Christianity Culture and Society Faith Philosophy Religion Uncategorized

Geoff Thompson on Progressive Christianity

I seem to be having a real problem writing my blog this week. Blame the heat, blame the lassitude which falls over the semi-employed, or blame the fact that I’m busy this week. Anyway, I came across an article by Geoff Thompson that might interest you. Geoff  teaches Systematic Theology at the Centre for Theology and Ministry in Melbourne – and, hence, at the UFT where I studied (though he started after I’d finished, replacing the redoubtable Christiann Mostert.)

The burden of his article is to critique the arguments of some significant voices in Progressive Christianity. He chooses as his chief interlocutors Gretta Vosper, who he describes as “rising star of the Progressive Christianity movement, minister of the United Church of Canada, and keynote speaker at the 2010 Common Dreams conference in Australia”, and Bishop Spong. He focusses critically on their reliance on a claimed consensus of modern scholarly opinion. Here’s a snippet:

And what is to be made of Progressive Christianity’s ubiquitous appeals to contemporary scholarship? In a none-too-subtle pitch for the intellectual high-ground, the impression is repeatedly given that the revisionist proposals of Progressive Christianity rest on an established consensus of contemporary theological scholarship. Yet those who are actually engaged in the world of theological scholarship know as a fact of daily life that no such consensus exists. The world of academic theology is (almost) as theologically diverse as the church itself. Scholarship does not constitute some clear dividing line which neatly separates revisionist theology from orthodoxy. Those who believe it does – or who seek to give the impression it does – are simply wrong. In fact, scholarship itself resolves very few theological disputes. Scholars themselves know this and, therefore, when making theological judgements pay close attention to the ways sources are used, arguments constructed, and conclusions drawn. This is always a complex task, and attempts to bypass that complexity by heavy-handed appeals to a supposedly univocal ‘contemporary scholarship’ are just as illegitimate as are those denials of the same complexity made by heavy-handed appeals to orthodoxy

This is taken from Progressive Christianity: Testing Its Arguments. Read the whole thing, and check out his blog at ξενίζοντα: strange things.

I was particularly chuffed to find this after my attempt to analyse what I think is wrong with Peter Rollins’ thought a few weeks ago.

Normal services should be resumed next week…

By Alister Pate

I'm a minister in the Uniting Church in Australia, with two congregations: one in Northcote / Chalice, which now includes Cafechurch Melbourne, and one up the road in Reservoir, confusingly known as Preston High Street. I am

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