The Church is always facing new challenges, always drawing from new sources, always trying to be Christian in a new way, in a new place. Important to me is what is meant by new or better yet where God is in the new. As Clayton points out Church history is full of new thoughts emerging as the church comes in to new contexts with their own unique experiences and worldviews connected to them. One could fear the continued use of ‘new’ in the statement above. How much newness is permitted? Where is God in what is new? Though understandable, these fears would miss just what it means to ‘be Christian.’
True newness is grounded in the life giving spirit of God that continues to breath newness into the world, the church, and each new situation the church faces. New philosophies (Hellenism), people (Gentiles), situations (Fall of Rome), and technology (printing press) have all led to radical transformation of the Christian church. There is reason then to expect God to breath newness again into the Church, in our new situation. There is also an argument to be made from tradition that being progressive is constitutive to being Christian.