Jim Burklo has blogged about the fact that there seem to be two different definitions of "Progressive Christianity" in circulation--one political and the other theological:
In the last few years, the term “progressive Christian” has begun to be used by evangelical Christians who are disaffected from right-wing politics. Their definition of “progressive Christian” is mostly a political one; they tend to have orthodox, traditional views about religion while standing for economic justice and peace.He then goes on to say that "it is more important than ever for us to be clear about what we mean when we say we are progressive Christians"--and I agree wholeheartedly. While I do consider myself politically progressive, I found to my disappointment (and disillusionment) that many churches that describe themselves as "progressive" are focused on the political progressivism while remaining theologically orthodox. This is not my definition of "Progressive Christianity".
By contrast, The Center for Progressive Christianity does not define progressive Christianity in political terms. It’s 8 Point Welcome Statement embraces people of all sorts of persuasions. Our movement is committed to inclusiveness at many levels. We care a lot about justice, peace, and environmental responsibility, but we recognize that there are many different ways to approach these goals. While we encourage political activism, we care even more about values that are more enduring than current political passions.
Burklo offers his own list of short phrases to try to capture the essence of what theologically progressive Christianity means. I think they are, for the most part, good ones. The list is:
* keeps the faith and drops the dogma
* experiences God more than I believe in any definition of God
* thinks that my faith is about deeds, not creeds
* takes the Bible seriously because I don’t take it literally
* thinks spiritual questions are more important than religious answers
* cares more about what happens in the war-room and the board-room than about what happens in the bedroom
* thinks that other religions can be as good for others as my religion is good for me
* goes to a church that doesn’t require you to park your brain outside before you come inside
* thinks that God is bigger than anybody’s idea about God
* thinks that God evolves
To me, these represent more interesting starting points for a progressive faith than any traditional creeds. For some of us, straining hard to make metaphorical sense out of ancient creeds is just too much work; but, on the other hand, I for one can much more easily work with the 8 points of the Center for Progressive Christianity, or those bullet points listed above.