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Missed Opportunities

I must admit that it seems strange, in a time when religion, beliefs, faith and spirituality are such a common subject on a regular basis in our mainline media, so many people feel uncomfortable going to church to have open discussions about these subjects. It certainly appears from our data that there is such an obvious hunger that most churches do not seem to be feeding.

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Who Will Lead Us? Maybe Our Lay People

One characteristic that seems to get overlooked most in the data on what is working and not working in churches is the need to create an environment for open dialogue about theological and Christological conversation. I am not certain why, but I continue to see this vacuum in too many churches that I visit. I suspect the reason may be that clergy do not want to create any unnecessary conflict or nor do they want to risk the loss of any church members. But it seems strange to me that the latest thinking about the historical Jesus or about the sometimes twisted roots of the Christian church can be found on the front page of Time or Newsweek magazines and other national publications but these things are seldom being discussed in our churches. It is a more than ironic that even though scholars are producing more books and articles challenging us to rethink what it means to be a Christian today, one of the last places you will hear these topics being discussed is in our churches.

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When Less Affiliation is Good News

What is the least religious state in America? Oregon. The most religious? Mississippi. Oregon, not Mississippi, reflects the emerging trend of the western world; cynicism about institutional religion and little desire to affiliate with any particular religion or denomination.

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Where Two or More Are Gathered: Exploring Alternative Worship Strategies

How would it feel to participate in an extravagantly creative worship experience? Could a service be designed that mixes church tradition with original ideas? Does alternative worship enhance or alienate the church community? How does it effect outreach?

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Topics: The Arts & Culture and Worship & Liturgy. Resource Types: Articles.

Teaching Progressive Christianity Using the 8 Points, A Guide

I understand Progressive Christianity is for individuals who find Jesus intriguing but suspicious of institutional church. Like minimalist interior decorating that remove tchotchkes within a space, the Progressive Christian movement strips out the tchotchkes of church and tradition. The tchotchkes of ideas and practices out of date or uphold orthodoxy and exclusion. I offer to my congregation of about 120 people a 4 week plunge into the American Eight Points material honed by Fred Plumer and others.  I manage to engage those who would never sign up for Bible study in a church! This article explains the outline I use, bearing in mind several factors.

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The Good Samaritan: An example of the Distinctive Voice of Jesus?

By John Mitrosky. This article puts one of the most famous short stories ever told into a modern context that is easily understood.

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Resource Types: Articles.

Eckhart Tolle and the Christian Tradition

Although Tolle is not a Christian teacher, we must not assume that makes him an anti-Christian teacher. Today we need whatever methods or help we can receive to allow the Christian message to take us to a deeper level of transformation. Our history, and our guidance of Western history, shows this has clearly not been happening on any broad scale. This is an opportunity for us to understand our own message at deeper levels. It would be a shame if we required him to speak our language and vocabulary before we could critically hear what he is saying-that is true and helpful to our own message.

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I Learned About God There

After a couple of weeks of this thrashing, I finally calmed down enough to begin to ask myself what could I learn from this young man. What was missing in our approach to Christian teaching? What were we really teaching our children? What did this young man want that he did not find at our progressive church? What was the pedagogical model we had created, or more importantly what model did we need to create?

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Faith Statement from a 9th Grader

Confirmation Class, First Presbyterian Church, New Canaan, CT. God is in the form of everything and everyone. Everyone has God inside himself or herself. Therefore we are all equal and our enemies are just as divine as us. I feel God’s presence when I am doing good for others or when I make a connection with someone.

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Changing the World, One Child At A Time

This undertaking has been a journey of faith for me. So many positive things have already happened because of it, that it has occurred to me that the curriculum project may be one of the most important things TCPC has ever taken on. It may be one of the most important things I will have done in my life. What an incredible opportunity it will be to find a way to teach children how to lead more joyful and compassionate lives. What an amazing prospect to teach children about Jesus as the loving enlightened teacher, about the path that he has given us that might help them experience “heaven on earth” And what awesome thing it is to ponder the possibility that we will no longer have to “unteach” our children what we once taught them before.

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Myth-Busting the Christian Right

The Christian right’s pundits present this set of abstract concepts – moral “values” sanctity of life, and Christianity – as their core values. Over and over again they have successfully framed complex issues as oppositions between these core values and their opponent’s position. This has worked partly because, instead of engaging in an analysis of these concepts, they equate them with a set of public policies that are assumed to meet the conditions that define them. Thus it would appear that if you do not support their policies, you cannot support moral values, the sanctity of life, or Christianity. A closer examination of the fallacious reasoning underpinning each of the Christian right’s core myths will follow.

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The 8 Point Miracle

A Reformed Catholic priest relates the historic and emotionally charged Mass that was held in his parish on Pluralism Sunday, 2008 as well as how the 8 points have helped his church be more inclusive, loving and unifying.

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Myth-Busting the Christian Right- page 2

We can never know with any certainty whether or not Jesus claimed to be divine, since he didn’t sit down and write on that topic, or any other.What we can know, from reading what evangelists recorded about his life and teachings, is that his ethic was not reducible to exterior rules of normative behaviour, but emphasized the intention of the agent over catalogues of right and wrong acts.

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Topics: Theology & Religious Education. Resource Types: Articles.

The Recombinant Imagination- From Westar’s Quarterly Publication

The work of Westar has never been done in a vacuum. From the outset the purpose of the Jesus Seminar was twofold: to detect the profile of the historical Jesus in his words and deeds and to report the Seminar’s findings to the public. The latter purpose brought with it severe criticism from the scholarly community, accustomed to its isolated (albeit comfortable) existence. But the Fellows of the Seminar pledged that the implications of their investigation would not be confined to the gated academic community.

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Resource Types: Articles.

Into the Future

We do not need to be the leader or number one. We just need to do what we apparently have been called to do and to do it better-that means finding more effective ways of sharing the progressive Christian message. You are going to see many changes over the next few months, so keep your eyes and ears open. We have spent the last six months developing a viable strategic plan and we are in the process of implementing it. You will see changes in the site and in the expansion of resources that we will be offering to churches, small groups and individuals.

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A God for the Gaps?

Many of our problems derive primarily from two outdated ideas: the Bible as the literal and inerrant Word of God, and the divinity of Jesus. If we could accept that both these ideas are no longer helpful, many of the theological problems of our faith would be resolved. An improvement in our relations with other faiths would also become possible.

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Barack Obama

Are we really supposed to believe that being black is an advantage for a man named Barack Hussein Obama? First he is accused of being a Muslim (as if something would be wrong with that). Then he is accused of being the recipient of the support of the leader of the Black Muslims, Minister Louis Farrakhan. Now that he has established himself as a bona fide Christian it is suddenly revealed that he is, oh my, a black Christian.

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Resource Types: Articles.

The Doctrine of God

Classical theism, the reigning doctrine of God in Christendom, affirms that God is void of body, parts, passions, even compassion, wholly simple, wholly immutable, independent, immaterial, the supreme cause and never the effect. What creatures have, God does not. I challenge this doctrine, on five grounds.

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