Treading Softly – Proceed with Caution

A few weeks ago I was attending a party, and I saw a woman who looked very familiar to me, but I had no idea how I knew her. After talking for a few moments, we realized that the one thing we had in common was the Congregational Church of the Valley. She had been a member of the church but left just about the time I became involved with it. She inquired about a few people, and I filled her in on how they were doing. She asked about the church, and I mentioned to her that several of us were beginning to investigate Progressive Christianity. She asked me, ‘What in the world is Progressive Christianity?’ Now, as I explained in my introduction, I am striving to become an articulate advocate of Progressive Christianity, and this seemed to be a golden opportunity to begin my advocacy.

I explained to her that Progressive Christianity was an emerging form of Christianity that was based on a non-literal interpretation of the bible. As an example, I mentioned the idea of Jesus being born of a virgin. I told her that I, for one, do not believe that particular concept and I asked rhetorically, ‘Does it really matter that Jesus was born of a virgin? Does it change his message?’ At this, she replied with great certainty that it did matter. When I asked her why, she replied, ‘Because it was foretold!’ She spun on her heel and got away from me as fast as she could. That was the last I saw of her for the evening. So much for my advocacy (and my articulation).

The lesson I learned from this encounter was that people might have closely held beliefs that they are either unwilling or unable to discuss at this point in their life. Or, they just may not be willing to enter into such a conversation with someone they don’t know from Adam. It amazes me that people can continue to adhere to a set of beliefs without occasionally examining them or questioning them, but some do. I learned that I could not by sheer force of will accelerate someone through the years of thought and research some of us have been through, and I should not expect them to lay down their beliefs simply on my say so. This is going to be tougher than I thought!

The Progressive Christian