Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Some Follow up Questions for Commenters

Still thinking along these lines, of Progressives not believing the Bible is inerrant and finding truth in other religions, which I'm sure is a reasonable belief, how does Progressive Christianity differ from the New Age movement? In the New Age movement they believe in a "higher power" and they believe in other religions, as well. In short one is free to design a religion of his or her very own, as he or she sees fit. They believe in all sorts of things and think that the Bible is of value too. So, how is a Progressive Christian different than a New Ager?

Is a Progressive Christian a "born again Christian?" or just taking the name of Christ in their title?

The more I think about Progressive Christians the less, I realize, I know about them.

24 comments:

Momma Twoop said...

You know, Jacke, it's like religion shopping, in a sense. In a way a person might purchase a shirt at Target, a skirt at KMart, the pantyhose at Walmart, and the shoes from Payless, then putting them altogether as an outfit. In this instance, however, people are searching for religious doctrine from one religion after another, picking the parts they like to come up with their religion. Surely that can't be right, can it?

You've definitely given me, and anyone else who reads your blog, food for thought. Thanks!

Jacke M. said...

It seems that way to me too, Twoopsie. I'm not asking these questions to judge anybody, I'm just really curious as to how someone believes one part of the Bible is true but not another part. I'd like to know how they decide which is truth and which is not. I can't, for the life of me, figure that out. I do hope someone of the "Progressive" Christian persuasion can give me an answer. So far they are being very, very quiet. Do you suppose they're hunting wabbits? ;)

Ghoti724 said...

I don't think I can speak for progressives of any kind, but religion shopping is very common. We choose to be one demoniation or another. I believe in the higher power whom I choose to call God, but it is a choice I made.

I believe some parts of the bible to be true and accurate other to be legend and parts aspirational. This came as the result of studying both the scriptures and available history.

I do not accept the Bible as word of word, the word of God. Each translation uses different words.

I see the spiritual life as a journey and where we are on that journey is only important to the higher power and the individual. I don't believe for example that as a profession of faith God cares wether we do so by walking in the rain or swimming in the river.

What is most important to me is the reality of relationship I have with the God of my understanding as it evolves.

Jacke M. said...

Ghoti724 writes:

"I believe some parts of the bible to be true and accurate other to be legend and parts aspirational. This came as the result of studying both the scriptures and available history."

Well, yer a scoundrel, Ghoti724, many, many people believe that and have great faith in the truth of it. ;)

This is where my question lies, and I know it might require more than a simple reply. What determines what you believe and what you don't believe in, say, the King James Version of the Bible?

What part of God's Word do you take by faith?

Are you a "born again" Christian?

Do you think there are many roads to God or do you believe the part of the Bible that says there is only one way to the Father and that is through the Son?

What a bother to have to take a politically conservative centrist's word for what a Progressives might have in their minds, but then those darned old Progressives have all gone and bailed out on me, and jest when et wuz a gittin' good, too! ;)

Dixie said...

As a believer in the Christ and the WHOLE Bible as the inspired word of God, I have concerns with those that want to embrace the parts of the Bible they like and discard the parts they don't. Or, believe the parts that supports what they're comfortable with and ignore the parts they don't.

Religions are man made. Christians are Christ made. Man has created many titles and "names" for the rituals and buildings that they've outlined and built to gather and worship within. Some rituals are found in the Bible. Some are not.

If you believe in God and that the Bible is His inspired word, then you accept it all as fact. God tells His believers to be Of HIM and not of the world. To me that means that just because society decides that something is okay, doesn't make it okay with God. You see people wear "WWJD" on bracelets, t-shirts, etc. I often wonder what that means to them? How many times have Christians been accused of not being "like Jesus" because they don't "embrace" the things society has said is okay? NEWSFLASH, Jesus didn't "EMBRACE" the ways of society either. Jesus Christ was a teacher and went from city to city spreading the word of His Father. He taught us how to live peacefully and how to deal with those that wish us harm. He never, however, embraced sin. He never said sin was okay. He forgave the "whore", but told her to SIN NO MORE. Being like Jesus doesn't mean ignoring sin or embracing it. It means to be forgiving and loving. Oh yeah, Jesus was persecuted and killed for KEEPING His beliefs and NOT giving in. One day we will all stand before God and be held accountable for our lives. What some people, including Christians, don't want to think about, is that we'll be held accountable for how our words and actions affected others.

I chose to worship at a church that teaches God's word and how to live my life accordingly. They don't embrace the ACTS of homosexuality, pre-marital sex, abortion, pedophilia, and a bunch of other sins. They do, however, offer love, guidance and teach how to be forgiven for those that have participated in sin. ANY SIN. If they stopped using God's word as tool for teaching, I'd be seeking another building to worship in.

Dixie said...

To Mommatwoop.

Jesus offered His LOVE to EVERYONE. He didn't, however, embrace the sin they brought with them. He taught how to live your life according to the word of His Father. He told of the consequences for not doing so and of the eternal rewards for those that did.

People that point their finger at Christians and say "What would Jesus Do" should be answered. Jesus would offer LOVE, SUPPORT and the TRUTH. That LOVE, SUPPORT and TRUTH, however, would NEVER embrace and justify sin and falsely encourage the sinful behavoir.

I've asked people that call themselves Christians and support homosexuality and abortion how they can do so. They've answered with "Jesus says to LOVE everyone". I answer back with...Yes, He does, but never did Jesus say that in order to LOVE someone, you were to embrace and approve of their sin. There are many, many times in the Bible where Jesus offered forgiveness to sinners. There are NO stories in the Bible of Jesus condoning and over looking sin.

Jacke M. said...

Dixie, I think you will find, if you read the other posts on my blog, that you and I are in agreement. Total agreement.

I have put some questions forth to Progressive Christians asking them how they make the determination about which parts of the Bible are believable, and which parts are not.

I, too, have spent time asking them to reconcile their pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and pro-gays in the clergy positions. I haven't been given a thoughtful reply yet, leaving me to the conclusion that they simply do not have an answer for that.

I do want to open a dialog with Progressive Christians, what I am trying to establish right now is what they believe, I can't put my finger on that. If people, any people cannot adequately even explain what they believe and why they believe it there cannot even be a dialog. I would like to see the Christian Community stop dividing along political lines as I don't think it is what God would have us do, pitting Christian against Christian according to their political beliefs. I cannot know how much I have in common with them if they will not even answer my questions.

wildwest said...

At bottom, Jacke, your question seems to boil down to, "How can you call yourself a Christian if some of your views differ significantly from my own?"

The fact that all "Christians" are not one hegemonic group (not that they ever were, but we won't go into that here) is disturbing to you. Why can't we all agree that there is one meaning and one meaning only of the term?

Well, the dictionaries list several, and they are not all in agreement. But they are all valid definitions of the term. I spent a great deal of time on a blog some months ago defending the idea, and got absolutely nowhere.

I am "Christian" in a sense of the term, "New Age" by some definitions, "humanistic" by others. I am not going to stop identifying myself as Christian merely to make life easier for you.

I am not out to change your mind. If your understanding of Christianity is what gives meaning to your life, hang on to it as long as it works for you. Live your life as you believe God wants you to, and do not take to heart the opinions of others.

Jacke M. said...

wildwest said...
At bottom, Jacke, your question seems to boil down to, "How can you call yourself a Christian if some of your views differ significantly from my own?"

Nope, I didn't say that anywhere. I have stated clearly what I believe and I am curious about what those who call themselves "Progressive" Christians believe.

I am quite comfortable in my beliefs and do not want to change them, however, that does not mean that I wish to stop learning. Is there something wrong with me asking what Progressive Christians believe or trying to come to an understanding of what Progressive Christians believe?

I am by nature a curious person, yes, I have very real questions about how Progressive Christians draw certain conclusions and I have made that plain from the first day you saw me post something, wildwest, but NEVER had I said that if one doesn't believe exactly as I do that they cannot be a Christian and I do not believe that to be the case.

I think you are trying to put those words in my mouth so you can write me off. If you want to write me off, go right ahead, but don't make up an untrue statement to base your judgement of me on so that it will be easier for you.

Are you back from vacation?

It's nice to hear from you again.

wildwest said...

No, there is nothing wrong with your asking that question. I am not sure I can satisfy your curiosity, however. It's a very, very long process.

I used to hold theological views very similar to yours, although I could never feel comfortable with right-wing politics. Many things we learn from living.

Even if you read everything I've read in the last 20 years, you still might come to different conclusions. And that's fine. In the end we each stand before God alone.

Jacke M. said...

wildwest,

I appreciate your offer at IAACT to give me a reading list that might cause me to have an understanding about how you have drawn your conclusions that God's Word is not inerrant, there are many Christians who do not take literally certain aspects of the Bible. I do believe the Word of God as literal, personally.

I could, as you said, read every book you have read in the last 20 years and not come to the same conclusion you have. Likewise, you could read every book that I have read since my first favorite, "The Little Grey Mouse and the Train" but it would not make you understand me any better than you do today, so, no, I do not have much interest in a reading list. You don't understand my question and you seem to entirely miss the point of it.

My question, not directed at only you, but at all "Progressive" Christians who visit my blog, is about how you determine, personally, which passages you believe in the Bible and which passages do not apply.

I ask this in an effort to find out the motives behind accepting parts of the Bible and not accepting others. People do this on different levels and to different extremes. For some, they just choose not to believe that Jonah was literally swallowed by a whale, or they might believe that God created the world, but by a different method which is more inclusive of what some of the scientific theories of the day claim rather than as recorded in Genesis. For others, they seem to pick and choose what passages in the Bible they will accept and what passages they will deny based upon how they want to live their lives, personally, based upon whether those words "tickle" their ears sufficiently or not.

While I can respect all people's beliefs, to a point, I am not willing to leave out huge swaths in the Bible in order to give myself a pass on committing sin in my life that I do not want to give up.

Specifically, homosexuality comes to mind. In the case of homosexuality, gay Christians ignore passages of the Old and New Testaments in order to have comfort in their Christian belief and their lifestyle. Sure, that's their right and there is nothing I can do about it, I'm not their judge. A "Progressive" Christian will likely claim the new covenant of grace brought about by the sacrifice of God's Son means that God loves them regardless of how they live, and yes, He does love them, but no where in the Bible, Old or New Testament, are any of us given permission that upon accepting Christ that we are now free to walk in sin and let it all hang out, do our own thing, etc. Quite the contrary.

I am in total agreement with Progressives that we should not condemn homosexuals, that we should love them, that we should show compassion to them, as Christ showed compassion to the prostitute, however, as Dixie rightly pointed out after the agressors had dropped their stones and gone away Jesus told her to "Go and sin no more."

Some would like to say because Jesus never specifically condemned homosexuality or abortion that those sins must be okay now. I disagree, Jesus said that he didn't come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. After Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he gave to us the comforter, the counselor, the Holy Spirit, to lead, guide and give us understanding.

He revealed himself to Paul and set Paul on the road to lead Gentiles to a belief in Christ. Our salvation is by grace but no where did God give us all Christians permission to run amuck and live our lives in the flesh because of that salvation of grace.

I am no different than homosexuals in that I sin, the difference is that I do not make an effort to justify the sin in my life to God, when I sin, I know that it is sin, I know that I should not engage in it and I don't try to find passages in the Bible which I can take out of the context of the whole to try to excuse my behavior as okay because Christ did not come to condemn us. Christ did not have to condemn us, the law had already done so, it was for that reason that it was necessary for Christ to die for those sins, sins IDENTIFIED in the law and by the law. We will never be perfect so long as we are living in this flesh, but Jesus never excused our sin, he PAID for it.

This is the problem I have with people who pick and choose what they will believe in the Bible and what they will not believe in the Bible. If you choose to believe that Jonah wasn't really swallowed by a whale, it has little impact on the way you live your life, you will glean value from what you consider a parable and move on, but if you disbelieve the value that the law represented in the Bible and believe that by Christ's death on the cross it gives you free reign to live in sin, it most definitely impacts your life.

People, I believe, who question a "Progressive" Christian's salvation are basing that on the fact that they perceive in their own lives that when they sin the Holy Spirit gives them a sense of guilt over that sin so that they may work to remove it from their lives. Those who not only continue to sin but work to get it accepted, embraced and normalized, i.e. ask that others not view it as the sin it is and accept it as normal leave the question open as to whether the Holy Spirit indwells them or not, because they seem to have no guilt over the sin in their lives and rather, they are promoting that sin.

No one can judge the salvation of another but God, alone, no one can tell a gay person that he is not a Christian because he is a practicing gay person, and no one should, but the Bible tells us we will know a believer by his "fruit," some people question the "fruit" of those who with, apparent, clean conscience practice the gay lifestyle and profess their Christianity. I would disagree with anyone telling a practicing gay that he is not a Christian because no one but God can know what goes on in that person's heart or whether the Holy Spirit IS dealing with him or not. But if you wonder why some people are incredulous about practicing gay Christians, well, there ya go.

I ask my question personally of Progressive Christians. Reading the Complete Sherlock Holmes series written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle might tell you something about me, because I love to read Sherlock Holmes' stories, reading Anne Sexton poetry might give you a window into what type of poetry I like. Reading the Bible will tell you how I try to live my life, what I find of value, but in the end, you cannot know me or my heart or mind unless I tell you about me. That is what I have asked of Progressive Christians. I am being "real" with you. I think you try to be "real" with me but I have little interest in being led down a path of indoctrination by you. Now, I understand that may not be your intent but I want to know PERSONALLY, how YOU and other Progressive Christians choose the scripture in which you, respectively, hold faith and that which can be dismissed. Reading your reading list cannot do that, only you can.

Smoochies, Jacke

Ghoti724 said...

What determines what you believe and what you don't believe in, say, the King James Version of the Bible?

Great question Jacke, The simple answer is I do. I know you won't settle for the simple answer, so here goes the more complex answer.


I believe in a personal relationship with God, and yes my relationship is through Christ. Because I have experienced that personal relationship. Now is that faith? Or is it empirical? Faith I believe is as Saint Paul said an action not a theory or belief. Having at some point in my life acted upon I experienced the results of the action and recognize the reality of a living relationship.

Is that to philosophical? Turning my life and will over to the care of God, produces results, outcomes superior to the days when I believed that I ran the world, or at least my part of it.

In response to the King James vs other versions, I've read several versions all speak to me, many have caused me to seek more information, and other translations. So how do I choose? Having chosen to turn my life and will over to the care of God I let him choose. I neither endorse nor reject any version, translation, presentation nor mechanism of communication that God may choose to use. I'm a Mongrel, nor a pure breed, and I think that's the way God made me.

Did I answer the question you asked?

Jacke M. said...

Ghoti, a clarification, please:

Are you meaning what you believe or don't believe in the Bible or your personal interpretation of what a particular scripture means?

Ghoti724 said...

I think, LOL, I'm saying I'm not smart enough to make those decisions for God. It may be that the words are meant for one and not another. All may be true and meaningful at different times. I have received differing understandings of one passage at different times. God's ability to communicate may just be beyond my ability to grasp in one reading.

What I may have chosen to reject at twenty has an entirely different impact today.

Jacke M. said...

Okay, I think I understand what you are saying now, Ghoti, and I agree that at different points in our lives different scripture has different relevance to us, but that, in my humble opinion, is not the same as dismissing parts of the Bible which you find uncomfortable. Do you know what I mean?

Ghoti724 said...

but that, in my humble opinion, is not the same as dismissing parts of the Bible which you find uncomfortable.

Who am I Lord, who am I that anyone should ask me to define which wrods are yours and which are not?

How many times have words attributed to you made me uncomfortable today and comfortable tomorrow.

Lord, did I miss the assignment where you told me to declare which of the words written thousands of years ago are true? Did you continue to communicate with us throughout the centuries, or have you been busy elsewhere?

Was Saint Paul speaking the truth when he wrote, today we see through a glass darkly but then we shall know face to face?

For now Lord, is it enough that I know I am and that you are?

Jacke M. said...

Ahhhh, Ghoti, far be it from me to argue with that!

One of my favorites:

"O LORD, you have searched me and you know me

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"

even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you."

Psalms 139: 1-18 (NIV)

Thanks for the church meeting today!

wildwest said...

I speak for myself alone, Jacke, not any other "progressive" Christian. If you want to understand progressive Christianity, the book you might read is *Issues of Theological Conflict* by Richard Coleman. It is not my duty to expose you to the ins and outs of my relationship with God. It is important that we look into our own hearts.

The fruit of the spirit that you will know them by, if I understand correctly, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (All that hippie stuff.) You know what is right for you to do and what is not. I know what is right for me to do and what is not. I may have to justify it to God, but I do not have to justify it to you.

Btw, I am not gay, nor do I have any temptations in that area. (No, I'm not saying you said otherwise. This is just information.) It may or may not be a sin. Your reading of the Bible tells you clearly that it is. Others are not so sure. Whether it is a sin or whether it isn't, I do not believe it my duty to treat them any differently than any other person. Another way of saying that might be, I am not to try to remove the speck in someone else's eye when I have a beam in my own.

Beyond that, I have no argument with you, as you are living your life according to the way you believe God wants you to. I have no right to ask you to justify it, either, though we differ in some detail in interpretation. God bless you.

wildwest said...

OK. If "progressive" Christians "pick and choose" what Scripture passages to follow and conservatives don't, I wonder what your reaction is to this piece that has been making the rounds in the past couple of years, and which I am sure you are familiar with?

http://nicklewis.smartcampaigns.com/node/247

Jacke M. said...

The sin of homosexuality was not a "law" per se, in the original laws laid out in the Old Testament that I am aware of, was it, wildwest? Lol. You get an A for effort but I don't see what it has to do with sin.

The law is the law and sin is sin. The laws listed by your writer were under a different covenant and the sacrifice of Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice causing the need to offer sacrifice to no be longer necessary.

What I have been and am speaking to is the over all flavor of the Bible, not selective scripture taken out of context of the whole. This is what your writer has done.

Yes, we are under a new covenant of grace and yes, Paul and Jesus both led their disciples in the belief that the law could be relaxed, such as healing people on the Sabbath, retrieving your donkey from the well, "working" in the form of picking off a few grains of wheat to chew on on the Sabbath day, etc, however, even in the New Testament, after the Old Covenant had been replaced with the new, we were called upon to live our lives differently than non-Christians, to not defile our bodies.

I do not just think that sexual promiscuity is wrong when perpetrated by homosexuals, I also believe it is wrong to commit adultery or fornication. I merely used homosexuality as an example because it is widely argued about between Progressive and Conservative Christians. I could have just as easily confessed to you that I am a smoker and that I believe it is a sin to smoke because it is not healthy but I do not want you to make excuses for the sin in my life to be "tolerant" of me. I am intolerant about it myself, I know that I am sinning and I am under conviction about that. I know that God would have me stop engaging in that behavior and one day, with His help, I hope that I will be able to overcome it.

What I don't want is you to patronize me by telling me that it is not a sin out of what? Some sort of perverted "love" you have for me? No, I would much rather you be honest with me and tell me that I am sinning against God and that I should change that behavior than to pretend that just because I do it that it's okay now, just forget it, that the Bible says it's okay to pick the head off of a blade of wheat and eat it on the Sabbath so that translates that it's also okay for me to smoke, or lie, or cheat, or steal, or go out and have an affair on my husband tomorrow. That kind of love I do not need. Acceptance of me as a Christian, as a sinner convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit who hasn't reached perfection and never will until Christ presents me to the Father, but works daily to try to live to the best of my ability how God would have me live? Yeah, that would be nice, and that is exactly what I would and do offer to homosexuals or smokers, liars, thieves and even murderers, compassion and love do not mean that I must condone sin in my life, or any one else's life. :)

If you are uncomfortable talking about your personal relationship with Christ, there is no need for you to qualify your position. You are welcome to tell me to mind my own business anytime you wish.

I have never expected you to speak on behalf of all Progressive Christians, I'd like to think I have more readers than you who are Progressive Christians but if getting real and talking about your personal beliefs and relationship with Christ is uncomfortable for you I wouldn't dream of expecting you to reply.

And btw, it matters not a whit to me whether you are gay or not. I think you're pretty cool and you know that, not that I expect it matters to you at all what I think of you. I wish I could say that. I know what I believe and I am firm in my beliefs but it does matter to me what other people think. Lol. I'm funny that way, sure, it can cause one to get hurt sometimes, but I wouldn't change it. :)

wildwest said...

I am OK with your smoking (if that is not just a hypothetical example, and even if it is) and I am supportive of your attempts to stop smoking. I am OK with someone being gay and I am OK with someone trying to become "straight" if that is what he or she wishes to do. In my own life I accept myself, forgive myself, and move on. I support myself and I support others.

And we see some things differently. I support you in your convictions though they differ at times from mine. That's OK. God bless you.

Jacke M. said...

Just as I would be comfortable if you were gay, wildwest. I don't care, it wouldn't mean that I would no longer care about you anymore than my smoking would mean that you would no longer care about me. The normalization of gay marriage and its effect on the perception of our Nation's children and the health ramifications are the reason that I oppose gay marriage, not because I give a hoot what gays do or do not do in their bedrooms. Your focus is not on that issue, that's okay, I just don't appreciate others telling me that I am judging gays as people and condemning them and passing their own form of judgement on me because of a wrongful perception of my opposition to that cause.

Your focus is on aiding the poor. While I disagree with the method you embrace it is a worthy cause. All I would ask is that those on the left would offer me the same grace that I have offered, but since they really couldn't care less what I think anyway, it really doesn't matter does it.

God bless you, as well.

Momma Twoop said...

Jacke, in referencing both homosexuality and smoking in your post, something struck me. Why is society attempting to squash one unhealthy behavior (smoking), while it is attempting to promote, or compel acceptance of as normal and healthy, another behavior which is unhealthy (homosexual lifestyle)? It makes no sense to me. The only way it makes sense is to consider that homosexual activists are politically powerful and have purposely worked to prevent the American public from being informed of countless study results proving that their lifestyle isn't just another healthy, viable alternative to heterosexuality.

People say, "Well, not all homosexuals have negative consequences from living a homosexual lifestyle." To which I'd have to say, so what? Not every smoker suffers from emphysema and/or cancer as a result of smoking, yet it's something society is attempting to discourage and, eventually, end.

Why, in the face of all the studies, are the consequences of a homosexual lifestyle ignored? Why has society been, in essence, programmed to equate disagreeing with a homosexual lifestyle as healthy and normal with hating gays, yet people who disagree with smoking aren't accused of "hating smokers?" It's all so hypocritical to me.

Oh well, these were the thoughts that popped in my head while reading one of your posts directed to wildwest. I don't wish to get the discussion off track.

Jacke M. said...

I don't think you are off track at all, Twoop. You see, I tend to think that people who are accusing Conservative Christians of being intolerant, judgemental and full of hate because they and people who have educated themselves on the health risks involved with the homosexual lifestyle have stood in opposition of gay marriage, are the ones off track. Now, I will admit that I don't know if that is the reason that ALL Conservative Christians oppose gay marriage, some may do so simply for Biblical reasons.

One thing I think I have taken from the time I spent at IAACT, or maybe on my own blog because I will admit that wildwest was the primary teacher of this to me, is that I wish to try harder to be respectful of others convictions. I don't have to agree with them but a knee jerk reaction is not appropriate and I don't believe it is something that would be pleasing to God, either.

I have a post in mind that I intend to write which will go more in depth about that.

Judgemental people will judge, and you know, everyone has that capability, but one thing I do know is that God does not intend for us to be the judges of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

More later...