Progressive Christianity: Why Is It Increasing and What Can be Done?
1 Thessalonians 5:6 says, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” Scripture often refers to the dichotomy of being asleep and being awake. While some references to those who are “asleep” apply to those who no longer live on the earth, there are many cases in which those who are “asleep” are very much alive, but they are living apathetic to the truth. Christians, on the other hand, are called to be “awake,” alert, and “sober.”
We live in a culture rapidly growing apathetic to truth, don’t we? However, it’s expected for a worldly person who claims no affiliation with religion to live ignorant of the truth. But when the indifference comes from the “church,” believers bare a different burden. Despite the message of modernity, the Bible is clear on many issues these so-called Christians have chosen to conflate. Their itchy ears have wandered into myths, and they’ve formed a religion based upon their truth, not God’s (2 Timothy 4:3).
As The Epoch Times’s Chris Smith reported, these progressive church policies, or the “wokeness,” increasingly entering the church have caused fractures among denominations. The United Methodist Church (UMC), a Christian denomination, has lost many churches as it embraces LGBT ideology. Another denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), has lost two churches (one was voted out) on similar grounds. The Southern Baptist Convention, considered to be the largest U.S. Protestant denomination, “lost one of its largest churches in California because it elevated women into leadership positions,” Smith wrote.
In one regard, it’s good that local churches are willing to walk away from faulty denominations, or that denominations are willing to part from faulty churches. However, the question remains: Why are these Christians bowing to the world’s standards in the first place?
Joseph Backholm, senior fellow at the Center for Biblical Worldview, shared with The Washington Stand, “In one sense this is a new problem, but in another sense it’s a very old problem.”
As to why this is taking place, Backholm explained, “The church has always wrestled with the challenge of being governed by cultural trends rather than the gospel.” Even so, it’s common for the enemy to adjust his means of attack. In this case, as Backholm put it, “The fact that Marxist theory in the form of ‘wokeness’ has become the new hotness in some Christian circles is a recent phenomenon in America.” But again, while this specific attack may be somewhat foreign to believers, we quickly recognize the same enemy behind it.
Backholm continued, “The first century church struggled with public displays of religiosity, circumcision, and what to do with meat sacrificed to idols, because those were the cultural convictions that conflicted with the gospel.” And now, he added, “the cultural convictions that conflict with the gospel have to do with identity, the source of truth, and whether God actually wants us to repent or mostly just wants us to be happy and comfortable.”
To a degree, it’s that simple. Christian or not, this world is fallen, and no person is fully exempt from the toxic fumes of sin. At least, not in this life.
As the world goes round, we recognize more quickly, as stated in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” These waves of persecution will continue to crash onto the shores of faithfulness until the Lord returns. And 1 Thessalonians 5:2 states, “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” So, even amid persecution, we are to be prepared.
Which leads to a second question: What should Christians be doing to prepare?
Christian author Eric Metaxas wrote in his book, “Letter to the American Church,” that “silence in the face of evil is itself evil.” He labors the notion that the church is called to stand against the culture as we engage in the spiritual fight regarding the principalities and powers of this world (Ephesians 6:12).
As such, Metaxas emphasizes the point that fighting evil does not politicize Christianity as some are concerned about, because it was never about politics. While the world and these woke, crumbling churches and denominations may see their beliefs as politically correct, “with the times,” and perhaps loving, it doesn’t change the fact that God’s truth is eternal. It never changes, and it never will. Any church that changes the message to fit the times is preaching a false gospel, and that is not an envious position to be in (Galatians 1:8).
James 1:12a says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,” and there are many means in which we do so.
First, we remember whose side we are on. Christian, you are on the winning team, and “thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Second, we stay fixed on “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” in all things, at all times (Hebrews 12:2a). And in looking to Jesus, we must consistently be in God’s word, which is truth (John 17:17).
But ultimately, what serves as the foundation for the Christian is the choice we have to make. We must decide how we are going to live in relation to who we are going to live for. And for the Christian, 1 John 2:6 states, “whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.”
Backholm put it plainly, “The solution to this challenge has always been the same.” He concluded, “We have to decide whether we’re trying to shape our minds around God’s word or whether we’re trying to shape God’s word around our minds. The former produces actual Christianity, the latter produces so-called progressive Christianity.”
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.