Why we can’t have nice things in the #UMC…or the 8 points of Progressive Christianity part 2

Progressive Pickin'
Progressive Pickin’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The eight points I am referencing can be found here.

It was apparently not made clear enough by me that I am dealing with these 8 points and those in the UMC that ascribe to them. I accept that all of those who say they are “progressive” are not necessarily Progressive as defined by these points. Sorry for any unintended confusion. Part 3 will indeed be about progressive Methodism and I will share my thoughts on it there.

5.  Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes;

So much here…first of all, we find grace through Christ…any other ‘ grace that you may thing you are finding is a pale reflection of Christ at best and a falsehood at worst. As for more value in questions than in absolutes…well that is just silly really. First of all, you do not at all find value in those who question you, your eight points or anything about you really. If I question your belief or lack thereof, you do not respond with o my, how valuable, but rather a hearty defense of your position. Secondly, I find it difficult to believe that you actually believe this or want that as a principle of life. How about you come into a store and I decide that your $1 has less value than the next person’s $1? See that would be $1 not having an absolute value.  Let’s say that I thought person A had a greater value than person B. See that is how not having an absolute works. Everything becomes subjective and at the mercy of our opinions. Since none of us are anywhere close to perfection, that is a frightening thought. Without an absolute, there can be no God, as God Himself has proclaimed Himself an absolute. This seems a lot like cotton candy…tastes good and is a little fluffy, but quickly dissolves and has no nutritional value.

6.  Strive for peace and justice among all people;

OK you have a good one so long as we understand what justice is, and so long as we ignore #5 as justice requires absolutes…

7.  Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth;

I have no idea what this means…if it has to do with being a good steward of the Earth and using it’s resources responsibly, I am all for it. If it has to do with all fossil fuels are bad and need to be abolished then I find it silly and unrealistic. If it has to do with some sort of sentient Earth new age Wicca type ridiculousness, then I will offer my services in reading the Latin of the Roman Ritual so that whoever believes this can have it expelled. Give me a little notice though as my Latin is rusty.

8.  Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love.

This finally I agree with. No conditions, I think it is a good idea.

As an overview, several of the comments on the first part of this go a long way toward why this, as a whole is so dangerous. I believe this type of Progressive Christianity to be very small, but it has large effects. It has introduced the idea that there can be no absolute, that justice is subjective, and that equal somehow means we all deserve the same in any sense except for the biblical one where none of us wants what we deserve. They have introduced the idea that somehow respecting another’s faith means that I must treat it with the same value as mine. I have a great amount of respect for those who follow the disciplined way of Shinto. That respect is not agreement, nor does it mean I assign it the same value as my faith in God. Nothing on this earth has the same value of my faith in God and any idea that something should is dangerous to the faith as a whole, and to the UMC especially as we struggle to find our way. This sort of Progressive Christianity had widened the gap between the conservative and liberal Christians. What was once a small gap where we could agree to disagree on several things and if nothing else at least recognize that we have more in common than we differ on to a great chasm where  automatically anything even remotely critical of or different than we believe is somehow a person assault against us instead of a statement of belief or experience from someone else.

This brand of Progressive Christianity has spawned groups like Love Prevails that has made it a part of their mission to be disruptive, groups like RMN who has demonstrated by their actions that they are unwilling for compromise and by accepting money from political activist groups have put the value of the dollar over the value of the people they claim to serve, it has spawned other liberal groups who are inflexible and other conservative groups as a rubber band effect that are equally inflexible. For every Love Prevails who exists to disrupt and spew their rhetoric there is a Westboro Baptist and vice versa. It has in many ways corrupted Good News from a group who held conservative values and helped others uphold them to a sort of political action committee. It has created a right/left dichotomy from what used to be a center right/center left coalition.  They started with this sort faith (if you can call it that) which puts the created person and their thoughts and opinions above the reality of a Creator God and His truth. It has literally turned many of the core tenants of the Christian faith upside down and placed imperfect people in the place of a perfect God.

While not every one who would call themselves a progressive does not ascribe to these points, and surely no one (I think anyway) that calls themselves a conservative would say they ascribe to these points, we can find parts of them in our thinking and how we have treated each other.  We can find small elements of point 4 or 2 or 8 etc in our theology, our philosophy, and in our interactions. We open the door to dangerous thoughts and ideas and then act surprised when they translate into action. I am sure that those folks who ascribe to this ar well meaning and I am equally sure that they are on the path. It just is not the path to God and that is why they are a danger. That is why (in part) we can not have nice things as every good and perfect gift is from God. I don’t see good and perfect gifts on this road.


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12 Replies to “Why we can’t have nice things in the #UMC…or the 8 points of Progressive Christianity part 2”

    1. To step in here, Jon – there are more progressive CHristian umcers than one cares to admit. Given Roger has the virtual book on it, as well as a following, I suspect you have more than you want to imagine. Just ask the progressive meth group to see how many subscribe to most if not all of these points.

          1. The points are a response to the extreme and rigid picture of “Christianity” provided by folks like Pat Robertson, John Piper, McArthur, Driscoll, etc. They are a mirror image in many ways. Any positive alternative would need to begin with something like the statement of “essentials” like 1 Corinthians 15: 1-7 (or 8).

    2. OK. You have made several comments and thoughts and thank you for that, but few of them have had anything to do with what I actually wrote about. Saying that the headline is not supported when only offering evidence that has nothing to do with what has been written is not helpful to conversation. If the only thing that Progressive Christianity did was spawn Love Prevails (which it did) that would be enough.

  1. Joel,

    #5 is well stated. When someone embraces the insignificance of absolutes, it always refers to the absolutes of others. Once you start stepping on their absolutes, there’s hell to pay.

  2. jaltman81 The Christian church does have statements of essentials. They are found in the traditional creeds of the church which the points presented here violate and stomp on. I am certain of your ability to look up the Nicean Creed, Apostles Creed, etc.

      1. You may be correct about that, but I would say that only the ones who are correct do. Also, just as a thought, the Pope speaks for 1.2 Billion Christians give or take and is quoted a lot. Just saying. But again, that has nothing to do with what I have written. While I am fine chatting and disagreeing and even admitting if I have been wrong on something, you have become disagreeable for the sake of disagreement and seem determined to do so in ways that have nothing to do with what I have written. An interesting phenomenon, but one I tire of now.

        1. Your assessment of my actions is incorrect. It looks to me like you are fear mongering about some “other.”: I am challenging the reality basis of the fear.

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