What is Progressive Christianity

Patheos, which has developed into a great site on matters religious, recently opened its “Progressive Christianity Portal.” They are hosting a symposium on “What is Progressive Christianity?” that includes input from Brian McLaren, Diana Butler Bass, Phyllis Tickle and other notables. Given the recent controversy over whether Jim Wallis and Sojourners belonged within the big tent of Progressive Christianity, it’s an important question.

I’ve never been comfortable with the label, any more than I was comfortable with the label “liberal.” Perhaps my dis-ease comes from the Eight Points of Progressive Christianity posted by progressivechristianity.org. There is, among these eight items, no reference to God, let alone the Trinity. Instead, appeal is made to the Sacred and Oneness of Life.

To be sure, many of those writing about “What is Progressive Christianity?” would have no problem with using Trinitarian or Christocentric language. Still, I agree with Fred Schmidt’s observation that:

Classically, for Christianity, sacred or divine mystery has been a term applied to the limits of what can be known about the ways of God as understood in the Christian tradition. But, true to the leading lights of Progressive Christianity, Ms. Astle describes the identity of God itself as the mystery.

We shall see how the conversation develops.