The mantle of “progressive Christianity” is being claimed by more and more people these days – some megachurches, some old-line denominations and even some politicians.
It’s roughly a gospel that regards the Bible as a good book but insists it must be reinterpreted to comport with contemporary society.
But now Decision Magazine, the publication launched by Billy Graham and still run by his organization, has unleashed a broadside against that belief system.
Its June front-page headline, “The lie of ‘progressive Christianity,'” is plastered over the image of Pete Buttigieg.
He’s the Democratic presidential hopeful who just a few weeks ago attacked the faith of Vice President Mike Pence, whose beliefs align with traditional Christian views of marriage and sexuality.
“Back in April when Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg threw stones at ‘the Mike Pences of the world’ for their historic Christian beliefs about marriage, sexuality and sin, he drew rapt attention from the news media. He also raised the visibility of a religious movement that claims the term Christian but denies the full authority of Scripture on which ‘the faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3, NKJV) is based,” writes the author of the article, Jerry Pierce.
“Buttigieg’s ‘progressive Christianity’ allows him to claim a commitment to the faith that Jesus Christ taught in the Gospels and still remain married to his male partner,” he wrote.
But R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, says that’s a “distortion” of God’s Word.
Buttigieg attacked Pence’s faith as “social extremism” and, in effect, told faithful evangelicals to either “affirm the new sexuality embodied in the LGBTQ movement, or affirm the full authority of Scripture and be anathema in the postmodern culture.”
Mohler told Decision that it is tempting for Christians faithful to the Bible to hunt down a “middle ground” on such issues.
But that’s not what the Bible allows.
“I have made the argument that everybody’s opinion on these matters is going to be known,” Mohler told the magazine. “It may be when you run for office. It may be when you move into the dorm. It may be when a new neighbor walks in and you end up in conversation. But the point is, there’s nowhere to hide on these issues. There are a lot of Christians who are trying to hide in the tall grass, and that’s not going to work.”
The article says Buttigieg and others of his belief system are trying to drive biblical Christians “to the outer margins of society.”
Mohler explained “the new liberalism under the ‘progressive’ banner is encroaching on more conservative churches amid a culture that paints biblical values as oppressive and bigoted.”
He told Decision that Christians don’t want to appear hateful but issues such as homosexuality cannot be defined “on the world’s terms.”
The issue has brought untold grief to the United Methodists, now caught in a fight between conservative African and Asian members and progressives in the United States.
Lay leader Mark Tooley, a Methodist and president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, told Decision progressive Christians often affirm miracles, even the Apostles’ Creed, but deny the full authority of God’s Word.
“This is true for mainline Protestants, but also increasingly for many members of the post-evangelical left,” he told Decision.
Mohler said he is concerned that Christians eventually may be deemed as subversive as early Christians were in Rome, who were killed for their faith.
“There’s no middle ground between affirming and denying the bodily resurrection of Christ. There’s also no middle ground between defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman and saying it can be something else,” he said.