There are fashions of the day in theology as well as in haute couture. Theological fashion, however, has implications which are more serious than any that may be involved in current modes of dress design; for theology belongs properly to the category of truth, which, in its essence, is not variable, whereas dress design is related to questions of adventitious adornment, which are governed by no fixed laws.
Fashion, whether theological or sartorial, is devoutly followed by the majority, who exalt it to an eminence of sacrosanct inviolability. The assailant of fashion, therefore, is viewed with distaste: he is roundly damned as a dangerous reactionary, accused of profanity, or dismissed as irresponsible and eccentric. Yet the Christian Church would be in a sorry state were it not for courageous individuals who, concerned that truth should prevail, by word and deed attacked the ecclesiasticism that was à la mode made in their day. This was so with the prophets of the Old Testament; preeminently with our Lord who made so uncompromising an assault upon the fashionable pharisaism by which he was surrounded; with Martin Luther and the other masters of the Reformation; with Wesley and Whitefield; with Wilber-force; with Kierkegaard. The lesson they teach us is that fashion so easily becomes a stronghold of error or a retreat for muddled thinking. Effective reaction becomes essential if truth and freedom are to survive. We need fashion-fighters in our day no less than in the past.
The appearance, therefore, of a fashion-fighter in the rarefied atmosphere of academic theology is a welcome portent. (Let us not forget that it is in this olympian realm that fashions are formulated and from which they filtrate into the lower world of the ...1
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