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5 Signs Your Church Might be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity

HomeOutlinks5 Signs Your Church Might be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity

“Progressive Christianity” is difficult to define, but easy to spot. There are a variety of different ideas in progressive churches, but the one thing they have in common is that they have abandoned the idea that the Bible is true and reliable.

Mainline churches have been ‘progressing’ for decades, causing them to shrink and lose spiritual authority. The primary reason is that, for 100 years or more, they have increasingly turned away from the traditional position that the Bible is inspired by God, and contains true and specific information about Jesus, about human nature, and about how we should live.

Alisa Childers lays out five key indicators of progressive Christianity. The primary idea behind them really is that we shouldn’t simply take the Bible as it was written, but that we can – and should – interpret the Bible at a personal level.

It’s up to you

Questions asked in this setting don’t relate to learning the facts of Scripture, but have to do with how one feels. As with traditional psychotherapy, the primary question is “how does that make you feel.” One’s ‘personal journey’ is emphasized. Difficult questions about suffering and obedience are minimized or explained away.

While progressives generally like the biblical idea that God is love, they don’t use Scripture to learn what true love looks like. Instead, they consider what THEY think about love, and apply those ideas to God. Where those ideas are contrary to Scripture, they prefer their own thoughts.

Clearly, this isn’t wise. While many suggest that these kind of progressives can’t be Christians, I think that goes too far. I would say – at the very least – that the ideas behind progressive Christianity are often unbiblical… and so they’re not Christian ideas.

The New Testament warns again and again about false teachers, and those who would lead others away from the one true gospel that was handed down once for all. Progressive Christianity, as it’s called, suggests that you look inside yourself to find meaning. Traditional, biblical Christianity clearly teaches that we look to Jesus instead.

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2 responses to “5 Signs Your Church Might be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity”

  1. Trevor says:

    Not sure where this topic fits. Have you assessed the new way of interpreting the Bible through Trajectory or Redemptive hermeneutics? I recently discovered that my church leadership adopted it. Ultimately “if God was still writing the Bible now – this is what it would say”. Invented within the last 20 years by William J Webb (as I understand it). It goes something like this, God was all for people being slaves in the old testament, Paul said in the new testament to free yourself if you can (God is not so in favour of people being slaves in the new testament, ie, God has relaxed that law) and now – slavery has been abolished in society (thus God would have confirmed that slavery is bad in the scriptures, if the scriptures were still been written today). I this way, it seems as though any topic can be “redeemed” to say whatever you want it to say today.

    • Tony says:


      Thanks for writing! This is a ‘progressive’ view, so this is as good a place as any.

      I would consider any ‘new way’ of interpreting the Bible as immediately suspect. Some might think me small-minded for being suspicious… but there’s a principle involved: did nobody understand the Bible before this new method was invented or discovered? Has everybody in history completely missed it? Was everybody wrong before?

      There’s a biblical kind of progress and an unbiblical one.

      • Biblical progress: God, over time, reveals more and more about Himself and His plan.
      • Unbiblical progress: Mankind changes, grows, and learns enough to better understand God, the Bible, and reality.

      Human nature hasn’t changed. We’re not progressing toward a utopian future, where everybody has learned to be kind and gentle and loving. We’re heading toward an apocalypse of (literally) biblical proportions, as we read in Revelation. We’re essentially as good and bad as we ever were. If we’re progressing in the right direction, then – as we continue – we’ll need less and less correction because we’re closer and closer to our goal. Eventually we’ll arrive, progressive theology tells us.

      Either they’re wrong or the Bible is wrong. Creating a new way of understanding the Bible is, typically, a new way to avoid what the Bible actually says in favor of what we want it to say.

      It sounds to me like you’ve already come to the same conclusion… is that right?

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