Diana Butler Bass calls progressive Christians to return to their historical roots this All Saints Day:

On this All Saints Day, I’d like to call progressives back to history for two important reasons:

First, progressive faith takes new ideas seriously and we try to bring the best of contemporary thought into our theology and congregations. That’s who we are and we will always be. But—and this is important—western societies no longer suffer from too much history. We are suffering from too little history. Two hundred years ago, it was a very good idea to step away from the past’s darkness. Today, however, most people suffer from spiritual amnesia—that we have no idea what our history is, and have little idea who we are because we are disconnected from that past. Younger generations of seekers are yearning to find their story—and to experience meaning that comes through belonging to a community that remembers.

Second, one needn’t engage in uncritical ancestor worship in order to celebrate our past. Hagiography is one thing; a realistic view of history is another. In our quest for realism, we’ve forgotten that people may do good as well as evil. Every great leader in the history of Christianity had flaws—some had seriously misguided ideas and violent prejudices. Our ancestors were both saints and were profoundly human at the same time. To use the language of prayer, they did things they “ought not to have done.” They were, as we are, men and women of their own times—even sparkling insights of the divine were mixed with their own personal sins and the sins of their own cultures. We need to engage a practice of historical generosity when studying the past. Indeed, one day, we too will be held accountable for what our great-great-grand children deem hypocritical, stupid, or wrong. We hope they might be kind to us; we hope they will understand that we were doing our best.

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