141: PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY

If you google ‘progressive Christianity’ you can find the website of the British or the American progressive Christians. They have 2 different 8 point statements. I have copied the British one because it transferred to WordPress, whereas the American one wouldn’t – it is not an indication of theological preference on my part! The words in italics are my reflections on same.

“By calling ourselves progressive Christians we mean that we are Christians who…

1) Have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus;
Yes, I can understand that; I don’t personally believe in any kind of god ‘out there’ and I don’t know whether progressives believe in the supernatural or not; but if I was looking for God I reckon the life and teachings of Jesus would be as good a place to start as any. 

2) Recognise the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the gateway to God’s realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us;
I notice the use of the phrase ‘God’s realm’. Does this mean the ‘Kingdom of God’? Probably not. This looks like not just Christian ecumenism but interfaith as well. It seems to mean ‘you leave us alone (we know we must seem a bit odd to you) and we’ll leave you alone’.  ‘Live and let live’, in other words. It feels a bit defensive. Perhaps implying ‘we know we’re on the fringes of the church and most Christians have never heard of us, but PLEASE TAKE US SERIOUSLY!’ A pity this point doesn’t come last, surely relations with the wider world are more important.

3) Understand the sharing of bread and wine in Jesus’ name to be a representation of an ancient vision of God’s feast for all peoples;
I personally have never heard of this ‘ancient vision’; can we have chapter and verse please? This tells us that communion has a high priority for them and that they want to be inclusive. I wonder, though, to what extent non-Christians want to be included in the celebration of the Christian eucharist.
4) Invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable (including but not limited to):
believers and agnostics
conventional Christians and questioning sceptics
women and men
those of all sexual orientations and gender identities
those of all races and cultures
those of all classes and abilities
those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope;
Well, good luck with that – it’s very PC. I notice that atheists aren’t mentioned, so I guess Zingcreed is beyond the pale. 
5) Know that the way we behave toward one another and toward other people is the fullest expression of what we believe;
Yes, I suppose that is OK. ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’
6) Find more grace in the search for understanding than we do in dogmatic certainty, more value in questioning than in absolutes;
Absolutely.
7) Form ourselves into communities dedicated to equipping one another for the work we feel called to do: striving for peace and justice among all people; protecting and restoring the integrity of all God’s creation; and bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers;
Very vague and generalised. I suppose it has to be, so every member can read into it whatever she wants. It’s peace, justice, environmentalism and the marginalised in that order.
8) Recognise that being followers of Jesus is costly, and entails selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil, and renunciation of privilege.
Although ‘renunciation of privilege’ (whatever that means in practice), has potentially got  some bite to it, the rest – though well-meaning  – is too abstract. I think the original Zingcreed Christian/Atheist manifesto expresses it much  more vividly. 
Overall I find it rather bland and forgettable; it just seems like a missed opportunity to me.
The principle progressive Church in London is apparently St James’s Church in Piccadilly. When passing I noticed they had a lot of evening events like talks advertised, so I popped in to have a closer look. I’m sure the clergy do Christian things too, but you’d have to look very hard to find any of it in their glossy summer programme that I came away with. Here’s a selection of events picked at random:
  • Awakening through sound
  • Crop circle trip
  • Active dreaming
  • The Inca path
  • Self-healing and vision improvement
  • The power of how
  • Deep soul diving
  • Dreaming the future
  • Waking up in the matrix.

What would Jesus go to?

Related Zingcreed Posts:
To be a pilgrim: Seekers vs Believers (Progressives v. Evangelicals)
What conservative Christians believe (and I don’t)
What liberal Christians believe
Radical theology
Radical Christian attempts to define God
Realist and non-realist views of God

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