Have you ever seen that old movie “The Princess Bride?”
At my house, it’s a favorite. One of my favorite scenes is in the beginning when Vizzini keeps using the word “Inconceivable!” to describe things that were obviously happening all around him. That’s when Inigo Montoya delivers his infamous line: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
I have to admit that line gets quoted a lot at my house. It came back to me the other day when we were talking about Progressive Christianity.
Because just like “inconceivable” did not describe the Vizzinni’s situation, Progressive Christianity doesn’t mean what many think it means.
First of all, there’s nothing “Christian” about Progressive Christianity.
While many people think it’s merely Christianity lite, the truth is that it’s not Christianity at all.
Recently, Jamie and I started listening to a podcast by Alisa Childers, in which she explains exactly what Progressive Christianity teaches.
We’ve also been reading a book explaining this theology.
The more you know about this teaching, the more you realize it has nothing to do with authentic Christianity.
For instance, Progressive Christianity teaches that Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and rising again did not really happen, but instead, it was just symbolic.
This philosophy believes that all men are inherently good, denying the primary tenant of Christianity that all men are born sinners in need of a Savior.
It denies the reality of Heaven and hell.
Progressive Christianity teaches that Jesus was just a good man along the lines of Gandhi or Mohammed. It denies the fact that He is the Divine Son of God, Who is equal to God.
Progressive Christianity teaches that the Bible is not really the Word of God, and it is not still relevant for today.
It’s teachers and proponents don’t believe that we must follow the Bible's teachings and avoid sin. Instead, they preach social justice and virtue signaling.
Progressive Christianity believes that any and all forms of sexual expression are good and pleasing to God while totally ignoring the sexual boundaries that are set up in the Bible.
Progressive Christianity isn’t just a branch of Christianity; it’s actually anti-Christianity.
It also isn’t “progressive” because “progressive” means “new.” When we read the book of Jude, we realize that this is not a new concept, but rather a tool that the enemy has been using for thousands of years. It’s ancient.
Jude 1:3-4 says:
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.
For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you.
They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”
This perfectly describes those who today call themselves “progressive Christians”! They pervert the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
Jude goes on to warn us:
"Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt but later destroyed those who did not believe.
And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings.
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.
Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion."
What is the way of Cain?
It is the religion of works instead of faith. (Hebrews 11:4). Progressive Christianity puts “doing good” above a need for salvation.
What did Balaam do wrong? (2 Peter 2:15)
He told the King of Moab how to lead the people of Israel into sin for a profit. (Have no doubt, Progressive Christian teachers are making a huge profit.)
Numbers 16:1-35 tells us of Korah’s rebellion against Moses and Moses’ teaching and God’s judgment for this rebellion. Progressive teachers rebel against all of the traditional teachings of Christianity, calling them “outdated.” For this, God promises they will be judged.
So how do we avoid the trappings of Progressive Christianity?
Again, let’s go back to Jude:
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.
They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
In these verses, I see three clear things we need to do:
First, we need to understand the difference between real Christianity and progressive Christianity. (Jude 1:17-19)
We can’t just hide our heads in the sand pretending that progressive Christianity and its teachers haven’t infiltrated the church and aren’t leading people away from Jesus and into a philosophy that is actually anti-Christianity. We need to educate ourselves so that we are not deceived and so that we can stand against the deceit.
Some of the tools we are using to do this are:
Secondly, we need to read and study the Bible and learn proper theology. (Jude 1:20-21)
Too many Christians are afraid of the concept of “theology.” Yet, “theology” is simply the study of God. We need to learn as much truth about what we believe as possible.
One way that progressive Christianity is infiltrating the church is that so much of their teaching is funny or entertaining. The problem is that too many people laugh their way right out of Heaven and into a backslidden state. True, theology is less entertaining. But we need it to feed our souls. Just like any good parent will say, “You can’t live on candy—you need healthy food to grow and stay strong.”
Theology is the solid meat of the Word that we need to stay spiritually healthy and strong.
Some good theological books are:
Finally, we need to speak out against progressive Christianity. (Jude 1:22-23)
We need to educate ourselves, but we also need to share our knowledge with other Christians so they, too, can be aware of the dangers.
The dangers of progressive Christianity need to be preached from every pulpit, taught in every Sunday school class, and warned against in every youth group. Small groups need to discuss and understand the pitfalls. Men’s and women’s groups need to talk about avoiding falling into this trap and helping their children avoid falling into these lies.
As Spirit-filled, born-again believers, we cannot stand idly by and allow progressive Christianity to deceive fellow believers and cause them to fall away from true salvation. We must speak the truth. It doesn’t matter if we offend them; we need to try to help them.
Will we keep everyone from falling victim to this toxic philosophy?
No, some will choose to believe progressive Christianity’s lies.
However, we must speak out and stand against this false doctrine so that we can save those who are willing to listen. It is the only kind and loving thing to do.
Because “progressive Christianity” is dangerous, it isn’t just “liberal” Christianity—it’s a whole other religion. Although the term sounds good, it isn’t at all how it sounds. It is the same destructive lies that have been leading people astray for centuries.
Like Christians who have gone before, we need to be aware of it, know what it teaches and why this teaching is wrong, and take a firm stand against it.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.