Is Progressive Christianity The Same As Liberal Christianity?

So I just finished reading What Does A Progressive Christian Believe? by Delwin Brown.  I’m not going to go into too much detail about the book other than to a discussion based on the first chapter of the book.  In that chapter, Brown states that Progressive Christianity is different than the Religious Right, Conservative Christianity and Liberal Christianity.  And I want to hone in on what Brown says about Liberal Christianity.

A progressive Christian perspective, we shall see, does not minimize the Christian mandate to make the gospel relevant in each new age, and it does not object to the sciences, democracy, empirical evidence, and certainly not to reasoned inquiry.  In those respects, progressive Christianity unabashedly continues the liberal Christian outlook.  However, the liberals went wrong, from a progressive perspective, when the reasoning based on (supposedly common) human experiences became for them more than valued tools and tests to be utilized in shaping the inherited Christian materials; gradually it because also the source of liberal theology.  As that happened, the “material” of historic Christian faith-its stories, symbols, ideas, analyses, and imperatives-moved to the dim and largely optional margins of liberal Christian reflection.  Liberal theology became something more akin to a philosophy of religion.  (4-5)

So is there any distinction between Liberal and Progressive Christianity?  Do you agree with Brown?  Thought…comments?  Please share.


7 thoughts on “Is Progressive Christianity The Same As Liberal Christianity?

  1. It seems like it would work if all broad categories could stand firm. I am sure there are many who would consider themselves merely “progressive” that actually fall into the trap of liberalism. I can think of some who may consider themselves to be “conservative” in juxtaposition to liberals who would actually be qualified to be “progressive” according to this definition.

    • Good point Brian. This is one of the things I’ve been struggling with as I try to figure out my place in all this. According to this definition, I am clearly a progressive Christian.

      Some might call me liberal, but is that because I do not conform to some preconceived idea of what it means to be a conservative Christian or am I really a liberal Christian? Roger Olson’s latest post addresses this to some extent.

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  3. Pingback: How Liberal Christians Lose Credibility » Threads from Henry's Web - Thoughts on Religion in the World from a passionate, moderate, liberal charismatic Christian

  4. I tend to use both progressive and liberal to refer to myself. Certainly compared to some of the churches in my town who call themselves progressive we are liberal but most in our church call us progressive.


    • Sam,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I also use progressive and liberal interchangeably. I’ve been reading Liberalism Without Illusion by Christopher H. Evans and he comment on Brown’s distinction between progressive and liberal.

  5. Yes, he’s correct. Liberalism is a philophy and even more spiritual than progressive Christianity. It’s not concrete – containing basically no doctrine whatsoever.

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