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Over the past year, I have slowly worked my way through my series on “The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity.” It’s an examination of 10 core tenets of progressive (or liberal) Christianity offered by Richard Rohr, but really based on the book by Philip Gulley.
We finally come to the tenth and last “commandment” of progressive Christianity and this one is a classic: “Life in This World is More Important than the Afterlife.”
Statement - Ethos - Christianity - One - Profound
It’s hard to imagine a statement that better captures the ethos of progressive Christianity than this one. It marks a profound pivot away from matters eternal and toward matters earthly. Let’s not worry ourselves about what happens after death, we are told, because no one knows anyway. All that matters is helping the poor, feeding the hungry, and relieving human suffering.
This commandment marks a fitting end to the series because it embodies (in a single statement) many of the values of liberal Christianity pointed out by J. Gresham Machen many years ago. Here are a few of them:
Christians - Humans - Problem - Sinners - God
For progressive Christians, humans have a real problem. But it’s not that they are rebellious sinners who have offended a holy God. Rather, the problem for humanity is that there is suffering, war, poverty and disease.
In other words, human problems are defined in purely horizontal terms (the way humans relate to the world or to fellow humans), and not in vertical terms (the way man relates to God).
Result - Ideal - Christianity - Nothing - Problems
As a result, the highest ideal of progressive Christianity can be nothing other than fixing present, temporal problems. For them, speaking of eternity is a distraction at best, and a waste of time at worst.
Thus, Gulley laments the church’s “preoccupation” (175) and “overemphasis” (176) on the afterlife and how “fortunes are spent saving people from the imaginary dangers of imaginary places” (184).
If there’s no eternity...
Wake Up To Breaking News!
It is time to put away the our toys and propaganda we've been taught as children and think for ourselves.