Interview with Robin Meyers – Is there a future for church?

These interviews were conducted by ProgressiveChristianity.org at a Westar meeting as part of a series on Christianity, spirituality, religion, church, God, Jesus, sacred community, social justice, youth, and social transformation. More to come soon!

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What do you see as the ideal church?

If you were the moderator of the United Church of Canada with no restrictions… what would the church look like? What do you see as the perfect/ideal United Church of Canada?

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The Gospel Is Not Good News For Everyone

By Alexis James Waggoner for Sojourners

I’ve been operating under a false assumption. An unexamined theology, of my own making, that I have been forced to confront: The gospel is good news, but it is not good news for all. At least not in the way we want it to be.

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Why ‘Works’ Are Necessary

A recent Pew Research Center poll has reopened the old debate about faith vs works–the line of scrimmage of the Protestant Reformation. Whereas Martin Luther and the heirs of the Reformation have always held that it is through faith alone that salvation occurs, many Protestants and Catholics today have a blended view of the role faith and works–at least, according to this poll (“works” is defined differently by different denominations, but could refer to any effort on the part of humankind, whether it is doing good deeds or following any religious prescription that guarantees that God will act a certain way after we do it).

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An A-Theist Goes to Church?

Some folks might find it strange that an A-Theist even bothers to go to church where there is a great deal of talk about an UpThere God who isn’t UpThere—as far as he’s concerned. Wouldn’t it be easier just to stay home and do something more interesting? It seems so hypocritical to waste time hearing about God, Jesus, the Trinity, and all that other dogma and doctrine when you don’t believe any of it.

As many of you know, I call myself an A-Theist, but I still go to church every Sunday. There are myriad reasons why I go, but first let me clarify what I mean by hyphenating this word. In my mind, A-Theist has a very different meaning than the word atheist. I am not against the idea of there being a Higher Power, or as Paul Tillich—one of the great theologians in the twentieth century—defines it, “the ground of all being.”

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10 years ago a young Episcopal priest named Jimmy Bartz started an emergent mission church called Thads in Los Angeles. He wanted it to reach a multi-generational community of churched and unchurched people. Hunter Perrin and I began writing original music for the church not really knowing what would be acceptable but having to create music for the sermon each week. Hunter is a Texas guitarist and I am a singer heavily influenced by early southern R&B. We were encouraged to be original and no one tried to edit our musical approach so we wrote freely from what we loved and our musical influences came through in the songs. Other like minded musicians joined us and we became the Thads Band. Over the years the good songs have became the basis for the church hymnal and this website. The writing continues. We play what we’ve come to call Gospel Americana. Its a blend of gospel spirit and American roots music. ~Ian Jack, The Thad’s Band

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Church of Nice or Church of Nasty?

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

There is much disparaging blather about the modern Catholic Church being the “Church of Nice” but what’s the alternative? Church of Nasty?

The problem with these two extremes is that they really do exist and they reveal the faults of the two sides of Catholicism. The modernists are the Church of Nice while the traditionalists are the Church of Nasty.

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How America Really Lost its Mind: Hint, it wasn’t entirely the fault of Hippie New Agers and Postmodern Academics

By Christopher Douglas

Kurt Andersen in the Atlantic has given us a superb think-piece on how we arrived at our post-truth irrationalism, an American “Fantasyland” dominated by conspiracy theories, paranoia, outlandish ideas, fake news and alternative facts. The new information age accelerated the relativism birthed in the 1960s, Andersen contends, and now we can all mentally furnish our own fantastic dwellings with facts and ideas we want to be true—and we can even find countless likeminded individuals on the Internet who will confirm and embellish our deepest alternate realities.

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Science Mike Building a “Christian Science” Liturgy for the Nones

“We’re iPhone carrying apes from Mars,” Mike McHargue said to a crowded church auditorium in Denver on a warm September evening. The sweaty crowd laughed, and McHargue smiled from beneath his red beard.

In the past two years, McHargue has emerged as an unlikely pied piper for young Christians questioning their faith. An evangelical-turned-atheist-turned-Christian-once-again, McHargue, better known as Science Mike, has turned reconciling science and faith into a career. He hosts two podcasts, Ask Science Mike and The Liturgists, which together have hundreds of thousands of followers. His new memoir, Finding God in the Waves, outlines how he went from devout Christianity to atheism to something you might describe as scientific faith.

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Counter-Imperial Churching for a Planetary Gospel: Radical Discipleship for Today

“We live in an era that requires us to radicalize what ‘church’ means.” So writes Timothy Murphy, who argues that “church” should no longer be a noun, an entity, or an object, but rather an activity—what he calls churching; that is, a process of practicing discipleship with others in the way of Jesus.

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Question: Why Can’t—or Won’t—the Church Change? Answer: THEISM

I don’t think it’s any secret that the institutional church, especially in developed countries, is dying. The worst part: the leaders don’t seem to know how to revitalize it. What are your feelings?

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Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture

A controversial author brilliantly reclaims the Bible from the literal interpretation of fundamentalists

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The Once and Future Scriptures: Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church

Can we learn to take the Bible seriously without taking it literally, to be honest about its historical, literary and religious character? Can the Bible serve as a source of faith, hope, and wisdom? In this book, academic theologians engage in a public conversation about the kind of Bible we have. This is not a book of answers, but a dialogue about topics such as the relationship between science and religion, the authority of scripture, and the impact of critical biblical scholarship on liturgy.

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Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World

For two hundred years, scholars have been analyzing one of the most important books ever written—the Bible—and overturning much of what we once thought we knew. Everyday Christians, however, are not privy to this deeper conversation. It is for these people that renowned bishop and author John Shelby Spong presents Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World, a book designed to take readers into the contemporary academic debate about the Bible.

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Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity

By David M. Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy

Bringing together the voices of top Bible scholars and church leaders —including Marcus Borg, Diana Butler Bass, John Dominic Crossan, Helen Prejean, and John Shelby Spong—pastors David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy present a lively and stimulating tour of what it means to be a “progressive” Christian. Based on the bestselling DVD course of the same name, Living the Questions explores matters many churches are afraid to address including the humanity of Jesus and homosexuality, and examines in a new light traditional faith topics such as the Bible, atonement, salvation, the rapture, and more.

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Going to Church

In an honest and often blunt assessment of the Church she loves and longs to move forward into the 21st century, Susan Flanders looks at Christianity and her Church through the background of her own life. In her own journey as priest, wife, and mother she reflects on the great challenges that the Church has faced and continues to face and she also poses some of the changes it must make if it is to be a relevant force in today’s world.

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Where progressive Christianity is going from here

As progressive Christianity has absorbed the Emergent label it has inherited a tension between those two macro factions. Mainly, those who still see Jesus as ontologically unique in comparison to every other human ever to live — and those who don’t.

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Four tips on deepening engagement

It’s a long step from having one’s name on a church roster to being deeply engaged in that faith community.

An engagement rate of 100% is unreachable. But the current engagement rate of maybe 25% isn’t working out well – for constituents or for churches. Many people want more, but they find engagement elusive, especially when Sunday worship is the only avenue offered. They want significant relationships, or direct mission duty, or small group activity. Getting “fannies in the pew,” as one pastor put it, doesn’t accomplish such objectives, even over time.

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