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Tue, Jun. 28th, 2005, 01:03 pm

Using George Lakoff's "Don't Think of an Elephant" as a guide, my church has been in a study to articulate our values from a progressive Christian perspective. Following is what we have come up with. We're still searching for language in some places, language that will resonate with the Bible but won't be too "churchy."

I would really appreciate any thoughts, comments, reactions that you all might have. How do some of these phrases hit you? Of course, this reflects my church and may or may not reflect your beliefs, but are they certain topics missing, like salvation, or the environment, or whatever?

Core Values of Spirit of Peace Church, United Church of Christ

A principle is a fundamental truth that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or chain of reasoning. (Note: according to the dictionary, principles and values seem to be pretty much the same thing. It might be better for us to call these values, since that's the kind of language that gets used in American culture. What do you think?)

Progressive Christian Principles:

+ Open toward the future; always in process; reformed and reforming; “yet more light and truth”
+ loyalty to Jesus; lordship of Christ
+ the household of God; community
+ Creation is continuous.
+ servant leadership; renunciation of privilege; self-emptying/giving, kenosis
+ God reveals the divine self in the incarnation.
+ The realm of God is among us.
+ You are the light of the world.
+ We are the body of Christ.
+ Primacy of love and compassion
+ God’s mission of forgiveness and reconciliation is now our mission.

Some of these obviously repeat. We had a hard time avoiding churchy language here. We want central concepts like the kingdom of God and the lordship of Christ, but without using those phrases. For "kingdom of God" we've talked about "household of God" (Greek: oikos) or "neighborhood of God," which we really like but sounds a lot like Mr. Rogers. Any thoughts or ideas?

A virtue is a quality considered morally good or desirable. These proceed from our principles/values.

Progressive Christian Virtues:

+ mindfulness
+ confronting abuse
+ mutually supportive, protective, nurturing; interdependence
+ fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)
+ active mission/service in the world
+ a sense of ministry in daily life
+ a spirit of peace
+ obedience to God’s will; Jesus as prime example
+ love one another, share each other’s burdens and joys
+ continually transforming, renewing, growing, progressive
+ humility
+ accepting and sharing forgiveness
+ joy

Ten-word Philosophy: This is an exercise from Lakoff's book, a succinct way of stating your core objectives. He gives the following as examples of political ten-word philosophies:

Strong Defense
Free Markets
Lower Taxes
Smaller Government
Family Values

Stronger America
Broad Prosperity
Better Future
Effective Government
Mutual Responsibility

At my church we came up with:

Extravagant Welcome
Abundant Life
Eternal Love
Evangelical Courage/Courageous Witness
Transforming Community

One thing I've noticed is that the polical philosophies are more toward what they want, whereas the church philosophy is more in terms of what we are. I suspect that may be inevitable. Politics is more about an agenda that you want accomplished, whereas church is kind of more about a state of being. There are actions implied, but it doesn't seem to me that the core of what it means to be church is to have an agenda.

But then again, I could be wrong. What do you think?

Any input is greatly appreciated. Feel free to circulate this widely if you wish.