Blog >
The Progressive Jesus: A Distortion

Both the MAGA Jesus and the progressive Jesus are distortions.

The progressive Jesus is a far more serious threat. He is left-wing politics in a form weaponized to undermine Christian theology. I had wondered how liberal theology was going to survive, with the tide of liberal churches shrinking as much as they have. Now I see current political trends invading conservative churches to convert them to a theology that is evangelical in name only, a theology that surrenders almost all of what they claim to believe in. How could I not see it coming?

Consider the chart I have featured in this post. It pits a supposed “colonizer Jesus” (white, European, rich and powerful) against a supposed “historical Jesus.” Both depictions are distortions. Let’s take a look at what’s wrong with this chart.

First, let’s talk about the “colonizer” label itself. It is only intended to mean white Europeans. Never mind that the term “colonizers” could just as easily be applied to Muslims who conquered North Africa, the Middle East (including ancient Judea), and other countries with the sword, or to Communist China’s occupation of Tibet, Xinjiang (think Uighurs), and (soon)Taiwan, or black Africans and Arab traders who sold black Africans into slavery.

No, the “colonizer” label is only intended to make historic Christian faith look white, rich, and oppressive. Yet the overall picture of historic Christianity on the “colonizer” side of the chart is largely a distortion. Let us count the ways.

1. Jesus was lily white? No serious defender of historic Christianity makes such a claim. 2. Nor do we claim that he was not Jewish. 3. Yet Jesus was also the epitome of what it means to be Christian, the only consistent follower of his own teachings.

4. Jesus was not patriotic? Are we to believe that he was a Jew-hater, like so many of today’s progressives? 5. And why did the anti-Roman terrorists of his day demand his blood to set their own Barabbas free? Because Jesus taught his followers to carry the Roman occupier’s pack an extra mile, and never taught them to resist the empire. The truth is that Jesus loved both his own people and the Roman occupiers, while who knows whether the makers of this chart would love either of them?

6. Justice through retribution versus restoration? Overly simplistic. Too much is implied here, and not enough is given to prove either claim. Jesus taught us to settle up with our accuser before we stand before the Judge; if we don’t, we’ll never get out of prison until we’ve paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:25-26)

7. “Died for your sins”?? Here Satan shows his colors for a brief moment by flatly denying that the substitutionary atonement is the historical Jesus, who taught that he came “to give his life as a ransom in exchange for (Greek anti) many” (Mark 10:45) and said during the Last Supper, “This [cup] is the new covenant in my blood, shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28)

“Killed by church and state”? 8. Church? Jesus certainly wasn’t killed by his own followers (unless you count Judas). 9. Contra historic anti-Semitism, Jesus was not killed by the Jews as a nation, but by an unrepresentative minority who handed him over to the Romans, who would have released him, but who caved to a mob that amazingly resembles today’s cancel-culture mobs. There’s who killed Jesus.

10. No one denies that Jesus pushed the envelope in his love for sinners and outcasts. 11. But Jesus warned his audience about hell more than anyone else in the Bible. “Fear the One who after killing has the authority to cast into Gehenna.” In the parable of the Sheep and the Goats , the historical Jesus commands those on his left to depart into the eternal fire. (Matthew 25:41)

12. Jesus does not excuse the oppression of the powerful in his day, but he does say surprisingly little about it. 13. “Liberates the oppressed”? If we mean liberation from political oppression, how exactly does Jesus do so? I hear that claim all the time, but I never see it convincingly documented. Yes, Jesus is our ultimate liberator, but not usually in the sense that is probably implied here.

14. Jesus rejects the false dichotomy between sinners and religious people. He does both critique, and at times condemn. He also shows unprecedented mercy to sinners who come clean and who are willing to repent. So both claims here, taken in isolation, are distortions. To put the puzzle together right, you have to use all of the pieces.

15. The historical Christian faith never claims that Jesus gave blanket endorsement to church or state. 16. “Subverts empire”? I doubt we will hear a whimper from the makers of this chart against the regimes of the Chinese Communists, or the ayatollahs, or the brutal regime of Hamas.

17. Do these folks deny that Jesus reigns supreme over the universe? 18. Jesus was not a vagrant. Like many of the rabbis of his day, he was supported by benefactors (see Luke 8:1-3). 19. And the flight of Jesus’ family from the sword of Herod in no way resembles 99% of the 8 million who have flooded America’s borders recently.

20. On what grounds is it insinuated that Jesus did not uphold the traditional family unit? Jesus did teach that anyone who loved their family more than him “is not worthy of me,” but he also condemned those who vowed their money to God as an excuse not to support their parents. Jesus also affirmed the Bible’s central sexual ethic: “the two [a man and a woman] shall become one flesh.” (Mark 10:6-9) By so doing, Jesus affirms only heterosexual marriage and contented celibacy as faithful lifestyles.

21. Jesus had half-siblings? How does that prove anything about Jesus and the traditional family? Historic Christian faith agrees that Jesus had half-siblings, but it does so because it affirms that Jesus had no DNA from any earthly father. Many progressives reject this teaching of historic Christianity.

22. It is a mistake to claim that historic Christianity endorses holy war, which was the tragic mistake made by the Crusaders. Good luck finding those who would support holy war today. 23. Jesus was non-violent? That’s what the Jehovah’s Witnesses tried to tell my father (who was not a believer). I was proud of Dad for asking them what Jesus was doing in the Temple with a whip.

While the progressives who made this chart wish to make Jesus into the champion of progressive theology, at best, they proves to be tools of the leftist elite who seek to counteract those “deplorables” who teach historic Christian faith. Don’t fall for their distortions.