As a definition, this take on what it means to be a “progressive” takes the wind out of the sails of social liberals, challenging their claim that, in tattooing “progressivism” across their chests, they own the moral/metaphysical high ground of today and tomorrow.
Beneath the paralysis that keeps many in our culture from giving over their identity to Jesus Christ lies the question about the culture: who owns the future? We live in a context where many people and ideas claim to be “progressive.” Think about it for a moment: the essential point of claiming to be progressive is that one owns the future, that the future is progressing toward the position I hold. So, for example, Barack Obama claims to be progressive, bringing in the way of the future; but likewise, the conservative Tea Party movement could call itself progressive, claiming that the way of the future is not big government programs. Musicians, actors, and others in popular culture claim to be progressive, bringing in the new to outdo the old. In politics and popular, various positions claim to be progressive, which is another way of saying, “I own the future on this issue.”
Yet in view of changing cultures and times, one could begin to have serious doubts about whether we have any sense at all of what it means to be progressive. My generation, Generation X, was told that the future belongs to us. Younger generations are told the same thing. But of course, that’s not really true since every generation has a generation following it. Things that seemed progressive to my generation are likely to seem retrograde the next. At various points in recent history, practices like eugenics and racial segregation were championed as progressive. The fact that they no longer seem progressive to us just shows how much the future is out of our grasp.
J. Todd Billings, “Union with Christ” pg 31-32