Progressivism

Text: Proverbs 24:21

The wise man warned about those who are “given to change.” These individuals want change for the sake of change. Sometimes change is good and necessary; sometimes it is not. Change is inherently part of progressivism – continue to move forward and not remain as or where we were. In this lesson, we are going to discuss progressivism in religion – what it is and why it is dangerous.

Define “Progressivism”

  • We usually hear the term in the realm of politics – yet it also appears in religion
  • Progressive – “making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities” (Merriam-Webster); the root word is progress; this suggests change
  • There are certain times when change is necessary – we must progress
  • However, for the progressive, we do not change when necessary – they believe change is always necessary

The Need for Progress

  • Paul told Timothy that his “progress” was to be “evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15) – word means advancement (Strong’s); he was to grow and improve
  • Ways in which we must strive to progress (grow/improve) – knowledge of the Bible (2 Peter 3:18; 1 Timothy 4:13, 16); practice of prayer (Luke 11:1; Romans 8:26); resisting sin/temptation (1 Corinthians 9:27; Hebrews 3:12-13); example before others (1 Timothy 4:12, 15); ability to teach others (Hebrews 5:12-14; 2 Timothy 2:15); spiritual maturity and development (1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Peter 1:5-8)

Not All Progress Is Good

  • While there is a type of progress that is good and necessary (1 Timothy 4:15), Paul warned of another type of progress (2 Timothy 3:13) – not all progress is good; progressivism is the idea that all change is necessary and ultimately good
  • We must not progress in sin (2 Timothy 3:13) – work to remove sin from our lives (1 John 2:1; Matthew 5:48); not be content in it (Romans 6:1-2)
  • We must not progress beyond the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) – hold fast to the pattern (2 Timothy 1:13); we need authority for all we say and do (Colossians 3:17; Matthew 7:21-23)
  • We must not progress in expanding fellowship beyond what God allows (1 Corinthians 5:1-2) – work to maintain the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3); not fellowship with sin and error (1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 John 10-11)
  • We must not progress in becoming more tolerant than God (Revelation 2:6, 15-16) – all are welcome to come to God (Acts 10:34-35); but they must do so upon His conditions (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

The Danger of Progressivism

  • Causes one to arrogantly think that we are more enlightened than the early Christians – they had to grow (Acts 1:6-8; 10:13-16, 34-35; 11:2-3, 18); but they were given all truth (John 16:13; Jude 3)
  • Elevates our experiences as an authority equal to or greater than the Scriptures – we are to follow the word (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 1:13); our experience does not change what God said (2 Peter 3:3-9)
  • Falsely equates human tradition and understanding with Scripture (Matthew 15:6-9; Proverbs 14:12)
  • Requires us to reinterpret Scripture to fit modern culture – all truth has already been given (John 16:13; Jude 3); time does not change God’s word (1 Peter 1:25)
  • Justifies the breaking of Scripture – Jesus said the Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35)
  • Leads us to accept everyone in sin and error (1 Corinthians 5:1-2; Revelation 2:14-15) – no basis for rejecting them
  • Cannot teach that anyone is going to hell – they falsely equate God’s love with salvation; God loves all (John 3:16), but not all will be saved (Matthew 7:13-14); no salvation outside of Christ (Acts 4:12); those who do not obey the gospel will be lost (2 Thessalonians 1:8)

Conclusion

  • Many people like change – they do not like the fact that the NT contains a fixed, unchanging pattern
  • We must always seek to grow, but progressivism is destructive – we must guard and warn against it

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