19.2.15

Progressives

Doug Pagitt writes his 10 things I wish everyone knew about Progressive Evangelicals but with something of an 'over the pond' flavour and so I wonder what his ten might look like for UK progressives.


  1. We are often members of a range of networks and are only recently converging in a more obvious, organised and strategic way. Working with Christians across other streams of the faith we find we can learn from one another. 
  2. We are uncomfortable with labels when they close down, exist only to perpetuate straw (wo)men or limit scope in conversation. Because we are those re-imagining our faith, labels are not always helpful. We believe Scripture is less propositional truth than an invitation into relationship with a person who is Truth: Jesus Christ. 
  3. Conversation about our structures, style, theology and ways of thinking are important as we listen to the Spirit, understanding at the same time that the Spirit does not behave in ways that are contrary to the Scriptures. 
  4. Progressive evangelicals are willing to re-evaluate their stance on issues through the study of the Scriptures in community. Progressive evangelicals champion the idea of the interdependence between systems and institutions and daily life and faith and so plug faith in to economics, politics, the environment and other fragile enterprises. We are hoping always to read the Bible honestly, confessing not only our faith but also our inability to be right about our faith due to the suppositions and baggage that we bring to the Bible: we are not neutral readers, hence community discernment is key. 
  5. We are anchored into historical Christianity but also Global Christianity, understanding again our interdependence, that the way faith operates in the West has significance for the way it operates in the Global South, for example, and vice versa. We find safe spaces for constructive theological conversation across difference and disparities, often online and then seek to root that thinking in practical action. 
  6. We are people of vision, less interested in religious structures and systems and more inspired by seeking ways to engage the human spirit with the Holy Spirit for the transformation of present structures and systems that define and control life as we know it so that we might live with more harmony between God and one another. 
  7. We are optimists anticipating new ways for churches to form Christlike people who join God in the healing of the world. We embrace fun and joy and sense limitless possibilities for people of faith, co-working with God. Jesus is our ultimate reality and we seek to advance his Kingdom as we await his return. 
  8. We see Christ's light in the world and the sciences and the arts and look for what God might be saying to us there about himself. We celebrate human uniqueness and seek to make room for the various love languages with which unique individuals speak with God, we will not all wear our faith in the same way. Our churches cater for diversity. 
  9. We don’t assume we have the answers. We are not naive about sin and darkness and that is why we understand the imperative of inner transformation through the Spirit as a precursor to the transformation of human systems and institutions. We will need to grow networks across diverse groups to bring in the Kingdom and so collaboration is important even if it sometimes feels difficult. 
  10. We are excited by the Good News of a radical Jesus and seek God's economy, reign, rule and governing of the cosmos by praying that like him we might become capable of an audacious generosity towards all people.  
So that's my attempt at a UK ten for progressive evangelicalism. There was quite a thread about this over on facebook so I am grateful to conversation partners there. 

6 comments:

Peter Carrell said...

So the difference between this and liberal Christianity is what? (I can't see any!)

Revisingreform said...

It's evangelical - so as an Anglican my historical anchors, with present application, are rooted in the 39 Articles of Religion, the BCP and the Ordinal.

Anonymous said...

"Because we are those re-imagining our faith,"

Could you give an example of that please?

Chris Bishop

Revisingreform said...

Here are two: 1) Prophetic reassessment of church leadership structures and ordination training so that we are conscious of where serving the machine takes away energy from serving the mission of God - be more intentional - ask more first order questions. See my post: Mission-really? See Pete Broadbent on Simplification.

2.
Pushing into a disrupting faith - not settling for a faith that helps us manage our lives, but risking living a faith that calls us to question 'normal' and begin to lead a riskier, prophetic life in which faith informs attitude and actions in all spheres.

I'll continue to think through your challenge for detail, though. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that.

Are you more meaning reimagining church structures as opposed to reimagining belief?

Chris Bishop

Phil Almond said...

“2 .......We believe Scripture is less propositional truth than an invitation into relationship with a person who is Truth: Jesus Christ.
3 Conversation about our structures, style, theology and ways of thinking are important as we listen to the Spirit, understanding at the same time that the Spirit does not behave in ways that are contrary to the Scriptures.”
I agree that Scripture is (among other things, like warnings, commands exhortations, promises) ‘an invitation into relationship with a person who is Truth: Jesus Christ’. But as I see it that invitation comes to us, for instance, in such words as Jesus is recorded as saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink’. I believe and obey that invitation because I am convinced that Jesus did say those words and I am convinced that they are addressed to me as well as to Jesus’ immediate hearers on the occasion when he spoke them, in accordance with those other words of Jesus, ‘And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; those also it behoves me to bring, and the voice of me they will hear, and there will become one flock, one shepherd’. In other words, Scripture must contain propositional truth for it to be the invitation, the gateway, into fellowship with Christ and God. The two things go together. How can you judge whether the Spirit is behaving ‘in ways that are contrary to the Scriptures’ unless the Scripture contains propositional truth?

Phil Almond

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