While I am sure that there are some seriously good snarky answers to this – and feel free to leave them if you want – I am seriously trying to figure this one out. Dictionaries haven’t helped and haven’t really found a good socio-political one. I’ve wondered about this many times as I often think that many of the frustrations I have with politically and theologically like-minded folks are rooted in subtle differences between what it means to be a “liberal” or a “progressive.” Sure, this could all be semantics and no person is one-dimensional, but in church, politics and other contexts I think there are some deep differences between the two that could use some fleshing out for the good of my mental health and friendships.
In short a liberal is driven primarily by the specific positions of platform while a progressive is driven by the process and conditions through which the broader community is moved towards those positions. The two are not mutually exclusive, but one must be careful to assume that they are necessarily one in the same.
Okay, there’s my contribution, so what do you think?