Conservative Christianity Isn’t Christianity

Conservative Christianity Isn’t Christianity February 5, 2020

I decided to combine my blog post about the latest ReligionProf Podcast with Matthew Korpman and some existing draft post content I already planned to blog about, for a good reason, I think – one of the links already included was to Korpman’s blog on Patheos, which he hasn’t been keeping up but which hopefully he’ll return to. Our conversation begins with and remains focused on Korpman’s recent book, Saying No To God, but is of interest even if you haven’t read the book and/or you weren’t planning to (even though I think you probably should).

I thought I should combine this post highlighting the podcast with some other things that I had in mind to address on the blog, which are at least somewhat related to the theme that Korpman tackles well in his book, namely whether the Bible encourages us to think (in the stereotypical conservative slogan) “God said it, I believe it, that settles it,” or whether even within a framework that envisages God as speaking in traditional ways, we might sometimes need to say, “God said it, God is testing me to see whether I have the moral insight to not simply believe it and think that settles it, and so let’s say ‘no’ and see what happens.”

Related to this topic, Michael Kruger has tried to claim (on his blog and in a new book), as conservatives are wont to do, that progressive Christianity isn’t in fact Christianity. The reverse case is easier to make, i.e. that conservative Christianity isn’t Christianity, that it is a contradiction in terms. How can one claim that biblicism is biblical, when the Bible is replete with writings that argue with rather than affirm what other biblical authors have said? Ultimately as a liberal Christian I’m inclined to be inclusive in ways that Kruger and others like him are not, and so I wouldn’t really say that conservative Christianity isn’t Christianity, pure and simple. But it most certainly is at odds with its core emphases going back to Jesus himself.

A Preview of My New Book: The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity

Of related interest, starting with that post from Matthew Korpman on Patheos that I referred to:

Inerrancy and the Gnostic Heresy

Randal Rauser on biblical literalism (but not word for word). See also his very recent post about logical problems with inerrancy.

Edward Simmons wrote:

The Fundamentalist Movement of the early 20th century and the Religious Right that began developing in the 1950s were backward-looking, change resisting appeals to the Reformation. Doctrines that emerged in the 1500s and 1600s hardened into articles of faith, even as the sciences and historical studies that emerged in those centuries were successfully undermining the foundations of many of those beliefs.

So, what is progressive about Progressive Christianity? Its purpose is reform, not revolution. It puts the central message of Jesus (which was focused on reform) at the center of Christianity rather than outdated and discredited dogma. But it also recognizes the change in time period so that the message is updated for conditions of our age – that is what makes it progressive. It’s not that progress is always right, but that adapting to changing times and conditions is necessary for a vital Christianity.

Also relevant: Melissa Florer-Bixler writes:

“In our Christian tradition of proclamation, we often cut carefully around the edges of our scriptures, clipping troubling stories out of their place within the Bible’s narrative arc.”

Steve Wiggins wrote:

“Holy Writ is not nearly as straightforward a reading experience as many suppose it to be.”

Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Frantz wrote, “a person can reject the God of theism (atheism) and still believe in God.  In this regard, as progressive Christians, we are constantly being invited to open ourselves to new conceptions of God that are more adequate to our modern experience.”

On Myths and Facts

Episode 11: The Absurdity of a Perfect Bible

And some humor related to literalism: Space X rocket bounces off firmament

 

 


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  • Nimblewill

    I’m not sure that neither Conservatives nor Progressives have yet to take the Bible seriously. Both cherry pick verses without contextual evidence to back up their claims. I continue to run across passages that have gone unpreached in my almost 60 years of going to church. I am learning that the Bible says that the
    Spirit will guide us to all truth……….not a book, a person, nor a movement be it progressive or conservative.

    • Scurra

      My Christian denomination in the UK – the United Reformed Church – has a Statement of Nature, Faith and Order which includes the specific line:

      The highest authority for what we believe and do is God’s Word in the Bible alive for his people today through the help of the Spirit

      • Nimblewill

        What if a Christian doesn’t have a bible? Can they not be guided?

        • Rudy Schellekens

          How would he/she know how to interpret/apply “guidance?” Your word is like a lamp unto my feet…” seems to be a pretty good indication for the need of said Word.

          • Nimblewill

            If a law was passed that all bible’s had to be destroyed and they came and got ours what would happen to our Christianity? I would hope that I would give my life for Christ. I’m pretty sure I would not for a bible.

          • Rudy Schellekens

            Well, they would have to find them all, right?

          • Nimblewill

            ……..and then you got the Book of Eli kinda stuff. The stuff we have hid in our hearts. Not really my point though. Could you still be a Christian if you were marooned on a desert island without a physical bible? Of course the answer is yes.

        • Scurra

          How do you infer that from my quoted single sentence (from a much longer document)? Your comment was specifically about the fact that we should use the Spirit to guide us to truth – I was noting that my denomination actually codifies that by saying that the Bible is not (paradoxically) carved in tablets of stone, but that our understanding will continually evolve and that our job as Christians is to seek out that guidance.
          But again, the answer seems to be self-evidently obvious to me – and, seemingly, to you, based on your later responses to other comments. So I’m not quite sure why you asked it?
          For example, I do not carry a Bible around with me every day. I must admit that I don’t even read it every day! Does that mean I am not a Christian?

          • Nimblewill

            I apologize. I misunderstood your post. I too believe the Bible is authoritative but the Spirit will guide us when the Bible has been misread or wrongly taught. I don’t think its something that should divide us.

          • bill wald

            Not referring to anything specific . . . The Spirit gives you a different “mean” than she does to me. Isn’t that why we have over 100 different Christian denominations and variations?

      • William Martin

        So according to the United Reformed Church, a rape victim will have to marry her rapist once he’s paid the dad off (Deuteronomy)?

        • Scurra

          Question in response: do you seriously think that’s what modern Jews believe?
          (As an answer to you: no, of course not, that’s a ridiculously absurd assertion that is made by the sort of person who thinks that this is a magnificent refutation of all Christian belief and therefore the entire house of cards should vanish in a puff of logic.)

          • William Martin

            Modern Jews don’t believe in it, but you apparently do, you said it, not me: your “Christian denomination in the UK – the United Reformed Church – has a Statement of Nature, Faith and Order which includes the specific line:The highest authority for what we believe and do is God’s Word in the Bible alive for his people today through the help of the Spirit.” So are you going to obey Deutoronomy or are you going to be disobedient of the holy word of god and burn in for all of eternity??!

          • Scurra

            Hmmm. Perhaps reading my reply might help? (Clue: it’s the bit in the first parentheses.)
            I honestly still can’t tell if this is a serious question though. I mean, it requires some extreme mental contortions to even consider it to be coherent. Alternatively, you are trying to get me to admit that I eat shellfish.

      • Brianna LaPoint

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi84maqHgxg this is what i think of ALL christians

    • BrotherRog

      Nimblewill, I hear you, but I come down on the side of saying that progressive Christians take the Bible far more seriously than conservative Christians do. Here’s something I wrote that speaks to one of your points, “All Christians pick and choose which portions of the Bible they interpret literally, progressive Christians simply admit this and share how we discern.” https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogerwolsey/2014/01/16-ways-progressive-christians-interpret-the-bible/

      Roger Wolsey, author, Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity

      • Nimblewill

        Thank you Brother Roger. I look forward to reading the article.

  • Newton Finn

    Both the Sadducees and Pharisees were Jews in Jesus’ eyes, along with Zealots, Essenes etc. Thus I have issues with both conservative and liberal Christians who exclude each other from the faith. Indeed, the divide between conservatives and liberals runs throughout all religious traditions and may reflect an even deeper divide that runs through humanity as a whole–even, to some extent, through each human heart and mind.

  • BrotherRog

    James, I fully agree. Here’s how I put it in a blog 2 years ago – (the blog that, as you may know, got me in trouble with some of my more conservative clergy colleagues ; ) “What has come to pass as “conventional/popular Christianity” — isn’t what Christianity is actually about. It’s time for progressive Christianity.” https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogerwolsey/2018/05/its-time-for-progressive-christianity/

    And, here’s how I put it back in 2011, “What’s referred to as “progressive Christianity” isn’t really new. It’s a reformation of the Church to its earlier, pre-modernist and pre-Constantinian roots. Rather than focusing on exclusion, judging, and damning, progressive Christians reclaim our original values of inclusion, grace, acceptance, and unconditional love. In reality, it is progressive Christianity that is conservative — conserving what made Christianity such a beautiful gift to the world in the first place.” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/progressive-christianity_b_892727

    Thank you for your efforts to help provide the course correction that is needed!

    Roger Wolsey, author, Kissing Fish: christiantiy for people who don’t like christianity”

  • Oscar Scott Oliver

    Gee, I’ve been living this way for the last 50 years. What I heard on the podcast seems to be an articulation of my faith 100%. As one friend of mine mentioned, “Abraham won his argument.”, it was that Abraham stopped at ten righteous men, but there was only one. When I read Moses argument (either college or pre-college) I thought, yes we can argue with God based on his values. God radicalized me in the Army against absolute obedience to authority. At Urbana ’70 God turned me around about leaving the Evangelical fold. I believe in inerrancy of the Bible ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSES OF GOD, of course that is not how it is used! It is interesting that both Jesus and Paul were preaching that same message as the prophet Jeremiah. It seems that God teaches by the Socratic method but we are taught didactically about God and the Bible. In college I came to realize the travesty of Aristotelian metaphysics and logic framework in reading the Bible is grossly misleading. A rabbi I heard mentioned that he considered the Gospel of Matthew as the most Jewish gospel, because he positioned Jesus as the new Moses. Interesting that Jesus used the KISS principle of sales (keep it simple stupid) by replacing the ten teachings (commandments) with just two, “Love God totally and love your neighbor (including enemies) as your own self.”

  • Dennis Evans

    I hate the title of this article because “conservatives” and “progressives” have been condemning each others integrity for too long (maybe by nature). I do believe that it is the nature of God and his word to be both merciful and just in the sense of not allowing us to put him/it in a box to suit ourselves and our idolatries. How could we ever hope to enter into life otherwise?

  • Ulf Turkewitsch

    The most important aspect of theology of the Bible is not if it speaks to modern people, or if it is relevant, or if it is in agreement with the prevalent attitudes towards sexuality, but if it is correct. If it is Biblical. In this it must agree with not necessarily any single passage of scripture, but the whole theology of the Bible.

    • William Martin

      So according to your bibilical “theology”, a rape victim will have to marry her rapist once he’s paid the dad off (Deuteronomy)?

  • Jane Ravenswood

    every Christian insists that only their version is “Christianity” and attacks everyone else. You all try to claim that only you read the bible “correctly”. You all claim “context” when you want to insist that only your way is the right way. You all claim that your version came directly from the holy spirit.

    Not impressed since none of you can show that your version is any more true than the next. Each makes up Christianity and this god in their own image, using what amounts to a magic decoder ring to declare what parts they want as literal, metaphor and what to ignore altogether.

    • To whom is this addressed? Presumably not me, since my own statements on this blog over the past decade or so have emphasized precisely the opposite, and even in this very blog post that you are commenting on I say as much.

      • Jane Ravenswood

        What is this “opposite” you claim to have emphasized, James? That Christians don’t vary all over the place?

        • I’ve emphasized both the diversity of Christianity from its earliest history and also have argued against dogmatically claiming that one’s way of reading the Bible is the only correct way and then attributing it to the holy Spirit. Time and time again.

          • Jane Ravenswood

            But you claim that “conservative Christianity” isn’t Christianity? Who is being dogmatic here?

          • You read only the headline? 🙁

          • Jane Ravenswood

            Nope.

            “The reverse case is easier to make, i.e. that conservative Christianity isn’t Christianity, that it is a contradiction in terms. How can one claim that biblicism is biblical, when the Bible is replete with writings that argue with rather than affirm what other biblical authors have said? Ultimately as a liberal Christian I’m inclined to be inclusive in ways that Kruger and others like him are not, and so I wouldn’t really say that conservative Christianity isn’t Christianity, pure and simple. But it most certainly is at odds with its core emphases going back to Jesus himself.”

            every “but” shows that you aren’t quite as accepting as you might claim.

            “So, what is progressive about Progressive Christianity? Its purpose is reform, not revolution. It puts the central message of Jesus (which was focused on reform) at the center of Christianity rather than outdated and discredited dogma. But it also recognizes the change in time period so that the message is updated for conditions of our age – that is what makes it progressive. It’s not that progress is always right, but that adapting to changing times and conditions is necessary for a vital Christianity.”

            it seems to be your opinion that dogma is “outdated and discredited” when it would be my point that yours isn’t any more supported by reality.

            “Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Frantz wrote, “a person can reject the God of theism (atheism) and still believe in God. In this regard, as progressive Christians, we are constantly being invited to open ourselves to new conceptions of God that are more adequate to our modern experience.”

            atheism is a conclusion that there is not a god or gods. There is no difference between a god of theism (belief in gods) and a god. This seems to be trying to create a difference that doesn’t exist. I agree that Christians make up new conceptions of their god since what they started with can’t be shown to exist. the problem is that none of these new versions of god can be shown to exist either.

            As I said before, theists, includign Christians, make up their god in their own image and insist that other Christians are wrong. This is bemusing since none of you have any evidence your versions of god exists.

          • Are you saying that people within the same broad tradition cannot disagree with one another?

            You think there is no evidence that Reality exists?

          • Jane Ravenswood

            Yep, I’m saying that Christians can’t disagree with each other if there is some single truth that they all claim exists. That they all disagree on how to be saved, what morals this god wants, which parts of the bible are to be taken literally, metaphor or ignored all together, etc, is reason to think that none of you have any truth at all. You can all be wrong and not a single one be right.

            There is plenty of evidence that reality exists. To claim otherwise is just solipsism. I do not believe that you have any evidence that your beliefs, or any theist’s beliefs, are reflective of reality. We have no evidence that your essential events in your religion, or anyone’s religion, have ever happened nor that your gods exist.

          • You must not be aware that liberal and progressive Christians do not claim ultimate knowledge nor certainty. And the idea that debate means everyone must be wrong is profoundly illogical.

            And you must not be aware that for a panentheist, God is ultimate reality, nothing other than Being itself at its most transcendent level. We do not hold to the kinds of gods that are beings among other entities which would by definition be a subset of existence and thus not ultimate. We can speculate and, if you wish, debate what attributes Reality, Being itself, might or might not have. But that Reality exists is, as you say, not a matter of debate.

          • Jane Ravenswood

            you’ve claimed someone is wrong, so you do claim certainty. And nope, the idea of debate means everyone can be wrong isn’t illogical at all. especially since you all claim supposed truths that contradict each other. I’m also pretty sure that your declaration of what “liberal and progressive” Christians do and do not do would be challenged by those who disagree with your version. As I’ve pointed out, Christians, be they “progressive” or not, disagree on how to be saved, what morals this god wants, what parts of the bible are to be taken literally, metaphorically or to be ignored altogether.

            Yes, a panentheist does claim that there is the divine in everything. That is not Christianity, which is monotheism, god and messiah. Unsurprisingly, you are a Christian who doesn’t like the parts of your bible that shows an ignorant, primitive god and blood sacrifice savior, so you have added panentheism to your version.

            Like Karen Armstrong and Tillich, you’ve tried to make your god this “ground of being” nonsense, since the bible fails to be shown as true. It’s very easy to make something vague so you don’t have to explain your religion’s failures.

            Reality exists, your god not so much.

          • Claiming someone is wrong does not imply certainty. I believe very strongly that certain claims of conservative Christians about the meaning of the Bible and about history are wrong. I’m not certain, I just draw a conclusion based on the evidence and have a level of confidence that I seek to make correspond to the evidence.

            For someone who is anti-Christian, you seem to believe yourself in a place to dictate who is and is not a Christianity, and perhaps even more ironically, the definition you choose to adopt is taken from Christian fundamentalists. Why do you defer to their authority on such matters?

          • Jane Ravenswood

            wrong: the state of being mistaken or incorrect. certain: known or proved to be true (both from merriam-webster)

            You have no more evidence than conservative Christians have. You have an opinion that each other are wrong. You cannot show this to be the case. You also cannot show that you are right.

            Each Christian is anti-Christian about the next sect. You have declared you are the person in the place to dictate who is and who isn’t a Christian. I can see that none of you are, since none of you can do what the bible promises ever baptized believer in Christ as savior can do.

            I don’t defer to any of your “authority” since you have none. I point out that you are both very silly in your invention of your religion in your own images.

          • You are using a particular modern form of Christianity, fundamentalism, a relatively recent historical innovation in reaction to the Enlightenment, as the definition of Christianity, despite it being a modern innovation. You are being dogmatic about what I must believe even when I say I do not, and about whether or not someone can be a Christian, or is “less Christian,” if they don’t conform to your ideal type of what it means to be a Christian. And you seem completely oblivious to the irony in what you are doing.

          • Jane Ravenswood

            you are all using what you’ve made up as Christianity, James. Every Christian wants to claim that theirs is the “original”, with, again, no more evidence than the next. From the equal lack of evidence, there is no reason to think fundamentalist christianity is any more wrong than yours.

            There is no irony here. I’m not sure you even know what that means. What is here are Christians wanting to pretend their version is the right one.

            I also have to wonder what you think fundamentalism means. If you are trying to claim that early Christians didn’t take their various stories literally, we have no evidence for that at all. In my experience, there is no Christian who doesn’t take at least parts of the bible literally.

          • You really don’t see that you’re still doing it, do you? I’m not claiming what you say all Christians want to claim. And you’ve clearly not read pre-modern Christian literature other than the Bible, and seem not to even have read that except in the manner that fundamentalists have told you that you must.

          • Jane Ravenswood

            James, again, you have declared someone wrong. This shows certainty in what you believe is right. I’ve read plenty of early christian literature, including the gnostics, and know what you say isn’t true. However, you can cite what you like to support your claims. As I have said before, Christians make up their religion/god in their own image. No magical divine can be shown to exist.

            So you’d have me read the bible as *you* demand? Just like the fundamentalists. I’ve read the bible as a Christian and as an atheist. It reads the same if you have no prior presumptions. This seems to be coming down to the “sophisticated theology” argument from some Christians that other Christians aren’t reading the bible in the “right” way.

          • Still doing it. I make no demands of you, although as an academic I do advocate in support of reading ancient texts in their historical-cultural context, asking critical questions of an appropriate sort.

            The idea that you just read the Bible without prior presumptions is precisely the kind of nonsensical claim that Christian fundamentalists make.

          • Jane Ravenswood

            as an academic, you should know that when asked for sources, you should provide them. As usual, every Christian makes the same claim that they have read the ancient texts in their historical cultural context, and no surprise, you all come up with the same answer: they support you and only you. You also show your hand when you want critical questions of “an appropriate sort” aka those questions that will lead to your conclusion.

            So, James, please do tell me the prior presumptions you claim I had since you seem sure you know. What prior presumptions did you read the bible with since you must have, being sure that is a “nonsensical claim” that anyone couldn’t? How did they influence your interpretation?

            Cite the sources of early Christianity you claim show I’m wrong.

          • As an academic who blogs and has written about so-called biblical literalism constantly over the past decade, I expect newcomers to the blog to type relevant keywords into the search bar rather than ask me to repeat myself just for their benefit alone. Here are a few relevant posts that begin with the evidence that Jesus and Paul were not literalists, never mind later interpreters of what they said, and also why those who claim to be literalists aren’t really.
            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2012/08/did-jesus-understand-genesis-2-literally.html
            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2013/03/jesus-and-paul-were-not-literalists-when-it-comes-to-genesis-2-3.html
            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/01/not-exactly-a-new-problem.html
            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2013/02/thats-not-taking-revelation-literally.html
            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2012/06/how-many-young-earth-creationists-accept-genesis-116-literally.html
            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2007/12/take-those-days-literally.html
            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2019/09/genealogies-and-the-age-of-the-earth.html
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFHlylTCbfQ
            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/04/the-solid-sky-2.html

            And on a blog I linked to from my own:
            https://danielomcclellan.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/on-the-myth-of-scriptural-literalism/

            Critical questions of an appropriate sort means the appropriate critical questions, appropriately critical, and appropriate to what one is interested in, as in asking historical questions and using historical methods when wanting to determine what actually happened. Your hostility is getting in the way of your understanding me.

          • Jane Ravenswood

            Jesus Christ supposedly thought that the flood, etc were literal , despite how utterly silly the stories in genesis are (Matthew 24, Luke 17). This is why we have the character making claims about the Noah flood, his “father’s” laws (Matthew 5), citing Moses, etc. Paul claims that the exodus, etc are real in Romans 9. This JC thinks that Satan really exists, and that there is a hell of worms and fire, at least per the unknown authors of the bible books. Paul is quite sure that he claimed Abel, and Enoch were real (Hebrews). Then we have whomever wrote the Petrine letters refering to OT events as if they really did happen.

            Exactly where do Paul and Jesus say that they were not considering the bible stories literal? You make up a lot of baseless claims in your posts, but nothing that some other Christian hasn’t said is wrong. You need to pretend that JC et all didn’t think the bible stories were literal just like other Christians need to pretend they are. Again, your “interpretation” is a imaginary as another Christians who directly contradicts you. And yep, that does show that there is no reason to believe any of you. Unless you want to do the healing that the bible claims that any baptized believer in Christ as savior can do? Ah, but you’d claim that wasn’t “really” meant either since you can’t do it. Convenient, eh?

            Again, no surprise that you cannot cite sources that show I’m wrong. I’m not interested in picking through your many posts. You can put up the sources or you can refuse. Simple as that. All you have down is thrown excrement at the wall and hope that some of it sticks.

            You insist that young earth creationists are wrong, because well they can see the stars. Yep, they can and the bible was written by ignorent people who didn’t have telescopes so they did believe in Genesis literally. But they don’t care about facts, they care about being faithful to the ignorance their god supposedly supports. You try to claim that any other intepretation of revelation is wrong unless it is yours. “Stop trying to force Christianity and the Bible into this mold. It just doesn’t fit, and in trying to force it to, you do harm to the reputation of the Bible and its appreciation by those who actually read and study it, in detail, and are genuinely interested in understanding it on its own terms.” If you weren’t certain, then you would not say “stop”. You won’t try to claim that anyone who didn’t nbelieve as you wasn’t “genuine” in their understanding, just like how fundamentalists claim about their version.

            So, James, please do tell me the prior presumptions you claim I had since you seem sure you know. What prior presumptions did you read the bible with since you must have, being sure that is a “nonsensical claim” that anyone couldn’t? How did they influence your interpretation?

            Cite the sources of early Christianity you claim show I’m wrong

            Plenty of people do take the whole bible literally. My sister-in-law’s mother who is a pastor is one. It seems that our PhD has ended up in the no true scotsman fallacy. That’s fine since you show that Christainity is nothing more than opinion, no truth at all.

          • Congratulations. Everyone is wrong except you and those who think exactly like you. The fundamentalists are wrong even though you embrace their approach to the Bible, and I’m wrong when I criticize their assumptions and claims. But your sister-in-law’s mother is whatever you assert she is, without evidence or argument needed.

          • Jane Ravenswood

            “Congratulations. Everyone is wrong except you and those who think exactly like you. The fundamentalists are wrong even though you embrace their approach to the Bible, and I’m wrong when I criticize their assumptions and claims. But your sister-in-law’s mother is whatever you assert she is, without evidence or argument needed.”

            No need for congratulations since you’ve made up quite the strawman to attack with what I have not said, James. It’s quite an exercise in projection that you’ve engaged in.

            You have claimed people wrong, which indicates you think you are right. I’ve done the same and presented evidence why. Criticism does show that Christians have contradictory claims and all insist that only theirs is the “right” way to believe. Yes, fundamentalists are wrong and so are you, James, for the same reasons, no evidence to support your claims. You agree with me that fundamentalists have no evidence, right?

            It isn’t my opinion or thoughts that is making you wrong. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t support any theist claims. What I have, as an outsider, is Christians claiming to be Christians. I have to take them at their word since there is no way to find out who the TrueChristians(tm) are. And when I look at their holy book and look at their arguments, I find them all making baseless claims.

            You have tried to claim that no one takes the bible entire literally and I could mention at least one person who does, so you seem to be upset that I’ve dared to do so, as you say “without evidence” or argument needed. Alas for you, she has stated this and it does put your claims in a poor place since a fellow Christian says you are wrong. You find yourself needing to claim you can read minds and “really” know what people are thinking to support your thesis, James and claiming that “This is important, because as long as debates are understood to be between people who take the Bible literally and others who do not, the former will automatically win in the minds of some (who are in most cases themselves insufficiently familiar with the Bible’s contents in detail to realize that they don’t take the whole Bible literally either).” Insufficiently according to whom, James? You?

            Amazing how you have repeatedly claimed things without evidence or argument, James, refusing to cite your sources when you claim there are such things that show I’m wrong.

            I’ve read some of your claims about a historical Jesus. This excitement that some Christians have for some scholars accepting that a Jewish fellow who was delusional is probable bemuses me. This probable character isn’t the character in the bible. They couldn’t be more different, but here we are with Christians so desperate for any evidence that they glom on to this like a life preserver. Again, as the outsider, your religion seems no more probable than Islam, Hinduism, Wicca, etc. Lots of claims, lots of baseless assertions and no evidence.

          • From the blog post that you are commenting on but either still have not read, or are distorting (whether consciously or subconsciously) because of the biases that you claim not to have: “Michael Kruger has tried to claim (on his blog and in a new book), as conservatives are wont to do, that progressive Christianity isn’t in fact Christianity. The reverse case is easier to make, i.e. that conservative Christianity isn’t Christianity, that it is a contradiction in terms. How can one claim that biblicism is biblical, when the Bible is replete with writings that argue with rather than affirm what other biblical authors have said? Ultimately as a liberal Christian I’m inclined to be inclusive in ways that Kruger and others like him are not, and so I wouldn’t really say that conservative Christianity isn’t Christianity, pure and simple. But it most certainly is at odds with its core emphases going back to Jesus himself.”

            You still haven’t provided evidence. And you affirmed my belief, acknowledging that Reality exists, and so the problem seems to be that you prefer to argue with a conversation partner of your own imagination, presumably based on past encounters with people with views and outlooks different from mine, rather than talk with me about what I actually wrote in this blog post and many others before it.

          • John MacDonald

            James said: “The reverse case is easier to make, i.e. that conservative Christianity isn’t Christianity, that it is a contradiction in terms. How can one claim that biblicism is biblical, when the Bible is replete with writings that argue with rather than affirm what other biblical authors have said?”

            I think Jesus’s prohibition against divorce is a good example of that.

          • Edwin Woodruff Tait

            Jane Ravenswood, your statement doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, it’s quite possible that we are all wrong and none of us right. It’s also possible that one position is right and the others wrong, or that multiple positions are partially right, or that the Ultimate Truth transcends thought and language such that what seem like contradictory positions are actually both/all true. The existence of disagreement does not, in itself, tell us which of these options is correct.

          • Jane Ravenswood

            Sine we have no evidence at all that any Christian claim is right, from the last couple of thousand years, there is little probability that any of you have any truth, partial or not. How many more thousand years do you propose to wait to see if you ever have any evidence for your claims? You seem to be presenting nothing more than the god of the gaps argument that creationists use e.g. “Trust us SOME DAY we’ll have that evidence that will show you wrong.” Some day my prince will come too…..

            There is also no evidence that there is any “ultimate truth” being some illogical attempt to claim contradictory things can be all true. That’s quite the woo you’re trying to spread, Edwin. The existence of disagreement, and the utter lack of evidence for any theist, including Christian, claims, both tell us that there is little probability that any of your options are correct.

  • sneaker2015

    The danger in progressive Christianity is that it risks progressing off the map into an entirely different faith altogether, and there is evidence of this where progressives no longer hold to basic traditional beliefs even, in addition to the cultural thing. .
    No one preserves the truth by inching further and further away from it, that’s just logic 101, truth is not a work in progress nor does it have to adapt. to changing culture, it’s timeless.
    The progressive slash conservative take is nonsense at its finest as Americans superimpose their internal politics on everything, even export it all over the world, and it appears religion is not immune to this madness.
    It’s a kind of dumbing down, where everything has to be simplified to appeal to the largest number of people.

    • Is that what happened in the case of Jesus and early Christianity in relation to Judaism, that it “progressed off the map into an entirely different faith altogether”?

      • sneaker2015

        No,it failed because of no faith, it never got off the ground so nothing to do with progressing off the map.
        It wasn’t on the map to begin with.

        • The Jesus movement failed? By what standard are you evaluating it?

          • sneaker2015

            Your comment was In relation to Judaism ‘progressing off the map’ you even said as much so why twist words in an effort to detract.
            What is the matter with you people? What is your goal in deflecting,
            Was my answer too inconvenient.
            Nothing was said about the Jesus movement, whatever that is, it is Christianity you refer to I presume.

          • You are ranting instead of answering my question, even while claiming that I did that. Did you make an error in what you wrote and so you are thinking you said one thing when you came across as saying the opposite?

            Who are “you people” in your comment, by the way?

          • sneaker2015

            My point wasn’t that early Christianity failed but that majority Judaism did by its unbelief in Christ’s mission and the Christian message. .

          • It is hard to know whether to challenge your supersessionism or thank you for illustrating my point – you view the progressing of Christianity so that it ends up as a separate religion positively, apparently, but view the same phenomenon today negatively.

          • sneaker2015

            I did say there’s no such thing as either conservative or progressive Christianity these are erroneous political terms.
            From a theological perspective it’s orthodox or heterodox, one either accepts Christian dogma /doctrine or doesn’t, these are the only two distinctions we need to worry about.
            Still don’t understand why you side with the Jewish (progressive)? take on Christianity, as non Christians their perspective is irrelevant.

          • You are free to insist on talking only about political progressiveness in the context of a conversation that is focused on theological and other sorts of progressiveness and conservatism. It will create confusion, as it has already, but that may be your aim for all I know.

            You are also free to assert that there is only orthodoxy and heresy and pay no attention to the ways that, historically, orthodoxy has had to be defined and has evolved, as well as the diversity of views in the earliest sources. It will make your views seem at best implausible and at worst sadly uninformed, but you may not care.

            But equating progressive and Jewish is baffling, and suggesting that non-Christian perspectives are irrelevant is ludicrous and offensive.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    Telling other christians they are not real christians does not solve the problem. it just makes Christian A look like they have a superiority complex. Nah. This is why i left christianity in the first place. If christians cant get along and constantly sling mud at each other, what does that teach people? Yeah, Christian Love is about tossing a fundy around because they arent christian enough. Or are they? you see in their minds, they are christian.

  • HematitePersuasion

    Isn’t this yet another iteration of the whole no true Scotsman debacle?

    • gadfly

      “Noteworthy is that the fallacy does not occur if there is a clear and well understood definition of what membership in a group requires, and it is that definition which is broken (e.g., “no honest man would lie” or “no theist can be an atheist” and so on). Thus, the NTS fallacy only occurs if the group is later redefined for no valid reason.

      https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_True_Scotsman

      • HematitePersuasion

        Quite so. And yet …

        If you believe that there is some clear, well-understood definition of what Christian means in terms of group membership, or philosophical outlook I would respond that, were that the case, there would be no serious debate over the term.

        Lacking such “a clear and well understood definition of what membership in” Christianity means, I do not see the relevance of the point you do me the honor of making.

        • gadfly

          …because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Rom.10:9-10)

  • Scott

    I wonder what Jesus would think of all of our noun modifiers? Progressive Christians, Conservative Christians, Evangelical Christians, etc. In my opinion, just read Resident Aliens by Hauerwas. It will help.

  • bill wald

    The Bible and the Constitution are the gender . . . they “say” whatever I (you) want them to “say.” we don’t argue about religion and politics. We argue about what words mean.