Bible Class with Bible-Triggered Progressives
The class I co-teach is the most progressive class in the church, likely because as the longest running teacher in the class (over fifteen years now) I'm one of the most progressive Sunday School teachers in the church. So over time, the class has attracted the more progressive members of our church.
That said, as regular readers know, over the last few years I've grown increasingly tired of and critical of progressive Christianity. I think I'd describe myself as post-progressive. As a post-progressive I continue to hold to a suite of progressive views (politically, theologically, doctrinally, biblically), but now want to distance myself from the more dysfunctional aspects of progressive Christianity.
Regarding teaching my Sunday School class, here's an example of what I'm talking about. It's almost impossible to have a proper Bible study with Bible-triggered progressives.
Almost every page of the Bible triggers progressive Christians. Everything is problematic for one reason or another. Almost every page of the Bible triggers doubts or a faith crisis.
Imagine my job. Can you imagine what it would be like trying to do a study, say, of the book of Joshua to a class full of progressive Christians? The conquest of Canaan narrative is so, so triggering.
And for good reasons. Again, I'm post-progressive, so I get the trouble with the herem texts. I have trouble with the herem texts. Given those troubles, in a class full of progressives you have to deal with all those problems on the front end before you can get to the text itself and have a study. You spend all your class time anticipating the standard progressive objections and laying out your interpretive scheme to handle them (e.g., progressive revelation, Christological hermeneutic, Giraridan readings, non-violent readings, etc. etc. etc.) that you never really have time to talk about the text itself. When you lead a Bible study for progressives you spend so much time on hermeneutics--How shall we read this problematic, troubling story?--you never have much time for the Bible itself.
In addition, I also have a worry that by spending so much time on hermeneutics we're increasingly buffering and insulating ourselves from the strange, unsettling Word of God. If we are not very, very careful, hermeneutics can become a way of making the Bible say exactly want we want it to say before we ever listen to the text. Sometimes I wonder if hermeneutics hasn't become a way of protecting ourselves from the Bible.
To be clear, we need classes on how to read the Bible well and properly. There are harmful and damaging readings. Hermeneutics is critical. But progressive Christians have become so biblically fragile you can barely have a proper Bible study with them.