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The protest is hardly stronger in literature than in the pulpit, where it shows itself in two forms : first, in an unthinking sensationalism, that throws all theology aside and preaches from the newspaper, retaining only a few theological catch-words for a seeming foothold, while it discourses of duty and conduct with more or less wisdom, as happens, but without a philosophy or any other basis for meeting the questions that invariably rise in the mind when summoned to think on eternal truths; again, it shows itself in quiet and persistent efforts to modify and enlarge the definitions of the Faith, to widen the field from which truth is drawn, to broaden the domain of theology till it shall embrace the breadth of human nature and the knowledge of the world, — recognizing the fact that God is revealing himself in the whole life of the world, in the processes of history, in the course of nations, in all the ordained relations of life, in the play of every man's mind. It thus multiplies the relations in which man stands to God; it brings God and man face to face, the full nature of One covering the whole nature and life of the other. It is the characteristic fault of the Old Theology that it touches human life as a sphere touches a plane, - at one point only ; as in the doctrine of divine sovereignty, the whole being of God resting on man in that one truth. The New Theology would present them rather as plane resting on plane, — the whole of God in contact with the whole of man. It thus allies itself not only with the Scriptures, and with philosophy and science and human consciousness, but it awakens a sense of reality, the securing of which lies at the basis of the Incarnation, — the divine life made a human life, the Son of man eating and drinking, a living way, that is, a way lived out in very fact in all the processes of human life, and so leading to eternal life.
The pulpit of the New Theology, in its efforts to broaden its field, encounters the criticism that it secularizes itself. It may be its temptation and its danger, but only because it is not true to itself. It was the criticism brought against the Son of man, but the fact that He was the Son of man was its refutation. The New Theology does indeed regard with question the line often drawn between the sacred and the secular, — a line not to be found in Jewish or Christian Scriptures, nor in man's nature, a line that, by its distinction, ignores the very process by which the kingdoms of this world are becoming the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, It is one thing for the pulpit to go over into the unredeemed world and use its spirit and methods and morality, to fail to distinguish between good and evil; it is quite another thing to recognize in the composition and on-going of human society a divine revelation and process. Hence, it draws its theology from the Bible, indeed, but because it finds in the Bible the whole body of truth pertaining to humanity. And if there is any truth, any fact of science, any law of society, outside of the Bible, it " thinks on these things.”
This full and direct look at humanity induces what may be called the ethical habit of thought. The New Theology seeks to recover spiritual processes from a magical to a moral conception. It insists that these processes and facts are governed and shaped by the eternal laws of morality. It would have a moral God, a divine government truly moral, a moral atonement, and not one involving essential injustice, nor clouded with mysteries that put it outside of human use; an atonement resting on God's heart, and calling into play the known laws and sentiments of human nature, and not one constructed out of a mechanical legality ; an atonement that saves men by a traceable process, and not one that is contrived to explain problems that may safely be left with God; an atonement that secures oneness with the Christ, and not one framed to buttress some scheme of divine government constructed out of human elements. It regards faith as a moral act, a direct acceptance and laying hold of God in trusting obedience, a simple and rational process ; and it opposes the view which regards it as simply a belief that an atonement has been made, a holy life being merely its proper adjunct. It would make faith an actual entering into and fellowship with the life of the Christ, and the individual's justification by faith the actual realization and consequent of this oneness. It does not differ essentially from the Old Theology in its treatment of regeneration, but it broadens the ground of it, finding its necessity not only in sin, but in the undeveloped nature of man, or in the flesh. It is disposed also to regard it as a process, involving known laws and analogies, and to divest it of that air of magical mystery in which it has been held; a plain and simple matter, by which one gets out of the lower world into the higher by the Spirit of God.
It is said of this Theology that, leaning so heavily on human life in all its complexity and contradiction, it necessarily lacks logical precision and coherence, and that its parts are not mutually self-supporting. It accepts the criticism, and confesses that it does not first and mainly aim at these features; it does not strive to compass itself with definitions, nor to bring the whole truth of the Faith within the bounds of a system. It does not, for example, make it a prime object to shape one doctrine in order that it may fit in with another, or so shape all that they shall present a harmonious structure. It is not its first object to build a system, and it does not proceed in that fashion because it does not regard it as a living way, that is, a real way. To illustrate: it does not make future retribution an inference from some governmental scheme, or the complement of a doctrine of decrees and election. It is thus aside from the ordinary thought of men; nor can they ever be brought to believe that their destiny is contained in the conclusion of a formal logic. Whatever the destiny of men may be, the New Theology will not assert it in either direction in order to perfect a system. Indeed, it does not greatly care for systems as they have been hitherto constructed. It seeks rather to observe the logic of life, the premises and sequences, the syllogisms and conclusions, that are involved in daily existence, in the struggles and conflicts and contradictions of this struggling and contradictory world. It takes for its own that logic which is found in Macbeth, and Hamlet, and the Scarlet Letter, in the Prometheus and Job, in the parables of the Sheep and the Goats, and the Prodigal Son, and the Lost Sheep, — a logic not easily wrought into a system, but as systematic as human life. It aims simply at a larger logic, the logic wrought into the order of the world as it is daily evolved under the inspiration of Eternal Wisdom and Love.
6. The New Theology recognizes the necessity of a restatement of belief in Eschatology, or the doctrine of Last Things.
It is not alone in this respect; it is the position of nearly every school and organ of theological thought. The New Version compels it, the thought of the age demands it. But while there are enough who urge the necessity, whenever a champion appears in the lists he receives but a cold welcome from those who summoned him. The New Theology recognizes the necessity, but its work is not summed up in meeting this need. In the popular conception it is identified with mere criticism of existing views of everlasting punishment. No mistake could be greater ; still, seeing the necessity in common with others, it does not withhold itself from the subject, and if its essays, though largely negative and tentative, are met by contradiction and ecclesiastical censure, it does not stay its hand nor heed the clamor. “ Truth hath a quiet breast.”
First, and broadly, the New Theology does not propound any new doctrine relative to future eter