Jesus is in the wilderness praying when he is approached by Protopants, one of Satan’s lieutenants (2nd class).
Protopants (triumphantly): We are so gonna mess up your church in the future.
Jesus (looking up): Yeah?
Protopants: Yep. A double whammy. The reformation, 1500s, and modernism, 1900s, will have these morons so distracted they’ll miss your message of love totally.
Jesus: You think?
Protopants: Absolutely. We’ve test marketed this in the Greek and Roman empires. And there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s a perfect plan. Appeals to the innate vanity in humanity.
Jesus: ‘Vanity in humanity,’ sounds like a long-range plan.
Protopants (hands outstretched): Yeah, but listen, it’ll work. First, we’ll wait until the masses are soft, can read, and the Bible is easily available. Then we’ll have ’em read it and decide for THEMSELVES what it means. Every joker will think they’re the Holy Spirit and will make the Bible say whatever they want to hear.
Jesus (confidently): But my story, the Gospel, and my Spirit, will still be there for everyone.
Protopants (waving him off): Won’t make any difference. Remember Jeremiah, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’ The Reformation will split the church into a million pieces. Instead of talking about your grace, they will break fellowship over how you impart grace. We figure we can get rid of ALL the Sacraments. Imagine that! You think popes are problematic? EVERYONE will be a pope in his or her own eyes. And you know the really juicy part?
Jesus (rolling his eyes): What?
Protopants (sinisterly): They’ll all go their own way thinking it is YOUR will! Ha! They’ll scramble to jettison all the sacraments of the church, dream up conflicting confessions, and turn inward. They’ll have councils and tribunals and committees who won’t stop short of killing others over doctrine. Thanks to the vanity of humanity, the papacy and Peter’s Keys have evolved into a winner for us and now we’re going viral.
Jesus: You’ll increase the need and opportunities for love and grace, though.
Protopants (frowning): Ha! Oh, that’s just phase one. Then there’s modernism. Once the reformation gets everyone thinking they are popes and authorities on faith, we’re going to shift these popes over to rationalism. We’ll move faith from the heart and spirit to the mind. It’ll be a field day for proofs and explanations about how the miraculous and mystical were merely ignorance and lack of systematic theology.
Jesus (nodding knowingly): Yeah, that’s pretty clever. So, you’re going to divide believers and conquer them with the vanity of humanity.
Protopants: Yep. This plan can’t fail. Fallen people doing what fallen people do best — self-destruct. I’m thinking by 2100 Christians will be dispised and rejected because they’ve become so narrow minded and self-focused. The whole concept of Christian will become abhorrent. The fundamentalists will agree to nothing and the liberals will espouse everything.
Jesus: I’ve got a surprise for you.
Protopants (uneasily): What?
Jesus: The faithful will converge on me and the true church will be revealed in all it’s power of love and grace. You’ll make things so bad people will flock to love and grace. When you make the world dark, the light shines brighter and truth is revealed. Those who know me and keep my commandment will bring in a new era for the church. When things are bad, we get better. The church will return to its roots. The heart of the very first church will return to transform the world by drawing others into a growing relationship with me through love.
Protopants (uneasily): Not possible.
Jesus (smiling) Wait and see. I know mine and they know me. I repeat, when things get bad, we get better. You’re still playing the same old game — ‘taste the apple, you’ll be smart as God.’ I’ve got this covered. I’m taking us all back to Eden and I’ll be with my own in the cool of the evening in the garden someday and you and yours will be watching from the other side — plagued by regret and longing to be with me.
Jesus sits back and looks deeply into Protopant’s eyes. Protopants rubs his mouth and jaw and runs a hand through his hair.
Protopants (thoughtfully): Can I change sides?
Jesus (looking deeper into his eye and placing his hand over Protopant’s heart): We shall see.
Tr8: Converge with other believers in the love and grace of Jesus Christ. The next age is ours. These three, faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love. In the end, it won’t be about what we know, but about what we do.