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Another Gospel? An Honest-Thinking Christian’s Journey In and Out of Progressive Christianity

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by Michie, Jan 19, 2021.

  1. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

    United States
    Alisa Childers started out with a solid enough Christian background. Her dad, Chuck Girard, was one of the great pioneers of contemporary Christian music, and she herself sang in the popular CCM group ZOEgirl. It all came under severe challenge, though, when she came face to face with progressive Christianity.

    It was at the church she and her husband were attending for a time, where a pastor had asked her to join an invite-only, exclusive discussion group. She could spend four years in that group, he told her, and it would give her “a theological education comparable to four years in seminary.” She joined the group, not knowing it would produce an “upheaval,” a crisis of faith, in her life.

    She never identifies this pastor, but she does describe him: “an educated, intellectual, calm, and eloquent church leader,” a “brilliant communicator” who “had a bone to pick with Christianity.” Thus begins her story, told in Another Gospel? A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity.

    “Progressive” Questions
    The term “Progressive” identifies a loosely led movement that very much has a “bone to pick” with historic Christianity. It’s “Christian” in the sense that it flows out of historic Christian traditions, and claims to honor Jesus. Their “Jesus” looks a lot like one manufactured to give divine approval to contemporary culture, though, not the God who stands above us all in holiness.

    That’s just my quick summary. Childers took a more reflective route to essentially the same conclusion. If progressive Christianity has done one service, it’s been to cause some of us to re-examine our beliefs. For Childers, the progressive discussion group set her on a journey “with rocks in my shoes,” seeking answers to hard questions she hadn’t faced before. What did she really believe? Was it true? How did she know?

    The questions multiplied. What about scandals in the church? Aren’t Christianity’s claims to exclusive truth awfully arrogant? Can anyone still believe there’s anything real in the story of Adam and Eve? What about hell: Is there something wrong with God for not forgiving everyone? Does the Cross represent some kind of disgusting divine child sacrifice? Why give credence to such an old book as the Bible?

    Unsettling Encounters
    Christianity should teach a “more generous orthodoxy,” her progressive pastor taught the group, per the title of the first book they studied together. That book’s author, Brian McLaren, invited readers to celebrate all of the “Seven Jesuses” taught by different religions. For Childers it was unsettling, to say the least:

    In enlightened bliss, the rest of the class enjoyed a collective “aha moment” as we discussed [McLaren’s] challenge. That left me wondering what was wrong with me. All I cared about was the real Jesus — the one who is described in the Bible. I tried as hard as I could to make the seven Jesuses fit into my paradigm, but I couldn’t.

    Hard questions roiled through her mind as she left there that evening.

    Maybe I’m too judgmental.

    Maybe I’m too close-minded.

    Why is everyone else so excited about this?

    No Easy Answers, No Dishonesty, No Shortcuts
    That hard beginning set her on a journey of no easy answers:

    After I left the class, I was isolated and alone as the doubts he planted began to take root and grow. For a while, I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I was holding on to Jesus with everything I had, while the foundation of my faith shook as if hit by a tsunami, crashing down on what I thought about church and the Bible. It became difficult to read the “Good Book” that had been painted to me in class as, well … not so good. It was hard to pray.

    No easy answers, and no dishonesty, either: “I wanted to progress in my faith. … But I didn’t want to progress beyond truth. … I needed to know what was true.”

    Continued below.
    Another Gospel? An Honest-Thinking Christian's Journey In and Out of Progressive Christianity | The Stream
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