Imágenes de páginas

historical critics with denying the supernatural in the Old Testament, but is it not true that they all minimize the supernatural as much as possible? Do not the majority of them teach that the Old Testament is not what the orthodox Church regards it, a revelation from God, but rather a record of the opinions of men groping in the dark after truth, like ourselves ? Do they not warn us against believing in the historical character of the early patriarchs ? Are we not assured by them that the early portions of the Hebrew Scriptures are, at best, nothing but a collection of traditions, loosely put together in a distant post-Mosaic era ? Abraham, we are told, may be nothing more than a mythical personage or a typical impersonation of the religious Israel. The story of Moses fares but little better. If now the early founders of Israel must be regarded as unhistorical, it naturally follows that the prophecies and miracles of the same ages must be classified as pure inventions of later days. The attitude of the German rationalists concerning these questions has been known for a long time to our readers. They deny the possibility of both miracles and prophecies. Alas, that such teaching should gradually creep into our evangelical bodies! Professor Cheyne, though a canon in the English Church, and having subscribed to articles and creeds, comes out squarely and declares that it is “no longer possible for the modern mind to believe in miracles.”

Criticism which can resolve patriarchal history into a myth, the tabernacle and its service and minute laws into pr ly devices and pious frauds invented for the purpose of enhancing the authority of the priestly class of the second temple, will not hesitate to place the Ten Commandments in the same category. Indeed, do not the advanced critics pronounce the Decalogue and the story of Sinai a fiction pure and simple, and therefore no more binding than any other system of law ? Whoever can deny the supernatural origin of the Ten Commandments will find it comparatively easy to deny the superhuman in the Sermon on the Mount. He who will speak sneeringly of the Jewish sacrifices under the old dispensation will have little use for the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the atonement and regeneration play a very insignificant rôle in the preaching of the new criticism. The man who is intent upon eliminating the supernatural from the Old Testament will find no great difficulty in subjecting the New to a similar treatment. He wbo brands the Pentateuch as a composite mixture of the inventions of rival tendencies will, on turning to the New Testament, discourse eloquently about Pauline and Petrine tendencies and rival productions. May we not probably expect within the next few years a polychrome edition of the New Testament ? Have we not already been informed by a learned colleague of Wellhausen at Göttingen that St. Paul is a myth invented by Christian priests of the Middle Ages ? He who will reject the Old Testament passages universally regarded by the evangelical Church as Messianic is on the highway which has led others to the denial of the deity of Jesus the Christ. Indeed, is it not true that one of the most evangelical bodies in America at this very time is troubled with the recent utterances of some of its theological professors, whose words are painfully suggestive of Unitarianism and thoroughly saturated with Ritschlian teaching, who boldly proclaim that they “know no Christ except the Jesus who taught three years in Palestine ?” They know nothing of the Christ of St. Paul and the apostolic Church. Professor Kaftan says, “We find no traces of omnipotence or omniscience in him [Christ).” What a pity that Synods, Councils, Assemblies, and Conferences composed of men of more than ordinary intelligence should find it impossible, from recent books concerning Christ and the apostolic Church, to know whether or not the authors believe that our Lord was the same in essence with the Father! Teachers of religion are engaged in too serious business to be indulging in semiscientific quibbles, uttering oracular sentences the real meaning of which is not readily grasped. No one doubts the sincerity or questions the right of Unitarians and people of similar faiths to their views or to the expression of the same, but certainly there is a fitness in having the creed in reasonable harmony with the public teaching of men of whatever name.

But, lastly, we would emphasize the fact that the phrase “new criticism" is a misnomer, since the theories and views now passing under this name scarcely deserve the appellation. He who has read the history of rationalism in Europe and America will have no difficulty in recognizing the old skeleton in a modern garb. What Bishop Hurst, more than thirty years ago, said of Colenso may be repeated of more than one of our new critics in 1900, namely, “Those who are intimately acquainted with the treatment of the Pentateuch and the book of Joshua by the most unsparing of the German rationalists will at once see the resemblance between their views and those of Colenso.” We may also add that whoever will read the English deists of the seventeenth century will find that Hobbes, Blount, and others held very similar views regarding Moses, miracles, prophecy, the supernatural in the Bible and revealed religion as Wellhausen, Graf, Parker, Cheyne, and others. A cursory reading of the history of doctrine will convince the investigator that our modern American biblical critic of this self-styled new school has but slender claim to originality. He is a mere echo of the more or less remote past. The most original thing about many of these old rationalistic theories is that they proceed unblushingly and unceremoniously from some of the citadels founded by orthodox believers to defend the faith.

The strongest objection to the new criticism is that to-day, as always, it paralyzes growth in experimental religion. The views of these critics have been known in Germany for a century, and the result has been anything but a vigorous spiritual life. And wherever these prevail there is a growing disbelief in the authority of the Bible, the necessity of the atonement, the divinity of Christ, and the efficacy of prayer. Unitarians have proclaimed the same truths in America for fifty years. Have conversions and revivals been numerous among them ?



The testimony of scientists is that of men capable of calmly formed opinion, and must therefore be held in high esteem. The abundance of this class of evidence is the more surprising because these men have gone out of their way to render it. In almost every instance they have volunteered their statements unsolicited, and seemingly as if the efficiency of missions was among the unexpected discoveries they had made. We venture to give an illustration furnished by the distinguished German scientist Dr. Harburg. After a trip for scientific investigation made to Formosa, returning to Hamburg he said: “I have seen sixteen chapels (of one society) and people in them worshiping God. I have seen native preachers standing on platforms preaching the truths of Christianity. I never saw anything like it before. If people in Hamburg saw what I have seen they would contribute for foreign missions. If scientific skeptics had traveled with a missionary as I have, and witnessed what I have on this plain, they would assume a different attitude toward the heralds of the cross.” Sir H. H. Johnston writes of the civilizing and sociological influence of missionary effort in his recent book, British Central Africa. He says: “Huge is the debt which philologists owe to the labors of British missionaries in Africa. By evangelists of our own nationality nearly two hundred African languages and dialects have been illustrated by grammars, dictionaries, vocabularies, and translations of the Bible. Many of these tongues were on the point of extinction, and have since become extinct, and we owe our knowledge of them simply to the missionary's intervention. Zoology, botany, and anthropology, and most of the other branches of scientific investigation have been enriched by the researches of missionaries, who have enjoyed unequaled opportunities of collecting in new districts. . . . For missionary enterprise in the future I see a great sphere of usefulness—work to be done in the service of civilization . .. which shall have for its object the careful education and kindly guardianship of struggling and backward peoples.”

The testimony of diplomats and statesmen is equally positive. The Hon. John W. Foster-once Secretary of State at Washington, and who was deputed as minister of his government first to Spain and later at the court of Russia—made a tour through parts of eastern Asia, India, China, and Japan, and carefully inquired into the missionary work in those countries which he visited. After his return to America he volunteered to describe mission work as “the greatest movement for the integrity and well-being of the human race that has ever been known.” United States Minister Conger, of Peking, China, in an address before the China Mission in Shanghai, September 9, 1899, also said: “Since coming to China I appreciate mission work infinitely more than I have ever done before. Your work would be more appreciated at home if the people only knew the dangers and trials the missionaries undergo among these stubborn people, but it can never be thoroughly understood by those who are not thrown with that work. It takes great courage for a soldier to place his name on the muster roll in these days, but it requires an immeasurably larger amount of heroism and courage for you to do the work; and I wish to express my admiration of your devotion to humanity and God that I have witnessed since I came to this land. You would have larger support if people at home only knew the magnitude of the dangers to which you are exposed.”


THE Rev. Arthur H. Smith is one of the most fundamental thinkers in the missionary ranks of China, and is eminent in the department of Chinese sociology. In a paper read before a missionary conference in North China, in August last, he outlines some things which Christianity can do for China. As to the Chinese family, Christianity can take better care of the boy and the girl. It will teach parents to govern their children and to train them—both of these being lost arts in the empire—and will connect the intellectual progress of the school with the home. He quotes from another that the typical Chinese mother is “an ignorant woman with babies,” but insists that the typical woman is not the ideal Chinese woman, as the long list of educated women in many dynastiesa number too great to be ignored but too insignificant to be influentialclearly shows. Christianity will raise the status of the mothers. It will lead to a more rational selection of partners in married life. It will make no compromise with polygamy and concubinage. Christianity will introduce a new element into Chinese friendships, now largely based on the Confucian maxim, “Have no friends not equal to yourself.” But China must have men of conscience and sterling character, for which she has been hitherto almost dependent on importation. She must also develop the quantity, till now unknown, of patriotism.

The author, Mr. Smith, has no thought that all this can be brought about in a day. Christianity, he nevertheless asserts, while it will produce certain definite though small results in a computable period of time, is of a nature adapted to produce indefinite similar results in unlimited time. Hence, he says, it is “eminently reasonable to point out that under no circumstances can it produce its full effects in less than three complete generations. By that time Christian heredity will have begun to operate. A clear conception of this fundamental truth would do much to abate the impatience alike of its promoters and its critics."

Mr. Smith is able to weigh all views not only with charity, but with judicial fairness. There is, however, a different sort of forecast more powerful to many minds. Thus he says: “It must be remembered that spiritual development, like that of races, is slow in its inception, but once begun it takes little account of the rules of ratio and proportion. The intellectual, moral, and spiritual forces of Christianity are now far greater than they have ever been before. The world is visibly contracted. The life of the man of to-day is that of a "condensed Methuselah.' The nineteenth century outranks the previous millennium. Great material forces are but types and handmaids of great spiritual forces which may be reinforced, multiplied—as they have been at certain periods of the past to a degree at present little anticipated. ... The forecast of effects like these is no longer the iridescent dream which it once appeared."


THE Churches of America will, before this is read, be fairly well advertised of the fact that a great Conference on Foreign Missions is proposed to be held in New York during the last ten days of April, 1900. It will be the third such conference-one having convened in London in 1888, and one in Liverpool ten years before that date--and will be the first of these great councils gathered in America. It will have a larger number of delegated members than either of the others, and will represent far more extended activities at home and on the foreign fields. The company

itself will be a rare exhibit. Those constituting the body speak more languages and dialects than could have been spoken by any other assembly ever gathered on the globe.

It is anticipated that a wider range of discussion, ethnological, sociological, and geographical, will be followed than has marked any other gathering, not excepting any sessions of international, oriental, and other learned societies, while the whole will have as its center the past growth of the kingdom of God and the adjustment of agencies to its more rapid and permanent development in the future. One practical result must be a greater concentration of effort by the various agencies at work, as well as the multiplication of agencies on a vaster scale.

It is difficult to imagine how any well-informed Christian can fail to take interest in such an assembly. There are, to be sure, a great number of these "pan" councils, and the people are getting so accustomed to them that it is not easy to concentrate public interest in them; and most of them resolve themselves into great talking assemblies with but little result beyond increased information and some growth in fraternity, having none of them authority to direct action. But this conference, though it will not speak as having authority, has a deeper relation than others to the vitality of the kingdom of God, larger room for statecraft, and greater reason to expect the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; for it looks to the direct and immediate fulfillment of the one tremendous command of the ascending Lord, the Church's Founder and Master, to “teach all nations” the truths which he revealed, the principles which he enunciated, the ethical standards he erected, and the laws which he directed should govern human society.

« AnteriorContinuar »