What is Progressive Christianity?
Progressive Christianity basically means the adaptation of the Christian faith to modern social and religious progression, valuing individuality, and respecting the beliefs and practices of others. One of the primary progressive tenets is the "Ethic of Reciprocity" -- that how we treat other people is more important than the specifics of what we believe about God, humanity, and the rest of the universe. Progressive churches are generally associated with interfaith groups, a primary example being the Unitarian Universalist Church, although there are growing progressive movements within traditional Christian denominations, particularly the Episcopalian Church, the Methodist Church, the Anglican Church, and the Presbyterian Church. Many progressives are members of established churches whose goal is to reform their own church body for the sake of universal harmony. Although they have personally discovered a way to God through Jesus Christ, they do not accept this path as the only way to salvation for all people. It is also a liberal movement intent on challenging traditional, conservative Christian organizations to accept and accomodate believers and nonbelievers of diverse cultures, races, classes, abilities, genders, and sexual orientations, including gays, lesbians, and transsexuals -- without forcing them to change -- as well as to ordain them into the ministry. From the progressive viewpoint, it's an open-hearted and tolerant approach by followers of Christ towards all whom God loves. From a moderate viewpoint, it's seen as liberation from the limitations of outdated orthodox dogma. From the conservative viewpoint, it's considered biblical apostasy and conformity with worldly immorality. Following are the eight points of progressive Christianity from the website of the Center for Progressive Christianity (http://www.tcpc.org/about/the_8_points_english.html).
"By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who�
- Have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus;
- Recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God's realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us;
- Understand the sharing of bread and wine in Jesus's name to be a representation of an ancient vision of God's feast for all peoples;
- Invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable (including but not limited to): believers and agnostics, conventional Christians and questioning skeptics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities, those of all races and cultures, those of all classes and abilities, those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope;
- Know that the way we behave toward one another and toward other people is the fullest expression of what we believe;
- Find more grace in the search for understanding than we do in dogmatic certainty - more value in questioning than in absolutes;
- Form ourselves into communities dedicated to equipping one another for the work we feel called to do: striving for peace and justice among all people, protecting and restoring the integrity of all God's creation, and bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers; and
- Recognize that being followers of Jesus is costly, and entails selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil, and renunciation of privilege."
For many progressives, the Bible is seen not as the inerrant word of God, but simply as a learning tool about morality and right living. Biblical stories may not be considerd as historically correct or even true, rather, they are viewed as inspiritional teachings towards the betterment of all humanity. The sharing of bread and wine is not necessarily Communion in the sense of participation in or remembrance of Christ's sacrificial death, but as an ancient vision of God's feast for all peoples. Grace is found not in the absolute certainty of God, but in the search for truth -- which may be relative and ambiguous -- with emphasis on physical and spiritual experiences. All religions are valued and truths can be found in them -- the Christian faith isn't the only path to God. The acceptance of homosexual lifestyles is one of the foremost marks of the progressive movement. Homosexuality is considered not only a natural way of life, but in monogamous relationships as a blessing of God. Aside from claiming the Bible to be targeted to an audience from an out-dated culture, some advocates claim that the Bible even supports committed same sex relationships rather than condemning them. One of the more popular progressive individuals is the former Episcopal Bishop, John Shelby Spong, who has written such books as Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Living in Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality, and Why Christianity Must Change or Die. Spong has said that homosexuality is a normal and natural part of human life which must be accepted by the Christian church as a universal community, and that homosexual Christians are believers in exile. According to his theology, Christ's death was not a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of the world, rather, Jesus loved those who were unwanted and untouchable so much that he allowed himself to be killed by those who were prejudiced against them -- in this way, he was a willing sacrifice out of love for all humanity. Only because Jesus truly possessed life could he freely give it away. As posted on the Episcopal Diocese of Newark website (http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/jsspong/reform.html) where he served as bishop from 1976-2000, Spong's twelve-thesis challenge to the whole of Christian believers is as follows:
- Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
- Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
- The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
- The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
- The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
- The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
- Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
- The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
- There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
- Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
- The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
- All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.
Following are links to a variety of websites hosting "Progressive Christian" content.
"The Anglican Church during the 20th century started to face up to the challenge of many issues that have been controversial among Christians - such as the role of women, birth control, human sexuality, the exploitation of the third world, and good relations with other faiths. But Anglican churches are self-governing, and not subject to a single hierarchical authority. Inevitably from time to time our necessary debates seem like squabbles that only matter to insiders. Affirming Catholicism is a movement that looks behind and beyond the sectarian details, aiming in classical Anglican fashion to understand what it means to be a committed Christian in the Third Millennium, enlightened by scripture, benefiting from Catholic tradition, yet responsibly applying the discernment of our God-given reason. As a movement we exist for the Church in the widest sense. Our moving vision is for a grown-up Christianity, which reconciles genuine faith and commitment with intelligence and experience. Many of us in Affirming Catholicism are Anglo-Catholics in favour of the ordination of women, for whom the bitter disunity on this matter within our Catholic tradition is deeply undermining. Anglicanism needs to be tolerant and inclusive. But the un-Catholic fragmentation of �extended episcopal oversight� and �continuing churches�, designed to reassure those who reject the decision on this matter by the overwhelming majority in many Anglican and Episcopal churches, needs to end as soon as possible. We want to build a renewed reunited movement, both Catholic and confidently Anglican, no longer hung up about women priests, human sexuality and Rome. Some members of Affirming Catholicism are �classical� or �broad� Anglicans, who wish to revive a genuine and realistic liberalism that is a Christianity open to truth from all quarters, not a disguise for atheism. They seek to live by scripture and tradition in the light of reason and experience, working for a more generously inclusive Church, where all are equally welcome and equally challenged to change. Some of us are even from the Evangelical wing, but unhappy with fundamentalism and puritanism. They unite a primary loyalty to scripture, with reasonable, consistent and modern scholarly interpretation. Inside our movement they pursue enriched worship and sacramental spirituality alongside evangelism. We all long to see the whole Church renewed and energized by the Spirit, using every means to bring the Gospel alive for an increasingly self-centred and pagan society."
The Alister Hardy Society Religious Experience Research Centre
"It�s about an aspect of natural human experience. It can come in on us, or arise in us, suddenly, at any time, in any place, and can affect and even change our lives. It can happen to anyone, whether religiously inclined or atheist, spiritually inclined or materialist, and regardless of age, sex, nationality or culture. It is called 'spiritual' and 'religious' because it is seen as either or both. It can include mystical, transcendental, out-of-body or near-death experiences, or a deep sense of meaning in a place or event. Psychical experiences such as d�j� vu, clairaudience, clairvision, telepathy and precognition can be included. It can also include such features as meaningful co-incidences, or synchronicities, guidance and answers to prayer or contact with deceased loved ones. It can be triggered by music, dance, church or religious architecture, beauty in nature�� also by pain, intense suffering and distress. It can sometimes happen through meditation, prayer or other means. It can be immensely beneficial and life-enhancing though some experiences can be negative and distressing. It can raise, in itself, the question "what's it about?", and others, "why me?", even, "am I odd, or going barmy?". These questions need answering - for the experiencer and for society - for these experiences are important and can have far-reaching consequences. Investigating these experiences is what our work is about. Evidence suggests that �love�, �relationship�, �unity�, might be, ultimately, what it is about - �light�, �love�, oneness�, �bliss� are key words; �insight�, �lifting of a veil�, �altered state of consciousness�, �reality�, �the Real�, �Ultimate Reality�, �God� are other words used. What is your experience?"
"We are a multi-faith e-community designed to help you meet your own religious and spiritual needs -- in an interesting, captivating and engaging way. We are independent. We are not affiliated with a particular religion or spiritual movement. We are not out to convert you to a particular approach, but rather to help you find your own. Fundamental to our mission is a deep respect for a wide variety of faiths and traditions. We try to achieve our mission by providing information and inspiration. Our site has an extraordinary collection of experts and scholars. We give you spiritual tools such as prayer circles, kits to help you celebrate births, weddings, and other life milestones, as well as commemorate deaths. Most important, we help you to learn from each other through a breathtaking array of discussions and dialogue groups. That's what makes Beliefnet unique. We're all about helping you find your way."
Bishop John Shelby Spong Unofficial Fan Web Site
"The 8th bishop of Newark Diocese of the Episcopal Church, Bishop John Spong has been a leader on fighting for a more inclusive church, ending the walls of hatred and exclusivisim against gays and lesbians, women. His book Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, back in 1991, made a tremendous impact on me. As someone who was an evangelical Christian, I was opened to new and different ways of understanding scripture apart from literalism."
Campaign for the Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church
"Welcome to the largest international website on the ordination of women. We are Roman Catholic theologians who firmly believe that the discussion on women priests should be left open. We love our family, the Catholic Church. We fully accept the authority of the Pope. We respect his personal integrity as an outstanding spiritual leader. But we are convinced that the Pope and his advisors in Rome are making a serious mistake by dismissing women as priests. We feel obliged in conscience to make our carefully considered reasons known. �All the faithful, both clerical and lay, should be accorded a lawful freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought and freedom of expression� Gaudium et Spes, no 62. We offer over 1000 documents in English relevant to the ordination of women. They cover decrees of councils and synods, statements by the Fathers of the Church and medieval theologians, historical records, contemporary articles, classical publications, discussions on scripture, tradition and the teaching authority, picture galleries and much more."
The Center for Progressive Christianity
"Do you find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions rather than in the answers? Do you have religious interests and longings but cannot accept the beliefs and dogmas you associate with Christianity? Are you repelled by claims that Christianity is the "only way"? Organized religion does not have to be irrelevant, ineffectual, or repressive... The Center for Progressive Christianity provides guiding ideas, networking opportunities, and resources for progressive churches, organizations, individuals and others with connections to Christianity. We promote an understanding of Christian practice and teaching that leads to a greater concern for the way people treat each other than for the way people express their beliefs, the acceptance of all people, and a respect for other religious traditions. We affirm the variety and depth of human experience and the richness of each persons' search for meaning, and we encourage the use of sound scholarship, critical inquiry, and all intellectual powers to understand the presence of God in human life. We are opposed to any exclusive dogma that limits the search for truth and free inquiry, and we encourage work that eases the pain, suffering and degradation inherent in many of the structures of society, as well as work that keeps central to the Christian life fair, open, peaceful, and loving treatment of all human beings."
"Changing Attitude is a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual members of the four Anglican churches of the United Kingdom. We welcome as members everyone whose concern is to work for change in the church's understanding of human sexuality. The Changing Attitude network, founded in 1995, now totals over 1000 people, including supporters in other European countries, New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada, Brazil and Uganda. In England, we have a network of diocesan groups meeting in 21 dioceses. There are Changing Attitude networks in Scotland and New Zealand... The Church of England has a significant number of lay and ordained members who are lesbian, gay or bisexual. In Britain the Lesbian and Gay Clergy Consultation has 200 members and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement over 900 Anglican members. These represent a small minority of the total number of lesbian, gay and bisexual church members. The majority remain discreet about their sexuality from fear of prejudice and homophobia... We do not accept that biblical references to homosexual behaviour in scripture can be fairly applied to the kind of faithful, lifelong relationships we wish to defend. The Sodom story in Genesis concerns gang rape, not a loving, permanent partnership, and its primitive morality (for example, when Lot offers his daughters to be raped instead of the men) means we can hardly take the text as an ethical guide. Similarly, while Leviticus includes homosexuality in its list of "abominations" we must also note that it condemns a number of activities (lending money for interest; shaving the beard; weaving two kinds of cloth together) which scarcely worry us today. When Paul mentions homosexual behaviour in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1, it is highly unlikely that he had in mind the concept of an equal same-sex partnership, but rather homosexual prostitution and pederasty, which were the most visible kind of homosexual practice in his own society. Also, it is clear from Romans 1.26 and 27 which mention men and women "exchanging" homosexual sex, that Paul, like other Jewish and early Christian writers, believed homosexuality was a free and perverse choice, whereas we now understand that for most gay people there is no choice in the matter at all. We find it ironic that most of our detractors quote these few, highly ambiguous passages at us, while finding reasons to ignore other much clearer and more numerous scriptural texts - against divorce and remarriage, for example, or against women holding positions of authority. Their highly selective brand of literalism shows clearly that their position is based on prejudice, not on any genuine concern for biblical authority. The heart of the Bible's teaching about sexual morality is that a sexual relationship creates a covenant union between two people which is analogous to God's relationship with Israel or Christ's union with the church."
"This site is a growing exploration of the increasing overlap between the values of modern humanism and the current trend in liberal Christian theology and practice toward naturalist, utilitarian Christianity. It is not affiliated with any church or organization; rather it is part of a research project into the evolution of modern Christianity by one hopeful Christian. Christian Humanism, as discussed on this website, generally denotes an ethical, relational spirituality drawing heavily from the richly vast Christian traditions and commonly emphasizing broader definitions of and experiences of "God", while incorporating many progressive values of the modern forms of humanism. Christian humanism integrates the humanistic principles of science and reason, advancement of the common good, morality grounded in human experience, equality for all classes of people, and focus on this natural world, with the Christian gospel of liberty, personal and communal transformation, care of the poor and those in need, celebration of the "sacred" within the "secular", support in community of others along the journey, and above all, boundless love. It is Christianity as an ongoing work by and for humankind; it is humanism enriched with the best of Christian heritage. It seeks to retain all that is good from the past, and integrate all that proves true in each future age. (1 Thess 5:21) It believes religion is for humanity and not humanity for religion. (Mark 2:27 Finally, this site is dedicated to the proposition that the essentials of a Christian faith and life in its truest form are not foremost historic creeds and dogmas, but love of God (however conceived or experienced) encompassing heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love of neighbor as self - as exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. Such Christians live fully in this world and work for the betterment of this world's inhabitants, while consciously and joyfully choosing for themselves a Christian story and path to best describe and provide a framework for their journey through life."
Christians Awakening to a New Awareness (CANA)
"Those who join CANA see their starting point as Christian, but are open to the moving of the Spirit to seek and explore God and the spiritual dimensions of life, in a way that is open ended and free from the boundaries that most religious frameworks and structures have imposed... CANA offers people nurture and companionship in their process of awakening and the opportunity to find a commonality with others on a similar continuing journey... CANA members have in common a wish to discover and live by spiritual principles, to care collectively for the community of life and to seek the Truth at the heart of all religions. Collectively, we seek to serve as an �umbrella� that can facilitate the forming of local groups and the coming together of different organisations into a collaborative process that gives credence to all individuals and groups in an independent way. Our collective journey has no set goal. The reality of our unity may be seen to develop. But the essential nature of our journey is one of continuing exploration. Everyone�s contribution is a valued part of the whole and none is dispensable. As we leave behind the language and interpretations of the past, we are challenged to find new expressions of the emerging vision."
The Churches' Fellowship for Physical and Spiritual Studies
"The Churches' Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies exists to promote the study of psychical and religious experience within a Christian context. Founded in 1953 by a group of clergy and laymen on an ecumenical basis, it continues to serve the churches and its individual members who come from many and varied backgrounds. Some have sought help from the Fellowship's extensive knowledge, at significant points in life where there may have been spontaneous gifts of the Spirit, the pain of bereavement or simply a vocation to a spiritual life through a psychic encounter. Many bring a wisdom and depth of vision to enrich the understanding of others. The Fellowship takes a positive view of psychic sensitivity which many people experience quite naturally in their lives, perhaps through an unsought telepathic communication. Some seem to have a greater awareness of this dimension than others and in some it is more refined. There is a gentle call on members to relate this to a fuller Christian life in which the psychic may find consecration. Without this approach there may be a tendency to extol the psychic dimension for its apparent allurement alone which can lead to an emptiness of purpose or even openness to the darker aspects of the paranormal. The psychic is the means by which there is real accord, soul to soul. It is what is given and received on this level that needs a discernment which comes from the Holy Spirit. This brings life where once there was dullness of body, mind and spirit. Jesus himself showed the ease of the psychic in his relationships with others and with the Father as recorded in John 2 where it is said that he "had no need of evidence from others about anyone, for he himself could tell what was in people". The Fellowship as its name implies provides fellowship and opportunities to study through its residential and one-day conferences, its group and branch meetings and for those who are unable to attend such events, the pages of its two journals the 'Christian Parapsychologist' and the 'Quarterly Review'."
The European Liberal Protestant Network
"The European Liberal Protestant Network (ELPN) was founded in 1998 but it represents the closer co-operation of a number of liberal Christian groups in Europe which have long co-operated under the auspices of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) which was itself founded in 1900. It aims to bring together those who share in a liberal understanding of the Christian faith."
"FaithFutures Foundation is a grassroots response to a widely perceived need for new ways to express and explore the sacred knowledge that we have inherited from the past through our religions and spiritual traditions... The collective character of the process of integration and renewal extends beyond traditional religious boundaries. The initial focus of FFF will be re-framing Christian beliefs and practice since the results of critical scholarship perhaps impact most acutely on that faith tradition at present. As resources develop and its membership expands to include significant numbers of people from other religions and spiritual traditions, the Foundation anticipates that the focus on re-visioning Christianity will become just one among several lines of activity. FFF welcomes the contributions that people from different traditions can offer one another in re-shaping their own personal and collective religious practice. Those who come from one of the Christian traditions gain important insights as they hear how others perceive and experience Christianity. Authentic information on other faith communities and forms of religious practice can also open up new possibilities for the renewal of one's own tradition. The cooperation circles that comprise the grassroots membership of FFF are encouraged to include people from a diverse range of religious practice, and especially to welcome participation by people of other faiths. The end result will be a diverse and creative network that pursues the integration of religious practice with traditional knowledge and new information emerging from religion scholarship as well as other areas of research."
The Foundation for Contemporary Theology
"The fastest growing, religiously identifiable group in the United States is not the pentecostals or fundamentalists. Rather, it is those who identify themselves as �non-affiliated� (one person called this group the church�s alumni association). In the past half-century, their numbers have grown from 2 percent of the population to 15 percent today. They are people who have spiritual interests and longings, but who cannot accept the dogma and literalism they associate with Christianity.
Through our programs, such people can find ways of being Christian that honor those concerns."
- People who value openness to truth, wherever it may be found
- People who give priority to the search over certainty in the life of faith
- People who resent Christianity�s claims of superiority over other religious traditions
- People who want to be engaged in the struggle for justice and peace
"futurechurch is a project of the Anglican based Women's Resource Centre in Auckland with funding from the Methodist Future's Group. The project began in late 2001 and has funding for five years. Although we receive funding and support from the Anglican and Methodist Church, futurechurch is ecumenical and non-denominational... The individuals and communities we connect are diverse and multifaceted each unique in their story and their membership.While each is different, some things that are valued might include: a safe place to be; each person's story is valued; low profile leadership; questioning is valued; change is welcomed; connecting life and faith open to visitors and newcomers; they are mostly small (5-30). Some are connected to a church, many are not, groups meet in caf�s, churches, homes... some have met for years some are a new group each time they gather ~ few are older than 15 years old most are not concerned with longevity, but seek to live in the now. Some individuals have not found groups to connect to, but remain connected through informal networks such as futurechurch. Worship/celebrations/ ritual are mostly reflective, participatory, rich in symbol, often including food and drink, but not always narrowly eucharistic. The Bible and Christian story are one of the resources drawn upon, but they are not used uncritically and they are not the only source of guidance and inspiration. At first sight, some might say that baptists, presbyterians, sea of faithers, anglicans, gay and lesbian christians, post-evangelicals and feminists make unlikely bedfellows. "What remains the common thread is the sense that we are on a journey - the christianity reflected here is asking questions, rather than giving answers, exploratory rather than dogmatic, alive to what can be learned from anyone else along the way." Some are "Progressive Christian Churches" - expressing a christianity that while it is earthed in a tradition, is welcoming open to questioning and non dogmatic."
Future Shape of Church
"Western culture is in a time of transition. We live in an age which is beyond the post-religious, becoming post-secular. Boundaries and attitudes, approaches and thought processes are changing. In this, we live in an age much like any age, but yet with the shift from modernity through postmodernity there is something unique. Experiencing this shift as church requires the same dislocation. Not just because we serve the culture around us, but because we cannot be detached from the culture around us, we are in it and it is in us. Future-shape-of-church.org is part of this journey, this interlude. We seek writing, thinking, stories from those who are engaged in the journey themselves, rather than seeking to commentate from some imaginary other location. By Shape of Church we are making one statement, that Church is not about just about words, but about patterns and movement. Church has shapes that are dynamic and transformative rather than static and stifling."
"We affirm that the Church's mission, in obedience to Holy Scripture, is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every generation. We acknowledge that this is Good News for people regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation. We believe that, in order to strengthen the Gospel's proclamation of justice to the world, and for the greater glory of God, the Church's own common life must be justly ordered. To that end, we call on our Church to live out the promise of the Gospel; to celebrate the diverse gifts of all members of the body of Christ; and in the ordering of our common life to open the ministries of deacon, priest and bishop to those so called to serve by God, regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation."
Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles
"At Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles (MCCLA) all of God's children are welcome, with a special and affirming outreach to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. We celebrate Jesus' love with varying styles of worship. We invite all to join us without concern for sexual orientation, gender identification, or any of the barriers so often found in other churches. Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles (MCCLA) is a prophetic, liberating and progressing Christian community of faith that honors, values and welcomes all people. We are rooted in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex communities. We preach a relevant, vibrant and scripture-based message that embodies and celebrates everyone's spirituality and sexuality. We challenge each other to make our lives count, as we invite everyone to be transformed in mind, body and spirit. From a place of trust, wholeness and holiness, we reach out as the hands, feet, and heart of Christ through acts of justice and compassion to make a difference in our world. We celebrate open communion because God's love includes all people. We are created in the image of God and our diverse sexualities please God. As our own wounds are healed, we become a healing church called to heal the world with the good news of God's love. God's diversity should be reflected in our community's diversity; therefore, we value diversity and are committed to multi-culturalism through social justice and cultural learning. We are a God-loving people, claiming and appropriating God's love and a life of faith as we gratefully respond to God in worship."
The Modern Churchpeoples' Union
"MCU is the leading liberal forum for open and informed theological comment in the Church of England and Anglican Communion. Founded in 1898, we stand for freedom of enquiry in the continuing search for truth and are dedicated to sound learning, honesty, openness and integrity."
More Light Presbyterians
"We are individual members and congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA) who are faithful to God's call and believe that God continues to open new understandings of scripture and the Word in the life of Christ. As a Christian community, we believe that the church must seek to live out those understandings in our life together. Following the risen Christ, and seeking to make the Church a true community of hospitality, the mission of More Light Presbyterians is to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA)... As individuals we struggle with our own personal hang-ups and fears about homosexuality and with sexuality in general. Since the 1978 General Assembly, our church has urged us to study sexuality, to take the initiative to know and listen to gays and lesbians, to respect their civil rights, and to see them as brothers and sisters in Christ. MLP provides resources, models and experiences to help that personal growth. Presbyterians are struggling with what role gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members should have in our life together. The church has made a mistake in barring them from ordained office. Since 1974, MLP, and its predecessor organizations have been working to transform the church into a true community of hospitality. As we engage in bible study, dialogue, personal sharing and debate, MLP keeps before congregations, presbyteries and General Assembly, the vision of a truly inclusive church. A large and growing number of Presbyterians believe the church should be fully open to the gifts of the Spirit in the lives of its members, regardless of their sexual orientation. Your support encourages and empowers the recognition of GLBT people and their gifts in the life and leadership of the church. Every member makes a difference in this movement."
North American Coalition for Christianity and Ecology
"The North American Coalition for Christianity and Ecology (NACCE) is an ecumenical, voluntary, tax-exempt organization. It was established in 1986 to encourage the many strands of Christian tradition in the work of healing the damaged earth, out of a common concern and love for God's creation... The continuing devastation of Earth is a crisis of the human spirit. To address this crisis: a) We will invite people into a loving relationship with Earth through the formation of local earthkeeping circles. b) We will teach reverence for God's creation, with the understanding that humans are embedded in the natural world. c) We will cooperate with other organizations concerned with ecology and social justice. d) We will promote the study of ecological issues in the context of biblical theology and contemporary science."
Progressive Christianity Network Britain
The Progressive Christianity Network � Britain recognises the value and significance of tradition and the scriptures in the shaping of Christian faith. It takes the eight points of the Centre for Progressive Christianity International not as a statement of faith, but as an expression of how we live as Christians. We are Christians who�
- Proclaim Jesus Christ as our Gate to the realm of God.
- Recognise the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the gateway to God�s realm.
- Understand our sharing of bread and wine in Jesus� name to be a representation of God�s feast for all peoples.
- Invite all sorts and conditions of people to join in our worship and in our common life as full partners, including (but not limited to): believers and agnostics; conventional Christians and questioning sceptics; homosexuals and heterosexuals; females and males; the despairing and the hopeful; those of all races and cultures; those of all classes and abilities -- without imposing on them the necessity of becoming like us.
- Think that the way we treat one another and other people is more important than the way we express our beliefs.
- Find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers.
- See ourselves as a spiritual community in which we discover the resources required for our work in the world: striving for justice and peace among all people, and the integrity of all God�s creation; bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers.
- Recognise that our faith entails costly discipleship, renunciation of privilege, and conscientious resistance to evil � as has always been the tradition of the church."
Progressive Christians Uniting
"Progressive Christians Uniting (formerly Mobilization for the Human Family) is a movement of progessive Christians whose mission is to be a prophetic presence in the Church and in the world, steadfastly proclaiming the radically inclusive love of God and faithfully working for the inclusion of and justice for all God's children, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, age, race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Progressive Christians Uniting (formerly Mobilization for the Human Family) began in 1996 as a southern California ecumenical organization of progressive Christians in mainline Protestant churches who were committed to a renewal of the social witness of the Christian church, especially along the lines of building an inclusive church, calling for economic justice in a prophetic voice, and working for dignity for all of God�s children. PCU has aimed to reflect on and advocate theological positions and public policies conducive to the common good as an expression of the basic Christian gospel of love of all the children of God. The PCU program has consisted of conferences, study groups, and seminars for people of faith of all denominations concerned about social justice. It has published papers, books, and study guides. Often in cooperation with public interest groups, both religious and secular, it has played an advocacy role in such areas as economic justice, drug policy reform, human rights, and peacemaking. In the recent past it supervised a welfare-to-work program through a number of Los Angeles congregations."
"Radical Faith attempts to step back from examining technical trees to take in the wider forest of faith. It is based on the supposition that a few Christians are interested in looking at the broader context in which their faith was born. In particular, it supposes that the modern era is so substantially different from any preceding it, that being a Christian today demands that we are prepared to move away from traditional teachings when necessary."
Religious Tolerance.org - Progressive Christianity
"The TCPC's Eight Points: These are a series of ideas that describe the TCPC's approach to Christianity. It is not a statement of faith or creed. It is more a description of how Progressive Christians approach life. They are paraphrased for brevity and to avoid copyright conflicts:
Focus: The teachings and life of Jesus provide them with a path to God.
Pluralism: They recognize that others follow their own paths to God which are equally true for them.
Communion: They view the sharing of bread and wine in Jesus' name to represent "an ancient vision of God's feast for all peoples."
Inclusivity: All are welcome to become involved; persons of all genders, sexual orientations, traditions, races, etc.
Reciprocity: How we treat others is the "fullest expression" of our beliefs.
Search: They find more grace in searching for truth than in accepting certainty.
Community: They form communities to support each other in their quest for peace, justice, a restored environment, and to provide hope.
Cost: Following Jesus involves a personal investment in "selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil, and renunciation of privilege."
The Progressive Christian is an eight-pointed star, representing the eight ideas that they hold in common."
Sea of Faith
"The Network explores the implications of accepting religion as a human creation; promotes this view of religion, and affirms the continuing validity of religious thought and practice as celebrations of spiritual and social values. The Network has no creed. It welcomes people from all faith and non-faith traditions. Sea of Faith - SoF for short - had its small beginnings in the 1980s, in the wake of a BBC television series which examined the decline of institutional religion and asked what might replace it in our complex postmodern world, where the certainties of scriptures, clerical hierarchies and supernatural underpinnings no longer make sense. The Network, like the TV series, borrowed its name from Matthew Arnold's classic 19th century poem Dover Beach which famously likened the decline of organised religion to the outgoing tide of the "sea of faith". SoF recognises that a huge and fundamental shift has taken place in the last thirty years: a shift not only in what we believe but in how we believe. We have entered a time of unprecedented thinking and rethinking, building and rebuilding, in which beliefs about belief are shaken as never before. We are exposed to other cultures, other paradigms, other religions, other politics, other ways of making art, other ways of doing science, other ways of building moral and ethical frameworks. We can no longer convince ourselves, let alone others, that our religion story is the "true" one, or that our political ism is the "correct" one - and we marvel that our culture ever had the arrogance to make such plainly nonsensical assumptions. In this sense, Sea of Faith embraces postmodernity and is postmodernist. SoF neither abandons the many faith traditions nor seeks to create yet another competing sect. Its members are to be found in the parish church and the synagogue, in the Quaker meeting, and at the Catholic mass, as well as in all the varieties of secular life. But they know their religious practices and "truths", like everyone else's, are socially constructed, made by human communities and not laid down by gods or ghosts or denizens of a supernatural realm. So, since faith systems were man-made, created to fill certain needs at particular times in specific places, we know we can remake them for our needs, our times, our place. We can ordain gays - or abolish the priesthood: create "green" rituals - or abandon ritual: make God female - or re-fashion him/her as the symbol or imaged incarnation of wholly human values such as mercy, pity, peace and love. We see that even if the churches are crumbling, religious expression, alongside the arts, remains a valid means of rejoicing and mourning, celebrating and imagining, and firing-up the inspiration required to remake ourselves and our society. In this sense, Sea of Faith is religious. SoF is often identified with what commentators on postmodernity call the "linguistic turn" in philosophy: the growing consensus that ideas - including religious ideas such as "God" and "heaven" - cannot be understood apart from the language systems that created them. Where religious conservatives find the linguistic turn threatening and heretical (because it undermines notions of reality and subverts comforting certainties), Sea of Faith thinkers like Don Cupitt, Stephen Mitchell and Jude Bullock have joined with the linguistic philosophers in celebrating the liberating effects of the twentieth century's revolutionary understanding of "the word made flesh." In this sense, Sea of Faith is philosophically "nonrealist". SoF acknowledges that no truths in the world arrive untouched by human hand. Truths are made within human culture and language. Ideas, beliefs, faiths: we made them all up - not, of course, as isolated individuals or lone craftsmen, but as communities, groups, collectives, cultures. So SoF proclaims its mission: "To explore and promote religious faith as a human creation." In this sense, Sea of Faith is humanist. And like the human whole itself, SoF is heart as well as head, imagination and reason in inseparable embrace. It is not a society of academics, nor a mere refuge for those who have mislaid their faith. It is a creative adventure. We may not be entirely sure where we're going, but we are having a great time getting there!"
The SnowStar Institute of Religion
"The SnowStar Institute of Religion is organized through a symposium structure. Activities and interests are characterized as four dialogue families... The Historical Jesus Symposium is dedicated to the most radical tradition of historical Jesus research and asks what significance this research has for both Christian and non-Christian movements today... The Inter-Religious Symposium is dedicated to frank and respectful exchange and encounters among religions of the world in modern society. It seeks to move beyond dialogue into genuine understanding, critique, and constructive relations that challenge all religious traditions in our contemporary international setting. It focuses on the relationship religion holds with culture, history, and philosophy... The Global Theology Symposium is dedicated to the question of what role or use has religion in society today? It looks at the impact of contemporary scholarship on religious faith, doctrines, and traditions... The X-Church Symposium is dedicated to the radical tradition of religious dissenters. It raises questions about the adequacies and inadequacy of traditional religious expression and seeks to promote both new and historic alternatives to mainstream institutions."
Student Christian Movement
"SCM is a movement seeking to bring together students of all denominations to explore the Christian faith in an open-minded and non-judgemental environment. Inclusive: All people are welcome because our diversity is a gift to be celebrated. Aware: We recognise the importance of respect for and openness to other faiths. Radical: Faith and social justice cannot be separated - Christians must be equipped to engage with contemporary theological, political and social issues. Challenging: Thinking through and questioning our faith ensures that it remains alive and dynamic."
That All May Freely Serve
"We are a group of dedicated Christians, working within the boundaries of existing Presbyterian Church (USA) policy. Through education and dialogue, we strive to open barriers in order to permit gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people to serve openly as clergy, elders, and deacons within the denomination... Called by the life and teachings of Jesus, compelled by our faith and charged by our conscience, we advocate for an inclusive church that honors diversity and welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons as full members. Full membership includes eligibility for ordination to the offices of elder, deacon, and pastor."
We Are Church (UK)
"Our aim, in partnership with others around the world, is to bring about informed dialogue among the whole people of God on the following issues, which are of concern to millions of Catholics who would like our Church to be:-
- a Church of brothers and sisters in Christ: in which all are equal; in which each person�s gifts are respected and used; in which decision making is shared by all.
- a Church with a new attitude to women: so that it becomes inclusive and accepting; so that women have access to leadership and sacramental ministries.
- a Church with a re-evaluated priesthood: so that the priesthood of all the baptized is acclaimed; so that both celibacy and marriage are optional for all; so that there are clear codes of conduct for ordained priests.
- a Church which affirms: the God-given gift of sexuality, but avoids obsession with sexual morality; everyone: their human rights, sexual orientation, marital status, and those who leave the active priesthood or religious life; that a person�s individual informed conscience is foremost in the making of moral decisions, e.g. birth control, freedom of speech, conscientious objection; commitment to peace; public and domestic non-violence; social, racial and economic justice; the eradication of homelessness and poverty; preservation of the environment.
- a Church that is mature: which accepts responsibility, openly acknowledges and is accountable for wrongdoing and abuses of power; which welcomes all unconditionally rather than causing guilt and fear; which supports, encourages and works for reconciliation and justice in the light of the Gospel."
"Westar Institute is a member-supported, non-profit research and educational institute dedicated to the advancement of religious literacy. Westar's twofold mission is to foster collaborative research in religious studies and to communicate the results of the scholarship of religion to a broad, non-specialist public. Until a few years ago, essential knowledge about biblical and religious traditions was hidden in the windowless studies of universities and seminaries�away from the general public. Such research was considered too controversial or too complicated for lay persons to understand. Many scholars, fearing open conflict or even reprisal, talked only to one another. The churches often decided what information their constituents were "ready" to hear. Through publications, educational programs, and research projects like the Jesus Seminar, Westar has opened up a new kind of conversation about religion. This is an honest, no-hold-barred exchange involving thousands of scholars, clergy and other individuals who have critical questions about the past, present and future of religion."
Women And The Church (WATCH)
"WATCH has a vision of the Church of England as a community of God's people where justice and equality prevail. WATCH believes that this vision is rooted in the Scriptures and reflects God's will for the whole world. WATCH works for an inclusive Church, responsive to God's will and trusting in God's ways. WATCH wants to see women taking their place alongside men at every level in the Church, and to help the Church become the community of equals which Jesus calls us to be. In WATCH we join together to make this vision a reality. Teresa of Avila stated powerfully over four hundred years ago, "Christ has no body now on earth but yours; yours are the only hands through which he can do his work, yours are the only feet with which he can go about the world, your are the only eyes through which his compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours." Our Priorities: the appointment of women at all levels in the Church; honesty and openness in all appointments; support for women in lay and ordained ministries, and for all those who suffer because of their advocacy of women's ministries. WATCH exists because many people long for the church of England to become a genuinely inclusive community. WATCH welcomes men as well as women, lay people as well as ordained, Whether you are a student just starting a degree or a seasoned campaigner on justice issues in the church, WATCH welcomes you. WATCH was started in November 1996 as a forum for promoting women�s ministry in the Church of England, and also to provide a national network and support group for women priests and all who are working for an inclusive church. WATCH also monitors how women are being deployed in the Church, and from time to time commissions theologians to write papers on a range of issues. There are now more than 2,000 women priests, and overall their ministry in the Churches has been warmly welcomed. In many parishes people have already forgotten what the fuss was all about. Some dioceses are more supportive of women than others, but now all dioceses, even Sodor and Man (from 18th June 2004), have ordained women working in them. WATCH has a vision of the Church that extends far beyond getting women in positions at every level of the Church, as good as that will be! If you would like to know more about WATCH, or if you would like to become a member, or purchase any of our WATCH dedicated products, please contact our administrator at the WATCH address. We look forward to hearing from you."
Women's Ordination Conference
"The Women's Ordination Conference (WOC) works for the ordination of women as priests and bishops into a renewed priestly ministry in the Roman Catholic church. To this end WOC: Works for justice and equality for women in our church; Strives to eliminate all forms of domination and discrimination in the Catholic church; Advocates inclusive church structures; Supports and affirms women's talents, gifts and calls to ministry. The Women's Ordination Conference is a US based Catholic organization working locally and nationally in collaboration with the worldwide movement for women's ordination."
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."
(2 Timothy 4:1-5)
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