A few weeks ago a reporter for CNN wrote a story about President Obama’s faith. In the story Obama is described as a “progressive” Christian. This begs a few questions: Who are progressive Christians? What are progressive Christians progressing towards? On what authority are they progressing?
At the end of the day, “progressive Christianity” is virtually indistinguishable from secular progressivism. The only difference is the terms they use to express their humanism.
For example, the use of “social justice” is widely bandied about in progressive religious circles. After all, who could be opposed to social justice?
We do find the idea of justice throughout the Bible and Christians have always worked hard to be agents of justice. But what the Bible teaches about justice and what the advocates of “social justice” are trying to achieve is not the same thing.
Social justice in the progressive movement is simply religious code for Marxist redistribution. The Biblical ideal of justice affirms equality under law for the poor, the widows and the orphans. It does not teach coveting and confiscating your neighbor’s possessions via the coercive arm of government.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW?
At the bottom of all arguments lie certain assumptions that must be affirmed in order to have a debate about anything. At the heart of this debate is the matter of knowledge.
For two thousand years the Christian Church has believed that we know what reality consists of and how we are to live based on what God has revealed. God has revealed Himself in the Bible, in creation, within man’s conscience and reason and in the person of Jesus Christ, the living logos of God.
Because God is not a liar, what He reveals is true. Therefore, true knowledge comes from trusting God’s revelation. Because man’s conscience and reason can, and do err, what man knows needs to be measured against what God has revealed in Scripture. Otherwise, we are reduced to one person’s subjective opinion verses another’s.
“Hath God indeed said?”
This is where the battle begins and ends; “Hath God indeed said?” Once we elevate our own ideas and opinions above what God has revealed we are thinking as humanists and have cut ourselves off from knowledge, rationality and the faith. This is true even if we use religious language while we do it, like progressive Christians.
I BELIEVE SO I CAN KNOW
If man doesn’t start with faith in God he destroys the very basis of knowledge. If there is no intelligent Creator and life is only accidental time and chance, then all man’s intellectual activity is ultimately reduced to random chaos and meaninglessness.
For the unbeliever there is no basis for knowledge, reason or ethics. But, no one can live in this fanciful world of unbelief. Man must live as if his life has meaning and as if there is such a thing as morality and truth. It’s the only way we can survive even if the unbeliever can’t account for it.
So, believers are consistent within their worldview and have a justification for knowledge, reason and ethics. Those that refuse to submit to God and His revelation are inwardly conflicted and morally hypocritical because they can’t live out their unbelieving worldview.
THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO
Christians have always affirmed the authority of the Bible as an essential foundation of their faith. Jesus affirmed the authority of God’s Word. You can’t say that you are a follower of Jesus Christ then deny what Jesus said about the Bible. That’s irrational on its face and denies the Lordship of Christ.
That’s not to say that everything the Bible teaches is equally transparent, but most essential doctrines and ethical tenants sit on the surface of the Bible, like the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount etc.. Some doctrines must be inferred by comparing scripture with scripture and making logical and necessary inferences, as for example with the case of the doctrine of the Trinity.
But for progressives its not what is unclear or what they don’t know about the Bible that offends them, its what is clear and what they know it teaches. They have an agenda and they can’t find support for it in the Bible, so they twist the clear teaching of the Bible to assert the opposite of what it teaches. So they play semantic games and mislead the uneducated.
Obama is the master of progressive obfuscation. When he flip flopped and came out in support of homosexual marriage, Obama invoked a general principle of Christianity to treat others the way we would want to be treated. The problem with this is there is a moral standard taught in the Bible that forbids homosexuality. You can’t pit the ethics of the Bible against itself.
If we consistently applied Obama’s twisted logic we would have to empty all our prisons, because that is the way the law-breaker would want to be treated. But we don’t treat the murderer or the thief on that basis. Obama is selectively unbiblical and demonstrates his progressive irrationality and immorality by excusing and promoting sodomy.
GROWING IN KNOWLEDGE
When it comes to knowledge as a Protestant, we confess that we are reformed yet always reforming. That means as Protestants we are committed to reforming all things according to what the Bible says. The Protestant reformation was born out of a reaction to centuries of manmade doctrines and traditions that had no basis in the Bible. For Protestants the Bible is sufficient in itself to reveal what we need to know and do.
Yet, as Protestants, we are always seeking to be more faithful to the Bible as the Holy Spirit enlightens the church. God has opened up the truth of the Bible to His people over time as they wrestled with the meaning of what God revealed. We aspire to do justice to whole council of God’s Word. All God has declared we must believe and obey. That’s the rub.
PROGRESSING TO IRRATIONALISM
The problem with “Progressive Christians” is not that they have progressed into a more accurate and robust understanding of the Bible. They simply reject the Bible’s doctrines and ethics.
They retain a form of godliness by invoking the name of Jesus and quoting the Bible when it suits them. But, they cherry pick things in the Bible they prefer and despise the rest. This is intellectually dishonest and hypocritical. By exalting their own ideas of morality, they have cut themselves off from God and His revelation. They have made themselves their own god, therefore they have become God’s enemy.
THE BIBLE TO THE RESCUE
It was biblical Christianity that rescued the world from the failed Greek philosophy and ethics that crashed on the rocks of finite human reason. Modern enlightenment rationalism likewise has exhausted itself and ended in bankrupt postmodern relativism and existentialism. Both attempts to reason apart from God resulted in irrationalism and immorality.
Without knowledge and ethics there can be no society. That’s why the founders built America on the self-evident truth of the laws of nature and nature’s God found in the Bible. There’s no other sure bedrock on which to build.
Once we restore our frame of reference to that which God has revealed only then can we make sense of God’s world and our place in it, including our moral duty to believe and obey His Word.
BORROWED INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL
Because humanism cannot construct a basis for knowledge or ethics they borrow these ideas from Christianity and then use it as a basis to attack Christianity. Obama and his progressive friends are hacking away the very limb of knowledge on which they are sitting.
It’s our job to expose progressives, secular or religious, and oppose them even as the Apostle Paul did in his day. The challenge he laid down stands unanswered to this day and it is our challenge to Obama and his acolytes.
1 Corinthians 3:19 & 20: It is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this age?
Let God be true and every man a liar.