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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

F&WOG--Genuine Conservatives

Typically, I do a book review after I have read an entire book. However, I do not seem able to restrain myself until after I complete this book. So, rather than the typical review (which may still happen), I've decided to provide excerpts from the book. The book is Fundamentalism and the Word of God by JI Packer.
It is a great mistake...to suppose that we who are called 'conservatives' hold desperately to certain beliefs merely because they are old, and are opposed to the discovery of new facts. On the contrary, we welcome new discoveries with all our hearts, and we believe that our cause will come to its rights again only when youth throws off its present intellectual lethargy, refuses to go thoughtlessly with the anti-intellectual current of the age, and recovers some genuine independence of mind. In one sense, indeed, we are traditionalists...But on the whole, in view of the conditions that now exist, it would perhaps be more correct to call us 'radicals' than to call us 'conservatives'...We are seeking in particular to arouse youth from its present uncritical repetition of current phrases into some genuine examination of the basis of life; and we believe that Christianity flourishes not in the darkness, but in the light. A revival of the Christian religion, we believe, will deliver mankind from its present bondage. Such a revival will not be the work of man, but the work of the Spirit of God. But one of the means which the Spirit will use, we believe, is an awakening of the intellect...The new Reformation, in other words, will be accompanied by a new Renaissance; and the last thing in the world we desire to do is discourage originality or independance of mind.
Here, Packer is actually quoting J Gresham Machen in What is Faith?. It seems, according to the comments I receive from people, that my views typically do not line up with my demographic. Like the sopranic voiced linebacker, whose voice betrays his stature, it seems that my blog causes some to picture me different. He must be older. He must be angry. He must be Amish! At my age, I many suggest, I should be questioning all that I have heard, trusting no one, and wanting to forge new paths. But this does not seem the radical way to me. "There is a way that seems right to a man." Our sin nature causes all of us to design a god to our liking, to assume our own reason can formulate a more divine being that the One revealed in Scripture.

Whether issues of egalitarianism, the atonement, and even the centrality of Scripture, it seems the assumption is toward that which is new. If you align yourself with the thoughts of Augustine, Athanasius, John Calvin or Charles Spurgeon, you are considered antiquated and must be handled with an air of suspicion. And certainly, we should not hold to a view simply because we trust the advocate, however, if it is "the faith once for all handed down to the saints" shouldn't we see the thread throughout history?

It is natural to see culture shift and immediately challenge our view of orthodoxy because there appears to be a contradiction. Quite frankly, it is the easier (and less intellectual) thing to do. One the surface, truth appears one way, so we immediately adjust our thinking. However, the more radical, the more difficult, the more intellectual work is to look for the thread of truth that runs throughout all cultures of all generations. It may be called conservative, but it is far from simple.

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