Christianity: The first and only open source religion

I love WordPress and the community that helps to run and maintain this great and powerful software. If you don’t know what WordPress is, it is a set of free and open source website creation tools that allow people like me, who may not know very much about web design and coding, to create web content and put it online. The day I put up this website, I had to update the WordPress software that runs it. This is the message that came with that update as a confirmation of its success:

WordPress is free and open source software, built by a distributed community of mostly volunteer developers from around the world. WordPress comes with some awesome, worldview-changing rights courtesy of its license, the GPL.

    1. You have the freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
    2. You have access to the source code, the freedom to study how the program works, and the freedom to change it to make it do what you wish.
    3. You have the freedom to redistribute copies of the original program so you can help your neighbor.
    4. You have the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes.

The more I think about and try to describe what WordPress is, the more it sounds like how I would try to describe what Christianity is. I have already used words like “community”, “great and powerful”, “free and open”, and “creation” to describe it. WordPress talks about itself in terms of “worldview-changing”, “access to the source”, and “help your neighbor”. What Christianity and WordPress have in common is that it is meant to be free and open, maintained by ordinary people. They are both made to be modified and customized so that it can apply to any number of situations.

“Now, wait! Modify Christianity! Never!” You heard me right. Faith and Practice (Religion) need to undergo constant customization. A biblical professor of mine once said, “God has no grandchildren; only children.” Each successive generation needs to take what they have learned about God through his revelation (creation, Word, and experience) and make the necessary application throughout the constant march of time.

And so we get God’s law being given to the people at Sinai, then again at the end of Moses’ life. It is reaffirmed under Joshua before entering Canaan, and then again at the end of Joshua’s life. Its only after Joshua that we get a sense of the wholesale departure from God’s will by his people after the law was given at Sinai. What happened? The next generation neglected to renew their Faith and Practice, and therefore fell away. So the book a Judges rehearses a process of Lapse into Apostasy, Oppression from Outside Forces, Repentance and Renewal, and Deliverance by God. As this happens over and over again with each new generation, it illustrates perfectly the need for us to pursue relevant Faith and Practice in our own time. Failure to do so will inevitably result in our own Lapse and Oppression.

Yes, Christianity truly allows for “access to the source code, the freedom to study how the program works, and the freedom to change it to make it do what you wish.” This freedom, I fear, is itself the source of much of the abuse and resulting grief and rejection of Christianity by this generation, but only because what we wish so often runs divergent to what God wishes.  People have come along and modified it to the point that it no longer reflects the Spirit and intent of its inherent nature. I’m sure this happens to WordPress as well. I know some people have come along, looked at the code and  produced something to be used for malicious intent. And so it goes with the world. But the community lives on.

WordPress grows when people like you tell their friends about it, and the thousands of businesses and services that are built on and around WordPress share that fact with their users. We’re flattered every time someone spreads the good word, just make sure to check out our trademark guidelines first.

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