Christianity Has Never Not Been Progressive…
For instance the Bible, it’s never not changing. I know we say that our concept of God, theologically speaking, is “immutable,” but let’s be honest, over the course of human history we’ve never even been able to decide on one single version of who or what God is, and this is only in the Church, let alone inter-religious dialogue.
In fact, conservative evangelicalism’s version of Christianity is so progressive its concept of the soul is actually more Gnostic than it is Christian, their Bible excludes entire books deemed divine revelation, and the gospel is so deep most of them (according to their own evangelical researchers) don’t know how to articulate it… Crazy, right?
The new progressivism has become more of a group of people than it is a solidified set of beliefs. Mainly because progressivism is amorphous, much like evangelicalism, refusing to be defined or rather confined by any solidified definition.
The root of this word “progress” is in and of itself a word dependent on the fluidity of culture. Where culture is, progression goes ahead of.
I agree with Ursula Goodenough in that “Every religion is embedded in its cultural history.” For millennials, like myself, it’s all too easy to forget that Billy Graham was progressively radical for his time. Doing Ted talks, proclaiming a universalistic gospel in which all are welcome, using tents and stadiums (not buildings or cathedrals) to “do church.”
Progressive is Nothing New…
Even before Graham, we have St. Augustine rejecting the literal interpretation of the creation story, Martin Luther creating his own version of the Bible and rejecting biblical inerrancy, and not to mention the multiple councils over the course of history in which suffered from the division, splintering, and irreparable backstabbing.
The progressive has developed her own epistemological awareness that is disconnected from their parent’s narrow-minded theological perspective. To put it plainly, there is a large sect of the US no longer blindly buying into an inane logic that is claiming an unconditionally loving God while simultaneously propagating a hatefully oppressive law.
If Christianity is so progressively amorphous always refusing to be confined by any codified systematics whoever is can be just that, evangelical, Christian, or in my case a progressively liberal evangelical Christian. We see conservatism quickly dying off because they’ve limited themselves to a specific group of people and a very specific set of laws. That is now diminishing, and quickly being replaced by those formerly known as the “persecuted minority” (now currently the new moral majority). In other words, like the GOP, the more conservative evangelicals attempt to correct course, the more in danger they become in regards to dying off.
Their best bet is to savor the past, and not fight who is already here and what’s to come. I suspect by the tail end of my lifetime, the church will either be radically different (theologically, racially, sexually, and economically), or it will be almost completely inexistent, using vacant churches as tourist attractions more than places of worship.