Wednesday, April 20, 2005

On the American Attraction to Novelty

There is a strong temptation towards novelty in the American Christian.

He has for so long and in so many clever ways been taught that “new is better” that he believes it as a foundational premise. For his entire life he has been surrounded by a persuasive media (especially television and radio) that has defined him as a consumer. Therefore, it is, more than anything, the advertising agency that has determined the way he looks at the world. And he has learned well the lesson that everything that is "new" must be "improved."

Running a not too distant sceond in formulating the believer's attraction to novelty is the school system in which he was raised and which very much effects him today. Here he was instructed carefully and incessantly in evolutionary thought. Whether the classes involved science, humanities, ethics, even Marxist-influenced economics, the government school system taught him that everything is moving towards something called (capital “P”) Progress. It became a key part of his conscious and subconcious thinking that "Every day in every way, things are getting better and better".

Thus, it should be no surprise that American Christians (even in theological matters) find themselves ever attracted to novelty: the latest trend, the fashionable formula; the pragmatism promised by the most recent book. The American Christian, taking his lead from the advertising jingles in his head, believes that even in the search for religious significance, success will be found in the “new and improved” theological trick – the hippest faith flavor of the month.

But G.K. Chesterton had it right when he declared, “It is the old things that startle and intoxicate.” And indeed, the believer’s strength is always found in the ancient truths, the essentials, the fundamentals of the faith. Ours is a Faith grounded in history and beautifully enacted by real heroes that have given us a rich heritage. We worship and serve a Messiah Who is "the same yesterday, today and forever" and Who has revealed himself in the timeless revelation of the Holy Bible.

So beware of novelty. It is an alluring but ultimately misleading force. Much better to stay the course with He Who holds the future in His Hands, He Who is, quite purposefully called, the Rock of Ages.