While I agree that the Sojourners rejection of an LGBT welcome advertisement is a solid reason to repudiate Jim Wallis as the “the embodiment of Progressive Christianity,” I feel that this flap adds little to the ongoing saga of Wallis versus others who are left of the Christian Right—whether their top concerns are about LGBT justice or a wider set of issues.
First, Wallis’ tent has long been too small—and on more issues than simply LGBT justice and abortion rights. People on the religious left have often felt that he doesn’t speak for them, even leaving these two issues aside. Already in the 1970s and 1980s when Wallis became influential, he was standoffish toward many forms of liberationist theology.
When neoconservatives mobilized to demonize and defund ecumenical left networks centered in the mainline denominations and National Council of Churches, he tacked toward the center. True, he took up a place to the left of many politicians and evangelicals, especially on issues of peace and economic justice—but also well to the right of prospective “tent-mates” in the ecumenical world. Differences were especially clear on a range of feminist issues, as well as Sojourners magazine’s coolness toward scholarly work in Christian thought and ethics that was critical for maintaining the strength and credibility of left-liberal Christianity in the universities.