The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity

The Phoenix Affirmations, named for the town in which the principles were created and the mythological bird adopted by ancient Christians as a symbol of resurrection, offers disillusioned and spiritually homeless Christians and others a sense of hope and a more tolerant, joyful, and compassionate message than those we often hear from the media and some Christian leaders. These twelve central affirmative principles of Christian faith are built on the three great loves that the Bible reveals: love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self. They reflect commitments to environmental stewardship, social justice, and artistic expression as well as openness to other faiths. Transcending theological and culture wars, inclusive and generous in spirit and practice, these principles ask believers and seekers alike to affirm their Christian faith in a fresh way.

Review & Commentary

  • G. Richard Wheatcroft

    The Affirmations of twelve theological principles originated in Phoenix, Arizona, and were named for an ancient Christian symbol of resurrection. They were developed by the author, assisted by members and friends of the Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ. Eric Elnes is senior pastor of the Church and co-president of CrossWalk America, an organization committed to “resourcing, strengthening, and celebrating the emerging progressive Christian faith.” He states that his book “is the product not only of scholarly research and pastoral reflection, but of many public and private conversations for which I am most grateful.”

    The background of the book is the realization that over the past few years the media has been dominated by the proponents of biblical fundamentalism and religious extremists such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart. With this media focus, Elnes writes, “…it is easy to get the impression that Christians don’t have much to do with Jesus anymore.”

    Elnes is convinced, however, that the majority of Christians in our country “whether they realize it or not, are part of a fundamental shift taking place in the nature of Christianity.” He maintains that this shift has been occurring for more than a century. He writes, “As Marcus Borg has observed the shift is largely a product of Christianity’s encounter with the modern and post modern world, including science, historical scholarship, religious pluralism, and cultural diversity.” The shift is “generally referred to by scholars and church leaders as a shift toward ‘progressive Christianity’ or ‘an emerging Christian faith.’ It may very well turn out to be the most important shift in Christianity in the past five hundred years.”