Something new

by Michael E. Brooks

“For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21 NKJV).

“That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

The curriculum for Khulna Bible College was designed several years ago when the school first opened for classes. But it has not remained exactly as it was. Some courses have been revised, others dropped, and new ones added to replace them.

These new courses represent a fresh approach or a different means of presenting material to the students. Sometimes material not previously studied will be added. However, all involved with the College are fully aware that none of the material is of new invention. The mode of teaching may change but the Truth by which men are made free (John 8:32) is eternally the same.

One simple definition of the labels “Liberal” and “Conservative” describes one’s attitude towards old and new. A conservative is by definition a traditionalist; one with a preference for maintaining established beliefs and practices.

A liberal prefers change and the refreshment of new ideas and new ways of doing things. This is perhaps an over-simplification, but generally true.

Some of the tension between these widely different philosophies may be eased by recognizing that there is value in each. Relative age of a practice or teaching is not a valid measure of its worth.

The law of gravity was scientifically formulated centuries ago, yet no one suggests it is outmoded and irrelevant today. Conversely, information gained through computer technology or space exploration within the past few years is greatly enhancing modern performance. It is useful, even if new.

Certain truths are ancient, even eternal. Yes there are those who contend that there is no absolute truth, but that is itself a logical contradiction. If nothing is absolutely true, then it is not true that there is never an absolute truth. One cannot have it both ways. Most would concede that some things may be depended upon as constant – they are true.

People of faith believe that God is true and eternal. He is unchanging. He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:11). Further, we believe that his word is true.

“Sanctify them by your truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

It is not blind traditionalism to hold to that which is ancient and true.

Neither is it irresponsible liberalism to be open to fresh insights, new applications, or additional methods of responding to truth. Much has changed since the time the Bible was written, not in the basic nature of God or humans, but in technology, culture, and human experience.

Having an open mind to ways to practice truth is far removed from believing that truth changes or that all essential truth has not yet been revealed. However there are limitations even to new methods or approaches.

Some things that have been proposed are clearly contradictory to those they seek to help understand. For example some modern methods of critical Bible study are founded upon the presuppositions that inspiration and miracles have never existed and that the Bible has no special authority for Christians today. Such methods must fail to aid in understanding of truth.

Some new practices are in opposition to commands other than those to which they respond. It is wrong to break one command of God in order to obey another in a supposedly better way.

A gullible fascination with the new and a blind allegiance to tradition are both certain to lead to error. We must have a balanced approach, “testing all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

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