By the Rev. Joe Renfro, Ed.D.
We don’t always have the opportunities of discerning between absolute truth and absolute falsehood. Sometimes the discernment between right and wrong, good and bad, is in the matter of degree, and to be able to grow in wisdom and understanding, we need to develop our minds and spirits to be able to see not just the short term possible solutions. Proverbs 4:6-7 says: “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Here is the education we need at a time like this!
It would be nice, if one could always have the opportunity to just discern between the best of two goods, without negatives to consider. But to weigh the long term effects, to see not just the verbiage, but the actual solution or solutions to the problem or problems takes something more. In America at this present time just before the national election it seems like we might be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The media spin on the upcoming presidential election has many very confused, bemused, and is very aggressively against with whichever philosophy they might oppose, whether it is the traditional Christian conservative thinking, which is scarce or the more contemporary progressive socialistic focus, which is dominant.
Progressivism is dominant in much of American politics, and it can be either religious or non-religious. Karl Marx who was very anti-Christian saw progressivism as one of the useful tools to ultimately reach his classless society. He applied to his writings the Hegalian conception of linear-progressive history, the modernization of the economy through industrialization, and the criticisms of the social class structure of industrial capitalist societies. Socialism was one of the ways to help form kind of intellectual revolution so as to reach for the elimination of capitalism and the triumph of the working class. The dictatorship of the proletariat (the working class) was an important stage on way to the promised age of harmony. This is “a stage of allowing the remnants of capitalistic ideology to be eliminated through re-education” which was very important to Marx. (Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, by W.L. Reese, Humanities Press, 1980, pp 336,337) Much of is evidenced in the progressive thinking of large segments of the youth who have been educated by the progressive philosophy in our public schools in America.
Progressive Christianity seeks to effectually change the world through social justice programs, pluralism, and political activism with a large part of this being a staunchly aggressive environmentalism mission in what they call the Christian context. In some ways it is much like traditional Christianity where believers are “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27) and to do what Jesus indicated by his saying that “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt 25:36). Christians are commanded to also share their “food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter [and to] to clothe them” (Isaiah 58:7) but progressive Christianity leans more toward a needs-based collective salvation instead of the biblical concept of personal salvation.
The concept of sin is not seen primarily for the progressives as a violation of the Ten Commandments or personal transgression of God’s laws, but what they define sin is basically what they perceive as being the dehumanizing of the individual or groups of individuals. Their goal is to better help those whom they esteem to be disenfranchised in any way, which is a similar but not the same goal as traditional Christianity which promoted moral behavior, hard work, and personal discipline, as products of spiritual regeneration.
The Center for Progressive Christianity was created in 1995 by an Episcopalian priest, James Rowe Adam in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He wanted churches to step out into the political arena and into society in order to reach out to “all people to participate in the community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable” regardless of their lifestyle or beliefs, sexual orientations. They welcomed agnostics as well as atheists and they wanted to worship life without their having to “become like us.” (What Is Progressive Christianity? What Do They Believe? Is It Biblical? – Jack Wellman, Christian Crier, January 11, 2014)
But what progress did Jesus really emphasize for believers? It was to grow in the grace and knowledge of God (2 Pet 3:18), to live a holy life because God is holy (1 Pet 1:16) and to be sanctified (John 17:19) by the continual renewing of their minds (Rom 12:1-2). Progressive Christianity is in contrast to the traditional Judeo-Christian world view. If God wants us to be progressive, it is to be progressing to be more like Christ from the teaching of the Bible. Christ was without sin (1 John 3:5) and even though we will never be sinless, we should be sinning less as we yield to the Holy Spirit. Many progressives believe we have grown beyond traditional Christian morality into what they call the Post Christian era in the West, and the call is for a social revolution to establish a new humanistic utopia.
The material I have covered in this article relates to the background of this presidential election, as one candidate seems to be fitting more in the traditional understanding of our culture, where the other is more in the progressive focus. Now neither of the candidate is what could be called a devout Christian, with one being a Presbyterian, but who is purportedly a recent convert to regeneration, a newly born again Christian, where the other is a progressive Methodist who sees no real difference between the Islamic faith and Christian and who has even refused to designate the terrorism of today the product of “Radical Islam.” Neither are examples of Christian virtue, and for many of us this election is more a choice between the lesser of the two evils. I, personally feel uneasy about either candidate, but I certainly feel more uneasy about one rather than the other!
One interesting example here, I think, is one of the individual’s accord with Islam. In respect to this alignment with Islam in the Koran, the Islamic holy book, the verse Surah 3:54 has Allah himself revealed as the “greatest of all deceivers,” referring to as “Khayrul-Makereen,” which correctly translated means, “Allah is the greatest of all deceivers.” Christians and Jews have a different understanding of truth than the Islamic where it is written, “Allah is the greatest of all deceivers.” However, despite the fact that Muslims and Christians disagree about what the truth is, both believe that there is such a thing as truth and that truth is important. (Answering Islam, Allah: Truthful or Deceiver—Christian-muslim dialog)
One candidate has a long resume of political experience from being community organizer to being a thirty-year entrenched politician who has organized the government to be bigger and even bigger. This candidate has all the political credentials! This candidate’s program calls for the move to a single payer government sponsored healthcare, is against any limits on abortion, advocates great increases to the national debt which doubled by over 9 trillion under Obama to about 20 trillion, more than was increased by all the other American Presidents combined. This candidate is also against school choice and supports Common Core, is against 2nd Amendment rights, desires only to contain ISIS, wants a “Ginsburg-like” Supreme Court, tax increases on business and professional workers, open borders and the ignoring of immigration laws, supports protestors and increased public assistance, supports the continual defunding and weakening of the military, is against developing fossil fuel resources, is against voter IDs, is for the continuation of Obama’s regulation policies, the increase to the death tax, and supports all the climate change regulations.
This candidate has also supported trade deals that have killed American jobs, has advocated curbing religious liberties, has endorsed all Obama’s massive spending policies, was a central part of the Benghazi cover up, has taken great sums of money from Middle East Islamic dictators, has maintained a most questionable charity, has practiced a pay to play scheme at the State Department, was part of the Whitewater real estate scheme, deleted 33,000 emails on an illegal server, was involved in Travelgate, and was a proponent of Chinagate, a fundraising scandal that plagued the 1996 Presidential race.
The other candidate has been an outside observer but is a successful businessperson. This individual is pro-life, for balancing the budget, for school choice and against the core curriculum, a strong supporter of gun rights, proposes not to just contain ISIS but to defeat them, set up a “Scalia-like Supreme Court,” tax simplification and business incentives, real immigration and border protection, support of law enforcement, financial policies to grow jobs, strengthen the military for strong defense, supports energy independence, supports energy independence, supports voter ID, reduce business regulations, end death tax and rescind the climate plan.
A business person wrote to me that: “Businessmen sees, not just at a glance, more efficient ways to accomplish the end result implementing, is able to see and match a business need to an available resource and re-train, if need be, to match that business needs.”
Many of us would say that Obama is a usurper in that he transgresses the moral directives of the Bible and through executive actions has continually broken civil law, and the one who is the progressive candidate promises to do the same, but even or better carry out what Obama has started.
There might be a parallel here with a biblical story from I Kings 12:1-14 that after Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king, and Jeroboam, who had fled to Egypt returned from Egypt (1 Kings 12:1–2). But Rehoboam was a vain and foolish man. Jeroboam, “mighty man of valor,” warned Rehoboam not to make the same mistake his father had made by taxing them heavily to finance a luxurious lifestyle (verses 3–4). Rehoboam defied the advice to lighten the yoke of oppression: “My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions!” (1 Kings 12:14)
Many of us who see Obama in a very negative way are very concerned that the one candidate who proposes to carry on his directives for our nation is going to be leading us the wrong way which is much like Rehoboam to scourge with scorpions. We don’t need increased taxation, endless government programs, and constant new attacks on our Christian faith
Progressive ideology is that of the government being the good old Sugar Daddy who will increase the handouts to all and do little to address the continual problem of irresponsible indebtedness and the collapse of moral behavior in our nation. You can’t live on credit as individuals or as a government, and moral debauchery leads to destruction. It seems Obama has put Islam and Marxist theory in the “high places”, spoken about in Romans 13 and that he forces or cajoles all to bow down as evidenced by the explosive and illegal Islamic immigration to America. There can be no ultimate harmony between the two religions, as they perceive truth very differently, and Islam is not congenial at all to democracy, but rather is more in tune with authoritarianism. This is not good.
In an article called, “God Sends Imperfect People to do the Impossible” a converted Jews wrote about our situation that: “Maybe God is knocking on your door loudly, but you’re not listening. Maybe God understands we need a “war leader” at this moment in time. Maybe God understands if we don’t win this election, America is dead. It’s over. The greatest nation in world history will be gone.
And with one last breath, maybe what we need to save us at the last second, is someone different. Someone you haven’t ever experienced before– because you weren’t raised in rough and tumble New York where nothing good gets accomplished unless you’re combative, aggressive, outrageous, on offense at all times, and maybe just a tad arrogant too.”
We need to flee from progressivism that is progress only in name, but is actually an ideology that leads the wrong way, and maybe it is God’s plan is to raise a very imperfect person to lead, as he often did in the Bible, so as we think about which is the lesser of the two evils, we should and can get some divine guidance from the education taught in God’s word. But then too, it might be too late, and God’s judgment is going to fall on this nation for its repeated iniquities. But at least we can vote for the lesser of the two evils.
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