Our culture is enamored with the next big thing. And I know that I’m no exception. I’ve stood in my fair share of lines for the newest iPhone, have spent time reading blogs for rumors of the latest technological advances, and have contemplated how to upgrade an old device for a newer, slightly faster version.
We our always looking for newer, bigger, faster, better. And this is great if we are talking about theology. Trade-in your old iPhone and get a bigger one (or smaller, depending on the year). But this same motif that inundates our culture does not help us when it comes to our theology.
Good theology doesn’t come up with new things to say. Good theology says old things in new ways.
If you want a theology that is rooted in the Gospel, look to something old. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be saying things in new or innovative ways, but simply that we should never move away from talking about the same old things. Good theology says the same thing over and over again but in different ways. The best theology is not an innovation that gives a new unheard of insight into the Scriptures, the best theologians instead are translating the ancient teachings and thoughts of the theologians who have gone for hundreds of years before them and have simply repeated the words of the Bible.
If you start to notice your preacher saying things that you’ve never heard before, you should be worried.
One of my favorite aspects of ministry is creativity. I love the creativity that comes in writing and teaching and preaching. Creativity is a gift to the church; artists help craft and shape worship services and music and message that impact people in incredible ways. We need theologians that are incredibly creative, but we don’t need theologians that are creating new theology.
Creativity becomes a tool at the disposal of the artist who is looking for the countless different ways he can say the same thing that has been said thousands of time. Andre Gide once said, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
This is the job of the preacher.
We say the same thing over and over and over again. But this time we need to write it, we need to teach it, we need to preach it, we need to have a conversation about it… in a way that you’ll understand. And relate to. And believe in.