A Note on the Terminology “Progressive Christian”

I’ve found myself using the the terminology of “progressive Christian” more and more, as a way of indicating where I see myself within the broad spectrum of contemporary Christianity.

But a comment seems to be in order.

If people who hear the term understand that this is referring to one of the many ways that people who are Christians view the world and approach their faith, then great.

But if people are getting the impression that somewhere else one can find people (perhaps “conservative Christians”) who are “just Christian” or the default version of Christianity, whereas “progressive Christians” are some fringe aberration, then I may have to ditch the term. Because it is not as though there are some “Christians” plain and simple, with anyone who adds an additional term for clarification  diluting their Christianity by degrees corresponding to the number of other monikers added alongside the primary one.

If that is the impression people get, then I will just call myself a Christian. And if anyone who disagrees with my way of understanding, approaching, and living my Christian identity disagrees with me, they can add additional terms to the label “Christian” to distinguish their perspective from mine, should they wish to do so.

  • http://twitter.com/forsakeheaven rob davis

    Dr. McGrath, I’ve been trying to find some possible answers to a possibly unanswerable question over the past few weeks. What are your thoughts on this?

    What makes someone a Christian?

    I recently wrote a post responding to John Fea’s book on the idea of a “Christian nation,” pointing out where I think some difficulties lie:
    http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/beyond-the-bounds/

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Thanks for sharing this. I think that anyone who is seeking to follow Jesus, and has adopted his life and teaching as the paradigm for theirs, can use that label. Some might try to deny it to them, or might choose not to use it themselves, because of a distinction between “disciples” and “Christians” – with the latter understood to involve specific doctrines and institutions that arose later. So obviously it is possible to give different answers to the question. I appreciated very much your point that there ought to be something inherently inclusive about Christianity – and thus the room for disagreement on labels and definitions, far from being a problem with Christianity, is an illustration of its fundamental character.

      • thenewrobdavis

        This is very helpful. Glad to (slowly) be coming back around to the “big tent” of Christianity…

      • arcseconds

        What about a Hindu, who believes Jesus is an incarnation of Vishnu (as I understand some do), but has little time for the the Bible, preferring the the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita and the non-canonical Gospels as sacred texts, and only referring to the Old Testament for cultural background?

        (Such a person is plausible and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone like this existed. )

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Oh, that is absolutely plausible. I have been to India twice, have had quite a few Indian friends, and taught a course on South Asia for several years. I doubt most such people would refer much to the Old or New Testaments, if at all. But it raises interesting questions – as too do the many Muslims around the world who, when they meet a Christian from the United States, will emphasize how much they love Jesus.

          Someone like Gandhi is worth reflecting on. He clearly found inspiration in the figure of Jesus, and some might say that he followed Jesus more closely as a Hindu than some who wear the label Christian. Would he then be a Christian? Or an “anonymous Christian” as some Christian inclusivists have sometimes referred to people? Or not a Christian at all?

          Perhaps the most important question is “Who gets to decide?”

          • arcseconds

            I would ask: ‘what is the importance of the term?’ :]

          • thenewrobdavis

            I remember months ago listening to Doug Pagitt’s show where he said something so simple but it may have literally changed my life: “no one has a monopoly on Christianity.” Brilliant.

    • Dr, David Tee

      Read John 3

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    This sounds like the inner monologue of a high school sophomore trying to decide which group to hang out with at the dance.

    • Beau Quilter

      Gee, Mike, which group do you hang out with? The Snide Christians?

      • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

        We shouldn’t fret about our social labels. That’s just a matter of how we look to other people. By contrast, God looks upon our hearts. What matters is what we think, what we say, and what we do – even when no one else is watching.

        If we talk enough about Christ and act enough like Christ, then people might eventually start calling us by His name. That’s how the term “Christian” was first coined – not by people deciding what they wanted to be called.

        The Pharisees were greatly concerned about their associations. Jesus warned them of such vanity. We should take heed.

        • Beau Quilter

          And how does that conflict with what James has posted? He is clearly saying that he is more concerned with Christianity than with Christian labels.

          Your insulting remark, on the other hand, likening him to a high school sophomore, says more about your level of discourse than James’s.

          • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

            Liberal Christians, like Conservative Christians, simply borrow from the gospel what suits their political agenda, ignoring the rest. The political, not the spiritual, agenda controls. This is not a pretty sight regardless of whether its practiced on the left or the right.

            James regularly and aggressively mocks those with whom he disagrees (fundamentalists, YEC’s, conservative Christians). Why should you think someone who so vigorously mocks others should not be able to take a small dose of it himself?

            I don’t care about Christianity or where someone fits on its humanly-devised spectrum. I care about Christ, about His love for all of us, and about our duty to serve Him with our lives.

            • Susan Burns

              It seems to me that the criteria is justice. What is ignored is the unjust. Conservative Christians retain the unjust because it has been codified in the Bible. Liberal Christians ignore the unjust because we can’t imagine Jesus advocating anything but justice for all.

              • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                You are demonstrating a corollary of the rule which is, of course, that each side feels that the other borrows wrongly.

                My point is that Jesus Christ did not come so that His life and teaching might be co-opted into a political agenda – whether it be right or left.

                • Susan Burns

                  How we are governed is directly related to our quality of justice. Why would Jesus not be interested in that? If you really do care about Christ then you must care about justice – especially if it is political justice. Justice for slaves was achieved through political means. Surely this is exactly what Jesus would be interested in.
                  Conservative Christians use scripture to deny people justice. The disenfranchisement of gay people is a result of a scripture.This is not a corollary, it is a fact.

                  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                    There is out there a Conservative Christian version of Susan Burns who is as blind to you as you are to her.

                    • Susan Burns

                      Is Snide Christian a Catholic or Protestant sect?

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      To be snide is to be “derisively sarcastic.” I was being neither derisive nor sarcastic. I honestly believe that you are so wedded to your political point of view that you cannot see beyond it. You cannot see that there are people who are as sincere and well-intentioned as you are on the opposite side of the political spectrum. More importantly, you don’t seem to see Jesus as having an agenda that transcends politics. If politics was the cure to what ails the world, he would have become king in Israel instead of allowing himself to be crucified.

                      I don’t begrudge you your political views, but neither do I begrudge your Conservative Christian doppelgangers their political views either. Nor am I saying that political views don’t matter in the sight of God. I am only saying that political views must be transcended by an allegiance to Christ by those who would claim the name of Christ. He cannot be viewed as sitting somewhere on a political spectrum.

                    • Susan Burns

                      I do see it. I just can’t understand it. I see awesome people that are wedded to injustice. Why? Please, PLEASE explain this to me. I think if you could explain this to me, I will stop searching and get off this infernal internet. How can goodly people be so horribly wrong? How is it possible that they do not see that all injustice kills the spirit? Especially since the “agenda” of Jesus seems to be exactly this message?
                      Luckily, at this Progressive Christian forum, falling back on magical thinking is not a valid argument. You may not argue that you know what Jesus would have magically accomplished with a wave of his lulav. Another attribute of Progressive Chistians is that they do not revert to magical thinking when backed into a corner.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      If you think your political opponents are “wedded to injustice” by virtue of their “magical thinking” there’s nothing I’m going to be able to say that will convince you to treat them with more respect. Nor, alas, do I think James will say anything to nudge you in that direction either.

                      If all else fails, you could pray for Conservative Christians. Surely you acknowledge this as a practice Jesus encourages regarding one’s enemies.

                    • Susan Burns

                      I have offended you! Which comment was so disrepectful that I have been relegated to the prayer list?

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      You have not offended me.

                    • Susan Burns

                      But you say I am lacking respect. In what regard?

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      I wasn’t complaining that you were lacking respect for me. I was trying to get you to see that you are showing insufficient respect for your political opponents – the Conservative Christians. That is, you think they are “wedded to injustice” and engage in “magical thinking.” My experience with them is that they are just as sincere in their views as you are in yours.

                      You say you want to understand them. Well, understanding a person begins with not seeing them as caricatures. Rather, you will come to understand them as you first see them as people who may be mistaken, and even may be right, but in no case are less sincere and well-intentioned in their commitments than you are.

            • Beau Quilter

              Now who sounds like a sophomore?

              “I care about Christ. Obviously, because James cares about social justice, he doesn’t care about Christ. But I do.”

              You might try sticking out your tongue next.

              • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                You can make me sound like anything you want if you put words in my mouth.

                My reference to James was that he regards conservative Christians with contempt and thus his blog is not likely to influence Susan toward more respect for them.

                • Susan Burns

                  It seems to me that justice is far more important than respect. Actually, there can be no respect without justice. Do you really think those people that receive your condemnation respect you?
                  Of course I know people that are conservative and they are definitely sincere. Their sincerity is unshakable. But instead of gaining more understanding it just makes me more confused. Not only are they denying justice but they are labeling it holy.
                  Another attribute of Progressive Christians is that we are able to think for ourselves so please don’t be concerned about any undue influence other posters have over my opinion.

                  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                    Jesus of Nazareth did not experience justice while on earth. In that experience He shows us how we should handle injustice when it comes our way.

                    • Susan Burns

                      Do Conservatives take a class in how to be obscure and talk in riddles? If you were really interested in communication you would stop speaking down to me.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      I am not speaking on behalf of Conservative Christianity.

                      I am not speaking down to you; I am speaking up to you. I am appealing to your love for Christ. My hope is that as He transcends the world, you will allow your love for Him to transcend your political differences with others who love Him. Surely a liberal Christian has more in common with a conservative Christian than either has in common with someone who has no concern for Christ.

                    • Susan Burns

                      That is what I am doing! This is me loving Christ. This is how I do it. I hate injustice so I must do battle IN HIS NAME and not for a “political” reason. My hope is that his transcendance permeates every aspect of life on earth – especially political.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      The believers we read about in the New Testament documents were more intent on personal transformation than upon political transformation. For example, rather than telling masters to free their slaves, the apostles taught the masters to be kind masters and the slaves to be good slaves. Do you think that the apostles were wrong to have this sort of emphasis? I ask because you seem to favor broad social transformation through political change over individual transformation and purity of conscience.

                    • Susan Burns

                      If everyone were transformed personally then there would be no need for political transformation. If everyone personally hated injustice then there would be none. But some people feel that a certain amount of injustice is necessary or maybe they are immune to suffering. I certainly don’t understand how someone can condone injustice AND have purity of conscience. Either their conscience isn’t really so lilly white or the phrase is meaningless. Hitler had purity of conscience.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      “If everyone were transformed personally then there would be no need for political transformation.”

                      Perhaps this is Christ’s plan.

                    • Susan Burns

                      I agree – so get with the program.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Are you saying that if everyone were transformed personally they would be liberal (progressive) Christians?

                    • Susan Burns

                      They certainly would not be Conservative Christians. Conservatives are damaging the spirit in the name of Jesus. Their condemnation of gay people is causing damage and creating suffering where there doesn’t need to be. Gay people are excluded from the banquet of the leviathan and from the body of Christ for no other reason than bigotry. I have seen wonderful people deny their own children because of this horrendous injustice.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      So, if someone sincerely believes that homosexuality is a sin (that is, that it is unjust in the sight of God), she should violate her conscience and support putting homosexual unions on a par with marriage? Who is it that she should trust more than her own conscience on this issue?

                    • Susan Burns

                      She must pray to be cured of her prejudice and for the spirit to transform her heart. If her heart does not transform then her mind certainly won’t. If she can find it in her heart to have mercy and understanding for people that have born the brunt of literalist zealotry then she will have grace. This will bring her closer to the full countenance of our good God because injustice has been removed. The ancient priests of the Order of Mechelzedik taught that the world was held aloft by men of justice. If any these 36 hidden zedikim are killed they must be replace by another for the world to remain suspended. So you see, we are all in this together. Everyone on this spinning earth has a stake in eliminating injustice.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      But she cannot in good conscience “pray to be cured of her prejudice” because she is confident that hers is a God-given conviction – just as sure as you are that your contrary view on this subject is a God-given conviction. She can no more ask God to cure her prejudice than you can ask God to cure yours. What therefore is she to do? What are you to do?

                    • Susan Burns

                      Then she must pray to be cured of her ignorance. God does not convict people to be bigoted. She probably goes to a church that teaches this man-made bigotry and doesn’t know any better. Condeming people created by God to eternal damnation is damaging, narcissistic and maybe a sin.

                    • Susan Burns

                      It seems to me that the Conservative Christian God is not good. He creates an entire group of people just to condemn. But first, before their eternal stint in hell, he makes them suffer and endure hell on earth. The CC God sounds more like Ceasar.
                      The progressive Christian God can be trusted. We progressives have faith that he will always be just. That is why we are able to say definitively that Gay people are deserving of justice and integration into American society. We trust our God and our God is good.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      But she doesn’t condemn homosexuals to eternal damnation. She just believes that homosexuality is a sin. She prays for homosexuals to be cured of their ignorance. And she prays for them with a sympathetic, grieving heart – not a judgmental attitude.

                      I am not making this up. I actually know people like this. Do you?

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Mike,

                      Very telling example. It took broad social transformation to effect the freeing of slaves in this country over a hundred years ago.

                      You seem to be implying that such an emphasis would be unbiblical and not worthy of our time and attention. Would you have stood against the abolitionists in U.S. history?

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Jesus lived in an age of monarchy, not of democracy. Certainly democracy gave political responsibilities to citizens in 19th-century America that they did not have in the 1st-century Judea.

                      I can picture Jesus favoring abolition of slavery as an American citizen in the 1850′s but I cannot picture him riding with John Brown on Harpers Ferry, nor can I imagine him refocusing his teaching into a political agenda so that Abe Lincoln could be elected president – however good that outcome might have been for the nation.
                      As I said before, I am not arguing that those who love Christ should abstain from politics. Rather, I’m saying that the cause of Christ cannot be reduced to planks in a political platform…for one side or the other.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Well I would agree that one shouldn’t reduce Christianity to planks in a political platform.

                      But I don’t think that’s what James is doing in this post.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Probably not, but I said that after significant interaction with you and Susan Burns on the broader issue. I was not referring to the original post.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      It’s interesting, because I would agree with you (as per your Abe Lincoln example), that christians as a group should stay out of the business of selecting political candidates (as a voting block). However, I don’t know of a scriptural argument that could made against it. Plenty of christian groups try it.

                      I could see constitutional reasons to remove tax exemptions from religious groups that support political candidates; but I don’t see any “religious” way around the problem.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Speaking for myself (not for James), I have trouble seeing how Christians can consistently follow the precept of doing what Jesus would do in the 21st century.

                      Most Christians would support American soldiers fighting to protect their country; but, somehow, I just can’t picture Jesus in fatigues, carrying an assault weapon.

                      In fact, if we were to live following Jesus as a perfect example, I don’t think we’d be very active as citizens at all; though at least he did give us an example for paying our taxes (albeit with a magic fish). Jesus’ example – itinerant, apocalyptic preaching – is a model that would be hard to follow for more than a few years – about the length of his ministry.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Thus you see Jesus’ apostles instructing followers to imitate Jesus “according to the spirit” and not “according to the flesh.” That is, the idea was to replicate the motivations which drove Jesus’ life – not the outward actions that He took or the occupation He chose.

                      More specifically, the apostles did not direct disciples to become itinerant apocalyptic preachers. Rather, they taught disciples to fulfill their existing stations in life motivated by the self-sacrificing love that they saw in Jesus. The gospels reveal what kind of messiah Jesus would be. What the epistles direct is a process whereby the world would see what kind of wife Jesus would be, what kind of husband he would be, what kind of servant he would be, and so on – all by the behavior of those following His spiritual example.

                      As for soldiers, the most specific New Testament example is an interaction some of them had with John the Baptist who did not tell them to go AWOL but rather “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”

                      I think your question is a good, thoughtful, and important one. But I also think, as you have seen, that at least the beginnings of some answers are given to us in the Scriptures. From there we can each pray for God to guide us. The central theme is to love others as He loved us.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      There is quite a bit of room for interpretation in that view of scripture. Perhaps the reason for so many disparate viewpoints in every social setting (including this blog), all claiming to be christian.

                • Beau Quilter

                  You really don’t see the beam in your eye do you, Mike?

                  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                    I don’t regard James with contempt. I respect him as a credentialed scholar, and even more for making his work and thoughts accessible to a broader audience through this blog. More importantly, however, I respect James as a fellow human being. We are all children of God.

                    That does not mean, however, that I always agree with him. I speak up when I sense an opportunity to advance the cause of Christ.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Well, respecting James and advancing the cause of Christ in your own way, seems to be a very fair and balanced approach. No argument with that.

                      Is that what you were doing when you described this thoughtful post as the “inner monologue of a high school sophomore”. Perhaps, you do think that such a comment is in keeping with your fair and balanced goals. If so, you should have no problem with my reply that your own comments were sophomoric.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      I used the metaphor I did because that’s the way the post struck me. I could have censored myself but thought it conveyed the point well, and was quite tame – especially when compared to the excoriation James regularly doles out to those who sit elsewhere on the political spectrum. James is a big boy – he doesn’t need coddling.

                      Besides, it’s not like I called anyone a “viper” or a “white-washed wall.”

                      James is a well-educated man and an astute thinker. What you call “a thoughtful post” is not up to the standards of which he is capable. He has the ability to lead people to look beyond labels. Simply going from waving a pom-pom for fundamentalism to waving one for progressivism is a goal not worthy enough for him.

                      If you think my comments are sophomoric, then so be it. I may not agree with you, but I don’t take offense at your expressing yourself.

                      James had the privilege of studying under Jimmy Dunn – which gives him an advantage over many of us. Dunn clearly knows how to think independently and is no one’s lap dog. Even so, we all have access to Christ and should seek to be associated with Him more than we seek to be associated with any human group – even if it’s a group that uses His name.

                      I’d rather be known as a ditzy sophomore for Christ than as a shrewd senior for anyone else.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      OK, so we can both tamely use the sophomore metaphor.

                      But James’s post here is not waving a pom pom for progressivism. He’s being clear about what he means by the descriptor, while clarifying that he is, above all, a Christian – the main point of the post is that, while descriptors can be useful, the Christian label is what matters most.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      My point is that while I agree that “the Christian label matters most” even it doesn’t ultimately matter. What matters is how the Lord Jesus Christ is perceiving our hearts even at this very moment…and every moment afterward. It’s not how others see us that counts – it’s how He sees us. This is a central theme of the Sermon on the Mount.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      I still don’t see how this conflicts with James’ post. Isn’t it a bit presumptuous (and judgmental) to presume that other Christians aren’t concerned with how the Lord Jesus Christ is perceiving their hearts, just because they draw attention to other things that they are concerned about?

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      I stand by what I said, but I don’t want to belabor the point.

  • Dr, David Tee

    I think that that is one of the most convoluted definitions I have run across. By questioning do you mean rejecting the biblical view and adding secularism to your supposed faith?
    the term Christian means ‘Christ-like’ yet I do not see anything remotely close to Christ in your answers, comments and beliefs. You do not accept Adam, Eve and Noah as real people yet Jesus and God did.
    You do not accept creation as told in the Bible Yet God, Jesus and all the biblical authors did.
    I wonder what else is found in the Bible that you reject? Then one must ask, why do you accepot the biblical teaching on salvation yet reject the biblical teaching of creation and the flood? Sounds like you are just cherry picking what you want to believe and discarding everything else.
    Tell me, if you do not believe the Bible, why should the unbeliever?

    • Susan Burns

      Dr. Tee needs to release the stranglehold he has on Jesus. He is much more interested in controlling the flesh than accessing the spirit. I think his brand of Christianity is the opposite of the message of Jesus.

      • Dr. david Tee

        No, it is opposite of the one you want.

        • Susan Burns

          Dr. Tee; trollin’ for Jesus.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I am sure you really believe that God told you that he views Noah as a historical figure. And I suspect that many of us would like to hear when and how this occurred. I can’t help wondering if that claim is just a reflection of your persistent idolatry in treating the words of the human authors of the Bible as the words of God. Perhaps you will clarify?

    • thenewrobdavis

      Dear Dr.,

      We all cherry pick. Welcome to humanity.

      • Dr. david Tee

        No we don’t.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501915913 Roger Wolsey

          I’d suggest that we all do. I haven’t met anyone who reads all of the Bible literally.

    • Beau Quilter

      “Dr. Whoever you are” (Doctor of what?!)

      How can you say that you “do not see anything remotely close to Christ in your answers, comments and beliefs”, when James’s post holds up some of the very ideas that Jesus taught, such as caring for the poor and even including a direct quote from Jesus, “love one another.”?

      Why do you expect readers to take you seriously when you tell continuous lies like this, from the safety of your own anonymity, while James’s name, credentials, and contact information is available for all to see.

      “how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”

      • Dr. david Tee

        How can a person reject some of the things Jesus taught but accept other ideas? How can a person say Jesus is a liar in some issues but telling the truth in others? That makes Jesus fallible and sinful and ot the perfect sacrifice.
        Think about the whole picture. I haven’t told any lies.

        • Beau Quilter

          Then who are you and what are you a doctor of?

  • Just Sayin’

    Are there any Catholic progressive Christians or is it just a Protestant movement? If so, then Protestant should appear in the definition surely?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I have certainly encountered Catholics who seem to share the major points in common with Progressive Christians among Protestants. I have no idea about numbers, but I do not think it is a purely Protestant phenomenon.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501915913 Roger Wolsey

      I’d submit that Brennan Manning and Richard Rohr are examples of progressive Catholics. Matthew Fox too. And heck, many Franciscan nuns are too.

      • Just Sayin’

        In that case, I’d definitely rather be a progressive Protestant!

    • Pseudonym

      Surely Robert F. Kennedy is a famous example.

      • Just Sayin’

        I never knew he was even a Christian!

  • aaronpxian

    I’ve gotten so tired of having to explain what I’m not whenever I tell people I’m a Christian that I’m almost at the point of just saying my religion is Jedi.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Orthodox Jedi Council or Quigonian?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501915913 Roger Wolsey

    Here’s something I wrote re: this terminology not too long ago: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-roger-wolsey/progressive-christianity_b_892727.html

    • thenewrobdavis

      Roger, your article is very helpful.

      My one concern, though, is that you seem to imply that if we were all more historical, if we could go back before modernity and before Constantine, that we would find a “pure” Christianity based on love, grace, peace, etc. I don’t think that actually ever existed. What’s “conservative” about “progressive Christianity” is that we have decided to focus on certain things while ignoring others. Historically, I think you will arrive at diversity, rather than a pure form of Christianity. But, we have chosen to say “our Christianity will be ____ rather than ____.” I’m not at all discounting the valuable historical work that has been done and will continue to be done. But, I’m not coming back around to Christianity because I think the “original” version was pure. What I, personally, love about Christianity is that it’s a huge family (a “big tent”) that encourages diversity. And, allows for each of us to choose which parts of our diverse history that we want to embody, and which parts that we want to reject.

      Not sure if that makes sense…

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501915913 Roger Wolsey

        I’m not intending to say that it’s a simple matter of going back to an earlier form of Christianity. Though I do think we should strive to regain our status as being “known for our love” — instead of for our judgmentalism. I also indicated that progressive Christianity is a post-liberal movement that is influenced by postmodernism — concepts that weren’t on the scene in the first 300 years of our faith.

    • Pseudonym

      Wow, that’s a very good piece.

      Incidentally, one thing that we should note about “liberal” vs “conservative” is that it exists along several axes. I, for example, seem to be very liberal theologically, but quite conservative liturgically. Your mileage may differ.

  • arcseconds

    Let’s just say for the sake of argument that you literalists are right and Noah existed and managed to fit 7 of all of the clean animals and 2 of all the unclean ones onto a not terribly large vessel to save them all from a global deluge involving the miraculous generation and destruction of trillions of tonnes of water.

    Now, you’d have to admit this does stretch credibility rather. If you hadn’t had it from a reliable source, you wouldn’t believe it – right?

    OK, so how important is it to believe this?

    More important or less important than selling what you own and giving the money to the poor?

  • acts1126c

    I call myself a Biblical Christian because I believe the Bible is the word of God and the guide to living like Christ. And that it is the final authority on matters of faith

  • Clifford

    A Christian is not based one one’s politics, be it conservative, liberal,etc. It means belonging to Christ, or is a Christ one who accepts what God has done through Christ on the cross for our salvation. And finally it is a complete loyalty to and acceptance of God’s total control of our life

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501915913 Roger Wolsey

    Great post! On a related note, “Progressive Christianity isn’t progressive Politics — one is theology, the other is politics” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/09/progressive-christianity-isnt-progressive-politics/


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