A fellow blogger and I exchanged links a while back. I don’t know if he still has my link on his site anywhere, but I’d like to call some attention to a project he is working on. I wandered over to Liberal Christians and noticed that work has started on The Liberal Christian Network. Reading through some of the resources over there, I was particularly impressed by the key points contained in the section on “Progressive Christianity,”. I’ll reprint them here without permission, but there are links on the original page which expound on each listing, so it’s definitely worth your while to take a trip over there.
- We are willing to be open to all the possibilities of who Jesus was said to be, and focus more on His life than His death. We may question His divinity, believe in the Trinity, or be Unitarian.
- We believe that the Bible contains truth but is not always literal. We believe that it is a map and not the final destination of our journey.
- We believe other faiths contain truths as well.
- We believe that asking questions is okay, and that there is rarely such a thing as a single black and white answer to those questions.
- We are seeking closeness to God, not points for following certain rules which will buy our way into heaven. We take Jesus’ admonitions to the Pharisees to heart and focus on the grace and compassion of God.
- We welcome other seekers regardless of who they are as God wants us to include people rather than exclude them.
- Many of us believe in universal salvation.
Wow. These days, I’d pretty much consider myself an atheist, having been subjected to a Catholic upbringing and having had the enlightening experience of attending both Catholic and Southern Baptist schools (topic for a different blog). However, in all religions which I have studied, there is the concept of free will — that humans are free to turn from god, are free to do what they wish. Exercising that free will must certainly include questioning the existence of god. Would a god who believes in free will punish those who question his existence and who are honestly looking for answers to theological questions? Would a god who believes in free will punish someone for selecting the “wrong” religion — Islam, Catholocism, Protestantism, Buddhism, etc.? And perhaps most important, and tying in with the purpose of this here blog, point number four above notes that there is rarely such a thing as a single, black-and-white answer to a question or issue.
In moving this blog over to its new home, I have had an opportunity to wander back through various articles I have written, and last night I was thinking once again about the death penalty. I thought I had lost the realmedia clip of Robert Nigh talking about Timothy McVeigh’s execution (to hear it, right click on that link and select “save as…”). I found myself on a forum where people were posting how all murderers and child molesters and rapists should be put to death. That is a difficult notion to argue with, but perhaps Nigh said it best when he noted that “there is a reasonable way to deal with crime that does not involve killing another human being.” We hear so often of the “culture of life” that this administration seems to believe in. Yet, it believes that there is a clear-cut, black-or-white answer to these issues. Someone kills someone? They must be executed. Someone molests a child? They should be executed. There must be a way to be tough on crime without resorting to murder. Mention that on one of these message boards, however, and you will be torn apart. I severely doubt that god’s answer to crime is killing.
I digress… My original point was to steer you to this new “Liberal Christian Network” and hope that it gives all of us some food for thought. The Bush administration makes a big deal of its compassion, it’s “Christianity,” it’s love of “freedom” and “democracy.” All nice buzzwords. The hackneyed phrase, “put your money where your mouth is” comes to mind. The Southern Baptists that taught at the school I attended as a child believed literally in the phrase, “by faith alone are ye saved.” By faith alone are ye saved. It would appear that Bush and his “followers” have taken this to heart, and that points #2 and #5 above would not register with them. Faith alone, I was told, means that good works are not enough to go to heaven. Only by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour will you enter heaven. Literal translation, black and white. Good works don’t matter. So when the GOP endorses and passes laws that oppress the poor, show contempt for the working class, and generally prevent the “proverbial little guy” from getting one step up in the world, what does that mean? When he sits on his hands for days while the poor in New Orleans are stranded amidst the rising waters, what does that mean? When he appoints men to the Supreme Court of the United States who don’t believe in equality for all, what does that mean? And what does it mean of those who are sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States who call themselves god-fearing Americans, but have no problem re-interpreting the Constitution against those who at their last stop in search of some justice? Well, perhaps as an atheist I should not be quoting scripture, but I found this passage quite illuminating:
“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?” (Isaiah 10:1-3)