Plurality Not Monopoly
One of the key tenets of Progressive Christianity is a belief in pluralism. This belief is summarized by the idea that we as human beings cannot grasp the totality of God; thus, we cannot claim the monopoly on God's love and acceptance. The antithesis of pluralism is not monotheism, but judgment, the judgment that says we are right and everyone else is wrong. When we believe in pluralism, we do not stand as a judge to determine who is and who is not acceptable to God.
The God we see in the Scriptures, Jesus we see in the Gospels, Christian faith we read about in the Epistles of New Testament, and the examples of the New Testament Church all welcome everyone in God's name.
The most profound example of this is that the writer of Hebrews (Chapter 7) says that Jesus was a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, the King of Salem. He was the king who helped Abraham settle in Canaan. In gratitude for the king's help, Abraham apportioned a tenth of his wealth, the first example of a tithe in the bible. Later the practice of tithing becomes a part of the Israelite religious system to show adoration, loyalty, and devotion to God. Abraham also called King Melchizedek "King of Peace," a term later attributed to Messiah and Jesus.
We also see from the beginning of the Scriptures that God did not exclude anyone. The wife of Moses was a Midian who helped him after he ran away from Egypt. Even the settling of the promised land story is filled with stories of inclusion and pluralism. Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute but was accepted for helping Israelite spies in Jericho. Ruth was a Moabite who married an outsider but became a member of King David's linage as she cared for her Israelite mother-in-law in the foreign land even after her husband died. We see God's acceptance of people was not based on their religious practices but on how they took care of other people.
In the Gospels, we have stories of the Good Samaritan, a centurion, and a woman at the well that Jesus did not exclude from the Kingdom of God. He did not demand that they believe in a certain way but simply looked at their lives and saw people of faith.
Today different religions believe in the monopoly of heaven. Without exception, they are always the key holders. They believe their religious belief is the only right one, and only those who adhere to their particular brand of religious expressions have access to "heaven." The faulty logic here is that if different religious groups believe that they hold the right key to the entry into "heaven," then we must believe there is more than one heaven. While they are all trying to convince me that they are the only right ones, I am left wondering if my life choice may not be "if" I want to go to heaven, but it may be "which" heaven I may want.
As a Progressive Christian, I try to remain honest. I do not know who God accepts. All I know is what the Scriptures tell me as to how I am to conduct myself. I have known many who devoutly believed in God, cared for people in an extremely Christ-like manner, and lived out teachings of Jesus with great religiosity, but they never claimed the "Christian" label. In most cases, they rejected it because they did not want to be associated with the Christian church they read about or Christians they knew. To them, the label was not important but living a life that reflected Jesus was paramount. Their life goal was to live out the truth they read in the life of Jesus. To me, these are the people who believed in God. These are the people I want to be in heaven with.