Our Addiction to Theological Novelty image

Our Addiction to Theological Novelty

We live in an age addicted to novelty, from the editorial requirements of peer-reviewed journals to the algorithms of social media to the slogans of the marketing industry. And this poses quite a challenge for theologians given the profound constraints their field operates under—bound to the limited data of Scripture and the strict canons of logic that govern the relations of doctrines to one another. It is only too tempting for theologians to try to repackage fairly traditional ideas as fresh new insights, and there are two particularly convenient ways to do so.

One is to misrepresent and indeed caricature traditional doctrines, making them sound transparently ridiculous, so that one can then present a “solution” which is in actual fact fairly traditional, but which has “New and Improved” plastered all over the label. The second is to avoid answering answering some fairly fundamental questions about the new doctrine, leaving it vague enough that it can appear genuinely new, although if really pressed on these questions, the doctrine would seem to reduce into one of a couple of age-old types, one pretty orthodox and thus unexciting (to modern readers), and one probably heretical.

—Brad Littlejohn, On Theological Novelty and Atonement Theory

Let the reader understand.

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