‘Progress’ has become a term often associated with a political class that finds its home in modern liberal ideologies (as a opposed to classical ones) and loosely uses the word ‘progress’ to sum up its goals and motives. Instead of pigeon holing all who subscribe to this ideal, it’s at least worthwhile to consider the broad, two-fold question of a. where are we headed? and b. where have we come from? Addressing this answer first, I think, would help those struggling with the concept (like me) comprehend what this movement is all about.
Generally, ‘progress’ would assume a migration out of the former into something else entirely; perhaps a perpetual state of progress?
A Christian friend of mine working in the sphere of politics asks the question, which certainly begs a clear answer: what exactly are we progressing toward? To what end does this conviction espouse? It’s become not just a conviction but a policy, platform and rallying cry for many who think it just and righteous. But is the answer to this straightforward question a facade?
It’s too political for comfort
Is the idea of progress more about the good of society or the art of politicking? It’s become such a partisan topic that another question that comes to mind for its proponents is: are you more concerned with doing what’s right or antagonizing conservatism and the church? (those two are not necessarily synonymous) If the answer truly lies with the former, then so be it, we can all rest assured that progressives believe that what they are doing is right. If it’s the latter, then we are entering a different landscape, one marked with enmity, discord, dissension, and ultimately division. If progressivism is merely a reaction to another point of view, than I think it loses a lot of credibility, since it’s then no longer original and aimed at opposing something else rather than offering a solution to a problem. By the way, enmity, discord and dissension, three potential fruits of this type of assault, are three “sins of the flesh,” according to Paul in Galatians 5:12-21. Division, which is essentially the symptom of all three, just happens to be Satan’s go-to tactic in defiling the church. Surely it goes without mention (but I am mentioning it) that I don’t believe this political camp is alone in its seemingly nefarious dealings and purposes, in fact I believe we’re dealing with perhaps the most corrupt political sphere in American history at large right now.
Can we really believe in this type of change?
I don’t know about you, but I can’t get behind the type of change that has us headed south. Direction is the defining variable in any form of ‘good’ progress and if the compass is headed toward destruction, can we still call it progress? There is a biblical word/phrase for progress’ antonym, it’s called backsliding or falling away. [deviating or digressing from the truth] In fact, it’s arguably the most common exhortation Paul makes in his new testament writings. The extremely vital question in all of this progress talk is: what direction does it have us going?
Plotting the “new” progress (in short)
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)
In a nutshell, progressivism subscribes to those economic and social means that supposedly ‘improve the human condition.’ So let’s start with the economic part. In its most basic form, math makes certain that you cannot spend what you do not have. Arithmetic and the Bible state that it’s not wise to incur debt, because simply, it doesn’t add up and it’s poor stewardship. Financial progress would mean higher profits, surpluses, and incomes and less debt, right? If that’s so, then spending more, taxing more, regulating more, and, in effect, constraining people’s wallets more (these are indirect progressive economic mainstays), does not achieve the brand of progress that’s actually progress. $17 Trillion of national debt, $3.3 Trillion of consumer debt (excluding mortgage obligations) and decades of progressive politics speak to that point, not to mention a sluggish economy teetering on the edge of collapse (this is debatable of course).
So what about the social part? The only thing that bothers me more than the actual position progressives take on most social issues is that they generally feel that it’s the Government’s responsibility to correct the societal “problem.” When the government, or body of bureaucrats, is enforcing societal norms, then tyranny is surely at the nation’s doorstep (see the many socialist and communist regimes in world history that have failed miserably).
With that said, there are various societal topics to speak of but I’ll choose one to sum up the progressive camp. “Reproductive rights.” That sounds rosy but what it means is so utterly opposed to the word of God it’s laughable, but then again it isn’t at all funny. In fact, it’s among the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed. I label it very simply: the spirit of death. It’s a facade for the same spirit that was released by Pharaoh and then Herod some years later to eliminate Moses and Jesus. Mass newborn murders (certainly under the influence of Satan) were ordered with the intent of destroying the ministries of Moses and Jesus. The spirit of death is being sold through this progressive ideal and people are actually buying it. What’s being marketed as “reproductive rights” is actually protecting mass infanticide. That’s not progress…
At best, progressivism marginalizes people, and at worst, well, we’ve seen the casualties of the reproductive rights movement. Ultimately, progressivism postures us to look more and more like the world each day, something we’re not called to do.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1st John 2: 15-17)
Let’s leave tradition out of it
Looking at progressivism logically, it would seem that it simply opposes anything that would resemble tradition or an idea or system that has already been established. I’m certainly not a stickler for tradition, but is tradition reason enough to form a political faction? – To develop an ideology with the express intent of opposing everything traditional? The glaring problem with this is that at least some traditions, especially from a nation as blessed, favored and effective as ours over the past few centuries, are actually good….
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” – George Washington’s prophetic warning about political factions
The danger in all of this is that we adopt a policy like progressivism and find ourselves striving for change that hurts us. Eventually, we may change and “progress” our way to ineffectiveness and a position where God’s blessing and favor is been recanted.
Joe D’Orsie – Communications & Spiritual Life Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org