Thursday, August 31, 2006


    In earlier posts, I used the term "progressive" Christians as a way of distinguishing my little corner of Christianity from the wider circles of fundamentalists, conservative evangelicals, and neo-orthodox folk. Lately, though, I've been wondering if "progressive Christian" is just too pejorative a term that really doesn't mean much and may even be insulting to some. "Progressive" suggests progress/growth/enlightenment, and thus assumes that anyone who is not a progressive is somehow living in the past or is not as enlightened. The "progressive" label also seems to suggest that the faith journey stretches out like a line, with some of us further along the path (the progressives) and others still lingering back down toward the beginning of the road (the fundamentalists). I just don't see the faith this way. Ideally, we would understand that we all march together on the path of faith, shoulder-to-shoulder, each bringing our own unique understandings and vision of God based on our own life experiences. I can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the conservative and we can be spiritual partners, as long as each is willing to hear the other, learn from the other, respect the other as God's beloved. Now, encounters with some fundamentalists have taught me that dialogue isn't always possible, but Christ's vision of the Kingdom of God calls us to always hope for a better possible tomorrow. A good read that looks at how such a dialogue might happen is Marcus Borg's latest text The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith.