I Once Thought I Was a Progressive Christian, But…

I Once Thought I Was a Progressive Christian, But… April 24, 2017

This guest post was written by James Brown.


I once thought that perhaps I was a progressive Christian, but I’ve come to realize that that label includes me with a lot of people with whom I clearly disagree.

On the other hand, I can’t associate myself with “social Christians” who drive their $50K SUVs to church on Sunday but do precious little else to express their “faith” other than stick a plastic fish on their bumper or a cowboy kneeling before a cross on their back window.

I certainly can’t associate with the fundamentalist “small p” Pharisees who place themselves above others, using politics and their majority social positions to try and impose their version of only outward morality on the rest of the “sinful” world.

The same with the mega-church evangelical “big show” devotees who apparently only experience God if it’s to a remake of a John Mayer song with Jesus words. (Though I do like some of the music … and some not.)

Or the radio and TV evangelists who really only do it for the money until they’re caught snorting meth in a whorehouse and are shown to be massive hypocrites.

Neither can I embrace the various “charismatic” denominations, who seem to be addicted to “odd” outward shows of devotion, and who gave themselves away to me in Guam when, as a young man, I was told to “fake it.” I did, and I’ve been ashamed of that moment ever since—I have this thing about authenticity.

Neither am I able to fully embrace being a Catholic, though I gave it my heart trying.

There are few places left for me to turn to anymore. My most recent investigation involved a long hard look at Greek/Russian Eastern/Antiochan Orthodoxy, but to tell the truth, they have been so insular for so long, they don’t seem to have much of a place in the larger society, though they do have deep, mystical theology going for them.

But I’ll probably find reasons they don’t or can’t fit, express, or enhance the relationship I feel with God and with the Word, at least not any better than the others I’ve rejected—though maybe I’m wrong.

So after all the label-trying-on, trying to place myself somewhere, anywhere, that I can call myself part of a Christian community, I’m beginning to understand that this has really been a fool’s effort.

I find peace and internal expression listening to both Catholic and Byzantine chant (sometimes for hours on end, many times all through the night as I sleep) and, in the midst of it, I find myself in long, deep, and honest “conversations” with God. Sometimes I swear I hear a separate voice in responding to me. I see that as a very good, if only a solitary, worship experience.

I know I am supposed to, or at least I try to, form myself to the faith as expressed by Christ (and I have been, as best as I can, for almost 50 years), but do I have to want to be part of something I see as hopelessly and often adamantly wrong-headed? I don’t think so. I know for certain I am a follower of Jesus, and maybe that’s all I am, or ever should be.

I don’t think I’m ever going to look for “church” again, but I do know that I’m not alone, that there are at least a few of us un-churched, full-time devotees to and followers of Christ. I am not alone—am I?


Photo by James Brown.

About James Brown
James Brown is a Dad, a husband, a brother, a son, and a truck driver. Once a Jesus People Army “soldier,” always a Jesus People.

Browse Our Archives