I’m participating in a few discussion threads on various blogs of progressive Christians at the moment. As is often the case, evangelical / fundamentalist Christians arrive and try to make it clear that they know the one true God and everyone else is wrong. Discussions can be amusing but rarely very useful, since theists really seem to have no arguments beyond “No, I’m right!” or (for the slightly more self-aware) “You can’t be sure I’m wrong!”
But it is interesting how progressive Christians respond. The progressive Christian involved have previously said that they are not theists. They believe in a ‘ground of all being’ or a panentheist God of ultimate concern. But when a commenter attempts to define God,
“I believe in the God of the Bible: who created humans in his image, who came and lived among his people first in the tabernacle, then in flesh as Jesus, who died and rose back to earthly life, then ascended to heaven.”
they seem very reluctant to say
“That God doesn’t exist.”
rather preferring to build a bridge
“You can’t be sure God is like that.”
And even then there seems to be a hesitation to say
“God isn’t like that, God is…”
It appears that the desire to retain a connection between progressive Christianity and the wider Christian world is stronger than the desire to counter bad theology. Which strikes me as odd.
It is all a matter of subtleties, and I’m sure I could be accused of reading too much into this. The progressives don’t make a secret of what they believe, and they don’t make a secret of opposing fundamentalism. I’ve heard it said several times
“I don’t believe in the God that Richard Dawkins doesn’t believe in, either.”
I just find it odd that they feel the need to retain some connection to the words. An assumption that they are referring to the same thing when they talk about “God”, but just differ in the qualities they assign to it. Which seems to me to be a bizarre assumption.
[NB: Quotes above are paraphrases of several discussions.]