Ours is a world infatuated with progress, novelty and consumption. We don’t make things to last, because who wants the pressure of buying something that’ll last forever? Are those who bought shoes with flashing lights in them glad that they fell apart two years later? I certainly hope so. We want to move forward, not look back.
The Christian world is not exempt from this mood. Doctrine, orthodoxy, heresy, liturgy and the like have all become dirty words for younger Christians. It is fashionable for us to be suspicious of the authority of tradition, the received wisdom of our parents and their parents before them. We don’t want the Doctrines Of Our Forefathers when we can have the vital, lively experiences of life in Christ in the present.
Well, as with mullets and moustaches, regrettable fashion mistakes have a habit of repeating. The last few centuries have witnessed a constant stream of battles in ink over so-called Liberal theology, which also patterned itself as a fresh update of stale religion. There’s nothing new about a clash between those who have a conservative disposition and those who like change and progress. Nevertheless, Christianity needs both.
Seeing as the fresh and the new are in the ascendancy in the church, and conservatism is the musty, cheese-scented side of the battle, it is worth considering afresh why we need to appreciate the old. Continue reading