Eight “Bible-believing” churches vs. one progressive church

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As you may have heard, eight churches of various Protestant denominations in Fountain Hills, AZ, have put aside their usual interchurch rivalries and come together in order to combat an enemy common to them all: progressive Christianity.

That’s the banner of their “movement” on display outside one of their churches above.

I guess they forgot the concluding question mark—and also, sadly, failed to note that the question they’re meaning to ask is so simple Pat Robertson could field the correct answer. The answer is A: Fact. Progressive Christianity does exist. That makes it a fact.

Class over!

Ha, ha. No, but seriously. Below is the ad placed in the local paper last Wednesday by the church collective whom I’ll henceforth call the Gang of 8. (Since using the acronym for my first thought, Churches Rallying Against Progress, would just be wrong.)

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The sole progressive church in Fountain Hills—the de facto target of the Gang of 8’s campaign—is The Fountains, a United Methodist church pastored by the estimable David Felten, author of Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity (the curriculum for which is now being used in over 6,000 churches around the world).

Besides sharing its space with a synagogue and a Buddhist Center, The Fountains also has an ongoing relationship with the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, sponsoring a number of forums and opportunities for dialogue with their Muslim neighbors.

Their Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving has outgrown The Fountains, and so has begun to meet in a local larger Catholic Church. But not to worry: Fountains’ recent capital campaign raised enough money to pay off all their debt and build an expansion to their building.

They’re positively thriving!

Which, of course, is part of the problem.

In the ad above we read,  “We do not do this to denigrate or belittle the beliefs of others. Our objective is merely to answer some questions.”

That’s so fair! It’s benign, even.

What is neither fair nor benign, however, is the Gang of 8’s pastors calling pastor Felten a tool of Satan, a hypocrite, an apostate and reprobate, and comparing what he preaches to Naziism.

It’s also egregiously unfair for Fox News to quote Felten as having said that he and his church are offering, “an option to biblical Christianity.” As pastor Felten wrote to me in an email:

That’s simply a misquote; I never said that. But of course our critics pounced on the false quote, since it so perfectly feeds their narrative that The Fountains is “unbiblical.” A more accurate statement is that we offer an alternative to fundamentalist (or “pop” or “conservative” or “evangelical”) Christianity. The Fountains is totally committed to a biblical outlook; it’s just not a Fundamentalist outlook. … I’ve got several radio interviews coming up this week, and I know the “So you don’t teach the Bible?” question will be asked. Now I’ll have to keep explaining that the reporter misrepresented what I said. I’ve asked her [the reporter] to run a correction, but I doubt that will happen.*

Name-calling and the casting of harsh aspersions is typical of bullies and those feeling threatened.

And if there’s one message the Gang of 8 is successfully communicating, it’s that they’re feeling threatened.

Threatened they are, and threatened they should be. For the Christianity they represent is, in a word, ruinous. It holds that the “unrepentant” LGBT person is destined for hell, that wives must be subservient to their husbands, that Christians alone can enjoy a heavenly afterlife.

The Christianity they preach and teach feeds off fear, exclusivity, anger, and victimizing “the other.”

And right now, in Fountain Hills, Arizona, that “other” is The Fountains UMC.

So remember The Fountains UMC and their pastor in your prayers tonight. If you’re not the praying kind, send some love their way. They’d sure appreciate it.

And don’t forget to send some love to the Gang of 8, too. They’re not evil people. They’re just doing the best they can with the dreadful version of Christianity they’ve been taught. Here’s to hoping they learn a new one.

Speaking of which, I wrote the below for the group Unfundamentalist Christians (Facebook page; group blog). It describes an alternative to evangelical Christianity that’s as biblical as any Christianity ever was.

  1. Jesus Christ was divine. In the course of his dutiful incarnation on earth he therefore easily (what with being divine and all) performed what to him alone weren’t miracles at all. As a means of providing for the irrevocable reconciliation of humankind to God (and so of course for each person to him or herself) he allowed for his bodily execution on the cross; by way of (yet again) proving that he was divine he then rose from the dead; for the benefit of all people he left behind the totality of him/her self in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is readily and easily available to everyone.
  2. The Bible is not a contract stipulating the rules for being a Christian. It is an ancient, massive, infinitely complex tome comprising songs, visions, histories, dreams, parables, commandments, and more. Christians seeking to follow the Word of God must look to all the words of God, ever seeking within those words the spirit of Jesus Christ. This means never failing to choose love, compassion and charity over adherence to any Biblical “law” that in practice or spirit violates Christ’s Great Commandment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
  3. Christianity is supposed to be all about nothing more (and nothing less!) than living a life of love, compassion, fairness, peace, and humility.
  4. The Biblical scholarship supporting the idea that Paul never wrote a word condemning natural homosexuality is more credible and persuasive than is the scholarship claiming that he did. Moreover, we remain mystified as to how any follower of Jesus could choose damning an entire population over obeying Jesus’ Great Commandment to love God and one’s neighbor as oneself.
  5. God does not want any woman automatically “submitting” to her husband or to anyone else.
  6. Using masculine pronouns to refer to God is strictly a matter of convention, a profoundly unfortunate necessity of the English language, which to date offers no satisfactory alternative. But God is neither male nor female. God is always, at once, both and unimaginably more.
  7. The belief that throughout history God chose to introduce himself in different ways into different culture streams is more reasonable, respectful, and compassionate than is the conviction that there is only one correct way to understand and worship God.
  8. There is no support in the Bible for the morally repugnant idea that hell is an actual place to which God sentences people to spend eternity in mortal agony.
  9. God’s will and intention is to forgive and teach us, not to judge and punish us.
  10. Anyone desiring to mix Church and State has failed to understand the nature and proper role of either.
  11. God can handle converting people. Our job is to love people.
  12. An all-powerful God and the theory of evolution are not incompatible.
  13. Getting a divorce is painful, and if at all possible should certainly be avoided. But in and of itself divorce is not immoral.
  14. The single most telling indicator of a person’s moral character has nothing to do with how they define or worship God, and everything to do with how they treat others.

*UPDATE: The FOX 10 reporter, Linda Williams, called pastor Felten and profusely apologized for the misquote. The text on the station’s website now reads, “The Fountains offers an alternative to fundamentalist Christianity.” “Unfortunately,” pastor Felten wrote to me, “I think it may be hard (if not impossible) to get the video clip itself changed. But yay, Linda! She was really gracious.”

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • DonRappe

    The letter kills, but the spirit gives life. There is a reason the term dogmatic has become a pejorative. Those who use dogma to divide Christians and offend them by stifling critical thought would be better off on the day of judgment if a millstone were hung about their necks and dropped into the depths of the sea.

  • Nathan Aldana

    speaking as an atheist who has had a few friends who converted full bore to evangelical christianity, I can safely guess the millstone is already there, already forcing them into a position they cannot move from under any circumstances. One case in particular I can think of is a childhood friend who I lost contact with for a few years, who later I met again in college in our mid-20’s (as we had both started college quite late). He had converted to a very , for lack of a better word “fervent” form of christainity, and would occasionally post screeds that I felt were offensive both to atheists and more progressive christians, but I would at least try to argue in good faith about his opinions. Then the day came where he trotted out the classic “non-christians cant have morals because morals come from god, therefore atheists have nothing stopping them from raping and murdering”. When I pointed out his logic of course, stated that nothing was stopping him from committing horrific acts except a fear f god, I found myself deleted from his facebook. As I later found out from another mutual christian friend, when said friend apologized for the whole mess, I was deleted for being “argumentative”

  • Jessica G

    I’m sorry on behalf of fundie wing nuts everywhere. I was one for a long time (like my first 22ish years of life). Now I realize that I can be friends with you and not have to see you as some kind of spiritual project and it’s very freeing. I hope your former pal gets to that point some time soon. If not, though, please hear me when I say that I think you’re great just the way you are and I’d totally be friends with you were we physically acquaintances and it wasn’t super creepy to make real life friends on the interwebs. :)

  • http://www.stonecherubs.org/ stonecherub

    <>

    No, no, NO! We have polluted the oceans enough, already.

  • BrotherRog

    Re: “8 churches vs. 1”, so it would seem, however, one church isn’t engaging in the fight. They’re, rather, keeping on keeping on with living out their faith in their progressive Christian way — and seeking to make the Bible applicable to daily life. It takes 9 to tango and one isn’t dancing their dance.

    Here’s the message I sent to them the day after the 1 sided attack began:

    Greetings Friends,

    I enjoyed guest preaching at your church last year and still smile when I recall the warmth, welcome, and wondrously diverse yet unified members of your fine congregation. I’ve learned about the ugly bullying that your congregation is currently experiencing.

    I’d like to offer a few words that may be of help and support to you during this difficult time. 1. This attack wouldn’t be happening — unless you all were doing something well enough for others to take notice. 2. Those other churches apparently feel threatened because they realize that you all are growing – and they aren’t. 3. Their bullying is simply part of the death throes of an antiquated and increasingly unhelpful way of understanding God and Christianity. 4. Think about all of the wonderful free advertizing progressive Christianity and your congregation are now receiving! : )

    In response to the question on the banners hung from those churches, I’d respond saying: “Yes. Progressive Christianity embraces the facts brought forth to us from
    contemporary science. And, progressive Christianity embraces the many myths contained in the Bible that convey truth – whether or not all of the events actually happened.”

    My prayers are with you. You’ve got a great pastor and terrific lay leadership. Y’all have got this and will weather it just fine. Stay the course and keep on progressing!
    : D

    In Christian love,

    Roger Wolsey, author, “Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity”

  • summers-lad

    Roger
    In many evangelical churches the line would be “God is greatly blessing us, and that’s why the devil is determined to attack us”. I am deeply dubious of that theology, but reading your comment led me to imagine how this would sound in the situation described.
    However, I would absolutely not want to label any church, evangelical or progressive, as being of the devil. I was just hearing an echo of past experience rebound off a different wall.

  • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

    I wouldn’t say that pastor Felten isn’t engaging in the fight. Seems to me he is. He’s doing so honorably, and with good humor and graciousness–but he’s certainly aware that he is under, as you put it, “attack,” and he’s not backing away from the fight that’s arrived at his doorstep. In such matters (as I know you know) the man’s a regular Braveheart. Boy don’t back down.

  • BrotherRog

    Perhaps it’s a matter of interpretation. Pastor Dave told me that he’s refusing to engage in a “point counter point” concerning the 6 part sermon series those bullying congregations are unleashing on that community. If he’s “fighting” – he’s doing it on his own terms and in his own way. Peace. Roger

  • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

    He certainly is; as I say, he’s doing so honorably, cheerfully, and graciously. Which is why he’s winning, and will always win.

  • paganheart

    I live in Arizona and The Fountains is more than an hour from my house, but since my regular Sunday gig (singing in an ELCA church choir) is going on hiatus for the summer, I just might have to go check this place out and give them my support.

  • http://anamcarareflections.blogspot.com/ Jack Blackstream

    I know some ELCA people here. Wonderful people — inclusive. They want to involve everyone! I could go to a church like that!

  • paganheart

    Oh yes. The people in my choir and the others I’ve met at this church have all been very kind and easy-going and have been real friends through some tough days. There has been no pressure put on me to convert or join. And the church is quite inclusive; just this past weekend a lesbian couple who are long-time members of the church had their three children (all adopted out of foster care) baptized in a lovely ceremony. About the only complaint I have is that the pastors’ sermons can be deadly dull at times….

  • http://www.stonecherubs.org/ stonecherub

    May I suggest you all become familiar with the term “authoritarian,” with or without the modifier “right wing.” The Wikipedia entry under “WRA” provides an adequate introduction. The authoritarian brain has previously been described as the “Republican brain.” (I fear we might lose the country to them, but I digress)

    I got here following a link in one comment to an essay on persecution of Christians (we don’t have any here) in Sojourners. Most of the comments on it were viciously hateful particularly toward “progressives,” heaven forefend we use the hated “L” word.

  • Michelle Par

    Here is a link to Robert Altimeter’s book “The Authoritarians” in a free PDF form. He is the guy who did the initial research on right wing authoritarianism in the 1970s, and is the premier authority (you’ll pardon the expression 😉 ) on the phenomenon. http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  • http://www.stonecherubs.org/ stonecherub

    Thank you for the reference, I hit that one through a link in the NYT comments section. I read about half way through it until the poor authoritarians began to look a lot like straw men.

    I think authoritarianism is the root cause of the nation’s partisanship because Republicans are more authoritarian than conservative. “Come let us reason together,” does not work with these folks because they think of themselves as gods (they know good and evil or, at least, one of those things).

  • tothestarz

    Yeah, the term “bible-believing” seems to be the latest dog-whistle for “rigid, bigoted, conservative Christianity,” but is just another bullshit generic term that can mean just about anything to anybody. I get so sick of it, people who think the more shrill they get with their judginess, the better Christians they are. They’re like Jonah, who got all pissed off and bitter when God wouldn’t destroy Nineveh.

  • http://anamcarareflections.blogspot.com/ Jack Blackstream

    Thanks for pointing out Jonah… You are right about that! LOL

  • http://anamcarareflections.blogspot.com/ Jack Blackstream

    Whoever says, ‘I abide in him,’ ought to walk the way he walked.” ~1 John 2.16

    Going through the Gospel accounts, I don’t see Christ rejecting anyone, though he sure was irritated with those who thought they were better than everybody else and Christ got downright hostile towards those who were exploiting other peoples’ disadvantages.

    For being Bible believers, those Biblical Christians sure don’t live up to the example of the Word!

  • CrazyDogLady

    Totally off the point, and possibly only interesting to me, but I am surprised to find two LCMS churches in a city of roughly 23,000 people. (The flier identifies one of the two Lutheran churches as LCMS; the other one, Shepherd of the Hills, has no affiliation mentioned anywhere on their website, so I instant messaged them on their Facebook page and asked them, and they are also LCMS.) I was curious because I grew up ELCA and was having trouble believing an ELCA congregation would be part of this kind of thing. Then I looked further and apparently there are no ELCA Lutheran churches in Fountain Hills. I wonder if it’s a very conservative town overall. (I also don’t know why I care. Feeling extremely inquisitive today. Must be the caffeine.) :-)

  • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

    Oh, wow. No, that is interesting!

  • paganheart

    AZ resident here; Fountain Hills is indeed a very conservative community. It’s located on the far eastern edge of the Phoenix Metro Area. It’s a planned community built back in the 1970s, didn’t incorporate until 1989. Its name comes from the fact that it’s home to the world’s fourth-tallest water fountain, which sprays water in the air four times an hour. The population is about 95 percent White; mostly retirees and people who think that Scottsdale, the very wealthy suburb next door, has become too big and too urban. It’s also home to our famous (or should I say infamous) County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio. So yeah, it surprises me not at all that the only Progressive church in town is getting a lot of blowback.

  • AB

    I checked them out too, because I am a member of an ELCA congregation and I wanted to make sure we weren’t involved! (I’d be embarrassed if we were. I might have reconsidered my membership)

  • DonRappe

    Being “from” the LCMS in olden times, I too tried to check this out on their website. They make an artful attempt to conceal it. At least it’s good to know they are ashamed of the affiliation. I would wish there were some good Episcopal or Unitarian-Universalist churches around, but it may be preferable for thinking Christians to band together in the church they are publicizing.

  • Pat Schiappa

    I am confused. I though the ELCA was a progressive group…

  • CrazyDogLady

    I think it is, generally. The two Lutheran churches in this group (opposing Progressive Christianity) are not part of the ELCA.

  • paganheart

    At least as I understand it from my own fairly brief exposure, ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), churches run moderate to liberal on most issues, are accepting of the LGBTQ community, ordain women as well as gays and lesbians in committed relationships as pastors (the current presiding Bishop is a woman, in fact), etc.

    The LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod), on the other hand, is basically fundie. They embrace creationism and end times theology, do not allow women to be pastors, are very anti-gay, etc.

  • AB

    ELCA member here, and you hit the nail right on the head. In addition, after the 2009 decision where the ELCA voted to ordain LGBT pastors, the LCMS decided they would no longer cooperate with the ELCA in any way at all, and set up programs to welcome more conservative former ELCA members who left because of the decision.

  • paganheart

    Wow, didn’t know that last part. In fact I didn’t even realize there were two separate Lutheran church bodies in the US until I joined the choir of an ELCA church a couple of years ago. Prior to that, I always thought that the Lutheran church was pretty much just another mainline denomination like the Methodists. I’ve been told that Michelle Bachmann is affiliated with the LCMS, though I don’t know if that is true. Her beliefs certainly would seem to fall in line with them.

  • AB

    Michelle Bachmann is actually affiliated with the WELS – Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. They’re even more fundie than the LCMS, if that’s possible. I think that most of their membership is located in the upper midwest, because I’d never heard of them before I moved to Minnesota. (On behalf of the MN 6th District, I’m so sorry about Michelle Bachmann. I voted against her every single time…)

  • paganheart

    Apology accepted. Believe me, living in Arizona, I know what it’s like to have to live with (and apologize for) politicians you voted against.

  • Andy

    Texas says hi.

  • Jessica G

    oh Michele. Making MN look bad as always. We are known for awful sports teams, terrible weather, and despite being a thriving arts and overall progressive state, M Bachmann is doing her best to take that away too.

  • Linnea912

    True about the Wisconsin Synod. I’ve often said that my impression of them is this: if the Missouri Synod is stuck in the 1800s, the Wisconsin Synod is stuck in the 1500’s.

  • Todd Elwood

    Hi CDL:

    I can shed light on this. Shepherd of the Hills at one time was ELCA. I was a member. When the whole “gay issue” hit, the conservative pastor and enough members of the council tried to leave the ELCA. When that failed by a proper church vote, which was required, there was a whole mess of disappointing scheming that happened and eventually the conservatives won out by “co-affiliating” with both ELCA and LCMS.

    Naturally, this got SOTH booted out of the ELCA, which is exactly what they wanted to happen, but that left half of us essentially without a church. Thank God we found The Fountains and David Felten!

  • CrazyDogLady

    Thanks! This is all very interesting to me. I was a kid when the ELCA formed and our church became part of it. Through the years I got the impression that my parents didn’t join the LCMS only because they disagreed with the closed communion issue; other than that, they were and are very conservative. After I’d already gone to college, my family left and joined a “Bible fellowship” church. I am a church musician and so have worked a few different places and up until recently felt most at home in the UMC, but the one where I now work is extremely conservative and I’ve no doubt which direction they’ll go if there is a split in the UMC. Lately I’ve been missing the ELCA church I grew up in.

  • spiritubrianus

    The UMC is bound to split as are most mainline denominations. I think liberals and moderates in the UMC are beginning to think they have more in common with liberals and moderates in other denominations than with conservatives in their own church. I would suggest you take another look at ELCA. Or, maybe the Episcopal Church.

  • spiritubrianus

    I have a friend who is an ELCA Lutheran, but was raised Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Her mother and father remain members of the LCMS. When she was home over Christmas, her parents approached their pastor to ask if their daughter could receive Communion while she was home. He emphatically said no way. I guess he thinks the altar is the personal property of the LCMS, rather than of Jesus Christ.

  • Fred the Barbarian

    Sounds like David v. Goliath. You’d think the 8 churches would know how that turned out.

  • Cassie Devereaux

    They could choose to edit in a retraction at the end of the video if they so chose.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    Interesting. I’d guess that this whole series is based on strawmen. Do you suppose they actually know what “progressive Christianity” even is, or are they working from a caricature?

    BTW, a word from the grammar police… Under the quote box from Felten, you include the phrase “casting of harsh dispersions” in your first paragraph. I’m pretty sure the word you want there is “aspersions,” not “dispersions.” We correct and serve.

  • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

    Oh, duh. Right. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

  • k_Lutz

    Heresy is any provocative belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs. [1]

    Every church traces its creed through an uninterrupted transmission from Christ and the Apostles. And truly every Christian creed that has been derived from Christ must have come down to the present generation through a certain transmission. But that does not prove that it alone of all that has been transmuted, excluding all the rest, can be the sole truth, admitting of no doubt.

    Every branch in a tree comes from the root in unbroken connection; but the fact that each branch comes from the one root, does not prove at all that each branch was the only one. It is precisely the same with the Church. Every church presents exactly the same proofs of the succession, and even the same miracles, in support of its authenticity, as every other. So that there is but one strict and exact definition of what is a church (not of something fantastic which we would wish it to be, but of what it is and has been in reality)–a church is a body of men who claim for themselves that they are in complete and sole possession of the truth. And these bodies, having in course of time, aided by the support of the temporal authorities, developed into powerful institutions, have been the principal obstacles to the diffusion of a true comprehension of the teaching of Christ.

    It could not be otherwise. The chief peculiarity which distinguished Christ’s teaching from previous religions consisted in the fact that those who accepted it strove ever more and more to comprehend and realize its teaching. But the Church doctrine asserted its own complete and final comprehension and realization of it.

    Strange though it may seem to us who have been brought up in the erroneous view of the Church as a Christian institution, and in contempt for heresy, yet the fact is that only in what was called heresy was there any true movement, that is, true Christianity, and that it only ceased to be so when those heresies stopped short in their movement and also petrified into the fixed forms of a church. [The Kingdom of God Is Within You][2], p.40.

    Tolstoi goes on to quote E. de Pressense’ who notes, “The very use of the word heresy seems an attack upon liberty of conscience and thought.” And summarizes further citation from “Histoire du Dogme” (Paris, 1869) by saying
    “that every opinion which differs from the code of dogmas we believe in at a given time, is heresy. But of course at any given time and place men always believe in something or other; and this belief in something, indefinite at any place, at some time, cannot be a criterion of truth.

    “It all amounts to this: since ubi Christus ibi Ecclesia, then Christus is where we are.

    “Every so-called heresy, regarding, as it does, its own creed as the truth, can just as easily find in Church history a series of illustrations of its own creed, can use all Pressensé’s arguments on its own behalf, and can call its own creed the one truly Christian creed. And that is just what all heresies do and have always done.

    “The only definition of heresy (the word αἵρεσις, means a part) is this: the name given by a body of men to any opinion which rejects a part of the Creed professed by that body. The more frequent meaning, more often ascribed to the word heresy, is –that of an opinion which rejects the Church doctrine founded and supported by the temporal authorities.” pp.41-42

    “The follower of Christ, whose service means an ever-growing understanding of his teaching, and an ever-closer fulfillment of it, in progress toward perfection, cannot, just because he is a follower, of Christ, claim for himself or any other that he understands Christ’s teaching fully and fulfills it. Still less can he claim this for any body of men.

    “To whatever degree of understanding and perfection the follower of Christ may have attained, he always feels the insufficiency of his understanding and fulfillment of it, and is always striving toward a fuller understanding and fulfillment. And therefore, to assert of one’s self or of any body of men, that one is or they are in possession of perfect understanding and fulfillment of Christ’s word, is to renounce the very spirit of Christ’s teaching.

    “Strange as it may seem, the churches as churches have always been, and cannot but be, institutions not only alien in spirit to Christ’s teaching, but even directly antagonistic to it. With good reason Voltaire calls the Church l’infâme; with good reason have all or almost all so-called sects of Christians recognized the Church as the scarlet woman foretold in the Apocalypse; with good reason is the history of the Church the history of the greatest cruelties and horrors.

    “The churches as churches are not, as many people suppose, institutions which have Christian principles for their basis, even though they may have strayed a little away from the straight path. The churches as churches, as bodies which assert their own infallibility, are institutions opposed to Christianity. There is not only nothing in common between the churches as such and Christianity, except the name, but they represent two principles fundamentally opposed and antagonistic to one another. One represents pride, violence, self-assertion, stagnation, and death; the other, meekness, penitence, humility, progress, and life.” p.43

    “We cannot serve these two masters; we have to choose between them.”

    Trust The BEing.

    [1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy

    [2]: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Kingdom_of_God_Is_Within_You

  • trinielf

    There was a time when Paul’s Christianity was progressive, allowing all those uncircumcised, pork eating, non-Sabbath observing Gentiles into the fold without making them convert to Judaism first and calling the Old Law a curse, weak and beggarly and asking people to be fully persuaded in their OWN mind and work out their OWN salvation. RADICAL STUFF. I mean have you read 1 Corinthians 9 about eating meat left over from pagan temple rituals which were sold by the butchers? He said it is minutia, inconsequential and it does not mean you have vicariously engaged in that pagan temple ritual either. Paul was often at odds with the very Jewish influenced church in Jerusalem because of things like this.

    So it seems these rifts and reformations have been occurring since the inception of the religion. It even got violent during the times when certain theological ideas were being formalized and certain sects had a slightly different take, which they also supported from their own biblical interpretation.

    That IS part and parcel of what Christianity is. Everyone working out their own salvation, hence 40000+ denominations. The sectarian strife and eventual VIOLENCE it leads to only happens when a particular sect decides to assert itself as the ONE and ONLY TRUE Christian and usually this happens when there is POLITICAL and ECONOMIC intrusion into the religion and it becomes a theocratic monarchy or oligarchy or empire which requires an imperialist supremacist ideology to keep it alive. There seems to be that push in the USA now to homogenize Christianity and indeed political and economic strings are attached it.

    Hopefully in THIS part of the world, let us hope the values that protects the right to have personal faith and also protects others from not having the beliefs of a religion they are not a part of being imposed on them by any Government Law or their rights and freedoms being restricted by a religion of which they are not a part.

    We don’t need a repeat of Christian history with the purging of Gnostics and other sects, the Catholic/Protestant strife nor do we want a Christian version of the sectarian strife happening right now in the Muslim world. Yes by all means debate, discuss the theology but at the end of the day, live and let live equally.

  • Kirk Leavens

    Well put. Thank you.

  • Michelle Par

    Maybe the people who have been asking about progressive Christianity would be better off if they found some progressive Christians and asked THEM the questions they’ve been having. But, God forbid they ask anyone other than their specific church’s chosen leaders. No one else can be a leader or have any answers. *sarcasm* My past experience with fundamentalists is coloring my view. *sigh*

  • R.T. Flakfizer

    Conspicuously missing from all those 14 points is any idea of holiness. There is no hell because there is no judgement because holiness doesn’t really matter. Homosexuality if fine and so is divorce (though Jesus points to the Creation story to show what God’s ideal was. In number 3. we find out what “Christianity is all about” and guess what? There is no mention of worship (honor given to out holy God) not mention of living holy lives as Jesus commanded us to be holy as God is holy. The reason Christ had to die is because God is just as concerned about holiness as he is love. If holiness was not a big deal, God could have simply forgiven without requiring an atoning sacrifice. He had could have simply overlooked our sin instead of pouring His wrath out on it. But that would mock his holiness. The idea that God would pour out his wrath on our sins on Christ on the cross but he won’t pour his wrath out on the sins of those who reject Jesus as their savior makes no sense. God is holy. He is just as holy as he is loving. When we minimize one of these attributes, problems arise. Progressive Christianity seems to be the pendulum swinging back from one extreme (religious right) to the other.

  • Ben

    Progressives seem to be as lacking in the tolerance area as badly as the fundementals they critcize so harshly. It also seems that one is a fundamentalist if you are not a progressive. There are fundamentals such as Christ saying” I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the father except through me.” That fundamental does not appear to exist here. I am also really confused about Oranum and Tarot Card reading and its place in scripture….From what I have seen…the sermons presented by the 8 mightbe good for all. What we who believe on some fundamentals can work on is disagreeing in a more loving manner

  • MadGastronomer

    “And don’t forget to send some love to the Gang of 8, too. They’re not evil people.”

    What is the definition of evil if not “knowingly doing harm to others”? Or, if you prefer, “going against the instruction of the Bible to knowingly do harm to others”?

  • http://www.whoaisnotme.net/anakinmcfly anakinmcfly

    From Google: evil = “profoundly immoral and wicked.” One can knowingly do harm to others without being profoundly immoral or wicked, just a little bit so.

  • QueenMab

    Awesome news about the Fox Reporter. Really glad to hear it. Thanks for the 14 point alternative. I am in the midst of a rip roaring case of an existential crisis. I really needed those 14 points. Thank you.

  • Eric Schramm

    I can’t shake the image in my mind. “The Christianity they preach and teach feeds off fear” reminds me of someone from DC Comics. All background aside, he is very powerful, kills with beams from his hate-filled eyes, wants to rule the universe(s) and psychically feeds off the fear and misery of those around him. His name is Darkseid. Put him in a conservative suit and behind a pulpit … You get how most Americans see us Christians.
    We UNFundamentalists should work to change that – with love and compassion. And just listening.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Wait…nU52 Darkseid psychically feeds off fear? Did I miss something here?