“A new idea never originated at Princeton Seminary.”–Charles Hodge

Charles Hodge was the Principal of Princeton Theological Seminary from 1851 until his death on June 19, 1878. He was known for his dictum: “A new idea never originated at Princeton Seminary.” (Sadly, Princeton jettisoned that approach to theology early in the twentieth century.) Our society today would consider such a dictum, “anathema.” Our generation seems to think that the world began (or at least the “civilized” world) in the last 50 years, and that it is our responsibility to update our theology, and ecclesiology to fit the culture in which we live. C. S. Lewis had a name for such thinking: “chronological snobbery.”

 Actually, Hodge was keenly perceptive when he coined his maxim, for truth, especially theological truth, is eternal. Murder, adultery, theft, covetousness, idolatry, etc. was sin in 3500 B. C., in 1500 B. C., in 1000 A. D., in 1850 A. D., and is still sin today (and will be in the future). In the same way, God has declared how man might draw near to Him and how mankind should worship Him, and it is not in our purview to change God’s modus operandi to make it more acceptable to the age in which we live. Right and wrong will never change, and God’s truth does not evolve with each and every fad that is embraced by a shallow and fickle culture.

Therefore, it is a much wiser course to heed what God said through the prophet Jeremiah, “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jer. 6:16) Don’t be seduced by the spirit of the age, but trust in the ancient paths set down for us in God’s Word, as we live out our lives, resting in the grace that has been poured out upon us through our Lord Jesus Christ.


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