What Is Progressive Christianity? What Do They Believe? Is It Biblical?

What Is Progressive Christianity? What Do They Believe? Is It Biblical? January 11, 2014

If someone told you that they were a “progressive Christian” what would you think that meant?  What do so called progressive Christians believe and does it follow what the Bible teaches for believers?

Progressive Christianity

What are the core beliefs of those who believe in “progressive Christianity?”  What does it mean to be progressive?  Progressive Christianity seeks to change the world for the better.  Many, but not all, are trying to effectually change the world through social justice programs and ministries and a large part of this is a staunchly aggressive environmentalism mission.   Of course Christians are to be good stewards and when God told Adam to “keep the Garden” God wanted the planet to be taken care of because he was responsible for his own environment.   Progressive Christianity is not as much like traditional Christianity where believers are “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27) and to do what Jesus indicated by His saying that “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt 25:36).

Christians are commanded to also share their “food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter [and to] to clothe them” (Isaiah 58:7) but progressive Christianity leans more toward a needs-based collective salvation instead of the biblical concept of personal salvation.  There certainly is nothing wrong with helping to keep the environment clean, to change the social justice system in order to better help those who are disenfranchised, but the gospel’s goal is to reveal to people that they are sinners in need of a Savior and to point them to Christ so that they might be saved.  A Christian will naturally take better care of their corner of the planet and many Christians emphasize the need to recycle and to fight for social justice but that is a by-product of being a Christian and not their main purpose.

The Center for Progressive Christianity was created in 1995 by an Episcopalian priest, James Rowe Adam in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  He wanted the churches to step out into the political arena and into society in order to reach out to

“all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable” regardless of their lifestyle or beliefs, sexual orientations and they welcomed agnostics as well as atheists and they wanted to worship life without their having to “become like us.”

I agree that we should reach out to all people but we must tell them that unless they repent they cannot see God.   Jesus said that we can only worship God if it is in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

Those that hold to progressive Christianity do not like to state that there is only one way to God, or that all other beliefs or faiths are in error and they are repulsed by exclusivist claims that only through repentance, confession, and trust in Christ can a person be saved and that there is no other way.

Biblical Christianity

Those that hold to progressive Christianity do not like to state that there is only one way to God, or that all other beliefs or faiths are in error and they are repulsed by exclusivist claims that only through repentance, confession, and trust in Christ can a person be saved and that there is no other way.  That teaching is something you will never hear from them.  They say that they have moved beyond the idea of biblical inerrancy.  This is where progressive Christianity differs from that of biblical Christianity because Jesus said that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  Jesus is not one of many ways but the one and only way.  Jesus did not say that I am one of many ways…or that I am one of the ways but I am the one and only way and there is no other way to go to the Father than through Him.  The belief that there are many paths to God is to believe that there is a plurality of ways to go to Heaven.

Progressive Christianity, by rejecting that the only way to heaven is through Christ and their belief that all other religions cannot be wrong is to essentially believe that all beliefs or faiths are not wrong.  The problem with that is that the Islamic faith, the Buddhist belief, and biblical Christianity cannot all be true.  Anyone that knows about all the other religions of the world should realize that the law of non-contradiction ensures that they cannot all be true.  Either one is true or the others are not.  They cannot possibly all be right.  For example, the Islamic faith teaches that there is only one God and his name is Allah but the Bible is clear that God is a Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Progressive Christianity believes that the Bible is not inerrant and that the Bible changes with times.  Christians believe that the Word of God is perfect (Psalm 19:7) and is not subject to personal interpretation (2 Pet 1:20-21) and does not change…ever (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8).


What progress did Jesus really emphasize for believers?  It was to grow in the grace and knowledge of God (2 Pet 3:18), to live a holy life because God is holy (1 Pet 1:16) and to be sanctified (John 17:19) by the continual renewing of their minds (Rom 12:1-2).  If God wants us to be progressive, it is to be progressing to be more like Christ.  Christ was without sin (1 John 3:5) and even though we will never be sinless, we should be sinning less as we yield to the Holy Spirit. If you have not yet repented, confessed your sins, and trusted in Christ as Savior, you can never be progressing to be more Christ-like.  Your destiny is one that is indescribable (Rev 20:11-15).  Just as heaven will be joy beyond description, hell will be just as much beyond description.  Both are eternal.   You have a choice.  To reject Jesus is to make a choice.  To trust in Him is the right choice.  It will be in a hundred years and it will be for ages without end.

Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts


Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design

photo credit: claude.attard.bezzina via photopin cc

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  • Andrew

    Biblical inerrancy as a doctrine was largely invented by Southern Baptists in the 19th century to justify slavery. On the other hand, theologians before and since have recognized that many of the various texts compiled into the Bible are meant to be allegorical and that they represent diverse viewpoints, even arguments.

    • BigN

      Theologians are subject to error just as anybody else is. Mr. Wellman is correct. Those who would deny Christ as the only path to the Father have no place in the Kingdom of God.

      • Frank Lockwood

        See what I mean? I rest my case.

        • NickRepublic

          What case? Be prepared to be laughed out of court with “(your) case” and the evidence presented. Jesus Christ plainly stated “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

          • Frank Lockwood

            Nick, I would wager that, in the Bible, you see what you look for and what you don’t see, you would swear isn’t there. I was that way too for many years.

            If we are strapped and bound by by the Fundamentalist, orthodox (I Timothy 3:16 wrongly understood) mind set, we can see less than half of what is really there. Take the blinders off, and the Bible reveals a unique picture of the evolving history of religious thought. Add to that some archaeology and science and you have a really fascinating view.

            None of which necessarily requires that we stop seeking the Mystery of Creation, the Power of the Divine, or Inner Guidance (Holy Spirit).

            As we gain knowledge, some of us become Atheists, some of us seek to know and cultivate the Power that we feel within, and some of us remain locked into ancient patterns of thought. Those who have diligently sought understanding and knowledge, deserve our respect, either way.

            You will no doubt do whatever seems right to you, given the information and experience that you have beneath your belt. But as the Apostle once said (words to the effect of): “Sometimes it is best not to belittle the things we don’t understand.”


          • NickRepublic

            I am not bound by any non-Biblical man-made tradition. I see what is there for instance, John 1613: “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.” The knowledge I need comes from the Holy Spirit as promised.
            As far as belittling, my attitude was wrong but it is also written: “judge righteous judgements”. Your logic escapes me when you say “As we gain knowledge some of us become atheists.” If we are working towards a deeper knowledge, that means the truth. Which, by His own definition, means Christ Jesus. Atheism is a lie. It is written “The fool has said in his heart “there is no God”.
            I seek to cultivate no Power within myself. Christ’s Power is more than sufficient for me to proclaim His Gospel.
            Your servant,

          • Frank Lockwood

            Nick, you and I and all humans, in fact, all things in the Universe, intelligent or otherwise, are bound by the same set of (what seem to be, at least) laws: The laws of the Universe are, speaking redundantly, universal. The “spirit of truth” is no respecter of persons, nor of religions.

            To clarify about “as we gain knowledge,” the problem as I see it is that we do not all process that knowledge in the same way. Some people come to conclusions that are radically different from my own, but at least some of them have earned the right to those conclusions via the “seek and you shall find” method. We all have our life in the same sea of truth, the same Universe that speaks to some of us about God. To others, the connection is not clear at all, but if they have at least struggled to understand the evidence, that is more than I can say for many religious people.

            Some fools have said, “There is no God,” while other fools have said, “There is a god.” Atheists have no patent on foolishness.

          • IAN RAMSAY

            You do not understand prophesy as used in the bible. Prophesy os not the same as telling the future as the Oracle of Delphi or readers of Tarot cards. The prophesies, especially in the Hebrew bible, told the people of Israel would happen if they did not follow the will of God. It was always in the form of a warning because humans have the power of free will. Disasters occurred because the people chose to disobey not because the disaster was preordained.

          • NickRepublic

            You misspelled prophecy to which I wasn’t even referring. Please read posts thoroughly before posting.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Prophecy is the noun. Prophesy is the verb. Give a little slack. How well do you suppose you would you communicate in foreign language? How do you know that Ian is a native English speaker?

            Ease off, lest you become known as a jerk.

          • NickRepublic

            Ease off? Ian is a troll not seeking to hear anything but his own voice. I would thank you to mind your own business.

          • NickRepublic

            p.s. Without any guidance from the Holy Spirit, it is you who do not understand prophecy. There are over 300 prophecies relating to Jesus Christ alone. These were given so the people would know when their Messiah had come. These prophecies were of the signpost variety. Much as the book of Ezekiel is. Of course, you not being a serious scholar, I wouldn’t expect you to know that.

          • Frank Lockwood

            NickRepublic: We could argue endlessly about who has “guidance” from the holy spirit, and who does not, but facts are facts and if you want to talk about scriptures you have to be willing to look at all scriptures, not just at the proof-texts of one particular sect (or even several sects) of Christianity.

            Your tone and approach is so hostile that it seethes with negative energy.

            As I read your comments, it appears that you do not want to talk or discuss, but to attack and destroy your opponents — to destroy those whom you seem to think are your enemies.

            You attack the merest spelling error, for example, rather than talk about the big ideas of your faith. This is not the spirit of one who says, “Come let us reason together.”

            To reason together, one must first become reasonable. We have no way to explore two different approaches to see who is right, because you are only interested in “winning” the debate.

            I want to win too, but only if I have legitimate arguments, and I expect the same courtesy from those who may at first oppose my ideas.

            You cannot test your ideas unless you are willing to hear the other side. I, for one, heard your side for 38
            years. That’s enough, I think, to have at least some rudimentary idea of where you are coming from.

            Fear is sometimes the biggest obstacle to faith … and to truth. You seem afraid to consider your opponents’ arguments, so you keep brushing them aside with verbal abuse. As long as that is approach, you may be right or you may be wrong, but ironically, you will never really know because you will have never tested your basic assumptions.

            Actually, Ian does some of the same.


          • NickRepublic

            I’ve listened to the other side and made my decision. I attack the spelling error because I don’t like people who speak or write to me in a condescending manner. If you want to do that fine, but I will use any pin I can to deflate that superior attitude. You haven’t seen hostile yet. Negative energy? I guess I’m tired of explaining and re-explaining my position to those without ears. I have been sharp in my tone but have not verbally abused anybody.

            “You may be right, or you may be wrong, but ironically, you will never really know because you will have never tested your basic assumptions.” YOU DON’T KNOW ME SO HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS ASSERTION?! By ASSUMING. My beliefs have been tested. You know little about my basic assumptions or me so I would thank you not to contact me further with your circular reasoning.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Nick, you missed the point completely. If anything you were more aggressive and cantankerous than before. I wanted to have a dialogue but it seems that you were not — and that you are not — interested in doing that, so why are we here?

          • NickRepublic

            I have to ask you at this point, are you trying to convince me or trying to convince yourself? p.s. I saw the little comments between you and Ian “Free of Nicky? They are legion.” So you’re just another Troll.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Nick, you did have to ask me that at all. You resort to name calling in almost every post. About the reference to legion: I have no illusions about this, there are millions who share your views.

          • NickRepublic

            You don’t want dialogue. You want me to accept your ideas as facts which they are not.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Nick, most everyone is fond of his or her own ideas, myself included. If we enter real dialogue, your views may be challenged. And I accept that you may challenge my ideas. What I do not accept is that we focus on personal attacks rather than on indisputable facts.

          • NickRepublic

            Are you trying to convince me or trying to convince yourself?

          • Frank Lockwood

            It is not my job to convince anyone of anything that they do not want to be convinced about. You are your own best teacher.

          • NickRepublic

            A: Why the constant answering posts then? No one’s interested in your philosophy here. B: You haven’t totally answered my question.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Goodbye Nick.

          • NickRepublic

            Happy Trolling!!!

          • Frank Lockwood

            Mr. Wellman started off with a question: “What is Progressive Christianity?”
            We are not shy about proclaiming what we are and what we are about.

            A good place to start would be here: http://progressivechristianity.org/what-is-progressive-christianity/

          • NickRepublic

            Your facts are ….inadequate.

          • Priscilla141

            Nick, I would comment that I did meet many nonbelievers in grad school who lived in deep spiritual darkness. I saw my role as being a witness for Christ. Also tried to help them see the wonder of a saved life. It is true that most people reject The Lord Christ. It can be difficult when we witness, and that happens. However, all we can do is our part. If someone chooses to reject the salvation God offers in His Son, I simply continue to pray for them. Your efforts to live your faith are good.

          • NickRepublic

            How would you know anything about faith? You don’t have faith in the Bible. Don’t lecture me on fear of truth. I have the truth. You have your own reasoning which has led you seriously astray.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Do you want to have your faith challenged or do you not?

          • NickRepublic

            Sounds like yours already has been. Some of us have faith in God through His Son Jesus Christ. Some of us do not. Again I re-iterate my question to you. With this constant posting, are you trying to convince me or trying to convince yourself?

          • Priscilla141

            Since our faith is rational and logical, I don’t understand this statement. It is also spiritual, as the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. Scripture does teach that those who reject Christ live in spiritual darkness ( blindness. ). Please seek to know God before it’s too late. Once you die, it’s too late. By the way, a true Christian is not fearful, not even of death. We have a supernatural peace that transcends fears.
            Reading a good Study Bible ( NASB, or ESV, ) might be helpful to the nonbeliever. It will explain the questions they raise about Scripture.

          • John Gordon

            That is possible but it seems highly unlikely. He spoke in Aramaic; his words were recorded in Greek decades after his death. Those words you quoted are from an English translation of a Greek translation of an Aramaic oral tradition. Mark, in particular, was quite clear that Jesus did not go around bragging in such a way. Later gospel writers who disagree with Mark, give him such grandiose words to say. There are too many translation errors for you to be so cock sure. In the Lord’s Prayer, the old KJV mistranslated a whole line–“lead us not into temptation.” God is not the tempter, Satan is. It is better translated, “Save us from the time of trial.” How many angels attended Jesus at the resurrection–one [Matt., Mark], or two [Luke] or none [John]? Did both thieves mock Jesus [Mark] or only one [Luke] or none [Matt., John]? Did Jesse have seven sons [Chron.] or eight [Sam.]? Biblical inerrancy can only be believed by someone who reads sloppily or by small passages. Peace.

          • NickRepublic

            Wrong, sir. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek as inspired by the Holy Spirit, inerrant in the original writings which Jesus even said (and I paraphrase here) “these things will be remembered to you” [speaking of His sayings and Acts]. Even in a court case, eyewitnesses see different aspects of the same action re: the one thief or both thieves argument. Anybody looking will find all kinds of apparent inconsistencies within the Bible but with a deeper reading, an understanding of the culture at that time, the language it uses and above all, the Voice of the Holy Spirit to guide us, we will see the Truth the Scripture has been recorded to reveal. Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?

          • IAN RAMSAY

            If the bible were inerrant words of God, it would have condemned slavery outright, rather than adopting the conventional human wisdom of the day. The same must be said of its acceptance of unequal status of women. When dealing with ethical issues rather than mores, there is no cultural adjustment. You need to take a course in ethics before you make such stupid statements.

            God would have known if Jesse had 7 sons [I Chron.] or 8 sons [I Sam.]. If the bible were inerrant, Jesus would not have had to change the Law after he said not one iota of the law would be changed (an expression he would not have used since it would have made no sense to people who spoke Aramaic) regarding divorce, taking oaths, and treatment of enemies. Onan is is killed refusing to obey the Leverite law; Moses condemns it. How many animals was Noah supposed to take on the ark–two of everything or 2 of some and 14 of some others. Etc. Etc. The list is almost endless.

            Nick, old boy, you need a course or two in textual analysis. Fundamentalism whether Christian, Jewish or Islamic is the enemy of truth. Your reading of the Christian bible is as dangerous as the approach of Isis is when reading the Qu’ran. You have nothing of use to say to me until you learn how to read more carefully. A bit of Koine and Hebrew would help you as well, Let me know when you have finished the coursework; then, at least, you will be able to write intelligently.

          • NickRepublic

            My name isn’t Nicky IANY. Don’t need a “course or two” Mr. Condescending or your attitude. The Holy Spirit guides me in the ways of all truth as promised. You being a secular man only don’t have the spiritual capacity to understand this. Your eyes are blinded and your ears don’t work on a spiritual level. You would know then that Jesus didn’t come to destroy the law but fulfill it. By the way, they are the ACTUAL WORDS SPOKEN BY JESUS. I will pray for you.
            Not that it matters,I’m not a fundamentalist, just a Bible believing Christian. Please do yourself a favor in the future and not make emotionally based claims on scant evidence.

            You have nothing of use to say to me either so why do you keep posting? You know you’re wrong. And how would a course in ethics apply here? Morals outweigh ethics every time. Any fool knows that, excepting you of course.

            You seem to be very big on higher education. Why don’t you actually visit a library for some self-guided study instead of being spoon-fed whatever your professors want you to hear? Or is that too intellectually challenging for you.

          • IAN RAMSAY

            I am finishing my dissertation for a PhD in comparative religious studies at Aberystwyth University in Wales. You do not understand the distinct differences between morals and ethics. You need a basic course in philosophy. You should not insist on your ignorance. Peace.

          • NickRepublic

            You need a basic course in reading. See previous post. PhD in this day and age means very little other than gaining access to your own ivory tower. I’ve known janitors and railway clerks that can outthink PhD candidates. It’s been eight months and that’s the best you can come up with? Let it go.

          • IAN RAMSAY

            No, my dear, ignorant redneck, you do not know janitors and railway clerks who can out think PhD candidates. You have no idea what is involved in a PhD program. If there are janitors and railway clerks who can outthink PhDs, they wouldn’t be janitors and railway clerks. What do you understand to be the requirements to earn a PhD?

          • NickRepublic

            If you are the sole indicator, not one-tenth as stringent as they used to be. Perhaps they have fulfilled themselves WITHOUT having to have letters after their name. Hmmmmm?

          • IAN RAMSAY

            Perhaps they have but not as scholars. Scholarship is demanding and rigorous work . British PhDs average 8 to 10 years to earn their degrees. I assume American PhDs do as well. American conservative anti-intellectauism is the source of much humour in Europe. In America, this pitiful pride in ignorance is a political disaster.

          • Priscilla141

            Ian, you will see that ” the natural man does not understand the things of God, ” a natural man being an unsaved person. That means that a lost person cannot understand the spiritual meaning of Scripture. Sure, he/ she can understand some of the literal meanings. ( I was unaware of this before I was saved by Lord Jesus. ). When a person becomes saved, the Holy Spirit indwells his body, spiritually joining that person to Christ. ( being ” born again from above.”). Once this happens, the Holy Spirit teaches one the spiritual meaning of the Bible. This is the reason the unsaved man does not understand Scripture. Until you’re saved by Christ, it won’t make much sense. However, He died for you, also. God invites all people to repent of their sins, and believe in The Lord Jesus Christ. He’s changed my life in an incredibly powerful way; and continues to do so, day by day. Please give this some thought, and seek God in prayer. There is nothing more valuable in time and eternity than a saving relationship with Christ.
            By the way, there are many true believers in Christ, who do have higher educations. I went to graduate school to be able to serve My Lord. However, in school the professors did try to teach us that science, false philosophies, and moral relativism were our authoritative teachings. Since I love The Lord, I let them know that His Word, Sacred Scripture, was the teaching I obey.

          • IAN RAMSAY

            This is an arrogant and self-righteoous response. If do not believe exactly as you do then the Holy Spirit cannot be with me? You are obviously much too self absorbed in your own infallibility to discuss anything. Vanity, vanity, thy name is woman. I am not, as you suppose, spiritually where you think I am. I am a Quaker. You might check out how utterly communication with the HS is part of our worship and everyday lives. By the way, how many sons did Jesse have? Peace.

          • JenellYB

            I can’t imagine any university professors teaching moral relativism as authoritative for anything. As for false philosophies, philosophy demands it’s assertions be proved. Moral relativism totally fails under principles of philosophical test, and examination with sound logic.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Nick, there are many ways to interpret the bible, including the passages you mentioned.

          • Priscilla141

            Actually, there is one accepted way to interpret Scripture, accepted by Biblical Churches and Seminaries. It is the Literal Historical Grammatical Hermeneutic Method. Also, by the way, if you study what God says in Scripture about Scripture, you will see where the doctrine of inerrancy came from. It is what God said about His Word. If you try the above interpretation method, with the teaching of the Holy Spirit, the meaning will be clear. By the way, Ian, higher source criticism has shown there are no errors in Scripture.

          • IAN RAMSAY

            Actually there are several academically accepted ways to interpret biblical scriptures. The “literal, historical, grammatical, hermeneutic method” you mention is actually four different approaches. In fact, the literal and hermeneutical approaches are opposite types of dealing with the texts and the historical and grammatical bolster the hermeneutical and undermine the literal. Too bad you haven’t a clue what you are talking about. The literal is the least useful and poorest way to arrive at truth because with it, one must start with an a priori premise, which is not allowable in any valid epistemological discussion. You are a joke. You fundamentalists think that all you need to do is look at the KJV and truth will come flowing forth from that rather flawed translation. You probably think Donald Trump would make a good President. Are you even aware that the two creation stories in Genesis are diametrically opposite each other with neither being correct. Go back to your knitting.

        • IAN RAMSAY

          Frank, I think we are free of Nicky and the Guest for a while. They write as if they can know the will of God just by reading a book. Peace.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Free of Nicky? They are legion. But how do we get them to see that their either/or thinking is part of the problem: As Jesus reportedly said, “If the light that is in you be darkness…”

            Nicky keeps harping on passages from John, but I am coming from the position that almost everything John wrote, at around CE 90 or later, was an interpretation, a spiritual re-interpretation of the Christ, intentionally designed to account for the destruction of the temple and of the holy city.

            According to earliest Christian thought, these two things could not have happened, but they did. The bible clearly states that the earliest Christians went to the temple together daily — they were Jewish after all — and that they assembled (before or afterwards presumably) to share meals. Their self-concept had to change after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and John is an indication of their reflection on the significance of that.

            We are still reflecting on the significance of things that “could not have happened,” so Christianity is a religion in the making, even today.

            Cheers …

          • IAN RAMSAY

            You must spend a lot of time here. I have courses to prepare for. I know I am only a grad student [I have finished my masters in history and am now working on my dissertation.] but there has been no response to my remarks. I wonder why. I am a Friend and go to meeting regularly. I’d love to discourse with some fundamentalists. Are they put off because I have a husband instead of a wife? We were married married in Wales when I finished undergraduate work. He is a good, clean and honest man. He is a Christian and has a full time job–never on the dole. He works as a professional model for some clothing manufacturers in the US and the UK. Why would they not like him. Here is a picture.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Ian, was that comment addressed to me? That I do not understand biblical prophecy? You may be right, but I don’t know how you would know that about me. Or maybe it was directed at another commentator. Perhaps it would be a good idea on Disqus to indicate to whom a comment is directed.

            An earlier comment asked why fundamentalists do not reply. As a former fundamentalist I can take an educated guess: Is it shunning? Or is it frustration when people do not see the world through their particular filters? I don’t know.

            I do know that some of my former friends will not speak to me now, or speak very little, as little as possible.

          • IAN RAMSAY

            No, Frank, it was not directed at you. Quite the oposite: you seem to about the only voice of understanding here. No, it was a general rant of frustration. I don’t understand how people can think that they can understand the the entire cosmos by memorizing a few verses from The bible. It is hard to leave Wales and come to a land of fundamentalist meatheads who have no interest in truth. I didn’t know until that many Americans are clueless about discerning truth from lies. I am sorry that I had made you uncomfortable. Peace.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Ah, no Ian, you did not make me uncomfortable at all: I was just checking. America has a double-whammy right now: A strong fundamentalist movement combined with a cynical right wing Republican party. The two try to use each other to promote their ideals, if you want to call them that. Ideologies would be a more appropriate term in my opinion. The lower echelons are, indeed clueless pawns. They fight the wars, they recruit for the churches, not to mention tithing of their incomes. Evangelicals in general have not been taught, nor have been allowed, to question, to think, to challenge the assumptions of their leaders, on pain of hell’s fire! The basis of their ignorance is the notion of some version of an infallible book. If you start to win an argument, they disappear into the woods so to speak, or they change the topic continually before you can answer what was a dumb question to begin with.

          • IAN RAMSAY

            Amen. Peace.

      • Frank Lockwood

        Theologians are, indeed, subject to error.

        Many many errors in fact, which can easily be seen by comparing one scripture with another.

        The truth is, the evangelists either made errors, or were calling one another liars by implication. I would rather think that they made errors independently, although I cannot know this for sure.

    • thushjz

      I amthe way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the father but by me. John 14:6. that doesn’t appear to be allegorical to me and millions of other real christians…

  • Jack Wellman

    So Jesus dying for our sins on the cross so that we can be forgiven is only an allegory? I pray this is not so.

    • Frank Lockwood

      Jack, I understand. And I can easily identify with that remark. As a serious reader of the scriptures, I have discovered many truths that I probably would rather have not had to grapple with.

      • NickRepublic

        Serious reader? Probably. But not a believer. There comes a point when “you cast not your pearls before swine.”

        • Frank Lockwood

          Nick, would you mind expanding upon that just a bit? It is not entirely clear to me what you mean. For example, who are the “swine,” and in what manner do they “rend” you?

        • IAN RAMSAY

          Rather arrogant, don’t you think? Because you do not agree with Frank, there is no reason to call him swine. Being a tad judgment me thinks. Being judgmental is something Jesus specifically forbids if memory serves me well and my Greek is still correct, which I suspect it is. (Education and intelligence have their advantages.) One does not have to believe in biblical inerrancy to believe in Jesus. In fact, believing in the inerrancy of the bible seriously smacks of idolatry. You do not seem to have received your beliefs from the Holy Spirit. You seem to rely almost entirely on the bible and what some fundamentalist preacher has told you. Hint: according to John 1:1 ff., Jesus, not the scriptures, is the Word of God. John used Λοδος, Logos. It’s not just a string of letters. It speaks to the logic and wisdom of God as well. You confuse the perfection of Christ with the lack of perfection found in scripture. You worship as perfect a lump of pulp and ink instead of the Spirit that is trying to speak to your arrogant soul. Start with silence and give the “still small voice” that Elijah heard or the rhuach, wind in Genesis, God breathed into you a chance to inform you, and leave scriptures for a while. Learn some Greek and Hebrew, learn some literary analysis. My husband is a model and no theologian, but he thinks your logic is silly. I think that it is terribly naive and too simplistic. It is a Sunday school faith masquerading in an adult mind. But for now we are bored with your fundamentalist idolatry and are going to bed. Peace.

          • Frank Lockwood

            When they start talking about casting pearls before swine, what it really indicates is that they have exhausted their store of rational arguments.

  • Gotta love the “choice” one is given by a Mafia thug ready to bust a kneecap if you don’t “choose” the correct “choice,” or other kinds of Torture-centric gangstas for god.

    Your destiny is one that is indescribable (Rev 20:11-15). Just as
    heaven will be joy beyond description, hell will be just as much beyond
    description. Both are eternal. You have a choice.

    • Frank Lockwood

      Brian: Your point is well taken. It is time to move beyond the barbarianisms, the brutality, the magic spells, the racism and ego-ethnic self congratulations that characterize traditional Christianity’s fundamental beliefs. If we do not change, our faith, our religion, is doomed, in my opinion. Maybe it is anyway. Maybe I am like Jack Wellman, praying “that this is not so.”

      • The only way I stay a Christian is to define it like Thomas Jefferson did.

        Jefferson’s Religious Beliefs

        But it is a rather lonely station. 😉

        “I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.”~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Ezra Stiles Ely, June 25, 1819

        • Frank Lockwood

          Yeah, Guest, it is lonely. But I think of it this way: Religious affiliations (and their accompanying belief systems) are mere outposts on the road to enlightenment. The real message of the bible is one of change and of evolution, from idols to superstition to materialism to nationalism to accommodation to — evolution is not always upward — so to Roman regimentation, to pseudo reformation, to modernism, to … and where are we headed? I think the real goal is to become fully humanized. When one can say, I am not a Buddhist, not a Christian, not a Muslim nor a Jew (ad infinitum) but an enlightened and fully developed human being, understanding and accepting my true place in the Universe and treating others with respect. That’s the goal. At least, that’s been my goal, almost unconsciously so at times. For me, part of that is accepting the spiritual part of me: That I am more than a bunch of molecules. Cheers.

  • Trisha1480

    Wolves in sheep’s clothing. That is what the preachers who spread progressive Christianity are. I don’t know how you can even claim to be Christian, when you deny that Jesus is the Way the, the Truth, and the Life. The only way to the Father is through him. If you have not Jesus, then the Father will tell you he never knew you and to be gone from his sight. Once you start to question the validity of the Bible, it all falls apart. Why believe any of the Bible, if you don’t believe the parts that don’t suit your ideology? It makes absolutely no sense. The hard truths are often the hardest to accept, but we must uphold what the Bible says if we are true Christians. Progressives care more about what the World thinks than what God thinks. It warns about that in the Bible. James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

    • Lamont Cranston

      It’s good to know I won’t have to spend eternity anywhere near people like you.

      • Frank Lockwood

        Lamont: May there be a special place for people like you too.

        • Heaven will be wrecked by internecine warfare within a decade. And with all the scientists going to hell, I reckon it’ll be as habitable as, say, Alabama in the same about of time. I’ve been baptized, but I figure I can do something to get a transfer.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Thanks you for speaking your truth.

    • Frank Lockwood

      We are Progressive Christians precisely because we do hold that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In general, we hold that you cannot really get to know the Father without those three things: 1) Right living, 2) Truth (and truthfulness/intellectual honesty) and 3) The Life (vitality/viability/spiritual connection) that results from a seeking and finding the Mystery that we call “God.”

    • Frank Lockwood

      To Guest who said: “Why believe any of the Bible, if you don’t believe the parts that don’t suit your ideology?”

      The truth is that everyone “picks and chooses,” what to believe, what to question or ignore in the bible. In some cases, it is impossible to reconcile the disparate passages. In other cases, the prescriptions are just too unpalatable for even the most strident conservatives of our generation.

      I think that would even apply to the Guest.

    • Frank Lockwood

      Re: “Why believe any of the Bible, if you don’t believe the parts that don’t suit your ideology?”

      Dear Guest: This is a question worth looking at, as it is so commonly asked.

      If you think about what you already know, you probably already have the answer. Here are three points to consider:

      1) You probably already question parts of the bible. Unless you are among a very small minority of Christians, you probably do not follow strictly the bible’s admonitions on clothing, on diet, on the treatment of criminals, on the punishment for adultery, on the double standards for women, on the approval of slavery, the rules of racial apartheid (strongly espoused by some of the prophets), the racist views on intermarriage, the exclusion of women from the public aspects of the decision making processes, the use of charms and casting of lots to determine God’s will, and more. The fact is, everyone picks and chooses which parts are relevant to Christians today, yourself included.

      2. Perhaps you are one of those who don’t believe anything written in the daily news, and therefore never read it, but the chances are, you do read it, albeit advisedly. In fact, if you are like most people, you KNOW that the media report some things very accurately, other things, not so much so. Few people would stop reading all books, literature and news reports simply because they are not 100 percent reliable. Instead, we do read the newspapers and other sources but do not take everything as absolute truth. That’s how you should read the bible as well. When you read a news article, you must consider the source, for example, comparing FOX News to The Washington Times, you know that there is going to be a different bias, and you take that into account. The same is true, for example, when reading the prophets: They have their own viewpoints and their own biases, and all of them are informative, yet none of them are infallible sources of information.

      3. As to “It all begins to fall apart.” Well, you must define “it.” If by “it,” you mean a particular religious perspective, then yes, your theology may fall apart, which sometimes is not a bad thing at all!


      Friend guest, you confuse Jesus who is the Way, Truth, Light as being equal to the bible, which tells us to sell daughters into slavery and other non-Jesus sentiments. You say you hold to what the bible says. If you believe in slavery in any manner, you are no friend of Christ. It does not necessarily follow that one must believe in all the parts of the book to believe in Christ. In fact, there is much in there that you cannot believe if you are to be a follower of Jesus: the OT permission to swear oaths or divorce for example. Your quote from James is not on point. The whole point of James is that actions are most valid. Quoting a single verse instead of inviting a more comprehensive reading invites us to believe in your strong penchant for Pharisee theology. For now I am tired and will go to bed with my husband. Peace.

  • Frank Lockwood

    Response to Jack Wellman

    Re: ” A Christian will naturally take better care of their corner of the planet”

    The theory sounds good.

    Unfortunately, Jack, Christians do not do this, and the more conservative they are, the less likely they are to do it. The emphasis is on personal salvation, which is a kind of “me first” approach that fails to transform most believers into the generous, compassionate, planet-preserving citizens that the model promises.

    Instead, that approach focuses on trying to 1) Make people feel guilty for their existence 2) Make them thankful for the scraps of benefits that industries toss to them like hungry dogs beneath the table 3) Make them content with miserable conditions on earth with the promise that things will be better “in heaven.” It also encourages the “us-them” mentality (so prevalent in the Old Testament), the de-humanizing of other races and of women, and the dismissal of archaeological and anthropological evidence that we are all here by way of evolution.

    Meanwhile, extensive scholarship continues to undermine the basis of these false beliefs: 1) The infallibility and general reliability of sacred books 2) The efficacy of blood sacrifices (whether the blood is from animals or from Jesus himself) and 3) The superiority of a super race or chosen people.

  • Frank Lockwood

    Renewing the mind: Some folk re-interpret that to make it mean something entirely different. Renewing the mind implies, or should imply, an ongoing process of learning and applying what you have learned. “Renewing the mind” does not mean keeping the brain static.

    Some people — call them Christians if you must — refuse to consider any new or modern information, whatsoever. I have encountered teachers who were adamantly anti-intellectual, who suggested that if I went to college I would just become “confused.”

    And now this: If they cannot reply, they simply re-define you as a “swine.”

    “No casting of pearls,” they say. Instead, they cast their aspersions, then cut off all communications. That’s a good way to remain isolated — and unaware of the very truths that, potentially, can renew the mind.

    Parting shot:

    When I was converted in the early 1960’s, I was advised not to read any literature that opposed the fundamentalist viewpoint, so I well understand the attitude. We were afraid of being outwitted by “the enemy.”

    “The Devil is smarter than you,” they told us. Therefore we dared not converse with anyone who presented information that did not support our unwarranted claims.

    This kind of theology is a closed circuit, closed system. If you open the door to reasoning that is not proscribed, they cut you off immediately, or bombard you with meaningless slogans. But meaningful discussion? Only allowed within specific limits. I do understand.


    Nicky, you’re back. What fun! But you don’t seem to be enjoying yourself. Religion is supposed to bring joy not anger. FYI the familiar form of Ian, Evan, and the many spellings of Sean is Johnny. They are old Celtic forms of John. My mum used to call me Johnny. Thank you for the correction: prophecy–noun, prophesy–verb. Thanks to Frank as well. Since we are in this mode of helping: a grammar correction. You wrote, “You being a secular man only don’t have the spiritual capacity to understand this.” Aside from it’s being awkward, it should have been “Your being a secular man…” because you used the gerund form of the verb to be making it a noun; thus the second person becomes an adjective–your. The whole sentence would have worked better if you had started out with a clause. Since you are a secular man, you don’t have the spiritual . . .

    A troll? You think I’m a troll as you told Frank? How delicious! From my picture, you can see I’m not pretty, but a troll? If you are impressed with beautiful you need to meed my beautiful husband who is a professional model. You, of course, did not have the integrity to show yourself at all, hence you hide behind the picture of an owl: rather pagan don’t you think? On the other hand, Frank and I have our pictures out and our vitas and discussions public. There is a certain dishonesty there, Nicky, old boy.

    If you had bothered to check my information and discussions, you would have discovered that I am a Friend: probably the most spiritual of worshippers because we do not have hireling preachers in steeple houses preaching single verses from a book inspired but not written by the Spirit. That’s why you need some course work in how the bible came to be.

    You claimed that you are not a fundamentalist, but you talk in their idolatrous term of “believing in the bible,” which is pretty idolatrous. We don’t believe in a book, a thing made by man, we believe in a Spirit, a Light. Faith like life is not supposed to be easy. We cannot be spoon-fed a truth. We learn spiritual truth only through spiritual experience.

    In my old Friends meeting, the children did not sing the idolatrous song Jesus loves me. This I know, for the bible tells me so. Because many people read the bible and even after reading it do not know that Jesus loves them. They sing Jesus loves me: this I know for the Spirit tells me so. The only way for one to know, really know, that Jesus loves him is to be moved by the spirit to feel/experience that love. When you finally feel/experience that love, you will be less angry and find joy and humour in all of this. Your anger, your quickness to vilify, your name calling and the rest scream against the words you write that you are one in the Spirit. I shall hold you in the Light.

    I look forward to playing again in this tiny arena, but don’t play the bully next time. Peace.

    • Frank Lockwood

      It is easy and sometimes fun to be flippant, but being flippant is not necessarily a spiritual thing to do.


      • IAN RAMSAY

        True. I actually don’t see this as a real spiritual exercise. Debate is a sport. After class we would debate anything, beat up each other with facts and tactics, and then go to the pub and have a Guinness, talk about the latest football match and go back to the chapter house. Apparently, as I have discovered at Lehigh, American schools and colleges don’t do much with debate. As for Nick, his theology is so f goofy, a swift kick in the arse might jog him out of his self righteous anti-intellectaulism. I’m so f bored with no classes and Micah gone so much on shoots. I suppose it was not very Friendly to pick on Nick. It didn’t occur to me that for him this might not be a sporting endeavour (endeavor?). If this is truly a spiritual exercise for him, then he needs more than a swift kick, he needs some serious retreats and TLC from a local friary near him. Such a sad life. Thanks for the heads up. Peace.

        • Frank Lockwood

          I have a feeling that Nick does not view it as a sport.

          Our schools do teach debate, and many or most high schools have debate teams that compete, but those activities are not universally appreciated.

          I never learned to debate and always hated to get baited into a debate, because in my upbringing it was dangerous to debate. My dad tolerated no differences of opinion! Especially from his own kids.

          So I still avoid debate: I prefer dialogue. In debate the objective is to win. In dialogue the objective is to learn and share knowledge. I suppose that can happen in the format of a debate as well, but I never enjoyed it.

          Cheers …

          • IAN RAMSAY

            As you pointed out before, however, the fundamentalists do not dialogue. They are so cock sure of themselves and full of their own self righteous bigotry, that they do real damage to the commonweal, especially in this country. Micah and I have been the recipient of their lack of hospitality here. Permission to marry did not mean acceptance especially among the radical conservatives who seem to be running this country. You need a parliament with indefinite terms instead of a bicameral congress with set terms. No other country on earth has such an unresponsive system and for good reason. Your adversarial checks and balances were meant to prevent an absolute monarchy and aristocracy. Neither of those institutions exists today, but your constitution remains fundamentally unchanged. With the new court rulings you will wind up with the same robber baron horrors of the late19th century or something akin to the ancien regime of pre-revolutionary France with a national fundamentalist religion like that of the Bourbons. Your unchanging system will sadly be the hamartia of this failing nation. The nation cannot protect itself from the destruction of the Ogallala Aquifer because the wealthy fundamentalist conservatives will not allow water regulation in Texas. Nearly half of all Americans are creationists and anti-intellectualism is preached on the radio and television non-stop. You have lost more citizens to handgun violence than all the nations of Europe combined–all because your constitution allows the Supreme Court to permit a minority of wealthy conservatives/born again Christians, the 1%, to obstruct adequate protections and regulations. Our fundamentalist Nicky thinks he represents the republic with his f silly pseudonym. Such a pity. Thank God I am not bound to stay here. We had such hopes, but the fundamentalists have ruined much of what was good here, and your citizens here seem content or too apathetic to force changes. You can’t even convince a majority of people to understand man-induced climate change, and that will negatively affect the entire planet. We will probably move to Canada or return to the UK when Micah can no longer model in New York. (Models have a very short shelf-life.) We would have liked to stay here, but fundamentalist anti-intellectualism makes that highly unlikely. Peace.

          • Frank Lockwood

            Sorry that you are having such a rough time of it here.

            I don’t know whether you will have time to read, but amazingly, America’s lack of spiritual literacy

  • Cwarr1492

    After reading what it means to be a progressive christian, I know this ideology is no different than a cult. This would be false prophecy against. This is heresy.

    • JenellYB

      As Bill Wall says above, the author has set up a straw man. His ideas of what it means to be a progressive Christian missed the mark, for myself, and all the other Progressive Christians I am aquainted with.

  • Bill_Wall

    The author sets up a strawman, then proceeds to knock him down.

  • SJ

    Thanks for this article Jack…I was wondering what Progressive Christianity is and I think you’re right….they are in grave error. But biblical Christianity is in error as well just not as big an error as the Progressive Christians are.

    I believe Christ has saved the whole world and the eternal hell doctrine is fallacious. God will never torture anyone though people could have to go through an extended purification process that will be longer in the next life than if they had gone through it in this life.

    Yet there is still the extremely critical need to acknowledge Christ as your Savior. Spiritual birth comes from accepting Jesus Christ’s forgiveness and so Christianity historically has been fighting to point the way to that door and the door is Christ.

    You can’t get spiritual identity from non-Christian groups. An identity is very particular and it comes from just one seed just like a natural birth comes from only one father.

    So spiritual birth is single and narrow and from one source alone: Jesus Christ.

    So this is above all things what biblical Christianity protects….It protects against the attacks and attempts to water down this identity.

    Still Jesus came to save all…..In many passages it says Jesus saved all and all means all. So everlasting torment is a false doctrine. It came from some false reasoning and magnified itself. A person’s will is not greater than God’s so if God says He intends to save the world then that is a done deal because nobody on this Earth has the power to stop God in the performance of His will.

    Yet there is an order to God’s plan and that involves our choice to accept or not accept Jesus, be born again to be like him and the decision to follow him and help perform God’s will on this Earth.

    Identity comes with choosing to accept or reject Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to save the whole world from death. The wages of sin is death not hell.

    We don’t need to threaten anyone with hell. God is not Baal or Molech.

    Still the choice is the individuals to recognize Christ for who Peter said he is or not and that decision affects whether or not you receive spiritual regeneration in this life or not and that will have profound consequences for the individual in this and the next life.

    So Christ is a paradox.

    He is both exclusive and inclusive at the same time.

    It is just so important that people receive the proper introduction to Jesus Christ so that they receive their spiritual birth that this makes biblical Christianity a better starting place for the individual than Progressive Christianity which puts the cart before the horse.

    Don’t forget though that Jesus Christ did save, is saving and will save the world. It is just better to obey him and get in line behind him, exalt him and follow him now while you have the chance in this life. Don’t let the complainers impede your personal progress in getting in line because everybody has his own issues…Don’t make their issue your issue. Return God’s free love and follow Jesus Christ. It is that simple though this world tries to make it so hard.

  • Pidgie

    Ugh. More evangelical grossness. So glad that this corrupted form of Christianity is heading towards extinction.

  • Clark Freese

    I wonder why there is little here as to where Progressivism came from and what allowed for its acceptance and growth?