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Progressive Christianity


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    So first of all, I hope this is the right section for me to post this. I just wanted to start a discussion on progressive Christianity. What it is, how it is viewed, by ex Christians like myself and by still current Christians who may be progressive or otherwise. I’ve really only seemed to come across fundamentalist evangelicals on here, but liberal progressive Christians, if you’re out there on here, hey I guess come on out. 
    I’ve come across a few articles and testimonies on here that address more progressive Christianity by ex Christians, and I agree with their general premise that progressive Christianity often seems to be a gateway to a complete exit from Christianity itself. I guess a definition for progressive Christianity would be helpful? It seems to have different meanings to different people though. You start with being okay with gay people as Christians, then not believing in hell. Then only believing in Jesus and the good things he did, then believing that the Bible can have errors. 
     But it just all seems to fall apart to me. Maybe it’s how I grew up, but granted I think most of us on here were taught that: being gay is a sin, that hell is real, that God is good, and that the Bible is the infallible word of God. And I think most Christians on here believe those things as well. So it’s a bit confusing to take those things out of Christianity, what do you have left? I know the Bible has been mistranslated here, and rephrased to say this there, and that we have copies of copies, not even the originals, but if you don’t believe in hell, if you don’t believe being gay is a sin, if you don’t believe God is good, what do you have left? 
   Seems to be missing some steps to me. I just can’t wrap my head around progressive gay clergy’s or Christians who don’t feel the need to evangelize. When they only focus on the good deeds of Jesus, do they just forget that if they believe in the trinity Jesus was responsible for horrible things in the Old Testament as well? Or if they don’t believe in the trinity, then they worship multiple gods or versions of gods? I just don’t understand at that point why you would still call yourself a Christian. When you’re aligning yourself with Unitarians (which I have seen some progressive Christians do) , why even call yourself a Christian still? What’s the point? 
   My take: believing in Jesus still brings them comfort and they aren’t willing to let go of that. Jesus is a comforting disguise that God wears to try and convince people that he’s good. But he isn’t and he never was. My relationship with Jesus was one of the last things that I had to let go of in Christianity. And it was something I grieved. Because for so long it was real to me. And I think for a lot of us exes on here it was too. That doesn’t make it objectively real and looking back I know that’s not what it was and there were reasons why I was feeling those things in my “relationship with Jesus” but it still felt real to me at the time. 
   And I think this has been said before but I think that’s what’s happening to a lot of Christianity. People are tired of being shamed and guilted into their “salvation”. They want to be able to live their identity. Their lives. They don’t want to believe in a horrible hell for people who think different than them. But they still want the comfort that they think Christianity gives them. So I guess this is where Progressive Christianity comes from? I know many Christians believe in annihilation versus hell anyway, and many biblical scholars say this too, but it just scrambles my brain a little bit when I see Christians going to seminary, talking about how being gay is fine, that hell isn’t real, that rapture anxiety is bad, and that the Bible is riddled with errors. But they still call themselves Christians. It just confuses me. I know these people are far more likely to be lovely and kind than their fundamentalist counterparts, but they confuse me nonetheless. 
   Like if you think the Bible has errors, how do you still chose to believe in it? I know all Christians pick and chose what they believe in from the Bible, even if they won’t admit it, but most aren’t that up front about it. It’s such a watered down version of what most Christians would call themselves that I don’t see the point in calling it that? Why not just call yourself someone who agrees with some things Jesus said and you like to communicate with an idea of a spirit or higher consciousness sometimes? Plenty of people do or believe similar things without tying it to Christianity. You can believe Jesus is good, and that being gay is fine, but if you still call yourself a Christian I can still show you in the Bible where God was specific about shellfish and fabric but was silent on most rapes and all racism. How slavery is justified. That‘s your God. That’s your Christianity. Take it or leave it. Take him or leave him. That’s where I’m at with it. 
   I know most fundamentalists (hey guys) HATE progressive Christians because they’re “twisting the Bible” but are also generally nicer people. So if you guys are out there, Christians, any type of Christians, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And fellow ex Christians, what is your experience with this? Do you know or have you known Christians like this? Or were you one yourself before you fully left?  Thanks! Hope you guys are all doing okay! If this has already been brought up in another section or this one needs to be moved, no problem! 

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As an ex-fundamentalist, your appraisal sounds about right. Jesus is a culturally familiar "teacher" and people are familiar with going to a church and hearing the name of Jesus, so they tend to focus on the nice things and ignore the rest. Even popular "pastors" from the 60s like Robert Schuller emphasized positive thinking and psychology instead of sin. My first Nazarene pastor was the same way, all about having a great marriage and positive everything. That stuck in my craw as a new believer, but the years of marriage advice really did help me in the long run!


Others in our culture have no problem rejecting Jesus as part of the church, and especially in the 60s began embracing other religions from the East, not realizing that although the concepts were new, they were still religions with plenty of corruption. Baha'i also became popular in some circles, but again has someone regarded as a prophet.


As an ex-believer I find the concepts of generosity, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, and a general goal of kindness to be a healthy and inclusive way to help everyone benefit. This way seems better than tacking on a petulant whiny impotent god that wants blood or other signs of obeisance.  

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1 hour ago, Fuego said:

As an ex-believer I find the concepts of generosity, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, and a general goal of kindness to be a healthy and inclusive way to help everyone benefit. This way seems better than tacking on a petulant whiny impotent god that wants blood or other signs of obeisance.  


Well said and a necessary part of any meaningful philosophy. 

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I moved from fundamentalism to radical (progressive?) Christian over the course of 40 or 50 years. It happened as I met and worked alongside people who I previously thought were unacceptable to me; they forced me to re-think my attitudes by their own attitudes, patience and love.

Amongst my friends were fundamentalists and radicals. It was the latter who challenged me to rethink parts of my theology. I never doubted the importance of the Bible. However, I didn't address the contradictions and absurdities in the book; towards the end I didn't think I needed to and had no time for such unimportant niceties.

I still believed in what I thought were the Christian fundamentals - the substitionary death of Christ (yeek!) - and therefore I saw myself as a Christian. If stuff didn't fit with what others believed the Bible taught, I simply rejected the Bible. [Incidentally, I found that gay sex is not actually condemned by the Bible except perhaps in one verse or maybe two verses - that was a belief that I worked out many years before I gave up on god but, looking back, I think it was a turning point.]

Now that I am non-theist I am appalled by what fundamentalists think about the Bible. As for radicals / progressives I occasionally have conversations with my friends and feel sorry that they still hang on to such a god; but they live good lives and do a lot of good in society - in the name of their god - so I have little problem with their faith.


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I was raised to be "all or nothing at all" about the lord.  I imagine it was the same for many fundigelicals growing up in Sunday schools and youth groups.  Anything less than being completely radical and on-fire for the lord jesus was seen as almost sinful with the backsliding and the lukewarmness and the spewing you out of my mouth.  


In the early stages of my deconversion, it wasn't about realizing that the bible is flawed or that theology was illogical.  For me, it was more about realizing that I had been lied to by the church I grew up in and that the version of christianity they believed was completely false.  I may have been open, at that point, to trying a more liberal, progressive version of religion; but the "all or nothing" approach became a double-edged sword.  Why believe some but not all?  Why keep certain parts but not the whole?


There are a few aspects of christianity that are worth practicing; but none of them require jesus.  They can all be practiced from a secular, even humanist, perspective.  Love your neighbor as yourself?  That's awesome; but you don't need a cosmic flower child for that.  Forgive your enemies?  Hell, yeah; but, again, no zombie god-man is required.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you all for your responses, I appreciate them a lot. It’s been a crazy month for me and I’m moving halfway across the country in a few weeks. 

I was raised similarly as well, so maybe that’s why it’s just hard for me to wrap my head around this version of Christianity that makes no sense to me. I punished myself relentlessly for not being a “good” Christian, for not praying enough, for not evangelizing enough. Christianity is like being in an abusive relationship with your own head. It seriously messes with how much you can trust your own thoughts and emotions. I had a hard time with that at first when I first left. 

I completely agree that being empathetic, kind, and inclusive and striving for the betterment of humanity as a whole is a good part of any philosophy. Like you guys said, I just don’t think the sadistic torture monster supreme being needs to be tacked on. 😑

It is hard though, because even with all the bad I still remember the hope and trust I had. Granted it was taken on bad faith, but still. I remember what it was like to hope and wish there was SOME way my pain would make sense someday. And I think that’s why people stay, I think that’s why people hold onto the good parts and rationalize away the horrible aspects. I’ve had so many conversations with people who just say they need to believe in a plan because that would mean their disability was for a good reason, or their child dying was for some grand plan. They’re desperate, and when people are like that I try not to debate them because I don’t think that’s what they need. But it’s hard, because the whole “God let’s us suffer to teach us lessons” really doesn’t add up. If a little girl  is born with severe medical problems, develops cancer, and dies at 10 years old. She learned no lesson from that. She doesn’t get to grow from that. She doesn’t get “new and better seasons of life” from God after that. She doesn’t get anything. She’s dead. And if her death taught other people life lessons, if it taught her parents patience, or unconditional love, or whatever else they might claim, it still wasn’t a lesson for her. She’s dead. She can’t learn and grow anymore. 
God created her to suffer and die. And in whatever “plan” he had for her, unless he wanted to rewrite her life for some reason, and we created some nonsensical reason that it was okay for that to happen to her, it still is a fact that she suffered on this earth and she died. There’s no lesson from that. What, that life sucks? We get that. I don’t get to beat my kids just to teach them a lesson on how pain works. 
Anyway, I’m trying to work on understanding where these people come from. They’re usually super kind and great people. My brain just isn’t sure how to handle the philosophy. 

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