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How can you describe your faith without listing the things you aren’t?

How can you describe your faith without listing the things you aren’t?

Writing on her blog, Maggie Nancarrow explores the challenge that some politically progressive Christians have in defining their faith. She describes the negative definition (“I’m a Christian but not the type of Christian that x….“) as a trap which helps define one type of Christianity as the ‘default’ or ‘normal’, before invoking new Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and his references to the ‘Jesus movement’.

From the blog:

And “War on Christmas” Christianity is not normative–it is not the true Jesus movement, it is not our religion. The way of truth and life, the way of resurrection and restoration and reconciliation, THAT is our religion. Let’s start talking about ourselves as if that’s true.

Nancarrow shares a ‘top ten list’ of ways to define your Christianity around your positive values, instead of oppositional values. Have you used any of these? Do you have others to add to her list?


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Rosemary Gooden

I am grateful for the leadership of our new presiding bishop, Michael Curry, who, thankfully has not used labels such as “progressive,” “liberal”, and “conservative.” He uses “human family” to describe all of us. And, to paraphrase from his installation service, we, who are Episcopalians, are the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

Rob Holman

I read this list and wonder why the label “progressive” needs to be included at all? I am most decidedly a conservative, but this list is how I would describe myself.

Marshall Scott

Best part about Nancarrow’s list? There isn’t a “but” in the whole list. Frankly, I think just the change of tone implied in beginning, “I’m a Christian and….” is a good start. (Yes, I like because too, but it’s not the same contrast with but.)

Anand Gnanadesikan

This is pretty good. While I do have disagreements with some of the liberal members of TEC, it isn’t over this.

It’s also important to remember that when we are defending our faith, how we do it depends on our audience. You don’t start out on seculars with the Virgin Birth when they fundamentally have the wrong idea about the character of God. (On the other hand, when describing one’s faith to evangelicals, reminding them that our faith is creedal is probably a better way to start.)

JC Fisher

Just yesterday I was in my usual anti-theist online context (JoeMyGod dot com: it’s a challenging mission field, to be sure!), and described the Episcopal Church as a place of “peace, fellowship and food”: I think that works pretty well, secularly.

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