Alisa Childers takes the reader on a journey through her crisis of faith in Another Gospel? A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity.
Along the path of her deconstruction and reconstruction, she offers an apologetic against progressive Christianity – a form of Christianity which she says offers a different gospel from the one taught by historic Christianity.
She begins the book by sharing a moment where she cried out to God in anguish as she wrestled with her doubt. Did God really exist? Were the pillars of her faith sound? In this moment of doubt, she said, “It felt like I’d been plunged into a stormy ocean with waves crashing over my head. No lifeboat. No rescue in sight.”
How did Childers get into this crisis of faith? Her upbringing was solid. She saw genuine faith and she saw that faith in action. “Feeding the hungry. Clothing the naked. Loving the outcast. This is what was modeled to me as genuine Christianity.” However, she notes, her faith was intellectually weak and unprepared for the coming assault.
The assault didn’t come from atheism or someone of another religion but from a progressive pastor. The pastor, whom she had learned to trust, invited her to a special class where “every precious belief I held about God, Jesus, and the Bible was placed on the intellectual chopping block and hacked to pieces.” These beliefs included the divinity of Jesus, the reliability of the Bible, and the Resurrection. This pastor was going through his own “deconstruction,” and bringing the class, and eventually the church, with him.
The class, and the arguments from the progressive pastor, sent Childers into a “spiritual black hole.” It rocked her faith, but she had enough left to ask God for rescue, to send a lifeboat. He did, and that lifeboat came in the form of books, podcasts, and seminary classes, which she audited. She dove into the intellectual pursuit of answering objections to historic Christianity posed by progressive Christians. Her renewed faith and this book are the fruit of that journey.
The book is effective for two reasons. First, and most importantly, it gives the story of a reconstruction. We have heard, and will continue to hear, stories of deconstruction, of people losing their faith in historic Christianity. It is refreshing to hear the story of someone who God pulled back from the brink.
Second, it works as an apologetics book. Childers deals with many issues, but two areas of importance stood out: The reliability of the Bible and the atoning work of Jesus. In these areas, Childers shows that she understands the main objectives leveled by progressives and effectively responds with her own research. The book doesn’t go especially deep, but it does give the reader resources for their intellectual pursuits.
One might ask: What is progressive Christianity? I frankly worried that her definition of “progressive Christianity” might just mean anything that doesn’t fit a narrow doctrinal path, but that is not the case. Instead, she understands progressive Christianity to be a form of Christianity that denies essential doctrinal beliefs and that undermines the way we come to those beliefs, the authority of the Bible. Childers describes progressive Christianity as “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6-9) and, by her definition, it is.
The danger with a book like this is that it might train someone to see “progressive Christianity” everywhere, to believe that disagreements on non-essentials mean that someone has denied the faith entirely. I believe Childers (mostly) avoids that danger.
A different sort of deconstruction
In the spirit of her book, I will be briefly autobiographical.
The descent of evangelicalism towards Trumpism over the past five years has led me to my own form of deconstruction. A sense of communal betrayal in 2016 led to disappointment and disillusionment. I discovered many things about my tradition that I didn’t know, though perhaps I should have, and that has caused me to ask questions of my identity (and sanity). This deconstruction has not led to a loss of faith, but it has required me to reevaluate certain (nonessential) positions. God is now “reconstructing” me, by his grace.
In the coming year, you will see me criticize aspects of evangelicalism. You may be inclined to interpret this as a move towards “progressive Christianity,” especially if you equate political conservatism with Christianity. They are not the same and I am not becoming progressive as Childers describes it. Feel free to call me out if I go too far, but understand that I critique, not because I have a bone to pick with the Church, but because I love her, because I love Jesus, and because I believe we need to be called back to faithfulness to Him above all. My aim is reform, not abandonment.
For those of you who are disillusioned with Christianity in its current form and are going through your own deconstruction, consider this: Many of you will be tempted to raze the building, not only to the foundations but beyond. Don’t throw baby Jesus out with the bathwater. Do the hard work Childers describes. Learn, not only from those critical of historic Christianity but those who love it as well and who are capable of distinguishing between faithful historic Christianity from the political and cultural trappings we cover it with.
 By Trumpism, I do not mean reluctantly voting for him despite his worst traits, but firm loyalty to him, because of those traits. I refer to brushing off his immoral behavior and crude language. I refer also to admiring his combativeness, being taken in by his lies, and agreeing with his harsh rhetoric on immigration.