Category Archives: Publications

Study Guide for the 8 Points of Progressive Christianity 2012

This Study Guide has been re-edited and re-printed.
This edition is the second printing.

By: Fred Plumer, Author and President

This Study Guide is for the third edition (2011) of the “8 Points” that have both identified and guided since the organization’s founding in 1994.

It can be used for small group study, intentional communities, conferences, or any group who would like to delve more deeply into the history and the process of living out the core teachings of Jesus. There are discussion questions and space after each point for groups to come up with their own thoughts and ideas.
We have often been asked why we change or update the “8 Points.” There are three main answers to that question. First, we change the wording based on thoughtful comments and suggestions from our readers and supporters. Some of these suggestions are theological, and some are seeking greater clarity, showing us areas where we were not as clear as we need to be.
Secondly, as people with open minds and soft hearts, we continue to evolve and change. That is what “progressive” is all about. New scholarship, conversations and even detractors challenge us to rethink what we have been positing, and at some point, after much discussion and conversation with our advisors, we may decide that we should make a change or emphasize new points. This seems to happen about every five years or so.
Thirdly, we never want the “8 Points” document to become something sacred in itself, beyond testing and questioning. In another words, we are not trying to challenge creedal thinking and outdated dogma with a new creed.
The background material and the questions of this Study Guide were designed to stimulate conversation and to raise issues that might not otherwise come up. None of these materials are intended to make a final theological, Christological, or canonical argument. The last thing we would want to do is to tell anyone how he or she should believe or approach their faith. We simply offer this as a starting point to the conversation and we look forward to the continual evolution of our faith.
The study guide includes The 8 Points Flyer, a Reflection Preface by Jim Burklo, an Introduction on What is Progressive Christianity by Gretta Vosper, and a Personal Note from the Author, by Fred Plumer. Each section has the 8 Point, a discussion about the point, discussion questions, and a space for notes.

Excerpt from the Study Guide:
By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean we are Christians who…
Point 4 — Know that the way we behave towards others is the fullest expression of what we believe.

Most scholars would argue we learn more about the Jesus of the scriptures from the things he does rather than what he says. The Jesus we meet in the gospels is a man of action, who heals, who demonstrates compassion, who takes a stand against injustices, who loves unconditionally, and who then tells his disciples to go and do likewise. Maybe that is why the writers of all three synoptic gospels wrote that Jesus believed the most important commandment is to “love God with all of our hearts, minds and souls and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
According to the writer of Luke’s gospel, Jesus then tells a story that suggests our neighbor is anyone who might need our help. Nowhere in these important passages do we find Jesus suggesting that before we extend ourselves on behalf of another or before we love our neighbor, we should first expound a theology, or a belief system. Nor does it appear there was ever a litmus test Jesus used before he befriended someone or helped him or her. Progressive Christians believe our actions of compassion are more important than the expression of our beliefs.

To buy – go to Progressive – $10 US


The quest for a Christian story in our time

Kevin Treston’s latest book:

There is general agreement that Christianity in the West is facing a major crisis, with research confirming that there is a rapid decline in church membership, especially among young people. Why is this happening? And does the crisis present opportunities for the church in its evangelising mission? Why have the life and teachings of Jesus – the way of Jesus – become so complicated? Based on a key New Testament text that the Spirit ‘blows where it chooses’, the author argues that part of the problem is that so much of Church doctrine, structure and life is based on a world view that no longer makes sense. In faith, he reflects on how the Jesus tradition can be presented to a world where scientific discovery makes us aware of our planet within a vast universe and the interconnectedness of every living thing in the cosmos. He asks what are the implications of this new cosmic awareness for the Christian story in the third millennium? He well understands the experience of those many people who have abandoned traditional church communities yet express deep longings for spiritual sustenance and support to lead a good life; and to find meaning in their Christian heritage or recover something of a lost faith heritage. He calls for serious and sustained renewal in the church, attentive to the Spirit, learning to trust, listen, study, celebrate, act and above all, discern the most authentic paths to experience the presence of a living God in our ever-evolving world. THE WIND BLOWS WHERE IT CHOOSES The quest for a Christian story in our time

Coventry Press – 9780648230304 – $22.95
To order online go to: Phone: 0477 809 037 Email: Post to: Coventry Press, 33 Scoresby Road, Bayswater Vic. 3153



Prayers for Progressives


Just published …and eagerly awaited…

Michael Morwood’s previous book of prayers, Praying a New Story, received wide acclaim. Awarding the book among the Best Spiritual Books in 2004, Spirituality & Health Magazine commented, “Invigorating, poetic and imaginative… the perfect resource for small groups interested in exploring new avenues of devotion and spiritual practice.”

Morwood goes beyond “devotion and spiritual practice” in Prayers for Progressive Christians, A New Template. In the first part of the book he summaries the key theological shifts that necessitate changes to liturgical, group and personal prayer. In the second part he demonstrates how these major shifts in theological thinking can be incorporated into a new template for meaningful, contemporary prayer.

246 pages
[$24.95US at not including postage.]
$20US including postage (faster than Amazon) within Australia … so order now from the author!
A 30% saving until 1st May.
Order from



Part One: Praying From What We Now Believe

Why Prayer Should Change
The Purpose of Life
The kingdom of God
General Principles For Composing Prayers

Part Two: Prayers

The Gift You Are Think of Yourself As a Gift of the Universe
The Flower That Shattered the Stone Trusting the power within us
All Is One Everything and everyone is connected
Personifying the Great Mystery Pointers to the beyond
Come on Home What lies at the heart of our being?
Embedded Wisdom We know the path to progress
Advent What are we longing and hoping for?
Christmas Who is this child for us?
New Year Moving beyond our comfort zone
First and Foremost Working for a better world
Light Let your own light shine
Human Like Us Being fully human is more than enough
The Cost Paying a price for what is right
Perseverance Standing firm in the face of opposition
Ash Wednesday From stardust to human
The Power of Story Giving thanks for storytellers
Palm Sunday What “following Jesus” really means
Holy Thursday A human story of hope and trust
Good Friday Let us not lose sight of Jesus who leads us in our faith
Easter The seasons of life
Being God-Conscious Becoming more mindful
Pentecost Celebrating the “Spirit” in everyone
Nella Fantasia Our shared human longing for the world
Forgiveness Prayer Drawing strength from within.
Baptism Celebrating the wonder of new life
Wedding The wonder of human love
Death Living on beyond death
Suicide Funeral reflection and prayer
Prayer and Children Deepening Awareness of the Great Mystery
Prayer of Petition One with everyone and everything
Sickness and dying Prayers with the sick; prayers with the dying
Facing Reality A reflection on progressive religious thinking




What are Progressive Christians?

Our friends at Western Australia Progressive Christian Network, Progressive Christianity.Org in the USA and The Progressive Christianity Network Britain offer these eight points, not as a creed, but as an expression of the Christian life.

We are people who:

1. Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life;

2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey;

3. Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to:
Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
Believers and agnostics,
Women and men,
Those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
Those of all classes and abilities;

4. Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe;

5. Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes;

6. Strive for peace and justice among all people;

7. Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth;

8. Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love.


Who was Jesus? Evidence from beyond the Bible

This eBook examines the history of Jesus’ life, from where he was born, where he grew up and whether there is extra-Biblical evidence for his existence. Available as a free eBook from the Biblical Archaeology Society in Washington.

This particular book is actually a series of small books by several authors –

  1. Did Jesus exist? Searching for evidence beyond the Bible.
  2. Jesus’ birthplace and Jesus’ home.
  3. Has Jesus’ Nazareth house been found?
  4. Did Jesus marry?
  5. Was Jesus last supper a seder?

This is one of 24 free eBooks  downloadable from:

Biblical Archaeological Society free eBooks

As I like the forensic search for evidence from reliable sources, I have enjoyed reading the first of these and look forward to going through some of the others:

  • Israel: An Archaeological Journey
  • Ten Top Biblical Archaeology Discoveries
  • Jerusalem Archaeology: Exposing the Biblical City
  • Paul: Jewish Law and Early Christianity
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls: Discovery and Meaning


We are interested in opinions about these publications.



Noel Preston’s memoir available

We have received the following message from Rev Dr Noel Preston. [After a period of health challenges and treatment, he is feeling quite well at the moment and preparing to take a holiday trip to Fiji.]

“This message is to advise that I have created a website designed to make my memoir “Beyond Noel Prestonthe Boundary” available to those interested. It was published in 2006 and has been out of print for some time. I have had a few requests for the text so this is my attempt to make it freely available.Perhaps you have read it and if so you know it provides a window on Queensland social history and also, I trust, through my own journey a background to a quest for progressive Christianity.  It is to be found at Apparently it is best to put this address in the top search bar!!!!) I would welcome it if this word can be spread through networks such as PCNQ and the UC Forum.”







Book review: Beyond Power (Marilyn French)

Rodney Eivers, Chair of our UCFORUM Executive, has managed some reading over the Easter break.

Beyond Power,  – on Women, Men and Morals

Marilyn French (November 21, 1929 – May 2, 2009)

Being away from the pull of my at-home office for an Easter break gave me the opportunity to catch up with a bit of general reading. For the rare occasions  on which I have done this , oveMarilyn Frenchr the past 12 months or more, I have been working my way through, Marilyn French’s “Beyond Power – On men women and morals.”

Marilyn French was a flavour of the month feminist writer of a previous generation. Her best known title was probably, The Women’s Room. Beyond Power would probably claim to be an academic study on the tragic and demeaning effect that patriarchy has had on both women and men over many years – it has 640 closely-written pages with several thousand notes and references. I have no quarrel at all with her argument and it is one which needs to put. It does need to be kept in mind that being first published in 1985 the world had moved on in some respects. And yet as the daily newspapers remind us, the treatment of women by men and society’s attitudes even in our “enlightened” Western society still leaves much to be desired.

As I made my way through the book and its litany of “complaints” I found myself from time to time thinking, “Yes, all right, but what do we do about it?” Ms French does not seem to come up with any specific solution other than we can hope to educate people to “do the right thing”. There is no religious orientation. There is plenty to regret and condemnation at  the history of religions, including Christianity in their response to the place of women in our culture. The book does not hold back in describing instances of oppression.

Imagine my surprise, then when I reached the penultimate page of “Beyond Power” to find this paragraph:

But I am heartened by the thought of the early followers of Jesus’s ideas: slaves, women, publicans, poor Jews, Greeks, and Roman soldiers, prostitutes, respectable housewives, intellectuals, people who craved a new and more tolerant way of life; people who were sickened  by the Beyond Powerways of power. Of course, if their success stands as an example , the subsequent fate of their religion, which was swallowed whole by patriarchy, stands as a warning.“

Isn’t this what we are trying to achieve by revitalising the Jesus message through Progressive Christianity. I take heart that a relatively secular observer can come to the same conclusion.

Rodney Eivers,   April 2017

God in the machine: my strange journey into transhumanism

The Transhumanism topic has been exercising the minds of members of the UCFORUM Executive thanks to Paul Wildman. He has drawn our attention to this very interesting paper in the Guardian’s “Long Read” on 18th April 2017. The author is Meghan O’Gieblyn. Meghan is a writer based in Madison, Wisconsin. Her work has appeared most recently in the Oxford American, Guernica and Indiana Review


“After losing her faith, a former evangelical Christian felt adrift in the world. She then found solace in a radical technological philosophy – but its promises of immortality and spiritual transcendence soon seemed unsettlingly familiar……”

“At Bible school, I had studied a branch of theology that divided all of history into successive stages by which God revealed his truth. We were told we were living in the “Dispensation of Grace”, the penultimate era, which precedes that glorious culmination, the “Millennial Kingdom”, when the clouds part and Christ returns and life is altered beyond comprehension. But I no longer believed in this future. More than the death of God, I was mourning the dissolution of this narrative, which envisioned all of history as an arc bending towards a moment of final redemption. It was a loss that had fractured even my experience of time. My hours had become non-hours. Days seemed to unravel and circle back on themselves………”

“Transhumanists, in their eagerness to preempt charges of dualism, tend to sound an awful lot like these early church fathers. Eric Steinhart, a “digitalist” philosopher at William Paterson University, is among the transhumanists who insist the resurrection must be physical. “Uploading does not aim to leave the flesh behind,” he writes, “on the contrary, it aims at the intensification of the flesh.” The irony is that transhumanists are arguing these questions as though they were the first to consider them. Their discussions give no indication that these debates belong to a theological tradition that stretches back to the earliest centuries of the Common Era……”

To read the article go to: God in the machine and be disturbed or challenged to find out more.



Spiritual Mindfulness

Just when I was learning about mindfulness and mind (brain) body connections while doing an intensive three week Back Rehab Program at Wesley Hospital Brisbane, along comes a message about Jim Burklo’s latest. (Thanks Noel Preston).

Mindfulness has been liberated from religion.  Jim Burklo’s new book liberates religion with mindfulness. The book anMindful Christianityd website are windows into mindful Christian spiritual practice for individuals, churches, retreats, and groups.  More at MINDFULCHRISTIANITY.ORG

About the book:

Just now, mindfulness – defined in secular terms, studied scientifically, and practiced ubiquitously – has come fully into the cultural mainstream.  Now is the time to rediscover it in the mainstream of Christian faith and practice, in the writings and practices of contemplatives throughout its history.  Mindful prayer leads to fresh interpretation of Christian tradition, and reveals the Bible for what it is: not a book of facts, not a fixed set of prescriptions for behavior, but rather a collection of wisdom and poetry and myth made sacred by the ongoing human quest for intimate encounter with the Ultimate Reality.

Mindful Christianity is spiritual practice in the service of engagement with the quest for social and environmental justice.  By seeing clearly what is, we can begin working on what ought to be.  The mystical knowledge of God leads to a life of compassion and activism.

For forty dawns in solitude before he began his ministry, what awe filled Jesus’ soul?  To what inner and outer realities did he awaken?  In silence, searching for himself, whom did he find?  MINDFUL CHRISTIANITY invites you to join Jesus in the desert, and with him meet God face to face.

Order multiple copies directly from the publisher, St Johann Press, or individual copies at AMAZON