In my previous post I wrote about the common practice these days of moving from conservative to progressive on a variety of theological and social issues.
A sampling of famous persons on this journey from right to left are Bart Ehrman, Rob Bell, Peter Enns, and Bart Campolo.
Progressive drift is also common among laypeople. Some now self-identify as “nones,” others as “spiritual but not religious,” others as believers who’ve rejected “the institutionalized church.”
Some broke from tradition and never stopped moving at all. They went the whole distance, eventually embracing atheism. I seem to know quite a number of these folks.
A few of my observations of the new progressives:
- Progressive thinking is in the air and is growing in popularity. Cultural pressure is strong against historic Christianity. It’s no wonder many Christians lose their attachment to the ancient ways.
- Justice: At the root of much slippage from conservative belief is a gnawing hunger for fairness, equality, and justice. Historic Christianity is none of these, so it is thought.
- Progress: In the emerging “wakening” of the 21st century, say progressives, we can finally make progress in empowering LGBT persons, women, minorities, refugees, and the impoverished. Traditional religion just gets in the way of all this, and can even be blamed as the cause of oppression.
- Ancient power: Exclusion is said to stretch all the way back in history to the rejection of other “Christianities,” such as Gnosticism, by male leaders in the early church who sought to consolidate power and control belief around a narrowly defined set of doctrines.
- Atrocities: Such hubris in the church eventually led to horrors such as the Crusades, Inquisitions, and colonialism.
- Public trashing: The historic faith is often portrayed by progressives as patriarchal, exclusionary, bigoted, judgmental, and overly certain of its beliefs. One ex-Christian I know declared that traditionalists take great pride in “being right,” and can’t stand to be challenged.
But do the new progressives actually know what they’re leaving behind? I’ll comment on this question in my next post.