Friday, December 07, 2012

PROGRESSIVE THEOLOGY and JESUS



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Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was England's best known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000—all in the days before electronic amplification. He described the people who followed Jesus around like this.

“Our Lord Jesus Christ while he was here below was continually in the pursuit of lost souls. He was seeking lost men and women, and it was for this reason that he went down among them, even among those who were most evidently lost, that he might find them. He took pains to put himself where he could come into communication with them, and he exhibited such kindliness toward them that in crowds they drew near to hear him. I dare say it was a queer-looking assembly, a disreputable rabble, which made the Lord Jesus its centre.”

Jesus himself tells how He feels about folks lost in the wilderness.

Luke 15:4-7
New International Version (NIV)
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Why do I call this progressive theology?  Not because the parable contains politically progressive ideas, but because there is gem in these few verses.  The story does tell about going after the one and how there will be rejoicing when the one is found.  That is not the gem.  The real gem is what is not done.  There is no mention of the worthiness of the lost sheep.

Can you imagine if the church today never saw color, economic status, social status, or engaged in listening to rumors about the people it is suppose to be serving.  What if the church never tried to get into their bedrooms before they even spoke to them about their souls?  I dreamed of the day that standing in the pulpit saying I had a mental illness would be helpful in educating people rather than just make them shy away from other folks like me.

There is a big difference between Jesus and progressive theology or progressive Christianity.  Jesus never said just take any path you want and walk it and in the end you will find God.  He does claim to be the One Way.  Then again, why do I attach progressive to His teachings.  Because they are so far ahead of what most folks have as a worldview. 

If we just learned to be as accepting as Him, the world would change faster than we could even comprehend.  Our dialogue would turn from talking about how much we spend and do for the undeserving to how can we bring everybody into the community and care for all.  Care about the lost.  Not what they have done or are doing, but that they are important simply because they live among us.