Much has been
said in recent years concerning the self-proclaimed "change agents" among
churches of Christ. Biblically, we have already shown that they do not have
a leg to stand on and that the Bible is not one of the legs on which they
are attempting to stand. My purpose, here, is not to fully deal with their
ideas on the basis of the Bible, but to make some observations about the
internal logic of this party's platform.
Plank #1 seems
to be that the church must make drastic changes because culture is
constantly changing and we must become more relevant for the sake of our
children in coming generations. With the new millennium looming on the
horizon, this idea seems to be especially significant to those who press it.
This thinking was widespread at end of the last century but it may be even
more so as we approach a year with three zeros.
Go back and
read some old magazines. Popular Mechanics would be a good choice. Look at
all of the predictions about how we were supposed to be living and thinking
by now. They supposed that we would be living like the Jetson's, care
nothing about birds, flowers, and trees, and have robots doing our every
bidding. We laugh at what they thought our dress and fashion would be like.
We are amused, fourteen years later, at the predictions that George Orwell
made concerning 1984. The truth is that culture changes, styles change,
people change, and even styles of thinking change among large populations
within a culture, -- but almost
never in ways that are very predictable. The "change agents" of the last
century ("progressives") were quite certain that the church needed to change
so that future generations would flock to it. They divided the church over
it and started the "Christian Church." Those who failed to see their great
vision for the future continued trying to simply be the church revealed in
the New Testament. Contrary to the predictions of the "progressives," those
who remained with simple New Testament Christianity became the fastest
growing religious body in America by
the middle of our current century. The "progressives" --
who felt certain that they knew what the next generation would need and want
experienced no such growth.
Would it not
be more honest for "change agents" to simply say, "WE want to make changes
now because WE want them now"? Those who project their own desires onto the
next generation may feel honorable and unselfish for expressing their own
wishes in this way. Unless, however, their ability to predict the future far
surpasses that of all previous generations, they are likely mistaken every
time they anticipate the needs and movements of future generations. Since
culture continuously changes, it is not reasonable to demand changes today
to satisfy our children tomorrow.
let's stick with the old plan. If there are changes that need to be made in
individual Christians and independent local churches, they need to be made
in order to conform to the will of God as expressed in the Bible. No
reasonable man alive denies that such flaws exist and need mending. But to
try to remodel the Lord's church with human hands to prepare it for the next
generation to move in is both rebellious and unreasonable. Let's never
forget that "his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to
generation" (Luke 1:50).