I think I have probably spent too much time lately talking about the problems of modern Christianity. It’s time to concentrate on those who cling to the words of Jesus as I do. This post was originally made in February 2019. With the pandemic that seems like a lifetime ago now. It’s time to dust it off and maybe add a bit here and there to start off this new series looking into Progressive Christianity and its most prominent authors.
I am not one to haphazardly join or agree with an organization without first being certain I know what they stand for. I have been stung once too often in that regard and I won’t let it happen again. My allegiance to Progressive Christianity is a process, not an epiphany. After discovering this organization I looked for what they stand for and found it in the following graphic.
It does seem that this is a very different brand of Christianity than the one now presenting itself as “Evangelical Christians”. Those people by their actions don’t seem to be Christ-like to me. In fact, they seem almost the opposite!
I want to go through this list to put my own thoughts beside theirs to see how they might align.
Tenet #1&2 – The Teachings Of Jesus
Jesus’ teachings are at the center of my spiritual life. Too many versions of Christianity treat the Bible, or at least their selected verses from it, as the center of their beliefs. Some even say that Jesus’ words are no more important than any other words in the Bible! That is hogwash to me. I am delighted to see that Progressive Christianity puts Jesus back where he belongs.
To say that the teaching of Jesus leads to the unity of all life appeals to me very much. If only it were true across the board. To also say that the words of Jesus are not meant to be the sole source of our spiritual journey a good thing. God did not stop telling us how he wants us to live after the red letters were finally put to papyrus. He gives us other personal messages, today and in the past, and throughout our life to guide us.
Tenet #3 – Inclusive Of All
When Jesus walked this earth he spent most of his time among those who the established religion of the time shunned. He had his harshest words for those who chose to exclude rather than include. By including all people into their organization, Progressive Christians are using the examples of Jesus as their foundation. And that is as it should be…
Telling people that they are not welcomed because of differences in beliefs, sex, and/or lifestyles does nothing to bring us together as children of God. The Bible, at least by today’s standards, is very sexist, but it did reflect the culture of the times when it was written. I know that is not how God meant it to be for the ages. Of course, not all of this very diverse group mentioned above will never agree on everything but that is OK as long as we respect others as fellow seekers of God even when their belief that may differ from ours.
Tenet #4 – The Way We Behave
This is a biggie for me. The way we behave should be a direct relationship to what we say we believe. There are just too many organizations around today who take on the Christian label and then put their beliefs above their actions. I know as I was kicked out of one of those organization when it was discovered that I had a blog (this one of course) where I was voicing opinions that differed from the organization’s posted demands of beliefs! We can believe anything, but the true shadow of Jesus is in our living as He taught us. As James, the brother of Jesus said, faith without works is worthless.
Tenet #5 – There Is More Value In Questions Than In Absolutes
For those of you who have been to my other site at RJsCorner know, I am a big believer in questioning everything, and yes that does include spiritual things. When we take a few words in the Bible to put down an ABSOLUTE stake to those words we are doing more harm than good to the body of Christ. To even insinuate that no questions are allowed stifles any hope of reconciliation between the diverse group who are invited to be Progressive Christians.
Tenet #6&7 – Peace, Justice, and Dignity
If you want to see the principles of peace and justice in Jesus’ words look no further than the Beatitudes. It couldn’t be more clear that Jesus was the ultimate advocate of these principles. The Beatitudes should also be our driving force in life. Sadly much of the world today is an unjust and unpeaceful place. Followers of Jesus need to do what they can to help alleviate that.
Taking care of the earth he provided us is certainly a Christian principle. We should not allow any, including our current government leaders, to distract us from that mission.
Tenet #8 – Lifelong Learning and Selfless Love
We should never think that we know it all when it comes to our spirituality or any other part of our lives for that matter. Lifelong learning is at the core of what it means to be human. Selfless love is undoubtedly one of the hardest things to accomplish. We are all selfish creatures who need to move beyond ourselves and actually put others first. We should never stop trying to do that.
Closing It Out…
I like what I see so far very much in this newly discovered group. It will help me be a better “Follower of Jesus” to be in fellowship with them.
Next time I will be looking at some of the hundreds of topics covered on their site.
In closing, don’t get me wrong about what my blog here is going to be about. It is not to give a full-fledged endorsement of one particular Christian organization.
What do you think? Does Progressive Christianity appeal to you?
When I wrote these words in 2019 I failed to mention the damage MAGA Christians have done to the words of Jesus. I am convinced that for many seekers the white Evangelicals have driven a stake into the heart of the church. It is up to progressive Christians to bring the words of Jesus back into our hearts. I have read several new books and have followed ProgressiveChristianity.org on Facebook and other places for a couple more years now and have decided to claim most of their mantel as my own. This alliance is not unconditional but at this point I don’t see it doing anything but strengthening my spiritual life.
I hope by my near future posts here on RLL that I can convince some of the doubters who come across this site to give progressive Christians a chance to prove that our foundations are in the teachings of Jesus.