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The Center for Progressive Christianity, a non-denominational network of affiliated congregations, informal groups and individuals, asserts that progressive Christians in general:
1. Believe that following the path of the teacher Jesus can lead to healing and wholeness, to a mystical connection to “God”, and to an awareness and experience of not only the Sacred, but of Oneness and Oneness of all life;
2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide only one of many ways to experience “God,” the sacredness, oneness and unity of life, and that we can draw from various sources of wisdom, including including the Earth, in our spiritual journey;
3. Seek out and create an inclusive community of ALL people, including but not limited to:
– Questioning conventional and skeptical Christians
– Believers and agnosticsAll races, cultures and nationalities
– All sexual orientations and gender identities
– All classes and abilities
– Those who are historically marginalized
– All creatures and plant life
4. Know that how we relate to each other and to the Earth is the fullest expression of what we believe, which is why we pledge to walk as Jesus might have walked in this world with radical compassion, inclusion and bravery to confront and positively change the injustices we experience as well as those we see others experience;
5. Find grace in seeking understanding and believe that there is more value in questioning with an open mind and an open heart than in the absolutes of dogma;
6. Work for peace and justice among all peoples and all life on Earth;
7. Protect and restore the integrity of our Earth and all Creation;
8. Embark on a path of lifelong learning, compassion, and selfless love on this journey to personally authentic and meaningful faith.
A fluid list
These points are relatively fluid and subject to periodic updates by the Center for Progressive Christianity. The organization said its changes reflect:
• Comments and suggestions from readers and others
• Evolve the ideas of the organization’s advisers
• The conviction that the 8 points must be subjected to questions and tests.
The “founding father” of the movement
James R. Adams, a retired Episcopalian priest, founded the organization in 1996. His hope was that the movement would help mainstream churches respond to the religious right and actively address social justice issues.
He viewed biblical miracles as metaphors rather than actual events and incorporated dance and drama into his sermons. He also wrote several books on spiritual subjects.
Adams served as pastor of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. from 1966 to 1996. He led the Center for Progressive Christianity for the first 10 years of its existence and died in 2011.
The mission of the Center
The center is for people who view organized religion as ineffective, irrelevant or repressive and for people who are unfamiliar with Christianity.
It equates evangelism with peace and justice, seeks to give progressive Christians a strong voice, and supports those who welcome seeking rather than certainty.
From a progressive perspective, the movement is open, intelligent and collaborative in its approach to Christian tradition and Christ.
Learn more about the center and progressive Christianity by visiting its website at www.progressivechristianity.org.
Objections from the right
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has a low opinion of progressive Christianity, as you might expect. He does not see the movement as a threat to mainstream Christianity, but has attacked its efforts to “update” the gospel.
According to Mohler, updating the Christian faith to make it more acceptable in today’s world leads to movements such as Progressive Christianity. He does not believe that the new faith is Christianity at all.
In a recent interview with Decision, an evangelical magazine founded by Billy Graham, Mohler criticized “theological liberalism,” saying it denies the Bible as the infallible word of God and repudiates biblical teachings such as the virgin birth, physical resurrection of Christ and the belief that Christ is the only way to salvation.
Mohler compared theological liberalism, in the form of progressive Christianity, to Eve’s encounter with the serpent in the Garden of Eden in which the serpent encourages her to question the word of God.
He also had strong words for the LGBTQ community’s efforts to liberalize Christianity. He criticized her insistence that the church change its stance on gender, marriage and sexuality and insisted the church cannot bend or reinterpret scripture.
You can read more about Mohler’s thoughts on progressive Christianity by visiting www.decisionmagazine.com or www.albertmohler.com.
Of the Center
As a secular with a centrist outlook, I believe the progressive movement is fluid to the point that it is not true Christianity. He denies the divinity of Christ in the first of his 8 points and says he is only a path to God in the second.
These beliefs contradict two very important tenets of the Christian faith.
However, progressive Christianity seems in tune with Christ’s teachings on love through its inclusiveness, and it reminds us of God’s admonitions about caring for the earth.
At the same time, I believe evangelicals focus on the rules and literal translations of the Bible to the point that they often miss the message.
Does it matter, for example, whether God created everything in six 24-hour days or in millions of years? I believe that God exists in a timeless realm. Moreover, the Bible says that he did not create the sun until the fourth “day” of creation. So where do the 24-hour days come from for the first three days?
Should Christians divide into warring factions over such issues? I don’t believe they should.
Another problem with radical right-wing Christians is that they tend to be extremely judgmental and judgmental and do not reflect Christian beliefs in their actions. They remind me of the Pharisees of Bible times. Jesus called these Jewish leaders hypocrites who “closed up the kingdom of heaven from the sight of men” (Matthew 23:13).
For me, progressive and evangelical opinions are extremist, and their supporters would suffer the wrath of Christ if he were physically present on earth today.
Therefore, I am ready to learn more about the Lord and the Bible and find my own path to salvation through Christ. Right-wing extremism pushed me to the left.
My leanings are definitely progressive, but my faith is deeply rooted in traditional Christian beliefs.