A new approach can always be dangerous, destructive, divisive, distracting. This page discusses some of the dangers with this New View in Theology.
What is my (our, your) attitude as I explore this new view? I might explore it with a rebellious heart, not wanting to accept certain aspects of given Christian teaching. So I will tend to grab onto that which is new and which criticises such teaching. Of those who have read Walsh and Middleton's excellent book The Transforming Vision, which espouses something aligned with this new view, while some have been truly blessed, others have gone off the rails, given up their faith and abandoned the Lord.
I might promote this new view with some excitement because it makes sense of a lot that previously did not. OK. But if my excitement is driven partly by some kind of self-actualization, and not a desire for God, then I am in danger, because I have made it an idol.
This new view in theology will only flourish and bring health and blessing to the cosmos if we are pure in heart, wanting God and his word for this day, rather than any particular theology. I would rather new view failed than go against God.
A converse danger is found in those who are wrongly sceptical. There is a good scepticism: which questions in order to test and prove what is good in the scheme; it asks questions in order to understand and perhaps to stimulate. But wrong scepticism is that which asks questions as a defence, and in order to avoid having to understand and be challenged. There are two main types of wrong sceptic: those of the establishment, who refuse to welcome challenge, and those of the anti-establishment, who are so intent on fighting a particular battle against the establishment that they see any other view as irrelevant.
New view is neither against nor for established ideas. Rather, it recognises the moves of God in the past and accommodates them, but moves on to the new situation.
If interest in, support for, and more importantly commitment to, the new view grows, then division will come. This is inescapable, as the Apostle Paul and Jesus both pointed out (truth always brings division). But we should not be divisive. Do not seek division. Do not seek to battle against others. Seek rather to recognise their strong points and see how their view is part of the whole story. But, even in doing this, we are in danger of arrogance ("We enlightened ones have the whole story; those poor people only have part of it"). No: remember that this new view, if it is true at all, is true for today and tomorrow, but is never the whole story.
And there are many parts of the world in which the new view might not be the most helpful view. For example, Christians undergoing persecution. See discussion of Brother Yun's autobiography, The Heavenly Man.
New view could be a distraction from what's 'really important', such as evangelism and worship. We have dealt with worship elsewhere and explained why that is less important than the current craze believes. But the danger of distraction from evangelism could be real. We know that spreading the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ is important, so it is vital that new view develops in a way that does not make it a replacement of spreading the gospel or a rival to it for our time and effort.
I believe that this is ensured by the centrality of Jesus Christ's saving work, which is a necessary element and not just a means to an end. And that this new view is a key to evangelism of many. But over time ideas can wander; let it not do so.
"New view is great, and at last we are nearer the truth than even before!" Let us be careful not to be so arrogant! Excitement is good but can lead to arrogance, which God condemns. However, in its inherent recognition of the value of all previous moves of God, this new view is unlikely to put any of them down. But the type of arrogance we are in danger of is to see our view as superior to all others. Not so! New view - if it is true at all - is appropriate for today. Other views were appropriate for their own day.
The converse danger: because of all the above dangers, we become over-cautios, draw back, and do nothing. We fail to apply our best prayerful thinking to new view. We fail to promote it to those who should hear it. We fail to find out how to explain it clearly. We fail to debate it. And so we fail to see the weak points, and fail to rectify them. In short, we fail to develop it. But worse, we fail to spread it, and fail to apply it to the benefit of the world and the honour of God. We fail to challenge those who should be challenged. We fail to use it in dealing with non-Christians. We fail to persuade Christians that they should at least think about it.
Remember: Christ's death is effective for all our mistakes as well as our sin, so we can afford to take risks. Remember: it was the guy who hid his talent in the ground for fear that he might do the wrong thing that Jesus condemned. Let us be bold, and yet prayerfully, humbly careful.
These pages present 'New View' theology. Comments, queries welcome.
Number of visitors to these pages: . Written on the Amiga with Protext.
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2003-4, but you may copy this page as long as every copy includes this full copyright notice, and the copying is not for financial gain.
Created: 3 August 2005.
Last updated: 7 August 2005. 24 July 2008 link corrected.