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Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity Paperback – August 7, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Progressive Christianity is about embracing mystery. … Accordingly, the authors believe that the necessary incompleteness of our theology is an invitation to ongoing creative transformation. . . . Living the Questions is an excellent introduction to progressive theology.” (The Christian Century)

“I’m so grateful for Living the Questions. These progressive voices offer less rigid and more expansive approaches to Christian faith, and make room for people who practice critical thinking and question the gatekeepers. They help us see that questioning the gatekeepers is exactly what Jesus was all about.” (Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity)

“Among the most dynamic and talented clergy in the world, David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy speak with high levels of credibility to the deep and abiding human hunger that yearns for a Christian future.” (John Shelby Spong, author of Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World)

“A welcome book that is bold (without being contentious) and courageous (without needing to be triumphant), Felten and Procter-Murphy give voice to a faith that provides a profound alternative to the dominant ideology of ‘American Christianity.’ Attention should be paid!” (Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary)

“A rich, wise, helpful and important book—virtually a manifesto of progressive Christianity.” (Marcus Borg, author of Evolution of the Word)

“This has been sorely needed for years. Felten and Procter-Murphy provide an unusual clarity about the issues that commonly confuse and divide people in our churches today and then open a pathway to a more vital and even exciting way to approach the Christian faith in the 21st century.” (Fred C. Plumer, President, Progressive

“Calls Progressive Christians to live out their authentic mix of faith and doubt, to practice nonviolence, to stand in solidarity with the poor, to eschew the idolatry of wealth, and to seek ‘justice and inclusivity in a culture dominated by suspicion and fear.’” (Spirituality and Practice)

“Felten and Proctor-Murphy salute the mystics of the past and some of the present moment who help us to be more open to the Divine, to let go of our clinging to ancient dogmas about God and Jesus, and to surrender to ‘not knowing’ all the answers.” (Spirituality and Practice)

“Most people in church grew up listening to those who claimed to have all the answers. Who knew that the questions were more interesting, that ‘living’ them is true faithfulness. Felten and Procter-Murphy have given the class such superb resources that no one is in a hurry to graduate.” (Dr. Robin R. Meyers, Senior Minister, Mayflower Congregational UCC Church; Professor of Rhetoric, Oklahoma City University)

“Amidst the impression that Christianity has an unchanging, singular vision of the world, this book shows how the Christian tradition actually involves a rich, dynamic and diverse conversation where critical reflection, differing opinions and honest engagement with the biggest questions is happening under the very nose of the dogmatists.” (Peter Rollins, author of The Idolotry of God)

From the Back Cover

Bringing together the voices of top Bible scholars and church leaders —including Marcus Borg, Diana Butler Bass, John Dominic Crossan, Helen Prejean, and John Shelby Spong—pastors David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy present a lively and stimulating tour of what it means to be a "progressive" Christian. Based on the bestselling DVD course of the same name, Living the Questions explores matters many churches are afraid to address including the humanity of Jesus and homosexuality, and examines in a new light traditional faith topics such as the Bible, atonement, salvation, the rapture, and more.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1st edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062109367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062109361
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Dubious Disciple on August 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Latin re-ligio: To relink, to reconnect.

Buy this book! If I do a "best of 2012" summary this January, I guarantee this one will be near the top. Heart and head both feel satisfied as I turn the last page.

This is what progressive Christianity is all about. It will toy with your emotions, lift you to the heights of compassion, and fill your soul with awe for the beauty and mystery of life we share. God is in this book, until you set the book down and discover He has wiggled out of its pages and into your soul. Perhaps God was inside you all along, waiting to be reawakened?

Many of us do need reawakening; religion has become a turn-off for many. In no other area of life is the denial of progress held up as a virtue. But according to Felten and Procter-Murphy, stagnation, not change, is Christianity's deadliest enemy. Vital faith is dynamic, flowing, and moving. Progressive Christianity, by its very name, is about progress. Rethinking the meaning of Christology, atonement, and the Incarnation is part of the journey. Losing interest in the Rapture is a necessary side effect.

"Living the Questions" is an enigmatic title, and the book begins with this insight: "To not ask questions is tantamount to forfeiting one's own spiritual birthright and allowing other people's experience of the Divine to define your experience." It ends with the reminder that "those who embrace mystery are free to interpret the Divine in new and fresh ways." In the pages between, however, we travel back in time to the Jesus of history, a man of vision and compassion, and a this-worldly concern largely ignored by the creeds of the religion that sprouted in his name. The essence of Jesus' ministry might be distilled down into one word: compassion.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Greg Smith (aka sowhatfaith) on August 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity is the single simplest entry point for anyone seeking to better understand what it means to live as a progressive Christian in the early twenty-first century. It is ideal for a wide audience, including those who

--left the church or organized Christianity (whether or not they still dutifully attend worship services);

-- assume the popular characterizations of conservative Christianity represent the views of all who follow the way of Jesus;

-- are uncomfortable with religious environments that focus on answering rather than asking questions.

The book is comprised of portions of the written material from the Living the Questions 2.0 (LTQ) guidebook alongside additional wisdom from those featured on the DVD and from those who have struggled with the same issues over the centuries. It is arranged into three equal parts, each seven chapters in length. The general themes follow:

Section 1: a general overview
Section 2: restoring relationships
Section 3: renewing Christian basics

Designed as an alternative to the videos and supplemental materials for group study, this book is well suited for personal study. Such study, however, would be enhanced by group discussion, which can be facilitated using the reader's guide questions that accompany each chapter.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Steve P on September 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good introduction to the ideas of so-called Progressive Christianity. Good for anyone who finds "traditional" Christianity intellectually inadequate as it offers a demythologized understanding of the biblical texts and focuses on compassion as the heart of Jesus' message. One does wonder, though, why demythologization doesn't go as far as abandoning belief in any god at all. This is not addressed in the book - but the construction of God is clearly different to a traditional construction. Draws heavily on the thinking of scholars such as John Shelby Spong and John Dominic Crossan. Easy to read and gentle in its presentation.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Doris Elphick on August 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
this book is a marvellous resource for anyone interested in Biblical literacy and the new knowledge that is coming from well resourced people. for those who are struggling with relevance of the Bible in today's world or who are asking if we should take all that it says literally this book ticks the boxes. for people who have been immersed in the Christian faith for years, this book opens up the Bible in new ways that encourage the asking of questions while allowing the reader to wrestle with the answers for themselves. I would recommend this to all who are disillusioned with the way faith has been portrayed as a literal reading, thus isolating many people in the world, to the people who want to know more about the journey of God with all people and who speaks in stories, action and understanding.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sheep23 on August 6, 2014
Format: Paperback
Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity by David M. Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy

What is Progressive Christianity and what are its major tenets? Pastors and teachers David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy seek to answer these questions in their book entitled Living the Questions. They do a very good job at elucidating the beliefs and practices of progressive Christianity, not necessarily following into the trap of making distinctions between evangelical thought at every point. The book here is based upon the bestselling DVD course of the same name. With a whole host of authors being referenced, the authors do an excellent job at bringing to the surface the main issues that concern a liberal or progressive Christianity.

The 2nd chapter on Taking the Bible Seriously is a review of some common understandings of the Bible being divine and the hesitancy of many Christians at asking tough questions. Rather, the authors propose that we look at the Bible in its different literary genres and not get caught up with the divine view of the Bible. Even more, having an evolving relationship with the Bible, asking the tough questions, and wrestling with its contradictions is what the authors have in mind (14-16). Felten and Murphy also yield a heavy hand against those who would seek to stand upon the literal truth of the stories of the Bible rather than drawing a distinction between the fact of the matter and the truth or application that the story exhibits. Although I agree with the authors that we need to be careful at taking into consideration the various genres in the Bible and the troubling passages, I think both authors have a misconception about how many evangelicals view the Bible.
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