Progressive Christians are Saving Jesus from Extinction

It’s easy to be fooled by loud things.

American Bible Belt Evangelical Christians have gone all-in with this Presidency, and in order to do so, they’ve had to sell their souls, abandon their namesake, and remove any semblance of Christlikeness from their corporate faith expression.

He has been rendered largly nonexistent in their midst.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity in America is now marked by a poverty of compassion and an abundance of cruelty; inextricably tied to this Administration, purposefully disfigured and remade in its own ugly image. It has become synonymous with hostility to outsiders, with contempt for the poor, with privilege and supremacy, with rabid nationalism, with a Christianity of might.

In other words, practically speaking, Jesus of Nazareth is extinct in this supposed community of Jesus followers—and I’ve fully grieved it all.

With great sadness I’ve watched it all unfolding over the past eighteen months; high-profile pastors, Conservative politicians, and once reasonable pewsitters, all slowly succumbing to the seductive pull of power and the cheap high of nationalistic war rhetoric. They’ve made a series of small or quite substantial moral concessions along the way, leading them here: miles away from their spiritual center—to a Christianity that has no need for Jesus.

It’s all been fairly disheartening to see one’s faith tradition swallowed up by a violent, bullying, gun-toting, whitewashed, “don’t tread on me” cultural smallness, that has nothing in common with the generous, open-hearted, least-loving Christ of the Gospels.

I’d started to believe that this Jesus was gone forever—but I was mistaken. I’d been paying too much attention to this loud, hateful clanging cymbal. Thank God for the heretics.”

The Jesus I knew as a child and came to aspire to in adulthood is still here, and it is the heretics who are preserving him.
It is the maligned backsliders, the Godless heathens, and the derided social justice warriors who are replicating his compassion for hurting people, his welcome for foreigners, his generosity toward the hungry, his gentleness for the marginalized.

I’ve been visiting these local Progressive faith communities every week, and they are doing joy-giving, life-affirming, wall-leveling work—alongside people of every color, orientation, and nation of origin.

They are providing Sanctuary for refugees, making meals for multitudes, offering embrace to the estranged, standing between the vulnerable people and the opportunistic predators around them—you know, like Jesus would.

And in our gatherings, Atheists and Muslims and Jews and Agnostics have stepped into these communities and found something they have not found in the counterfeit Christianity so loud in this country: they have found welcome.

It’s all been fully and beautifully surprising, to see this Jesus still alive here in these people.

You may have given up on a Christianity that resembles Jesus, and I can’t blame you. The people claiming his name right now who have the microphone, the platform, the headlines, and the legislative pull—are providing good reason to lose hope, ample cause to imagine Jesus’ extinction, great evidence that this thing is devoid of goodness.

But there is a quieter, more loving, less self-seeking, less headline grabbing expression of faith in this country, that is everything Jesus said he would be: good news to the poor and the disenfranchised, hope for those feeling tossed by the storms of this life, refuge for the oppressed—and trouble for the wolves who come to devour them.

In these progressive Christian communities all over this country, the peacemaking, neighbor loving, foot washing, leper-embracing Jesus is not only still present, but being multiplied by kind people determined to perpetuate him here.

There is a Jesus here who invites women into ministry, who feels compassion and not contempt for the poor; one who calls disparate people to join him, one who destroys all barriers.

There is a Jesus here of justice and mercy; one championing diversity and equality, one committed to altering the planet in a way that gives voice to the voiceless and resistance to the hateful.

This Jesus is here, and he will never be driven to extinction so long as there are heretics, heathens, and backsliders who refuse to let him die simply because religious people have no use for him.

These people are still reaching out a hand to this hurting world because they are compelled by their faith to do so.

If you are a person of faith and you’re exhausted from a Christianity of cruelty and malice; if you’ve given up on finding anything more redemptive or anything worthy of your presence and time, seek out a Progressive faith community this week—and allow yourself to be beautifully surprised by a radically loving, lavishly welcoming, compassionate activist Jesus you thought was gone for good.

Be encouraged.

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78 thoughts on “Progressive Christians are Saving Jesus from Extinction

  1. Not just Progressive Christians John. I’m a Unitarian Universalist and we’ve been doing this work for a very long time. Come visit Eugene, OR. Come to the Lane Interfaith Prayer Service on the 11th of every month. You will see Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims, UUs, Hindus, Native Americans, Earth Based Religions, and so many more praying and worshipping together. You will see youth groups on field trips visiting other youth in their spiritual homes. I invite you to come visit our city and restore your faith in humanity!

    • Unitarian Universalism is humanism. It is not a religion; it is a political movement. Big time ish stirrers, hiding behind a non – religion.

    • “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” to kick Donald Trump’s hind end—and Leslie’s too.

    • You had it right the first time. Go back to the Catholic Church. Progressive Christians aren’t Christians. They are a subset of liberal democrats who want to feel religious. It’s all about politics and not about sin and redemption, the Cross, the Sacraments, etc.

  2. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—

    Read all of 1 Corinthians 2:9 all of chapter
    It really does not matter what is going on in the world around me , My Job is to live like a true , real Christian Believer and be accountable to the bible, God, Jesus Christ .
    NO other
    Not man
    Not mans laws over Gods Laws
    But God 1st , The Jesus Christ , The law last
    Then by following this , and only then will we, I , you fully understand Gods Will, Gods Love, Gods Way s

  3. To All

    Please Note that Gods Judgement has been held off for the sake of the gospel and those who truly love him.
    as you obey , follow, trust in Jesus Christ
    He and only He rewards , blesses, gives wealth abundantly
    as history has show and we see all over the world now ,
    God , Holy God will have no other False Gods, False Religeon, False idols , False Teachers of Law, and slavery to thier way of life
    For God is Holy and must be worshiped in spirit and Truth .

  4. I’m uncomfortable with the conflation of Christian values and secular Government voting. The Evangelicals tried this in the ’80’s, where it was repeatedly asserted that “true” believers would vote in favor of laws eliminating abortion (or attempting to). In my opinion, this movement was bad for Christians, and bad for Americans for many reasons.

    Now it’s a flip to the idea that to be a Christian you have to support liberal/progressive government programs. But the notion is no different: Christians involving themselves in politics, striving for political power in the name of a Grand Vision ordained by Christ himself.

    There HAS to be a space for people to believe deeply in Christian principles yet NOT believe in secular Government to implement them. As well there HAS to be space for Christians to believe differently about how government programs should address things. Where are the Christians extending grace toward their “non-believing” political foes? I marvel at the arrogance required to unquestionably assert that someone ELSE is not a Christian because of how they voted.

    Americans are remarkably inflexible intellectually. It’s either/or, in/out, especially in politics. Our penchant for intellectual certitude and intolerance of nuance is breathtaking. Many are obsessed with political power, which is really just a cover for forcing others to believe and do the same thing. In droves, Christians are absolutely no different. It’s tiresome.

    Jesus is tired of it too. He told me.

    • “There HAS to be a space for people to believe deeply in Christian principles yet NOT believe in secular Government to implement them. As well there HAS to be space for Christians to believe differently about how government programs should address things. Where are the Christians extending grace toward their “non-believing” political foes?”

      Where are they? They don’t vote.

      1John 5;19 -“We know that we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”

      What is the point of voting for one evil or another? God’s will be done. And his will, will be done in his way and his time. No man can read hearts – only the almighty creator can do that. As soon as people start talking about the bible and politics together (and they are not talking about God’s kingdom) you can be 100% certain their POV will be slanted.

      John 18;36 – My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

  5. Hey JohnP, I just want to say how much I admire your ability to keep focused on engaging lovingly while sharing your passionate concerns and deep insights. I share that challenge, but I fear I often don’t keep that balance as well. When dealing with the willfully ignorant or frightened I find it’s so easy to get sucked into the name-calling, the reduction and stereotyping, and the mocking, the temptation to give-back-in-double-measure, and it makes me especially sad when I see other progressives fall into that trap, which certainly does happen. It’s so much more difficult to keep prophetically loving one’s adversaries, to try to see things from the “other” side and then go on to build bridges toward them, as I see you doing so well, and so persistently. Thank you !

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  8. It is a shame that a person who claims a 20 year ministry is advocating for the abomination that is called Progressive Christianity (quite an oxymoron in itself) “pc” from here out.

    In case you missed the lesson ( bc know these pc first argument when their behavior is called out is to mention the company Jesus kept) Jesus didn’t hang out with the sinners to coddle them and tell them they were ok the way they were and to become their ally. No, just the opposite. Jesus hung around these people to convince them of their sin and to turn them away from such behavior….not to condone their activities.

    And this is exactly what these pc communities do. They do not do the Christian thing and try to save them from their damnable sins…instead they celebrate and even admit actively participate in such behavior.

    These pc churches remind me of the 3rd chapter of Pauls second letter to Timothy especially verse 5. Also, if you think that I’m wrong about the company you keep and if it matters, see 2 Corinthians 5, esp verse 11.

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  10. Hi John,

    Evangelical Christians believe that the written Word of God is the formal decree of the Lord, our King, and it is to be taken literally. As with the story of Joseph, (Gen. 37) what we must keep in mind is that whether a leader is good, bad, or even terrible, God continues to accomplish His will. He is sovereign. He is responsible for setting leaders in place (often for reasons and purposes we do not understand). We are to respect our leaders. (Romans 13: 1-5)

    I urge you to pray for President Trump as he leads our nation, and to please stop dividing your Christian brothers and sisters. Pray that he is merciful to others, just as Christ is merciful to us. Pray that God helps him to follow the way of wisdom today, as the Lord promises to lead us along straight paths. Pray that he learns to live a holy life and develops the characteristics of humility, love, tolerance, discipline, peace and faithfulness. Pray that he stays alert for the enemy, and that God shields him with armor against the strategies of the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

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