The Spiritual and Moral Bankruptcy of ‘Progressive’ Christianity

By Michael Brown Published on December 18, 2018

So-called “progressive” Christians love to bash conservative Christians. They call us dinosaurs. They mock us as outdated fundamentalists. They taunt us as “Bible bashers.” They claim to be the enlightened ones, and they celebrate their departure from the “traditional church.” But the reality is that they are simply following the spirit of the age, swimming with the current cultural tide rather than against it. In the name of conformity to Jesus, they are being conformed to the world. How ironic.

On Saturday night, while working on a major book project at my computer, I noticed a tweet from a “progressive” pastor. I had reached out him to several times before, but always without response. He wrote, quite out of the blue, “When hopelessly phobic people of faith like @DrMichaelLBrown claim that God is against ‘homosexual practice.’ #ThatsNotAThing”

As soon as I spotted the tweet, I replied, “Hey John, I’ve reached out to you on several occasions, always without response. Rather than engage in baseless (and silly) name-calling, let’s a have a mature, scripture-based, minister-to-minister dialog. You’re welcome on my show any time. Why not?”

Mockery Instead of Substance

For the record, he still has not replied to my invitations — not once, ever — and I continue to reach out to him. But despite his lack of response, I decided to engage some of his followers. Talk about enlightening!

The first thing that became immediately evident was this. There was virtually no substantive interaction. Instead, there was mockery and insult and misrepresentation, making me wonder out loud, “What’s so scary about the truth?”

It started out of the gate with this pastor maligning me as hopelessly phobic (for reaching out to the LGBT community with the truth of the gospel while opposing radical LGBT activism). And, remarkably, while the Bible consistently and categorically opposes homosexual practice (meaning, same-sex relationships and sexual acts) a pastor — yes, a pastor — came against me for standing with God’s Word.

How dare I — how dare you — do such a thing. How dare you agree with Scripture. How dare you affirm that the Lord’s ways are best. That is so 1950s!

Rather than interact with a single thing I said, he later posted, “Michael thinks LGBTQ people can NOT be LGBTQ. Michael thinks you can pray the gay away. Michael preys upon already marginalized people. Michael thinks other people’s bedrooms and body parts are his business. Don’t be like Michael.”

Who is the judge?

Now, you would think it would trouble a pastor to post blatant falsehoods about other people, but when you’re “progressive,” perhaps you’re morally superior, which means you are the judge of the motives of others. You determine what they really think and believe, despite what they say and do. In the name of not judging, you are now the judge!

Of course, the issue is not what “Michael” thinks but what God says. That’s why, later in the night, I posted this: “To all professing LGBT Christians and their allies: Please give me just ONE explicit verse in the Bible where God sanctions same-sex relationships. Just one. You know already there are clear verses saying the opposite.”

Not a single one gave me a single supporting verse. How telling!

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In direct response to the pastor’s tweet, I wrote, “John, by God’s grace, I know MANY ex-gays and lesbians who are so thankful for new life in Jesus. And I continue to have fruitful ministry around the world, NOT focused on LGBT issues. I have simply responded to biblical deception and radical activism. You have accommodated sin.”

How did he reply? He tweeted, “No you don’t. You know people who you and others have badgered into modifying their behavior to stay in community. You’ve squandered your time here and you’ve caused irreparable harm to already marginalized people. That’s on you.”

Are you detecting a pattern? This “progressive” pastor has the right to misrepresent me publicly because, well, he’s progressive, so it must be right. He has the right to put words into my mouth (like “pray away the gay”) and make inane and ridiculous comments (such as the bedroom remarks), no matter how far-fetched they may be.

But since, in his eyes, I’m a Bible-bashing religious fundamentalist and he’s a liberated progressive, his perceptions are the truth. Who cares about facts? Who cares about Scripture?

Mocking Ex-Gays

Not only so, he claims the right to deny the very real stories of thousands of ex-gays, people who, with God’s help, have left homosexual practice and gay identity behind. They do not exist. They cannot exist. If they did, it would cause his house of sand to collapse in an instant. It would mean that Jesus can change anyone.

So, in the name of standing with the marginalized, he casts out and mocks the most marginalized group in America today: ex-gays. This is the heart of Jesus? This is pursuing righteousness? This is practicing mercy?

The “progressives” also fail to realize that they are joining forces with those who want to take away rights, who want to silence Christians, who want to impose their ideology, who want to penalize all dissenters. (Yes, I’m talking about LGBT extremists and their allies, sometimes known as the pink mafia for a reason. I and many others have documented this steadily for years.)

Rejecting Scripture and the Authority of Scripture

And when it comes to fealty to the Word of God, the Twitter interaction proved extremely interesting.

A professing gay Christian tweeted with joy about his upcoming wedding to his partner, telling me the Scripture he would use at the event. When I came back to him with other scriptures about same-sex relationships, he told me plainly that the Bible was not his final authority and that God was bigger than a book. Fascinating!

A professing gay Christian […] told me plainly that the Bible was not his final authority and that God was bigger than a book. Fascinating!

When I challenged a zealous supporter of “gay Christianity” when she simply repeated the standard, LGBT theological talking points, she told me I was obviously not a scholar. How dare I set the record straight. How dare I share the fruit of decades of serious academic study of the Scriptures (in their cultural context and in their original languages, with due attention to the Spirit’s intent). How dare I rely on the best research by the best scholars. How dare I burst her bubble.

I’ll stay with the Jesus of the Bible.

Of course, when I asked her for a verse to back her points, she had none. When I presented her with verses that rebutted hers, she had vacuous talking points and nothing more.

But she was progressive, and I was not. Of course she was right. Of course I was not a scholar.

What I experienced over the course of hours of interaction with scores of different people was a steady tide of condescending, name-calling, biblically-bankrupt, and morally-hypocritical rhetoric, and all of it devoid of a single substantive response.

So, these folks can have their “progressive” religion (although I pray they’ll see the light). I’ll stay with the Jesus of the Bible, the Jesus who liberates and transforms, the Jesus who doesn’t affirm us in our sin but delivers us out of it.

He was good enough for the last 2,000 years. He’ll be good enough for eternity.

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  • Walt Viet

    It is indeed the end times. We are not only seeing a turning away from the bible by the world, but so many so called Christians are also turning away. Fellow believers stand your ground, stand upon the rock never turn away from truth.

  • Kristinechristliebcanavan

    I’ve pretty much given up trying to engage these folks. They are like a pack of wild dogs, growling and mindlessly lunging at whatever they think they can consume or whatever they perceive as a threat. They are very dangerous.

    • Dumb Bass Fisherman

      You’re right. It’s far easier to have a cup of tea and talk theology with a Muslim. It really is.

  • Andy6M

    Keep at it Dr. Brown!

  • porcupineman1454

    I’ve said before that every other article Dr. Brown writes is simply him trying to settle a social media score and/or using The Stream as a medium to boast about his own tweets. I am not a hater but this is irritating, and I’m surprised I’m the only one speaking out about it. Dr. Brown often makes some very good points in his NON-social media related articles, but The Stream is not the place to air your dirty laundry.

    • Omamaus

      Dr. Brown is merely trying to spread the truth about the Word of God. It is his ministry and calling to do so. For him to be silent would be disobeying God’s calling on his life. We are supposed to please God, and not man. He is doing nothing more than other pastors and preachers who believe in the true Word of God. If you disagree with him, why are you reading his posts in the first place? As for blocking certain people, we have to. The “other side” is brutal, persistent, cruel and unreasonable. They do not use civility do not have open discussions, just shouting matches. And they will troll and beat the dead horse mercilessly, I know, I’ve had to block some of them myself. We are under NO obligation to be abused by anyone. The Bible is also clear about not “throwing your pearls before swine” Matthew 7:6. In other words, don’t waste time preaching to someone who does not want to hear it. They will just trample you and your words into the dirt. Which describes what these people do perfectly. We are to be “gentle as doves, but wise as serpents”. There are people who wish to destroy us and what we believe. Just re read some of the comments. and see.

    • Patmos

      You should probably emerge from the cave you’ve been living in, and catch up on the outside world. What’s happening on social media including trolls from other countries trying to shape culture for the worse, and then also what essentially amounts to censorship, is entirely relevant.

      • porcupineman1454

        And yet neither of those things are happening in ANY social media related articles Dr. Brown has posted IIRC. Your point?

    • When you have been in social media long enough, you learn a few things. One, you block people who demonstrate that they are not interested in conversation. Yup. You do that, because there’s no need to endure someone else’s verbal diarrhea.

      Two, you learn not to take the word of liars very seriously. Why would you think they are telling the truth this time, when they’re not doing so the rest of their lives? LOL.

      • porcupineman1454

        Some had screenshots. I suppose you’ll say they are photoshopped, so why would I bother?

      • Sunflower

        ^^^up 1000 for the colorful description of what socialists subject us to.
        There is absolutely no need to endure the socialist proselytizing.

    • Jim Walker

      Do you block others as well ? and why ?

      • porcupineman1454

        I’m not on twitter and have never blocked anyone on social media I do use. Why do you ask?

        • Jim Walker

          Some people can be extremely offensive, vulgar, hostile etc and I too had to block them.
          Therefore, you see, its not wrong to block some people who can literally stalk you.

          • porcupineman1454


  • Stephen Duplantis

    Please let me know who this pastor is. I would like to give him our testimony of what our son and my wife and I went through-

    • Michael Ellis

      John Pavlovitz. Click on the links (words in blue) in the article

      • ServosT

        I stumbled upon John Pavlovitz’s FB page via the posting of a progressive Christian “friend.” The man is a prolific blogger and 90% of his posts deal with his absolute hatred for Trump and those who support him. If Vox, Mic, Planned Parenthood and GLAAD had an in-house pastor it would be him.

        • Michael Ellis

          Yeah, it’s pretty clear he’s more of a far-left liberal activist than a preacher of the whole Gospel of Christ

          • ServosT

            Reading the comments on his page is enlightening. Lots of atheists. Lots of biblically illiterate leftwing Christians. Say something against Islam and you get hammered, but comments against Christianity get “liked.”

  • Patmos

    If fake Christian trolls pop up here, which they do, of course they are going to pop up on Twitter. Sad though that a pastor has succumb to them, abandoning God’s word so that he can try to look good in the sight of the world.

    Know a tree by it’s fruit, that pastor is quite simply not a Christian, not a believer by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Yossi

    (facetious comment:) “Being ‘progressive’ means never having to say you’re sorry…”

    • Steven58


  • Steven58

    To expose the truth of our generation… The left holds a self-righteous high ground. The right holds the biblical moral high ground. The left wins because they are fashionable. However, they have no ground morally to stand upon, so they resort to personal attacks and name-calling. That’s what you have to do when you have no truth points. I fear for when they appear before Him, to Whom we must all give account, in whose hands is the final word on truth and morality, because He IS the Truth, the way and the life. God help us all. We need an awakening, dear wonderful, precious and almighty God.

  • Mitch Harpur

    Thanks for standing up and helping to preserve and articulate a Jesus narrative, regardless of how popular it is. The Truth matters and His name is Jesus. The prophet Daniel said that the enemy would wear down the saints . We must endure to the end for the reward is great. He is worth any ridicule that the world can dish out.

  • Steven58

    What I can’t fathom is how liberal pastors can call themselves at all. I feel the weight of the holiness and fear of the Lord and I’m evangelical and follow hard after Him. Liberals? They do what’s right in their own their own eyes. I fear for them.

    • Andrew Mason

      I think liberal pastors want religion, but they don’t want God.

  • Barefoot Soul

    I’ve run into a liberal pastor from Massachusetts on Disqus, whose bio states that one of his hobbies is “pìssing off the religious right.” That, in a nutshell, is what liberal Christianity is all about. They know (the numbers don’t lie) that their progressive religion is not attracting unbelievers into the church, nor is it retaining their own members. So their only real motivation is that they feel good about being radically different from traditional Christians.

    I don’t claim to be able to read minds, but my impression is that most progressive “Christians” are probably agnostics or even atheists. I really don’t believe they ever ask “Am I doing what God wants me to do?” A lot of them just eventually drop out of church altogether – after all, the buzz they get from “pìssing off the religious right” eventually wears off.

    • Jim Walker

      No really. they pander their watered-down ghostpel to people with itching ears who just want to be “loved” and continue sinning, because God understand and when He sees them, He only see Jesus.

  • rwinestock

    We’ll done and timely for me in thenext few days with family member. Vineyard LGBTQ paper is the benchmark that has held against all and the most scholarly of attacks from the progressive community.

  • Sam

    This article is a lesson in hypocrisy. You are attacking a pastor for not abiding by what you believe is the 100% truth because what he thinks what he believes is 100% truth. Do you realize how stupid and ignorant that is? Both of you think your way is the “right” way based on something that was written thousands of years ago and has been rewritten, misinterpreted, and dramatically transformed since then. Not to mention that we have zero idea of the mindset and agenda of the original writers. This is why all faith must be balanced with actual facts and science. If anyone thinks that science is wrong or incorrect, then there’s no debating or arguing with that person about anything, because all they are relying on is their opinion, and opinions aren’t truth, they are just personal thoughts and ideas wrapped in individualism.

    So how about this, rather then spout your religious or political agenda in trying to prevent people from living a happy life that is best for them that nature has birth them into through no fault of their own, take your faith and do some good with it. Help others. Serve the poor. Give your money to feed the hungry. Volunteer of your time to make someone else’s life better. You know the things Jesus actually preached in the Bible you love so much. If you aren’t doing those things but instead are wasting your time telling people who they should chose to love, and thinking you are judge, jury and executioner on complete strangers you have nothing to do with, well you aren’t even close to the “Christian” you think you are. In fact, I can almost assure you that you have no idea who God really is and you are the one who’s been decieved.

  • bbb

    Christ said God was the final authority in all things related to mankind.
    God’s word is the absolute irrefutable “owner’s manual” for human beings.
    Any twisting, interpretations, misinterpretations, selective dabbling in the scriptures, rejection of the inerrant Word, making excuses, politicization of concrete rules or commandments, finding grace in mendacious theories regarding socially flexible laws of man or other abuses of God’s word is unacceptable.
    Dr. Brown did not say that. I did not say that. God said that.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    Zealots (radicalized single issue proponents) share a common approach in that they all believe too much in too little given they selectively cherry pick from, in this case Scripture, to promoted their specific agenda, their personal world view rather than His Agenda, His World View.

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