Is ‘progressive’ a subsective adjective? I would have thought so, but on Sunday I learned about so-called “progressive Christianity,” which, as far as I can see, isn’t a kind of Christianity at all. Officially, it consists of a few features that amount to a marriage of Christianity and left-wing politics:
1. A spiritual vitality and expressiveness
2. An insistence on Christianity with intellectual integrity
3. A transgression of traditional gender boundaries
4. The belief that Christianity can be vital without claiming to be the best or the only true religion
5. Strong ecological and social justice commitments
The kick is in the postmodern understanding of intellectual integrity. Here’s how one advocate explains it:
God is not a supernatural being outside of the world/creation/universe. Neither is the word G-o-d the proper name of a supernatural being. It is a metaphor used to address the sacred in life, often, but not exclusively, using anthropocentric language….
As a progressive/liberal theologian I understand and experience ‘G-o-d’ as a universal creative process, continuously at work in the world, in the ordinary, giving rise to new forms of existence. Thus the new metaphor I find helpful in speaking about the sacred is “serendipitous creativity” (Kaufman 2004:42) as suggested by theologian Gordon Kaufman. Kaufman says:
“The concept of creativity… enables us to connect important theological concerns with central features of modern/post-modern thinking about the cosmos, the evolution of life, and the emergence of biohistorical development of human life and culture on planet Earth” (Kaufman 2004:76).
Thus its features are expressed and experienced in three strands or trajectories:
creativity1 – cosmic evolution
creativity2 – biological evolution
creativity3 – cultural/symbolic evolution
“Intellectual integrity”? “Modern/post-modern thinking about the cosmos”? Hmmm. I think I already had a name for this view. It was ‘atheism.’ Why anyone who believed it would be interested in going to church is beyond me.
Does anyone have any familiarity with “progressive Christianity” in practice?
By the way, I’m not impressed with this example of intellectual rigor:
“In the synoptic gospels, Jesus speaks in brief, pithy one-liners and couplets, and in parables… In John, by contrast, Jesus speaks in lengthy discourses or monologues, or in elaborate dialogues prompted by some deed Jesus has performed” (Funk & Hoover 1993:10).
Both can not be historically accurate.
On this blog appear some pithy one-liners and couplets. My books are lengthy discourses. Should one infer that I can’t possibly have written both?