So I chimed in over at CrossLeft's board where they are making plans for this progressive christian leadership conference. Thought I'd post it here too, to get feedback. What do you think progressive Christians should do to define ourselves as a movement? What is our agenda - or should we even have one?
Wrote in response to a fellow who said we should be defining our position (and why) on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, etc. I definitely see the point of going on offense on some things, because if we only bitch about other people's positions that's not very helpful. But here's what I wrote:
I ... would add that it is important to remember the diversity within our ranks despite our shared desire for progression. The hot-button issues suggested in the comment worry me a bit - if this org takes a firm stand on one of them that I don't agree with, am I no longer progressive or part of the Christian Left?
I think one of the reasons we seem scattered on agenda is not because we don't KNOW what we believe, but because we don't all AGREE - and we are okay with that. What I love about the Christian Left (so far) is everyone's tolerance. I'd be sad to lose that in favor of a rigid agenda that speaks to Washington and the Religious Right in their chosen language.
I would advocate for clear action opportunities. The majority of progressive Christians I know (self included) are dying for some way to get out there and make a difference. It would be really great to come up with tangible action items we could then take back to our churches/schools/friends. I for one hope to get some practical do-able assignments from the conference, to truly know that I am making a difference, and I'll bet others feel the same way.
Perhaps this could assist in the setting of an agenda of sorts: our agenda could be action-oriented, done on a case-by-case basis when advocacy is called for. Then we become less a politicized group and more a community of people who understand the complexities of every issue and respond with personal attention to situations of need. That seems more Christian to me than playing politics. Let's not let others define what we are supposed to care about.
Let's tell the country what our issues are and why, but let's acknowledge the diversity in our ranks (and why we allow it!) and let's make it a point to actually DO something rather than just posturing.
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I think it is important that we at least ensure that there is some public dialogue about what Christians are. The Religious Wrong says that they are the final word of what Christians look like, act like and think like. I at least want them, and the rest of the world, to know that I don't line up with their beliefs and culture. I also think that what we "progressives" may be called to do is to build the Body of Christ. We may be called to build up ecuminism withing the Christian Faith. We love having dialogue/ dinner/ conferences with the buddhists and Hindus and Muslims but the people we "progressives" never try to talk with are the fundies.
Like your blog.
There is no left, there is no right, but only the straight and narrow. It is not easy, and the righteous will scarcely be saved by that road. But many will enter at the wide gate because it suits them to walk the commonly tread road that leads to their destruction.
'Tolerance' of that sort is a sleeping of the soul, a willful self-blinding to others who will perish in their sin, and because of it. And that is not the love of God that sent His Son to destroy the work of the Satan, who can't stop the wills of mankind, so cunningly he deceives and ensnares the thought life of nations and cultures to enslave them from our One Emancipator, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
If we stray from the core of Christ and His helpful teaching, and think of ourselves as enlightened 21st century Christians who can determine by their own reasoning capacities what is right and wrong, or even the will, desire and direction of God, God cannot steer such servants. Such have become their own masters, using religion to empower and justify a moral righteousness in an independence of sorts.
To be a sheep without the Shepherd is to fall prey without defense. To go forward with only 'self' as a compass and to fall into the ditch.
To make peace with the World is to make God your enemy. To love it, or to compromise with it and don the same colors it wears, is to abandon the culture of Heaven, of which place the Christian belongs.
Christianity without Christ is meaningless. And that's what it is if the body of Christ does whatsoever it wills. If homosexuality, gay marriage, premarital sex, abortion, stem cell research, etc. are matters of flexibility, we are not worthy as guardians and stewards of the sacredness of life that God has allowed to us. The sinner who sins shall die. The wages of sin is death. The gift of God is eternal life, but the cost is abandoning the World and living for God. The reward is immeasurable.
If our preaching from our lips or our living is any different from that, we lie and the truth is not in us. We might as well choose to put our faith and hope in another name, for it is better to have done so on our Judgment Day, than to have marred the name of Jesus with our lives.
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