This is one of the ideas of progressive Christianity and a book title of one of the most self-righteous, damning, hateful, phobic, and bigotted progressive Christians that I’ve ever read.
It is true, Paul defines love as “patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;” But he also says, “it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” One of the problems is that many progressive Christians are limited in their scope of wrongdoing…they define it by what 21st century Americans view as “wrongdoing” and not by what offends the character and nature of God, which the Bible defines as “wrongdoing”.
It’s not an either/or…either you love this way OR you love that way. It’s a BOTH/AND. Love is not mean or rude or arrogant but it lovingly exposes wrongdoing and the lies of our culture and love celebrates Truth according to the Word of God and the Spirit of God. If love is ALWAYS approving and accepting…
-- What do they do with the scriptures detailing Jesus throwing the moneychangers out of the temple...overturning tables and releasing the doves? That was some guy's livelihood. Those birds belonged to someone else. That's how they put a roof over their families and food on their tables. How loving was that? That's an injustice in our culture and incredibly rude.
-- What do they do with both Paul and Jesus going into synagogues, arguing with and embarrassing the tar out of the rabbis and the Pharisees for their faulty practices of the Torah? What about when Jesus called the Pharisees white-washed tombs filled with dead men's bones? Doesn't that offend our modern sensibilities about what love is?
-- What do they do with Jesus' engagement with the rich young man who wanted to know what he needed to do to secure a place in the Kingdom of God? Jesus told him that he needed to give away his property and wealth to the poor. The bible says the young man walked away sad...and Jesus just let him walk away. How is THAT love in our modern interpretation?
Progressive Christianity does not view either Jesus or the Bible as central to their beliefs. They don’t deny either but instead selectively abuse them. The Bible says the GREATEST commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength…and the SECOND is like unto it — love your neighbor as yourself. We love ourselves and our neighbors by loving God first. This idea of progressive Christianity doesn’t have the priority of loving God first that FILTERS all other priorities. There’s a deep inconsistency. They argue AGAINST privilege but then turn around and bestow privilege on certain people over others while despising those that they deem to already have certain privileges they despise. Interestingly, their demonstration against privilege is often a personal exercise of the same privilege. It’s hypocritical. They argue FOR tolerance and then demonstrate some of the greatest intolerance toward those that THEY deem intolerant. If you’re hurting someone’s feelings with Truth, you’ve gotta be wrong and you need to change your theology…unless it’s you hurting me because you deem my definition of love as “injustice” from my position of privilege. Rather than going to scripture, progressive Christians often view modern experience, story-telling, as truth-making. But here’s the problem: my satisfaction in my story does not the goodness and truthfulness of a thing.
It is sooooooo true though that there are many professing “fundamental” Christians who are brutally bigoted, phobic, damning, hateful, and self-righteous. Defining “fundamental” is like nailing jello to the wall…everyone has their own tweaked definition or illustration. But there are also many professing Christians of progressive thought who are the same way from an opposing viewpoint. Both abuse scripture by either cherry-picking or proof-texting. We don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Both are wrong. There are many followers of Jesus who do not subscribe to either form of abuse or rejection of Jesus or His Word. One who has sworn allegiance to Jesus as King to trust Him, obey His Word and follow His lead and help others do the same will love as Jesus loved and in all ways as Jesus loved. We might get it wrong from time to time. We might willfully or unwittingly put our view of scripture (or Jesus) through our cultural lens rather than putting our culture through the lens of Jesus and the Scriptures. But we accept rebuke and exhortation. We confess and restore.
Thank you, Mike Winger, for inspiring thoughts.