…which should be obvious to everyone, but apparently is not.
The other day I saw a post on the Patheos “Progressive Christianity” channel of blogs. Patheos is a hub of religious blogs categorized in channels, and by the happy foreordination of the English language, the “Progressive Christianity” channel is listed right next to the “Pagan” channel. This is simply an alphabetic necessity, but it is fortuitous nonetheless.
The unfortunate blog post in question was the tragic announcement of the blogger that she no longer considered herself any kind of Christian, and would soon be moving her blog elsewhere. I do not know this blogger or her beliefs, but reading the post connected with my theory that departure from the faith is where so-called “progressive” Christianity leads.
After all, the very notion of progress suggests motion. Progress is a word with positive connotations, and calls us to look towards the bright future we are supposedly moving towards. But whenever you move towards something you are moving away from where you started; and the basis of “progressive Christianity” is a departure from Christianity as they knew it–traditional, confessional, evangelical (or, in what is I think the favorite derogatory label in that set, “fundamentalist”) Christianity. It is usually a progression away from orthodoxy, though not necessarily at first.
Not necessarily at first–that is the key. Embrace of “progressive” Christianity may begin simply as a distaste for certain features of evangelicalism. Fair enough. Evangelicalism has its share of house-cleaning to do. But it almost always seems to involve, either immediately or very shortly, a move away from the truthfulness and authority of Scripture. And, having derailed from the authority of divine revelation, it moves further and further from the contours of historic Christian faith.
If it’s moving away from God’s (written) Word, how long can it hold onto God’s (incarnate) Word? If it’s “progressing” away from the revelation of the faith, what can it be “progressing” towards but denial of the faith?
That is why it is not surprising when someone who has identified themselves as a “progressive” Christian ceases to identify as a Christian at all. That’s where the road of “progressive” Christianity leads.
I will gladly grant that not everyone who calls themselves a “progressive” Christian has departed from orthodoxy, and that most of them never outright denounce the faith. By the grace of God, we often stop short of following a road to its end. But why travel that road if the best thing that can be said about it is that it started someplace good and most people don’t follow it all the way to the end?