Last time we talked about who progressive Christians are and some things they tend to believe. High on the list of what most of them do NOT believe are harmful doctrines like angry god, inerrancy, hell, legalism, penal substitution, homophobia, patriarchy, demons, Young Earth Creationism, and rapture and end-times theology. But there are some beliefs on which progressive believers think differently among themselves.
Progressive Christian Beliefs
There is no ‘Progressive Christian Creed’. Progressives generally think that how we behave toward others is much more important than what doctrines we embrace; so there are a variety of doctrinal views among progressives, and that’s okay. There is no list of views one must believe to be progressive, but there is remarkable agreement on certain important aspects of the faith.
We mentioned in the first paragraph ten harmful conservative beliefs that most progressive Christians no longer believe. However, progressives are not defined just by what they don’t believe. The positive side of what they believe is connected to the teaching and practice of Jesus—particularly in regard to how we should treat other people.
Progressive Christians believe in loving other people and not hating or hurting them. They believe in treating other people right—with empathy, compassion, and care—especially the needy and the marginalized. Progressives tend to be very inclusive of others rather than exclusive as many fundamentalist and evangelical believers are. Progressives take Jesus’ teaching and example on these things very seriously.
Therefore progressive believers tend to promote social justice, whether that means affirming LGBTs, speaking and acting against racism, protesting the abuse of women and children, or supporting the care of marginalized people of all kinds. Empathy, compassion, and care.
There are a few significant beliefs on which progressives disagree but this does not mean they are at war with each other—they simply have come to different conclusions on these matters.
Very many progressive Christians believe in Jesus’ resurrection and in his impact on our future destiny (as I do) while continuing to be inclusive of other religions. Others do not think Jesus was resurrected and generally believe all religions lead to the same place. Some progressives are universalists, while others believe in the possibility of annihilation for those who finally reject God’s offer of eternal life. And then there are some who do not believe in an afterlife at all.
Getting in Touch with Progressive Believers
Today, we are fortunate to have many excellent progressive writers and bloggers—so many that I cannot list them all here. Some very popular writers among progressives are Rachel Held Evans, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pete Enns, and Rob Bell. You might have heard of some of these writers, but there are many many more! For you progressive believers reading this article, I encourage you to go to comment section and share your favorite progressive writers and how to find them. You could be a great help to newer people on the journey. And please share your favorites even if others have already shared them.
There are also places where one can find groups of progressive writers together.
* Patheos Progressive Christian lists more than 80 progressive bloggers! Have fun!
* Jesus without Baggage Resource Pages feature articles by myself and others on many specific issues, and you can also connect to the blogs of the other progressive writers through their links. To find the resource pages, simply go to the top of this page and hover over Resources on Harmful Beliefs or Resources on Following Jesus in the menu field. Of course Jesus without Baggage is, itself, a progressive blog focusing on assisting and supporting those who are questioning beliefs they have been taught by conservative churches.
* There are a number of excellent progressive Facebook communities where readers discuss issues, ask questions, and share articles. Two of my favorites are Progressive Christians and Progressing Church (based in the UK but with members from elsewhere as well). Progressive believers who are reading this article, please suggest your favorite websites and Facebook communities in the comment section below.
Where to Find Progressive Churches
A problem many people have when leaving fundamentalism and traditional evangelicalism behind is finding a new church that is compatible with their new perspectives.
The good news is that many denominations tend to be progressive, but be aware that this varies from congregation to congregation within each denomination—some local congregations in these denominations can be very conservative on some issues; just check them out. If you have been fundamentalist or evangelical you might be unfamiliar with some of these denominations, but here is a list of churches to investigate.
* American Baptist Church (but not Southern Baptist)
* Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (but not Southern Baptist)
* Disciples of Christ
* Episcopal Church
* Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – ELCA (but not Missouri Lutheran Synod)
* Presbyterian Church, USA (but not Presbyterian Church in America)
* United Church of Christ (but not the Church of Christ or Christian Church)
* United Methodist Church
In addition, I have found that churches that are affirming (not just welcoming) of LGBTs tend to be progressive in other areas as well. Here is a handy list of affirming churches around the world–just type in your address or town.
You Are Not Alone on Your Journey
I mentioned last time how I felt alone for years on my spiritual journey away from fundamentalism and evangelicalism before discovering progressive Christianity. If you feel alone on your journey, I hope this article will help you connect with others on similar journeys.