This 21st Century Slaughter of Innocents Is Still Aimed at Jesus Christ
King Herod wanted the boy Jesus dead, so just to make sure, he had all the boys in that region who were less than two years old killed. Today, December 28 is the traditional day for remembering the “slaughter of the innocents.” It’s a fitting day to talk about protecting ourselves and those we care about from a contemporary attack, also aimed at Jesus Christ: progressive Christianity.
With “Christianity” in its label it may seem like it’s a good thing, but sweetness can also fool a person into drinking poison. What matters is what’s wrapped inside the words. Progressives talk much about Jesus Christ, about caring, and about love, but their spirituality is but a thin plastic wrap covering a thoroughly secular, accommodationist menu of beliefs, choices, and values. So it has the same power as secularism has to rescue a person from death: exactly zero. Tragically, those who follow its paths are walking toward death.
Pick Your “Jesus”
I am not overstating things when I say so. Progressives treat God’s Word with contempt, setting aside portions they don’t like, mangling the interpretation of passages they can’t get away with discarding, and over-emphasizing the few parts they like.
Like every heresy and cult that’s preceded them, they remake Jesus Christ into a character fitting their preference, a social crusader who welcomes both sinners and sin.
He was centuries behind the times, though. (“Don’t blame Him, though. What do you think He was, God or something?”) He did well to condemn religious hypocrisy and to stand for the poor, but He missed major points on what to call sexual sin. He got way out of line talking about hell and judgment. And repentance? Only “fundies” worry about repentance anymore.
Thus they remake Him to fit, a progressive “Jesus” promoting 21st century progressive social policy. What choice did they have when everyone was wrong up until last week or so, Jesus Christ included. I’d bet some of them secretly thank God He let them come along to save us all from Jesus’ mistakes. The real Jesus isn’t so welcome.
Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Follow Jesus, whatever it takes.” I take that to mean, “No matter what challenges may come, follow Jesus.” For some progressives it’s more like, “Make Jesus less challenging so you can feel more comfortable.”
Except in social policy, that is. He’s still supposed to challenge us to be more progressive. Thus a prog pastor, Dr. Kevin Young, openly and unrepentantly remodels Him into a Muslim illegal alien suffering racial discrimination. That’s one serious remodeling job, I’m telling you.
They’ll follow their “Jesus” as long as their “Jesus” follows them.
Dr. Kevin Young’s Christmastime yard sign is just one example of progressives’ willingness to deceive. You may like its political leanings or you may hate them, but what you cannot think is that its image of Jesus comes anywhere near being true. And what you must see in it (if you have any sense about you) is its blatant co-opting of both Christ and Christmas to shill a political opinion. I’d say the same, and just as critically, if I saw anything like it twisting Jesus’ identity and message, and co-opting it to sell conservatism.
He brutalizes reality, he twists Jesus into a political poster child, and yet in the same same xweet he claims to follow Jesus. That, my friends, is the very definition of a false religion.
Confused on What’s Good
Here’s another sign of a false religion: It doesn’t know what’s good. You’d be surprised to hear how confused they can be on that. Randal Rauser, another fairly prominent progressive, described what’s different about progressives: “Evangelical Christians prioritize right thinking, progressives prioritize right action.” We should concentrate more on doing the right thing, less on having the right doctrines.
Hidden inside there he’s implying that evangelicals don’t care much about doing good. There are no facts to support that, except by redefining “good” to suit progressivism more than conservatism. That way, for one example, you can complain about conservatives’ reluctance to let the state take from us so the state can “do good” for the poor. Or you could talk about our so-called “failure to affirm LGBTQ+.
Those doctrines are controversial, I know, but they are doctrines nonetheless. Agree or disagree with them, your mind should be flashing with questions for Rauser: “Is it good to affirm liberal social policy? Or homosexuality? Is that what you think in your religion? Is that your doctrine? Is it the right doctrine?”
You can’t decide to do the right thing without having a position on what the right thing is. Wherever you get that position from — whether you base it on Scripture, social consensus, gut feelings, or even your sexual preferences — if it’s your religion’s view, then it’s your religion’s doctrinal view. When Rauser says a religion should put doing good ahead of deciding what’s good, he’s telling everyone in that religion to wait their whole lives long wondering what to do. That’s absurd, of course, but that’s the effect you get from defining religion as he did.
False View of Evangelical Christianity
Rauser isn’t that stupid, I know, so there must be a way to wriggle out of that contradiction. The best one I can think of is to shed that nasty religious word “doctrine.” That’s hard to do when you’re talking strong religious opinions, but I could still imagine something like this: “Evangelicals get their ‘beliefs’ from ancient, ossified Scripture, which makes their beliefs ‘doctrines.’ We progressives get our beliefs from what everyone knows to be true — everyone but stupid conservatives, that is. So our beliefs aren’t actually doctrines. They’re just … true.”
The problem is, that doesn’t look so good either. Besides playing recklessly with language, it also reeks of chronological snobbery, historical blindness, and massive hubris, especially in sexual ethics, where the message can be none other than, “We know the truth. No one up until now has known it, but from now on, no one but those same stupid conservatives will ever again think we’re wrong, and someday they’ll end up admitting it, too.”
As for the phrase “stupid conservatives,” that’s just a mild version of progressives’ widespread contempt toward conservatives. You’ll find longer versions in Rauser’s xwitter feed and his videos, and in other progressive xwitter feeds. Rauser himself has an odd video titled, “Why Do Evangelicals Hate on Progressive Christians?” It’s quite a strange, blind question he’s asking, for the reality is quite objectively the other way around: Progressives on the whole are really quite hostile toward conservatives.
By the way, in that video Rauser makes a mindless complaint about a xweet that doesn’t provide “substance,” as if a xweet could do that. When I offered him substance — lots of it — he completely ignored it.
Study and Set Your Guard
Now, these are but short, quick examples of progressive Christianity’s problems. I don’t pretend they have sufficient substance, either, and I wouldn’t want you taking this as a final word on it. Do take it as a wake-up, though. Then study it for yourself. See what progressives have to say for themselves. Compare that to Scripture, to logic and reason, to what else you know of reality. I’ve given you some quick examples of ways to look at it here. Alisa Childers’ well-written Another Gospel? has much more.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore it. Parents, don’t let your children wander blindly into false Christianity. Sit down with them. Listen to their questions. Find answers together. Help them probe their own thinking by examining progressives’ claims and contradictions. Help them consider whether its conformity to culture is a good thing, making it a more comfortable place to be, or (as I believe) a sign they’re trying to remake God in their own image.
The same goes for pastors. Open up these issues with your congregation, your youth group, your small groups, and so on. Help them see the Bible is just as true, as good, and as important in the 21st century as when each part of it was written.
Whoever you are, protect yourself from this 21st-century spiritual slaughter, and likewise care for those you love. This is serious. A whole eternity depends on it.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the highly acclaimed Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.