My June 7, 2019, post entitled “BIBLE CONSUMPTION – A NECESSITY FOR 2019 AND BEYOND”) referenced three excellent articles in the June 2019 issue of Decision Magazine. One of those articles is entitled “Five Signs Your Church May be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity” and written 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 post is the second in a five-part series that advances Biblical responses to each one of the five signs. This post responds to the second sign of “progressive Christianity,” which is the worldview of “feelings over facts.” Alisa Childers describes this sign as:
In progressive churches, personal experiences, feelings and opinions tend to be valued above objective truth. As the Bible ceases to be viewed as God’s definitive Word, what a person feels to be true becomes the ultimate authority for faith and practice.
A series of basic biblical truths show the gross error to elevate feelings over God’s Word. Psalm 145:17 (ESV) makes it clear that God is righteous:
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
Psalm 119:137 (ESV) teaches that in addition to God being righteous, God’s Word is right:
137 Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules.
All people are sinners per Romans 3:23 (ESV):
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Even though saved, a person still struggles with sin per 1 John 1:8 (ESV):
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
It makes no sense to elevate the feelings of a sinner over the righteousness of God and the truth of God’s Word. To do so is self-worship and not God.
Ms. Childers lists three exemplary comments one might hear in a church trending toward progressive Christianity. The first exemplary comment is, “That Bible verse doesn’t resonate with me.” The fact that a passage does not “resonate” with a sinner (see Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8) does nothing to denigrate the rightness of God’s Word. A lack of resonance or understanding existed in the 1st Century, as shown by Peter’s characterization of Paul’s writing in 2 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV):
15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
A lack of resonance can be due to many things, but none of them negatively impact the authority of God’s Word. As Psalm 119:89–90 (ESV) teaches, God’s Word is forever:
89 Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. 90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
The second exemplary comment indicative of a church moving toward “progressive Christianity” is “I thought homosexuality was a sin until I met and befriended some gay people.” To befriend practicing sinners who are friendly does not somehow transform what God calls “sin” into acceptable practice.
What God teaches about the sin of homosexual practice stands throughout the ages per 1 Peter 1:25 (ESV):
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
The fact that practicing homosexuals are hospitable does not change the biblical teaching that homosexual practice is a sin. The Bible contains multiple texts that call out homosexual practice to be a sin, including Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27:
Leviticus 18:22 (ESV) – 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
Romans 1:26–27 (ESV) – 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
For a person to erase from the Bible, something God calls sin is to say he or she knows better than God about what is right and wrong.
The third comment is, “I just can’t believe Jesus would send good people to hell.” One colossal error resides in the premise that any person is “good.” As recorded in Mark 10:18 (ESV), Jesus taught that no one is “good”:
18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
The fact that there are no “good” people is because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God per Romans 3:23.
A second glaring error is that Jesus does not “send” anyone to hell. The gospel message offers salvation to all. Those who choose to reject God’s offer of salvation essentially cast themselves into hell.
Finally, per Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV), Jesus makes a distinction between those who spend eternity in heaven and those who spend it in hell per Jesus’ command to depart from Him:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
In conclusion, to raise one’s feelings over what God’s Word says is wrong. If a passage doesn’t “resonate” with a person, it does not change the correct interpretation of that passage. If a sinner who practices lifestyle-based sins is nice, the authority of God’s Word remains the same, and sin is still sin. If “I just can’t believe” what the Bible teaches, the biblical teaching remains the same. One’s feelings make no difference whatsoever when it comes to the authority of Scripture and what the Bible teaches.
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