The true progressive
This is a response to Lorelei Kraft’s letter on Liberalism. G. K Chesterton, that great 19th - 20th Century thinker, wrote: “progress (or progressivism) should mean that we are always changing the world to suit the vision.” Unfortunately, modern progressivism/ modern liberalism believes in no absolute truth, relies on relativism to find its truth, and consequently is always changing the vision (hope and change!). Chesterton concludes that to be a true progressive you must be progressing towards a fixed truth.
All who have lived long enough know that things tend to grow worse. The second Law of Thermodynamics reminds us that even the material universe is increasing towards entropy and decay. Humans left to their own free will destroy order and create chaos. Consequently, freedom can only be truly free if it is restrained and directed by a vision of good. I think I can rightly argue that only Theists have a “defendable” vision of what is true and good; provided to us by the maker and creator of all that exists. Theistic progressives have given society a vision that provides moral clarity.
It was Theistic progressives of New England like John Adams, Samuel Adams and John Hancock who “pushed” this country towards independence. It was progressive Christian men who wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” It was progressive Christians of England like William Wilberforce who helped end the slave trade. It was progressive Christians (Abolitionists) and Christian churches throughout the north that pushed this country towards a Civil War that ended slavery. It was the diligence of a progressive Christian called Abraham Lincoln that stayed the country on a course towards achieving that vision. It was a progressive Christian Theodore Roosevelt that began the process that ended monopolies. It was progressive Christians like theologian Bonhoeffer and the military’s General Tresckow and Colonel Stauffenberg who stood in Germany in opposition to Hitler and who lost their lives in the process. It was a progressive Christian like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, after years in a gulag, who stood against the horrific evils of modern secularism.
Unfortunately Christians have often bastardized the vision to justify evil; southern churches used the vision to justify slavery during the Civil War, American Christians used the vision to justify a distorted Manifest Destiny that justified destruction of the Native American people. While that is deplorable, that does not make the Theistic vision untrue.
In my opinion, the terms liberal and conservative mean little in modern America. Both have been captured by those who believe it is their responsibility to establish a “new vision” based on their own rationalistic thinking … thinking that is unanchored from any fixed truth.
The true liberals and progressives are those who seek to right the wrongs of our modern society based upon the grace and compassion of the revealed/discovered truth of the Creator.