The Evening’s Lecture
“Why Progressive Christianity Isn’t Progressive Enough (And What It Would Take To Fix It)” with Dr. Antony Alumkal, Associate Professor of Sociology of Religion at the Iliff School of Theology
The movement known as Progressive Christianity presents itself as advancing the Christian tradition by integrating cutting-edge knowledge and abandoning the oppressive tendencies of conservative forms of Christianity. But a critical look at the movement reveals that it is rife with white, male, and middle-class privilege. Additionally, movement leaders have often relied on outdated scholarship and mirrored the thinking of the Christian Right.
We will discuss three of Progressive Christianity’s formative figures—Jesus Seminar founder Robert Funk, biblical scholar Marcus Borg, and Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong—and how their ideas failed to live up to the “progressive” label. We will then consider what a new Progressive Christianity 2.0 movement would need to do to avoid the shortcomings of its predecessor.
Iliff’s Pulpit+ Exchange Series (supported by the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative from Lilly Endowment Inc.) provides space for a diverse array of ordained clergy and lay leaders to gather for a meal and grapple with challenging issues. One of the main goals of the Pulpit+ Exchange is to build congregations who will authentically study, worship, walk, and act together across difference to create a just and equitable world.
About the Evening’s Agenda
Join other clergy and lay leaders for a light meal from 5:00 pm to 5:30 pm (MST). The lecture will begin at 5:30 pm. An opportunity to ask Dr. Alumkal questions and engage in discussions with colleagues will follow.
About the Lecturer
Antony Alumkal’s research interests include the influence of race on religion in the United States, the pseudoscientific and conspiratorial thinking of the American Christian Right, and how the “Progressive Christianity” movement mirrors the fundamentalism that it criticizes. His book Paranoid Science: The Christian Right’s War on Reality has been praised by sociologists and science educators while condemned by the Christian Right leaders whose lies he exposed.
His courses explore religion as a social phenomenon in the contemporary world. Recent courses taught include:
“Following Iliff’s Purpose and Vision Statement for me means insisting on the truth in an increasingly post-truth world.”