Infomotions, Inc.Theological study today : addresses delivered at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Meadville Theological School, June 1-3, 1920. /




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Title: Theological study today : addresses delivered at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Meadville Theological School, June 1-3, 1920.
Publisher: Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1921.
Tag(s): theology, doctrinal; religious education; social ethics; unitarian churches history; philosophy and religion; unitarians; catholic church relations unitarian church; theological; theological study; religious; testament; jesus; religion; study today; new testament; worship; theology; old testament; gospel; historical; systematic theology; social
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REGIS 

BIBL. MA) 

COLLEGE 



THEOLOGICAL STUDY 
TODAY 



THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS 
CHICAGO. ILLINOIS 



THE BAKER AND TAYLOR COMPANY 

NEW VORK 

THE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS 
LONDON 

THE MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAB3HA 

TOKYO, OSAKA, KYOTO, FUKUOKA, SISDAI 

THE MISSION BOOK COMPANY 



THEOLOGICAL STUDY 
TODAY 

F 

ADDRESSES DELIVERED at the 






SEVENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY 

of the MEADVILLE THEOLOGICAL 

SCHOOL, JUNE 1-3, 1920 




REGIS 

BBBL. MAJ. 

COLLEGE 



THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS 
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 



7S830 



COPYRIGHT 1921 BY 
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO 



All Rights Reserved 



Published June 1921 



Composed and Printed By 

The University of Chicago Press 

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. 



FOREWORD 

The addresses which follow were given at the 
seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of the 
Meadville Theological School, June i, 2, and 3, 1920. 
They are now put into permanent form both as a 
record of this anniversary and as a landmark in the 
history of theological science and theological teaching. 
The School was founded in 1844 to train ministers for 
the Unitarian churches of the West. During its early 
years it was also used as a ministerial training-school 
by the churches of the Christian connection. It has 
played a not insignificant part in the teaching of 
theology in America, in spite of obstacles which 
might now be considered insurmountable. It was 
for years without endowment and without a library 
worthy of the name. Only one of the two young 
professors who constituted its first faculty had been 
settled over a church. It was located in a small 
village of strong Calvinistic tendencies, many miles 
from any important cultural or educational center. 
The nearest Unitarian church was one hundred and 
forty miles away. The minister of this church, who 
served the School as a non-resident professor of pas 
toral care, was compelled to make a journey of forty 
miles by stage at the end of a hundred-mile journey by 
water. Access to Meadville from the south meant a 
stage journey of one hundred miles from the Ohio 
River. 



vi FOREWORD 

The School was founded in an era of theological 
controversy, and the members of its faculty were 
debarred from the fellowship of the theological world, 
with the single exception of the Divinity School of 
Harvard University. They were eligible to mem 
bership in no theological society. The standard of 
admission was at first necessarily low. Applicants 
were expected to know something about English gram 
mar, geography, arithmetic, and the elementary 
principles of natural philosophy; but even this mod 
est requirement was not % insisted on from men 
already in the ministry. 

In spite of these obstacles the seventy-five years 
of the School s life are years of which it need not be 
ashamed. Its graduates have penetrated to every 
corner of the United States and Canada where there 
were churches which they were eligible to serve, or 
missionary outposts in search of ministers animated 
by a spirit of adventure. They have acquitted 
themselves with distinction in positions of influence, 
and they have not been ashamed to serve in lowly 
places. No better service was ever rendered to the 
cause of pure religion by Meadville graduates 
scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific than 
is being rendered at the present time. Never 
have they been in charge of more important 
posts, and never have these posts been more effec 
tively manned. A tree is known by its fruits. 
Meadville is content to be thus known and 
judged. 



FOREWORD vii 

Why is it that, considering the crudity of the 
tools with which the School was for many years 
compelled to work, its output has been of so high 
a quality? The answer is threefold. In the first 
place, though admission to the School was at first 
easy, as it was indeed in other seminaries of three- 
quarters of a century ago, the classroom standard was 
exacting and the erudition of its professors was, con 
sidering the time and place, amazing. The quality 
of the work done in the classroom compared favorably 
from the very beginning with that which was done 
in the most highly favored institutions of the East. 
In the second place, the founders of the School were 
men of God. Harm Jan Huidekoper, coming to 
Meadville from Holland at the beginning of the 
last century, put into the founding of the School the 
spirit which had animated his life, the spirit of 
devotion to the living God. That was the spirit 
which animated his son, Professor Frederic Huide 
koper, and the first president, Rufus Stebbins. The 
teaching of the School was infused from the beginning 
with an atmosphere of manly and earnest piety. In 
the third place, the founders of the School were men 
of vision. Though they believed intensely in the 
conclusions at which they had arrived, they believed 
even more strongly that theological study should be 
prosecuted in the freedom of the truth. This proposi 
tion was written at the beginning into the charter of 
the School. From the day of its foundation all its 
privileges were open to students of good character 



viii FOREWORD 

and high ideals, regardless of theological opinions. 
And thus the foundation of the School was laid not 
only deep but broad. 

Some of the views which were set forth in the 
classroom concerning the Old Testament by President 
Stebbins, and concerning the New Testament by 
Professor Huidekoper, have been outgrown and 
rejected even in strongholds of orthodoxy. But the 
high standards of scholarship and the fine consecra 
tion which they brought to their tasks, along with 
the clear vision demanding devotion to the truth at 
the expense, if necessary, of any previous formulation 
of truth, which has characterized the School for 
seventy-five years these constitute its distinctive 
quality and its distinctive contribution to theological 
education. 

By means of increased resources the opportunities 
of the School have been greatly expanded. It now 
possesses an adequate faculty and a large and growing 
library. By non-resident lectureships it is kept in 
contact with the outer world and brought into touch 
with modern problems. Admission to the theological 
course now demands previous college preparation. 
The School is affiliated for a quarter of the year with 
the Divinity School of the University of Chicago and 
is taking steps to erect a building of its own near the 
gateway of that University. 

No longer in a spirit of barren and unfruitful 
controversy, or in a spirit of voluntary isolation from 
the other institutions which are training ministers of 



FOREWORD ix 

religion in other fellowships, is the work of the School 
to be carried on. It is significant that a goodly 
number of such institutions were represented at the 
seventy-fifth anniversary and that professors from 
several of these have taken part, with our own 
faculty, in giving the addresses printed in this volume. 
All this is a foreshadowing of the time when the 
intrusion of the sectarian spirit into theological 
teaching will become a sin against the Holy Ghost, 
and when the pure devotion to truth, which char 
acterizes the university at its best, will characterize 
the intellectual processes of the seminary as well. 

F. C. S. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PAGE 

I. THE HISTORY or RELIGIONS i 

The Historical Study of Religions 
James Bissett Pratt, Ph.D., Professor of 
Philosophy, Williams College 

II. THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 25 

Philosophic Conceptions on Which Further 

Religious Progress Depends 
George Rowland Dodson, Ph.D., Associate 
Professor of Philosophy, Washington 
University 

III. THE OLD TESTAMENT 53 

Old Testament Study Today 

Henry Preserved Smith, D.D., Professor of 
Hebrew and the Cognate Languages, and 
Librarian, Union Theological Seminary 

IV. THE NEW TESTAMENT 75 

New Testament Study Today 
Clayton Raymond Bowen, Th.D., Frederic 
Henry Hedge Professor of New Testa 
ment Interpretation, Meadville Theologi 
cal School 

V. CHURCH HISTORY 106 

History in Theological Education 
Ephraim Emerton, Ph.D., Winn Professor of 
Ecclesiastical History, Emeritus, Harvard 
University 

xi 



xii TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PAGE 

VI. SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 131 

The Modern Theological Method 
Francis Albert Christie, D.D., James Free 
man Clarke Professor of Church History, 
Meadville Theological School 

VII. RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 158 

Education in Worship 
Theodore Gerald Soares, Ph.D., D.D., Pro 
fessor of Homiletics and Religious Educa 
tion and Head of the Department of 
Practical Theology, Divinity School, 
University of Chicago 

VIII. SOCIAL ETHICS 183 

The Equipment of the Minister as a Social 

Reformer 
Robert James Hutcheon, A.M., Caleb Brew- 

ster Hackley Professor of Sociology, 

Ethics, and the Philosophy of Religion, 

Meadville Theological School 

IX. PRESIDENT S ADDRESS 200 

The Modern Minister: His Training and 

His Task 

Franklin Chester Southworth, D.D., LL.D., 
President and Professor of Practical The 
ology, Meadville Theological School 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 



THE HISTORICAL STUDY OF RELIGIONS 

If one were seeking a paradox, it might be said , 
with some approximation to truth, that the intel 
lectual Western world of our generation has redis 
covered religion almost in the act of losing it. Of 
course we have always known that religion, including 
even the non-Christian religions, has had a great 
influence upon human life and human history. 
But what till recently we have somehow missed is 
the fact that religion is one of the most fundamentally 
human of institutions; that it is not merely a col 
lection of more or less extraneous and avoidable 
beliefs, superstitions, and ritualistic acts, but is, 
rather, a plant whose roots lie deep in the subsoil of 
human nature. We are learning also that this is true 
not only of religion as such, but, in a less degree, of 
each of the historical religions; that each of them is 
inextricably intertwined with the social institutions, 
the political currents and crises, even the geography, 
and most of all with the psychology of the various 
peoples who have developed them and who have 
been developed by them. This new realization of 
the essentially human nature of religion and of its 
enormous importance in the individual and social 
life has in our day given to the study of the history 



2 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

of religions a new impetus and a new direction. 
Correlatively with this new interest in the history 
of religions, partly as cause and partly as effect, we 
have come into the possession of an enormous amount 
of new material for our study an amount so vast 
that it both lures and inspires the student and at the 
same time overwhelms and nearly discourages him 
by its sheer immensity. Leaving out of account the 
various religious ideas and practices of primitive 
peoples, we have for investigation no less than nine 
living and five dead religions, concerning all but two 
of which our information, though not so great as one 
could wish, is considerable and in some cases massive. 
This mass of information pours in upon the 
student of the history of religions from the traveler, 
the missionary, the archaeologist, the philologist, 
the historian, the geographer, the sociologist, the 
psychologist, and must be worked over, sifted, and 
co-ordinated. In this great and confusing work it is 
plainly imperative that the student should have a 
clear idea of what he means by religion, and what the 
aim of the history of religion is to be. And though 
writers on this subject are often too busy to formulate 
these things into words, and when they do so often 
verbally disagree, their practice is better than their 
theory, and they will be found to have pursued a 
fairly steady and consistent course in co-operation 
with each other. Judging, then, not by their words 
but by their deeds and their results we may, I think, 
formulate the meaning of religion which the majority 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 3 

of students have implicitly accepted or taken for 
granted and acted upon in some such way as the 
following: Religion is the attitude of individuals and 
societies toward the Power or Powers which they 
conceive as having ultimate control over their interests 
and destinies. If we tentatively accept this defini 
tion, we may add that the aim of the history of reli 
gions is to find out what men have believed and felt 
and how they have acted in relation to the Deter 
miner of Destiny, and to understand why they have 
so done. 

While this may be accepted as a fair statement 
of the aim of all the students of our subject, the 
methods both of investigation and of exposition which 
they make use of are by no means so easily unified. 
The particular methods employed are of course 
numerous, and properly so, and the leading ones 
will engage our attention shortly; but before taking 
them up in turn I wish to point out three divergent 
general ways of viewing the subject and attacking 
its problems, all of which may be found among 
contemporary writers and among which it seems 
to be desirable that the student should make a 
deliberate choice. The first of these, for want of 
a better term, I shall call the Inspirational way. 
You all recognize what I mean. The Inspirational 
school is impatient of details, uses facts merely for 
illustration, is interested only in the " larger view/ 
the "inner meaning," the "spiritual message," of 
the religion under study, and, having squeezed the 



4 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

juice quite easily from each of the great religions, 
throws the pulp aside and passes on with graceful 
stride to other sources of spiritual delight. The 
second school, which I may call the Factual, is at 
the antipodes of this. It cares not for juice but only 
for pulp and the dryer the pulp the better. Its 
ideal is not that of spiritual delectation (which on the 
whole it rather scorns) but that of scholarly exactness 
and of objective truthfulness. Let values take care 
of themselves, it declares; what we want are the 
facts. And by the facts it usually means such 
things as the minutiae of some ancient cult or the 
superstition of some primitive tribe. With that odd 
asceticism so frequently met with in the modern 
scholar, it generally avoids, almost with suspicion or 
fear, the philosophies and the poetry of the higher 
religions, and with stern austerity focuses its attention 
upon various minute or unrelated details, against 
which at any rate the accusation of spirituality can 
never be raised. I have of course exaggerated, and 
purposely exaggerated, these two ways of writing the 
history of religions; hardly any reputable student of 
the subject could be said to employ either one exclu 
sively. But they are two tendencies each of which 
will be found fairly well exemplified in several fairly 
distinguished writers on what is often referred to 
by that astonishing title " Comparative Religion." 
The third way of going at our subject is of course 
the attempt to retain what was best in both of the 
extreme methods and to avoid the limitations of 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 5 

each. We might call this the Way of Scholarly 
Insight. Those who adopt this middle way are 
quite as empirical in their study as are the members 
of the Factual school, but it cannot be said that they 
have the same reverence for the isolated fact as 
have their colleagues. They too insist on starting 
with facts, but they are not satisfied to end with 
them; they too want to accumulate facts, but they 
desire also to understand them. They share with 
the fact-collector something of the latter s disdain 
for easy generalization and for merely sentimen 
tal gusto; but while they would scorn themselves 
should they seek merely to suck the sweet juice of 
their subject, they are by no means satisfied with its 
dry pulp after all the juice has been sucked out. 
In short, they seek neither concentrated juice nor a 
sucked orange, but the whole fruit in its living 
perfection. They insist that the facts of the world s 
religions must be gathered and studied with patient 
and scholarly care and exactness, but, though they 
regard all the facts as worthy of study, they do not 
regard them all as of equal value. And the most 
important of the facts, the most worthy of scholarly 
examination, they consider to be the fundamen 
tal meanings, the ultimate conceptions, the moral 
ideals and incentives, the emotional reinforcements, 
which the various great religions have contributed to 
the spiritual life of their members. 

Of the various particular methods used by the stu 
dents of our subject to formulate an exact description 



6 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

of the myths and creeds, the cults, customs, and 
ideals of the various historical religions, I need say 
nothing, for they are obvious and known to all. 
Since the days of Herodotus travelers have collected 
curious religious facts, and historians have chronicled 
them; and for the last two generations in particular, 
the archaeologist and the philologist have vied with 
the historian and the traveler and with learned 
native adherents of the various religions in furnishing 
the student of religious history with all sorts of 
material out of which to construct as complete a 
picture as he may of the present status of the nine 
great religions, and of the whole life-story or natural 
history which they and their five dead brothers 
present. 

But when the student of religion has finished this 
part of his task, the most difficult and perhaps the 
most important portion still remains to do. For he 
should not, and the true scholar cannot, be satisfied 
with merely a description of what the various religious 
people of the world believe and how they act. The 
mere fact-collector, or the fanatical zealot, or the 
globe-trotter, or the smugly self-satisfied Yankee or 
British reader, may, indeed, note with interest and 
perhaps with glee the seemingly preposterous beliefs 
and ritualistic actions of the " heathen" and will 
care to do no more than to set them down for publi 
cation in fat and learned volumes, or to advertise 
them abroad for the edification of the faithful, or 
to bring them out in conversation at home for the 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 7 

greater glory of Anglo-Saxon common sense, as 
the interest of each may direct; but the thoughtful 
scholar finds in these facts only a new challenge, only 
a new problem in need of a solution. For it is 
civilized human beings, some of them of our own 
Aryan race, men whose intelligence and sincerity 
are really not to be questioned it is often people of 
this sort who actually accept these seemingly incred 
ible creeds, who actually perform these seemingly 
absurd rites. Surely it must be that though we have 
the " facts" we do not yet understand them, we have 
not yet begun to get at the bottom of the matter; 
and our enormous erudition is but a kind of learned 
illusion until we have found out what is behind and 
underneath our " facts" and why it is that the 
so-called heathen peoples believe and worship as 
they really do. 

The problem of explanation is not a modern one. 
Nor does it arise only concerning religions to which 
the student or questioner does not himself belong. 
In many, and probably in all, of the great religions 
the question was raised long, long ago as to the 
explanation of its own creed and cult. In all of these 
cases the first answers were identical: Both the cult 
and the creed were due to some sort of authoritative 
or divine revelation. This was simple and satisfying. 
But when the problem arose of explaining some foreign 
religion, plainly some other hypothesis was needed. 
We know how our own Christian Fathers met this 
problem a very pressing one in their day. The 



8 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

Pagan cults and myths, they insisted, were, like the 
Christian Scriptures, to be referred to a kind of 
supernatural revelation, but this revelation came not 
from God but from the devils. In contrast to this 
view, the Epicurean thinkers of the time had a much 
more scientific form of explanation, and one which 
they applied to all religions. These were due, 
namely, to mere ignorance and fear. As everyone 
knows, this view received its most elaborate exposition 
in Lucretius great philosophic poem, and its most 
epigrammatic expression in Petronius oft-quoted 
assertion, Primus in orbis timor fecit deos. Later on 
by a millennium and a half the same explanation crops 
up again at least as far as the non-Christian religions 
are concerned in the writings of the deists and of 
their like-minded opponents. Priests and skilled 
politicians, according to this view, in order to keep 
the masses in subjection, invented the various 
religions and very likely most of morality as well 
and disseminated them among the people. Fortu 
nately for the reputation of the eighteenth century 
one of its greatest thinkers David Hume saw the 
absurdity of such a view ; and the new historical sense, 
which was the nineteenth century s chief contribution 
to the intellectual life, forever put an end to such 
mechanical methods of explanation. 

The modern student of our subject feels that he 
cannot fully understand a religion until he has had 
recourse to a number of allied fields of investigation. 
Among the most fundamental of these is geography. 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 9 

If the student confines his attention to one religion, 
to be sure, he may not be greatly impressed with the 
influence of geographical and climatic environment, 
but if he makes a comparative study of religious ideas 
and institutions he can hardly fail to note how the 
beliefs and customs and symbols of the different 
peoples have varied with the latitude, the altitude, 
the rain supply, and the many other factors which 
are studied by the modern geographer. Rain gods 
and sun gods and sea gods, fearful and loving, benefi 
cent, intriguing, indifferent, the divine wrath of the 
tempest, the serene calm of Olympus with what 
almost pathetic eagerness have the sons of men 
stretched out hands of faith to the details of their 
physical environment for forms and symbols in 
which to clothe the Determiner of Destiny! 

The geographical influences are elemental but 
somewhat elementary. For explanation of the devel 
opment of a religion, especially in its intellectual 
and moral aspects, one must turn to the political, 
economic, and social experiences of the people who 
profess it. The form of tribal or national organi 
zation may have little effect upon the forms under 
which they image forth their God, but will often have 
a profound influence upon the inner nature of that 
God as they conceive him. The forms of their 
industry, the economic conditions of their life, will 
modify to a greater or less degree many of their 
religious conceptions. Other social influences will 
go deeper still. The very sharp contrast between the 



io THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

essentially moral Yahweh and the only partially 
moralized Zeus or Indra is to be explained in part by 
the difference in social or tribal organization between 
the ancient Israelites, on the one hand, and their 
contemporaries, the Greeks and Indians. It would 
be superfluous in this presence to point out how 
human kingship, political conquest, and above all 
the historical development of the various peoples of 
antiquity got themselves reflected in the developing 
characters of their gods. 

Many a scholarly work on some aspect of the 
history of religions has been written with no other 
methods of interpretation and explanation than 
those which I have thus briefly sketched. With 
such tools one can indeed find out what the various 
peoples have believed and done and to some extent 
can understand why their creeds and their cults have 
developed in the ways we find. But a method of 
investigation which goes no farther than this still 
leaves much undiscovered which many of us would 
gladly know. It goes indeed much farther than mere 
description, but it fails to bring us to the heart of the 
matter. We should like, if we may, to understand 
the various non- Christian religions from within, 
to catch at least a glimpse of the way they appear to 
those born within the fold, to apprehend something 
of their inner religious life, in short, not merely to 
observe these religions from without, but to know 
something of how they feel. To do this may be very 
difficult, but until we have made at least a beginning 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS n 

at it the " heathen" religions will still be in a large 
sense incomprehensible to us. We shall understand 
them, perhaps, as we understand molecules and 
masses, but in no more inner and living fashion. For 
such an inner comprehension we must turn from 
geography and even from history and economics and 
government to the psychology of religion. 

The problem why people believe and worship as 
they do is in part a social, in part an individual, one; 
and the problem in the case of any given generation, 
and therefore in all the generations, cannot be under 
stood until we have studied the psychological pro 
cesses by which tradition is handed on. It is easy, 
of course, to say that tradition is handed on by educa 
tion and imitation; but to stop with that would be to 
satisfy ourselves with words. For a really enlighten 
ing view of "the matter we must study in some detail 
the nature of individual belief and of the social pro 
cesses of imitation, suggestion, and sympathy. No 
detailed examination of these things, of course, is 
possible within the limits of this paper, but I may 
perhaps in a few words indicate the general outlines 
of the psychological processes involved. 

As someone has put it, " belief is as natural as 
breathing." The child accepts as real whatever is 
presented to him. Doubt of its reality is not among 
the conceivabilities. This native state of the human 
mind has been called " primitive credulity, " a term we 
owe to Bain and which includes within itself a whole 
chapter of psychology. Yet while the tendency to 



12 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

believe whatever is presented is by no means con 
fined to childhood, but characterizes every doubting 
Thomas when not on his guard, it is a tendency which 
at times, even early in life, is balked by the divergent 
nature of human experience. The child naturally 
believes everything he sees and everything that is 
told him. But there comes a time when something 
he is told is flatly contradicted by something that he 
sees. Doubt now arises as a new and perplexing 
experience, and a choice must be made between 
authorities. In the struggle between rival claimants 
to belief several factors combine to determine the 
result. One of the most important of these is the 
vividness, strength, and prestige which sense per 
ception invariably gives to every idea with which it is 
closely connected. To see is to believe. Another 
almost equally important factor in the psychology 
of belief, especially with more mature and developed 
minds, is inner and outer coherence. A view or 
teaching whose parts obviously conflict with each 
other is likely to dissolve, to analyze itself almost 
automatically into its constituent elements unless 
indeed it possess sufficient authoritative or emotional 
strength to force one to blink the inner inconsistency. 
Outer incoherence, i.e., inability to fit into our 
already accepted body of beliefs, is for every new 
teaching an almost more serious weakness. The new 
is judged by the old, and if its inconsistency with the 
old and revered be recognized the chances of its 
acceptance will be very poor indeed. The emotional 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 13 

appeal of a given idea, moreover, and its tendency to 
confirm or deny our desires are further elements to be 
considered in explaining the acceptance and retention 
or the rejection of an idea. 

Of these various factors determining human 
belief perhaps the most important is primitive 
credulity, especially if we consider it in connection 
with the enormous prestige which the social source of 
information possesses over our minds a force so 
great as to be explicable only by the fact that it is 
based on our gregarious instinct, back of which we 
need not go. The child is born into the world of 
grown-ups, and is as defenseless against the power 
of their beliefs as he would be against the force of 
their arms. Nature has endowed him both with the 
suggestibility and primitive credulity which we have 
been considering, and also with an irresistible tend 
ency to share the contagious emotions which those 
around him express, and to imitate their actions. 
How, then, would it be possible for him even to 
doubt the religious beliefs or escape the religious 
feelings which all those older than himself unite in 
forcing upon his plastic mind? "One generation 
shall praise Thy works to another and shall extol 
Thy mighty acts." Thus each generation works 
upon its successor in irresistible fashion. This 
process of religious molding of each young mind is 
both deliberately explicit and unconscious and in 
direct. The child is taught by its parents and by 
the priest in the temple or the monk in the vihara 



14 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

certain traditional ideas which the entire community 
accepts; but the indirect influence of the tradition 
upon his mind is even more massive. For the ideas in 
question form the background and the presupposition 
of much of the conversation and much of the action 
and of the feeling of the whole community. The only 
way in which the individual could come to question 
them would be (as we have seen) by finding them in 
some way incongruous either with themselves or 
with an established system of belief. But it is only 
a very few of the religious beliefs of mankind that 
are really inconsistent with themselves, and such 
inconsistency when it exists is usually evident only 
to the exceptionally thoughtful. And as to outer 
incongruity of the traditional belief, that is usually 
out of the question, for the tradition is the first of all 
ideational systems to get possession of the mind, and 
it therefore becomes the touchstone by which all 
other beliefs have to be tried and accepted or rejected. 
When one understands the psychological process by 
which the tradition is thus handed down to each 
successive generation, one no longer wonders how it is 
that the people of other lands than ours come to 
believe such strange things. One, in fact, is put 
upon inquiry whether the touchstone by which we at 
first judge their ideas to be strange namely our own 
inherited mass of beliefs might not rightly seem 
strange to intelligent visitors from other faiths. 

It might seem strange to them, we may reply, 
because they would not really understand our faith. 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 15 

This is true. But the application of it works both 
ways. Part of our difficulty in vitalizing for our 
selves the creeds of other religions in feeling our way 
into the living heart of these faiths is due to the 
fact that we substitute for their actual beliefs the 
form of words in which those beliefs have been cast 
either by the believers themselves or by those who 
report them to us. We take the outer symbol for 
the inner life, and we do this because we have failed 
to understand the psychology of symbolism. For 
the forms of creed and of cult possessed by the more 
intelligent and spiritual of the great historical religions 
are always to some extent, and often to a very great 
extent, symbolic. Doubtless the verbal symbol was 
at the time of its origin an attempt at the literal 
statement of some genuine belief, just as the material 
symbol has probably developed from objects which 
originally were regarded as somehow divine or 
magically powerful in their own right. But much 
water has flowed under the bridges since those early 
days; and the symbol, whether material or verbal, 
has inevitably come to mean both less and more. 
Many of the devout and orthodox adherents of the 
great religions care little and think little of the literal 
meaning of their symbols; and even to the less 
intelligent and the more literally-minded masses 
the symbol has taken on during the course of ages 
new meaning and a new emotional significance 
which largely overshadow its literal side and have 
quite transformed its total value. Thus it comes 



i6 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

that to the outside observer the symbols of a foreign 
religion seem always meager and usually unattractive 
if not disgusting. For in the making of its symbols 
each of the great religions usually takes some common 
objects of superstitious regard or some expressions 
of perhaps crude belief, wears off their edges by 
centuries of loving use, pours round them the accumu 
lating emotion of the faith of generations, purifies 
them through all the fiery trials, the failures and 
successes, the joys and the sufferings, of the race, 
ennobles them by identification with the spiritual 
ideals and aspirations of countless heroes and saints 
who from their labors rest, and thus endows them 
with a power over the imagination and the emotions 
and the living faith of each growing individual mind 
that can come only through the massive authority 
and prestige of the entire community, both living 
and dead. 

Much of what I have been saying applies to cult 
quite as well as to creed. A perfectly accurate 
account of the ritual, say of Hinduism or Buddhism, 
from the pen of the most scholarly student of the 
history of religions may give us no more insight 
into its real nature, no more apprehension of what is 
actually going on, than we should get from a photo 
graph. A photograph of a religious ceremonial may 
be of considerable assistance to our understanding. 
But where is the color, where the incense, where the 
music ? The scholar s description shows accurately 
the positions and the movements of the various 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 17 

physical bodies, both inanimate and animate; but 
it may leave out of account the fact that there are 
minds and hearts inside some of those bodies, and 
may give us no clue as to how intelligent people can 
possibly say and do the things described. To 
understand the cult we must, therefore, not merely 
have it accurately described, we must not only be 
able to trace its historical development and see what 
external influences have helped to formulate it: 
we must also study the psychological function which 
it plays in the life of religion. This function may be 
said, in brief, to consist in keeping faith lively and 
vivid, in stimulating religious emotion, and in fasten 
ing the attention upon religion in such fashion as to 
make it real and vital to the worshiper. This function 
it performs in various ways. One of the most impor 
tant ways in which the cult particularly its "cruder 
forms" strengthens religious belief is by bringing 
it new reality of feeling by contact with the senses. 
In studying belief we saw how greatly the sense of 
reality is stimulated by direct perception. The cult 
seizes upon this fact and links up the divine object of 
faith with immediately presented visible and tangible 
things. Psychologically speaking, this is the chief 
religious function of pictures, images, miracle plays, 
relics, and even of so sacred a ceremonial as the 
Christian Eucharist. The most widespread and 
perhaps the crudest instance of this aspect of the 
cult is to be found in idolatry. For nearly all human 
minds, particularly for those of a relatively slight 



i8 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

intellectual development, it is difficult to make either 
a transcendent or an omnipresent deity a very living 
reality. When, however, the religious imagination is 
stimulated by the presence of a visible and tangible 
object an object not indeed completely identified 
with the deity but regarded as one in which the deity 
has consented mysteriously and graciously to dwell 
the sense of God s reality and of his very presence 
becomes easy and natural, the prayerful attitude 
of the soul is induced, and the worshiper may take 
away with him something of the same reinforcement 
to faith, something of the same spiritual uplift, 
which many a Christian feels, and rightly feels, after 
having partaken of the Lord s Supper. And again 
let me repeat that a true understanding of symbolism 
is essential for a true understanding of ritual. For 
neither the idol nor any other object used in the cult 
can be rightly understood if it be taken literally and 
only so. The idol may be worshiped as directly as 
you please; it may be identified literally with the 
god; yet to the most unintelligent worshiper it is 
not merely wood and stone, the work of men s hands. 
He sees in it more, much more, than a camera can 
see or a chemical analysis can discover, more, much 
more, also than an unsympathetic though scholarly 
observer can ever imagine. And to the more intel 
ligent and spiritual worshiper of every religion the 
wood and stone are consciously recognized as merely 
incidental helps, to be prized and used only because of 
our finite limitations. 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 19 

The contrast I have just referred to between the 
two ways of using images is a part of a larger distinc 
tion between two types of worship which, in another 
connection, and for want of better terms, I have 
called the objective and the subjective a distinction 
which, it seems to me, gives considerable assistance 
in understanding the varying forms of different 
religions. In its simpler and less self-conscious 
forms, worship is an effort to thank or praise or in 
some manner mollify or please the deity. It is 
naively objective in its aim. This, for example, is 
the leading purpose of much of the worship that one 
finds alike in the Hindu temple and in the Catholic 
cathedral. To produce any sort of psychological 
effect upon the worshipers is among the last things 
intended. The effect, however, is produced, as we 
have seen the faith is stimulated, the prayerful 
attitude of mind is brought about, religious emotions 
and possibly moral aspirations are induced in the 
worshiping auditors. The more self-conscious and 
reflective individuals and religions perceive this fact, 
and some of them, therefore, make this subjective 
effect of ritual the direct object of their efforts 
a situation which we find in the less sophisti 
cated individuals and communities among Buddhists, 
Jainas, and Protestant Christians. The two motives 
are mingled in most cases, but one or the other 
usually predominates; and it is frequently difficult 
for an individual accustomed from childhood to a 
form of worship which accentuates one of these 



20 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

factors to see anything whatever in a religious cere 
mony which emphasizes chiefly the other form. This 
is an additional reason why the Protestant Christian 
is likely to regard not only the Hindu temple- worship 
but also the Catholic mass as mere " mummery and 
superstition"; while both the Hindu and the Catholic 
would wonder what there was really religious about a 
Protestant church service, with its godless and altar- 
less meeting house, its sermon, its " selection by the 
choir," and even its "long prayer," all seemingly 
addressed to the audience. 

Prayer is another matter upon which the history 
of religions needs light from the psychology of religion. 
There is probably nothing in the actions of a strange 
people which to an unsympathetic and unimaginative 
observer seems more strange and unintelligible than 
their prayers. Such an observer will get but little 
assistance from reading the voluminous compilations 
of prayers ancient and modern wrought out by the 
labors of our archaeologists and philologists; nor in 
his effort to understand why people actually pray, 
and why they repeat such strange prayers, will he 
be greatly helped by the ingenious theories of the 
anthropologists as to how prayer originated from spell. 
He will indeed get some light if he observes it may 
be by his own introspection how spell tends to 
originate from prayer. For by observing how 
spontaneous prayer crystallizes, through the force 
of habit, into formal prayer, and how formal prayers 
which possess the prestige of long social usage come 



TEE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 21 

to be regarded as somehow sacred, he will understand 
how inevitable it is that many ancient prayers 
should gain a power over the unreflecting mind 
quite comparable to that sometimes possessed by 
magic formulas. Given the facts of primitive cre 
dulity, habit, and the prestige of antiquity, it is 
not strange that many of the less intelligent in every 
religion should pray as if they were to be heard for 
their much speaking. But this gives one only a very 
partial understanding of the nature of prayer and 
of the question why men pray. A deeper study of 
the religious consciousness will be necessary if one is 
to understand what real prayer whether Christian 
or heathen is like on its inner side. For if one 
asks prayerful people and that means common 
people why they pray, he will probably be told, 
not that it is from habit, but that they pray because 
they cannot help doing so. The consciousness of 
human weakness and the burning human needs com 
bine to make men stretch out their arms in appeal 
to the Determiner of Destiny. The longing is a 
psycho-dynamic force and will get itself somehow 
expressed, whether it be in a mere cry, in a consciously 
formed petition, in a traditional prayer learned in 
childhood and phrased in words not understood, or, 
it may be, in a mere attitude or posture or motion 
of the body. The bodily postures of prayer, often 
so strange to the onlooker, are to be explained in 
part as natural instinctive expressions of submission 
and appeal, in part as habitual responses associated 



22 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

since the plastic days of childhood with the mental 
attitudes of reverence and supplication. Their reten 
tion through the ages is not due exclusively nor chiefly 
to superstitious conservatism, but principally to the 
religious utility which they serve in aiding to bring 
about the prayerful state of mind. In like manner 
the formal prayers of nine-tenths of the world, which 
cause so much disturbance to the self-satisfied 
Protestant, have their very real religious utility. 
The articulation of a definite form of religious words, 
sanctified through tradition, has the same kind of 
psychological effect as traditional bodily posture; 
in fact it is usually of even greater importance. Only 
for the mystically minded is wordless prayer possible; 
and many a man finds in the verbal forms of tradition 
a better means of focusing his religious attention 
than in any poor words of his own extemporaneous 
invention. This is true, strange as it may at first 
seem, even of prayers the words of which are entirely 
unintelligible to the worshiper. For words are often 
yes, often even in our best and most religious 
moments but the semimaterial forms in which we 
clothe the spirit of our prayer, a spirit of longing and 
of aspiration which is itself ineffable. It is a mistake 
to suppose that our minds regularly follow the words 
of our prayers, or that we fail to pray unless they 
are thus nailed down to verbal meanings. And it is 
quite possible, and it is frequently actual that the 
most sacred associations of life begun in infancy and 
carried on to the end may so weave themselves about 



THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS 23 

even meaningless syllables that these may come to be 
the embodiment of reverence, confession, petition, 
longing, aspiration. I spoke of them as "meaningless 
syllables"; they are not that. They may be taken 
from a foreign and unknown language and hence may 
not convey to the worshiper the same meaning that 
they did to the original author of them centuries ago; 
but they may be brimful of meaning none the less 
a meaning, it may be, too vague, too emotional, 
to be put into words; but for all that none the less 
adapted for the bearing of that religious emotion 
which fills the heart. I remember hearing the voice 
of a Burmese woman in a Buddhist shrine in Man- 
dalay, shrill and clear and impassioned, with the 
heart s longing in every syllable, appealing to the 
Lord Buddha and to the dark Determiner of Destiny, 
repeating her prayer over and over, intensely, wildly, 
rilling all the courtyard of the deserted vihara. The 
prayer was in Pali, and I presume she understood 
not a word of what she said. Not a word, perhaps; 
but she understood the prayer. The seemingly 
meaningless words sacred to her from childhood s 
experiences she took and filled with a meaning of 
her own. That meaning perhaps, like the meaning 
of music, could not have been put into words. But 
the prayer had a very real meaning for her; it had a 
meaning even for me; and I am sure if the Lord 
Buddha was for a moment roused by it out of the 
supreme bliss of Nirvana as well he might have been 
that he too heard and understood that woman s prayer. 



24 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

If time permitted it might be of interest to continue 
the application of the psychological point of view to 
various other phenomena studied by the history of 
religion, to such things, for example, as the belief in 
God and the various forms of God, the belief in 
immortality, the social religious upheavals common 
to all religions, which in Protestantism we call revi 
vals, to the conversion experience also common to 
the religions of all races to asceticism, to mysticism, 
and to the great values of religion in its bearing upon 
truth, upon happiness, and upon the moral life. 
These applications, however, I must leave each of 
you to make out for himself. But the considerations 
to which I have called your attention have, I trust, 
been sufficient to indicate the importance of applying 
to the study of the history of religions whatever of 
psychological insight we can summon if we are to 
make the objects of our study really comprehensible. 
To put the whole matter in a sentence, the history of 
religions ought to be plausible; plausibility is as 
desirable for a book in this field as it is for a novel. 
And without some imaginative insight based upon a 
sound psychology, the religions of the non- Christian 
world and a large part of the religions of the Chris 
tian world will remain on their inner side almost as 
unintelligible to us as they were to the Deists. 

JAMES BISSETT PRATT 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 



PHILOSOPHIC CONCEPTIONS ON WHICH FURTHER 
RELIGIOUS PROGRESS DEPENDS 

When, in the ongoing of that irreversible process 
we call life, we reach the reflective stage, the products 
of reflection become factors of fundamental impor 
tance in further development. Instinct, the nai ve 
views of childhood, and the fool-killer have by this 
time done for us nearly all that they can do. And of 
these three the last is not the most insignificant, for 
nature and society are constantly eliminating those 
who hold unworkable theories of life. This is to say 
that eventually, in the course of his development, 
man becomes a creature in whom ideas, ideals, and. 
philosophy count. He continues to be driven by 
impulse and appetite, but he is no longer solely driven. 
He is moved by attraction, lured upward and onward 
by visions of the better, by a homesickness for the 

perfect. 

The fiend that man harries 
Is love of the best. 

As the world grows older, man is ever discovering 
new values, while at the same time he is learning 
more about his place in the universe. He seeks to 
co-ordinate and systematize these values so that 
they may be realized together to the maximum extent 

25 



26 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

in the individual and social life. As he becomes 
aware of his place in the infinities, and has some 
glimpse of the great frame in which his life is set, 
the question inevitably arises as to the cosmic fate 
of these values. Are they revelations of the nature 
of reality or are they merely epiphenomenal, evanes 
cent by-products of that which is physically real? 
Is the universe congenial to our ideals, or is it hostile 
or indifferent? What is the relation of the highest 
values to the mechanism of the world? What is 
reality ? Is it what physics studies or are Platonism 
and Christianity substantially right ? 

These questions cannot be escaped except by the 
immature, and they must be answered correctly if 
human life is to keep in its upward and onward way. 
It has been truly said that philosophy is the unseen 
framework of all that we think or do. General ideas 
as to what is possible or practicable are powerful 
stimulants or depressors. They act as tonics or 
deterrents according as they legitimate or negate 
our deepest longings and ideal strivings. 

Of the many needs of our time, none perhaps is 
deeper than that which can be met only by a philoso 
phy of religion. By this term I mean a comprehen 
sive, synthetic, synoptic view which includes what 
science has discovered about the universe and which 
also finds a place for religion. The average thought 
ful man has reached some conclusions as to the relation 
of physics to ethics, of the practically possible to 
ideal aims, conclusions which influence him more 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 27 

than he knows. He may not realize that he has 
philosophized and he may even defame philosophy. 
Nevertheless he always has an idea-system which in 
some degree stimulates or paralyzes the higher 
energies of his life. And the more unconscious his 
philosophy is the poorer it is. For we either con 
sciously and after some critical examination accept 
a world- view, or we adopt it uncritically and become 
its victims. Some scheme for their thoughts all 
reflective men inevitably have. The only question is 
whether it shall be philosophically arrived at and 
continually revised in the direction of adequacy and 
truth, or unsuspectingly adopted and dogmatically 
held. 

Man s philosophy, his comprehensive view of 
things and values, is his only protection from one 
sided ideas of life. Alas for him when it is itself 
one-sided! Everyone who has conversed with others 
on great themes must have realized in their case at 
least, if not in his own, that a world-view affects the 
weight of evidence and so determines the receptivity 
of the mind in special ways. It is, for example, 
useless to tell some things to some people, for they 
simply have not any place to put these facts and 
truths. The very possibility of them is excluded 
from the classification their minds have made. A 
complete demonstration would simply dumbfound 
them. Their mental life will have to undergo a 
plowing by deep experiences before they can 
entertain the considerations which are now foreign 
to their ideas of reality and possibility. 



28 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

A very large number of intelligent, serious, and 
sincere minds are suffering from a crude and narrow 
naturalism, according to which the reality of the 
universe is matter in motion, the ultimate truth of 
which is physics and mechanics. Many of these 
men and women are of deeply religious nature, but 
all that they care most for, the intellectual, aesthetic, 
moral, and religious values, seem to them but frail 
and inexplicable phenomena, soon to be lost in the 
nothingness of the past. 

Some of them have become imprisoned in this 
view before they were aware of what was taking 
place. Not having been forewarned, and without 
the protection which philosophic studies can give, 
this depressing conviction that all is mechanism and 
that religion deals with beautiful and comfortable 
illusions steals over them while engaged in physical 
researches. They form a conception of nature from a 
consideration solely of her physical aspects and then 
seek to make it include those values, those realities 
that men live and die for, and that ought to have 
influenced the conception of what nature really is. 
The result is inevitable. If in framing our con 
ception of nature we leave out certain realities, there 
will not be and cannot be any place for these realities 
in the conception so framed. What was ignored 
will remain outside our philosophy and be henceforth 
simply inexplicable. 

Now all ignored interests avenge themselves. The 
values of life are of one family. They belong together. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 29 

To omit anyone is to detract from the rest. How 
completely a naturalism of this kind negates what is 
most precious to us is seen with perfect clearness in 
the statement by Bertrand Russell in his beautiful 
essay entitled A Free Man s Worship. 

The world which science presents for our belief, 
is, he says, a world void of meaning. 

Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward 
must find a home. That man is the product of causes which 
had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his 
origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, 
are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; 
that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, 
can preserve the individual life beyond the grave; that all the 
labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the 
noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction 
in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole 
temple of man s achievement must inevitably be buried in the 
debris of a universe in ruins all these things, if not quite 
beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy 
which rejects them can hope to stand,. Only within the 
scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of 
unyielding despair, can the soul s habitation be safely built. 
.... The life of man is a long march through the night, 
surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, 
towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none 
may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades 
vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent 
death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in 

which their happiness or misery is decided Brief and 

powerless is man s life; on htm and all his race the slow, sure 
doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless 
of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; 
for man, condemned to-day to lose his dearest, to-morrow 



30 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains to 
cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble 
his little day: disdaining the coward terrors of the slave of 
Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have built: 
undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free 
from the wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly 
defiant of the irresistible forces that tolerate, for a moment, 
his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary 
but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have 
fashioned, despite the trampling march of unconscious power. 

Those who have lightly accepted the current 
naturalism but are hiding from themselves its ultimate 
consequences would do well to ponder these words, 
for, granting the writer s premises, the conclusion he 
so vividly states inevitably follows and must some time 
be faced. Within the scaffolding of these thoughts 
the despairing, reality-defying attitude he advocates 
is the only possible religion. A pathetic sympathy 
for our unhappy race is all that remains of love, 
while faith, hope, and joy, like the more transient 
miracles and prophecies of early Christianity, must 
now cease. Paul was mistaken, for they are not to 
abide, but after surviving for a score of centuries 
science is making them impossible attitudes, so that 
they, too, are to be done away. 

Thought along this line has evidently reached 
an impasse. If there is no way of escape, it is obvious 
that among educated men religion must soon be 
numbered among the things that were. There is a 
way out of the difficulty and we begin to walk in it 
the moment we ask the question which Professor 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 31 

Russell does not raise Whence this superiority of 
man to the world which he condemns and defies? 
Is he a native or an emigrant from some other universe 
into this? It is very curious that a mind of this 
order is content to accept an absolute break between 
man s ideals and his world. But surely it is necessary 
to remember that the human race and its ideals are 
an outcome of the world-process and have their 
foundations in the depths of reality. It is no longer 
possible to regard the world as separate and out of 
organic relation with the conscious lives in which it 
culminates. 

If we forget it, the result is tragedy. For a con 
viction that we are strangers in an indifferent or 
hostile world that is far stronger than we, is what we 
inevitably come to if, in forming our conception of 
reality, we neglect all but its physical aspects and then 
seek to find in nature so conceived a place for the 
highest values. If this imperfect conception were 
the truth, Professor Russell s heroic attitude in facing 
the tragedy of human existence would be ideal. 
But it is not the truth. There is no such nature. 
A purely physical nature is an abstraction. Empiri 
cally we know nothing of it and theoretically it has no 
justification. The only nature that we know is the na 
ture that has produced man, human civilization, the love 
and beauty, the worship, prayers, and ideal strivings 
of the ages. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle in Athens 
and Christ in Galilee and Jerusalem were just as truly 
parts of nature as are rocks and trees, protoplasm, 



32 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

nebulae, atoms, and ions or electric energy. In 
deed, they were more truly representative than 
things inorganic or than lowly forms of life. They 
were the outcome of perhaps eighty millions of years 
of evolution since life appeared on the planet, and 
the fundamental rational principle of interpretation, 
when dealing with matters of this kind, is that a 
process is more truly judged by its outcome than by 
its beginnings. This was stated by Aristotle in the 
famous words: "For what each thing is when fully 
developed, we call its nature, whether we are speaking 
of a man, a horse, or a family." (olov yap 
effTi rrjs yeveaeais TeKeadeiarjs, ravr^v 0a/-tej> TTJV 
elvat, e/cdorou, tiffirep avdpuirov, iWou, ol/das Politics 
i. 2. 8.) That is, we now think of the world in terms 
of process and we know that "no process can be 
truly described unless it is viewed in its complete 
ness, " in the light of its final or latest result. 

We cannot, of course, speak of the creation as 
complete, but its highest product in our part of the 
universe is human personality and human society. 

All tended to mankind 

And, mankind produced, all has its end thus far: 
But in completed man begins anew 
A tendency to God. 

So Browning s Paracelsus, and laborious philoso 
phy supports his swift and sure intuition. The logic 
of this view is absolutely inescapable. It is not 
merely permissible: it is imperative. He who 
ignores or fails to use it leaves the highway of human 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 33 

thought. Before its positive significance was per 
ceived many minds shrank from the doctrine of 
the continuity of life from its lowest beginnings to 
the highest personalities, for it seemed to degrade 
life by assimilating it to the non-living and to reduce 
man to a part of nature conceived of as physical and 
subhuman. Only later was it realized that in this 
case, as in all others, the truth is good news, and that, 
since nature includes humanity, our "thought of 
nature must be made rich enough to make room for 
spiritual purposes. " 

It is rational, then, to conclude that " human 
values constitute a part of the real ends of the uni 
verse. " The power behind evolution is a power that 
has produced the beautiful, the true, the good. Our 
ideals are not aliens in the universe, but "genuine 
realities organic to the whole of Being." What the 
doctrine of evolution, of the kinship of all life, and of 
the unity of man with nature has done has been to 
transform the conception of nature. It is seen to be 
not lifeless and foreign to our nature, but the matrix 
of our highest life. It seems alien only when we 
contemplate its physical aspects and ignore or 
forget its values. We may still be appalled at the 
extent of the universe in space and time and momen 
tarily terrified at the conception that our universe of 
stars strewn along the milky way may, from a suffi 
cient distance, appear as a nebula, that it may in 
fact be but one of the many thousands of nebulae 
which have been discovered. We may be dizzy and 



34 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

frightened at these celestial magnitudes and sidereal 
ages, but only so long as we forget that the reality 
which is so overwhelming in its physical aspects has 
also produced our values, that out of it have come 
millions of noble men and women with a passion for 
the perfect and a longing for the conservation of the 
best. 

It is simple fact to say that a lily flower on its 
stalk in June is not more truly a part of the plant 
than the finest men and women, including Jesus, 
are organic parts of nature. And since Aristotle was 
right in declaring that processes must be estimated by 
their outcome, we are bound to see in humanity at 
its highest a revelation of the nature of nature, and in 
lives like that of Christ a revelation of the nature of 
human nature. In other words, thought justifies 
what religion believes, namely, that reality is akin to 
what we reverence and love. The humanly best 
becomes the key to the cosmos, and the religious view 
of the universe is true. The ideal has a natural basis, 
and the natural is capable of an ideal development. 
In the life that for Christendom has become the 
symbol of the divine we see the heart of the world 
laid bare, "the place where love breaks through. 7 
He is not the Great Exception, but the Great Example, 
the supreme revelation thus far of the nature of that 
nature out of which we all have come. Christianity 
and Platonism are essentially right: at the heart of 
reality is the Good, and we ourselves are real in 
proportion as we are partakers of that divine reality 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 35 

which the religious nature feels to be behind phe 
nomena and to which it knows, that it is akin. 

If this is a just statement, it is clear that the unity 
and spiritual outcome of the world-process is a con 
ception on which further religious life and progress 
depend. It is true that in the past the temples grew 
as grows the grass, and that the religious thoughts and 
feelings of men came in the same way, but that 
cannot be any more. For, at a certain point this 
spontaneous development is arrested, namely, at 
the time when reflection begins. Religion has to 
make terms with other interests in life. A problem 
arises when religion is threatened, when, for instance, 
there seems to be no place for it in the scientific view 
of the universe. If men are henceforth to be at 
once rational and sincere and religious, it is obvious 
that they must attain to a world-view in which 
religion has its place. In other words, for reflective 
men religion inevitably comes to depend upon a phi 
losophy of religion. 

Besides those who are depressed and hindered in 
their aspiring life by that halfway mode of thought 
which we have called naturalism, there are many 
others who live the religious life but support and 
justify it by a dualistic philosophy which is constantly 
being undermined and which is daily becoming more 
untenable. They protect this philosophy from criti 
cism as well as they can, for they suspect its inade 
quacy, and they cling to it tenaciously, since they 
have no other support for a precious faith. 



36 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

According to this dualistic view, now obsolescent, 
nature was out of harmony with God and the natural 
was the antithesis of the divine. The realm of God 
was the supernatural. He was not in the order of 
nature but in exceptional, extraordinary, and miracu 
lous occurrences. Nor was nature regarded as a coher 
ent whole. As Sir Henry Jones concisely expresses it: 

The physical sciences worked apart, their provinces did 
not intersect. Physical life stood, apparently, unrelated to 
its material substrate: it was taken as a clear addition to it. 
Within the domain of the physical life itself there were fixed 
species, each of them describable by itself: the problem of 
their connection was not raised. Man as a rational and respon 
sible being stood aloof from all an exception and addendum 
to the natural scheme. Even his own nature was riven in 
two: his body was merely the tenement of his soul. On all 
sides there were interstices, and rifts, and opportunities for 
miraculous interventions which came. For, beyond the 
natural wo;rld and around it, ready to flow in upon it at any 
moment, there was another. It was the object of faith rather 
than knowledge, of spiritual rather than natural vision : it was 
dogmatically asserted on the one side and meekly accepted 
on the other. God dwelt in that remote region of moveless 
mystery, in sovereign majesty inscrutable: "He made darkness 
his secret place: his pavilion round about were dark waters 
and thick clouds of the skies." But of intrinsic or rational 
continuity between that world and this, there was none; 
and experience here gave little clue to experience there: for 
was not experience in this world merely natural, and spiritual 
experience assumed to be a mystery ? x 

Clearly, it is most unfortunate that the religious 
values, faith, hope, love, joy, the fruits of the Spirit 
1 Idealism as a Practical Creed, p. 236. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 37 

of which the apostle Paul was constantly speaking, 
should be associated with such a view of the world 
as this a view which the progress of thought has 
doomed to extinction. For these interstices through 
which God s revelation of himself were believed to 
come are disappearing, and it is easy to understand 
what the situation will be when the remaining lacunae 
have been rilled, the last gap closed. Indeed, we are 
not far from this now. For, as the philosopher just 
quoted says: 

Belief in the unity of the natural universe, including man, 
is now practically universal in civilized communities. There 
are neither interstices nor rifts; there are no causes without 
natural consequences, and no effects without natural and 
necessary antecedents no mere accidents anywhere. The 
whole scheme is compact and man is a part of it. His psychical 
nature is inextricably intertwined with his bodily frame; 
he is not spirit plus soul plus body; but spirit, soul, and body 
interfused; a sensuous-rational being, continuous with the 
world in which he lives. All being is of one tissue. 

It is obviously useless for religious men who know 
that the values they strive to promote are indis 
pensable to civilization to minimize these facts or to 
avert the necessary conclusion. What is needed is a 
new interpretation. And this the philosophy of 
religion is prepared to give. In these apparently 
abstruse matters the average man has a great stake. 
On the issue depends his view of life s nature and 
meaning and possibilities, and the ultimate result 
will be faith, courage, and hope, or black despair. 



38 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

For 

By uniting nature to man, man to man, and all with God, 
Idealism has involved all that exists, or that man can conceive, 
in one doubtful destiny. There is no picking of footsteps 
any more, nor wary walking amidst the distinctions of artificial 
schemes: the whole web has been torn. There is no salvation 
now by partial issues; the question of the rectitude and sanity 
of the whole order of reality has been raided, and there remain 
but two alternatives hope which cannot despair, or despair 
which cannot hope. 1 

In this situation it is clear that no help is to be 
looked for from compromises or hybrid schemes or 
repairs to the old dualism. Hope lies in the frank 
acceptance of the unity of the universe for which 
science stands and the spiritual outcome of the 
world-process which is the legitimate and necessary 
interpretation of the facts and experience of human 
life. When we fully realize that "God always acts 
through nature, and that nature at its highest and 
best is always the manifestation of God s character 
as he reveals himself to us, that the Divine Spirit is 
at work in the world in ways that are natural to the 
world and to men," we have an interpretation of 
nature, human life, and religion that is more beautiful 
and significant than the dualism we are forced to 
surrender, and that has besides the great advantage of 
being true and concordant with the ideas that rule 
the modern age. 

Since God is in the order and not in the exceptions, 
the distinction between sacred and secular is abolished. 
All history becomes sacred and humanity a divine 

1 Idealism as a Practical Creed, p. 247. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 39 

incarnation. Man becomes divine in proportion as 
he becomes a partaker of the true, the beautiful, and 
the good. His religious experience is as natural, 
from the point of view of science, as is his physical 
life. It is as natural to be good in the higher stages 
of development as it is to be animal and savage in the 
lower. Man comes to himself as he grows. History 
is the revelation of his nature, of the divine nature 
that expresses itself in him. In the light of this 
conception we must revise our idea of the Spirit. 
It is not "an occasional afflatus," but the immanent, 
ever present God in action, the "very warp and woof 
of the web" of man s intellectual, moral, social, 
aesthetic, and religious life. 

Beside the naturalism and the dualism of which 
we have been speaking, there are other views and 
theories of life, both scientific and philosophic, which 
are unfavorable to religion. Some of them threaten 
its continued existence. It will be instructive to 
consider briefly how religious values are affected by 
certain current tendencies in psychology, the psy 
chology of religion, theology, and the philosophy 
implicit in the democratic aspirations of our time. 
Take the case of psychology first. Those who are 
engaged in research in this field are not inspired by 
antipathy toward religion. They are seeking truth, 
yet if we forget, as too many do forget, that the 
behaviorists are studying only one aspect of human 
life by certain methods appropriate to that study, 
and if we assume that what they ignore does not 



40 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

exist or has no significance, it is obvious that religion 
will appear to be concerned with what is unreal. 
It is not merely that in these studies of the responses 
made by the human body to its surroundings there 
is no question of a soul. Consciousness itself has 
become irrelevant. Thus in his recent volume, 
Psychology from the Standpoint of the Behaviorist, 
Professor John B. Watson, of Johns Hopkins Uni 
versity, explicitly says: 

The reader will find no discussion of consciousness and no 
reference to such terms as sensation, perception, attention, 
will, image, and the like. These ter,ms are in good repute, 
but I find I can get along without them, both in carrying out 
my investigation and in presenting psychology as a system 
to my students. I frankly do not know what they mean nor 
do I believe that anyone else can use them consistently. 

In other words, for psychology so understood, 
consciousness can be ignored as having no significance. 
Human ideas and ideals, loves, hopes, philosophy, 
and the passion for perfection are ignored. The 
values that men struggle for and for which they 
gladly give up their lives are as if they were not in 
this study of the physical mechanism, its tendencies, 
and its responses. Now no one doubts that such a 
study may throw light on human life, and everyone 
wishes to see it developed to the utmost. The 
serious mistake to which we are liable is the very 
natural one of regarding as unreal what we are not 
at present concerned with and so of drawing unwar 
ranted negative conclusions. Because values and 
that in man which appreciates values cannot be 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 41 

successfully studied by the methods of physical 
science it does not follow that they are not real and 
supremely important. To be scientific is not the 
only way to be intelligent. To claim that behaviorism 
is the whole of psychology and that consciousness 
may be excluded from its investigations is to make a 
philosophy, a world- view, of a severely limited con 
ception of life. 

A colleague of Professor Watson, Professor Arthur 
0. Lovejoy, has seen with the clearness to be expected 
of a philosopher the real significance of this interesting 
movement. He says: 

Now behaviorism as a method of experimental inquiry in 
psychology has its place and finds practical justification in its 
results. But behaviorism as a metaphysics is simply natural 
ism gone mad. It conceives the whole process of consciousness 
in terms of physical stimulus and bodily response. It recog 
nizes in the experience of an individual no elements which are 
not, at least potentially, wholly open to the direct sensible 
observation of other individuals no elements, in other words, 
which are anything more than visible or tangible movements 
of the muscles or other parts of the animal mechanism. In 
all this it incidentally stultifies itself; for the behaviorist 
philosopher puts forward his doctrine as meaningful and true, 
and as reached through logical processes and yet truth and 
meaning can have no place among the strictly behavioristic 
categories, and the theory cannot recognize any such thing as 
the determination of the action of an animal (even though the 
animal be a philosopher) by logical reflection as such. If we 
apply the behaviorisms principles to himself, we must treat 
his arguments and conclusions merely as so much animal 
behavior, that is, as movements of the muscles of (e.g.) his 
throat or forearm and nothing more. 1 

^Harvard Theological Review, April 20, 1920, p. 193. 



42 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

Life is behavior but it is not human life unless it 
is more. It consists in part of adjustments to the 
material universe, but the highest and best part of it 
is a striving for values. Now values are not physical 
things; they do not exist except for conscious beings. 
Indeed, they would not exist for purely cognitive 
beings devoid of emotional powers. They are per 
ceived only when they are felt. This is as true of 
religious values as of others, for all values are of one 
family. If behaviorism is more than a method, if it 
becomes a philosophy, a habit of mind, it is obviously 
unfavorable to that life of the spirit which we call 
religion, since this lies beyond the realm of which it 
takes account. 

Then, there is the psychology of religion which, 
like behaviorism, is making a contribution to our 
knowledge of human life. It studies the religious 
emotions, the instincts, the order of human develop 
ment, the evolution of man s sense of the divine and 
of his thoughts about God. In this way it renders an 
indispensable service. But occasionally the psy 
chologist assumes the role of a philosopher and falls 
into one of the pitfalls along the philosophic path. He 
somewhat uncritically adopts the mistaken view that 
consciousness knows only itself. The doctrine that we 
cannot get beyond experience he interprets as meaning 
that experience is only of itself, and that therefore we 
cannot know anything about God. If he continues, as 
he often does, to use the word God, he means nothing 
objective, but merely a feeling or concept. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 43 

But this is merely a relapse- into that seductive 
but false theory of knowledge which has troubled 
European thought for so long. Now to be a victim 
of this illusion is no longer excusable. It is to live 
as if clear-sighted men such as Santayana had not 
written a page. After the whole matter has been 
cleared up, it is pathetic to see men holding that 
" theory of knowledge which proclaims that knowledge 
is impossible. You know only your so-called knowl 
edge, which itself knows nothing The mind 

knows only the ideas it creates. " This " subjectivity 
of thought, this philosophy which deliberately limits 
itself to the articulation of self-consciousness, and 
considers the embroideries it makes upon a dark 
experience, and for which the self is shut up in a 
closed circle of experience, admitting of no relations 
with anything beyond," has played its unhappy part 
in the world long enough. The psychology of reli 
gion does not justify a man in taking a position 
such that "when he speaks of anything matter, 
God, himself he means not that thing but the idea 
of it." 

Professor Santayana, some of whose expressive 
phrases I am using, says: 

Evidently on this principle none of Leibniz s spirits could 
know any other, nor could any phase of the same spirit know 
any other phase. The unbridgeable chasm of want of experi 
ence would cut off knowledge from everything but its "con 
tent," the ideas it has of objects. Those fabled external 
objects would be brought back into my ideas, and identified 
with them ; my ideas in turn would be drawn in and identified 



44 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

with the fact that I entertain them and this fact would condense 
into the more intimate and present fact that intensely, vaguely, 
deeply I feel that I am, or am tending to be, something or 
other. My Will, or Spirit, the rumble of my unconscious 
appetitions, thus absorbs my ideas, my ideas absorb their 
objects, and these objects absorb the world, past, present and 
future. Earth and heaven, God and my fellowmen are mere 
expressions of my Will, and if they were anything more, I 
could not now be alive to their presence. 

Life is short and the number of fresh hours when 
the mental sky is clear and the horizon wide, and 
when we are therefore competent in philosophy, is 
few, and we may naturally resent having to consume 
some of them in showing the untenability and the 
temporary character of theories which ignore con 
sciousness or assume that we are shut up in it, which 
deny the efficacy of ideas and ideals and explain 
away the knowledge of objective existence and the 
reality of Truth. But for the philosopher of religion, 
it is a part of the day s work. The theories in question 
are getting out among the people just about the 
time their inadequacy is being perceived among the 
thinkers, and the impression produced is unfavorable 
to the higher interests of our race. For religion, 
like education, does not promote itself. It is carried 
on and advanced by organized effort. And the 
difficulties we have been speaking of are part of what 
makes the work of the churches so hard. They are 
puzzling because they are so intangible and ill- 
understood. The present slow progress of the 
churches is not wholly their fault. Even if they had 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 45 

fewer literal-minded men in the pulpit, if they 
modernized their creeds and were more active in 
social service, if they met all the just criticisms passed 
upon them, they would find the promotion of religious 
values in this age very difficult because of strong 
thought currents which run in the contrary direction. 
Of these counter currents the most important, 
perhaps, is that which we must now attempt to 
describe. The task is difficult because what is in 
question is a view of life which has never been clearly 
formulated or adequately expressed, but which is 
nevertheless a living conviction at the heart of the 
democratic movement of our time. It is implicit in 
the efforts that are being made toward social and 
political reconstruction, in "the latent assumptions 
which underlie men s judgments, beliefs and ideals. " 
In this complex of massive energies, of formative 
forces, lies what Professor George Plimpton Adams 
calls the "idea system" of our age. This writer s 
Idealism and the Modern Age is the most successful 
recent effort to state the problem and to show the 
tremendous stake the average man has in its correct 
solution. It is a definite contribution for which we 
should be grateful, but it is perhaps possible to outline 
the situation more concisely. Certainly he is right 
in the main point, that until modern times Western 
Europe has lived in the faith that there is an objective 
moral order in which it is man s supreme duty and 
privilege to find a place. For the ancient and even 
for the medieval world the accepted idea was that 



46 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

man s essential vocation was contemplation, the 
knowledge of the truth, the beatific vision of beauty, 
goodness, the divine reality. He was to find out 
what is true and believe it, to discover beauty and 
rejoice in it, to know the right and do it. 

In Christian phrase, man s highest good was to 
have his "conversation in heaven," to "live as seeing 
the invisible, to take his place in the divine order by 
living in love and the spirit of Christ. For Platonism 
there was an objective truth, beauty, and goodness, 
which man imitates and in which he participates and 
into the likeness of which through adoring contem 
plation he is transformed. 

The new spirit is that which looks up at nothing, 
which worships nothing, but which aims at remaking 
the human world to the end that human desires may 
be more fully satisfied. It definitely announced and 
declared itself in "the French Revolution, the first 
mighty upheaval motived by the conscious con 
viction that the only social order fit for man is one 
which he himself has made and can control, and 
which he can also unmake if he so desires. This 
conviction is but democracy, come to a full con 
sciousness of its meaning and power." This aspira 
tion to revise and reconstruct our social institutions 
is one that we all share. We are in fact committed to 
democracy, but we are not committed to its present 
understanding of itself or to its denials. Granted 
that the social order must be remade, the ques 
tion arises as to the ideals that shall guide our 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 47 

reforming activity and the values we are to incor 
porate. 

This question is crucial for the higher life of our 
race. For the answer which is given by many 
spokesmen for democracy, and by the instrumentalists 
and pragmatists, is that we have nothing to consider 
but the satisfaction of our desires. The problem of 
life, they say, is to take account of instinct and 
impulse, and through creative intelligence, to secure 
their maximum satisfaction. "The mind is the 
voice of the body s interests." It is in the same 
class with the bodily organs, and its sole business is 
to guide organic adjustments. It is useful to get 
us out of trouble. But it is not for love, worship, 
contemplation of truth and beauty, for the beatific 
vision. To understand it you must look backward 
at the interests it serves, not forward toward the 
goodness and beauty men believe in and for which 
they yearn. 

The question upon which so much depends is not 
whether this is a true account of the mind, for it is 
obviously in part true, but whether it is a complete 
account. If it is entirely adequate, if this is all there 
is to be said, then it is clear that Platonism and 
Christianity are wrong, for both have taught that 
man s mind enjoys the privilege of "participating in 
objective, significant structures"; that in its love 
of the true, the beautiful, and the good it really loves 
God; that the goal of our imperfect loves, is, as 
Plato taught, the vision and adoring contemplation 



48 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

of the divine beauty; and that in all our good is 
"the Good, " which is our goal, so that in our striving 
for the particular excellences that attract us we are 
"like children chasing butterflies while still proceeding 
in the direction of home." 

Democracy is yet too young to have carefully 
examined the philosophy by which it lives and which, 
if uncorrected, will lead to disaster. This view of 
the mind, according to which life is response, adapta 
tion, behavior, and nothing more, concentrates its 
attention on the beginnings of life and ignores or 
denies the objective realities which are the concern 
of Platonism, the most vital philosophy in the world, 
and of Christianity, the religion of the peoples which 
have built civilization. It is truly said that prag 
matism is merely the denial of everything Platonic, 
and the assumption implicit in much of our democracy 
that there is nothing objective about ethical and 
religious values is merely the denial of Christianity. 
Rev. W. R. Inge is, therefore, entirely right in 
saying that "for us the whole heritage of the past 
is at stake together; we cannot preserve Platonism 
without Christianity, nor Christianity without Platon 
ism, nor civilization without both." 

For to this insurrectionary spirit which proposes 
to accept nothing and to make everything the 
question must be put, Do you think freedom is 
caprice and that emancipated modernity can do 
anything it likes or that the majority decrees? Is 
there nothing objective in the intellectual and moral 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 49 

order? Did you make and can you change the 
relation of the diameter of a circle to its circumference ? 
And how about the multiplication table? Now 
what is true of these things is true of much else 
besides, not only in the realm of logical relations but 
in that of beauty and goodness, and this fact must 
sometime be discovered by democracy when it has 
put down all its opponents and set about the work of 
construction. Until it realizes this truth it is like 
the crew of a ship at sea which has dismissed its 
officers and assumes that it can safely sail in any 
direction so long as all agree or the majority directs. 
The fact is that the most democratic people will 
destroy itself as certainly as any other if it considers 
only how it may satisfy its desires and fails to perceive 
its ideal goal. There is one thoroughfare of life, and 
when we leave it we are about as free as a locomotive 
is when it leaves the rails and starts off across country. 
The effect of this insurgent spirit on theology must 
be noted in passing. We hear much of democracy in 
theology. In the words of one able man, " God-head is 
the infinite society of souls. " Men of this temper will 
no longer sing Sir Robert Grant s magnificent hymn : 

Oh, worship the King, all-glorious above! 
Oh, gratefully sing his power and his love! 
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days, 
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise. 

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail, 
In thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail; 
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end, 
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend! 



50 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

It is to be recognized that this is not mere wilful- 
ness, for there is another influence acting upon men 
that affects them in much the same way. The 
doctrine of the immanence of God has made a deep 
impression upon the modern age, but in accepting it 
many have drawn the unwarranted conclusion that 
they must give up faith in transcendence. It has 
been realized that a transcendent deity whose relation 
to the universe and man is purely external cannot 
longer be believed in. It has yet to be brought home 
to our consciousness that a purely immanental view 
leaves us without a God whom we can worship, since 
it equates God and nature and lands us in an unmoral 
pantheism. It is a corollary of the doctrine of 
evolution that nature is lower than man, less personal, 
less God than we, and that her processes are no 
model for our imitation. It is not the function of 
the philosopher of religion to solve all theological 
problems, but he may properly point out that in 
accepting the doctrine of the divine immanence it 
was not necessary to give up that of transcendence, 
and that both are necessary to the life of religion. 
For it is as vain to try to worship a subhuman urge, 
a God who gropes and struggles and whose purposes, 
if he has any, are less clear than our own, as it is to 
glorify a mere concept and enjoy it forever. He 
surely has failed to read aright the Christian gospel, 
the philosophy of Greece, and his own heart, who 
does not understand that our Father is the Perfect 
and that we live and advance by his worship and 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 51 

that we can never really reverence anything else. 
God is truly in nature and in man, but he is also 
the perfect truth, beauty, and goodness that is above 
our world, and by his lure draws the aspiring human 
race up and on. 

Although this truth is uncongenial to those who 
do not like to hear of anything above them, a moral 
order to which they must conform, a truth which 
they do not make but must simply accept, or an ideal 
which it is life to worship, to it men will eventually 
return. The present apparent indifference to the 
values represented by Platonism and Christianity, 
values which have given human life whatever it has of 
nobility and beauty, is due to a passing mood of a 
vigorously growing but still immature democracy 
which has not yet examined and criticized the implicit 
philosophy by which it lives, and in part also to the 
mistaken impression that science involves the view 
that there is no reality except matter in motion. 

This mood and this partial view may be expected 
to pass with clearer and more sequent thinking. We 
shall regain our sense of proportion and understand 
that the significance of facts is not less real than the 
facts themselves, however " brute" and material the 
facts may be. As the meaning of a book is surely 
as important and real as the paper and printing, so 
the moral ends of life, its values and ideals, are not 
to be set down as mere epiphenomena in comparison 
with its physiology. There will always be men who 
mistake the surface movements of thought for its 



52 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

deeper current, and there will be specialists whose 
legitimate business is to investigate one aspect of 
reality at a time. But for the lives that count, for 
the men and women who do the work of the world, 
who maintain its homes and its institutions, facts 
will continue to be symbols and their value will be 
estimated by their meaning. Aspiration is the 
promise and potency of all progress, and aspiration 
perishes when it ceases to have a sense of the reality 
of that to which it aspires. And when it ceases to be, 
humanity will be dead, for "we live by the passionate 
attempt to return to our perfection, by the radical 
need of losing ourselves again in God." 

GEORGE ROWLAND DODSON 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 



OLD TESTAMENT STUDY TODAY 

In surveying the field of theological study we 
come now to that part which deals with the Old 
Testament. The formulation of the subject implies 
that here as elsewhere the present is different from 
the former status of the study, in other words that 
theological science is progressive. It is in regard to 
the Old Testament, however, that this assumption of 
progress has been most energetically opposed. Here 
if anywhere it has been felt that what was good 
enough for the fathers ought to satisfy the sons. The 
book with which we deal has been the object of 
serious and intensive study for two thousand years. 
Jewish Rabbis made it their life-work to understand 
and expound it; the Fathers of the church searched 
it for light and knowledge; Schoolmen and reformers 
found in it the source of their doctrine. It seems 
an arrogant assumption to say that the results of all 
this study are not sufficient for men of our time, and 
that they must be subjected to fresh examination. 
Yet this, as I have said, is the implication of our 
topic, an implication which will be clear to anyone 
who has followed the course of theological discussion 
during recent years. Here as elsewhere it is true that 
science is not static but dynamic. 

S3 



54 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

This antithesis of static and dynamic seems now 
to be in many minds. The Great War brought home 
to us the fact that we are living in a world of change, 
and that many institutions which we had looked upon 
as fixed and stable are subject to the great law of 
flux and flow. In some minds the result has been to 
produce a certain impatience with anything which 
claims to have permanence. To contrast a static 
church with a dynamic world, for example, is to 
condemn the church. How much of truth there may 
be in such a verdict lies outside the limits of our 
present inquiry. But we may carry the antithesis 
over into our present domain, and suspect that some 
are ready to assert that a static Bible cannot be the 
subject of a dynamic, that is to say a progressive, 
science. Hence they would remand the Bible or at 
least the older half of it to the scrap-heap, and turn 
to something of more modern interest. On one 
hand, then, we have the conservative, insisting that 
not only the Bible itself, but our view of it (the view 
formulated in the past), must be accepted; on the 
other hand we have the radical who will have nothing 
to do with anything so old. Let us mediate between 
the two by affirming that a science may be pro 
gressive although it deals with facts which are fixed 
and unchangeable. In truth all the historical scien 
ces are in this class, whether they deal with the 
world of nature or the world of man. Pardon me 
if I illustrate by examples which are perfectly 
familiar. 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 55 

The fossils to which the paleontologist devotes 
his life are static, if anything deserves the name. 
For untold millenniums they have been what they 
now are. They bear witness indeed to changes 
which took place in the past these bones were once 
alive and attest the fact. But as an object of study 
they are fixed and unchangeable. Yet the science 
which deals with them is changing from generation 
to generation and reveals to us things of which our 
fathers did not dream. It is the same with our 
study of human history. The documents on which 
we base our inductions come from the distant past, 
and it is beyond our power to change them. To 
tamper with them is indeed to violate the scientific 
conscience. But the history that deals with them is 
re-written by each new generation of inquirers. And 
in spite of the eagerness of our younger scholars to 
deal with live issues and to let the dead past bury its 
dead, one thing stands out pretty clearly: that 
historical study was never more alive than it is today. 
To a great extent the intellectual effort of our time is 
devoted to the study of origins. It is not without 
reason that the most influential book of the nineteenth 
century bears the name The Origin of Species. 
Progress consists not in ignoring the past but in the 
more intensive study of it, leading to a better appre 
hension of the path along which humanity has moved 
in reaching the state in which we now find it. 

These general remarks will be seen to bear directly 
upon our subject when I say that the best adjective 



56 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

to describe the Old Testament study of our time is 
just the adjective historical. To put it succinctly, 
let us say our study is historical rather than dogmatic. 
The time is not very remote when the chief interest of 
those who studied the Bible was, strictly speaking, 
dogmatic. Samuel Hopkins, the well-known leader 
of New England thought something over a century 
ago, began his series of published sermons with this 
statement: "The Bible contains a system of con 
sistent important doctrines which are so connected 
and implied in each other that one cannot be so 
well understood if detached from all the rest. " This 
sentence might stand as the motto of almost all the 
works devoted to biblical science throughout the 
Christian centuries down to the present time. It 
implies of course that the duty of all right-thinking 
men is to ascertain and accept the philosophy, that 
is, the system of important doctrines, revealed in the 
sacred book. Down almost to our own time this was 
the accepted view. Men came to the Bible, perhaps 
not with the only purpose, but at least with the 
main purpose, of discovering the philosophy divinely 
revealed therein. Here in this book they expected 
to discover all that they needed to know about the 
nature of God, the nature of man, the method of the 
divine government of the world, and the law which 
the divine Ruler has promulgated for the conduct of 
his creatures. To put it somewhat crudely, the 
Bible was regarded as a collection of prooftexts for 
the teacher of dogmatic theology. It did not seem to 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 57 

shake men s confidence in this method of treatment 
when the result was found to be that each theologian 
found his own system confirmed by the sacred book, 
in other words that each one brought his system with 
him, and sought to discover his leading ideas in the 
text he was studying. This fact could not altogether 
escape observation, however, and it was a Swiss 
theologian of the eighteenth century who uttered the 
well-known epigram : 

Hie liber est in quo sua quaerit dogmata quisque 

Invenit et pariter dogmata quisque sua. 

In the majority of theological schools of this 
country the necessity of a purely historical study of 
the Old Testament is now so fully recognized that it is 
difficult for us to realize how comparatively modern 
this method is. Oral tradition ascribes to Lyman 
Beecher this remark, addressed to his class in theology: 

So long as men came to the Bible to find support for their 
own doctrines it was impossible to get right views of what the 
Bible really means. It was only when the Germans began to 
investigate the book as they would investigate Homer, not 
caring what doctrine it contains, that we began to get light on 
its meaning. 

This declaration indicates the dawn of more correct 
views concerning biblical study, and it must have been 
made about the time of the founding of the Meadville 
Theological School. At any rate, the change from 
the dogmatic to the historical treatment of the 
Bible (so far as this country is concerned) has taken 
place during the life of this institution. It was in 



58 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

the year 1843 that Theodore Parker published a 
translation of De Wette s Introduction to the Old 
Testament, almost the first, if not quite the first, 
book to call the attention of American scholars to 
the critical problems presented by the Hebrew 
Scriptures. The book to be sure made little impres 
sion at the time, and almost a quarter of a century 
passed before theological professors and students had 
their attention again called forcibly to critical ques 
tions. But at least a beginning was made as early 
as the date I have named, and when the first inertia 
was overcome progress was rapid, until now we may 
say that the historical method is fairly established. 
Going now a little more into detail and attempting 
to define what we mean by historical study we note 
that history begins with criticism. To say that 
historical research is critical rather than traditional 
is but a commonplace. But it needs to be said 
nevertheless, for reluctance to apply critical methods 
to a sacred book is openly expressed or secretly felt 
by many to whom the Bible is a treasured possession 
and just because it is a treasured possession. The 
misapprehension of what criticism is may be attrib 
uted in part to the currency of the phrase " Higher 
Criticism," which as it happens was first used of 
modern biblical study. This phrase seemed to 
assert some sort of superiority on the part of those 
who used it, as though they arrogated the right to sit 
in judgment on the authors of the Hebrew books. 
The simple fact is that criticism is only the careful 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 59 

examination of the facts on which any science is 
built up. Reflecting on the progress of the natural 
sciences we see that astronomy, for example, has no 
new phenomena at its disposition the heavenly 
bodies are just what they always have been, certainly 
what they have been ever since man came upon the 
earth. The progress of astronomy has been due to 
the more careful examination of the phenomena. 
In like manner the fossils of the geologist are, as we 
have already noticed, the same that they have been 
for ages. If we no longer adduce them as evidence 
of the Noachian deluge it is because we have examined 
them more carefully. This careful examination of 
the facts when carried over into the domain of 
archaeology and history is criticism. Ancient docu 
ments must submit to it as well as ancient remains of 
organic life. 

Let us frankly admit that in a certain sense 
criticism is apt to be destructive. In the case just 
supposed our modern science has destroyed the 
argument for the universality of the deluge, so far as 
that argument was drawn from certain fossil remains. 
This is what we mean when we say that our study 
is critical rather than traditional. About an ancient 
document, especially one that has been the object of 
affectionate interest, there gathers a body of supple 
mentary matter which seems to possess authenticity 
because of its connection with the original nucleus 
to which it has attached itself. The incurable 
curiosity of men concerning their own past leads 



60 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

them to supply gaps in their information by products 
of their own imagination. Thus the early history 
of Rome became an interesting story by the inter 
mingling of fact and fancy, and the task of the 
historian who took himself seriously was to separate 
the two elements and indicate the true nature of each. 
The result was to a certain extent negative, and the 
sentimental reader might be inclined to sigh over 
the loss of romance in the narrative. Something of 
the same effect is produced by the application of histor 
ical methods to the Scriptures. These Scriptures have 
been the object of devoted study for two thousand 
years. It was to be expected in the nature of the 
case that a tradition should attach itself to them. 
Especially when they were used for edification and 
furnished texts for sacred oratory, the endeavor was 
made to fill out the silences of the narrative by use 
of the imagination. The preacher who stimulates 
the zeal of his hearers by holding up the example of 
Moses may not be content with the simple Scripture 
statement that the Hebrew boy was adopted by the 
princess who found him among the bulrushes; he 
may describe at length the luxurious surroundings 
into which the boy was introduced in the royal palace, 
and even intimate that the Pharaoh became so fond 
of him that he destined him to be his heir and suc 
cessor. Undoubtedly the self-sacrifice of the man 
who chose to suffer affliction with the people of God 
rather than to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season is 
brought into a stronger light by this embellishment, 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 61 

but a sober criticism will compel the hearer to dis 
tinguish between the material of the original nar 
rative, and that which the orator has added from his 
own imagination. The history of Old Testament 
interpretation shows that this sort of imaginative 
exegesis has gone on in each succeeding age. Each 
age has had its own method of study, and a certain 
amount of accretion has been handed on from one 
age to another. All this material has its value, of 
course, and has its place in the history of human 
thought. But the historian must discover its true 
nature and not confound it with the text on which 
it is based. To do this he uses the critical method, 
and while I have allowed that the result is in a 
certain sense destructive, it is nevertheless true that 
the critic does not actually destroy anything. Text 
and tradition are all there; all that the critical 
method does is to bring the different elements into 
their proper relations of space and time. 

In a truly historical treatment of an ancient text 
criticism is the first requisite. In the second place 
let us notice that this method is comparative instead 
of segregative. You do not need to be told that in 
the view of earlier scholars, and even of many at the 
present day, a sharp line of demarcation must be 
drawn between the Bible and all other books. This 
book received the name Holy or Sacred, and all that 
was connected with it was described in the same way. 
Thus we had a sacred history, a sacred archaeology, 
a sacred geography. The land of Israel became the 



62 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

Holy Land. The implication was that while Israel, 
its literature, its land, and its institutions were made 
the object of a special divine activity, all the rest of 
mankind was left without guidance, to struggle on 
by the meager light of nature which, although suffi 
cient to insure the condemnation of those who neg 
lected it, could not lead men to any real virtue or 
true happiness. At the present day we cannot thus 
isolate Israel from all the rest of the world. In a 
sense the isolation has never been as complete as the 
adjectives I have quoted might suggest. It has 
always been known that the external history of 
Israel was connected with that of other nations so 
much is revealed by the Bible itself. In it we read 
of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon, as well as of the 
smaller nations with which Israel came into immediate 
contact. To this extent the comparative study of 
the Old Testament is nothing new. Eusebius made 
a serious attempt to bring the history of Israel into 
connection with that of the other nations, and many 
later authors have treated the connection of sacred 
and profane history (as the phrase was). The 
advantage of our own age is that we have a greatly 
increased amount of material by which to judge the 
closeness of the connection. The decipherment of 
the Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions has not 
only enriched our knowledge, but has compelled us 
to modify our view of the reliability of the Hebrew 
text. In the matter of chronology, for example, we 
are no longer able to make the Old Testament data 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 63 

furnish the framework into which the chronology 
of the other ancient writers can be fitted. Conscien 
tious students of the Bible, while not yielding all the 
claims of the pan-Babylonians, must take cognizance 
of all the material now within our reach, and decide 
how far it compels a modification of Israel s external 
history. Even more serious than the reconstruction 
of the external history is the light thrown by these 
researches on the social evolution. It is now seen 
that those social institutions which the Hebrew 
writers themselves regarded as something established 
by direct divine command were in many cases the 
product of the same economic and political forces 
which were at work among the surrounding nations. 
The view of the Hebrew writers concerning the 
divine origin of their institutions, especially of their 
legislation, is now seen to have been the view of 
other ancient authorities. Moses claims that the 
Law comes to him from Israel s God; in like manner 
Hammurabi asserts that Anu and Bel called him to 
cause justice to prevail in the land, and to this end 
he promulgates the code which will accomplish the 
purpose of the gods. Nor is this the only way in 
which ancient literary methods are seen to be common 
to the Hebrews and other nations. The attribution 
of sacredness to a book is now known to be a frequent 
phenomenon in literary history. The sharp distinc 
tion between sacred and profane is fundamental to 
all religious thinking, from the most primitive to the 
most advanced. Not in Israel only do we find sacred 



64 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

places, sacred rites, sacred persons, sacred implements, 
and sacred books. And in many cases the sacredness 
of Israel s rites originated outside of Israel. Circum 
cision is a rite found among many peoples, as in fact 
the biblical writers knew. The stone which Jacob 
set up as a House-of-God was one of many similar 
menhirs which are found all over the Eastern Con 
tinent. The sanctuary at Gilgal was doubtless 
marked off by a circle of stones belonging to the 
class of cromlechs, of which the most conspicuous 
example is known to us by the name of Stonehenge. 
The sacred dance about the altar, the hair-offering 
of the Nazirite, sacrificial worship all these we 
find elsewhere as well as in Israel. So with the 
literature. The story of the creation and of the 
deluge were borrowed from sources outside of Israel. 
The biblical writers, like Homer, took their material 
wherever they found what was suitable for their 
purpose, and did not find it less sacred because it 
came from a foreign source. Even the compilatory 
method by which many Old Testament books reached 
their present form, and which many readers are 
disposed to ridicule as the invention of the critics, is 
paralleled by what we find in other ancient literatures. 
The most serious modification of traditional ideas 
comes when we thus apply the comparative method 
to religious beliefs and custom. So far as the paral 
lels between Israelite and gentile rites were observed 
by earlier scholars, these scholars were able to entertain 
hypotheses which we find no longer tenable. They 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 65 

were able to affirm either that the institutions of 
Israel were the originals, and those of other nations 
were borrowed; or else that the devil had been God s 
ape, imitating his ordinances in order to lead men 
astray. Later the theory was advanced that God 
made some concessions to the Israelites, allowing 
them to continue certain customs with which they 
had become familiar in Egypt, lest the prohibition 
of them should drive the people away from their own 
sanctuary. Modern biblical science finds itself unable 
to adopt either theory. It recognizes that the 
religious development of Israel followed the lines 
traced by other religions, and that the religious 
impulse which was the underlying motive in Israel 
is the same which we recognize in the history of other 
peoples. It is no longer possible, therefore, to make 
a sharp division between true and false religions, 
putting our own (with its preliminary stage in 
Judaism) in one class and all the rest in the other. 
We do not, however, confound all religions in one 
indistinguishable mass, as though they were of equal 
value. The complaint is sometimes heard that the 
comparative study of religion smothers our God 
in the cloud of incense offered to all the divinities 
of all the nations at once. There are degrees of 
value even in objects of the same class. He who 
investigates all religions need not be disloyal to his 
own, any more than he who writes the history of 
foreign countries needs to lay aside his affection for 
the land in which he was brought up. This is not 



66 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

the place to enlarge upon this theme. All that we 
are now concerned to notice is that the biblical science 
of today, if it is to be a real science, must use the 
comparative method. 

From what has been said it will appear in the next 
place that modern biblical science must be evolu 
tionary rather than catastrophic. If anyone has a 
repugnance to the word evolutionary let him say 
developmental. What is important may be illus 
trated again by the science of geology. In the early 
stages of that science it was thought that each epoch 
of the earth s history was marked off by a convulsion 
of nature which wiped out the existing fauna and 
flora, and that the next period was ushered in by a 
new creation. Today, although the occurrence of 
earthquakes and tornadoes is not ignored, changes in 
the earth s surface and in its inhabitants are not 
supposed to have been wrought for the most part 
by these violent convulsions. Much more effective 
have been the less noticeable forces which are con 
stantly at work both in the inanimate and in the 
animate world. Biblical science has passed through 
similar phases. The older view, which indeed found 
support in the Bible itself, was that violent inter 
positions of divine power marked the different stages 
of Israel s history. The beginning was made by the 
act of creation, which was compressed into a single 
week of time. Then the world of man was left to 
its own devices until its condition demanded another 
signal display of divine power at the deluge. This 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 67 

was followed by some centuries of what we should 
call natural development, terminating in a new act 
of God the call of Abraham to inaugurate a new 
dispensation. A third stage was marked by the 
even more startling episode at the Exodus, and by 
this a complete and perfect constitution was set 
before the people by divine fiat. From this time on 
there seemed to be no possibility except that the 
people should either be obedient to the divine statutes 
or recreant to their trust. In fact the biblical 
writers, or rather the latest editors of the history, 
believed that the course of events showed nothing 
like what we call progress; it was a succession of 
backslidings and revivals, culminating in the great 
disaster which put an end to the national existence. 
How incomprehensible this scheme is to men trained 
in modern methods of inquiry I need not point out. 
And on examining our documents we find abundant 
evidence that this emphasis of a few decisive inter 
ventions of Providence is only the theory of a few 
late writers, and that reading between the lines we 
can get a juster view. While there were certain great 
crises in the history, progress (for there was real 
progress) for the most part was due to the constant 
action of unobtrusive social forces the same that 
we discover in the advance of mankind elsewhere. 
Here also the rule was: First the blade, then the ear, 
then the full grain in the ear. 

This does not mean that the development was 
without conflict. The developmental theory itself 



68 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

assumes that progress is by struggle and the survival 
of the fittest. But the struggle was not the single 
dramatic campaign by which later writers liked to 
think that the land of Canaan was swept clear of 
the earlier inhabitants and given to Israel. Battles 
there were of course; once or twice the tribes gathered 
all their forces and inflicted a defeat on their enemies. 
But for the most part the conquest was by a com 
paratively peaceful penetration, extending over a long 
period of time. Politically this is of less importance 
to us than the interplay of social forces by which 
the religion of Israel reached its full development. 
The elaborate legislation of the Pentateuch, as we 
now see, was not revealed all at once, a complete 
code, ritual and moral, promulgated at the beginning 
of the nation s life. It was a growth, the result of a 
struggle between higher and lower conceptions in 
ethics and religion, a struggle carried on for a thousand 
years. And, as in other communities, the fact of 
struggle involved alternations of ebb and flow. 
Progress was not continuous nor was it in a straight 
line. Early ideas persisted even after higher ones 
seemed to have triumphed. At almost the latest 
period we learn of members of the community who 
engaged in the crude superstitions of their ancestors; 
who ate swine s flesh and had the broth of abominable 
things in their vessels, who lodged in the sepulchers 
and sat among graves, evidently devoted to the ani 
mistic and totemistic rites which characterize the re 
ligion of primitive society. 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 69 

Our interest, I need hardly say, is in the distinct 
ness with which the religious struggle is set forth in 
the documents we study, and this struggle is revealed 
to us by our modern method. In the history of 
Israel as we now read it we see more clearly than 
anywhere else the process by which ethical mono 
theism triumphed over the lower forms of religion. 
And this history brings home to us the fact that 
spiritual leadership is necessary to any real advance 
in religion and morals. The heroes of Israel are not 
great captains with their swords and spears, though 
here as elsewhere the soldier who risked his life in 
defense of his home and clan received due recognition. 
Greater heroes are the prophets who, in the strength 
of a good conscience and in reliance on a God of 
righteousness, throw themselves against a false 
religiosity and the social evils of their times. Such 
are the prophets whose works we study, and we 
appreciate them, or at least we appreciate them 
fully, only when we get the true course of history 
before us. I do not wish to make extravagant 
claims. No doubt pious readers of the Bible have 
always had a sympathetic appreciation of these 
great preachers of righteousness. Yet it remains 
true that in the traditional biblical science the 
personality of the prophets was obscured by theo 
logical prepossessions. If the Bible is regarded as a 
series of prooftexts, divinely given to establish a 
system of doctrine, then differences in the human 
personalities through whom the revelation is given 



70 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

sink into insignificance. The systematic theologian 
seeks for the faith the dogmatic faith once for all 
delivered to the saints. If this faith is necessary to 
salvation, then it must have been revealed, at least 
in substance, to Adam (if indeed Adam was saved), 
certainly to Abraham, then to Moses, after him to 
David and the prophets. On this theory the function 
of the prophet is to act as a commentator on the 
revelation already given to his predecessors. In 
fact Jewish expositors, followed by some Christian 
scholars, regard the work of the prophets as wholly 
subordinate, secondary to that of Moses. 

How foreign to a real historical apprehension of 
the Old Testament is this theory of a system of 
doctrine quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus 
I need hardly point out. To the modern student 
the great outstanding fact in the history of Israel is 
the originality of the prophets. These great religious 
geniuses gave Israel the ideas which have made 
Israel s book a power in the hearts of all right-thinking 
men, and which made that book a part of the Christian 
Bible. And the ideas which they set forth are not 
abstract propositions, the product of philosophical 
speculation on the nature of God and man. They 
are the result of an inward struggle in which faith 
contends against the obtuseness of the great mass, or 
against temptations to doubt concerning God s 
righteous government of the world. This faith it is 
which makes these men leaders and reformers. 
Elijah battles single-handed against the Phoenician 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 71 

Baal, yet not altogether single-handed, for there are 
seven thousand in Israel who have not bowed the 
knee to the foreign god. Isaiah stands forth against 
king and people, but a little band of disciples cherishes 
his words and hands them down for a treasure to 
succeeding generations. Jeremiah seems an alto 
gether solitary figure, pathetic in his yearning for 
understanding and sympathy. Yet even he has a 
faithful friend and scribe by whom the master s 
example is preserved for the encouragement of faint 
hearted believers through the ages. The gain that 
may justly be claimed for the historical method is 
the clearness with which these great and often tragic 
figures are revealed to us. 

We have already noted that the prophets have 
been misapprehended because they were made 
simply expositors of the Law of Moses. Our dis 
cussion will not become complete unless we notice 
another view of them which has become traditional in 
the Christian church, that is the view that their chief 
office was to predict the coming of the Messiah. 
The literature on messianic prophecy must amount 
to some thousands of volumes, and in its most highly 
developed form it discovers all the details of Jesus 
birth, life, death, and resurrection adumbrated or 
distinctly described in the Old Testament. The 
promise to the mother of the race that her seed shall 
bruise the serpent s head is interpreted as the First 
Gospel. The whole series of sacrifices is supposed to 
point forward to the great and final sacrifice on the 



72 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

cross. Jacob s two wives are types of the Jewish 
and the gentile churches. Where the literal meaning 
of the text gives no hint of referring to the future, 
resort is had to type and allegory to discover the 
desired prediction. That much of this exegesis loses 
its force when we use a really historical method must 
be evident. Are we then to discard the Old Testa 
ment as in no sense preparatory to Christianity? 
In attempting to answer this question let us notice 
first of all that from the nature of the case reformers 
look forward. He who denounces the evils of con 
temporary society must have some hope of a better 
social order to come. It is natural to suppose that 
the prophets had such a hope, especially when we 
recall the firm faith in a God of righteousness which 
motived their preaching. In the earlier period the 
hope was kept in abeyance, because the people to 
whom they preached were indulging optimistic 
dreams which must not be encouraged. There were 
plenty of prophets to flatter the people by saying 
all was well, when in fact all was not well. It was 
when the great calamity came and the Jews in their 
exile were tempted to give way to despair that the 
prophetic message changed to one of hope. To this 
extent there was prediction of a good time to come. 
Nor is this all. The Old Testament development, 
as we have seen, culminated in the triumph of the 
Law. This triumph came about by a series of com 
promises which would not have satisfied the demands 
of the greater prophets for a religion of the heart. 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 73 

What actually had come was a religion of formality, 
and from the nature of the case this was narrow and 
exclusive. A religion for the Jewish community, 
one which ignored the mass of humanity, could 
never be the final religion. By its very imperfection 
therefore the Old Testament system prepared the 
way for something broader. 

In another direction and in a very different manner 
the way for Christianity was prepared. When the 
voice of prophecy was silenced it was succeeded by 
apocalyptic. Since the main literature in which this 
movement is embodied is outside the bounds of our 
Old Testament it need not be discussed here. Suffice 
it to say that the older view, according to which the 
Old Testament canon was closed by Ezra and suc 
ceeded by four centuries of silence, is discredited by a 
really historical view of the Old Testament itself. 
Development did not stop; it was not even suspended 
between Ezra and John the Baptist. The alleged 
four centuries of silence are vocal with hopes, fears, 
aspirations, and prayers. But it is impossible here to 
trace the development which led up to the proclama 
tion of the gospel. 

What I have now attempted to do is to sketch the 
present state of Old Testament study. The topic 
assigned includes also the prospect of this study. 
On this it is difficult to speak with confidence. The 
whole question of the function of the church in modern 
society is now under discussion. What theological 
study is to be depends of course on what the work of 



74 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

the minister of religion is to be. The school of 
theology professes to train men for this work. The 
future of Old Testament study depends on the 
value of this study for the minister. If the discussion 
of today has shown that the value of the study is not 
now what it has been supposed to be in the past, 
I trust that it has yet shown that it has other values 
equally important. Emphasis is laid today on social 
reconstruction. If the Old Testament shows any 
thing it shows that religion has been the moving 
spring of social progress in the past. It reveals 
moreover the method by which religion has wrought 
for social advance. This being so we can hardly 
avoid the conclusion that Old Testament study will 
hold its place in the curriculum. 

HENRY PRESERVED SMITH 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 



NEW TESTAMENT STUDY TODAY 

The Meadville Theological School came into 
being when New Testament study was receiving 
perhaps the most vigorous shock of its entire career 
in the radical contributions of Ferdinand Christian 
Baur and his followers of the Tubingen School. It is 
a commonplace that Baur began a new era in our 
science; the history of this School is coincident with 
that era. The time-spirit whose hand is so obvious 
in the devious course of biblical science can be traced 
not less clearly in the development of the School s 
curriculum and methods. In 1843, but a few months 
before this institution of learning began its career, 
the redoubtable and misdoubted Theodore Parker 
had introduced "destructive German criticism " 
into America by publishing in Boston a translation of 
De Wette s Old Testament Introduction. But it 
was not read in the first years at Meadville. In 
1858 followed the New Testament part of De Wette s 
Einleitung, also published in Boston, and made by 
another Unitarian minister, Rev. Frederick Frothing- 
ham. This came to Meadville apparently without 
question. Fifteen years is a long time in such matters. 
Where minds are really free and open to the light, 
movement of thought is rapid and closely follows 

75 



76 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

the progress of science in any chosen field. A genu 
inely liberal institution of learning is sensitive to 
advance in any part of the intellectual world and 
faithfully registers it. It is instructive to go into 
our library and look over the succession of books on 
the life of Jesus, for example, and note the dates 
at which they came to our shelves. We have there 
an epitome of the development of theological science 
and an impressive testimony to the loyalty of the 
School to the ideals of freedom and progress on which 
it was founded. Strauss s Leben Jesu was still a 
nine days wonder when the School was born, and 
came out in George Eliot s classic English translation 
two years afterward. Thus the whole course of the 
attempt to construct a purely historical picture of 
the mission of Jesus is practically coincident with 
the life of our School. 

But I am concerned on this occasion not so much 
with any resume of the past as with some registration 
of the present status and method of inquiry into the 
problems of New Testament study. That there is an 
enormous difference between the New Testament 
study of 1844 and that of 1920 needs not to be said to 
anyone with the slightest acquaintance with the field. 
And this great difference is not so much in the subjects 
of inquiry and the answers propounded as in the 
method and motive of the inquiry. How and why 
do we concern ourselves with these problems? So 
soon as we ask this question, the situation is clear. 
We are no longer dominated by the spirit of Baur 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 77 

and Strauss, much as we owe to their labors. There 
is a new spirit abroad in our discipline. The phe 
nomena of primitive Christianity are no longer for us 
philosophical phenomena, occurring in conformity to a 
scheme of logical development; they are no longer 
dogmatic phenomena, intended to serve as the sup 
port of doctrines of theology or even capable of so 
serving; no longer literary phenomena, the writing 
and editing and collecting of documents; no longer 
even simple historical phenomena, to be listed as 
mere data in the chronicle of the first century. As 
all these, singly or in combination, has the primitive 
tradition been treated, and so treated in vain. Not 
thus has it yielded up its real secret. 

Now we are approaching the origins of Chris 
tianity as a group of phenomena in the human 
experience of religion, and we begin to know their 
significance. Even the writings are not ultimately 
documentary phenomena: they are religious phe 
nomena. Men wrote as they were moved by a holy 
Spirit, not by a furor scribendi. It is a very simple 
thing thus to describe the rationale of our inquiry, 
but it is a very profound and far-reaching observation 
that we have thus made. And the realization of this 
truth means the greatest transformation in attitude 
toward the materials of the Christian tradition that 
the Christian mind has ever undergone. The investi 
gators of the literary process have too often failed to 
ask why the literary process at all, or to recognize 
that the driving-power lay outside the bookroom. 



78 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

We are beginning to see more clearly. To use a 
single example, the question as to the authorship of 
so-called " Ephesians " by Paul is not finally a question 
of hapax legomena and style and agreements of text 
with Colossians and comparison of ecclesiastical 
terms. The writer of Ephesians was a man, with a 
profound experience of religion awakened by the 
impact of the Christian gospel. The writer of Romans 
and Galatians and Corinthians was a man, in vital 
and direct reaction on a religious experience. Our 
question is ultimately: Are these two experiences one, 
the reactions of the same personality ? For all these 
documents get written only as the embodiment of a 
religious experience and have as such their sole 
significance, have here the one norm for their inter 
pretation. Of course they came to be by a literary 
process, but that process was used by something 
more ultimate and sovereign than itself. That 
philosophical and theological considerations played 
their part who would dispute? That all alleged 
facts must meet the test of historic evidence, with no 
more exemption or concession in the field of religious 
history than in that of science, is of course axiomatic. 
But we are sure that in no one of these aspects lies 
the ultimate importance and significance of the 
materials of New Testament study. 

A survey of the various departments of research 
within our field, and of the various problems that 
call for solution, in each, would give us impressive 
confirmation of this position. The New Testament 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 79 

meets us today as a volume, a collection. Who 
collected it, and when? Above all, why? What 
inner unity is there among these seven-and-twenty 
documents that precisely they, and no others, found 
place in this canonical selection ? And when we dis 
sect the volume into its component elements and 
face the problems of New Testament introduction, 
the situation is the same. These documents are 
obviously not books, prepared for a publisher, from 
the sales of which royalties might be drawn. Quite 
other motives prompted those who wrote. One- 
third of the documents are anonymous; who were 
these men, unlettered some, professional writers none, 
whom an overmastering religious impulse drove to 
the pen? We ask their names, their dates, their 
circumstances, their motives, for no reason save that 
we may get nearer to the experience which created 
their little pamphlets and made them immortal. 
Questions of authorship may be quite idle; they are 
certainly so if they spring from no interest beyond 
the purely literary or historical curiosity. From any 
such point of view, it matters not a whit who wrote 
the Fourth Gospel; let us say an anonymous Asian 
Christian of the early second century, and be done 
with it. Only from the standpoint of an under 
standing of the gospel of Jesus is it of supreme impor 
tance to learn whether this writing presents a personal 
disciple s trustworthy account of the Master s actual 
words and deeds. So whether the " Epistle of James " 
is an early writing, from the first or second decade 



8o THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

after Jesus death, or is one of the latest works in 
the canon, from a time when the movement of Jesus 
is perhaps a century in being, is not a chronological 
problem at all, for those of us who study it. Save 
for our interest in this writing, one date is as good as 
the other, since absolute dating is impossible. But 
our interest; yes, that makes the question important 
whether this somewhat prosaic, practical homily, 
with its excellent if somewhat domestic morality, 
with its bare mention of Jesus in two formal phrases 
only, represents the first fresh impact of the gospel 
upon the Master s own generation, indeed, upon his 
own flesh and blood, who drank from the same 
mother s breast with him, or sets down the ethical 
counsel of a preacher in the more sober days of the 
next century. Whether the Apocalypse of John is a 
literary unity becomes for us the question whether it is 
a spiritual unity, whether it sprang in its entirety 
out of the mind of Jesus own beloved disciple, who lay 
upon his breast and heard his words and breathed in 
his spirit. Or have we the work of a fiery and loyal 
devotee, who out of Jewish apocalyptic shapes a 
vision of the return in glory of that messianic Lord 
whom he can picture only as the seven-horned Ram 
from whose wrath the peoples flee in terror, or as the 
mighty warrior on the white steed of victory, fur 
nished with the sharp two-edged sword? Have we 
here the influence of the historic Jesus on a soul that 
knew and loved and understood him, or the influence 
of one aspect of his eschatology on a passionate 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 81 

hater of oppression and lover of the people of God, a 
poet and a seer to whom not only the heavens and 
the abyss were open, but the treasures of a hundred 
prophetic books as well? Such questions are the 
real questions of New Testament introduction. We 
do not always, indeed, raise them in just this form, 
but if this were not their real significance for us, we 
should not raise them at all. As having only a 
literary or historic interest they would not compel 
our attention beside a thousand questions of this 
kind of vastly greater importance. But because 
behind all our study lies the insistent urge of the 
religious interest, every detail that brings the writer 
and the writing nearer to our comprehension is of 
vital concern. We look back at the men a dozen 
or more of them who penned the writings in the 
New Testament, and we see them, not as writers at 
all, not as theologians, still less as philosophers, not 
as historians or chroniclers or biographers; we see 
them as simple men who have been laid hold of by an 
overmastering impulse of religion. To its service 
they give themselves; these bits of writing, letters 
for the most part, are by-products of their Christian 
life. They would surely now be surprised to learn 
that they survive in human memory as writers; 
their writing must have been so secondary in their 
consciousness that they might have forgotten it 
altogether. 

The biblical criticism of the past was at fault here. 
It almost completely depersonalized the writers, 



82 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

with its talk of "the apostle," "the evangelist," 
and in practice made the men coterminous with the 
written fragments preserved in our canon. Paul, 
for example, was equated with the handful of thirteen 
or fourteen "epistles" there ascribed to him and 
dominated Christian imagination as a letter-writer, 
a man of the pen, always at the desk. So lamentably 
was this most vital man of affairs misconceived! 
Baur and the Tubinger made him into an idea, the 
idea that is most prominent in the polemic of the 
letter to the Galatians. Of Paul beyond the driving 
concern with that idea there was practically none; 
of letters, indeed, there were acknowledged only 
those four which served in some degree as vehicle for 
that idea. For many exegetes, Paul has been the 
theologian, and the only question of importance about 
him that as to the Lehrgehalt of this or that epistle. 
The very word "epistle" has connoted documents 
whose prime purpose was to serve as the medium of 
dogmatic instruction. We have at last learned that 
Paul was not primarily a letter-writer. That a 
dozen or so letters survive bearing his name is nothing 
extraordinary; you and I have doubtless written 
more within the past week. Even as the writer of 
these letters he is not author, composer, still less is he 
theologian or ecclesiastic. He is the most human of 
men, carrying on a tremendous enterprise to which a 
letter now and then is incidental. The discovery of 
many other letters in the vernacular Koine of the time 
has dispelled the solemn fiction of "New Testament 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 83 

Greek," but it has shown also that the biblical 
periods of the Pauline letters are the customary 
epistolary courtesies of his age. We have recovered 
Paul the man; in this matter we are much indebted 
to Professor Deissmann of Berlin and Professor 
Weinel of Jena, as well as to English scholars like 
Percy Gardner, who has given us an admirable study 
of the Religious Experience of St. Paul. 

When the letters are relegated to their proper 
place and seen in true perspective, we can for the 
first time judge intelligently as to their authenticity 
or pseudonymity. As vehicles of "Paulinism," 
they can offer no reliable testimony on this point. 
If the four-epistle Pauline canon of Baur has been 
enlarged to contain at least double the number, it is 
not on purely literary grounds nor on dogmatic 
grounds; it is because the same human being, engaged 
in the same gigantic task, with the same religious 
experience and the same reaction on his human 
problems, meets us in all. In our application of the 
human, religious, psychological test we do not, of 
course, ignore the literary tests. It goes without 
saying that vocabulary and style and indications of 
literary relationship with other documents are as 
important in our study today as at any previous 
time; it is only that such criteria are no longer the 
only ones, or the ones which necessarily dictate the 
final decision. The purely literary tests need to be 
used with great caution in dealing with occasional 
letters, which are not systematic treatises or books, 
and with not more than a dozen such letters available 



84 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

for comparison. Who would venture to fix the style 
and vocabulary of any modern writer, for example, 
from a dozen of his letters ? I Corinthians has more 
than two hundred hapax legomena, Romans more than 
one hundred. Zahn once drew up a list of eighty- 
six suspicious " words and phrases in Galatians. Yet 
such data, however multiplied, cast no shadow of 
doubt on the Paulinity of these letters. In the case 
of letters dubious from the personal side they would 
have their weight. 

The Synoptic Problem has for us of today been 
transformed into the synoptists problem; it is not 
a problem of documents, but of men. What we 
really want to know is not how Mark s text is related 
to the hypothetical Q-text, but how the human 
experience of the religion of Jesus that found expres 
sion in the gospel- writing traditionally called "accord 
ing to Matthew" is related to that other experience 
registered in the writing to which Luke s name is 
attached. These two writings are different, not 
primarily because the documents on the editorial 
desk were different, but because the men at the pen 
were different. The traditional usage of speaking 
of one of the first four writings in our New Testament 
as a gospel (language which would have shocked 
immeasurably a Christian of the first generation) 
has blinded us to the fact that each means to be 
the gospel, the very Christianity, the heart s religion, 
of some earnest believer. That he set this gospel 
of his forth for the spiritual quickening of others is 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 85 

not a literary fact, but an item of his religious life. 
Of course he used such written sources as were at his 
disposal, but the important thing is never his appro 
priation of sources, but his own contribution, the 
stamp of his own religious experience which lies across 
it all. That it was which impelled him to write; 
that it is which kept his writing alive and makes it 
worth our study today. The instructive thing is to 
inquire what was going on in the soul of this devout 
and nameless man whom literary tradition incor 
rectly calls Matthew. His literary procedure is 
fairly obvious, but no one of his sources nor their 
mere combination expresses his gospel. That becomes 
visible in what he does with his sources, how he 
interprets them, how he adds to them or quietly 
passes over certain of their passages. The two- 
document hypothesis is now practically certain, but 
we lack as yet a completely satisfying exegesis of 
these three gospel-writings which will reveal the 
true inwardness of their variations. Such an exegesis 
we are just ready to prepare. 

The Acts of the Apostles is just now a battle 
ground of literary criticism. Its sources are being 
eagerly sought, and perhaps the most interesting of 
the purely literary problems lie just now in this field. 
Professor Torrey finds Aramaic sources for a large 
part of the work, a thesis which has divided New 
Testament students. Here again the purely literary 
argument seems inadequate. Grant that the linguis 
tic phenomena of the first half of the work indicate 



86 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

an underlying Aramaic text (which is far from certain), 
the theory must be tested as a whole with its corol 
laries and consequences. Here its enormous diffi 
culties become apparent. The reactions on the work 
and word of Jesus which it attributes to believers of 
the middle of the first century, the impulse to write 
compends of the gospel which it dates long before the 
death of Paul, throw the whole picture into psycho 
logical confusion. If anything is clear it is that the 
gospel was from the first an oral magnitude on its 
teaching side. Its original course is vividly pictured 
in that primitive word: "What I tell you in the 
darkness speak ye in the light, and what ye hear in 
the ear, proclaim upon the house tops." Of course 
the gospel was not primarily teaching at all; it was 
living, and was propagated by the contagion of 
personal example. Spirit kindled spirit. Christi 
anity spread from mouth to ear, but it also spread 
from life to life, and in its propaganda "gospel" did 
not primarily suggest a new teaching to be learned, 
still less did it mean a new book to be read; it meant 
a wave of blessed religious experience to be appro 
priated. Propagated as a life through the medium 
of an oral teaching which was but the commentary 
on that life, it came ultimately to find expression in 
a medium natively foreign to it, in the written word. 
Yet that written word was but the sketch of what 
was still conceived as essentially oral; it was but 
the preacher s notes, the compend of sermon-stuff. 
And it came only when it was absolutely necessary 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 87 

that it should come; the living gospel resisted fixation 
in the written text as long as possible. As the 
first generation of missionaries passed away, those 
who had seen and heard Jesus himself, or caught the 
message from his personal disciples, the oral tradition 
was in danger. It was being preached at second, 
third, fourth hand, in new lands and new tongues, 
far from its original enunciation. Propagated in 
preaching only, where the form of words was governed 
by the audience and the occasion, as Papias says in 
his comment on Mark, the tradition began to lose 
fixed outline and fidelity to its initial content. The 
gospel could not go on forever as an oral proclamation. 
To preserve it, ere its essential form was lost, it 
must be written. The newer missionaries needed 
it as a manual to guide their own preaching. The 
rapidly multiplying churches needed it to nourish 
their faith in the absence of an apostolic teacher. 
For obvious reasons of this sort the gospel got written 
down by men of the second generation of believers, 
as the writer we call Luke points out in his candid 
preface, as the gospel tradition was " handed down 
to us by them who from the beginning were eye 
witnesses and ministers of the word. " Not in the 
earliest days, when the tremendous impression of 
Jesus personality and proclamation is still so vital, 
when no one thinks of the gospel as anything but 
personal and oral, which must be spoken in the ear 
and upon the housetops to all men, whether they 
will hear or whether they will forbear. Not in those 



88 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

early days when Christians lived in daily, hourly 
expectation of their Master s return as Messiah to 
establish the Kingdom of God. His career had been 
but just begun; the days of his flesh were but the 
briefest opening chapter of the story of Jesus the 
Master. Spread his message; prepare men for his 
return; but write books about him? The thought 
does not arise. Busy missionaries like Paul, when 
they wrote, wrote practical letters in the furtherance 
of their work, which excite surprise today for their 
precise omission of "the gospel." The time of 
gospel-writing is approximately the time succeeding 
Paul s death. That primitive gospel Q doubtless 
belongs to the later sixties; Mark follows at the 
beginning of the seventies, Matthew and Luke 
probably in the last decade of the century. As a new 
generation comes on the scene, as the advent expecta 
tion cools and fades, as the message grows to have 
more values for this world and life continuing here, 
as those elements in it not directly bound up with the 
hope of Messiah s coming in heavenly power come 
more and more to their own, then the gospel is writ 
ten by one ardent Christian teacher after another. 
And the time when it is written down has profound 
importance for its form as written. As we read, 
we can see clearly how the gospel mirrored itself in 
the soul of each writer in turn, see also how it was 
making its way in the environment of his own Chris 
tian life. The gospels are extraordinarily naive and 
candid documents; expositors have gone greatly 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 89 

astray in thinking them clever and subtle, their 
writers with skilful art so manipulating language 
as to make capital for favorite views. Nothing 
could be less accurate. What the gospel was to them 
they show, and all their motives lie on the surface. 
To turn to that amazing Apocalypse of John, in 
these latter days so much perturbing the vulgar 
Christian brain. It had its era of literary criticism, 
which, indeed, is not yet over, for it offers a great 
number of extraordinarily tantalizing literary prob 
lems. Its original language, its unity, its dependence 
on Jewish predecessors, its date and authorship on 
all these and many similar problems there is more 
light yet to be sought and found. That it is a 
literary product is clear; it is no spontaneous tran 
script of a single ecstatic experience. Quotation 
marks should thickly sprinkle its pages; it smells 
of the lamp. And yet it is profoundly original; 
an elemental spirit has laid hold of its somewhat 
heterogeneous sources and welded them into a 
compact whole, and in the process they have under 
gone a sea change into something new and passing 
strange. But our generation has seen that the 
riddle of the Apocalypse is not to be solved by literary 
analysis alone; back of their literary history the 
images and concepts have a history in the religious 
thinking of mankind, in diverse ages, among diverse 
peoples. The Apocalypse is the New Testament 
document where the religions geschichtliche Methode 
has the freest field and has won the most undoubted 



go THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

victories. Here in very truth we cannot go far 
without falling back on the study of the history of 
religious ideas and their visualization in the imagina 
tion of primitive man. Gunkel and Bousset, Charles 
and Case, have taught us here, and we have still 
much to learn. Not that John himself borrows 
directly from Babylon and Persia and the myths of 
Greece, but that he takes up current concepts and 
pictures which have behind them a long history of 
which he is unconscious. For him they are a part 
of the Jewish apocalyptic coin of the time. But no 
Jew before or after our John made such magnificent 
use of the material. It is all very well to say that this 
is an apocalypse like any other; it is assuredly an 
apocalypse unlike any other. Use all the methods 
of eschatological interpretation, of literary analysis; 
search mythology and folklore for the origin of 
dragon and serpent and white horse and ram, but 
the final clue is given by the fact that the ram is 
Christianized and made, with whatever of grotesque- 
ness, into the Messiah who had been slain. Though 
here we have eschatology in its most florid develop 
ment, it is dominated and controlled by a wonderful 
religious experience. It is not always that eschatol 
ogy and religion go hand in hand; here, as nowhere 
else, they are inseparable. 

The name and tradition of John of the Revelation 
have been widely borrowed for the writer of a com 
pletely antipodal work, the Fourth Gospel. No two 
writings could more definitely face in opposite 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 91 

directions, and yet there is a baffling, elusive Johan- 
nine suggestion clinging like an odor about the 
Gospel. Time was when to name the anonymous 
author, and to name him John of Zebedee, was the 
most important thing to do with respect to this work. 
Now it is less important to name him than to fathom 
what manner of man he was and to understand his 
reaction upon the gospel of Jesus. After all, if he 
were the apostle John, then the apostle John wrote 
that sort of work and shared this well-defined con 
ception. The identification would throw light on him 
and his processes of thought, but none at all on the 
gospel, which stands there stronger than all theories 
and traditions. It is what it is, and any theory 
must fit it, not dominate it. Only gradually has the 
church yielded her conviction that here a beloved 
disciple of the Master spoke out the very heart of 
Christ. That tradition is today, however, yielding 
on every side. It yields with frequent reservations, 
to be sure, but it yields. It is difficult to suppose that 
the next generation will believe either in the Johan- 
nine authorship or the historical character of the 
work. But that is far from saying that the next 
generation will fail in any degree to appreciate the 
full worth of this anonymous masterpiece. The 
work from its earliest appearance struck readers of 
the synoptics as in sharp contrast to them, and has 
therefore been a problem. It was natural to inter 
pret it negatively, in terms of what it was not, what 
it lacked, of its divergence from its predecessors. 



92 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

So in our day we have elaborate tables of these 
discrepancies and find ourselves placed squarely 
before the alternative: either the synoptic presenta 
tion of Jesus or the Johannine. They are mutually 
exclusive. Sentiment and doctrinal considerations 
apart, this judgment will stand, and will more and 
more compel the conviction of every disinterested 
student. But it is an enormous misfortune that the 
synoptics were ever made the standard for estimating 
this gospel, that it has from the first been seen in a 
negative light, as different from something else. 
For it is an intensely positive work and demands to be 
judged on its own merits, for its own peculiar and 
highly valuable presentation. That it is discrepant 
from its predecessors is relevant only if it aims to be 
what they are. But this aim it not only nowhere 
professes but at every point disavows. It does 
not mean to give the facts over again, or to sub 
stitute a new set of gospel facts for those already 
familiar; it means to give the significance of the 
facts for the faith of the church of the early second 
century. The Jesus who here speaks is not the 
historic Jesus of Galilee in the year 30; he is the 
Jesus of the church s faith nearly a century later. 
He is represented as declaring what he was actually 
saying through his church in those years. He is 
made the protagonist and spokesman of the church 
in its debate with the world, in its debate especially 
with the Jews. He is, by a bold but singularly 
felicitous device, let to say of himself what the church 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 93 

says of him. The strange egotism of the gospel, a rock 
of offense to some, is here explained. The seven 
great "I Ams" are just the church s repeated "He 
is." To understand the Fourth Gospel we have 
learned to turn all the utterances of Jesus into the 
third person. But how effective is the first! The 
author might say of him: He is to our souls the Bread 
of Life, he is the Good Shepherd, he was before 
Abraham in the bosom of God his Father. Instead, 
Jesus boldly declares: "I am the living bread that 
came down out of heaven; he that eateth my flesh 
and drinketh my blood hath eternal life." Could 
the evangelist have discoursed so effectively about 
the Eucharist ? He means to lift the veil of historic 
circumstance and let the heavenly visitant shine 
through in his proper glory. Every reader is put in 
the place of the three disciples in the synoptic incident 
of the Transfiguration, an incident which fails in this 
gospel save as it has its equivalent in the gospel as a 
whole. Or we are like the disciples of Emmaus: 
our eyes have been holden. Now, of a sudden, they 
are opened, and he is known of us in the earthly 
setting for a dweller in another sphere. We see what 
he really was, what his words really meant, what his 
deeds signified, what was implicit in him, what was 
involved in his very being here, the divine reality 
back of the human phenomenon. The eternal val 
ues assert themselves. The Fourth Gospel is the 
faith of the church put into the mouth of Jesus and 
into symbolic deed at his hand. It is not a true 



94 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

record of the Galilean Jesus whom Pilate crucified; 
it is a marvelously true picture of the Asian Jesus 
of the early second century, the Lamb that removed 
the sin of the cosmos, who had long ago died and risen 
and ascended up where he was before, the eternal 
Logos, who by the twin sacraments of the incarnation 
and the excarnation had redeemed the world. 

The actual historic life of Jesus we study today 
as a phenomenon in the history of religion. All 
other aspects of it are subordinate to this, indeed, 
are unintelligible save in the light of this. The great 
fact itself and the various legendary accretions that 
gathered round the fact serve this interest and this 
alone. Something happened there in Palestine 1900 
years ago that cleft human history sheer in two. 
It was that a young man had an extraordinary 
experience of religion; nothing save this. His words 
and his behavior were but the outward flowering of 
his religion. His life was obscure enough and without 
notable incident; it left its unparalleled impression 
not at all because of what he did, but because of 
what he was. Of incident in Jesus career there is 
practically nothing in the records save those benevo 
lences to which a later age attached the name and 
dogmatic conception of miracles. But even such of 
these as seem clearly historic incident and not legend 
ary embellishment had no such uniqueness and in 
terpretation as later dogmatic necessity put upon 
them. It was not, in any large sense, a notable 
career; it was, in every sense, a notable experience 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 95 

of religion. It was as a religious man that Jesus 
worked what we call miracles. Not as Messiah, not 
as Son of Man or Son of God, not by virtue of any 
unique status, did he go about doing good, healing 
alike the bodies and souls of the people. Healing 
and helping the poor was no part of Messiah s task; 
Jesus compassionate heart, his deep sense of brother 
hood, drove him to meet the piteous need, and his 
profound faith in the power and the love of God 
made him able to serve as the efficient mediator of 
that power and love to suffering men and women. 
There can be no historic question that Jesus was 
endowed with notable powers, especially powers of 
calming disordered minds and restoring diseased 
organisms to health. It is precisely modern science, 
with its researches into pathological psychology and 
its revival of the ancient practice of psycho-therapy, 
which has made us believe that the stories of healing 
by Jesus and the apostles rest on a solid foundation 
of fact. Colored, enlarged here and there in the 
process of oral tradition, the list of cases has inevitably 
been, yet in the main the things happened. The 
sick were cured, the demoniacs were relieved of their 
possession, not always permanently in either case, 
perhaps, but often or commonly so. If Jesus were 
not a successful spiritual healer of this type, the 
Gospels could hardly make any claim to historicity, 
and many a modern therapeutist would leave him 
far behind. As to the four nature-miracles recorded, 
they are either legend or the outgrowth of simpler 



96 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

happenings. As legend, we can see and appreciate 
their homiletic point; in a story like that of the fig tree 
blasted by Jesus curse we can see a parable turned by 
repeated and vigorous homiletic use into a narrative 
of outward fact. We are far today from that rational 
izing treatment of the miracles which, as Matthew 
Arnold well said, got rid of all the poetry without 
removing the difficulty. We do wish to give them 
rational treatment, but reason tells us that when 
Jesus "went about doing good and healing all that 
were oppressed of the devil" it was truly because 
"God was with him"; it was a phenomenon of 
religion. And when these narratives became a part 
of the synoptists record, it was for their religious 
significance; they were gospel for these writers, texts 
for preaching, not "miracles," not "proofs" of 
anything. The "evidential" use of these narratives, 
foreign to their origin and fatal to their religious 
effectiveness, is fortunately passing away. As A. B. 
Bruce said as far back as 1892, "Men do not now 
believe in Christ because of His miracles: they rather 
believe in the miracles because they have first believed 
in Christ." Jesus himself, long ago, when he vehe 
mently repudiated the kind of sign the Fourth 
Evangelist presents with such zeal, evaluated cor 
rectly the worth of conviction based on evidential 
miracle. " It is an evil and adulterous generation that 
seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given unto it. " 
William Temple asks (Mens Creatrix, pp. 311-13), 
"What could be further from discipleship than one 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 97 

who was convinced that Christ is the revelation of 
God, while wishing all the time that he were not? 7 
The powers of Jesus evidence a great, ardent, vital, 
kindling, religious personality, who moved and 
spoke with an authority that even his enemies had to 
acknowledge, to which minds normal and abnormal 
were submissive. This is the great outstanding 
phenomenon, which demands our recognition and 
our reverent study. But the issue is only beclouded 
by trying to save any meaning for the term " miracle" 
which can be valid for the twentieth-century mind. 
The eschatology of Jesus is another element in his 
religion which only in our own recent day has come 
to be correctly esteemed. From the latter part of the 
first century, when its literal fulfilment began to 
appear dubious, it has been a difficulty, something to 
be explained away, as meaning something else. 
Dogmatic theology had little trouble in giving it an 
ecclesiastical interpretation, and the latter-day " lib 
eral" theologians, with their social and ethical 
predilections, found the Kingdom of God on earth 
the key to his ministry precisely in the same sense as 
it was to their own. The Jesus of their presentation, 
who belonged to the nineteenth century as much as 
to the first, and rather more to Berlin and Oxford and 
Boston than to Capernaum, was not the Jesus of the 
gospels any more than was the Jesus of the creeds. 
In our generation we have once more become content 
to take him as he was and to find in the actual first- 
century Jewish artisan apocalyptic teacher something 



g8 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

of the measure of religious emancipation which 
his contemporaries found in him. We have reluc 
tantly consented to give up our efforts to explain 
away his eschatology and are trying to see it as a 
genuine part of his religious experience. This at 
once simplifies enormously the task of the interpreter 
of the gospels, and lets him for the first time deal 
candidly with his sources. Johannes Weiss opened 
our eyes here, and Albert Schweitzer gave us a still 
more vigorous arousing; English and American 
scholars like Lake and Burkitt and Scott and Bacon 
and many more have commended this understanding 
to ever-increasing numbers. Of Weiss s epoch- 
making little book (Die Predigt Jesu wm Reiche 
Gottes, 1892) Schweitzer says 

It posits the third great either-or in the investigation of 
the life of Jesus. Strauss posited the first: either purely 
historical or purely supernatural; the second the Tubinger 
and Holtzmann fought out: either synoptic or Johannine; 
now the third: either eschatological or noneschatological. 1 

This third " either-or" may now be said definitely 
to have been decided; Jesus mission was definitely 
eschatological in the contemporary sense. He did 
expect the coming of the Kingdom in his own genera 
tion, and he did go to his death believing that beyond 
the gates of Hades he would return as the apocalyptic 
Son of Man to inaugurate the reign of God. But 
having said this we have said nothing as to the 
essential contribution of Jesus. This program he 
1 Geschichte der Leben-Jesu Forschung (2d ed., 1913), p. 232. 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 99 

found ready to his hand, adopted it, and adapted it to 
his particular situation. The "consequente Eschato- 
logie" of Schweitzer errs not in its main positions, nor 
in its consistency, but in its sometimes limited vision. 
That Jesus fitted into this framework is true; that 
he was no larger than it is untrue. That he teaches 
the ethics of the Kingdom is true; that his counsels are 
merely interim-ethics, of significance only as the special 
requirement for admission to the Kingdom, is untrue. 
In a word, Jesus dreamed that God destined him 
to the messiahship, but that destiny he accepted 
only with hesitation, not as exaltation and glory, but 
as a great and solemn task, a supreme service. He 
soon came to see that the Jewish leaders meant to 
have his life; shame, suffering, and death, then, he 
accepted as steps to his messiahship, involved in 
the obligation his Father had laid upon him. The 
realization of that exaltation, therefore, and his 
entire messianic career consequent upon it, he sets 
over into that future period beyond his death. It in 
volves resurrection and exaltation to heaven, whence 
he shall come as the Son of Man, with heavenly 
equipment, to fulfi.1 his appointed task. Thus the 
messiahship is entirely absent from Jesus earthly 
life; here, though he has prematurely discovered the 
career that is in store for him, he realizes it only in 
anticipation; in no sense and in no degree does he 
function as Messiah before his death. His work here 
and now is simply that of the prophet, announcing 
the coming crisis and preparing men for it by moving 



ioo THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

them to change of heart and purifying of life.. He 
is here, in Holtzmann s felicitous phrase, his own 
forerunner. He is not Messiah, he is to be; the 
Kingdom is not present, but future. But all his 
counsels as to the conduct of human life have inde 
pendent validity; they represent the ethical ideal 
of this religious genius. For his bidding is: Prepare 
to enter the Kingdom by turning about and living 
the Kingdom-life now. The way to get in is to live 
as if you were already in. The kind of life which is to 
characterize the Kingdom, perfect in its filial relation 
to God and brotherly relation to men put on that 
kind of life now and when the Kingdom dawns you 
will be prepared to enter in and live as its citizens. 
Interim-ethics would be the counsel to do some 
strange thing, to fast or be baptized or do penance. 
Jesus ethics are the ethics of eternity; their constant 
undertone is: Live as a child of God. So soon as we 
eliminate the Kingdom and the messiahship from 
Jesus present life, and set them in that expected 
future beyond the grave, we shall see that he thought 
of them in contemporary fashion. His original 
contribution is not here; his great work, where his 
heart is, is his present work of preparation. He was 
not establishing the Kingdom, but only gathering a 
citizenship for it, a people purified, prepared, and 
waiting. When he died the Kingdom had in no sense 
or degree yet come; for Paul and the earliest genera 
tion it was in no sense behind, but before, an object 
of longing and hope, and their work, like their 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 101 

Master s, was to increase that body of citizens. The 
eschatology of the primitive church was that of 
Jesus; he had not been, but. was to be, Messiah, and 
they looked up into heaven for his advent, not his 
second coming. As the first generation passed away, 
and all things remained as they were from the founda 
tion of the world, the promise of his coming grew 
dim and dimmer and the faithful began to look back 
at the Master s single sojourn upon earth and to 
messianize that as the only messianic period possible 
for him. Whereas for Paul and the earliest genera 
tion Jesus messianic status began only with his 
resurrection or ascension (the two are one), and his 
messianic functioning only with .the still future 
parousia, for Mark he is Messiah from the baptism on; 
so for Luke, who, however, carries some of the 
messianic dignity back into the infancy. Matthew 
with his narrative of virgin birth (an element lacking 
in the original text of Luke) makes Jesus birth into 
humanity his birth as Son of God, and so his whole 
life from the cradle the career of Messiah. The 
Fourth Gospel goes farthest in this direction, making 
Jesus the Logos-Messiah from all eternity, so that 
the supreme status belongs to the whole period of 
his incarnation and equally to the eternities which 
precede and follow it. Yet it is notable that none 
of the evangelists can successfully messianize any 
period before the actual ministry. In substance all 
follow Mark: the beginning of the gospel of Jesus 
the Messiah, the Son of God, John came baptizing. 



102 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

But all such intermingling of the messianic career 
with the earthly life of Jesus is wholly foreign to his 
own conception and promise, and to the clear under 
standing of Paul and his contemporaries. We thus 
eliminate from the mission of Jesus that eschato- 
logical element which has been so great a stumbling- 
block to some by transferring it, in accordance with 
his own mind, to the time subsequent to his death. 
His actual life is left free for that work of spiritual 
renewal which has made him the supreme servant 
of the ages. Doubtless his evaluation as Christ was 
necessary to carry his person and his influence down 
to succeeding generations, but it is Jesus who saves 
you and me, not Christ, just as it was Jesus who 
saved countless penitent men and women who fell 
at his feet and received his assurance "Thy sins, 
which are many, are forgiven," before he was ever 
known or dreamed of as Christ. 

The eschatologists are right; Jesus shared literally 
the messianic hope of his time. He expected literally 
the realization of the Kingdom within his own genera 
tion; he devoutly and humbly believed that when 
Messiah should be sent to transform this present evil 
world into the new heaven and new earth wherein 
should dwell righteousness, it would be upon his own 
shoulders that the awful burden would be laid. He 
did not "reinterpret," or "spiritualize" these con 
ceptions in any essential way; it being always 
remembered that they were by no means fixed and 
stereotyped programs, but fluid plastic expressions 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 103 

of an ideal hope. What his hearers meant and 
understood him to mean by his language was what he 
did mean. But this exalted career lies for him beyond 
the cross, and none of its elements are mingled with 
the task God gave him to do as Jesus the prophet of 
Nazareth, the friend of sinners, the task he accom 
plished so supremely that those whose lives he had 
re-created could not choose but accept his evaluation 
of himself, and in the face of his death and the 
prospect of their own, though the heavens remained 
obstinately shut and no sign of his longed-for advent 
came to cheer them, could still affirm in unwavering 
confidence, "God hath made him both Lord and 
Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified, and we know 
that he shall come, even as he said. " Thus what 
Wrede calls "the messianic secret in the gospels" has 
been revealed, not indeed in precisely Wrede s fashion, 
nor wholly in Schweitzer s, but through the working 
together of these and other seekers for the truth. 

Thus, in one department after another of New 
Testament study, scholarship today is approaching 
a common method and a common understanding. 
Wide differences in detail there still are and must 
necessarily continue to be. But one by one the 
great fundamental conclusions are being established, 
and our science moves on to new positions, once 
sighted afar off by pioneers, now the secure ground of 
all forward-looking scholars whose work is done in 
freedom and with an eye single to the truth. The 
great accomplishment of our day, the thing which is 



104 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

going to make fruitful the researches of the 
immediately succeeding generations, is not the 
settlement of any specific vexed question, but that 
realization that the New Testament is purely and 
simply a phenomenon of religion. 

There used to be a department of our science 
called the Theology of the New Testament a curious 
phrase, as if documents could have a theology. And 
it was so studied and so taught: the theology of 
Hebrews, the theology of the Apocalypse. We 
demanded the dogmatic content of impersonal texts, 
without concerning ourselves with the experience 
of the man who wrote them, who might be unknown 
or doubtful and therefore need not bother us. Even 
where the writer was best known, " Paulinism " was 
more important than Paul, and might be extracted 
from documents whose writer was certainly poles 
asunder from Paul in religious temperament. All 
this anomaly is changed today, we may gratefully 
bear witness. Titles are stubbornly conservative, 
as witness those in the Revised Version of our Bible, 
which represent tradition rather than the conviction 
of the revisers. Our seminary catalogues still offer 
courses in the Theology of the New Testament. 
Heinrich WeinePs great work, published in 1911, is 
called, in accordance with the previously arranged 
scheme of the editors, Biblische Theologie des Neuen 
Testaments, but Weinel himself gives it the subtitle 
Die Religion Jesu und des Urchristentums, which is 
the subject of which it actually treats. The whole 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 105 

book is written out of the new attitude. He writes in 
his introduction: 

From a real "biblical theology," the preaching of Jesus 
would have to be excluded entirely; a theology Jesus simply 
did not have, he was an unlearned man of action. Even Paul 
is falsely understood, though after the fashion of his people he 
was a trained theologian, if he is considered primarily from this 
point of view. He is a missionary, and all his letters stand in 

the service of his mission The place of the biblical 

theology of the New Testament must be assumed by a presen 
tation of the religion of the earliest Christianity. 

Wilhelm Wrede of Breslau as early as 1897, in his 
brochure, Uber Aufgabe und Methode der sogenannten 
neutestamentlichen Theologie, had already set forth 
this approach to the subject in words extraordinarily 
fruitful for the future. He asks: 

What are we really seeking ? In the last analysis what we 
actually wish to know is this: what was believed, thought, 
taught, hoped, demanded, striven for in Christianity s earliest 
day, not what specific documents contain on the subject of 
faith, doctrine, hope, and the like. 

This is a comment upon the caption : New Testament 
Theology/ But it may serve to sum up the status 
and prospects of New Testament study in our time. 
It is not today, still less will it be in days to come, 
study of the New Testament as such at all, but study 
of the religious experience which those precious docu 
ments enshrine and of the human personalities in which 
that experience was kindled by the life-giving touch 
of Jesus, from which it was transmitted by spiritual 
contagion to be the supreme treasure of succeeding 
ages, down to our own, and after us, world without end. 
CLAYTON RAYMOND BOWEN 



CHURCH HISTORY 



HISTORY IN THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION 

The two generations covered by the life of this 
school of sacred learning have witnessed the progress 
of one of the most momentous changes ever wrought 
in the history of mankind. If we are willing to divest 
ourselves for a moment of all unessential details we 
may readily convince ourselves that since fire was 
brought down from heaven, from being the plaything 
of the gods to be the most important of the servants 
of man, there have taken place on this earth only 
two changes of the first magnitude in the processes 
of human life. The first of these was when some 
unknown genius conceived the idea of subjecting the 
wild beasts of the field to the purposes of human 
industry. That change occurred so long ago that all 
memory of it has faded from the minds of men. 
History has no record of a time when the horse and 
the ox were not ploughing the field or moving the 
weights too heavy for men. The earliest pictorial 
records of civilization show us chariots of war drawn by 
noble horses splendidly caparisoned, and back of these 
there must have been a long, long story of struggle 
leading to the final domination of man over beast. 

The second great material stage of human prog 
ress is marked by the application of the long-known 

106 



CHURCH HISTORY 107 

expansive force of steam to the mechanical needs of 
the modern world. Between these two epochs it is 
not too much to say that the fundamental processes 
of industry had not essentially changed. The 
plough which turned the virgin soil of Ohio was not 
greatly superior to that which had scratched the 
furrows of the Euphrates valley. The rate of trans 
portation of goods over the roads of this country 
before 1840 was slower than that obtainable on the 
ancient Roman roads, because those ancient roads 
were better made. 

But it is not merely, nor even primarily, with these 
vast transformations in the material world that we, 
as students of human history, are concerned. Paral 
lel with all material and industrial movement goes 
on also a movement of human society adapting itself 
to the ever shifting forms which these applications of 
power are sure to take. The control of physical 
resources by one man, or by a group of aristocrats, or 
by the organized workers themselves gave rise to 
those political structures, monarchies, aristocracies, 
or democracies, the story of whose rise and fall makes 
the substance of that unending record we call in a 
special sense history. And once more, during this 
whole long period, from the beginning of recorded 
time to the opening decades of the last century, these 
political adjustments and readjustments went on 
in a society not essentially changed. Privilege at the 
one end, slavery at the other, and in between such 
shifting associations of free industrial and financial 



io8 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

groups as could win a foothold for themselves and 
prove themselves useful to society as a whole. 

Then came the greatest, and, so far as we are 
concerned, the final change. Within the memory of 
men now living this astounding development of human 
energy we call the modern industrial movement has 
gone on. It furnishes us with one of the backgrounds 
for the consideration of every phenomenon of the 
modern world, but it is only one. There is another 
of equal, perhaps even of greater, significance. In 
the years during which the first steam engines were 
doing their pioneer work in industry a group of eager 
experimenters were making those first observations 
which were to result very shortly in the proclamation 
of what we now know as the development theory of 
all life. How vast and how complete a transformation 
in the thoughts of men upon every subject this new 
doctrine was to make only we of the elder generation 
can now appreciate. To younger men who have 
grown up in the atmosphere of what the elder Agassiz 
used to call " devilopement, " it came as a matter of 
course, but during the earlier years of this School, 
the battle raged with a fury unequaled in any sub 
sequent encounter of ideas. 

On the one side were ranged all those forces 
which seemed to find support only in what we now 
recognize as the " spasmodic" conception of life, of 
life, that is to say, broken up into periods of time and 
into forms of existence to be accounted for only on 
the theory of arbitrary interruptions, coming in from 



CHURCH HISTORY 109 

some vague region known as "outside" and regulated 
by some still more vague personality, whose essence 
was arbitrariness, and whose methods were inde 
pendent of human volitions. That is a conception 
of life that dies hard. It is far from dead yet. It 
appeals to all that sense of utter dependence upon 
something outside ourselves which to many minds 
is only another way of expressing religion. 

On the other side of this great debate were enlisted 
from the start all those other elements of society 
which found the chief satisfactions of their thought 
in the idea of unfailing and unending law. To such 
minds the movement of all life seemed to be only 
the unfolding of one vast design. They were not 
greatly concerned with definitions as to final causes 
and still less with ultimate purposes. What cap 
tivated them in the new presentation of the vital 
processes was its suggestion of a law of being working 
itself out through the development of new forms and 
new capacities out of those already in existence. 
To them the statement that God made man in his 
own image contained no fantastic implication of an 
artist building an image after his own reflection in a 
mirror and then, as it were, winding up this image to 
run its brief course in the infinite procession of things. 
It meant rather that man, built up through the natural 
processes he was now just beginning to observe and to 
interpret, was himself a part of the universal life and 
contained within himself a share of those potentialities 
to which in our despair we give the name of " divine." 



no THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

The issue of the conflict could not be long in doubt. 
Assailed at first with a blind hostility, the new ideas 
gradually commended themselves to an increasing 
number of thinking men until now it is only in the 
last strongholds of reactionism that they are nomi 
nally condemned, and even there they are being 
restated and appropriated to the purposes of orthodox 
propaganda. At first too these ideas were captured 
by over-ready champions and presented with a 
crudeness and a confidence foreign to the scientific 
spirit of Darwin and his like. They had to be pruned 
and fostered by judicious disciples before they could 
be set free to do their noble work of clarifying and 
ordering the thought of men. 

But what, you will be asking by this time, has 
all this to do with the condition and the future of 
church history ? I will try to answer. The leaven of 
these transforming ideas began to work in a world 
already deeply absorbed in an entirely new enthusiasm 
for historical studies. One of the most obvious 
reactions against the French imperialism of Napoleon 
was a revival of nationalist zeal throughout Europe, 
and one of the first expressions of this nationalist 
spirit was the impulse to investigate every detail 
of the past experience of every country. Where 
political activity was frowned upon and promptly 
suppressed, this more subtle form of nationalist 
propaganda was directly encouraged. Vast enter 
prises looking toward the collection and publication 
of the historical records of Germany, France, Italy, 



CHURCH HISTORY in 

and England were inaugurated and maintained, and 
this activity goes on to the present moment, in 
diminished volume, but with unabated energy. 

And not in the collection of material alone. 
Monumental histories, covering not merely the 
nations then in existence, but including every country 
and every phase of the ancient world, were produced, 
and the great European countries vied with each 
other in the scope and magnitude of these under 
takings. What especially interests us, however, is 
the new spirit which animated all this eager activity. 
Wholly in harmony with the character of the investi 
gations of Darwin and his followers, this new historical 
school introduced a working principle that was nothing 
less than revolutionary. Or rather, if I may put it 
in this way, they elevated to practical importance a 
principle known to every historian from Herodotus 
down, professed by them all and violated in greater 
or less degree by them all. That is the principle, 
so simple that it hardly needs to be expressed, that 
the historian should make no statement not based 
upon the kind of evidence by which such a statement 
can be proved. No one doubted the soundness of 
this theory of historical writing; but until the period 
we are speaking of very little had been done to bring 
it into effective practice. Take, for example, Gibbon. 
There is no doubt whatever that Gibbon read faith 
fully the original materials on which his narrative is 
based, but he nowhere analyzes in detail the whole 
body of this material. He by no means swallows 



112 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

it whole; he accepts here and rejects there, but his 
concern is more with assimilating his material so 
that i will reappear in a new and impressive form 
than in weighing and measuring it according to any 
principles of criticism. Gibbon published his great 
book in the year of American Independence. 

Now it is precisely this process of critical analysis 
that distinguishes the work of the nineteenth-century 
historical school. Niebuhr wrote his history of Rome 
between 1811 and 1832. He was the first to lay 
profane hands upon the sacred traditions of the early 
period and to do this in pursuance of a definite theory 
of historical criticism. It was his merit to make 
clear once for all that it was the first business of the 
historian so to examine and co-ordinate the whole 
body of his material that his narrative should be able 
to stand the test of the most rigid inquiry. It was 
the method of all true science applied to a subject 
that until then had hardly been reckoned among the 
sciences at all. The Muse of History had heretofore 
been represented with a pen; henceforth the spade 
was to be added to her necessary equipment. 

It has been customary to speak of this new epoch 
as a German contribution to civilization, and there is 
no doubt that the qualities of the modern German 
people were peculiarly adapted to the working out 
of all the detail of the process. But the work has 
been done by all the civilized peoples of Europe with 
such variations as the national genius of each natu 
rally produced. The method has been one, and the 



CHURCH HISTORY 113 

result is a magnificent volume both of material and of 
interpretation, upon which all future production will 
have to be based. 

Let us ask ourselves for a moment what has been 
the permanent content of this result. It has given 
us in the first place a new conception of the meaning 
of the word "historical. " At a conference of teachers 
and writers of history I was engaged in conversation 
by a person whom I judged to belong to the race of 
so-called "Educators" and who proceeded to enlighten 
me with his views about history. "The trouble with 
our history now-a-days, " he declared, "is that it is 
too retrospective," and during the rather bad quarter 
of an hour which he gave me this phrase kept recur 
ring like a refrain in his monologue: "Our history 
now-a-days is too retrospective!" Precisely what he 
meant I did not discover. Whether he had some 
vague idea that history ought to concern itself more 
with the present or with the future was not clear, 
nor in his case did it greatly matter. He had got 
his phrase, and that for him was the main thing. 
In his vacant fashion he was expressing the notion 
that the attention of the educators of our day was 
turning too much to the past and to that extent 
neglecting what he would doubtless have called "live 
issues." I refer to this only as an illustration of a 
prevailing error in the definition of the historical. 

To say that history concerns itself with the past 
is to indicate only one of its distinctive characteristics. 
Another of these is that history deals with an endless 



H4 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

series of sequences of cause and effect, and it is this 
aspect of the historical that specially interests us here. 
For it is in this law of sequence that historical study 
found its closest analogy with the scientific movement. 
A new canon of historical criticism was set up and, 
allowing for human frailty, fairly rigidly maintained. 
That canon was that in this chain of sequences there 
can be no breaks, nowhere and nohow. This is by 
no means to say that the connecting links between 
the cause and the effect are always to be discerned. 
If human insight could accomplish this feat we 
should be gods, not men. What was demanded was 
that we should recognize the fact of such connection 
and then in all humility go as far as we can in trying to 
understand it. Above all else the teaching of this 
new school was that in this attempt to understand 
there was no room for fear. No matter to what 
unforeseen results our boldest inquiries might lead, 
there was only one thing to do, to accept them and 
fit them in as best we might into the whole volume 
of discovered truth. The historian and the scientist 
were to work by the same methods and be guided by 
the same faith in the permanent value of careful re 
search and honest judgment. 

A colleague of mine in the field of geology sent out 
one of his most promising pupils to teach in a remote 
institution of learning. On his arrival the young 
man was assured by his departmental chief that the 
institution justly prided itself upon its liberality. 
He was to expound the principles of geology absolutely 



CHURCH HISTORY 115 

as he believed right, but with a certain hesitation 
when he came to explain the creation of the earth 
he would do well to consult the president! No such 
feeble faith could long resist the assault of true 
learning and invincible courage, and these were si 
lently doing their revealing work! 

Occupation with the past and a method depending 
upon the sequence of cause and effect these are two 
of the elements which go to make up the definition of 
the historical process. There is a third of no less 
importance, touching upon the nature of the evidence 
upon which the so-called truth of history must rest. 
That evidence is absolutely limited to the witness of 
human beings. No matter whether this witness be 
borne orally or in writing, by document or by tradi 
tion, it becomes historical evidence only so far as it 
relates to things knowable by ordinary human powers 
and transmissible by ordinary human means. It 
takes no cognizance of revelations or miracles or 
dreams or visions, of honest intentions, sincere 
hallucinations, rumors however confidently believed 
in, or legends however widely accepted. The chal 
lenge which the historian must face is the same as 
that presented to the witness in a court of law. 
Hearsay evidence will be refused. A legal colleague 
of mine tells a story of a witness who said: "I was 
sitting in my office, when I heard some one in the 
corridor, and I said to myself . . . ." "Stop!" said 
the opposing counsel "I object! That is hearsay evi 
dence. " No less rigid is the standard of the historian. 



n6 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

But it will be said that truth reached by this 
method must always suffer from the frailties of human 
nature. Perfectly true; the same is true also of the 
decisions of every court of law. The honest historian 
knows that what he calls truth is only a high degree of 
probability, but just as the civil community finds its 
safeguard in the acceptance of the decisions of its 
lawfully constituted courts, so the world does best 
when it accepts the results of the highest historical 
scholarship it can command. It is only a savage com 
munity that tries to even things up by shooting the 
judge. 

So far I have been speaking of history in general, 
meaning thereby what we all mean in ordinary dis 
course, the record of political and social institutions 
as they have been shaped by economic and racial 
struggle. I come now to that phase of history which 
is my special topic, the history of the Christian 
church, and, if some of the considerations to which 
I have already called your attention have seemed to 
you so obvious as to be mere commonplaces, I fear 
I shall only be adding another of the same sort if I 
remind you that the history of the church is only one 
chapter in the history of mankind as a whole. Well, 
commonplace or not, it is true that to bring this fact 
to the conscience of the thinking world has been the 
hardest struggle of the last two generations of scholars 
and teachers. To apply to the records of the church 
the same hard, cold standards of critical judgment 
that were being applied to the records of other forms 



CHURCH HISTORY 117 

of institutional life seemed to the men of the early 
nineteenth century to be a kind of blasphemy. To 
ask in regard to these records: When were they 
written? Who wrote them? Were their alleged 
authors in position to know whereof they were 
speaking? Were they likely to be actuated by any 
personal or partisan motives in preparing their 
accounts? Have these records come down to us as 
they were made, or have they been tampered with 
by ignorance or partisanship? All these questions 
seemed like an impertinence to multitudes of faithful 
souls. 

The beginnings of your School coincide pretty 
nearly with the early stages of this bitter conflict. 
Strauss s Leben Jesu appeared in 1835. The monu 
mental activity of Ferdinand Christian Baur extended 
from about 1840 to 1860. Many names, laudatory 
and abusive, were given to the school of criticism of 
which he was the founder, but the name by which its 
members specially elected to be called was the 
" historical school." They claimed above all else to 
be working historically, and by that they meant just 
what I have been here trying to suggest, the appli 
cation to the documents of Christianity the same 
tests as to trustworthiness which were being applied 
in every other field of human organization. 

It was inevitable that the methods of this new 
process should have been exaggerated, and this 
exaggeration was still more emphasized by the sys 
tem of philosophy which was dominating the most 



Ii8 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

advanced thought of the day. The fascinating propo 
sitions of the Hegelian School found one of their 
most brilliant illustrations in the sweeping deductions 
of Baur and his associates. The records of early 
Christianity, it was said, must be studied in the light 
of that invariable process of conflict and reconciliation 
that formed the shibboleth of Hegelianism. Not 
theological discussions, but historical antitheses were 
the stuff out of which the only solid structure 
of history could be built. And here were the 
antitheses ready to hand. Christianity, as everyone 
knew, was preached by a Hebrew to Hebrews and 
only in a comparatively later stage and in face of 
bitter opposition was it so interpreted that it could 
be made acceptable to the gentile world. Here then 
you had the perfect field for the Hegelian formula. 
First the conflict between Hebrew and Gentile, and 
then the reconciliation. Consequently here was the 
key for the understanding of all early documents. 
It was not very difficult to sort out such of these as 
were distinctly Hebrew or were distinctly Pauline, 
but there were others as to which this sharpness of 
distinction could not be maintained. What about 
these? Why, obviously, these must be attempts at 
reconciliation between the two. Further, since the 
Hebrew writings were likely to be the older, the 
Pauline later, and since there could not be recon 
ciliation until there was something to reconcile, it 
beautifully followed that here was a chronological 
scheme into which the whole of the early Christian 



CHURCH HISTORY 119 

literature could be fitted with quite satisfying 
completeness. 

It was a pretty game and it worked out to an 
astonishing measure of success. The fault with it, 
as with so many other feats of German ingenuity 
or ingenuousness was that it was too complete. 
It laid itself open to the charge of violating the very 
principle it professed to illustrate, and it needed 
only the mole-work of far inferior minds to show 
its weak points. No one, I suppose, would now 
undertake to defend the critical results of the Tub 
ingen Historical School in their entirety, and yet I do 
not hesitate to say that it marks by far the most 
important moment in the whole progress of church 
history studies. It established once for all the 
foundation on which all future study and teaching 
were to be built. It is not too much to say, as Adolf 
Harnack said of himself, that every writer on church 
history since 1860 stands on the shoulders of Ferdi 
nand Christian Baur. The foundation has been 
broadened, but it could hardly be deepened, for it 
touches the bedrock of a truly scientific method. 
Through its support church history has made its way 
into the company of the sciences. 

It would be going too far to say that there have 
been no backward steps in this general movement 
forward. The acceptance of a truly historical method 
in church history has often been a grudging one. 
Many devices have been adopted to save the remnants 
of the ancient spasmodic doctrine of life and to 



120 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

employ the language while denying the spirit of 
fearless and unsparing criticism. Men are still play 
ing with definitions of the miraculous, definitions 
of a thing which does not exist. Belief in the miracu 
lous exists indeed, as it has always existed, but that 
is a problem of human psychology, not one of physical 
science. The Roman Catholic church is enjoying 
one of its moments of jubilant expansion over the 
belated discovery that Joan of Arc was or is, which 
ever may be the correct tense a saint, and everyone 
knows that the final test of official sainthood is the 
performance of a required number of miracles duly 
attested by the witness of persons who, simply because 
they are human, are absolutely incapable of bearing 
witness to anything not perceptible by ordinary 
human faculties. 

Such phenomena as this are for the moment 
discouraging. They prove how reluctant people are 
to follow out any chain of rational thought to its 
inevitable consequences to use the language of our 
present interest how hard it is to get people to 
think historically. And yet, taking the large result, 
it is certain that the historical achievement of the last 
half-century has been one of its greatest triumphs. 

The reaction of these European discussions upon 
American thought could not be long delayed. The 
extraordinary political, economic, and social advance 
of Germany after the Franco-Prussian War attracted 
to her all those young, eager spirits who were dis 
satisfied with the academic opportunities at home 



CHURCH HISTORY 1 21 

and were seeking for the something better they 
vaguely desired but were too immature to formulate 
for themselves. They joyfully embarked on the 
Great Adventure, and came back, some of them with 
a blind enthusiasm for everything German, others 
with a better balance of judgment between the 
really good things Germany had given them and the 
overblown national conceit which nullified so much 
of the good, in other words, a reasonable mingling 
of admiration for German accomplishment and detes 
tation of the German national character. 

I was one of the earliest in this company of ardent 
youths who came home to challenge the academic 
world of America to give them a chance. When I 
began my service in 1876 the conditions of historical 
instruction in America had but one encouraging 
aspect, namely, that there was a great work to do and 
very few workmen ready to do it. In one of our 
most important Eastern colleges the only teaching of 
history was given during one-half of the Senior year 
by the professor of the harmony of science and 
religion! Any respectable gentleman with a reputa 
tion for much "reading" was fitted to sit behind a 
book and hear the recitations of reluctant under 
graduates. 

As to church history, the situation was, I think, 
a little better. The very necessities of theological 
controversy compelled a certain acquaintance with 
the general course of historical events, and a certain 
familiarity with at least the great fundamental 



122 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

documents of the Christian faith. It meant a good 
deal that the first history of the church to be written 
with a truly historical purpose, the still useful treatise 
of Neander, should be translated by an American 
scholar as early as 1847 an d should be widely 
accepted as the basis of instruction in theological 
schools. The fatal thing about this instruction was 
its isolation from the study of history in general. 
As a rule the teachers of church history were men not 
specially trained in historical study. They were 
almost without exception clergymen, and in far too 
many cases were clergymen who had ceased to be 
useful in the proper work of their profession. 

Where the first impulse to better things came 
from I am unable to say, but certainly one of the 
earliest indications of a change is to be found in the 
terms of foundation of the Winn Professorship at 
Cambridge, of which I had later the honor to be the 
first incumbent. This foundation took place in 
1876 through a decree of the Supreme Court of 
Massachusetts allowing certain trustees under the 
will of Jonathan Bowers Winn, a Unitarian layman, 
to devote a portion of his bequest to this purpose. 
The bequest had been made to the trustees for the 
benefit of the Unitarian denomination, and the decree 
of court sets forth among its numerous "whereases" 
that " Ecclesiastical History is an essential department 
of study for Unitarians, as well as other ministers, 
and is of the highest value in the religious education 
of Unitarians, as of other youths." In enumerat- 






CHURCH HISTORY 123 

ing the duties of the professor to be appointed the 
decree says: 

He shall also give instruction .... on such subjects 
as the religious history of the world; the relations of secular 
and church history; the influence of Christianity on the 
Roman Law, of pre-existing institutions, religions and philoso 
phies on Christianity; and the origin, history and scope of 
the canon Law. 

Quite a sufficient program, you will agree, to engage 
the best endeavors of at least a half-dozen professors, 
and needless to remark that the later incumbent 
never succeeded in wholly fulfilling its require 
ments. 

I quote this interesting document here as a sig 
nificant indication that, at least so far as Harvard 
University and the Unitarian denomination were 
concerned, the traditional separation between so- 
called secular and church history was at an end. 
My own appointment to the Winn Professorship 
six years later, in 1882, I felt to be a still further 
expression of this purpose, for I had been during just 
that interval of six years a teacher of European 
history, dealing with the church only as one among 
the institutions of European society. So far as I 
have had any influence upon the young men now 
veterans in the pulpits and the academic chairs of all 
Christian denominations throughout the country, it 
has been in this direction of a purely historical con 
ception of the origin and progress of Christianity, 
both on its institutional and on its doctrinal side. 



124 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

There is one further aspect of the Winn decree of 
almost equal, perhaps in its results of even greater, 
importance. Several times in the course of its 
specifications it repeats the provision that the instruc 
tion given under its endowment shall always be open 
to all students of every department of the University. 
That is only another way of saying that the history 
of the church is an essential part of a knowledge of 
history in general, without any special reference to 
professional equipment. In pursuance of this pre 
scription the courses in church history were accepted 
by the faculty of arts and sciences and incorporated 
with the offerings of the department of history. The 
attendance of arts students has ordinarily been 
distinctly larger than that of theological candidates, 
and, so far as diligent inquiry could discover, the 
mingling of the two has been acceptable to both. 
In this past generation there have been few can 
didates for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 
history who have not chosen some topic for their 
general examination from the field of church history. 

I speak of these personal observations only as 
illustrating the progress which the study of church 
history has made as an essential element of American 
education. I need only to remind you that the man 
to whom all of us look up as the most distinguished 
American historical scholar of his time, Mr. Henry 
C. Lea, worked almost entirely within this field. 
Today there are no more profound students of Euro 
pean church history here than James W. Thompson, 



CHURCH HISTORY 125 

of Chicago, Charles H. Haskins, of Cambridge, 
Rufus Jones, of Haverford, and George L. Burr, of 
Cornell, though none of these is technically a pro 
fessor of the subject. 

In the year 1884 I had the privilege of being one 
in a little group of historical students who met 
at Saratoga and organized the American Historical 
Association, since grown to be the central organ of 
historical scholarship in the country. One of the 
most interesting problems of its early years was the 
question of church history studies in their relation to 
the work of the Association as a whole, a question 
which became more acute through the action of the 
church historians themselves. Not long after the 
founding of the Association, in 1888 it was again my 
fortune to be present at a meeting of teachers of 
church history at the house of Professor Philip 
ScharT of Union Seminary, called to consider the 
formation of a Church History Society. It was my 
opinion at the time, and in this I was supported by 
Professor George P. Fisher, of Yale, that the wise 
policy would be to join with the Association as a 
separate section, but this opinion was perhaps for 
tunately overruled, and under the vigorous leader 
ship of Dr. Schaff the new Society went on for several 
years as an independent organization. Later it was 
incorporated with the Association, but meanwhile 
this body had grown to such portentous dimensions 
that the Society felt itself crowded into corners and 
cramped in its activities, and again it separated and 



126 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

enjoyed for a time the devoted service of Dr. Samuel 
Macauley Jackson as its guiding spirit. Since his 
lamented death it has been once more placed on a 
new footing and is doing efficient work in bringing 
together professional students and teachers of church 
history and in publishing their results. 

So far as organization goes we may, therefore, 
regard the present conditions of our subject as most 
encouraging. It holds an honorable place in academic 
programs, it is professed by men who have usually 
had a long and technical preparation for this special 
work. As a rule these men are duly impressed with 
the importance of maintaining a sound relation 
between church history and other historical pursuits. 
What then shall we say as to the prospects for the 
future ? Prophecy is not the business of the historian 
and I am not concerned here with giving any glowing 
picture of what the coming years may bring. It is 
always the tendency of the historian to measure the 
future by the past and to restrain the natural impulse 
of sound human nature to see it with the eyes of 
hope and faith rather than with those of experience. 

One thing is certain: organization and equipment 
may do much in stimulating an interest already 
existing, but they can do little to create such an 
interest. The real problem is: to what extent his 
torical studies are going to attract the best minds 
among our academic youth, and we may be fairly 
sure that such attraction will represent well enough 
the interest of our community in general for the 



CHURCH HISTORY 127 

historical view of present problems. So far as the 
schools of theology are concerned, it must be con 
fessed that two other interests have crowded upon 
the more distinctively historical studies with almost 
crushing effect, during the past generation. These 
are the speculative and the humanitarian, especially 
the latter. "Social ethics," the application of the 
Christian morality to the relations of man with man 
in everyday contact, has claimed the attention of 
many of our most promising youth almost to the 
exclusion of every other consideration. There have 
been times when it required all the faith and courage 
one had to maintain the due proportion of values 
for the historical foundations without which the 
theological speculations and the humanitarian enthu 
siasms of the moment are floating about in a nebulous 
twilight of ineffective vagueness. 

Especially has this question been forced upon us 
by the incredible catastrophe of a world-war. In 
the early part of the year 1916 I found myself saying 
to an audience of Harvard graduates that the most 
surprising thing about the war was the number of 
impossible things that had happened. The war was 
impossible because mankind had become too highly 
civilized; if war should happen it could last only a 
few weeks because the combatants would all be 
killed off by that time; it could not go on long 
because the frightful cost would beggar all the nations 
engaged, and yet here it was after a year and a half, 
going on with increasing bitterness and intensity, 



128 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

and, as we now know, destined to go on for three 
years longer. 

It would seem as if this were enough to make men 
see the futility of all prophecy; but the too ready 
tongues of our talking people still wag bravely on 
telling all who will listen how things are going to be. 
On the one hand we are told that the historic instinct 
has been so keenly aroused among the nations that 
for a generation to come there is going to be no more 
active interest than the study of the past as the 
final justification of national aspirations. On the 
other hand we are assured that the Great War marks 
an epoch between all the outworn traditions of the 
past and a golden future based upon a new con 
ception of social order, of social rights and social 
obligations. Into this new world religion is to enter 
as a necessary guaranty of its most important rela 
tions, or else it is to disappear entirely among the 
rubbish of the discarded past. 

My own judgment is that, as has always been the 
case with oracular utterances, these widely differing 
prophecies mean only that the ancient conflicts are 
to go on, under new forms, it is true, but with essen 
tially the same real issues. In the future, as in the 
past, it is going to be the perpetual function of calmly 
thinking men to utilize the lessons of experience in 
judging the problems of the present as they offer 
themselves for solution. What we have to insist 
upon is that a rational balance be maintained in our 
institutions of learning between these two extremes. 



CHURCH HISTORY 129 

If we depart too widely from the heritage of the past, 
neglect our studies of language and history, and let 
ourselves be led astray by the will-o-the-wisp of 
" practical efficiency," then our youth will find 
themselves playing about with the loose ends of a 
sham science and an impotent philosophy. If, on 
the other hand we sit back in a dull insistence upon 
tradition without making clear to our youth its vital 
relation to the pressing problems of their immediate 
present, we shall find ourselves left high and dry on 
the arid heights of our own self-satisfaction while 
they wander without guidance in the alluring valleys 
of untried experiment. 

This present anniversary has a peculiar significance 
in this respect. It is the anniversary of a school 
which does not hesitate to call itself by the honorable 
name of Unitarian, and there is no better definition 
of the Unitarian mind than this: it is the historical 
mind. It builds its faith, not upon the fine-spun 
theologies of Greek ingenuity, nor upon the majestic 
institutions of Roman administrative genius, but 
upon the actual historical facts of the mission of 
Jesus of Nazareth. It studies the history of the 
expansion of Christianity from the beginning to the 
present day by the method we have been defining 
as the historical method, that is, by collecting and 
co-ordinating all available materials and then weigh 
ing and measuring them by the standards of human 
evidence. It accepts with reverent submission the 
idea of a single central Power making for righteousness 



130 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

throughout the universe of things, but it sees the 
working of that Power in human affairs only through 
the instincts and capacities of our struggling human 
nature. It rejects with scorn the degrading con 
ception that human nature is essentially base, and 
emphasizes at every point all that it has of nobility 
and of kinship with the divine. 

There cfan be no better preparation for young 
men in facing the infinite perplexities of the modern 
world than a thorough training in the spirit and 
method of this historical process. It will help to 
keep their feet upon the solid ground of well-tried 
experience, and it will kindle their imagination also 
with the possibilities of new adjustments. It will 
defend them against the flippant promises of a 
nearby millennium and help them to recognize as 
they appear the signs of a true progress toward 
higher and ever higher ideals of life upon this earth. 

To such a future the traditions of this place point 
with no uncertain prophecy. Remaining faithful 
to the spirit of its past, it may look forward with 
renewed hopefulness and courage to wider influence 
and a success measured only by the resources, 
material and spiritual, that shall be placed at its 
command. 

EPHRAIM EMERTON 






SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 



THE MODERN THEOLOGICAL METHOD 

Fortunately a large part of the organism of 
studies which constitutes theology has won a scientific 
method, with the result of a widespread agreement 
as to facts and the meaning of facts. The exegesis 
of the Bible was once so arbitrary that, as Dean 
Colet said, theologians could prove a point of faith as 
easily out of a fable of Ovid as out of John s gospel or 
Paul s epistles. Gone now is the fourfold exegesis, 
literal, tropological, allegorical, anagogical. Gone, 
too, the arbitrary methods which made the contents of 
Scripture mere wax to be shaped for the uses of the 
Lutheran or Calvinist creed. A critical historical 
method, justified to students of the most diverse 
ecclesiastical affiliations, has brought them to common 
results, so that the more recent literature of Bible 
study is undenominational. Similarly church history 
is no longer the naive uncritical narrative of medieval 
times or a polemic argumentation after the manner 
of the " Magdeburg Centuries." Historical science 
has won the day. The Protestant scholar delights 
in the church history of the Abbe Duchesne or the 
Histoire des Dogmes of the Abbe Tixeront. The 
work of Harnack, Loofs, Seeberg is assimilated by 
theological schools of every name. Certainly in 



132 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

these large areas of the total field the scientific spirit 
and method have made final conquest, and with 
regard to the historical data there is a unity more 
real than was ever procured by an ecumenical council. 
We are therefore led to inquire what progress has 
been made or is in prospect for the establishment of 
an accepted and fruitful scientific process in securing 
and formulating the convictions which make the 
matter of systematic theology. A unity of method 
here would promote the spiritual unification of the 
Christian world. 

This is obviously a more delicate and difficult 
enterprise. Escape from the constraint of institu 
tional creeds has been found by changing the meaning 
of words. The terms are fixed. The new thought 
has to wear the old dress. Evasions and ambiguities 
have delayed the development of a genuine scientific 
treatment of the convictions of faith. Some theo 
logians have sincerely and bravely essayed the task, 
and the success of the critical historical movement 
has given them a measure of popular support. In 
addition, the emancipation of philosophy from eccle 
siastical control has made possible a large and 
un trammeled utterance on the subject of religious 
faith, contributive to the development of a scientific 
method of approach without the hindrances of 
accommodated language. In particular the scien 
tific examination of religious experience by William 
James has given great impetus to those whose hope 
it is to work out for systematic theology a method 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 133 

which by its general acceptance and the production 
of commonly shared results can renew the passionate 
hope of an ultimate Catholicity. 

The progress already made can be measured by 
observing the older method of Protestant scholasti 
cism which without paradox can be illustrated by 
the work of one who was an odious radical in his time. 
Joseph Priestley s Institutes of Natural and Revealed 
Religion (1772-74) is typical enough of the older 
procedure. The work has three parts. Part I deals 
with " natural religion. " Part II proves that we have 
a supernatural revelation in the Bible. Part III 
gives a systematic statement of the doctrines of this 
revelation as a rationalist mind understood them. 
In Part I we learn that the existence of God, the 
rules of morality, the life to come, are truths fur 
nished by reason, necessities of thought, or inevitable 
inferences from the world as we observe it. A theo 
logian like Priestley was comfortably secure in this 
fundamental proposition at a time when even the 
skeptical Hume maintained that "the existence of a 
Deity is plainly ascertained by reason" and that 
"the order of the universe proves an omnipotent 
mind; nothing more is requisite to give a foundation 
to all the articles of religion." By natural reason, 
then, according to Priestley, we know a being who is 
"an intelligent designing cause of what we see in the 
world around us and a Being who was himself 
uncaused." Since uncaused, he is eternal and im 
mutable. The effects of his causation compel us 



134 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

to ascribe to him power, wisdom, goodness. Since 
the powers of nature are his divine energy, we know 
him to be an omniscient, omnipresent providence, 
unseen and therefore immaterial in being. From his 
goodness we deduce his holiness, justice, mercy, 
truth, characters which we can, indeed, conceive only 
imperfectly through the medium of his work in 
nature, but comprehend more justly by the aid of 
his special revelation. Our first parents thus by 
reason possessed the fundamental religious knowledge, 
but thereafter came a corruption of reason and 
conscience which made necessary an assisting revela 
tion. This is in the Bible, evidenced as supernatural 
revelation by miracles and prophecies. From the 
biblical revelation, then, is drawn the additional, 
fuller, clearer light of knowledge concerning God, 
duty, and the future life. 

So far as the method is concerned, it can be traced 
back to Paul s Epistle to the Romans. It was in 
fact Paul who founded for all Christian tunes this 
dual appeal to reason and revelation. Reason view 
ing creation discerns the eternal power and god 
head (Rom. 1:20). The moral law is a natural 
law (Rom. 2:14). But there is revelation in the 
law given by Moses and that direct personal revela 
tion afforded to each believer by his union with the 
risen Lord, a revelation which in PauPs case contains 
a dynamic power for the will and the emotions of 
the heart, while our sturdy, self-reliant, eighteenth- 
century rationalist needed only a revelation of 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 135 

information to the understanding. Scholastic orth 
odoxy and rationalists alike used the method which 
has been outlined, differing chiefly in the scope and 
content of doctrine drawn from the supernatural 
revelation. 

To the modern man, this method has become 
untenable. Since the time of Kant it is not com 
monly enough admitted that the existence of the 
supreme object of religious conviction is rationally 
demonstrable from the natural world. The claim 
that primitive man began with this clear rational 
knowledge and by a fall or degeneration suffered 
corruption and confusion of insight and conscience 
is belied by our modern knowledge of the slow rise 
of man from low undeveloped unspiritual beginnings. 
The critical historical examination of the Bible has 
invalidated the older way of conceiving revelation. 
Altogether, the former method for securing and 
formulating religious convictions has been made 
impossible. 

For an effective new start, the world is indebted 
to Schleiermacher. In place of a dogmatic discussion 
of the objects of faith, a doclrina de deo et rebus divinis 
obtained by reason and scriptural revelation, he made 
faith itself, the religious apprehension, the object 
of study. This is a revolutionary change of method. 
Instead of beginning with the existence of God as 
proved by natural theology, given by the necessita- 
tions of logical thought, the new school began with 
something which all men may be expected to admit, 



136 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

the fact of religious feeling, the fact of that attitude 
or functioning of the human spirit which we distin 
guish from other functionings by the name religious. 
If a logically derived and logically defended con 
ception of God as the one omnipotent and all- 
intelligent cause of the universe is the defining fact of 
religion, the term religion could hardly be extended 
to the awe and reverence and worship seen in primitive 
peoples or to the original form of Buddhism. If on 
the other hand we are considering man s thrill of awe 
and humility in the presence of any superhuman 
might felt to be sacred or holy, we deal with a phe 
nomenon universal and essential in human life, 
something indisputable as fact. But the advance 
made by Schleiermacher can be best appreciated by 
observing the situation left by Kant. In his three 
Critiques Kant had elucidated three different types 
of apprehension. In the first he had studied the 
logical theoretic apprehension of science. Given the 
raw material of the data of sensation, the logical 
understanding weaves it into that network of relations 
which make the world as scientifically known. Our 
rules of logical construction are restricted in their 
application. They apply only to the data perceived 
in forms of space and time, to a phenomenal world. 
The transcendent divine cause of a universe is there 
fore not found by scientific knowing. Exit the old 
rationalism. In the second Critique, Kant dis 
tinguishes another functioning of the human spirit 
the ethical. This is specifically different from theo- 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 137 

retic reason. In this the human spirit as will 
the reason we live by rather than the reason that 
merely thinks and knows penetrates beyond phe 
nomena to the absolute discerned in the form of 
universal, necessary moral law. We have thus a 
clear distinction between two original, ultimate, 
irreducible activities of self, the cognitive or scientific, 
and the ethical consciousness. In the third Critique, 
the Critique of Judgment, Kant considered still a 
third type of apprehension, a third activity of con 
sciousness, the aesthetic. This again is independent, 
not to be resolved into either of the others. Kant 
thus analyzed human apprehension into three distinct, 
independently valid types: the cognitive, the ethical, 
the aesthetic. How then does he deal with religion ? 
He resolves it into the ethical functioning. The ideas 
of church doctrine are symbols of the- struggling 
experiences of the moral will that finds itself on 
the verge of two kinds of reality, the order of the 
causal nexus of the phenomenal world and the order 
of ultimate and sovereign worth. It is just here 
that Schleiermacher takes a significant step. He 
differentiates religious experience as a fourth valid 
functioning of the human spirit. It is not, as the 
rationalist meant, an act of metaphysical thinking 
and a proper moral consistency with the content of 
the thought. 

It is not to be reduced, as Kant would have it, 
to the ethical attitude of the will. It is a fourth, 
ultimate, irreducible, original, spontaneous functioning 



138 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

of the human spirit. Furthermore, just as the 
ethical consciousness finds the absolute which is 
moral law, just as the aesthetic consciousness glimpses 
a complete and perfect unity shimmering through the 
broken and multitudinous things of nature, so the 
religious consciousness, and that alone, really finds 
God. The object found is God because it is the 
religious consciousness that finds and possesses the 
object. The case is not that of first procuring by 
cognitive reason an idea of an omnipotent intelligent 
cause of nature and then proceeding to invest the 
idea with emotional interest. Our reason may pre 
suppose or require such an idea, but God is given, 
is found, is met and possessed by the religious 
consciousness. It is that Glauben or consciousness 
which Schleiermacher makes the object of study as 
a systematic theologian in order to elicit from its 
contents convictions concerning God and the world 
and the redemption of man. 

Unquestionably the new method is illuminating 
and revivifying. Rationalism whether orthodox or 
heterodox conceived religion as idea for the under 
standing with logical results in conduct. The 
eighteenth-century rationalism had banished all the 
mysteries. It had contempt for "enthusiasm" for 
the illusion of an immediate personal communion 
with the present divine, for that which history 
reveals as the elementary beginning and the ulti 
mate quest of religious movements. Schleiermacher 
restored the religious phenomenon to its rights, 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 139 

restoring grace, revelation, communion to the present 
experience. 

It is not necessary to halt with Schleiermacher ; s 
particular exposition of the religious consciousness 
and its implications. Since the days of the Reden 
and the Glaubenslehre, we have obtained a vast 
body of knowledge concerning religious experiences, 
religious practices and ideas from the world- wide 
and age-long survey of comparative religion or, as it 
is now more commonly called, the general history of 
religion, and we now view Christianity itself in this 
general setting, however exalted may be its com 
parative place. We have in fact returned to the 
true and generous view of Clement s school in Alex 
andria of the second century, believing that the 
heavenly light shines on every creature that comes 
into the world, however confused and erroneous are 
the accounts given of that light, believing that the 
grace of God is indeed universal and that the religious 
experiences of all human beings represent a contact 
of soul with him whom we are privileged to dis 
cern as the Universal Father, however clouded and 
irrational and unwholesome have been the images 
projected by the devout imagination for the power 
that was found in experience. Inevitably the scien 
tific method of the modern systematic theologian 
must be in some sense a religions geschichtliche 
Methode. Not that however in any merely exter 
nal historical fashion. The historical survey has 
been deepened by a more refined and penetrating 



140 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

psychology. A religious psychology yields a more 
accurate and scientific statement of the human 
religious consciousness than Schleiermacher could 
give. This union of a complete historical study and 
psychological method marks the arrival in the field 
of systematic theology of the scientific spirit and 
method which is the most recent achievement in 
theology. 

Certain changes of procedure are obvious. As 
Soderblom (Naturliche Theologie und die allgemeine 
Religions geschichte) has so clearly indicated, we 
have put the general history of religions in the 
fundamental place once occupied by what was called 
natural theology. Our evolutionary view compels 
us moreover to affirm the rise of man where once the 
fall of man was proclaimed, and we are brought 
frankly to the view that the Christian religious 
experience is a historically educated form of the 
general human religious consciousness. We no longer 
view the Bible as a miraculous interjection and ex 
pansion of ideas once known to natural reason but 
afterward obscured and perverted by man s fall. 
Nevertheless, we use it, no less eagerly and devoutly, 
as a wonderful record of that supremely privileged 
path of development by which the general human 
awe of the adorable Holy Power became the clear 
and purified recognition of the power that is holy 
through righteousness (Isa. 5:16) and finally as 
holy through that righteousness which is equal, im 
partial, redemptive Love. Jesus proclaims that such 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 141 

authoritative, sovereign, righteous Love purposes 
for his children the realm of life which is the goal and 
the loadstone of the Christian soul, making Christian 
ity, when it is a real experience, a passion of missionary 
endeavor for the spiritual unification of all man 
kind in a brotherhood of life wherein the spirit that 
was in Jesus shall be regnant in all. In place of 
using the Bible as a codex of revealed information, 
we use the Bible and Christian history for the deter 
mination of that dynamic essence of spiritual energy 
which we inherit through the forms of our historical 
religious inheritance inheriting it and re- experiencing 
it and which bears us on to the church which 
shall be at last the Holy Catholic Church. For 
natural theology we substitute comparative religion. 
For man s fall, we substitute the rise of man. For 
the supernatural canon, we substitute the dynamic 
substance of the Hebrew- Christian evolution. In all 
these substitutions we are studying a religious con 
sciousness that finds God, a record of grace and 
revelation. 

But we have not adequately expressed the debt 
of modern systematic theology to Schleiermacher. 
He was attempting a systematic statement and 
co-ordination of the convictions belonging by time s 
last result of historical development to his own 
circle, the Evangelical Church of Prussia. He must 
refuse to hold these convictions as mere deductions 
from some contemporary speculative philosophy 
a hazard of thinking. They must be convictions 



142 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

held on the basis of a religious experience which was 
the final matured form of the human religious con 
sciousness evoked and educated by the pure and 
supremely kindling consciousness of God possessed 
by Jesus. The systematic theologian was not there 
fore pursuing a speculative venture of metaphysi 
cal thought. He was studying religious experience 
and he ought to have a genuinely scientific method, 
as clearly scientific as the method of the natural 
scientist who deals with those very different experi 
ences known as physical, chemical, biological facts. 
The scientist does not deduce these facts or the 
meaning of them from metaphysical premises. He 
attempts an accurate determination of them by 
inspection, and any theory or doctrine or belief which 
he arrives at is one implicated in the experience of 
these facts. It was just such a positive scientific 
method that Schleiermacher sought for the production 
of a systematic theology, one strictly analogous to 
that of the laboratory scientist but proper to the 
specifically different kind of experience vouchsafed 
to the religious consciousness. The doctrines thus 
obtained would be either descriptions of that experi 
ence, propositions, as we now say, of religious psy 
chology, or convictions about God and his relation 
to the world which are found involved and implicit 
in the religious consciousness, relative to it as 
the physicist s assertions about the world are rela 
tive to the data of his field of observation. This 
was Schleiermacher s intention and ideal. Doubtless 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 143 

the performance did not equal the intention. His 
description of the religious consciousness was in fact 
determined not so much by psychological observation 
as by his own metaphysical presupposition. One may 
say votum probo, opus non probo; nevertheless the 
systematic theology of today is a fresh effort of the 
kind which was his ideal. 

Following Schleiermacher came a transitional 
period in which the method used was an unstable 
union of empirical observation and philosophical 
deduction. Then came Ritschl, who once more 
made the question of method all important. Ritschl 
would eliminate any reliance on metaphysics mean 
ing essentially to repudiate the old basis of natural 
theology. He therefore resorts to the alternative 
basis of revelation and in so doing is at least super 
ficially in conflict with Schleiermacher, since he seems 
to draw only from a past historical revelation given 
first to Jesus and through Jesus impressed upon the 
earliest apostles. The apparent gain was that the 
data used were objectively given instead of being 
capriciously selected from individual experience, 
but the difficulty was in showing how the present-day 
believer appropriates the truth thus historically 
given. Apart from this Ritschl advanced matters 
by his analysis of the data of the historical revelation 
to a central essential idea, the idea of the Kingdom 
of God correlate to the fatherhood of God. To 
make this the central organizing idea of dogmatics 
was to shift the center of gravity from Paulinism 



144 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

to the synoptic preaching of Jesus. Something of 
great importance survives thereby even with the 
passing of Ritschlianism. Ritschlianism had to 
pass. The rapid development of interest in com 
parative religion, due in part to the international 
influence of the Hibbert Lectures, forbade this 
isolation of the apostolic revelation from the rest of 
history. The religions geschichtliche interest latent in 
Schleiermacher s process began to come powerfully 
to its own. At the same time the remarkable under 
taking of William James in his Varieties of Religious 
Experience, though devoid of the historical element, 
acted powerfully to revive Schleiermacher s positive 
scientific method. The present situation then is one 
in which the theologian appeals to the data of religious 
history in general with supreme reliance on the 
Hebrew-Christian experience of God, deepening the 
historical, treatment by a psychological penetration 
to the essence of such experiences, and meeting the 
demand for truth in the convictions thus exhibited 
by a critical theory of religious knowledge. It is this 
last phase of the process which is of peculiar present 
urgency and if one may hazard an estimate, the 
theory in prospect will be not unlike the so-called 
" mystical empiricism" expounded in Lossky s Intui 
tive Bases of Knowledge. The effort to parallel 
Kant s method and exhibit a religious a priori in 
order to anchor experience in a universally valid 
rational element has not arrived at any clear result or 
general acceptance. Some theory of knowledge is 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 145 

needed to protect faith against fear of illusion when 
men are persuaded that faith or religious apprehension 
is not the logical cognitive activity of the intellect 
which lays such exclusive claims to dictatorship 
but an apprehension of another type, analogous to 
our non-logical aesthetic apprehension though dis 
tinguishable from it. The act of religious faith is 
conscious of laying hold of reality, of truth. It is 
not mere blind feeling. As Schleiermacher said in 
the Reden, it is Anschauung und Gefuhl, and the 
fault of his Glaubenslehre lies in the suppression of the 
element of Anschauung. The mere feeling of passivity 
to absolute causality could not, in fact, explain 
religion as we actually know it. There must be a 
recognition of the absolute worthfulness of feeling s 
object in order to justify all the emotional values of 
Schleiermacher s own religion. There is a " know 
ing" in faith, but the knowing is immediate, an 
intuition, not inferential thinking. When Tuckwell 
(Religion and Reality) insists so strongly that a 
judgment is not a comparison of ideas but a reference 
to a reality given; when Wobbermin (Die Religions- 
psychologische Methode in Religionswissenschafi und 
Theologie) urges so strongly that Ojfenbarung is the 
very criterion of religious consciousness, the consti 
tutive thing in it; when James characterizes religious 
experience as "a conviction, not merely intellec 
tual, but as it were sensible, of the existence of an 
Ideal Power," "a sense of Presence of a higher and 
friendly Power," we may surely see the tendency to 



146 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

understand religious knowing after the manner of a 
higher realism like Lossky s. This is a view that, 
refusing to limit experience to sense perception, 
argues that in every case sense perception or other 
the object is contained in the knowing as immedi 
ately as when the self knows its own conscious states. 
We may at least hopefully declare that a theory of 
religious knowledge necessitated by the method of 
religious psychology is announcing itself. The psy 
chology and the theory of this knowing must alike 
interpret the fact that religion s form of expression 
is symbol and not logical concept. When it does 
that some of our conflicts with science are over. 
With symbol, if it be inevitable and really congruent 
even though it do not suffice fully to express the 
object found in this sacred experience, religion is 
content. Who can fathom the deep things of God ? 
Exeunt in mysteria can be said without alarm of all 
our most passionately held convictions about God 
and divine things as truly as for the highest and 
purest convictions about human souls when love 
reveals them to us. 

And dearer than all else besides, 

The tender mystery 
That like a veil of shadow hides 

The light I may not see. 

The mystery belonging to the moment of awe and 
adoration in the unseen presence hovers too over 
the forms of doctrine elicited from that solemn privi 
lege of communion. 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 147 

It is profitable to give something like concrete 
illustration to this formal account of method and 
procedure. In the first place let us make sure of the 
discrimination between a logical scientific explanatory 
treatment of reality and other dealings with it which 
must wear other names but are equally inevitable 
and equally valid. Consider the lilies, said Jesus. 
We may consider the lilies in more than one way. 
A man may ask to what family of plants the lily 
belongs. He may enumerate and describe the various 
elements of the plant in its root and stem and blossom. 
He may explain the functioning of these parts in the 
life of the organism of the plant. He may study the 
biochemical processes involved in its life. He may 
account for the origin of various types and species 
and show the linkages to larger inclusive groups of 
plant life. By all this classifying and relating he is 
explaining the lily. He satisfies our logical curiosity. 
That is one way, the botanist s way, the scientific 
way of considering the lily, for purposes of explanation. 
We may do all this without remembering that Solomon 
in all his splendor was not arrayed in so much beauty 
as the lily. But there is another person than the 
scientist who may deal with the lily, or the scientist 
himself may forget his botanical interest and respond 
to the lily with a simple joy in its exquisite beauty. 
In that attitude he ignores class relations and bio 
chemical laws and all other explanations. There is 
nothing to be explained. He is satisfied. He has 
joy. He will utter this experience in exclamations 



148 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

or poetic words or song or painted representations. 
The scientist s consideration, the artist s considera 
tion, these are independent one of the other. Neither 
can be reduced to the other. One is logical, theoretic; 
the other is aesthetic. The lily means both these 
things. Both accounts of it are justified. The 
judgments involved are not of the same kind. In 
the one case we can distribute our attitude, our 
dealing with the object into various steps: such and 
such characteristics belong to this object; these 
characteristics define a genus of things; therefore, 
this object belongs in that genus. In the other case 
we take but one step: this flower is beautiful. As 
the Kantian would say, it is subsumed directly and 
immediately under an "idea of the reason." It is a 
non-logical or aesthetic judgment. It is intuitive. 
But let us desert the lily and choose for our reality 
a man. Him too we may consider scientifically, 
applying anatomy, physiology, chemistry, anthro 
pology, psychology, and various other explanatory 
processes, to pluck out the heart of his mystery. We 
may also ignore all these interests completely and 
simply yield to the heightened emotional thrill 
roused by his beauty. Lovers and friends do not 
feel in terms of biochemistry or ethnology. But the 
man as a part of given reality may have still another 
meaning to me. He may excite a very different 
response. He represents a possibility of action. He 
provokes impulses of conduct. I may deal with him 
in one way or another, but I am aware that one way 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 149 

is right, the other wrong. Neither the scientific 
account of the man or the beauty or ugliness of the 
man are involved in this ethical response. It is 
independent. I am facing another worthfulness in 
the sum of experience. The word for it is not " true" 
or "beautiful," but "good" or "right." Here again 
is an ultimate irreducible attitude of the human self 
to reality. 

It took a long time for humanity to become 
scientific or artistic or even moral, but there was 
another primal susceptibility which was easily 
evoked in the depth of time. Roaming in a scene 
half-realized, man found some striking and over 
awing object or situation that evoked another height 
ened emotional thrill not mere emotion however. 
There was perception, there was the impulse to 
action, but there was especially the solemnity of 
awed emotion. The storm, the burning bush, the 
forest stillness, the majesty of mountains, the grotto s 
gloom, the teeming prodigality of life and power in 
various beings all these were occasions for glimpsing 
a vast and subduing wonderful might that drew and 
claimed and obligated his shrinking humility of 
consciousness. Man had a word for what he thus 
discerned through the provocations of things strange 
and great. The word was "holy." The very scene 
where he had experienced this humbling and exalting 
attraction was ever after "holy" ground and was 
made a shrine for the revival of the great experience. 
But whatever object or situation evoked it, the 



150 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

experience was not a discovery of logical relations, 
or of beauty, or of mere duty. It was the discovery 
of the sacred, the holy, the divine. That man, says 
Soderblom, is religious to whom something is holy. 

The story of religion is the story of the education 
of this primal religious experience which did not wait 
for science or aesthetics or ethics. It was not a case 
of a man saying argumentatively: There is a God. 
Something had occasioned and evoked a sense of a 
presence to which he said: Thou art my God. It was 
a case of revelation. God was there and the man 
gave himself to that presence with that complex of 
fear and loyalty, of humility, and of an exaltation 
through the yielding submission, which has found its 
own specific word for the presence so affecting man. 
The word is holy. Holy art thou, Lord, God! 

The history of religion shows that in this attitude 
there was not mere fear, not a sense of a terrifying 
power, but a sense of power exercising a not unwel 
come claim, a sense of being "tied" or obligated, a 
vague sense of "ought," which expressed itself often 
in what to us are senseless practices, but was to 
culminate in the saint s rapture of self-surrender with 
a consciousness of elation and freedom in the perfect. 
The greatest forward step taken in religious history 
was that which especially characterized Hebrew men 
of unusual religious susceptibility and energy who 
in a clash of human relations, a strife between unjust 
greed and brotherhood loyalty, penetrated to a 
deep meaning in the religious experience. Why this 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 151 

dread of violation, this impulse to yield self to the 
holy power as if therein were found the law and 
authority for man s life ? What was this constraint, 
this obligatoriness, this sovereignty ? These Hebrew 
prophets knew intuitively that the awe-fulness of 
the divine was its mandate of ethical righteousness, 
that its holiness was the exaction of justice. "The 
Holy God shows himself as holy through righteous 
ness" (Isa. 5:16). This was the beginning of 
ethical monotheism. It was established that the 
authority of God over man was the universal, uncon 
ditional ethical authority. With that new insight 
into the spell of religion, man rose to new levels. 
The beginning was such a case as Jacob dreaming of 
angels ascending and descending and wakening to 
fear: How dreadful is this place! this is none other 
than the house of God. And he vowed a vow: 

If God will be with me and will give me bread to eat and 
raiment to put on, then the Lord shall be my God, and this 
stone shall be God s house [Gen. 28]. 

Such was a beginning. And the end is this : 

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my 
soul after thee, O God! My soul is athirst for God, for the 
living God! When shall I come and appear before God? 
[Ps. 42]. 

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul 
thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and 
thirsty land, where no water is. To see thy power and thy 
glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy 
loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. 
Thus will I bless thee while I live [Ps. 63]. 



152 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

The systematic theologian deals with this religious 
consciousness in its highest developed state, educated 
by the intuitions of ethical prophets, exalted and 
refined by the communions of Jesus, enabled indeed 
to discern the holy divine presence through the 
personality of Jesus himself, through him discerning 
the kind of being which can have the absolute sanctity 
and divinity, through him seeing the Father. The 
theologian must indeed be guided by his own religious 
sensibility, but he escapes any individual caprice in 
defining the experience which he studies and eluci 
dates by surveying the whole development of Chris 
tian consciousness, by seeking truth, as Dr. Oliver 
Stearns expressed it, "in the light of the Holy Catholic 
Church, purifying his judgment by searching the 
thought and experience of saints, ancient and mod 
ern. " Let us then outline what knowledge lurks 
for the student in the religious consciousness so 
determined. 

"My soul is athirst for thee, O God. Thus will 
I bless thee while I live." This is the utterance of 
the quickened religious consciousness. It is not an 
effort to explain anything whatever. It is man 
seeking, man finding, man meeting, man possessing 
God in the intuitive religious consciousness. It is 
not spoken to a material object. It is spoken to an 
imageless presence. And it is tense with the con 
sciousness of the supernal worthfulness of that 
presence. The words are a cry to utter an experience, 
not to give a definition of the reality experienced. 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 153 

The words embody the feeling of being affected in a 
particular and wonderful manner by the unimaged 
presence. That is the positive of this consciousness. 
You and I contemplating it can say various things 
about it. We say it is the experience of a spiritual 
reality. That is more negative. It says that this 
positive sense of a supremely worthful unseen is not 
the sense of a material object. This is a negative and 
inadequate way of expressing the peculiar constraint 
or authoritativeness of worth which the worshiper 
has experienced. But it helps: God is spirit. We see 
that this worshiper was aware of an authoritativeness 
unconditionally valid and we say that he experi 
enced an absolute. This is not the positive experi 
ence which had no concept. It is our contrast of his 
experience with the experience of less exalted long 
ings and impulses. It has a negative in it: not an 
object of relative worth, but "absolute." But it 
serves to use this concept negatively obtained: God 
is spiritual and absolute in worth. And we go on at 
once to say: not then an experience of things natural 
but of a being more than natural. The direct ex 
perience did not indulge in the act of contrasting. 
We are doing it as we must. God is in this sense 
"supernatural." The concept and the immediate 
experience are not the same thing. The concept is 
no positive expression of the experience. We note, 
too, that the worshiper is affected by a reality met 
in intuitive experience. It is given it is other than 
he, other than the concrete scene about him. It is 



154 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

transcendent. But equally it is clear that the soul 
possesses it. It is immanent in his experience. He 
is surrendering, yielding, merging self into another, 
a spiritual, absolute, overarching, and yet kindred 
being athirst for it, rejoicing in it, praising and 
blessing it. We who contemplate him can only say 
that for him the worthful supernal being is personal 
to him. The worshiper seems to share in that 
being and indeed when he himself tries to utter this 
he cries: "Thou in me and I in thee!" Such inter- 
penetration we can parallel only in the contents of 
our consciousness. In the world of outer perception 
there are juxtapositions, not interpenetrations. The 
kindred case for the worshiper s felt relation to his 
God is the relation of elements of my consciousness 
to myself. It is true, therefore, that this worship and 
communion find a worthful transcendent and yet 
immanent being in a relation that must use the 
terms of personality. 

I am only illustrating hastily and inadequately 
that, using a truer determination of the religious con 
sciousness than Schleiermacher used, but pursuing 
much the same method, we obtain as inevitable neces 
sary elucidations of the religious consciousness itself 
a series of formulated convictions truths about God 
as the religious consciousness apprehends him. We 
have not got these propositions by borrowing from the 
logical explanatory dealing with reality but from 
the religious experience itself. We simply explicate 
the contents of that experience and we are enabled 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 155 

to say that God experimentally known is one spiritual, 
absolute, supermundane, transcendent, immanent 
being. We say that he is known as such by the 
knowing that is not scientific inference from the 
world, but is the direct intuitive religious knowing. 
These are great primary convictions about God 
which are thus won, and there are others that are 
developed as the presuppositions of such experiential 
knowing. For example, the conviction that the 
earth is the Lord s, that God wills the world. Prob 
ably enough, this cannot be got as the content of a 
simple, unanalyzed intuition, as a direct sense of 
world-dependence on God. But legitimately we can 
reflectively reason to the presuppositions of the 
experience and find there the necessity of the affirma 
tion that the world is God s world and serves his 
purpose. All the primary knowledge is by a single 
step, for all is but explication of "Holy art thou. " 
The relation of the Holy One to the universe requires 
another step. It is inferential knowledge. We are 
therefore led to seek assistance from any justified 
rational construction of the world which exhibits it as 
held in an ethical teleological system. This may 
illustrate the remaining question of the relation of 
systematic theology to metaphysics. Our dogmatics 
has explicated the meanings of the Christian religious 
consciousness, and it presents them not as mere 
statistics of belief but as convictions of truth. It 
is therefore concerned with the question of the 
validity of these faiths. That is a part of the 



156 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

enterprise. But now to proceed to prove the validity 
of these faiths from the results of theoretic reason 
would be a desertion of the principle fundamental 
to the method which systematic theology has now 
adopted. That principle is, trust in the normality 
and independence of the religious consciousness. 
The proper apologetic, therefore, is first of all to 
disclose the grounds of validity inherent in the 
religious consciousness itself. When moreover we 
find the religious consciousness crying out, "Whither 
shall I flee from thy presence?" or affirming, "The 
earth is the Lord s and the fulness thereof," we may 
rest content with the inevitability of this intuition, 
but we may also better invite the co-operation of 
theoretic reason, as ally not as dictator. When we 
have fully explicated the Christian complex of faith, 
the Christian world-view, we cannot refrain from 
asking whether it furnishes a satisfactory answer 
to the general question: Why a world at all? We 
shall ask whether the results of theoretic explanatory 
reason stifle our Christian faith or give it possibility 
of breath. How far this interest will lead the expo 
nent of faith into ultimate philosophical discussions 
must depend on the degree of confidence which he 
has in any total philosophical construction and 
interpretation of the sum of reality known by all 
the modes of human apprehensions. If there is a 
system of metaphysics which commands unaltering 
universal assent, well and good! The systematic 
theologian will show the consonancy of what he 



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY 157 

elucidates for the religious consciousness with that 
universally valid and acknowledged system. If there 
is no such system, he will still gladly show that 
there is philosophic support for his content of faith, 
only being on his guard that he does not construct 
the faith as a deduction from the philosophy and 
thus constrain the plastic vital experiences of a 
soul which has other functionings than that of an 
explanatory understanding. 

FRANCIS ALBERT CHRISTIE 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 



EDUCATION IN WORSHIP 

Worship is any technique by which we stimulate 
those characteristic emotions that we recognize as 
religious. I am not attempting to define religion. 
Let each one do that for himself. But when he has 
made his own definition, or without any definition has 
recognized a certain experience as religious, he knows 
that there are states of feeling which are most char 
acteristic of that experience. It is the production of 
those states of feeling which is the purpose of worship. 

In origin and in theory worship is something very 
different. It is homage toward deity. Its signifi 
cance is found in its object. The subjective state of 
worship is supposed to be entirely incidental. The 
primitive worship was undoubtedly a do itt des. The 
great always demand adulation and tribute, pre 
eminently therefore the god must desire to be praised 
and to be enriched. The worshiper makes obeisance, 
presents sacrifice, pours out his libation, expecting 
that his god will reward him, or at least will refrain 
from hurting him. 

The resultant feelings of expectancy and of 
satisfaction are testimony to him of the value of 
his service. This is most clearly seen in such 
ceremonials as the war dance, the fast, the vigil. 

158 



RELIGIOUS EDUCA TION 1 59 

The warrior has worked himself into a frenzy by his 
wild dance, in which he has simulated the actions of 
battle and in imagination slain his foe. He goes out 
to the fight all aglow with the excitement and attrib 
utes his rage to the inspiration of the god of battles. 
The value of worship is measured by the resultant 
feeling of the worshiper. Again, he fasts and afflicts 
himself in penitence or in self-abnegation to placate 
his deity and when the famine produces the charac 
teristic light-headedness with the tendency to halluci 
nation and abnormal visual experiences he thinks 
himself the recipient of unusual spiritual privilege. 
His own subjective state is the basis of his evaluation 
of his worship. But the worship is always thought 
of as objectively significant. 

The worshiper is sure that God wants what he 
offers. He is sure that definite results are obtained 
by means of worship which would come in no other 
way. He regards the particular acts which he 
performs as significant in and of themselves. The 
technique is prescribed by God just as the court 
ceremonial is prescribed by the king. So the 
elements of worship are always divinely ordained. 
The tabernacle is made according to the pat 
tern that was shown in the Mount. The priestly 
prescriptions come through inspired channels. But 
the authentication of this objectivity is always in 
the subjective appreciation of the worshiper. 

It is interesting to note that the prophetic deroga 
tion of ceremonial is also subjective. The worshiper 



160 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

says, "This ceremonial must be from God because 
I feel the awesome presence. I know in my own 
experience that God is in it. " The ethical Protestant 
says, "The ceremonial cannot be from God because 
it does not make you behave as God desires." He 
evaluates the worship in terms of its ethical motiva 
tion, and he does so because his religion is ethical. 
The only feelings which may be called religious are 
those which stimulate him to the ethical life. He 
generally, therefore, rejects the elaborate ceremonial 
and falls back on simpler exercises which help him to 
feel the Divine presence in the common relationships 
of life. He has only developed or rediscovered another 
technique by which to stimulate those characteristic 
emotions which he recognizes as religious. 

To our modern religion the distinction between 
subjective and objective values is unimportant. 
God who is spirit and seeketh those to worship him 
who worship in spirit and in truth cannot be con 
cerned about a particular etiquette. Whether the 
bread of the sacrament is leavened or unleavened, 
whether the water of the sacrament is much or 
little, whether the prayer is formal or extemporane 
ous, whether the worshiper kneels or sits none of 
these things can matter to God except as they matter 
to us. Tom Paine with a fine sarcasm suggested as an 
amendment to the Act permitting Quakers to worship 
God according to their own conscience that it would be 
more fitting to enact that God should be permitted to 
accept the worship which Quakers should offer him. 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 161 

The worthship is ultimately in ourselves. It is 
what will make us worthy that is important. It is 
the motivation of our lives in which the God and 
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is interested, not in 
any homage that is due to himself. 

We come then to the question of the place of 
worship in the motivation of life. It is wholly a 
practical question. Can worship do us any good? 
In the spirit of most utter reverence and of a simple 
faith in the God whom we know through Jesus we 
must evaluate worship in terms of its subjective 
effect upon ourselves. How can it be so ordered as 
to help us to feel toward God and toward men as we 
believe it is desirable for us to feel? Let me here 
state parenthetically my own conviction that worship 
will not outlive the faith in the object of worship. 
However much our psychology may teach us that 
worship has subjective value we should not be able 
to continue the practice simply for such value. 
Only if there is a real God with whom I am united 
in the exercise of worship shall I be able to carry on 
the exercise. 

Believing in God as fatherly, as infinitely under 
standing and sympathetic with his human children, 
we cannot, as we have already noted, think of him as 
concerned with any particular technique of worship 
for his own sake. That must be what Jesus meant by 
worship in spirit and in truth. 

The question of technique then applies to our 
selves. What kind of exercises will stimulate the 



162 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

desirable emotions? Thus we get away from a 
metaphysical problem to an educational problem. 
What are the exercises of worship that people need to 
develop in them the right feeling-attitudes toward 
God and toward men, and how shall we train them 
in the practice of those exercises ? 

Let us attempt an analysis of the religious feeling. 
Without raising the question of primacy among the 
religious emotions, certain it is that a most funda 
mental one is respect. This is an elemental impulse 
having its origin in the animal order. Biologically 
its value has been in the acceptance of leadership. 
It is the counterpart of the instinct of mastery. 
The development of a devotion to the stronger, the 
greater, the chief, patriarch, king, has been of high 
importance in social evolution. Naturally this atti 
tude was carried over into the relations with deity 
and became the awe and reverence which have had 
so large a place in religion. 

Correlated with the feeling of respect or reverence 
for greatness and goodness is the feeling of humility, 
the recognition of one s own inferiority to the object 
of respect. One is less than the chief, and one is 
infinitely small in the presence of his God. 

The question arises whether the feelings of respect 
and of humility are desirable in a democratic society. 
Do they not belong to the old aristocratic regime? 
Superficially democracy answers the question at 
once in the affirmative. Children may be rude to 
parents and to teachers, inasmuch as they will not 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 163 

be beaten. Servants may be impertinent to their 
employers, for it is easy to get another job. Youth 
may jeer at age, for the dead line is at fifty. The 
people may lampoon their rulers, for have they not 
elected them, and can they not turn them out of 
office ? The congregation may criticize the minister, 
for have they not " hired " him ? And why should we 
even have respect for God, for we are not quite sure 
that the philosophers will allow him to exist. As 
for humility, perish the thought! "All men are born 
free and equal." We bow to no one; "one man is 
as good as another. " 

Such a democracy would produce a vulgar world. 
It has no sanctities, nothing higher than its own 
stupid mediocrity. It would be profane. 

But that is only a sham democracy. The very 
essence of real democracy is respect for personality, 
mutuality of respect and of humility. Said Emerson, 
"Every man is my master in something." Said 
Jesus, "He that is greatest among you shall be your 
servant." The King stands bareheaded beside the 
casket of Nurse Cavell. 

Democracy needs more reverence, not less, until 
we shall have respect for every goodness and great 
ness, for every ability and skill, for every devotion 
and faithfulness. And for God. We shall not 
tremble before him; we shall not call ourselves 
worms of the dust. Perfect love casteth out fear, 
but it never weakens reverence. There is a demo 
cratic religion which finds God in the experiences of 



164 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

common life, and not in superimposed authorities. 
But it is not therefore less reverent. God is not 
less wonderful because we find him in common life. 
Tennyson was humbled by the flower in the crannied 
wall. 

Perhaps the decline in worship has some con 
nection with the decline in reverence. They may 
develop together. Doubtless worship must be rein 
terpreted. Men have given up prayer because they 
did not believe in trying to tease God to interfere 
with the order of nature. But if prayer is meditation 
on the spiritual meaning of life it may come back with 
more power and may help us to escape from the 
vulgarities and profanities into a sense of the sacred- 
ness of ourselves and of our world, instinct with God. 
The sacraments have seemed futile, and sometimes 
even superstitious, as if some magic efficacy could 
reside in them. Baptism is a subject for new jests. 
But if the sacrament is a symbol of the sanctity of 
all life, if the sacred supper speaks of the Divine 
presence in men s eating and drinking, then it may 
help us toward insight, and that is the great need of a 
democracy. 

If we can practice our people in the symbolisms, 
the poetry, the rich appreciations of a genuine wor 
ship, we may get back into life that reverence, the 
loss of which must make us poor indeed. 

But religious feeling has ever been even more 
self-depreciatory. It has included the sense of fail 
ure. In primitive religion this may be fear that 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 165 

the requirement of the god has somehow not been 
met, that this arbitrary and capricious deity has in 
some way been offended. In an ethical religion it is 
the sense of positive wrongdoing, or, more signifi 
cantly still, the appreciation of some good that has 
not been performed. "We have left undone those 
things which we ought to have done; and we have 
done those things which we ought not to have done. " 
With this is sorrow. Again in the less ethical religions 
fear of punishment, in the more ethical religions pain 
for the failure of the best. 

Conviction of sin and contrition for sin are not 
as common as they used to be. There are many 
causes for this: the decline in the belief in future 
punishment, the general belief in the benevolence of 
God, change in the ethical estimate of much conduct 
that was formerly regarded as sinful, perhaps a 
certain laxity of moral standards. 

We must have a more intelligent view of sin. 
The slums, the sweat shops, the dying children, 
the wasted youth, all proclaim us a selfish, sinful 
people. We need a conviction of sin before there is 
any hope of social salvation. If we would use 
Rauschenbusch s Prayers of the Social Awakening 
in our worship, we might get it. Jesus and the 
Prophets read to us thoughtfully might bring us to 
a godly sorrow. We must revive the symbolism 
of the cross. We may give the penitential Psalms 
their true social meaning and cry indeed, "God 
have mercy upon us. " 



i66 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

The introduction into our worship of a definite 
element calculated to help us to feel our social sins 
and to repent of them is an important need in our 
present-day religious education. 

The object of all religion is atonement, if we may 
read it at-one-ment. Whether it be primitively con 
ceived as satisfying God and thus averting danger 
and securing benefits, whether it be conceived in the 
modern evangelistic sense as getting right with God, 
that is, meeting the Divine conditions of pardon and 
spiritual blessings, whether it be conceived as recog 
nition of human failure and limitation with an expecta 
tion of Divine help for nobler living and a better 
society, religion looks to a surcease of the inward 
conflict and a resultant peace. 

The great religious souls have been conscious of 
what psychology recognizes as a release of tension, 
relaxation. The " fears within and fightings without " 
are over. The soul is satisfied. 

Religious literature is full of the expression of this 
peace of the spirit. Jesus promised this experience 
to his disciples, "Ye shall find rest unto your souls." 

Worship properly develops the feeling of peace. 
We confess our sins and receive the assurance that He 
is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. We seek 
help and receive the assurance, "My grace is suf 
ficient for thee. " We are at peace. How fitting that 
worship should close with a benediction. 

Proceeding in the analysis of religious feeling to a 
fifth element, I would mention confidence. I choose 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 167 

this word rather than faith because the latter has 
been almost captured by intellectualism. When we 
say faith we think of opinion, but when we say con 
fidence we think of personal relationship. That has 
ever been the characteristic of the highest religion. 
The Bible is the great literature of confidence. It 
has just enough of skepticism to throw into bold relief 
its triumphant trust. Job may rebel, Jeremiah may 
despair, the psalmist may sing de profundis, but 
they all come out into the sunlight. Only Ecclesi- 
astes has no faith, and the editors have even given 
some to him. The martyrs may cry, "How long, 
Lord, how long, " but the vision shows them with 
palms of victory in their hands. 

Van Dyke wrote a gospel for an age of doubt. 
You cannot argue men into faith. Let a beautiful 
voice sing to me, "I know that my Redeemer liveth," 
and it is easier for me to believe in the life beyond 
than when I read any treatise on immortality. Let 
me sing with a hundred comrades "How firm a 
foundation, ye saints of the Lord," and I find myself 
believing that God is here, while the lurking skepti 
cism that all life is chance is driven away. 

The contagion of faith is wonderfully manifest in 
worship. Of course the psychology of such attitudes 
of confidence is very simple and that is a stumbling- 
block to some people. They object that they do not 
wish to put themselves into the way of being influ 
enced by mere feeling. During the great days that 
have just passed we were not ashamed deliberately to 



1 68 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

organize the technique by which we could stimulate 
patriotic feeling. We said, Bring the flags, sing the 
songs, let the bands play, show us the boys in khaki, 
we want to be stirred, we want to be impelled to give 
our money for Liberty bonds, to spend our time in 
Red Cross service, to do all that our government 
calls upon us to do. 

It is hard to believe in God. His voice is drowned 
in the market-place and in the halls of pleasure. We 
need another hour and another place where the men 
who have believed him can tell us their faith, where 
the poetic souls who have seen him may sing to us 
their faith, where the symbols that revealed him may 
touch our imagination, where we may give our souls 
a chance to believe the best that it is in us to be 
lieve. 

With the highest psychological skill at our disposal 
we must plan the worship of the children, youth, and 
adults that there may be a social attainment of con 
fidence in the good God and the good world and the 
better tomorrow. 

A notable religious feeling is joy. In primitive 
religion where divinity was near to men and the 
immediate cause of all happenings, every common 
joy had its religious quality. The gladness of awaken 
ing life in the spring time, the exuberant happi 
ness of the harvest, the joy of marriage, and the 
pleasure of a thousand lesser occasions were all 
expressed with religious ceremony, for the gods were 
doing well to men. 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 169 

Two conditions have robbed modern religion of 
its joy. Our sense of the order of nature has made the 
succession of the seasons commonplace. We know 
the conditions of good crops, the character of the 
blights, the scales, the insects that spoil our efforts. 
We garner our harvests with huge machinery instead 
of with the uniting enterprises of long ago. More 
over most of us live in the cities, where the change 
of seasons means principally a change of clothing. 
So God is gone out of nature. 

We get much of our joy from our pleasures. 
Unhappily religion has often separated itself from 
pleasure, for pleasure is dangerous. Primitive reli 
gion was not afraid of the allurements of the flesh, 
but frankly accepted the allurement and after its 
fashion sanctified it. Ethical religion has been more 
concerned with inhibitions, so that men have often 
found their joy not only apart from religion but in 
spite of it. We do not know much about Jesus 
pleasures, but we know very much about his joy. 
The word "happy " was ever on his lips. Everything 
spoke to him of God the birds, flowers, children, 
loaves and fishes, marriage, parenthood, and life itself. 

It is a good world, a glorious world, God s world. 
Of course it is a terrible world of pain and sorrow 
and calamity. We do not forget that. But it is a 
world of richness of life, of abounding health, of 
beauty, intelligence, truth, goodness, love. 

Let us not teach mournful songs and prayers to 
children. Let them sing "Bless the Lord, my 



170 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

soul. " Let youth be happy. That is what Browning 
means in "Pippa Passes. " He is not giving his total 
philosophy of life in Pippa s song. He knows and 
no one has told us better how serious life is. But it 
is good for youth to drink the cup of wholesome joy. 
On a spring morning, on a holiday, all is right with 
the world. It is a mood. Our worship needs that 
note. People should often go from church aglow 
with the sense of God. It is a great opportunity of 
worship. We cannot argue people into joy. They 
shall not feel the thrill of life in God s wonderful world 
at the end of a syllogism. But they may find it in a 
solemn service of praise, in the prayers, Scriptures, 
and messages, that sound forth the ever-present God. 

If we could help our frivolous pleasure-loving 
people to appreciate the joy of religious exercises we 
should do them great service. It is because we are 
weary, nervous, overburdened, that we turn to the 
easy amusement of the picture film and of the vaude 
ville. Paul already suggested to the Christians who 
wanted the delights of intoxication that they could 
get ecstatic happiness in what we should call a 
" Community sing." The "Y" in the army camps 
at home and abroad found that Paul s substitute for 
debauchery was very often effective. 

Have we too much rationalized our religion? 
Shall we leave to the periods of an often vulgar 
evangelism the religious festivals of joy? No. We 
should deliberately educate our people in the abound 
ing expression of the feeling of gladness. 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 171 

If joy is a satisfaction in that which is good, then 
hope and aspiration may express the feeling that we 
have as we look forward to that which is to be better. 
As an expectancy of material betterment this feeling 
is probably universal in the earlier forms of religion. 
With the exception of sheer devil worshipers men 
have always thought that their gods would do some 
thing for them. "Hope springs eternal in the human 
breast." It has generally been connected with 
religion. 

This is entirely true of the wonderful hope that 
stretches beyond death to the life hereafter. How 
deeply men have been moved by that anticipation is 
written in the exultant chapters of the New Testament 
and in the major part of our Christian hymnody. 

Religious hope becomes ethical in a longing for 
personal character and for social amelioration. 
Worship has been remarkably successful in stimulat 
ing aspiration after goodness. How men have longed 
in the sacred hours and in the sacred places to be 
holy. The sermon as a part of worship has been 
more successful in this direction than perhaps in 
any other. To use the old word, worship has made for 
sanctification. Great souls have never been satisfied 
with their little goodness. They have felt that human 
life was not long enough for the perfecting of the 
saint. "Oh, but a man s reach must exceed his 
grasp, or what s a heaven for?" 

In any reinterpretation of character-making we 
shall need to keep worship as our great ally. There 



172 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

are many other sources of motivation, but prayer, 
Scripture, sermon, are of incomparable value. There 
is need of a careful educational process to enable 
people to secure the best values. 

But the noblest aspiration is for social good. 
There is of course a danger of a refined selfishness in 
the desire that one may be personally sanctified, but 
the longing for a better world of men is wholly pure. 

Undoubtedly in this matter knowledge plays a 
very large part. If we learn the facts concerning 
our neighbors, especially the harsh facts of the 
unhappiness of children, the exploitation of youth, 
of womanhood, of manhood, shameful conditions of 
housing and of labor, these facts are likely to stir 
us to hope and determination for something better. 
But prayer can do it wonderfully. And song. It 
has long been noted that our hymnody is weak at 
this point. Nor have the attempts to write social 
hymns been very successful. Most people who try 
it succeed only in writing sociological hymns, which 
is a very different thing. But there are some hymns 
that stir the soul to longing after a better world. 
We must practice our people in them. 

And here is the noblest place of the sermon. I am 
thinking of the sermon as a part of worship. Not as 
an argument but as prophecy picture and appeal. 
Who can read Jesus parable of the Judgment without 
longing to serve the Master in serving his brethren ? 

Allied to this feeling of social aspiration is the 
very significant religious feeling of mission. This 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 173 

is probably not a universal religious emotion. It is 
doubtful if Chemosh sent his worshipers on life- 
giving errands. But the higher religions have a 
God who sends men to do good to their fellows. 
The feeling may express itself in a range of activity 
from the most partisan propagandism to the most 
unselfish service. But its motivating energy is of 
the greatest. The apostles, prophets, missionaries, 
reformers, ministers, teachers, social-service workers 
and the finer type of statesmen, a Lincoln, a John 
Bright, a Gladstone, a Wilson, have this sense of 
mission. And common folk with simple tasks often 
have it Sunday-school teachers, fathers and mothers, 
older brothers and sisters. 

The sense of mission is often born in the hour of 
worship. When one sees the vision and hears the 
Sanctus one also hears the voice, "Whom shall we 
send?" and answers, "Here am I, send me." 

Would God that all the Lord s people were proph 
ets of the new social order. There is not a more 
glorious opportunity in our modern life than in the 
service of worship if we can vitalize it and educate 
our people to its appreciation. 

The greatest religious feeling is love. When 
they asked Jesus to sum up the Commandments he 
stated them as love. How can an emotion be com 
manded? Can it be our duty to have a certain 
feeling? It is the common thought that feelings 
come and go and are inevitable. Affection is one 
of the most fundamental impulses, but it is very 



174 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

capricious. Parental affection is the only one that 
can be at all depended upon. But even in the primi 
tive religions affection has a place. Men generally 
have some affection for their deity. And the develop 
ment of that affection in depth and in ethical quality 
is a sure test of religious development. As religion 
becomes more ethical the love of God extends to 
love of men. It is the peculiar characteristic of the 
Bible that it so universally insists that there can 
be no religion without unselfish human love. The 
great saints have ever been great lovers. 

Our world needs love. We have plenty of hate, 
suspicion, shrewdness, diplomacy. We need love, love 
between peoples, love between classes of people, 
love among neighbors, love in schools and families, 
love in Christian communities, in churches. How 
shall we be inspired with love ? Worship is a tech 
nique for arousing love. The imagery, the symbols, 
the poetry which may stimulate the emotion are all 
there. "How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of 
Hosts." "Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in 
Christian love. " From earliest kindergarten through 
all our youth and adult worship the glorious note of 
love should be sounded. 

I have tried to analyze the religious feeling. There 
may be more elements than these nine that I have 
mentioned, but I think these are the important 
elements. They are not altogether separate. Reli 
gious feeling has a certain community. The syn 
thesis of these different feelings is a kind of absorption 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 175 

into God, "I and my Father are one," "I delight 
to do thy will, my Father." This feeling is not 
only individual; it is socialized and includes men as at 
least potentially a part of the unity; "All shall know 
Him from the least even unto the greatest." This 
feeling of unity with all that seems to be worthy, 
with the supreme worthiness, with all possible human 
worthiness, with all the worth of nature, this is 
religion. To engender this feeling is the purpose of 
worship. 

Returning to our definition of worship as any 
technique that stimulates religious feeling, we are 
ready to inquire what this technique may be. It 
cannot be arbitrarily prescribed. As a matter of 
fact techniques as varied as the Quaker meeting and 
pontifical mass produce the same results in different 
persons, sometimes in the same person. 

It is commonly asserted that there are funda 
mental differences of temperament which must 
determine practices of worship. There is supposed 
to be a ritualistic temperament which inevitably 
requires a person to be an Episcopalian, a certain 
buoyancy that can be satisfied with nothing less 
than Methodism and finds itself very unhappy when 
Methodism is toned down, a certain soberness of 
temperament that can only find fitting expression 
in the Presbyterian order, and a critical chilliness 
that demands the Congregational forms and, at 
lower degrees of temperature, seeks the liberal 
churches. 



176 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

Of course this is nonsense. Inasmuch as most 
people find themselves perfectly satisfied with the 
church of their parents there would be, if this theory 
were correct, a hereditary transmission of tempera 
ment. Moreover, one finds people who are happy 
in a free and easy religious service, deriving also the 
greatest satisfaction from the extreme formalism of 
the Masonic ritual. The supposedly staid Presby 
terians have been the leaders in the tabernacle 
evangelism of recent times which, whatever else it 
may be, can scarcely be designated as staid. And 
congregations which have been somewhat super 
ficially reproached for coldness have not seldom 
been stirred by emotions too profound for noise. 

There are doubtless temperamental differences. 
But these do not breed to type on denominational 
lines. The matter is largely determined by custom 
and education. The problem of worship is thus an 
educational one. There is neither divine nor histori 
cal prescription to determine it. It is wholly a 
question of ascertaining what techniques will be 
effective and how the people may be trained to 
employ them. 

May I state the problem in a series of proposi 
tions ? 

i. The technique of worship for any particular 
congregation must be congruous with the religious 
tradition of the worshipers. The stations of the 
cross are quite natural in the Roman Catholic church, 
but they would be utterly artificial to ourselves. 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 177 

The Quaker silences have the most effective psycho 
logical appropriateness, but they would be hopelessly 
negative to most of our congregations. The cere 
monial of immersion, which is a highly impressive 
symbolism to those who are accustomed to it, is 
often positively repulsive to those to whom it seems a 
meticulous literalism. 

I was recently in a Memorial Day parade in a 
small town in Illinois. An occasional citizen sheep 
ishly took off his hat as the flag was carried past. 
But most of them could not manage it. Doffing the 
hat is not part of their social heritage. 

We cannot then arbitrarily create a worship tech 
nique. It must be congruous with the religious tra 
dition of the people. 

2. The technique must have the prestige of 
religious tradition. Symbolisms cannot be created 
by fiat. If a religious convention should ordain 
that an airplaine should be introduced into ecclesi 
astical architecture as a symbol of man s reaching 
unto heaven, no one would take the regulation 
seriously. But an angel, a fair youth with arms and 
legs and wings an impossible human hexapod is a 
most fitting symbol. Angels belong to our religious 
tradition. We shall teach our children that they 
belong in the realm of fancy, but they none the less 
express our religious feelings. 

It is easier to destroy than to create. We can 
impoverish our worship by neglect of the religious 
elements that the past has preserved for us or by 



178 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

rationalistic antagonism to them, but it will be very 
hard to find anything to take their place. The 
utter bareness, unpoetic, unimaginative unloveliness 
of our Sunday-school opening and closing exercises, 
which very properly are not even called worship, is 
evidence of the iconoclasm with which we have 
destroyed that which had the prestige of religious 
tradition without rinding anything significant to 
supply its place. 

3. We must develop our technique freely with the 
use of all available elements. All things are ours. 
We may search all the liturgies for prayers and 
practices that may be helpful. American congre 
gations know only one prayer, only one psalm, 
and they can sing only the Doxology without the 
book. We come to church to listen to a speech and 
to a concert, and we have forgotten to be worshipers. 

It will take the greatest skill and long educational 
practice to discover from many sources the elements 
of prayer, song, response, posture, ritual which will 
evoke for us the feelings that are the deepest meaning 
of religion. 

Let me here state an objection even at the risk of 
digression. It is sometimes said that our fathers who 
knew the old rituals and rejected them found their 
fellowship with God immediately. Why should we 
need what they discarded? There is a psychology 
of negative suggestion. To a vigorous soul who had 
seen an unethical and unspiritual religion connected 
with the elaborate ritual there was evidence of the 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 179 

immediate presence of God in the very ugliness and 
bareness of his meetinghouse. He needed nothing 
but a long prayer, a long sermon, and an unharmoni- 
ous psalm to stir his soul to the depths with the 
sense of the presence of God a sense which he had 
already brought with him to the meetinghouse. 

But negative suggestion only operates when 
there is consciousness of opposition. Benjamin 
Franklin s homespun was suggestive of republican 
simplicity amid the fopperies of the French court. 
But it would be ridiculous to wear homespun today 
when any gentleman may have an evening coat. 

4. The criterion of a technique must be the pos 
sibility of expressing adequately the religious feel 
ings of the particular congregation. 

I say the possibility. The congregation will not 
know its own possibilities in advance. Let me refer 
more sympathetically to the Memorial Day parade 
which I have already mentioned. A class of fifty 
boys in one of the elementary schools was selected 
as a guard of honor for the veterans of the G.A.R. 
The little chaps were dressed in white suits. They 
had their own marshal mounted on a pony. They 
lined up and saluted as we drove through with the 
dignity of young Americans who understood the 
meaning of that great day. It was a ritual well 
worth the plan and practice. 

My friend H. Augustine Smith, of Boston Uni 
versity, goes into the highways and hedges and 
brings in the gamins and makes a boys choir, vested, 



i8o THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

effective, reverential, and teaches them to sing the 
Elijah choruses. Under his guidance the Congre 
gational churches find new possibilities of worship 
of which they never dreamed. 

5. The minister must be a master of worship- 
technique. 

There s the rub. Our ministers do not know 
how to preach very well, but they scarcely know 
how to lead worship at all. It is an art, worthy of 
the most careful study and of the most painstaking 
preparation. 

Shall we say that any man led by the Spirit of 
God can lead a congregation in worship? Let me 
suggest a parallel. I am myself greatly stirred by 
the song "If with all your hearts ye truly seek me." 
Sometimes it is just the song which I need in my 
service. I feel its beauty, I appreciate its meaning. 
1 think I have a right to say that the Spirit of God 
inspires me with that song. Then why should not 
I sing the song for the congregation ? Simply because 
I cannot sing. I have every qualification of a great 
singer except vocal ability. One must be a master 
of song to help a congregation in song; one must be a 
master of worship to lead a congregation in worship. 
I assume the spiritual preparation. I am speaking 
of the technical preparation. The art of public 
prayer, of the arrangement of a service, of the stimulus 
of song, of the creation of a mood, of the molding of a 
congregation into a unity is a consummate art. If 
some men have possessed it without study that is 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 181 

only another example of genius. There is no law for 
genius. But most of us have to work for our skill. 

6. Worship calls for a carefully planned and 
graded process of education by which, beginning with 
young childhood, people may be trained to those 
practices which may be useful as the stimulus and 
expression of religious emotion. 

It cannot be done hi a day. Children are little 
ritualists. As they learn the right decorums and 
politenesses of life in home and school (if happily 
they do learn them), so may they learn simple prac 
tices of worship that may be carried on into mature 
years with growing appreciation. 

We must distinguish between instruction in the 
elements of worship and the actual use of those 
elements in the worship itself. Everything should 
be studied and understood hymns, prayers, postures, 
the ritual of the offering. Much may be committed 
to memory. 

The problem of grading in worship is not so 
difficult as in biblical and other study. Many ele 
ments of worship are universal. Even little chil 
dren will have points of contact with them and 
gain enrichment of experience by sharing them with 
the general congregation. So we may bring the 
children back into the church, not for the long prayer 
(if that is still to be retained), not for the elaborate 
anthem (if indeed that is still essential), not for the 
hymns expressive of more mature feeling, and cer 
tainly not for the sermon, but for half an hour of 



182 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

worship with processional, recessional, the Doxology, 
the Lord s prayer, the General Confession, the 
General Thanksgiving, the recited Psalm, simple 
Scripture, offering received with dignified ritual, 
hymns carefully learned and understood and sung 
with the fresh enthusiasm of young voices. We can 
develop a genuine congregational worship. I like 
to call it in a large sense family worship. The 
children may retire for educational activities with 
the sense of faithful and solemn worship in their 
hearts, and the congregation may remain for the 
sermon, ready for the ethical impulse which the 
sense of the presence of God has prepared them to 
receive. 

THEODORE GERALD SOARES 



SOCIAL ETHICS 



THE EQUIPMENT OF THE MINISTER AS 
A SOCIAL REFORMER 

No man with any moral passion in his nature can 
be indifferent to the problems that now confront 
society. His special avocation may be what you 
please literature, art, education, law, the ministry, 
business, politics but if his sympathies and thoughts 
carry him beyond self-interest at all, if he shares in 
any vital and imaginative way in the life of his country 
and the great world, he is sure to be caught up by the 
spirit of the time and forced to reflect, if not to speak 
or write or act, on the problems of human betterment. 
Carlyle, for example, began his literary life as a 
translator and interpreter of German literature to 
the English-speaking people, but the condition of 
England in the thirties and forties of last century so 
stirred his heart and imagination that he soon ceased 
to be a translator and interpreter of other men s 
works and poured forth his own passionate con 
victions in his Sartor Resartus and Past and Present. 
Tolstoi began his life as a soldier and a novelist, but 
for long years before his death he spent himself in a 
most solemn quest for the secret of spiritual and 
social regeneration. John Ruskin was at first an 
art critic, but when he discovered that art had a 

183 



184 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

deep root in the moral nature of man, and that no 
country could produce a noble art whose ideals were 
basely and selfishly materialistic, he became a per- 
fervid and uncompromising preacher of national 
righteousness and a more ethical political economy. 
William Morris in his earlier life was a poet, "the 
idle singer of an empty day," as he called himself; 
but he ended it as a socialist, and a writer of pamphlets 
and campaign songs for the Socialist party in England. 
H. Rider Haggard spent many years of his life in 
writing sensational romances, but the Zeitgeist found 
him also, and for several years back he has been 
engaged in the social work of the Salvation Army. 

And if literature has led earnest, sympathetic, 
imaginative men and women more and more into 
the field of "the social problem," the work of the 
ministry is doing so even to a greater degree. The 
minister is no longer only a pastor and an inter 
preter of Scripture. A man cannot minister to 
the needs of the age, in the big industrial centers 
at least, unless he can interpret, not merely the 
books of the great dead, but also the movements 
of the life of his time. It is well, when possible, 
that each individual should repeat the experience 
of the ages in his own development, should come 
to a knowledge of himself and his times through 
a knowledge of all the great master minds from 
Homer to Hegel. But he must not take up his 
permanent abode anywhere on the way, but push 
on to the end of the journey. It is well to be able 



SOCIAL ETHICS 185 

to interpret a prophecy of Isaiah, or a dialogue of 
Plato, or a letter of Saint Paul, or a canto of Dante, 
or a critique of Kant, but if we are to meet the needs 
of our time, we must also be able to interpret the 
meaning of a great miners strike, the human signifi 
cance of the world-wide movement called Socialism 
and the social implications of big industry and large 
cities and the intermingling of races and ideals. 
A knowledge of the past is essential to an understand 
ing of the present and the future, but we must use the 
past, not as a home to live in, but as the foundation 
of the home that we are in the process of building. 
We live in an age when the world is thinking seriously 
and passionately, if confusedly and hurriedly, on the 
problems of human betterment, and we cannot 
minister to that age unless we feel its spirit and are 
working at its problems. We must equip ourselves 
so as to be able to understand and guide and encourage 
the great work of reform which has become so urgent 
in all industrial countries. 

In discussing my subject, namely, "The equipment 
of the minister as a social reformer," there is no 
need to labor the statement that the moral enthusi 
asm which springs from sympathy, pity, the senti 
ment of justice, and the social instincts and sentiments 
generally is not the only equipment the social reformer 
needs. That is indispensable as a main part of his 
motive power, but it is no guarantee that he will not 
repeat experiments that have been tried and found 
wanting, that he will not try impossible things, or 



i86 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

that he will not antagonize other forces which, while 
not exactly working with him, are moving in his 
direction. As there is a technique at the basis of 
every art, as there are mathematical and mechanical 
principles at the basis of all practical engineering 
skill, as there is a detailed knowledge of anatomy and 
physiology at the basis of scientific medicine, so there 
must be some adequate foundation for the work of 
the social engineer. It is perfectly true that our 
so-called social sciences have not as yet developed 
any body of principles that can be compared for 
accuracy and efficiency with the technique of the arts, 
or with mechanics, or with anatomy and physiology, 
but such knowledge as we have should be in the 
possession of the social reformer, if not in detail, at 
least in broad, clear outline. Our universal democ 
racy, of course, tends to obscure this fact. We 
graduate every young man of twenty-one years of 
age as a social engineer, but we have known democracy 
long enough to be aware that its success depends on 
sane, well-informed, progressive leaders. It ought 
to be a commonplace in an age which lays such 
stress on the specialist that zeal alone is not an 
adequate equipment for the social reformer. 

What, then, constitutes an adequate equipment? 
I would lay down as the first requisite a genuinely 
systematic knowledge of human nature. I do not 
mean the kind of knowledge which a shrewd business 
man acquires by watching men and women closely 
in the world of trade, politics, and society, although 



SOCIAL ETHICS 187 

such knowledge is not to be despised altogether. 
I mean rather the knowledge which sociology is 
gradually gathering from biology, psychology, anthro 
pology, and history, and correlating into its doctrine 
of the social forces. We must know human nature 
if we are to better human association, and we cannot 
know human nature unless we know it in its physical 
origins, in its mental and social processes, in its 
racial divisions, and in its most characteristic histori 
cal manifestations. Again and again in the history 
of the world, movements for human betterment have 
signally failed because they were based on inadequate 
knowledge or complete ignorance of human nature. 
Puritanism tried to crush the dramatic instinct in 
Cromwell s time, but only brought about a crude 
recrudescence of it when the strong arm of Cromwell 
was removed by death. Communism always goes 
to pieces on the rock of man s desire for private 
property, domestic privacy, and personal indepen 
dence. Monasticism finds its way barred by the 
sex instinct. Idealism will have it that all peoples 
are fit for self-government simply because they are 
human beings, but experiments fail to justify that 
affirmation. History is strewn with the wrecks of 
social movements that came to disaster simply 
because they did not take into account the funda 
mental facts of human nature. 

Our first obligation, therefore, as reformers, is 
to study as profoundly as we can the human nature 
that we desire to remake, on its subnormal, normal, 



i88 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

and supernormal levels. We should keep in touch 
with what the biologists are saying about man s 
physical antecedents. Man, although on the way to 
become a spiritual being, has all the fundamental 
animal instincts, and we must realize how powerful 
those instincts are and how necessary it is to make 
provision for their legitimate expression. Hunger, 
thirst, the sex appetite, the parental instinct, the 
gregarious instinct, the instinct of self-assertion, the 
play impulse, the demand for liberty these are older 
than the individual, older, indeed, than the human 
race, and wherever society is so organized that they 
cannot find normal expression, they break forth in 
disorder and destruction. Animal instinct does not 
play the star role in human life that it plays in the 
animal world, but it is still operative, and the social 
reformer should have the clearest possible idea of its 
working. The more idealistic we are, the more must 
we be on our guard against overlooking the great 
instinctive desires that impel man in his every-day 
activities. We never can explain man by his animal 
ancestry, but in trying to improve him we must at 
least take account of what his physical past has been. 
We must frankly recognize that many human beings 
are subnormal, feeble-minded, defective, criminal, 
and not go on appealing to a conscience which they 
have not got when we ought to be using our influence 
to secure institutional care for them and to segregate 
them so that they shall not be able to reproduce 
their kind. We must learn from the biologist that 



SOCIAL ETHICS 189 

sex-immorality not only endangers the soul s salvation, 
in the language of the older evangelicalism, but also 
threatens the future of the whole human race. We 
must keep the significance of the bodily side of life so 
constantly in mind that we shall never forget that 
bad food, unhygienic tenements, and exhausting toil 
blunt the sensibilities and ultimately encourage 
thoughts, sentiments, and deeds that brutalize the 
soul. The main weapon of the minister as social 
reformer must always be his appeal to the conscience 
and intelligence of the people, but, instructed by the 
biologist, he will always bear in mind that a human 
being whose instincts are starved or driven under 
ground or inadequately satisfied is not very likely to be 
in a mental condition to respond to appeals to his 
higher nature. Biology can never say the last word 
about man, but it always says the first word, and the 
social reformer must know what that first word is. 
If it is possible to doubt the reformer s need of 
some knowledge of biology, his need of psychology 
cannot be questioned. And when I say psychology, 
I do not mean merely the general analysis of mental 
processes which we find in an ordinary college text 
book or even the experimental laboratory psychology 
which has become so popular in recent years. I mean 
rather that practical knowledge of the total working 
of the mind which we find in recent books on social 
psychology and the psychology of religion and sug 
gestion, etc. Such books as James s Varieties of 
Religious Experience, Ribot s Creative Imagination, 



THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

Sidis The Psychology of Suggestion, Hall s Adolescence, 
or the works of McDougall, Tarde, Ross, Ellwood, 
etc., on social psychology are not mere academic text 
books. They furnish knowledge about and insight 
into human nature, especially in its social phases, 
which every public leader of men and women ought 
to possess. We cannot understand the past and we 
cannot shape or guide the future unless we know 
something about the role that imagination, imitation, 
suggestion, the mob-consciousness, and belief have 
played and are playing in human life. 

For example, every spiritual leader stands appalled 
now and then as he sees the lure that money-making 
has for the youth of North America. He sees them 
wild with speculation, turning sharp corners for the 
sake of gain, working almost with the fury of demons 
to beat their rivals or to destroy their competition 
altogether. He sees the wealth of the continent 
growing at a rate absolutely unprecedented in the 
history of man. And as he watches the headlong 
scramble, he is apt at first to say to himself: "What 
a sordid people we Americans are ! How materialistic 
and vulgar we seem in comparison (let me say) with 
the Hindus of India! What culture can ever be 
developed in a people who can give themselves with 
such energy to the amassing of mere external wealth! ". 

But here his psychological insight into human 
nature comes to his assistance. He asks himself: 
"Is sordidness, after all, the complete explanation 
of our economic energy? Is it the mere blind greed 



SOCIAL ETHICS 191 

for things that is our motive power ?" And the 
answer comes: It is not. The love of activity, the 
love of self-expression, the love of power, the joy that 
the imagination has in conceiving great schemes, the 
challenge to man s will that great opportunities 
afford, the stimulus of great horizons and wide spaces, 
the passion for manipulating large masses of people 
these, as well as the desire of things for the sake of 
enjoyment, constitute the driving force of our money 
civilization. A few great men among us have achieved 
colossal power by means of wealth; their mere word 
has such an influence in the economic world, either to 
bless or to curse, that they seem like Providence giving 
or withholding the rains and the seasons; they have 
struck the imagination of youth almost like demigods; 
the newspapers have told the stories of their lives over 
and over again; imitation and suggestion have been 
busy among our young people from ocean to ocean 
and now we have an army of people engaged in the 
scramble to be millionaires. But it is not all irredeem 
ably sordid. Once our economic life settles down to a 
more static condition, once we have cut off some of 
the sources of ill-gotten wealth, other types will 
spring up among us, will dominate the imagination of 
youth, and by imitation and suggestion sway our life 
toward more ideal ends. Misdirected energy is 
always more hopeful than a sensuous, luxurious, 
languorous ease. 

In some such way as this will psychology help 
us to understand our common human nature. It 



192 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

will teach us by what forces the popular imagination 
is dominated; it will enable us to understand the 
role of the hero, the picturesque personality, the 
revivalist, the crowd, the fad, the craze, the psychical 
epidemic; and it will teach us by what educational 
means the mass can be individualized and made to 
respond to reason and to exercise judgment. Such 
a psychology cannot be learned by the mere mastery 
of a textbook or two in college. Its greatest text 
books are the histories and biographies in which 
the total working of human nature is revealed on the 
largest scale. The knowledge of it is the achievement 
of a lifetime, but the young reformer has at hand 
today a body of sound psychological knowledge of 
which the seminary of my day was quite ignorant. 
When I was a theological student twenty-five 
years ago, anyone proposing to study economics 
as a preparation for the ministry would have been 
frankly regarded as an unspiritual person. It did 
not occur to us then that many ethical problems 
would sooner or later inevitably lead us into the 
economic field. But many things before the war, 
and especially the war and all its consequences, have 
made it clear that the minister can no longer afford 
to be ignorant of the major facts and theories of the 
economic life. As the prophet of the brotherhood of 
man and the herald of good-will, he cannot be deaf 
to the controversy which already has gone far to 
divide humanity into two warring classes. We are in 
the midst of a struggle between property and labor 



SOCIAL ETHICS 193 

which may be prolonged far into the future and 
which concerns itself at almost every point with 
questions of right and wrong. To such a struggle the 
minister simply cannot remain indifferent, and unless 
he is capable of forming independent judgments, 
he is likely to be betrayed by his prejudice or his sym 
pathies into positions which may make his service 
to the whole community impossible. His main task 
is to hold the community together, to interpret people 
to each other, and to create that atmosphere of 
good-will without which scarcely any worthy and 
permanent reform can be effected. 

Now, if he is to perform this task adequately, 
he must master the leading principles of the science 
of economics. Each party to the struggle has its 
own kind of economic theory, but, in the very nature 
of the case, neither party is likely to see things in a 
large, liberal way. The thinking of men who act in 
the spirit of class is mob-thinking. Men believe 
what their class interest dictates. As in the time of 
war, they believe what helps the cause. Disbelievers, 
whatever reasons they may give for their disbelief, 
are branded as heretics. The upholders of the 
existing order stress the need of capital and ever more 
capital, the value of the service of the organizer, 
the justice of paying a man what his services are 
worth, the social demand for large production, but 
pass lightly over the iniquity of stock-watering, 
stock-gambling, monopoly, inadequately taxed inheri 
tance, and all the other devices by which wealth 



194 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

accumulates in the hands of those who do not pro 
duce it. On the other hand, the labor organization 
develops an economics that suits its purpose. It 
makes a gospel of the economics of Marx and estab 
lishes colleges to teach this dogma as churches teach 
theirs. It is all alive to the contribution of labor, 
but undervalues or overlooks entirely the contribu 
tion of the organizer and the capitalist. Labor has 
through past ages been an oppressed class and is now 
seeking deliverance, and its theoretical thinking is 
inevitably hurried, partisan, uncritical, and passionate. 
Now, even though the minister should never 
touch on an economic subject in the pulpit, he ought 
to know economics profoundly enough to be able to 
use his influence toward a fair and impartial discussion 
of economics in his community. His policy must be 
one of mastering his prejudices so as to be able to 
listen to both sides. He must listen to the masses, 
for they know best, through the constant pressure of 
fact on their lives, where our present system of pro 
duction and distribution is weak and unfair. He 
must listen to the masters of industry, for they know 
best how vast our present economic system is, how 
intricate are its mechanisms, how dependent society 
is on its harmonious working, and how well considered 
must be the reforms which shall rid us of its evils 
without involving all society in chaos and disaster. 
When men think as a class, they never think straight, 
whether they are rich or poor; and the minister who 
belongs to no class but to all classes ought to be 



SOCIAL ETHICS 195 

trained so that he shall be able to keep a clear head 
in the turmoil of his generation and use his influence 
with his friends and acquaintances I do not say in 
the interests of mere moderation and toleration, but 
in the interests of fair, just, impartial consideration of 
the economic problems in which so many of our 
modern questions of right and wrong arise. The 
preacher who knows nothing of Marshall or Gide 
or Taussig or Ely or Hobson or Seager, in other 
words, who has not yet discovered how many of our 
moral problems have an economic root, may minister 
in many personal ways to his congregation, but can 
have very little part in the public discussion of the 
most agitating and peace-destroying problems of his 
community. He cannot clarify or stabilize the think 
ing of those about him, for he does not think 
for himself, but picks up his opinions, if he has any, 
from the class toward which his sympathies are 
naturally drawn. On the other hand, if he forms his 
own judgments and tries to be the friend of all 
classes, rather than the advocate of one, he is apt to 
draw upon himself the fire of both warring parties on 
those occasions when passions are violently aroused 
and so he must be firmly grounded in the reasons for 
his judgments if he is to stand for the larger view and 
maintain the idea of justice and liberality against the 
tyranny of mob -opinion. 

The most essential part of the equipment of the 
minister as social reformer is still to be mentioned. 
His special contribution must always be his clear, 



1 96 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

forcible, and persuasive presentation of the Christian 
world- view. A religious reverence for human nature 
is the great driving power of the only betterment of 
the human lot that has ultimate moral significance 
I mean the betterment that makes not merely for 
more food, clothing, shelter, and amusements, but 
rather for more opportunity for the higher life of the 
mind and spirit. In all the institutions where the 
poor, the helpless, the deficient, and the wicked are 
cared for the hospitals, asylums, reformatories 
it has been found that the officials who have no 
religious reverence for human nature, or nothing 
corresponding to it, are apt to do their work in a 
purely mechanical way, and often descend to down 
right cruelty and brutality. Look upon man as a 
mere animal who by some happy accident has learned 
to talk and invent tools and machines, and so has 
gained the mastery over all other animals and physical 
nature; look upon his lust, drunkenness, laziness, 
and wickedness as natural instincts of which he has 
no reason to feel ashamed; look upon human life as a 
mere continuance of the animal struggle for existence 
and as getting all its significance from its present 
instinctive satisfactions ; take the purely naturalistic, 
hedonistic, non-religious view of human nature and 
you cut the most vital nerve of all the most genuine 
social reform. All you have left is the class struggle 
and the fury of the have-nots to get possession of the 
property of those who have. On the other hand, if 
you see in man a spirit in the making; if you construe 



SOCIAL ETHICS 197 

his lust, drunkenness and wickedness as perversions 
of natural instincts by means of that very imaginative 
reason which might have raised him into a splendid 
manhood; if, in spite of his history with its wars, 
murders, and carnivals of corruption, you see through 
all his long evolution the struggling into life of a 
divine spirit; if you see in his art and religion and 
science and philosophy and literature and in his 
self-sentiment and his self-sacrifice the evidences of a 
divine descent and the promise of an immortal 
destiny then you will feel a certain sacredness, 
even in the lowest men and women; at the sight of 
perverted instincts you will be filled not so much with 
loathing and hatred (as the person of merely aesthetic 
culture is), but rather with a sorrowful pity; and 
you will hope for man s future even when the present 
is dark and threatening, so sure will you be that no 
evil, physical or moral, can absolutely prevent the 
onward march of the moral order. If religious 
reverence for man s nature dies out, how can we 
generate the energy by which reforms can be initiated 
and carried into execution? The transformation of 
society is an arduous, up-hill process; and no energy 
is dynamic enough to carry it on decade after decade, 
in the face of so many tragic failures, except some 
such reverence for human nature as I have suggested 
or as Carlyle expresses in that wonderful old book 
Sartor Resartus. Carlyle cries: 

To the eye of vulgar logic, what is man ? An omnivorous 
biped that wears breeches. To the eye of pure reason, what is 



198 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

he? A soul, a spirit, and a divine apparition. Round his 
mysterious Me, there lies under all these wool-rags a garment 
of flesh (or of senses) contextured in the loom of Heaven; 
whereby he is revealed to his like and dwells with them in 
union and division; and sees and fashions for himself a universe, 
with azure, starry spaces and long thousands of years. Deep 
hidden is he under that strange garment; amid sounds and 
colors and forms, as it were, swathed in, and inextricably 
over-shrouded; yet it is sky- woven and worthy of a God. 
Stands he not thereby in the center of immensities, in the con 
flux of eternities? He feels; power has been given him to 
know, to believe; nay, does not the spirit of love, free in its 
celestial primeval brightness, even here, though but for mo 
ments, look through ? Well said Saint Chrysostom, with his 
lips of gold, "The true Shekinah is man": where else is the 
God s presence manifested not to our eyes only, but to our 
hearts, as in our fellow-men ? 

My friends, is it not our chief task as ministers 
and reformers to preserve or rather to awaken again 
into vivid life some such religious reverence for 
human nature as finds utterance in these famous 
words? The world is just beginning to recover 
from a war in which human nature has revealed 
itself, no doubt, now and then, in acts of the sub- 
limest heroism, but more obviously in acts of passion, 
hatred, cruelty, and greed which have shaken to its 
very foundation our old moral and religious idealism. 
Nothing is more needed now among millions of suffer 
ing people whose lot it has been to see human nature 
at its worst than faith in the power of the human 
spirit to shake itself free from its horrible memories 
and live again in the light of its visions and ideals. 



SOCIAL ETHICS 199 

And so I end by saying again that the chief task of 
the minister as a social reformer is to awaken in the 
minds of the people a religious reverence for human 
nature, and the chief task of the theological school 
as the institution which trains men and women for 
the ministry is, through its biblical criticism and its 
church history and its theology and its sociology and 
its philosophy and all its systematic studies, to 
awaken in the minds of its students a vivid, imagina 
tive, soul-quickening realization of the Christian 
world-view and a vision of the righteous social order 
which such a world- view naturally engenders. 

ROBERT JAMES HUTCHEON 



PRESIDENT S ADDRESS 



THE MODERN MINISTER: HIS TRAINING 
AND HIS TASK 

We have been listening during the last three 
days to a series of papers on some of the elements 
which enter into the training of the modern minister. 
We have now come to the closing session of our formal 
celebration; and before we separate I wish, in the 
presence of a more considerable company of the 
alumni of this School than has gathered in Meadville 
for many years, to take a final bird s-eye glance at the 
various disciplines concerning which representative 
scholars have been speaking, and to ask the bearing 
of these disciplines upon the purpose for which the 
School was founded and the task that is still before it. 

The object for which the School was founded was 
the training of ministers for the Unitarian churches 
of the West. It is for the graduates of the School 
in the pews before me, and for the churches which 
they have served, rather than for us who are teaching 
here, to testify whether that task has been performed 
well or ill. For the test of the vocational school is 
not the learning of its professors but the achievements 
of its alumni. At our Fiftieth Anniversary a promi 
nent part in the celebration was taken by men who 
had known the School from the beginning. There 

200 



PRESIDENTS ADDRESS 201 

are, unhappily, not with us at this time those who 
can tell us from personal knowledge about the 
earliest beginnings of the School. If one who had 
been present when the institution was founded had 
slumbered like Rip Van Winkle for the intervening 
seventy-five years and were to inspect its curriculum 
today, he would, notwithstanding the lapse of time, 
find himself on familiar ground. We are still engaged 
in interpreting the Old Testament and the New, 
and in teaching the Greek and the Hebrew languages 
in which those testaments were written. We are 
still teaching church history, systematic theology, 
the construction of sermons, and the duties of the 
pastorate; and a casual inspection of our curriculum 
would indicate that these subjects constitute the 
major portion of our present task. We still sing 
some, at least, of the same hymns which were sung 
in 1844, we meet daily for common prayer to the 
same God who was worshiped then, and we still use 
in our classrooms the same Bible that was used by 
the young Frederick Huidekoper and the young 
Rufus Stebbins when they began together, in the 
year 1844, to expound the contents of this book. 
Though those of us who are now teaching are con 
siderably older, on the whole, than the teachers of 
that early date, we still retain something of the 
enthusiasm of youth and still believe in the capacity 
of religion to remake the world. 

And yet we are living in a different world today 
from the world of 1844, and the changes which have 



202 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

been going on outside have had their counterpart in 
the curriculum of the School. For three things have 
happened, since the School was founded, of such 
significance that they have changed for all time the 
thought, the life, and the spiritual outlook of the 
world. The thought of the world was transformed 
by Darwin s Origin of Species. The life of the 
world has been profoundly affected by the vast 
social and industrial upheaval resulting from the 
application of newly invented machinery to industry 
and transportation; and the end of this upheaval is 
not yet. And finally, the spiritual outlook of the 
world has been changed by the world- war. An 
institution like our own which could pass through 
these epoch-making changes in mental and moral 
outlook and not be affected by them would show itself 
singularly insensitive to the times in which it lives. 
It was inevitable, of course, that the Darwinian 
theory, even if it did not abolish any of the theologi 
cal disciplines, should have a profound effect upon 
theological teaching. It created an atmosphere favor 
able to the acceptance of the conclusions of the 
higher critics of the Old Testament, even though 
the beginnings of the higher criticism antedated 
Darwin. Indirectly, if not directly, Darwinism 
has revolutionized the teaching of history; and 
there are few theological schools in which it has not 
profoundly affected the teaching of doctrinal theology. 
It is difficult for us of the present generation to realize 
the violence and bitterness of the controversy of 



PRESIDENTS ADDRESS 203 

which the work of Darwin was the cause. It was 
impossible that the accepted account of the origin of 
the race and the beginnings of religion should be 
overthrown without something in the nature of a 
panic in the religious institutions which had adjusted 
their teaching to this accepted account. But the 
panic subsided, and for more than half a century the 
necessary adjustments to the new situation have been 
under way. One of the necessary adjustments is 
the introduction into the theological curriculum of 
such subjects as the history of religion and religious 
education subjects which seventy-five years ago 
had no part in ministerial training. 

The social changes of the last seventy-five years 
following upon the industrial revolution have been 
in some ways more significant than the acceptance of 
the Darwinian theory, for they have affected primarily 
the world s life rather than the world s thought. Our 
present industrial system had reached its climax 
during the years immediately preceding the founding 
of this School. That system was based upon the 
assumption that the highest welfare of the community 
was attainable by the unrestricted pursuit of economic 
self-interest; or, in other words, of material posses 
sions. The result of the unrestricted pursuit of 
self-interest has become increasingly familiar to all. 
It has concentrated the wealth of the world in the 
hands of a few, helped to keep a considerable portion 
of the population of industrial centers below the 
poverty line, created a sense of antagonism between 



204 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

capital and labor, and aggravated a class consciousness 
which has already assumed ominous proportions. 
It has reached its highest point in Bolshevist Russia 
and is ominous of danger in the most highly civilized 
countries of the world. The proposition that the 
highest happiness of all can be attained through the 
pursuit of economic self-interest was challenged in 
ringing words within the first decade after the found 
ing of this School by England s greatest preacher of the 
nineteenth century, Frederick Robertson. He said, 

Brethren, that which is built upon economic self-interest 
cannot stand. The system of personal self-interest must 
be shattered to atoms. Therefore we who have observed 
the ways of God in the past are waiting in quiet but awful 
expectation until he shall confound this system as he has 
confounded those which have gone before. And it may be 
effected by convulsions more terrible and bloody than the 
world has yet seen. While we are talking of peace and of 
the progress of civilization, there is heard in the distance the 
noise of armies gathering rank on rank; east and west, north 
and south, are rolling toward us the crashing thunders of 
universal war. 

The challenge of Frederick Robertson has been 
repeated with increasing frequency by other Christian 
preachers who have realized that the unrestricted 
pursuit of materialistic self-interest strikes at the 
very root of the gospel of Christ. Very slowly, but 
yet surely, has the church been coming to realize the 
futility of the effort to Christianize a few souls here 
and there unless society can be Christianized at the 
same time. It has come to see that the life of the 



PRESIDENT S ADDRESS 205 

family must be Christianized as well as the life of 
the individual, and that the life of the family cannot 
be Christianized until economic conditions can be 
created which make decent family life possible. We 
may hardly expect, however eloquent may be the 
sermons which we preach, to create the Kingdom of 
God out of men and women whose childhood has 
been stunted by child labor. It is, of course, as true 
today as it was true seventy-five years ago, that 
society cannot be saved en masse and that a Christian 
society presupposes individual Christians. But it 
has become increasingly clear at the same time that 
the church has a mission to society as well as to the 
individual, and that in so far as the church is failing 
to recognize that mission it is losing its hold upon that 
portion of the community which it can least afford 
to do without. We live in the age of the social 
problem. Its watchword is social solidarity. The 
church that has no social gospel has no message to 
this time. The seminary which has failed to adjust 
its curriculum to this outstanding fact is not living 
in the present century. I take satisfaction in calling 
to mind the fact that the Meadville Theological 
School was one of the first of the seminaries to intro 
duce the study of social ethics. 

We are as yet too near the events of the world- war 
to give a final estimate of its influence upon religion 
and the institutions of religion. But this much, at 
least, is sure, that men who thought before the war in 
national terms are now thinking and speaking in 



206 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

international terms. It is true that the United 
States has not yet joined the League of Nations. 
But it is also true that the recognition of world- 
solidarity which the deliberations of Paris involved, 
went beyond the fondest dreams of any group of 
practical statesmen before the war. The ends of 
the world have been brought together as they were 
never brought together before. The movement for 
Christianizing the world that had been going on in 
previous years, has received such an impetus that 
millions of dollars are being offered for the purpose 
where thousands were offered before, and the cry of 
need in the farthest part of the world has met with 
such a response as at no other time in history. World- 
projects are in the air today as community projects 
were in the air yesterday. It seems almost a foregone 
conclusion that denominational competition on the 
mission field will come speedily to an end. The 
World Church Movement has been planned on a 
scale previously unheard of. So disillusioned have 
the nations of the world become as to the possibility 
of a satisfactory settlement of national disputes by 
war that it seems unthinkable that humanity shall 
witness again such an unspeakable calamity as the 
one through which we have lately passed. 

It is scarcely to be expected, perhaps not even to 
be desired, that national differences shall be eradi 
cated as a result of the new international outlook; 
or that religious differences which have in the past 
kept the nations apart shall be forthwith removed. 



PRESIDENTS ADDRESS 207 

It is reasonable, however, to expect that men will 
learn in religion as well as in business that co-operation 
is better than competition and that love is better than 
hate. As the apocalyptic hope of a redeemed Israel 
burst forth most radiantly when Israel sat by the 
waters of Babylon amid the ashes of her former 
hopes, so at the present day in the midst of the 
hideous aftermath of war are the nations of the earth 
struggling to the acceptance of the declaration of the 
apostle, that God hath made of one blood all nations 
of men to dwell on the face of the earth. 

If this declaration of the apostle represents a fact 
and not a fancy it may prove to be the one fact for 
which the world has been groaning and travailing 
in pain together until now. It may even prove to be 
a fact of such transcendent importance that the 
blood and treasure which have been poured out like 
water in the last six years have not been utterly 
wasted. For it seems to point to the time, if that 
time is not already here, when the church as well as 
the state will embody in its organized life the prin 
ciple of human kinship, when the discordant notes of 
our competing sects shall blend in a great harmony, 
and when men of divers races and creeds who love 
righteousness and are seeking to promote the Kingdom 
of God shall again become members of one holy 
Catholic church, visible and invisible, the supreme 
object of which is the incarnation of the will of God 
in human institutions and human lives. It is, of 
course, inconceivable that institutions which have 



208 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

as their aim the training of ministers should be 
unaffected by the emergence of a new world-attitude 
such as this. It goes without saying that it should 
give a new impulse in every theological school to the 
study of missions and should compel the creating of 
departments of missions in schools where they do not 
now exist. It has stimulated the exchange of theo 
logical professors between institutions separated by 
3,000 miles of ocean. It has shown the triviality of 
sectarian distinctions in the face of the work of 
world-reconstruction which is waiting to be done. 
Before the world- war the ministerial training schools 
of the different denominations were much nearer 
together than the denominations themselves; for 
scholarship knows no sectarian limitations. And 
these schools are immeasurably nearer together than 
they were before the war. 

Lest I be accused, however, of special pleading 
and of idealizing the kind of institution in whose name 
we have been meeting, let me say that I am painfully 
aware that theological schools have their defects 
as well as their virtues. I have stated that a super 
ficial examination of the curriculum of this School 
would disclose an amazing resemblance to the curricu 
lum of seventy-five years ago. And the teaching of 
the seminary of seventy-five years ago was based 
upon a conception of divine revelation so much 
narrower than the conception which obtains today 
that it may fairly be said to have been outgrown. 
The curriculum, therefore, of many a seminary of 



PRESIDENTS ADDRESS 209 

our time is a survival from the past rather than a 
response to the needs of the present. For what is 
the material studied in the average seminary, even 
in our own time? Is it not in the first place the 
Greek and the Hebrew text of the Bible, presuppos 
ing years of wrestling with grammars and lexicons ? 
And is it not in the second place the story of the lives 
of the popes and the reformers and the history of the 
historic controversies over issues which were once 
debated with passion and even with violence, but 
which have a very far-away sound at the present time ? 
And is there not in the third place a vast variety of 
subsidiary material growing out of these three 
departments, in Semitic languages and exegesis 
and the curious bypaths of religious history and 
doctrine, of interest to the intellectually curious but 
without much relation to the great purpose which 
impels men to become ministers of religion? For 
it often proves more diverting to a certain type of 
theologian to investigate religion as a phenomenon 
than to help to set it to work to move the hearts, 
to quicken the consciences, and to redeem the souls 
of men. 

Suppose, however, a student is not diverted by 
such mistreatment from his chosen calling but steps 
from the seminary into the church. And suppose 
he tries to avail himself in his preaching or in his 
pastoral work of the kind of knowledge which has 
been poured in upon him. Is he not bound to make 
the tragic discovery that a very large portion of this 



210 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

knowledge is absolutely devoid of interest to the 
people among whom he has come? As a matter of 
fact, that is exactly the kind of discovery that has 
been made by hundreds of ministers of our time. 
At the end of three or four years of faithful study at a 
seminary, they discover that the people are not 
interested -in the things which they have brought 
with them from the seminary. And to their intense 
chagrin they often find that men who have had no 
theological education at all are preferred before them. 
It is not without significance that such men as Joseph 
Parker, Robert Collyer, Edward Everett Hale, and 
Thomas R. Slicer received their ministerial training, 
not in the seminary but in the school of practical 
experience. And the list of similarly successful 
self-made ministers might be indefinitely pro 
longed. 

The reason for the partial failure of the seminary 
is the vagueness and indefiniteness of the thing it 
has been trying to do. Once there was a fixed and 
definite line which separated the secular from the 
sacred, and it was held that ministerial training was 
concerned with the latter but not with the former. 
That line at the present time simply does not exist. 
There is no longer any sacred history, or sacred 
literature, or sacred philosophy, or sacred rhetoric. 
The modern minister needs to know human hearts and 
interpret human needs. His field is not primarily 
the Bible or church history, but the human soul. 
As the physician needs to know the body, so does the 



PRESIDENT S ADDRESS 2 1 1 

minister need to know the mind of man. No minis 
ter in our time is equipped for his work without 
a knowledge of religious psychology and religious 
education. 

The training of the physician has been much more 
definite, concrete, and effective than the training 
of the minister. The medical school has not been 
guilty of anything like the waste of time of which the 
divinity school has been guilty. From start to finish 
the medical teacher has been seeking to make physi 
cians out of his pupils. Many a theological professor, 
even in our own time, has not the slightest concern 
as to whether he shall produce a preacher and a 
pastor. His concern, on the contrary, is his particular 
specialty; and the colossal tragedy of theological 
teaching is that if a man is willing to do so he may 
teach so absorbingly interesting a subject as the Old 
or the New Testament or the history of the Christian 
church as if it had nothing whatever to do with the 
preaching of the gospel or the salvation of a human 
soul. Three years ago there came a call from France 
to America for two different kinds of men products 
of these two different kinds of schools and in 
response to that call the divinity school sent forth 
chaplains and the medical school sent forth surgeons. 
Which of these two types of men had been best 
equipped by the institution which sent them out for 
their peculiar task? Or, to put the question in 
another way, which of these two types of men could 
most easily have dispensed with his vocational 



212 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

training? I am led to believe that the American 
chaplains as well as the American surgeons did a 
work in France of which America may well be proud. 
But I am compelled to harbor the suspicion that 
less credit belongs for this work to the school of 
theology than to the school of medicine. It is much 
for the seminary to learn that its primary task is 
not the promotion of theological knowledge or the 
correction of theological error or the perpetuation of 
ecclesiastical forms, however desirable these may be, 
but the training of students so to preach, so to pray, 
so to bring comfort to souls in distress and hope to 
souls in despair, so to inspire society with the religious 
ideal, so to make clear the religious import of con 
temporary movements, and so to make men conscious 
of a great religious inheritance, that the institutions 
they serve shall become an integral part of the 
Kingdom of God and the people to whom they 
minister shall become more fully conscious that they 
are children of God. I have spoken of new theo 
logical disciplines which have made their appearance 
since this School was founded. They have all been 
ably defended and need no further defense from me. 
But I would not seem to speak lightly of those other 
disciplines which have held their place in this School 
from its founding, and which will hold an honored 
place in the future. Biblical and historical study 
will continue to hold their own, not because the 
world any longer believes in an infallible book or an 
infallible church, but because the Bible was written 



PRESIDENT S ADDRESS 213 

from the point of view of men who believed from the 
bottom of their hearts in the overbrooding love of 
God, and the history of the church is the history of 
an institution composed of men and women who 
were conscious of this love and were seeking to make 
it a power in human life. The individual as well as 
the church is rooted in the past. The minister who 
would rally his fellow-men to the service of God will 
speak with tenfold power if he is able to show them 
the mighty things which God has done in days gone 
by. The one thing that matters very much to an 
institution like this is the human soul. But all 
subjects will be of primary interest to it which 
depict the possibilities of the human soul when it is 
set on fire with the consciousness of God. 

I have been freer to speak of the defects of theo 
logical training because I believe that they are 
temporary and that they are destined to disappear 
in the face of a fuller acceptance of the Darwinian 
hypothesis, the new sense of human solidarity, and 
the broader world-outlook of our time. These 
causes have all contributed to a greater defmiteness, 
a firmer sense of reality, and a broader catholicity in 
the work of ministerial training. The seminaries of 
America have in recent years gained in large measure 
this definiteness and concreteness by drafting into 
their service those sister-institutions of learning in 
which science, literature, philosophy, economics, art, 
music, and other subjects of study which tend to 
broaden and deepen human life, have found their 



214 THEOLOGICAL STUDY TODAY 

natural home. About the great universities of our 
country are grouped in increasing measure vocational 
schools of every kind. It is as futile to seek to 
divorce theological study from the university as to 
seek to divorce the study of chemistry from the 
laboratory. It has been of inestimable advantage 
to those seminaries which have been compelled to 
do their work in isolation from university centers, to 
be granted, as this School has been granted, the 
privileges of the university for at least a portion of 
the year. For five years this institution has reaped 
the advantage of affiliation for a quarter of the 
school year with the University of Chicago. That 
privilege is now to be extended to four quarters for 
those of our students whose collegiate training has 
been lacking or incomplete. And it means that the 
possibility of raising the standard of the School for 
which its friends have been hoping for lo! these many 
years, has finally come. Of all the gifts which might 
have been desired with which to help the rounding 
out of our seventy-five years, this is the best. 

I have spoken of the minister s training and the 
minister s task. I should have liked to speak, had 
time permitted, of the ministers opportunity; for 
I believe in that opportunity, in the face of the work 
of reconciliation that awaits the Christian church, 
as I have never believed before. The demonstration 
of the greatness of that opportunity, however, has 
been and will continue to be an affair, not of words, 
but of deeds. It has been given for many years by 



PRESIDENTS ADDRESS 215 

those who have received their training here and have 
carried the results of that training to the world 
outside. It is the proud privilege of the School 
today to set the seal of its approval upon the work of 
some of these. 

FRANKLIN CHESTER SOUTHWORTH 



78980 




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