Progressivism Is Not Progress

(Part One)

By Rusty Stark

You would think that being progressive would be a good thing —a positive thing; because, when you think of being progressive, you think of progress —being positive, going forward —being better and improved.

Bing Dictionary defines progress this way:

bullet positive development: development, usually of a gradual kind, toward achieving a goal or reaching a higher standard
bullet advance of human society: the general advance of human society and industry over time toward a state of greater civilization
bullet motion toward something: movement forward or onward

But in spite of the fact that it sounds similar, progressives, and the ideology and direction of progressivism, is not the same as progress. A striking and dangerous parallel exists between progressivism in the political sense of the word and progressivism in the religious realm. It is this parallel we wish to explore in this article.

Political Progressivism

In the political realm, the term “progressive” has different shades of meaning, but one basic concept of progressivism, one characteristic of those who are called progressives, is that of not wanting to be governed by the Constitution.

In America, progressivism was conceived and took root as our country was modernized. Advances in the scientific world brought about advances in business and industry. Manufacturing practices changed, electricity brought us “new light,” and changes in transportation took us down new roads at faster and faster speeds.

In light of these many advances, people began to believe and argue that a modern country should not be governed and controlled by a document that was 100+ years old. Progressives believed (and still do today) that the constitution of our country was (and is) out of date and out of touch.
Dennis Brady shows the view of Woodrow Wilson (1856- 1924, 28th president, from 1913-1921):

Woodrow Wilson believed the constitution was outdated. He thought the founders had a “Newtonian” view of government that was static, he believed that the current leadership of the nation should be able to legislate without regard to the constraints of the constitution, especially the limits spelled out by the enumerated powers of the federal government listed in the constitution. He was the father of the modern view of the constitution that it is a “living document” (

Granted, the founders of our country, those who wrote and eventually ratified our constitution, did not see it as a perfect document. They even allowed an amendment process to change the constitution when such was necessary. But this is not what progressives want. They want the power to translate or even ignore the plain intent of the constitution as they see fit.

Essentially he (Wilson, RS) believed that the constitution means anything the current president and congress think it should mean with no regard to the original intent of the founders (

Another website ( Movement-and-the-Transformation-of-American-Politics) brings out this quote from Wilson:

 All that progressives ask or desire, is permission —in an era when development, evolution, is a scientific word —to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.

By referring to the “Darwinian principle,” Wilson meant that the interpretation of the constitution should “evolve” rather than remain “static” (a fixed or stationary condition).


Sadly, political progressivism is strikingly and obviously parallel to what we observe in the spiritual realm. The United Sates was established under the rules and restrictions of the constitution. The church was established under the authority and restrictions of the Gospel. Political progressives no longer wish to be governed by the constitution. Spiritual progressives no longer wish to be governed (ruled) by God’s word. And, make no mistake about it, progressivism in the spiritual realm is not progress; it is apostasy.

In fact, the whole of the restoration movement revolved around the point of being governed only by the New Testament —going back to the Bible. Churches (that called themselves Christian) had departed from the Bible and no longer looked to it as their authority. Restorationists called men back to being governed by God’s word and God’s word alone.

The crucial question is this: Are we going to be ruled by the Bible or by man-made doctrines? The perilous and blasphemous answer that rings from many pulpits is, “No!” We will not be governed by the Bible with its strict rule of conduct. Far too many are “progressives.” They reject the “old” because they feel we need something “new.” They feel the Bible is out of date and don’t want to be ruled or restricted by it. They are ready and willing to go beyond the Bible because they feel it must be fluid, changing with time and circumstances.

Few are bold enough to say what they mean and openly declare that God’s word is out of touch. Instead, they call for a new way of interpreting it —a new hermeneutic which allows it to mean whatever they want it to mean. Or, they claim we can never truly understand the intent of the original authors because we have a different cultural perspective —so why try? Or, they deny that the Bible addresses all of the spiritual needs of modern man, therefore we need to go beyond it. Their thinking is that a 2,000 year old document cannot possibly meet the needs of modern man.

Some brazenly claim that the church, patterned after the New Testament, is out of date —not meeting the needs of modern man. They claim this is because of how we have interpreted and applied the Bible.

Those who contend for the faith (cf. Jude 3) and call men’s hearts and lives back to the old Jerusalem Gospel are derogatorily called “Bible thumpers.” They literally cannot imagine anyone who would cling to that old dilapidated document called the Bible. We who love the truth are thought of as ancient relics of the past who are out of touch with the “felt needs” of modern man. They love telling us that we are trying to answer questions that no one is asking. The faithful know better than that. The trouble is not with us quoting scripture and calling upon all men to repent and obey it (Acts 17:30), the problem lies with people asking the wrong questions. The Bible is right and always has the right answer to whatever men face (cf. 1 Peter 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). This world will never out-grow the Bible!


There were those in Old Testament times who did not want to be ruled by the law of God.

In Jeremiah 6, we see those who rejected the “old paths” and refused to live by it. “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein (Jer. 6:16). These were spiritual progressives. They did not want God’s “old paths.” They rejected the old and sought a new, unapproved, unauthorized way.

We are not told the specifics regarding what God had instructed regarding sacrifices in the early days of human history (Gen. 4:3-5). But what we do know is that Abel offered his sacrifice “by faith“, obeying what God had told them to do, and Cain did not offer his sacrifice “by faith” (Heb. 11:4). Since faith comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17), Abel obeyed God’s word regarding sacrifice and Cain did not. It was not progress for Cain to depart from the revealed will of God; and, it is not progress for men today to go beyond that which is written (2 John 9-11). It does not matter how sincere we may be, “to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22).

Nadab and Abihu offered a strange fire that God had not authorized (Lev. 10:1-2). They were destroyed by God for refusing to obey the restrictions of his commands. They were not satisfied with the “old“, they wanted something “new“. They were progressives of ancient times, but they were condemned!

By the standards of modern progressives, King Saul was treated unfairly by God (1 Sam. 15). He was commanded to kill the Amalekites, all of them, even their livestock. It seems as if he had a new hermeneutic, a new way of interpreting God’s commands. He kept Agag, the king of Amalek, alive along with livestock for a sacrifice to God. In his estimation (interpretation), he had obeyed God. First Samuel 15:13 says, “And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” When Samuel challenged and rebuked Saul for not obeying the commandment of God, Saul replied that he had obeyed. But, in 1 Samuel 15:20 we read, “And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.” Regardless of his claim, he had disobeyed God and it was not progress, it was rebellion (1 Sam. 15:23). (To be continued)

Hot - Cold - Lukewarm

By J. F. Dancer

The Bible sets forth at least 3 spiritual conditions. They are the three words in the title of this article. The passage where they are found is Rev. 3:15-16). The Lord spoke of these three conditions as he wrote to the saints at Laodicea. It could just as well describe us today.

HOT - This is one who zealously serves the Lord, one who is anxious to do as God says (Tit.2:14). This is what we all should be.

COLD - This is one who has quit the Lord and makes no pretense of being a Christian. Sin, in some form, is his life and there is no apology for it.

LUKEWARM - This describes that one who is a child of God but who will not become involved in God's work. They will not do as the word of God (Eph. 4:16) says; they supply little to the strength of the church. They are not trying to tear it apart; they just simply will not commit themselves to work and to build. They are satisfied as things are, although they may complain and gripe occasionally.

God would have us all to be HOT. He had rather us be COLD than lukewarm because the LUKEWARM saint is a stumbling block to others. But God really wants people to be committed to service (Matt. 6:24; 12:30).

YOU determine in your own heart and life which you will be. ARE YOU HOT? COLD? LUKEWARM? You know; so does God! & [Via the Eastside Teacher]