Following is an unedited email exchange between our President, Fred, and a TCPC visitor. Great conversation and a reminder of why we do what we do.
Subject: Progressive Christianity (in general).
This might be an odd email, and if you happen to view it as such, please bear with me. Although, before I ramble, I should start with this:
I stumbled into your website this evening - through means I will casually describe below - and have found everything to be refreshing. Only recently have I attempted to reconcile my fundamentalist upbringing with the realities that are embedded in this world, and to examine all of the available resources here is simply wonderful. Thank you.
This evening I was reading ('The Fidelity of Betrayal' by Peter Rollins), and, while researching a few points that Rollins' makes, I stumbled into a website called "Apprising Ministries". This website - one that I have familiarized myself with in the past - seems to stop at nothing from defending their viewpoint of the 'Truth' of Christianity. In doing so, there is a derisive and inflammatory tone juxtaposed into every sentiment regarding those that represent Christianity in the wrong 'light'. Most prominently, "emergent" figures such as Rob Bell, Peter Rollins, Brian McLaren, etc. are attacked. And, due to my fascination with Bell and Rollins' thoughts in particular, I not only find myself offended at some of the assertions, but oddly enough, study them for two reasons: a) to obtain an understanding of why people blaspheme Bell, and b) to understand where I need to be critical of what I am studying.
At any rate, the post I read tonight took a shot at your website. Given that a link was provided, I wandered over here. As stated above, I am refreshed. The "8 Points" section is brilliant, and the resources provides a solid foundation from which to work with.
As I become more and more submersed in my journey as a Christian, I will undoubtedly utilize the resources you have provided. I have been 'emergent' or 'progressive' long before I knew how those concepts related to Christianity, and it is a great joy to realize there is so much out there to help me with my journey.
I suppose this email could have been much shorter had I simply said "Thank You," but that is not at all my style.
Thank you for your kind note. I think your analysis is correct. Organizations like Appraising Ministries represent a large percentage of Christians who are unable or unwilling to test the primary paradigm," of the roots of Christianity and how do they speak to us today?" They are holding on for dear life to a mythology that was had been part of many religions of region during Jesus' time and even centuries after. They have their own truth about the bible and the personhood of Jesus and believe that theirs is the only truth. They cannot see things differently because their religion is also their cosmology and their operative myth. It makes their life work.
People like Rob Bell, Peter Rollins and even Brian McLaren are primarily speaking to folks who are trying to make a transition from the old Christianity but do not want to give up the uniqueness of Jesus as part of a plan by God. They want to believe that Jesus did something personally for us, besides giving us a model and teachings. In short they are trying to have the new church emerge out of old wine skins. They are performing an important task in this important transition.
Then there are those who believe that we have to start over with the entire Christian story that in large part eliminates the dualism that has been part of the Christian traditions since the Greeks "Romanized" it in the first century. It is time to give up on the "God up there" and ask what was Jesus really trying to teach us. Ultimately these folks often realize that the question is not what must we do to please God or Jesus but how do we live our lives so that we can see, hear and experience that divine in all things. We(I) tend to fall more into that category.
It is a very dynamic time and is moving so fast it is hard to keep up with but it is lot of fun. Keep reading and thinking and I hope you enjoy your journey.
Thanks again for writing. I am glad you have found us helpful.