Renewal is not easy to define. It is neither the “old” nor the “new” but the process of change that takes us from one to the other. Sometimes we understand what is “old” only when we are confronted with the “new.” Often we do not understand the full implications of the “new” until we find ourselves swallowed up in its grasp. Challenged by the differences between the old and the new, we are most surprised at our own position in the midst of the changes. These challenges are immense, because renewal knows no boundaries. Renewal has no exit!
It is not technological progress, scientific revolution, competitive market strategies, or human ingenuity that defines renewal. Any of these forces rarely transcend their own boundaries. Rather, it is the Spirit of God who drives the old to the new. To say this is not to reduce renewal to theology. On the contrary, to speak of renewal as a dynamic of the Holy Spirit is to acknowledge the presence and activity of God in all things. Renewal dynamics are found in all aspects of life and can be pursued from many different perspectives. In fact, different disciplines and forms of knowledge are necessary to approach an understanding of the dynamics involved in the renewal of humankind, the world, and the cosmos. Theologians, scientists, physicians, lawyers, politicians, economists, environmentalists, psychotherapists, philosophers, linguists, astronomers, historians, musicians, and others are needed to speak in any comprehensive fashion about renewal. What we do then, in a sense, is the intellectual pursuit of renewal. You may call it “renewal studies.” At the heart of this pursuit stands the realization that an understanding of renewal is limited only by the boundaries we place on it. The pursuit of renewal begins with an investigation of ourselves. It follows the dictum: renew your mind … and the rest will follow! The question is: Are we prepared to deal with the changes?