Many of you know my mentor in seminary was Dr. J.I. Packer, author of the classic “Knowing God” and a man of great devotion and intellect.
In one of his lesser known books, A Passion for Faithfulness, Packer exposes the danger of liberal theology when he writes that “the taproot of modernist liberalism is the idea, issuing from the so-called Enlightenment, that the world has the wisdom, so that the Christian way must always be to absorb and adjust to what the world happens to be saying at the moment about human life.” That’s “progressive theology” in a nutshell, isn’t it? The teachers and writers of this persuasion build great affinity for themselves by going along with popular groupthink, but correspondingly generate very little fear of God among their followers.
Packer continues: “It is no wonder, then, that liberalism typically produces, not martyrs, nor challengers of the secular status quo, but…people who are always finding reasons for going along with the cultural consensus of the moment, whether on abortion, sexual permissiveness, the basic identity of all religions, the impropriety of evangelism and missionary work, or anything else.”
You know where progressive thinkers are usually going to end up: exactly where those who don’t fear God end up. The only difference is that they try to make the case that God Today is also against God Yesterday, that he was muddled in his revelation and so, surprise, surprise, if we will all agree with those who have opposed God all along, we’ll actually be serving and representing Jesus rather than opposing Him.
I don’t attack individuals and I don’t publish attack book reviews so I’m not calling out any one individual; like Packer, I’m addressing a movement. If you think the “progressive” label applies to you (I’m not, not not talking about politics), please ask yourself how it feels to so frequently side with those who admit they don’t believe in God, are hostile to God, and/or believe that faith in God is the problem with the world, not the answer. Shouldn’t that fact alone at least give us pause about what’s shaping our beliefs and convictions? Am I missing something?
For my part, as a writer and speaker, this challenges me to evaluate my work on this basis: if my writing and speaking leads others to think more highly of me but not to grow in their fear of God (speaking of fear as reverence, submission and surrender), then my ministry has utterly and truly failed.