Someone asked me: “taking Childers’ claim that ‘Progressive Christianity is another religion,’ do you think it’s possible to ‘fix’ it somehow to make it something you could agree with?”
I understand the spirit of the question: we should definitely strive to find agreement where we can. However, Childers’ thesis is not salvagable. As I demonstrate in Progressive Christians Love Jesus Too, she repeatedly strawmans and grossly misrepresents the views of specific individuals, confuses the particularities of her conservative evangelical theology with “historic Christianity,” and imputes malicious motives to those with whom she disagrees (i.e. claiming that they are wolves who only want to deceive sheep).
Consider this as an analogy: If Smith says “Mexicans are lazy” you can choose to criticize Smith’s statement as a harmful slur on a particular people group, or you could try to ‘fix’ it by noting that some Mexicans are lazy. But that is an example of misguided charity. Smith is not pointing out that merely some individuals in a group are lazy, a trivial observation that could be made about any national or ethnic group. Rather, he is making a xenophobic and racist claim that Mexicans in general are lazy. That slur is deserving of no charity: it deserves only to be refuted. Indeed, any charity one would grant to it would merely diminish or mitigate Smith’s offense by shifting attention away from what he did say to some very different claim.
By the same token, let’s say we try to find something in Childers’ claim with which we can agree. For example, “Well, at least some progressive Christians are sufficiently unorthodox that they could be considered to be in a different religion.” In that case, all we really do is abandon what she in fact claimed and substitute it for a truism she never endorsed. And notably, that truism is equally true of evangelicals (i.e. some evangelicals are also sufficiently unorthodox that they could be considered to be in a different religion).
As with the Mexican slur, that exercise in charity is ultimately misguided as it merely serves to obfuscate Childers’ actual claim and thereby minimize the offense of it. And diminishing the offense of ignorant and patently false slurs benefits no one.