"Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.” – Westminster Catechism.

“I shall merely enumerate a few of the most common of these feelings that present obstacles to the pursuit or propagation of truth: Aversion to doubt ; desire of a supposed happy medium; the love of system; the dread of the character of inconsistency; the love of novelty; the dread of innovation; undue deference to human authority; the love of approbation, and the dread of censure; regard to seeming expediency." - Whately's Annotations on Bacon's Essay on Truth, page 10.

“The principles on which I have taught: First. The establishment of positive truth, instead of the negative destruction of error. Secondly. That truth is made up of two opposite propositions, and not found in a viâ media between the two. Thirdly. That spiritual truth is discerned by the spirit, instead of intellectually in propositions; and, therefore, Truth should be taught suggestively, not dogmatically. Fourthly. That belief in the Human character of Christ's Humanity must be antecedent to belief in His Divine origin. Fifthly. That Christianity, as its teachers should, works from the inward to the outward, and not vice versa. Sixthly. The soul of goodness in things evil." - Life of F. W. Robertson, Vol. ii. p. 160.




THE purpose of this Essay is to state, so far as is now possible, some of the main features of that phase of present thought popularly known as “ The New Theology: to indicate the lines on which it is moving, to express something of its spirit, and to give it so much of definite form that it shall no longer suffer from the charge of vagueness.

I use, however, the phrase New Theology simply as one of convenience, disclaiming for it any real propriety, and even denying its appropriate

For the thing that it represents is not new nor yet old. It might better be described - as it has been as a Renaissance: for the conceptions of Christian doctrine that are now floating in the minds of men, with promise of crystallizing into form, are not of recent origin; they prevailed in the first centuries of the church, while the stream ran clear from the near fountain, and they have appeared all along in individual minds and schools, as the higher peaks of a mountain range catch the sunshine, while the base is enveloped in mist and shadow, - not many, and often far separate, but enough to show the trend, and to bear witness to the light. Neither is this phrase used to designate a class, nor to separate one set of men from another. The distinguishing line does not run between different minds, but rather runs through all minds. Every calm, reflecting person now interested in the ology may detect in himself a line of demarkation between sympathies that cling to the old and that reach out after the new. With the noisy, thoughtless shouters for the new because it seems to be new, and with the sullen, obstinate sticklers for the old because it is the old, these pages have little to do. There is, however, a large class of earnest, reflecting minds who recognize a certain development of doctrine, a transfer of emphasis, a change of temper, a widened habit of thought, a broader research, that justify the use of some term by which to designate it. This class need little teaching, save that of their own trained intelligence; they know the age and its requirements; they know the Scriptures, the spirit of their teachings and the law of their interpretation; they know how to hold themselves before the philosophies in whose court the main questions are decided ; they have open eyes before the growing knowledge of the world and the unfolding manifestations of God. But while this class have been quietly passing from one phase of thought to another, without shock to their minds or detriment to their characters, there is a far larger class who are thrown into confusion by the change it has observed in the other. Only the trained intellect passes easily through changes of thought and belief: others see in change only a loss; they regard modification of view as abandonment; they cannot readily adjust their eyes to the increasing light. Hence there is at present a sad state of popular confusion. as to religious belief. The people hear new statements in regard to inspiration, atonement, retribution, and the war of words that follows in councils and from the press and pulpit and platform intensifies their confusion, - stormy assertion, passionate denial, retreats into the past on one side, and blind rushing into the jaws of a material philosophy on the other side, Calvin or Herbert Spencer, the old creed or no Bible, blind fear offset by blind audacity. Meanwhile, “the hungry sheep look up and are not fed ; ” “ the people perish for lack of knowledge;” they know not what to believe. They cannot be fed or quieted by exhortations to believe what they have always believed, nor are they fed or content when assured that every-day morality is all they need to concern themselves about, or that all theology is to be reconstructed, in due time, on a basis of physical evolution. For, while there is, without doubt, a strong popular drift towards materialism, there is also a counter, protesting drift that flows out of the inextinguishable spiritual instincts. When religion is presented to men enveloped in a material philosophy, they scent danger, and turn from it “blindly wise,” driven by an instinctive fear lest they be “canceled in the world of sense.” But the people cannot themselves formulate these instincts and reduce them to their rational equivalents; they cannot make the transition from that which no longer feeds and satisfies to the fresher conceptions that can. Hence it is

« ElőzőTovább »