Is Progressive Christianity, Christian?

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Written by Alan Vink

Categories: Gospel and Culture

Comments: 2


Good Morning and Welcome to this week’s Gospel and Culture update, by Alan Vink
Is Progressive Christianity, Christian?
Tuesday 6th December 2022

Is Progressive Christianity, Christian?

POV. I started my Christian leadership journey as an 18 year old back in 1971. Throughout my lifetime I have seen (and heard) many different doctrinal (and ministry) emphasis come and go. Some of them were interesting, others a bit strange to the point of being ‘another gospel’ and a few others I learnt from and even embraced. Here we go:-

  • The Lloyd Geering (heresy) controversy
  • The Charismatic Renewal Movement
  • Nominalism – Christian in name only
  • The Shepherding Movement out of the UK originally but also picked up by some influential Bible Teachers in the USA like Bob Mumford and Derek Prince.
  • The Church Growth Movement as taught by Donald McGavran and Peter Wagner
  • The New Apostolic Reformation
  • The Social Gospel Movement
  • Liberal Theology
  • Signs and wonders ministry aka John Wimber
  • Hyper Faith and Prosperity Gospel
  • The politicisation of Christianity with the advent of the moral majority
  • Progressive Christianity

I believe that theology really matters because what a person believes is connected with their behaviour. It also matters because it invariably will reveal the true source of authority they draw from. Am I going to be faithful to Scripture or conform to what is culturally in vogue and/or comfortable?

Progressive Christianity is the new and current ‘thing’ and many folks who are or have deconstructed have landed here. By definition progressives believe in ‘progress’ whether that be in technology, science or any field of endeavour. When it comes to theology, progressives believe that with new enlightenment (and revelation) and new cultural imperatives it is time that Christianity moves on from its traditional core tenants of belief…….it’s time to progress from such out-of-date understandings of the Bible. Therefore most progressive Christians are also revisionists in that they not only challenge orthodox understandings but seek to re-interpret them.

Progressive Christians view the Bible as a record of what people believed about God in the times and places in which they lived, rather than the inspired and authoritative Word of God. It’s not uncommon for a progressive Christian to express disagreement with a biblical writer, or to reject the passages they find unhelpful. In fact, progressive leader Richard Rohr encourages Christians to ignore, deny, and even openly oppose Scriptures that are “imperialistic, punitive, exclusionary, or tribal.”1

This matters because if we give ourselves permission to deny or ignore the Scriptures that don’t fit into our preconceived ideas about who God is and how he acts in the world, we will have effectively transferred the authority for truth from the Bible to our own thoughts, feelings, and interpretations.

Here is the belief statement for Progressive Christianity.


As you can see, progressive Christian theological beliefs are not simply secondary issues we can agree to disagree about. Behind nice sounding ideals, the progressive Christian movement is promoting a Bible that is not authoritative, a Jesus who didn’t die for you, and a God who cannot save you. Put simply, it’s another gospel— and not the good news that truly sets us free for life as God intended. Therefore I conclude that Progressive Christianity at its core is not Christian, not as we understand it traditionally and generally. It is something else. That said, I am definitely not saying that those people who adhere to progressive theology are not Christians. I am sure many are and besides that is not my call to make.

What I find interesting is that the problem doesn’t seem to be a new one, not by any stretch of the imagination. The Apostle Paul was utterly dismayed that the Galatians had already veered off. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10 (NKJV)

As biblically faithful Christians we believe that the Bible is Gods word to us and therefore is not only authoritative but inerrant. That means it is 100% reliable. Furthermore “If you abide in My word”, Jesus said “you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

The Bible is as up to date as it ever has been in the same way that the laws of gravity or aerodynamics are. Mess with those laws and you do so at your own peril.

1 Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2016).

Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.

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  1. Stephen Grove Stephen Grove So true... 1 Tim 4:1 we need to recognise the times we are living in Sunday, December 11, 2022
  2. Maxwell Juan Maxwell Juan You can use these in your faith communities and with family and friends to talk about what it means to you to be a Progressive Christian in today's world. Tuesday, February 7, 2023