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EVOLUTIONARY CHRISTIANITY

A vision of Christianity based partly on
the theory of evolution and other scientific beliefs

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Sponsored link.

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Overview:

Evolutionary Christianity is a dynamic, inter-denominational Christian religious belief system. It is based on a number of foundational scientific beliefs, including:

bulletThe theory of evolution of Earth's animal and plant species over the past almost four billion years.
bulletAcknowledgement of a universe that has been changing over its almost fifteen billion years of existence, starting as matter and energy, and more recently involving consciousness, culture, religion, and technology -- all of which are in a state of flux in a developmental cosmos.

Michael Dowd wrote/assembled the following essay on Evolutionary Christianity which he urges people to use without any need to cite him as author

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Evolutionary Christianity (EC):

is an integral vision of the Christian faith that honors biblical and traditional understandings, conservative and liberal, while enthusiastically embracing an evolutionary worldview. A passionate and unabashedly all-embracing, ecological, deep-time honoring, and prophetic/evangelistic celebration of the Christian tradition that honors Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox, Anabaptist, Universalist, and New Thought expressions, Evolutionary Christianity sees the entire history of Cosmos and emergent complexity of matter, life, consciousness, culture, and technology in a sacred, God-glorifying way.

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From the perspective of Evolutionary Christianity....

bulletThe epic of evolution that has emerged out of the last three centuries of modern scientific work is seen in a Christ-edifying, scripture-honoring way — as a sacred story that can expand and strengthen faith, inspire passion and creativity, and empower us as individuals and as a species to fulfill God's will for us.
bulletBiblical insights and traditional understandings of the core of Christianity come alive in a radically new way and can be more fully realized than ever before.
bulletGod is honored for having been creating, destroying, loving, communicating, revealing, and reconciling for billion of years.
bulletJesus is honored as a unique and divine expression of infinite love, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, and active, nonviolent resistance to evil and injustice — a personification of God's way, gospel truth, and eternal life. Jesus was, among other things, a model of how to live and love from a basis of deep conviction — reflecting God's will for humanity and for Creation as a whole. He embodied (incarnated) God's path to freedom from slavery to sin (self-absorption, addiction, deceit, laziness, pride, anger, arrogance, lust, worry, etc). He also incarnated the values of the kingdom and showed us the way to effectively engage and transform unjust social structures.
bulletThe Holy Spirit is honored as the in-spiring and life giving breath, transforming fire, and guiding Wisdom within and beyond — the enlivening, sustaining, sanctifying, cooperation-building dynamic of ongoing Creative Emergence.
bulletCreation is honored — the entire nested, co-creative Cosmos — as a unique and awe-inspiring revelation of God's will, God's wisdom, and God's unending grace.
bulletHumanity is honored as that part of Creation which allows the Whole of Reality, manifest and unmanifest, immanent and transcendent (i.e., God), to be celebrated in conscious self awareness.
bulletScripture is honored as a unique and irreplaceable collection of sacred books, poems, gospels, letters, and other writings that reveal some of the practices, beliefs, history, and understandings of the ancient Hebrews and early Christians. While it has been, and will continue to be, rightly regarded as a divine source of wisdom and moral instruction, from the perspective of Evolutionary Christianity the Bible is not seen as the beginning, nor the end, nor even the most important part, of God's self-revelation.
bulletGod's timing is honored. Earlier generations cannot be faulted for not knowing what we know, or for not interpreting things as we're now able to do. God reveals truth to each generation in ways that make sense at the time, given the psychological, social, political, economic, and technological realities of the day. In a developmental cosmos there's ultimately no privileged position theologically. God revealed to the biblical writers, early church leaders, reformers, and others down through the ages only what could be revealed then, and no more. The same is true today. Future generations will surely have a larger, more comprehensive understanding of the meaning and magnitude of the Christian tradition than we can possibly imagine.
bulletConservatives are honored for their passionate commitment to upholding, defending, and preserving that which has been experienced in the past to be healthy, meaningful, life giving, or otherwise important.
bulletLiberals are honored for insisting that we expand our circles of care, compassion, and meaningful interpretations of truth, and for embodying the evolutionary impulse to transcend what is in order to co-create what God is calling forth next.
bulletRadicals are honored for periodically upsetting the status quo and forcing both liberals and conservatives to value the importance of chaos and breakdowns in catalyzing creativity and transformation.
bulletThe Fruit of the Spirit is honored as both the means and end of the spiritual journey, and as the one true indicator of a person's right relationship with God. As Jesus said, "By your fruit you will be known." What is "the fruit of the Spirit"? The Apostle Paul spoke of it as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." To this list we could also add "compassion, courage, integrity, self-responsibility, generosity, and passion for life." Those who evidence such fruit are right with God, no matter what their beliefs. Those who do not evidence such fruit are not right with God (again, no matter what their beliefs). It's really as simple as that. In any given moment, how can I go from not being right with God to being right with God? That's basically what the gospel is all about!
bulletThe Gospel is honored as "The Great Story" of God's love and saving grace as revealed in the Bible, on the cross, and throughout the entire 14 billion year epic of evolution. The Gospel, as such, is transformative on three levels: personally, relationally, and globally. To ignore or discount any one of these is to utterly miss the meaning and magnitude of them all.
bulletOn an individual level, the Gospel can, if really embraced, free a person from addiction to sin and self-absorption, enabling them to savor the fruit of the Spirit even in the midst of the neverending challenges of life, and empowering them to be a real blessing to the world regardless of their shortcomings. It can also enable a person to know heavenly peace no matter how difficult their situation or life may be.
bulletRelationally, the Christ story shows us exactly how reconciliation is possible with anyone. When I take responsibility, let go of thinking I'm right and the other is wrong, step into their experience, and communicate with love and compassion from that place, miracles naturally occur. Always.
bulletCollectively, the gospel can free us from species pride, arrogance, and self-destructive human-centeredness by revealing God's will for Creation as a whole and how we as a human family can fulfill our role in furthering what God has been up to for billions of years by re-incarnating the values Jesus lived and taught.

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To condemn or curse outright a God-glorifying, Christ-edifying, scripture-honoring way of understanding evolution (or an evolutionary appreciation of the Gospel), is blasphemy, pure and simple. It's taking something sacred and meaningful and calling it evil.

Criticizing, debating, and offering suggestions for improving our ways of thinking about evolution from a God-glorifying perspective, on the other hand, or debating about how to most fruitfully think about the Gospel evolutionarily, is God's will and our collective calling at this time in history. These are among the most vibrant and meaningful conversations the Holy Spirit is leading the church into today.

Condemnation (blasphemy) and constructive criticism (God's will) may sometimes look or sound similar, but they are in fact polar opposites.

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Reference used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Michael Dowd, "What is Evolutionary Christianity," at: http://www.evolutionarychristianity.org/

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Site navigation: Home page > Christianity > Christian groups > "Wings" > here

or: Home page > Comparisons of religions > "Wings" > here

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Originally posted: 2006-JAN-08
Latest update: 2005-JAN-08
Author: Michael Dowd

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