Religion Magazine

Open Letter to Progressive Christians

By Sjbedard @sjbedard

First of all, I want you to know that I understand that progressive Christianity is not a monolithic group with all the same beliefs and attitudes. In this way, you are no different than classical evangelicals or fundamentalists. However, this letter is aimed at what I have seen as the common core of progressive Christianity. Please forgive me if this does not describe you.

I want to state that there is much that I appreciate about progressive Christians. You have reminded us about the importance of social justice. It is not enough to have good sermons or nice feelings in a church building. We must address the structures that impose injustice on people. This is very biblical, thinking specifically of Isaiah and the condemnation of institutional injustice. I also appreciate the emphasis on the poor. In both Testaments, there is more talk of care for the poor than most of the issues that the Church has traditionally focused on. I also like how progressive Christians attempt to move from seeing people not as issues but as people created in the image of God. You seek to be compassionate to groups that traditionally have not felt welcome in the Church. Thank you for challenging the Church in these areas. These are messages that we need to hear and we need to respond to.

Having said that, there are concerns. While I considered myself a progressive Christian before I knew that other people were using that term, I do not think that I would be welcome among you. I am interested in what you say and I read your blogs. What I see is anger toward traditional evangelicalism. Those who have traditional views of homosexuality are to be treated with contempt. They are so obviously wrong (from a progressive Christian point of view), that there is no room for conversation. Because evangelicals are seen as being intolerant, they are treated with intolerance. I read in one progressive blog a comment that traditional views of homosexuality were so unacceptable that they believed that the full force of the law should be used to exterminate that position.

I understand that you disagree with traditional evangelicalism and that you might even find aspects of it as being distasteful. But do you not see that you sometimes treat this group in the same way that evangelicals have treated others. You are no different, you just switch groups toward which you are intolerant.

My prayer is that there would be a time when we would be able to listen to one another. Fundamentalists, evangelicals, progressives and liberals could speak to each other without getting angry. We should be able to disagree with one another without rejecting everything the other group has to say. Please don’t feel so confident that you are right that you are intolerant toward those who disagree.

I’m prepared to learn from you. Are you prepared to learn from me?


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