Have you ever heard the term “Progressive Christianity” before? It is a recent movement in Protestantism that focuses strongly on social justice and environmentalism. It also often embraces a non-traditional view of the Bible. There is a lot of confusion around the beliefs of Progressive Christians because the beliefs and views are different throughout the movement. As a result, it’s not easy to label whether Progressive Christianity is biblical or unbiblical. The fact that the movement seeks to focus on those in need and the protection of our world is definitely aligned with God’s Word. Yet, there are principles that do contradict the Bible that are cause for pause. Is your church moving in the direction of Progressive Christianity? While there is no way to be 100 percent sure, there are some things you should be on the lookout for.
One big sign your church may be headed toward Progressive Christianity is if they stop believing the Bible is the literal Word of God. There may even be a lowered view of the Bible with individuals in the church pointing out what they believe to be fallacies. Our Heavenly Father left us the Bible as written testimony of His Word. His truth is found in the Bible. The church may begin rewording biblical truth or picking and choosing what they subscribe to. Despite how clever or even edifying a pastor’s statement may be, if it isn’t in the Bible we have no guarantee that it is the Word of God.
Another sign that your church is headed toward Progressive Christianity is if the church emphasizes “collective salvation” which means “unless we are all saved, none of us will be saved.” The idea of collective salvation is that you can’t be saved on your own, you have to your part by cooperating or sacrificing with the group so the group is saved together. The Bible teaches that a person is to come to Christ individually. God saves individuals through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
Salvation means deliverance or redemption from sin and its consequences. We are told in Romans 5:8 that God demonstrated His love for us through the death of His Son, because of our sins. Ephesians 2:5 tells us “even though we were dead because of our sins, [God] gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved.” In order to receive salvation, we have to be born again. We commonly hear the terms, "born again" again and "saved" in Christian circles. They are two of the most popular phrases used by-present day Christians, but many can’t pinpoint the definition when they are asked to. When you are saved, or born again, you experience a spiritual transformation, a total change of heart. To be born again is to be saved.
To be saved is also accepting the plan of salvation that Jesus offers us. In order to understand salvation, it’s imperative that you understand the death and resurrection of Christ which points to our salvation. The Son of God was made human, and during His earthly life, he lived a perfect life, and died not because He wanted to but because we needed salvation. He was made to die for us. Amazingly, God raised Him from the dead into new life, and promises to resurrect us when Jesus comes again. The salvation we need is Jesus, and can only be accessed through Him. The Bible is direct about the redemption of individuals who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and rescues them from an eternity of being separated from Him in torment.
While there is no issue with asking questions (this can in fact strengthen your faith), there may be an issue if there is constant critical questioning of God’s Word as a result of doubt. This is particularly troubling if it’s coming from church leadership. A pastor’s responsibility isn’t to interpret the Bible; their job is to preach the Gospel. It’s not based upon what they think. It’s based on what God says. If your pastor or leader is unwilling to acknowledge or admit their mistakes or doesn’t accept an obvious mistake, that should be a major red flag.
In addition, a church may be moving in the direction of Progressive Christianity if emotions are emphasized over facts. It is common in Progressive churches for the personal feelings, experiences and opinions to be an authority over the Bible. How a person feels may supersede what they know to be true from Scripture. You may begin to hear people talking about what verses in scripture don’t speak to them or how they don’t understand why God makes certain decisions. As a result of emotions that are sparked while reading the Bible, the Word of God is questioned.
The Bible is the single most important book ever written. It is an eyewitness account of historical events of such magnitude that they have literally shaped the world in which we live. Without the Bible, the Western world and a good deal of the Eastern would be completely different today than if the events of the book had never occurred. The Bible is special. It is unique. No other book has any such credentials. No other book even comes close. It’s important that our words and actions align with our faith. If your church is teaching anything besides the direct Word of God, it should be questioned.