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Is Progressive The New Liberal?

Is “progressive” the new liberal? The word progressive is frequently used these days referring to “non-fundamentalist” churches.  I used it as a theme for our Lenten sermon series: Progressive Christianity takes a fresh look at traditions and rituals. You may see the word used in newspaper and magazine articles.  What does it mean?  Is progressive simply the “new liberal”?  My perspective is yes and no. “Progressive Christianity” does not lend itself easily to definition.  It is more of a movement; a path; an approach than a belief system. It is often more interested in spirituality than religion. Unlike the “liberal churches” of the 1960’s and later, it is not necessarily closely aligned with one political perspective.  So how might we describe “progressive” Christianity?

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Does the Historical Jesus Matter? Testing good theology

This coming weekend will be marked by a 25th anniversary gathering and celebration for the important scholarly enterprise known as the Jesus Seminar. A good time to ask what difference it makes when the Jesus of history turns out to be considerably more interesting than the myth-encrusted Christ created by the church over the centuries. Or does it make any difference at all?

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Who Is Progressive Christianity For?

This article raises the question of whether Progressive Christianity is primarily for those who have been brought up or spent some time in a traditional Christian setting and now moved beyond that, or is it equally for those without a church background.  It goes on to consider how we can we connect with the unchurched and how we encourage them and empower them to take the first step for them in their faith journey.

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With or Without God

Invisioning a future in which the Christian church plays a viable and transformative role in shaping society, Gretta Vosper argues that if the church is to survive at all, the heart of faith must undergo a radical change. Vosper, founder of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity and a minister in Toronto, believes that what will save the church is an emphasis on just and compassionate living-a new and wholly humanistic approach to religion. Without this reform, the church as we know it faces extinction.

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The Passion of the Greeks: Christianity and the Rape of the Hellenes

Vallianatos’ book addresses a crime of the past that still affects us today, and whose rectification could facilitate a more humanistic future. He reveals the censored history of the conflict between Christianity and ancient Greek culture (“Jerusalem versus Athens”) in late antiquity.

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An Introduction to A Radical Theology

Romanticism, Marxism, pre and post war German theology, non-realism and the nineteen sixties death of God movement, and now many contemporary writers around the world- they have all reshaped our ideas about God, giving it the rich diversity of experience and expression it comprises today. Tracing the history of the key idea in Western thought from its origins through to the present day, this is the story of the intellectual journey that remade God in the image of man, so that he might become one of us.

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Is God A Delusion?: A Reply To Religion’s Cultured Despisers

“Is God a Delusion?” addresses the philosophical underpinnings of the recent proliferation of popular books attacking religious beliefs. Focuses primarily on charges leveled by recent critics that belief in God is irrational and that its nature ferments violence Balances philosophical rigor and scholarly care with an engaging, accessible style Offers a direct response to the crop of recent anti-religion bestsellers currently generating considerable public discussion.

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Setting Jesus Free

The Bible and the Church have become more or less irrelevant to the contemporary world. Sadly the message of Jesus, totally relevant to all times, has been ignored and lost because it is seen as being part of the Church that is now rejected with nothing important to say to present-day life.  This book deals with the need to move away from structures of traditional beliefs, creeds and doctrines that are outmoded in our contemporary world. It encourages a move into a Church-based environment, living by a set of Jesus values that include compassion, sacrifice and acceptance of difference without having to believe the unbelievable and the unscientific.

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The Jesus Puzzle- Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ

Did early Christians like Paul believe in an entirely spiritual Son of God, and was the Gospel Jesus of Nazareth a later fictional character and faith symbol? Every religion throughout history has developed a mythology about what is supposed to have happened at its beginning, and in most cases it’s just that-mythology. Find out why Christianity’s longstanding view of its origin in an historical Jesus is also a myth, and why the history of western religion needs to be rewritten.

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Jesus Was A Liberal: Reclaiming Christianity for All

For the millions of people who identify as liberal Christians. In McLennan’s bold call to reclaim ownership of Christianity, he advocates a sense of religion based not on doctrinal readings of scripture but on the humanity behind Christ’s teachings. He addresses such topics as intelligent design, abortion, same sex marriage, war. torture and much, much more. As he says in the Preface, “We liberal Christians know in our hearts that there is much more to life than seems to meet the rational eye of atheists; yet we find it hard to support supernatural claims about religion that fly in the face of scientific evidence.”

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The Ordinary God: Notes from the Far West of Ireland

That is what this book is about. The ordinary, everyday God. The ‘God’ that comes instinctively to most of us. If we’ve had a religious education, from schools or parents, we may need to drop a lot of stuff that has been drilled into us. If what we think we know about God doesn’t feel right, or doesn’t feel true, then it probably isn’t right and isn’t true. Like love, this is a subject where we do better to trust our gut feelings.

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Sexual Liberation-The Scandal of Christendom

Raymond J. Lawrence Jr.  This is powerful book if you want to get an overview of the Christian influence on today’s sexual ethics and sexuality. Sexual Liberation is mostly an account of how wrong Christianity has been about sex over the centuries. Raymond Lawrence is the Director of Pastoral Care at New York Presbyterian Hospital at the Columbia University Medical Center. He brings years of scholarly and life experience to his writing.

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Religionless Religion: Beyond Belief to Understanding

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.

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I Met God in Bermuda, Faith in the 21st Century

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.

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Women Healing Women: A Model of Hope for Oppressed Women Everywhere

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.

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Biblical Christianity is Bankrupt

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.

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Words Do Matter

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.

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Show Us God

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.

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