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us on May 3, 2009, for the 3rd Annual Pluralism Sunday when churches
around the world will dedicate their worship to a celebration of our interfaith world.
Ashana Live in Concert
June 5, 2009
Fox Island, WA
$20, $18 for TCPC Affiliates. Join Ashana for an evening of celestial
sound featuring sacred song, chant and mantra - music that will open
your heart, lift your spirit, and carry you on waves of love into the
arms of the Divine.
Christianity Reformed From its Roots
By: Jairo Mejia
Review by: Gerald Grudzen, Ph.D
The scope of this book is very wide and
comprehensive and goes well beyond the title for much of the book deals with
what Thomas Aquinas called Natural Theology or Philosophical Theology. Even though the first part of the book draws
heavily upon biblical scholarship and biblical themes, the author's thesis
seems to center upon how to reform Christianity in light of the revolutions
that have occurred in our historical and scientific understanding of the Bible,
Christian dogmas and the very nature of scientific and religious truth
statements. He points out very well that organized religions such as
Christianity have developed elaborate dogmatic structures that cannot be easily
verified within the biblical canon. He claims that many of the honorific titles
for Jesus were later developments and that Jesus himself did not claim any
divine title for himself but lived fully within the Jewish faith of his time
which would have precluded any such claim.
Much of the early part of the book attempts to develop a spirituality
based upon the relationship with God (Yahweh) that Jesus had in his own earthly
life insofar as we can reconstruct it within the Gospels.Read Review Here
New Feature Book
Children Praying a New Story
|A Resource for Parents, Grandparents and Teachers
By: Michael Morwood
Morwood's previous books have received wide acclaim for helping adult
Christians to re-imagine and re-evaluate their faith in light of the
contemporary "story" about our universe. That story and Morwood's
writings challenge Christians to expand their notion of God beyond a
localized, personal deity and to embrace belief in an all-pervasive
Mystery beyond our human concepts. They challenge Christians to review
any understanding of Jesus as the unique "way" to a localized God and
to know him as the revealer of this Mystery in our everyday living and
books have been especially insightful and helpful to adults struggling
with prayer and ritual while radically reconstructing their Christian
This book is for adult Christians engaged in this shift, now asking the vital questions:
How do we educate children into this new faith perspective?
How do we pray with them if prayer is not about addressing an external, listening Deity?
Purchase Book Here
More Readers Respond
Dear TCPC, More Quotes From Our Readers
enjoyed this eBulletin but have to confess I hang on to Christianity by my
fingertips. Having been a Roman Catholic I had awful problems with its
teaching on birth control, having been raped as a child and being only too good
at carrying dead children.This church made me
feel that Christianity was not for women. I couldn't believe that God
would be so clumsy as to create one half of us second class citizens because
our gender did not match his Son. I see Jesus as my guru, I want to
follow his teaching as far as I am capable but I don't believe in the
I suppose that you could go to lot
of churches that would call you heretical but it sounds to me that you are
taking your guru Jesus pretty seriously. Over the years I have found this issue
sadly ironic. Here we have a young teacher who put himself in harm's way, in
part, because he was trying to teach people that God that did not require
ritual cleansing or a priestly hierarchy. In other words, he made it clear that
we did not need a broker to have a relationship with God. And within a couple
of centuries we had men (yes I mean gender here) who were insisting that the
only way one could "restore" a relationship with God was through one's belief
in Jesus Christ as your savior or in other words through a new broker. Ultimately
the Roman church became the real "power broker" and the rest is history.
I am not certain why last month's eBulletin, "Recovering Christians,"
generated so much email but we were surprised. It was a nice
surprise because overall it was very supportive. We always get few responses after an
eBulletin goes out. After all, it does go out to close to 12,000 subscribers
every month. But the sad fact is that the emails and a few phone calls usually
trickle in for the first few days after publication and they usually amount to
something like, "nice article" or "stupid article" or "I am with you on that
one" or "where did you get such idiotic ideas? I thought you were educated." I
won't even bother to mention the "crazy Christians," as we sometimes refer to
them, who threaten us or remind us that we are going to hell.
But for some reason last month's eBulletin stimulated nearly
ten times the email, phone calls and even a couple of "snail mail" letters than
we normally receive. Maybe more importantly, most were unusually well thought
out and very supportive. Some were from people who wanted to share their
painful experiences in fundamental churches and their successful road to
recovery. Others were from people who have been looking for ways to talk to a
friend or loved one who was still angry at God, at the church, or at
Christianity, because of the religious abuse that they had experienced as a
child. One reader wanted to know why we
ran such a "negative article" by Steven Locks about leaving Christianity but
then went on to admit that it was probably the most interesting article in the
entire publication. We put that on the
After reading these responses we felt that we should devote
a major portion of this eBulletin to posting selective representation of the
mail and addressing as many of them as we could. It is our hope that some of these exchanges
will stimulate more responses from others. We are working on a way to post
those on our site on a regular basis. As I wrote in a reply to one reader,
"progressive Christianity is a work in process and my hope is that it will
never be done...it will never be finished...never be codified." But that will be up
to readers like you and even to people who have not yet begun their journey on
this earth. There is no question that Christianity will change or die and it
will be up to people like you to decide if it is worth the time and energy. I
hope you think so.
Featured Reader Response
"Perplexed" by: Reverend R
When a religion (or family of
religions) like "Christianity" can mean anything people by some kind of
collective consensus want it to mean can it still mean anything at all? That's
my dilemma with the current state of the theological discourse in this global
age where all lines are both diverging and converging.
Many of the liberal progressive
folks I know in the secular public university and my "latte sipping" community
have long ago opted out of the "Christian cultural-linguistic game" altogether
and have become either Epicurean Gourmands, Secular Humanists, Process
New Thought, Global Mystics, Unitarian Universalists, or else they define
themselves as Unaffiliated Life-Long Learners and Spiritual Seekers who have
turned from organized religion to an integral "cultural creative" lifestyle
that synthesizes an interest in spirituality, philosophy, literature, history,
arts, science, psychology, sociology, economics, politics, cosmology and
Critics might ask why one
would choose to be a "Progressive Christian" when the whole thing looks like a
cultural construction and psychological Rorschach test by people who need to
legitimize their philosophical ideology and social values through obscure
theological weasel words, "the personality of Jesus" and a liberally hip
Gnostic Christ? Do Progressive Christians really believe that secular and
"spiritual but not religious" social liberals are going to be drawn back to
"Christianity" by holding radically immanent theological assumptions and
progressive social views that secular folks already hold, but without any need
or desire to identify these assumptions and values as distinctly or uniquely "Christian?"
If so, I can only say "Really?"
Dear Reverend R
Clearly Jesus was one of these people and the one that I
personally relate to the most. It seems
clear to me that we have allowed the church to interpret Jesus' teachings as
commandments and dictates, rather than responses to the question: "And how do I
experience the Kingdom or Realm of God that you experienced, Rabbi?" His teachings were not about avoiding
suffering in some place after we die, but rather how do we experience life in union with God or how do we experience Sacred Unity or heaven on earth...now.
When we begin to see the words of Jesus as a teacher of a way of living,
relating and being, a lot of things that never made sense before begin to make
sense. Jesus did not have a systematic
theology, and he would have been embarrassed, if not insulted, by the Christology
that came out of the Forth Century church.
But I believe he would have been perfectly comfortable being known as an
honored teacher of a way of seeing, hearing and being that could bring about a
deep experience of the Holy. I believe
part of the revelation that often comes from such an experience is the
discovery that we are all in God and that God is in us.
The Christian contemplatives have known about this for
centuries. St. John of The Cross
(1542-91) once wrote: "The soul that is
united and transformed in God, breathes God in God with the same divine
breathing with which God, while in her, breathes her in himself." Do I have
to create or adhere to some theological construct to have this experience? I
don't think so. In fact, I believe we risk the chance of limiting these kinds
of experiences when try and put them in a theological box or wrap them in
concrete, descriptive language.
Read Summarized Discussion Here
Readers Respond and Discuss on Facebook
| Join in on the discussion! It is a great way to respond to what TCPC is doing and gain insight from other progressive Christians.
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From: Adrian Gibb
I am curious as to the thoughts of members of this group about the concept of
substitutionary atonement, or sacrifice, or penal sacrifice, all the above I
guess. The Eastern Orthodox Churches seem not to prescribe to this concept, and
two of my progressive heroes Borg and Crossan insist that the crucifixion
should not be about this substitutionary idea. Spong goes as far, if I remember
correctly, to label this concept as nothing short of an archaic notion of blood
sacrifice to appease a wrathful god. Yet it must be said that, at least prima
facie, that the notion of substitutionary atonement is quite an established
aspect of the power of the crucifixion and resurrection, at least to many of us
from the Catholic/Protestant churches. I wonder if the passion narrative loses
something with a rejection of this idea?
Response from: Marcos
I side with Spong on this issue. A God that would require a
blood sacrifice doesn't deserve my worship. I see the crucifixion as a
political execution much like still goes on in the world today. I can have a
meaningful experience of the passion without having to include substitutionary
atonement. The Roman Empire dealt with dissidents
ruthlessly. I find more meaning in considering who plays the role of the Empire
today and who plays the role of Pilate. It seems to me that the gospel writers
sort of let the Romans off of the hook by blaming it on the Jews. I think they
let them off of the hook, because they had just experienced Roman power with
the destruction of the temple and the war in the 70s. Telling the story so that
Pilate did what the crown demanded sort of cleans up the real situation, and helps
the fledgling community to stay viable. In other words, they didn't want to
Some of our recent discussions also include the following topics:
Our Readers Respond: Any thoughts?
Earth Day Meditation
By Bob Kleinheksel
We pray, pause and meditate; we breathe deeply of
these moments knowing full well the weightiness and beauty of the scene we
share: Men, women, friends and family to our right and left, in front and back.
Safely in a place where all are welcome. A place all can sit hand in hand, arm
in arm no matter who we are and where we've been. We also know this place and
time as a crucible for imagining, learning and acting - thinking globally,
acting locally. Let us all be comforted, challenged, called out, set free to be
all we can be - to be the change we wish to see in the world - to be the
difference toward justice, inclusion, eco-sensitivity, hospitality and
liberation on all fronts. Amen to spring, to rebirth, to colors; Amen to the
beauty of the earth and the lessons to be learned and shared during this earth
By Mark Strand, The New Yorker, April 11, 2005
One night when the lawn was a golden green
and the marbled moonlit trees rose like fresh memorials
in the scented air, and the whole countryside pulsed
with the chirr and murmur of insects, I lay in the grass
feeling the great distances open above me, and wondered
what I would become---and where I would find myself-
and though I barely existed, I felt for an instant
that the vast star-clustered sky was mine, and I heard
my name as if for the first time, heard it the way
one hears the wind or the rain, but faint and far-off
as though it belonged not to me but to the silence
from which it had come and to which it would go.
Question and Answer with Bishop Spong, TCPC Advisor
| Question About The Historical Jesus
from Nova Scotia, Canada, writes:
If, as you have suggested, there was no literal empty
tomb and the miracle stories do not describe events that actually happened in
history, what was there about Jesus that so deeply captivated the first disciples?
Is there something about the Jesus of history to which I can point today that
anchors one as a Christian to see Jesus as an icon of faith?
Since I think that we can document that both the empty tomb
story and the miracle stories included in the gospels are later additions to
the Jesus story, your question actually carries us into the Jesus experience.
It was the Jesus experience that caused people to see him as victorious over
death and as the messianic figure around which the miracle stories gathered.
I see the primary Jesus experience as being that of a boundary breaker. His
humanity and his consciousness seem to me to be so whole and so expanded that
he was able to escape the basic human drive of survival that binds so many of
us who are less fully developed. Unlike us, he appeared to need no security
barrier behind which to hide. He could thus step across the boundaries of
tribe, prejudice, guilt and even religion into a new dimension of what it means
to be human and this is what caused people to experience God present in him.
His call to us is therefore not to be religious but to be human and to be
That is what every gospel symbol, from his miraculous
birth to his empty tomb, is seeking to convey, so we read them as doorways
into the meaning of God.
- John Shelby Spong
Thank you for taking this journey with us as
we continue to encourage the growth and understanding of a Christianity that is
open, inclusive, just, loving and compassionate. As you delve deeper into
the heart of this beautiful and authentic spiritual path, we hope you share it
with those around you, educate those who desire to learn, and most importantly
let it fill you with light and loving kindness.
and the Team at The Center For Progressive Christianity
email@example.com, (253) 303-0022
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