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Defining Progressive Christianity

An Open-Ended “Creed” for a Progressive Christian

I have often said so-called “progressive Christianity” is a notion forever in search of its own elusive definition; and that’s as good a way of explaining it as we may be able to find. We live in a post-modern world that considers the age of Enlightenment to be a post-facto reality. As such, “progressive” thinking in an age of Reason has pushed the boundaries of nearly every facet of life, except one: those ‘traditional’ or ‘orthodox’ beliefs, based on certain creeds, doctrines and dogma that still dominate what it presumably means to be “Christian.” It hardly needs to be said that it is also why so many one-time believers have outgrown their one-time faith. Calling them merely “lapsed” is misleading. So much has elapsed in the world we have all come to know and take for granted, that the once-dominant Church — — despite all its denominational varieties — has fast become a post-modern relic. Yet any critical examination of how Christian scriptures developed and how the history of the tradition evolved will quickly demonstrate how it has always been in a constant state of flux. Or, if you like, “progression.” It was only when it stopped and got stuck that we traded in the tent for a temple, and snuffed the life out of a movement that is progressive by its very nature. What then would constitute an honest statement of belief for at least this “progressive Christian?”

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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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The Advance of Love: Reading the Bible with an Evolutionary Heart

Through the lens of evolutionary Christianity, Sanguin works through moral, spiritual, and scientific issues raised in Mad Men, the writings of Richard Dawkins, tales from the Bible, and other stories that inform our views of the world. Sanguin’s reflections will revitalize your faith and leave you celebrating that you don’t need to sacrifice a rational, evidence-based worldview to be a person of faith in the twenty-first century.

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Tension in the Tank: Embracing Interfaith Mysticism Without Leaving the Church

Ultimately, Tension in the Tank is about faith that is relevant, secure and ever-evolving. It is a guidebook for building meaningful relationships with Spirit, self and each other. Radically open to possibility and wonder, Tension in the Tank offers the opportunity and challenge to live our faith in such a way that the walls between us come down and we become pursuers and enactors of universal justice.

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My Kind of Atheist- Book Review

Book Review of Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to Give Love, Create Beauty and Find Peace, by Frank Schaeffer

Although this book is very much about Schaeffer’s own journey to freedom, there’s enough of the good theologian and good biblical scholar in him to delight those of us who can never get enough of that kind of thing. He does a lot with the figure of Jesus as the only lens through which to grasp what God might be like, if God existed (the key God-marker in Jesus, according to Schaeffer: “non-judgmental co-suffering empathy”). He notes that Jesus violated every religious taboo of his time and place: touching dead people, touching lepers, touching women and letting women touch him.

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A Parable

The kingdom of God is like the leader of a mainline religious institution who needed to hire new clergy to minister to his congregations.

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Ryan Bell’s Year Without God

I thought I’d pretty well covered the territory in a “musing” I wrote a few years ago called “The Varieties of God”, a listing of the many alternatives along the spectrum between traditional theism and atheism. But Ryan Bell has added a new one: provisional atheism. Godlessness for the time being. He’s gone public with this status, and I intend to follow his “Year Without God” blog to see how it goes for him.

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Topics: Atheism, Emerging/Emergent Church, and Theology & Religious Education. 8 Points: Point 3: Inclusive Community and Point 5: Non-Dogmatic Searchers. Seasons & Special Events: Easter and Lent. Ages: Adult, Teen, and Young Adult. Rituals: Lent. Resource Types: Articles and Meditations.

The “Faith” in Clear Faith

The terms faith and beliefs are sometimes used interchangeably, but I think it is useful to make a distinction between them. Beliefs are things you think are true, like “I believe in God.” “I believe that there is life after death.” These are improvable opinions (or they would be accepted by all as “facts”). A list can be made of beliefs.

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“Let me make this perfectly CLEAR … “

CLEAR is what I want to feel and be when it comes to something that means as much to me as FAITH. I want to be at peace with what I believe and choose to say and do, with regard to my way of living in faith. I want to own it whole-heartedly. I don’t want to apologize or make excuses for beliefs that don’t make sense, saying things like, “You just have to take that in faith. Someday it will make sense to me, even if it doesn’t now. God’s ways are not our ways.” With Clear Faith, I am at peace.

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Thesis for a New Reformation

The traditional Christian church with its traditional message and image is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It happened in Europe a long time ago, and is happening now in the US. More and more people who try to do good identify themselves as secular humanists rather than Christians. More and more Christians identify themselves as progressives for whom the traditional gospel story is meaningless. It really is time to rethink and reform how we understand both church and world.

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Jesus: The Ethical Teachings of a Social Deviant

Series on the Teachings of a Galilean Sage: The Sermon on the Mount, PART II

The social world order seems to erupt in chaos and violence on a regular basis these days. Regimes hold on to political power at all costs, while those who are more often than not economically oppressed demonstrate and confront government forces with little more than their willingness to stand in opposition.

If this all sounds like pure political commentary, consider this: The socio-political landscape in first century Palestine, CE, wasn’t much different. The practical means by which the imbalance of power was wielded by some over others may have been rather primitive by today’s technological standards; but the end game was the same.

The itinerant Jewish peasant teacher and sage who would long be remembered as uttering such impractical non-sense as “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemy,” was the same historical figure that was executed as an insurrectionist, not a “resurrectionist.” As I’ve put it bluntly elsewhere, Jesus didn’t die for our sins, but because of them.

But the historical Jesus’s message deviated so radically from the “you have heard it said, but I say to you” literary device employed that it constituted a world view that did not simply turn everything upside down; but attempted to right what becomes a distorted “default” assumption of human nature that too easily concedes it is only human instinct to regard ourselves as prejudicial and self-centered creeps.

Jesus’ teachings to “turn the other cheek” and “love one’s enemies” is an invitation to an inward journey of the self; and a call to reclaim our true huma n nature.

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The Death and Resurrection of God: From Christianity to the New Story

(Kindle Edition)

If traditional religion no longer holds you, yet you yearn for a deeply spiritual and intellectually satisfying communion with the great Mystery, this book offers the New Story, the Universe Story, that is evolving out of all that has gone before. Author Don Murray invites us into a quantum leap of consciousness that is now happening. He takes us through the 13.7 billion years of an evolving universe and assesses where humanity is, and how we can live into a creative future. Quantum physics, depth psychology, the human journey – which includes the biblical story – provide the material with which he weaves the New Story.

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Topics: Church Growth and Emerging/Emergent Church. Resource Types: Books.
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