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Preservation or Evolution?

This author discusses his experience with the pursuit of critical questioning of historic religious texts.

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St. Andrews on the Terrace

For us Christianity provides a framework of values, ideas and practices that nurture our ability to create a meaningful path of life and define ourselves as persons.

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Myths Surrounding the Birth of Jesus

During the celebration of Christmas, familiar images are recalled in hymns and scripture about the birth of Jesus. In the popular mind, the appearance of herald angels, shepherds abiding in the fields, the star of Bethlehem, the virgin Mary giving birth in a stable, and the adoration of the Magi, have all been melded into one Christmas story. In reality, there are in the gospels, two distinct and at times contradictory stories of Jesus’ birth. A careful reading of the Bible itself reveals that so much about this celebrated birth is myth.

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The Christmas Myth is the Story of the Human Family

A vast segment of humanity has been telling itself this same story of a baby born in a manger in Bethlehem for many centuries now; peace and goodwill towards all the clan of Homo sapiens. But nothing has changed. Bethlehem itself has become synonymous with violence. Just now, as the Christmas fervor is being driven towards its annual climax, once-Christian nations are waging war against other countries.  What is the deeper story that has somehow been twisted wholly out of shape and so layered over with trite or fraudulent wrappings that the real gift is rarely ever envisioned let alone observed and gratefully received? Is there, was there ever some precious thing of matchless beauty, power and grace at the very heart of Christmas- something with flaming potency to transform our lives, our world?

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Shimmers of Light: Spiritual Reflections for the Christmas Season

With scriptural wisdom, theological reflection, and pastoral insight, Chuck invites the reader to encounter Advent as a transformative experience. He utilizes film, literature, and contemporary experience to draw readers into spiritual reflection on the Christian’s sacred story, exploring the redemptive possibilities of the Christmas season.
Chuck writes in the introduction: “It is my hope that amide all the glitter, glamor, gladness, and grief of the Christmas season, you will find some shimmers of light in these spiritual reflections that will enlarge your vision of God’s kingdom, expand your love for all persons, and evoke your creative participation with God’s project to heal and transform our world.”

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Shimmers of Love

The God who has come to us in Christ, “only loves, and loves—and loves.” God is continually at work in non-coercive, creative ways, revealing to us the width and depth of unconditional divine love.

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Shimmers of Peace

In the Greek world, “peace” was often employed to describe an inner state of well-being, whereas in the Hebrew tradition, the word was used primarily for interpersonal or social relations, coming very close to meaning “justice.” Both of these perspectives are found in the New Testament, and though a particular context may emphasize one or the other, neither meaning should exclude the other.

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Such is Life: A Close Encounter with Ecclesiastes

Though some twenty three centuries have passed since an anonymous Jewish sage calling himself the Proclaimer (Ecclesiastes) set down his thoughts about life, they are strangely in tune with todays secular age. Its surprising, therefore, that they ever found a place in Holy Scripture. Lloyd Geering has brought Ecclesiastes to life by ingeniously composing imaginative dialogues with the sage, which show that he was a free thinker, a humanist, and an existentialist. In fact, this biblical heretic essentially undermined the rest of the Hebrew Bible by finding no discernible thread of purpose in the universe or in human existence, and by proposing that though Nature operates in ever-repeating cycles, much of human life is determined by sheer chance. The role of the sage, as Ecclesiastes saw it, was not to pass on gems of eternal wisdom, but to goad us into thinking things out for ourselves in our search for meaning in life.

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Reading Jesus; A Writers Encounter with the Gospels

In this impassioned and eye-opening book, Gordon takes us through all the fundamental stories—the Prodigal Son, the Temptation in the Desert, the parable of Lazarus, the Agony in the Garden—pondering the intense strangeness of a deity in human form, the unresolved more ambiguities, the problem posed to her as an enlightened reader by the miracle of the Resurrection. What she rediscovers—and reinterprets with her signature candor, intelligence, and straightforwardness—is a rich store of overlapping, sometimes conflicting teachings that feel both familiar and tantalizingly elusive. It is this unsolvable conundrum that rests at the heart of Reading Jesus and with which Gordon keeps us in thrall on every page.

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Aren’t We All Christians?

Frequently, after a lecture or seminar, someone will ask me: “Why do you have to call it Progressive Christianity? Aren’t we all Christians?” These were usually people who seemed to be a little on edge, and sometimes even angry, but their questions were sincere and frankly, they are good ones.

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The Manhattan Counters

Americans United for Separation of Church and State have together drafted a point-by-point rebuttal to The Manhattan Declaration, a right-wing Christian manifesto published (with 200+ prominent signatories) last November.  Our MANHATTAN COUNTER-DECLARATION aims at providing clarity on the issues they address, and defending the values they profess to (but fail) protect by means of their document.  We want to launch our Counter-Declaration so that the religious right can get busy responding to good arguments for a change, instead of spending all of their time composing bad ones of their own.  Progressives, moderate Christians, humanists, atheists, and other religious leaders are tired of being on the defensive and are putting forward our own agenda for the future.

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New Religious Movements

From the Introduction to A Master Level Thesis:  For the impatient, the world is a frustrating place. We see, with the clarity of youth, what is needed in a given situation and we express this need many …

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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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