There are fixed doctrinal pillars which undergird ‘the faith once and for all delivered to the saints’. Remove any one of them and the structure comes tumbling down. Our belief in them must remain steadfast or we cease to stand in the orthodox Christian tradition. These doctrines would include – the authority and inerrancy of scripture, the triune nature of God, salvation by grace through faith, the centrality of the local church in the purposes of God, etc.
It was with regard to such truths that Charles Hodge quipped ‘in 50 years there has not been a new idea emerge out of Princeton’. At that point the university had not succumbed to the rationalism of the day. If all spiritual truth is found in God and God is immutable, truth must also be immutable; it cannot change. Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven”
This does not mean however that our understanding of truth is stagnant. Charles Spurgeon said ‘the man whose understanding never changes is a man who never grows’. Healthy Christian experience is to see immutable concepts and principles in new and fresh ways; it is to receive new light so that different emphases emerge; it is to see the familiar from different angles; it is to discover nuances previously unknown.
Think of a large room with several windows and several doors. Looking in through one window gives a different perspective to another window; entering through one door gives a different sense than entering through another door; standing in one corner gives a different view to another corner; particular items are seen from certain angles that are not seen from other angles; the light at certain times of the day enhances different parts of the room while others fall into shadow. The room, the furniture and the fittings remain fixed, but the way we experience them changes depending upon where we are. The same could be said of truth.
Truth is fixed, but our understanding can be adjusted, clarified, and enhanced. This is to be expected for it is consistent with growth. I do not preach particular doctrines and concepts exactly as I did when I started in ministry although the framework of my convictions is the same. If you see everything exactly the same way as you did 10-20-30 years ago something is wrong. Let us not allow ourselves to become stagnant and stale in relation to truth but to be ever evolving and developing as we prayerfully ask God to keep enlightening our minds through His Word.