4 Ways Christian Fundamentalists Get Progressive Christianity Shockingly Wrong

Fundamentalist Christians have taken over the faith. It’s time for followers of Jesus to take it back.

Unfortunately for the rest of us who claim to follow Jesus, fundamentalism tends to dominate the popular consciousness as the “true”version of Christianity. Progressive Christianity, an alternative to fundamentalism, often gets dismissed by its critics as anti-patriotic, socialist, morally subversive, and insufficiently Biblical. Such dismissals mischaracterize progressive Christianity in appalling ways, failing to see how progressive Christianity takes Jesus more seriously than its critics do.

Here’s a list of popular charges leveled against progressive Christianity — charges that, in many people’s minds, have ceased to be controversial. Christian fundamentalism has successfully dominated the conversation about the nature and purpose of Christianity to the extent that these charges are viewed, especially among many Christians, as self-evidently true. But they’re wrong.

1. Progressive Christianity actively seeks to make America a less Christian nation.

America is not now, nor has it ever been a Christian nation — a point even most evangelical figureheads concede.

Progressive Christians have long held the conviction that the whole Christian-America-thing is actually anti-Christian. Christianity has an implicit anti-nationalist bent. Jesus actively resisted the nationalist aspirations of his followers, which made him a disappointment to them — and ultimately cost him his life (initially!).

The thought, then, that the very nationalism Jesus walked away from in his own time should characterize the common life of his modern American followers is the height of anti-Christian presumption. Jesus didn’t look to ascend a Roman throne. Were he incarnated today, would he want the White House?

2. Progressive Christianitys emphasis on social justice isnt Christian — its Marxist.

The fundamentalist belief that “social justice” is warmed-over Marxism is intellectually lazy. If you can read the gospels and come away believing that Jesus cared only about people’s souls, you’re more cognitively nimble than I am.

The concern for just and equitable systems that tend to the physical and social needs of people occupies a great deal of Jesus’time as he wanders around the Judean outback. Like the prophets before him, Jesus saves his ire and his disappointment for those whose primary concern is their own spiritual empowerment (see, for example, the Pharisaic “woes” in Matthew 23 and the rich young man in Mark 10:17–31).

In fundamentalism’s emphasis on the “personal relationship with Jesus,”the “heart”occupies the foreground at the expense of the rest of God’s creative handiwork. In this view, my primary obligations are to myself and my own happiness (which conveniently fits with the core ideals of our consumer society). If I can help some other people along the way, that’s gravy. However, I have a responsibility to get my own celestial bus pass stamped first.

The author of 1 John says, “Those who say, ‘I love God,’and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (4:20).

3. Progressive Christianity supports obviously anti-Christian political agendas like same sex marriage.

I heard a story once about the progressive Christian activist Tony Campolo. (Whether it’s true or not, I can’t say. If it’s not true, though, it should be.) Campolo was speaking at a conference when he was asked about his views on abortion. He demurred, preferring to stick to the topic at hand. The person persisted, asking twice more.

Campolo said: “You’ve asked me three times. What do I think about abortion? I think it’s an issue dreamed up by rich Christians to distract themselves from the fact that they drive Mercedes Benzes. Because whereas there are over 2,000 verses in the Bible that talk about people’s relationship to money, there isn’t a single one that deals with abortion.”

The same thing can be said about same-gender marriage, a modern issue with which the Bible seems equally unconcerned, or at least unaware. That’s a whole different post.

Fundamentalism, despite its claims about taking the Bible seriously, has an uncanny ability to be distracted from the central issues with which the Bible concerns itself, choosing instead to dwell on peripheral issues — many of which are embarrassingly preoccupied with what other people do with their genitalia.

4. Progressive Christianity rejects the Bible.

The summary indictment of Progressive Christianity is that we don’t take the Bible seriously.

What I find so galling in this charge is the implication that holding progressive Christian positions is an accommodation to culture — a favoring of secular or modern culture over the Bible. On the contrary: whatever Progressive positions I hold, I hold not in spite of the Bible, but because of it.

My progressive beliefs are an embrace of the gospel I find pervading the scriptures. Progressive Christianity actually takes the Bible more seriously than its fundamentalist critics do. Christian fundamentalism emphasizes a “commonsense” or “plain” reading of scripture is sufficient — which usually boils the Bible down to a story about me and how I can avoid.going to hell.

So what can progressive Christians do about all this?

For starters, progressive Christians should quit letting Christian fundamentalism be the de facto voice of Christianity.

Progressive Christians should quit being cowed by charges of Marxism. The most damning criticism of a follower of Jesus is not, “You’re a socialist!”but rather, “I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me” (Matthew 25:42-43).

Progressive Christians should embrace their love of the Bible, not as a repository of theological and ritual laws, but as the narration of God’s continued pursuit of humanity through the establishment of God’s reign of justice and peace.

Progressive Christians should articulate that reign for a world threatening to tear itself apart due to injustice and violence.

In this endeavor, progressive Christians must be humble. But we can no longer be timid.

The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the author.

Derek Penwell
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  • http://raymills.net Ray M

    Progressives need to befriend Evangelicals/Fundamentalist so that the more conservative among us can see the truth about progressive faith. Especially during a time when so many Evangelicals have moved towards a more centrist position on many of the issues mentioned in the post and are struggling to find a community of believers with which they can connect.

    • jedi_penguin

      My weekly Bible study has a wide range of Christians, from ultra-Fundamentalist to way more progressive than I feel comfortable with… and it’s awesome. Sitting down and reading the Bible with a Christian who has a different viewpoint is one of the more healthy things you can do for your faith. It challenges you where you don’t expect yourself to be challenged and firms up your faith in places where you didn’t realize it needed it. There are no politics, just a group of people reading the same passages at the same time and discussing them. I love my Bible study and could wish for everyone to find a group outside of their own congregation.

      • AugustineThomas

        You guys are the fundamentalists. You believe in satanic leftism and you close your minds off to any facts that call your baby-murdering ideology into question. (You also force third graders to watch p–nography.)

        • Sharla Hulsey

          You are a troll.

  • Elie Challita

    Pretty spot on. I’m an agnostic myself, but I have a lot of respect for progressive Christians, as I believe that they most closely embody the ideals their religion was based on. If I ever decide to believe again, I’m pretty sure this would be the religion I’d espouse.

    • AugustineThomas

      Of course. You hate real Christianity so you love the people who are trying to destroy it. Pretty simple.

      • http://www.facebook.com/david.cousins.14 David Cousins

        TRUE

      • Elie Challita

        Drat, you’ve uncovered my dastardly plot to destroy Christianity by encouraging people who are actually kind, loving, and compassionate…

    • Cris Bessette

      To me, “progressive Christianity” is the process of weeding out the barbaric and irrational bits in the Bible, and sticking to the “Jesus” bits.
      Some call these types of believers “Red Letter Christians” (referring to Bibles that have red text for Jesus’ words)

      In my opinion, ALL Christians practice cafeteria religion- pick and choose the beliefs you like, ignore the rest.
      I’ve been around Christians all my life and not a single one has stoned an adulterer to death or made a burnt animal sacrifice (excluding the odd hamburger/hotdog)

      Again, in my opinion, progressive Christians have the best version of their religion.

      • Elie Challita

        That’s how it’s supposed to be. Religion is supposed to evolve to fit our understanding of the world around us, otherwise it rapidly risks going the way of the Pharaonic faith.
        Which teachings you choose to keep and which to throw away is what defines you either as a good person, or as a fundamentalist psychopath.

  • StevenDavisPhoto

    Thanks for this. I am a progressive Christian as well, and while I’m against abortion, I also find it highly ironic that my Fundamentalist friends are so concerned with it and yet don’t seem to care about helping the poor, or the baby AFTER it’s born.

    • AugustineThomas

      This is such a satanic arguing tactic. WHEN DO THEY EVER SAY THEY’RE NOT IN FAVOR OF SUPPORTING A BABY AFTER HE OR SHE IS BORN?!
      You guys have gone so insane if you can compare baby murderers to people you disagree with about anti-poverty policies.

      • Sharla Hulsey

        When? How about when they claim to be “pro-life,” but then have no interest in supporting policies that could make life less cruel for poor families. There have been plenty of so-called “pro-life” politicians who have been asked what policies they’d support to make sure a baby born to a poor mother who might otherwise have chosen abortion has the chance to grow up healthy. No, we couldn’t do that, that’s socialism.

        Abortions don’t tend to happen to middle- or upper-class women who find pregnancy “inconvenient.” They often happen to women who are desperate because they can barely provide for themselves, much less a child, or who already have children and cannot afford any more. Statistics seem to indicate that the abortion rate rises and falls not by the presence or absence of draconian laws limiting or prohibiting it, but in relation to economic conditions.

        “Pro-life” is not about saving babies, nor is it in any way about actually preserving or protecting life. It’s about controlling women, especially women’s sexuality.

        • Clubbeaux

          Women who can’t afford children out having sex and getting pregnant must have gotten their biology education from government schools. If only they realized that having sex causes unwanted pregnancies. Oh well, much easier and more fun to blame those nasty conservative Christians than to take responsibility for your own life and decisions.

          • Sharla Hulsey

            You sort of just proved my point there. It’s not about saving babies; it’s about punishing women who are Doing It Wrong.

          • http://www.facebook.com/david.cousins.14 David Cousins

            your point is rooted in your own bigotry

        • AugustineThomas

          Abortion is baby murder. You’re right to notice that it’s most often used by rich people to commit genocide against poor people.

          Pro-life people do far more charity for born humans than pro-death individuals.
          Members of the death culture are always selfish and looking out for themselves. Most of the time they want to murder most people because they’re stupid and they believe they can usher in utopia by reducing the world population.

          • Clubbeaux

            Sharla’s point is that nobody should have to experience consequences for their actions. If women enjoy having sex they should be able to have all the sex they want and if a baby results, somebody else needs to take responsibility for it, because the woman didn’t intend to have a baby. Sharla’s a liberal.

          • Sharla Hulsey

            That is most assuredly NOT my point. Pro-lifers have a slogan: “It’s a child, not a choice.” I would like those of us on the other side (and yes, I am a liberal, and not ashamed of it as you may believe I should be) to adopt a similar slogan: “It’s a child, not a consequence.” In other words, what you are saying is that women should be punished for having sex by being forced to become parents, and I am suggesting that human beings should not be used as punishment for other human beings’ supposed misbehavior. (BTW, where are the fathers in all this? Women don’t get THEMSELVES pregnant with no help from anyone else, so why are they the only ones forced to bear the penalty?)

        • AugustineThomas

          Some of the greatest men in history have been born to desperate mothers. The entire population of Ireland would have been aborted during the famine if we stuck to the logic that babies born to desperate mothers must be murdered.
          And I think you’re confusing the message of those pro-lifers you speak of. They don’t want no charity, they just (rightly) notice that the government makes politicians rich from tax money and thus would rather have community churches in charge of the charity (it worked pretty good when that was the system during the time when America was becoming the greatest nation on the planet). The government rarely actually uses tax money to help the poor. The government keeps the poor living in poverty so it doesn’t lose its reason for existence.
          And why would anyone take on the hatred of people who’ve had abortions and/or are zealously pro-choice if they didn’t care about all children, born and unborn? People who don’t care about children are always pro-choice because protecting the least among us doesn’t matter to them.

          • Sharla Hulsey

            The entire population of Ireland WAS just about destroyed during the famine, by oppressive policies imposed from afar by an imperial power that didn’t give a damn. Babies born into that kind of extreme poverty and hunger have a substantial risk of poor health or even of dying as infants. A truly “pro-life” activist going into a situation like 1840s Ireland would do better to work toward improving ALL life, not just forcing people to have babies they have no hope of feeding once they’re here.

          • AugustineThomas

            My point is that even many of those babies of the famine, who were truly desperate, went on to do amazing things.
            No baby in America is murdered because we couldn’t feed it. They’re murdered because the moms and especially the dads want to keep partying.
            That is as hellish as it gets.

          • Sharla Hulsey

            You do not know every person who seeks an abortion, so you cannot make that kind of generalization. You are doing nothing but displaying your own ignorance.

  • Brian Cox

    I am consistently chagrined at the “social justice” stance of any Christian. Without applying a label to it like Marxist, socialist, communist, fairness, or whatever, my ears would be more open to it if progressives and liberals focused on the individual’s responsibility vs. the government. Nowhere does Jesus, or any apostle for that matter, tell us to use the power of the state to force our neighbors to care for widows and poor people. It is cowardly and intellectually dishonest to claim some sort of moral high ground when we vote for “the rich” to pay their “fair share.” The rich, of course, will be anyone who has one more dollar than I.

    The other problem I see with using state power to pry more from the rich to give to the poor is that it makes he rich cling ever more tightly to their wallets. It does nothing to attract the should most in need of knowing Christ: those who face the needle’s eye, riding their caravan of camels.

    Jesus told ME to care for the less fortunate, both because He is concerned for them and because He is concerned for my soul. Against the backdrop of eternal life, it is small potatoes whether I am rich or poor in this life. It matters everything that I do not clutch and cling and claw at money and possessions.

    Too many of us, from progressives to Fundies, claim to have the only truth of the nature of God and of what He wants from us here on Earth. Virtually all of us, including Yours Truly, are guilty of taking our political notions and trying to use Jesus to back our claims, having more allegiance in our hearts to our prospective causes than to our Savior and Creator. C.S. Lewis referred to this abomination as “Christianity And…”, as in Christianity and abortion, Christianity and women’s rights. Our religion becomes a convenient tool, a weapon to gain ground in whichever fight is closest to our hearts. It is despicable no matter which quarter it occupies.

    • John

      You deny the realities of modern times Brian. State power has been used to pry money from the poor and middle class to support the rich. The system is rigged. How irresponsible is it to feel you are helping the poor when you give your contribution to the collection box while at the same time you condone the theft of corporate America? Yours is a cowardly position which is referred to in the article as only being concerned with your own “salvation.”

      • http://www.swordcrossrocket.com swordcrossrocket

        It isn’t just this. The problem is that social justice for the progressive is defined via supporting the marginalized in secular leftist terms, which often means condoning conduct that is against the Bible. Progressives really don’t care about economic marginalization as they claim; they use social justice to punish those they dislike and promote those they like, and if you look at many blue states there are tremendous levels of poverty outside of the knowledge center cities of the elite.

        If it were just a debate on the role of government, it’s less of an issue because Christians of all kinds can disagree on the best methods to help the poor without much of a problem. But increasingly it means accepting conduct that is at odds with the Bible and falling prey to envy.

        • Sue Krayer

          As a “progressive” Christian (though just viewing myself as Christian) I don’t think your understanding of my viewpoint is at all accurate. I hope I don’t ever view social justice as a weapon but as a logical extension of the teachings of Jesus. If we all lived according to the Sermon on the Mount there would be no need for government to be involved at all. Yes I do very much care about economic marginalization – what is so wrong with that? Don’t you? Is that not what Jesus taught in the Parable of the Talents? The action that directly led to His death – and that I believe was very carefully chosen – was the turning over of the money changers’ tables in the temple. Why this and not catching gay guys fornicating? Seriously. Jesus had a whole lot to say about the abuse of money and power – so it would seem more appropriate to condemn that if we personally wanted to pollute our souls by condeming anyone -and nothing whatever about homosexuality or abortion. Why do you think that is? The Biblical justification for a specific anti-abortion stance is non-existent. Certainly there were strong condemnations of homosexuality – at least in the Old Testament – in the same chapters as the stoning of disobedient children and prohibitions against the “abomination” of eating certain kinds of foods that most Americans at least eat regularly now.

          I do agree that moral standards are important and try to conform mine as much as possible to what Jesus taught. But zeroing in so strongly on certain issues has knocked our Church’s moral compass way off. Look what it’s created! We cannot be about judging certain behaviors that we say we are good Christians for not doing but by BEING the City on a Hill – a place where people love one another and rigorously, frequently examine our own conduct to be pleasing to the One who made us. And by teaching that the Gospel is indeed good news. What is Marxist-Leninist about this view? BTW – most of us progressive Christians are easily as personally conservative as the fundamentalists are. But we all fall short.

          • http://www.swordcrossrocket.com swordcrossrocket

            The difference is that many of us already know about the dangers of greed and power. It’s also not popular to be such these days as opposed to the eighties. With each generation the popular sins change, and each attack us in a different way. The danger with SSM has little to do with whether or not the secular government makes it legal, but with the way it makes Christians look at the Bible as the source of authority. If greed and the search for power cause people to do the same, yes by all means criticize it too. But right now its not the greedy who cloak their sins in the name of human rights, not on the scale that SSM is pushed.

            I agree it’s not an either/or approach, but one is currently more popular than another and is bucking for approval.

        • John

          This doesn’t make any sense. How do progressives “use social justice to punish those they dislike”? I’m sorry but there are big problems over the best methods to help the poor; aren’t you paying attention to the conflicts in Congress?

          • http://www.swordcrossrocket.com swordcrossrocket

            My point is more that they use social justice as a way to push identities and values that they like (LGBTQ, sex posivitivity, prostitution, abortion rights, various enviromental issues) and use it to punish people they don’t (certain types of capitalists, religious fundamentalists, etc.) It’s really not so much about the poor as opposed to promoting the correct ideology over the incorrect one; progressives have honestly done little to nothing to actually address poverty as it is in the public sphere.

          • JanetLynn

            Kinda sad that you actually believe this. Time to break some bread with some “progressives” methinks. Seems you don’t like being “pigeon holed” – best not to be doing that of others as well. John is spot on – cogent.

          • LibertyDwells

            There is no “belief” there. That’s how it works and it’s getting worse. That you claim otherwise means you are either completely ignorant of what is going on or are a gleefully willing partisan hack.

      • AugustineThomas

        So your answer to the evils of state control is more state control?
        This is like when I burn myself and I burn myself more to heal the wound! Everyone knows the way you mend a broken leg is to break it again!

        • John

          Not logical Augustine, if there are evils in state control you fix them. We do live in a society which requires we have rules. Without rules people will take advantage of situations. It’s naïve to think otherwise. When you burn yourself you learn to stay away from the fire or control it better. What are you advocating, that we turn off the fire?

          • AugustineThomas

            Why do you think we’re all slaves who need an all powerful, repressive state to take care of us? Why can’t we make our own rules like people did when this country was becoming great? Ever since we’ve listened to the “experts” and the “elite” our country is going down the toilet.

          • John

            What do you mean “make our own rules”? We did make our own rules when this country was beginning and that’s called the government. Our country is going down the toilet because people insist on finding ways to get around the rules or don’t want to abide by them–tax evaders, polluters, financial sector criminals, etc.

          • AugustineThomas

            Why do you think no one cares about the rules anymore? They’ve given up or never been taught Christian morality.
            There’s a reason this country became the greatest in the world when it was full of devout Christians and that it’s now going down the toilet ever since they all lost their faith and became immoral secularists.

          • Kevin Pope

            Can you define exactly what “Christian morality” is? How does that differ from anything else that is moral? If it’s moral, why does it need to specifically be “Christian”? What morals does Christianity create that do not already exist? You really haven’t thought much about this, have you? This country is most certainly full of devout Christians, with the census showing 76% of the population identifying as some form of Christian. I find it disgusting that people in the 76% majority are crying that they are being ruined by the 24% minority and blaming them for all their problems.

            What you really mean to say is that anyone who isn’t a part of your religion, and the denomination and dogma variant that you agree with is automatically wrong, immoral, and the cause of all your problems. The problem isn’t the other people. It’s your inability to think critically.

          • AugustineThomas

            “Devout Christians” means Christians who attend church once a week or more. That number is about 10% of America.

            I think you must be unaware of history. The world lived in what we would define to be complete barbarism before Christ came. All of your secular beliefs are derived from Christian concepts. Christians developed humanism and secularism (see Erasmus, St. Thomas More, Duns Scotus, etc., etc., etc.)

            You can look at history and see that it’s the story of Christians fixing things and other groups trying to stop Christians.

          • Kevin Pope

            I got my percentage from the US Census Bureau. You just pulled 10% out of your backside. I’m perfectly cogent of history. You want to talk about the Christians who burned down the Library of Alexandria? Or perhaps the Christians who started the Great Crusades? The Christians who murdered scientists as “heretics”? Or the Christians who hunted down and murdered Pagans for 1,100 years. Maybe it was the Roman Catholic church who used the Papacy to launch wars in Europe and to justify the torture of humans. Maybe it was the Spanish Inquisition? Maybe it was the Church of England, from which our founding fathers faced death as traitors.

            I think you are looking at history through some very small goggles.

          • AugustineThomas

            You got a percentage of people who self-identify as Christians. You can easily find the numbers of regular church attenders if you look very hard.
            Caesar’s men burned the Library of Alexandria.
            The Crusades were a defensive action against the Muslims. (You have heard how they sacked Vienna, Milan, Palermo and dozens of other Christian cities and took over all of modern Spain and parts of France?)
            If Christians had put more heretics and apostates to death we might have avoided a world where Protestants murdered tens of millions, atheists murdered hundreds of millions if not billions and secularists murdered billions of unborn babies.
            Furthermore the cultures the Church inspired developed modern science and all modernity.
            Christians eventually ended paganism because pagans never stopped trying to destroy Christianity; again, it was a defensive action.
            The Spanish Inquisition was a justice system that was much more human than is our own currently.
            The Church of England is a heretical formerly orthodox Christian church, so I don’t defend its actions.

            I think it is you who has only ever been taught the leftist secularist version of history.

          • StafCoyote

            Do you really want to be defending the Spanish Inquisition, really? We knew extremist ultramontanism could lead people to say some pretty foolish things, but this really takes the cake.

          • AugustineThomas

            You’re an idiot if you don’t realize that your own “justice system” is far more inhumane than the Spanish Inquisition ever was.

          • Clubbeaux

            “I’m perfectly cogent of history.”

            Might be a more impressive statement if you were “cogent of” basic English as well, which is about as “cogent” as your history:

            Which burning of the Library of Alexandria are you talking about? There have been at least four, with the final and most complete job traditionally credited to Muslims.

            The Crusades were attempts by the Christians in the West to help Christians in the East who were being systematically slaughtered by the million by the Islamic armies. They failed, and Muslims killed untold millions, which is why the church in the East was wiped out except for scattered pockets. ISIS today is simply following on what Muslims did hundreds of years ago. Of course I assume you would be opposed to a “crusade” to help the Yazidis or the Iraqi Christians being wiped out by Muslims today.

            Christians murdering scientists as “heretics.” As in…

            And on and on and on, simple-minded slogan after simple-minded slogan. Of course the “Spanish Inquisition” is mentioned, and of course you’re completely, totally ignorant of what it was. I’m no Catholic and I don’t defend the Catholic church, but even I can see that heretic deaths dropped dramatically once the Inquisition started. Oh, you didn’t know that? No, you get your history from Monty Python.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            The world was actually barbarous for 100,000 before Christ so why would a loving God wait so long before explaining to us how to live together?

            The middle east was not exactly the center of civilization at the time of Christ. Many of today’s moral values were well defined long before Christ made an appearance so it certainly wasn’t like the world was a savage den of iniquity before Christ and then a heavenly paradise after. Even something as eloquent as the golden rule, something for which Christians routinely take credit, was put forward long before Christ. The Golden Rule can be found in the early contributions of Confucianism (551–479 BC) and appears prominently in many religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianis.

            What moral values do you think Christ proffered that we expressed by other religions?

          • AugustineThomas

            God gave us many chances. I can’t claim to know why he ultimately decided that it was time to send his son–whether because that was the specific time when it became clear we would be lost to Satan, despite the teachings of the chosen people, or some other reason.
            Only China was anywhere near the sophistication of the European and Middle Eastern cultures and China alone can’t make a claim. It’s pretty well accepted that Southern Europe and the Middle East were the center of civilization.
            The golden rule is not sufficient, not by a long shot–which is why the world remained steeped in barbarism.
            Christ affirmed the goodness of “do unto others”, but his teaching went far beyond that and led to the cultures that built modernity and civilized a world full of heathens.
            The Church teaches that other cultures can do good based on natural truths. Christ gave us the full wisdom. I’m no theologian, but Christ affirmed the brokenness of men and showed that we can only be saved through him and taught us how to receive Holy Communion. I know that the latter two points disagree with your worldly understanding of the universe and thus do not seem profound, but together, they are the key that unlocked modernity.
            (You can also just read the bible to see for yourself what specifically Christ taught that is new–I suggest starting with the Beatitudes. The important idea is that he affirmed the portion of what we already knew that is good and completed our conception of proper wisdom.)

          • Tom from North Carolina

            The middle east at that time, was anything but the center of civilization. The Chinese in particular were well ahead of the rest of the world in literacy and understanding of nutrition and sanitation. Rome, with aqueducts and rudimentary waste treatment was also far more civilized than the middle east.

            Many of Christ’s proclamations, taken at face value, are far too simplistic to be of real practical value. Turn the other cheek may seem good conceptually but do you really want to turn the other cheek when someone is attacking your wife or daughter?

            The meek shall inherit the earth? How is that working out?

            Many of the moral values expressed by Jesus were values adopted by other civilizations. Many are so simplistic that they can only be applied under specific circumstances. And quite of few moral standards that we would completely reject today (slavery) was never criticized by Jesus. So what we knew to be good back in those days turns out not to be so good.

          • AugustineThomas

            I would suggest that you start reading great philosophers and theologians unless you want to continue pretending that you’re somehow above a belief system that built modernity. It truly makes you look like an ignorant fool.

            Rome controlled most of the Middle East at that time, so you’re not really making any sense.
            You could also actually read my comment, wherein I say that Southern European and Middle Eastern civilizations were the most advanced. Furthermore, they were at the center of the world geographically; a far better location to convert the world from than China.

            Sometimes things that seem simplistic are the most sophisticated. Again, I would urge you to read the great theologians, starting with St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. They took the best of ancient learning and laid the foundations for modernity. Christians invented humanism and secularism. So it’s incredibly ridiculous for you to suggest that the center of all of that, Christ, was overly simplistic and didn’t really present anything new.
            It was good enough for Galileo, Descartes, Copernicus, Pascal, Erasmus, etc., etc., etc. but not Tom from North Carolina? :)

            God bless you Thomas!

          • Tom from North Carolina

            I always enjoy hypocrites who have to resort to name calling followed by the requisite “god bless”. My ” ignorant” argument which stems from your statement that the middle east at the time of Jesus was the center of civilization. Rome was and China was certainly more advanced than the middle east. None of the examples you give – Pascal, Copernicus, Descartes were middle eastern. They were European.

            And as far as blessing me, thanks but no thanks. Religion, especially Christianity, has been and remains to this day, in opposition to science and reason. Some of those very mathematicians that you named earlier were persecuted or worse br the church. But we’re getting off track. Give me an example of a moral value invented by Jesus and unheard of throughout the rest of the world. And maybe you can explain to me why Jesus never got around to criticizing slavery or never spoke up about gender equality. Now those would have been radical ideas for the time.

          • AugustineThomas

            You’re ignoring the fact that Rome controlled most of the Middle East and clinging to an improper interpretation of my argument in order to avoid the larger point. Christ came into humanity at the perfect place (where many Romans were starting to look for spiritual guidance; the Jews having always been not just despised, but also respected) and at the perfect time (when the huge majority of humans in history were about to be born).
            And it obviously worked. Christianity was rarely spread by force. It managed to spread across the globe from the Roman Empire without using the sword or forcing women to breed like livestock the way Islam does.

            Especially Christianity? You’re being an ignorant fool. That’s just a fact. Christians developed modern science. Christian theology is the basis of modern science. It’s so far out there to suggest that Christianity is somehow against what it developed. Mankind is fallen and the Church is for sinners. There have been powerful sinners in the Church who, for their own reasons, persecuted great thinkers. And yet all of the thinkers who developed modern science remained devoutly loyal to the Church and had at least as many supporters in the Church as enemies.
            You really need to stop exclusively getting your information from biased leftists who hate the Church. You’ll see that the story isn’t as simplistic as you’re making it out to be and favors Christians much more than it does any other group in history.

            You can easily read the great theologians (I suggest starting with St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas) if you want to find out what is so special about Christ our Lord.
            Christ’s wisdom, “the meek will inherit the earth” for instance, does reject slavery and he sat with a prostitute and told her she could still be saved, the same as any man, thus scandalizing his mostly male disciples, which is akin to “speaking up about gender [in]equality”. The Church also recognizes a woman, the Mother Mary, as the most important Christian, more important than all the males.
            Christ’s wisdom is what inspired the earliest abolitionists and suffrage activists, so, again, it’s dubious to suggest Christianity didn’t speak up for these movements, when it is responsible for them.
            It is also dubious to suggest Christianity is a retrograde force, when Christians are responsible for all modernity, including modern science, the modern educational system, the Civil Rights Movement, the Suffrage Movement, humanism, secularism, modern democracy, etc., etc., etc.

          • Tom from North Carolina

            You said: You’re ignoring the fact that Rome controlled most of the Middle East and clinging to an improper interpretation of my argument in order to avoid the larger point.

            Sure it did, but that doesn’t mean that the middle east was advanced. At that time, the middle east remained a backward, illiterate bunch of nomads with little in the way of communications, sanitation, running water or anything resembling what was available in more civilized areas like Rome and in sections of China.

            You said: Christ came into humanity at the perfect place (where many Romans were starting to look for spiritual guidance;

            Really, Romans were looking for spiritual guidance? That’s laughable. Rome was determined to stamp out any threats to its power structure and Christianity, like many religions, was viewed as a threat. I see no historical evidence that Romans adopted the religious ways or beliefs of Jews or Christians. In fact, up until Constantine in 320 AD, Christians were actively persecuted and even at times, crucified. The idea that Romans went looking to the middle east for their beliefs is a joke.

            You said: You really need to stop exclusively getting your information from biased leftists who hate the Church. You’ll see that the story isn’t as simplistic as you’re making it out to be and favors Christians much more than it does any other group in history.

            I would suggest that you stop taking so much on faith and start employing a little reason, especially in light of your attempt at reinterpretation or maybe a better work is historical revisionism. Only by ignoring the words themselves (which are not verifiable anyway) and choosing a predefined belief would anyone say that the words “the meek will inherit the earth”, rejects slavery. If Christ were really rejecting slavery he would not have admonished slaves to obey their masters. He would not have directed his followers as to where you can get slaves and where you shouldn’t. He spoke about a lot of things that he classified as sin and wrong. He never did he do so regarding slavery.

            I’m afraid that Jesus’ words themselve

          • AugustineThomas

            I’ll be getting to you soon my friend!

            You’re the one trying to revise history to fit your Godless leftist beliefs.
            If Rome hadn’t been the perfect place, Christianity wouldn’t be 2.7 billion strong now (despite the fact that we humans have a way of screwing up what’s right and true).

            I’ll respond to the rest when I have time. God bless you!

          • Tom from North Carolina

            I prefer reasoned progressive over Godless leftist :-)

          • AugustineThomas

            You seem extremely intelligent and well-intentioned. I’m sure you could teach me a lot of things I don’t know. I simply believe that you may have got your beliefs about Christianity wrong (which is understandable because so many people spread lies about Christianity and hold Christians to impossible standards when Christians are sinful women and men like anyone else. Full disclosure: I used to be an atheist who hated Christians).
            God bless you Thomas!

          • Tom from North Carolina

            First, I certainly don’t hate Christians. I think religion has been a detriment to humanity overall despite the remarkable amount of good work done by people of faith. I much prefer people who help other people simply for the pleasure of doing so rather than those doing good to build up heavenly chits.

            You are an exceptional person in that you went from atheist to believer. In my experience, reason has a way of chipping away at faith by forcing one to ignore the lack of evidence for a god. For me, it became impossible to silence the contractions I see every day between what faith says the world should be like and what it is. A rather vivid example just emerged from Africa. Did god choose those two Americans to be saved from Ebola and ignore the 3,000 others who have already been killed? Were they more faithful, more worthy? They both attribute their recovery to the grace of God which gives little credit to the 22 infectious disease experts who worked on their behalf.

            Religion has no monopoly on moral values and it absolutely has nothing to add regarding the big questions of the universe and life. It is rightly in decline.

          • Bluesman1950

            Do you actually have any idea what the word ‘secularist’ means?

            Hint, it’s not ‘Atheist’, ‘Satanist’, ‘Abortionist’ or ‘Communist’.

          • AugustineThomas

            It just includes all of those things. You guys are the Immoral Majority.

          • John

            Yes, we were devout slave holding, Indian murdering Christians weren’t we.

          • AugustineThomas

            I’ll remind you that they were Protestants and that it was often Catholics who treated them the best. (There’s a reason mostly Protestant Canada and the United States annihilated most of their natives and Catholic Mexico, Central and South America preserved most of theirs.)
            Catholic clergy are the greatest preservers of indigenous culture in history (except for barbaric, often murderous cultural practices).

          • Tom from North Carolina

            Catholic clergy are the greatest preservers of indigenous culture in history (except for barbaric, often murderous cultural practices).

            Your view of “great” and mine are dramatically different. It was the policy of Spanish priests, in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, in order to protect native Mexican babies in the afterlife, to baptize them and immediately kill them to prevent them from returning to their nonChristian ways thereby guaranteeing eternal life. How is that treating natives best?

          • AugustineThomas

            That is a complete and utter lie. You might be referring to a hand full of lunatics, but the monarchs in Spain, despite old pre-Christian cultural trends, were the first to liberate the indigenous. There’s a reason slavery ended in the South American countries long before it did in the United States.

            God bless you Thomas!

          • Tom from North Carolina

            There’s a reason slavery ended in the South American countries long before it did in the United States. The two reasons are economics and religion. The South’s agrarian economy was dependent upon cheap labor. And Christians reading from the old and the new testaments could rightfully claim that God and Jesus were more concerned with preserving the master/slave relationship than in doing away with it.

          • AugustineThomas

            It’s a lot easier for heretics to justify anything they want. South America was controlled by Catholics, who have a teaching authority. This is why priests were almost always the best friends of the natives. Secularists are almost always the exploiters. The cancer of secularist belief found more fertile ground in Protestant North America because orthodox Christianity held less sway.

            God bless you!

          • AugustineThomas

            And I’ll remind you that every attempt to fix them has only made them worse.

    • Tom from North Carolina

      Brian said, “Nowhere does Jesus, or any apostle for that matter, tell us to use the power of the state to force our neighbors to care for widows and poor people.”

      Hence the need for a separation of church and state. The problem with mashing the two together is that your understanding of the bible and my understanding of bible or the Koran may be dramatically different. That’s why trying to figure out what Jesus would do is an exercise in personal interpretation. But voting for those candidates who best reflect your vision of the role of government is where we ought to be.

      You also said, “The other problem I see with using state power to pry more from the rich to give to the poor is that it makes he rich cling ever more tightly to their wallets.”

      Recent history contradicts this statement. By any measure, ever since George Bush cut taxes at the same time as starting two wars, the rich (defined as those earner more than $250,000 per year) benefited far more than any other economic segment in our society. By benefiting from a personal economic boom did they in fact loosen up their wallets as you would suggest?

      The answer seems to be no. In 2001, Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization focused on charitable giving, found that households earning less than $25,000 a year gave away an average of 4.2 percent of their incomes; those with earnings of more than $75,000 gave away 2.7 percent. There is no evidence that cutting taxes to the wealthy increases their charitable giving. And what’s even more striking is the effect on lowering the taxes of the rich on the economy. The so-called trickle down effect has now be definitely proven to not work. It does little or nothing to stimulate the economy and that same money, when redistributed to poor people, is immediately passed around the economy as they buy food, energy, clothing and other necessities. (Yes, I intentionally used that hated word “redistributed”). But that’s what governments do, they take in taxes and redistribute it for common needs — roads, bridges, food inspections, border patrol, etc..

      You also said, “Too many of us, from progressives to Fundies, claim to have the only truth of the nature of God and of what He wants from us here on Earth.”

      I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, no one can know what God said or wants simply because there is no evidence for a god or gods. The sacred books we hold so dear are nothing more than stories passed down, many of them from other religions, and then interpreted and copied and recopied until we are left with no originals and more contradictions between the copies than there are words in the bible.

      There is far more evidence for an uncaring universe in which we are here and gone in what seems to the universe to be an infinitesimally small amount of time.

    • William Zavala

      “Nowhere does Jesus, or any apostle for that matter, tell us to use the power of the state to force our neighbors to care for widows and poor people” You are absolutely wrong!
      Mathew 25:32 ” And all nations shall be gathered together before him…” Then Jesus goes on to say that the gates of Heaven are open to those who heal the sick, feed the hungry and shelter the poor. Those who act in opposition are dammed to Hell. Mathew 25:33-46.

      Ezekiel 16:48-49 Tells us the Sin of Sodom was being a town who neglected the plight of the poor and needy.

      I could go on but it is intellectually lazy to believe that Jesus would object to We The People uniting and acting through government to do his will.

  • LynnW

    And, of course, there’s no possible way “progressive” Christians mischaracterize those they consider fundamentalist either. Please. Even though I am not in the fundamentalist camp as it were, you would probably categorize me as such. I am pro-life and pro-traditional marriage (New Testament scholar Robert Gagnon can take care of the details since that’s a subject for another day), but I am also part of a movement that takes great care of the women and families who were abortion minded and decide to carry to birth (there are many of us). We care about the poor. We work in soup kitchens and teach at-risk kids to read. We go on mission trips and we build houses for Habitat. Some of us are not even Youth Earthers–gasp. Another reader suggests sitting down with a group of Christians of all “types.” I would imagine that since we are commanded to be “One Body” that Jesus would approve so that we all cease the stereotypes.

    • John

      Lynn, you embody the concept that “Charity is a vice.” Your charitable actions make you feel that you are doing something good and make the recipients grateful and dependent on your “charity.” While you take care of the women who were abortion minded do you support caring for all women so that they don’t end up being abortion minded? Progressive Christianity (in my opinion) means justice not just pity for the poor and unfortunate. You need to have the strength to take your “Christianity” beyond the selfish deeds.

      • LynnW

        You are way out of line. Never, ever, ever would I feel people I assist are dependent on my charity. And, yes, our organization does help women so they do not end up being abortion minded. I only cited the example of things with which our community assists because Christians on the “right” are accused of not caring about the poor. The thing I do hate about the internet is that conversations like this are taken with a wrong context. You do not know me, and I do not know you. You have no idea my tone of voice or my motives, but they are certainly not to think that I am the great white savior come down to shower blessings so that I can feel better about myself. Good grief! That has not even crossed my mind. Everyone needs Jesus. Sometimes I think rich people need him even more. But that will probably also be taken out of context and action.

        • John

          Sorry Lynn, you’re right that I don’t know you; I can only speak to what I see as representative of the general right-wing actions. The problem is people think their charity is helping the poor and don’t think that it may have the opposite effect. You don’t have to consciously believe this to follow this line. Unless you address the underlying causes of poverty you are contributing to it. And yes, the Republican trickle down line, in my opinion, does not address the underlying causes. Yes, I can’t read their minds, maybe they believe that trickle down economics helps the poor. Just because they believe it doesn’t make it right. I’ll stick with my original comments. Take your “Christianity” further Lynn.

          • LynnW

            This is fact not pat-on-pack just to be clear: If Christians I know didn’t get down in the trenches and walk alongside people, helping them to learn to rise above their circumstances so they can function without aid, you might have a point though I’m still digesting what seems to be your own self-righteousness (and I do not know you either). As a person who has devoured Ruby Payne’s book, “A Framework for Understanding Poverty” several times but is still learning (I learn something new every time I read it), I am willing to admit that many years ago I made assumptions about poverty that were not accurate. I have changed many of those views and have a better though I’m sure not whole understanding. But my work with teaching young, at-risk youth to read is not so I feel better about myself but so that they can succeed in school and not end up in a jail cell. If one of my best friends didn’t run a homeless shelter and teach women skills so they could get jobs and eventually no longer have to depend on government aid, then throw your darts. These folks are the ones we want to feel better about themselves so they know and are avowed as children made in the image of God as are we all. I doubt that any of us will ever arrive in our understanding of what it is to walk in another person’s shoes, but I do try to be the hands and feet of Jesus as best I can. I’m sure I do not do it perfectly.

  • EqualTime

    As Twain generalized, “all generalizations are false”, This article cannot apply to all fundamentalists, such as LynnW below, but it certainly fits with my perception that the loudest among the fundamentalists which exhibit irrationalism at best and hypocrisy at worst, preoccupy our secular nation with talk of studying creation in science class, no abortion and no contraception (and preferably no help for poor children they mandate to be born) and gender marriage. We must be a sight to see in Europe. Worst of all is the “My way or the highway” crowd, who might be happier by relocating to a Middle Eastern Theocracy where fundamentalists rule by holy book without challenge.

    • Kenneth Barnhart

      The religious in the middle-east seem as divided over what their scripture says as are Christians. This may a generalization, but one that many overlook.

    • AugustineThomas

      You guys need to move to North Korea. A nation where you won’t have to worry about pesky orthodox Christians!

      • Bluesman1950

        “You guys need to move to North Korea. A nation where you won’t have to worry about pesky orthodox Christians!”

        But run like a religion! Maybe you’d be happier there.

        • AugustineThomas

          There’s no place that isn’t “run like a religion”. Secularists have a religion, they just try to lie about it so they can pretend they’re superior to other religions.

          • Bluesman1950

            A religion that doesn’t believe in gods. What sort of religion is that?

          • AugustineThomas

            A very sad kind of religion, which is why atheists have the highest rates of depression and suicide. You would be a great Christian as smart as you are! You should put your significant abilities towards Christian charity. After all, everything else is a vanity.

          • Bluesman1950

            No, I think I’ll just open a restaurant without food, or a zoo with no animals.

          • AugustineThomas

            I hope you find something more meaningful in your life than cheap secularist pop culture!

            God bless you!
            Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!

          • Bluesman1950

            I have plenty of things to interest me. Not ‘pop culture’.

            By the way, have you looked up the definition of ‘secularist yet? Can you explain what you think ‘secularist pop culture’ is, especially as opposed to any other sort of pop culture. Is there a christian ‘pop culture’?

            And why do you keep putting the ‘sancta maria’ nonsense at the end of your posts? Do you think it makes you look more intelligent if you quote a bit of Latin prayer? I could post the entire lord’s prayer from memory in Latin if you like, would that convince you?

          • AugustineThomas

            I think it’s sad that because you’ve chosen to hate Christianity for some reason, you can’t believe that anyone would be motivated by anything other than the desire to look smart or aggrandize themselves in some other way. Christians actually do have much better motives than simply looking smart (though I realize that secularists are limited to such desires).

            I pray that prayer because I believe in it and I do think that the Mother Mary hears my prayers and passes them on to God. I really do care about you and I want you to see the errors in your ways. I want you to see how bitter and shallow secularist beliefs have made you.
            I use Latin because that’s the language of the Church (because it was the main language of the empire Christ chose to convert to spread his gospel).

            And I would LOVE to hear you recite the Pater Noster from memory! (I make sure that I’ve remembered it by praying along with the priest at Mass every Sunday. In the proper Mass, the priest recites the Pater Noster)

            Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!

      • EqualTime

        AT – it would be easier for me to accept your North Korea comment if we didn’t have a secular Constitution. Given that we do, based on your comments, it would seem “it’s your move” to find a theocracy where you might be happier – perhaps a move like Ed Snowden made when he said he didn’t want to live in a country which spies on its people and wound up in Russia.

        • AugustineThomas

          The Church developed proper secularism (see Erasmus, St. Thomas More, Duns Scotus, etc., etc., etc.)
          You’re fighting a scarecrow by suggesting that since I reject depraved, immoral, contemporary American secularism, I must support what you call theocracy.
          You’ve been brainwashed by the public indoctrination/”educational” system into thinking that the Church must never be involved in public policy and that American secularist beliefs are always good, no matter how many babies are murdered, no matter how miserable children are, and no matter how many people get STDs, are depressed and commit suicide.
          It’s so sad how you guys are destroying society while convincing everyone that morality is the real danger.

          • EqualTime

            Sorry I misunderstood your posts. So if you were in charge, what laws would you pass to straighten the good ol’ US out and get us back on track?

          • AugustineThomas

            I just think you should ask yourself how insane a country has to be to suggest that murdering babies is a better choice than teaching people morality so they wont have babies and then murder them in the womb.

            It doesn’t bother you at all that your country engages in the same behaviors as heathen pagans?

          • EqualTime

            It’s not the states choice to make, ESPECIALLY when the state will not care for the child it mandates to be born. So no, it does not bother me that we leave that choice with the mother, in comparison to the alternative.

  • Leigh

    Excellently said.

    There’s a name for what fundamentalists do when they read their Bibles. It’s called “cherry-picking to suit their own agendas.”

    • Philip Larson

      Leigh, you are lying. Or you don’t know what you are talking about.
      I see Roman Catholics as Christians. I see Eastern Orthodox as Christians. I see Evangelicals as Christians. Progressives, they appear to be outside orthodoxy.

      • Leigh

        Guess that’s why personages like John Hagee has called Catholics “whoremasters” for revering the Virgin Mary, right? ‘Cause he just loooooooooves them. He’s also called Mary “the whore of Babylon”, and continually refers to Catholics with the derogatory term “Papists”. Yes, it is quite obvious that he counts Catholics as Christians, isn’t it? On boards like this one, how many times have I read horrible comments in response to articles about Catholicism and Pope Francis, I couldn’t begin to count them. That they’re Satanic, anti-Christ, that the Pope is their God, all manner of crap I’ve read. And you sit there and tell me I’m LYING? I think not.

        You may see Catholics as Christians. But many of your brethren do not.

        • AugustineThomas

          There are bad people of every belief, including different Christian beliefs.
          I think he’s referring to the fact that even though many Christians think other types of Christians are heretical, they don’t murder babies or try to pervert young children with satanic leftist beliefs.

          • Leigh

            You seem to be overly obsessed with “satan”. There’s a medication to treat that delusion, you know.

          • AugustineThomas

            Only an idiot would deny Satan in a world with so many murderers and rapists.

          • Leigh

            You blame satan. I blame the murderers and rapists. Else “satan made me do it” would be a legitimate defense for reprehensible behavior.

          • Bluesman1950

            Did god not create the murderers and rapists? Weren’t they made in his image?

          • AugustineThomas

            God gave all human beings free will, which necessarily entails the potential for evil, or else we would be angels after the fall, who are only capable of goodness.
            God created free will. Humans created rape and murder unfortunately (and were inspired by Satan no doubt).

          • Bluesman1950

            Of course, god created everything good. Man and satan created all the nasty stuff. How convenient for god. Nothing bad like malaria, AIDS or Ebola for him (were they created by satan?). How about starvation, war, all the other diseases and natural disasters? All satan’s? Seems he’s at least as powerful as god if god can’t do anything about them. If god could do something about them but can’t be bothered to, it seems that he’s not as nice and loving as you think. Maybe you should worship satan instead, since you like a bit of worshipping!

          • AugustineThomas

            If you really want the answers to these questions why don’t you read the doctors of the Church? They can answer your questions much better than I can.
            You do know the story of Adam and Eve? We are forced to know death because of original sin, but God can make good from the worst natural disasters, diseases and even pure evil.
            God could intervene, but he chooses not to and I will admit that his decision does test my faith at times.

            God bless you!

    • AugustineThomas

      There’s a name for what fundamentalist “progressive Christians” do when they read the bible: ignore it and follow Satan.

  • http://www.swordcrossrocket.com swordcrossrocket

    1. It’s not this; it’s that progressives want to make Christianity less Christian, by interlacing the mores of the secular progressive knowledge class into it. The “Christian nation” stuff is more a device that fundamentalists use to feel part of the nation and shouldn’t be denied; believe me if they held the beliefs you did, you’d like them a lot less.

    2. You have to admit, progressive Christianity tends to view the expression of social justice through government power more than private charity.

    3. This is pure deflection. Yes, progressives support anti-Christian ideas like SSM (lets toss out what paul says on the matter) premarital sex, and even polyamory. These are not unimportant issues, because they contradict Biblical sexual morality as well as tradition, and quickly lead to people having a token faith if at all. The issue behind them is the denigration of the Bible as any real souurce of morality, as opposed to secular norms being given a Christian gloss.

    4. Yeah, they reject it. The core of the Bible is how God relates to man, not just how we show social justice to our neighbor. Progressives focus on the latter while ignoring the former to any real extent. You never hear them witness to people, or talk about sin and repentance, or even talk much about God. The social justice is practically secular to them, and based on identity politics and the language of leftism given a very thin veneer of God talk.

    I mean, I was willing to say “we can disagree on things as long as I know you really follow Jesus.” But increasingly I find that they don’t even do that. To believe in SSM, I find so many progressives willing to be functional atheists when dealing with the Bible; they’ll rip the authority of it to shreds to support it when it contradicts what they like. If Progressives want to take the faith back, they need to have authentic faith in Christ in the first place. That they don’t is why they fail to draw any audience despite being what the secular world wishes Christians to be.

    • Tom from North Carolina

      I think the point Derek was making is well illustrated by your comments. Your ideas about what’s important are “cherry picked” from the bible just like everyone else. A Catholic believer for example, in rejecting more authority for women in the church will cite all male disciples as a pattern after which the church is modeled. Their rejection of contraception is more hard to justify using biblical authority.

      And you seem to view same sex marriage, premarital sex and polygamy as issues clearly criticized by the bible and yet, my understanding of the new testament comes down on the side of inclusion and compassion. It’s interesting that those prohibitions related to sex are seen as more important than other prohibitions which you obviously think unimportant (wearing clothes of multiple threads, eating shellfish). And while speaking about the bible’s moral authority, it’s interesting how you gloss over god’s acceptance of slavery and his encouragement of genocide.

      What I’m saying is that we are all guilty of cherry-picking selected text from our holy books in order to justify our values. Since I’ve never seen or heard of God correcting the record as did Woody Alan when he heard this arrogant guy describing his interpretation of a book interpretation and he brought into the movie the author to correct his interpretation. Since God has not definitively corrected anyone’s interpretation, why don’t we just lose the whole God justification thing and concentrate on why you think a particular issue like same sex marriage is bad.

      • http://www.swordcrossrocket.com swordcrossrocket

        It’s not “cherry picking” to cite authority or scripture in favor of something. It’s cherry picking to cite it to the exclusion of other evidence in the same work, or to isolate a scripture out of context. As for the shellfish, if you read Peter’s Vision in Acts, it’s pretty much told to us by God that we aren’t under the same dietary laws. It’s the same reason Christians don’t get circumcised. The Bible isn’t a collection of isolated books, but has a progression over time that shows change.

        I’d reply to your last point man, that this discussion is in the context of Christians discussing among each other, so we have to use the whole God justification thing. When we debated it in the secular world, we tried to use concepts like natural law or talk about the family instead. This though is an interreligious debate between two wings of Christianity, so your advice can’t be used.

        • Tom from North Carolina

          Better late than never Swordcrossrocket.
          You said, “It’s not “cherry picking” to cite authority or scripture in favor of something. It’s cherry picking to cite it to the exclusion of other evidence in the same work, or to isolate a scripture out of context.”

          That assumes that the bible consistently defines the same moral values in the same way and it’s free from contradictions. We know this to be not true because we can find lots of passages where prohibitions are contradicted by others or completely altered. Try and read the three versions of the 10 commandments and you’ll find only about a 20% agreement among all three. It’s because of these contradictions that everyone is forced to cherry pick those passages that support their preconceived values.

          For example, the only text written by the hand of God are the ten commandments. One would think that these most important of all verses would agree with themselves. So which commandment do you follow, the one from Exodus 20 which says;
          10. You shall not covet you neighbor’s house.

          Or the one from Exodus 34 which says;
          10. You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.

          These kinds of contradictions are found throughout the bible including the new testament. Which ones you select as your guideline is cherry picking.

          The bible is a collection of isolated books, written by different people with varying levels of literacy, with unknown agendas and primarily based on stories passed down. The bible stories are not based on first hand accounts since we have no original documents and we don’t know who authored any of it. Even many of the letters from Paul are copies of copies of copies, sometimes combining different letters without any verifiable way to know who made the copies and what the originals said since we have not a single original.

  • Phil Mitchell

    Something I am curious about–and maybe you could research this, Derek–is how involved in international missions progressive Christians are. In my travels overseas the progressives are non-existent. All the NGO’s I am familiar with are staffed by some iteration of “Fundamentalist” as you are using the term. The intimation in this post and the comments is that these “Fundamentalists” have no interest in social justice. But they are up to their ears in social justice causes and have been for the past 150 years. (See Robert Woodbury’s pathbreaking research.). And at great cost in personal suffering. If progressive Christians are as fully Christian as you seem to claim surely they would have a stronger presence in the worldwide church.

    • Laura Robertson

      Phil – I never understood, even when I was a member of a Southern Baptist church and was pro life, anti gay marriage and a creationist, why everybody was so enthralled with international missions. Then it occurred to me one day that these people who sell all their worldly goods and raise money to haul themselves and their whole families (minor kids included) overseas to some backwoods county all in the name of making disciples of all nations, really love to travel, want to give themselves and their children the “missions experience”, and want to be celebrated heroes in their home town churches. That way parents can say they’ve served Christ abroad, AND it looks good on their kids’ college applications. I’m with Ann Coulter on this one. Conservative she is, but when she said the Ebola doctor’s condition had been downgraded to idiotic, she was spot on. Now I’m a progressive, big-bang, evolutionist who believes gay marriage is entirely appropriate, who serves in LOCAL missions and who happens to be a Christian.

    • JanetLynn

      I don’t know where you are traveling – but you are so off-base on this. Perhaps you were/are unaware of the “Progressive Christians” in your travels because of their ability to assimilate into the culture to which they are called. They aren’t necessarily “showy.” And this is not to discount that fundamentalists are “missional” at all – it’s just so different I don’t imagine you’ve noticed in your vast “travels.”

      • Phil Mitchell

        JanetLynn, you could well be right. My travels are not “vast” and there is lots I am sure I have overlooked. The assimilation you speak of may well be going on but I would think you would encounter it somewhere. If not in actual travel then in the literature which I have perused a great deal. Notice the poster just above you. While criticizing my viewpoint she is admitting that I am basically right. Her response: Why is everyone so enthralled about international missions anyway? She is admitting that at least for her, missions is “idiotic.” And I agree that given her assumptions it is. I guess all I am arguing is that “fundamentalists” have different assumptions and this results in a much higher commitment to missions.

  • Sue Krayer

    Wow, what a terrific article! I’m so grateful to have grown up in the Episcopal church whose main real problem is boring church music. I didn’t learn about a Jesus waiting at the end of my life to cast me down into an eternity of bugs eating out my eyes if I failed to understand some small issue in the Bible as I “should”, or belonged to the wrong sect (or even religion). I learned that God was always there challenging me to be a better, more loving, more humble person. And that love is an action verb, and that there are some instructions for the direction I needed to go – the teachings of Jesus.

    • AugustineThomas

      Go to a proper Latin Mass. You’ll hear not only the best music in the history of Christianity, but the best music in the history of the world, which inspired Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. (It’s a lot better than secularist alternatives like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga or Jay Z.)

      • Bluesman1950

        The fact that the ruling elite and the dominant ideology of the time of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart was christianity has nothing to do with their genius. Do you think that Beethoven could not have written music if the ruling class was Jewish or Buddhist? They wrote for their masters, so of course christianity was part of much of their lives.

        Even we atheists can appreciate classical music without the need for an imaginary being involved.

        By the way, where did you discover that Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Jay Z (whoever he may be) are committed to the separation of church and state and the freedom of religious worship?

        • AugustineThomas

          They were devout Christians. It’s quite dubious to suggest that they were secret slaves despite all the evidence.
          Other cultures have used natural truths to make some great discoveries and produce some great mines, but not with even close to the intensity of Christian cultures and their beliefs never enabled them to rise out of barbarism like Christianity did.
          Name one atheist who has ever made decent art of any sort.
          LG, KP and JZ are all devout secularists, which is why their music is so mediocre.

  • Fred L

    Do
    you use the Revised Common Lectionary, as do many liturgical churches
    in America. If so where is Rev 22:18-19 and Rom 1:26-27. It seems to me
    that picking and choosing only what folks in the politically correct
    arena want to hear is not a smiley face
    thing. A recent seminary president’s speech to the graduates stated,
    “Preachers, Don’t ask who is responsible for the political and social
    turmoil we face. You are responsible because you have failed to teach
    the Bible. You have only taught those parts people wanted to hear, and
    omitted those parts they did not want to hear but needed to.”

  • texasknight

    Jesus says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”

    • Mal

      And ‘take up your cross and follow ME.’ He also told the leadership (Peter) that what he bound on earth would be bound also in heaven. This includes the teachings on divorce, marriage, abortion etc.

      • texasknight

        Those are all part of His commandments. Don’t forget removal of God from our public life, contraceptives, religious freedom of conscience, abstinence plus sex education, pornography, IVF, embryonic stem cell research, the enslavement of generations on entitlement programs that had utterly failed to reduce poverty by even one single percentage point over 50 years through the massive redistribution of wealth (theft) and immoral debt build-up that our great grand-children will not be able to repay. All are intrinsically evil.

  • John Hutchinson

    “1. Progressive Christianity actively seeks to make America a less Christian nation”

    However, America, courtesy of the judiciary, is now an anti-Christian, where arguments and evidence presented by those whose views are theistic are considered “private view” and thereby precluded form the public sphere. In a country in which one of its founding mottoes was “No taxation without representation”, as an outsider, I can only anticipate a fresh outbreak of civic conflagration.

    “2. Progressive Christianity’s emphasis on social justice isn’t Christian — it’s Marxist”

    The New Testament and its ethos (law) of grace is applicable to genuine Christians alone (Romans 10:4) in their private conduct. The law of justice, to the extent that people understand justice, still applies at the public level. Grace is not Justice. And while it is good public policy (social peace and unity) to prevent extremes of economic disparity and factionalist advantaging, principles and means are just as important as ends; the former, which progressivist Christianity ignores and violates at will.

    “3. Progressive Christianity supports obviously anti-Christian political agendas like same sex marriage.”

    It is pure nonsense that the Bible is unconcerned about sexual relationships (a.k.a. same sex marriage). Scriptures is thick and deep with the concept of intrinsic differences in proclivities in nature between the sexes; by which one should first identify and accept one’s own gender proclivities and then discover, accept, embrace, let mitigate and incorporate the proclivities of the Other into oneself in order to become a complete person.

    “4. Progressive Christianity rejects the Bible”

    Progressives read the Bible under the prism and thick overlay of their own preconceptions, prejudices and preferences; although they are not the only ones.

  • simplynotred

    1. Progressive Christianity actively seeks to make America a less Christian nation.

    2. Answer to a Progressive Christian

    1.America is not now, nor has it ever been a Christian nation — a point even most evangelical figureheads concede.

    I. Progressive Christianity actively seeks to make America a less Christian nation.

    1a. America is not now, nor has it ever been a Christian nation — a point even most evangelical figureheads concede.

    Progressive Christians have long held the conviction that the whole Christian-America-thing is
    actually anti-Christian. Christianity has an implicit anti-nationalist bent. Jesus actively resisted the nationalist aspirations of his followers, which made him a disappointment to them — and ultimately cost him his life (initially!).

    1b. Cost Him his life is a snake oil phrase. I believe the words are “He gave his only son, for the salvation of the
    world.” Which does not respect the notion that Nationalist aspirations of his followers, cost him his life. To say that those who are American Christians are rapped up in a Nationalist Bent is a false notion based upon Socialist doctrines and ideals.

    1a. The thought, then, that the very nationalism Jesus walked away from in his own time should characterize the common life of his modern American followers is the height of anti-Christian presumption.

    1b. This statement is half backed, as it suggest patriotism and believe in Jesus are antithesis to each
    other, when in fact Origen says; “The more a Christian fears God, the more loyal he is to the emperor.” The enemies of the Church are wont to apply the epithet “ultra montane” to Catholics who are firm adherents of the Holy See, to
    imply that t hey are wanting in patriotism, because they recognize as their spiritual sovereign one who is ‘Beyond the mountains” (ultra montes); but as a matter of fact good Catholics are good patriots.

    1a. Jesus didn’t look to ascend a Roman throne. Were he incarnated today, would he want the White House?

    1b. However the current White House is a Socialist Adjunct which supports Progressive Christians very well.

    II. Progressive Christianity’s emphasis on social justice isn’t Christian — it’s Marxist.

    2a. The fundamentalist belief that “social justice” is warmed-over Marxism is intellectually lazy. If you can read the gospels and come away believing that Jesus cared only about people’s souls, you’re more cognitively nimble than I am.

    2b. Actually it is the 10th Commandment that prohibits a Catholic or Christian believer from engaging in
    elements of “Social Justice.” Social Justice is the procession and acquisition of the property of another by unlawful means.
    Politically restructuring and redistributing another’s property by political and legal means is a sin against the 10th Commandment of God. Progressive Catholics are in fact Socialist. The object of Socialists is this: They want all private property to be confiscated by the State, and capital and labor equally distributed among the members of the State; moreover many of them would do away with religion, authority, social order, and family life.

    2a. The concern for just and equitable systems that tend to the physical and social needs of people occupies a great deal of Jesus’time as he wanders around the Judean outback. Like the prophets before him, Jesus saves his ire and his disappointment for those whose primary concern is their own spiritual empowerment (see, for example, the Pharisaic “woes” in Matthew 23 and the rich young man in Mark 10:17–31).

    2b. Actually the notion of theft has been with us since the beginning of Man, Eve took the idea from Satan, that displease God, and therefore both Adam and Eve lost access to the Garden of Eden.

    2a. In fundamentalism’s emphasis on the “personal relationship with Jesus,”the “heart”occupies the foreground at the expense of the rest of God’s creative handiwork.

    2b. This is also another half
    backed statements, in that the Sacred Heart of Jesus, cannot be adopted by men
    without his intellect or his will, both aspects of the soul which are used to
    conform the heart to take Jesus Christ Example.

    2a. In this view, my primary obligations are to myself and my own happiness (which conveniently fits with the core ideals of our consumer society). If I can help some other people along the way, that’s gravy.

    2b. The Christian is to understand that religion means to Love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind and your whole strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Christianity does not suggest the love of one’s self, but actually the distrust of one yearnings.

    2a. However, I have a
    responsibility to get my own celestial bus pass stamped first. This is false, and ignorant and unfortunately
    the view that so many progressives have regarding those who are fundamentalist,
    and or traditionalist Christians.

    The author of 1 John says, “Those who say, ‘I love God,’and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (4:20). This is merely a tautology brought out to suggest that Fundamentalist fit this form.

    2b. The whole of humanity fit this form to include progressive. One
    hates one’s neighbor as a progressive by envying your neighbors property, and
    breaking the 10th Commandment.

    III. Progressive Christianity supports obviously anti-Christian political agendas like same sex marriage.

    3a. I heard a story once about the progressive Christian activist Tony Campolo. (Whether it’s true or not, I can’t say. If it’s not true, though, it should be.) Campolo was speaking at a conference when he was asked about his views on abortion. He demurred, preferring to stick to the topic at hand. The person persisted, asking twice more.

    Campolo said: “You’ve asked me three times. What do I think about abortion? I think it’s an issue
    dreamed up by rich Christians to distract themselves from the fact that they
    drive Mercedes Benzes. Because whereas there are over 2,000 verses in the Bible
    that talk about people’s relationship to money, there isn’t a single one that
    deals with abortion.”

    3b. Oh but there is, its called the Fifth Commandment of God – Thou shall not kill. In fact this commandment overrides the 10th Commandment by the fact that it not only steals from your neighbor, but it also takes your neighbors life that God has given him. So Abortion is at a more significant level of priority than the stealing of property.

    3a. The same thing can be said about same-gender marriage, a modern issue with which the Bible seems equally unconcerned, or at least unaware. That’s a whole different post.

    3b. Not True, the inability to comprehend the very Fourth Commandment suggest otherwise. To honor one’s Mother and Father identifies the significance in which God has place marriage. That one man, and one woman can occupy the positions of Mother and Father and NO other combinations of human gender may break this commandment. One cannot honor two men as parents, nor two women as parents for the fullness in the creative act requires that God be the third party among the man and the woman
    to create life, not only in spirit by in the Truth, the Life and the Way of God.

    3a. Fundamentalism, despite its claims about taking the Bible seriously, has an uncanny ability to be distracted from the central issues with which the Bible concerns itself, choosing instead to dwell on peripheral issues — many of which are embarrassingly preoccupied with what other people do with their genitalia.

    3b. I do believe it is those who are problematic regarding “their genitalia” who more often bring up the subject. The central issue of the Bible is God and his creation, of which mans soul is the heart of the matter, and God’s love for man is made manifest. All other aspects found in the bible are merely sub-components of God’s Love for Man.

    IV. Progressive Christianity rejects the Bible.

    4a. The summary indictment of Progressive Christianity is that we don’t take the Bible seriously.

    What I find so galling in this charge is the implication that holding progressive Christian positions is an accommodation to culture — a favoring of secular or modern culture over the Bible. On the contrary: whatever Progressive positions I hold, I hold not in spite of the Bible, but because of it.

    4b. You hold that socialism’s desecration of the 10th 5th and 4th 3rd 2nd and 1st in facts all Commandments are insignificant and that your comprehension of the bible’s commandments are because your socialist beliefs are although contrary to them, you say that they are identical by your cultural definitions and descriptions of the meanings of those 10 Commandments.

    4a My progressive beliefs are an embrace of the gospel I find pervading the scriptures. Progressive Christianity actually takes the Bible more seriously than its fundamentalist critics do.

    4b. If you reinterpret the meanings of the Bible, then you obviously take the bible (similar to Christian Science) to mean other than the original authors intent.

    4a. Christian fundamentalism emphasizes a “commonsense” or “plain” reading of scripture is sufficient — which usually boils the Bible down to a story about me and how I can avoid. going to hell.

    4b. You do make an a$$ out of yourself by making so many assumptions as to what Christian fundamentalist emphasize when reading a commonsense, or plain reading of scripture. If Christ put in parables to teach, and yet keep hidden, from those who won’t believe, why do you as progressives think that you have overcome those hidden concepts, and are not otherwise still living in darkness.

    So what can progressive Christians do about all this?

    4a. For starters,
    progressive Christians should quit letting Christian fundamentalism be
    the de facto voice of Christianity. Sounds like more socialism, that controlling
    factor that says you must adhere to what we are saying. If I wanted to deal
    with Fundamentalist Christians, I would first try listening to what they say,
    what they mean, and what I differ with.

    Progressive Christians should quit being cowed by charges of Marxism.

    4.b On the other hand, I have listened to Progressive Christians all my life and I never found any of them not some how connected with the Marxist theory of STATISM.

    4a. The most damning criticism of a follower of Jesus is not, “You’re a socialist!”but rather, “I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give
    me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me” (Matthew 25:42-43).

    4b. Pope Pius XI declared that Socialism ‘conceives human society in a way utterly alien to Christian truth. When he declared that “No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true socialist” Pius XI make clear that these were what he meant by “True Socialism.” Coercive measure (such as those used by the Obama Administration) will do no more good to the Socialist than random blows will correct a naughty child. If anything is to be done for him, it must be done through kindness. All who endeavor by unlawful means to deprive their neighbor of his personal property, live in a state of mortal sin. Same sex marriage, gay rights, Open borders, Universal Heath care via high taxation, the forcing of Religious institutions to provided aborta fascia prescriptive drugs for birth control and abortion, removing freedom of speech, or the right for an individual to protect him or herself are all illegal laws set up to beat the citizen to comply with socialism. Those progressives in the Catholic Church are no more Catholic than Karl Marx.

    4a. Progressive Christians should embrace their love of the Bible, not as a repository of theological and ritual laws, but as the narration of God’s continued pursuit of humanity through the establishment of God’s reign of justice and peace.

    4b. Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive
    that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. John 18:36

    4a. Progressive Christians should articulate that reign for a world threatening to tear itself apart due to injustice and violence.

    In this endeavor, progressive Christians must be humble. But we can no longer be timid.

    4b. All progressive have always been the least bit timid, in fact for the most part they complain as much as Judas did whenever money issues were brought before the Apostles. Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver for his vision of a world savior, who would help concur Rome and reign has one who brought justice and peace to Israel. But he was mistaken. Or the time that prized perfume was used to wash Jesus Feet, it was Judas who said, how this women dare waste such ointment on your feet
    Lord, this could have brought much on the market in exchange for money that could be given to the poor. Like Progressives , Judas could not see the big picture, and it is true even to this day.

  • Damian Berry

    This post saddens me. The main reason is because the author is doing the exact same thing he is accusing the “conservative fundamentalist” of doing, and that is misrepresenting the other side and claiming his side as superior. I am done with the false assumption that fundamentalist conservative Christians do not care for the poor. When I was younger I believed it because that is what I was told, but through experiencing a number of conservative Churches I’ve come to see that this could not be further from the truth. The most loving Church I have attended was a fundamentalist Church that had a great outreach, mission and discipleship ministry. The Pastors and members heart’s broke for the poor and they were constantly looking for ways they could help those less fortunate. Also another thing that I do not understand about “progressive” Christians is what is so wrong with emphasizing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. After all as Christians we do believe that this the way to our fulfillment. During my time in undergrad and semianry I’ve learned that Church figures such as John Calvin, John Wesley, T.F. Torrance, Karl Barth to name a few held an active relationship with the living God with the utmost respect… When did it become un-pouplar among Christians to want everyone to experience the Jesus we experience and enjoy daily??? There are so many other things that sadden me about this post, but I share another experience of mine. I know many Christians who are pro-life and have adopted children. BTW lately I have seen a serge of conservative Christians take up the cause of Ending human trafficking and help bring awareness and help raise money. I went to Passion 2010 and have keep with the movement. They have one of the most “fundamentalist conservative” set of speakers, yet they petition and raise millions of dollars to help fight modern day slavery, build wells in Africa, Provide small business loans form women in other nations and a number of other projects. Basically what I am saying is my own personal experience with conservative “fundamentalist” Christians completely underwrites your negative assumption of fundamentalist. Fundamentalist do not always get things right and neither does progressive Christians. As a progressive Christians I’m sure you would appreciate this, how about having more grace on your brothers and sisters in Christ that are on the opposite side of you.

    • Cruser

      As a progressive Christian, I appreciate that you are looking beyond stereotypes and questioning them. I am also in support of anti trafficking groups and charity organizations, as does my progressive church.

      God bless you!
      And have a wonderful day. :)

  • D. Morgan

    What a load of revisionist crap. Pope St. Pius X in His encyclical “Pascendi Domenici Gregis” laid out the definitive description of this movement. He referred to it, quite accurately, as the synthesis of all heresies.

    • StafCoyote

      Pius X was living proof of how wrong the Hofburg was to have torpedoed the election of Mariano Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro in the 1903 Conclave.

  • Rick Kosinski

    Members of the “Christian” Right seem to believe that “Atlas Shrugged” is a book of the bible! If they would actually read the New Testament, they would find passages like this:

    James 5 Warning to Rich Oppressors

    5 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a] 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. (Ask James how he would feel about a fair minimum wage, equal pay, or worker safety.)

    Surprisingly, even the Old Testament, which conservatives love, because of its harshness, contains passages like this one:

    Proverbs 22:16 “One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.”
    (Cutting programs for the poor to provide tax cuts for the rich, does not end well!)

    Progressive Christians can counter any argument posed by their conservative “bretheran”, merely by using the very document conservative “Christians” claim to hold sacred.

  • AugustineThomas

    You guys are such a bunch of satanic commies! IIHHHHCKK!!
    It’s such a curse to live with so many demonic atheist leftists who murder every baby they can get their hands on and lie about the nation that gave them everything.
    The Pilgrims were founding what? An Islamic nation? An atheist nation?
    You all need to spend more time repenting and less time doing Satan’s work!

    • StafCoyote

      If Satan is the false accuser, as you appear to be, then what conclusions can we reasonably draw about you?

    • Cruser

      I completely understand that you may have a different view, which is Ok,
      but remember in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Do not judge or you will be judged; do not condemn or you will be condemned.”

  • David MacKenzie

    As a guy who spent 35 years inside mainline liberal Protestantism— watching it decay— before leaving for the Evangelical ranks, I can honestly understand why some of these points have been raised. At the same time, the propensity of “progressive” Christianity to ignore those Biblical texts that it didn’t like was, at times, far more profound than the conservative denial. Just count the number of theological liberals who actually “tithe” for example. If they even remember the word, they’ll argue against such “legalism”, all while failing to answer why the Holy Spirit would ever take a person shallower than the laws of Moses. Did not Jesus say that whoever was angry with their brother would face judgement, not just those who killed? Meanwhile, “progressive” churches might have 100 households on the books, but can barely meet the survival-based budget that they could at 15 households, if people actually believed in Biblical giving.

  • StafCoyote

    So many, particularly the ultramontanists and fundamentalists on this thread, seem so sure they know the mind of the Lord, and that they are the Lord’s counsellors (Rom. 11:34). Humility seems to be the LAST cardinal virtue many of them model. Sadly, it appears that a spiritual seeker, wanting to know more of our faith, might well see this thread and be moved to run, not walk, away from Christianity altogether.

  • Clubbeaux

    Conservative and liberal Christians don’t disagree on the fact that the poor should receive help from the church. They simply differ on how best to “help,” whether giving them a job or a handout is the best way to help someone. If you think giving a poor person a job is the best way to help them, you’re a conservative who’s vilified by liberals for not wanting to help the poor.

  • Clubbeaux

    “Progressive Christians should embrace their love of the Bible, not as a repository of theological and ritual laws, but as the narration of God’s continued pursuit of humanity through the establishment of God’s reign of justice and peace.”

    Therein lies the fundamental difference those who call themselves “progressive Christians” and those who take the Bible as true.

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    Sociologically speaking American cognitive elite culture and religion is dominated by liberalism; the masses by Evangelistic and Orthodox Christianity. So the Fundamentalists haven’t take over elite culture at all; although the liberal Relativists have infiltrated Evangelical religion (the Evangelical Left such as Sojourners of which the author is a member). The rhetorical device used in this discussion is to put words into the straw man mouths of so-called Fundamentalists and then debunk them. This is not really a productive way to discuss the cognitive class divide in Christianity.

    Particularly liberal Christians and the Evangelical Left continue to want to see their Social Gospel as morally superior to the spirituality and legalism of Fundamentalists. The hypocrisy of the Evangelical Left of criticizing Big Banks and Corporations is exposed for what it really is when we find out that Jim Wallis is funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars by George Soros.

    Much of what the author is coyly trying to address was discussed in the
    Hartford Declaration in 1975 probably before the author was born. The Hartford Declaration was an attempt to debunk both the Fundamentalist and Relativist class divide in Christianity, but it focused mainly on liberal Christianity since that is what comprises the dominant media culture.

    The Hartford Declaration criticized a number of cultural-theological themes found in Liberal and Evangelical Left Christianity:

    1. Modern thought is superior to all past forms of understanding reality, and is therefore normative for Christian faith [the antithesis of this would be that "Biblical thought" is superior to all forms of understanding].

    2. Religious statements are totally independent of reasonable discourse. [the antithesis of this would be that both scientific rationalism and a religion of pure subjectivity both capitulate to modern forms of thought].

    3. Religious language refers to human experience and nothing else, God being humanity’s noblest creation. [Antithesis: religion is not just an amalgam of symbols and psychological projections and nothing more. God wasn't invented although certain scriptures may have been. There is more to life than symbols and illusions].

    4. Jesus can only be understood in terms of the contemporary models of humanity. [Antithesis: the recent appropriation of the heroic martyrdom of Evangelical Christian Dietrich Bonhoeffer as "gay" is the reversal of the Imitation of Christ just as is the appropriation of Jesus as The Great Therapist or American Patriot by the Right].

    5. All religions are equally valid; the choice among them is not a matter of conviction about truth but only of personal preference or life style [Antithesis: This dilutes the Christian faith and ignores that behavioral differences among religious people are deeply different. Christianity had a different influence on Capitalism for example than Islam, Buddhism, or Confucianism. If there is so distinction then how is there a Christian Social Gospel as well?]

    6. To realize one’s potential and to be true to oneself is the whole meaning of salvation. (Antithesis: salvation cannot promise human fulfillment by fulfilling the Social Gospel. Such fulfillment would trivialize the Christian faith and end up finding salvation apart from a transcendent God. Neither social work nor asceticism in a monastery necessarily reflect God’s fulfillment].

    7. Since what is human is good, evil can adequately be understood as failure to realize human potential [antithesis: the relativization of the enormity of sin and evil undermines any Christian basis for confronting social and individual evils. There is objective evil beyond my or others unfulfilled human potential. And it could be said that gang leaders or tyrants were fulfilling their human potential].

    8. The sole purpose of worship is to promote individual self realization and human potential [antithesis: the awareness of a "Wholly Other," of the "Mysterium Tremendum," of the Resurrection, of the "Numinous" (Rudolph Otto, Exodus, Isaiah, Job, and Revelations cannot be reduced to self realization].

    9. Institutions and historical traditions are oppressive and inimical to our being truly human; liberation from them is required for authentic existence and religion [Antithesis: Biologically humans cannot escape human institutions. Those who want to liberate the poor or the homeless or those the "gendered" end up dehumanizing those they want to serve and throw them into chaos. Likewise, the perpetuation of inhumane institutions such as slavery or the caste system is not Christian. Social class, however, in the American context is fluid, as there is the opportunity of social mobility, and thus class is not necessarily un-Christian. The homeless aren't oppressed as much as they are plagued with their own self abuses and cognitive disorganization that housing alone can't solve. "Man does not live by bread alone" -- neither by materialism alone or spiritualism alone. It is religion's mission to deal with the spiritual not just the material].

    10. The world must set the agenda for the Church. Social, political and economic programs to improve the quality of life are ultimately normative for the Church’s mission in the world [Antithesis: This theme spans across politics and ideologies. The form remains the same whether it is to promote socialism or communalism or cooperatives, or raising one’s awareness of their unconscious, or promoting the American Way and Patriotism as ultimate ends. If the Church becomes relevant to the world it become irrelevant and unexceptional.

    11. An emphasis on God’s transcendence is at least a hindrance to, and perhaps incompatible with, Christian social concern and activism. [Antithesis: the Social Gospel can lead to a false transcendence that transcending race, class, and gender is equivalent to religious transcendence -- when race is a social fiction, the class system provides social and economic mobility, and gender is plastic but without hard institutions to shape it can lead to chaos for those who are the most vulnerable although it can be "fulfilling" to those of the educated class. Transcending race, class and gender is not the same as God's transcendence of the human condition and ultimately the promise of life after death].

    12. The struggle for a better community will bring about the Kingdom of God. [Antithesis: The Kingdom of God transcends my local church, my parish, my support group or some utopian notion of a carbon-less world without Capitalism]

    13. The question of hope beyond death is irrelevant or at least marginal to the Christian understanding of human fulfillment. [Antithesis: If death is the last word then we are all doomed even in this life. For the child who dies young or the cancer patient whose plans for marriage and bearing children are unfulfilled, for those who die in auto accidents, or by acts of terrorism, there must be some hope beyond human fulfillment].

    My sociological guess is that what divides the Fundamentalist and the Cultural Relativists is not as much as one believes. The Christian sociologist Peter Berger’s typology of Fundamentalism-Relativism finds that they are both sides of the same coin. When Christians talk across the cultural divide it is better to minimally clarify differences if not transcend them if one can. To continue in the Fundamentalism-Social Gospel talk is to fail at such transcendence.

  • Chris Adams

    This entire article is just an example of the progressives methods of twisting the New Testament, and ignoring the entire Bible to fit their. . . let me say it this way. . . IF THE COMMIE SHOE FITS, WEAR IT. You only make yourselves look even more pathetic when trying to explain away something Ray Charles could see.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.cousins.14 David Cousins

    Point #3 illustrates that point #4 is true……these so-called “Christians” really don’t believe in the Bible.

  • http://www.rocky.my/ Rocky

    Unfortunately, whatever we all believe on earth. We still have to face death. no living creator is immortal. And if End of Days Judgement is really real, then we still have to face the Judgement. So say whatever you like now. Good luck. :)

  • http://pastormack.wordpress.com Drew McIntyre

    There are many options for Christians besides fundamentalism and progressive Christianity. Too often progressive Christianity is just a mirror of fundamentalism, based more on rejecting everything wrong with Christianity than embracing a positive vision of the faith. And progressive Christianity can be just as fundamentalist as the right wing!

    • BrotherRog

      Can you give an example of progressive Christianity being “fundamentalist”?

      • Cruser

        Universal health care. I believe Jesus would not deny someone care who needs it.
        Immigration rights. Jesus welcomed strangers, the alien, the outcast. If you would prefer the Old Testament, let’s look at Leviticus. “Do not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in Egypt.”
        But they broke the law, right?
        Jesus broke Pharisaical rules when he healed on the Sabbath. He also said let the person who has not sinned throw the first stone at her. This applies to abolishing the death penalty, preventing prosecution of abortion, minimizing drug sentences, and supporting our immigrants, even if they broke a law or two.

      • Cruser

        Hey, sorry my tone was a bit brash there.
        God bless you and have a good day. :)

  • jmladd

    I quite agree with the content of this article. I have however a problem with the qualifying epithets progressive or fundamentalist. A christian is a christian period. She or he is a follower of Jesus Christ. As such he or she cannot be a hater. As such she or he is in this world, not of this world, hence should abstain from voicing his political opinion as “a christian”. As such she or he is to provide help and relief while not judging people who need them. In other word, there are christians and christian pharisees.

  • LibertyDwells

    There is no such thing as “Progressive” Christianity. That the author
    of the screed immediately sets out to prove that while whining about
    being called on the fact is quite entertaining.

    These people have this bizarre, totally self-serving idea that as long
    as they are publicly nice to people and spend some money on some
    approved cause they can use the title Christian and it makes them feel
    better. What they need to do is either become Christian, or label
    themselves “nice people” and shut up about it. Stop compromising the
    Faith of those who actually believe in something.

  • Kangaroo52

    The abortion issue is 100% about slut-shaming and that’s it.

  • LarryECollins

    My biggest problem with “Progressives” is that they move the focus from REDEMPTION of the individual to just CARE for the individual. Yes, Jesus often met the physical needs of an individual, but as a prelude to ministering to their SPIRITUAL needs. Meeting physical needs was often a symbolic gesture of His real purpose, which He himself clearly stated: “The Son of Man has to come to seek and to save those who are LOST.” Likewise, Christians should be about tending to the physical and social issues, but not as stand alone actions. The woman who needs an abortion should be counseled and redeemed from her sinful life-style that got her into that stiuation. The down and out who are poor and hungry should be helped to find a job so they can care for themselves. (“He who does not work, should not eat.”) THEN we should care for the widows, orphans, and others who CANNOT care for themselves, as scripture demands. But we should not be guilty of facilitating unscriptural, unholy, and unhealthy behavior in the name of “social justice” or a warm-fuzzy Gospel that isn’t found in the Scriptures. Jesus regularly met people’s physical needs and THEN said, “Go, and sin no more.” Progressives want to leave off that last part. It makes them uncomfortable to set any kind of standard of behavior, even if Scripture and Jesus Himself, do.