Two words for my fellow Progressive Christians: Stop Hiding.
I know you don’t want to be associated with door-knocking, salvation-sharing, “washed-in-the-blood” proselytizing. You don’t want to talk about what you believe in public or even with your family or church. You’re afraid that you might be accused of not knowing enough about your faith or the Bible. You’re terrified that you might have to confess that sometimes you have doubts. You might say out loud that God seems absent when the weight of the world comes down on your shoulders. You might witness to the fact that you don’t always know what Jesus would have you do. You don’t even want to remind yourself that this life of faith is full of far more questions than answers.
As a card-carrying progressive Christian and ordained clergy in the United Church of Christ, I’m stoked about the splash my denomination made in the news this week. On Monday, April 28, 2014, the UCC was the lead plaintiff in a case that asserts that a North Carolina law that threatens clergy with fines and jail time if they perform a wedding ceremony absent a legal marriage license is a violation of religious rights. In other words, the denomination is siding with couples and clergy persons in North Carolina who want to participate in a same-gender marriage in their own church without the privilege of a legal marriage license. (North Carolina law defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The United Church of Christ allows clergy to perform same-gender weddings.)
What is even more important to me than the secular assertion of religious freedom is the bold proclamation that our Christian faith is one of inclusion, not exclusion; a faith of radical welcome, not alienation; a faith that sides with the underdog, the oppressed, not with the principles and powers. Jesus sat around and ate with the excluded — women, the poor, the sick, the tax collectors. His first disciples were a bunch of hapless low-class laborers. HE was a low-class laborer. Still, he boldly entered the temple, shocked the elders with his teachings and knowledge of the Torah. He offended those same leaders and Roman authorities when he pointed toward what those teachings really meant for revolutionary day-to-day living.
Research studies have shown that young people aren’t leaving the church because of Jesus. They are leaving the church because they don’t see enough Jesus in the church. Let’s brings some Jesus back to our churches. Progressive Christians, in this glorious season of Eastertide, I beg you to roll back that giant, heavy stone, open your eyes, defy death and get your a** out of the tomb, and come back from the dead. Jesus — a common, poor, laborer who died a shameful, horrible death — DID. And the world’s never been the same.
How can you boldly transform the world with your faith?
Wow! This is an amazing post. I’ve been writing a lot on why I left “conservative Christianity.” I’m not really sure why I left – I just kind of woke up one day and realized that it wasn’t doing me any good to keep sitting in those pews and doing nothing to impact the world other than proselytizing and judging and stuff.
I’m not sure what I believe about same sex marriages. Honestly, I’m not sure. But I am now in a place where I’m not going to be angry or judge or whatever. I’m walking in new, uncomfortable territories with my faith, and it’s articles like this that give me a little courage to keep going. Thanks.
Clayton, thank you for your thoughtful comment. Faith is something that should be lived outside the walls of church – perhaps the most difficult and even dangerous thing to do. Check out Extravagance United Church of Christ online. Here’s the link to their Facebook Page. They are an online, progressive church community. https://www.facebook.com/extravaganceucc I’d suggest that you also try reading anything by Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt or Shane Claiborne. They all write from the perspective of former evangelicals who have found a different way in their faith. I hope this helps.
I visited Doug Pagitt’s “Solomon’s Church” while in Minneapolis a few years ago, and was really impressed. It’s super hard to find a place like that here, in Denver.
I’ll check the others out.
Oh, if you’re in Denver, then you have to try House for All Sinner’s and Saints! A wonderful, postmodern approach to church. I haven’t been there personally, but I know lots of wonderful things about it. http://houseforall.org/
That’s where I’m headed tonight – first time visit. I’m really excited 🙂
I plan on doing a blog post with pictures and art and stuff sometime this week – of the experience I have. Hope you have time to take a look when I post it