New Christians are like new computers, but over time they get slower, incompatible with other Christians, unstable, and less and less useful. It reminds me of the verse, "but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." (Mark 4:19). When I think about Scripture and history I see this same pattern of Creation, Complication, Confusion, Corruption, and Crash afterwards our theology needs to be reinstalled from the ground up.
For example, God gave Adam and Eve simple instructions and very quickly Satan and them managed to complicate, confuse, corrupt, and crash it. God installed the sacrifice software and Cain did the same pattern, and killed Abel. Things got so bad that God had to completely destroy the earth and its inhabitants and re-install the software of Truth with Noah. Later, God had to quarantine the spiritual viruses at the Tower of Babel and re-install the truth into Abraham. The Mosaic law was another reboot. The Pharisees managed to complicate it, corrupt, and crash that until Jesus installed the Great Commandment "Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31).
I see the Apostles's Creed and the Nicene Creed as further attempts to re-install the basic Biblical software of Christianity in a way which was comprehensible and would unify Christians around the essentials of Christianity. This is why 21st Century Protestants still use these creeds. After these Creeds, more and more updates, patches, viruses, and bloatware entered into Christian theology that the only way to clear the decks was to go back to the Bible.
Sola Scriptura was they key idea of the Reformation because it made it possible for every Christian to uninstall all the bloatware of tradition and get back to simple truths of the Bible. I understand that my Catholic friends may be offended by Sola Scriptura because they want to hold on to the software that the Reformation uninstalled. My purpose is not to get into an argument over whether Sola Scriptura is good or not. If you don't like Sola Scriptura feel free to argue with these guys (Defense of Sola Scriptura) . Sola Scriptura made it possible for Christianity to spread around the world in places where the Catholic Church could never have gone due to political barriers. In times of persecution it is easy to destroy church buildings and identify and imprison or kill clergy, but it is much more difficult to crush Christianity, when anyone who was literate can read and share the Scriptures with those who can't read. If our understanding of the Scriptures and our salvation depended on formal religious institutions, then the House Church Movement of China would have been impossible.
My concern is that since the reformation, especially in North America and Europe, even Protestants have managed to add a whole bunch of updates, patches, bloatware, and in some cases even viruses. Martin Luther's 95 Theses was mainly concerned with the selling of Indulgences by the Catholic Church in order to pay for building programs. In other words, the Catholic Church was saying there are sins but you can get a pass on the penalty of the sins if you pay us money. But now, so many Christians will compromise the clear teachings of Scripture free of charge!
They are basically saying, "God is wrong, Jesus is wrong, and the Bible is wrong, it is okay you can ____________ (insert popular sin etc. here) as much as you want, we won't judge you for your sins and we will even attack other Christians who mention what the Bible says about it. We will celebrate your sin. Just please! please! please don't call us names! (bigot, anti-women, anti-science, homophobic, or islamophobic. etc.)"
So, we really can't throw stones at the Catholic Church of Luther's day, because if Luther lived now he might, tape a flyer on our church doors or at least post a meme on our Facebook wall. There are many more parallels that I can draw between the state of many modern protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church of Luther's era, and perhaps I will do so in later posts. For now, I believe that we need to get back to the clear never changing principles of Scripture. We, as Protestants, cannot criticize the Catholic Church for believing in Scripture+Tradition five hundred years ago, if we ourselves believe in Scripture+Pop Culture right now. In many ways Gallup Polls, seems to be the most important commentary that many Protestant leaders consult. First they see what is popular and then they interpret the Scriptures accordingly. The Mormons, changed their views on polygamy in order for Utah to gain US statehood and they changed their views on dark skinned people to reflect cultural trends. The Mormons can do this, because they believe that they have a living prophet, who can give them updated interpretations whenever it is politically or economically profitable to do so.
But, I believe that, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) and "Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear." (Matthew 24:35). I also believe this:
"Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:10-17)
The first generations of Christians did not change the teachings of God's Word just to please the popular culture and avoid persecution. Many of them were martyred and tortured because they would not make small compromises such as acknowledging Caesar as a god. It would have been understandable if they had tried to be more "open minded and tolerant" to avoid the horrible tortures and deaths of Foxe's Book of Martyrs. But, when we as modern Christians compromise our faith to avoid being called names on social media, we are dishonoring their sacrifices and courage.