What is a Progressive Christian?

When I began my journey out of fundamentalism, I had no one to assist me. But neither did anyone try to ‘lead me astray’—I did that on my own. I began questioning beliefs I had been taught in a somewhat backward way; I would examine a belief by investigating what the Bible said about it. Instead of reading people who opposed a belief, I read the strongest defenses I could find by those who supported that belief to see if they would stand up under scrutiny.

progressive christianity
I’m sure others traveled this path, but my point is that I had no one to guide me and this is probably why it took me so long from start to finish. Even when I was totally free from fundamentalism I had no community of support; I felt totally alone. I had no idea about a progressive Christian community. I knew about the ‘liberal’ denominations from which fundamentalists had broken away in the early 1900s, but I did not see them as my people at that time.

Then I began reading about the Emergent movement in Christianity Today. I was so excited! I began to follow Emergent writers but soon discovered they were not really my people either. So I began to blog on my own about what I had learned and experienced—still with no community of support. And then I began to find them—they were progressive Christians. At last I had found my people! I was no longer alone!

What is a Progressive Christian?

This is a common question. Just a few days ago I heard it again, ‘Exactly what is a progressive Christian?’ I understand why it is asked so often because there is no Progressive Christian creed to refer to. There is no Progressive Christian Church or denomination. And there are at least four kinds of believers who call themselves ‘progressive’ for different reasons.

After I began blogging, I also began interacting with a Google+ community. It was a good community but was also very conservative and I got beat up all the time during the few months I stayed. However, it was there that I met my first progressive Christian, Eric. He helped me a lot even though we were far apart on some issues, and one day he wrote a post on four types of progressive Christians which helped me orient myself better. I have been unable, unfortunately, to find that old post but these are the general outlines.

1. Progressive Christians in Worship. Some people consider themselves progressive because they sing worship music instead of hymns. They have worship teams and project lyrics on a screen or wall. Sometimes they incorporate forms of worshipful dance. That sounds progressive to me.

2. Politically Progressive Christians. Some believers have a strong political emphasis on social justice issues, so they are politically progressive. Red Letter Christians are an example. However, theologically progressive Christians also tend to promote social justice (though not necessarily through politics), so there is considerable overlap of sentiment on this point.

3. The Emergent Church. This movement is associated with leaders like Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones and is known for thinking of new ways of ‘doing church’ such as eliminating the pulpit/pew construct, sitting on couches, and meeting in unusual places like bars. It was the rage for a while (though I was unaware of it) and seemed to be waning even when I discovered it.

4. Theologically Progressive Christians. This is where I ‘found’ my people. One could say that they believe the opposite of theologically conservative Christianity such as fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism. In fact, a very large percentage of theologically progressive believers came out of fundamentalism and evangelicalism—as I did.

Theologically Progressive Christians

I don’t know that progressive Christians really use the term ‘theologically progressive’. I use it here in distinction to other types of believers who call themselves ‘progressive’. These progressive Christians represent at least two separate backgrounds and experiences—both connected to fundamentalism but in different ways.

I have already mentioned the first group—those who, like me, were once fundamentalist or evangelical (which, itself, developed from fundamentalism) and began to question beliefs they had been taught. The other group comes from what are now known as mainline denominations, which rejected the fundamentalists among them who tried to win those denominations to a fundamentalist position around the years 1900 to 1925. Many in both groups now have very similar views.

There is no progressive creed, but progressive believers tend to share a body of beliefs in contrast to typical fundamentalist/evangelical beliefs. I will divide them into two groups of five. Progressive Christians typically reject the following ten beliefs.

Five Foundational Beliefs that do Great Harm

1. Angry God. God is angry, demanding, and vindictive toward us
2. Inerrancy. The Bible is essentially written by God and every word is inerrant propositional truth
3. Punishment in Hell. God will punish those in eternal fire who do not measure up to his expectations
4. Legalism. God has specified a host of specific rules for us to follow in order to please him
5. Penal Substitutionary Atonement. God poured out his wrath for our sins on Jesus at the cross

From these foundational beliefs derive other beliefs that do great harm.

Five More Beliefs that do Great Harm

1. Homophobia. God rejects and condemns gays and other LGBTs
2. Christian Patriarchy. God’s plan is for men to lead and for women to be subservient
3. Satan and Demons. Satan and demons oppose God, God’s work, and God’s people
4. Young Earth Creationism. The earth was created about 10,000 yeas ago and evolution is a lie
5. Rapture and End-times. The Bible reveals end-time events and we must not miss the rapture

More about Progressive Christians

There is more to learn about progressive Christians and how to connect with them. We will talk about that next time.

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63 Responses to What is a Progressive Christian?

  1. Hmm. I’ve never thought of Progressive Christianity like this before. Though might it be possible to be a hybrid of two or more of these? I certainly feel like a hybrid (having elements of 1, 2 and 4).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lu Biemiller says:

    Finally someone recognizes the damage fearful theology has done to humanity. How could a loving God inflict pain, and use fear and manipulation? Perfect love is perfect love and nothing else. I think deep down we all know that, and it is refreshing to finally see this in print. Thank you for so eloquently describing it.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Lauren Salerno says:

    Hi much the same path. Started off Catholic, became Pentecostal and ended up asking if all these denominations are right how come they don’t agree. For me my theological journey was like peeling layer after layer of an onion of. Taking a dogma and working back to find its roots and then assess them against scripture and the earliest, pre-conciliar church. Concluded that it was love here and now that built the kingdom, created heaven and was our only salvation the rest was just theology, nice to know but non essential

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Lauren, you said, “my theological journey was like peeling layer after layer of an onion off.” I like that! I think a lot of us can relate to that picture.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Susan Jackson says:

      Exactly! I came to where I am (a number 4!) by peeling away the non-essential stuff (dogma and doctrine). I found out all that was left was “Perfect love casts out fear”. I remain in my local Methodist Church because it is a wonderful, loving congregation, most of which believes as I do. The difference now is that I am free of the damaging baggage which the the wider Church burdened me with for some 50 years. I still feel angry that I have been far more damaged by “church” than the “world” but, hey, I’m getting over it. It’s affirming to realise that the “still, small voice of calm” I always had within me is actually the Holy Spirit. Amazing Grace!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Susan, you said, “Perfect love casts out fear” How true this is!

        Like

        • Susan Jackson says:

          Yes, my moniker on the Premier.org.uk website is “Perfect love casts out fear”. When I comment on there, I get lambasted on a regular basis by the conservatives. If I were a delicate flower, I would be well and truly battered by now!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. tonycutty says:

    Great intro to your series. Unlike you, I was most fortunate to find not only your blog, but also many other people who are treading this road with us. I actually think there are more ‘flavours’ of ‘Progressive’ Christians, but I am unable to recall any descriptions at the moment. Personally, I consider myself ‘Unfundamentalist’. I like that word best, if labels must be used 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I am sure you are right that there are many flavors of progressive believers. In fact, no two of us is exactly alike. I think ‘unfundamentalist’ is an excellent description.

      Like

      • Susan Jackson says:

        yes, it is. It makes me more convinced than ever that we should find a congregation that we can worship with rather than a denomination. One size does not fit all – we are all different but united in the one thing – our personal relationship with our Maker.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Bill Ectric says:

    I’ve been going to an Episcopal Church called Saint John’s Cathedral for about two years. I really like it because scripture is included in every service, but no one tries to tell me exactly how to interpret every fine point of a verse. I went to a “younger, more hip” church for a while. They played Christian rock music, which is fine, but after a while it became clear that they had the same old fundamental conservative beliefs dressed up to look “cool.” The Episcopal Church lets my faith be more personal although they do offer Bible studies for anyone who is interested. Saint John’s Cathedral is very focused on feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and welcoming refugees.

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Bill, I am glad you found a good church match!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bill, I had a similar experience to your “hip” church one. My mom started taking us to a Baptist church when I was a teenager. While I was used to hymnals and choirs, they had a legit band, including drummer and guitarist and the whole deal, and sang modern worship songs. The pastor was also “modern” in the sense that he wore blue jeans and boots and walked around a stage-type area instead of behind a pulpit. Still, there was nothing modern or progressive about their message. It was all still your typical “fundie” beliefs that was veiled in a new package. I got out of there pretty quick.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Patricia Bennett says:

    Never thought that I was much of a ‘progressive’ in any vein but everything posted hit me right on. I’ve felt for some time that Jesus’s death was not to save ‘us’ from sin but to save the world as a whole from ignorance. “My people perish for a lack of knowledge.” Until His advent all of the old concepts as stated were all that people knew. Jesus came to show us who the REAL Father is which is total, complete, unconditional love. He was the perfected mirror through which the Father shown. Jesus was not condemned by Rome, He was condemned by the priesthood of his time for blasphemy and heresy.

    I will read just about anything..some exceptions..but not many. Reading does not mean that I need to accept what I’ve read just ponder another individuals perspective. I read a really in depth statement just the other day from The White Book..Ramtha. Ramtha is explaining the process of coming to one’s true self, the yin and the yang, accepting and learning to love self first with total compassion and forgiveness. He states ” God the Father, that is the very vibrance of this wondrous molecular structure, has not judged you. He does not know judgement because He does not know perfection, which is a complete limitation. He only Is, He is the Isness that loves, that is, all Himself and that self is the encompassing power of all of you that are here, all peoples everywhere.”

    Some years ago I literally died while on the operating table; when they were able to get my heart restarted I had to be put on total life support and was not expected to survive. Wherever I was during that time was real, more real than anything here on this plane. I was never able to describe the most pronounced of all the experiences which was that everything from the most minuscule was imbued with this LIVING light of love. In Him was everything created and the experience of knowing that reality was overpowering in its joy. The colors were not just color, they were alive in their very being like no color you’ll ever see here; and the love that surrounded and penetrated to my very core was evident as to its origin. I will never forget that love nor what I heard while there, “LOVE IS ALL THERE IS.”

    Thank you for all you share and blessings to you and yours

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for this. I am finding myself headed in your direction, and I, too, do not have a guide, other than great blogs like yours. I, too, tried the “progressive” churches, but I found them to be just as plastic and insincere as any others. I think I am looking for theologically progressive churches, just as you were. I would love to know if anyone knows churches like that in Ohio, where I live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Prog Mind, I have found that gay-affirming churches tend to be progressive in other areas as well. Here is a list of many of those churches just by entering you address or city. Good luck!
      https://www.gaychurch.org/find_a_church/

      Like

    • Patricia Bennett says:

      jesuswithoutbaggage says:
      August 14, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Patricia, you had quite an experience in the hospital. Did you continue to have some benefit from it when it was over?
      ——————————————————————

      Understand when you first come out of one of these experiences be it a NDE or a intense OBE you don’t automatically understand the depth of the experience its self. Those who remember the experience with vividness start to process what they experienced for the deeper understanding rather than the superficial. Such was my case.

      Please also understand my experience is exactly that mine. As we are all individuals each person’s experience as I would understand it is exactly tailored to what that person needs to assist them in their own path spiritually.

      I had a very in depth OBE long before the NDE, the NDE just confirmed what I already knew to be the reality. During the OBE I was taken on a tour so to speak by an entity which I never saw who showed me that indeed In my “Fathers house are many mansions.”: I witnessed people at all degree’s of spiritual understanding and growth in their idealic heavens. I was given the impression that after a life review we are aware of our level of growth thus gravitate to that level that will provide us with what we need to further progress with understanding. We’re not ever stuck in one place unless we choose, we can always progress. During this OBE I was shown not only the issues that were holding my progression back but also given the encouragement to shall we say get into the ball game and do some rough and tumble tackles which I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

      For self I was shown through only what I can describe was like watching a movie where my fears were acted out in a form that would give me understanding In my case the movie so to speak was centered around ‘fear’ which I call ‘The Little Mind Killer’…Dune. My fears were holding me back from all the blessings that overcoming can provide.

      The OBE occurred when I was in my late 40’s which at that time I was involved with a Pentecostal church. The NDE occurred when I was in my early 60’s and no longer felt the need to be affiliated with any church or denomination. I’m now 75 and thank God living the peace I witnessed and have never forgotten could be mine so many, many years ago.

      So is life ‘hunky dory’ without the usual up’s and down’s, losses etc. No of course not, life with all its potential to teach continues on unabated, the difference for self now is I no longer fear any of it. I’ve outlived 3 husbands, 2 of which I took care of in our home until their last breath. I’ve looked the worst in the face and found that peace that surpasses all understanding.

      So in a long answer to your question.. yes all that I’ve experienced changed my life dramatically for the better… but remember everyone..it always our choice..I chose to overcome my own personal obstacles, and yes the pay off so to speak has been wondrous and wonderful. Getting old in my case is a daily blessing of remembering. Life is good, embrace it, it will embrace you back if you choose to see the lesson of love hidden within it all.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. AndyP64 says:

    Well, I scored 5/10 on the rejected beliefs and the rest are already under being questioned to a greater or lesser extent, so I guess I am in, or out depending on how you look at it. Thanks for this Tim it is good to hear, I never asked for my evangelical faith to be dismantled it just sort of happened over a long period of time. It is sad how many people just accept what they are taught and do not question or look at the alternative views. I think for me it really started when I was asked to teach membership classes which included the Statement of Faith of the church I was at. The more is studied certain points the more absurd they seemed get, until I could not accept them any longer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Andy, welcome to the journey. That’s the way it often works. First you are taught the ‘truth’ and accept it. Then you notice a problem–then another problem. Then the questioning really begins and, before you know it, you are on a journey!

      5/10 is just fine. Progressives tend to be very inclusive and just as there is no creed that must be believed, neither is there a creed that must be disbelieved. That’s just the way it often turns out because the more you mess with evangelical beliefs the more likely that the entire house of cards come crashing down.

      Like

  9. Patricia Bennett says:

    I’d like to add that in my own experience of study I came to see that all of the great Spiritual Teachers who have come to assist human kind had their own personal experience of ‘the dark night of the soul’, the total stripping away of belief to be replaced with the gift of KNOWING. It’s within the framework that this personal knowing occurs, and it is personal, it belongs only to the individual who experiences it.

    Each of these great teachers used their own experience to comfort others that the path they trod if they chose could come out to an equal or even greater understanding in the end. “Follow me.” only meant, use my wisdom, my experience to build on and obtain your own personal knowing.

    I personally have come to the knowing that each of us is designed to discover the unique person we are thus blossom understanding that the ‘Kingdom of God’ is indeed within.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Patricia, I can relate to the ‘dark night of the soul’ as I had my own existential crisis.

      Like

      • Patricia Bennett says:

        I’ve been following your journey for quite some time now Tim, not always joining the conversations because I’m observing more than anything else. In my observations I’ve noticed that all human’s becoming go through a series of ‘dark night’s of the soul’; it seems to be a natural process of spiritual growth for those who choose to attain such. So I’m not surprised at all with your revelation in fact I’ve been watching this ‘stripping away’ that has occurred to you personally in your quest. This forum is your calling. By sharing your experience a win win occurs for everyone involved. Keep up the good work.

        And by the way..as long as I’m still drawing breath in this body I fully expect to see a few more of my own dark nights. My one hope is that I can maintain as I transit them with the peace and acceptance of all that is that I’ve been blessed to find to date. I’m not exceptional, I’m just persistent, lol.
        .

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Patricia, those ‘dark’ nights can be terrible! But there can be such peace on the other side of them. Thank you for your kind words.

          Like

  10. newtonfinn says:

    For me, a key component of progressive Christianity is the emphasis on the social, political, and economic aspects of the Kingdom (or Community) of God. If one’s Christianity begins and ends with personal salvation and does not bleed over into how human beings are to structure their relations with one another (and with the earth), then I doubt whether one is a progressive Christian, no matter how liberal one’s theology might be.

    As I’ve grown older and had more time to ruminate on what Jesus meant by this Kingdom (or Community), which is not to remain in heaven but to come on earth, the more I’ve come to believe that, for the vast majority of us Christians, the idea has been reduced to a vague, warmly fuzzy feeling about how wonderful the world would be if everyone had the love of Jesus in their hearts.

    But what if Jesus had something much more definite and concrete in mind, a radically new mode of social, political, and economic life briefly reflected in the “communism” of the early church? And how would such a Kingdom (or Community) manifest itself in today’s world? I offer some food for thought for those inclined to explore such questions:

    https://newtonfinn.com/

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, I loved your comment–especially the first two paragraphs. I also read your article. I have heard of Bellamy but haven’t read any of his work. Your summary of his predictions on one way the kingdom of God on Earth might work was intriguing, but I would probably need to read more of Bellamy himself to get a better scope on his perspective.

      Thanks for sharing this.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Newton, one of the problems with the supposed early church ‘communism’ is that it would not be sustainable; it depended on members having something to sell to provide for other people’s (and their own) needs. The problem comes when people are all sold out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Chas, I agree. I wonder if part of the reasoning for this experiment was that the group thought Jesus would come back VERY soon. So, as you say, it was unsustainable. However, I am sure it was done with great intentions–perhaps in response to Jesus’ teaching on helping others.

        Like

        • Chas says:

          Tim, having given this further thought, it seems to be Luke’s response to the idea given by the story of the (rich? young?) man who was told to sell all that he owned, give to the poor and follow Jesus. The only other way that this ‘communist’ concept could be sustained is if the fellowship expanded exponentially, which Luke maybe had in mind, although he would have been aware that this had not happened, or it would have become visible to all.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Good point, Chas! That is a great connection! And I agree that it could only be sustained by exponential expansion–like a pyramid or a Ponzi scheme.

            Like

  11. fiddlrts says:

    A few years back, I had an experience in the courtroom (I’m an attorney), that really illustrates what you talk about in the opening of your post.

    There was this divorce-related case going on, between two self-represented parties. The woman got on the stand, and told her story. I (and every other attorney in the room) could tell that she was digging a really deep hole for herself. After a few more questions from the judge, she finished. Then the judge issued his ruling, starting with a statement to this effect:

    “I was originally leaning toward ruling in your favor, but after listening to you, I changed my mind…”

    That is really how my own journey went. It wasn’t that I read progressive authors (theological OR political) that changed my mind. Rather, I actually *listened* to what Fundamentalist/Evangelical/Conservative people were actually saying. And I was horrified. Like you, I read what people thought was the “best” argument in favor of their position, and concluded, “If that is your BEST, then it’s crap.”

    There are so many examples of this in my own theological journey, but here are the biggest ones:

    1. Young Earth Creationism. It wasn’t that I read evolutionists. If anything, I am still less educated than I would prefer on evolutionary biology – but I’m working on that. Rather, it was all the knots that YECs had to tie themselves into to cover the glaring flaws in their ideas. The first was the issue of the age of the universe. I mean, it doesn’t take more than a knowledge of trigonometry to understand how parallax works, and from there, you can see that stars and galaxies are a LONG ways away. But rather than admit an old universe, all kinds of bizarre and inconsistent theories were birthed, to try to explain away the obvious. Including the idea that the speed of light used to be faster…and that was the beginning of the end for me.

    2. Inerrancy. Although I tend to think that “inerrancy” is the wrong discussion – first we need to realize what the bible IS, before we even get to the whole inerrancy discussion – this is a big area where I changed my mind as a result of FUNDIE arguments. First was the gender role crap that I suffered through during my teens in Bill Gothard’s cult. But then, the arguments as to why the alleged Canaanite genocide was a moral good really caused problems. If those were the BEST arguments they had, then…well…

    3. LGBTQ issues. I was more or less a “side B” Christian for decades. Until a certain sermon by my former pastor. He made two arguments that he felt were his trump cards. First was the one about marriage as a picture of Christ and the Church. Which, well, I knew this one from the argument that women should always obey men (from my Gothard days.) It wasn’t difficult to see that “men are superior to women the same way God is superior to humans” was the real meaning of this one. So, seriously, if this is your “best” argument against LGBTQ people being accepted, then you are going to lose.
    The second one, though, was even more devastating to me. My former pastor literally said “don’t let your compassion for people keep you from calling what God calls sin, sin.” Or, perhaps more accurately, “don’t let compassion for people keep you from enforcing your religious rules.” I couldn’t help but think of the Pharisees and the Sabbath laws…

    As I said, these are just a few cases. But in each of these, it was NOT reading the opposing arguments. It was reading the “best” arguments in favor of the fundie positions which led me to reject them.

    “I was originally leaning toward ruling in your favor, but after listening to you, I changed my mind…”

    Liked by 3 people

    • newtonfinn says:

      Had some similar experiences in the courtroom. My favorite, however, occurred in a clemency petition hearing. The young man seeking clemency had been introduced by a couple of very sincere and eloquent members of the clergy, and the clemency board was already making favorable comments on his apparent change of character. Then the young man spoke for himself and also did fine, which seemed to seal the deal. Lastly, however, the victim of the crime spoke about how the petitioner had smashed a shot glass into his face, leaving a permanent scar. Yet even at this point, things had gone so well overall that I remained fairly confident that clemency would be granted. As the hearing drew to a close, one of the clemency board members asked the petitioner if he wanted to say something to the victim, offering a golden opportunity for the expression of regret and a heartfelt apology. Instead, the petitioner said (and I kid you not): “You’ve just heard how this guy likes to lie. Now you know why I used the shot glass.” My daughter, then in law school, was with me at the time, and years later, we still talk about it and shake our heads.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Newton, this is so funny! And sad at the same time. Just like Fiddlrts’ examples, it demonstrates how hearing someone defend an idea (or court case) is often more enlightening than hearing arguments against them.

        Like

      • fiddlrts says:

        That’s an “oh crap!” moment for any attorney. I’ve had clients do a few, and I’ve had some opponents do the same. Great story.

        Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Fiddlrts, I think you described it well! If we analyze the best arguments of conservatives on many of these issues, they begin to fall apart on their own. And in regard to YEC, many of their arguments boil down to ‘it could happen!’, so it DID happen.

      Like

  12. Neecer says:

    I still have that little itching in the back of my brain: This is exactly what SATAN wants! He wants me to think that I am being “progressive” and to be questioning what the Bible says..and then I had a conversation with a Catholic friend and I was telling him about my journey. He told me that it was because I wasn’t really saved and that I didn’t really believe in God and that is why I am rejecting a lot of what I was taught. I felt rather sorry for him, because he believes that he needs to be punished in order to feel better about going to Heaven (which is what I thought for so many years–that I didn’t deserve it). So, even with all the hold-over guilt and sometimes sadness, I feel that I am on the right path. I am a grown-dang woman in my 40s! I should have at least some things figured out by now! LOL! Thanks all, I love reading the blog and all of the comments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Neecer, you said: “This is exactly what SATAN wants! He wants me to think that I am being “progressive” and to be questioning what the Bible says.”

      I certainly understand this! When beliefs are taught us and considered to be God’s own truth, and we are warned not to be deceived and not to ‘lean on our own understanding’, it is often fearful and disconcerting to leave them behind. But we can get through it and discover it is so much better once we are beyond those beliefs.

      And it seems you are already aware of that: “So, even with all the hold-over guilt and sometimes sadness, I feel that I am on the right path.” I am glad you feel confident about your path.

      Like

  13. Paz says:

    I have a couple of questions on inerrancy…
    HOW can progressive Christians be sure that what is learnt about Jesus (written in the Bible?) is true and reliable about God’s nature and character?
    And if so, isn’t this all (complexity) ultimately connected to our own / others / humanity’s (universal) destiny – including past, present and future events, etc?
    Looking forward to answers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Paz, this is a very good question! And I think it could be restated: ‘HOW can [Any Christian] be sure that what is learnt about Jesus (written in the Bible?) is true and reliable about God’s nature and character?’

      For me it is all about how much we can trust Jesus, and when I read about Jesus in the gospels I find a consistent picture of Jesus’ character as shown in his teaching and actions that is very compelling. I am compelled to trust him and to follow him. Of course, I could be wrong about doing so but Jesus is the foundation of all my faith and belief.

      In comparison, inerrancy of the Bible is an assumption without foundation and is not even taught in the Bible, itself. It might provide a sense of security to those who embrace it, but I am afraid it is a false security.

      “And if so, isn’t this all (complexity) ultimately connected to our own / others / humanity’s (universal) destiny – including past, present and future events, etc?” I am uncertain of what you are asking here. Can you elaborate?

      Like

    • newtonfinn says:

      Paz, I would suggest (as Tim indicates in his response) that no Christian of any persuasion–indeed, no human being who practices any form of religion–is ever SURE, as far as logic and reason are concerned, about God’s nature and character…or even that God exists. Faith, as Kierkegaard defined it, is holding fast SUBJECTIVELY, with all of one’s inner passion, to that which is an OBJECTIVE uncertainty. His metaphor for this existential situation of faith is a swimmer alone on the ocean, striving to stay afloat over 70,000 fathoms. Perhaps this points to why God remains hidden (as Jesus teaches us that His Kingdom is hidden), so that the believer must choose to stake all and strenuously venture out over those 70,000 fathoms. Indeed, that dauntingly precarious position, Kierkegaard claims, is the only place where the living, awe-inspiring God can be encountered, though He can never be intellectually understood or known. Pascal came at this certainty question another way, when he wrote: “It is incomprehensible that God should exist, and it is incomprehensible that He should not exist.”

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Paz says:

    Thank You Tim and Newton!!!
    I totally agree with your answers 🙂 🙂

    I can also elaborate on the second question…
    The way I see it, there are times when it is difficult to clearly define and characterize the nature of PROGRESS within a LIFE FRAME. The way I understand it, both OT and NT, tells us stories of many people who like us today, also experienced times when they “wrestled with God and His ways”, these were the wise men and women who were also bound by their limitations (human nature), and bound by their own life time. But these limitations did not stop them from having a deep CONNECTION TO GOD and a deep UNDERSTANDING/KNOWLEDGE (WISDOM) of the general imperfection of this “temporary world” and the complexities of life.
    So in “my own” words,TRUTH is found in both OT and NT / (spiritual) writings of the past, provided that these are ADAPTIVE and RELEVANT to (CHRIST’s teachings) and for the “betterment” of ALL (Universal). So I guess what I am trying to say/ask is: How different was this (PAST) in regards to how those who have lived before us and were just like us (PRESENT) trying to make sense of it all within and bound by a specific time, place, culture, etc etc and although we may not describe it as “end-time” when referring to future events, don’t we perhaps also use other ways to describe this when referring to our temporary existence (PRESENT) against concepts like resurrection, eternity/everlasting (FUTURE events)?

    Liked by 2 people

    • newtonfinn says:

      Deep and probing questions, Paz. Knowing what to ask, IMHO, is far more important than the answers one comes up with, which, as you indicate, are always time-and-culture-bound, even for the greatest of thinkers. What I’ve become increasingly aware of is our current blindness to our own historical and cultural conditioning. We tend to assert our opinions and positions as if they were somehow free of the limitations of the past–free, you might almost say, of the limitations of being human.

      We take it for granted, in many cases, that an economy can only be successful (at least, for some) if based upon competitive self-seeking and greed for money or status. We take it for granted that human progress will inevitably erode the natural world that sustains us and all lifeforms, and that somehow at least humans will adjust and survive. We take it for granted that sentient animals can be tortured in factory farms and laboratories to serve the short-term interests of a narcissistic and predatory consumer society. We take it for granted that there must be perpetual war, whether against drugs or terrorism or other countries that do not bow down to our global agenda. We take it for granted that ALL of this is simply human nature expressing itself in the Darwinian struggle for dominance.

      Jesus, as you know, thought and taught otherwise. He delivered by far the most radical message ever heard by human ears–that we live our lives under the gaze of a God who wills that we love each other (and the good earth He created) as deeply and passionately as we love ourselves, that each and every person is equal and precious in His eyes. The extraordinary implications of that core teaching are far more profound–and PRACTICAL–than most of us dare to admit. Recently, I wrote a two-part essay that attempts to capture not only how radical but how CONCRETE Jesus’ message really was, not only for his age but for every age, including our own shortsighted, misguided version of “civilization.” In case you missed that essay, here’s the link…for what it’s worth:

      https://newtonfinn.com/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paz says:

        Thank you Newton for your insightful words (as always) and for sharing the link to the essay.
        Greatly appreciated!
        Blessings 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      • Chas says:

        Newton, your comment has again touched on a dilemma for the human race. If we go on expanding in population, it is inevitable that the earth will eventually be no longer able to support that population, however carefully we treat it. So it follows that it is necessary for each country to encourage birth control once it reaches a sufficient level of sophistication to understand this need.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. michaeleeast says:

    Tim, I am a theologically progressive Christian who came from the secular world.
    I was not in a Church before I became progressive. I found that the ideas of Progressive Christianity made the Bible and Jesus make sense for the first time. I suppose I was “Spiritual but not Religious”. And I think that there is a large demographic in the secular community that is compatible. Progressive Christianity is also compatible with LGBT+ people who are looking for something more than materialism. My Church – The Uniting Church in Australia – have just allowed same-sex marriages in their churches. As far as I know this is the only mainstream Church that has done so officially. The Uniting Church is the third largest Church in Australia – the amalgamation of Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational Churches – but the leadership is relatively young and liberal. Even so there was a strong objection from many members. Are there any Churches in the U.S, that allow gay marriages? I am not aware of any. And I do mean marriages not just blessings or other types of unions. Let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Michael, I know some mainline denominations in the USA now accept LGBT marriage but don’t recall which ones. Of course, it has been a big discussion among various denominations for years. I wish I could provide specifics.

      Like

  16. Pingback: More about Progressive Christians and How to Connect with Them | Jesus Without Baggage

  17. If the penal substitution atonement was not the case, then what was the point of Jesus dying? and one more question, if you take the ransom view on the matter, then who is he ransoming us from?

    What is a christian that doesn’t believe in anything that Jesus said and did? Why not call yourself “spiritual” or “agnostic?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      David, you ask a good question. I think Jesus died because the Romans and the Jewish leaders wanted him dead, but there was more to his death than they anticipated–the resurrection. In his resurrection Jesus defeated the powers of evil and death. The powers of evil killed Jesus, but he thwarted them by returning alive. The same with death.

      This view is called Christus Victor, and some think of it as a ransom event–we are ransomed from the power of evil and death. But it does not mean we are ransomed from ‘God’s wrath’ or from ‘Satan’.

      You seem to describe me as “a christian that doesn’t believe in anything that Jesus said and did.” But I don’t think this is the case. I am a fervent follower of Jesus, his teaching (said), and his example (did). I also believe Jesus grants us eternal life.

      Like

      • Forgive me for the broad/general statement. That was unfairly put.

        One question however, If Jesus’ life was taken from him without him laying it down, then do you think that the Romans and Jews had the power to take the son of God’s life from him? And if not and he did lay it down of his own free will, then why did he need to “lay down his life for his friends (john 5:13)?”

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          David, I think Jesus did cooperate willingly in his own arrest and execution. In fact, his action in the temple courts in protest of the merchants brought their attention right to him. He could have remained hidden had he wanted to.

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