WHAT we have already pointed out,that the whole trend of college training is along the lines of skepticism as respects the revealed religion of Bible, along the lines of "higher criticism"is well sustained by the following statement of the matter by Doctor J. A. Leavitt, President of Ewing College, Ills. Among other things he says in the March Homiletic Review:
"Every observant person has known of numerous instances of believers who have had their faith unsettled by their scientific studies....Can studies so pursued as to atrophy one's spiritual nature be said to tend toward Christ? Can an education be truly Christian that does not increase one's powers to apprehend God and to make him known?
"It will hardly be supposed by any one that the study of the ancient classics tends toward Christ. Few thoughtful parents will entertain for a moment the idea of having their children study for years modern authors, however beautifully written, which are based upon the amours of characters like Paris and Helen, and such corrupt beings as pagan gods and goddesses. It is known that the rites and practices in the worship of some of them were prohibited by the heathen themselves. White, in his 'Mythology,' says: 'There can be no doubt that the stories concerning them had an unfavorable influence on the pagan world, and they contributed to weaken whatever respect remained for public or private virtue.' Is it reasonable to suppose that the imagination of our youth can dwell for years upon the vices of the pagans and their gods and remain untainted?
"The ancient classics should be greatly curtailed. In its place we should have much of the oldest and purest history, the most exalted poetry, and the profoundest thought found in the Bible; the most productive of originality, the most fertile in ideas, the most disciplinary of any work given to man. It is a misnomer to call any college Christian which studies pagan authors six or eight years and gives the Bible only a nominal recognition....
"The sciences should have a large place. God has given us three books, each one revealing himself. The first is external nature, the second is the nature of man, and the third is the Word of God. It is absurd to suppose that these three works by the same omniscient Author are not in perfect accord. Wherever a lack of harmony appears, there is a lack of the truly scientific. ...Our education should be Christocentric. In so far as any education is not Christocentric, it is partial, inadequate and unscientific."
We extract the following from the public press. The more we perceive the blind, unsuccessful groping of the worldly-wise after truth, the more do we value it; and the more do we appreciate the Scriptural declaration that "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him"the humble.
"The era in which we live has often been called an age of religious doubt. Perhaps it could more correctly be described as one of religious hesitation and helplessness. The bewildering changes of recent years have created for us a new world, but we have not discovered a heaven to match it. The old conception of God has become impossible, and we have not found another to take its place. So has come about what a recent writer regards as "one of the most wonderful phenomena in the history of religion,"the withdrawal of multitudes of good men from affiliation with the Church. They have turned their backs upon Christianity, not at all because they are out of sympathy with the religious impulse, but because they are intellectually unconvinced. They have lost faith in God.
"'This is the situation of modern men by the thousands. 'Where is now my God?' they ask in every mood, [R3358 : page 132] from flippant contempt to moral despair. Nothing less than the rediscovery of God will serve the occasion. Most of the medicaments offered to the spiritual malady of the times must avail little or nothing because the diagnosis has not been sufficiently searching. It is no mere phase of superficial skepticism through which we are passing. Half the men we meet are 'agnostics,' and this whether they call themselves that or call themselves Christians. As Professor Flint truly says: "As regards knowledge of God, religious and irreligious men take up the same attitude. Both endeavor to persuade men that there is and can be no such knowledge, that the best attainable is to be content with unreasoned and unenlightened belief."
"'But that sort of belief is becoming more unsatisfying every day. Belief in a God about whom the believer avowedly knows not anything may be sustained for a time as a sort of religious obligation, or as a surviving habit, but sooner or later must be given up. One cannot stand on tiptoe forever stretching up his hands to the inane. He gets tired, settles down upon his feet, and goes about his every-day business. This is what men are doing. Numbers of them have given up all idea of ever getting hold of anything coherent in the realm of religion, and disturb themselves but little about the matter. Still larger numbers yet join with the worshipers and listen to the preachers, hoping that they may yet, somehow, be converted and enlightened.'
"'If we would understand the religious restlessness of our age, we must remember,' says Dr. McConnell, that 'the idea of God, as it floats in the mind of the average man, is compounded of three or four inherited conceptions, each of which has to a large extent ceased to fit in with the other portions of his mental furniture, and all of which have grown to be impossible.' There is, first of all, the conception of the 'Kingly God,' called into being by a Hebrew people who believed implicitly in absolute monarchy, and who regarded the earth as the center of the universe. There is, secondly, the conception of a God of Justicea Roman God, worshiped by Calvin and Augustine and Tertullian. Thirdly, we have to deal with the idea of God considered purely as the Creatoran 'infinitely skilful Architect and Engineer,' who may awaken awe, dread, wonder, or curiosity, but who 'has no commerce with the conscience or the heart.' Fourthly must be mentioned the quasipantheistic conception of a 'God Immanent,' which appeals to the mystic sense, but is 'too incoherent and evasive to serve the every-day uses of the average man.' Dr. McConnell continues:
"'At this point speaks the philosophy which controls the thought of our time. Its word is, "God is Unknowable." This is not the judgment of evil or shallow men. It is the deliberate conclusion of the earnest-minded and best men. Nor is it an excuse offered by intellectual laziness or moral indifference for declining a painful and difficult task. It is the sober judgment of those who have tried by "searching to find out God," and have failed. It is the conclusion of Christian and non-Christian philosophy alike. When Mr. Herbert Spencer had arrived at this conviction for himself, he preferred to state his conclusion in the words of Dr. Mansel, a dignitary of the Church of England. Spencer, the master in philosophy, formulates the dictum; Mansel, the master in theology, phrases it; Huxley, the master in science, gives it its nameAgnosticism; Balfour, a Christian prime minister, indorses and extends it. "Who by searching can find out God?" To the challenge of Job comes the reply of today, No one.'
"But Agnosticism, in spite of all the forces ranged on its side, is not, according to Dr. McConnell's view, the final word. It has failed to reckon with the strongest argument of all, the argument of Christ. It has overlooked the words of one who said: 'Ye have not known him, but I know him....I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.'"
The discovery of the new element which has been named Radium, is remarkable, not only as pointing to the existence of hitherto unsuspected forces in creation, but also as exposing the folly of the dogmatism of scientists. How frequently have we been told that much of Bible statement has collapsed before the tests of science, and that some finite theory of the universe has superseded the inspired narrative. Yet here we have the unexpected discovery of an element possessing the quality of developing illimitable heat and light without combustion, and which throws off "spontaneously" minute particles traveling at the rate of 186,000 miles per second. It is said the discovery "will be of vital interest to the future of humanity." Meanwhile, it would not be without value if it inspired some of our scientists with a little more humility in the presence of the handiwork of God, "when he appointed the foundations of the earth." (Prov. 8:29.)The Christian.
London, April 9.Canon Hensley Henson of Westminster, one of the most distinguished of Anglican militant divines, has aroused a terrific storm by his outspoken declarations on the future of the Bible. He says:
"The very fact that so many of our people are prepared to acquiesce in what they hear from the lectures, and even believe that, in some way or other, what they hear is divinely true, makes the present indiscriminate reading of the Bible in public an extremely perilous proceeding.
"Educated men have at their disposal a means of escape from the perplexities stirred in their minds by the incredible, the puerile, or the demoralizing narratives which the Old Testament contains. But the transition is prompt and obvious in untutored minds from a sacred volumetoo sacred for discussionto a pack of lies too gross for tolerance.
"What will be the place of the Bible in the future? It cannot be questioned that many causes have conduced to work something like a revolution among educated Christians throughout the world with respect to the sacred writings of Christianity. In time there will be a great revolution in current teaching with respect to the New Testament. Three broad considerations justify in the future the paramount place which the Bible has traditionally held in the life of Christian society:
"There is not at the present time that bright, hopeful feeling among churchmen which prevailed until within the last few years. Religion is by no means gaining ground throughout the country. Definite belief in the Bible is on the wane, and the forces of indifference and irreligion are gaining strength."
"Sir Oliver Lodge asks, 'Now that religion is becoming so much more real, whether the formal statement of some of the doctrines we have inherited from medieval and still earlier times cannot wisely and inoffensively be modified?' He shocks many of his coreligionists by declaring that he regards the 'doctrine of atonement in its concrete form as a survival from barbarous times,' repudiating the belief in 'an angry God appeased by the violent death of Christ,' and maintaining that human nature now is 'rising to the conviction that we are part of nature and so part of God. In this sense the union of divinity is what science some day will tell us is the inner meaning of the redemption of men.'
The duplicity of the leading ministers respecting current doctrines of Christianity, the inspiration of the Bible, etc., is giving way. Increasing numbers of them dislike the dishonesty they have long been practising, and are publicly expressing the unbelief that for so long has possessed themengendered by "Higher Criticism" and "Evolution." The above are samples. As the clergymen find that the public in general will stand it, they will in larger numbers and in more explicit terms avow themselves.
We are glad of it. The more outspoken the error the more clear and the more precious the Truth will appear to those who have it and love it. Those who are appealing to the Archbishop to have such utterances squelched little realize that the Archbishop and nearly all prominent ecclesiastics really sympathize with the views, and merely think such men as Canon Henson, Lodge and others too outspoken for public appreciationyet.
It will soon be evident that only the few know or care much for such mattersthat the vast majority merely draw near to the Lord on Sunday in a formal manner with their lips, while their hearts are immersed in other things.
Ere long the prediction will be fulfilled, "A thousand shall fall at thy side"a thousand shall thus fall into unbelief to one who will stand firm for the Lord and his Word. "Who shall be able to stand?" Those who have on the whole armor of God, St. Paul explains. (Eph. 6:13.) Our Lord says that those who will stand will be the "very elect."Matt. 24:24.
The New York Independent publishes anonymously an article from a clergyman under the title: "Why [R3359 : page 133] I Gave Up the Ministrya Soul's Tragedy." The writer claims that "every man in the ministry today" is "in much the same condition" as himself. He declares in this article, that of thirty men who were graduated with him from a theological seminary six years ago, ten have already abandoned the ministry. He says:
"I am thirty-two years oldat that point where I should be most active in that profession for which I have spent my life thus far in fitting myself, and just now ought to be most happy in it. Instead, I am deliberately resigning it and leaving all behind me. My purpose here is to set forth a statement of my motives, to analyze a situation, and to search for reasons why other men along with myself are doing this....
"The church has sent its clergy out, or at least has allowed them to go out, to do many things in the name of religion which have nothing whatever to do with it. The clergy today are busy? Yes. But busy doing what? Not things they ever were ordained to do. They are busy as managers of institutions, as members of committees, as representatives on boards, as trustees of asylums, orphanages, schools, and hospitals, dispensaries and colleges, and builders for themselves of parish-houses, where they organize and execute affairs of clubs and guilds, societies and institutes. They were not 'ordained' to do these things, nor did they need years of professional training to become able to do them. Thus it would seem that those men who are busiest in the ministry today are busy only doing things which lie wholly outside of that especial sphere, so far as there ever was a special sphere for work in which they were specially trained, in so far as they ever were specially trained. For my own part I must either find for myself some work in the Church which is sufficiently unique to justify my continuing in the unique position of a 'calling,' or I must abandon the latter here to find the former somewhere else."
"In Britain, all the non-conformist churches have formed a 'free church union' in the interest of their common cause over against the established Episcopal Church. In Scotland, the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church came together after years of negotiation to form the United Free Church of Scotland. In Canada, a good many years ago, the Methodists and Presbyterians, both of whom had several branches in the Dominion, united, so that there is only one Presbyterian and one Methodist Church in the wide domain north of us. In Australia the Presbyterians have gotten together, and now the Congregationalists and Presbyterians are talking of some sort of federal union. For some time there has been talk of union between the United Presbyterian and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian bodies in this country. And most of our readers are aware that union between our Church and the Reformed [Dutch] Church has been mooted more than once."
The work of breaking the shackles of Priestcraft in France continues. Priests and nuns are no longer permitted to teach in the public schools; no private schools taught by them or others are licensed where government inspection is not permitted; the court houses are being stripped of crucifixes and other religious emblems; the army and navy are being freed from bondage to Romanism. The new conditions are roundly denounced by Catholics as high-handed, infidel and anti-christian; but thus has Papacy ever fought Protestantism and liberty until they got free from her power; then she was propitious toward them, and, as in this country, would pose as a leader in the crusade for Liberty and Truth.
If the press report is correct, another College president has spokenDr. Samuel Plantz of Lawrence University. He said: "The fact is that men have overlooked the great truth that the Bible is literature, and put hard mechanical interpretations on what is to be regarded, and what was conceived and executed in the free and flowing spirit of imagination." It cannot be that a university president believes, if he believes anything, that men have not noticed that the Bible is literature. It must mean merely literature uninspired, like other "literature [fiction] conceived and executed in the free and flowing spirit of the imagination." He adds: "We must not feel that the Bible is worthless because Job is not a historical character; is Hamlet worthless because there never was a real Hamlet?"
If the Bible be "free and flowing imagination" is Christ historical or only an imaginary character? Would the Gospel be worthless with its Hamlet left out? What an "imagination" the imaginary Christ had! We need not now hesitate to term much higher critical literature as "conceived and executed in the free and flowing spirit of imagination."
"The image measures the duration of the times of the GentilesLuke 21:24.
"The Stone is symbolic of a supernatural power, 'not made with hands,' heavenly, divine; the mountain is the Messianic Kingdom; all is symbolic of Messiah and his Kingdom.Gen. 49:24, Isa. 2:1-4; Matt. 21:44; Luke 20:17,18.
"There were no feet in the Babylonian day, none in the Medo-Persian, none in the Graeco-Macedonian, and none in the Roman, when the iron legs of a Western and Eastern Empire did not yet exist in a divided form; in other words, toes and feet of iron and clay must be looked for at a time later than the twelve Caesars, and nearer to a time when the iron of imperialism and the clay of democracy in vain try to cleave together [We should saythe iron of civil power and the clay of ecclesiastical power]; and not until then does the Stone strike.
"It is evident, therefore, the Stone cannot have struck at the birth of Christ, nor at Pentecost, nor at the destruction of Jerusalem, nor at the edict of Constantine, for there were no feet or toes of ten kingdoms to strike.
"It did not strike repeatedly, but once, and so shattered all together. The image did not decrease gradually, but 'together;' all became like chaff and was swept away that no place was found for them.
"Such total and final ruin of all the kingdoms that once composed the Roman Empire or succeeded it did not overtake them when Christianity began to be preached, or since; the world power of the Gentiles is still a reality, and will be until the Stone falls and grinds it to powder.
"In a certain volume of 'Messianic Prophecy' by a 'Higher Critic,' it reads: 'The living stone rolling down from the mountain, growing as it descends in strength and power, is a simple but appropriate symbol of the Kingdom of God.'
"There is not the least hint that as the Stone increased the image decreased. The two are not seen side by side, one gradually encroaching upon the other's ground; but with mighty blow on its brittle feet, the colossal form crushes into shapeless ruin, and is swept away like the chaff of the summer threshing floor, and for it no more place was found.
"In other prophetic language 'the times of the Gentiles' are not yet fulfilled; Jerusalem is still trodden under foot of the Gentiles; their God-defying and man-defying governmental power is to meet its crisis and [R3359 : page 135] catastrophe in a day still future; the nations are yet to become angry against Jehovah and his Christ; the winepress of the wrath of God is yet to be trodden, and not till then will the Son of man set up his Kingdom, of whom it is written: 'And there was given him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.'Daniel 7:14."W. J. Erdman.