American retailers have essentially pre-announced that the annual Thanksgiving observance — when we presumably pause to gratefully remember everything we have — has been cancelled so bargain shoppers can get an even earlier jump-start on their holiday shopping for all the things we don’t have yet.
Meanwhile, halfway around the world a typhoon of record proportion hit landfall only a few weeks ago; nearly wiping an island nation off the face of the earth, and leaving those who survived with virtually nothing. Then last week an unseasonable swarm of twisters flattened whole towns across the Midwest. By comparison, it all makes the plight of those first pilgrims facing the harsh realities of their first Thanksgiving in a brave new world look like a walk in the park.
And, all the while, the airwaves and media have been filled with docu-dramas and documentaries commemorating the half-century mark of those events that shattered an age of relative innocence for those of us old enough to remember it; ushering in an age of extraordinary upheaval and anxiety, starting with what social critics and historians alike attribute to the assassination of JFK. Juxtaposed and taken together, these events represent a seeming un-reality that hasn’t really abated much in the last fifty years. We live in an age of anxiety.
Jesus masterfully taught in the philosophical tradition known as Jewish cynicism, with such parabolic tales and quaint-sounding imagery as the “lilies of the field.” And he did so at a time and age that – while seemingly ancient to our modern way of thinking – may not have been all that different from our own anxious age. Consider then our fretful, misbegotten ways, and the wild lilies of the fields.read more
Francis Macnab has been teaching the place of Faith in psychology and theology, in health and growth for decades. He claims that the churches have lost vast numbers of people because their Old Faith has lost empathy and relevance in the 21st Century. He advocates the need for a New Faith.read more
This paper addresses recent discoveries of previously unknown Christian scriptures which predate the orthodox canonical gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Surprisingly, these earlier writings reveal a totally different kind of Christianity – one which could very well speak to the needs of the lost Christians of today.read more
Was Jesus the Christ?
The application of the title “Christ” to Jesus most likely did not come until after Easter. If any of the disciples understood Jesus as the Christ before Easter, their recorded behavior in the gospels was nonsensical.
Where did the word Christ emerge? Christ is our English translation of the Greek word christos, which means “messiah,” “savior,” or “redeemer.” But Christos is an attempt to put the Hebrew word mashiach, which meant “God’s anointed one,” into Greek. In early Israel history the king was also called God’s anointed one.
There have been some interesting attempts to discover the “historical” Jesus, but the only Jesus we really know is the one in the New Testament, and those writers were not interested in historical accuracy.read more
When I was a child growing up in the church, I believed everything I heard about Jesus, whether from Sunday School class, the New Testament, the creeds, sermons, or hymns. I was taught that he was divine, the only-begotten Son, God in human flesh, the second person of the Trinity and he thought he was all these things. It never occurred to me that such a person could not be human. If Jesus had superhuman knowledge and power, he cannot be a model for ordinary humans.read more
How do you see the Holy Family? What do they look like? “Ordinary”?—what does that mean? Iconic? A nativity scene or an artist’s impression? Surrounded by shepherds and angels and animals, or isolated and on the run from Herod—or from dubious family members still unsure of Joseph’s wisdom in marrying Mary? Perhaps you see a pageant—a filmstrip of images one after the other, screening numerous family scenes and mythologies and narratives. Hold them in your mind’s eye…read more
In Advent, we build the framework of Christmas
together we put up scaffolding
signalling something’s being renovated
something new is being created.
Come, let us walk the road that Mary walked
the challenging road
from Nazareth to Bethlehem
not knowing what the future holds.
Taking a extraordinarily brief look at the God of the Hebrews as revealed in what we Christians call the Old Testament, God lived on the top of Mt. Sinai, and when the Israelites traveled very far from the mountain they thought they have to carry God with them. The smoke of the burning censer, symbolizing God’s presence, could be seen during the daylight hours as a cloud, and at night the smoke looked like a pillar of fire. That’s the only way the ancient Israelites were able to believe that they had not been left their God behind. Even when they enter “the promised land,” by invasion and slaughter, God remained a jealous, vindictive tyrant, punishing the children for their father’s sins and thinking nothing of turning a terrified woman into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26), ordering massacres (Joshua 8:26), having a helpless old man hacked in pieces (1 Samuel 15:33), or visiting the devoted Job with disease and pain until he longed for death (Job 2:7-10). That is not the God I believe in or would ever consider worthy of worship. Worthy of fear? Yes, definitely!read more
I believe in God. I’m afraid to add anything to that brief statement, because I don’t want to do God an injustice by limiting God with an inadequate definition. God is the most important ingredient in my credo. Belief in God is so central to my creed that I have wondered if I am a Deist, which Webster’s Dictionary defines as, “One who believes in the existence of a God or Supreme Being but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature and reason.” If by “revealed religion” they mean hypocritical religion, misguided religion, deaf, dumb and blind religion, unthinking religion, religion of rules and laws rather than love, then I wholeheartedly agree. Conversely, if they mean a religion that allows people to, as John Wesley put it, “think and let think,” then I don’t agree. The part of the definition that does not fit me is “basing his belief on the light of nature and reason.”read more
Before the Beginning,
Simply, infinitely being,
Part III of this “Christian” A-theism Series explores new possibilities to be found in pushing beyond the constraints of theism and a-theism; and the blunt and limited question of believing or not believing in a “theistic” notion of “God.” We typically fashion our notion of anything we deem sacred “Oneness” in anthropomorphic terms, so we can more easily relate to the idea. The Christian then proceeds to incarnate that God notion with a Christology in which Jesus is construed as a co-eternal mediator and – peculiarly – a substitutionary sacrifice.
But for those progressives for whom such a construct is no longer viable or credible, what might still be found amidst the theological rubble in a post-modern – even post-deconstructionist – age? Indeed, what may have been there from the start of the entire imaginative process; known in the earliest days of a pre-Christian movement simply as the Way? As near as we might be able to discern it with our own creative and interpretive imaginations, what resemblance might it bear to the “voice-print” of an extraordinarily imaginative character we might want to befriend?
The Supreme Court of the US is now considering a case from Greece, NY, in which the town board started its meetings with sectarian Christian prayers. Lower courts disallowed them as violations of the clause in the Constitution …read more
ProgressiveChristianity.org is hiring! We are are non-profit organization that provides spiritual resources and networking for an evolving faith. Position Available: Business Administrator, Marketing & Communications Education and Experience: BA required MA or MDiv would be an asset …read more
Religions, like puppy owners, often don’t do a good job of scooping up the messes they leave behind. But that’s not a compelling enough reason to give up on either your God or your dog.read more
Thankfully, ideas gradually and sometimes painfully changed, even in the church. Now, over 500 years later, we are entering a new age that will demand a reexamination of our most sacred ideas and beliefs just as those of the pre-modern era evolved into those of the modern age. So Christians need to re-examine the modern version of Christianity to make certain that it is viable in the postmodern age that is dawning.read more
I consider myself a seeker. I’m seeking a version of Christianity that satisfies both the head and the heart. What I’ve found most often is one or the other. The “heart” churches seem to be so emotional that they are afraid of intellect and the “head” churches are frightened of emotion for fear that it lessens the intellectual.read more