A Progressive's Three Great Loves
In recent years I've become more skeptical that Progressives are any more attuned to the revolutionary power of Christian faith than others.
Progressives place great emphasis on loving God and neighbor through acts of compassion and social justice, which I applaud and try to embody, but many seem also to believe that any attempt to develop one's spiritual path, or a personal relationship with Spirit, is a waste of time and energy at best, and a subverting of the call to seek justice at worst. Personally, I have no hope that social justice, as Jesus would envision it in our day, has more than a cheese ball's chance at a rat convention, apart from serious and sustained attention to personal spiritual disciplines and self-care.
While I've become skeptical of the Progressive label, I am increasingly confident that the revolution envisioned by Jesus—or at least the revolution envisioned for our day—is actually occurring.
What follows are twelve areas where I find Christians letting go of old orthodoxies and embracing a more expansive, revolutionary one. If the term "Progressive" holds these areas together, then I'll gladly recommit to it as a personal label. But really, I'll be glad to call myself by whatever term does it best.
Love of God
- Christians are letting go of the notion that their particular faith is the only legitimate one on the planet. They are embracing an understanding that God is greater than our imagination can comprehend, and thus may very well speak within other faiths.
- Christians are letting go of literal and inerrant interpretations of their sacred texts. They are embracing a more ancient, prayerful, non-literal approach to these same texts, and finding new sacred texts as well.
- Christians are letting go of the notion that people of faith are called to dominate nature. They are embracing a more organic understanding of human relationship with the earth.
- Christians are letting go of empty worship conventions and creeds. They are embracing more diverse, creative, engaging approaches, often making strong use of the arts.
Love of Neighbor
- Christians are letting go of a narrow definition of appropriate sexual orientation and gender identity. They are embracing with increasing confidence an understanding that affirms the dignity and worth of all people.
- Christians are letting go of an understanding that people of faith should only interest themselves in the "spiritual" well-being of people. They are embracing a more holistic understanding that physical and spiritual well-being are related.
- Christians are letting go of the desire to impose their particular vision of faith on wider society. They are embracing the notion that their purpose is to make themselves more faithful adherents of their vision of faith.
- Christians are letting go of the old rivalries between "liberal, moderate, and conservative" branches of their faith. They are embracing a faith that transcends these very definitions.
Love of Self
- Christians are letting go of notions of the afterlife that are dominated by judgment of "unbelievers." They are embracing an understanding that God never gives up on any of us, even after we die, and that all people are loved far more than we can comprehend.
- Christians are letting go of the notion that faith and science are incompatible. They are embracing the notion that faith and science can serve as allies in the pursuit of truth, and that God values our minds as well as our hearts.
- Christians are letting go of the notion that one's work and one's spiritual path are unrelated. They are embracing an understanding that rest and recreation, prayer and reflection, are as important as work, and that our work is a "calling" and expression of what some call our "sweet spot."
- Christians are letting go of old hierarchies that privilege religious leaders over laypeople. They are embracing an understanding that all people have a mission and purpose in life in response to the Spirit's call. It's no longer about who wears the robes but who lives the life.
To me, this where the revolutionary "kingdom of God" is breaking into our world at Christianity's growing edges.
If you're interested in exploring these edges, I invite you to join me and a merry band of misfits and mischief-makers from around the world at Darkwood Brew. We stream live—and interactively in HD video—at http://www.darkwoodbrew.org each Sunday at 6 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Central. Come and add your voice to the mix! I also invite you to "friend" me on Facebook.