WOW! Did I really just ask this question? Is Christianity oppressive to the world? Many in today’s culture would say Yes. Let’s first look at the meaning of the word oppressive. Merriam Webster defines oppressive as “unreasonable burdensome or severe” with examples given as oppressive legislation or oppressive taxes.
This does not really help us to answer our question. Absolutely, and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind, regardless of which side of the aisle land, that oppression exists in today’s world. One only has to pick up any newspaper (yes those do still exist) to read about a minority group being downtrodden.
In the early 1990s, a movement of Progressive Christianity started across the world. One of the organizations that sprung forth from the movement was the Center for Progressive Christianity (TCPC). Founded by retired Episcopal priest James Adams in 1994, the TCPC’s charter was to help those whom they believed had been marginalized by “organized religion”.
The basis of the movement is what they refer to as their 8 Points of Progressive Christianity. In answering our question, I would like to share the Progressive Christian’s creed, or their doctrine, if you will, in its entirety.
By calling ourselves progressive
Christians, we mean we are Christians who…
- Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life;
- Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom, in our spiritual journey;
- Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to:
- Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
- Believers and agnostics,
- Women and men,
- Those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
- Those of all classes and abilities,
- Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe;
- Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes;
- Strive for peace and justice among all people;
- Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth; and
- Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love.
Jesus is the Only Way
Point number two states that the teachings of Jesus “provide but one of many ways” to sacred living. When we press this point against biblical scripture, the statement falls well short of the Truth.
Verses such as John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 clearly state that Jesus is the only way. Additionally, John 10:1-21 tells us of when Jesus taught using the parables of “The Ideal Shepherd” and “The Good Shepherd”. In both parables, Jesus is teaching that there is only one way — and that way is through Him. He is the Way.
Progressive Christianity Ignores Sin
I must admit that point three does contain some value. Of course, Christianity needs to be inclusive of all people, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or abilities. However, where Progressive Christianity falls short is its omission of sin — more importantly, the damage it causes. As Romans 6:23 says, the “wages of sin is death”, there are consequences of sin. And those consequences are death, or in other words, eternal separation in hell from God.
But is one sin worse than any others? Yes and No. Luke 12:10 tells us, “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him”.
At some point in everyone’s life, we will have a chance to respond to God’s calling (Matthew 22:14). Those who reject Him are choosing to blaspheme Him. The unpardonable sin, which is not forgivable, is the rejection of the Holy Spirit’s conviction of one’s sin. All other sins can be forgiven, no matter their severity, because those were paid (wages) for by Jesus with His finished work on the cross.
So is Christianity Oppressive?
Moving back to our question:
“Is Christianity Oppressive to the World?”
By the definition, I would say no; however, as I tried to relate to above, some people still argue that Christianity is oppressive; but only to certain groups. Let’s wrap up with this passage from 1 Corinthians where Paul is writing to the church in Corinth about whom they should be associating themselves.
I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer who is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? But God judges outsiders. Put away the evil person from among yourselves. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
So of course, as a follower of Christ, and a Christian in name, I am to be inclusive of the sinner. However, if the person then claims to be a Christian yet still continues in an unrepentant sinful life, I am to disassociate myself. Does that make be oppressive to others? No! However, Christianity is indeed oppressive —not to the world but to the flesh; specifically, the desires of the flesh.
As for the other 6 points in the Progressive Christianity creed, I will leave those for another day and another post.
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