I had a conversation yesterday with a young man who asked what I teach as a minister. (He may have said “preach” but I prefer “teaching” not “preaching” as a minister.) It turns out what he really wanted to know was whether I was Christian.
“So what is it you preach? Is it Christian?”
“Yes, but it’s best characterized as progressive Christianity.”
“Does it have a salvation message?”
“Well it sounds like progressive Christianity is just a term you’re using to say you don’t teach what Jesus really said.”
I paused, took a big breath, and replied, “Are you telling me what Jesus said or do you want to have a discussion about what Jesus might have really meant?”
Jesus was a rebellious youth in dogmatic times.
Jesus was a jew rallying against the status quo, authority, and dogma.
Jesus was telling the poor, disenfranchised and downtrodden that they were worthy, valuable, and loved.
Jesus was saying, “Hey people, look at me! I know who I am! I am a child of a loving God and I love as I am loved—fully, unconditionally, and without reservation. And so are you so stop cowering before a God of condemnation and live kindly, compassionately, and think for yourselves!"
As it turns out, the young man was right and I don’t really teach Progressive Christianity. I teach what Jesus taught and that type of Christianity has died a slow death over the last 2,000 years. The heart of the message has been humanized, institutionalized and bastardized into a socio-political set of restrictive morality that bears little or no resemblance to what Jesus really said.
Jesus taught Progressive Judaism, essential Buddhism, the Wisdom of the Ages—Jesus taught love.
I’m not progressive, I’m fundamental. I am a teacher of fundamental Jesus-ism.