"... 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.Religion Dispatches comments,
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.
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.