‘Progressive’ Christianity — Trading Treasure for Straw

‘Progressive’ Christianity — Trading Treasure for Straw By PETER WOLFGANG for Stream

Bob is a man forever shaped by the religious trends of the Vietnam era. He believes the progressive Christianity of 50 years ago a true imitation of Christ and its decline a disaster for Christianity in America.

He was my youth group leader at a Catholic church in Connecticut in the late 1980s. And I was all in with him. We were both eager modern Catholics, pro-life liberals but serious liberals.

Bob’s influence on me was brief but significant. From him I imbibed a Christian faith that was outward-oriented and relevant. He empowered us kids by putting us in charge of the group while guiding us. I’ll always be grateful.

What strikes me most in Bob’s worldview is how what is good and bad, right and wrong, is defined by the world, not by the church.

Now, I see the progressivism Bob loves as itself the disaster that destroyed Christian witness in America. The decline of Christianity these past 50 years is the natural consequence of our failure to free ourselves from it.

Bob was born into the thick 1950s Catholic subculture of Putnam, Connecticut. His family was deeply connected to an order of nuns, the Daughters of the Holy Ghost, who had their mother house in Putnam. He attended the local Catholic school and was an altar boy at the mother house. He speaks of this upbringing with much gratitude.

What happened? Why did we turn out so different?

Bob’s Catholic Story

I recently reconnected with Bob after more than 30 years and read the two books he just published. He tells his story in Crossing the Street (now in a second edition) and I Love the Church, I Hate the Church. The story inadvertently reveals the limits of progressive Christianity. It shows how those limitations are rooted not just in being left-liberal, but in other things as well.

Crossing the Street gives advice to Catholics and Protestants on how to achieve greater unity, based on Bob’s decades-long experience as both a Catholic and a Protestant. It’s essentially his autobiography.

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