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.’
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?”read more
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.read more
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?read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
“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)read more
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.read more
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.
Robert Keck discusses deep-value
research, which suggests that, after developing the human ego and mind
for 10,000 years, humanity’s new evolutionary direction is toward spiritual maturity.
One of the first ideas that the advisory committee produced came out of the realization that some of the best theology written today appears in novels and short stories, cartoons and comic strips, poems and popular songs. One of our dreams is to assemble a group of artists, writers, poets, and composers who reflect on religious themes. One such person is Bailey White, who appears regularly on National Public Radio. I know her work best through reprints in “The Funny Times,” but my favorite of her stories I found in a volume called Mama Makes Up Her Mind and Other Dangers of Southern Living (Vintage Books).read more
Most of us have stories to tell about our everyday ministries as they
are played out beyond the walls of church buildings. Remembering our
baptism is an ongoing adventure that involves wading in the waters of