My Ideas Have a Shelf Life

John ArmstrongThe Christian Minister/Ministry

A friend passed along a great quote from an Assembly of God leader, Earl G. Creps, formerly the director of the doctor of ministry program at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and now a church planter in Berkeley, California. Here is the quote: “The ability to admit that my ideas have a shelf life cultivates a humility that will make following Christ attractive to those walking through this epochal change.”

That is a gem. I wish more leaders had this wonderful ability. I plead for it, seek it with all my heart and encourage everyone I know to embrace the fact that their ideas have a “shelf life.” In some sense, there is a “use by” date on everything we do in this world. At best we should admit that how we understand what we confess really does change, unless we want to say that what we believed twenty or thirty years ago is precisely what we believe today in the same exact way that we believed it then.

CHS I can remember as a young minister reading a quote from the famous Charles H. Spurgeon about never changing anything he believed from his teen years to his death. I do not believe that for a second. I think he meant that he held to the same basic doctrinal system he believed as young man. (I hope that is what he meant and all he meant though I still have my questions.) But even this is not entirely true. This is the same man who chose to become a Baptist when his father and grandfather were paedobaptist ministers. This is the same man who held liberal political views too, in spite of opposition. I think those who use this Spurgeon quote get him wrong when they use this quote to say that they can be trusted because they never changed anything they previously believed. What nonsense. I will tell you who I would not trust—the person who says that they never changed anything they believed!