The evolution of religious beliefs and practices has taken many fascinating turns throughout history. In recent years, a significant shift has occurred within Christianity, marked by the emergence of progressive Christianity. This movement aims to reconcile traditional Christian teachings with modern values, emphasizing inclusivity, social justice, and intellectual inquiry.
However, it is an ironic…a little too ironic…yeah, I really do think (Alanis Morrissette anyone?) and somewhat amusing spectacle to witness how progressive Christianity, in its quest for inclusivity and relevance, can sometimes exhibit striking resemblances to the conservative side of Christianity it seeks to challenge. It could be that is a good thing when it comes to finding common ground.
The Attraction of Established Patterns
One reason behind the convergence of progressive (PC) and conservative (CC) Christianity lies in the power of established patterns. Traditions, rituals, and structures have a certain allure that can be challenging to escape, even for those seeking to redefine their faith. All gravy, baby! The old is in the new. We cannot deny that our past will always have some type of foundation in our future.
Funny, in their desire to create inclusive spaces, PC may inadvertently adopt familiar forms of worship, religious hierarchy, and institutional frameworks. This mimicry, while unintentional, can appear humorous to outsiders observing the transition.
CC often prioritizes a dogmatic approach to faith, emphasizing absolute truths and certainty. Interestingly, some PC, driven by a similar desire for clarity and certainty, may unknowingly adopt similar practices. Yes, a lot of progressives believe in a more mystic Christian stance when it comes to the mystery of faith. But, in their efforts to construct a more inclusive and just theology, they may develop rigid belief systems, adhering to specific doctrines and excluding dissenting viewpoints.
This all stems from bringing in a leftist ideology when it comes to Progressive worldviews. By intentionally being inclusive to some (LGBTQ+ community), they have become exclusive to others (Christian that vote republican). The irony is palpable when those advocating for open-mindedness and acceptance unintentionally create their own orthodoxy. Politics do not help both sides of the PC and CC isles.
Cultural Context and the Zeitgeist
PC emerges within a particular cultural and social context, influenced by prevailing ideas and trends. The desire to remain relevant and accessible to contemporary society can lead to the adoption of strategies reminiscent of CC. For example, the use of marketing techniques, celebrity endorsements, and branding can result in a similar institutionalized approach to religion. Observers may find it humorous to witness the countercultural nature of PC getting entangled in the trappings of modernity.
Human Nature and Group Dynamics
Regardless of one’s theological stance, the human propensity for group dynamics and conformity remains an influential force. In an attempt to build a sense of community, PC groups may unintentionally adopt practices mirroring their conservative counterparts (i.e., identity politics). From the use of strict hierarchies to the enforcement of unspoken norms, the convergence between the two becomes increasingly evident. Same shit different toilet, right? The comedy lies in observing how even those aiming to create alternative spaces can succumb to human inclinations.
The convergence of PC with CC in church practices provides an intriguing and at times humorous spectacle. While PC seeks to challenge traditional structures and beliefs, the pull of established patterns, unconscious biases, cultural context, and human nature all contribute to this convergence. Recognizing this paradoxical comedy can serve as a reminder that religious movements, no matter their intentions, are influenced by various factors, and the human element often brings unexpected twists and turns.
Which is all fine and dandy, people! By seeing this irony, maybe we can laugh this shit off and get along? By acknowledging these intricacies, perhaps progressive and conservative Christianity can continue to evolve, adapting and learn from each other’s journey, all while remaining committed to its original vision of the Jesus tradition: bring about a reality for ourselves and others that loves, heals and liberates the cosmos!