Tag Archives: progressives

When it comes to RACE, very little difference between #CPAC & "Liberal Seminaries"

A book inscribed with the Greek letters alpha ...

A book inscribed with the Greek letters alpha and omega. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find it so funny that liberals like go all in on conservatives for having “the” race problem. Nonesense I say. Liberals and moderates like to use liberationist terms such as “systematic oppression” and “marginalization” but seriously, they haven’t given any thought to what those words mean. For as much as liberal seminaries talk about “inclusion” and “diversity,” the facts on the ground just do not reflect this talk, because that’s all it is. TALK!

From the Association of Theological Schools, here are the numbers to day:

“70% Male
30 % Female
79% white
6% Asian
8% Black
4% Hispanic
2& non reported”

From Numbers of Minority Faculty in about 300 Theological schools small: Cláudio Carvalhaes

So, in other words, accredited schools for theological education, many of them mainstream liberal Protestant in theology that give head nods to “diversity” or “multiculturalism” are still as hegemonic as ever? Really? People can be in denial of white privilege and structural racism all they want,but if institutional racism is prejudice + power, then schools of theology/bible colleges are just as racist as that dude who trolled CPAC’s racial diversity panel.

I leave you all with this quote I posted back in the day by James Hal Cone, from Black Theology And Black Power:

“The liberal white man is a strange creature; he verbalizes the right things. He intellectualizes on the racial problem beautifully. He denounces racists, conservatives, and the moderately liberal. […] But he is still white to the very core of his being. What he fails to realize is that there is no place for him in this war of survival. Blacks do not want his patronizing, condescending words of sympathy. […] However, there are places in the Black Power picture for ‘radicals,’ that is, for men, white or black, who are prepared to risk life for freedom. There are places for the John Browns, men who hate evil and refuse to tolerate it anywhere.”

Here is a link to the official survey from ATS:

2012 ATS Annual Data Tables

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Liberal, Conservative and Progressive Christianity 3

To Progressive City…..AND BEYOND!!!

Please keep the following question in mind:

“is it possible at all for Christians today to transcend the Red State versus Blue State Manichean mode of thought?”

Progressive theology, at least in academic circles strives to overcome the conservative/liberal divide. Progressive Christianity, that is, a religion that rejects propositional truths/doctrine absolutism found in conservative evangelicalism as well as experiential-based universalism of liberal Christianity defines itself first and foremost as what it is not. Progressive theology emphasizes particularity particularity particularity, context, and oh, particularity. In this view, many proponents are more open to the notions of an impersonal god and religious pluralism. I am not saying that this is the case for all progressive Christians, but at the core, progressives begin theological reflection within their own context, while promoting an extremely transcendent God–not one far away and above our heads, but definitely one that is inscrutible. My series on Paul Tillich was a case in point. Tillich had scathing criticisms for both liberal and conservative Christianities.

Please do not confuse progressive theology with progressive politics. It will only become confusing at this point, at what I am about to suggest. In this group, one would have to put Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer of neo-orthodoxy fame in the progressive theology realm (whether their politics/ecclessiology was progressive, that is a different story). Right now, I am referring to methodology, and not conclusions. Conservatives want to conserve what has been said in the past (doctrine), liberals want to translate what was said in the past into the present (experience), while progressives want to critique all of the above and more, in a variety of ways. Stanley Hauerwas and James Cone must be considered progressive theologians; those on the left and right criticize these men at times for sounding like fundamentalists in their use of Scripture and their overconfidence in their particularity (whether it is a “Texan ontology” or “blackness”).

Progressive theology, methodologically, provides many outlets for Christians to move past the conservative/liberal binary. “THE CHURCH” in Amerricuh should stop acting like the only way to exist is to be identified as Republicans and Democrats. However, what has happened is that because progressives can be found predominantly inside mainline circles, they are identified as being part of “the establishment Left.” When we consider the damage done work by Bishop Shelby Spong, or many of the articles on a blog like Religion Dispatches, conservatives cannot help be turn away in disgust of an enclosed progressive tribe.

I have referred to in these posts of the Blue State/Red State division as Manichean not only for its dualism but for its idolatrous certitude as THE only way to engage culture. Is there such thing as pure reason or universal experience? Or at what point will our particularity become such an idol that that idolatry will cause us to completely mistrust outsiders? In other words, how much does contextuality contribute as a barrier against reconciliation?

The problem with progressivism is that it winds up placing ideology over and against its own goals. Do you call yourself a progressive, and are willing to boycott a conservative, even if he or she is working towards communal justice at the local level (the events at Willow Creek in recent weeks come to mind). Are you a conservative who believes in Creationism, but could care less about creation care just because your opponents care about the environment? It makes no sense, but it goes to prove that whenever ideology gets in the way of true justice, what that party is looking for should not be called justice, but rather partisanship.

However, I strive for 4th way, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th way [etc.] Christianity, one that places its goals over its ideology, a Christianity for reconciliation, nonviolence, and social justice, by any means necessary. A Christianity that places praxis over its own theorists.

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Liberal, Conservative, and Progressive Christianity, Part 2

Breeching the Liberal/Conservative Divide

In part 1, I discussed the current conversation going on about the nature of liberal Christianity versus conservative Christianity versus progressive Christianity. I put forward the question, “is it possible at all for Christians today to transcend the Red State versus Blue State Manichean mode of thought?”

The following is a brief historical outline of all 3 communities, followed by a description of various markers that each community (at least in my view) finds at its identity.


As a starting point for evangelicalism, I start with George Marsden’s classic, FUNDAMENTALISM AND AMERICAN CULTURE. Marsden argues, that from the beginning, fundamentalism was a movement that came from the North before the time of the Civil War. The Civil War was seen as a millennial event where God’s kingdom, in the eyes of some, prevailed (12-13). This millennialism, perpetuated by middle class Victorian-lite Northerners served as one of the forerunners of fundamentalism (21-22). Fundamentalism is as American as Jeffersonianism, in the sense that fundamentalists adhere to the Scottish Common sense philosophy of Francis Bacon. This faithfulness to Bacon’s philosophy, when applied to Christianity, presupposes that all believers (their words) are capable of understanding the Bible for themselves because God has made God’s word plain; we just need to read it literally. Historically, fundamentalists, and then their heirs, conservative evangelicals concerned themselves with doctrinal purity (the 5 fundamentals– inerrancy, deity of Christ, the Virgin birth, etc.) Fundamentalist figures such as D.L. Moody condemned the Social Gospel movement because it ignored the concern for right ideas/thinking leading to right action.

In order to agree with Marsden, the reader has to see white Protestantism as the religious center of the U.S., with all others (Catholicism, Orthodoxy, black church traditions, etc) remain at the margins. I concede that the fundamentalism movement that became evangelicalism has different segments: it was (and continues to be) interdenominational and includes Calvinist, revivalist, dispensationalist, holiness, pietist and Reformed religionists.

I would argue that today fundamentalism includes pastors such as John Hagee and Mark Driscoll, with one notable difference. Driscoll has added a 6th fundamental that probably be rarely seen in the holiness sections of fundamentalism: complementarianism. I would say that modern evangelicals include thinkers such as Rick Warren and Roger Olsen. The key difference between fundamentalism and evangelicalism is this: in one family (fundamentalism)– Christianity is purely a counter-cultural phenomena always at war with the world, while in evangelicalism, there is more of a reconciliation and cooperation between Christian societies and the society at large. Even when fundamentalists use social media, it is for the sake of winning the (White) Culture Wars.

I have a deep appreciation for both Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism to the extent that they promote a faithfulness to Scripture, as well as our reconciliation from God coming from the Blood of Jesus. While I do not see for theological and exegetical reasons why Penal Substitutionary atonement has to have a monopoly on Christendom, I can see its appeal and freedom in forgiveness.


In his work, The Making of American Liberal Theology, Gary Dorrien argues that American liberal Christen has always served as a third way between religious fundamentalism and atheistic rationalism. And it is from that starting point that I disagree with non-believers and conservatives alike who compare liberal Christians with complete skeptics. The Unitarian beginnings of American liberal theology began as a revolt versus the proponents of the offensive doctrines of total depravity, double predestination as well as the doctrine of the Trinity (volume 1, pages 1-3). Simply put, liberal Protestant theology was a reaction against the Calvinist variety of fundamentalism. In the third volume of Dorrien’s work, he ventures to suggest in several chapters that process theology would be the wave of the future for liberal theology. However, is process theism’s insistence on an impersonal deity consistent with the history of liberal Christianity? I would argue no. There was a class of theologians, whom Dorrien discusses, called the Boston Personalists. As such, the divine is viewed as personal, contrary to the impersonal naturalism of the Chicago Post-Ritschlian school of thinkers such as William H. Brown. This is where Dr. Al Mohler has to be corrected– the liberal tradition, like the conservative tradition affirms a personal deity. It is only when the Post-Ritschlian’s want to get away from texts deemed “too Jewish” that some liberals opt for an impersonal god (Volume 2, page 183).

The active personality of God, for liberals, does not mean an adherence to 66 books, but rather an encounter with God in the here and now. Taking this leap from the evangelical emphasis on the conversion experience to universal understandings of the human experiences, the liberal could then serve as a mediator between Christianity and the American polis. The notion of experience then would make the conservative and liberal traditions much more fluid than we would like to admit, yes?

On one level, while I may be suspicious of the liberal and his talk about experience, on another level, I cannot really deny its importance. While conservatives focus on conserves what they believe to be things in Christianity which should be declared immutable, liberals look at things which can be changed. If one’s contemporary experience does not compute with some of the doctrines of “THE CHURCH,” then maybe our understanding of that teaching ought to be re-taught. I can see the appeal of liberal theology for the modern mind, for maybe it could make Christianity more accessible to modern persons.

In my last and third post, I will discuss the markers of progressive theology and offer a possible 4th way of approaching Christianity.