Recently, down at the Capitol, we witnessed one of the most explosive government hearings in our history.
It had everything. Confused politicians. Jaw-dropping claims. Scandalous accusations. Name calling. Lies. Deceit. Testimony that we will not only be discussing for years, but also has changed how we think about the world.
And in the end, as usual, two men with vastly different narratives emerged, each claiming unqualified victory.
Naturally, I’m referring to the May 11 Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities hearing in which Rep. Jesse Kremer said that it was a fact that the Earth was 6,000 years old.
Weeks later, Kremer attempted to clarify his position on the age of the earth, saying the Earth’s age is “my biblical belief. Other people believe the same thing. That’s all I’m going to say.”
However, the damage had already been done. Both local and national media reported on, disputed, and even dispelled Kremer’s claims.
Politifact called Kremer’s assertions about the age of the Earth “false,” and there were plenty of think pieces calling Kremer’s views wrong-headed.
Even Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, an avowed conservative Christian who said that his 70-day run for president was “God’s plan,” distanced himself from Kremer.
In fact, Walker told reporters that he was more concerned with the timeline of his state budget, than the timeline of the Earth.
And progressives did what progressives have had to become good at in the age of a conservatively-controlled Washington: they mocked Kremer.
Progressives mocked Kremer’s values, his beliefs and his religion. They made jokes about his claims that the Earth was only 6,000 years old, and even not-so-subtly insinuated that Kremer was not very smart.
This analysis is going to move pretty quickly, so we all have to keep up with the bit.
I’m a progressive Christian pastor, and I am not ashamed to acknowledge that.
I believe that not only the current political environment, but also the current American religious environment has grossly misinterpreted and misused Jesus’ words, deeds and teachings, all of which were soundly progressive.
As a progressive Christian pastor, I believe in many things, not the least of which is the undeniable fact that the Earth is over 4 billion years old. I also believe that God, the Bible and science can be reconciled to co-exist. Heck, even Pope Francis believes that.
But, as a progressive Christian pastor, I can’t support mocking people who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, as Kramer does.
I can’t, because my job is to love them, help them to grow spiritually and educate them without judgment.
The Apostle Paul has a discussion which is controlling in this discourse. In 1 Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul is having a discussion with the educated people of the church in Corinth.
They have asked Paul to tell the less educated people of the church that they are wrong because they don’t believe in eating meat sacrificed on an altar.
Apostle Paul tells the educated members of the church, that technically they are right–meat is meat whether it’s on an altar or a plate.
But Paul tells them to be gentle and helpful in the spiritual development of those who don’t understand that principle, or risk having them become disillusioned with Christ and the church.
It’s a humility thing.
What’s more, as progressives, we could use more education about factual matters ourselves.
We live in a time in which our culture still perpetuates the myth that Jesus was a European white man, and that civilization started somewhere else other than with black Africans in Africa.
Both of these myths have been widely and categorically proven false. However, we as progressives and progressive Christians have had very little to say about the matters.
In fact, much of our work as progressive Christians begins and ends with the premise that Jesus is in fact white and civilization began somewhere other than in Africa.
We as progressives need some leniency as we work through and write the fallacies in which we believe.
We should be inclined to give others that same leniency.