Should Christian Faith Keep Evolving or Hold Steadfast to the Truth in the Face of Change?
I remember many years ago closing worship services with a ‘benediction’ that included the words, “Keep the Faith”. This word of instruction implied that there was a Christian truth that we should not only live by, but protect from change. And we all presumed it was a good thing to maintain that truth without wavering. But I’ve changed my point of view, just like Milo in Norton Juster’s story.
In the children’s classic, The Phantom Tollbooth, Milo encounters a boy who appears to be suspended with his feet about a metre off the ground. The boy explains that that’s the way folks grow in this land, which is called “Point of View.” Their heads are always at the same level, while their feet eventually grow toward the ground. When Milo explains that where he comes from, it’s just the opposite, the boy laughs. “Then your head keeps changing its height and you always see things in a different way? Why, when you’re fifteen things won’t look at all the way they did when you were ten, and at twenty everything will change again. We always see things from the same angle. … It’s much less trouble that way.”
I think that in the church we have confused the refusal to develop new perspectives with steadfastness and “keeping the Faith”. I suggest it is a good thing to allow our perspective to change when introduced to new information, to new realities that we didn’t know about previously.
Don’t Confuse me with Facts, My Beliefs are Forever Fixed.
Traditionally, churches have sought to proclaim an unchanging gospel in a changing world. The assumption has been that God was uniquely revealed in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and the implications for human lives and ‘salvation’ must never be altered. Hence the fourth century creeds are still held as central by twenty-first century churches.