The idea of a Progressive Christian is an oxymoron. One of the main goals of Progressive thought is to leave behind the history and culture of Western Christianity for a superior culture, a more “evolved” culture. Claiming both Christianity and Progress is to claim allegiance to two ideas, one old, the other new.
One of the undercurrents of this new, progressive culture, this emerging civilization, is a soft atheism. It does not directly deny the existence of God, but it finds that God is not truly necessary for human progress. There are two things that are required and these take precedent over any gods. First is the elevation of humans through scientific knowledge and improvement. Second is the elimination of human suffering through universal charity. These two pillars of science and “love” are keys to eliminating war, disease, and difference.
What is not needed in the Progressive movement is a belief in a creator, sin, or the need of salvation by transcendent powers, core tenants of a Christian faith. If a man believes in such things, fine and dandy, but he should understand that such ideas should be kept private because they are not considered established facts in scientific circles. They are merely subjective beliefs and nothing more. Religion is allowed as long as it aligns with the goals of the Progressive movement.
This is where Progressives who claim to be Christians deviate from Christianity and become atheist. Their attendance at church services and religious practices are not reflective of belief in Christianity as revealed reality, but belief in religion as an expendable means to achieve the Progressive ends.
In church services, the symbolic facets of the worship do not point toward the existence of God or the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as factual truth. Rather, they are symbolic of what Jesus symbolizes to them. For the Progressive Christian, Jesus was a mere man whose death is a symbol for universal pacifism and charity (God so loved the world). His death, burial, and resurrection are merely symbols to teach congregants that the old world of superstition and racism and sexism is dying and new world is emerging, a world of science and love.
Should there come a day where there are no more churches, bibles are relegated to museums, Jesus is a footnote in history, and God is a quaint thing vaguely remembered, the Progressive faith will continue strong. Their faith is not in God or Christ, but in man and man’s evolution toward utopia.
For all intents and purposes, they are atheists.
They just need to renounce Christ and be done with it.