Post-Progressive Christianity: Part 12, Progressive Christianity or Something Else?

This series could be extended in various ways, but we'll wrap it up right here. Let me gather the posts below so you can share and refer to this series more easily. The posts elucidating what I'm describing as a post-progressive Christianity are:
Part 1: Moving On
Part 2: Reconstruction
Part 3: Church
Part 4: Bible
Part 5: Enchantment
Part 6: Love
Part 7: Salvation
Part 8: Science
Part 9: Sexuality
Part 10: Class
Part 11: Hope
Some of these posts have resonated more that others. Some have been ho-hum, well trod ground, and some more controversial. The posts, good and bad, simply represent locations where I, as a progressive Christian, have had theological concerns with progressive Christianity.

By far the biggest pushback I've gotten about the series is if the label "post-progressive" is really warranted. Readers have argued that many progressive Christians share, if not of all, many of my concerns, and who embrace, if not all, much of the vision I've been articulating.

Have I been picking on a few extreme cases within progressive Christianity and using those bad apples to tar the whole?

We can discuss that point. Are the good apples representing the mainstream of progressive Christianity? Or are the good apples the growing exceptions?

If the good apples are at the heart, and I've been picking on the extreme bad apples, I agree, the label "post-progressive" isn't warranted. These posts, in that instance, would be representative of the mainstream heart of progressive Christianity. That would delight me. In that instance, read the posts like that, as calling the extreme voices back to this healthy place.

But if the good apples are more on the margins, more the exception than the rule, then the mainstream center of progressive Christianity would be looking more problematic and unhealthy to me. In that instance, the label "post-progressive" seems more apt. If only to name something shifting within progressive Christianity, an umbrella label cracking up a bit.

So it seems to me that the landscape of progressive Christianity is a bit of a Rorschach blot right now. We'll each, I expect, read it differently, and depending upon how you read it you'll take my posts as a representative specimen and healthy reminder or as a call toward something moving and afoot.

A quick summary and overview of what I take to be the main points from each post:
Christianity isn't agnostic. Deconstruction must be followed by reconstruction. 

We fight for social justice, but the hope of the world is the church.

The Bible requires a non-violent and liberationist hermeneutic, but it is lovingly and devotionally embraced as the sustaining and startling Word of God.

Christianity is more than being a good person, morally or politically. Christianity is an encounter with the Living God.

Christian love demands more than humanism and tolerance.

Jesus died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for sin. Salvation involves justice, but it also means you are a sinner saved by grace.

We embrace science, and read our Bibles accordingly, but science doesn't trigger faith crises.

We fiercely embrace the LGBTQ community, but resist modes of advocacy that ignore or stigmatize the graces of incarnation and creation. Love is all we need to fight for justice  and inclusion.

Liberation theology began and will end with this: God has a preferential option for the poor.

In the face of death, we do not grieve as those who have no hope.
Now, is this list capturing the pulse of progressive Christianity? Does the list, or much of it, sound like what you're hearing from progressive Christianity on podcasts, blogs, Twitter, and at conferences and from pulpits? Because if this list, or much of it, is being consistently and enthusiastically preached from mainstream progressive Christianity, well, then sign me up! I will happily call myself a progressive Christian.

But if the list above seems a bit off, not what you're seeing and hearing from progressive Christianity, not capturing the pulse, well, maybe the label "post-progressive" is warranted.

And so, the nagging question we carried through the whole series: Is the list above progressive Christianity or something else?

Dear reader, I leave that for you to decide.

Post Script:
If you missed the joke in the picture. It's a post.

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply