Alisa Childers—blogger, podcaster, and former singer in the Christian band ZOEgirl—faced a crisis of faith when she attended a class led by her pastor in the early 2000s. The pastor “had a bone to pick with Christianity,” she says in her new book. The class ran for four years; she lasted four months. Childers says the pastor prompted a crisis of faith in basic Christian beliefs such as the inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth of Jesus, and whether Jesus’ resurrection actually occurred.
Those questions and doubts lead her to research the historic Christianity of the Bible and early church fathers. She began blogging and podcasting on her findings, ultimately leading to her book Another Gospel? A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity (Tyndale Momentum, Oct.).
Childers talks with PW about her view that the basic tenets of Christianity detailed in the Bible can't be discarded.
(The interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
What is the difference between historic and progressive Christianity?
As I say in the book, “progressive Christians tend to avoid absolutes and are typically not united around creeds or belief statements.” But if we’re going to use the term Christian to describe ourselves, that means something; we can’t change the core tenets of Christianity and still say we’re Christians. Historic Christianity is built on the Bible, the Cross, and the gospel, which is the narrative arc of God’s redemptive acts throughout history.
What was your path to this book?
In 2016, I wrote a blog post titled “Five Signs Your Church Might be Heading to Progressive Christianity” that within weeks had 45,000 shares on Facebook. In 2017, I reviewed Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Wash Your Face, noting a lot of its messages are similar to progressive Christianity. It went viral, shared over a million times on social media in two weeks and 150,000 times on Facebook. I started getting calls from agents and publishers and decided it was time to write a book.
You mention Jen Hatmaker, Rachel Held Evans, and Brian McLaren as progressive Christians. What responses are you expecting?
I anticipate responses split down the middle, much like in response to my blog posts. One email will have someone thanking me for explaining something about historic Christianity, and the next one will be someone cussing me out. If people in the progressive movement read it, they won’t like it. I wrote the book for people who see red flags in the progressive movement but don’t have the language to explain why they are uncomfortable with its views on issues such as the reality of hell and Jesus’ death and resurrection.
What do you hope to accomplish?
My main goal is to interact with ideas, not demean people. I’m treating their material as fairly as I would like mine to be treated. My loyalty is to Christ first.