- 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: 124 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity Paperback – August 7, 2012
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“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 Christianity.org)
“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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Top customer reviews
The first section of this book entitled, "Journey" spends a lot of time focusing on the fundamental theology of progressive Christianity. While I myself am progressive, I am not convinced the theology described in this section is universally adopted by those of us who are progressive. According to the authors of this book, the Bible is very ambiguous and primarily metaphorical. While I appreciate this view, I do believe most of the content in the Bible is literal, but certainly there is a lot of metaphor and symbolism mixed in as well. This is when we need to use discernment in our hermeneutics of Scripture to make an informed decision. Furthermore, there is plenty of extra-biblical evidence that support the historicity and veracity of the events, people, and geography of the Bible to totally dismiss it as metaphor... making the Bible to be what it truly is, a God-inspired narrative of the unfolding of God's plan for the redemption and reconciliation of mankind to their Creator. However, I agree with the authors that Christianity today is stale, dogmatic, and institutional. Heavily doctrinal driven and fundamentalist. Perhaps, a leftover of medieval-era religion. I agree that we need to always be reassessing what we believe and potentially change our views as we grow and mature in our faith in Christ. And, I believe this can be achieved without losing the overall integrity of Scripture or adopting heretical views.
The second section of this book entitled, "Reconciliation" continues with some fundamental issues along with several secondary issues. I, in most part, agreed with much of the content of this section. That Jesus exemplified a servant who often acted counter to the institutions of His day, and proclaimed some teachings that were completely counter cultural. Two of my favorite parts of this section was about The Myth of Redemptive Violence and Debunking the Rapture. Two subjects that I am in total agreement with progressive Christianity. Redemptive violence (i.e. war, military, vengeance, etc) is not something that Jesus taught, in fact, taught completely against it. And yet, most of today's evangelical Christianity has embraced it. Often times being the first to beat the war drums in support of any military action against another country. Similarly, the doctrine of the Rapture, a rather new doctrine and fanciful imagination of end-time dispensationalism promulgated by John Nelson Darby, does not appear to be a biblical doctrine but a man-made one that not only instigates violence, but promotes escapism, tribalism, and describes God as a wrathful and cranky curmudgeon to those who are "left behind".
The third and final section entitled, "Transformation" addresses issues such as inclusivity, social justice, prayer, compassion, and embracing mystery. While this was a valuable section that touched on important issues it seemed the book lost it's flair by this time and I struggled to finish it. It just seemed tired. But, there were a lot of valid points to be made. I especially appreciated the last chapter "Embracing Mystery". It's okay that we don't know all of the answers. It's okay we don't know everything there is about God. Sometimes it's good to just recognize the fact that we don't know, embrace it, and enjoy it. One of my favorite quotes in this chapter is this: "The image of God as a person has to give way to the image of God as presence."
Overall, it was a decent read and I recommend this book to Christians who are tired of what seems to be an apathetic and tired Christianity. But, I also offer a word of caution. While progressive Christianity has a lot to offer to our post modern society today, it does seem to have abandoned some important fundamentals of the Christian faith that are cautionary at most. And, while I and many that I know are progressive, I don't believe this book speaks on behalf of all of us who are progressive. Nevertheless, this is a good read and there are a lot of gems that can be found throughout this important book.
I highly recommend this book to people who are first becoming acquainted with Progressive Christianity and want to learn more. I have found that the responses to the discovery of the books and DVDs are usually enthusiastic like, "Wow, I had no idea this resource existed. I wish more of my open-minded friends could see these DVDs and see that there is an alternative to the regressive forms of Christianity that so often get the media coverage."
-Amos Smith (author of Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity's Mystic Roots)
--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.