The Latest Thing

     Like most folks I have a hobby or two and those hobbies have equipment associated with them. I like to walk for exercise and there is always a new shoe to try that will make my feet hurt less and make me a paradigm in the world of old man exercise. I like to fiddle with hifi stereo equipment and there is always something new in that world. I have friends who play a bit of golf and I understand that there is always a new club or ball that will be just the thing. Whatever it is, there is always going to be just the latest thing.

     People who read enough history come to realize that patterns of human behavior repeat themselves. Political trends come and go. Moral standards ebb and flow. In so far as the public culture is concerned traditional morality is not popular right now. We are caught up in a fervent existential individualism the long term consequences of which will not be good.

     This desire for the latest thing has for a long time had a huge influence on Christian religious institutions. The churches of our day bare faint resemblance to those of thirty, much less fifty or a hundred years ago. This pressure for the latest thing has certainly affected churches of Christ. William Woodson wrote of the change movement in the church (Change Agents and Churches of Christ, 1994). Those pressure still exist and I suppose always will.

     The best response to this “latest thing” syndrome is to recognize that this in itself is nothing new. That which has been is what will be. That which is done is what will be done. And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See this is new?” It has already been in ancient times before us (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10). People object to this line of thought by pointing to our massive technological advances. But, of course, that is not the subject of Ecclesiastes, nor is it the subject of these few words.

     There will always be new “things.” But we do not need nor will we benefited by a so called new way to relate to God. A new church cannot be right (Matthew 16:18). A new way to worship cannot be right (John 4:24). A new way to be saved cannot save anybody (Acts 2:38, Ephesians 2:8-10, Romans 6:1-6). For some things, for the most important things, only the old and original will do.