45: TO BE A PILGRIM? Seekers v Believers (Progressives v Evangelicals)



“To be a disciple now requires not the embrace of a particular ideology but the  resolve necessary to live by a new ethic, learning how to be Jesus-wise and not Roman-foolish. Jesus certainly made this much clear: ritual observances are not to be confused with living faithfully. For Israel, the most important questions were never theological but ethical. How goes it in the land with the widow, the orphan, the stranger? What would a just society look like, and how would the earth’s resources be distributed? What does it matter if you keep every Sabbath law but neglect to care for your neighbour? It is not what you believe that matters ultimately, but what you do.” (i)


SEEKERS      vs        BELIEVERS

SEEKERS  follow Jesus the Teacher – the pre-Easter man                                                                     BELIEVERS believe in Christ the Saviour – the post-Easter deity

SEEKERS believe the bible is inspired
BELIEVERS believe the bible is infallible

SEEKERS  know too much about biblical criticism and church history!
BELIEVERS   are intellectually dishonest, and biblically  illiterate!           

SEEKERS  include non-believers in their number
BELIEVERS  probably grew up in the church     

SEEKERS are brought together by discipleship
BELIEVERS  are divided by doctrines

SEEKERS hunger for wisdom, healing and wholeness
The BELIEVERS’ church offers sugary nostalgia with a dash of fear   

SEEKERS like the Sermon on the Mount.  Not a word on what to believe, only on what to do
BELIEVERS  follow the Nicene Creed – tells you what to believe not what to do

The Gospels call the SEEKERS to discipleship and community
The church calls BELIEVERS  to individual salvation

SEEKERS are called to make sacrifices and change their behaviour
BELIEVERS  worship, with passive adoration and sentimental self-satisfying praise 

For SEEKERS  Christianity is seen as a way of life, a path to follow
The belief system of BELIEVERS is characterised by acquiescence                                                                


Although Meyers doesn’t explicitly mention “Progressive Christianity” in his book, the above table which I have extracted from it bears a striking resemblance to the account of Progressive Christianity in Wikipedia. So I think we can take it that the words I’ve put in italics represent the views of conservative/evangelical Christians and the non-italicised words represent the Progressives (the new P.C.’s?). Just compare this:-

Progressive Christianity:-

  • emphasises God’s immanence over his transcendence
  • leans towards panentheism rather than supernatural theism
  • emphasises salvation here and now rather than in heaven later
  • emphasises being saved for robust, abundant/eternal life over being saved from hell
  • emphasises the communal/social aspects of salvation instead of merely the personal
  • stresses social justice as integral to Christian discipleship
  • takes the bible seriously but not necessarily literally, embracing a more interpretive, metaphorical understanding
  • emphasises right actions over right beliefs
  • embraces reason as well as paradox and mystery- instead of blind allegiance to rigid dogmas and doctrines
  • does not consider homosexuality to be sinful
  • does not claim that Christianity is the only valid or viable way to connect to God
  • some view Jesus Christ as only one of many ways to God
  • less focus on church growth than the evangelicals
  • tend to focus on issues of social justice rather than trying to convert others

(i) Meyers, R.R.  “Saving Jesus from the church. How to stop worshiping Christ and start following Jesus” Harper One (2009)  p.157-8
(ii) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Christianity

Related Zingcreed Posts:
The Zingcreed pledge
What Conservative Christians believe ( and I don’t)
What Liberal Christians believe
Progressive Christianity
Radical Theology
Radical Christian attempts to define God
Realist and non-realist views of God



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