What is progressive Christianity?
We accept everyone into our faith community with unconditional love. Jesus broke down the barriers that separated people into acceptable and unacceptable, worthy and unworthy, “clean” and “unclean”, righteous and sinner. The only requirement necessary to connect with God is a willingness to open one’s heart to receive God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, or what is termed grace. Any faith community that excludes, divides, judges, or is intolerant, is doing so outside of the model given to us by Jesus.
We accept that there are other paths that also lead people to an experience of God. Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus teaches us that we must die to our self-centered ways, our focus on wealth and materialism, our need to condemn others. We must begin a new life living through love, peace, compassion, forgiveness, and generosity. This way of reconnecting with God and living in community with one another in the way God intended is also taught in religious communities outside of Christianity. We should respect and be tolerant of the different ways people experience God in their life. Our ability to live in harmony in a diverse world depends on it.
We believe the search for understanding the mystery of God is more important than having absolute answers, and is more important than church doctrine, dogma, and tradition. Many churches demand that you believe certain things about God and/or Jesus in order to be acceptable. A progressive approach to faith finds more benefit in the journey of faith, less in the conclusions of faith communities.
We believe the Bible was written in a variety of literary styles that are rich with symbolism and metaphorical language. Biblical writings were inspired by the experiences of the ancient Hebrew and early Christian communities. They certainly contain divine revelation and enduring truths. This does not mean they were ever intended to represent the inerrant word of God for all times and all peoples. As such, biblical writings should be interpreted within the context of the time and place in which they were written.
We believe that ransacking the Bible to find verses that endorse or proscribe specific behavior is dangerous and destructive. Doing so has been used to support slavery, oppress women, and exclude divorced men and women in the past, and is used to exclude homosexual men and women today, much to the detriment and shame of society and the Christian church. The inclusive and progressive approach to faith focuses on God’s will as reflected in the central themes taught by Jesus. Jesus made it clear that God reaches out to all of humankind with a spirit of compassion. Whenever anyone picks and chooses verses from the Bible with the intent of excluding and judging others, they have done so outside of the intent of Jesus.
We believe that how we treat one another is the fullest expression of what we accept as true. The truest expression of God’s love is through service to others. The majority of Jesus’ ministry related to issues of social justice. Therefore we ought to follow his example and embrace opportunities that allow us to restore those who are marginalized or oppressed.