I’m going to make a statement that will make some of you cry heretic and others will cry with joy. I think you should stop trying to get everything right.
I’m sure that I’m not the only one who is tired of the conservative and liberal labels. As I have written previously, sometimes we have to use secret passwords to tip off other Christians that we’re in. Words like blessed, Christ follower, and such. Can anyone else relate?
While there is incredible importance to rooting ourselves in the Christian faith and not some poseur one, simply being theologically conservative is not enough. There are plenty of pastors who might affirm all the big points of Christianity and still preach on how you can become a better you or that you need to just try a little harder by giving x amount of money to them. Answering all the questions right is not the big point to the Christian life.
Quit with the Nostalgia
Living in the perpetual mindset of dwelling in the golden times of Christian America or some other nostalgic time is not enough. While some progressives will close their eyes to the past, some false conservatives will find peace solely in the past. Nevertheless, it is very important to have tradition without turning into blind followers of traditionalism. Historian Jaroslav Pelikan once noted along these lines,
Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. Tradition lives in conversation with the past, while remembering where we are and when we are and that is is we who have to decide. Traditionalism supposes that nothing should ever be done for the first time, so all this needed to solve any problem is to arrive at the supposedly unanimous testimony of this homogenized tradition.
Quit forgetting the past
Dwelling in the past will not make things better. However, forgetting or jettisoning the past all together will only make things worse. We need those who have gone before us, we need to listen to their collective wisdom. Rejecting them simply because they’re old and dead is not wise and the height of arrogance. After all, thinking yourself better than those who’ve gone before you makes you guilty of “chronological snobbery,” as C.S. Lewis would say.
Venturing forth into the future years is all we can do, rooted in the wisdom of those who have gone before us. But don’t stop there, think about becoming reformed. But more on that next time.
How do you use the past?