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The Church of Sweden in a Time of Challenges

The Church of Sweden’s situation in its Western European context could be described by statistics. However, I want to start with my own experience. Deep in my memory, I have an experience of physical and existential pain. It is also a story of challenges and vocation.

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Resource Types: Articles.

The Story of the Magi: Biblical Origins of Anti-Semitism

When Alexander Pope wrote about the dangers of a little learning, he might not have had the Bible in mind. In the eighteenth century, few people realized or cared that Christians who knew the Bible primarily through what they heard in church were absorbing a prejudice against the Jews. What they learned from the Bible strengthened their spiritual well being by convincing them of their moral superiority to the Jews. Their sense of superiority was all the justification Christians needed for pogroms, expulsions, forced conversions, and violence directed toward Jewish people. The question for progressive Christians today is this: Can we learn from the Bible without perpetuating antisemitism? As an attempt to come to grips with that question, I will focus on one particular story, the account of the wise men following a star to Bethlehem.

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Resource Types: Articles.

The Virgin Mary is No Wonder Woman

Who was Charles Moulton? His name is not a household word but his creation is. Moulton is the man who in 1941 launched the career of a comic strip character who was know as Wonder Woman. Moulton was a psychologist. He was also the inventor of the lie detector. In an autobiographical note in the Wonder Women Archives Vol. 2, he describes himself as “an early feminist,” who believed that “a woman’s rightful place was as a world leader, not servant or helpmate.”

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Resource Types: Articles.

By Whose Authority

The Bible–with all its strangeness, weirdness, and contradictions; its
metaphors, ironies and stupidities, its untidiness, its sprawling
nature, its boisterousness–is
well suited to this a more democratic definition of ‘authority.’

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

Metaphorically-Challenged

Some people have problems with metaphors. The poet John Brehm had one of these metaphorically challenged people in a freshman class that was studying Matthew Arnold’s classic nineteenth-century poem Dover Beach, which likens the decline of organized religion to the outgoing tide of the “Sea of Faith”. To her complaint that the expression confused her, the teacher gently asked what confused her about it.

“I mean, is it a real sea?” she asked.

“You mean, is it a real body of water that you could point to on a map or visit on vacation?”

“Yes,” she said. “Is it a real sea?”

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Resource Types: Articles.

The Challenge for Progressive Christians:

Dealing with Conservative Parishioners and Congregations

If I’m myself sceptical about being an energiser, it will be abundantly clear to all of you that I am most certainly not a New Englander. It has been one of the real pluses of my involvement with TCPC over almost ten years now that I have had the opportunity to get to know progressive Christians from many different parts of the US; but in particular people from New England. I am not a total stranger here. But in a sense part of what that has done is to make me very aware of how our territories are each distinct; and of how different church, Christianity, and religion more widely are in North America, when compared with Britain.

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Resource Types: Articles.

Skeptical Mysticism

You often hear about believers who have a crisis of faith, but what of the skeptics among us who have a crisis of doubt? For years we skeptics have decisively refuted the metaphysical claims of the great religions and scoffed at the pretensions of newfangled spiritual fashions. But then our doubt is suddenly shaken by an unbidden mystical experience. The power of this direct cognition of ultimate reality, beyond word or image, is undeniable. But does it prove the existence of God?

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Resource Types: Articles.

Creation and Evolution: The Growing Identity of TCPC

One important insight made possible by that dual perspective is our ability to see creation as an evolving process rather than an accomplished fact. All the powers of space and time and matter and energy are in continual relationship, shaping physical reality across the myriad eons and light-years, and simultaneously inviting us to ponder the sacred reality we infer to be its source.

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Resource Types: Articles.

Our Journey to an Identity as a Progressive Christian Church

he First Congregational Church of Berkeley (FCCB) has a tradition of welcoming diverse viewpoints and accepting into our community anyone sincerely seeking spiritual growth through the Christian tradition. Over the years we had developed a way of helping people to understand who we are. A member might describe FCCB by saying: “We don’t require members to be baptized, don’t demand a dogmatic set of beliefs, and don’t treat the bible as a literally historical account of events.” Although we could differentiate ourselves from other churches in this way, our consensus as a congregation had migrated more to what we are not, than to what we are. So, we set out on a journey as a congregation to find our center again.

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Resource Types: Articles.

Gay Marriage Not Defeated

The “religious right” is not only celebrating the re-election of George W. Bush, they also are ecstatic about the resounding, coast-to-coast victory of states “banning gay marriage”. Out of fear that gay marriage will harm traditional marriage, on November 2 voters in eleven states approved constitutional amendments limiting state marriage licenses to one man and one woman. The amendments won, often by huge margins, in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Utah and Oregon. The bans won by a 3-to-1 margin in Kentucky and Georgia, 3-to-2 in Ohio, and 6-to-1 in Mississippi. The religious right feels morality won and evil was defeated.

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Resource Types: Articles.

The Kingdom of God: A Domination Free Order

In The Gospel According to Mark, the earliest of the four Gospels, the first words Jesus spoke when he began his mission and ministry in Galilee were, “The time has come: the Kingdom of God is upon you; repent and believe the Gospel.” (Mk. 1:14 NEB) The consensus of biblical scholarship is that the Kingdom of God is the central focus of the message and ministry of Jesus.

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Resource Types: Articles.

Astonishing Assumptions Underlie Belief in Atoning Sacrifice

The author of Tried for Heresy: A 21st Century Journey of Faith, discusses the "small print" underlying the interpretation of Jesus’ death as an atoning sacrifice.

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

What is the Core of Progressive Christianity?

On our website we display a star with eight points. Most of us use the eight-pointed star logo, but we have not agreed on what meaning the rays of this star might hold. The eight-point de? nition of progressive Christianity, symbolized by the star, provides starting points for conversation. The eight points do not answer the question of what is essential among all who claim to be progressive Christians.

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Resource Types: Articles.

Ecumenism: A Personal Interpretation

One may well ask what “ecumenism” means in relation to TCPC? Christians of different denominations are attracted to TCPC — does this make it ecumenical? Should ecumenism make a difference? I submit that the ecumenical vision should be central to progressive Christianity.

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Thanks, Albert Mohler

On behalf of progressive Christians everywhere, I express thanks to Albert Mohler. He has given The Center for Progressive Christianity exposure that we could not have purchased for any amount of money.

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Resource Types: Articles.

Parasitic Cosmeticians – A reflection on building bridges

“To all conservative Christians, liberals, however well meaning, appear as parasitic cosmeticians; cosmeticians, because they constantly aim to remove from Christianity that which outsiders, like some inside, find intellectually unsightly and unacceptable; parasitic, because they attach themselves to the historic faith and feed off it even as they whittle it down, diminishing, distorting, and displacing major features of it to fit in with what their skeptical conversation partners tout as factual truth.” — from J. I. Packer’s review of The Lion and the Lamb: Evangelicals and Catholics in America by William M. Shea (Christianity Today, March/April 2005)

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Resource Types: Articles.

Thank God We Have A Godless Constitution

In their book, The Godless Constitution, Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore, note modern day conservatives are rewriting American history to portray our nation beginning as a Christian nation but through liberal courts and judges our nation has become secularized. Nothing could be farther than the truth.

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Resource Types: Articles.

Confessions of a Conservative

In our declarations about the Jesus whom we
follow, Progressive Christians should insist that we conserve the best of what we know and
what we have always known: God loves everybody. For Jim Adams, that is a conservative position.

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Topics: Spiritual Exploration & Practice. Resource Types: Articles.
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