Christianity seems to be eating itself from within. People accuse one another of not being “Christian” enough, the rich and the poor take opposite stances, and denominations splinter over the interpretation of verses. I’m so sick of the division. I’m sick of the gay bashing, the thinly veiled racism, and the very unchristian attempts to demonize the poor.
I don’t like labels that divide us from within. I would like to simply call myself “Christian” and accept other Christians as part of my family. Sadly, I’ve been accused of being less Christian for quoting verses such as “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…” (John 8:1-11) So I’ve reluctantly taken a side. I’ve tacked on the word “progressive” to identify myself as something other than fundamentalist or evangelical or right-wing.
I don’t agree with everything said by progressive Christians—it’s a grab-bag of beliefs and ideas, still largely under construction—but I agree with the essence. (I especially love Red Letter Christianity. It’s closest to what I believe, and I like the concept: an emphasis on Jesus’ words.) I do like the term progressive because the world is changing and moving. We don’t live in the world of our childhoods, (for many of us, simpler times seemed like better times. We’d recently won a world war, television had only a few channels, jobs were plentiful, and everyone knew their roles), but pretending we can return to Camelot won’t make it so.
I don’t think my fundamentalist friends are evil. I believe they’ve been misguided by powerful political forces and a desire for simple black-and-white answers to difficult questions. But I think fundamentalism has gone far away from God’s message by using a lot of clever word manipulation. (Think of easy-to-repeat catch phrases such as “family values” and “God, guns, and glory.”) They’ve also cobbled together a lot of long arguments to say that gay Christians cannot be Christians, (although all other sinners can.) Fundamentalism has forgotten grace. It’s forgotten the Good News:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
Most important to me, progressive Christians welcome people who are hurt and broken. (I am one of the broken.) They don’t require us to be perfect before setting foot in church. (I am far from perfect.) I’ve chosen it because it reflects the teachings of Jesus more closely. Jesus emphasized love and acceptance over slavish adherence to rules. Am I wrong? I don’t think so. But if I err, I will err on the side of love.