I often read Charles Wood's, Woodchuck's several-times-a-week email.
He describes himself as "Retired pastor and educator, current husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, Bible teacher, writer and contrarian." Charles is in his retirement years. You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and request to be put on his mailing list.
Part of today's Woodchuck's Den jumped out at me.
WATCH WHERE YOU ARE GOING!
Every time I hear the words vision and drive, I am reminded of an amusing exchange I had with my eye doctor some time ago. I asked him if it was really safe for me to drive. He answered with a question, “Do you see the cars before you hit them?” I replied, “I haven’t even come close to hitting a car.” He said, “Then you are perfectly capable of driving safely.” He then paused for a moment and said, “In fact, your vision is as good as 75% of the people your age currently driving.” My response? “I think maybe I’ll just stay here in the office for good; it’s dangerous out there.”
This is just an introduction to some things that increasingly bother me in the conservative evangelical and fundamentalist movements. There are a lot of people who are driving while looking in their rearview mirrors when they should be looking through the windshield. What do I mean? Now the past in Christianity was pretty good for most of us, but it was never the golden age that some would make it. Even if it were, however, there is no way we are going to go back to it or even replicate it in any meaningful way. Our world - including the evangelical portion of it - is changing at such a rapid pace that I think it resembles a carousel on speed, Where change contradicts or seeks to attack the basics of Scripture (think Love Wins, BioLogos, and the numerous attacks on inerrancy), I will continue to resist it and insist that we must look at the rearview mirror of historical theology from time to time. Where there is no genuinely Biblical issue involved, however, I think we have to keep our focus on the windshield, or we will quickly become irrelevant.
Change that doesn’t challenge the unchanging God and His infallible Word is an absolute given. Our reaction to it is not. We can resent it, resist it or deny it, but we can’t stop it. It seems far wiser to evaluate it, respond intelligently to it and manage it.
Tradition probably has more to teach us than some of us are willing to learn, but a life focused on the past is going to cause us problems and keep us from ministering to anyone other than those who already believe as we do. Your church has changed? So has the world to which it is trying to minister. If all church is about is giving us more information and making us feel good, I guess it is ok to drive by the rear view mirror. If we are going to reach people that live in the world of today, however, we had better get our eyes off what is behind us and start looking to the future. The rearview mirror has its purposes, but safe and successful driving depends on looking ahead, through the windshield, to the future.