Living Outside the Goldfish Bowl

I’m now 81. As an only child I lived through WWII and watched some of what was going on in the skies over Southern England as the Germans attacked London. Growing up after the war there was no TV; no computers; food was rationed; and we had to make our own amusements!
Neither of my parents who left school at 13 and 14, ever owned a Bible and only ever went to church for weddings and funerals. I was ‘forced’ to go to a Baptist Sunday School from the age of 9 with an acquaintance of my father, because my parents wanted me to be better educated than they were. I walked away just before I was 14.

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Progressive Christianity

This Post is incomplete – it is still a work-in-progress.

I first came across some members of the Progressive Christian Network in the UK about 12 years ago when they attended an inaugural meeting of Spirited Exchanges (originally set up by Alan Jamieson, the New Zealand author of “A Churchless Faith”). I was then very involved with the emerging / emergent / house church scene. It was immediately obvious that those members of PCN were only interested in changes from within the churches that their members attended.

It was in 2014 that I made contact with Eric, one of the trustees of the American organisation At that time Eric had a project designed to promote awareness and understanding about the various types of people who classify themselves as “Progressive Christians” and participate in “Progressive Christian” communities. He described one group (that I could relate to) as Very Theologically Progressive (VTP):
You may be in this group if you think everything in the Bible is up for considerable interpretation. For example, you may think that the Bible is errant and fallible. You may not be willing to say Jesus was “the Son of God” without a significant reframing explanation. And you may not require a virgin birth or resurrection as part of your theology. But you maintain that Christianity is a path and tradition of value.
This group should understand that their views may be unrecognisable by others who call themselves progressives. Other groupings should realise that these views are a likely evolution of progressive ideas, although they may be tempted to want to exclude this group from the title of Christianity.

I have recently been attending local PCN meetings in Brighton and was given the link to the March Newsletter. One article that immediately attracted my attention was, “Where is Progressive Christianity Heading?” by Andy Vivian. Although I had never had any formal theological training I knew immediately that here was someone on a very similar wavelength. I have been in touch with Andy and he has given me permission to include his article on my blog here as long as I make it clear that the formatting is mine and not his.

I am familiar with the work of all those mentioned in the article. A major influence for me in 2012 was Diana Butler Bass and I have a particularly strong feeling for the work of Barbara Brown Taylor and her thoughts on Lunar Spirituality.

My interest was reinforced when I read the material of Robin Meyers, an American who was going to be speaking in the UK in May. But at the same time I found myself thinking, “Nothing has changed – at least in the UK they are still concentrating on working from within existing churches”.

I had been introduced to the world of “Spiral Dynamics” several years ago. A few weeks ago I was reintroduced to the topic. It just seems so relevant now.

As I’ve said, this is a work-in-progress. I’m looking forward to hearing what thoughts others have.


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