3 Surprises from New Research on ‘Progressive’ and ‘Conservative’ Christians

Nov 10, 2021 by

by Trevin Wax, TGC:

Are conservative Christians prone to politicizing their faith, conflating Republican Party politics with biblical fidelity?

Some are, and we could point to plenty of examples. But the bigger, underreported story is that conservative Christians are not uniquely prone to such errors, and in fact, “progressive” Christians outpace their conservative counterparts in succumbing to politicization.

One Faith No Longer

George Yancey and Ashlee Quosigk’s new book, One Faith No Longer: the Transformation of Christianity in Red and Blue America, published by NYU Press earlier this year, has a provocative thesis. Based on new research and extensive interviews, the authors claim current progressive-conservative divisions among Christians in the U.S. (descending from the modernist-fundamentalist battles a century ago) are manifestations of fundamentally different belief systems.

Yancey and Quosigk believe we are not dealing with minor alterations in doctrine and values, but belief systems that have grown so drastically different that each side’s “goals” become oppositional, thereby “interfering with one another’s ability to accomplish their desired purposes” (209).

In defining conservative and progressive Christians, the authors use theological rather than political criteria. Individuals who believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and say Jesus is the only path to salvation are conservative Christians. Those who do not believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and do not see Jesus as the only path to salvation are progressive Christians.

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