Volume 23, Issue 32 (August 8, 2021)
Progressivism and the Bible
By Kyle Pope
Defining “progressivism” is a little like “nailing Jello™ to the wall”: its meaning varies depending upon the time, the subject, the field, the discipline, and the people to whom it is applied. In the Progressive Party of 1912, “progressives” called for disclosure of campaign contributions, publication of congressional committee meetings, the right of women to vote, workers’ compensation for workplace injuries, and the right to remove political leaders from office.1 Yet, progressive movements of the period known to history as the “Progressive Era” (1890-1920s) manifested themselves in causes as diverse as the Temperance Movement (that sought to prohibit the sale and production of alcohol)2 to the Eugenics Movement (that sought to “improve human heredity by the social control of human breeding”).3
In our day, this ambiguity has improved very little. The political “progressive” claims to stand against corruption, oppression, and discrimination, and for democracy, transparency, accountability, freedom of the press, and non-violence.4 But, the same political “progressives” quickly silence free speech through “cancel culture”5 and embrace lethal violence within the womb.6 The religious “progressive” is no more consistent. In 2012, an organization known as the Center for Progressive Christianity published a statement known as “The 8 Points of Progressive Christianity.” In its first point it affirmed a belief in following “the teachings of Jesus,” but in its next two points it claimed “the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life” claiming to be “inclusive of ALL people . . . including all sexual orientations and gender identities.”7
A Better Way
Manmade philosophies and values inevitably lead to confusion and contradiction because they all come from the human mind that is frail, limited, and subject to bias, passion, and ignorance. Our Creator has set forth a better, more consistent, and clear path through the revelation of His word in the pages of the Bible. It teaches us . . .
About Human Life
Human beings were created by an omnipotent Creator, not formed by an accident of chance (Gen. 2:7; Isa. 44:24; 45:12). Our Creator knows us through and through and instructs us in what is best for us in this life and beyond (Ps. 139:1-4; Matt. 10:30-31; Deut. 10:12-13). Human beings have material bodies that are perishable and a spirit (created in God’s image) that is eternal (Gen. 1:27-27; Eccl. 12:7; 2 Cor. 4:16-18). God creates this eternal spirit within the womb (Ps. 139:13; Zech. 12:1).
About the Material World
The material world is a resource over which human beings have been given stewardship (Gen. 1:28; Ps. 8:6-8; 2 Cor. 9:10-11; 1 Pet. 4:10). We should be good stewards, using its resources responsibly for God’s glory (Prov. 3:9; Matt. 25:14-30; Col. 3:23; 1 Pet. 4:10). The material world is temporary—our ultimate goal lies beyond this life (Matt. 6:31-33; 24:35; Col. 3:2; 1 John 2:17). Growing in knowledge and understanding of the material world enhances appreciation of the intelligent Creator responsible for its existence (Ps. 19:1-3; 111:1-2; Rom. 1:20). While some materialistic scientific theories are in conflict with the Bible, the sound interpretation of Scripture is not in conflict with the facts of science (Ps. 14:1; 53:1; 1 Cor. 1:20-25; 1 Tim. 6:20-21).
About Gender and Sexuality
God created human beings with biological gender that is not subject to human choice (Gen. 1:27; 2:18-20; 2:21-23; 5:2; Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6). All genders are of value, but our Creator has equipped and assigned different roles and functions to different genders (Gen. 3:16; Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18; 1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-14; Titus 2:5). Human gender is inextricably connected with human sexuality and homosexual relations are always sinful (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:27-27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:8-11). God created sexuality as a beautiful part of the relationship He intends within marriage (Gen. 2:24-25; Lev. 18:8; Prov. 5:15-19; 1 Cor. 7:3-5; Heb. 13:4).
About Marriage and the Home
Our Creator established and defined the covenant of marriage (Gen. 2:24; Mal. 2:14-16; Matt. 19:6). While human beings can choose whether or not to marry, human beings cannot choose how to define marriage (Matt. 14:4; 19:10-12; 1 Cor. 7:1-40). Marriage is a lifelong covenant (Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:39). Fornication is the sole grounds for divorce (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). All sexual relations outside of marriage are contrary to the will of our Creator (Gen. 34:7; Deut. 22:22; 22:23-29). Our Creator designed the home to be a place of love and spiritual and emotional shelter (Ps. 127:3-5; Prov. 31:10-31; 1 Cor. 13:4-7; Col. 3:21; 1 Tim. 5:4, 8, 16; Heb. 12:5). God established order within the home with husbands as the head, wives as keepers of the house, and children in obedience to their parents (Exod. 20:12; Deut. 6:16; Eph. 5:22-33; 6:1-4; Col. 3:18-21; 1 Tim. 5:14; Titus 2:5). This order serves our needs and is maintained through love and parental exercise of measured corporal punishment for the purpose of the training and discipline of children (Prov. 13:24; 23:13-14; 29:15; Heb. 12:4-11). Parents hold the primary responsibility for material, emotional, and spiritual training of children (Gen. 18:19; Deut. 4:9; 6:6-9; 11:18-21; Eph. 6:4).
About Civil Government
Civil government functions under the authority of God to protect and serve the good of human beings (Rom. 13:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:13-15). Humans should not kill other humans whether in or out of the womb (Exod. 20:13; Deut. 5:17; Matt. 19:18; Rom. 13:9). Civil government is granted the right to exercise capital punishment for protection and the punishment of wrongdoing (Gen. 9:6; Rom. 13:4). Followers of Christ must submit to civil authority unless it requires the violation of God’s law (Acts 5:29; Rom. 13:1-6; 1 Pet. 2:14-15). It is the responsibility of the family and the individual to provide for one’s livelihood (Prov. 21:25; 2 Thess. 3:10-14; 1 Tim. 5:4, 8, 16).
About Proper Behavior toward Others
Human beings should treat one another with kindness, respect, and as we would want to be treated (Matt. 7:12; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 4:32; Phil. 2:4; 1 Pet. 3:11). Disciples of Christ should not lie but live lives characterized by honesty (Exod. 20:16; Deut. 5:20; Prov. 14:5; Eph. 4:25; col. 3:9). Disciples of Christ should not steal but respect the property of others (Exod. 20:15; Lev. 19:11; Deut. 5:19; Matt. 19:18; Rom. 13:9). Disciples of Christ should not curse and use foul language (Prov. 12:18; Eph. 4:29; Jas. 3:5-10).
About God’s Will for Us
Man does not have the instinctual ability to direct his own ways (Jer. 10:23). Following God’s law leads to blessings in life and beyond (Ps. 1:1-6; 19:7-11). God’s law for human beings is revealed within the Bible: with the teachings of the New Testament as the binding standard in this age and the Old Testament for our learning (John 12:47-48; Rom. 15:4; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). The violation of God’s law by omission or violation of divine instruction constitutes sin against God (John 14:23-24; 1 John 3:4; Jas. 4:17).
About Our Relationship with God
Sin committed by accountable souls severs our relationship with God (Isa. 59:1-2; Eph. 2:1-3). Only the shed blood of Christ can restore that relationship with God (Acts 4:10-12; Rom. 5:8-11; Col. 1:19-22). One comes into contact with the blood of Christ through faith, confession, repentance, and baptism into Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:28; 22:16; Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-11; Gal. 3:26-27). Once forgiven of sin, the faithful disciple of Christ continues in obedience to the teaching of the New Testament in life and worship of God (John 8:31; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 15:1-2; Phil. 4:9; Rev. 2:10). Faithful disciples of Christ identify with sound local congregations of Christians for worship and service to Christ (Acts 11:26; Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-30; Eph. 4:11-16). Local churches assemble together regularly for worship and encouragement (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Heb. 10:25). Worship under Christ involves prayer, singing, study, and observance of the Lord’s Supper and contribution for the Saints on Sunday (Acts 12:12; Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:18-19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). Members of local churches function under the headship of Christ in submission to scripturally qualified appointed elders and deacons (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:16-18; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; 3:8-13). While all genders have equal value before God, the Creator has reserved roles of leadership and public teaching for male disciples (1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-14). Female disciples may teach other women, children, and join in discussions with men in contexts outside the church assembly (Acts 18:26; Titus 2:3).
About Life after Death and Judgment
Upon death, one’s spiritual destiny is sealed with all souls going to hades awaiting final judgment (Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 20:12-13). When Jesus returns this universe will be destroyed and all souls will be judged by Jesus Christ (Matt. 25:31-32; 2 Pet. 3:10-12). At the final judgment those redeemed by the blood of Christ will attain an eternal home with God free of pain, decay, and death (Matt. 25:33-40, 46; Rom. 2:5-11; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; 1:17-19; Rev. 21:3-4). Those in sin will remain eternally separated from God under punishment (John 8:21; Matt. 25:41-46; 2 Thess. 1:5-11; Rev. 20:15).
The Creator’s plan for life on earth and provision for eternity is a consistent and clear path for us to follow. It demonstrates the unchanging wisdom of God. In a world of continual “regression” to the lowest forms of chaos and selfish imagination it represents what is actually the most “progressive” and beneficial platform ever known. Wise souls will yield to its guidance in every step and choice in life.
1 “Minor/Third Party Platforms, Progressive Party Platform of 1912” (Nov. 5, 1912) Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273288.
2 “Prohibition and Progressives: Progressive Movement Promoted Prohibition,” Alcohol: Problems and Solutions, https://www.alcoholproblemsandsolutions.org/prohibition-and-progressives/.
3 Bradley Thomas, “The Progressive Ideas That Fueled America’s Eugenics Movement” Foundation for Economic Education (Mar. 17, 2019) https://fee.org/articles/the-progressive-ideas-that-fueled-america-s-eugenics-movement/.
4 Sammy Kayes, “Principles of a Modern Progressive Movement,” The Progressive Times (Jan. 3, 2017) https://medium.com/tptimes/principles-of-a-modern-progressive-movement-a2c3f9e5d25a.
5 Editorial Board, “The Progressive Purge Begins,” Wall Street Journal (Jan. 10, 2021) https://www.wsj.com/ articles/the-progressive-purge-begins-11610319376.
6 David Weigel, “Progressives issue ‘statement of principles’ on abortion rights after Democratic leaders hint at softer stance,” Washington Post (Aug. 2, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/ 08/02/progressives-issue-statement-of-principles-on-abortion-rights-after-democratic-leaders-hint-at-softer-stance/.
7 “The 8 Points of Progressive Christianity,” ProgressiveChristianity.org, https://progressivechristianity.org/the-8-points/.