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030  Why I Oppose Progressivism

This newsletter is late because I've been wrestling with it for days. I did not want to write it. God made me. Blame Him. (Kidding, sort of.)

Christianity, at its core, does not call for political partisanship of any kind, and in fact sometimes partisanship can be sin. Yet, there have occurred times in the history of the Church when a secular cause of justice required Christians to take sides and participate, sometimes in activism, sometimes in violence, sometimes to the death. I'm thinking here of the abolition movement that resulted in America's Civil War, of the civic activism in Britain and America that led to child labor laws, and of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's principled opposition to the Nazis in his native Germany, for just a few examples.

That the Holy Spirit is prevailing on me to write this essay on this topic suggests that we in America may be approaching one of those times. I can't say exactly how. All I can say is, I think that it's God's will that we who love Him stand up to tyrants. He does not want martyrs; He wants champions. We need to be ready.

So here goes:

In general, the Church exists to represent God's character here on earth, and not only to represent it, but to bring His justice and righteousness to fruition wherever possible. Ultimately, God is going to have an earth on which righteousness, and only righteousness, exists (see II Peter 3:13). It is our job, at least in part, to bring that to pass, at the very least by our prayers, but also by our conduct (see Matthew 6:10, and II Peter 3:11-12).

That creates an interesting conflict, because so much of what goes on down here on earth is truly inconsequential. Christianity is not a political system, nor is it an economic system. Likewise, Christianity is not a self-help program, a mental health tonic, a get-rich-quick or a get-rich-slow scheme, or a social action network--although there are truths available in the Kingdom of God that will affect prosperity, mental health, self-esteem, justice, and politics. It becomes our task as His servants to discern correctly which matters are central and which are peripheral, and to behave accordingly.

I used to install system software at large corporations for a living, and it took up much of my time. Nothing I did in that pursuit created the Kingdom of God in any way that I could see. However, I was providing for my family, supporting the Church, representing Christ more or less accurately among my co-workers, and performing my duties with honesty and such excellence as I could produce. I considered that I was doing what God wanted me to do. I still think so.

Occasionally things occur within a secular setting that have eternal importance, and as Christians, when we encounter them we have to stand firm and do what is right. For example, if my employer is stealing, I have a responsibility within the secular system to report him and not to steal along with him. That responsibility also matters eternally, both with regard to my eternal soul and to my employer’s. There’s no specific scripture that says “You must report your dishonest employer to the FBI,” but I most certainly have a Christian obligation to do something like that. 

Now, what does that have to do with America and politics?

Politics, like my career in systems, addresses temporal things. It is tempting to dismiss them as irrelevant. Many American Evangelicals argue that Jesus was not involved in politics, and infer that they should not be, either. 

They're mistaken. Jesus was not a citizen of Rome, He was a citizen of Judea. Judea was a theocracy. Jesus was involved up to his nostrils in Judean politics. That's what got Him killed; He undercut the authority of the Jews' political and religious leaders by exposing their unrighteousness.

Most Evangelicals argue likewise that Paul, in Romans 13, declares that Christians ought to submit to the ruling authorities. What they forget is that the American republic has an inverted structure: we, the people, are the ruling authority that ought to be obeyed, and what we call "government" is our slave. 

Consequently, we Christians who are citizens in America have an obligation to God to involve ourselves in politics as representatives of the Kingdom of God--even while we recognize that much of what gets done in politics has little eternal consequence. Not all of us are cut out to be Ward Chairman or poll watchers, but we all have a responsibility to understand current issues and participate in the community as suits our particular gifting. We, the people, including Christians, dictate to the government. It's our job.

Different people will see their civic responsibility differently; that’s part of what “free society” means. So what if you’re a Democrat and I’m a Republican? So long as we both participate honestly, civilly, with excellence, and in good conscience, we should be able to work out our differences. Even if we can’t, each of our conscientious activisms fulfills our Christian duties, and I think that God is pleased. In most political things, where the relevance of the Kingdom of God is disputable, Christians may participate on either side, and God’s purpose is served by either.

Now comes the difficult part.

What if a political party in the US adopts as its core philosophy something that is utterly contrary to the Kingdom of God? I'm not saying just a specific plank or bad policy, but a central philosophy that is from hell. What if, for example, a party adopted the central goals of Satanism, and used as the central theme of its platform “Be as Satan, and Do As You Will?” spreading that theme through law, education, government, and civil society? Does the combination of our devotion to the Kingdom of Christ and our citizenship in a citizen-governed system confer on us a Christian duty to resist that which is explicitly ungodly in that party’s platform?

I say that it does, and I say furthermore that the failure to judge this rightly and to take appropriate action constitutes a failure to serve Christ properly. Our job here is to bring the Kingdom of God to earth, and resisting the spread of demonic systems is certainly part of that job, particularly where we, the people, carry ruling authority.

What I perceive in modern America is that one party has been overtaken by a demonic philosophy that perfectly expresses the will of the serpent in Eden: “You will be as God.” It perfectly expresses the vain notions of kings mentioned in Psalm 2: “Let us break [the LORD's] chains, and throw off [His Anointed's] fetters.” That philosophy is the philosophy of Utopian control—total control by government in league with enlightened citizens to produce a perfect society. It calls itself "Progressive," and it declares that the liberty protected by the US Constitution is obsolete. The terms of the Progressive political agenda seem to be a program to bring about their perfect society through political domination, government regulation, and social bullying. They intend to drive what they call "racism," "sexism," "homophobia," and "greed" out of the human character by way of mob enforcement--basically, by shaming all appearance of such things, and then by gaining political control and persecuting it.

We saw this philosophy in motion throughout the 20th century, in Italy, in Germany, in Russia, in China, in Vietnam, in Cambodia, in Cuba, and elsewhere. We watched it murder hundreds of millions of its own citizens. It does not drive evil out of humans. It produces poverty, misery, tyranny, and death.

And everywhere it went, it systematically and specifically murdered the Church, because the spirit of this system is anti-Christ.

Much confusion has arisen because the purveyors of this demonic philosophy have hijacked some important words, most notably "justice." As with most deceptions, sometimes they speak accurately: it is our responsibility as Christians to make sure that employers pay workers what they have earned, and to expose and condemn those people who enrich themselves on the backs of the poor. Activism that helps people improve their lot honestly is legitimate, perhaps even obligatory, for Christians, and should be encouraged... if that's what it is.

The problem is that what Progressives define as "justice" is frequently not that at all. They begin from the presuppositions of Marxism: that all wealth was acquired unfairly, that all employers are unjust, that all men oppress all women, that all whites oppress all non-whites, and that any imbalance is evil. God frequently says the opposite: employees can be wrong, and employers just; wealthy men can be wealthy because of God's blessing, and the poor can be poor because of their own error; wives can be unfair to their husbands, and husbands can be good to their wives; and so on. God does call us individually to be generous with what we have (and also to work so that we have something with which to be generous), but when the government takes what one man has earned and gives it to another who has not earned it, injustice has occurred. When white men are oppressed simply because they are white and they are men, injustice has occurred. When policemen are condemned for doing their jobs, injustice has occurred. "Social justice" as conveyed by Progressives is frequently not God's justice.

As we American Christians are among the ruling authority and therefore carry responsibility to maintain the peace and safety of the American people, not to mention our responsibility to produce the Kingdom of God, it is our job to recognize what this demonic philosophy has produced elsewhere, and to declare, "It will not produce it here." After 200 million government-performed murders during the 20th century, nothing could be clearer.

It also behooves us, as servants of the living Christ, to stand firm against government encroachment on our liberties from other points of view as well. Notice what I have not said: I have not said that the Republican party represents the character of Christ in any way. I have not said that any Democrat is a demoniac. I have not said that Christians cannot be Democrats, nor that Democrats cannot be Christians, nor even that Progressives cannot be Christians. (They can; I've known several.) I have not said that the US Constitution is the Perfect Christian Document. I have not said that we have leave to treat political opponents as though they were less than human beings. I have not said that there are no other Christian imperatives in politics to which a Christian might, in good conscience, apply himself or herself.

But what I have said is, there’s a distinctly ungodly philosophy centered in a political movement attempting to dominate America, and as citizens of the Kingdom of God who happen also to be citizens in a citizen-governed republic, we have a Christian obligation to stand up to it and to defeat it decisively.

Mull that over, and I'll be back to spiritual topics in the next issue (I hope.)

Phil Weingart


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