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Jenga is a game about seeing how many foundational pieces of a structure can be removed and/or repositioned before it finally collapses. While this game was never intended to have philosophical undertones, I think it is an apt analogy for what we see occurring in some churches, and particularly the movement known as “progressive” Christianity.You can only remove so many core beliefs from Christianity before it tumbles down like a Jenga tower. Click To Tweet
Our goal in this podcast is not to point fingers at a whole denomination (if you can call it that…) Rather, our goal is to help parents separate historically Christian, Biblical ideas, from ideas which do not reflect the gospel as handed down to us through scripture. We want you to be aware of ideas that are being presented under the guise of Christianity. We are not called to fearfulness, but we are called to vigilance. 2 Timothy 4:3 describes a time “when people will not tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (Who doesn’t want to hear that sin isn’t that big of deal, or that hell is just a metaphor?)
Our goal, in classic Mama Bear fashion, is to “chew and spit.” Swallow that which is Biblical, and reject (spit) that which is not. We affirm the hearts of many in the progressive Christian church, knowing that their desire is to love the unlovable, embrace the rejected, and to manifest the heart of Christ. However, we also recognize that out of the myriad of verses where we are called to unity, we are never called to unity with the world. (John 15:19, Romans 12:2) We are usually called to be unified in faith, in mind, and in thought – bound together by love. (1 Corinthians 1:10, 21 Peter 3:8) We are absolutely to care for orphans and widows, but in the same breath, we are to keep ourselves separate from the world – uncorrupted, and untainted. (James 1:27)We can affirm hearts and motives without agreeing with theology that is contrary to scripture. Click To Tweet
Join us on this journey today as we discuss quotes from various progressive Christian leaders, and look at progressive literature to see how they define themselves. We will discuss Alisa’s journey through a progressive Christian church, warning signs that your church may be headed towards “progressive” Christian beliefs, misconceptions about progressive and orthodox Christianity, and finally why it is so utterly important that we understand this trend. (**Side note. I (Hillary) misspoke about P53, and there is a correction at the very end of the podcast after our outtro music.)
People and resources mentioned:
(In Chronological Order as Mentioned in Podcast)
**As a side note, we have a lot of resources mentioned. We do not want to appear to be endorsing all of these resources. So, for clarities sake, we will put a star (*) next to the books or articles that we endorse (i.e. the ones we believe have a generally solid theological foundation.) You can assume that we endorse all scripture references.
The Easter Conversation
- *Mama Bear Podcast – MBA Episode 21 – “Is the Progressive Gospel a Gospel at All?” – where we discuss the article “The Trouble with Easter”
- Patheos Blog – The Trouble With Easter
- *Mama Bear Blog – The Battle of Ideas in the of aftermath of sharing “The Trouble With Easter”
- Patheos Blog – Why Your Children Do NOT Need Apologetics
- *Mama Bear Blog – Why Your Children DO Need Apologetics
*Alisa Childers – 5 Signs Your Church Might Be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity
*Natasha Crain – Progressive Christianity is as Much of a Threat to Your Kids’ Faith as Atheism
John Pavlovitz – Explaining Progressive Christianity (Otherwise Known as Christianity)
*The Story of Reality by Greg Koukl (pronounced Coke-ull)
Matthew Vines, an activist and leader in Progressive Christianity
A New Kind of Christianity by Brian D. McLaren
*Chicago Statement of Inerrancy
The Center for Progressive Christianity / ProgressiveChristianity.org – The 8 Points of Progressive Christianity
Rob Bell – a Progressive pastor
The Shack by William Paul Young – see our podcast on “The Shack” here
Lies We Believe About God by William Paul Young (Note from Alisa: “When I referenced the William Paul Young book, Lies We Believe About God, I said that one of the lies is “that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins,” but it’s actually, “that sin separates us from God.” Both ideas lead to the same end, but I wanted to be sure and acknowledge the correct wording.”
“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34
Look after orphans and widows James 1:27
Currently in chronological order.
Equivocation Fallacy – Using a term without distinguishing which of its multiple meanings you intend. Example: “Evolution” could mean micro (evolving molecular change) or macro (involving larger scale changes to man).
Progressive Christianity – “A shift in the authority for the Christian faith from the Bible, to personal conscience, subjective spiritual experience, or feelings.” – Alisa Childers
Self-Refuting Statement – A claim that in and of itself proves what it’s advocating to be false. Example: “I do not know a single word of English.”
Inerrancy – Without error; in Theology it is the belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and thus can be wholly trusted. (See the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy to understand the nuances)
Inspiration – “God breathed” as defined in 2 Timothy 3:16.
Progressive Faith – Faith that grows and develops – this refers to an individual’s changing relationship to the God they have put their trust in. (i.e. different from “Progressive Theology”)
Progressive Theology – Changing core tenets of the faith according to contemporary culture. The belief that truths revealed in scripture are a starting point, and truth itself has grown, changed, and evolved over the years
Biblical Theology – Rigorous study of individual passages of scripture. This can be done in isolation of other passages of scripture.
Systematic Theology – An in-depth study of what the whole of scripture says about a particular topic, and harmonizing each of the individual passages to get a clearer picture of what scripture says as a whole about the issue. Asks “What does the Bible say about this topic from beginning to end?”
Blood Atonement – The requirement of a blood sacrifice to pay the penalty for sin.
Substitutionary Atonement (or Penal Substitutionary Atonement) – Payment for someone else’s crime (sin).
Agnostic – Someone who holds the view we do not (and on some views, also cannot) know anything about the existence of God.
Objective Truth – True in all circumstances, regardless of any viewpoint. Example: 2+2 = 4, or it is wrong to torture babies for fun.
Subjective Truth – Facts that are only true based on one’s personal experience. Example: The best ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip.
“We believe that social justice is the heart of the gospel. Progressive Christianity is about not apologizing for what we become as we live this life and openly engage the faith we grew up with. There are no sacred cows, only the relentless, sacred search for truth. Tradition, dogma, and doctrine are all fair game, because all pass through the hands of flawed humanity, and as such are all equally vulnerable to the prejudices, fears and biases of those they touch.”
– John Pavlovitz, Explaining Progressive Christianity (Otherwise Known as Christianity)
“Sometimes people have the tendency to elevate the search over the destination.”
– Hillary Morgan Ferrer
“I’m recommending we read the Bible as an inspired library. This inspired library preserves, presents, and inspires an ongoing and rigorous conversation with and about God, a living and vital civil argument into which we are all invited and through which God is revealed. … Scripture faithfully reveals the evolution of our ancestors’ best attempts to communicate their successive best understandings of God. As human capacity grows to conceive of a higher and wiser view of God, each new vision is faithfully preserved in Scripture like fossils in layers of sediment.”
– Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity (p. 83 … p. 103)
“Our faith is a dynamic experience that shifts and evolves for us, and especially for a child growing leaps and bounds in their development. We cannot capture that experience and box it into a set of propositions to memorize and defend. That limits and denies the realities of the human experience.”
– Cindy Brandt, Why Your Children do NOT Need Apologetics
“The heart of the gospel, the story of reality, is creation, fall, redemption, and restoration – and out of that is going to flow social justice.”
– Alisa Childers
“Lifelong learning has to assume you’re arriving at answers, not just questions.”
– Hillary Morgan Ferrer
“Stories don’t have to be factual to speak truth.”
-Anna Skates on the topic of Christ’s resurrection, The Trouble With Easter (Side note: when it comes to the Christian faith, if it is not factual, then it is not true. Period.)
“Progressive Christianity is an assault on the foundational framework of Christianity and disarms it of its saving power.”
Send questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hillary Morgan Ferrer is the founder of Mama Bear Apologetics. She is the chief author and editor of Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies and Mama Bear Apologetics Guide to Sexuality: Empowering Your Kids to Understand and Live Out God’s Design. Hillary has her masters in Biology and has been married to her husband, Dr. John D. Ferrer, for 15 years. Don’t let her cook for you. She’ll burn your house straight to the ground.
Thanks for your insights and defense of the historical Christian Faith. I am a African -American man that loves Christian Apologetics, and I did my Master’s degree in that field from BIOLA UNIVERSITY in LaMirada, California. I look forward to reading your postings and dialoging with you concerning the Truth of God’s Word and Christianity. My the Lord bless your work for His glory.
I believe your understanding of Biblical Theology is mistaken. Biblical Theology is the study of the historical development of biblical themes based on God’s progressive revelation starting with the pentateuch, wisdom literature, the prophets, and finally the New Covenant.
Greg Koukl’s book The Story of Reality is a form of Biblical Theology in which he addresses the biblical meta narrative. .