Evolving Advice

This line from an article jumped out at me: “Older Americans in general need to pay close attention to the evolving advice on the coronavirus from the CDC. ” (AARP Bulletin, April 2020, p. 24). Evolving advice … not from your neighbor, politicians or the Internet but the medical experts on disease at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And just how does one pay “close attention” to “evolving advice”? Isn’t that rather futile? “Do this.” “No, don’t do that, do this instead.” “Oh, sorry, we were wrong, now you should be doing this.” All of us feel that we are trying to hit a moving target as we hear new reports and protocols. The CDC has turned into “Ask Ann Landers.”

We should all now be humbled by a pandemic that has baffled the best minds.

Compare this “evolving advice” to God’s laws regarding spiritual disease. Consider the broad scope of moral ills and spiritual destitution plaguing mankind (start with Romans 1, then Gal. 5:19-21; I Cor. 6:9-11; I Tim. 1:9-10; Col. 3:5-9). Scripture addresses methodology, motivations and manifestations of evil and how to combat it.

It covers the spectrum of human distinction: ethnicity, nationality, socio-economic disparity, intellectual/academic differential, gender division, etc. Yet the Holy Spirit clearly and concisely classifies, describes and proscribes maladies that are eternally fatal. The economy of scriptural protocol concerning sin is amazingly brief and static.

While some consider this to be a mark of obsolescence, to believers it is an internal evidence of divine source. It is not characteristic of men to speak so clearly and definitely about complex moral ills. Consider these brief imperatives from Ephesians:

  • “Each one speak truth with his neighbor.” (4:25)
  • “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” (4:26)
  • “Let him who stole steal no longer.” ­(4:28)
  • “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.” (4:29)
  • “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away.” 4:31)
  • “Be kind to one another.” (4:32)
  • “Walk in love.” (5:2)
  • “But fornication and all uncleanness ... let it not even be named among you.” (5:3)
  • “Let no one deceive you with empty words.” (5:6)
  • “Do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (5:17)
  • “Do not be drunk with wine.” (5:18)

Not all Christian teaching can be boiled down to short directives, but these illustrate an overall principle: God’s instructions are relatively straightforward and fixed. Only a transcendent mind can so thoroughly understand the human condition and speak so conclusively on the subject.

When I was younger we had a set of World Book Encyclopedias that spanned a whole shelf in our bookcase. Every year we would get an updated annual volume. But when we turn to Scripture, we find no addendum, appendix or periodic supplement. No “evolving advice” here, for inspiration doesn’t make guesses from ignorance.