How the False Eschatology of the Progressive Church is Leading to a Rise in Communism in America

Introduction

Why are we seeing a rise in communism in America today despite it being the most destructive ideological force in history responsible for the deaths of over 100 million people?[1]More importantly, why are we seeing an embrace of communism by so called “Christians?” Why are some progressive Evangelical churches more focused on social justice and open borders than on the saving grace of Jesus Christ? In fact, in an April 21, 2019 article in The Washington Times, Robert Knight reported the following disturbing information:

Today’s Progressives, for example, brazenly misquote the Sermon on the Mount as if it were the first draft of “The Communist Manifesto.” They claim that Jesus would back open borders, forced redistribution of wealth, seizure of private property and, most of all, sexual anarchy.

In early April at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Jesus was even compared to Cuban communist triggerman Che Guevara — a fellow “martyr.”

“As God created light — is light — Che is radiance,” said Professor Emeritus of Art History David Kunzle, as reported by Campus Reform.[2]

This article will attempt to answer these questions by first examining the philosophy of Fabian socialism, which is the form of communism most prevalent here in America. We will then take this analysis and compare it to several statements made by progressive Evangelical Christian leaders such as Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, and Russell Moore, who suggest the role of the church is to build Christ’s Kingdom here on earth. Unfortunately, the statements are based upon incorrect eschatology and have led to a false ecclesiology. Brian McLaren’s Emergent Church, for example, especially loathes dispensationalism because it contradicts their belief that God is bringing history toward a glorious kingdom by means of the church. A search of the scriptures, however, reveals that Emergent eschatology is rooted more in the philosophy of the Hegelian Dialectic than in the Word of God. The Bible is clear that the world is not moving back toward paradise but rather, it is moving forward toward ever more sin and judgement (cf. Isa 24:19-21, Rev 16:18).[3]

In 2 Cor 5:20, it states the church is called to be an ambassador of Christ; and nowhere does it say we are to build the kingdom for Christ. The Bible tells us the kingdom will be delivered to us instantaneously (Daniel 2:44) via a violent (Matt 24: 27-28) and cataclysmic (Rev 19:11-21) event. However, “kingdom now” theology teaches that since the kingdom has already come “spiritually” though the person of Jesus Christ, it is now the role of the church to build up Christ’s physical kingdom here on earth. This is to be accomplished by the American left via communism and social justice and by the American right via dominionism (i.e. Christian Reconstructionism), neither of which are Biblical. For the purpose of this paper, we will focus on the progressive left’s version of “kingdom now” theology.


The Postmillennialism of Fabian Socialism

According to theologian and philosopher Dr. Norman Geisler<, Marxism is an “atheistic form of postmillennialism”;[4]however, most communists here in America look at Marx’s Russia as just another dominionist/imperialist nation looking to conquer the world. American communists primarily adhere to Fabian-style socialism, which promotes national evolutionary communism rather than Marx’s international revolutionary communism. Fabian socialism is probably closer to postmillennialism than the socialism of Marx, because Fabian socialists adhere to an optimistic view of the future and believe in a gradual building of “Heaven on Earth” rather than espousing a pessimistic view of a sudden and violent change.[5]

Marx embraced the millenarian fervor of the late nineteenth century, where premillennial Christians believed in a bloody Armageddon during the Last Days was needed before the millennium could be established. In fact, “Marx, like the pre-mils (or millenarians), went further to hold that the reign of evil on earth would reach a peak just before the apocalypse.”[6] Fabian socialism, as a response to this movement, provides a postmillennial optimism that “overlooks the depravity of man and attempts by human resources to bring in the [utopian] millennium without divine intervention.”[7]

Antonio Gramsci, an Italian communist, was inspired by Fabian socialism and called for a gradual change towards communism in the West by undermining Christian morals and culture. Gramsci specifically focused on infiltrating the church, because he looked at Christianity as an example of “cultural hegemony” in the West and an impediment to this utopian millennium. Gramsci focused on developing cultural equivalency by diminishing the influence of Christian orthodoxy.[8]The following analyses of statements made by progressive Christians in America today will reveal the success of Gramsci’s efforts to undermine Christianity. Within these statements, there is no focus on the need for a Savior from sin Who will usher in His own kingdom, but rather, the focus is on man’s work to build the kingdom and save himself.


Rick Warren: Senior – Pastor of Saddleback Church

On his blog PurposeDriven.com, which is a parallel publication to his 2002 book The Purpose Driven Life, Warren provides 40 days worth of inspiration on what the role of the church is and how the individual can determine his or her position within the church. This is part of his local and global “PEACE Plan” to bring people to Christ. On Day 29, he proposes that here on earth, Jesus said five things:

1.  He shared the good news with other people.  The Bible says, “He went through Galilee preaching the good news of the kingdom.”

2.  He trained leaders.  The Bible says “He appointed twelve as apostles to be with Him and He could send them out.”

3.  He helped the poor.  The Bible says in His very first sermon, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me for He’s appointed me to preach good news to the poor.  The prisoners will be released, the blind will see, the downtrodden will be free from their oppressors.”  Jesus ministered to the marginalized people we like to ignore.  The poor, the prisoners, the disabled, the depressed.

4.  Jesus cared for the sick.  It says “Wherever He went he healed people of every sort of disease and illness.”

5.  He taught the children.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me and don’t hinder them.  The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Warren continues to say the following:

But the first thing before I even talk about it is you need to understand that at the heart of the PEACE plan is this theme – the kingdom of God.  The PEACE plan is just doing the five things that Jesus did while He was here on earth.  Share the good news, train leaders, help the poor, cared for the sick, taught the children.  Doing the five things that Jesus did.  It’s a strategy of global expansion.  Jesus cares about the whole world.  The Bible says, “God so loved the world…” That’s the first part of the dream.  The Bible says this, “Then all the nations will remember the Lord from every part of the world they will turn to Him.  All nations will worship Him.  All people will bow down before Him and future generations will serve Him.”

I dream of global expansion of God’s kingdom.

Matthew 6:33 Jesus said this “God will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern.” God says this: I want My kingdom to be number one in your life.[9]

As one reads through The Purpose Driven Life, there is clearly something missing in Warren’s arguments: There is no mention of sin and only a tepid approach to repentance. Warren’s interpretation of Matthew 6:33 is only a half truth if he leaves the doctrines of sin and repentance out of the picture. We will never be able to achieve God’s will on earth if we are not right with God in our hearts. However, postmillennials, like Warren, are more fixated on orthopraxy (correct conduct)than orthodoxy (correct theology),because they believe it is man’s responsibility, not Christ’s, to create a world worthy of His reign. Sadly, this belief takes the emphasis off God’s grace and places it on man’s works.

But even if we are right with God and have accepted His grace, Warren still is mistaken that the role of the church is the expansion and setting up of God’s Kingdom. Disciples are called to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18), but if you read Matthew 6:33 in the context of Matthew 3:2 and 4:17, the kingdom of heaven has yet to come, but it is near. Warren is making the mistake of equating the church (ekklesia) with God’s kingdom (basileia), both of which have distinct etymological and connotational meanings in the New Testament.[10]“Although the church is presently related to the kingdom, the vast majority of references to the kingdom in the New Testament look to the future kingdom.”[11]

Warren’s teachings are not as progressive as those of the Emergent Church, in that he does bring up the need for Christ as our Savior from time to time. Nonetheless, this seems secondary to his lessons on orthopraxy, and how to live like Christ. In the next section, we will see  a whole other level of liberalism in the evangelical church via Brian McLaren.


Brian McLaren: Co-Founder of the US Emergent Church

He selected 12 and trained them in a new way of life. He sent them to teach everyone this new way of life. . . . Even if only a few would practice this new way, many would benefit. Oppressed people would be free. Poor people would be liberated from poverty. Minorities would be treated with respect. Sinners would be loved, not resented. Industrialists would realize that God cares for sparrows and wildflowers—so their industries should respect, not rape, the environment. The homeless would be invited in for a hot meal. The kingdom of God would come—not everywhere at once, not suddenly, but gradually like a seed growing in a field, like yeast spreading in a lump of bread dough, like light spreading across the sky at dawn.[12]

Here, as well, there is no mention of a need for repentance of sin by McLaren. His focus on “a new way of life” rather than becoming a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17)is an example of orthopraxy over orthodoxy. McLaren does not utilize proper hermeneutics in his theology. For instance, the Greek verb engizōis translated near or at hand; however, McLaren “understands the phrase ‘at hand’ to mean ‘here’ in the sense that the kingdom has already arrived.”[13]James 5:8–9 says, “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” Here, the verb engizōtranslated nearis used in the same fashion as the early-Gospel expression “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”[14]When engizōis used throughout the New Testament, it is parsed as third person, singular, perfect, active, indicative.[15]“Virtually no one interprets James 5:8–9 as conveying the Lord’s presence or arrival.”[16]

McLaren’s theology is based in the Hegelian Dialectic, which promotes a common view of truth via the dialogue of contradicting religions. Interfaith dialogue is a tool used by the Emergent Church to reach the postmodern culture in order to build the postmillennial kingdom of God. Within the Red Letter Bible of the Emergent Church, there is more attention paid to the Gospels and the life of Christ than on the ecclesiastical instructions in Paul’s epistles.[17]In fact, McLaren has even referred to the propitiation of Christ as a “trivial matter,”and there are more important things with which Christians should concern themselves.[18]This is by far the saddest development stemming from a liberal, postmillennial eschatology,and it underscores the success of Gramsci’s vision of an impotent church through diminishing orthodoxy.

How then, should the church respond to culture? Should we take an approach similar to that of the Puritan Amish and Quaker sects of Christianity that isolate themselves from society? Should we “put aside the emotionally cheap theatrics and the politics, and walk through the wardrobe toward a more theologically serious, C.S. Lewis-style Christianity?” Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission believes we should. The following section will address his flawed eschatology, and how it has influenced his ecclesiology.


Russell Moore: President of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

“The locus of the kingdom of God in this age is within the church, where Jesus rules as king. As we live our lives together, we see the transforming power of the gospel[sic]and the in breaking of the future kingdom.”[19]

Moore is confusing God’s present work in and through the church with God’s program concerning the coming kingdom. “Although He is referred to as the head of His body the church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18) or the groom of His bride the church (Eph. 5:25), He is never specifically designated as the king of His church.”[20]In fact, New Testament metaphors are only used to describe the church, never the kingdom.[21]During the future kingdom, “Christ will rule the [literal, physical] world with a rod of iron (Ps. 2:9; Rev. 12:5) resulting in immediate justice against any sin or wrongdoing (Zech. 14:16–18; Rev. 20:7–10). The Church Age, by contrast, is often characterized by carnality and a low standard of Christian living (1 Cor. 3:1–3).”[22]

Moore’s incorrect eschatology has led him to embrace communitarian policies such as social justice, open borders, and numerous others that are dangerous to the future of America. In his “First Things Erasmus Lecture” entitled “Can the Religious Right be Saved?,” he states the following:

Even if one concedes that demagogic populism is morally acceptable (and I don’t), others can quite simply do demagogic populism more effectively in a postChristianizing America. What we have to offer is more akin to the abbot in the dystopian novel A Canticle for Leibowitz who [sic] in seeking to persuade a woman not to euthanize her child, ultimately realizes that the most important thing he could say is [sic] “I, a priest of God, adjure thee.” When, as he puts it, God’s priest was overruled by Caesar’s traffic cop, the narrator tells us, “Never to him had Christ’s kingship seemed more distant.” In an age suspicious of all authority outside of the self, the appeal to a word that carries transcendent authority can be just distinctive enough to be heard, even when not immediately embraced. This is the difference Kierkegaard makes between a genius and an apostle, one sent with a word that is not his own.[23]

A Response to Russell Moore’s Communitarianism

The prominent fundamentalist and pastor of First Baptist Church of New York City, I. M. Haldeman (1845-1933), [24]once insisted that “trying to save the world by socialism was like cleaning and decorating the staterooms of a sinking ship.”[25]Russell Moore’s pious C.S. Lewis-style approach to the American culture cannot compete with the influence of Antonio Gramsci’s communism. Moore is essentially telling his listeners that the best way to influence the culture is to stop trying to influence the culture.[26] Moore’s view contradicts the proven results demonstrated by immense success the pro-life movement has had on influencing American culture over recent times. Within the first month alone of the release of the movie “Unplanned,” 94 abortion clinic workers from Planned Parenthood to seek other employment. The Christian radio network K-LOVE didn’t promote the movie at first, because they considered it to be too political.K-LOVE soon after reversed that decision.[27] Moore’s statement is just another example of how communism is stifling the voice of Christianity despite the overwhelming evidence showing that Gramsci’s “Grand Plan” can be stopped via proper theology and political engagement.


Conclusion

The progressive evangelical world is consumed with the idea that the church is currently experiencing the Messianic Kingdom.[28]Progressive Christian leaders like Warren, McLaren, and Moore convey the belief that the kingdom is spiritually present by stating that they are “expanding the kingdom” or “building the kingdom” through their evangelistic and missionary activities.[29]However, an examination of the Scriptures portrays the kingdom in earthly, physical, terrestrial terms (Gen. 15:18–21), not spiritual.[30]The Bible also teaches that the Messianic Kingdom will only become apparent after a time of unequalled tribulation (Dan. 9:24–27; Jer. 30:7).[31]Unfortunately, the progressive church is most likely ushering in the very tribulation they think will never happen. Gramsci’s philosophy has successfully pulled the American political spectrum so far to the left that it may be too late for the church to recover. Our country and our local churches are more polarized today than ever before between the different “kingdom now” theologies of dominionism and communism. If we want to save the “religious right,” then we need to abandon these false theologies and get back to the one and only thing Christ called the church to do, and that is to make “disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I [Christ] have commanded you. . .” (Matt 28:19-20).



Notes

[1]David Satter, “100 Years of Communism — And 100 Million Dead,” The Wall Street Journal(November 6, 2017), accessed April 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/100-years-of-communismand-100-million-dead-1510011810.

[2]Robert Knight, “Co-opting Jesus Christ for unholy purposes,The Washington Times(April 21, 2019), accessed April 27, 2019, https://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/apr/21/co-opting-jesus-christ-for-unholy-purposes/?fbclid=IwAR0JSsbb6Yt7zF4HDn7BKYBumKY4nWTWDIZWv8OmcuPX0SJmeoMVFKgZ1j0.

[3]Bob DeWay, “Emergent Eschatology: The Road to Paradise Imagined,” Critical Issues Commentary, no.136, (Spring 2018), accessed April 27, 2019, https://cicministry.org/commentary/issue136.htm.

[4]Norman Geisler, “A Premillennial View of Law and Government,” Bibliotheca Sacra, BSAC 142:567 (July 1985),accessed April 27, 2019, https://www.puritanboard.com/data/attachment-files/2015/03/2256_a_premillennial_view_of_law_and_government_–_by-_norman_l._geisler.pdf.

[5]Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. “Fabian Society,” accessed April 27, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Fabian-Society.

[6]Murray N. Rothbard, “Karl Marx as Religious Eschatologist,Mises Institute, (October 9, 2009), accessed April 27, 2019, https://mises.org/library/karl-marx-religious-eschatologist.

[7]Geisler, “A Premillennial View of Law and Government.” My clarification is in parentheses.

[8] Copybook Heading Productions LLC. Agenda: Grinding America Down (December 2015), Vimeo video,accessed April 27, 2019, https://vimeo.com/ondemand/agendagrindingamerica.

[9]Rick Warren, “Extending the Vision,”Learning My Purpose” Blog, accessed April 27, 2019, http://purposedriven.com/day29/.

[10]Robert Saucy, The Church in God’s Program(Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1972), 1763, Kindle.

[11]Ibid., 1697.

[12]Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 111.

[13]Andrew Woods, The Coming Kingdom: What Is the Kingdom and How Is Kingdom Now Theology Changing the Focus of the Church?(Duluth, MN: Grace Gospel Press, 2016 ), 3350, Kindle.

[14]Ibid., 3350.

[15]Ibid.

[16]Ibid.

[17]Tony Campolo, “Red Letter Movement, Red Letter Christians(December 9, 2010), accessed April 27, 2019, https://www.redletterchristians.org/red-letter-movement/.

[18]Brian McLaren, “Q & R: The Propitiation Question”, Brian McLaren blog, November 19, 2010, accessed April 27, 2019, https://brianmclaren.net/q-r-the-propitiation-question/

[19]Justin Taylor, “An Interview with Russell Moore,”, as cited by Woods 371.

[20]Woods, The Coming Kingdom, 2564.

[21]Ibid, 2580.

[22]Ibid. Parenthetical note mine.

[23]Russell Moore, “Can the Religious Right Be Saved?”, First Things Erasmus Lecture, as cited by Rod Dreher, “The Religious Right: A Eulogy.” The American Conservative (October 24, 2016), accessed April 27, 2019. “https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/the-religious-right-a-eulogy/&#8221;.

[24]Encyclopedia of Protestantism, s.v. “Haldeman, I.M.,” accessed April 27, 2019, http://protestantism.enacademic.com/292/Haldeman%2C_I._M”>http://protestantism.enacademic.com/292/Haldeman%2C_I._M

[25]I. M. Haldeman, The Mission of the Church in the World (NewYork, NY: Book Stall, 1917), pp. 280-87.

[26]Rod Dreher, “The Religious Right: A Eulogy,” American Conservative (October 24, 2016), accessed April 27 2019, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/the-religious-right-a-eulogy/.

[27]Anne Reed, “K-LOVE’s ‘Unplanned’ Reversal,American Family Association Journal(March 29, 2019), accessed April 27, 2019, https://www.afa.net/the-stand/culture/2019/03/k-loves-unplanned-reversal/.

[28]Woods,The Coming Kingdom, 353.

[29]Ibid., 358.

[30]Ibid., 3267.

[31]Ibid., 3310.

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