The Problem with Progressive (Woke) 'Christianity'
The minister said something along the lines of: 'We seek to create safe, accepting environments where all people can cultivate a healthy spirituality, experience the love of Christ and the wholeness promised by Jesus Christ. We value compassion, justice, mercy and tolerance as exemplified by Christ. We strive to foster communities where all people can experience acceptance and love and work together for a more just society.'
These are the values of those who might describe themselves as 'progressive Christians.' At first glance, much of this sounds nice and kind and loving. But we must ask, as progressive expressions of Christianity grow, 'is this kind of sentiment biblical?' And, we must ask, 'is progressive Chrisitanity even Christianity?'
You might be asking 'what difference does it make? Why does this even matter to me? Why write about it?'
Because we are seeing a great exodus from historical Christianity in our culture. As 'wokeness' becomes a part of our culture as a whole, it is also growing as a counter-movement to historical Christianity. We are seeing many fall away from the faith to embrace the 'new orthodoxy,' and this should be of great concern. It is of great concern because Truth matters.
The problem we run into with such statements as paraphased above, are words and definitions. We can affirm that many of these words and phrases are good, but only if we are thinking of the words and phrases in biblical terms.
For the progressive Christian, the term and phrases are shaped by culture, not Scripture, and therefore have entirely different meanings.
Yes, as evangelical Christians who affirm the authority of the Scriptures, we do welcome everyone to our church services and gatherings. We want people to consider the claims of Christ and the gospel. We want to love people the way Jesus loved people.
But, that does not mean we water down the Truth or change the gospel to make everyone feel comfortable.
In other words, we take our cue from Jesus, not the culture.
In a recent conversation with a 'progressive Christian' the gentleman said to me, 'I believe Jesus made it clear:we are to love God and love people. How did He love people He ate with tax collectors and prostitutes and sinners. He didn't judge the woman caught in adultery. We aren't here to judge. That's what we (he and his church) are about. We affirm all people. Period.'
He was rather smug about his position. I guess he assumed that because I am an evangelical pastor I must be hateful and eager to judge.
Let's talk about his statement, and let's talk about what Jesus really said and did during His earthly ministry.
Yes, Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, and that is glorious and amazing! The people rejected by the religious establisment because they were 'unclean' were indeed loved by Jesus. And yes, Jesus showed mercy to prostitutes and outsiders and Samaritans and gentiles.
People gravitated to Jesus because He was unlike any religious leader they had ever seen or heard. He embodied the message He preached. He had authority. He healed the sick. He showed mercy to the outcast.
He stood up against the religious establishment that was more focused on the letter of the law than the heart of the law, loving God above all and loving others as we love ourselves.
But, Jesus didn't stop there. The masses loved the Jesus who hung out with sinners, who performed miracles, who fed thousands with a sack lunch. They loved the Jesus who welcomed little children and healed the sick.
But, when Jesus started making demands, they abandoned Him. John chapter 6 is a stunning example. Jesus said some powerful things about Himself. He made serious demands and claims. His claims and demands offended many. Most of the people following Him left that day. They abandoned Him.
The same Jesus who did all of these things loved by everyone also said: 'repent.' You won't find the word 'repent' used in progressive Christianity because that would imply that something was wrong, that someone was not 'okay,' that there is an actual problem we all have, a sin problem, that is so severe, we cannot fix it ourselves. 'Repent' means both a radical change of thinking and a radical change of direction. Jesus called out to people 'repent.'
He also said, 'take up your cross and follow me,' which is an invitation to die. If you want to save your life (live on your own terms), you'll lose it. If you lose your life for my sake (surrender to Him), you'll save it. '
Jesus said 'I am the way, the Truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me.'
And He also said 'unless you are born again, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.'
As for the outsiders he forgave, He often said strong things like 'go and sin no more.'
Progressive 'Christians' want the idea of being 'loved' by Christ but don't want the cross.
The cross confronts us all: all of us are sinners in need of grace. All of us have offended the Most High God and on that cross, Jesus Christ, God the Son, laid down His life willingly to endure God's righteous wrath against our sin, taking the punishment we deserve, and this is the part that is very uncomfortable for us if we are honest.
We have a serious problem and we are not 'okay.'
This is the ultimate problem with 'progressive Christianity,' it seeks to remove all of the things about Jesus that offend the sensibilities of the culture and our human condition, and in doing this, it denies Christ and distorts the gospel.
Do we love people? Yes. Do we welcome people? Absolutely.
Do we love them enough to preach the gospel, to speak the Truth in love? We must.
If we don't, if we remove repentance, the cross and if we remove Jesus' commandment to turn from our old way of living and turn wholly to Him, we fundamentally change the gospel and reduce Jesus to little more than an activist and an example of some vague concept of 'love.'
He is far more than that. He is King of Kings. He is Lord of Lords.
Yes, He invites us to learn from Him, to know Him. Yes He loves us.
And yes, He calls all of us to stop going in the direction we were going, to repent, and to humble ourselves before Him, to bow the knee to Him and Him alone, to ask for mercy and forgiveness, and in that, to experience His Amazing Grace and Love.
May we love everyone enough to not be ashamed of Christ or His gospel.
Grace to You,
More in Pastor's Blog
September 16, 2020Hope for a Spiritually Dead Culture
August 12, 2020The Problem with Progressive (Woke) 'Christianity'
July 14, 2020Christian Courage in the Age of Cancel Culture