The Kingdom of God Within: A Challenge for Progressive Christians

Column by Rev. Brandan Robertson on 5 January 2023 0 Comments

At the heart of the Christian faith is the central command of Jesus to love God by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. In other words, the precursor to effectively loving God and effectively loving others is to build a healthy rhythm of self-love.

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With the recent introduction of Artificial Intelligence tools like ChatGPT, how worried should pastors and other writers be about the possibility of being replaced by “Rev. Skynet”?


Dear Connor,

Short answer? Based on some of the lousy sermons I’ve heard in my day, some clergy should be REALLY worried. But first, this technology is so new (released at the end of November 2022), that few people have even had a chance to use it, let alone have an opinion on its threat or promise. So first, what is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a “chatbot” designed and developed by the for-profit company, OpenAI. The GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) component is a learning neural network trained to respond to questions by aggregating internet data and then generating text responses. It is blazingly fast, frighteningly accurate, and — for a computer — mind-blowingly creative. Should pastors be worried about it taking their jobs? Don’t ask me! Ask ChatGPT!

After simply registering at, I typed in the following: “100 words on the potential ChatGPT has for writing sermons for pastors.” In less than ten seconds, the bot provided the following text:

ChatGPT is a powerful language model that has the potential to assist pastors in writing sermons. By inputting a topic, ChatGPT can generate relevant text that covers different angles on the topic. While ChatGPT can be a useful tool, it's important for pastors to use their own knowledge and experience to craft their sermons and ensure they are meaningful to their congregations. Pastors should also carefully review any output from the model before using it in their sermons.

What about plagiarism you ask? Not to worry. In its first month, countless desperate students have already turned to ChatGPT to generate their final essays for teachers across the country. The teachers, suspicious of the high quality of the essays, ran the essays through plagiarism detection software and, voila! Few to no violations. Why? Because what ChatGPT generates is totally original. Granted, it can be a little dry and encyclopedic, but it is otherwise trained to be creative in presenting the data it collects from the internet.

Case in point, I next asked the bot to “Write a 100 word persuasive description of Progressive Christianity.” Again, in TEN SECONDS flat, it wrote the following:

Progressive Christianity is a movement that values inclusivity and social justice. It encourages individuals to interpret the teachings of Jesus and the Bible in a way that resonates with their own experiences and understanding of the world. Progressive Christians also prioritize social justice and actively work towards a more equitable and inclusive world. This movement offers a fresh approach to faith that is both rooted in tradition and open to new ideas. It is relevant, inclusive, and empowering, and has the potential to make a positive impact on the world.

Not bad! It may not replace the creativity of Mark Sandlin, but it may replace ME! Seriously though, if I’ve got writer’s block and can just ask ChatGPT to get me started on a topic, what a gift! In short, ChatGPT promises to revolutionize the way creatives go about their work and the fundamental value of what creatives have to offer. If just anyone can generate a factually accurate description of Progressive Christianity by simply asking a question of an AI, the unique insights of creative and inspiring leaders will become all the more valuable.

Make no mistake, this is a revolution in the making. ChatGPT will write computer code, make suggestions for celebrating a 10-year-old’s birthday party, compose poetry, or provide step-by-step instructions for cleaning the carburetor on a ’57 Buick (true! I tried it!). One wag on Tik-Tok entered a dozen random ingredients from his refrigerator and the bot came back with a detailed recipe on how to use each and every item in preparing dinner (which he claims was delicious). Not only that, but the same company also just launched the DALL·E digital image generator that, given written prompts, will create never-before-seen works of art in whatever style you request.

So, should pastors be worried? Nope. Excited. Harnessed for research and inspiration, AI bots like ChatGPT promise to stoke all kinds of creativity and productivity. Of course, the same thing was said about AI right before Skynet wiped out humanity, too. So, use it while there’s still time!

~ Rev. David “Skynet” Felten




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