Wild Goose Festival as pagan nature worship?

A couple weeks ago, I made mention of this year’s Wild Goose Festival—an annual confab of progressive “Christians” and ex-evangelicals. Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, and Frank Schaeffer all had a part in program. The group Jars of Clay was among the musical acts that performed. This year’s Festival also featured a program called Carnival de Resistance. Alexander Griswold’s description of the “Carnival” sounds like borderline nature worship. Here’s an excerpt:

When it came time for the “water blessing ceremony,” audience members were instructed to remove their shoes, because we were standing on “holy ground.” That’s when I decided to leave. I’ll do a lot for the sake of journalism, but sacrilege isn’t one of them. I suppose from there the Carnival could have transitioned into a celebration of traditional Christian beliefs where someone even mentioned Jesus. But every indication was that the participants’ theological beliefs extended no further than the tenets of radical environmentalism…

From what I saw of the Carnival de Resistance, it perfectly encapsulated much of what is wrong with modern progressive Christianity, or at least the granola-crunching, organic latte-sipping brand one finds every year at Wild Goose. Theological truths and doctrines were ignored or downplayed in favor of overt political posturing. Christianity was acknowledged as merely one of many faiths, deserving of only token mentions. Creation was celebrated and acknowledged, but in a manner that teetered on the edge of nature worship. The Water Show wasn’t praise to God for the gift of water; it was praise to Water for the gifts of Water.

I can hardly understand how any evangelical—progressive or otherwise—could be associated with this. Read the rest here.


  • Ian Shaw

    Why am I not surprised to see the band ‘jars of clay’ at an event described “wild goose festival” and “relativism”. Should have seen it coming. They played the fence for years. Even form the beginning, there was an interview stating that.

    Glad I never got into their music. I’ll stick to DH and LS. At least they’re talented and stand for something.

  • Chris Ryan

    When you break things down politically, I’d say progressive Christians are no better/worse than conservative Christians. Both groups generally ignore those parts of the Bible with which they politically disagree. And the examples are as legion on the right as they are on the left. But that’s a pretty broad generalization, I rather doubt Wallis was out there worshiping water.

    • Lauren Bertrand

      Couldn’t have said it better. Also, few things are more patronizing than to place a label within quotes in order to trivialize the group that identifies with it, simply because of political differences. Would it be fair for me to call the Southern Baptists “Christians” (or pseudo-Christians, if you will) simply because the denomination owes its existence to the support of the diabolical institution of slavery? Of course it wouldn’t be fair. Furthermore, are these Christian (ahem–“Christian”) environmentalists blowing up bridges or shooting loggers? If not, why are they radical? Is it simply because they are slightly to the left of Evangelicals, who think any environmentalism (feminism, atheism) is radical?

      I can assure you that it is hardly just the progressive Christians for whom this statement applies: “Theological truths and doctrines were ignored or downplayed in favor of overt political posturing.” Chris Ryan is correct.

      • Ian Shaw

        Yes, environmentalists have committed off the wall acts of violence at times, but it’s more newsworthy to talk about an abortion clinic bomber (still wrong) than to medntion a group of environmentalists breaking the law.

  • Esther O'Reilly

    They sound like the Unitarians. A folk singer named Peter Mayer has some borderline to over-the-border eco-worship songs in the Unitarian “hymnal.” These includes titles like “Everything is Holy Now,” “God is the River,” and “O Sun.” Apparently he would fit right in at Wild Goose.

  • Gus Nelson

    There is an old saying: if you sleep with dogs, you wake up with fleas. This is why people have to be serious about their associations and why they matter. McLaren, Wallis, and others may or may not agree with this carnival thing in all its aspects, but they don’t get a pass when they allow themselves to be prominently associated with it. That’s why when guys like Al Mohler and Ravi Zacharias are asked to speak at Mormon gatherings, they are absolutely clear about the differences in their beliefs. It’s the same reason Liberty University got so much flack for letting Glenn Beck make a theological speech a few months back. Appearing to endorse something without clearly distinguishing your beliefs will become an endorsement by silence.

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