THOUGHTS ON PROGRESSIVE RELIGION
The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, Canberra (CPRT) is the local branch of a world-wide movement of clergy and laity seeking to explore religion and spirituality and to throw new light on thought and practice of the sacred.
The majority of the members of CPRT, like most Australians, have come from a Christian heritage but, finding organised religion limiting, have sought a safe place in which to push theological boundaries. We welcome members from other traditions; and in setting out the views below we stress that they are not a creed or condition of membership, but a basis for further thinking and faith. Members are free to accept these views or to hold others.
1 Progressive religion is not a new set of beliefs but a framework around which we make meaning of our own experiences in the current world. Ideas are shaped by culture, environment and experiences which are constantly changing and we recognise, as did the American Civil war hymn, that ‘time makes ancient good uncouth’.
2 Many of us sense a presence both within and beyond ourselves, which can transform our experience of the world, community and of each other. ‘God’ and ‘ground of all being’ are two concepts seeking to describe this presence but we are limited by prevailing thought, language and culture. While we seek to develop our response as far as we can, part will remain an awe-inspiring mystery beyond our ability to express fully.
3 We recognise the wisdom of Jesus, who as a visionary teacher and Jewish sage nurtured by his religious tradition, called for integrity, justice, compassion and inclusiveness through teachings, stories, and parables. He invited all into an open fellowship adopting a new vision of ‘the undefinable presence’ and of one’s neighbour.
4 We acknowledge the Bible as an important human document, rich in historical memory and religious inspiration. We seek to interpret its text responsibly and critically using biblical scholarship, our knowledge and experience.
5 We recognise other sources, ancient and modern, connected and not connected with Christianity, can also inform, uplift and nurture us and others.
6 We appreciate people experience the ‘undefinable presence’ in different ways. We respect this diversity and pluralism.
7 We reject the use of force or coercion to bind or convert people to any particular belief and recognise the right of each person to change their beliefs.
8 We recognise our connectedness and mutual dependence with others, with life and with our environment.
9 We seek to live responsible and compassionate lives in community with others, practising values supporting social justice and stewardship of the earth and life on it. We seek to live together in a spirit of mutual understanding and toleration of other cultures and religions.