Progressive Justification is the Catalyst for Spiritual Abuse in the Church
In all of the rampant abuse going on in the church today, a common thread has emerged: progressive justification—the idea that the same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you; and, you must preach the gospel to yourself every day, etc. It’s uniquely Reformed, and as we are learning, transcends the lines of Arminianism and Calvinism via Gospel Sanctification. You can function the same way regardless of it being your choice or not being your choice. Both can strongly emphasize salvation and downplay sanctification.
What is sanctification? That’s the Christian life that strives towards godliness. It strives to put on Christ, and put off the old man through intelligent obedience. So, if you think about it; obviously, if that is downplayed, change is not going to be the order of the day. Basically, you have people coming into the church the way the church found them, and then they are going to stay that way, no? “NO! Jesus changes them by faith alone in sanctification!” Well, how is that working for us? Answer: ABWE, BJU, SGM, etc., etc., etc.
“Sinners saved by grace” don’t act any different than sinners not saved by grace. Who knew? Both are still, “sinners.” But there is a bigger problem. If I understand the book of Romans correctly, unchanged people who come into the church will actually sin more than those who are of the world. And boy howdy, it sure be lookin’ that way of late. Downplaying an aggressive sanctification is a huge problem because the book of Romans makes a strong distinction between the only two spiritual groups in the world: those under the law, and those under grace.
The first group, “under the law,” according to the book of Romans, cannot obey the law (they disregard God’s counsel), will be judged by the law in the end, and are actually provoked by the law to sin. The second group, “under grace,” is enslaved to the law; love the law; desire to please God with the law, and war against their mortality for the purpose of pleasing God. If the gospel is presented to people in a way that they are not aware of what they are signing up for; i.e., being made a slave to righteousness, they might be merely signing up for eternal fire insurance. And once they come into the church the way they are and unchanged, they aren’t going to sin less—they are going to sin more because of the prevalence of God’s word in the church. People who do church for fire insurance are going to be constantly provoked into sin by the law.
The fusion of justification and sanctification is going to be most prevalent in Reformed churches where Jesus supposedly obeys for us. I might mention that the infamous Westboro Baptist Church are staunch Calvinists. And though they are criticized for their harsh rhetoric, it differs little from many things that Luther said himself. I have also written about Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince being proponents of progressive justification here: http://wp.me/pmd7S-1Ho. And apparently, even hyper-grace antinomian Jack Hyles was of the progressive justification mindset:
He taught that “everlasting life” and “eternal life” are two different things and a believer can have everlasting life without having eternal life, which he defined as something the believer must receive from God every day (Hyles, “The Gifts of God Are Everlasting Life and Eternal Life,” April 28, 1985). He claimed that the rich young ruler had everlasting life and merely wanted to know how to gain eternal life or how to get rewards in Heaven (Pastor David Cloud: “The Two Jacks,” p.27).
Weak sanctification can play out in many different ways: false doctrine; compromise; man-pleasing; hatred; false testimony; sins of the baser sort; etc. But any doctrine that doesn’t emphasize radical change shouldn’t expect any. What it should expect is what we call ourselves….”sinners” and “totally depraved.”