Your support is helping expand Progressive Christianity. We are one of the largest sources for progressive theological perspectives, as well as our thousands of resources. It is hard to overstate their value – every time you donate it expands our ability to do all those essential offerings even better. DONATE NOW!

    • Martin Thielen
    • Martin Thielen has served as a minister in the United Methodist Church and the Southern Baptist Convention. He has pastored small, medium, and large churches, including a megachurch of ten thousand members. He also worked as a national denominational editor, consultant, and adjunct seminary professor. He holds a bachelor of arts, a master of divinity, and a doctor of ministry degree, plus a year of Ph.D. studies at Vanderbilt University. Martin is the author of hundreds of articles and eight books, including the best seller, What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? His website, Doubter’s Parish, helps thinking people navigate faith in the twenty-first century. The books, articles, stories, and posts are all free, including his new downloadable novel, An Inconvenient Loss of Faith. You can visit the site at www.DoubtersParish.Com.

Orthodox No Longer: Interviews with Seven Nontraditional Believers

Most traditional Christians believe in an all-powerful and all-knowing, loving heavenly father who supernaturally intervenes in the world, who can be experienced directly through prayer, and who performs miracles. My small group of seven unorthodox persons no longer believe in that kind of personal, supernatural, and interventionist God.

read more

The Night I Stopped Believing in Substitutionary Blood Atonement

Almost two decades ago, during a combined Holy Thursday/Good Friday worship service, I told a true story from the Holocaust. The story involved a Polish army sergeant named Franciszek Gajowniczek and a Franciscan priest named Maximilian Kolbe.

read more

Pandemic Pastors

In January and February 2022, I communicated with several dozen clergypersons across the country, seeking their perspective on pastoral morale after two years of serving churches during a pandemic. Participants included a diverse mix of gender, age, location and denomination. Almost all of them said that clergy morale, including their own, stood at an all-time low.

read more

Leaving Church?

before long, my grandchildren will be vaccinated, and I’ll be able to go back to church. But the haunting truth is, I’m not sure I want to return to an institution that consistently untethers itself from the life, example, spirit, and teachings of Jesus.

read more

The Toxic Evangelical Variant

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the evangelical church saved me in every way a person can be saved. They introduced me to Jesus. They became the family my childhood family could not be. They loved and affirmed me. They educated me. They gave me a vocation. And they gave me exceptional opportunities of service. Although I left the evangelical church years ago for a more progressive expression of faith, I’ve always appreciated the gifts they gave me.

read more

“God Is No Longer a Working Number”

Rethinking Christianity for the Twenty-first Century

For millions of people across the globe, God (as we have historically known God) is no longer a working number. Neither is traditional theology or the institutional church. In response, many of these spiritual skeptics have given up on religion altogether. However, plenty of them are still searching for a faith that can work in the modern world.

read more

It’s (Past) Time to Raze Hell

Some orthodox believers argue that the flames of hell should not be taken literally since hell is also described as a place of utter darkness. The point is, they argue, hell is a bad place, a place where God is not to be found, and a place where there is no hope. Literal flames or not, the traditional doctrine of eternal punishment should be an unacceptable belief for followers of the one who ate with sinners, blessed little children, and forgave his executioners.

read more

The Self-Destructive American Church

I talk to a lot of people who grapple with religious doubts. Many of them harbor doubts about traditional faith, including a personal, supernatural, providential, and interventionalist God. An even larger number of them express doubts about institutional religion.

read more

Six Lessons I’ve Learned about Doubt

In recent decades, tens of millions of Americans have left their churches and other places of worship, and that trend shows no sign of abating. Instead, it’s almost certain to accelerate. Although motivations for departing organized religion are numerous, doubts about God, institutional religion, and traditional beliefs lead the pack.

read more

Retired pastor starts online ‘Doubter’s Parish’

Retired United Methodist pastor Martin Thielen reaches out to skeptics and struggling Christians, offering help and solidarity through his website, Doubter’s Parish. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Martin Thielen.

read more

A Colossal Failure of American Religion

The American church has enjoyed many successes. Unfortunately, it’s also been guilty of numerous failures.

read more

On Losing and Keeping Faith

I became a Christian believer as a teenager in a conservative evangelical church. Since then I have lost much of my youthful faith. For example, I have lost faith in a literal Bible. It’s beyond me how people in the twenty-first century can still believe everything in the Bible should be taken literally.

read more