Where Do Progressives Want to Take the Church? (2)

by Richard Mansel, managing editor
confusedperson.jpgProgressive practices are eating away at the fabric of the Lord’s church. Employing emotions, rationalization and populism, they fashion a message that is slick and easy on the conscience. This is far removed from Christ’s call to bear our own cross (Mark 8:34-38).
One mantra is, “We don’t judge those who believe differently than we do.” This idea focuses on the person, not the doctrine. If hearts matter more than God’s will, then we will find a way to make the person right, no matter what it takes.
We will be very susceptible to rationalizing and reordering to protect the person’s feelings. While everyone may feel warm and fuzzy, God will not be pleased if we are disobedient to him and teach error (Galatians 1:8-11; John 14:15; Revelation 20:13). Christ’s will is disposable when happiness supersedes holiness.
Jesus did not mean that we should never judge anyone under any circumstances (Matthew 7:1) [We are actually judging their teachings and fruit to be erroneous]. God teaches that we have no right to judge others by a standard that God does not use to judge us (Matthew 7:2). Righteous judging does not eradicate right and wrong./1
Liberal denominational theologian, John Shelby Spong, while extreme, outlines an agenda of victory for progressivism./2 It involves altering the language and meaning of terms within Christianity, the abolition of sin as an antiquated notion, stripping the divinity from God and Jesus and the miraculous from Scripture and eradicating any boundary to salvation and happiness. In short, demolish and reorient all that characterizes Christianity until it is safe, harmless and, ultimately, worthless.
In the Lord’s church, many are accepting a diluted version of this agenda, often without realizing it. They may never approach the level of digression that Spong advocates, but any measure of it does serious damage.
When we hear theological terms uttered by progressives, we cannot blindly agree with their usage. They quite often mean something very different from what conservatives mean.
For example, a conservative in the church uses the term baptism to mean immersion for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16, et al). However, progressives in the church often employ a smarmy form of the word that is elastic enough to allow immersion for any reason, or even sprinkling, if the person desires. Unity, grace and fellowship are three other terms that are undergoing rapid redefinition under progressivism./3

“By calling ourselves progressives, we mean that we are Christians who invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable. [This includes] believers and agnostics, conventional Christians and questioning skeptics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities, those of all races and cultures, those of all classes and abilities, those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope; without imposing on them the necessity of becoming like us.”/4

We see a measure of this already in the church, as brethren become addicted to numbers and salaries and seek to reshape the fellowship of the saints. They become more like businesses than churches in that the customer decides what the church will be. Church growth becomes, in these cases, wrecking balls to the doctrines and borders of the kingdom.
Jesus is the head of the church. We are children in the family of God (Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 2:19-22). How dare we try to overthrow the kingdom and try to reshape it in our image! We must submit and let him lead. Christ is our model, not the denominational world.


1/ How Dare You Judge Me!

2/What is this New Progressive Theology?

3/ Saved By Grace Through Faith

4/ Center for Progressive Christianity

13 Replies to “Where Do Progressives Want to Take the Church? (2)”

  1. I wonder what these “progressives” would think if Paul lived today. He told the brethren to emulate him as he emulated Christ. Christ told us to become holy because He is Holy. Sounds like followers are to change to become alike to me. Hmmmm.

  2. Laura,
    Thanks so much for reading my article. I think that progressives would call Paul a legalist. We all are to follow Christ. Paul said to follow him as he was following Christ. However, Paul certainly didn’t want people to follow someone who was walking away from God!

  3. Richard, thanks for the article. It’s very timely and Biblical! Another passage that comes to mind is where Paul is enumerating sinful behaviors and says, “and such were some of you. But you have been washed.” The use of past tense (were) clearly indicates a change. But alas, if one is going to ignore one part of God’s word, why not another? The scary part is that Jesus said His words will judge us in the end. Ignoring any part of Jesus’ words is a very dangerous proposition. I pray that people will return to God’s word before it is too late.

  4. Laura, we can all come to the Lord and have our sins washed away. I hope you don’t think I am overlooking parts of God’s Word. Thanks for reading Forthright.

  5. No no… My comment was not a commentary on what you have written. It was more me thinking out loud about the “progressives” and how they use God’s word more like a Chinese-menu: pick and choose which parts they wish to accept and which to ignore. It is certainly true that non-progressives can do that as well, perhaps ignoring some small sin in their lives and rationalizing it away. We all need to be on the lookout for varying degrees of this kind of behavior — myself included!
    Keep up the good work! 🙂

  6. Laura, my apologies for not understanding. Thanks for your kind words and for your good thoughts!

  7. The focus on self instead of becoming like Christ is the problem. The last point in their litany of error is obvious.
    If we desire to be like Christ, we will forget the worry of making them ‘become like us.’
    When others look at me, I want them to see Christ, not me.

  8. Great article! Another part of the progressive syndrome has to do with the inspiration of the scriptures. Progressives don’t believe it, so they make a point to say, “Well, Paul wrote this letter differently than one he’d write to the churches,” or “Paul wrote this and he was sexist,” or something else that would take away from the verbal and plenary inspiration of God’s word. In one class I was in recently, the teacher summarized 2 Timothy 3 and NEVER even discussed the inspiration of the Bible.

  9. Denise,
    Good point. We can’t be truly united until we all focus completely on Christ.

  10. John,
    You’ve hit on a good point. Men try to get a bunch of people to agree and calls it unity. Scripture says that everyone agrees with Christ, then they are united. The first group often sees Scripture as the barrier to their unity. The latter group knows that unity cannot occur without it.

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