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On Using Religious Language in Public, Right and Left

That is why I’ve gone on at such length on the subject. It occurs to me that using religious language as a gloss to indicate moral seriousness doesn’t take faith seriously. For that matter, it doesn’t take seriously the idea that there are competing worldviews at work in our political discourse, let alone offer a meaningful alternative.

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A Word to the Spiritual Seekers- Hope for New Life in Churches

Unfortunately, many churches are slow to change and are out of sync with modern times. Often neither the theology nor the music speak to the souls of people of today.

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We Might Need the End of Progressive Christianity

In response to the roundtable on Rev. Braxton’s abrupt departure from Riverside and the crisis in Progressive Christianity, Rita Brock sees little hope in the Church as it stands.

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Grassroots Faith: The Lessons of The Social Gospel

Religious progressives might be arguing now over whose voices are heard in Washington, but it takes more than an ability to gain an audience with national political elites to spawn a movement; it requires the concerted effort to build a following.

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A Word to the Spiritual Seekers

I believe that the Fundamentalists are fundamentally wrong in looking back and trying to keep alive a pre-scientific understanding of faith. We must embrace, and integrate into our thinking and living, the best available knowledge the world can provide.

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Engaging the Recovering Christians

So how do we progressive Christians share our perspective so recovering Christians can hear us and actually get excited about the progressive path of Jesus and what our churches have to offer?

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The Times They Are A-Changin

Two weeks ago I experienced a change I could not have imagined any time in the past. I attended the Earl Lectures at Pacific School of Religion. I have been doing this for over twenty-five years. The lectures were established in 1901 to bring prominent religious leaders to Berkeley's university community. These lectures have featured such internationally known figures as Theodore Roosevelt, Elie Wiesel, Howard Thurman, Maya Angelou, Paul Tillich, Walter Brueggemann, and Alice Walker.

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The Spirit of Life: Comments from the PSR Distinguished Alumnae

My ongoing, daily struggle is to be both utterly feral–undomesticatable by the forces in the world that would domesticate all of us, defang us, render us harmless to the powers and principalities-being utterly feral in that way, and also being utterly surrendered. You can't have one without the other. Being undomesticatable depends on moment-to-moment surrender to the Spirit of life and of love. The paradox is that we cannot simultaneously surrender fully AND be in opposition to any living being. Surrender demands love as breathing demands inhalation. At the same time, we DO have to be in opposition to every form of domination, oppression, exploitation, and violence-all of the forces that try to press down life.

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Are We Progressing?

About ten years ago, I attended a two day conference that garnered a lot of anticipation and excitement about the topics, which were: a new way of communicating our religious beliefs and the discussion of postmodern theology. Near the end of the conference, I was ready for it to be over. It had been a good conference. The keynote speakers were well respected and leaders in their fields.

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Don’t Go There

if we dig deep enough, most of us seem to have a “don’t go there” spot in our beliefs and traditions – that place where we lose a little of our otherwise rational thinking. And I suspect that it is often our inability to get past those “don’t go there(s)” that holds back our personal growth and change.

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The God I Don’t Believe In: Charting a New Course for Christianity

Dr. Wilburn leads us on a spiritual journey from the comfort of conventional Christianity into a new world of religious openness and inclusivity, where those of all faiths and none, and those of all sexual orientation and political persuasion are welcome as equals in God's Family. Gone are the days of exclusive privilege or expensive indulgences. Dr. Wilburn writes about Jesus' message in the language of Progressive Christianity in contrast to intolerant theological dogma; yet he does not lose Jesus' teachings in a swamp of situational ethics.

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The Gospel According to Jesus

Jesus proclaimed an astonishing Gospel! But, isn't it strange that his harshest criticisms were directed at those within the religious community? He said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut up the kingdom of heaven from men, for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in" (Matt. 23:13).

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Mercy and Truth Will Meet, What It Takes To Be a Movement That Matters

Bill Coffin said, Liberal Christianity, or what we today call progressive Christianity and what some call “seminar room Christianity” has until now had a really unhelpful taint of elitism around it. We need to change that. So let’s just agree to get the conversation started. Let’s begin to grow in faith. Find strength in one another. See the world more clearly. And in and through all this, liberate ourselves and liberate one another for the sake of social transformation. If we ourselves can become the first fruits of the change we seek, then change itself-real change-cannot be far behind.

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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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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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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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