Brandon Morgan, a participant at Wild Goose, who wrote this for Roger Olson’s site:
I don’t necessarily mean to lay my censuring cards on the table about Progressive Christianity in America (Notice, I critique conservatives too). I
just mean to say that if Emergent folks find themselves comfortable in Mainline walls, particularly the walls of liberal pluralism dominant in both theological and political aspects of American liberal protestantism, then I question what new things the Emergent conversation has to offer. If they have something new to say, then angst about a painful past with fundamentalism will need to produce theologically fruitful reflections about the church that look different than a recovery of mainline dominance in the early 20th century. Emergent folks will have to start distinguishing themselves from progressive Christianity if they want people to think that something new and important is really happening. They will also have to start caring more about the theological and political space of the church itself than they do about using the church to bolster American nation-state policies.
Simply put, emergent folks need some theological sophistication that cultivates distinctiveness lest they seep into the homogenized spirituality of progressive Christianity in America or find themselves directly tied to the project, initially espoused by liberal Christianity and copied by evangelical Christianity, of trying to use the Christian church to control the history of American politics.
Roger Olson came back with this by putting it all into two questions:
How is your new, different type of Christianity different (at the deep level of theology and ethics) from “mainline,” liberal Protestantism? Your reaction to fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism is clear. Now what do you have to offer European and American Christianity (and hopefully the rest of the world) that is new and different from modernity-based liberalism?