The future needs history

I spent a couple hours this morning reading articles and books reviews in the latest issues of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS), put out quarterly by the society, and was struck how much the future needs history.

Some of the issues in contemporary evangelicalism are challenges from past weaknesses, current culture changes, and the need to prepare the next generation.

We have tended to assume too much, overstate too much and oversimplify too much. (I hope you catch the pun.) But we have also been too quick to discard principles, standards and practices.

In a time in history where the future seems uncertain (certain aspects always are) we should be all the more focused on the foundation.

In a postmodern world that has seen some of the failings of modernity (particularly it’s failure to deliver on its promise of certainty) and in which the church can either seek to entrench itself (pretending there is no flood as the water rises) or abandon the mooring (floating along in the flood until it lands on something that might be solid) it seems many of our answers are in the past.

We need to recapture the main focus of the Bible–God. A God who is creator, distinct from creation, who gives objectivity and rationality to the creation (what Vanhoozer calls “First God” or other have called a “God first” ontology) and is knowable. This focus on God must understand that He exists in community–Triunity, desires to related to us (on His terms), and has a plan (realized and future eschatology), not just for individuals but for a community of people–for His people.

Our future needs our history. And our future success for God’s glory requires a commitment to understanding Scripture (with humble commitment) and ever changing cultural beliefs (with humble yet bold engagement).

Much more to be said on this topic and related theological issues.

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