I often hear those in the Progressive “Christianity” crowd say they are Christian. In fact, John Pavlovitz said this: “My new friend, the Reverend Vince Anderson took the mic and said, “Let’s be clear: Progressive Christianity is just Christianity. We are Christians—and we are progressing in our knowledge and understanding.”
That is the stance they champion, but is it true? Are they truly Christian? To find out, I decided to pick a few Christian doctrines and compare answers. We will see what Progressive “Christianity” says versus what true Christianity says.
The Holy Scriptures
What true Christianity says: All Scripture is God breathed, without error in all it proports to be true and used for rebuking, teaching, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). It was God’s word given by the Holy Spirit to men (1 Cor 2:13 and John 14:26).
What Progressive “Christianity” says:
“Tradition, dogma, and doctrine are all fair game, because all pass through the hands of flawed humanity, and as such are all equally vulnerable to the prejudices, fears, and biases of those it touched.” John Pavlovitz- Progressive “Christian” speaker
“The Old Testament is the inspired telling of the story of Israel coming to know their God. Along the way assumptions were made and they didn’t get everything right.”
Brian Zahnd- Progressive Pastor
To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and ‘improved’ by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries” Richard Dawkins- Atheist
What true Christianity says: All sexual relations are to be expressed in love through marriage between a man and a woman. (Gen 1:27-28, 2:24 and Mark 10:6-9).
What Progressive “Christianity” says:
“I get divorced, like the most amicable divorce you can imagine…It was great, right, it was like actually really lovely. But I get together with my boyfriend and start having sex and it was like ‘********,’ I was like, it felt like an exfoliation of my whole spirit. I’m like ‘This is so good for my brain chemistry, and my body, and my heart…why in the world would the Church say ‘Don’t do this?’ Like I could tell it was what I needed, and it was so good.” Nadia Bolz-Weber- Progressive “Christian” Speaker/Pastor
“If same-sex relationships are really sinful, then why do they so often produce good fruit-loving families, open homes, self-sacrifice, commitment, faithfulness, joy? And if conservative Christians are really right in their response to same-sex relationships, then why does that response often produce bad fruit-secrets, shame, depression, loneliness, broken families, and fear?” Rachel Held Evans- Progressive “Christian” Speaker/Author
“I do think a LGBT relationship can be holy. And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting. I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church. Every believer that witnesses that much overwhelming sorrow should be tender enough to do some hard work here.” Jen Hatmaker- Progressive “Christian” Speaker/Author
What true Christianity says: God sent Christ to pay the penalty of people’s sin in His flesh through His death on the cross and became our substitute and anyone who trusts in Him will be saved (Rom. 8:3-4, Is. 53, Heb 9, Rom 3:21-26, 1Pet 2:24, 2 Cor 5:21).
“I would love to hear more artists who sing to God and fewer who include a Father murdering a son in that endeavor. If you can’t think of anything to sing to God other than gratitude for taking your shame away through bloodshed, stop singing and look around.” Michael Gungor Musical Artist- Progressive “Christian”
“The theological problem with penal substitution is that it presents us with a God who is first and foremost concerned with retribution flowing from his wrath against sinners… In The Lost Message of Jesus I claim that penal substitution is tantamount to ‘child abuse–a vengeful Father punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed.’ Though the sheer bluntness of this imagery (not original to me of course) might shock some, in truth, it is only a stark ‘unmasking’ of the violent, pre-Christian thinking behind such a theology. And the simple truth is that if God does not relate to his only Son as a perfect Father, neither can we relate to him as such.” Steve Chalke- Founder of Oasis Charitable Trust and British champion of Progressive “Christianity”
What true Christianity says: Hell is a place that was originally created for the eternal confinement of Satan and his angels (Mt. 25:41). As Scripture revels, those who do not trust Jesus for forgiveness of sin and become justified, by grace through faith, will be eternally separated from God. This separation is described as an eternal torment along with the devil and his angels (Rev 14:11)
What Progressive “Christianity” says:
“A loving heavenly father who will go to extraordinary lengths to have a relationship with them would, in the blink of an eye, become a cruel, mean, vicious tormentor who would ensure that they had no escape from an endless future of agony… if your God is loving one second and cruel the next, if your God will punish people for all eternity for sins committed in a few short years, no amount of clever marketing or compelling language or good music or great coffee will be able to disguise that one, true, glaring, untenable, acceptable, awful reality…” Rob Bell Progressive “Christian” Speaker/Author
“…I’m intrigued now, so religion could be a good thing after all, sometimes, we think, is now the proposition. What would a religion have to do to get that far? Well, I think it would have to give up all supernatural claims. It would have to say no, you are not to do this under the threat of reward, heaven, or the terror of punishment, hell…find me the church that will say, “Forget all that.” Christopher Hitchens Atheist
What is now obvious is this movement called Progressive “Christianity” is anything but Christian. For even atheists’ champion many of the same doctrines as the Progressive crowd. It is important to point out this isn’t an interpretation issue, rather it is a heart issue. Some refuse to believe what Christianity says, they lack the courage to own that decision and be brave in their rejection. It is a deadly game Progressives play, one that not only devastates the church but also eviscerates the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I would like to end by allowing Christopher Hitchens to preach. Yes, you read that right, he is preaching. In an interview with a Progressive pastor Christopher sets the Christian record straight. The famed atheist seemed to have little tolerance for those who entertain the radical ideas of Progressive “Christianity”. In fact, if he were alive today, I think he would replace the Progressive language with another word—Pseudo-Christianity. Not only is it a more fitting description but one I think Christopher would approve.
Interview with Christopher Hitchens:
“The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal [Progressive] Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make a distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?” Marilyn Sewell
“I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.” Christopher Hitchens Atheist/Preacher
Amen Christopher, Amen!