I was recently introduced to a term I wasn’t quite familiar with. Progressive Christianity. Encouraged to listen to Alisa Childers (a former CCM recording artist) on a Podcast hosted by Impact 360, I was able to draw a quick conclusion and decided to share my findings with you.
Impact 360 is an organization that equips high school graduates and teens, of this current generation (Gen Z), to be change agents in the world for Jesus. This podcast focused on the current trends around this notion of a progressive gospel. The movement seems to be a bit covert in terms of how younger folks mostly – but many older too – are being challenged around their traditionally taught belief systems.
Is Progressive Christianity Another Gospel? That was the question posed by Alisa in her new book. Her research and writings help one better understand the influences currently being initiated by an enemy seeking to derail anyone willing to abandon their Biblically-based journey with Christ.
So, what is Progressive Christianity? It sounds like it could be a good thing – making progress in our relationship with God perhaps. But progress is a neutral word. You can progress toward falling off a cliff OR toward life, health and healing. There’s a big difference waiting at the end of each of those experiences.
My immediate response was to parallel it with a progressive political, economic, or social agenda. As a conservative thinker, I was a bit skeptical. As it turns out – I should be.
C.S. Lewis said, “You never know how much you really believe until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life or death to you.”
That’s what buying into the relative truth of progressive Christianity brings. Death. Why would I say that? After all, it’s still Christianity, right? Surprisingly, there are many unsuspecting churchgoers sitting in pews unaware that their church has adopted a progressive theology.
Let’s go a little deeper.
Progressive Christians tend to avoid absolutes and are typically not united around creeds or belief statements. Progressive blogger John Pavlovitz wrote that in Progressive Christianity there are “no sacred cows”. Wait, what? Progressive Christians view the Bible as primarily a human book. It’s about our personal consciences and practices rather than certainty and beliefs.
They’re also open to reinterpreting, redefining, or even rejecting essential doctrines of the faith like the Virgin Birth, the Deity of Jesus, and His bodily resurrection.
As someone who believes the Bible is the inerrant word of God, there really isn’t any room to conveniently reinterpret what it says. I would define doing so as heresy. But there are many, so-called believers, being led astray by this false narrative. One can torture the scriptures into saying almost anything if you isolate certain texts and are not willing to look at the whole.
How do you boil a frog to death? You start with a simmer and the frog adapts to the environment little by little until it’s gone. Totally gone. If you throw him in a full boil, he’ll find a way out. Many Christians and even non-Christians are being indoctrinated little by little to this dangerous theology without realizing it.
This doctrine is causing a Crisis of Faith. Without question.
Based on a wide spectrum of beliefs, so as not to be deceived, we must remember and cherish the true doctrine presented by those closest to Jesus. His disciples. They wrote extensively about their experiences – inspired by the Holy Spirit to document these events accurately and above reproach.
Progressive Christians say that as time has progressed, we’ve been given an opportunity to see our faith evolve since the Disciples simply witnessed the faith in its infancy. In its baby stage, so to speak. As we evolve, we get to understand in a greater way who God is, and that it is an individual journey toward our relative truth. It can be different for different people – stating there is nothing absolute about Christianity, creating a crisis of faith.
The danger here is how influential this thinking can be to a developing mind. To younger folks whose faith is being established from the ground up. Also, for those who have been taught the true Gospel of Jesus Christ but are more attracted to the notion that THEY can decide what is right or wrong. Then left to interpret, in their own way, how to engage in their individual journey with a triune God.
Progressive Christians introduced this idea of deconstructing one’s faith – then reconstructing what may be more acceptable to them. Question everything. Tear it down and build it anew.
Unlike atheism, this system of belief comes from within the Christian community. It’s easy to reject the notion believed by atheists that there is no God. The vast majority of people on this planet believe there is a God. How they define Him may vary greatly but they believe He exists.
Within, what I’ll call the evangelical Christian church there is a false doctrine, brought by this progressive movement, that appeals to the same thing as Lucifer did in the Garden. That we can be like God and discern Truth for ourselves.
There are Instagram pages and YouTube channels devoted to help people journey through deconstructing their beliefs advocating for it.
In this emerging new religion, there are the rising stars of deconstruction that are promoting this idea but also replacing it with social justice and other issues – a secular version of what the Bible teaches.
On YouTube, you’ll find a channel entitled God is Grey. On the About Us page resides the following description: “Your guide to becoming an inquisitive, fearless, SEX POSITIVE, free thinking Christian in the modern world.” One of the videos by the host is entitled – “Why I’m a Pro-Choice Christian” and she offers up a compelling argument if you’re willing to compromise for the good of mankind. Dangerous thinking if you’re a true follower of Jesus Christ.
What is deconstruction and where did it begin?
It’s an emerging spiritual practice. It’s the systematic tearing apart of the beliefs you grew up with – often discarding those beliefs. There is something sinister lying beneath it all though.
A predecessor of this way of thinking dates back to the 1960’s – to postmodernism and the French Philosopher, Jacques Derrida, often referred to as the father of deconstruction. Derrida states that deconstruction is not an analysis in the traditional sense. He argues that there are no self-sufficient units of meaning in a text, because individual words or sentences in a text can only be properly understood in terms of how they fit into the larger structure of the text and language itself.
In other words, it’s a way to criticize almost any thought brought into text. No absolutes. No objective truth. Everything is relative. He supports the notion that if objective truth exists – it can’t be known – and it’s a virtue to believe in this way.
You can see why under this way of thinking it makes sense that deconstructing the tenants of the faith the way our parents taught us and reconstructing our truth is such an appealing concept. It’s part of maturing as a person, so they say.
Unlike doubt, which is somewhat rooted in truth, relativism has a mind of its own. As believers, we certainly have doubts about many things that we don’t understand. Yet we are not willing to discard all we know to be true to satisfy those doubts. Some things in the Kingdom of God just aren’t knowable. That’s where faith enters the picture.
I lost a friend recently to a massive cardiac event. No one saw it coming. Here today, gone tomorrow. He was only a few years older than me. I don’t understand it and could easily question God’s sovereignty. He loved Jesus, just retired from a long career, and has a beautiful family that will sorely miss him. Why did this happen? It’s unknowable. But I do believe the truth depicted in scripture that says. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”. (emphasis added) Romans 8:28 (KJV)
We also doubt just as Thomas the disciple of Jesus did at times. He needed to see Jesus and the nail prints in His hands left over after His crucifixion and resurrection. Thomas will forever be known for that doubt, yet he was a committed follower and believer in Jesus Christ.
We investigate our doubts, discard them or keep them, but walk by faith.
God is always open to questions. He loves us enough to provide guidance around each one and knows the challenges we each face in our journey toward wholeness. But it is just that – a journey – wrought with many detours. Especially with the reality that we have an enemy that hates us and will do all possible to distract us from God’s Truth.
What are some of the beliefs surrounding Progressive Christianity?
I’ll paraphrase and summarize what Alisa Childers said in the Podcast.
On every gospel point, there’s a denial. There are some affirmations, but largely the movement is characterized by denial. Looking at whatever theological words you want to use for this (sometimes we get in the weeds with the words) but the idea that God created humans and it was good is rejected. That humans rebelled against him introducing sin and evil and death into the world, passing that sin nature down to their children, is also rejected. The Bible says not even one is righteous just God, that we’re all sinners. That too is largely rejected in the progressive movement.
They don’t believe it’s your sin that separates you from God, it’s your shame. You just need to realize how beloved you are and that you were never separated in the first place.
So, if that’s their view, what do you do with the atonement? The very idea that God would require a blood sacrifice of his only Son is viewed as cosmic child abuse or defined as child sacrifice.
The idea that Jesus is coming again is a topic that’s not really discussed. And if it is, it’s made into a metaphor. Jesus second coming is something that happens in your heart whenever you have a transcendent experience with God. Heaven and the existence of hell are largely rejected. Whether it’s full-on Universalism or some kind of universal reconciliation view, there’s no concept in Progressive Christianity that sinners will be punished in hell.
There are a lot of affirmations. For example, we see constant affirmation of pro-choice, same-sex marriage, and LGBTQ acceptance. They would be core tenets of Progressive Christianity. Acceptance of critical race theory – pitting people against each other as oppressed versus oppressor. Like we see in culture, this has become largely informative in the progressive gospel.
If you remove the core of the Gospel of Salvation as the animating force for Christianity, you must replace it with something. These are the somethings. Social justice becomes the good news. You gotta do the work – decolonizing our theology.
This is an extremely damaging movement led by the father of all lies. Satan himself.
This new religion is all about performing. There is something appealing to everyone as image-bearers of God to perform on behalf of God. We want to help others and be that social justice warrior. The problem is that deconstructing our faith to build it up in terms of this movement leaves the message of Salvation in the back seat. It places us at the wheel of our own story. It allows us to be on that throne, which never works out well.
What can we do about it?
We don’t simply want to introduce apologetics into the conversation to reinforce the truth. We need to give young people, and others seeking another way, the space to construct their faith. People need to traverse the journey to discover truth on their own with others that believe in THE One – discipling them along the way. If they construct their faith properly, there’s nothing to deconstruct.
We, as true believers, need to encourage folks to take their question to God, not to others that contradict Biblical truths.
Let’s go back to fundamentals and the foundations of the faith. Does truth exist and can you know it? All the details that the Bible speaks of where views vary as with spiritual gifts, predestination or free will and other issues that may not be as clear can be explored as the foundations are firmly constructed.
Exposing the lies inherent in this Progressive Theology must take place by those called and willing to bring truth to this world. If you have a platform and the ability to speak the truth represented in God’s Word, do it. We can’t be shy. It’s time we live out the Great Commission in the way God has called each one of us. Whether it’s loving the unlovable, spreading the Gospel by words, feeding the poor, or on social media – just make a difference. Be bold in sharing what God has given you and your unique calling in proclaiming it.
Time on earth as we know it is winding down. All the signs point to it, including the false doctrine resident in Progressive Christianity. It shouldn’t surprise us. It’s an imposter that places self above God.
Let’s pray against it and bring light to the darkness.
If you want to know more on this subject pick up the book by Alisa Childers. Another Gospel? – A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity