||This article may contain original research. (June 2012)|
Progressive Christianity is the name given to a movement within contemporary Christianity characterized by willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity with a strong emphasis on social justice or care for the poor and the oppressed (often identified as minority groups) and environmental stewardship of the Earth. Progressive Christians have a deep belief in the centrality of the instruction to "love one another" (John 15:17) within the teaching of Jesus Christ. This leads to a focus on compassion, promoting justice and mercy, tolerance, and working towards solving the societal problems of poverty, discrimination and environmental issues, especially by social and political activism. Comparatively, a further understanding within Christianity being of the Greek word agape or agapaó as used within John 15:17 translated to the English word "love" as that being of "i.e. embracing God's will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power".
This movement is by no means the only significant movement of progressive thought among Christians (see the 'See also' links below), but it is currently a focus of such issues in many parts of the world.
Progressive Christianity draws on the insights of multiple theological streams including: 19th century evangelicalism, 19th and early 20th century Christian liberalism, 20th century neo-orthodoxy, and late 20th and 21st century liberation theology. The characteristics of Progressive Christianity, and its distinction from Liberal Christianity, have been articulated in an article by Hal Taussig. These can be summarized as:
- A spiritual vitality and expressiveness, including participatory, arts-infused, and lively worship as well as a variety of spiritual rituals and practices such as meditation
- Intellectual integrity including a willingness to question
- An affirmation of human diversity
- An affirmation of the Christian faith with a simultaneous sincere respect for other faiths
- Strong ecological concerns and commitments
A priority of justice and care for the down-trodden are a recurrent theme in the Hebrew prophetic tradition inherited by Christianity. This has been reflected in many later Christian traditions of service and ministry, and more recently in the United States of America through Christian involvement in political trends such as the Progressive Movement and the Social Gospel.
Throughout the 20th century, a strand of progressive or liberal Christian thought outlined the values of a 'good society'. It stresses fairness, justice, responsibility, and compassion, and condemns the forms of governance that wage unjust war, rely on corruption for continued power, deprive the poor of facilities, or exclude particular racial or sexual groups from fair participation in national liberties. It was influential in the US mainline churches, and reflected global trends in student activism. It contributed to the ecumenical movement, as represented internationally by the World Student Christian Federation and the World Council of Churches internationally, and at the national level through groups such as the National Council of Churches in the USA and Australian Student Christian Movement.
The contemporary movement 
The ascendancy of Evangelicalism in the US, particularly in its more socially conservative forms, challenged many people in mainline churches. Recently, a focus for those who wish to challenge this ascendancy has been provided by Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who described himself as a progressive evangelical Christian, although Sojourners has rejected advertisements urging mainline churches to welcome gay members. This has enabled many Christians who are uncomfortable with conservative evangelicalism to identify themselves explicitly as "Progressive Christians." At the onset of this new movement to organize Progressive Christians, the single largest force holding together was a webring, The Progressive Christian Bloggers Network, and supporters frequently find and contact each other through dozens of online chat-rooms.
Notable initiatives within the movement for progressive Christianity include The Center for Progressive Christianity (TCPC) in Cambridge, MA, The Beatitudes Society, the campaigning organization CrossLeft, the technology working group Social Redemption.
CrossLeft joined with Every Voice Network and Claiming the Blessing in October 2005 to stage a major conference, Path to Action, at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Among the speakers were E. J. Dionne, Richard Parker, Jim Wallis, Senator Danforth, and David Hollinger.
Examples of statements of contemporary Progressive Christian beliefs include:
- the Eight Points produced by TCPC: a statement of agreement about Christianity as a basis for tolerance and human rights;
- the Phoenix Affirmations produced by Crosswalk (Phoenix, AZ) - include twelve points defining Christian love of God, Christian love of neighbor, and Christian love of self.
- the article, "Grassroots Progressive Christianity: A Quiet Revolution" by Hal Taussig published in 'The Fourth R,' May–June 2006.
- the working definition utilized in Roger Wolsey's book Kissing Fish: Christianity for People Who Don't Like Christianity:
- ...Progressive Christianity is an approach to the Christian faith that is influenced by post-liberalism and postmodernism and: proclaims Jesus of Nazareth as Christ, Savior, and Lord; emphasizes the Way and teachings of Jesus, not merely His person; emphasizes God’s immanence not merely God’s transcendence; leans toward panentheism rather than supernatural theism; emphasizes salvation here and now instead of primarily in heaven later; emphasizes being saved for robust, abundant/eternal life over being saved from hell; emphasizes the social/communal aspects of salvation instead of merely the personal; stresses social justice as integral to Christian discipleship; takes the Bible seriously but not necessarily literally, embracing a more interpretive, metaphorical understanding; emphasizes orthopraxy instead of orthodoxy (right actions over right beliefs); embraces reason as well as paradox and mystery — instead of blind allegiance to rigid doctrines and dogmas; does not consider homosexuality to be sinful; and does not claim that Christianity is the only valid or viable way to connect to God (is non-exclusive).
Differences between Progressive Christianity and Conservative Christianity 
Holding to the ideals of progressive Christianity sets the movement apart from other forms of traditional Christianity. Many, if not most, progressive Christians believe that the Bible is not the literal word of God. While all progressive Christians recognize Jesus Christ[clarification needed], some view him not as the only way to God, but one of many ways, continuing the Christian modernist paradigm. Inclusiveness and acceptance is the basic posture of progressive Christianity.
Progressive Christians tend to focus on issues of social justice, rather than proselytizing efforts to convert others, as conservatives and mainstream Evangelicals tend to emphasize.
Another key difference is that evangelical churches tend to have focussed on church growth, while progressive churches have not.
Seventh-day Adventism 
Within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the liberal wing describe themselves as "progressive Adventists". They disagree with some of the traditional teachings of the church. While most are still of evangelical persuasion, a minority are liberal Christians.
Environmental Ministries 
As Bruce Sanguin writes, "It's time for the Christian church to get with a cosmological program (…). We now know, for instance, that we live in an evolving or evolutionary universe. Evolution is the way that the Holy creates in space and in time, in every sphere: material, biological, social, cultural, psychological, and spiritual. This new cosmology simply cannot be contained by old models and images of God, or by old ways of being the church.".
Central to this recovery of awe in the cosmos is the Epic of Evolution, the 14-billion-year history of the universe. Scientists (Edward O. Wilson, Brian Swimme, Eric Chaisson, Ursula Goodenough and others) initiated this story which has been perpetuated with a religion component by some liberal theologians (Gordon D. Kaufman, Jerome A. Stone, Michael Dowd, etc.).,
Evolutionary evangelist and progressive minister Michael Dowd uses the term Epic of Evolution or Great Story to help construct his viewpoint of evolution theology. His position is that science and religious faith are not mutually exclusive (a form of Religious Naturalism). He preaches that the epic of cosmic, biological, and human evolution, revealed by science, is a basis for an inspiring and meaningful view of our place in the universe and a new approach to religion. Evolution is viewed as a religious spiritual process that is not meaningless blind chance.
The name "Progressive Christianity" is seen by some more conservative or traditional Christians[who?] as a misnomer that it is also inflammatory, suggesting that those who hold a more traditional view are not forward looking. They would hold that Progressive Christianity would be more accurately labelled as "regressive", as they perceive it as seeking to bypass the cross.
Notable Progressive Christians 
- Jimmy Carter
- Karen Armstrong
- Jay Bakker
- Rob Bell
- Diana Butler Bass
- Marcus Borg
- Walter Brueggemann
- Walt Brown
- William Jennings Bryan
- John M. Buchanan
- Frederick Buechner
- Bart Campolo
- Tony Campolo
- Shane Claiborne
- William Sloane Coffin
- John Dominic Crossan
- Michael Dowd
- Harry Emerson Fosdick
- Lloyd Geering
- Becky Garrison
- Anne Lamott
- James Lawson-lifelong community leader and advocate for social justice
- Brian McLaren
- Brian P. Moore - US Presidential candidate for the 2008 Presidential elections
- Carrie Newcomer
- John Shelby Spong
- Barbara Brown Taylor
- C.T. Vivian
- Wynn Wagner III (author and archbishop of the Old Catholic Church)
- Jim Wallis
- Walter Wink
- Daniel Wise (former editor of Zion's Herald, which later became The Progressive Christian magazine)
- Br. Karekin M. Yarian, BSG
- Frank P. Zeidler
- Brian Zahnd
See also 
- Catholic Worker movement
- Christian democracy
- Christian left
- Christian socialism
- Evangelical left
- Free Christian
- Liberal Christianity
- Liberation theology
- Living the Questions, curriculum resources for Progressive Christians
- Postmodern Christianity
- Progressive Christian Alliance
- Progressive Christianity Network Britain
- Progressive National Baptist Convention
- Red Letter Christians
- Social Gospel
- Social justice
- Sojourners, monthly magazine for Progressive Christians
- The Center for Progressive Christianity
- Engaged Spirituality
- "Soul Play: What Is Progressive Christianity Exactly?". The Flip Side. University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
-  Strong's Greek Concordance - 25. agapaó
- Witness Articles - Progressive Christian Witness
- Ess, Charles. "Prophetic, Wisdom, and Apocalyptic Traditions in Judaism and Christianity". Drury University. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
- Boulton, Wayne G., Thomas D. Kennedy and Allen Verhey (1994). From Christ to the World: Introductory Readings in Christian Ethics. Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 134–136. ISBN 0-8028-0640-6.
- :*Abp. Wynn Wagner III, A Pilgrim's Guide to the Old Catholic Church, Mystic Ways,2009,ISBN 978-1-4499-9279-8
- Bruce Sanguin - Darwin, Divinity, and the Dance of the Cosmos, Copperhouse and Woodlake Publishing , 2007
- :*Edward O. Wilson, On Human Nature, Harvard University Press,1979,ISBN 0-674-01638-6
- The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era: A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos; Brian Swimme, Harper, 1992 (1994, ISBN 0-06-250835-0)
- Ursula Goodenough - Sacred Depths of Nature, Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (June 15, 2000), ISBN 0-19-513629-2
- Eric Chaisson - Epic of Evolution, Columbia University Press (March 2, 2007), ISBN 0-231-13561-0
- :*Jerome A. Stone - Religious Naturalism Today: The Rebirth of a Forgotten Alternative, State U. of New York Press (Dec 2008), ISBN 0-7914-7537-9
- Evolution Theology: Religion 2.0
- Thank God for Evolution