We have liberal pastors!

In his blog today Frater RO put out the call for the appearance of Liberal Pastors. The thing is that they are already here. Entire movements of them.

MAINLINE CHRISTIANITY: Mainline Christianity (most of Protestant Denominations, named after the railroad mainline in Philadelphia where many of these denominations first became established) WAS the majority of Christianity in this country – now quickly become overshadowed by Evangelicals. Those that do maintain the term Mainline Christian vary from center left (not going to be active against gay marriage, but probably not ok with gay Clergy) to people REALLY far left theologically like Bishop Sprong, former Episcopal Bishop of Newark who basically would re-write the creed, 10 commandments, and everything else to reflect a VERY liberal Christianity. In the middle are people like Father Matthew, another Episcopalean whose videos I have occasionally linked to from this blog.

In short: there are still a lot of people who do not attend non-denominational mega churches. Those people tend to be Liberal.

LIBERAL EVANGELICALS: Rick Warren, the popular Mega Church Pastor, is liberal by the standards of current Evangelicals. He is looking to bridge the gap between the two and bring back socially liberal activity into the evangelist churches.

Rob Bell is another example of a Liberal Evangelical, going so far as to write a book detailing why, if God is Love, there can be no hell.

EMERGING CHURCH: Emerging church is a post modern Christian Movement that is really shaking things up. Brian McLaren, who would go so far sometimes as to say that an evangelist should be primarily concerned with spreading the things that Christ taught rather than Christianity itself. Here is a great quote:

“I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts … rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on … To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them (whoever they are), to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love as mine has been entered by the Lord” (A Generous Orthodoxy, 260, 262, 264).

Go check out emergentvillage.org for more info.

CONTEMPLATIVES: Contemplative and Mystical Christianity is becoming a rising force in both the Protestant and Catholic world. Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Labrynth Walking, Neo Hesychasm, and even more esoteric practices like Grudjiefian work. While you cannot bank on all contemplatives being Liberal, most seem to bend that way. Father Richard Rohr, Anglican Contemplative Maggie Ross, and former Pagan turned Christian Mystic Carl McColeman are just a few names that come to mind off the top of my head.

Not one but TWO of the Catholic Churches near me have strong contemplative groups and interests, carrying books on mysticism , hosting labrynth walks, and hooking people up with spiritual directors that will guide them through the practices.

FRINGE CHRISTIANITY. I dont mean fringe in a bad way. Only that something in the theology keeps it from being the type of thing covered in Christianity Today. My beloved Swedenborgians would fall into this group, as would Gnostic Christian Churches, The Liberal Catholic Church, some Independent Catholic Churches (a few  of which are independent because they want to be more conservative than Rome), and Christian Magical groups like the Avalonians and such.


About Inominandum

Author. Sorcerer. Consultant. I have 30 plus years of experience making magic a reality for myself, my clients, and my students. For a complete background go to www.strategicsorcery.net
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12 Responses to We have liberal pastors!

  1. RO says:

    Right on. I come from the Evangelical side of Christianity, and I never knew any of this stuff existed. I thought all Christians were like us, or Catholic.

    Did I mention I’m related to Johnny Appleseed? He was a Swedenborgian evangelist, that’s why he went all over the States planting apple trees. It wasn’t about the trees, it was about spreading the Swedenborgian beliefs. I read an article on Swedenborg’s vision in Gnosis years ago, but that’s about all I know about it. Should probably check that out.

    • Inominandum says:

      Here is what we do. I will meet you in Philadelphia for brunch one Saturday or Sunday. Yopu hop in my car and I will take you to the Swedenborgian Cathedral in Bryn Athyn. It will simply break your fucking mind. Its like something Loecraft thought of.

      Plus you can get the best Swedenborg Book there.

  2. Andrew B. says:

    I’m going to be in Philadephia in mid-April-ish. Admittedly I’ll be with my Dad, but maybe I’ll have a chance to break away for a bit. Could I possibly hang out with you two cool cats for a bit?

  3. Frater Benedict says:

    At the moment I do not remember if it was yourself (i.e. Jason) or RO who, some time ago, observed that liberal Christians often feel at ease with meditation, but not with miracles, while conservative Evangelicals feel at ease with miracles (occurring after intense intercession), but not with meditation. This is the point where your mainline, liberal evangelical and emerging movements fail, I suppose.

    I, however, have the impression that a combination of progressive social views, meditation friendliness and miracle expecting intercessional life may be present in the contemplative and fringe movements of your description. Is the ‘Fr. Matthew’ in the mainline categorization of yours the same person as Matthew Fox, the one who gave Creation Spirituality its name? I would be prone to put him in the contemplative category myself: The contemplative category is a field overlapping parts of the mainline, fringe and – perhaps – even the emerging category.

    RO will find that ecstatic Eastern mysticism doesn’t need the costume of New Testament language: There is already an ecstatic Eastern mysticism within Traditional Christianity: Hesychasm.

    • Inominandum says:

      It was me who made that post. Actually the miracle or as I put it magical, is not very welcome in contemplative movements either. Even at Catholic Monestaries Novenas aimed at this or that tend to be viewed as superstition.

      The Father Matthew I mention is Matthew Moretz and he is an Episcopal Priest in NY. Youtube him, he is everywhere.

      • Frater Benedict says:

        Thank you, Jason. I appreciate what I have seen of Fr. Matthew Moretz’ Youtube-videos this morning. In my eyes he seem to be the very model of a modern Episcopalian.

        Since Fr. Matthew Fox hasn’t been discussed here, I wish to clarify. He started as a member of the Roman Catholic Order of Preachers (the Dominicans), but the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith criticized him in the 1980’s. In 1993 he was expelled from the Dominicans, and became an Episcopal priest instead. Both during the Roman Catholic period and the Episcopal period of his life, he systematized elements of Traditional Christianity and elements freely borrowed from other faith traditions in a somewhat unconventional way called ‘Creation Spirituality’. Here do meditation, environment-awareness, sacramental spirituality and socially progressive values meet. To a certain extent it could be described as a Christian equivalent to what Jewish Renewal is for Judaism.

        There are some minor points where I disagree with Fr. Matthew (Fox, that is, not Moretz), among which is the way to designate his approaches to spirituality. His phenomenological observation of them is correct of course (as far as I can see), and I highly value his stress on the need for Thanksgiving (and Joy), Self-knowledge (even of painful things), Creativity and Social Action to be balanced in a sound spiritual life. My problem with this system is that he has chosen to call two of these approaches ‘Via Positiva’ and ‘Via Negativa’. People coming from a background already familiar with Traditional theology will – initially – be puzzled, because these two terms means something else in other and older literature (approaches to God’s knowledgeable and unknowledgeable aspects, respectively). In the same way, fans of Fr. Matthew will – at least initially – find older literature using the two terms confusing, before realizing that the terms can be used in several different ways. It had been better if Fr. Matthew had chosen to call the thank- and joyful part of spirituality and the painfully self-exploring part of spirituality something else.

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