As part of my quest to re-consider Christianity as a possible spiritual home for me, I have been doing a lot of reading blogs and articles from writers who identify as Progressive Christians because this is such a different way of viewing Christianity (compared to what I grew up with) that it often seems like a different religion altogether. I am finding hope within Progressive Christianity that this could be a way for my to re-claim my faith in a context that does that violate my intellectual integrity and my values.
I’ve come across several resources in the last couple of weeks that have been a huge help to me, so I wanted to share them in case they’d be helpful to others who may be on a similar journey.
Brad Duncan at the Grace Emerges blog wrote a post called Hello Evangelicals! designed as an explanation to mainstream evangelical Christians about what Progressive Christians believe. I really appreciated the fact that his list of characteristics of progressive Christianity was designed as a bridge builder. There is acknowledgment throughout his piece of the possible sticking points for evangelicals without being judgmental of either point of view. This post was very helpful in clarifying for me the key points of difference between evangelicals and progressives (in a big picture generalization kind of way, of course) that gave me some mental boundaries to put around the term “progressive” for my own understanding.
Along similar lines, Tony Jones recently offered a challenge to progressive theo-bloggers to write about God. He claims that progressives tend to talk a lot about “social issues, the church, culture and society,” but they don’t give treat of God as much time and attention. There was an outpouring of blogs in response that he has collected on Storify in A Progressive God. I haven’t had time yet to make it through all of the viewpoints included here, but the ones that I have read cover a range of opinion and theology and have given me a great deal to consider about what God might look like within this new kind of Christianity that I am exploring.
Finally, I came across two different blog posts where progressive Christians of different stripes shared their thoughts about why they are Christians, even when they disagree with the version of Christianity that is popularly presented in our culture today. The first one I read was by Christian Piatt on his Father, Son, and Holy Heretic blog on Patheos. His post was called Why Am I a Christian? This was written in response to being asked this question after he challenged a number of Christian clichés that he didn’t agree with. He shares candidly what parts of the standard Christian theology he doesn’t agree with and what he does believe that keeps him within the Christian fold.
The second one was shared with me in a comment to a blog post I wrote recently. This one is by Dr. Bruce Arnold, a Quaker minister and social worker, from his Letters from the Street blog and is entitled Why I Call Myself a Christian. This is a very thoughtful explanation of his beliefs and why those beliefs lead him to consider himself a Christian, despite having disagreements with the popular and more conservative version of Christianity most often heard about in this country.
Both of these personal statements encouraged me because I found myself agreeing with most of what each of them had to say. I think a day will come when my thinking will be clear enough to be able to write a similar statement of my own. For now, though, I will lean on their greater experience and find comfort in knowing that there are others who have dealt with these same questions and have discovered a way for themselves to remain Christians without accepting the standard party line.
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