Because the word conservative describes a person as “averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values” as well as “(in a political context) favouring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas” using it to describe a Christian brings with it connotations of being closed-minded, stuck in the mud and also having political views known as the “conservative right” – especially in the US.
Progressive means “happening or developing gradually or in stages” and “(of a person or idea) favouring social reform”. To be a progressive Christian implies going a stage further, moving on, developing, being concerned for justice and peace. A progressive Christian will have developed and left the conservative, perhaps childish, Christian behind.
Those are the adjectives used whether or not they accurately apply.
I reject the description of conservative when applied to myself because I am not so inflexible and I am not committed to either the political left or right.
Similarly, I reject the description of progressive because I do not think of myself as being in any way better or advanced than others.
These are, nonetheless, the adjectives used.
Progressive Christianity defined
- The Bible is Christian sacred scripture and the most important book there is, even though it is neither inerrant nor to be interpreted literally.
- Salvation is primarily about transformation in this life, of ourselves and the world
- The biblical understanding of the human predicament is much richer and more comprehensive the conservative and conventional Christianity – we live in Egypt, in bondage to Pharaoh and need liberation. … We are blind, diseased, wounded, dead in the midst of life, and our need is seeing again, healing, and rebirth.
- Jesus is the centre if Christianity… he reveals God’s character and passion but his purpose was not to pay for our sins.
- Believing does not mean believing statements about God, the Bible and Jesus to be true, even when they seem questionable but is better conveyed in the word “beloving”
- Christianity is about “the way” but this does not mean it is the only and exclusive way – it is also known in other enduring religions. Jesus is the incarnation of a universal way.
These points are elaborated upon in following chapters.
It is claimed that Progressive Christianity has growing institutional strength in mainline Protestant denominations and thus, whether thy know it or not, Christians who belong to mainline Protestant denominations are implicitly even if not explicitly part of Progressive Christianity.