Thursday, February 19, 2015

Progressive Christianity

A month or two ago I bumped into a part of the Church that I hadn't had much interaction with: Progressive Christians. I read some of their stuff, and they made me think. So, I read some more. I have done most of this reading by focusing on three people: Rachel Held Evans, Benjamin Corey and Scot McKnight. I've been reading their blogs, and I'm working through some of their books: Faith Unraveled (Evans), Undiluted (Corey) and The Jesus Creed (McKnight). The first two of these books are the stories of their authors working through issues and problems in understanding the faith. As I read these book I find their authors becoming real people to me, people with feelings and concerns, people with questions who are looking for good answers. I see them as fellow disciples who are working at learning what it means to follow Jesus, just as I am. Because of that, I think that I can benefit from their writings. And at the same time, I think that I have something to offer, too. Our differences can be mutually helpful. So, I'm hoping to write about these Christian brethren in the weeks to come. 

I must say that I am no expert on the writings of these three, let alone the whole movement. I haven't even finished their books yet. So, I might, at some point, misunderstand what they are getting at or make an incorrect assumption about an idea they are describing. Let me now apologize for any time that might happen.

Let me start with one thing that stands out from what I've read thus far. For these Christian brethren, it's all about Jesus. Now, I know that we all say that, but there are different meanings that we attach to those words. For too many in my wing of the Church, 'it's all about Jesus' is too much about a system of doctrines that has ideas about Jesus at its core. Now, in all honesty, I like the system. I think that it is a good summary of the faith. I actually think that it can be helpful for those who want to work at being faithful disciples of Jesus. But the system isn't the same as the person. We can benefit from the system, but we follow a person. Because of the Spirit, we can follow Jesus not as someone written about in The Book, but as a person who actually  interacts with us and leads us. A book, even an inspired one, can't do that. I do find this emphasis refreshing and a good reminder. I think that it can be quite helpful to those many in my part of the Church. I'm hoping that getting to know these brothers and sisters, and interacting with their ideas, will result in that happening.

But there are benefits to having a framework from the whole Bible (aka 'system of doctrines'). Seeing the big picture of the Scriptures makes it possible to understand the smaller parts accurately. And that's how we are able to live well as disciples of Jesus. So, I hope to refer to the big picture in my future posts in order to improve upon what these Progressive Christian brethren are saying.