One thing that I have noticed in those who are pushing for what they call progress, is that they are usually tolerant of anything new and intolerant of anyone who questions their new idea. For the sake of this discussion I will call them progressives.
I have encountered progressives in the political realm and I have also seen them in the church. In this post, I will concentrate on what I’ve observed in the church.
The proverb, “before removing a fence, a wise man asks why it was put there in the first place” applies here. New is not automatically better, but neither is old automatically better. Fortunately, for the church, we have the revealed word of God in Scripture to use as our guide in evaluating ideas, both new and old. As Protestants, we do not elevate church tradition to the level of authority that those in the Roman Catholic Church do, but we should consider the basis on which the tradition was established before throwing it away.
The second problem with progressives in the church is that “progress” often implies that subtle changes to the Gospel are required. For example, preachers who focus on social justice can imply that those that do not conform to the leader’s understanding of current social justice ideas are deficient in their understanding and application of the Gospel. I have personally sat under such preaching and it is annoying at best and heretical at worst.
I am concerned that in our efforts to conform to current notions of social justice, the church is damaging its witness by adapting its message to ideology that is not, at its core, Biblical.
I have heard this new way of looking at racial issues called critical race theory (CRT). I have not studied this enough to have a complete understanding of what this means, but it does seem to have infiltrated much of the church. I observe that CRT actually promotes rather than heals division between groups. If I am wrong in this understanding, feel free to offer correction in the comment section below.
Telling one group that they are inherently racist because of the color of their skin seems inherently racist to me. How ironic it is that those who are ostensibly fighting racism use methods that actually promote it by reversing the direction of its application. Are we trying to bring unity and restoration or are we merely trying to reverse the power structures?
When a church stops teaching that we are all in need of transformation and begins to teach that some need more transformation than others, that church has ceased preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I understand that as a whole, the church has badly fallen short in obeying the second great command to love our neighbor as ourselves. The fact that Jesus called this a great command is an indication that we cannot possibly overemphasize this. Our application of this command should indeed transcend our differences as we seek to treat everyone with respect. It would not cause me heartburn if every sermon included an encouragement to obey this great command along with specific examples of how we can improve in obeying it. It is that important.
My problem with progressives and social justice warriors is that they are more often than not selective in how this is to be applied. Yes, we should be concerned that everyone gets treated fairly regardless of the color of their skin. But what about concern for the unborn who are killed by the thousands every day? What are we doing to solve the issues that cause homelessness? Are we going to stand up to the NEA to demand that alternative educational schemes be explored? Are we willing to examine all the ways that we fall short in how we love our neighbors or are we simply jumping on the current cultural bandwagon as a means of appearing hip and drawing people into the church?
The whole point of the reformation was to correct the “progress” that the church had made through the centuries. The progressives turned the church into something other than what Christ intended it to be.
Let’s not go down that path again.