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What makes progressive Christianity "progressive"?

Discussion in 'Religion and Faith' started by Mendalla, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. Mendalla

    Mendalla Epicurean Gorilla

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    Is it what is believed or how it is believed/lived?

    Is it about what is accepted or what is rejected?

    Is it about a set of beliefs/ideas or about embracing diversity with many possible beliefs/ideas?

    Is it about theology, practice, or a bit of both?

    Is it inclusive or exclusive?

    I am not really expecting people to answer these questions one by one so much as using them as a guide to trying to tell us what is "progressive Christianity". Because I'm not sure it is all that clear at times. Different people seem to mean different things by it.
  2. Kimmio

    Kimmio Rain or shine?

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    I think of progressive Christianity being a lot like UU except UU progressed right out of Christianity. Although, you could say really progressive Christianity drops the labels - and the necessity of liturgy and tradition, and loosens its focus on the bible alone - but the values stay the same, and is practiced in the same Spirit. If the fruits of the Spirit are what they are - and if they turn out to be undeniably that - then I don't see why they need a Christian label to be Christian. The labels can sometimes obscure the substance. So...to be really progressive would be conceptual rather than institutional, imo. (Thinking of George right now - except he's still part of institutional Christianity).

    ...A rose by any other name? However, to me Christianity provides a focal point and foundation to build on.
  3. Luce NDs

    Luce NDs Well-Known Member

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    Progress is suggestive of becoming and not just bean Jack ... but these things we are not to known by ancient indoctrination of early church ... do not approach the tree of illumination ... or fly to close son ... however once burned, twice shy! Repetition be bound ...

    Thus dumb-bi sects ... or unlearned sex, instigating chaos ... little lamb-ish outcomes from the sheepish faces? Tis not what you read into it but the thought escaping ... coming out of the emotional fiasco!

    Makes older daemons giggle ...
  4. revsdd

    revsdd Faith ... Not Fear

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    As I've said many times I tend to avoid adjectives that seek to define "Christian" and place me in a particular point on the theological spectrum. I am a balance of many different perspectives, and I seek to be faithful to God and to what I feel has been revealed to me. I do belong to a "progressive Christian" Facebook group. It's mostly American. Some good theological conversations break out there. If one must use the adjectives, I think it's a fair bet that I'm more "conservative" than most of the members of the group (mainly because of my christology.) However, the group is very diverse and respectful of varying theological views. To me, being "progressive" would mean just that - an openness to various opinions and positions; a willingness to acknowledge that I may not always be right and I have to be open to the possibility of God speaking through those who have a different position than mine, and that means I have to be prepared to listen respectfully - even if, at the end of the day, I disagree strongly with what I hear.

    I find most American "progressive Christians" far more to my liking and far less judgemental than many Canadian "progressive Christians." American progressives seem to be more in line with what I've described above and seem much more focused on Jesus than Canadian progressives. In Canada the term seems to have been hijacked by what would be more appropriately called "post-Christianity."
    Waterfall and paradox3 like this.
  5. revjohn

    revjohn Well-Known Member

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    Progressive Christianity comes in two basic varieties.

    The first emphasizes the Progressive and points to all that was once believed and is now currently rejected.

    The second emphasizes the Christianity and points to how their Christian faith has grown in certain ways.

    The second is harder to manage because it is not radically different from Christian movements of the past which made changes while still maintaining that Jesus Christ was central to any kind of Chrisitanity.

    The first is easier to manage because it routinely redefines Christian jargon to be more comfortable until it decided nothing about Christian jargon is comfortable and rejects that while pretending they are not doing anything different than Jesus did or would do if he was half as brilliant as they are themselves.

    In response to the questions asked in the OP I would answer yes to all but then need more time to unpack what each yes means.

    I concur with revsdd in that the American school of Progressive Christianity appears to put more emphasis on Christianity than the Canadian school did. Which is probably why the American school still continues to function and the Canadian School seems to have run its course.
  6. Luce NDs

    Luce NDs Well-Known Member

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    How open-hearted and open-soul'd is the eternal sense of extended light?
  7. Jae

    Jae Lurking until May 1

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    The UCCanada is no longer a denomination of progressive Christians?
  8. Mendalla

    Mendalla Epicurean Gorilla

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    It never was that I could see. It was more that it was open enough to accommodate them alongside more mainstream, traditional members. Unless that accommodation of diversity is, itself, considered "progressive" which is one of my questions.
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  9. revsdd

    revsdd Faith ... Not Fear

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    It would depend on what you mean by "progressive," wouldn't it. As John and I have both said above, the word "progressive" (especially in a Canadian context) carries certain connotations. I myself don't identify as a "progressive Christian." I certainly wouldn't call the United Church of Canada a denomination of "progressive Christians." I know many in the United Church who would recoil at the idea that they are "progressive Christians." Because, in Canada, for many the word "progressive" suggests sympathy or agreement with a certain perspective promoted by a certain person who shall remain nameless. (Let's not turn this thread into a discussion of that issue - but I think it has to be mentioned as one reason that many of us would refuse to be called "progressive Christians.")
    Seeler and paradox3 like this.
  10. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    More accurate to call the United Church a "liberal" denomination, I would say. Many people use the terms "liberal" and "progressive" interchangeably but she who will remain nameless on this thread draws clear distinctions between the two.

    Personally, I do not identify as a progressive Christian.

    I note with interest there are congregations around here calling themselves "progressive" who seem to have their own definitions of the term.
  11. paradox3

    paradox3 Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone have any information on why the CCPC disbanded?

    I received an e-mail from them a while back inviting me to sign an on-line petition in favour of the one unnamed on this thread.

    I had participated in the CCPC discussion forum a few times and as such was assumed to be a "supporter". In fact I had joined to express a contrary-minded opinion or two. Actually I was grateful (impressed, even) that they did not kick me off their website at the time.
  12. GeoFee

    GeoFee I am who I am becoming...

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    "Thinking of George right now - except he's still part of institutional Christianity." Kimmio

    Hi...

    I am well acquainted with the Christian text and tradition but do not identify as a Christian. I am a person who at the age of thirty stepped out of where I was born into and into a way leading to "a place that I will show you." (Gen. 12:1) With the apostle, I have not yet obtained that ultimate destination. I simply give all of my heart, mind and soul to staying on course.

    I am an employee of the United Church and nothing more. As an employee I have never hidden my intuitions or insights specific to the future of the institutional church. The UCC ordained me in full awareness of my "maverick" status. What I say now I have said throughout my candidacy, seminary and call process.

    I am well aware that my employer does not agree with me on many points of precept or practice. My continued service is wholly oriented to the communities of faith where I am called to serve. Not called to be the conspicuous leader to whom the community is subordinate. Called to be the example of what a life lived under the authority and guidance of the free responsible creative spirit, which cannot be finally contained in any particular form, looks and sounds like.

    The spirit allows us to adapt and evolve with the change of circumstance. Something the institutional church simply cannot do. Trying to save the institution, which some are giving much energy to do, may be a little like trying to save dinosaurs from the change challenging their evolutionary trajectory.

    Am I progressive? Not at all in any way connected with a theological or philosophical school of thought in existence or now coming into existence. This said, I am wholly progressive defined as: "happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step."

    George
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  13. Mendalla

    Mendalla Epicurean Gorilla

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    I have not really paid attention to them since they held a conference here in London a few years back. That former UU, turned UCCan, minister that I sometimes talk about approached me about being involved but it was on a bad weekend for me. I think Mrs. M was away seeing her family or something like that. So I had no idea they were disbanded, let alone why.
  14. Jae

    Jae Lurking until May 1

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    Back when I was a tween and teen in the UCCanada - circa 1974-1978, progressive Christianity was all the rage.
  15. chansen

    chansen Pleasant Enough

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    The connotation I see in "progressive Christianity" is the ideas that the bible need not be true or historically accurate, but there are stories and lessons that make it a worthy basis for a religion and indeed a moral life. Also, the realization that not all of the stories or lessons are good, and a "progressive" approach allows you to separate the wheat from the chaff, without having to jettison the entire book.

    This is the trap I find a lot of literalists in, attempting to defend the indefensible.
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  16. Jae

    Jae Lurking until May 1

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    Buffet Christianity then. Love the meatballs? Have the meatballs. Care not for salad? Skip it.

    Not my favorite way to dine. I believe the Bible is one great story.
  17. chansen

    chansen Pleasant Enough

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    Absolutely. Christianity a la carte.

    The alternative is to give credibility to awful passages, or twist yourself into a pretzel trying to defend them. I think it's much more intellectually honest to admit that there are bad parts, and that there are fictional parts, and incorporate new understandings in your approach to the text, rather than let old ideas sabotage the gains we have made.
  18. Mendalla

    Mendalla Epicurean Gorilla

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    Really? That's interesting. I never even heard the term used until I started attending UCCan churches in this area maybe middle of last decade. Unless it was "what goes around come around thing" that was popular for a while and then faded and then came back. As a tween and young teen I wasn't that into religion on an intellectual level yet (that came later in my teens) so I suppose it could have passed me by at that time but you'd think I would have encountered it in the eighties when I became more engaged.

    That said, my family church was on the conservative edge of mainstream Christianity (mostly opposed to ordaining gays in the 1988 debate for instance) so perhaps it wasn't discussed.
  19. revsdd

    revsdd Faith ... Not Fear

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    Clearly, I'm behind the times. I wasn't even aware that they had disbanded.

    As to when "progressive Christianity" came into being, I know @Jae said it was "all the rage" when he was in the UCCan back in the 70's. Personally, I don't remember hearing the term until maybe 15-20 years ago, if that.
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  20. Luce NDs

    Luce NDs Well-Known Member

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    Ah ... what humanity doesn't know is really astounding ... amazing even ... a large darkness ... with icons as metaphors ...

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