Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:7-8)
For non-Christians, progress means change. This is because they have never been right about anything. Whether it is science, politics, religion, or any other topic, change means something better, until they find out that it makes things much worse, and then they change again. Their worldview is in constant flex because they do not know any truth and have no way to learn any truth.
The rhetoric of progress is to disguise the fact that non-Christians are intellectual and ethical failures, total losers. They warn against dogma, because they have never come up with dogma that is true and enduring. All their beliefs are always refuted. All their theories are always revised, at times even to their very opposite. Thus to them dogma is almost untrue by definition. Dogma stifles creativity and innovation. It imprisons the mind. Do not be trapped by dogma! So they shake off one dogma only to arrive at another, including the dogma that we should never embrace dogma. The rejection of dogma is at the same time an admission of an uninterrupted history of failure. They are ever seeking, or pretending to seek, and never arriving at the truth about anything. Their lives are wasted.
The one who thinks that he does not need God to teach him anything is imprisoned by the worst dogma of all. He is trapped in ignorance. His gear is stuck on “STUPID.” He is in a place where there is no truth, no reason, and no way out. But he resolves to remain in it and considers himself some sort of freethinking revolutionary. If you refuse the wisdom of Christ and persist in unbelief, then you will search all your life and not begin at all. You are, my dear dum-dum, the punch line of a cruel joke that never ends. You are the laughingstock of the devil.
Christian dogma is true and perfect from the moment that God revealed and recorded it, so that it establishes us on the path of truth from the start. We are stuck on wisdom and truth, and held captive by reason. Unlike the non-Christians, we begin with knowledge, and what we believe will not be revised again and again, even to its opposite, then to something else entirely new, and then to its opposite again.
Therefore, progress means something very different to us. We are not searching for the truth, and we are not constantly revising our theories. We are already set on the path of absolute and undeniable truth. Thus to make progress is to continue further down this same path in knowledge and obedience. We must not turn to the left or to the right, because we are already on the perfect path, so that to turn anywhere is to turn to falsehood. We look straight ahead, because to look anywhere else is to behold something foolish and inferior. Through Jesus Christ, we move from faith to faith, and from glory to glory.
How do we make progress in God and in the knowledge of the truth? How do we improve as individuals and as a community? There is a concrete prescription. Moses is dead, and instead of telling him to innovate, God commands Joshua to continue on the same path that has been established. Therefore, we take what God has revealed and we study it, think about it, live with it, and achieve with it. Move forward with the dogma of Jesus Christ “that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3) – it is perfect and complete. “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8, ESV).