Subject: On getting saved by Jesus
Recently I was saved and found my salvation through Jesus. However, the church I attend (which shall remain nameless), despite having great people in it, has parts that I believe the Bible disagrees with.
As a recent convert, I have questions.
1. Are we supposed to give 10% of our earnings to the Church?
2. What makes Progressive Christianity different from more Bible-based Christianity?
3. Do you consider it a religion?
Although your questions are obviously sincere and important to you they are too large for me to answer in a brief email. Some of the questions that you ask have been debated by religious folks for nearly 2000 years. I cannot do them justice here.
However let me say that Progressives do not treat the Bible as the inerrant "word of God" but see it rather as a document that was created by humans to record their evolving understanding and experiences with the Divine, the Holy, or what we sometimes call God today. Progressive Christians have by and large abandoned the idea that Jesus died for our sins (atonement theology) and see atonement as part of several mythologies that were prevalent during Jesus' time and were wrapped around the historical Jesus who was probably a revered Rabbi and was killed by the authorities for his radical views.
Yes, to answer your question about earnings, there is something in the Bible about the importance of tithing and over the years that has been interpreted as 10% of pretax earnings by the conservative Christians. Of course the same Bible says that men should not cut our sideburns, cannot eat certain foods, should kill our children if they insult their parents and a whole lot of other things that the Bible folks conveniently ignore. Sadly the result has been some very wealthy pastors who got that way off the backs of a lot of people who could not afford it. We do believe in living with a generous heart but not because of the Bible but because we believe in an abundant universe and to share of ourselves gives us satisfaction.
If you are really serious about learning more about progressive Christianity read more of the articles on our website and I suggest that you read three or four of the books that we feature on our site. I would start with The God I No Longer Believe In, The Historical Jesus for Beginners, and Jesus Reconsidered and regarding the Bible, Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman. I would also recommend any book by Marcus Borg, especially his book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time or anything by Bishop Spong. If you are comfortable with your new salvation than pay your 10% and go no further. However if you are truly interested in learning about how the church changed the Jesus message than I suggest you do some serious studying.
I leave you with this thought. One of the things that probably got Jesus killed by the authorities was has his belief that one did not have to be cleansed in the temple nor did one need an agent or broker or an intercessor to have relationship with Alaha or God, as we call it today. He told his followers that when they have done harm to another or to themselves the needed to repent. That is to make amends and change their actions and when they did those things sincerely (with heart and mind) they were giving a clean slate by God. It seems very strange to me that an entire religion based on Jesus' life and teachings could be created with the idea that we needed his suffering and death to have communion with God.
If it make sense to you than go with it in peace.
I hope this is helpful.