aspects, is still profoundly true. I think that many PCers have lost sight of that.

 

Hi AletheiaRivers.

 

Yes, that is a good point. There are many remarkable sayings in the gospels which continue to intrigue and fascinate me, even in the Gospel of John which seems to be the leading proponent of the “Jesus is identical to God” doctrine.

 

The difficulty I have, and maybe this should be addressed on another thread, is how to sort out the truth from the propaganda in scripture. I guess there is still a part of me that wants to believe “Jesus loves me…because the bible tells me so.” I want to be given an anchor in the storm or relative values; I want to know that God is bigger than my conception, that just because I don’t understand suffering and death, there is a plan.

 

Perhaps this is why fundamentalism and literalism are growing in so many religions. They make something scary and incomprehensible seem acceptable. With this sober realization I think I see why PC will always lack mass appeal.

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PC folk I have met seem to like to talk about how bad conservative Christians are and how awful the doctrines of the past have been.

 

 

It is part of the grieving process. It is also part of separating oneself from a former identity. I could be wrong, but I don't think too many people who were "born" progressive do that. It primarily comes from those of us who have been there, done that, didn't care for and walked a very difficult and painful path to get out (a path that is still not finished).

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Yes, that is a good point. There are many remarkable sayings in the gospels which continue to intrigue and fascinate me, even in the Gospel of John which seems to be the leading proponent of the “Jesus is identical to God” doctrine.

 

The difficulty I have, and maybe this should be addressed on another thread, is how to sort out the truth from the propaganda in scripture.

 

Actually, the Gospel of John is my favorite. It didn't used to be. For a while I thought that it shouldn't be in the Scriptures at all because it seemed so obviously "myth," and what does myth have to do with the "quest for the historical Jesus"? (Just a little sarcasm there.) :D Now I feel just the opposite. Now I feel that John is the most "true" precisely for the metaphysics that it espouses: the Incarnation.

 

The idea of the Incarnation is amazing. Many many religions have similar stories. I think they point to a higher truth: That God is part of the Universe, part of us. That God is interested in us. That this life is not all there is. That "God became man, that man might become God."

 

I believe that the Gospels do point to Jesus being God. That's not to say that the Gospels are literally (historically) true or that Jesus was literally God, but I do think that is what the New Testament says, as literature.

 

I guess there is still a part of me that wants to believe “Jesus loves me…because the bible tells me so.”

 

I don't see anything problematic with believing that "Jesus loves you." Doing so doesn't mean fundamentalism. That's the "issue" I have with much of liberal religion. In an effort to leave behind the literal, legalistic attitudes, the baby gets tossed out with the bathwater.

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