As you can see in the header, I use the labels “passionate moderate” and “liberal charismatic.” The first is one I adopted myself, the second was bestowed on me by an enemy, who combined the two things he liked the least in order to describe me. Nonetheless, it has an element of truth. I even used it in the subtitle of a book.
But one of my complaints about liberal Christians has been that they (or we) are often much more certain of what we don’t believe than of what we do. Comments such as “we don’t take things so literally” or “we see that as more of a story” are used to cover wide swaths of theological thinking, but often the speakers don’t actually have any idea what that “less literal” meaning might be. I have always known of serious progressive theological thinkers, and enjoyed their writings. Unfortunately, I’ve also known the other variety.
So I like to see efforts to further define liberal or progressive theology, such as The Eight Points in Process – A Theological Vision – The Way of Jesus by Bruce Epperly. It is just the first article in a series, and it looks very promising. I see serious theological reflection written in terms that anyone can understand. For example:
An early Christian spiritual leader, Iraneaus, proclaimed that the “glory of God is a fully alive human being.” From this perspective, Jesus is the fully alive one. The light of God focused on Jesus in a special way, giving him a unique message, spectacular healing energy, unhindered hospitality, and prophetic action. We follow Jesus’ Way not only because of his teachings but because of the power, wisdom, and healing he channeled.
Though this uses some vocabulary that may wave red flags for some people, it addresses a serious issue. Can Jesus be reduced to just a great ethical teacher? If you are one of the people who find the vocabulary troubling, I’d suggest reading it again and then thinking of some phraseology from the gospel of John.
I personally find process theology to be a bridge too far, but I do find much here that is helpful. I’ll definitely be following this series through to the end.