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Hi again,
I wont reply in a post but in this comment, so will try and keep it short.
To fully appreciate how much an obstacle this fence is I can say categorically that I agree with about 99% of what was said in the above post, yet still cannot and could not hold this to be the extent of my Christian faith. I NEED what I guess I will call the 'metaphysical' Jesus to find, within the Jesus story, that 'oomph' that makes me devote myself to Christianity. I could go on for hours as to why I need that, but for this comment let me just say that without the metaphyisical aspect of Jesus, I doubt I would be a Christian. As many of you who have read my posts will know, I am a passionate progressive, but I am one who has within my faith outlook a metaphysical element. I think what the above post and my comment may show is that there is, perhaps, a divide within the progressive movement between those who see Jesus as a wisdom teacher and nothing else (as powerful as that is), and those who add onto that notion a metaphysical aspect. What concerns me is that many Christians, who may have a progressive mindset and who may passionately hold to all 8 points of TCPC, yet also hold to a metaphysical aspect of Jesus, may perceive within the progressive community either an expressed or implied orthodoxy which rejects this notion. So, what can be done?
Perhaps the way to get rid of this fence is to make it a moveable one? Perhaps a simple addition to the first point of TCPC may find a common ground for those progressives with and without a metaphysical aspect? At the moment the first point reads: "By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus." But what if this was changed to:
"...we are Christians who have found an approach to God through Jesus. We emphasis the life and teachings of Jesus. Belief in any metaphysical aspects of Jesus is left to the individual."
Of course I have no right to foist my own opinions of the points onto anybody else, but perhaps the above wording could be that common ground. Emphasise the wisdom teacher and his message, but allow each individual to have that metaphysical aspect if they so wish. Tony Campolo says we should stop worrying about "pie in the sky when we die by and by" and concentrate on what Jesus wanted us to do. Absolutely! But we all know that Campolo would never reject the metaphysical aspect of Jesus. Anyway, I have raved enough. Any thoughts?

Funnily enough I've just finished reading Rubenstein "When Jesus Became God" myself. I emerge with two strong feelings:
a) the argument was bloody and vicious, on both sides supposedly supporting Athanasius and Arius, in fact, it was not settled on its merits nor through discussion but rather with too much violence on all fronts so is actually still open for debate
b) it's funny how we still say the Nicene creed, normally thinking "it's just some ritual statement of the early church to show who's in or out", without much understanding of the history.

My previous readings, including Spong and Borg, have lead me to understand a clear separation between Jesus (a historical man) and the Christ (originally a Jewish concept of Messiah in the realm of myth, now taken into our own tradition as an eternal figure), to the extent that I now differentiate between "Jesus" and "Christ". *However*, having achieved such a separation, I can also make statements eg that God(liness) is in the Christ, that Christ was in Jesus, etc.

The prayers are valid because they exist to make people think and get their fingers out about what's being considered.
The rituals are valid because through them the liturgy is expressed. Indeed, it's precisely because low/liberal anglo-catholics can know the difference between myth, history and reality and yet *still* worship through liturgies that I have greatest respect for that tradition.

The sermons are "evasive" because there's every chance much of the congregation can't cope with the scholarly approach to exegesis, least of all in a 10-minute timeframe. Witness how much furore is caused when the mainstream media get their grubby hands on the previous bishop of Durham, +Holloway, or ++Williams making simple statements that merely require a little thought to understand.
I'm not convinced that the people go away hungry, however. They have every opportunity to go buy some good books via amazon as anyone else and to be as involved in the worship of the service as they want.

Adrian, I am not speaking for all progressive Christians by any means. In fact, to be completely honest- I am so far on the other side of the fence, that the fence is simply a blurry line in the distance. Now, this is not to say that I think I am farther along in any direction (I tend to run circles in the field, dance, jump, go backwards, forwards and most definitely enjoy being off the path more than being on it) However, I just wanted to say that for those of us that have taken the jump to the other side of the splintery fence- I think that you'll find that to us- you can call Jesus whatever you want- anything really- progressive Christians can not fight over definitions. To you, he is God and that is exactly what you need (as you said) in this moment in your life. To me- we are all God. And that is simply, how I need to look at the picture in order to be able to follow a path of compassion and non-judgment. So, if the fence still feels right to you, hang out there for awhile longer. Than maybe you can re-evaluate at some point. And of all the billions of people on this earth, don't you think its possible that God has manifested in more than one human?? When I saw the Dalai Lama- I saw God so clearly shining in his eyes. And then we get to the tricky question...what is God?

Hi again Deshna,
Yeah it is a tricky question. But it comes down, I guess, your approach to God, well, to theism. One can be a Deist, seeing a creative intelligent design to existence but seeing that figure as being distant and not personal. One can be a pantheist, which I think you would susbcribe to Deshna, where God IS everyone and everything and we, in turn are all God (I should probably say here that I have explored this notion myself and for many reasons decided it is not for me. So, to carry on with the analogy, I have already hopped off the fence, walked in your direction, but decided to head back as it wasn't for me. Just important to say that as I don't think I need to re-evaluate at any point, I have already done, but who knows!). Then there is panentheism, which is the notion that everything is WITHIN God, but not necessarily fully Divine in of itself. The illustration often used is if you place a napkin into a glass of water, the napkin stays a napkin, but it is enveloped by the water. Anyway, I would say I am a mixture of all three of these. Yes, I absolutely see the divine in the Dalai Lama and yes, I truly believe that the divine has been manifested in more than one human, as I have said previously. But, again, for me Jesus takes up a unique place, not an exclusive place, but a unique place, in a metaphysical sense, and that is important to me. I think it is important that there isn't this perception that eventually we who adhere to a metaphysical Jesus will 'get over it', or, to quote Dawkins et al, 'grow up'. For me, and I would say for many others, we have reached this position after many many years searching, exploring all the notions and many of the books already mentioned here, and still have come to this conclusion in our faith journey. I guess what I am saying is this, the fence can be a negative construct, certainly, and part of me does wish for more certainty, but all one needs to do is called it a 'middle way' and it can become quite spiritually comforting. I think I am coming around to this mindset, a progressive Jesus whose teachings are emphasised, but a personal belief in a metaphysical side.
Hope this all makes sense, rambled a bit!

For me, it comes down to whether the power of Jesus lives on today, or He's just a dead teacher. Many progressive who follow Jesus feel there is a connection with His "being" in the present. That is not to say this is the only way to experience God or Jesus, but I hope it is recognized as a valid path for some progressives, rather than a crutch to be overcome.

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