I need to speak on something that has been frustrating me. There is a disease that is rotting Christianity from the inside out. Its name is conservatism. Let me be clear, while I am a political liberal, I do not identify with progressive Christianity. I don’t think these narrow labels do much good when talking about God. I’m focusing on conservative Christianity because of its massive hold in America today.
Don’t get me wrong, progressive Christianity has its own skeletons in the closest, most notably being the undercurrent of thought that Jesus was just a man with some cool ideas about helping the poor. The truth is, Jesus is the Son of God. He wasn’t some pot smoking hipster from first century Palestine. There are numerous claims that Jesus made in the Gospels to being divine, so we really are forced to follow the logic of C.S. Lewis’ trilemma of liar, lunatic, or Lord. If he’s not God, then why call yourself a Christian over anything else?
So, progressive Christianity has its flaws. Yet, there’s never been a “Social Justice Majority,” there has been a “Moral Majority” however. The problem with conservative Christianity is that it doesn’t change at all, which is ironic. Fundamentalist theologians like Albert Mohler say that all of his views are historic church positions. But that’s just false. Presumably, Mohler being a Calvinist Protestant, would recognize that his positions on predestination and sola scriptura, for example, were completely absent from church thought until 1500 years after the death of Christ. The Catholic Church was the only institution around during early Christianity, men like Augustine were devout Catholics.
So, if it follows that progress was made by Martin Luther and his reformation, then how can it be said that doctrine doesn’t change? Protestant denial of historic Christian positions such as Purgatory, necessity of baptism for salvation, acceptance of deuterocanonical books of the Bible, the belief that Christ’s real presence is in the Eucharist, and apostolic succession is a pretty big shift. Now, as a Protestant, I actually disagree with the above stated positions as well, but if the church was wrong once, can’t it be wrong again?
Now, this is an obvious point, but I feel the need to mention it anyway: The root of the word Protestant means to protest. Well, what do you suppose the Protestants were protesting about? Could it be the Christian church of the day? See, you can’t break away from 1500 years of tradition and then complain when someone else talks about reform. It’s hypocritical.
I believe that we as Christians need to take a hard look at the issues in our world today. We can’t just sweep them under the rug because they would require a rethinking of theology. That’s just cowardly. We need to stop saying the earth is 6000 years old and that humans lived with dinosaurs. We need to stop trying to change someone’s sexuality. We need to stop letting ourselves be used by political parties to go to war and kill another nation’s children. We need to stop judging that some people are just absolutely going to Hell and that there’s no hope for them. Finally, we need to stop being afraid to say that God loves everyone.
Can we please throw away these childish progressive and conservative labels and just try to follow Jesus?