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Curious - What is Progressive Christianity?

post #1 of 194
Thread Starter 
Hi All,

Just poking around online and came across a link to the Center for Progressive Christianity (or something like that). I haven't quite got my head (or heart, honestly) around the idea of Jesus as God (I'm still working on the Bible, really), but it otherwise seems really compelling. Even if just for personal study, rather than religious identification. At any rate, it's interesting. I wish I'd known more about progressive or liberal religious groups and practice a long time ago.

So, I'm curious - do you identify as a "progressive" Christian, or within any religious group that you belong to? I mean, UUs are pretty progressive by definition, but other groups are what I'm wondering about. How is this similar or different from other followers of your religion (the non-"progressives") and how do you relate to your larger religious group

Thanks!
post #2 of 194
Great question!

Quote:
I haven't quite got my head (or heart, honestly) around the idea of Jesus as God (I'm still working on the Bible, really), but it otherwise seems really compelling. Even if just for personal study, rather than religious identification. At any rate, it's interesting. I wish I'd known more about progressive or liberal religious groups and practice a long time ago.
I'm looking through the website you mentioned. Thanks for posting this.
post #3 of 194
Here is the wiki answer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_...e_Christianity
It seems like it is not a denomination but I am not entirely sure what exactly it is.

Puffnstuff I am very similar to you in my beliefs/questions right now. I have been researching different religions lately. I was raised Episcopalian and I do like it a lot. I like many things about them and the church I have been attending is very progressive. They are cool with people having questions and doubts and seeking etc. I just always feel like I can't get totally comfortable because I am not totally down with the ideas of Jesus like you described. I like the looks of UU but haven't gone yet. We don't often make it to church because ds is a late sleeper.
post #4 of 194
Thread Starter 
nak

i visited the uu church here, but i need a community that addresses god more explicitly. at the same time, i'm not really at a place in my life where i can immerse myself in something like mainstream christianity. i'll be checking out an unprogrammed quaker meeting tomorrow, and really enjoyed a reform jewish synagogue i visited for shabbat a few weeks ago (but there are obstacles keeping me from that path as well).

have you explored judaism at all?
post #5 of 194
Hi,

Yes, actually I have explored Judaism. I worked in Jewish preschool so I was immersed in the prayers and ideas. I did some reading too. I really liked it. It is what sparked me to try to return to a more faith based place in my life. I guess I never thought seriously about joining them. It just seems sort of like a closed club. Did you feel differently? This is very interesting to me. The Quakers have always interested me but I have heard that joining is quite a production. I don't want to have to sign anything or swear anything really. I just want to explore. I'd love to hear more.
post #6 of 194
Thread Starter 
Hi Harmony,

Well, I've always been intrigued by Judaism, but never thought seriously about it as an adult (until very recently, when I started looking into it more diligently). I guess I grew up thinking it was like Christianity minus the Christ, but have learned through reading that it's actually got a very different philosophy and theology, that really jibes with many of my own beliefs. But it seems very difficult to get all that involved in, especially without family/spousal support/involvement.

I attended a Quaker school when I was very little, so I guess it didn't seem too closed-off to me. I went this morning and everyone was super welcoming. As far as I know, they aren't particularly dogmatic (the opposite, really) and there is no formal conversion process or anything like that. There's no ritual or anything involved - maybe you're thinking of another group, or the meeting in your town has that, but I don't think it's part of the Friends' general approach. They're "supposed" to be very accessible.

I wasn't able to sit in the meeting for very long this morning, as my son was with me (my husband is not at all supportive of my spiritual pursuits) and he was making a bit of noise, so I went with him to the children's room. Still, it was nice to spend the morning in such a warm, friendly place, and I think I might go to their Wednesday potlucks, since the Worship meetings themselves will be difficult for me until my son is older. I really would like to explore the Jewish path as well, but it's just...not possible. Maybe someday.

I would like to find a "god-centered" community without any rites to undertake (not because I am adamantly opposed to them, but because I don't want to set up a divide in my household over them), where I can go and learn and be with others and maybe (hopefully) sing a few songs with people once in a while. Worship and pray and not get caught up in the divisiveness or dogma. A place where god-talk is not off-limits (as it is in my daily life), where my son might someday learn, too, but which is not exclusive and will not set my husband's atheist-alarms off (he is extremely, extremely, extremely anti-religion - so much so that we can't even discuss these things at all). Just a nice community I can be a part of. I am wary of Christian churches because of the negative associations others have of them, not necessarily because I have had a bad experience or anything. There is what seems to be a very "progressive" Presbyterian church in my town, and I'm sort of curious, even though I know nothing about Presbyterianism.

Hey, I know. Let's start our own church! Seriously, though, I need to find a place or figure out something. I really want to explore and learn and celebrate and wonder with others/outloud.
post #7 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmony08 View Post
The Quakers have always interested me but I have heard that joining is quite a production. I don't want to have to sign anything or swear anything really. I just want to explore. I'd love to hear more.
It is not difficult to become a Quaker. I've done it. Basically, you attend a Meeting regularly. After awhile, maybe you start to feel like you're a Quaker. You can leave it at that and proclaim yourself one if anyone asks your religion. That was me, for years. There's really not any sort of difference between "official" Quakers and devoted attenders. Both can be active in the life of the Meeting in all sorts of ways.

If you want to join your specific Meeting and have yourself declared an official member of the Society of Friends, you write a letter to the Clerk of Meeting stating so. The Clerk will assign a "Clearness Committee," usually two men and two women, to meet with you. It's not very formal, basically a conversation about what led you to Quakerism, what is leading you to take this step (for me it was because I was pregnant and wanted a more formal affiliation with the Meeting I'd been attending).

Then the Clearness Committee will recommend you for membership and there you go. Quakers don't swear oaths. That is one of their big things.

(Of course, for me, a few years later dh and I decided to return to our roots and raise the kids Jewish, but that's a whole different story.)
post #8 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
It is not difficult to become a Quaker. I've done it. Basically, you attend a Meeting regularly. After awhile, maybe you start to feel like you're a Quaker. You can leave it at that and proclaim yourself one if anyone asks your religion. That was me, for years. There's really not any sort of difference between "official" Quakers and devoted attenders. Both can be active in the life of the Meeting in all sorts of ways.

If you want to join your specific Meeting and have yourself declared an official member of the Society of Friends, you write a letter to the Clerk of Meeting stating so. The Clerk will assign a "Clearness Committee," usually two men and two women, to meet with you. It's not very formal, basically a conversation about what led you to Quakerism, what is leading you to take this step (for me it was because I was pregnant and wanted a more formal affiliation with the Meeting I'd been attending).

Then the Clearness Committee will recommend you for membership and there you go. Quakers don't swear oaths. That is one of their big things.

(Of course, for me, a few years later dh and I decided to return to our roots and raise the kids Jewish, but that's a whole different story.)
Thanks! I just saw something online about having to sign something or something like that. What a surprise, inaccurate info on the internet! Who woulda thunk it??? (sarcasm here)
post #9 of 194
Puff,

I was reading through the site you linked. The Center for Progressive Christianity. I came across this little gem which has totally freed me in a way and is really making me think A LOT....

"Rather than assuming that Jesus is a sacrificial savior, or “The Savior,” this first statement suggests that one can be a Christian by considering oneself a follower of Jesus’ teachings and using his life, as we know it, as a model. It can also be implied that for those Christians Jesus and Jesus’ teaching provide a way to experience, relate to or approach that Energy, that Force or that Presence we choose to call God."
post #10 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by puffnstuff View Post
Hi Harmony,

Well, I've always been intrigued by Judaism, but never thought seriously about it as an adult (until very recently, when I started looking into it more diligently). I guess I grew up thinking it was like Christianity minus the Christ, but have learned through reading that it's actually got a very different philosophy and theology, that really jibes with many of my own beliefs. But it seems very difficult to get all that involved in, especially without family/spousal support/involvement.

I attended a Quaker school when I was very little, so I guess it didn't seem too closed-off to me. I went this morning and everyone was super welcoming. As far as I know, they aren't particularly dogmatic (the opposite, really) and there is no formal conversion process or anything like that. There's no ritual or anything involved - maybe you're thinking of another group, or the meeting in your town has that, but I don't think it's part of the Friends' general approach. They're "supposed" to be very accessible.

I wasn't able to sit in the meeting for very long this morning, as my son was with me (my husband is not at all supportive of my spiritual pursuits) and he was making a bit of noise, so I went with him to the children's room. Still, it was nice to spend the morning in such a warm, friendly place, and I think I might go to their Wednesday potlucks, since the Worship meetings themselves will be difficult for me until my son is older. I really would like to explore the Jewish path as well, but it's just...not possible. Maybe someday.

I would like to find a "god-centered" community without any rites to undertake (not because I am adamantly opposed to them, but because I don't want to set up a divide in my household over them), where I can go and learn and be with others and maybe (hopefully) sing a few songs with people once in a while. Worship and pray and not get caught up in the divisiveness or dogma. A place where god-talk is not off-limits (as it is in my daily life), where my son might someday learn, too, but which is not exclusive and will not set my husband's atheist-alarms off (he is extremely, extremely, extremely anti-religion - so much so that we can't even discuss these things at all). Just a nice community I can be a part of. I am wary of Christian churches because of the negative associations others have of them, not necessarily because I have had a bad experience or anything. There is what seems to be a very "progressive" Presbyterian church in my town, and I'm sort of curious, even though I know nothing about Presbyterianism.

Hey, I know. Let's start our own church! Seriously, though, I need to find a place or figure out something. I really want to explore and learn and celebrate and wonder with others/outloud.
I so relate.
My husband grew up without any religion at all. His mother is actually very anti christian/anti church. He is not opposed to my spiritual pursuits and has even come to church with me sometimes but it is like another language to him. If I try to talk about my spiritual ideas and discoveries he looks at me like I have an elephant on my head.

I am also searching for a way/resources/help/community to raise my son in a spiritual way.

I am looking for the same kind of thing as you. I want a community. I want some music. I want some ritual. I want A LOT of openness. I want to do good works. I want to have prayers I can pray. etc.

I like the very progressive Episcopal churches. For me, they are familiar and comfortable. I know the hymns, the prayers, the psalms. It does work for me as an approach the the ultimate creator truth. I have many more ideas and can't get into all of it, however. the one thing that i just don't like is the creeds. Maybe I should talk to my current pastor about it. Like I said they are very open. Maybe I should be more open and not so afraid to voice my doubts/questions. Maybe I would find I am not as alone in my beliefs as I thought.

I am loving the CFPC site. I wish it was an actual church. I guess I have at least found a place where people think like I do. I never thought it was okay to be a christian and do the church thing but not buy the whole virgin Mary, God's son ideas. Now I feel like it is. There are others.

I find myself drawn to pieces of almost all religions.

You aren't a pisces by by any chance, are you?
post #11 of 194
Hi All,

Progressive Christianity recognises that many of the deeper, mystical dimensions of faith have been lost - particularly in the west over the last several hundred years as we've put the need for certainty ahead of the "mythos" in bible stories. By mythos, I don't mean "fairy story" I mean that the stories were told as illustrations of spiritual truths not as factual descriptors. For example, did you know that if you lined the Gospel of Mark up against the Jewish faith year (given that Jesus was a Jew), you'll see the stories of Jesus are placed so as to give an explanation of the particular part of the Jewish calendar. These "stories" of course might not have been exact factual tellings of what Jesus did. They are (initially oral) stories of Jesus, passed down and then eventually recorded (in some form) to demonstrate a point. This is all liberating and fascinating and changes one's faith practice.

I'm in Australia, and in my "spare time" am involved in a Progressive group aligned to the Center for Progressive Christianity in the US ....http://www.pcnvictoria.org.au
post #12 of 194
Thread Starter 
I'm going to eat dinner in a minute, but I just wanted to say I am loving this thread. I hadn't thought about being that sort of Christian. I believe that God is infinite and everywhere, and we are all God's children, so I can see Jesus as one in that sense. And I admit my reading is inadequate, but from what I do know, he had a message of love and peace, which I am all about. I wouldn't want to get "mixed up" in a dogmatic Christian church, though...how to avoid that risk, in an age of hostile evangelism, is the question. (Oh, and how to even go to a Christian church, let alone with my son, given my husband's disdain for them.)

I'm glad you're digging the site. I'll have to read it more myself. Let's definitely keep talking here.

And I'm not a pisces, I'm a capricorn, but my son is a pisces!

Thanks so much for posting. I feel so much less alone now!
post #13 of 194
If you are looking to read a very accessible intro to progressive Christian theology try Marcus Borg's "The Heart of Christianity." In the preface he says, if your religion is working for you, don't read this. But if it's not and you want to learn about another option here is an option.

As a presbyterian clergy woman, I often find myself on the edge of my denomination, but in great company with lots of others "on the edge" of their denominations as well. There is great freedom in finding your own beliefs and and then realizing there are others out there who share your journey!
post #14 of 194
Thread Starter 
(I wanted to add, I don't think anything is impossible for God, so I suppose God could bring people into being without sex, bring someone back from the dead, etc. But I don't really understand the whole dying for others' sins bit (nor do I believe in hell (in the traditional sense) or any place where God isn't). At the same time, I don't think that mainstream Christians are necessarily "wrong," either. Somehow, I think there is room and need for for many beliefs. God is so incredibly "large" that our finite minds do their best to grasp the Infinite and there are as many ways to God as there are people. Even our conceptions of God are part of God's infiniteness, and I am trying to be as open as possible to finding "my" way to living in recognition of God. I see and am so thankful for all these aspects of God in my life, and I feel increasingly compelled to honor that. In other words, I don't disagree with Christianity on any fundamental level, I just feel like my path is a bit "simpler.")
post #15 of 194
Thread Starter 
Thanks Kim. I've haven't really explored Christianity in my "quest." I'll look into that book.
post #16 of 194
I was just going to put forth Marcus Borg as an example of theologically progressive Christianity.

I think "Progressive Christianity" is very diffuse though. To some people, all that means is that they consider themselves Christian but neither feel nor desire to be part of the Republican political party (in the US). To others it could mean that they have doubts about some doctrinal "musts" of current American mainline Christian churches (the trinity, the virgin birth, ect.). To others it reflects their own political viewpoints (they are progressive/populist politically, and want to see that reflected in the church--instead of focusing overly on abortion and gay marriage, they prefer to concentrate on helping the poor, social justice, ect--I would categorize Jim Wallis as this sort of progressive Christian). For most people that self identify as a Progressive Christian it'll be a combo of the above and more. Or perhaps none.

I would say my theological outlook is very similar to Marcus Borg. I really wanted to like Jim Wallis (and I do, on a personal level) but to be honest I think the American church has enough of a problem with nationalistic idolatry without entering it from both sides of the political spectrum. I love the teachings of Jesus. I'm not overly concerned with the afterlife, I couldn't care less about the trinity or whether Mary really was a virgin (it seems irrelevant to me). I am saddened that despite miy belief that Jesus came in part to liberate people from the old purity system, modern Christians seem bound and determined to re-enslave themselves to it. For other people, those tenants (literal interpretation of the Bible, personal and societal purity being paramount, a manifest destiny like situation for America in particular) are very important to their spiritual experience. Or they have a different interpretation of their importance.

While it's true that Unitarian Universalists have roots in Christianity, they don't consider themselves as a whole Christian anymore. There are Christians who are UU and a Christian subset within UUism, but I think it's fair to say that if you are expecting a Christian experience at a UU church it won't happen, though you will be welcome.

In my own personal case, UU helped me come back to Christianity--it was a Buddhist UU minister that put a copy of "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time" by Marcus Borg into my hand. I needed that time in a safe place to heal enough from my previous Christian experience before I reclaimed my faith. I am a member of a United Church of Christ church, which self-identifies as a progressive Christian denomination (or many of the churches do, it's not a top down organization.)
post #17 of 194
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks for sharing! I've heard of the United Church of Christ, I think. I've not heard of either of those writers. I'm learning a lot here.
post #18 of 194
This thread is really opening my eyes. I admit that I've spent my entire adult life closed minded toward this religion that I grew up in, and it feels good to know that there is the option of being a Christian without believing in the virgin birth/son of God/everyone else is going to Hell parts.
post #19 of 194
Thread Starter 
I just looked up Marcus Borg. He's a panentheist (like me)!
post #20 of 194
Thread Starter 
Annnnd, I just ordered a Borg book. The God You Never Knew...i think that's the name. i've got a baby asleep on my arm...will write more later.
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