Progressivism and the Bible

Anyone who has been exposed to the media recently has probably heard or seen the term ‘progressive’ used in the context of political affiliation or ideology. In the political and social context progressivism is associated with change or reform. It re-emerged as a very popular concept in the late l9th and early 20th century as a means to improve the social environment to keep pace with technological changes being experienced in industry and large corporations.

The basic concept of progressivism, however, has roots dating back to the Renaissance. Contrary to widely held Christian beliefs that mankind was struggling and was destined for a transitory journey on earth ending in judgment, philosophers advanced the idea that there was no reason that mankind shouldn’t enjoy a better quality of life here and now. Later thinking even referenced Darwin’s thoughts on biological evolution to justify social improvement. “And as natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental environments will tend to progress towards perfection.” That school of thought fostered the idea that continual social progress would result in social perfection. The subsequent implication was the world was becoming a better place, a thought found nowhere in the Bible. If that were true there would be no book of Revelation.

Progressivism at the time of the industrial revolution in the United States embraced and pursued the idea of social justice, and justice for all. Proponents believed government should level the playing field for everyone. As such, progressives today typically support organized labor and trade unions, believe in and promote a minimum wage, and would support such issues as a universal health care system. This ideology promotes the redistribution of wealth via a progressive income tax system.

Progressivism is typically associated more closely with liberalism than conservatism. This association is readily observed when considering several definitions of liberalism.

• A political ideology espousing personal freedom attained by progress and reform
• A political philosophy promoting individual liberty attained by governmental intervention
• A political orientation favoring social progress by reform and change

In the same manner, progressivism conflicts with many of the philosophies of conservatism. Partial definitions include:

• A political term from the Latin conservare meaning to save or preserve, i.e. the preservation of traditional values
• A political philosophy favoring limited government
• A political preference for gradual development to abrupt change

Recent Gallup polls indicate that twice as many Americans consider themselves to be conservative rather than liberal. The actual polling results show conservatives 40%, liberals 20% and moderates 36%.

When campaigning for president in 2008 the major campaign issue for Barack Obama was ‘fundamental change’ of how America functions. While typically the campaign message for conservative candidates is, “We need to get back to the basics. We need to return to the principles on which this nation was founded”

Once again the Bible is not silent on the topic. Solomon wrote:

“My son, fear the LORD and the king; Do not associate with those given to change; For their calamity will rise suddenly…”
Proverbs 24:21-22

For those who believe the Bible it is very clear that God outlined His plan for mankind and described in great detail how man was to act towards his Creator, towards one another individually, and toward others corporately. The Bible also states clearly that God will hold all men accountable for how they receive and obey His instructions. The benchmark for the future accounting is still the Bible. The benchmark hasn’t changed; therefore, according to the Bible God will have no tolerance for those who have ‘reformed’ His instructions in the name of progress to accommodate contemporary special interests where such changes violate His original instructions.

“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it…” Deuteronomy 4:2

“Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”
Proverbs 30:6

The New Testament reveals that Christ has been appointed to be the Judge over the earth.

“…God…now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man (Jesus) whom He has ordained…”

Acts 17:31

And Jesus doesn’t change.

“You LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.”
Hebrews 1:10-12

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

And finally at the very end of the Bible are the words that summarize the fate of those who would add to or delete from God’s word. Jesus, the Judge states:

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life…”

Revelation 22:18-19

Therefore, you decide. Will those who attempt to legislate ‘progress’ by compromising God’s laws to meet the desires of the current generation prosper, or will those who strive to return to the basics fare better.

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