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In my June 7, 2019, post entitled “BIBLE CONSUMPTION – A NECESSITY FOR 2019 AND BEYOND”, I referenced three excellent articles in Decision Magazine, one of which was “Five Signs Your Church May be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity” by Alisa Childers  (https://decisionmagazine.com/five-signs-your-church-might-be-heading-toward-progressive-christianity/).  I ended my post with the challenge:

If you have the opportunity, I suggest you read these articles and formulate your plan of action.  In this regard, note that Alisa Childers’ article lists several comments under each sign of a “progressive Christian” church, and I suggest you read them and equip yourself to answer them.   To survive in the upcoming times, a Christ-follower will have to be well-grounded in God’s Word. 

This article is the fifth in a five-part series that present Biblical responses to each one of the five signs.  This post examines the fifth sign of “progressive Christianity”, which is shifting the heart of the Gospel message from sin and redemption to social justice.  Ms. Childers describes this sign as:

The Bible commands us to take care of the unfortunate and defend those who are oppressed. However, the core message of Christianity—the Gospel—is that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and resurrected, and thereby reconciled us to God. This is the message that will truly bring freedom to the oppressed. 

Many progressive Christians today find the concept of God willing His Son to die on the cross to be embarrassing or even appalling. Sometimes referred to as “cosmic child abuse,” the idea of blood atonement is de-emphasized or denied altogether, with social justice and good works enthroned in its place.

It makes no difference what a “progressive Christian” thinks about a blood sacrifice; the Bible teaches that the only way to satisfy God’s wrath for man’s sin was to provide a blood sacrifice per Hebrews 9:16–22 (ESV)

16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

And as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (ESV), that sacrifice was Jesus Christ who “died for our sins”:

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

In 1 Peter 1:18–19 (ESV), the Apostle Peter wrote that salvation is through “the precious blood of Christ”:

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

To diminish or deny the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ is to eliminate the only way of salvation as Acts 4:12 (ESV) makes clear:

12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

This fifth sign of “progressive Christianity”, which eliminates the substitutionary atonement of Christ, is not Christian in any way, shape, or form.  It is a damning heresy.

Ms. Childers presents three exemplary comments of a church trending “progressive.”  The first exemplary comment is, “Sin doesn’t separate us from God—we are made in His image, and He called us good.”  God called His creation of male and female “very good” when Adam and Eve were in their pre-fall condition.  Genesis 1:31 (ESV) reads:

31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

In our post-Fall condition, God does not call “us good.”  It is impossible to be “good” because we are sinners per Romans 3:23 (ESV)

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Per Isaiah 59:2 (ESV), sin does separate us from God:

2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

This first exemplary comment of a church trending toward “progressive Christianity” reveals a blatant disregard, or willful ignorance, of the Bible.

The second exemplary comment of a church trending toward “progressive Christianity” is “God didn’t actually require a sacrifice for our sins—the first Christians picked up on the pagan practice of animal sacrifice and told the Jesus story in similar terms.”  This notion is not what the Bible teaches.  Very clearly, the Bible teaches that Jesus had to die for the sins of mankind.  For example, Revelation 1:5 (ESV) reads:

5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood

As recorded in Mark 9:30-32 (ESV), Jesus taught that He had to die for the sins of mankind:

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

Tragically, “progressive Christianity” makes up this second exemplary comment.  It is pure fantasy.

The third exemplary comment you might hear in a church trending “progressive” is “We don’t really need to preach the Gospel—we just need to show love by bringing justice to the oppressed.”  This comment runs counter to what Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV):

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

As he wrote in Romans 10:14–17 (ESV), the Apostle Paul considered evangelistic preaching to be critical:

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

While loving people is essential, it is also crucial to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If we genuinely love a person who is lost, we will preach the Gospel to him or her.

In conclusion, to shift the heart of the Gospel message from sin and redemption to social justice is to abandon Christianity for some other religion.  This shift runs counter to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ and His mandate to preach His gospel.

I hope I provided at least one useful Biblical response to the fifth sign and associated exemplary comments indicative of a church trending toward “progressive Christianity.”

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please feel free to use the “Comments” feature or e-mail me at steve@stevebelsheim.com.

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