Wednesday, October 05, 2005


A dedicated follower of fashion

In my lifetime, I've backed some winners, that's for sure. Not. Take, for instance, my misadventures in the high technology field:

  • I purchased the very last new model of the IBM PS/2 before dropped the entire PS/2 line. Since the PS/2 was based on the MCA (Micro Channel Architecture) bus instead of the ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) bus, my investment in expansion cards was rendered worthless.
  • I jumped on the OS/2 bandwagon. Within two years, IBM had discontinued all attempts to market OS/2 as a Windows competitor. (Since then, I've jumped horses from OS/2 to a promising contender named Linux.)
  • I use a PalmOS-based PDA. Recently, Palm (the hardware vendor, not to be confused with PalmSource, the creator of PalmOS) announced its first Windows Mobile-based device. This has stirred up the "buzz" that PalmOS is dying.
  • Oh, well: at least I went with VHS instead of Beta. :-)

    I'm sure I could think of other examples of my skill at picking high-tech bandwagons, but I'm sure you get the idea.

    In a way, I suppose it's just as well. Perhaps my lack of prowess in following after what's new and exciting has been a factor in my growing interest in pursuing the tried and true. Whereas the staying power of a product or idea isn't always evident when it's new and fresh, the passage of time has a way of separating chaff from wheat. This may be why I find the average quality of the movies and music I enjoy from the 1930's and 1940's to be so much higher than that of what's more recent: the winnowing effect of time has already caused the dross from those years to be long forgotten, leaving only the good stuff to be enjoyed today. Likewise, in the realm of theology, wonderful works such as the writings of the great Reformers, the Puritans, and their successors have been remembered whereas works of lesser value have been forgotten.

    Rather than be discouraged at my inability to keep up with leading edge technology and art, I find myself only growing in the conviction that life is far better lived on the trailing edge! Why mess around with stuff that will last no longer than today's fleeting fashions when there's stuff that's passed the test of time?

    I think this is a lesson that certain segments of Evangelicalism would do well to learn. Especially within the charismatic and the seeker-sensitive movements, there seems to be an overarching love for novelty. Charismatics may call it "a fresh move of the Spirit", or a church-growth advocate may call it "what God is doing in the church today." During my Christian life, I've seen all sorts of things come and go: Promise Keepers, Prayer of Jabez, Toronto Blessing, Brownsville Outpouring, Passion of the Christ, Purpose-Driven Life, etc.. Without exception, these fads have passed and gone within five years or less. Some have brought greater numbers to the churches that sponsored them, but none of them have produced the truly life-changing results that they promised. Moreover, they have helped to encourage an ongoing trend within Evangelicalism away from God-centered expository preaching and towards man-centered hype and entertainment. All have tried in their way to meet man's felt needs, but none have truly confronted man's greatest need: for a Savior to deliver him from his well-deserved fate, eternal damnation.

    Now, I'll be the first to admit that there's a degree of excitement to be enjoyed with jumping on a bandwagon, even when that bandwagon proves to go nowhere in particular. I don't regret my time as an OS/2 user, and I'll continue to enjoy my PalmOS PDA until it gives up the ghost and breathes its last digital breath. I suppose there's little harm suffered when I back the wrong horse in, say, the arts or high tech, but I would submit that the stakes are far higher when the Gospel is involved in the fad of one's choice!

    Let me be perfectly blunt: God is not honored when His name is associated with fads and follies such as those I've named. He has ordained one and only one way for men to be saved: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Gospel and the Scriptures which infallibly and sufficiently reveal it are all that is necessary to work out God's plan for mankind. It is an affront to Almighty God to attach His Holy Name to a passing fancy, especially when we have the audacity to claim that such a mere fancy is what God is doing today. God saves sinners through one and only one means--by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone--and faith comes not by skits or movies or plans or programs but by hearing the Word of God.

    It is a small thing if we buy the wrong type of computer or listen to the songs of a one hit wonder, but it's a terrible thing if we dare to supersede God's ordained means and methods with ones of our own devising. It's bad enough that our culture is in love with fads and fashions, but it's devastating when the church replaces the preaching of the Gospel with folly and nonsense. In the case of my foolish technology investments, I was merely out time and money, but in the case of the Gospel, men's souls are at stake. Therefore, I call on the church to stop following after fads and to return to the plain and unadorned preaching of the Gospel!

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