19 May Why Progressive Christianity is Wrong?
In the latest e-bulletin from The Center for Progressive Christianity, President Fred Plumer includes some letters sent by readers. One writer says that the members of his liberal community have “long ago opted out of the Christian cultural-linguistic game altogether and have become either Epicurean Gourmands, Secular Humanists, Process New Thought, Global Mystics, Unitarian Universalists, or else they define themselves as Unaffiliated Life-Long Learners and Spiritual Seekers who have turned from organized religion to an integral cultural creative lifestyle that synthesizes an interest in spirituality, philosophy, literature, history, arts, science, psychology, sociology, economics, politics, cosmology and ecology.”
He finishes off his letter by asking, “Do Progressive Christians really believe that secular and spiritual but not religious social liberals are going to be drawn back to ‘Christianity’ by holding radically immanent theological assumptions and progressive social views that secular folks already hold, but without any need or desire to identify these assumptions and values as distinctly or uniquely ‘Christian?’ If so, I can only say, Really?”
To the letter writer, our answer at The Living Hour is yes, we think they will. Not all of them. And not right away. But down the road those of us working within progressive Christianity think it will happen because while all those belief systems are fine which your community members have embraced, they lack the archetypal power of the Christian religion. Christianity is filled with an abundance of iconography, rituals, and mythology that can fulfill the spiritual life of people in a way that Secular Humanism and other philosophies find hard to match.
It is thus the work of Progression Christian leaders and churches to refashion and reinterpret these rituals, symbols, and stories so that they can find a welcome home in the modern, educated, and multi-cultural mind. In addition, it is the “organized” function of Progressive Christian Churches not to organize theology (as it was in the past) but to provide an organizational base to strengthen the fabric of local communities, a place where citizens can partake in fellowship and coordinate good works for those in need. It would be a mistake to underestimate the great power of these religious aspects in helping us transform our lives, or the great yearning we have as human beings for them—regardless of whether we all acknowledge it.