I was a hard-core Carolyn Arends fan, you guys. I quoted her in my valedictorian speech. Of course I bought her book.
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At that time, it felt to me that being a person of faith meant that you had to have a lot of answers, so her warm and friendly book about a messy faith that includes questions was a balm to my soul. Except for the end. Because at the end of the book, she quoted her husband saying that maybe none of these questions will matter when we get to heaven, because all we will be doing is singing Holy holy holy.
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We do all have to make space in our hearts for the realization that we are not going to understand everything. It made me feel as if there was nothing I could do to be more a part of my faith. I just had to passively accept what was going on around me. In the years since then, I have embraced the idea that a life of faith has much less to do with having all the right beliefs and much more to do with the way that those beliefs are lived out.
Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity
Instead of being about internal wrestling, this is a book about action. A more in-depth discussion of biblical authority and inspiration, of the meaning of revelation and of the character of the God-world relationship, would have been helpful in this section.
If fundamentalists claim to know too much about God and human destiny, progressives often claim to know too little about key theological issues. This section is more definitive in its deconstruction of fundamentalist theories of atonement, redemptive violence and the rapture and second coming. In contrast to otherworldly visions of salvation, the authors see salvation as blessing that defends what is beautiful and nurtures goodness. The authors give scant attention to life after death, despite its importance to many Christians.
Hope in this lifetime may involve the affirmation of evolution and adventure beyond the grave. Given the growing interest in near-death experiences and survival after death among seekers, progressive Christian theologians need to explore more fully what the afterlife might look like from a progressive perspective.go
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Wherever we find ourselves, the mystery of life dwells within us, not limited to time or place, but manifest in every aspect of our lives. Prayer is about openness and mindfulness that transform us first and may lead to changes in our overall well-being.
The authors affirm that progressive Christianity is about embracing mystery. There is always more to God and us than we can fathom. Accordingly, the authors believe that the necessary incompleteness of our theology is an invitation to ongoing creative transformation, personal and congregational. In spite of those weaknesses, Living the Questions is an excellent introduction to progressive theology, especially for those who are viewing the DVD series. It may inspire progressive thinkers to become bold and creative in articulating progressive theologies and practices.
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