A Wake Up Call For Progressive Christians

A Wake Up Call For Progressive Christians July 15, 2019

Let me turn my attention, for a brief moment, to those who most often resonate with my words here on my blog, or in the books that I’ve written, or even on the podcast that I co-host.

I understand, and very much appreciate, that you agree with me when I point out the hypocrisy of the Conservative Christian community I once belonged to. I am very grateful for the private messages of encouragement, and the supportive “Amen, brother!” comments on my posts, and all the many “likes” and “shares” I’ve received from all of you on social media.

Seriously. Thank you.

But, I need to talk about us for a second.

I mean, maybe I’ve not been very clear about critique of Politically-Entangled Evangelicalism. See, I used to be one of those, for many, many years. So, when I talk about entanglement between faith and politics, I often use examples from my past, or even point to current examples of it in those groups I once belonged to.

But, (and this is the hard part), I’m afraid that Liberal, Progressive Christians are just as likely to develop their very own brand of toxic political entanglement.

In other words, we can so clearly see where Evangelical Christians today are blind to their own hypocrisy as they squirm to justify the moral failures of their political leaders, and how they compromise the integrity of their faith in Christ to maintain the illusion that their political side is still the last, best hope for our nation, etc.

And we can also clearly see how those same Evangelical Christians seem to be in denial about their own blind spots in these areas.

What we don’t realize is, this isn’t a problem unique to Evangelical Conservatives. This is a human problem. And that means, it is more than possible – if not totally inevitable – that one day very, very soon, Progressive Christians will become equally entangled with Liberal Democratic politics and develop their own blind spots and justify their own betrayal of Christ’s Kingdom in the process.

And, here’s the real kicker: What if it’s already happened?

I mean, if we can clearly see how blind and unaware our Conservative Evangelical Christians are when it comes to the allure of political power, what makes us think that we aren’t also blinded at this very moment?

How would we know?

The nature of blind spots is that you are the only one who cannot see them.

But they are still there.

Right in front of you.

Now, imagine if, somehow, we could listen to those who CAN see our blind spots. What if we even took the time to admit, up front, that we probably already do have a great need for improvement in many areas of our Christian life? How refreshing would that be? Wouldn’t we welcome that sort of honesty and transparency if it were coming out of the mouths of our Conservative Evangelical brothers and sisters?

Yeah. That would be kinda cool, wouldn’t it?

So, just imagine how great that would be if we could be the ones who go first. You know, sort of as a show of good faith.

Why am I saying this? Because, I just spent the last four days at a pretty big Progressive Christian event where I heard plenty of people griping about those Conservative Evangelicals on the other side who have such massive specks in their eyes, and I couldn’t help but wonder why we just automatically assume that we are immune to the same phenomenon.

Also, I had numerous conversations with other Progressive Christians who seemed to feel like the best way to fight against those politically-entangled Evangelical Conservatives was to become even better than they are at political entanglement.

“We need more Progressive Christians in Congress!”, some said. “We need to be as organized as the Evangelicals are at getting people out to vote for our causes,” others proclaimed.

But, this escalation agenda is a losing game, my friends. Just because they have a machine gun, it doesn’t mean the solution is for us to get a bazooka. Just because they have a helicopter, it doesn’t mean we need a fighter jet.

That sort of thinking only leads to one thing: All-out warfare.

This is where I remind all of us that these are our brothers and our sisters in Christ.

[I only say this because I think some of us have actually forgotten this fact].

These are members of the same Body of Christ that we are also members of.

Now, I get it, we’ve forgotten this because our identity is probably wrapped up in our political tribalism. As long as you primarily think of yourself as a “Progressive” or a “Liberal” or a “Democrat”, or a “Conservative” or a “Republican”, etc., then you fail to see your true identity in the Body of Christ which transcends all of those other, smaller, man-made divisions we’ve allowed ourselves to become enamored with.

So, maybe that’s part of the solution: We need to get back to seeing one another as beloved members of Christ’s Body.

Warning: We can never do that as long as we primarily view ourselves as members of a tribalistic political party.

Repeat after me: “I am a member of the Body of Christ. I am an ambassador of the Kingdom of God. Everyone who is in Christ is my brother and my sister.”

I often remind Christians that Paul wouldn’t tolerate the Christians in Corinth dividing over which Apostle was their favorite. So, why do we think it’s ok to divide the Body of Christ over which political ideology is our favorite?

Answer: It’s not ok.

So, my sincere hope in writing this is that you, my new-found friends on the Progressive Christian end of the spectrum, might first of all recognize that you are also susceptible to the very same moral and ethical failures as you see reflected on the Evangelical Conservative side.

This is your chance to avoid the same fate, and to possibly even do some self-reflection to ensure that you don’t get caught in the very same trap.

And what trap is that? It’s the trap of entangling your faith with a political ideology. Plain and simple.

If you don’t want to become the Liberal Progressive version of what the Conservative Christians are today, it starts right here, right now, by renouncing your identity as a member of a political party and pledging your full and total allegiance to Christ and His Kingdom.

Failure to do this will inevitably result in becoming what you are currently so desperate to fight against.

I say this in love and with great hope that we may not only avoid the same fate, but possibly even help our brothers and sisters on the other side to escape as well.

That’s what love does. It brings us together. It seeks healing. It reaches across the aisle, and the pew, to reestablish connection and unity.

The only reason we might not do this is if we’re already so blinded by our own tribalism that we can’t possibly imagine doing such a thing.

I’m ready when you are.

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

His newest book, “Jesus Unveiled: Forsaking Church As We Know It For Ekklesia As God Intended” released on June 9, 2019 on Amazon, and features a Foreword by author Richard Jacobson.

*Woodstock, GA – July 27-28 “Unleashing the Word of God” [With Richard Murray] – FREE!


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Wise words. I’m ready.

  • Rayce Rapoza

    You didn’t mention anarcho-capitalism, or Christian anarchist of the past, our view truly is “renouncing your identity as a member of a political party and pledging your full and total allegiance to Christ and His Kingdom.” We dont like either side, we only care about the consent of the individual, not the forceful, inefficient, and unaccountable nature of the state.

  • Nimblewill

    http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2019/07/post-progressive-christianity-part-1.html

    First of 10 parts so far that every Christian needs to read.

  • Ray Dubuque

    Keith, in contrast to your imaginary approach to the debate at hand, i.e. “Just because they have a machine gun, it doesn’t mean the solution is for us to get a bazooka. Just because they have a helicopter, it doesn’t mean we need a fighter jet,”
    MY contribution is ThankGodforLiberalDemocrats.org
    Rev. R D
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/94e6e7f598511d5aed67c4829bd3da272451aa59129e9d39d01e56c1166c13b1.jpg

  • James Elliott

    I agree with Joshua Lawson’s observation – wise words and much needed.

  • R/R 2016

    “If you don’t want to become the Liberal Progressive version of what the Conservative Christians are today…”

    Saying you want to bridge the divide because you don’t want to be like those Christians is not actually bridging the divide. It’s exactly the hypocrisy (the “blind spot”) you’re talking about.

  • Herm

    Luke14:25-27
    Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: [26] “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. [27] And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    Matthew 5:43-48
    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ [44] But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, [45] that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. [46] If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? [47] And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? [48] Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    Keith, I, like my brother and teacher Jesus, as both of us are sons of carbon based Man, remain a brother of all brothers and sisters of mankind. I love all of my fellows of mankind through empathy, mercy, forgiveness, tolerance and a full realization of each our health and dependence upon the health and unity of the entire single body of Man. I am bound by love to do the best I can to all others of mankind (who as one was made in the image of my family of God united as one bound in love and the Spirit of truth) as I would have all others of mankind do to me. I love my merciful neighbor and my intolerant enemy of Man enough that I carry my cross equally in sacrifice for both. I grieve for each when I lose their awareness and influence in my life.

    Just because anyone aligns themselves in pledge to membership in a “Christian Church” does not make them a sister or brother in the body (family) of God with Jesus the Christ. Man is physical. God is spirit. As a son of Man I am in the image of Man which is physical. As a son of God I am in the image of God which is spirit. My brothers and sisters in and of God are all filled by the Holy Spirit as is our Father in heaven. All of us children of God on earth hate the tribalism found in divisive patriotism of family, religion and nation before the good of all of mankind as one body.

    Keith, I love your sincerity of care, especially as you clearly progress toward the divine liberalism in the example of Jesus as found in the Gospels.

    There is no high priest, of any religion, in the order of Caiaphas, who can speak for God better than Jesus with all authority in heaven and on earth.

    John 14:15-21
    “If you love me, keep my commands. [16] And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— [17] the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. [18] I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. [19] Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. [20] On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. [21] Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

    I cannot judge, nor do I need, if Jesus and our Father is in you and you are in Them. By your fruit I trust that you are allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you as you are ready.

    I hope that your home sponsored fellowships in Christ are not aligned toward any “Christian Church” authority. If they are not, then the Spirit of truth will lead as advised by our brother Jesus and our perfect heavenly Father, who loves their neighbor, enemy and other in their image so much that they do to each as they would have each do to them.

    Now, we live in a democracy with each our influence and awareness sufficient that we must be responsible to the perfect aspirations of our Father who knows what is good for us all as mankind. Because we love, we must speak and act out as led by the Holy Spirit to progress toward a more perfect union of Man bound in love as one body dependent upon the health of each “other” for the health of all (mentally, spiritually, and physically).

    Thank you for helping us all to realize how little we know of all there is to know. Children of God, who have matured to become responsible adults of Man, realize their inadequacy to proceed toward a more perfect union of Man without the guidance of one who knows where our choices lead.

    In conclusion, it is documented that God has shared with many of Man that all of our Father’s will is summed up in the “Golden Rule” long before Israelites and Christians. Jesus freed us from the whims and untruths of human authoritarians by making the Holy Spirit available to us all from within whom we recognize Jesus and the Father in us and we in them. There is no religious carnal umbrella we must recognize to be a living child of God on earth. All members of “Christian Churches” are not necessarily sisters and brothers children of God. All members of all religions of mankind are children of Man, not made God but made in the image of God.

  • Ray Dubuque

    I tried to change the oversize image in my previous post to the smaller one below, but I couldn’t get the former larger image DELETED!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a70e6b64e4af4d4d1f5cea1a7df70147b8a9a61eb3a0fcfdb43e68a088c7253c.png

  • Waverly

    I don’t see much change happening with the boomer crowd or generation Y. I see racism, sexism, political polarization in both progressives and conservatives. In progressives it’s just more subtle. Erin Wathen wrote a post recently on sexism in a progressive Church. Ethnocentrism is just as intense in progressive Christian academia as anywhere else. The hope for change comes with generation Z. Talking with these young people I am hearing something very different than anything before.

  • Keith: I’ve been reading Jesus Untangled, and your blog posts. I am at a turning point in my prayers and view on how I ought to live for Jesus, thanks in large part to you. But I’m confused— how then should I VOTE? As an American, shouldn’t I exercise my right to do that?

    What do I tell my high school students (public school in California) what my political views are when they ask? The only thing I’m convince of is that I’m obligated more and more to care for human beings, and in Jesus’ name. Please answer back? Thank you, Jen P

  • Welp, Keith, I’m in chapters 7 & 8 of Untangled. You may have already answered my questions. I can tell you that my dad would disinherit me if I shared any of this revolutionary thinking as alternative to Trumpism. And he’s a Christian too.

  • Herm

    Jennifer, search your heart of spirit to know when, what and if to share with your dad. That is where you will find the voice of God expressed through the Holy Spirit, the only Spirit of truth.

    Matthew 10:32-39
    “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. [33] But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. [34] “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. [35] For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— [36] a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ [37] “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. [38] Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. [39] Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

    The sword Jesus teaches us to wield is from our mouth … our words of love in truth. Nothing cuts deeper than that which reaches to the depth of our soul, that was made in the image of God. The Spirit of truth can and will guide you when and how use the words from your mouth to serve both you and your dad.

    Yes, your voice/vote should be heard and felt in accordance with the will of our Father in heaven. Your heart and mind of spirit will know the truth according to the Spirit of God.

    Love you!

  • Thank you.

  • John

    A good first step might be to stop poking fun at, ridiculing, mocking or painting a caricature of the other side. Both are guilty. We won’t find unity by quickly returning to our theological arguments the instant something arises. We must recognize that we all too often have a thin veneer of love, but a great reservoir of disdain just below the surface. Again, from both sides. Most people won’t recognize the real cost of unity because it comes at a price, that being our opinions, our outrage, our rights, our correct theology over theirs, our individualism over community, our desire to be heard instead of listening. What’s necessary is grace, mutual submission, forgiveness, patience, self control, commitment, relationship. The culture is stacked against those things, so when you respond to calls for peace and unity without the willingness to pay the price, then whose system have you truly aligned with?

  • swbarnes2

    What’s necessary is grace, mutual submission, forgiveness, patience, self control, commitment, relationship.

    Ah yes, the eternal Christian demand that people make friends with Christians who literally want to murder them. I know, I know, you have to deny it.
    Because it’s a “caricature”, even if I provide real quotes.

    https://www.metroweekly.com/2017/12/republican-candidate-texas-governor-gladly-execute-gay-people/
    https://www.newsweek.com/put-homos-death-sheriffs-deputy-says-lgbt-freaks-animals-should-executed-tennessee-1443783
    https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2019/02/republican-lawmaker-said-drown-kids-theyre-gay/
    https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/09/12/republican-senate-candidate-roy-moore-doesnt-know-if-gay-people-should-be-executed/
    https://www.businessinsider.com/oklahoma-republican-is-cool-with-stoning-gay-people-to-death-2014-6

    Sure, gay people are exactly as provoking to conservatives by living. Both sides.

    Most people won’t recognize the real cost of unity because it comes at a price, that being our … rights,

    Okay, let’s stop and be specific there. Tell us exactly what rights you would tell your gay child to give up to placate those Christians who want to murder them. Let’s see what kind of answer your Christian integrity furnishes here. My guess is, none.

  • John

    So, I see you took the opportunity to make assumptions and vent your outrage. Thanks for making my point perfectly.

  • Julie Mattison

    No, that comment rather sounded like someone who has suffered condemnation, ostracism, and hate from those of a particular religious or political persuasion. You didn’t mention the background you’ve dealt with in your walk to “both are guilty” yet you still come across as “I dealt with it, so stop whining.” Visualize the phrase “Turn the other cheek.” To do so, one must be *standing* and facing the accuser/bully/toxic person. You must have a backbone and the confidence/support to do so. Flippant condemnations of fellow sufferers doesn’t accomplish the outreach you claim you are embracing.

  • John

    Nope, not a flippant condemnation at all. But rather pointing out that the response really had noting to do with my comment that peace requires both side to cease certain behaviors and begin new ones, while noting how difficult that truly is. I made absolutely no mention of any personal hurts, past abuses or likewise. So the response was full of assumptions and missed my point. Makes me wonder if the article was actually read, or if this was just a case of taking the opportunity to make a point regarding a certain issue, that being the treatment of gay children about which I actually wrote nothing. Abuse and suffering are totally different issues that were not the focus of this post nor of my response. The context of the post needs to be understood before a non related response is given which is full of assumptions and accusation.

  • Fearless Feline

    People like Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr who founded the Center for Action and Contemplation, Cynthua Bourgealt and evangelical social justice advocates like Shane Claiborne and Jim Wallis, founders of Sojourners magazine, advocate a third way that goes beyond the dualist thinking of liberal vs conservative yet doesn’t hesitate to critique either side in love. It ain’t easy because it involves being open to God transforming our way of seeing and being in the world, but that’s the point anyway. All are worth reading, Rohr and Boutgealt at cac,.org. and Claiborne and Wallis at sojo.net.

  • Hobbit

    A thoughtful piece!

    May I make this point: you cannot fight the sin and evil and wickedness in the world unless you are fighting the sin and evil and wickedness in yourself. I fear the progressive Christian community has forgotten this.