Monday, September 19, 2011

Christianity Law Blog 2.0

Some readers have found this blog because they read my first one: “Progressive Christianity & the Law.”  As I explained when I founded that blog, I really struggled with an appropriate name for it.  I considered a variety of possibilities.  Ultimately, I used the modifying term “Progressive” because in many segments of our society the term “Christian” has become synonymous with just one subgroup within Christianity: politically active fundamentalists. 
In incorporating the term “Progressive” in my first blog’s title, I was attempting to distinguish myself from that particular subgroup.  However, I never felt completely at peace with the title.  I actually do not believe Christianity is “progressive” or “conservative.”  Moreover, whether applied to religion or politics, I think those labels are often superficial and overly simplistic.  In that sense, they are often misleading.
The longer I wrote under the banner of “Progressive Christianity,” the more concerned I became about potential misunderstanding of my perspective.  While it is true that I’ve been disappointed with many positions embraced and actions taken by the so-called “Christian Right,” I do not believe the antidote is the emergence of a Christian Left.  My Savior was not a politician.  While on this Earth in human form, Jesus of Nazareth specifically eschewed secular leadership roles.  That was not why he lived among us. Earthly power was not of interest. 
I believe Jesus came here for a greater purpose with much longer lasting implications.  He taught through his words and his actions about the nature of God the Father.  He also taught how to make the Kingdom of God a reality now. 
His teachings have had a profound impact on my life.  That influence does not stop at the boundaries of the church building where I worship on weekends.   Like other Christians, I try to incorporate Jesus’s teachings in all aspects of my life.  I certainly fall short of that aspiration on a regular basis.  But being a Christian is not about being perfect.  Even canonized saints were “no saints.”  Being a Christian is about loving God, trying to emulate him, but knowing you are forgiven when you fall short.  Another tenet of Christianity is the recognition that everyone falls short.  Indeed, grace is a central tenet of Christian theology.
Although most Christ followers try hard to incorporate their faith into all aspects of their lives in a holistic manner, we often have very different understandings of how to do that.  Many non-Christians (and even some Christians) incorrectly believe Christianity is composed of homogenous believers who are uniformly skeptical of science, are rabidly homophobic, and believe abortion should be re-criminalized.   I don’t subscribe to those specific beliefs, so initially when I founded my first blog I felt the need to clarify.  To do that, I chose to insert the term “progressive” in my blog title. 
In the last few years, as I have studied and pondered the subject more, I have come to a fuller appreciation of the diversity of Christian beliefs and no longer feel the need for the “progressive” modifier.  In fact, I came to feel somewhat indignant at having ever sensed the need for the modifier in the first place.  Using it could be viewed as acquiescence to the stereotype of Christians as politically active fundamentalists.  In insisting on using a “progressive” modifier I might have been inadvertently signaling that progressive Christians were somehow different or even lesser than other Christians.  That was never my intent.  For that reason, I eventually felt compelled to drop the “progressive” modifier and start anew with a different title. 
The simpler title of this blog is aimed at recognizing the diversity of belief within the broad umbrella of modern Christianity.  Simultaneously, it is an attempt to break down meaningless divisions within the Body of Christ.  Though I may not agree with people like Pat Robertson, Janet Parshall, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry on political matters (or perhaps even on theological ones at times), I certainly recognize them as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Consequently, I would not aim to vilify them, but would instead look for common ground.  I may sometimes disagree with their understanding of how the Gospel should be applied in our modern world.  Nonetheless, I try to maintain a Christian humility to recognize that I don’t have all the answers and I’m not always correct.  While he walked this Earth, Jesus reached out to all kinds of people who were vilified and rejected in his society.  That is an important model that I believe we’re obliged to try to emulate.

Luke 11:4
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.

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