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 Progressive Christianity… One Vision

May 2, 2012

Progressive Christian Invitation

What follows is not a formal description of what “progressive” Christianity is.  It does not pretend to express what various Christian leaders who may call themselves progressive or be participating in “Progressive Christianity” would necessarily agree with fully (despite the literary “we” wording).  Actually, I’m a relative new-comer to active participation in what is sometimes called Progressive Christianity. 

In important ways, this Invitation is a result of a very personal process–a long one–of sorting out what I believe about God, the Bible, Christ, the Christian Church (in its many expressions), and such; deciding in what ways I might want to again identify myself as Christian, if at all.  During this many-year transition from conservative Protestant affiliation to participation with the Centers for Spiritual Living (Science of Mind–formerly called Religious Science) to Progressive Christianity, I have not been a mere by-stander as to study, observation and growth.  And incidentally, Science of Mind (not Christian Science, and far from Scientology) is quite compatible with Progressive Christianity in most ways, and with the well-developed Process Theology I find most helpful and true to reality–best I can grasp reality. 

In the last few posts, I have focused on key issues that I raise in the Invitation… issues I’ve felt, for myself and for others, to be in need of particular attention for people who want to have a faith that is both intellectually robust, consistent and one that is emotionally and socially satisfying.  A faith that sustains and points the way forward for responsible action and growth. 

Though there is more I could say as introduction to this posting of the full summary version of the Invitation, I will leave it with this.  The much longer full-text version I will no doubt be introducing here in some format and manner soon, but I’ve honestly not yet decided how…. I imagine it to be somewhat dry reading for most people in its entirety, unbroken by story, example, etc.  So here is the Invitation summary:

Progressive Christian Invitation to Mission

Copyright © 2012 by Howard Pepper  

1. We embrace the urgent task of clarifying what it means to follow a “spiritual path” or a “faith” that is Christian in some manner. With this, we know we must increase dialog and exploration between two often-warring camps divided as “conservative” and “liberal.”

 2. We recognize the updating of religion as a challenging but inevitable process that should be actively engaged.  We believe this is sorely needed, among other things, to widen the basis for common ground and common mission among Christians and with other religions.

3. We determine to pay attention to the multi-cultural and social interest aspects of the foundations of Christian faith, screaming at us from “between the lines” of the New Testament.  We pledge to apply insights from there to the current state of Christianity for the purpose of peace-making and effective humanitarian actions. 

4. We affirm that Jesus can and should remain the central figure of Christian faith (though not the founder of its predominant current form, in our view).  At the same time, we admit our views of him reflect at least as much about us as about him and probably more.  As Christianity began, so it continues. 

5. We believe the sometimes-confusing fictional/historical mix of the Bible, and particularly the Gospels and Acts, is critical to grasp and wrestle with and we have largely avoided it.  If we are persuaded of Jesus’ miracles or bodily resurrection, it decidedly does not lead automatically or necessarily to the idea of apostolic authority or a “deposit of faith” which dispensed timeless and clear dogma—a serious diversion from the teachings of Jesus.    

6. We determine to apply the many socially-driven aspects of Christianity to local, nation-wide and even global social organization, legislation and such, knowing that how Christians think and act as citizens affects governance.  We believe neither progressive nor conservative Christians are willing to divorce their understanding of the “kingdom” or “commonwealth” of God from issues of earthly life, either personal or communal. Only careful thought and extensive discussion, which we pledge ourselves to, will lead to a deeper understanding which is particularly critical right now. 

7. We recognize the importance and pursue understanding of various phenomena not religiously tied and often labeled “spiritual” or “paranormal,” particularly near-death-experiences and their kin. God only knows why churches have so long avoided this, though we do have some ideas.  We eagerly support ongoing research into and education about reincarnation and related issues, as they are integral to what religion deals with.                                                              

                                                                          ***

How much (and which parts) of this do you resonate with? Disagree with? Struggle with? Please share! 

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