Mankind has a penchant for pushing pendulums. It is hard to leave them along long enough for them to settle out in the middle. Middle ground is hard to hold. Some contrary person who can’t seem to leave well enough alone always seems to come along and give that pendulum a push in one direction or the other a bit further than is ideal.
Often the corrective is needed. The pendulum has been at one end for so long and pushed out so far to the end of its reach that it needed a nudge in the other direction…just not so far as to push things out of balance in the other direction resulting in needless over correction.
The pendulum is going to swing. It is inevitable. We just have to make sure that the way in which we swing it as well as the direction and the magnitude of the swing are influenced by scripture more so than tradition or culture. It seems these three things have a lot to do with swinging pendulums (scripture, tradition and culture) and often the last two take on an inordinate amount of influence, diminishing the value and voice of the scriptures. Often what we take to be a biblical corrective to a given direction or decision is actually more the influence of tradition or culture than anything else, particularly in areas scripture is silent on (we seem to spend an awful lot of time on those!).
Let me give an example of this – the American Restoration movement was a movement that began as a unity movement (which was an attempted pendulum swing at its inception). Things had been so divided that it would seem pleasing to the Lord and in accordance with the scripture to appeal to unity. Given enough time and enough cultural influence and the emergence of tradition has made finding unity nearly impossible. The result is a unity movement that had morphed into its own form of sectarianism, the very thing it was started to address…a pendulum rightfully swung went too far!
The pendulum keeps on swinging.
We see this in the swing from modernism to post-modernism…from surety to doubt. The strength of one generation and one culture is the dry powder used to blow the whole thing up and launch something new in the opposite direction.
The pendulum just keeps swinging…just as it is designed to do…just as it is in our nature to find the pendulums we believe are out of balance and give then a nudge. Some of us are just contrary like that!
So let’s spend some time talking about pendulums and balance…talking about action and reaction. Let’s examine why we do what we do along with where we have come from and where the pendulum seems to be swinging next.