A prominent feature of today’s “emerging” and progressive Churches is an eclectic, mosaic approach to worship that draws from several sources and styles. As someone who is part of that movement, I realize that I have not one, but many voices and my writing in this book reflect this. You will notice that there are several “voices” and styles of writing that I have employed in generating the pages within – including, an informal, conversational, self-revealing voice; a playful and occasionally edgy voice; and a more philosophical, scholarly voice. While I try to maintain a conversational tone throughout, some readers will be drawn to the chapters and portions of chapters that come from one voice, while others will be drawn to those of another voice. Feel free to read the passages that attract you and skip the others. The initial printing of this book is a “work in progress.” Like a theatre company offering a preview test-run to a circle of friends, peers, and colleagues, I’m intending this to serve as an incubator to further the development of this project. I also intend for it to introduce progressive Christianity to as wide an audience as possible.
While I have paid an editor to provide some professional services, she is in no way responsible for any mistakes or awkwardness within the text. Defects of any sort (from typos to heresy) are mine. I wanted to get this book out into the marketplace of ideas as soon as possible and didn’t want to wait until everything within it is in a perfected form. I’m hoping that the feedback from you all, the first wave of readers, will help with that perfecting process. Please feel free to post comments and suggestions to the Guestbook at www.progressivechristianitybook.com.
I chose Ms. Dansereau to serve as the editor because of her reputation for quality writing and editorial work and because she isn’t a Christian. She’s a Buddhist. And I wanted feedback from a young adult from another faith tradition.
Notes to the Reader: Interspersed throughout the text are sections with narrower font type that I call “Break It Downs.” These are provided to allow us to go deeper into various subtopics and provide background information, or some of my musings, on a variety of topics. If you like going down rabbit holes of the mind, you might enjoy them. Feel free to skip them at your leisure. The Footnotes are a combination of more of my thoughts on certain subtopics, passages from other sources that provide further information, and references from works that I cite. Feel free to skip Chapter 1 if you’d rather dig right into the meat of the text. It’s just a bunch of stuff about me and the book isn’t really about me – besides I’m a dork. If you’d prefer to skip past the theology and focus more upon what progressive Christianity looks like in practice, you might wish to simply read the Introduction and Chapter 2 and then skip ahead to Section II and see Chapters 11-13 and the Postlude. I alternate referring to God as “He” and “She.” I speak to why I do this in Chapter 3. I sometimes refer to God with the pronoun Who intentionally capitalized. This is done to show reverence and to make it clear who I’m referring to. Unless otherwise indicated, the Bible passages that I quote are from the NIV (New International Version) Bible. This is intentional as I feel it does a good job with the Greek in the New Testament, it is favored by many conservative Christians, and I’d like to help any conservative Christians who read this book to feel familiarity and a sense of welcome and hospitality. Due to legal issues regarding the quoting of music lyrics, I paraphrase them when I use them.
Because there are many varieties of Christianity and there is no way I could speak to all of them, I have limited my focus in this book to distinguishing progressive Christianity from the forms of the faith that are most prominently featured and discussed by the American media; i.e., conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism. I employ a compare-and-contrast approach that may come across as dualistic or divisive. In the Postlude at the end of the text I make a point to reconcile and state that progressive Christianity isn’t necessarily better than other approaches to the faith. I recognize the limitations of these approaches but my intention is to help correct the current imbalance of conservative Christianity all but monopolizing the faith. The conservative evangelical approach isn’t resonating with many of today’s young people (or older persons for that matter) and I have a heart to share the approach of progressive Christianity.