On from Young, 2011

Progressive Christianity

These pages attempt to introduce Progressive Christianity. The label will strike some as a contradiction in terms! Others may feel the Christian part of the label says all that needs to be said.

We in the west are becoming profoundly religiously illiterate. Even educated people who understand the machinations and factions of political parties, or who engage in subtle debates over the historical details of events, often seem to think that words like Hindu or Christian refer to consistent wholes.  They are not merely wrong; they are religiously illiterate. I emphasise this point because many loud opinions on religion, when analysed for their competence, should be treated with the same regard as uninformed political or historical or scientific debate: ill informed, shallow, and probably wrong! Opinion is free, and should be. But it is often ignorant.

Religions are factionalised.  They have subtle, and sometimes major, differences of opinion which may, or may not, correspond with that factionalism! Dogma and doctrines, which are essentially the mores of the way a religion talks about itself, are competitive, and often contradictory, just like any other discipline of human endeavour.  Like any human endeavour religion is beset with problematic specialists who seem to lose sight of the whole, with uninformed practitioners, fanatics, the insane, and the worthy and inspirational. To say Hindu or Buddhist or Christian is to say very little about a person or their beliefs.

Christian suggests some connection to the traditions around figure of Jesus of Nazareth, and that connection may not always be obvious!  Ancient Christian groupings such as Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant (already glossing over many subtleties) are now bisected and connected into a crosshatching of  new concerns born of justice, liberation, science, and psychology. To name a bare few!

One of the new groupings can loosely be labelled progressive.  These pages form an idiosyncratic and incomplete introduction. Progressive Christianity is the self identification of this web site and the church which sponsors it. Like any religion worth the doing, our being progressive Christian is a work in progress!

This work was sponsored by Scots Church as a part of churchrewired.

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Brian Tyson 19-04-2017
I don't think the word “Christian" is a vague one. It describes a person who believes in Christ (viz. that Christ was the Son of God.) I have no objection in the least to people who hold that Jesus was merely a prophet, or a good man, or whatever; but I wish they would not call themselves “Christians," as that leaves those of us who DO believe in the centrality of the Resurrection, for example, without a name. Were I to write a book on Communism, I should not entitle it “Progressive Capitalism." (I might argue that it WAS progressive Capitalism in the sense that it had moved on from Capitalism and had reconfigured the whole thing so the public owned the means of wealth production. But it would infuriate Capitalists, and I suspect my book would be rightly denounced.) Progressive Christianity is about as meaningful to me as Partial Virginity. What Progressive Christians seem to have done is to use the Bible as a cuckoo uses another bird's nest: namely to throw out all that is in there, and replace it with their own thinking. That won't do. It is also absurd to claim that the original authors intended the whole thing to be a mere metaphor for some vague social justice. I know the difference between metaphor and narrative, and I hope you do too. So please come up with a new name, and stop confusing mainstream congregations. Thank you.

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