Progressives and the Destruction of the Christian Society | Sergio Garibay

Man has created and reshaped societies and cultures since the beginning of time. In the beginning, there was light, then Adam decided to give us all a headache, and unknowingly, he began to form the first political communities. Such communities harvested the development of music, philosophy, and common skills, such as the administration of one’s household. These views and skills have changed and adapted throughout many historical periods. Thus far, something that has appeared in all cultures is the existence and admiration of the truth that transcends the material world, this is religion. Europe and the modern western world were shaped primarily by, Christianity. Christianity has survived many old enemies, some of which are no longer alive in any form, but once again a new enemy has emerged for the Christian Faith, and this is the New Liberal Society that seeks to destroy the blossom of society to achieve New Liberties.

What is New Liberalism?

New political ideas often pose a reshape to the nature of Christianity. New Liberalism is exactly this kind of ideology. It is the reshaping of old classical liberalism to fit the institutions and needs of the modern world. New Liberals often also refer to themselves as progressives. This is explored by Ronald J. Pestritto and William J. Atto, who in their paper “Introduction to American Progressivism” which states that “modern liberals [are] those who favour an expansive and active central government.” In a different way from Classical Liberalism, the new system seeks to redefine the government and the institutions to achieve a new relationship between state and man. In this relationship, the old institutions such as religion, old constitutionalism, and such are abruptly shaped until they fit the new society. The old institutions, then, rather than serving as a moral compass, are bumps on the road for the New Liberal since they maintain the status of oppression and older thinking that destroys the “true” progress of society as a whole towards achieving a better society.

New Liberalism and Christianity

There have been plenty of historical attempts to reshape the substance of Christianity, but perhaps none as drastic the ones seen after 1900. In the twentieth century, new views came into existence as societies around the Western world shifted after anera of heavy industrialisation and witnessed the advent of evermore global warfare, and pandemics. 

Walter Rauschenbusch, a pastor and Father of New Liberal thought, believed such changes signalled hope for a new faith: “Social Christianity”. The notion of a new faith can only come into birth once the dead faith, that is the personalised religion of men, is exchanged for the social faith which is full of a new life and grace. In 1912 Pastor Rauschenbusch argued that, “personal religion has a supreme value for its own sake not as a feeder of social morality, but as the highest unfolding of life itself, as the blossoming of our spiritual nature” . It is then, that personal religion is the center of the society which people occupy. So far, as society moves, the changes continue to develop as well as the blossoming nature of humankind. If the development of faith’s nature in society is not allowed, men will find themselves becoming lost in what they once held as magical. 

As Rauschenbusch argues, “not all who begin the study of music or poetry in youth remain lovers of art and literature to the end” . The preferences of men change as they grow and explore different ideologies; as those who pursued letters & the arts in their youth will not all end as poets in the future, neither will all men who once were religious, end up at church. Ergo, development exists in both society and religion allowing men to pursue new characters of society seeking what is good. It is then for Rauschenbusch that the Christianity of society must become adapted to these new progressive norms that [The American] the system holds as true and indispensable for the sake of “true” progress.

As religion develops throughout time, there is a clear change in the forms of worship. In this case, for the New Liberals, men must transcend from the realm of personal religion (that is the old institutions) to that of Social Christianity. For the New Liberal, men of old faith have not much to lose as Rauschenbusch states, 

“So, when the religious soul who has been shut away from social ideals and interests and pent up within a fine but contracted religious habitation gets the new outlook of the social awakening, it sweeps them away with new enthusiasm”.  

This awakening of the new faith allows “old” men from the “old” society to regain true religion from the perspective of progressives. Thus, these new progressive Christians gain a faith in which they fight for what they believe to be the truth, even if such was not the truth in the old institution of faith. This truth then goes from the dead within the churches to a socially alive faith that can aid the reconstruction of the family within and, in consequence, the collapse of the old society. In this matter, this “new Christianity” breaks away from the dogmatic structure of the old institutions to one that fights the new sins of evil that inhabit the world of mankind and does not focus on the salvation of individuals but rather on the salvation of the new society. This reconstruction allows the New Liberal to turn the cross not only into a contemplative subjective truth but also into a truth that inhabits their everyday fight against the oppressions of liberty from those same institutions that once were the old foundations of the former world and reality. 

The New Liberty

 In the development of this new society, a change of religion is not the only change observed among the institutions that incorporate men’s daily life. Liberty as well as the changes, or better stated, the changing of the liberty needed in society, shifts from pure ideas into one of action. Thus, original ideas that the founding fathers of America (as well as the founding fathers of any other nation) set for the nation are now expanded through the construction of ideas and opinions of progressive/New Liberals. John Dewey, who focused on this understanding of the creed of society, states 

“The ideas of liberals outlined in the first third of the nineteenth century were potent in criticism and analysis… But analysis is not construction, and the release of force does not of itself give direction to the force that is set free. Victorian optimism concealed for a time the crisis at which liberalism had arrived” (Dewey 1935) 

The ideas of the past served as the foundation upon which the progressives will build theirs.  They are the ensured keys that have allowed men to get closer to the god of democracy and liberalism; a finite god, but a tangible one of action and need. New liberalism, just as Social Christianity, is a change from the dead institutions that followed an established tradition to that which exists upon the personal liberties that dwell upon the ever-changing river of the social world. It is then, that the men of society can follow a new path. In the American idea, the liberties and set of traditions settled by both the Church and Christendom, must be annihilated and re-taken, so that they can be reborn among the ideals and values of modern men. For the progressives, Christianity and Society are not rooted on the cross, but on the values that society has assigned them. In this way, the New Liberal has established the need to reconstruct Christianity and any religion to the point where it fits their ever-changing view of truth and society. Christianity, in this set of notions, then runs a worse danger than annihilation itself, but to be integrated until it is transformed into nothing else than the worship of the New Liberal god and their society.

The New False Messiah

Subsequently, Jesus becomes a political figure in which the New Liberal Christian (if such can even be called by that name) becomes a key to destroying Christianity. He is seen as more as a human Rabbi; -He-, the Christ, is seen simply as a man who brought social reform against the Worshippers of that era. Rather than seeing Jesus as “the Christ”, like those of the old faith, the New Christian sees Him just as an extent of their political ideology. For the Progressive, it is stated that at one-point, Christianity was the new adjustment of the law that reconstructed the world and privileges of many. This is the same reason Rauschenbusch writes, “In the same way humanity must reconstruct its moral and religious synthesis whenever it passes from one era to another”. This reconstruction, like the political institutions of democracy, will not be accepted by those who are stuck in the old methodology of worship; however, the proper environment can change many minds and hearts to this true liberty. The end of slavery led to the creation of more men who were free from the tyrants of the cotton business, so will the new faith free men from the oppression of old dogmatic injustice. In short and sweet words, the progressives will ensure through media, news, and power to erase the old faith and brainwash people towards the worship of their “perfected” Jesus.

In Conclusion

It is through the ever-changing post-industrial society that faith and liberty adjust according to the progressives. The modern man seeks truth, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through communal rather than individualistic procedures. This can only occur by leaving the institutions and dogmas of the past and embracing the ever-floating changes of the ocean that is life. Truth is then not set in the existence of priests, nuns, a pope, or even in the existence of a historical Jesus. True liberty is the fighting of modern sins, which socialising has allowed mankind to accomplish. This liberty does not exist to ensure the privileges of the few, but the salvation of the society from which our values, rights, and freedoms are born. Hence, the Christianity of the New “American” society (and those of western societies) is something of a monster, in which the matter of progress is inappropriately mixed with the gospel by both liberals and conservatives. This process does not aim to liberate men from the struggles of materialism, but rather to enslave Christianity to the sins of the opinion of progress as a means to achieve material salvation alone.  

Further Reading:

Dewey, John. 1935. “Excerpts from Liberalism and Social Action.” Teaching American History. 

Rauschenbusch, W. (2008). Social Christianity and Personal Religion. In 1175531588 880923298 R. J. Pestritto & 1175534000 880923298 W. J. Atto (Eds.), American progressivism: A reader (pp. 107-116). Lanham: Lexington Books. 

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