Progressive Christianity??

Steve Kryger (Communicate Jesus) writes an interesting post responding to this poster displayed outside of a New Zealand church.


I share Steve’s confusion and offense at the poster, but after a little reading on the website of the church I found so many more things to be offended by that the poster faded into the background.

The church describes itself as practicing ‘progressive Christianity’. They feel the need to describe their type of Christianity because

being “Christian” does not tell us much about a faith community beyond the probability that Jesus plays a part in its beliefs.

According to their explanation of Progressive Christianity, the difference between different kinds of Christianity lies in what authority is most important to a particular group: Scripture, Church Teaching and Tradition, or Reason.

Progressive Christians take all three authorities seriously but make none of them supreme.  Progressives are more interested in spirituality than right belief or proper worship. The identity of Progressive Christians is centred in ethical living.

So, what kind of Christians are they? According to them they are Christians who

Have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus.

Not perfect but a good start. Next?

Recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God’s realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you that this second point is a problem for me. I’m about a million percent sure that John 14 records Jesus saying “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So I’m not sure how a church who claims that Scripture has any authority can also acknowledge that other people’s “ways to God” are as true for them as our ways are for us. But I guess that is the result of holding the authority of Scripture equal to that of human reason.

Really thats just the beginning of a bunch of stuff that bothers me but it was this comment on their post explaining that poster that started it

I am deeply saddened, dismayed and horrified by your billboard. Instead of trying to convey the true meaning of Christmas and promote Christianity you have only succeeded in being controversial. I will never again attend an Anglican service.

Excuse me?! This is an ANGLICAN church displaying this poster.

The reason it bothers me that this is an Anglican church is because I too am part of the world-wide Anglican Communion. And I’m uncomfortable with the thought of appearing to be in communion with people who clearly don’t believe in the God of the Bible.

True Christian communion is not about denominations, it’s about sharing in the same Spirit of God – which crosses denominational lines. But in the case of this church in NZ, because we share a denomination, we have is the appearance of unity, where no true unity of Spirit exists.

But it does remind me that New Zealand is a great mission field – and that possibility excites me!

6 thoughts on “Progressive Christianity??

    • The Bishop has commented here (

      “The Bishop of Auckland, the Right Reverend John Paterson, says he was “disappointed” that St Matthew’s chose to go ahead with displaying the billboard.

      He says there are a multitude of other issues for a city and the wider church to focus on than a billboard.

      “Discussion of theological perspectives and diversity is encouraged in a respectful way, but this approach is insensitive to communities across the Anglican Church as well as other denominations,” he told TVNZ.”

      • Thanks Steve.

        The problem with what the Bishop says taps into the issue of the apparent communion between us. I can see the value of ‘theological diversity’ on some issue – particular those where the Bible is silent – but there are issues that Jesus was clear about, and I think on those issue we should give up our desire for diversity and follow his lead.

    • Thanks Steve.

      Totally agree with you – the ad doesn’t achieve what they claim they were trying to do. All it does it take the focus of Christmas off Jesus and put it onto that one church

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