Thursday, May 29, 2008

Old or new

As I read this from John Stott, who wrote the following in 1973, I couldn't help but think of a couple of book titles that I have seen in fairly recent days (one is A New Kind of Christian and the other is Revolution. The quote is lengthy, but interesting and insightful.

This kind of summons [to continue in things that had been learned] is not infrequently heard in the pages of the New Testament. It is specially relevant whenever innovators arise in the church, 'radicals' who claim to be progressive and who repudiate everything which savors the traditional. It has perhaps never been more needed than today when men boast of inventing a 'new Christianity' with a 'new theology and 'new morality,' all of which betoken a 'new reformation'. To be sure, the church of every generation must seek to translate the faith into the contemporary idiom, to relate the unchanging word to the changing world. But a translation is a rendering of the same message into another language; it is not a fresh composition. Yet this is what some modern radicals are doing, setting forth concepts of God and of Christ which Jesus and his apostles would not have recognized as their own. In such a situation we may perhaps be forgiven if, borrowing the Lord's own words, we say to them: 'no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, 'the old is better' (Lk. 5:39). The apostles themselves constantly warned their readers of newfangled ideas and called them back to the original apostolic message. Thus John declares that 'anyone who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God' and exhorts his flock 'let what you heard in the beginning abide in you', for then they would 'abide in the Son and in the Father' (2 Jn. 9; 1 Jn. 2:24). Similarly here Paul enjoins Timothy to abide in what he has learned. In each of these verses the Greek verb is the same. Timothy has learned things and now firmly believed them. All right. Now he must continue in these things with steadfastness and not allow anyone to shift him from his ground.