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Affimations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Christian Church

Did Jesus Found the Church?

According to Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian novelist, in his magnum non-fiction opus, The Kingdom of God is Within You, the idea that God or Jesus founded the church is “so utterly untrue and unfounded that one is ashamed to refute them.” Only the modern Christian church would even assert such a notion. Jesus could not have founded the church as we presently understand the word. Nothing like the idea of the church with its sacraments and its claim of infallibility can be found in Jesus’ words or in the ideas of other men of his time.

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Take Two Giant Steps Back

Many Christians today are increasingly unsure about how to “take” the Bible. To borrow from the childhood game “Mother, May I?” I’d suggest we take two giant steps back. We need to move ourselves back to challenge two assumptions that block our comfort with the Holy Bible.

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Patheos Public Square: Faith in the New Security State- Panel

Since 9/11 Americans have largely accepted the idea that national security requires a trade-off between government power and freedom. However, recent revelations about the extent of government surveillance have raised serious questions about overreach, abuse of power, and the limits of democracy. How should people of faith respond to these revelations? Amid wide-spread public apathy over drone warfare, surveillance, and open-ended wars on “terror,” how can faith leaders provide stronger moral leadership? Do our faith traditions have anything distinctive to say in relation to alleged government overreach, whether by the NSA or the CIA? And how do we assess the ethics of those who expose secret government operations in the name of preventing abuse?

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A Different Kind of Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:18-31; Micah 6:1-8)

When Paul talks about the wisdom of the world he is not talking about Greek philosophical wisdom. The wisdom of the world that Paul has particularly in mind is the wisdom that crucified Jesus. The wisdom of the world Paul is referring to is the kind of wisdom expressed in domination systems. In our context it would be powerful governments and corporations who wield enormous power and wealth to shape society in view of their own self-interests.

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Should Progressive Christians Share their Faith? When Is it Appropriate?

When it comes to faith sharing there are two poles. At one end of the spectrum is the witness who is absolutely sure of himself. He is anchored in certitudes and has the truth nailed down. You want answers, he has them. He is bold and brass, if not arrogant and obtrusive. Most people who would read this article are embarrassed by this kind of Christian witness.

At the other end is the Christian who is very hesitant to saying anything at all about her faith. “It is the life I live that matters,” she says, which, of course, is true, but shouldn’t disciples of Jesus want to say something about Jesus, in whom and through whom they have found a transformative path?

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How and Why Christianity Must Change and What a Local Pastor Can Do

Paper presented at Georgetown College for the conference: Re-Imagining Faith for America and the World

It’s important to understand that the change I believe must occur is not related to style, but substance. I’m sure most of you remember the abundance of church growth literature accessible at the height of that movement. Almost all of it related to style and methodology, which is not to say that such issues are not important, but my greater concerns relate to substance and message. So, what needs to happen?

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Being a Martin Luther King, Jr. Kind of Christian (Matthew 4:12-23)

The one thing that almost all theologians, biblical scholars, and historians agree on when it comes to Jesus is that the kingdom of God was foundational to his mission and ministry. It is front and center, it is at the heart and core of his life and work.

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Joanna Manning on Religion and Violence

It’s vitally important to challenge views of God and religion that are leading to so much division and violence in today’s world. This demands courage and creativity. ~ Joanna Manning

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Fred Plumer on the Christian Movement and Jesus

“The truth of the matter is that the Christian movement, or what we now call the church, was always progressive. Jesus and his followers were change agents and that frankly, is what got them all into trouble.” ~ Fred Plumer

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Are Liberals Too “Special” to Go to Church?

By: Elizabeth Drescher

New research from psychologists from the New York University suggests that the desire to feel unique can undermine consensus, cohesion, and mobilization—at least in political contexts. My hunch is that this may extend to religious contexts as well.

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Honor, integrity and wisdom- A Letter to Bishop Spong

Written by Brenda Ferrell

Through your words and your emotion, I believe I finally felt the love of Christ. And this quest of mine for answers that I have been seeking for so many years finally became more than a curiosity. It became life. It explained love. It all suddenly became real. Love wastefully at last had real meaning. And I cried almost all the way home, never exactly knowing the reason why.

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How Christianity Can Change, Not Die- Preview of Theology From Exile Volume III

The Year of Mark

The political, social, spiritual, and economic history of most of the Western world has been defined by the belief articulated in the literal application of John’s gospel to personal and social piety. If Christianity is to survive with any relevance to postmodern, twenty-first century realities, the theology of condemnation and substitutionary atonement associated with the fourth gospel has to be scrapped. Not only is the future of Christianity at stake. This theology threatens the further evolution of human consciousness, and life as humanity has known it thus far on Planet Earth.

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Confessing Christianity’s Corporate Sin Against the Jewish People- Sermon Video

A supersessionist view of the Christian covenant might have made some little sense in a mythic worldview, but never made any moral sense. The time has long since come for Christians to drop such an arrogant claim. It has contributed to extraordinary suffering and eroded any moral authority we might think we have. In that sense, it never made any just sense of the work of God we’ve come to know in Jesus Christ.

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Process Philosophy, The Three Faces of God, and the Trinity- Sermon Video

What does the Doctrine of the Trinity look like if we reject the idea that it describes a permanent unchanging God? It describes a God as close as your breath, a God whose creative power continues to create, a God who we can see incarnate all around us.

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