Progressive Christianity is a huge umbrella term under which people with different beliefs about the seemingly supernatural aspects of biblical teachings can gather. In general, though, most progressive Christians agree about the central importance of Christ's message of love and acceptance.
Progressive Christianity is not a denomination and has no formal organization. Instead, progressive Christianity is a way of describing Christians of all backgrounds who share relatively progressive or liberal political beliefs, and feel that these beliefs are informed by their understanding of Christianity. While some denominations, such as Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Lutheran might be considered more progressive than others, there are also progressive Christians in almost every denomination, including Catholic and Baptist.
Teachings of Jesus
Progressive Christians focus on the teachings of Jesus and try to inspire others by following his example. One Bible passage they often refer to is Luke 22:36-40, in which Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, and the second most important is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Progressive Christians tend to believe that Jesus' message to love unconditionally was his most important.
Miracles and the Afterlife
Progressive Christian beliefs regarding the parts of the Bible that might seem supernatural are widely divergent. For example, there is no consensus among progressive Christians as to whether the creation story, virgin birth and resurrection are literally true. Progressive Christians are more likely to interpret the Bible metaphorically than are other groups, but this is not universal. Some progressive Christians believe that the whole Bible, including miraculous stories, is literally true but must be interpreted in a modern context in terms of practice and which biblical teachings are emphasized more. Of course, there are also many people whose viewpoints fall between these two extremes.
Emergent Christianity is one growing interdenominational movement within progressive Christianity, which is occurring at the intersection of Christian thought and postmodern philosophy. The beliefs of Emergent Christians also focus on following the example of Jesus. The primary belief that sets Emergent Christianity apart from other forms is that each person's beliefs and relationship with God, the Bible and Christian tradition are equally valid. They prefer to avoid formal hierarchy and official statements of belief, instead focusing on communication and the living and changing community of believers.
Regardless of their beliefs about the literal truth of Bible stories or the ideal organization of Christian structures, progressive Christians unite around certain perspectives on social issues. Love, tolerance and an open mind toward people of all religions and lifestyles are some of the most common themes. Another is the importance of working toward peace, social justice and assistance to the poor and oppressed. Finally, environmental stewardship of the Earth as God's creation is considered extremely important.
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images