I love old things. I love old furniture, old cars, and old houses, but I especially love old books — old, dusty books. And I don’t know about you, but dust makes me sneeze. Recently, my wife and I were in an antique shop, and I found an 1833 edition of Thomas Watson’s Body of Practical Divinity. The book was tucked away in the back of the store on the top of an old cherry-wood bookshelf that held dozens of copies of Reader’s Digest condensed books from the 1960s. Whoever placed it on that shelf certainly did not know the value of Watson’s publication. And by the look of the dust on top of the book, my guess is that this classic work had been sitting there for twenty years or more. And sure enough, immediately after opening the aged tome, I sneezed.
Thankfully, my reaction to old, dusty things is merely a temporary and unpleasant expiration of breath that may or may not recur. However, the reaction that many people have to old things is not as meaningless. These days, our reaction to anything that is advanced in years is generally negative. In the twenty-first century, everything is new and improved. Out with the old, in with the new — whatever it is, if it even has the appearance of age, it’s time for something more contemporary. We are a society that revels in the latest thing, and we are so consumed by the thrill of what’s next that we have forgotten the things of our past. As a result, we have lost our way. And if we, the people of God, are to be faithful stewards of our past, if we are to make any difference, then we must remind ourselves of the hard lessons we have learned from history. We must take up and wipe the dust off the historic creeds of the church that have stood the test of time. We must revive our great heritage and reawaken our churches to the heroes of our faith who have stood against the world as guardians of the Christian faith.
Throughout history, the world has attempted to destroy the church. In every century, emperors and heretics alike have tried to change the historic beliefs of the church, and every time they have failed. History has proven that the fourth century was a time of definition. It was an era of undying heroes and unwavering confessions. And now, in the twenty-first century, there has never been a more crucial time for the people of God to rekindle the faith of our fourth-century fathers so that we might live coram Deo, before the face of the God of history, the Ancient of Days.