SOME NEW THING
T. PIERCE BROWN
Luke said in Acts17:21, “Now all the Athenians and the strangers sojourning there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” We think it appropriate to examine that concept and practice in more detail.
Surely each of us has been bored by some preacher or teacher who did not seem to be able to present anything that we had not heard hundreds of times in the same old way. The use of some old, outworn expressions, both in sermons and prayers can have a deadening effect. To use one of those expressions, that has led some to “throw the baby out with the wash” or “to bend over backward trying to stand up straight.” That is, in an effort to capture attention and say things in a more interesting way, they have sometimes done one or both of two things. First, they may have become so concerned with a new way of saying something that may not make the doctrine any clearer, but cloud it with circumlocutions or verbosity. Second, in an effort to find something new and interesting, they may evolve some new doctrine.
We have only one body of truth, and although heaven and earth shall pass away, it will not. It must not be changed, or we shall be accursed (Gal. 1:8,9). So some, in their eager search to present some new thought, have changed the emphasis or content of the message in an effort to get attention. Every speaker or writer needs to get attention, but there are right and wrong ways of doing it. It is possible that in some cases the desire to get attention was not primarily to get people to give more attention to what God said, but to draw attention to the brilliance or ability of the writer or speaker for his deep and wonderful new insights.
In order to do justice to the importance of getting our audience to see more deeply the wonderful truths God has presented to us, and at the same time be sure that we do not merely engage in striving for linguistic excellence, those of us who write and speak should make a deliberate effort to do two things: first, make sure that any new thought we have about the old truths we should love and respect is not contradictory to that which we may know from other scriptures. For example, if our deeper appreciation of the grace of God causes us to deny the importance of obeying the will of God, we have the wrong concept of the grace of God. Second, we should try to present our thoughts, both new and old, in the kind of language that will not be trite and boresome. The English language is varied and valuable enough that we should attempt to find new and more vigorous language to present our thoughts in such a striking way that they will make an impression and be remembered. This may be very close to what the Holy Spirit meant when He said, “Therefore every scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old” (MT. 13:52).
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.
Cookeville, TN. 38501
Phone: (615) 528-3600