Isn’t it interesting how we Protestants reject the ritual, tradition, and liturgy of the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox? Of course, we have as many rituals and traditions as anyone else. So the question is not whether to hold to tradition or not. The question is whether our traditions are biblical traditions or only the traditions of men.
Yesterday on my Blog I posted a comparison of the New Testament church and the traditional church. I say “comparison,” but it’s really all contrast. I speak as one who falls firmly in the tradition (there’s that word again!) of the Protestant Reformation, which stood for the rejection of man-made traditions. Clearly, modern Protestantism no longer understands this. Modern evangelicalism maintains its own manufactured, man-made, and deeply entrenched traditions every bit as much as did the RCC.
The results have been unfortunate, to say the least. Reformational ideas have been replaced with middle-American conveniences. Christianity has become irrational to the point that the plain teachings of Scripture have been rendered unintelligible and obsolete. Our modern “youth movement,” for example, mindlessly promotes the concept of out-of-control “adolescents” – an idea, of course, that merely reflects our narcissistic, TV-saturated culture. “Adolescence” is used as an excuse to explain our failures as parents to discipline our children or to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the lord. (Nurture? That’s the job of the local Preschool, ain’t it?)
God’s law for “youth ministry” is very clear. Just read Ephesians 6:1-4 or Deuteronomy 6. And what have we sophisticated “moderns” replaced it with? “Christian” t-shirts, bumper stickers, Bible verses stuck on refrigerators, lousy Sunday School classes, numerous church programs, and an increased New Age emphasis on self-fulfillment and inner healing. The good news is that the apathetic majority is being put to shame by a dedicated minority of Christians who, like the old flying wedge in football, are out ahead of the rest of us, confronting the sleepy, ghettoized church we have become.
Failure to see our man-made traditions for what they are is the cause, I believe, of a very serious breakdown in modern evangelicalism. The tragic results are all about us – shallow lives, hollow relationships, compromised churches. We have all contributed – directly or indirectly – to this sad state of affairs. May I therefore encourage you to read and study the chart I posted? It will show you how far we have fallen – and, I venture to suggest, it will show you the way back, if we recover the spiritual sensitivity of our Reformed forefathers.
December 9, 2004
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. He is the author of Why I Stopped Listening to Rush and numerous other books.