Are you a Progressive?

Q:  Robert, I’m not sure where you are on the Progressive Christian Alliance. Was just on their FB site and thought about hitting like to share on there, but then I can’t say I approve of any of their beliefs-totally unBiblical. Where do you stand? Just curious.

R: I would say yes and no to the question am I progressive. If by progressive do you mean that Jesus’ central message is about radical inclusion, faith as the search for understanding, the raising of important questions, the open honest doubt, and the realization that no one has it all the answers, practicing the great commandment: “Love God and love one another”, and Creating fellowships and communities that are dedicated to lifting up, affirming, and equipping one another for the work God then yes I am a progressive.

 I am politically a moderate liberal. I think the liberal/progressives can go too far and don’t go all the way with them. I also think that conservative’s evangelicals can go too far also and disagree with them on certain things, though I agree with them on others.

I believe to be a Christian you need to believe certain things–Jesus is Lord and Savior, the tomb is empty, sin is real, Heaven and hell are real places and experiences (read my blogs “A personal Review of Love Wins and A Follow up to…”, the bible is authoritative for faith and behavior. However, I have a hard time with the concept of the trinity, I am very uncomfortable saying people are going to hell (read my blog “Asking The Wrong Question“), and I do not read the bible literally, though I do try to take it seriously and apply it to my life without beating others over the head with it.  As my (senior) pastor says, when we read the bible we should let it point a finger at us and not use it to point a finger at others.

Therefore, I suppose the answer is maybe.  I am still learning what it means to follow Jesus and don’t have all the answers and probably never will, but I sense the spirit of God working in my life, becoming a Christian is a continual process of becoming better than I used to be, I am not where I should b, but I thank God daily that I am not where I used to be.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But, one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

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8 Comments

  1. Hi, Robert, thanks again for you thoughts. Can I just ask two questions.
    1) if possible could you explain your doubts regarding the Trinity?
    2) is there any part of the Gospels or New testament you do not take literally?
    Thank you.

    • 1) The trinity–I think, now this is just me, but I think if anyone says they understand the trinity or God it’s not the real thing. God is a splendid mystery and we will never fully understand God. I think the trinity is man’s best way of understanding God. I am not denying the trinity; I doubt that the trinity is really God just a better way of trying to understand God.

      2) What I mean by taking the bible not literally, but seriously is that the bible is a group of books written over thousands of years and in different styles of writing (history, story, poetry, morality tales, sayings, teachings) and we should read it in context and the way it was meant to be read. The bible is rife with metaphor and certain things shouldn’t be taken factual, I believe that everything in the bible communicates something, a lesson we can take away and apply to our life today. As far as the New Testament–I take the gospels as true, Jesus is who he says he is, he did everything the gospels record him doing (the parables are stories not real life events, but are instructional for the Christian Life). The Letters (epistles) are as relevant today as the day they were wrote. I am not going to even try to explain Revelations. I need to study that book more, though I am fond of Chapter 21 of that book. There are certain things beyond human words and understanding to grasp. Humans cannot speak of or comprehend things that they have not yet experienced.

      I think when we literalize the bible or even our own spiritual experiences we run the risk of idolatry and boxing God in. I love the bible and need and want to study it more. I say read the bible and get what you can, but always come back to it again and again. I try to read the bible daily something I don’t always do. My views on these and other things will evolve and deepen as I go along. I want this blog to be a dialogue on my faith journey. I thank you for the question and your interactions. I hope this helps.

      • Thank you Robert. I understand totally where you are coming from on the trinity. Yes our minds are probably unable to conceive the relationship between The father, Lord Jesus, and his spirit living on earth and in us.
        I also agree about the Bible, I do not take it all literally either but do believe
        the God has made it somehow how he wants it. I know this because how
        many times it has truly spoken to me
        at a specific time about a specific
        situation. I was interested in your views regarding the new testament, and also agree regarding the parables. Thanks again Robert and God bless you

  2. Robert, thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I resonate with alot of what you say!

    And, I think the Trinity is a very good idea that has gotten something of a bad rap – from fundamentalist Christians as well as well-meaning progressives whose logic it offends. I’d highly recommend your checking out the free series Dancing with the Trinity by Baxter Kruger on iTunes. I’d be fascinated to hear what you think!

  3. Oh – and Richard Rohr & Cynthia Bourgeault’s The Shape of God is also excellent. They do into the deep metaphysics of the Trinity and show how it paves the way for genuine ‘third way’ solutions to the problems vexing us today.

  4. iamlenise

    “…If by progressive do you mean that Jesus’ central message is about radical inclusion, faith as the search for understanding, the raising of important questions, the open honest doubt, and the realization that no one has it all the answers, practicing the great commandment: “Love God and love one another”…”

    Thanks for pointing me to this post…It comes along at an interesting time in my life..Being brief…I recently skimmed a few chapters of Philip Yancey’s ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’ (will be going back to that one at a later date) and am currently going through ‘Disappointment with God’..what I’m discovering is that my disappointment is with myself based on a lot of misconceptions about concepts of God and what my relationship with Him should be like…Thanks again 🙂

    • Thank you. I am glad it helped. Yancey is a good writer. I hope its OK to suggest a few writers for you to consider–Rob Bell, Brennan Manning, C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, and Lenoard Sweet.

      • iamlenise

        I’ll have to look up the others, but I’m familiar with CS Lewis’ fiction..’Screwtape Letters’ ‘The Great Divorce’ and ‘Out of the Silent Planet’..Thanks for the suggestions 🙂

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