D. C. Thielmann - Biblical Scholar and Author

Progressive Christianity: The #1 Evil Hoax of Faith

D. C. Thielmann - Biblical Scholar & Author

Progressive Christianity: The #1 Evil Hoax of Faith

Progressive Christianity: The Foretold Rise of Evil (Acts 20:28-30)

Progressive Christianity

Although the term, Progressive Christianity, has become the modern recognized term in churches supporting several Christian doctrinal changes, especially in regards to the LGBTQ+ movement, the actual “movement” by churches towards Progressive Christianity has been ongoing for more than two centuries now and has not been confined to only the LGBTQ+ matters. In fact, the entire history of Christianity is filled with accounts and events involving differences of opinion regarding Church doctrines, which have been ongoing for nearly two millennia. Furthermore, this modern move towards Progressive Christianity is not confined to just Protestant Christianity, nor is it even confined to just a few Christian denominations! This movement towards Progressive Christianity has now spread across the entire spectrum of Christianity.

So, what precisely is Progressive Christianity and the history behind this movement towards Progressive Christianity? Now although I admit that I am the most familiar with this movement towards Progressive Christianity within my own denomination, the United Methodist Church, having been baptized a Methodist, a Stephen Minister at Duluth First United Methodist Church, and then formerly a co-facilitator of the GriefShare group at DFUMC, I admit that I am not completely familiar with each and every Christian denomination’s individual concepts of Progressive Christianity. Yet, there is a website dedicated to Progressive Christianity that explains its goals and purposes for Progressive Christianity that seemingly covers all denominations identifying with Progressive Christianity.

As a result of my being the most familiar with the Progressive Christianity of the United Methodist Church I will primarily be focusing solely upon this branch of Progressive Christianity and the break-up between the various different factions within the UMC. Now, not all Methodists desire to move towards Progressive Christianity, and so, there have been several names used by differing factions within the UMC, such as, the Holiness Movement in America from the late nineteenth into the early twentieth century involving the Fundamentalist/Evangelical/Traditionalist faction of the UMC, which spread into other Christian denominations, and whose goals were to return to the teachings of John Wesley regarding “the experience of sanctification,” or “purified of sin” after one is “baptized.”

Opposition arose and a breakup within the Methodist Church resulted after those holding to this Holiness Movement were forced out of the Methodist Church, which is similar to what is occurring today within the UMC. Then, in 1913, Leander Munhall, a veteran General Council delegate of the Methodist Episcopal Church spoke up and wrote a book titled, Breakers! Methodists Adrift, in which Munhall warned that “liberal theologies” had “infected” Methodism and such were “becoming more worldly, and powerful elites in our denominational bureaucracy were especially pushing Methodism away from our own biblical doctrines on core issues like the authority of Scripture and original sin.” At the same time arose the precursor of Progressive Christianity namely, the theological movement called, Modernism.

Munhall’s statements in his book are a remarkable reflection of what is occurring today in regards to Progressive Christianity! One of these statements by Munhall that is so remarkably reflective of what is occurring within the UMC today, (one which I have personally witnessed at DFUMC), is that Munhall stated that, Bishops appoint liberal pastors to “many of the big wealthy churches” while many other pastors “of acknowledged ability, who are loyal to the Bible and the doctrines and usages of Methodism, never get such churches, but are usually sent to second, third and even fourth rate appointments.” In essence, a deliberate “indoctrination” into the movement of Modernism was being forced onto parishioners in an unbeknownst manner to these parishioners.

As a result of these tactics that Munhall had outlined, by the 1920’s the Modernism movement, (the precursor to Progressive Christianity), was basically in control of the Methodist Church. During the mid-1960’s the Fundamentalist/Evangelical/Traditionalists had become the “minority” within the Methodist Church and as a result, this minority began to try and fight back sparked by the comments of Charles Keyser, and the formation of The Good News Movement. Keyser wrote an op-ed article titled, Methodism’s Silent Minority, in which Keyser stated, “I speak of those Methodists who are variously called ‘evangelicals’ or ‘conservatives’ or ‘fundamentalists.’ A more accurate description is ‘orthodox,’ for these brethren hold a traditional understanding of the Christian faith.”

In his op-ed, Keyser defined the five major tenets of The Good News Movement, all of which are clearly outlined in, The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church, also known as, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. These five tenets that Keyser defined are precisely the five major tenets that were under attack by Modernism, (Progressive Christianity). In essence, Keyser pointed out that the majority of Methodists were attacking and violating the most primary tenets of their own Manual of Discipline! All of these matters outlined above transpired before the fifty-year debate within the Methodist Church over the LGBTQ+ matter even began in the early 1970’s!

During the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s the term, Modernism in regards to Progressive Christianity was changed to, Emergent Christianity. It was difficult to define any basic tenets of Emergent Christianity, (even by those beholding to Emergent Christianity), yet, the goals of Emergent Christianity set the stage for Progressive Christianity to step out into the open for all to see! As an example, in 2002 Methodist Bishop, Joseph Sprague, from Chicago openly denied several “core Christian doctrines” such as, that Jesus’ crucifixion was not an “atonement” for ones’ sins, nor was there ever a “resurrection” of Jesus. Even though complaints were raised against Bishop Sprague, the UMC basically “dismissed” those complaints through a very “miniscule disciplinary” action.

Sprague’s Progressive Christianity statements have been referred to as Penal Substitutionary Atonement Theory since around the 1940’s. Some Progressive Christianity bibles even changed John 3:16 to read, “For God was so filled with wrath against the world, that he sent his only begotten son to take the beating that we all deserved. That if anyone would want to escape eternal suffering, and would raise their hand and repeat this prayer after me, they would escape this horrible wrath. For the son was not sent into the world to change our minds about God, but to change God’s mind about us. So now that Jesus has taken the punishment for us, God can now finally love us, and forgive us.

Before going any further it is necessary to demonstrate that there is a parallel of other events and matters in history with that of the rise of Progressive Christianity. As stated above, the rise towards Progressive Christianity began in the mid to late nineteenth century, which parallels the rise of Karl Marx and his Communist Manifesto, and specifically, Chapter 2 of the Communist Manifesto, which openly criticizes and attacks religion in general, but primarily Christianity. In fact, Karl Marx stated that, “Religion is a sort of spiritual booze,” and that, “there is nothing more abominable than religion,” and “all worship of a divinity is a necrophilia.”

We next find that the statements of Leander Munhall in 1913 parallels the time of the Russian Revolution, which began in 1898 as the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party founded by Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin, and which Lenin wrote a letter in 1905 that was extremely critical of religion in general, but which was most critical specifically of Christianity. In this letter Lenin stated, “So far as the party of the socialist proletariat is concerned, religion is not a private affair. Our Party is an association of class-conscious, advanced fighters for the emancipation of the working class. Such an association cannot and must not be indifferent to lack of class-consciousness, ignorance or obscurantism in the shape of religious beliefs.”

Lenin further stated, “We demand complete disestablishment of the Church so as to be able to combat the religious fog with purely ideological and solely ideological weapons, by means of our press and by word of mouth. But we founded our association, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, precisely for such a struggle against every religious bamboozling of the workers. And to us the ideological struggle is not a private affair, but the affair of the whole Party, of the whole proletariat.” Then, in 1909 Lenin echoed Marx’s statement about religion saying that religion is, “the opium of the people – this dictum by Marx is the cornerstone of the whole Marxist outlook on religion.”

Then, as noted above concerning the 1960’s attempt by Keyser to fight back against the movement of Progressive Christianity, we find that in 1963 the 45 Communist Goals of the Communist Party of the United States, (an offshoot of the Socialist Party of America and which also parallels the rise of Progressivism in U. S. Politics), were read into the Congressional record of the U. S. House of Representatives. Everyone should read each of these 45 Goals, and especially numbers 27, 28, 40, and 41 as they most assuredly relate to the rise and movement of Progressive Christianity.

As number 27 of the 45 Communist Goals of the Communist Party of the United States says, “Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with ‘social’ religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a ‘religious crutch’.” This particular goal, as pointed out above, is precisely what has already been found to also be the goal of Progressive Christianity! And number 28 states, “Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of ‘separation of church and state’.”

Then there is number 40, which states, “Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce,” and then there is number 41 of the 45 Communist Goals which states, “Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.” Each of these four goals can be found, at least in part if not in whole, as being a part of the ideology of Progressive Christianity.

So, precisely how can Progressive Christianity still claim to identify itself as being Christians? This question is essential since Progressive Christianity “picks-and-chooses” what parts of Scripture apply to today’s world and discard, and disregard all other Scripture they deem to be “outdated” for today’s world. One of the most outspoken Methodist pastors of Progressive Christianity is, Karen Oliveto, who was promoted to Bishop in 2016, (precisely as Leander Munhall warned was occurring in 1913, noted above), and since this promotion she has repeatedly had complaints levelled against her, some of which even resulted in her being suspended for brief periods. Oliveto openly stated that there were “flaws” in Scripture and that “we should not create an idol” out of Jesus!

Oliveto also openly claimed that Jesus was not “without sins,” and that Jesus not only had “biases,” but also, “bigotries and prejudices,” and therefore, Jesus should likewise have undergone a “conversion.” How do such statements and beliefs as these coming from an outspoken individual beholding to Progressive Christianity in any way resemble genuine Christianity? The fact is that in no way does Progressive Christianity even resemble Christianity! It resembles something more like the “Branch-Davidians cult” than it does actual “Christianity!” As Franklin Graham so rightly states regarding Progressive Christianity in his article, “The Eternal Peril of Christianity,” “Progressive Christianity is not a Gospel at all.” Yet, Progressive Christianity claims to be the true Christianity!

Furthermore, Progressive Christianity equates Jesus’ life and teachings to that of socialism and communism, as Methodist pastor, Dr. Christy Thomas, expressed it in 2018, by way of her article titled, “Bible-Believing Christians: Either Socialists or Liars.” This claim and belief are a complete distortion of the truth! It is the prime example of how Progressive Christianity is an evil hoax of faith! For Jesus was not a “communist” or “socialist!” Jesus was in fact, a “communalist,” and there is a vast difference between communism/socialism and communalism! Communism/socialism utilize governments of this world whereas, communalism is not beholding to governments of this world, for it shares wealth, property, food, and healthcare services only within its own group of followers!

Communalism can be compared to a monastery or a convent. Jesus did not try to force, or demand that the government enact communism/socialism in the manner that Progressive Christianity tries to do! Jesus taught it to be a choice, which is why Jesus gave the teachings found in Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22 and which was carried on and followed after Jesus’ death as noted in Acts 2:45-46; Acts 4:33-35. These verses demonstrate pure communalism and not communism/socialism because they occurred only amongst Jesus’ individual group of followers and their community’s rules and never beheld to any government’s laws! Progressive Christianity is an evil hoax of faith in regards to claiming that Jesus is teaching communism/socialism in these verses!

Another tenet of Progressive Christianity is its belief that the Church and its doctrines, and the interpretation of Scripture must not be taken “literally,” (which is true to a certain extant), but Progressive Christianity claims that these “non-literal” interpretations must be ever changing in order to progress with changes in secular society. Yet, this tenet is just an evil hoax of faith put forth by Progressive Christianity! For as Hebrews 13:8 states, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!” This verse of Scripture must be one of those verses that I discussed above that Progressive Christianity has conveniently “picked and chosen” to discard under the belief that it is no longer applicable in the world of today!

There are other similar verses in Scripture, such as Malachi 3:6, “For I the Lord do not change,” and James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change,” and Psalm 90:4, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it has past, or as a watch in the night,” and Psalm 33:11, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations,” and Psalm 102:27, “But you are the same, and your years have no end,” and Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.”

There are other similar verses of Scripture that are impossible to interpret in any “metaphorical” manner as Progressive Christianity desires to do in order to try and prove that God, Jesus and their teachings progress with the secular society of the world today! Progressive Christianity loves to cite a small portion of Leviticus 19:18 that says, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” once again, as discussed above, the “picking and choosing” which portions of Scripture should be applied in the secular society of the world today! Yet, Progressive Christianity takes this small portion of Leviticus 19:18 completely out of context in regards to the whole of what is taught in Leviticus 19!

For Progressive Christianity has left out what is stated in the preceding verse, (Leviticus 19:17), which states, “You shall certainly rebuke your neighbor and not suffer sin on his account!” In essence, Leviticus 19:17 as it relates to Leviticus 19:18, is teaching the old adage that there are indeed times when it is necessary to show “tough love” to “your neighbor!” This is indeed an important aspect that Progressive Christianity discards, disregards, and leaves out of its tenets. Proverbs 27:5 likewise says, “Open rebuke is better than hidden love,” and Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault between the two of you,” and there are many other similar examples as well.

Now, since the world-wide UMC was simply unable to come up with any sort of “compromise” between those beholding to Progressive Christianity and those beholding to Traditional Christianity, a “break-up” began within the UMC. Yet, one would figure that such a “break-up” would be a simple split into two separate branches – that of Methodists beholding to Progressive Christianity and that of Methodists beholding to Traditional Christianity. In fact, that was precisely what we Methodists were led to believe was precisely what was going to occur within the UMC! But this is not what is occurring at present. There is, in fact, a “three-way” split occurring within the UMC, with two of these three being an evil hoax of faith!

Methodist churches beholding to Progressive Christianity allowed their entire congregations to vote to leave the UMC and form their own “offshoot” called the, Liberation Methodist Connexion. Methodist churches beholding to Traditional Christianity likewise, allowed their entire congregations to vote to leave the UMC and form their own “offshoot” called the, “Global Methodist Church.” Then we have Methodist churches which are continuing to be referred to as the United Methodist Church, such as, Duluth First United Methodist Church! One obvious, major difference between the two “offshoots” and the remaining UMC is that the Global Methodist Church offers both a directory for all churches joining the GMC, but they also offer a “comparison” of the differences between these three branches of Methodists!

Another glaring difference is that while the Methodist churches who openly expressed a desire to move towards Progressive Christianity, and the Methodist churches who openly expressed a desire to hold to Traditional Christianity each allowed their congregations to vote on these matters, Methodist churches clinging to the UMC have not offered their congregations the opportunity to vote one way or the other! This is the biggest evil hoax of faith of all! For I have witnessed such churches as DFUMC claiming to hold to the Traditionalist Methodist teachings outlined in the Manual of Discipline, yet they incorporate into the mid-week classes, Sunday school classes, and Sunday sermons the “ideologies” of Progressive Christianity violating what they professed to be beholding to!

So how does one recognize whether or not their church of choice is moving towards Progressive Christianity? Alisa Childers lists 5 signs to look for in order to recognize if your clergy and laity leaders are trying to move your Church into Progressive Christianity. I personally have witnessed all 5 signs occurring at Duluth First United Methodist Church, and this despite the fact just stated above, that DFUMC is dishonestly telling its congregation that it is going to remain a Traditionalist Church! Yet, it is not just a church’s clergy and staff that are to blame. For many church laity leaders have been given such leadership roles simply because they are promoting a move towards Progressive Christianity!

The laity of churches that are not aware of, or being allowed to vote as a congregation on whether or not they desire that their church be a part of Progressive Christianity, are not to be blamed. For they are just innocent victims, and pawns being deceitfully indoctrinated into an evil hoax of faith! But, if some of the general church laity, as well as the laity leaders are indeed aware of this evil hoax of faith in their churches, yet they are not speaking up, as taught in Leviticus 19:17 discussed above, (or as taught in Matthew 18:15-17), then they are equally guilty of perpetrating an evil hoax of faith on the remainder of the unsuspecting laity!

So, be cautious and question your church’s clergy, staff, and laity leaders to discover if they are as Romans 16:17-18 warned us about: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery, they deceive the minds of naive people.” Yet study further how we were warned of the coming of such an evil hoax of faith as Progressive Christianity in, 2 Corinthians 11:12-15; 2 Timothy 4:3; 2 Peter 2:1; Colossians 2:8; Matthew 24:4-5; and Acts 20:29!

D. C. Thielmann (author of On Earth As It Is In Heaven Volume I; On Earth As It Is In Heaven Volume II; You Say So: The Trial Of Jesus of Nazareth)

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