Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Death of Progressive Adventism

There once was a dynamic segment of the Adventist community which labeled themselves as Progressive Adventists. They even have a nice Wikipedia article describing what Progressive Adventism is or was. A few of my articles were even referenced in the Wikipedia article, and no I did not add them, I have never entered anything into Wikipedia. I had always looked at Progressive Adventism as representative of the following quote by C.S. Lewis:
“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. . .There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake." C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1952), Book I, Chap. 5, p. 22.
Unfortunately Progressive Adventism has been hijacked and very nearly killed. If not dead it is dying as it has been stolen by the political progressives. We see this mainly at the two alternative Adventist publications and websites, Adventist Today and Spectrum. Spectrum in particular has become a haven for the political left to masquerade their politics as religion. Everything from economics to California propositions on gay marriage have become their Raison d'ĂȘtre. If anyone reads the main writers on Spectrum and there aren’t that many as they only regularly have a few like minded authors that they publish on the website…most with political views of the politically progressive persuasion, they might as well be reading Jim Wallis and his Sojourners magazine. Not that they make any secret of their affection for Wallis, they endorse him and seem to despise whoever Wallis despises. More on Wallis in a moment.

There are likely still some folks who don’t know what a political progressive is. A helpful article on the subject is found in this article: Politics101: What is a Progressive? What is progressivism? An interesting quote from the article is this describing the difference between a liberal and a progressive:
The Center for American Progress founder John Podesta described the difference between liberals and progressives this way: “Liberals tend to care more about individual freedom, while progressives care more about the public good.”
In Religion terms this kind of Progressivism manifests in such things as President Obama saying:
As one website so aptly put it:
"One of their beliefs which is antithetical to traditional Christianity is collective salvation. Sin is not individual, but collective and it cannot be overcome by religious conversion.  According to liberation theologies, God does not save men. Man saves himself through a political process of absolute social justice. This is not in Christian doctrine, but it is Marxist.

Can man successfully redeem himself through collective transformation (salvation) and liberation?

Pope Benedict says emphatically "No", in "Truth and Tolerance." He writes about the fall of the
Soviet Union:
"...where the Marxist ideology of liberation has been consistently applied, a total lack of freedom had developed, whose horrors were now laid bare before the eyes of the entire world.  Wherever politics tries to be redemptive (granting salvation from sins) it is promising too much.  Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine, but demonic."p. 116-Truth and Tolerance"
Social Justice is a pretty popular term on the Spectrum Website even with one Pastor working on video’s saying that they are social justice Christians. Though of course they don’t define what they mean by social justice which is typical of the Progressive movement.

There are other Christian movements who became overly political and it inevitably led to their demise. The Christian Coalition and the Moral Majority became more political then religious and lost credibility and that is what is happening to Progressive Adventism as well. They have taken the precepts of Progressive Adventism, those ideas that you read about in the Wikipedia article and moved the emphasis onto their Progressive political ideas. Progressive Adventism used to be embraced by both politically conservative and politically liberal Christians. But that is no longer the case on the main alternative Adventists websites and publications. Their perspectives are always now politically progressive. As they attempt to redefine Progressive Adventism as Progressive Christianity. Which takes us back to Jim Wallis, the self confessed Marxist who attempts to repaint Jesus Christ as a socialist.

In the Sept 30 newsletter from Soujournes (linked here currently but soon to be found in the archives rather then the current newsletter) Jim Wallis wrote an article entitled: Beck, Nazis, and Civil Dialogue. Notice what he writes:
But then Beck fundamentally mischaracterizes progressive Christians and others. His latest attack last Friday said, "That's why Jim Wallis is so dangerous. All the preachers that surround the president, they are progressives and they are big government progressives. When you combine church and state, and you take a -- you take a big government and you combine it with the church, to get people to do the things that the state wants you to do, it always ends in mass death."

And that is really ridiculous. First of all, there is not a group of preachers who "surround the president." But for Beck to accuse all the preachers or religious leaders who have advised Obama on any issue of being like the Nazi corruption of the church and on a course that "ends in mass death" is the worst kind of civil poison. It's just not right at all, and would be laughable if such irresponsible and hateful talk were a laughing matter.
Remember Jim Wallis is well thought of by those over at Spectrum. First of all Jim Wallis is not being honest not a big surprise if one looks at what he and his magazine have written before. After all they put out a magazine with Glenn Beck on the cover and article which Spectrum linked to entitled Why Does Glenn Beck Hate Community Organizers?  and the article did not even mention Glenn Beck once. There should be one thing in the above quote that should really strike you. That is Wallis does not even deny the idea big government combining with the church, he can’t and in the rest of the article he never even admits to agreeing with Beck that church and state together is not a good idea. Instead he misquotes Beck as if Beck said that all preachers or religious leaders who advised Obama are like Nazi corruption. As if danger only exists when the final corruption occurs. In fact Beck said:

Whenever you bring up Germany and Hitler, it is extreme. And actually, it's less extreme, believe it or not, than communism in Russia. For as horrifying as it is, it's just been our media propaganda that hasn't made us really look and really remember the Holocaust that happened in the other socialist state. The key is socialism.

One never thinks or imagines that this can happen again. No one thinks it can happen here. Well, did the Germans think that it could? Did the Germans sit is there at night and go, you know that Hitler thing, that could end in concentration camps and the liquidation of the Jews? Did they really think that? Or did people say all along the way, wait, wait, wait, this isn't going well, this is —no, this is — no, this isn't us. We shouldn't go down this way.

And then they were told they were conspiracy theorists. They were told that it was wrong. They would even speak out and then the beatings started, and then the execution started, and then that argument just went away.

I want you to be aware that people will say to you that I am trying to get you in religion because I want to control or manipulate you, or I want the churches to control or manipulate you. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I want you one with God. I want you to have firm self reliance or firm reliance on protection of Divine Providence because I want you to be self-reliant. I know if you know your relationship with God, no man will ever, ever put you in a camp. No man will ever tell you that they can create a life — a right, because you know who your rights come from. From the transcript Glenn Beck: Truth About Church and State

Here is as close as Jim Wallis can get to decrying the idea of combining church and state in his article:
…But the leading opponents of Hitler's totalitarianism were social-justice Christians in Germany such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Revelation 13 presents a scary picture of oppression in which the people worship the "beast" instead of God; and all of the Christian leaders I know who have given any advice to President Obama would agree, as would the Christian leaders I know who did not vote for Obama. I believe that at its best, the church should function as a conscience for the state, and not be its cheerleader. Nor should religious leaders be chaplains for any political party, but should instead offer prophetic words to the entire system.
None of that sounds like it is even close to decrying the combination of church and state. Does anyone doubt that during the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church thought of itself as the conscience for the rulers of Europe? The reason he does not decry the church and state combination is because the Progressive belief in social justice only works if the state enforces the redistribution of wealth which is what Jim Wallis thinks is the gospel. As Wallis answered the question,Are you then calling for the redistribution of wealth in society?” Wallis replied: “Absolutely, without any hesitation. That's what the gospel is all about.”

Wallis then continues upon the subject of social justice. As you notice when you read his article he deceptively limits his understanding of social justice. Like most progressives he won’t define it but he also pretends that it can never be anything but good. Bonhoeffer was a social justice Christian during the Nazi era. While one of the most famous people in America at the time was Father Coughlin who popularized the term social justice and who was a Nazi supporter. Of course there are practical reasons for this since social justice can be defined as socialism it fits within both the Nazi party which of course was socialist as well as those who opposed the Nazi’s in Germany namely the communists who were also socialist. Socialism automatically describes a big centralized government which restricts individual freedom. The difference between the Communists and the National Socialist party was the nationalism of The Germans at the time. Then again anything which focuses upon justice can also be defined as social justice. That is the dodge that those who attempt to mislead people politically use.

With the resurgence and prevalence of political progressives the term Progressive Adventists has been so compromised as to be an affront to freedom loving individuals. Throughout history too many times the so called public good has destroyed individual freedoms and in far too many cases resulted in mass killing of people because after all such things can be seemingly justified as being for the public good. Progressive Adventists might have survived if not for the use by the political progressives at Spectrum and some at Adventist Today, but the damage has been done.

Progressive Adventism is dead.


mrknaughty said...

nice work

Raul Batista (Varonelo) said...

Long live Progressive Adventism. May it rise again under a new banner that will not be coopted by any one site or group of persons.