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and singers and artists and discoverers and inventors and scientists and teachers and martyrs and witnesses, a long line of the great and the good, increasing with every age, testify not the fall but the magnificent ascent of the race! From what low beginnings come, until we have at last the right to cry, "Now are we sons of God; and it does not yet appear what we shall be!" In face of a history like this, I do not envy the man who can sneer at Darwinism as irreligious and find more "piety” in a theory that makes us all "children of hell.” With a past like this behind us, what is there we may not aspire to in the future? A perfect "kingdom of God” becomes a perfectly reasonable dream. Every new truth discovered is just so much more known of God; and every new and higher adjustment of the individual or social life to the higher truths is one more step in the eternal ascent of religion toward God.
And Jesus? Is He lost to the religious heart of the world? Rather is He, for the first time, found. On the old theory, He is part of a supernatural irruption into the world's natural order. In some exceptional, incomprehensible way He is God, He is man, He is both, He is neither. As God, His supposed suffering we cannot think of as real. And His "example” cannot help us who, on that theory, are not "divine," and so are not like him. What good is an example beyond our sphere and out of our reach? But now even the old churches are beginning to talk of Him as only “a manifestation of God in the sphere of humanity," and to waive questions as to the Trinity. Yes, we can join them in this. Only we must look on all men and women as manifestations of God, so far as they are good and true. So it comes to be a question of degree only, and no longer one of kind. God is incarnate in all things good and fair-in flowers and mountains, as well as in the beauty and grandeur of human character.
Looking at Jesus, then, as thus incarnating God in a purely natural way, and so as a natural outgrowth of "what is in man," He becomes to us no longer a symbol of a lost world, but a magnificent inspiration, as showing what man is capable of. Now He is an example and a hope. So He becomes “Son of God” and "our elder brother,” as He never could be before.
Neither, once more, is the Bible lost to a man who is capable of seeing the grander revelation of God. The critical scholar rejects no claim that the Bible ever makes. It nowhere claims
to be infallible. This is only a claim, made on behalf of certain theories about it, by certain men who have proved themselves to be very far from infallible. So that now the free and fearless student is no longer troubled by any supposed necessity of "explaining mistakes, of “reconciling contradictions, or of “apologizing" for imperfect moral teachings. These are “difficulties” with which men have saddled the Bible, but which are no part of it.
All truth now is only so much “revelation.” The truth in the Bible is "divine” truth; and so is the truth of any other book. As all our light is sunlight-whether it comes to us through the medium of a wood-fire, of gas, of electricity, or of a gem dug up from the earth-so is all truth from God, the one source of all light. The Bible then becomes the natural product of the religious nature of man, reflecting its different stages of growth, and so, full of instruction and inspiration for those who know how to use it.
And the Church? Is that to fade away? Rather is it to become grander than ever before. Men naturally organize themselves about any great human interest, for the carrying out of purposes which cannot be so well attained alone. So we have art associations, scientific societies, governments and educational institutions. Now, since religion is a natural interest of man, the one thing of supreme importance, religious organization is the most natural thing in the world. The first churches were purely natural, human associations of those who wished to lead a special kind of religious life, and to help each other in attaining their common aims.
Of course, the type of church, its particular aims and methods, these will always depend on the prevailing theory that is held concerning God, concerning man, concerning the relations which actually exist between them, and concerning what ought to be done to correct and perfect those relations. For all churches exist to help men into better relations with God. This means teaching the truth of those relations and urging motives for right action.
It will easily be seen, then, that the field and need for such association are as permanent as human life. The foundation of the Church then is eternal-based in the nature and needs of man. It will also be easily seen that the nearer we come to an apprehension of the truth of things, the nobler and grander must
the Church become. And, further, it will be seen that, so long as the Church works on a false theory, so long and so far its labor must be wasted.
And, lastly, the outlook for humanity, both in this world and in the future, was never so hopeful as it is in the light of the new knowledge of the modern world. We have the means in our own hands for making this old earth a paradise. And, as finite children of the infinite God, we may believe that we shall find death only another birth.
After Orthodoxy, then, is it darkness and despair—a being "without God and without hope in the world?” Rather do the pessimism and despair of Orthodoxy fade away, as the darkness before a rising sun, and leave us in a world containing a nobler religion, a grander God, a more hopeful man, a more helpful Jesus, a more comprehensive Bible, a better Church and a more inspiring destiny.
MINOT J. SAVAGE.
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