Philosophies of Man

Progressive Christian?

There is a ‘movement’ in Christianity called Progressive Christianity. It came riding on the back of the ‘Emerging Church’ movement.  But is it really ‘progressive’? How?  One would assume by the description that it is a movement climbing higher in the faith, reaching greater depths of spiritual knowledge in Christ, having innovative and effective ways of making disciples. But what do we really find with this movement?
One particular ‘progressive’ church says this on their website:-“THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS OUR WAY OF BEING FAITHFUL TO GOD. BUT IT IS NOT THE ONLY WAY. Christianity is the truth for us. But it is not the only truth.”
Another statement they make is this:- “AS A PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, WE DO NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST WOMEN OR THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY IN HIRING, LEADERSHIP, OR MEMBERSHIP. We teach children, youth, and adults that love means treating all people as we ourselves want to be treated, regardless of gender, preference, identity, or expression. There are no glass ceilings at Bethel. Our Christian faith is 2000 years old, but our thinking is not.” (the quote above is not from Bethel in Redding, California)

Let’s examine these statements and compare them with what actual Bible-based Christianity teaches us.
“The Christian faith is our way… but not the only way… it is not the only truth” – this is based on the presupposition that there are other valid ways to reach or follow God. Really? How would the very Founder of the Christian faith – the Messiah (Christ) Jesus, respond to this claim?  

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” 

John 14:6

So, if the One whom the Christian faith is founded upon is saying He is the ONLY way, then how can the ‘Progressive’ view also be right?  They would therefore have to reinterpret the words of Christ our Lord to make it fit with their more liberal theology.  Here is an example of such a reinterpretation:-
“Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life in a very particular way. It’s the way, and the truth, and the life of nonviolent love. As he was saying goodbye to his disciples, he was preparing them for his death. Jesus said, “And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Where was Jesus going? He was going to the cross. He was going to become the victim of human violence.” Examining this, we see that the ‘Progressive’ teachers have to first convince themselves, then those they teach that the context of what “the way…” means is not what traditional/orthodox/historic Christianity has said it means.  But the orthodox (as meaning conforming to the traditional or generally accepted) way of understanding has never, in historic Christianity, meant what the ‘Progressives’ say it means. Going to the cross to be crucified was never about ‘becoming a victim to show non-violent love’.  But it was, and always will be, about WHY.

 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

1 Corinthians 15:3

By apostolic authority in the 1st century Church, we understand that Christ Jesus died, not to show us a ‘non-violent love’ because of being a victim of circumstance, but because of our sins – our falling short of God’s glory, our innate rebellion against a Holy God.  Yet the ‘non-violent love’ does in some way come into this, not in the ‘Progressive’ interpretation, but in the fact that God is love innately, and providing the pure sinless sacrifice for our sins shows us that true love.
To teach that Christ Jesus suffered for us in the ‘Progressive’ way, actually undermines the whole Gospel message.  There is no Gospel (good news) if the bad news of our sinful rebellion directing us to hell is downplayed or shoved under the carpet.  However, we must also understand why this particular movement is called ‘Progressive’.  What are the ‘Progressives’ concerned about progressing? Let’s look again at the second ‘Progressive’ quote stated earlier:-
“AS A PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, WE DO NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST WOMEN OR THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY IN HIRING, LEADERSHIP, OR MEMBERSHIP. We teach children, youth, and adults that love means treating all people as we ourselves want to be treated, regardless of gender, preference, identity, or expression. There are no glass ceilings at Bethel. Our Christian faith is 2000 years old, but our thinking is not.”
So, the ‘Progressive’ Christian is concerned about social justice, being non-discriminatory, treating others as we would like to be treated.  This in itself is what historic orthodox Christianity already teaches us in the pages of the New Testament of the Bible.  In fact, it was also taught prior to the Incarnation of Christ and birth of the Church.  We see an example in the writings of the prophet Micah:-

 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy,  and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

Yet, the interpretation of justice and mercy in ‘Progressive’ understanding, is to promote those who are in particular human states into active service and leadership.  This is more political than Biblical.  But it’s understandable that if our need for redemption from our sins is downplayed, then of course it doesn’t matter whether someone in a same sex relationship or a man who thinks he’s a woman (& vice versa) wants to be in church leadership or other particular service in the church.
If the foundational truths of a movement are erroneous, then what they build on that foundation will also be erroneous.  They become ‘the blind leading the blind’ which is the Lord Jesus’ rebuke to the religious Jews of the times.  If the teachers are blinded by other motives, their teaching will be deceptive and lead others astray.  Or if the foundational truths are in place, but the people of influence decide that the foundational truths are no longer adequate or ‘relevant’, then this leads to what is called ‘apostasy’.

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons,

1 Timothy 4:1

We are seeing in these times a progressive departing from the faith. We are seeing a reinterpretation of the Christian faith, which means a reinterpretation of what the Founder of our faith has revealed. We are NOT ‘progressing’ if we accept a different Gospel message.  We would in fact be regressing into apostasy.  We are taught:-

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

If you know someone who is a sincere true Christian but has started visiting a ‘Progressive’ congregation, warn them lovingly.  Help them.  Share this posting with them.  Explore why they strayed from or became disillusioned with a Biblically-based church. Pray for them… and may we remember to pray for the Church in general, in particular those true shepherd leaders who face spiritual attacks and temptations yet need to stand firm.

4 thoughts on “Progressive Christian?”

  1. Really informative post. If these people ‘do’ read their bible they certainly ‘don’t’ believe in its absolute authority. Everything is relative to these people and therefore subject to change.
    Scripture says in Psalm 11:3 If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?.
    May God deliver these progressive Christians from their error.


  2. Progressive Christianity? This reminds me of what some Muslims have also claimed, that their faith is actually a progression of the Judeo-Christian faith. They say: “Why would you want an older version of an iPhone or Samsung, when you can have access to the latest version?” Referring to their faith being the ‘latest’ version. I call this misplaced logic. Faith is not a ‘technology’ that one improves upon within the realms of reality and science. Faith is reality and science itself, created and set in motion by God. God does not change, therefore the reality God has placed within the space time continuum is from God Himself, and anything different from this standard is actually failing and falling before God.


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