“To help you in setting up a workable joy-fueling, God-glorifying, sin-killing, others-loving, prayer-producing, gospel-remembering Bible reading plan for 2008, I’d encourage you to adopt a customized Bible reading plan that excites you and fits you.”
Archive for December, 2007
When I was working on my Masters at Grace Theological Seminary, I took a class on Ancient Near Eastern Studies from the Old Testament scholar Don Fowler, who’s now teaching at Liberty University. One point he made that’s always stuck with me is that we tend to think that we’re smarter than folks who lived in ancient times. This has prompted a little fantasy riff I repeat from time to time where I ask someone to imagine that they’ve suddenly been transported one hundred years into the past. As they regale some credulous soul with the technological glories of the 21st century, they describe a box called a “microwave” where you can put food in, push a few buttons, wait a few moments, pull the now hot food out, and the box itself is cool. “That’s wonderful,” the 1907 inhabitant replies, “can you build us one?”
Any degree of knowledge and sophistication that we can claim only comes as we build on the knowledge, expertise, and wisdom of those who’ve gone before.
I believe the same basic principal applies to theology. We must take care not to believe the theological fashionable is correct simply because it’s contemporaneous. One must be cautious to avoid embracing some new theological thought or tendency simply because it’s new.
My friend David Wayne reminded me of this when he recently posted some brief comments about what CS Lewis called chronological snobbery.
Wayne quotes Lewis who explains that this type of hubris is
“the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also a “period,” and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them” (found in Surprised by Joy, pp, 207,208).
At the same time, we also must be careful not to reject out of hand any theological innovation simply because it’s new. To do that would be to retroactively deny, for example, any theological legitimacy of the Protestant Reformation.
We do well to avoid both the Scylla of uncritically embracing the theologically nouveau and the Charybdis of a thoughtless rejection.
The great Reformed exegete John Murray strikes the balance well:
“However epochal have been the advances made at certain periods and however great the contributions of particular men we may not suppose that theological construction ever reaches definitive finality. There is the danger of a stagnant traditionalism and we must be alert to this danger, on the one hand, as to that of discarding our historical moorings, on the other.
When any generation is content to rely upon its theological heritage and refuses to explore for itself the riches of divine revelation, then declension is already under way and heterodoxy will be the lot of the succeeding generation…. A theology that does not build on the past ignores our debt to history and naively overlooks the fact that the present is conditioned by history. A theology that relies on the past evades the demands of the present“
Clearly these parallel cautions must be kept in balance as we consider the theological suggestions of the emerging church.
i’ll be back!
Editor and Publisher published a piece observing that the most read Financial Times story in 2007 was a Jeremy Grant piece reporting a FT interview with David Walker, comptroller general of the United States.
From the article:
“Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were “striking similarities” between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government”.
“Sound familiar?” Mr Walker said. “In my view, it’s time to learn from history and take steps to ensure the American Republic is the first to stand the test of time.”
Mr Walker’s views carry weight because he is a non-partisan figure in charge of the Government Accountability Office, often described as the investigative arm of the US Congress.”
There is no doubt in my mind that the future success of the US is contingent on the character of its citizens and leadership.
This was not the end I was expecting!
“PARADISE, Calif. – A father and three children who vanished on a Christmas tree-cutting trip in the Northern California mountains were found alive Wednesday after huddling in a culvert for warmth during three days of heavy snow.
“Our hearts are all full right now,” said Cory Stahl, who closed his pest control business so his employees could help look for the father, Frederick Dominguez, their co-worker. “It’s a very merry Christmas now.””