Friday, June 12, 2009

Is Progressivism Progress?

Spurred by a discussion on my post called The Fruit of Secular Humanism, I have decided to talk somewhat about my feelings on Progressivism as well. Thanks for indulging me.

I have pondered the comments from others regarding progressivism over the last couple of days, and have done quite a bit of research myself on the topic. I would have to admit that many LDS people have a limited perspective in many areas, including progressivism. True progressivism is simply an ideology that advocates progress or improvement. Our lives here on this earth are meant to be progressive, in that we were placed on this earth to be “added upon” or improved. This process of improvement is one in which the light we have formerly received may gain further light and knowledge, until we have progressed toward “the perfect day.” This is progress in the right direction.

The difficulty that we face in that progressive journey is discerning what is light versus what is darkness. At times there might even seem to be a very large grey area as well. We have been taught through our study of the scriptures that, “that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you.”

This is a great measuring device given to us by the Lord to help us understand what is light and what is not. The ingredient that is necessary to facilitate this standard for understanding truth is the Spirit. Again we are taught, “And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? If it be some other way it is not of God.” ( Side bar: The absence of calling upon the Spirit as a form of measure is part of the philosophy of Secular Humanism. This is one great flaw in that ideology.) By the Spirit, we can receive direction when presented with any ideology or philosophy we may be introduced to. The Lord instructed us in the following passage:

Doctrine and Covenants 50:31 Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God.

Once that discernment is given then action is required.

32 And it shall be given unto you, power over that spirit; and you shall proclaim against that spirit with a loud voice that it is not of God—

However we are also given stipulations on the manner in which we are to use our voice against it.

33 Not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith.

When understanding is given, it should be done with rejoicing and thankfulness, allowing a humble attitude to prevail.

34 He that receiveth of God, let him account it of God; and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a truly progressive doctrine. All of the teachings contained therein direct us to a higher form of living, not only as individuals but as a group. This higher goal we must have in mind is that of a Zion society, one where we all share the mind and heart of the Father.

Today however, the term Progressivism is more commonly associated with the political movement by that name. As with any group we might have a desire to be affiliated with, we should show caution and apply the same measure of discernment that was given to us by the Lord, through the Spirit.

After many hours of study on a variety of political platforms the conclusion I have arrived at was best expressed in a comment on a Blog called Connor’s Conundrums. Doug Bayless, in his response to the post called, “The Progressive Predicament” shared the following insight:

“This is an excellent exposition on the dangers of buying into a label or “movement” so much that you end up abandoning rationality, pragmatism, and likely the principles that attracted you to the “movement” in the first place.

And yeah, I totally agree with your assessment of what Progressivism degenerates into amongst many of its more zealous acolytes.

But though you correctly skewer those who would take those willing to self-label as “progressive [period]” and then use them to promote the kind of unwise, self-defeating, mob-rule that the U.S. Founders warned against, I happen to know — through other comments you’ve made on your site — that you’re aware that “conservatives”, “libertarians”, and all the other group-think political groups skew towards the same types of mistakes.

The game that our citizens so often get caught up in when we try to deal with politics wherein we try to embrace and absolutely defend certain deeply flawed secular movements against certain other deeply flawed secular movements reminds me of things President Kimball warned against in his “The False Gods that We Worship” message.

Personally, I think we would do well to promote the truth and goodness that exists in each political party and culture and eschew the evil, idolate, and unwise ideals that also crop up amongst “conservatives” as often as “progressives”.

As for me I’m finally becoming comfortable admitting that I’m “conservative” on certain issues, “progressive” on certain issues, “libertarian” on certain issues, and heck, probably even classically “anarchist” on some issues (maybe).

I don’t believe it serves any useful purpose trying to espouse *all* the particular views of any secular mediator (like Sean Hannity or Barack Obama or Stephen Covey or Ron Paul or ‘the Green Party’ or whatever) without putting each to Paul’s Thessalonians admonition “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

I believe that to truly fulfill my Christian values and the promise of my American citizenship, I need to take issues one at a time on their merits and weigh them against the principles I currently have faith in. At the current time I don’t see any party or movement that does that perfectly. For me it’s kinda that age-old conundrum “Was Jesus liberal or conservative?” (by current conventional wisdom, I’d answer it really depends on the issue) or “What party would Jesus join?” (I’m convinced that the answer to that would be “none of ‘em” just like during his mortal ministry when it was so odd and disappointing to some that he called both a publican and a zealot to be Apostles but didn’t lead or join such movements)”

Since all Social Systems seem to have their particular flaws, the instruction that the Lord has given us on how to recognize light is especially timely for us today.

His word of comfort can give us peace as we contemplate these important choices.

Doctrine and Covenants 50:40 Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.

41 Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;

42 And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.

Ultimately every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, as he returns to take his place as King of Kings. This will give us the perfect form of government... a true Theocracy.



What a glorious day that will be! Thanks for all the great information.

In The Doghouse said...

Hi Tammie,
I agree with will be a day never to be forgotten for all Eternity. Thanks for stopping by.