In these perilous times when the very survival of the human species is at stake, there is a desperate need for wisdom to provide guidance. The sacred literature of the world’s major religious traditions is a source for such wisdom, but it has largely been misinterpreted and misunderstood, and, thus, instead of being a source for wisdom, it has been a source for confusion and conflict. The ancient scriptures, for the most part, were written in a language which is quite different from ordinary language. It is a mythological language, which is symbolic, and therefore its meaning is hidden. In the Bible, for example, there are many narratives that appear to be historical, but they are history that has been mythologized, and therefore their surface meaning is not their real meaning. Clyde Edward Brown clearly illustrates that the correct interpretation of the world’s religious texts would lead to a different concept of religion. Instead of belief in the literal truth of texts that have been misinterpreted, the emphasis would be on having those religious values, such as social and economic justice, which are common to all religions.read more
It is time to challenge traditional understandings of God in order to create a twenty-first century faith. We have to say goodbye to the Sunday school God and find new ways of thinking about God.
This is not an exercise in theory, but an effort to take the practice of life seriously. In fact, a twenty-first century faith is an open, dynamic and courageous attitude toward life. It presumes that God is found not in the sky, but in the midst of life. It begins with experience, our shared experience. While experience is not everything, it is a good starting point. It is what we know.
Much has been written on the plight of women in Indian society, but this book presents an effective practical response to the appalling injustices – and a model of hope for agencies and programs for oppressed women around the world. This book recounts the true story of “Maher”, a remarkable project and centre for battered women and children located near Pune, India. Founded in 1997, the project has provided refuge to more than 1250 women, half of whom might otherwise have been murdered, committed suicide, or starved to death. Maher is an interfaith community that honours all religions and strongly repudiates caste distinctions – making it a rare beacon shining new hope upon some of the gravest problems in India and around the world. The book is rich with stories – poignant first-hand accounts by women and children whose lives have been transformed by the Maher project. Later chapters explore the larger implications of this pioneering work, with guidance for implementing similar projects elsewhere. Written in a concise narrative style, “Women Healing Women in India” is an easy and compelling read.read more
Biblical Christianity is bankrupt. I use ‘bankrupt’ in the exact sense of the term. A business that goes bankrupt still has value and is capable of producing useful goods or services. It still has an inventory and trained professionals in its employ. Until the day insolvency is declared, it also usually has a façade—a bright and upbeat demeanor by which its clients and the community at large assume it to be relatively healthy. The only thing wrong is that a bankrupt business is no longer able to accomplish its purpose: to be successful. It is precisely in this sense that I suggest Bible-centered faith is bankrupt.read more
With some wonderful exceptions, I regular hear words like- Redeemer, Lord, Savior and sin, sprinkled throughout the service in everything from the call to worship to the benediction. I often wonder what the people in the pews are thinking when they hear me preach and then stand up and recite something that is completely contrary to the sermon they just told me was wonderful.read more
By: Gary Wiburn. Last week I spoke of our defining identity here at First Presbyterian as being four things: a Christ-Centered faith, a place of Creative Celebration, of Compassionate Caring, and Inclusive Community. These are some of the primary ways in which we understand ourselves as a Center for Progressive Christianity, which means nothing less than trying to embrace the essential teachings of Jesus.read more
The truth of the matter is that the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are filled with violence, divisiveness, condemnation. So, too, are they filled with passages that condone the destruction of property and persons of other belief systems and nationalities. True, too, is the reality that such content can, and as Jones has reminded us, will be used for appalling purposes. The pastor in Florida is only doing what he believes his God expects him to do. It’s a God he would deny for no one. Not for his president, Barak Obama, who pleaded with him on behalf of Americans around the world, not to go ahead with his plan. Not for his evangelical brother in the faith, Rick Warren, who has called it a “cowardly act”. Not for any “progressive” Christian like me or Diana Butler Bass who drives a car with a COEXIST bumper sticker on it, each of the letters formed from the symbol of a different religionread more
Today, we speak with Rev. Fred Plumer, Executive Director of the Center for Progressive Christianity in Gig Harbor, Washington. Rev. Plumer will be leading a day-long workshop here in Tulsa on Saturday the 25th at Fellowship Congregational Churchread more
The possibility that Jesus’s message was one of radical fairness, and that following Jesus means creating and living in a world based on non-violent covenant instead of desperate selfishness, has certainly been hidden from view since before Luke decided to tell the story. It’s time to give the presidents and prime ministers of today the chance to see and hear the alternatives to imperial, retributive, business-as-usual. It’s time to offer viable alternatives to the feel-good, prosperity-based, exclusive, self-righteousness that passes for evangelism on the right. As liberal pundit Keith Olbermann has suggested, it’s time for some non-violent democratic action.read more
At some point life began to tip the scale and what I lived began to impact the way I believed. Two events were weighty in the tipping: the death of a neighbor boy because of child abuse and a young woman who had lived with us showing up at our doorstep after being beaten by her new husband. These experiences led me into becoming an advocate for women and children who had been abused. Sometimes people I worked with wanted to know where I went to church. When I invited them it seemed nothing in the liturgy touched anything in their reality.read more
Only when our liturgies have about them the flavour of story can we expect them to have the resonance we would like them to have. The challenge of our liturgies is to retell our personal experiences in the light of our Australian experience of the natural seasons. Our preaching should be intellectually and theologically honest – keeping what we know and what we believe, together – delivered in conversational or ordinary language.read more
This is being Christian in the true sense of the word as a verb. This is the kind of Christianity I can believe in and live with, and this is the Christianity I pray can be restored to our nation and our world. Amenread more
In Correcting Jesus, Brian Griffith patiently and clearly untangles the many strands of the story of Christianity, and the many changes made over the centuries to the original story of Jesus and his message. For any reader who’s wondered, “Where did that rule come from?” and “Was it always this way?” Brian’s book is the one you’ve waited for. He’s always passionate but direct in his thesis that the original words of Jesus were meant as a basis for a society based on partnership and equity, not the one of domination and hierarchy they’re used so often to justify.read more
Over the last fifteen years I listened to a growing number of troubled clergy who are in conflicted and or dying churches. (I believe there is a connection.) Sometimes the battles are over “LBGT” issues and other times it may be about politics. But far more often, the conflict is rooted in theology, Christology and ideology. Frankly, with rare exceptions, clergy cannot freely teach what they learned in seminary or more importantly, what they have come to believe about their own understanding of the Christian religion, the Bible or their faith. The resultant message is often mixed or muddled and almost always without passion.read more
Should I abandon my tradition because liberal and moderate religion serves to justify the extremes? Is my participation in this religious institution providing legitimacy and credibility for fundamentalism, violence, oppression and bigotry done in the name of religion? I’m studying to be a minister in this tradition. It’s called Unitarian Universalism. Am I guilty by association? Should I jump ship? What do you think?read more
Ironically, author Anne Rice may have been more of a Christian yesterday than she ever was, when she announced, on Facebook, that she was quitting Christianity and renouncing any claim to the title “Christian.”read more
Hear the rumble of Christian hypocrisy. The evangelist who says the Haiti earthquake is retribution for sin is at least true to his religion.
We know what caused the catastrophe in Haiti. It was the bumping and grinding of the Caribbean Plate rubbing up against the North American Plate:
a force of nature, sin-free and indifferent to sin, unpremeditated, unmotivated, supremely unconcerned with human affairs or human misery.read more