I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.
Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith - to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.(ESV)
| || |
The Myth of Progress
Elizabeth of Hungary
19 November 2014
Ah, the myth of progress. Progressivism taught that if we just educated people rightly, gave them the proper social conditions, such as good housing and quality medical care, they would progress toward a better and better way of living. After almost fifty years of making war on poverty under the direction of progressivism, we are beginning to wonder if a victory is any closer than when we started. This may be a much more pressing question than the question of when we pull out the last of the US troops stationed in Afghanistan the last of the US troops stationed there. But we are less likely to declare that the war against poverty has failed, even though it has been waged longer than any other in our nation's history, because the next generation of progressives has taken the mantle of leadership from their predecessors. They still believe that the right formula of government aid and retributive justice will fix everything.
Progressivism is a faith more irrational than any religion ever professed by man, because while it claims to be testable and subject to rational demonstration, the progressives ignore the clear evidence that the war is irretrievably lost. At least Christianity does not claim that its major tenets are subject to scientific or social demonstration. Progressivism certainly does and yet its claims are demonstrated to be failed time and time again. Progressives believe the myth of progress with all the zeal of a Torquemada in the face of better knowledge. This is because it is a secular faith, a substitute for faith in the transcendent. Everyone must believe something, so progressives believe in the perfectibility of the material world.
Progressivism has also deeply affected the churches, in which moral, personal, and institutional progress has been substituted for faith in Christ as the only Savior from sin. Satan always desires to substitute some secular faith for the truth. We must understand that that substitute is not irreligious, nor is it, in an external sense, impious. False teachers affected by progressivism are not advocating turning churches into brothels (usually). The impieties of the false teachers are far too pious. Who does not want to rejoice in the growth of the church and her external success? Who would not celebrate his own apparent growth in good works and a life of service? Who doesn't want to say, "I am a better father, husband, child, or worker?" Unfortunately, these boasts are not boasts in the Lord, but in our own worldly and secular successes; things which might be praised on earth, but are not evidence of God's eternally-saving mercy. We must never say as a sign of our faith: "See! Look what I am doing." No, our faith is always evidenced by God's doing and work, and that is an evidence that is not seen (Heb 11:1). There can be no progress beyond the cross and the blood of Christ. So the Christian progress is always backward; back to the cross and the humble work of God in Christ.
"The Galatians, although they were running along very well at first, were led by the false apostles into the opinion that they had been in error and were progressing too slowly when they had followed Paul as their teacher. Later, when they had been led astray by the false apostles and were forsaking the truth as far as heaven is from earth, they were so fascinated by these false arguments that they believed everything was moving along and running very successfully. Today the same thing is happening to those who have been deceived by the fanatical spirits. This is why I often say that a fall from sound doctrine is not human but demonic, from the heights of heaven to the lowest depths of hell. Men who persevere in error are so far from acknowledging their sin that they even defend it as the highest righteousness. Therefore it is impossible for me to rescue them."
Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 5.7
Lord Jesus, keep us from transferring our faith from You to the myth of secular progress. Keep our churches well-founded in Your mercy. Free us from teachers who would focus our hopes on ourselves and this world. Amen.
For Rachel Hunt, who is undergoing therapy for brain cancer, that the Lord Jesus would watch over her and bring her strength and healing
For Sandy Leger, who is undergoing therapy for injuries sustained in an auto accident, that the Lord would be with her
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS and his staff, that they might be upheld in the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
Art: Crucifixes Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)
© Scott R. Murray, 2014