I hate labels. I don’t like the terms liberal or conservative, but I still use them. I tend to use "progressive" more often, but then what is the opposite of that: regressive, backsliding…can’t think of a term that doesn’t have a negative connotation. I think progressive is a pretty good term. I want to be progressive. I want to be open to the leading of the Spirit, wherever he or she may lead me. I want to be open to new theology…new ideas…newness, freedom, openness, all of things which seem important to me. That’s why I think organizations like the Center for Progressive Christianity and Progressive Churches are helpful, even though many will have problems with some of their beliefs. What does it mean to be a ‘progressive Christian?’ This is something I want to look at over the next few weeks. The Center for Progressive Christianity has a list of 8 points that define what they mean when they call themselves ‘progressive Christians.’ I will be looking at each of those points over the next few weeks, and encourage you to join the dialogue with me in encountering what it could look like to be a ‘new kind of Christian.’ Let us turn to point 1:
1. By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus.
Now, who can argue with that? I’ve consistently been encouraged in my life by those who look to Jesus first. My mom’s whole family is Mennonite and I love that one of the primary Anabaptist beliefs is to look to Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount first and foremost. There is definitely a preference for the New Testament, over and against the Old Testament. Now, I believe that the Hebrew Scriptures are incredibly important in our lives and for a more full understanding of our faith and the history and stories behind it. But…when it all comes down to it…if you’re going to make me choose – I’m going to look to Jesus. I’m going to look to the Gospels and to the stories of Christ-encounters with the downtrodden, the oppressed, the sinners, the outcasts…that is where I hear the gospel speak loudest. That is where the truth is found in experience, in human-human encounters between the God-man and humanity.