Progressive Christianity

Someone recently pointed me to a blog post 5 Areas Where Progressive Christian Culture Completely Loses Me. Benjamin Corey there wrote about

  • Far too many progressives ready to rebuke you for not being progressive enough
  • Neglecting the truth that choosing to follow Jesus results in a changed life
  • Mishandling scripture to avoid traditional interpretations of it
  • Rejecting the concept of original sin or sin nature
  • Having the atonement become relatively powerless, because it doesn’t seem to save us from anything

I think labels are mostly extremely unhelpful, and regularly counter-productive. If you are going to label me I am an orthodox charismatic evangelical catholic.

Many Christian communities used to be, for example, The Tory Party at Prayer. I certainly want to be part of a Christianity that connects with our contemporary context, including its scientific, psychological, and social realities. I do, however, know that many individuals and communities in their attempts to do that have often not only moved from being the Tory Party to being the far-more-trendy Greens, but they have also abandoned any real deep prayer.

Why would you or I actually want to be part of something that is a poor imitation of the real thing? I would rather join the real thing. If I want a good cafe, there’s plenty of them – the church’s poor imitation does not attract me. If I want a good show, or a good concert – I know where to go. Again – why go to the church’s poor facsimile? And so on.

So what are the five improvements that spring to my mind?

  • Orthodox foundations: inclusiveness, justice, ecologically-sound living,… these do not need to abandon orthodox Christian foundations, in fact I think they are more solidly based for a lifetime if they have the tradition’s solid foundations
  • Apophatic spirituality: doubt, questioning, provisionality,… these are not an abandonment of our faith; these are part of the apophatic spirituality far too long neglected, especially in the West.
  • Contemplative: if it is not about our growing relationship with God, what is the point of church, of Christianity, at all? If we are the Greens at prayer – let’s at least be clear about the prayer, or let’s just be honest, and just be the Greens.
  • Quality liturgy: if Sunday worship is bad, why bother returning?
  • Caring – for each other, for those beyond our community, for our planet. If it is just about quality liturgy, excellent music, beautiful spaces, etc. but it makes no real difference in our lives, why bother being part of this?

If I thought longer, I’d probably come up with more for that list, or a different list. What do you think?

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