Going Negative: Traditionalist Churches Gang Up on ‘Progressive Christianity’ in Arizona

progressive xianity

This story is totally bonkers. As reported by the local Fox television affiliate in Phoenix, eight traditionalist churches in the suburb of Fountain Hills, Ariz., have combined forces to work against “Progressive Christianity” and its beliefs.

There’s only one problem: literally just down the street from one of the conservative churches, there’s a self-described “progressive Christian” congregation, Fountains United Methodist Church.

Fountains’ pastor, the Rev. David Felten, is the author of a book on progressive Christianity, and the church proudly advertises its welcome of the “LGBTQ community,” support for science, and interfaith dialogue.

The conservative church leaders are equally proud of their traditionalism. In a letter to the editor published in the Fountain Hills Times, they proclaim a “landmark” sermon series aimed at answering “three primary questions”:

1. What is the difference between “Progressive” Christianity and Biblical Christianity?

2. Does that difference really matter in a relativistic age?

3. How can a Christian decipher what he or she should believe?

A post at the Fountains UMC website adds detail: the series will focus on questions such as “Why does it matter that the Bible is reliable?”, “Why does it matter that Jesus was born of a virgin?”, “Why does it matter that Jesus was resurrected?”, or “Why does it matter that Jesus is the only way?” At first glance, the series looks like a simple re-hash of the fundamentalist agenda, but it may be responding to specific points made by Felten.

All this is extremely unusual behavior, to say the least. Conservative and liberal Christians often don’t have much love lost between them, and they do occasionally rail against one another from the pulpit. But it’s extraordinary for one side to attack the other this specifically, and is made even more bizarrely so as it transpires amidst an ostensibly ecumenical group of churches.

Apparently, these traditionalists deem the Methodists enough of a threat to justify a combined action. Or perhaps it’s an ill-conceived bit of “sheep stealing” by these congregations—a calculated plan to draw disaffected refugees fleeing the slippery slope of progressive theology for the safe haven of doctrinal purity?

Felten told the Fox station:

“[W] hen you have an effort collaborated by multiple churches in one community to try to discredit one other way of thinking, that’s when it becomes alarming.”

At the same time, Fountains UMC notes that the traditionalist opposition has garnered them quite a bit of support on Facebook and from Progressive Christian leaders. Still, keeping in mind the recent history of violence directed at liberal churches, the anti-“Progressive Christian” preaching series is worrisome.

No doubt some readers will note in the comments section below that it is evidence that American Christianity is coming apart at the seams, which is not quite right. However, it does reflect some of the ways in which the faith is changing.

As the Christian pool in American society shrinks, it’s likely to become both more conservative and more liberal.

Ed Stetzer of the evangelical polling firm LifeWay Research argues that the nominal Christian numbers are dropping. If those leaving the faith come from the center of the faith, it will leave American Christianity “more sharply defined,” Stetzer argues, along both ends of the spectrum. That in turn probably means we’re in for more contentiousness as the two sides duke it out to define the faith.

I’m not a proponent of Progressive Christianity myself. But even as a relatively traditional churchman, I find this story distressing.

It shows a basic flaw in Christianity in the United States: the conservatives don’t believe the liberals are actual Christians, and the liberals think the conservatives are flaming judgmental assholes.

In faith as as in politics, the nation seems to be growing ever more polarized along ideological lines. The net effect is roughly analogous to when campaign ads go negative: the base is kept strong and in line, but the majority of people say “to hell with the both of you, I’m staying home.”

The only discernible difference between the civil declension is that one takes place on a Tuesday and the other on a Sunday. It may work often enough for political campaigns, but I can’t recommend it as evangelism.

  • DKeane123

    “some readers will note in the comments section below that it is evidence that American Christianity is coming apart at the seams” almost read my mind. Atheists and agnostics love stories like this. Who has the right version of an imaginary friend.

    “As the Christian pool in American society shrinks, it’s likely to become both more conservative and more liberal.” – How true. As conservative churches loose members via defection or death – we will likely see a more concentrated version of biblical absolutism and backlash against the sins of modern America.

    “the liberals think the conservatives are flaming judgmental assholes.” – almost anyone that isn’t a conservative evangelical thinks they are flaming judgemental assholes.

  • Judith Maxfield

    Looks like the real fault line is in open attacks on both sides, and will show the world that a bad attitude and ugly and violent language makes hypocrites, no matter what you say you believe. Maybe God ( in a great Jewish cadance) is shaking his/her head. “I sent you a lifeboat and you’re arguing over its shape and color”? America is awash in both secualr and religious uncivil language. A good lesson for those who say they care but still carry on in this. It goes for me too. I’m actually glad to have read this and to do better practicing the faith rather than reacting to the truth in this posting. The concept of character and virtue seems to have disappeared from our sight.

  • Jim Reed

    There is also a third group of people here, the spectators. Not everyone sees this as a bad thing. You could see it as just a part of the normal progression that began back when Christianity sold their soul to the party of the rich. If they don’t go through this stage, they might never understand themselves.

  • Jim Reed

    We know from all our experience here on RD the best approach is to let them do all the attacking, and never attack back.

  • Jim Reed

    Or you could just encourage them to continue being what they are.

  • Jim Reed

    Daniel,
    Those sound like great sermon topics. Are you going to listen to any of them and report to us what they said?

  • Frank

    As usual the progressives haven’t a leg to stand on.

    True bible based Christianity will never die no matter how many try to kill it.

  • Reviled

    From the article: “No doubt some readers will note in the comments section below that it is evidence that American Christianity is coming apart at the seams, which is not quite right.”

    Congrats Frank, you’re an example of the problem.

  • Jim Reed

    it does reflect some of the ways in which the faith is changing.

    As the Christian pool in American society splits, it becomes both more conservative and more liberal. There is no middle ground because the two sides repel.

  • Frank

    People who stay true and trust the God as revealed in His Word are not the problem. It’s those that wish to recreate a more palatable god.

  • seashell

    The intolerance between Christian sects is what helped convince the founding fathers that churches should duke it out amongst themselves without the government’s support, which had enough disagreements of its own with Congress and 13 wayward states to keep in check.

    It also makes it easy to see why prayer in public schools is a no-go. Otherwise, they’d be fighting over which prayer, and what if it included ‘those other Christians’? Likewise, we can drop any notions of the US as a Christian nation. Which Christians? Ditto the culture war issues.

    Now if we can just get a second political party that’s not an extension of one particular Christian sect…

  • Gray Wolf

    Frank, you might try for a little more understanding and humility. Your brand of Christianity ignores most of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus was constantly expanding the disciples horizons as to who was part of God’s family. His harshest criticism was directed at the sanctimonious.

  • cranefly

    I actually find this encouraging. They’re attacking because they’re afraid. If progressive Christianity wasn’t having an impact, the fundamentalists wouldn’t waste their time on it. It’s not like they have a shortage of enemies.

  • Jim Reed

    Of course I hate to quibble, but progressive Christianity doesn’t really make much of an enemy. Since the fundamentalists’ real enemy is themselves,.this could be a matter of looking for a scapegoat. Plus they still have strength in numbers. If this is 8 churches against one, that gives them extra confidence they are on the right side.

  • Jim Reed

    If you expand those horizons too much, you might end up including everyone in the world except the evangelicals.

  • Diane

    So true Gray Wolf…………We progressives are not trying to change the teachings of Christ, just get BACK to them! Frank evidently needs to take out his Bible, go to the New Testament, and read ALL of what Jesus actually said. If you are not following the teachings of Christ, I often wonder how you can call yourself “Christian”. One or more of my Bibles has all of His words in red.

  • Jim Reed

    The way to add another political party is to change the presidential election so that you need over 50% of the votes (popular votes). We are currently locked into a two party system because if you vote for a 3rd party candidate you waste your vote. With a 50% requirement and a runoff between top two, now another party can start to build a following because you can vote 3rd party, and then vote in the runoff, and eventually the third party grows and might later become a top two and be in the runoff.

  • Jim Reed

    That leads you back to fundamentalism. The Bible contains contradictions, and the problems stem from those who want to say it is the perfect word of God. Of course they all say their version is the right one, but that is what Christianity is all about.

  • lindylou

    I stopped being a church-goer many years ago, but still cling to faith. I guess I am one of those “ganging up” on traditional “christianity” by calling out my faithful friends who do not speak out against the bigotry and infolerance in churches. “I am not like that” means nothing if they don’t try to shut these venomous preachers down, and actually they are “just like that” by their silence.

  • Jim Reed

    Progressive Christianity, fact or fiction?

    “That lets people know there’s a choice out there, they don’t have to deny science, they don’t have to hate their gay neighbor, they don’t have to read and take the bible in a way that causes them to abandon their rational mind,”

    Those sound like fighting words from that lone progressive preacher. There should be some way for this Arizona neighborhood to take this national. There should be hundreds of churches at least that would like to join this sermon series and take the progressive guys down a notch, in the name of Jesus.

  • Jim Reed

    You have to give us credit for at least trying.

  • Abide

    Jonathan Merritt has a great piece at RNS about the Pew Forum’s release last week on stats of the nones in which he makes a poignant point: Fundies shouldn’t be fighting us, progressive believers, because we aren’t their enemy. Their enemy is unbelief because the rising number of millennials are checking out of their churches but not for an alternative. They’re opting for nothing and that is a deliberate, active choice on their part. The fundies don’t get it!

  • GeniusPhx

    Frank, jewish priests and scribes took the stories about gods of the seas, gods of the earth, and re-wrote them about the monotheistic god you trust now in 600BC. From 75AD to 500AD catholic priests took the story of a minor preacher (one of many) and wove in the dying/savior god stories of the past and wrote into history the Jesus you think will come back and save you.
    Since men created the god and savior you pray to, it’s up to men to “recreate a more palatable god” that suits our population now after years of scientific discovery has decimated yours.
    If you give younger ppl the choice between your biblical way or no way, they will have to pick the later.

  • apotropoxy

    – Jews before Jesus were desperately divided among themselves.
    – Jews in Jesus’ day were desperately divided among themselves.
    – The Jesus Movement among Jews (early Christianity) desperately divided among themselves.
    – Early Christianism was desperately divided among itself.
    – Christianity, from its founding has been desperately divided among itself.
    Nothing to see here folks. Just move along now.

  • Jim Reed

    They should be fighting both the progressives and nones because the more people in this fight the better. But if you are looking for the enemy, they are their own enemy. The strange thing is the only way this can be resolved is if they fight everyone. It is the nature of fundamentalism. The lie is their truth, and survival means to continue the fight because if you ever stop fighting then everything will be resolved, and that is what they can never allow..

  • Jim Reed

    Christianity seems to be stabilized through a system of continuous branching into multiple sects leading backwards to a tree structure of common ancestor sects. If you look at it, you can see the pattern. The stronger sects devour the weaker. There is no need for a creator God, it just evolves over vast stretches of time.

  • apotropoxy

    I agree. The only way it was able to survive was to adapt. I think we now live in the age when its lifespan is coming to its natural end. The magical thinking necessary for religionism to exist no longer serves our species and is finally being shed.

  • nunsuch

    If we find it difficult to get people to turn out for ONE general election, imagine what will happen with two….

  • Jim Reed

    You could just wait for the runoff. You don’t have to vote in the first one unless you are some 3rd party enthusiast.

  • Jim Reed

    We are blessed to live in exciting times.

  • Rmj

    Conservative churches, like these 8 in Phoenix, want to define themselves against the “progressive” church in town.

    As a Christian sympathetic to the positions (as I understand them) of The Fountains UMC, I won’t want to define myself or my Christianity by what I’m against, or who I’m against.

    It is not my responsibility to speak for all of Christianity, nor to denounce any one whose profession of Christianity doesn’t conform to mine. I have my own life to live. I won’t want to live it linking it to theirs.

  • NancyP

    This is the usual effort at “branding” a church to gain attention and possible adherents. Non-fundamentalist churches see an opportunity created by the fundamentalist public emphasis on the threats of gay marriage, abortion, and evolution – which tends to give outsiders the impression that fundamentalists don’t care about anything else, and identify themselves by what they oppose. An outsider looking for Christian fellowship and looking to help out at some church-organized charitable effort (food pantry or homeless shelter or..) might not bother looking at the fundamentalist churches because these have boxed themselves in as the “church of NO”.

  • Frank

    Yes it’s apparent that people are doing foolish things.

  • Frank

    How ironic and ignorant. Yes Jesus clarified many things which we now can trust absolutely. My statement stands.

  • Frank

    Actually it’s the progressives who don’t get it. As they continue to rewrite scripture and create their own gods, more and more people are leaving their “churches.”

  • Biish

    This should sum it up.

  • BaharMustafa

    How to make acount balance with religiondispatches < I be certain …that…my father in law could actually making money in their spare time from their laptop. . there dads buddy started doing this 4 only nineteen months and as of now repayed the mortgage on there house and bourt a great Land Rover Defender .

    why not check here < w­­w­­w.W­­o­­r­­k­­Ri­­p­­p­­l­­e­­.­­C­­o­­m­­

  • NewAndImprovedCM

    If the fundamentalists are going to put so much effort into selling the claim that America is a “Christian nation” and getting control of the political sphere, they certainly can’t let anyone believe that “Christian” really includes “progressives.” It’s a sign of how thoroughly our public discourse has already been distorted that not being rabidly anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-feminist and anti-science is now “progressive.” It used to just be “sane.”

  • cranefly

    That it doesn’t make much of an enemy is what’s scary about it. Fight with an army of darkness and venom, and you fulfill their cosmic-war narrative. It’s better to be a nice church that does weddings for anyone.

  • Judith Maxfield

    So are you making a book an idol? A book is a book is a book. What is the story inside and more importanly what does it all mean?

    Mark Twain talked about his youth and how dense and stupid his old man was. To his amazement, much later in life, he saw how much his father had changed. So what is the messge here? Jesus (maybe) was corrected in his teaching in several stories of the Gospel. Can you find them? What are they telling you? Find the answers. I’m not explaining them.

  • Frank

    Based on the things you say, you are incapable of explaining any truth to me. I’ll stick with the Word of God which progressive Christians, and even sometimes Traditional Christians, seem to ignore or try and change.

  • Jim Reed

    We can do better.

  • Frank

    Yes egomaniacs believe so.

  • Judith Maxfield

    I do not want to explain to you but hoped you might think for yourself and question what Mark Twain meant. I guess you want simplified explainations and may believe whatever someone else says. So hear’s another one for you. Why did Jesus tell Peter, “Get thee Satan behind me”(?). This, to Peter his brother and friend by whom the western church is built.

  • Frank

    Because Peter could not conceive what Jesus meant and his words were an attempt to divert Jesus from His planned course.

  • Judith Maxfield

    Rather than vague messages sent our way, why don’t you explain what you mean instead and enlighten us. Tht could be more helpful rather than name calling, which I don’t see as a Christian virtue for anyone.

  • Frank

    I say what I mean everytime. What are you not comprehending?

  • Jim Reed

    We don’t need an explanation. The vague messages are already enlightening, and name calling is always appreciated.

  • Judith Maxfield

    Apparently the Word of God can mean something diferent to different groups.
    Why Am I not comprehending? Because I chose to be responding with a question rather than to judge you. You do come across more concerned about the Bible, the written word, as the only cornerstone for Christians and assume we all speak the same language. If God is the god of Creation, then he created us as well to think. Jesus did not write a book but went out among the people, wanting them to experience a new life which canot be seen the same way in the written word but must be internalized and interpreted by the human mind and body somehow through experience. God gave us brains so we would not be robots. We must ask the big “Why” as a part of learning to be authenticaly fully human – and as God made us capable. I didn’t feel you operated from experience as well as from a book.

  • Judith Maxfield

    Jim! Surely you jest. Serious name caling is the escapist route to not engage. Its meant to stop any chance of peace. Yes, it may be fun but it is self serving and pointless.

  • Jim Reed

    That makes no sense. If someone calls you names, that is normally a good thing. Don’t they need an escapist route? How else could the discussion with them come to an end?

  • Judith Maxfield

    Ok: Say whatever you want to. However, in most professional counciling, its a given that what you say is defining you, not the other person. So are you saying you want to be known as a nasty person? You then are defining your own character, not the other. You will be creating a tape your brain telling you who you are. Jim. I’m done with this, this sounds too flip.

  • Frank

    I operate with all the faculties that God has given me. However the most trustworthy one is the Word of God.

    Jesus affirmed every dot and tittle of the word and never contradicted it.

  • Judith Maxfield

    End the conversation politely. “Don’t burn bridges”

  • Jim Reed

    This still makes no sense. I am not saying to be a nasty person and call people names. I am saying if I am called names, there is nothing wrong with that because that means the discussion can end on a positive note, at least positive from my point of view. Isn’t that the best we can hope for in this Frank situation?

  • Jim Reed

    The Frank bridges never burn anyway.

  • Sam

    “…and the liberals think the conservatives are flaming judgmental assholes.”

    Things like this leave plenty of ground for them to support this perspective.

  • Jim Reed

    It’s all good.

  • lurch3

    I really don’t know how the Conservative “Christians” can call themselves Christians. When they ignore the main things Jesus taught.

    Love, care of the poor, down trodden, sick, prisoners, etc.

    It’s like they say to themselves, “I’m a Christian! (but without all that Jesus stuff).

  • cmbennett01

    I’m not sure why this should come as a surprise to anyone. The most hated enemies of the church have always been the apostates and heretics. The fundamentalist Christian see secularism, liberalism and science as a threat to their world view. Probably, because it is a threat to their world view. Religion isn’t just about a vague belief in some unspecified higher power. It makes specific claims about the nature of the universe. Modern science has shown many of those beliefs to be untenable. It should also not come as a surprise that the various groups set aside their differences on minor points of eschatology to do battle with what they see as a greater enemy.

  • cmbennett01

    We have done better. I’d say humanity has made enormous progress since the 1st century CE. Though there is always room for improvement and success is by no means guaranteed.

  • Jim Reed

    We are better than the new testament or old testament. We are advanced beyond those ancient religions.

  • NavyBlues05

    Is this why you condemn, castigate, and hurl puerile names at those you’ve perceived to be less hidebound as yourself? How about checking your hubris and engaging in sincere dialogue with adults of differing view points and questions; adults who are experiencing varying aspects of the real world.
    You state the Word of God is trustworthy, how would you go about being a “disciple” towards non believers and demonstrating this trustworthyness? How would you demonstrate to any one unfamiliar with this “Word of God” Jesus’ affirmation of such?
    Not trying to poke the bear here, just wondering what I can ever take away from the harshness of your responses…other than their harshness.

  • http://psywww.com/ Russ Dewey

    Perhaps a better approach is to let people vote preference (1,2,3) and if #3 is eliminated, his or her votes go to #1 or #2 as specified. This makes it safe to vote for 3rd party candidates if that’s what a person really wants to do, without “wasting a vote” and possibly tipping a tight contest in the wrong way.

  • JCF

    “try to shut these venomous preachers down”

    Um, First Amendment? (Not to mention Jesus’s example of not “repaying evil w/ evil”). How would YOU suggest we “shut these venomous preachers down”? Honest question.

  • lindylou

    True. But freedom of speech also includes the caveat of responsibility. I do not find it responsible for so called men of the cloth to fulminate from the pulpit the advocacy of stoning (or worse) gays, or to brush the edges of sedition in their ridiculous statements about the president. Most people in the congregation of impressionable, and will carry this message onward.

  • Jim Reed

    That might be better, but since this is America I was trying to keep it simple to understand. Even your way could be simplified a little, just vote for two preferences. That would also make it possible to start another party. But the ballot might be too complicated to handle.

  • Jim Reed

    “this will surely drive new members into our congregation.”

    It might be more about holding on to current members.

  • seashell

    Geraniums have been known to engage in more sincere dialogue than Frank. Maybe we should water him twice a week.

    I stand by this statement.

  • JamesLLudwig

    stopped being

  • http://www.MainTour.com/ MainTour

    Faith, Prayer and The Holy Ghost will tell you which brand of Christianity is correct (James 1:5)

  • Frank

    I am always ready to engage in compelling supported views. I am also ready to call BS when appropriate.

  • Judith Maxfield

    Sorry, of course if you are called names its best to not respond. I didn’t read your reply as you meant it.

  • Jim Reed

    You can respond to the discussion. That is a good thing to do if you can think of something to say. Just don’t make any personal attacks or call names in return. Stick to the logic of the discussion. Then when they finally make a response that is only name calling, and doesn’t say anything else, then you can not respond. Unless of course you still have something else to add.

  • whitemellon

    But it may end up gasping in some obscure corner being noticed by few. Just as many of man’s other earlier religions.

  • Frank

    Yes that is the inevitable fate of progressive Christianity. It happening now right before our eyes.

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    you forget that Jews after Jesus were and are desperately divided among ourselves. Your post inadvertently inferred that Christianity was a progression rather than a variant of monotheism.

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    um, I am an outlier here,but wasn’t the new testament written after Jesus died?

  • Michael Parido

    JFC, you are making a mistake that I see nearly daily. You have no idea what the first amendment is about. Why is it that those who know the least yell the loudest? Allow me to enlighten you. When lindylou speaks of the need for Christians to “try to shut these venomous preachers down” that has nothing to do with the first amendment. You see, the first amendment only applies to the government trying to silence a person or group. The government. The government. Get it? You might want to read that a few times and let it sink in. What lindylou is inferring is that the majority of Christians need to make it known that they do not agree with what the “crazy few” are spewing. Get it? That has nothing to do with the first amendment or any other part of our Constitution. Please, if you are going to base your argument on a sacred document, make sure you understand what that document is saying.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Frank,

    When you look around you’ll find that a high percentage of your Bible (uh, capital B, remember?) based Christians *are* progressives. Matthew 25:31-46

    Maybe even starting at the top. 🙂

    Cheers,

    -dlj.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Mars Hill. Crystal Cathedral. Southern Baptist Convention.
    Sure, Frank. Just keep telling yourself that.

    -dlj.

  • apotropoxy

    1. I didn’t “forget” it. I chose not to mention it.
    2. Christians see themselves as the true Nation of Israel; thus the self-imagined progression. They see Jews as the marginalized detritus of history’s march toward oblivion. You are useful only to the extent you can fulfill their eschaetological death wish.
    3. Christians glued together several religious strands floating in the air at the time of their identity formation. Judaism, Hellenist Stoicism and Manichaeism morphed into a new age religion that appealed to the disenfranchised. Despite their sincerely held protestations to the contrary, they are NOT monotheists.

  • Jim Reed

    Christianity was a progression from monotheism to trinitheism.

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    Isnt this like Puritains lynching Quakers, the mob killing of the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, or how about the Bush family, and other Evangelical political familes hanging out with self-described “prophet” Sun Yung Moon, or “white” Christians bombing “black” Christian churches, all right here in the USA?

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    I’m not sure I would call that a progression, but point taken.

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    can’t say I disagree with your logic.

  • Jim Reed

    Thanks. What is the point?

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    non-progressive Christians like Hitler, are always on the wrong side of history

  • Jim Reed

    That is the point I was trying to make. They are trinitheists.

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    tell that to the thousands of christian denomination, sect and groups lol

  • Jim Reed

    No, this is better.

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    that there was a progression of sorts, just not one that inferred that Christianity made Judaism obsolete.

  • Frank

    You are welcome to continue to expose your ignorance. Shrug….

  • Frank

    Yup under Gods direction and guidance.

  • Jim Reed

    I was using it as an opportunity to write the word trinitheism.

  • UJeans

    Or so you’ve been programmed to believe.

  • Frank

    Lol keep looking foolish please. It works in my favor.

  • Reviled

    Yes, clearly YOUR sect of Christianity is the sole correct one among the more than 30,000 sects which exist… *eyeroll*

  • Frank

    It’s not about sects it’s about biblical truths.

  • http://www.MainTour.com/ MainTour

    That’s exactly what I have been doing! So, so many of them are to focus on attracting followers to their own brand of Christianity, that they don’t take time to reconcile their beliefs to all of God’s will. They all pick and choose what principles they want to follow. A classic example of incomplete faith.

  • Reviled

    … As interpreted by your sect.

  • Jim Reed

    That’s the point the Fountain Hills pastors are making.

  • Frank

    No doubt people interpret things differently. They all cannot be true. Most progressive theology has no scriptural support. None.

  • http://brotherclarksblog.blogspot.com/ Clark E. Dunlap

    Yeah, set up this straw man, “fear” and then knock it down while criticizing traditional churches. What, pray tell are they afraid of? The fact that traditional churches are still growing and progressives aren’t? Oh wait, that’s a good thing for the traditionalists. Maybe, just maybe, they do not believe that progressives preach a biblical gospel message and lead people astray. Now I’m not part of the churches involved with this whole discussion. And I do think it can be misguided and turn people off big time. But when I look at that banner above, I don’t see them naming other churches or ministers, just an ideology they disagree with. As for people wanting to stone gays or shoot liberal Christians and all that nonsense, who says that is going on here? Those are just more straw men to set up and knock down and make yourself feel superior.

  • http://brotherclarksblog.blogspot.com/ Clark E. Dunlap

    Another ill informed post! There are many, MANY, ministries for the poor, sick, orphans, and incarcerated among conservative Christians, and also among less conservative Christians as well. But go ahead, paint a group with a broad brush and then criticize all of them. They used to call that prejudice.

  • http://brotherclarksblog.blogspot.com/ Clark E. Dunlap

    I’m a conservative Christian. There is only One God. He is not a man. He is wholly other. There are NOT 3 Gods. No true Christian of any group would say that.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Frank,
    I didn’t have to look Matthew 25:31-46 up, since I knew it already.

    Did you?

    -dlj.

  • Frank

    Nope. See above.

  • http://brotherclarksblog.blogspot.com/ Clark E. Dunlap

    Really? You’re going with this hitler/christian thing? Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • http://brotherclarksblog.blogspot.com/ Clark E. Dunlap

    Did you think the Crystal Cathedral was conservative Christianity? Really?

  • http://brotherclarksblog.blogspot.com/ Clark E. Dunlap

    And Mars Hill was growing immensely, they just had some messed up leadership.

  • http://brotherclarksblog.blogspot.com/ Clark E. Dunlap

    I love it when people try to describe me and do it so poorly. I’m a conservative Christian, We are not the only Christians around. We know that. We don’t fear science, we don’t hate apostates, but we do take heretics to task for distorting the gospel of Jesus Christ. We even support the freedom for people to believe however and whatever they choose to believe, and live in freedom to do so. It was Conservative Christians that championed the 1st Amendment.

  • apotropoxy

    Historians of religion without an ax to grind would say it. Christians have employed semantic fallacy so successfully regarding the meaning of the word god as understood in the first century that it needs a resurrection to its correct meaning.
    The Abrahamic religions insist that there is only one god even though the Jews acknowledged the existence of any number of deities until the onset of Hellenism. The sophisticated Romans and Greeks of the early Christian church argued that, since the Christian’s Satan wielded such enormous power, that it (he?) was a god in every sense of the word.
    Christians adopted a semantic fallacy with the invention of the neologism “triune” to try to contain their concept of a unitary trinity. They proclaimed that this entity was the only god extant. The triune oxymoron was internalized and Jesus worshipers have never looked back.

  • cmbennett01

    If my statements are not an accurate description of your beliefs, you can rest assured that they were not intended as such. As you say, however, you are not the only Christian around. A cursory review of the history of western civilization does in fact support the statement that apostates and heretics have been the most hated enemies of the church and a reading of the current news suggest that your progressive views on religion are far from universal. The vocal opposition to same-sex marriage, opposition to teaching of evolution in schools, and opposition to a separation of church and state, are increasingly common among evangelical Christians in particular. Those churches with more liberal tendencies have historically come under attack by the more conservative main-stream church, and as pointed out by the author of the article, they continue to be.

  • cranefly

    You can’t just point at anything and call it a “straw man.” The term makes no sense in this context. Please reread my comment. You are the one who brought up “stoning gays and shooting liberals.”

    Fundamentalist churches are afraid of losing political influence. If you pay attention, you’ll hear them express this fear quite candidly.

  • lurch3

    I am glad that maybe you might know of some Conservatives who are real Christians.

    But, if you go by those on the internet, they are NOT.

  • Granny Grammar

    implying.
    One flying prune.

    More than implying, she in fact says it.

    Granny Grammar
    Prune-Faced Grammarian

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    oh yeah, who did he talk to again?

  • Frank

    Playing dumb isn’t working for you.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Clark,

    I think it peddled phoney Evangelicalism.

    It was obviously conservative, but if you’re American I’m not sure what you mean when you ask the question. Many Americans use it approvingly to mean foam-flecked rabid crypto-fascist Republican loon. I don’t think Robert Schuller actually foamed at the mouth. Neither Frank nor I used the word. You’re the one introducing it. What do you man by it?

    He just delivered the comfy kind of profit-oriented pasta that Orange County likes. WASP Orange County, that is. Their Latino housekeepers and yard men also vote now.

    And save enough money to buy bankrupt crystal sepulchers cheap when they go bankrupt.

    I don’t think the Southern Baptists are conservative. I think they are socially reactionary, and theologically untrue to historical Baptist principles. These are utterly opposed to the sort of self-serving, centralized, and authoritarian bureaucracy they have become.

    Mars Hill was, and remains, a neo-Calvinist cult, and it was brought down by its neo-Calvinist members who were surprised and annoyed when what they thought was an efficient marketing tool, tattoos, leather jackets and a lot of shouting, did not build the sort of sedate hypocrisy they had hoped for.

    Cheers,

    -dlj.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Clark,

    I don’t think this is correct, but you may have seen some numbers I haven’t. On the other hand, I’d suggest you treat any membership numbers they give out the same way you’d treat reports on their best selling books…

    I think their growth had petered out years ago, they no longer had the management skills to grow by plugging in coaxial cable to suburban feeds, and they were running ever more madly to stay in the same place.

    Many of the original members of the church opposed the loud, modernist initiative. Later ones were dismayed when time after time after time insiders either quit when they found out what was going on or were fired when they opposed the motor-cycle gang atmosphere in which the joint was run. And everybody had lost the cheap thrills that come with steady worldly success.

    My opinion would be that Mark Driscoll has neither the brains nor the basic decency of Sonny Barger.

    -dlj.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Corey,

    That is one truly half-witted post. Hitler’s religion was as irrelevant as the brand of water-colors he used.

    His energy came from his overwhelming sense of self-pity, self-righteousness, and an admixture of justifiable anger.

    His greatest sin, to my mind, was that he was probably not an antisemite, but skilfully nurtured, magnified, and justified the antisemitism of others for his own ends. With so many different evils to choose from, of course, I don’t insit on this being the big deal.

    Short summary: Hitler’s childhood surface Christianity has nothing to do with a sensible assessment of the man and his works.

    Pull yourself together now, OK?

    -dlj.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Bush family Evangelical?

    Corey, your posts are a giggle.

    -dlj.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    cmbennett01,

    How did your “secularism, liberalism and science” get connected to your “apostates and heretics”?

    -dlj.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    C.M. Bennett,

    You tell us “A cursory review of the history of western civilization does in fact support the statement that… blahblahblah.”

    Indeed. A cursory review of anything supports anything.

    What you re peddling here would get you a C or a D in any high school history or debating class, and you really should not allow yourself to post when you’re in that condition.

    -dlj.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Main,

    Reminds me the good rule of thumb in electronics and computer science: “It’s a good thing we have so many standards, so you always have one that gives you what you need.”

    I’m not sure your reasoning of James is *quite* what James had in mind, but I’m sure you’re right that people can use prayer to tell them what they want to hear.

    Cheers,

    -dlj.

  • http://daniel-kaufman-rpur.squarespace.com/ Daniel A. Kaufman

    So you blame liberal churches the same as you blame fundamentalist knuckle draggers?

  • http://daniel-kaufman-rpur.squarespace.com/ Daniel A. Kaufman

    Everyone picks and chooses, including the so-called fundamentalists/evangelicals.

  • http://daniel-kaufman-rpur.squarespace.com/ Daniel A. Kaufman

    Would you be as amenable to them taking *you* to task for what they see as a distortion of the gospel?

  • http://daniel-kaufman-rpur.squarespace.com/ Daniel A. Kaufman

    Not ill-informed at all. Evangelical Christians and socially conservative Republicans are a largely overlapping set. And the Republican party opposes every social welfare program it possibly can, to the extent that it possibly can, while also advocating for lower tax rates and less regulation on the wealthy.

    Your lot threw in with that lot. Can’t avoid the characterization then.

  • http://daniel-kaufman-rpur.squarespace.com/ Daniel A. Kaufman

    As a Jew, who’s religion *really* is monotheistic, I call BS on this.

  • http://daniel-kaufman-rpur.squarespace.com/ Daniel A. Kaufman

    Why are you talking with this low-life? Haven’t you learned yet that he’s here to troll? If no one talked to him, he would leave.

  • cmbennett01

    And a thorough study will tell you the same. Unfortunately its not necessary to look that hard. Excellent argument though. You must have been a high school debate star.

  • cmbennett01

    It’s quite simple really. Religious fundamentalist reject science and most of the views of modern liberal society and brand those who do not as heretics and apostates. That’s in those history books you might have heard tell of.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Mice reject elephants.
    Mice say mouse traps are nasty.
    Therefore elephants are mousetraps.

    Your principle of cursory reading extends to logic, I see.

    -dld.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Jeffrey,

    Hashem, Shechinah, Ruach.

    But who’s counting?

    🙂

    -dlj.

  • cmbennett01

    You must have been home schooled.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Your logic isn’t getting any better.

    -dlj.

  • Judith Maxfield

    Hi There: At the time I wasn’t sure it was him – couldn’t remember the name. He’s new to me and didn’t know the history. I do now. Being a senior, I’m getting more forgetful on the nonessentials of life, but wiser I hope. I’m trying to speak gently – and even if it doesn’t work, that fine too. If I’m called names or deemed potty, I just laugh to myself. Good to hear from you.

  • seashell

    dlj – A motor-cycle gang atmosphere at least hints at something out of the ordinary, whereas at Mars Hill the leadership mundanely consisted of bad bus drivers. As Driscoll once said:

    “There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus, and by God’s grace, it’ll be a mountain by the time we’re done,” he once said in a meeting. “You either get on the bus or you get run over by the bus.”

  • seashell

    Your use of “traditional churches” as different from Progressive churches is interesting, but uninformed. When you say that traditional churches are still growing, you’re referring to the ones that usually meet in converted big box stores or living rooms, or converted warehouse spaces. The “hymns” in these churches are usually loud and musically deficient.

    The theology in what you call traditional churches is really just fundamentalism set to bad music. Go ahead and Google “traditional churches” and the results show that the type of church you refer to is proud of not being traditional. Nice try on the self-righteous indignation, though.

  • Jim Reed

    No, I don’t blame either side in this discussion. I think they should take this 3 point sermon series nation wide, so everyone can enjoy it. There are plenty of other cases where the churches can be blamed, maybe even liberal churches. But this story seems pretty entertaining, and with no downside.

  • Jim Reed

    Electronic standards are wonderful. The IBM personal computer set the standard for setting standards. Lots of other IBM compatibles came out all claiming to be like IBM, only a little better. Then the world decided that has problems. Instead of compatible, they made pure clones, working exactly the same. That way the price could get super cheap, and the machines would be built in Asia. We have been blessed with cheap and cheaper electronics ever since then. I don’t think anything else in history ever became so powerful and so cheap so fast.

  • Jim Reed

    That’s true, but things are changing. They used to rule the world that way, and now nobody cares any more what they think.

  • Jim Reed

    Your mistake is basing it on Jesus Christ. A closer view of the historical evidence shows Jesus was a myth, and going forward even the fundamentalists will have to deal with that.

  • Jim Reed

    Conservative Christianity is under a curse of decreasing numbers. As a few people wake up to the insanity they leave the conservative Christian circle, and then those who are left skew even more towards rejecting evolution. The spiral doesn’t end well for conservative Christianity.

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    variations yes, progressions?

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    the point being that once Jesus died, everything else is dependent on whether you believe the people who said God spoke to them. There have been a lot of those, and sometimes with contradictory information. That puts everything that came after in the ‘questionable’ column.

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones.391 David Lloyd-Jones

    Jeffrey,
    I thought the topic was, koff, choke, trinitheism.
    It’s like Chicken-Man. It’s everywhere. It’s everywhere.
    -dlj.

  • Granny Grammar

    Implied. Two flying prunes, since Michael Parido got one earlier..

    And oxymoron does not mean contradiction. It means apparrent contradictions assembled to make something non-contradictory.
    Lagniappe does not mean freebie. It means the hard roll that you have to pay for, whether you want it or not.

  • Jim Reed

    We have evolved to a symbiotic relationship with Frank. His posts make us more sure we are right, and our responses make him more sure he is right.

  • Jim Reed

    It is the nature of trinitheism. It is a mystery, because that makes it seem mysterious, as opposed to other explanations that might make it seem strange.

  • Jim Reed

    That is something that conservatives in general would not want to do personally, so they have a political party to do it for them. Everybody is happier that way.

  • Frank

    Except what’s been canonized.

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    yes, but I understand that the process involved was quite contentious and political. How can we be sure that the influence of wealth and politics didn’t determine the final result. It happens today. It would be foolish to think that in the past it was different.

  • Jeffrey Samuels

    did I say oxymoron?

  • Frank

    Actually it wasn’t. The Council was not as contentious an affair as many now think of it — for the most part, on all issues but the nature of Christ, there was an enormous amount of agreement among those present, and remarkable uniformity of thought.

  • UJeans

    “But by what authority do you call the Bible the Word of God? For this is the first point to be settled. It is not your calling it so that makes it so, any more than the Mahometans calling the Koran the Word of God makes it so. The Popish Councils of Nice and Laodicea, about 350 years after the time the person called Jesus Christ is said to have lived, voted the books that now compose what is called the New Testament to be the Word of God. This was done by yeas and nays, as we now vote on a law.” – Thomas Paine in Letter to a Friend Regarding The Age of Reason.

  • Granny Grammar

    Not yet, Jeffrey. Granny is concerned about your future.

    People who use infer for its opposite, imply, tend to be the same people who confuse oxymoron and lagniappe with their opposites, namely opposite and freebie.

    America was in enough trouble already with all the people who use “conservative” for its opposite, any kind of wild eyed radical.

    In this case the word you are looking for is “Oops.”

  • Jessica Neubauer

    Unlike the Florida ballots in 2000.

  • Jim Reed

    I live in Florida. I always vote against any Republican, but I live in a Republican area. That makes voting easy because Republican areas have lots of polling places and lots of machines that work well, so there is never any wait in line.

  • http://brotherclarksblog.blogspot.com/ Clark E. Dunlap

    Even this reply is ill-informed and broad-brushed. You didn’t really engage my comments in your reply just stuck with your talking points. Conservatives have voted and helped pass many social welfare programs. They may not vote on them as often as some socialistic democrats want but they helped put many in place.

  • Cranios

    In other words you are all for diversity, as long as people share your opinions and do what you say.

  • Cranios

    How many preachers do you actually know who preach stoning of anyone? Set up a straw man, then knock it down – veeeerrrrry original. /sarc

  • http://www.letter2self.com/ Danie Williams-Rivera

    As someone who grew up in an uber-conservative Christian environment (and considered my self relatively conservative) to someone who now leans much more progressively, I find it incredibly sad and disturbing to see the church fight among itself. At best, it will create some terrible wounds within the church community. At worst, it will not only alienate us from God, by losing focus on WHAT and WHO we are fighting for, but it will also teach everyone outside of Christianity to not trust us… because we can’t even trust ourselves.