‘For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing’, Acts 17. 21.
From this verse one might suggest that there are many parallels between First Century Athens and Twenty-first Century Britain. They wanted the latest news. They wanted that which was ‘new’ and were prepared to spend a considerable amount of time in pursuit of it. Vincent quotes one of their own as saying, ‘No men are better dupes, sooner deceived by novel notions, or slower to follow approved advice. You despise what is familiar, while you are worshippers of every new extravagance’1 Thus, ‘old’ would be greeted with disdain and dismissed. Perhaps that is why age-old errors feel it important to re-badge themselves as ‘new’, for example, New Atheism and New Age Religion.
Is there the possibility that we approach the scriptures in the same way? Do we spend time in pursuit of the novel and new and treat that which is old with disdain? As fashions in the world change all too rapidly, some have sought to ‘re-interpret’ passages of scripture that have become unpalatable, to bring a ‘new twist’ to the well-worn interpretation which was based upon a simple acceptance of what the word of God teaches.
Whilst we should beware of tradition that has no foundation upon scripture, we should also beware of that which is new and novel. The Lord has not left His people without guides. Not only do we have the word of God but we also have those gifted of God as teachers who can rightly interpret that word. We can test all against the heritage of biblical exposition that is readily available to this generation. There should be no need to be ‘children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men’2
This magazine concludes our series on the gospel in its different phases. We offer our thanks to Ken Totton and Ian Jackson for this study. As we considered the commencement and development of the work of the Lord in Ethiopia in February, we now have a similar article charting the work in Argentina. Equally, as we have detailed a number of different ways to spread the gospel, we have an article on classes designed to teach English to those immigrating into Canada as a medium of evangelism. Again, we try to provide a varied array of material with one foundation, the word of God, and with one desire, the encouragement of the people of God.