Progressive Commentaires?

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elliott siu | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Aug 13 2021 9:20 AM

Hey folks. While I would not consider myself a progressive Christian, I would be interested in reading from that point of view to broaden my approach to sermon application. Does anyone have recommendations for commentaries or study Bibles that have a progressive Christian perspective on Logos?

Posts 50
Ken Thompsen | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 10:44 AM

elliott siu:

Hey folks. While I would not consider myself a progressive Christian, I would be interested in reading from that point of view to broaden my approach to sermon application. Does anyone have recommendations for commentaries or study Bibles that have a progressive Christian perspective on Logos?

That's a good question. I know of plenty of "conservative" and "liberal" commentaries, but not "progressive".

Funnily, I think the whole notion of "progressivism" was actually stolen from Christianity. Particularly stolen from Post-Millenialism (and partly Amillenialism) which was the view that was prevalent with the Abolitionists. It was partly the view of the larger landscape of the Church as well, with it's massive push for missions, education, hospitals, charities, and other helps. The idea of a progressive outlook on history and postmillennialism are one and the same - that is, the idea that it is the Church's duty to build the Kingdom of God here and now and slowly improve the world. To be a "light to the world", as Jesus said. You even hear echos of this in old hymns of the 1700s and 1800s, like "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Joy to the World".

This was the dominant view especially in much of Protestantism until WW1 and WW2, when people finally lost hope in some kind of ongoing "improvement" of humanity. It ended with a big thud and mushroom cloud. The main people who kept up a bright spirit were the people who were actually beat down the most: the black churches. They kept the fire alive in things like the Civil Rights movement. Which wasn't political, but originated in and motivated within their church communities. But the church largely didn't listen to them or join the fray (see MLK's Letter from a Birmingham Jail for insight to this and his plea to other clergy). Some helped, but not on a large scale like in the Abolitionist days. Instead, it was the secular world who saw hope in Rosa Parks and MLK Jr., not their fellow Christians. And eventually it was secular people who slowly took up the mantle of postmillennialism and it became what we now know as "progressivism"... except they don't have the same spark or religiosity. It's anemic. And it's controlled by equally anemic politicians. And half of the time, people don't truly know WHY they fight for justice. It's certainly not to build God's Kingdom. Just saying that would be alien to their ears. At this point, I think it's just to get Twitter likes, or merely display performative gestures. They're not motivated to do any hard work (let alone suffering or dying like Abolitionists or Civil Rights people did). In short, you can't truly fight for justice without God on your side. Progressivism is a sham. It's divorced from it's original motivation, which was imitating Christ. They don't even want to hear about Christ, but it's Christ who is the fountain of justice:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

Basically, I doubt you'll find a good progressive commentary anytime soon. They don't even know why they're doing what they're doing or where their ideas come from. They don't even appreciate where morality itself comes from - they think they invented it themselves or it's from "humanistic" principles. But it was the Church who spread these things to the world. It's the Church who spread this light. And it's the Church's mission to do all of this to begin with and take it back as her birthright.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 3:55 PM

Ken Thompsen:
Basically, I doubt you'll find a good progressive commentary anytime soon. They don't even know why they're doing what they're doing or where their ideas come from. They don't even appreciate where morality itself comes from - they think they invented it themselves or it's from "humanistic" principles.

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Bolding is mine. I know little about the progressive Christianity folks but what I know is drawn from:

  • particular progressive authors providing revised lectionaries that use an expanded canon ... I have at times requested that these be added to Logos
  • summer seminary sessions with progressive classmates, and in one case a suite mate.
  • hours and hours with a friend who wished to be a progressive minister -- we shared two interests: food and religion

Even with such little background knowledge, I know enough to be insulted by how you portray my friends.

elliott siu:
Does anyone have recommendations for commentaries or study Bibles that have a progressive Christian perspective on Logos?

Not in Logos, but ProgressiveChristianity.org : Store has lessons on the lectionary readings which may be of help. They also carry some titles by Spong, Wolsey, and Fox but not Butcher. Also not in Logos Scholars Bible Series - Westar Institute is a progressive commentary - the same site also carries monographs on several biblical books.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 1163
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 4:54 PM

I know this is hugely off-topic, but doing a search for Scholar's Bible quickly located Scholar's Library. And our very own abondservant (comment).

https://www.amazon.com/Scholars-Library-Logos-Research-Systems/dp/1577991478 

But for BSS, it'd be nice to at least offer a key volume or so. Mark would be good. Or Thomas. Or Polycarp. Wow ... not too many are willing to take on Polycarp, as he actually wrote.

Posts 1163
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 4:59 PM

Ken Thompsen:
Funnily, I think the whole notion of "progressivism" was actually stolen from Christianity.

Ken, I think you kind of spun out in the 27th lap. Speaking strictly from developmental linguistics.

Posts 116
Jon | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 6:21 PM

I think the most “scholarly” progressive Christian that comes to mind is Pete Enns, who has some commentaries on Logos (NIVAC Exodus, Two Horizons Ecclesiastes, Invitation to Genesis).  However, most of those were written 10+ years ago, so I’m not sure if his current viewpoints really came across in them at the time or not.

Posts 693
Ted Weis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 7:19 PM

I would suggest the Fortress Bible Commentary

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 7:58 PM

Ted Weis:
I would suggest the Fortress Bible Commentary

Ted, at first I was puzzled as I think of it as liberal rather than progressive. But I did a bit of research and discovered that progressive  is a bit broader term than I realized.  Thanks for suggesting this.

Top 10 Progressive Christian Writers, Bloggers, and Podcasters — The Contemplative Life. lists:

  1. Marcus Borg
  2. John Hick
  3. Dale C. Allison
  4. Walter Brueggemann who I think of as liberal not progressive
  5. Richard Rohr who clearly is neither liberal nor progressive but rather perennial philosophy
  6. Peter Enns (mentioned elsewhere in this forum thread)
  7. Richard Beck
  8. Rachel Held Evans
  9. Rob Bell
  10. Deconstructionists (I'd never heard of this site)

Supplementary list:

  • Karen Armstrong
  • John Shelby Spong
  • John Dominic Crossan
  • Brian McLaren
  • Phyliis Tickle (huh? this seems a very odd placement)
  • Diana Butler Bass
  • Mike McHargue 
  • Anthony Coleman

It seems, reading these lists, as if "progressive" may have a different definition if you come from an evangelical background than if you come from a liberal (often main stream Protestant) background. It is interesting that Faithlife did not find it necessary to have a liberal-progressive category in their theological breakdowns.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 50
Ken Thompsen | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 10:00 PM

MJ. Smith:

Even with such little background knowledge, I know enough to be insulted by how you portray my friends.

Nothing I said has anything to do with your friends. You're just looking for trouble. I'm talking about humanists who reject God, but think they still understand justice. This has nothing to do with people you know who are involved in Christian ministries. That's the complete opposite of what I said. 

Posts 50
Ken Thompsen | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 10:04 PM

DMB:

Ken Thompsen:
Funnily, I think the whole notion of "progressivism" was actually stolen from Christianity.

Ken, I think you kind of spun out in the 27th lap. Speaking strictly from developmental linguistics.

Please explain. The most I'll entertain is that modern progressive notions either come from millennial attitudes in the Church or Marxism (specifically Marx's view of an evolutionary development of humanity and his whole concept of an "end of history" utopia). But seeing how the Church was at this longer than Marxism, I'm going to throw out that notion.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 10:12 PM

Ken Thompsen:
You're just looking for trouble. I'm talking about humanists who reject God, but think they still understand justice.

You fail to understand. We do not insult ANYONE in the forums including humanists. This thread is about progressive Christianity not humanists. And I have plenty of friends in the periennial philosophy camp as well as relatives in the humanist camp. Having an advanced degree in Buddhist studies I also know that it is ignorant to believe that one (e.g. Buddhist) cannot understand justice because the religion they follow is agnostic/atheistic

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 10:26 PM

Ken Thompsen:
The most I'll entertain is that modern progressive notions either come from millennial attitudes in the Church or Marxism (specifically Marx's view of an evolutionary development of humanity and his whole concept of an "end of history" utopia).

A simple sample of a statement of beliefs from a self-proclaimed progressive church that is progressive in the sense that I (and Wikipedia) understand it: from What is Progressive Christianity? - Bethel UCC (bethelbeaverton.org)

Our Progressive Beliefs

1. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS FOUNDED ON THREE PRIMARY CALLS WE SEE THROUGH JESUS; 

To love God, to love our neighbor, and to love ourselves.

2. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS OUR WAY OF BEING FAITHFUL TO GOD. BUT IT IS NOT THE ONLY WAY.

Christianity is the truth for us. But it is not the only truth.

This principle stems from the reality of the 21st century. We share our lives with people who are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist. We experience these people as loving and caring by following their religious traditions. To deny that is to deny that God can only draw people with one way. That simply isn’t born out in our experience.

The power of the Christian faith to transform lives does not require it to be exclusively true. Exclusivity is born out of fear. The fear that there is one train to God and if you aren’t on the right train, you’ll go to hell. We believe there are many trains and God welcomes them all.

3. LOVE OF GOD INVOLVES ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE, NOT JUST HUMAN LIFE.

Care of the Earth and its ecosystems is an expression of Christian faith and stewardship.

This principle stems from our ever-widening understanding of climate change and influence our “carbon footprint” has on the quality of the air, water and soil. Science and religious faith are friends – each informs the other.  Wisdom and insight from both are essential for Christian faith.

4. LOVE OF NEIGHBOR MEANS EXTENDING KINDNESS AND CARE...

To those in our family and in our local and global communities.

Further, love of neighbor includes affirmation of the LBGTQ community, immigrants, people of other faith traditions and even those who are enemies.

5. LOVE OF SELF MEANS ENGAGING IN SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES

Worship, prayer, music, study of the Bible and other literature feeds the mind, heart and spirit.

Love of self also includes giving time for rest, recreation, nurturing friendship, a healthy diet and physical exercise. Love of self requires humility and humor.

For a fuller expression of Progressive Christianity, see The Phoenix Affirmations,

In the terminology as I understand it, UCC is the result of the merger of multiple traditional, liberal-leaning denominations. Some congregations, at least, have moved from liberal to progressive in order to more fully embody the love and inclusivity God. There are a number of reasons I do not agree with them, but I do understand what they are pushing against and think them justified in doing so. I suspect you will find this to have ties to perennial philosophy - the tradition of Rohr not progressive Christianity as mistakenly suggested in a quote above.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 121
Greg Dement | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 10:33 PM
  1. Richard Rohr who clearly is neither liberal nor progressive ??

Please provide the definition of progressive you are adhering to?

Posts 50
Ken Thompsen | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 10:44 PM

MJ. Smith:

Ken Thompsen:
You're just looking for trouble. I'm talking about humanists who reject God, but think they still understand justice.

You fail to understand. We do not insult ANYONE in the forums including humanists. 

There is no "we" here. I didn't agree to be part of any group you have here or your rules. I'm just a software user. Go ahead and ban me, if you want. I won't miss much, if that's the route you want to go.

That's nice that you have a "degree" and all, but it's not how Buddhism works on the ground, among cultural adherents (i.e. away from academic circles and especially Westerners). I'm Asian myself and grew up in a Buddhist household and Buddhist culture (specifically Thai/Theravada). None of it is as "atheistic" as academic books would suggest. In practice, Buddhism has never been an isolated idea unto itself. It blends with local custom, which tend to be at least polytheistic or animist. Sometimes subconsciously monotheistic (perhaps via osmosis and Christian influence). I've never seen an actual Buddhist in my own culture or from other Asians that is as "pure" and "agnostic" as academia would suggest. Buddhists largely go about their lives consciously or unconsciously aware of dual notions of "karma". One karma of eternity and one kind of karma involved in pleasing some god or spirit (be it ancestors or household/spirits of locale). Be it Japanese and Thais with all of their local spirits and shrines, or the juggling of myriad gods in China or India. Whatever Buddha himself tried to teach about a lack of God, it at least didn't fully sink in on a day to day level. Asian people never truly dropped their notion of God or gods. Nor do I particularly consider him all that ethical in the first place: The original Gautama Buddha ditched his wife and child because he couldn't cope with the idea of suffering. So he decided to become a bum. Then on top of that, taught a doctrine of withdrawal and telling people to cease desire. There is nothing "just" about this. Fighting for justice is true religion, as Isaiah and James said. "Learn to do good; Seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow." -Isaiah 1:17. This does not come from emptying oneself of desire, but a radical desire to change the world.

Posts 1516
Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 11:23 PM

Ted Weis:

I would suggest the Fortress Bible Commentary

I second this recommendation. I would also add:

Women's Bible Commentary

Anything by Walter Brueggemann

These books by Peter Enns (check out commentaries written by him too.)

I don't know if all these call themselves "Progressive" but progressives like to read them:

Feasting on the Word

Interpretation

Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible

Westminster Bible Companion

Two Horizons Commentary (I haven't read these yet but I'm going by some of the authors' names)

Wisdom Commentary (I don't own these but I wish I did, Logos never puts them on sale or includes them in a package)

Posts 1516
Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 11:52 PM

Authors Progressives read (not necessarily in Logos):

Rachel Held Evans

Nadia Bolz-Weber

Brian Zahnd

Brian D. McClaren

Shane Claiborne

Diana Butler Bass

Peter Enns (his popular, non-scholarly books)

Barbara Brown Taylor

David P. Gushee

Bishop Michael B. Curry

Henri Nouwen (not saying he's progressive, just saying progressives like to read him)

Richard Rohr (same as Nouwen)

Rob Bell (I include him though I'm not a fan)

Gregory A. Boyd (I don't know if he calls himself progressive but he always has a unique take on things)

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 14 2021 1:11 AM

Greg Dement:
Please provide the definition of progressive you are adhering to?

Because none of my Logos resources provided a definition of progressive Christianity, I would refer you to Wikipedia or the self-proclaimed progressive church in the post above yours. Rohr is much closer to perennial philosophy than progressive Christianity. In fact, I think Rohr claims to be in the perennial philosopy lineage for example: Richard Rohr's Meditation: The Perennial Tradition (constantcontact.com)

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 14 2021 1:17 AM

Kiyah:
Authors Progressives read (not necessarily in Logos):

Thank you Kiyah ... you've expanded this list and reassured me that others have the same understanding of "progressive Christianity" as I.  The OP has gotten a solid answer to his question from multiple people. I hope he is pleased.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 14 2021 1:41 AM

MJ. Smith:

Kiyah:
Authors Progressives read (not necessarily in Logos):

Thank you Kiyah ... you've expanded this list and reassured me that others have the same understanding of "progressive Christianity" as I.  The OP has gotten a solid answer to his question from multiple people. I hope he is pleased.

Since I identify as progressive and not liberal, I thought I'd include the commentaries and authors inside and outside of Logos that I and my fellow self-identified progressives read a lot without trying to define the word progressive since nailing down a single definition is difficult, and it may even be rather unprogressive to try Wink. I don't think there are any commentaries that are officially labeled "progressive" (none that I know of anyway), but there are authors' names that come up repeatedly in progressive christian circles. Hopefully this is helpful to the OP. Some of the authors I listed have Ebooks in the Ebook store, so don't forget to look for Ebooks as well as Research Editions.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 14 2021 1:56 AM

Ken Thompsen:
There is no "we" here. I didn't agree to be part of any group you have here or your rules. I'm just a software user. Go ahead and ban me, if you want. I won't miss much, if that's the route you want to go.

I have no power to ban you nor have I any wish to have that power. What I can do, is what I did -- refer you to Faithlife's guidelines as the guidelines request. Nor have I any interest in breaking guidelines by discussing Marx or Buddhism with you in the forums. My interests in this thread are simple:

  • to ensure the OP gets satisfactory suggestions for progressive christian commentaries
  • which requires a common understanding of what the OP means by "progressive christianity"
  • and that the thread stays within the Faithlife guidelines of not making others feel uncomfortable or devalued by misrepresenting/denouncing their beliefs

Resources I would like to see in Faithlife for Christians to understand Buddhism in its multiple forms:

  • Living Buddha, Living Christ: 20th Anniversary Edition by Thich Nhat Hanh and Elaine Pagels
  • The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Robert Kiely, et al.
  • Without Buddha I Could Not be a Christian by Paul F. Knitter
  • From Buddha to Jesus: An Insider's View of Buddhism & Christianity (Comparative Religions) by Steve Cioccolanti
  • Compassion and Meditation: The Spiritual Dynamic between Buddhism and Christianity by Jean-Yves Leloup
  • Mysticism, Christian and Buddhist: The Spiritual Beliefs of Buddhism and Christianity, with Comparisons of the Afterlife, God and Enlightenment by Deisetz Teitaro Suzuki
  • The Story of Barlaam and Joasaph: Buddhism & Christianity by Saint John of Damascus [in Logos]
  • Thomas Merton’s Encounter with Buddhism and Beyond: His Interreligious Dialogue, Inter-monastic Exchanges, and Their Legacy by Jaechan Anselmo Park OSB, Bonnie B. Thurston, et al.
  • The Still Point: Reflections on Zen and Christian Mysticism (Reflections on Zen and on Christian Mysticism) by William Johnston
  • The Jesus Sutras: Rediscovering the Lost Scrolls of Taoist Christianity by Martin Palmer

I have also suggested perennial philosophy resources several times:

  • The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley
  • The Underlying Religion: An Introduction to the Perennial Philosophy by Martin Lings and Clinton Minnaar
  • The Fullness of God: Frithjof Schuon on Christianity (Library of Perennial Philosophy) by Frithjof Schuon and Seyyed Hossein Nasr
  • The Symbolism of the Cross by Rene Guenon
  • The Essential Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (Perennial Philosophy Series) by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy and Rama P. Coomaraswamy
  • The Essential Titus Burckhardt: Reflections on Sacred Art, Faiths, and Civilizations (Perennial Philosophy Series) by Titus Burckhartd and William Stoddart
  • Sufism Love And Wisdom by Jean-Louis Michon & Roger Gaetani
  • Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief by Huston Smith

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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