1. 1. Introduction to Progressive Christianity
In this introductory session we will examine the phenomenon of Progressive Christianity. Shaped by postmodern influences, this movement follows the principle of deconstruction which is a big buzz word in both postmodern philosophy and in this emergent stream of the church. Deconstructionism is the dismantling of certain cherished beliefs by unmasking the cultural and ideological underpinnings behind certain theological constructs. As a neo-liberal movement, the Progressive Christian stream rejects traditional evangelical faith in the inspiration and authority of Scripture and subjectively selects which beliefs to retain and which beliefs to reject.
1. 2. The Deconstruction of Old Testament Violence
One of the most popular themes of Progressive Christianity is the rejection of entire sections of the Old Testament that attribute violent acts to Yahweh. Adopting the pacifist ethos expressed by Jesus, progressive Christians seek to salvage God’s reputation from any notion that He advocated violence in Old Testament times. The pursuit of what is sometimes called ‘a more Christlike God’ creates a culture that rejects great sections of the Old Testament, arguing that any attribution of violence to God was the misguided notions of an ancient tribal culture. This lecture examines this important theme and seeks to explain the presence of violence in the Old Testament.
1. 3. Deconstructionism and Universalism
Another favourite theme in the Progressive Christian stream is the adoption of the theology of Universalism. Universalism, also called ‘Ultimate Reconciliation’ teaches that all will ultimately be reconciled to God after Jesus returns because God is a loving being who would never subject His creation to eternal conscious torment. This theology deconstructs the traditional notion of hell. In this session we will explore the biblical veracity of universalism and alternative views to eternal conscious torment. As a wider agenda, many in the progressive camp reject the theology of the wrath of God. We will also explore what the Scriptures teach about divine wrath and how it can be reconciled to the love of God.
1. 4. Inclusivism and Progressive Christianity
Another favourite theme amongst Progressive Christians is the embrace of an ethos of inclusivity as the extension of a theology of a loving, non-judgmental or non-wrathful God. This ethos of inclusivity becomes a tool to critique and deconstruct traditional distinctions between Christian and non-Christian religions and between alternative sexual orientations. Inclusivity becomes the lens of the nature of God that births a new spirituality that looks and sounds ‘Christian’ on the surface but is, in fact an entirely different worldview to Christian evangelicalism. Is God inclusive or are there elements of exclusivity that reflect who this holy God is in His interactions with the human race?