They say the best way to keep history from repeating itself is to learn from it. It also illuminates otherwise obscure present realities. The more confusing the times, the more a considered look at the past is in order.
Considered, because old situations take on new clothes.
We often overlook this resourceful use of time with dismissals insisting that we are different, our times are different, our situation is different. Too enamored of our own theory of evolution…. that the human race has come so far from what it was that views of past history, while interesting, have little import for our culture.
I suppose that is why we are so blasÃ© about using history to analyze the present trends.
Right now I am thinking of church history. How many Christians study Church history before getting all excited about the “new movements” and trends? Is there really anything new under the sun in man’s efforts to update and redo his institutions?
I tend to think not. Somewhere we can probably find an analogous move in that direction. If we do, we may find some insight on where it is going and how it ends up.
Like the emergent church movement. From the outside looking in I’d say it has aspects of two separate moves, and the outcome will probably end in a divide between the two.
One is the similarity to the Anabaptist movement… which eventually led to solid Christian views revived on matters of baptism and allowing for more personal expectations of relationship to God.
The other aspect is that of the liberal theology move which ended up stuck in the “God is Dead” morass of the sixties.
Both moves had the weakness of not being firmly rooted in the Reformed ideas of the importance of scripture and its study. The Anabaptist eventually recovered and corrected on that count. The liberal theologians? They are still with us in a downward spiraling of many of the mainline churches. The spin-offs? The fundamental moves within different denominations. Trying to militantly recover the basics of the faith.
If the emergent church keeps emphasizing an “evolution of revelation” type of doctrine it will lose its most idealistic and passionate adherents that “just want more of the reality of God” and desire to see the Church become its promised potential. Because it won’t take long to look at the fruit of the field to know whether what the Word of God produces is what is sprouting.
And without the seed it doesn’t matter how fertile and welcoming the seedbed is.