Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What Progressive Christians Believe

Reese sez:
Check out this book recommended by the Witherspoon Society!

It is Delwin Brown's What Does a Progressive Christian Believe? A Guide for the Searching, the Open, and the Curious.

I was a little put off by the title. We progressives are generally an unwieldy bunch and don't like to be told what we believe even by fellow progressives! Yet I found this book quite helpful.
We often think that being progressive means not being fundamentalist. Brown agrees, but suggests we ought to do a bit more than simply say that. The eight chapters cover some basic themes in Christian thought:
  1. What Progressive Christianity Is Not
  2. Bible: Negotiating the Heritage
  3. Christ: Overturning the Categories
  4. God: Exploring the Depth
  5. Humanity: Continuing the Creation
  6. Sin: Falling and Hiding
  7. Salvation: Seeking and Finding
  8. Church: Serving and Being Served
  9. Epilogue: Rightly Mixing Religion with Politics
This small book, only 122 pages, gives a thoughtful response to each of these categories. The author is Delwin Brown, dean emeritus of Pacific School of Religion and formerly the Harvey H. Potthoff Professor of Christian Theology at Iliff School of Theology.

He helpfully summarized each chapter with some points for reflection, making it a fine book for a study group. He carefully talks about the traditions of the church, and what we can learn and keep from all of them.

In his third chapter, Christ: "Overturning the Categories", he surprised me, pleasantly. Progressive Christianity has a tendency to cringe at creeds. Brown provides a helpful guide through ecumenical councils at Nicea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, and offers some thoughts on the meaning that these council formulations regarding Jesus the Christ may have for us today.

This is a good book for the open and searching. And a good book for our more conservative friends who wonder what makes us progressives tick.