So numerous are they it is difficult to determine just what is the greatest sin in the lexicon of progressive neo-Protestantism. I would suggest that it is none of the usual suspects: being less than lukewarm about organisational ecumenism, shunning inter-faith dialogue, refusing to accept pan-sexuality, the usual tedious list. I suggest the underlying sin all conservative (for want of a better description) Christians are guilty of is triumphalism.
By this progressives mean the refusal to accept that Christians must ‘walk humbly,’ not before God but before anyone who has an axe to grind against Christianity. In the face of attacks from radical Islam we are supposed to meekly remember the siege of Jerusalem in 1099 and hold our tongues. When we hear condemnation of the colonialising influence of the Church in 19th century Africa we are meant to hang our heads in shame. The list of Christian crimes is renewed whenever a new ‘oppression’ appears on the scene.
Sorry, but I won’t. I recognise that the record of the Christian church is far from perfect, but I refuse a) to apologise for things which occurred long before I was born. If there are any MacDonalds out there looking for an apology for 1692 they have a long weary wait ahead of them, and b) I happen to believe that the gospel message is actual truth. Christians should not just sit still and take whatever is thrown at us, even prisoners in the dock have the right to make a defence.
Jesus is clear about the need for repentance, He is clear about love, He is clear about not causing needless offence. I do not see anything there which precludes me from making a vigorous defence of the truth whenever it is assaulted.
One hymn which I have never included in an order of service and never shall is Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. This for the simple fact that it is untrue. Jesus was gentle, He was meek, but He was anything but mild. Think of the traders in the temple whom He beat up. Just read the Lucan Beatitudes. Read what He had to say to and about the religious authorities of His day. The Pharisees were compared to ‘whited sepulchres,’ a traditional translation which hides what Jesus really said, “See you really religious folk, you get right up God’s nose.”
It can be fairly said that Jesus took a robust stance against distortions of the faith and hypocrisy.
Who did Jesus say was the greatest of men? John the Baptist Matt 11.11. Now there was a guy who was no grovelling apologiser for his beliefs. Called before Herod he didn’t prattle about alternative lifestyles, he told it like it was. He paid the price, but he would have paid a far higher price by dissembling and denying and accommodating.
Paul, who wrote so movingly about the primacy of love in I Corinthians 13 spoke out clearly when he had to, and at times he was somewhat blunt. To those who said Christians should be circumcised for fear of offending the Jews his advice for them in Galatians 5:11,12 was they should go the whole hog.
Funny thing is that the church did not retreat because of this uncompromising stance, it advanced.
To sit back is not an option. We are instructed to defend the faith, not bow our heads before every accusation. To let error or evil to go unchallenged is to become an accomplice to wrong.
Throughout the world today Christians are being persecuted; is it right to hold our tongues when there is hardly a Muslim majority country anywhere which does not persecute Christians? Should we remain silent when Christians are represented as psychologically ill when we refuse to countenance homosexual ‘marriage’? When a sin is made legal by governmental decree does that mean it has ceased to be a sin?
To speak the truth is not triumphalism, it is faithfulness. Unfortunately neo-Protestants refuse to recognise the Jesus of Scripture and have instead remade Him in their own vapid progressive image. They have failed to learn the lesson that we are a minority in an increasingly intolerant culture.
Playing along with secularism has two great faults: a) it doesn’t work, instead it is death by a thousand tiny adjustments, and b) more seriously, it is a failure to walk in the way of Jesus.
We should be on our knees, but only before God not before men.