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  • 49: New “Progressive Christianity”: An Old Liberal Swindle
  • 49: New “Progressive Christianity”: An Old Liberal Swindle

    I write this InsideOut on July 4th, the celebration of American independence, conscious of a squeamish American elite, now choking on their hot dogs, because they wonder how they can celebrate America’s “embarrassing” past, and “sort out the meaning of our common values… in this challenging new situation.” In this light, “transformation,” “progress” and “change, yes we can!” has an ominous ring; for the “new situation” is this—should Americans glory in a nation united around what de Tocqueville called “the transcendent universal [Protestant] religion”? Or should they rather glory in a planet unified by an all–inclusive notion of geo–politics, omni–gender sexuality and religious syncretism?

    “Christian” Liberalism has the answer. A United Methodist magazine, once called Zion’s Herald, has been re–baptized for the 21st century The Progressive Christian (all the following quotes are taken from the May/June, 2008 issue). Liberal Protestants no longer wave the banner of secular humanism or of atheistic Marxism. They are now spiritually progressive, combining evolutionary theory, geo–politics, medieval mysticism (The Cloud of Unknowing) and ancient Gnosticism (The Gospel of Thomas).

    Much of what Progressive Christians believe fits with the principles of the radical Emergent Village, emerging from Evangelicalism. Indeed, Liberal Progressives intentionally include “the more progressive evangelicals” in their ranks. In their descriptions of a “generous way” of “following Jesus” (not Christ, for Christ is far too “Christian”), the “progressives” echo Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy, in which he calls himself “a Jesus follower.” They focus on Jesus as a mystical human being for all the religions. This is not Jesus, the God/man and Savior, for their “progressive” religion denies sin, claims no unique means of salvation, and, like McLaren, accepts all: “believers, agnostics, atheists and all sexual orientations and gender identities.”

    Though “all–inclusive,” Progressives abhor the “modern heresy of fundamentalist Christianity.” Though rejecting absolute truth, they define their “god” as “absolute love, justice, and peace,” rejoicing to find their new absolutism in the “godless European Union with its insistence on equal justice for women and gay people.” The absolute mess which is present–day Europe, held up as the ideal for the future of America and the planet, ought to fill us with despair!

    Progressives are euphoric as they ride a new social wave of all–inclusive social justice globalism, for it provides a timely pretext to justify their basic unbelief about the Christian Gospel. With undisguised optimism they believe their time has come, in two ways:

    1. they rejoice in the theological implosion of historic Christianity, and, for the good of the planet, you understand, salivate over the fact that only “four percent of Bible believing teenagers will be Bible–believing Christians as adults”;
    2. they are eager to capitalize on, and I quote, “a historic opportunity to seize the country’s foundational narratives about itself, and recast them in a way that opens doors to the [global] future we seek.” Is this what the political Left, which also now describes itself as “progressive” and claims to be “Christian,” really means by “change”?

    Dear reader, we are at a critical moment were everything we have held dear is in serious jeopardy. The “recast foundational narratives” will doubtless include collectivist planetary governance, court sanctioned poly–sexuality and state–sponsored worship of the self and the earth as divine.

    Progressives strategically focus on three groups:

    1. “on the Left,” the unaffiliated spiritual seekers who have left the mainline churches because they can no longer hold to “conventional beliefs and doctrines,” and who call themselves “spiritual but not religious”;
    2. “on the right,” “progressive [emergent] evangelicals” who have become disaffected with “fundamentalism” and the “old time Gospel”;
    3. a third group, on the margins, includes openly–practicing neo–pagans (whose numbers roughly double every 18 months in the United States, Canada and Europe), and Western practitioners of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jewish Kabbalah.

    As the third millennium began, Frederic Baue (The Spiritual Society) predicted the coming of “a phase of Western or world civilization that is innately religious but hostile to Christianity…or worse, a dominant but false church that brings all of its forces to bear against the truth of God’s Word.”

    Is “Christian” liberalism beginning to join with spiritual pagans and activist courts, to demonize, marginalize, and ultimately silence the biblical message by defining the Gospel as a global hate crime?

    True faith will not go out with a whimper. In my work with Christian students I am encouraged to find young people who have begun to understand that (in their words) “family/marriage issues have to do more with an antithetical opposition to a Christian worldview than to mere democratic rights,” and that “the new spirituality…is the next battle we will have to fight as Christians.”

    It is time to get to work, helping our Bible–believing teenagers to become Bible–believing adults, as well as God–honoring citizens.