Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Going after Progressive Christians

By now you have heard that 8 conservative Christian churches in Arizona have started an unprecedented coordinated campaign to impugn a progressive Methodist church in their vicinity.
"... when you have an effort collaborated by multiple churches in one community to try to discredit one other way of thinking, that's when it becomes alarming," said Rev. David Felten, head of The Fountains Progressive Christian Church.
"That lets people know there's a choice out there, they don't have to deny science, they don't have to hate their gay neighbor, they don't have to read and take the bible in a way that causes them to abandon their rational mind," he said.
So his conservative neighbors find this sufficiently threatening that they are planning a coordinated series of sermons to attack the beliefs of Progressives as "insufficiently Christian".

Jonathan Merrit puts this in the context of the Pew Survey, which shows continued decline of Christianity and a huge increase in the unaffilitated:
Triumphalist evangelicals have missed the point. The biggest threat to evangelicals is not some form of liberal faith, but rather faithlessness itself. Most people aren’t leaving evangelicalism for more liberal expressions, but rather for nothing at all.

While conservative Christians were crusading against their more liberal brothers and sisters in the mainline, the real growth has been in neither camp—the share of religiously unaffiliated individuals in America skyrocketed by a whopping 6.7 percent.

Rather than taking pot shots at more liberal strains of Christianity, evangelicals would do well to focus on the threat that all Christians are now facing: the growing number of people who are apathetic or antagonistic to the claims of Christianity.

If evangelicals continue to treat current trends as a race to the bottom, they shouldn’t be surprised if that’s exactly where they end up.
 Religion Dispatches comments,
It shows a basic flaw in Christianity in the United States: the conservatives don’t believe the liberals are actual Christians, and the liberals think the conservatives are flaming judgmental assholes.

In faith as as in politics, the nation seems to be growing ever more polarized along ideological lines. The net effect is roughly analogous to when campaign ads go negative: the base is kept strong and in line, but the majority of people say “to hell with the both of you, I’m staying home.”

The only discernible difference between the civil declension is that one takes place on a Tuesday and the other on a Sunday. It may work often enough for political campaigns, but I can’t recommend it as evangelism. 


PseudoPiskie said...

Flaming judgmental assholes? Nah. Stubborn idiots proud of being semi-literate and basically ignorant of how the world works and the origins of the Bible is a better description. And not quite as blunt.

Brother David said...

Strange how the author of the 1st quote seems to believe that the name of the church is The Fountains Progressive Christian Church!

David Felton is pastor of The Fountains, a United Methodist Church.

Bro David

JCF said...

"By now you have heard..."

Nope, first I've heard of it. Where did you hear about this, IT? [I hate to think I'm out of the loop! :-/]

Erp said...

BTW one of the 8 churches claims that "In an unprecedented step, eight churches will come together to demonstrate in a very real way the unity of the Body of Christ in Fountain Hills" and "The series will address what the pastors have identified as critical and foundational tenants of the Christian faith."

Another church identifies the series as:

This series is a way to address those questions and concerns. The topics are:
Sunday, May 17 "Why Does It Matter that God Doesn't Change?"
Sunday, May 24 "Why Does It Matter That the Bible Is Reliable?"
Sunday, May 31 "Why Does It Matter That Jesus Is God?"
Sunday June 7 "Why Does It Matter That Jesus Was Born of a Virgin?
Sunday June 14 "Why Does It Matter That Jesus Was Resurrected?
Sunday June 21 "Why Does It Matter: The Only Way?"

Admittedly a little bit of attacking may make some people want to try out the church. The Fountains United Methodist Church response


JCF said...

I wish I could have commented @ Fountains blog. I would have encouraged them w/ Matt. 5:11!

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account."

Anonymous said...

Isn't this the same city where a school teacher was fired last year for standing up for one of her students that was being bullied?

Erp said...

Given some of the content of Felten's May 17th sermon (it is online), I think he will be directly facing each week the series topic for the week.

IT said...

Felton is the author of "Living the Questions"