Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Standing on Shoulders

One of the most disturbing postulates of the Emergent movement expressed at our conference last weekend is the one which states that the value and validity inherent in scriptural interpretation is directly proportional to the age of the idea...or put simply--new ideas are better than old ones.

A speaker stated that he used to argue with his father about doctrine until his professor pointed out "of course you argue with your father; you are standing on his shoulders". Whereupon, with the mystery explained, the man was able to acquire a new respect for his father and his antiquated views.

This is sad, somehow, because it assumes a rise in intelligence and reading comprehension that isn't born out by the record. It also silently proposes that great men of faith throughout the ages haven't been granted the insight or inspiration claimed by post-modern theologians.

I feel the fallacy has been fueled by our scientific leaps in recent years. Men discover DNA and now we have libraries of knowledge about it. Computers are invented...and now they are being used to invent. A microbe hunter makes a successful vaccine and suddenly there are explosions of antibiotics and serums.

But--ask language educators and makers of achievement tests--our modern comprehension of literature and linguistics has lost, rather than gained, ground. And the message of the gospel hasn't changed any more than the original documents have changed. They have been there all along, and we aren't suddenly going to understand them better through modern cultural relevance and the rosy glasses of wishful thinking.


Carina said...

Very true. The idea that "newer is better" is ridiculously persistent in modern philosphical and theological thought. The young hate to think that they haven't learned it all yet.

aftergrace said...

Age of entitlement, the traditions and foundations of the church are "too much trouble" for today's society.