There is much talk in evangelical churches today about professing Christians—usually, high profile professing Christians—undergoing a process of “deconstruction” whereby they come to question, and often completely abandon, their faith. Some try to maintain a claim to Christianity but what they ultimately embrace is so far removed from historic Christianity that it can hardly be considered the same faith.
In September 2019, Justin Brierly moderated a discussion between Lisa Gungor (of the Christian band Gungor) and Alisa Childers (formerly of the Christian band ZOEgirl) on deconstruction. Both women profess Christ. Both underwent a time of doubt and deconstruction. Childers ultimately held firmly to historic Christianity while Gungor has embraced something that has but the faintest whisper of Christianity to it.
During her time of doubt and deconstruction, Alisa sought answers. Her quest for truth drove her to Scripture, apologetics, and historic Christian writings to uncover the truth. Her book, Another Gospel: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity, tells the story of her deconstruction and reconstruction.
Unlike many who share her story, Alisa did not move away from historic to progressive Christianity. She has remained firmly within the bounds of orthodoxy and has a passion to help others affirm the same historic faith, once delivered to the saints.
As Alisa wrestled with the claims of progressive Christianity, she realised that those claims represented something other than Christianity. “Progressive Christianity is not simply a shift in the Christian view of social issues. It’s not simply permission to embrace messiness and authenticity in Christian life. It’s not simply a response to doubt, legalism, abuse, or hypocrisy. It’s an entirely different religion—with another Jesus—and another gospel.”
Alisa is concerned that progressive Christianity is sneaking into evangelical churches and that, because it wears a guise of Christianity, people do not recognise it for what it is. Since its tendency is to create and celebrate doubt rather than certainty, its influence has shipwrecked the faith of many. Progressive Christian leaders pose dozens of questions and pretend as if those questions don’t have answers. Alisa recalls the questions that were raised in her experience and presents the answers that drove her back to historic Christianity.
While progressive Christianity touts itself as presenting new answers to old questions, Alisa correctly notes that it is hardly as novel as it likes to believe. “Like the unorthodox movements that came before them, progressive Christians are not teaching anything new. They are simply giving old ideas a new voice, a distinct spin, and an updated image.” The surest way to avoid the errors of progressive Christianity is to embrace the sufficiency of Scripture. Where “progressive Christians view the Bible as primarily a human book and emphasize personal conscience and practices rather than certainty and beliefs,” historic Christians have always “been in agreement that the Bible is cohesive, coherent, inspired by God, and authoritative for our lives.”
Because progressive Christianity tends to celebrate doubt over certainty, it is difficult to define exactly what it affirms. It has no formal statement of faith. “It offers a hundred denials with nothing concrete to affirm.” As someone who confronts this error head on, Alisa winsomely relates her own story and, as she does so, draws attention to some of the key tenets of progressive Christianity. She shows what to look out for and offers orthodox, if somewhat cursory, answers for many of the questions that progressives raise.
Lee Strobel writes that Another Gospel “may be the most influential book you will read this year.” While the book certainly has a place, it is important to locate what that place is. Alisa does not pretend to give definitive answers to every progressive challenge. This is not a thoroughgoing apologetic against progressive Christianity. Each chapter could easily be more broadly developed into a book of its own. Her work is not a scholarly analysis of each progressive tenet she highlights. Her goal, instead, is, by means of personal memoir, to highlight the insidious influence of progressive Christianity within evangelical churches and to point the reader to the fact that progressive challenges should not be left unanswered. Christianity has answers to these questions, even if all the answers are not detailed in this book.
One benefit of Alisa’s work is that it helps make sense of the many deconstruction stories that are so prevalent today. She concludes,
If I became convinced that Christianity was not true, I would not become a progressive Christian. If I became persuaded that the resurrection of Jesus never happened, or that he was simply a good teacher or wise man to imitate, I would not adopt the progressive Christian view of the gospel, the cross, or the Bible. I would simply walk away from the faith. Because progressive Christianity offers me nothing of value. It gives no hope for the afterlife and no joy in this one. It offers a hundred denials with nothing concrete to affirm.
If you are looking for an accessible introduction to the dangers of progressive Christianity, you can do no better than to pick up a copy of Another Gospel. It will help you to identify progressive Christianity and begin pointing you in the right direction to answer the questions that this error proposes.
Alisa Childers is an American singer and songwriter who writes at alisachilders.com, an apologetics blog for doubting Christians and honest sceptics. She is a wife, mom, author, blogger, speaker, and worship leader. She was a member of the award-winning CCM recording group ZOEgirl. She is a popular speaker at apologetics and Christian worldview conferences