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Questioning those who feel Progressive Christianity is a dangerous belief


Question & Answer

Q: By Mel
Why are there many books written that Progressive Christianity is a dangerous belief? I was checking Kindle books and I have come across that there are books written about the negative side of Progressive Christianity. I wonder why this is so? Everyone has their opinion and why would people who write these books be judgmental?
A: By Rev. Lauren Van Ham
Dear Mel,

An orientation toward scarcity and separation has informed a lot of the decisions we make as a species.  When we perceive there may not be enough of something, we scramble to be sure we will have what we need, and usually extra… just in case.  This can feed a tendency in us to feel very threatened and concerned about how others are finding ways to be sure they will have enough.  Is their way better than mine?  Is their way posing a threat to my sense of safety or competency? 

Progressive Christianity “affirms that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life.”  For those who have been taught repeatedly that Jesus is the only way, such a statement is very disorienting.  Progressive Christianity “seeks community that is inclusive of ALL people.”  For those who have been encouraged to create community exclusively with people who look and sound like them, this statement invites variety that creates confusion and possible fear.  Progressive Christianity “believes there is more value in questioning than in absolutes.”  For those who have taken comfort in predictability and answers, this statement evokes anxiety and perceived chaos.

So, Progressive Christianity opens the doors to disorientation, confusion and chaos?  Well, yes! In some ways… And this feels very messy for the parts of us that really prefer comfort, ease, and order.  Progressive Christianity recognizes that being human on this living planet means experiencing diversity, death, and fear while learning to find meaning, love and friendship amidst it all.  Is Progressive Christianity dangerous?  Most definitely if a Christian doesn’t want to recognize their participation in a system that has allowed certain humans to thrive at the expense of other humans and more-than-humans.  The Rev Dr. Cornel West powerfully sums it up with these words, “To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely – to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away.”

~ Rev. Lauren Van Ham
About the Author
Rev. Lauren Van Ham, MA was born and raised beneath the big sky of the Midwest, Lauren holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, Naropa University and The Chaplaincy Institute. Following her ordination in 1999, Lauren served as an interfaith chaplain in both healthcare (adolescent psychiatry and palliative care), and corporate settings (organizational development and employee wellness). Lauren’s passion for spirituality, art and Earth’s teachings have supported her specialization in eco-ministry, grief & loss, and sacred activism.  Her essay, “Way of the Eco-Chaplain,” appears in the collection, Ways of the Spirit: Voices of Women; and her work with Green Sangha is featured in Renewal, a documentary celebrating the efforts of religious environmental activists from diverse faith traditions across America. Her ideas can be heard on Vennly, an app that shares perspectives from spiritual and community leaders across different backgrounds and traditions. Currently, Lauren tends her private spiritual direction and eco-chaplaincy consulting practice; and serves as Climate Action Coordinator for the United Religions Initiative (URI), and as guest faculty for several schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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