Appeal to authority based on antiquity is not always valid, especially when the appeal is really just a cover for tradition. Have you ever heard someone’s rationale for why we do it the way we do is because “that’s just how we have always done it”? Or maybe you have even heard someone say a certain practice was the way it was done in the early church when we have no evidence that was the case. Age does not equal authority. If it did, all the bad decisions you made in the past would be better than the good decisions you make today and the Old Covenant would be superior to the New. Age/Antiquity does not guarantee superiority.
This was a part of the debate on whether people could meet in homes for small groups on Sunday evening. Some believed Sunday night service must always be at the building, together. Why? The two reasons you typically heard were: 1) That is how we have always done it and 2) The proper place for a service is at the building and not in homes (and #3 – some people will get upset if we change things). What makes the building the proper place for service? Because that is how we have always done it. Around and around we go. Then you get to actually looking at scripture and find the early church usually met in homes and we don’t even see a regular meeting time on Sunday night! To the credit of many elderships, this move was made in many congregations despite some opposition due to some of this type of thinking.
Much of what we think of as old was at one time new. Sunday school wasn’t done in the first century church. Sunday school didn’t exist until the 1780s when a guy named Robert Raikes proposed the idea. When he proposed it, it was a new application of an old idea (study the Bible = old, do it with kids on Sunday morning before the corporate assembly = new). The Sunday school model was the innovation of the 18th century church in England. Some innovations are morally neutral and not all old things are better. Do any of you really want to meet for worship with no AC, electricity, and sound amplification when it is all readily available?
Here is what it all boils down to – Some things we do are morally neutral…they aren’t better or worse, they just are. Meet at the building? Sure, if that is what the elders have called for let’s do it. Meet in a home? Sure, if that is what the elders have called for let’s do it. Location is not a right or wrong issue. But a false appeal to old practices as the norm turns neutral issues into right/wrong or even salvation issues when there is no biblical basis for doing so.
On a totally unrelated point have a watch of Bruce Lee playing ping pong with nun chucks & lighting matches thrown through the air with a nun chuck with a match striking surface adhered to the end.
[HT: Josh Kellar on the Bruce Lee clip]