Lost in Translation

Essay by Rev. Gretta Vosper on 28 February 2019 0 Comments

For many progressive Christians, our ability to remain in the communities we love is dependent upon our willingness to translate what we hear, sing, and say on Sunday morning. Much of the “content” of a weekly service continues to use the language of traditional Christianity and privilege the very rituals and artifacts which progressives no longer accept literally.

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Question

In researching different theologies of the Christian Faith, I came across your website.  I read through your 8-points, but see nothing about faith in Jesus as the Christ, or His divinity.  Does your organization have a ‘Christology’ or a Christological approach to the life of Christ.  I’m just looking for some clarification.

Answer

Thanks for your question C. R.,

My sense is that faith is a matter of experience, in contrast with belief, which is a matter of the intellect. In the “age of belief” that has dominated Christianity since about the 4th century CE, these two have often been conflated. In effect, the result has been that an authentic sense of existential faith has faded into the background as we have become lost in the machinations and mazes of our credal minds.

Progressive Christianity and Spirituality, as I understand them, do not offer time- and culture-bound creeds demanding intellectual assent. This is not a new form of orthodoxy. Rather, it turns, or re-turns, the attention of our soul to personal, lived, direct experience that is in continual conversation with the wider community and with history; I say this because personal does not in any way mean isolated and/or individualistic. We also turn our attention to the heart and the body, recognizing the wisdom within these centers of the human soul (integral to Semitic spirituality), which have been traditionally marginalized in Christian theology and spirituality.

The first of the eight points articulated by Progressive Christianity is this: We... “Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life.” Our focus is not a credal belief in Jesus. He is not an object. Rather, Jesus is a person, a Rabbi of the 1st Century, whose spiritual practice led to his realization that his true nature, his essence, is Belovedness, through and through. He matures into a diaphanous being of compassion – which is grace. The invitation that the life and teachings of Jesus presents to us is to realize that same truth about our own nature, our own essence. Jesus points us to us. To say that Jesus comes to realize that who he is is Love, is to say that he realizes his Christic nature. “Christ” simply means anointed, or graced, as the Presence of Beingness itself. His life invites us to discover the same truth about ourselves and all creation – Love is Boundless, because it is the very nature of Being. And so, the life of Jesus is an abiding invitation to discover that the sacred unity of Being is radically inclusive.

~ Kevin Thew Forrester, Ph.D.

 

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