Why Are You A Progressive Christian? Tell Us Your Story.

Kate Mulligan Wolfe: Because Christ tells me to be.

Cindy Greiner Capello: Because Jesus Christ was progressive with his words & deeds. If we call ourselves a "Christian" that means "follower or imitator of Christ." To follow Him, we need to think & act like Him, as much as we can. To set the example of loving others & accepting them as God made them. To accept ourselves, because if we weren't worth redeeming, He wouldn't have bothered. In His eyes, we are worth it & should be glad & grateful! The closer we get to God, the more we understand. :>)

Alexander Hart-Smith: For me it's a bit of a both. I've always had a very very strong sense of social justice from a young age, which I think brought me further interest into Christianity which in turn encouraged my progressive views. Although a New Zealander, I follow American politics very closely and was concerned about the dominance of the Christian right and I would argue the silencing of the Christian right in the media. This greatly encouraged me to get involved in the New Zealand Labour party while continue with my biblical studies.

Gabriel Cotton: Why am I a progressive Christian? Because I am a Christian. Repeating the others here, it is my example of the character and love of Jesus Christ that causes me to be this type of person, to have this leaning toward an opinion of compassion to all living things and an understanding that it is my duty to accept and care for them.

This is a tough world we live in and there are too many that are suffering. There are people in our own neighborhoods and workplaces and schools, right down the street, that have been dealt a difficult path. Some are decent people, who show in their actions and deeds the virtues that make the human creature a shining example of the holiness of God. And there are also those who are less decent. The citizens who don't have the most virtuous intentions. Who blaspheme and manipulate. Who are on the other side of the moral and ethical fence. I will be the first to admit that I am a sinner and only God has the right to ultimately judge all of us. The point to be made here is that through the diversity of life that God has created, we must remember that we are all his children whether seen to be bad or good. This is the lesson that I believe Jesus Christ was trying to help us see.

Human nature is the most destructive entity in the universe, but at the same time the most powerful. And through that power all CAN be cared for. I know in my heart that this is what me MUST be doing, all of us. We must realize that we are all part of this world and that in a group or a neighborhood or a society, we are only as strong as the weakest and downtrodden. Only through the lifting up of the unfortunate among us can we all be raised.

This is what I have learned through the life of Christ. This is my example of how I should live and how I should treat those around me. Some would call me a Socialist. Others would say I am a Progressive. I just think that I was brought up this way and that this is how we all should feel.

Beverly Donner: Because I think if there were not the "progressive" way of looking at Christianity, I'd have to not be a Christian. In fact, I turned away from the religion I was raised with in my early 20's. In my early 30's I came back to the Lord out ...of my own need for Him in my life. I began to read the Bible on my own without the aid of a pastor or teacher and found it to be completely different than I was taught in church and Sunday School growing up, and that so many verses people hurl at others are often taken out of context when you read what came before and after said verse. I found that people often "proof text" and if you are good at that, you can pretty much convince people the Bible means anything you want it to, however, if you read the Bible like a book, you get a completely different understanding of the Bible. This part is not biblical, but my own take, but the God of the OT seems very harsh, judgmental and punishing to me, and I've always felt that when Jesus came to earth as God in the flesh and experienced life as a human being, fully capable of feeling pain and even what temptation feels like, He became a God of Love and forgiveness and taught us to also be that way. So if I were not a "progressive Christian," I probably wouldn't be able to call myself a Christian, as the so-called "Christian Right" has a connotation I cannot connect with.

Elizabeth Maria Seger: I am a progressive christian because I know no other way to be. My little Lutheran church always taught us about the golden rule , treating others as you want to be treated yourself. So I want to be treated with compassion, empathy, kindness, fairness and for the most part that's how I treat people, I give them dignity and respect until they demonstrate in some way that I shouldn't afford them that.

I take care of those who wouldn't necessarily have a voice in society by advocating for persons with disabilities, for women, for seniors , for children. And when I can I give my time , energy and sometimes my money to help others and not just myself.

A saint , hardly, but I also know that there's no one better or worse than I am and that all in all, I'm created in the image of God and loved by him and appreciated.

Douglas C. Sloan: "Progressive Christian" is redundant. A “progressive Christian” is a true Christian fundamentalist – living the Good News message as the kingdom of God. Being a disciple of the Good News is practicing generosity and hospitality; living non-violently without vengeance; living here and now as one family where all are invited, welcomed, and included without exception or qualification; living in constant relationship with God; and living here and now – not later and not someplace else – living here and now a life transformed by resurrection. The Good News – without application here and now, without making a positive and practical difference in the life of the disciple and especially in the involvement of the disciple in the lives of others – is useless and meaningless and is not the message lived and delivered by Jesus and is not of God.

From its beginning, the Good News has been apolitical and non-national. When pushed to choose between faith and empire, the way of the Good News has been to respond with non-violent defiance and refusal. Our faith life is not measured by how materially abundant or wealthy is our life and not by how much political or cultural influence we have. Our faith life in no way embodies, is connected to, or dependent upon or subservient to patriotic fervor or national loyalty or good citizenship. Our faith life is measured by how we attend to and improve the lives of others – by feeding them, quenching their thirst, clothing them, visiting them in prison, healing them, and welcoming them. Keep in mind that this is a deliberately incomplete list. It works in much the same way as when Jesus tells Peter to forgive, not 7 times, but 77 times – the point being that by the time you forgive someone 77 times, it has become, not an act that has been repeated 77 times, it has become a habit, a path, a journey, a way of life. The point is that by the time you develop the habit of feeding, quenching, clothing, healing, welcoming, and visiting prisons, you have created a new life complete with new values and new goals and new vision. Once you get to this point, you have discovered and claimed (not earned) and embodied your grace-given membership in the family of God, a membership exemplified by faith, love, and service.

Something did happen on Easter morning – and just to put a label on it, we will call it the resurrection of Jesus. However, the resurrection of Jesus is of lesser importance. What is of critical and major importance is the resurrection of the disciples. If a burial box is found that undeniably contains the bones of Jesus, what is the ramification for the Good News? Nothing – it changes nothing. The message stays the same. The Good News remains vibrant and relevant and complete. The validity of our faith is built on the rock of the personal relationship that God has with each of us, not just on the relationship God had with Jesus or only on that relationship God had with the first disciples. The relationship God had with Jesus and the first disciples is instructional, not controlling.

Whatever happened on Easter morning is inferior and insufficient compared to the miracle of the resurrected lives of the disciples. As faithful followers of Jesus, they too had become, because of the crucifixion, as though dead and buried. Crucifixion was more than an execution; it was the obliteration of an entire life. In the culture of the Roman Empire, it was as if the crucified person had not just disappeared, it was as if the crucified person had never existed – that life would never again be discussed, that name would never again be mentioned. The disciples were more than grief-stricken, more than pathologically depressed, more than dangerously fatalistic; they felt obliterated – within the context of the Roman Empire, their life with Jesus was meaningless because it no longer existed. Within the context of the Roman Empire, their life with Jesus did not even rise to the level of wastefulness because it never did exist. Because of the crucifixion, throughout the entire Roman Empire, their entire experience with Jesus – the love and fellowship, the teaching and learning, the discussions and arguments and bickering, the travels and the resting and the meals together, the prayers and the worship – all their incredible experiences with Jesus had never happened. In the context of the culture of the Roman Empire, Jesus is not just dead, Jesus is non-existent - there is no Jesus, there never was a Jesus. Starting the moment when Jesus breathed his last, this was the awful and oppressive and devastating reality that blanketed and suffocated and consumed the disciples.

On Easter morning, something happened. On Easter morning, something happened that resurrected for the disciples the life and teaching of Jesus and reinvigorated their experience with Jesus. In a very real sense, Jesus was resurrected – from hell, from oblivion, from death. Within 40 days, not only were the disciples resurrected, they were transformed. The Good News that resurrected and transformed their lives (and the thousands of other first-century lives transformed by that same Good News) had nothing to do with sacrificial death, empty tombs, ascensions, virgin births, or miracles. The Good News is neither concerned with nor does it require a direct and overt act of divine intervention. In any biblical story that involves such a divine action; to focus on the miraculous event is to miss completely the purpose and message of the story. To depend on or expect or require miracles is to worship at the altar of the false god of spiritual certainty.

The Good News did not and does not succeed because of miracles. The initial success of the Good News was in how it demonstrated that anyone – even someone oppressed into complete oblivion by an empire - could live a resurrected and transformed life even in a world where death, cruelty, corruption, crime, war, systemic injustice, slavery, and extreme poverty were so rampant as to be the norm. Their success in living a resurrected and transformed life even in such a world is completely relevant to our time and for all time. The Good News is that a life of resurrection and transformation does not have to be preceded by death. The Good News is that the kingdom of God is not a future event or a distant place or a strictly post-mortal existence. An “anticipated” kingdom of God is meaningless and useless. The Good News is that the kingdom of God has arrived, it is here and it is now and it is available to anyone – without exception and without qualification and without sacrifice.

To have a loving intimate relationship with God; to serve others by practicing generosity and hospitality; to seek justice as restoration, healing, reconciliation, rehabilitation, inclusion, and participation; and then to live non-violently without vengeance and with a cheerful fearlessness of death and worldly powers – that is the radical and the defiant message and the transformational spirit of the universal and timeless Good News.

Whatever we do –
Whatever we are –
Wherever we are –
–…can never separate us from the love and grace and –…the surrounding and inviting and welcoming and inclusive presence of God.

David Foreman: I used to be a “right-wing, Republican, evangelical Christian.” The journey “out” of that socio-political mindset that masquerades as following God, is a journey many have taken, and more and more people who follow Christ are beginning to take.

Read more about my journey OUT at: wwww.Lifewalkblog.Wordpress.com

Brenda Hoffman: I think it's because when I was young, the Bible was my only sources of how to be". I ALWAYS turned to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes...etc. Nothing made me feel more whole, secure in my world than the words of Jesus, himself.

PamelaLefty Hedgecock: How can I not be one. When you truly open up to God and let all the worlds bigotry and intolerance not influence you; you see the true nature of God that is to be in all of us.

Cindi Tracy Aune: Because that's what the Catholic Church of the 60's and early 70's taught me...and they taught me well. It's just a shame I still believe in helping your fellow man and not judging and the "least among us" and that Church no longer does.

Penney Moore: To aspire to the Christ-like life can't be called anything else but progressive. Jesus’ teachings are the only ones in the entire bible that I find completely authoritative because they are always given in the spirit of love. No judgments towards anyone except those who took advantage of others for the sake of self-aggrandizement. That is the original and only sin ... selfishness.

Jesus was apolitical and instructed us to give to God what is God's and to Caesar what is Caesar’s. He also instructed us to be in the world without being of it .. which is really really hard, lol. The world runs on the law of the jungle, and most of us are trapped in that philosophy. Jesus and the other Masters came to liberate us from that.

The most astounding thing about Jesus’ teachings is the fact that only 2 things really matter ... loving God with all you have, and then loving others as yourself. That everything and everybody is ONE! If we hurt ourselves or others, we hurt God and the atmosphere becomes one of being afraid and hateful of every shadow we imagine is after us. When we are helpful to ourselves and others, then it is helpful to God and the Spirit grows stronger on the earth. To me it's a no-brainer ;)

Paul captured this concept beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13.

Rhonda Stevens: I too was a Pentecostal Right Wing Christian years back. I was told at church by friends that the only real news was on Fox and that every other station lied. I was working on my masters degree. I started to notice that some of the government stats, OMB, were not the same as what I was studying. I checked to see if it was different time frames or if I was missing something. I kept finding things that Fox was misquoting. It made me start checking other things they were saying. The more I checked, the more I found that was not true, or was misquoted, or was twisted to mean something else, or was edited to mean something else. All the while my christian friend kept saying you couldn't be a democrat and be a Christian. After several more people told me that and I spent about a year finding things that Fox was lying about, I just walked away from Fox, and the republican party. The Christians I tried to talk to about it didn’t care if Fox lied. That made me even sicker. If you are going to hijack God and Jesus in your politics, you darn well better make sure your mouthpiece tells the truth. Fox does not. Many Christians suck it down like pabulum, never check for the truth, even when they know a lot of people are saying they lie. They refuse to check anything and keep spreading the lies themselves. I quit watching Fox and changed churches too. When Christians had rather win and try to force their politics and religion at any cost, even the truth, I want no part of it. I do not agree with all of the Democratic or liberal platform, but there is less lies, (they are not without sin either) and they are not "CLAIMING" to be the Christian Right. Hypocrisy and the high and mighty attitudes, the not wanting to help the poor, sick and elderly, Jesus has no part of that. I can't have any part of it either. When the main person running Fox's and the republican party's strategy is an atheist and all these Stepford Christians still worship at Karl Roves feet and thinks he walks on water because they think he will provide the win for them like he did Bush, it just makes me sick. Win at any cost, sacrificing integrity, truth and Christianity. It was hard to leave two things I loved, the republican party and the type of church I loved but I just could not stay with groups so blind.

One thing I found out after leaving is that not all Democrats are on their way to hell as I had been led to believe, that not all democrats believe in abortion and that there are many Christians that are Democrats.

Glenn Hall: I think everyone has summed it up -- our One Law is to love one another, and with thousands of years of hate to overcome, love is progress.

Personally... I was raised sort of Casual Christian. But as a kid, my neighbor was a pastor's daughter, and she was the one who had me ask Christ into my heart. Mom didn't take me to church, but I went to Sunday School every week. And I always sort of wondered why. If Christ is in my heart, why do I need to come here and learn what I already know? And, worse, things that my own relationship with Christ told me were not exactly right... Later, as a young gay man, I tried to reconcile everything through prayer, and the answer I got back was essentially, "You've been listening to Them. Stop. And listen to Me."

If you are a Christian, who follows the notions of turning the other cheek, not casting stones, and my personal favorite, the lessons of Galatians... I don't know how you can possibly be anything but Progressive.

Cameron Brownlow: It is the simplicity of how Jesus teaches us to "Do unto others.." A progressive Christian strives to be most Christ-like by being compassionate, charitable, non-judgmental, inclusive, forgiving, understanding, faithful. We are not perfect and we realize that being a Christian is a progressive, lifelong journey.

Joan Gehrke Petrillo: I never knew I was a progressive Christian. I'm not a Biblical Scholar, I've been in and out of various churches through my life, Catholic, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Southern Baptist....none of them rang true to me. Too much on what NOT to do and not enough of what TO DO! Way too negative and judgmental.. tolerant, but not accepting...hypocritical, but I figured I was just weird and didn't fit in. But I just couldn't buy what they were selling.

Two very strange things happened to help me put a "face" on my thoughts. The movie "Oh God". It really is a simple movie, with a simple...but powerful...message. It made me say: YEAH! That's how I feel! How did they know? You mean someone else thinks that way?

Then I met a wonderful man later in my life who (without even realizing it) helped me feel OK with what I was feeling...that I wasn't alone. We're not radicals, we hate politics, and we still can't bring ourselves to go to a church...but we try to live our lives in the way Jesus lived his.

Maria Biemer: Because anything else doesn't make sense to me. There have been too many contradictions that have made me almost abandon everything I know that is good about Christianity. I've been thoroughly immersed in Catholic and Baptist teachings and... I see the potential for so much good but there always seems to be an undercurrent of judgment, hate, intolerance for anyone who may interpret the exact same passage differently...sours the whole experience for me sometimes. Strange how a concept as pure and beautiful as Love can be twisted in so many ugly ways.

Dennis Gilbert: Because Jesus calls us to PARTICIPATE, to be involved, to care for the "least of these", to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.

Tammy Collins Brand: I am a progressive Christian because Jesus told us to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. I haven't been to church in a while, though raised a Southern Baptist, due to pastors and others telling me who to vote for, how to vote, etc. I believe this has no place in church. Then I heard someone say Democrats were going to hell.. so I said we shall see, why would you say I was going to hell when you don't know me or what I believe. I believe what Jesus taught and I try to live my life that way.

Richard Williams: I am a progressive Christian because I have been inspired by Jesus’ followers who have been progressive. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who took Christ's non-violent organizing model and shifted and transformed our nation. The most Rev. Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela who guided South Africa through a similar rebirth. Rev. Dietrich Bonhoffer who repented of his violence and posthumously helped Germany face its demons. Men and women who are chaplains to the dying and their families in hospice move me. I am inspired by those who are in schismatic Catholic congregations allowing women to be the priests they are called to be -- and the women who dare. Those in my own denomination who are willing to take a stand for LGBTQs and risk their credentials on the progressive altar of love and inclusion speak to me. I am a progressive Christian because I am called to it. I see it as the most loving and powerful path for transformation and change that I have seen or experienced. Given all this, how can I keep from being/singing as a progressive Christian?

Michaela Whitton: I’m a progressive Christian because, although I've only been a Christian for two years, my first years experiences in an evangelical charismatic non denominational church over here in the UK freaked me out so much that, thankfully I came across the right authors and activists at the right time and was pointed right back to Jesus and the social justice heart of the Gospel

Demetria Williams Parks: Because I don't believe that Jesus would stand with the so-called Christian Right for intolerance, greed, and warmonger. Jesus was tolerance, love, and peace.

Jerry Vigna: Because as I read the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Patristic tradition, the monastic tradition of the Middle Ages, and the contemporary social teachings of the various Christian Churches, this is where I should be.

Judy Overton: When I was a young girl, my grandmother gave me a copy of a very old book "In His Steps" by Charles Sheldon (written in 1896). At the time, I was considered a troublemaker in Sunday school for challenging my teachers to Biblically support what they were saying. The book had a profound effect but totally the opposite of what I think she intended. In everything I do, I try to look to the Gospels first to understand the action I'm supposed to take. Do I do it every time? No, I'm still striving to live my life more like Christ but I fail regularly. But, I try

Juan Garces: I grew up Catholic and felt strongly, as a Latino and a Catholic, that Christ was not a boogeyman to be scared of and appease, rather a role-model to look up to and emulate. I had the advantage of a wonderful pastor (Father Bob) and associate pastor (Father Fred) at my church (St. John the Evangelist in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago) who always tried to convey the message of following those examples and giving to others of oneself. For a while I thought what we had was a rarity, based on the things I heard other "Christian Leaders" say, but I felt strongly that what I had learned was the right way. Then I had the pleasure of attending Loyola University, a Jesuit University on the North Side of Chicago. There I learned that not only was my view of being Christian not wrong, but there was an entire University devoted to those ideals (many more than one, I know). The greatest thing about it, though, was that they never crammed that religion down anybody's throat. They accepted all and had areas of worship for all faiths, including an area for Muslim services. When I graduated, I felt like I was on the right track. Unfortunately, the next few years in the real world gave me the impression that, even though this Progressive Christian movement existed, those that believed in those tenets must be in the overwhelming minority, because all I ever heard about was the Christian Right and the Christian Coalition. These people were so diametrically opposed to everything I thought Christianity stood for. As my perception of this loud and sickening form of Christianity began to become my perception of Christianity as a whole, I began to lose faith. Even as I began Medical School, where I hoped to take my knowledge learned there and use it to follow what I thought was what Jesus taught us, I began to lose faith. I still believed I should do these things, but the reason changed. Instead of helping others because I was trying to apply the teachings of Jesus, I was merely "doing the right thing." Then, one day a few months back, I was listening to the Thom Hartmann show on my local progressive station and heard a caller mention the Christian Left page on Facebook. I immediately thought that maybe this could be just the prescription for my wavering faith in Christianity. Lo and behold, I was right. Not only has this reinvigorated my faith, but it has allowed me to feel better about expressing those views on my faith that seem to be more in line with the progressive movement than the conservative movement. It seems to me that the only thing that aligns on that side of the aisle is the issue of abortion, but to me the issue of the Death Penalty is the same issue, so it seems those two are a wash when it comes to the real message of Christ. May we spread the TRUE message of Christ and show people that we aren't all Loud-mouthed, conservative wack-jobs who believe more in the rights of a corporation than in the rights of people and believe the poor should be allowed to rot on the side of the road instead of helped by those of us who actually apply the parables such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Keep fighting the good fight fellow Christian Lefties! Vote on November 2nd!

Cary Bass: Salvation is for everyone. We have faith in Christ to make other people's lives worth living. You can make more Christians with promises of salvation than you can with threats of damnation. Also:

I prayed to Jesus every day when I was a teenager to take away the homosexual urges from me. He never did. I thought he was calling me for the ministry. But I couldn't do that and be gay, so I left the church.

When I got older, I started coming back to the church, knowing that my being gay was who I was; and I was a perfect creation of God's light, so I prayed for His will instead. He called me for the ministry.

God works in funny ways.

Bev Cowling: I am a Christian by faith, and I'm a progressive by choice, because that is what I believe I am supposed to be, a keeper of my word, a follower of Christ's example, and a person who knows that all people are equal in the eyes of our Lord, that all deserve the best he has to give, that he gave us a planet on which to live and we owe it our stewardship as well as those who inhabit it. I am what I am because I love deeply, care greatly about others, because it is the right thing, and because it is the only thing that makes sense in this world of selfishness, greed and materialism; because we are our brother's keeper, and because the conservatives don't believe in caring for all of our citizens. They want to continue giving to the wealthy and deny the least of men, and Christ admonished us that what we do to the least we do also to him. The conservatives speak with loud righteous indignation, but their actions are not of benevolence and love, but of divisiveness and hate, of rejection and judgment. They are hawks, constantly wanting to fight, to be at war, to deny civil liberties over corporate demands, and to create a further divide between the wealthy and the lower classes. The disparity is greater than ever before thanks to the right wing. And the greatest failure of the conservatives is their ease at lying; they distort, deceive, rile to anger, incite to violence, and misinform all they can through their monopoly of the media, and I feel duty bound to meet their dishonesty and closed fists with honesty and an open hand.

Carrie Miller: i am not any religion but i am progressive and know of the collective energies of the universe. i dig this site

Bev Cowling: I don't belong to any religion either, having left all organized religions a few years ago. I am spiritual though, and I still have the faith with which I was raised. I'm glad you dig this site. You are certainly welcome!

Don Gaylord: The accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that cite the words and actions of Jesus point to a way of life that places love, service, compassion and forgiveness as THE way to follow him. I live my life as I do because I was instructed to do so by a figure that I believe is God incarnate. (Not that I believe that he was the ONLY incarnate persona of God.) If this makes me a liberal, a progressive, or any other "horrible" thing in the eyes of anyone then so be it. I will continue to follow his instructions as outlined in the Gospels, not in hope of salvation or for earthly recognition but because God (in the form of Jesus) asked me to do so.

Carrie Miller: @don 1. could you summarize what is 'outlined' in the gospels?
2. if Jesus wasn’t the only incarnate persona, then why is Jesus your choice?

Don Gaylord: Carrie in reply to your queries

1) There are numerous example of Jesus exhorting his followers to do the following;
a) provide aid and comfort to the sick, the poor and to the marginalized members of society
b) refrain from vengeance and wrath
c) hold people in higher regard than material possessions.

2) My choice to use the model and teachings comes from the fact that I was raised as a Christian and despite study and examination of other spiritual paths, I am most familiar with and most content with those of Christianity.

I hope I have sufficiently answered your questions

Don

Carrie Miller: yep! thx :)

Jamie Brown: I've been disillusioned with the institutional churches at times, and I've even been angry with Him on a rare occasion (e.g., while watching my saintly mother die a horrible lingering death), but when it gets down to it, what else is there but His love? Like in John 6:66 through 6:68 where many of the disciples left and Jesus asked the 12 remaining, "Do you want to leave me, too?" and Peter replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go?..." I can't imagine a life without Him. So I am always a member of the Church Universal (the mystical body of all believers) regardless of what the churches on earth are doing. Also, I think it is important for those of us who believe thus (e.g. the Christian Left) to continue to represent the Church, otherwise if we didn't, then only the Right would remain, preaching their distorted version of the gospel...