Living in America in the 1960s and 1970s we experienced the three events/personalities listed below. Only years later do we understand that:
1. Vietnam was a mistake. Or the way the war was conducted was. America was lied to by its leaders, yet we disdained the hippies and draft dodgers who fled to Canada. Whereas we believed we were 100% right and they were 100% wrong, history will commend much that they said.
2. Martin Luther King Was Not a Communist. In my seminary days in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I saw a billboard that pictured Martin Luther King sitting on the front row of a large gathering. The caption said, “Martin Luther King Attends Communist School.” Why didn’t I instantly reject that smear? Church history will report that many of us were not even sympathetic to what God was doing to improve the lot of the African Americans in the 1960s and 1970s. Why are we so slow to sense what God wants done? So unaware of the truth?
3. President Richard Nixon was Guilty. We defended our president against the evil, liberal media. We fundamentalists were so angry at ABC, NBC and CBS! But we were wrong and they were right. We were fooled.
We were not as perceptive as we would have liked to have been. Change is tough.
Changes We Want and Enjoy We like the growth/change of our children and grandchildren. We enjoy the changing of the seasons. Your mate is changing. People are changing. For example, the fiery Israeli commandos who were motivated by the holocaust of World War II and won the lightning quick wars of 1967 and 1973 have mellowed. According to a 1990 ABC news article on 20/20, that generation has softened and is more apt now to negotiate with the Arabs rather then going to war against them.
Change exempts no one. No one is isolated. For good or ill, like it or not, change is inevitable. Big people can change. Godly people relish the development of their faith through change. People who have experienced God’s love can adjust. But people who have not matured in their faith (or older saints who are still self-oriented in a few areas) will resist and life will drag them kicking and screaming toward what is good for them.
The challenge before the church is to pour the truth of the first-century Hebrew-Greek manuscripts into 21st century English without spilling a drop of inspired revelation.
Though the vehicles for expressing truth may change to communicate more effectively to a changing world, the Gospel “once for all delivered to the saints” doesn’t change. The wineskins may change, but not the beverage. The essentials of the faith never change, but to hold on to human traditions is to invite needless ridicule by the world and unnecessary rebellion from within the church.