The Sermon on the Mount Divide; the more things change the more they stay the same.
Progressives think love your neighbor and the Sermon on the Mount are at the core of Christian belief; but they are not. If it has to be said for the umpteenth time Christians are not bound by the Ten Commandments it is for those of the Jewish faith.
Then they go and get the other one wrong too.
The question is when did this strong emphasis on the Sermon on the Mount take off? It is not a recent thing. Why are Progressives’ so antsy when others call their support for these things liberal talking points. But are they? Is there a basis for it?
It is time to take a look back and track it from there to now. And so back to the 1880’s we go.
This is a time when the social gospel as we know it takes off. I won’t give you a bunch of names you already know those; but I want to stress that the values in the Sermon on the Mount were thought to be attainable in US society at that time. In the 1890’s a group met in New York under the banner of The Brotherhood of the Kingdom; or just the Brotherhood. This was was based on the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. It sounds like the formation of some sort of secret society to me. In any event they sought to preserve these ideas for posterity by the sounds of it.
Traditional Christians believed The Sermon on The Mount was about the Kingdom Of God which would be ushered in at a future date. It was the kingdom not of this world as stated by Jesus himself.
Then fast-forward to 1922 when a well-known minister preached an odd sermon. Shall the fundamentalists win he called it. Speak of a strange way to put it.
Then there was the spirited defense of Machen. Seeing modernists rejected the core beliefs of the faith; how could the religion they fight for even be Christian?
His sharpest response was reserved for their take on the Sermon on the Mount. It is the fashion now he said; now too mind, to place The Sermon on the Mount in contrast with the rest of the New Testament. It is ironic that they say we will not accept ideology, but we can work with the simple principles of the Sermon on the Mount and live by the Golden Rule.
The ideas they happily appropriate are not for the whole of society but apply to the coming Kingdom of God. Is there anything they won’t beg, borrow, steal or nail down? Not because it sounds good; well it is in part, but to use for their own purposes. We hear the same noise today.
Many today think the Sermon on the Mount justifies the politics of grievance; where the first will be last and the last first with the chance to lord it over their enemies and use the power of the state to do it. They call it justice but it does not mean what they think it does. They don’t hide it like they once did either.
One thing we can’t get away from is the more things change the more they stay the same. What we like to think of as new ideas are just old recycled ones.
Secular support for the Sermon on the Mount goes back, way back; all the way to the enlightenment. Secular Humanists and their backers stole this piece of Christian scripture while they bid a lusty farewell to the Catholic Church in Europe; and its one-time theocracy. They saw it as a blueprint for a future secular government. More than this; it was the fulfillment of their big utopian dream further down the line.
As I have said there is nothing new under the sun.
Now carry on carrying on if you still insist.