“The church’s task is not to keep inventing new gospels, new theologies, new moralities and new Christianities, but rather to be a faithful guardian of the one and only eternal gospel. For the self- revelation of God has reached its completion in his Son Jesus Christ and in the apostolic witness to Christ preserved in the New Testament.”
~ Rev. John Stott, Basic Christianity
change (something) so much that it appears to be entirely new.
Sold. The American Church is yet another consumer of the capitalistic product. We have bought into the idea that we must reinvent ourselves as Christians, suggesting that the practice of faith as recorded in the Bible is useless and irrelevant. The biblical characters are too old and too far removed; they are out of touch with our reality and would not understand. Things are different now. People are different now. We must keep up with the times though God is eternal.
In the Bible, there is no mention of dinosaurs or computers, cloning or in vitro fertilization, marijuana or immigration reform so it is not for this age. We believe that God has not spoken so we will. And the frightening thing is that we are trying to reinvent God, to make God in our image and likeness, to give God our character and attributes (cf. Genesis 1.26-27; Romans 1.25). But, the Bible also does not mention race as an identity (cf. Psalm 19.5; Ecclesiastes 9.11; First Corinthians 9.24; Hebrews 9.1). The use of the term is a recent addition. The word is rightly translated “kind, kindred and/or family”– none of which are synonymous with race.
Ashamed of its message, we are also repackaging the gospel. We cannot see that often times changing the method does change the message. And what is the purpose of reinvention for a people who are being regenerated? What need does Christ have of reinvention? He is the resurrection and the life” (cf. John 11.25). When did God stop doing a new thing (cf. Isaiah 43.19)?
Our definition of newness is worldliness. We want a Christianity that is of this world, connected to the interests and pursuits of this world. We desire a “material Christianity” that assists us in our pursuit of pleasure. We have created a “racial Christianity” that supports our stereotypes and endorses our prejudices.
We want our experience of faith to be popular and acceptable. Much like the products that we consume, we want a faith that every one else wants. But, this is a “crowd Christianity.” This type of believer will follow Christ but we will repeat after the crowd (cp. Matthew 21.9; Luke 23.21). But, Jesus didn’t follow the crowd but the cross. This message cannot be changed.
God’s definition of newness is spiritual; we are not being reinvented but renewed. We have yet to understand this mystery. So, how can we then live as if God has been solved? The church’s task is not to invent but to accept what has been given to Her. “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever” (cf. Isaiah 40.8).