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Copyright, 1925, 

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Published November, 1925. 


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This book contains the material of a course of lec- 
tures which was delivered at the Grove City Bible 
School in the summer of 1925. More or less extensive 
use has been made of articles contributed by the author 
to The Princeton Theological Review, The New York 
Times, The Real Issue (published by the Philadelphian 
Society of Princeton University) , and Christian Educa- 
tion (an article published also in The Sunday School 
Times'). A paper entitled "Faith and Knowledge," 
which was published in the Bulletin of the Fourth 
Biennial Meeting (held in June, 1924) of the Confer- 
ence of Theological Seminaries and Colleges in the 
United States and Canada, has been incorporated in 
greater part in the course of Chapters I, III, and VIII. 
By kind permission of the Editor of The Woman's 
Home Companion, use has been made, in Chapter II, of 
several paragraphs of an article on "My Idea of God" 
that appeared in that journal for December, 1925. 











INDEX 253 




The question, "What is Faith?", which forms the 
subject of the following discussion may seem to some 
persons impertinent and unnecessary. Faith, it may 
be said, cannot be known except by experience, and 
when it is known by experience logical analysis of it, 
and logical separation of it from other experiences, will 
only serve to destroy its power and its charm. The 
man who knows by experience what it is to trust 
Christ, for example, to rest upon Him for salvation, 
will never need, it may be held, to engage in psychologi- 
cal investigations of that experience which is the basis 
of his life; and indeed such investigations may even 
serve to destroy the thing that is to be investigated. 

Such objections are only one manifestation of a tend- 
ency that is very widespread at the present day, the 
tendency to .disparage the intellectual aspect of the re- 
ligious life. Religion, it is held, is an ineffable experi- 
ence; the intellectual expression of it can be symbolical 
merely; the most various opinions in the religious 
sphere are compatible with a fundamental unity of life ; 
theology may vary and yet religion may remain the 

Obviously this temper of mind is hostile to precise 
definitions. Indeed nothing makes a man more unpop- 
ular in the controversies of the present day than an 



insistence upon definition of terms. Anything, it 
seems, may be forgiven more readily than that. Men 
discourse very eloquently today upon such subjects as 
God, religion, Christianity, atonement, redemption, 
faith; but are greatly incensed when they are asked to 
tell in simple language what they mean by these terms. 
They do not like to have the flow of their eloquence 
checked by so vulgar a thing as a definition. And so 
they will probably be incensed by the question which 
forms the title of these lectures; in the midst of elo- 
quent celebrations of faith usually faith contrasted 
with knowledge it seems disconcerting to be asked 
what faith is. 

This anti-intellectual tendency in the modern world 
is no trifling thing; it has its roots deep in the entire 
philosophical development of modern times. Modern 
philosophy since the days of Kant, with the theology 
that has been influenced by it, has had as its dominant 
note, certainly as its present-day result, a depreciation 
of the reason and a skeptical answer to Pilate's ques- 
tion, "What is truth?" This. attack upon the intellect 
has been conducted by men of marked intellectual 
power; but an attack upon the intellect it has been all 
the same. And at last the logical results of it, even in 
the sphere of practice, are beginning to appear. A 
marked characteristic of the present day is a lamentable 
intellectual decline, which has appeared in all fields of 
human endeavor except those that deal with purely 
material things. The intellect has been browbeaten so 
long in theory that one cannot be surprised if it is now 
ceasing to function in practice. Schleiermacher and 


Ritschl, despite their own intellectual gifts, have, it may 
fairly be maintained, contributed largely to produce that 
indolent impressionism which, for example in the field 
of New Testament studies, has largely taken the place 
of the patient researches of a generation or so ago. 

The intellectual decadence of the day is not limited 
to the Church, or to the subject of religion, but appears 
in secular education as well. Sometimes it is assisted 
by absurd pedagogic theories, which, whatever their va- 
riety in detail, are alike in their depreciation of the labor 
of learning facts. Facts, in the sphere of education, are 
having a hard time. The old-fashioned notion of read- 
ing a book or hearing a lecture and simply storing up 
in the mind what the book or the lecture contains 
this is regarded as entirely out of date. A year or so 
ago I heard a noted educator give some advice to a com- 
pany of college professors advice which was typical of 
the present tendency in education. It is a great mis- 
take, he said in effect, to suppose that a college profes- 
sor ought to teach; on the contrary he ought simply to 
give the students an opportunity to learn. 

This pedagogic theory of following the line of least 
resistance in education and avoiding all drudgery and 
all hard work has been having its natural result; it has 
joined forces with the natural indolence of youth to 
produce in present-day education a very lamentable 

The decline has not, indeed, been universal; in the 
sphere of the physical sciences, for example, the acqui- 
sition of facts is not regarded as altogether out of date. 
Indeed, the anti-intellectualistic tendency in religion and 


in those subjects that deal specifically with the things 
of the spirit has been due, partly at least, to a monopo- 
listic possession of the intellect on the part of the phy- 
sical sciences and of their utilitarian applications. But 
in the long run it is to be questioned whether even 
those branches of endeavor will profit by their monopo- 
listic claims; in the long run the intellect will hardly 
profit by being excluded from the higher interests of the 
human spirit, and its decadence may then appear even 
in the material sphere. 

But however that may be, whether or not intellectual 
decadence has already extended or will soon extend to 
the physical sciences, its prevalence in other spheres 
in literature and history, for example, and still more 
clearly in the study of language is perfectly plain. 
An outstanding feature of contemporary education in 
these spheres is the growth of ignorance; pedagogic 
theory and the growth of ignorance have gone hand in 

The undergraduate student of the present day is 
being told that he need not take notes on what he hears 
in class, that the exercise of the memory is a rather 
childish and mechanical thing, and that what he is really 
in college to do is to think for himself and to unify his 
world. He usually makes a poor business of unifying 
his world. And the reason is clear. He does not suc- 
ceed in unifying his world for the simple reason that 
he has ho world to unify. He has not acquired a 
knowledge or a sufficient number of facts in order even 
to learn the method of putting facts together. He is 
being told to practise the business of mental digestion; 


but the trouble is that he has no food to digest. The 
modern student, contrary to what is often said, is really 
being starved for want of facts. 

Certainly we are not discouraging originality. On 
the contrary we desire to encourage it in every possible 
way, and we believe that the encouragement of it will 
be of immense benefit to the spread of the Christian re- 
ligion. The trouble with the university students of 
the present day, from the point of view of evangelical 
Christianity, is not that they are too original, but that 
they are not half original enough. They go on in the 
same routine way, following their leaders like a flock 
of sheep, repeating the same stock phrases with little 
knowledge of what they mean, swallowing whole 
whatever professors choose to give them and all the 
time imagining that they are bold, bad, independent . 
young men, merely because they abuse what everybody 
else is abusing, namely, the religion that is founded 
upon Christ. It is popular today to abuse that un- 
popular thing that is known as supernatural Christi- 
anity, but original it certainly is not. A true originality 
might bring some resistance to the current of the age, 
some willingness to be unpopular, and some independ- 
ent scrutiny, at least, if not acceptance, of the claims 
of Christ. If there is one thing more than another 
which we believers in historic Christianity ought to 
encourage in the youth of our day it is independence 
of mind. ; 


It is a great mistake, then, to suppose that we who 
are called "conservatives" hold desperately to certain 
beliefs merely because they are old, and are opposed to 


the discovery of new facts. On the contrary, we wel- 
come new discoveries with all our hearts, and we believe 
that our cause will come to its rights again only when 
youth throws off its present intellectual lethargy, re- 
fuses to go thoughtlessly with the anti-intellectual cur- 
rent of the age, and recovers some genuine independence 
of mind. In one sense, indeed, we are traditionalists; 
we do maintain that any institution that is really great 
has its roots in the past; we do not therefore desire to 
substitute modern sects for the historic Christian 
Church. But on the whole, in view of the conditions 
that now exist, it would perhaps be more correct to call 
us "radicals" than to call us "conservatives." We look 
not for a mere continuation of spiritual conditions that 
now exist, but for an outburst of new power; we are 
seeking in particular to arouse youth from its present 
uncritical repetition of current phrases into some genuine 
examination of the basis of life; and we believe that 
Christianity flourishes not in the darkness, but in the 
light, A revival of the Christian religion, we believe, 
will deliver mankind from its present bondage, and like 
the great revival of the sixteenth century will bring 
liberty to mankind. Such a revival will be not the 
work of man, but the work of the Spirit of God. But 
one of the means which the Spirit will use, we believe, 
is an awakening of the intellect. The retrograde, anti- 
intellectual movement called Modernism, a movement 
which really degrades the intellect by excluding it from 
the sphere of religion, will be overcome, and thinking 
will again come to its rights. The new Reformation, 
in other words, will be accompained by a new Renais- 


sance; and the last thing in the world that we desire 
to do is to discourage originality or independence of 

But what we do insist upon is that the. right to 
originality has to be earned, and that it cannot he earned 
by ignorance or by indolence. A man cannot be original 
in his treatment of a subject unless he knows what the 
subject is; true originality is preceded by patient atten- 
tion to the facts. It is that patient attention to the 
facts which, in application of modern pedagogic theory, 
is being neglected by the youth of the present day. 

In our insistence upon mastery of facts in education, 
we are sometimes charged with the desire of forcing our 
opinions ready-made upon our students. We profes- 
sors get up behind our professorial desks, it is said, and 
proceed to lecture. The helpless students are expected 
not only to listen but to take notes; then they are 
expected to memorize what we have said, with all our 
firstly's and secondly's and thirdly's; and finally they 
are expected to give it all back to us in the examination. 
Such a system so the charge runs stifles all orig- 
inality and all life. Instead, the modern pedagogical 
e'xpert comes with a message of hope; instead of mem- 
orizing facts, he says, true education consists in learn- 
ing to think; drudgery is a thing of the past, and self- 
expression is to take its place. 

In such a charge, there may be an element of truth; 
possibly there was a time in education when memory 
was over-estimated and thinking was deprived of its 
rights. But if the education of the past was one-sided 
in its emphasis upon acquaintance with facts, surely the 


pendulum has now swung to an opposite extreme which 
is more disastrous still. It is a. travesty upon our peda- 
gogic method when we are represented as regarding a 
mere storing up of lectures in the mind of the student 
as an end in itself. In point of fact, we regard it as a 
means to end, but a very necessary means; we regard it 
not as a substitute for independent thinking, but as a 
necessary prerequisite for it. The student who accepts 
what we say without criticism and without thinking 
of his own is no doubt very unsatisfactory; but equally 
. unsatisfactory is the student who undertakes to criti- 
cize what he knows nothing whatever about. Think- 
ing cannot be carried on without the materials of 
thought; and the materials of thought are facts, or else 
assertions that are presented as facts. A mass of de- 
tails stored up in the mind does not in itself make a 
thinker; but on the other hand thinking is absolutely 
impossible without that mass of details. And it is just 
this latter impossible operation of thinking without the 
materials of thought which is being advocated by mod- 
ern pedagogy and is being put into practice only too 
well by modern students. In the presence of this tend- 
ency, we believe that facts and hard work ought again 
to be allowed to come to their rights: it is impossible 
to think with an empty mind. 

If the growth of ignorance is lamentable in secular 
education, it is tenfold worse in the sphere of the Chris- 
tian religion and in the sphere of the Bible. Bible 
classes today often avoid a study of the actual contents 
of the Bible as they would avoid pestilence or disease; 
to many persons in the Church the notion of getting 


the simple historical contents of the Bible straight in 
the mind is an entirely new idea. 

When one is asked to preach at a church, the pastor 
sometimes asks the visiting preacher to conduct his 
Bible class, and sometimes he gives a hint as to how 
the class is ordinarily conducted. He makes it very 
practical, he says; he gives the class hints as to how 
to live during the following week. But when I for 
my part actually conduct such a class, I most emphati- 
cally do not give the members hints as to how to live 
during the following week. That is not because such 
hints are not useful, but because they are not all that is 
useful. It would be very sad if a Bible class did not 
get practical directions; but a class that gets nothing 
but practical directions is very poorly prepared for life. 
And so when I conduct the class I try to give them what 
they do not get on other occasions; I try to help them 
get straight in their minds the doctrinal and historical 
contents of the Christian religion. 

The absence of doctrinal teaching and preaching is 
certainly one of the causes for the present lamentable 
ignorance in the Church. But a still more influential 
cause is found in the failure of the most important of 
all Christian educational institutions. The most im- 
portant Christian educational institution is not the pul- 
pit or the school, important as these institutions are; 
but it is the Christian family. And that institution 
has to a very large extent ceased to do its work. Where 
did those of us who have reached middle life really 
get our knowledge of the Bible? I suppose my experi- 
ence is the same as that of a good many of us. I did 


not get my knowledge of the Bible from Sunday School 
or from any other school, but I got it on Sunday after- 
noons with my mother at home. And I will venture 
to say that although my mental ability was certainly 
of no extraordinary kind I had a better knowledge of 
the Bible at fourteen years of age than is possessed by 
many students in the theological Seminaries of the pres- 
ent day. Theological students come for the most part 
from Christian homes; indeed in very considerable pro- 
portion they are children of the manse. Yet when they, 
have finished college and enter the theological Seminary 
many of them are quite ignorant of the simple contents 
of. the English Bible. 

The sad thing is that it is not chiefly the students' 
fault. These students, many of them, are sons of 
ministers,* and by their deficiencies they reveal the fact 
that the ministers of the present day are not only sub- 
stituting exhortation for instruction, ethics for the-, 
ology, in their preaching; but are even neglecting the 
education of their own children. The lamentable fact 
is that the Christian home, as an educational institution, 
has largely ceased to function. 

Certainly that fact serves to explain to a considerable 
extent tEe growth of ignorance in the Church. But 
the explanation itself requires an explanation; so far 
we have only succeeded in pushing the problem farther 
back. The ignorance of the Church is explained by the 
failure of the Christian family as an educational insti- 
tution; but what in turn explains that failure? Why 
is it that Christian parents have neglected the instruc- 
tion of their children; why is it that preaching has 


ceased to be educational and doctrinal; why is it that 
even Sunday Schools and Bible classes have come to 
consider solely applications of Christianity without 
studying the Christianity that is to be applied? 1 These 
questions take us into the very heart of the situation; 
the growth of ignorance in the Church, the growth of 
indifference with regard to the simple facts recorded in 
the Bible, all goes back to a great spiritual movement, 
really skeptical in its tendency, which has been going 
forward during the last one hundred years a move- 
ment which appears not only in philosophers and theo- 
logians such as Kant and Schleiermacher and Ritschl, 
but also in a widespread attitude of plain men and 
women throughout the world. The depreciation of 
the intellect, with the exaltation in the place of it of 
the feelings or of the will, is, we think, a basic fact in 
modern life, which is rapidly leading to a condition in 
which men neither know anything nor care anything 
about the doctrinal content of the Christian religion, 
and in which there is in general a lamentable intellectual 

This intellectual decline is certainly not appearing 
exclusively among persons who are trying to be evan- 
gelical in their views about the Bible; but it is at least 
equally manifest among those who hold the opposing 
view. A striking feature of recent religious literature 
is the abandonment of scientific historical method even 

1 For a salutary insistence upon the fact that if we are to have 
applied Christianity, we must also have "a Christianity to ap- 
ply," see Francis Shunk Downs, "Christianity and Today," in 
Princeton Theological Review, xx, 1922, pp. 287-304. 


among those who regard themselves as in the van of 
scientific progress. 

Scientific historical, method in the interpretation of 
the Bible requires that the Biblical writers should be 
allowed to speak for themselves. A generation or so 
ago that feature of scientific method was exalted to the 
dignity of a principle, and was honored by a long 
name. It was called "grammatico-historical exegesis/' 
The fundamental notion of it was that the modern 
student should distinguish sharply between what he 
would have said or what he would have liked to have 
the Biblical writer say, and what the writer actually 
did say. The latter question only was regarded as 
forming the subject-matter of exegesis. 

This principle, in America at least, is rapidly being 
.abandoned. It is hot, indeed, being abandoned in 
theory; lip-service is still being paid to it. But it is 
being abandoned in fact. It is being abandoned by the 
most eminent scholars. 

It is abandoned by Professor Goodspeed, for example, 
when in his translation of the New Testament he trans- 
lates the Greek word meaning "justify," in important 
passages, by "make upright." 2 I confess that it is not 
without regret that I should see the doctrine of justifi- 
cation by faith, which is the foundation of evangelical 
liberty, thus removed from the New Testament; it is 
not without regret that I should abandon the whole of 
the Reformation and return with Professor Goodspeed 
to the merit-religion of the Middle Ages. But the 

2 Goodspeed, The New Testament: An American Transla- 
tion, 1923. 


point that I am now making is not that Professor 
Goodspeed's translation is unfortunate because it in- 
volvesas it certainly does religious retrogression, but 
because it involves an abandonment of historical method 
in exegesis. It may well be that this question how a 
sinful man may become right with God does not inter- 
est the modern translator; but every true historian must 
certainly admit that it did interest the Apostle Paul. 
And the translator of Paul must, if he be true to His 
trust, place the emphasis where PauF placed it, and not 
where the translator could have wished it placed. 

What is true in the case of Paul is also true in the 
case of Jesus. Modern writers have abandoned the his- 
torical method of approach. They persist in confusing 
the question what they could have wished that Jesus 
had been with the question what Jesus actually was. 
In reading one of the most popular recent books on the 
subject of ,religion, I came upon the following amaz- 
ng assertion. "Jesus/* the author says, "concerned 
himself but little with the question of existence after 
death." 3 In the presence of such assertions any student 
of history may well stand aghast. It may be that we 
do not make much of the doctrine of a future life, but 
the question whether Jesus did so is not a matter of 
taste but an historical question, which can be answered 
only on the basis of an examination of the sources of 
historical information that we call the Gospels. 

And the result of such examination is perfectly plain. 
As a matter of fact, not only the thought of heaven but 
also the thought of hell runs all through the teaching 

3 Ellwood, The Reconstruction of Religion, 1922, p. 141. 


'of Jesus. It appears in all four of the Gospels; it ap- 
pears in the sources, supposed to underly the Gospels, 
which have been reconstructed, rightly or wrongly, by 
modern criticism. It imparts to the ethical teaching 
its peculiar earnestness. It is not an element which can 
be removed by any critical process, but simply suffuses 
the whole of Jesus' teaching and Jesus* life. "And 
fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to 
kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to 
destroy both soul and body in hell." 4 "It is better for 
thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having 
two eyes to be cast into hell fire" 5 these words are 
not an excrescence in Jesus' teaching but are quite at 
the centre of the whole. 

At any rate, if you are going to remove the thought 
of a future life from the teaching of Jesus, if at this 
point you are going to reject the prima facie evidence, 
surely you should do so only by a critical grounding of 
your procedure. And my point is that that critical 
grounding is now thought to be quite unnecessary. 
Modern American writers simply attribute their own 
predilections to Jesus without, apparently, the slightest 
scrutiny of the facts. 

As over against this anti-intellectual tendency in the 
modern world, it will be one chief purpose of the pres- 
ent little book to defend the primacy of the intellect, 
and in particular to try to break down the false and 
disastrous opposition which has been set up between 
knowledge and faith. 

* Matt.' x: 28. 
5 Matt, xviii: 9. 


No doubt it is unfortunate, if our theme be the in- 
tellect, that the writer has so very limited an experi- 
mental acquaintance with the subject that he is under- 
taking to discuss. But in these days the intellect can- 
not afford to be too critical of her defenders, since her 
defenders are few enough. Time was when reason sat 
in regal state upon her throne, and crowds of obse- 
quious courtiers did her reverence. But now the queen 
has been deposed, and pragmatism the usurper occupies 
the throne. Some humble retainers still follow the exile 
of the fallen queen; some men still hope for the day of 
restoration when the useful will be relegated to its 
proper place and truth will again rule the world. But 
such retainers are few so few that even the very 
humblest of them may perhaps out of chafcity be 
granted a hearing which in reason's better days he 
could not have claimed. 

The attack upon the intellect has assumed many 
forms, and has received an elaborate philosophical 
grounding. With that philosophical grounding I am 


not so presumptuous as to attempt to deal. I am not 
altogether unaware of the difficulties that beset what 
may be called the common-sense view of truth; epis- 
temology presents many interesting problems and some 
puzzling antinomies. But the antinomies of epistem- 
ology are like other antinomies which puzzle .the human 
mind; they indicate the limitations of our intellect, 
but they do not prove that the intellect is not reliable 
so far as it goes. I for my part at least am not ready 
to give up the struggle; I am not ready to rest in a prag- 


matist skepticism; I am not ready to say that truth can 
never be attained. 

But what are some of the ways in which the intellect, 
in the modern religious world, has been dethroned, or 
at least has been debarred from the sphere of ultimate 

In the first place, and most obviously, there is the 
distinction between religion and theology. Theology, 
it is said, is merely the necessarily changing expression 
of a unitary experience; doctrine can never be perma- 
nent, but is simply the clothing of religious experience 
in the forms of thought suitable to any particular gen- 
eration. Those who speak in this way protest, indeed, 
that they are not seeking to do without theology, but 
are merely endeavoring to keep theology in its proper 
place. Theology, it is admitted, is necessary to re- 
ligion; there can never be religion without some the- 
ology; but what particular theology it shall be, they 
hold, depends upon the habits of thought that prevail 
in the age in which the theology is produced. 

In accordance with this principle, various creeds have 
recently been produced to take the place of the great 
historic confessions of faith various creeds intended 
to "interpret" Christianity in the "thought-forms" of 
the twentieth century and to provide -a basis for Chris- 
tian unity. It is perfectly obvious that these modern 
formulations differ from those that they are intended 
to supplant in many important ways. But the most 
important difference of all has sometimes escaped 
notice. The most important difference is not that these 
modern creeds differ from the historic creeds in this 


point or that; but it is that the historic creeds, unlike 
the modern creeds, were intended hy their authors or 
compilers to he true. And I for my part believe that 
that is the most necessary qualification of a creed. I 
cannot, therefore, accept the protestations of those prag- 
xnatists who maintain that they are not hostile to the- 
ology. For if theology is not even intended to be per- 
manently and objectively true, if it is merely a con- 
venient symbol in which in this generation a mystic 
experience is clothed, then theologizing, it seems to me, 
is the most useless form of trifling in which a man 
could possibly engage. 

Certainly this theologizing of the pragmatist is as 
far as possible removed from the kind of progress that 
is found in the advance of science. The scientist does 
indeed modify his opinions; one hypothesis often gives 
place to another which is intended to be a better expla- 
nation of the facts. But the point is that the new hy- 
pothesis, like the old, is intended at least to be perma- 
nently correct: it may have to give way to a better 
understanding of the facts, but there is nothing in the 
very nature of the case to show that it must give way. 
Science, in other words, though it may not in any 
generation attain truth, is at any rate aiming at truth. 

Very different is ,the activity of the pragmatist theo- 
logian. The pragmatist theologian, unlike the scien- 
tist, does not even intend his own formulations to be 
permanent, but regards them as merely symbolic ex- 
pressions, in the thought-forms of one particular gen- 
eration, of an ineffable experience. According to the 
pragmatist it is not merely inevitable that the theology 


of one generation should differ from the theology of 
another, but it is desirable that it should do so. That 
theology, according to the pragmatist, is the best which 
most perfectly expresses the experience of religion in the 
"thought-forms" of any particular age. Thus the 
Nicene Creed, it is said, was admirable in the fourth 
century of our era, and the Westminster Confession 
was admirable in the seventeenth century, but these for- 
mulations must of course now give place to twentieth- 
century statements which so far as the literal or intel- 
lectual meaning is concerned are contradictory to them. 
Theology in other words is not to be judged in accord- 
ance with the degree of approximation which it attains 
to an eternally persisting norm of truth, but it is to be 
regarded as good or bad according as it serves the pur- 
poses of mankind and promotes an abundance of life. 
Indeed this pragmatist attitude toward difference in 
theology is applied not only to successive generations, 
but also to simultaneously existing nations and races. 
It is unreasonable, some advocates of missions are accus- 
tomed to say, for missionaries to ask Eastern races to ac- 
cept Western creeds; the Eastern mind cannot be forced 
into a Western mould; on the contrary, the East must 
be allowed to give its own expression to the Christian 
faith. And so sometimes we read more or less formal 
expositions of belief that have come from the native 
churches of the East. What an interesting thing the 
formation of such expositions is, to be sure! A fresh, 
new expression of the Christian religion independent 
of all the conventions of the West! Unfortunately such 
expectations are often sadly disappointed when one 


reads the new formulations for himself; the vaunted 
freshness and. originality is often not to be seen, and 
what we actually have is a most unoriginal repetition 
of the vague naturalism of the contemporary Western 
world. The Eastern mind has turned out to he as like 
as two peas to the mind of the South Side of Chicago; 
all the stock phrases of modern agnosticism seem to be 
thoroughly acceptable to the Oriental students to whom 
they have been taught. 

But if the results of these little experiments of the 
Eastern mind hardly seem to bear out the contention 
of the pragmatist hardly seem to bear out the con- 
tention that the Eastern mind and the Western mind 
are so distinct that the thought-forms that suit one 
will not suit the other the contention itself is thor- 
oughly typical of our age; it is only one manifestation 
of a pragmatism that is all-pervasive. And that prag- 
matism involves the most bottomless skepticism which 
could possibly be conceived. According to the logic 
of the pragmatist position two contradictory doctrines 
may be equally good; for doctrine, in the opinion of the 
pragmatists, is merely the symbolic expression of an 
experience really inexpressible, and must necessarily 
change as the generations pass. There is, in other words, 
according to that view, no possibility that anything in 
the sphere of doctrine can be permanently and uni- 
versally true. . 

Such a view of doctrinal changes is sometimes com- 
pared, as we have already hinted, to the progress of 
science; it is unreasonable, the pragmatist theologian 
says, to reject the physics and chemistry of the first 


century or the seventeenth century and yet maintain 
unchanged the theology of those past ages; why should 
theology be exempt from the universal law of progress? 

But this comparison, as indeed should be plain from 
what has already been said, really involves a very 
strange misconception; far from advocating progress in 
theology, the current pragmatism really destroys the 
very possibility of progress. For progress involves 
something to progress to as well something to progress 
from. And in the intellectual sphere the current prag- 
matism can find no goal of progress in an objective 
norm of truth; one doctrine, according to the prag- 
matist view, may be just as good as an exactly contra- 
dictory doctrine, provided it suits a particular genera- 
tion or a particular group of persons. The changes in 
scientific hypotheses represent true progress because they 
are increasingly close approximations to an objectively 
and externally existent body of facts; while the changes 
advocated by pragmatist theologians are not progress 
?.t all but the meaningless changes of a kaleidoscope. 

As over against this pragmatist attitude, we believers 
in historic Christianity maintain the objectivity of 
truth; and in doing so wte and not the Modernists be- 
come advocates of progress. Theology, we hold, is 
not an attempt to express in merely symbolic terms an 
inner experience which must be expressed in different 
terms in subsequent generations; but It is a setting forth 
of those facts upon which experience is based. It is 
not indeed a complete setting forth of those facts, and 
therefore progress in theology become possible; but it 
may be true so far as it goes; and only because there 


is that pbssibility of attaining truth and of setting it 
forth ever more completely can there be progress. The- 
ology, in other words, is just as much a science as is 
chemistry; and like the science of chemistry it is-capa-ble 
of advance. The two sciences, it is true, differ widely 
in their subject matter; they differ widely in the char- 
acter of the evidence upon which their conclusions are 
based; in particular they differ widely in the qualifica- 
tions required of the investigator: but they are both 
sciences, because they are both concerned with the ac- 
quisition and orderly arrangement of a body of truth. 
At this point, then, we find the really important 
divergence of opinion in the religious world at the 
present day; the difference of attitude toward theology 
or toward doctrine goes far deeper than any mere di-. 
vergence in detail. The modern depreciation of the- 
ology results logically in the most complete skepticism. 
It is not merely that the ancient creeds, and the Bible 
upon which they are based, are criticized indeed we 
ourselves certainly think that they ought constantly to 
be criticized in order that it may be seen that they will 
stand the test but the really serious trouble is that the 
modern pragmatist, on account of the very nature of 
his philosophy, has nothing to put in their place. The- 
ology, according to him, may be useful; but it can never 
by any possibility be true. As Dr. Fosdick observes, 
the liberalism of today must necessarily produce an in- 
tellectual formulation which will become the orthodoxy 
of tomorrow, and which will then in turn have to 
give place to a new liberalism; and so on (we sup- 


pose) ad infinitum,* This is what the plain man in 
the Church has difficulty in understanding; he does not 
yet appreciate the real gravity of the issue. He does 
not see that it makes very little difference how much 
or how little of the creeds of the Church the Modernist 
preacher affirms, or how much or how little of the 
Biblical teaching from which the creeds are derived. 
He might affirm every jot and tittle of the Westminster 
Confession, for example, and yet be separated by a 
great gulf from the Ref prmed Faith. It is not that part 
is denied and the rest affirmed; but all is denied, because 
all is affirmed merely as useful or symbolic and not as 

Thus it comes about that to the believer in historic 
Christianity the Modernist preacher is often most dis- 
tressing just when he desires to be most concessive. He 
has no desire, he says, to combat the faith of simple 
people in the Church; indeed the older "interpreta- 
tions,** he says, may be best for some people even now. 
Such assertions are perhaps intended to be concessive; 
but in reality they are to the believer in historic Chris- 
tianity the most radically destructive assertions that 
could possibly be made. It would from our point of 
view be better if the preacher, convinced of the falsity 
of supernatural religion in the sense of the New Testa- 
ment and of the creeds, became an apostle with the 
courage of his convictions, and sought to root out of 
every one's' mind convictions that he holds to be false. 
In that case we should indeed differ from him radically, 

oposdick, The Modern Use of the Bible, 1924, p. 190. Com- 
pare Princeton Theological Review, xxiii, 1925, p. 73. 


but there would be at least a common ground for dis- 
cussion. But the assertion that the historic creeds may 
still be best for some people and the modern interpre- 
tations better for others, or the provision in plans of 
Church union that the constituent churches should 
recognize each the other's creed as valid for the other 
church's members this 1 , we think, involves a sin 
against the light of reason itself; and if the light that 
is in us be darkness, how great is that darkness! A 
thing that is useful may be useful for some and not for 
others, but a thing that is true remains true for all 
people and beyond the end of time. 

But if theology be thus abandoned, or rather if (to 
ease the transition) it be made merely the symbolic 
expression of religious experience, what is to be put in 
its place? Two answers, to this question may perhaps 
be distinguished in the religious life of the present day. 
In the first place, there is mysticism; and in the second 
place, there is a kind of neo-positivism. 

Mysticism unquestionably is the natural result of the 
anti-intellectual tendency which now prevails; for 
mysticism is the consistent exaltation of experience at 
the expense of thought. But in actual practice mysti- 
cism is seldom consistent; indeed it cannot possibly be 
consistent if it seeks to explain itself to the world. 
The experience upon which it is based, or in which it 
consists, is said to be ineffable; yet mystics love to talk 
about that experience all the same. Dr. E. S. Water- 
house 7 quotes an epigram of Mr. Bradley "to the effect 
that Herbert Spencer told us more about the Unknow- 

7 Philosophy qf Religious Experience, 1923, pp. 201 f. 



able than the rashest of theologians has told us about 
God." So it may perhaps be said that mystics are 
accustomed to express the inexpressible more fully than 
the ineffable character which they attribute to their 
experience may seem to warrant. 

In particular, those who discard theology in the in- 
terests of experience are inclined to make use of a per- 
sonal way of talking and thinking about God to which 
they have no right. A noted preacher, for example, 
relates an incident of his youth in which he overheard 
his father praying when he thought that he was alone 
with God. His father, says the preacher, was thor- 
oughly orthodox, and devoted to the Westminster 
Shorter Catechism. Yet in that prayer, to the amaze- 
ment of the boy, there was none of the elaborate the- 
ology of the Westminster Standards, but only a simple 
outpouring of the soul in the presence of God. "It 
was a prayer/' says the preacher, "in which he threw 
himself into the arms of his heavenly Father. There 
was in it no theology, no hell, no moral or substitu- 
tionary theory of the atonement." 

But what was it after all that caused that simple 
outpouring of the soul? Was that prayer so inde- 
pendent of theology as the preacher seems to think? 
For our part we doubt it very much. All personal 
communion seems to be a simple thing; yet it is in 
reality very complex. My friendship for a human 
friend, for example, depends upon years of observation 
of my friend's actions. So it is exactly in the case of 
the communion of the Christian with his God. The 
Christian says: "Lord, thou knowest that we are on 


the same old terms." It seems very simple and very 
untheological. 'But in reality it depends upon the 
whole rich content of God's revelation of Himself in 
the salvation which He has provided through His Son. 
At any rate, pure feeling, if it ever exists, is non-moral; 
what makes our relation to another person, whether a 
human friend or the eternal God, such an ennobling 
thing is the knowledge which we have of the char- 
acter of that person. The experience of the real mystic, 
then, as distinguished from that experience of direct 
contact with God in the depths of the soul which is 
popularly called mysticism the latter being of course 
a part of all vital religion is not Christian experience; 
for Christian experience is a thoroughly personal thing; 
the Christian holds fellowship with a Person whom he 
knows. , 

Another substitute for a religion based upon the 
knowledge of God is positivism. The name itself is due 
to a phenomenon that appeared long ago, but the thing 
that the name represents has in all essentials been revived. 
It has been revived in rather definite fashion, for ex- 
ample, by Professor Ell wood in his popular book, The 
Reconstruction of Religion. Professor Ellwood himself 
detects his affinity for the older positivism, though he 
seeks to supplement the positivist religion of humanity 
with a pantheizing reverence for the world-process. 
But positivism has also been revived, though often un- 
consciously, by those popular preachers of the day who 
use the phrase, the "Christlike God," which is so dis- 
tressing to men who have thought at all deeply upon 
the things at the basis of Christian faith by those 


popular preachers who tell us that God is known 
only through Jesus. If they meant that God is known 
only through the Second Person of the Trinity, the 
eternal Logos, I might perhaps agree; and for my agree- 
ment I might perhaps find warrant in the eleventh chap- 
ter of Matthew. But of course as a matter of fact that is 
not at all what they mean. What they mean is that all 
metaphysics having been abandoned or relegated to the 
realm of unessential speculation all questions as to 
whether there is a God who made the world hy the fiat 
of His will, or whether there is a life after death, or 
whether Jesus in very person is living today all such 
questions having been abandoned, the soul of man may 
be transformed by the mere contemplation and emula* 
tion of the moral life of Jesus. Essentially, such a re- 
ligion is positivism; it regards as non-essential all extra- 
mundane factors and sets up a religion of humanity a 
religion of humanity symbolized by the name of Jesus. 
Certainly the Jesus to whom such a religion can appeal 
is not the Jesus of history neither the Jesus set forth 
in the New Testament nor the Jesus who has been re- 
produced, or ever conceivably can be reproduced, by any 
critical process. For the real Jesus certainly was a theist, 
certainly did believe in a really existent God, Maker of 
the world and final Judge, certainly did accept the reve- 
lation of God in the Old Testament Scriptures, certainly 
did place the doctrine of heaven and hell at the very 
foundation of His ethical teaching, certainly did look 
for a catastrophic coming of the Kingdom of God. 
These things in much modern preaching are ignored. 
The preacher quotes some word of Jesus quite out of its 


context perhaps even from the Gospel of John, which 
the preacher's own critical principles have discarded 
and then proceeds to derive from that misunderstood 
word of Jesus a non-doctrinal religion of this world. 
Some of us, as we listen, may desire to ask questions. 
Some of us may desire to ask whether Jesus of Nazareth 
really made the more abundant life of man the ultimate 
end of existence; some of us may desire to ask whether 
Jesus really left His own person out of His gospel and 
whether we can really reject, on any critical principles, 
those words of His in which He claimed to be the Judge 
of the whole earth. But such questions receive short 
shrift from the Modernist preacher; they involve, he 
says, merely evasions, on our part, of the moral demands 
of Jesus. At no point does the passionate anti-intel- 
lectualism of the Modernist Church appear more clearly 
than here. 

But can the human reason, especially as manifested 
in the historical sense, really be thus browbeaten into 
silence? For our part, we do not believe that it can. 
And when the .reason awakes, though the modern re- 
ligion of humanity may conceivably remain, its appeal 
to Jesus of Nazareth at, least will have to go. We shall 
have to cease investing our pride in human goodness 
with the borrowed trappings of Christianity's emo- 
tional appeal; and the choice will have to be made be- 
tween abandonment of Jesus as the moral guide of the 
race and acceptance of His stupendous claims. 

Thus the relinquishment of theology in the interests 
of non-doctrinal religion really involves the relinquish- 

^^HH^^ mailI _J. ill - . ,1 n-lrn ""-ir - *-" *"* J ~T>|"-^, jag t * 

ment of Christianity in the interests of a skepticism than 


which a more complete could scarcely be conceived. But 
another contrast has an equally baleful effect upon the 
life of the present day. It is the contrast between 
knowledge and faith; and the consideration of that con- 
trast takes us into the heart of our present subject. That 
contrast, as we shall see, ignores an essential element in 
faith; and what is called faith after the substraction of 
that element is not faith at all. As a matter of fact all 
true faith involves an intellectual element; all faith in- 
volves knowledge and issues in knowledge. 

The exhibition of that fact will form a considerable 
part of the discussion that follows. It will not, indeed, 
form all of it; since the discussion will not be merely 
polemic; but after all the only way to get a clear idea 
of what a thing is, is to place it in contrast with what 
it is not; all definition involves exclusion. ^-WejjhajU. 
endeavor, therefore,.. by comparison of opposing views, 
as well as by exhibition of our own, to arrive at an 
answer to the question, "What is Faith?" If that 
question were rightly answered, the Church, we believe, 
would soon emerge from its present perplexities and 
would go forth with a new joy to the conquest of the 

There are those who shrink from a consideration of 
these great questions of principle; there are those who 
decry controversy, and believe that the Church should 
return to its former policy of politely ignoring or taking 
for granted the central things of the Christian faith. 
But with such persons I, for my part, cannot possibly 
bring myself to agree. The period of apparent har- 
mony in which the Church in America found itself 


a few years ago was, I believe, a period of the deadliest 
peril; loyalty to Church organizations was being substi- 
tuted for loyalty to Christ; Church leaders who never 
even mentioned the centre of the gospel in their preach- 
ing were in undisputed charge of the resources of the 
Church; at Jboard meetings or in the councils of the 
Church, it was considered bad form even to mention, 
at least in any definite and intelligible way, the Cross of 
Christ. A polite paganism, in other words, with reli- 
ance upon human resources, was being quietly and peace- 
fully substituted for the heroism of devotion to the 

In the face of such a condition, there were some men 
whose hearts were touched; the Lord Jesus had died for 
them upon the cross, and the least they could do, they 
thought, was to be faithful to Him; they could not 
continue to support, by their gifts and by their efforts, 
anything that was hostile to His gospel; and they were 
compelled, therefore, in the face of all opposition, to 
raise the question what it is that the Church is in the 
world to do. 

God grant that question may never be silenced until 
it is answered aright 1 Let us not fear the opposition 
of men; every great movement in the Church from Paul 
down to modern times has been criticized on the ground 
that it promoted censoriousness and intolerance and dis- 
puting. Of course the gospel of Christ, in a world of 
sin and doubt, will cause disputing; and if it does not 
cause disputing and arouse bitter opposition, that is a 
fairly sure sign that it is not being faithfully pro- 
claimed. As for me, I believe that a great opportunity 


has been opened to Christian people by the "contro- 
versy" that is so much decried. Conventions have been 
broken down; men are trying to penetrate beneath pious 
words to the thing that these words designate; it is 
becoming increasingly necessary for a man to choose 
whether he will stand with Christ or against Him. Such 
a condition, I for my part believe, has been brought 
about by the Spirit of God; already there has been gen- 
uine spiritual advance. It has been signally manifested 
at the institution which I have the honor to serve. The 
morale of our theological student body during the past 
years had been becoming rather low; there was marked 
indifference to the central things of the faith; and re- 
ligious experience was of the most superficial kind. But 
during the academic year, 1924-1925, there has been 
something like an awakening. Youth has begun to think 
for itself; the evil of compromising associations has 
been discovered; Christian heroism in the face of opposi- 
tion has come again to its rights; a new interest has been 
aroused in the historical and philosophical questions that 
underly the Christian religion; true and independent 
convictions have been formed. Controversy, in other 
words, has resulted in a striking intellectual and spiritual 
advance. Some of us discern in all this the work of the 
Spirit of God. And God grant that His fire be not 
quenched! God save us from any smoothing over of 
these questions in the interests of a hollow pleasantness; 
God grant that great questions of principle may never 
rest until they are settled right! It is out of such times 
of questioning that great revivals come. God grant that 
it may be so today! Controversy of the right sort is 


good; for out of such controversy, as Church history 
and Scripture alike teach, there comes the salvation of 

It is with such an ultimate aim that we consider the 
question, "What is Faith?" A more "practical" ques- 
tion could hardly be conceived. The preacher says: 
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be 
saved." But how can a man possibly act on that 
suggestion, unless he knows what it is to believe. It 
was at that point that the "doctrinal" preaching of a 
former generation was far more practical than the "prac- 
tical" preaching of the present day. I shall never forget 
the pastor of the church in which I grew up. He was 
a good preacher in many ways, but his most marked 
characteristic was the plainness and definiteness with 
which he told the people what a man should do to be 
saved. The preachers of the present time allude to the 
importance of becoming a Christian, but they seldom 
seem to make the matter the subject of express exposi- 
tion ; they leave the people with a vague impression to 
the effect that being a Christian is a good thing, but this 
impression is difficult to translate into action because def- 
inite directions are absent. These preachers speak about 
faith, but they do not tell what tfaith is. 

It is to help in some small way to supply this lack 
.that the present little book has been Written. If the 
way of salvation is faith, it does seem to be highly im- 
portant to tell people who want to be saved just what 
faith means. If a preacher cannot do that, he can 
hardly be a true evangelist. 

How, then, shall we obtain "the answer to pur ques- 


tionj how shall we discover what faith is? At first 
sight it might seem to be a purely philosophical or per- 
haps psychological question; there is faith other than 
faith in Jesus Christ; and such faith no doubt is to be 
included with Christian faith in the same general cate- 
gory. It looks, therefore, as though I were engaging 
upon a psychological discussion, and as though I ought 
to be thoroughly familiar with the epistemological and 
psychological discussions that are involved. 

Undoubtedly such a treatment of the subject would 
be highly useful and instructive; but unfortunately I am 
not competent to undertake it. I propose therefore a 
somewhat different method of approach. How would 
it be if we should study the subject of faith, not so 
much by generalizations from various instances of faith 
in human life (though such generalizations will not be 
altogether absent) , but rather by a consideration of faith 
as it appears in its highest and plainest manifestation? 
Such concentration upon a classic example is often the 
best possible way, or at any rate one very fruitful way, 
in which a subject can be treated. 

But the classic example of faith is to be found in the 
faith that is enjoined in the New Testament. I think 
that there will be widespread agreement with that asser- 
tion among students of psychology whether Christian or 
not; the insistence upon faith is characteristic of New 
Testament Christianity; there is some justification, sure- 
ly, for the way in which Paul speaks of the pre-Chris- 
tian period as the time "before faith came." No doubt 
that assertion is intended by the Apostle as relative 
merely; he himself insists that faith had a place in the 


old dispensation; but such anticipations were swallowed 
up, by the coming of Christ, in a glorious fulfilment. 
At any rate, the Bible as a whole, taking prophecy and 
fulfilment together, is the supreme textbook on the sub- 
ject of faith. The study of that textbook may lead to 
as clear an undersanding of our subject as could be at- 
tained by any more general investigation; we can learn 
what faith is best of all by studying it in its highest 
manifestation. We shall ask, then, in the following 
chapters what the Bible, and in particular the New 
Testament, tells us about faith. 



In the first place, the Bible certainly tells us that 
faith involves a person as its object. We can indeed 
speak about having faith in an impersonal object, such 
as a machine, but when we do so I think we are indulg- 
ing in a sort of personification of that object, or else we 
are really thinking about the men who made the ma- 
chine. At any rate, without discussing the correctness 
or incorrectness of this usage, we can at least say that 
such a use of the word stops short of the highest signifi- 
cance. In the highest significance of the word the sig- 
nificance in which alone we are now interested faith 
is regarded as being always reposed in persons. 

The Persons in whom according to the Bible faith 
is particularly to be reposed are God the Father and the 
Lord Jesus Christ. 

But and here we come to the point which we think 
ought to be emphasized above all others just at the 
present day it is impossible to have faith in a person 
without having knowledge of the person; far from 
being contrasted with knowledge, faith is founded upon 
knowledge. That assertion runs counter to the whole 
trend of contemporary religious teaching; but a little 
reflection, I think, will show that it is indubitably cor- 
rect, and that it must be applied specifically to the objects 
of Christian faith. Let us consider from this point of 



view first faith in God and second faith in Jesus Christ. 

In the classic treatment of faith in the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, there is a verse that goes to the very root of 
the matter. "He that cometh to God," the author 
says, "must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder 
of them that diligently seek him." 1 Here we find a 
rejection in advance of all the pragmatist, nonrdoctrinal 
Christianity of modern times. 

In the first place, religion is here made to depend abso- 
lutely upon doctrine; the one who comes to God must 
not only believe in a person, but he must also believe 
that something is true; faith is here declared to involve 
acceptance of a proposition. There could be no plainer 
insistence upon the doctrinal or intellectual basis of 
faith. It is impossible, according to the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, to have faith in a person without accepting 
with the mind the facts about the person. 

Entirely different is the prevailing attitude in the 
modern Church; far from recognizing, as the author of 
Hebrews does, the intellectual basis of faith, many mod- 
ern preachers set faith in sharp opposition to knowledge. 
Christian faith, they say, is not assent to a creed, but it 
is confidence in a person. The Epistle to the Hebrews 
on the other hand declares that it is impossible to have 
confidence in a person without assenting to a creed, 
"He that cometh to God must believe that he is." The 
words, "God is," or "God exists," constitute a creed; 
they constitute a proposition; and yet they are here 
placed as necessary to that supposedly non-intellectual 
thing that is called faith. It would be impossible to 

1 Heb. xi: 6. 


find a more complete opposition than that which here 
appears between the New Testament and the anti-intel- 
lectualistk tendency of modern preaching. 

But here as elsewhere the Bible is found to be true to 
the plainest facts of the soul; whereas the modern sepa- 
ration between faith in a person and acceptance of a 
creed is found to be psychologically false. It is per- 
fectly true, of course, that faith in a person is more than 
acceptance of a creed, but the Bible is quite right in 
holding that it always involves acceptance of a creed. 
Confidence in a person is more than intellectual assent 
to a series of propositions about the person, but it 
always involves those propositions, and becomes im- 
possible the moment they are denied. It is quite 
impossible to trust a person about whom one assents 
to propositions that make the person untrustworthy, 
or fails to assent to propositions that make him trust- 
worthy. Assent to certain propositions is not the 
whole of faith, but it is an absolutely necessary element 
in faith. So assent to certain propositions about God 
is not all of faith in God, but it is necessary to faith in 
God; and Christian faith, in particular, though it is 
more than assent to a creed, is absolutely impossible 
without assent to a creed. One cannot trust a God 
whom one holds with the mind to be either non-exist- 
ent or untrustworthy. 

The Epistle to the Hebrews, therefore, is quite right 
in maintaining that "he that cometh to God must be- 
lieve that he is." In order to trust God or to have 
communion with Him we must at least believe that 
He exists. 


At first sight that might seem to be a mere truism; 
it might seem to be something that every sane person 
would be obliged to accept. As a matter of fact, how- 
ever, even this apparently self-evident proposition is re- 
jected by a great mass of persons in the modern world; 
and it has been rejected by many persons in , the course 
of religious history. What the Epistle to the Hebrews 
accomplishes by enunciating the simple proposition, 
"He that cometh to God must believe that he is," is the 
repudiation of that important phenomenon in the his- 
tory of religion that is known as mysticism. 

The true mystic holds that communion with God is 
an ineffable experience, which is independent of any in- 
tellectual propositions whatever. Religion, the mystic 
holds, in its pure form is independent of the intellect ; 
when it is expressed in an intellectual mold it is cabined 
and confined; such expression can be nothing more than 
symbolic '; religious experience itself does not depend up- 
on assent to any kind of creed. In opposition to this 
mystical attitude the author of the Epistle to the He- 
brews insists upon the primacy of the intellect; he bases 
religion squarely upon truth. He does not, of course, 
reject that immediate and mysterious contact of the soul 
with God which is dear to the mystic's heart; for that 
immediate contact of the soul with God is a vital part 
of all religion worthy of the name. But he does break 
down the mystical separation between that experience on 
the one hand and the knowledge of God on the other; 
and in doing so he is uttering not a truism but an im- 
portant truth; he is delivering a salutary blow against 
anti-intellectual mysticism ancient and modern. There 


could be, under present conditions, no more timely text ; in 
the presence of this stupendous utterance, so far-reaching 
yet so simple, the non-doctrinal religion of the present 
day seems to be but a shallow and ephemeral thing. 

It is not true, then, according to the New Testa- 
ment, that religion is independent of doctrine or that 
faith is independent of knowledge; on the contrary, 
communion with God or faith in God is dependent 
upon the doctrine of His existence. But it is depen- 
dent upon other doctrines in addition to that. "He 
that cometh to God," says the Epistle to the Hebrews, 
"must believe , that he is, and that he is a rewarder of 
them that diligently seek him." In this latter part of 
the sentence, we have, expressed in a concrete way, 
the great truth of the personality of God. God, ac- 
cording to the Epistle to the Hebrews, is One who 
can act- act in view of a judgment upon those who 
corne to Him. What we have here, in the second 
part of this sentence, is a presentation of what the Bible 
elsewhere calls the "living" God. God not only exists, 
but is a free Person who can act. 

The same truth appears with even greater clearness 
in the third verse of the same great chapter. "Through 
faith we understand," says the author, "that the worlds 
were framed by the word of God, so that things which 
are seen were not made of things which do appear." 
Here we have, expressed with a clearness that leaves 
nothing to be desired, the doctrine of creation out of 
. nothing, and that doctrine is said to be received by faith. 
It is the same doctrine that appears in the first verse of 
the Bible, "In the beginning God created the heaven and 


the earth," and that really is presupposed in the Bible 
from beginning to the end. Yet the prevalent religious 
tendency in the Church of the present day relegates that 
doctrine to the realm of the non-essential. "What has 
religion to do," we are asked, "with the obsolete notion 
of fiat creation?" 

The truth is that in the Epistle to the Hebrews as 
well as in the rest of the Bible we are living in a world, 
of thought that is diametrically opposed to the anti- 
intellectualism of the present day. Certain things, 
according to the Bible, are known about God, and with- 
out, these things there can be no faith. To the prag- 
matist skepticism of the modern religious World, there- 
fore, the Bible is sharply opposed; against the passionate 
anti-intellectualism of a large part of the modern 
Church it maintains the primacy of the intellect; it 
teaches plainly that God has given to man a faculty 
of reason which is capable of apprehending truth, even 
truth about God. 

That does not mean that we finite creatures can find 
out God, by our own searching; but it does mean that 
God has made us capable of receiving the information 
which He chooses to give/ I cannot evolve an account 
of China out of my own inner consciousness, but Tarn 
perfectly capable of understanding the account which 
comes to me from travellers who have been there them- 
selves. So our reason is certainly insufficient to tell us 
about God unless He reveals Himself; but it is capable 
(or would be capable if it were not clouded by sin) of 
receiving revelation when once it is given. 

God's revelation of Himself to man embraces, indeed, 


only a small part of His being; the area of what we 
know is infinitesimal compared with the area of what 
we do not know. But partial knowledge is not nec- 
essarily false knowledge; and our knowledge of God 
on the basis of His revelation of Himself is, we hold, 
true as far as it goes. 

That knowledge of God is regarded by the Bible as 
involved in faith and as the necessary prerequisite of 
faith. We can trust God, according to the Bible, be- 
cause He has revealed Himself as trustworthy. The 
knowledge that God has graciously given us of Himself 
is the basis of our confidence in Him; the God of the 
Bible is One whom it is reasonable to trust. 

But that certainly cannot be said of the God who is 
presented by much of modern speculation; there are 
ways of thinking about God, widely prevalent today, 
which will inevitably destroy our confidence in Him. 

In the first place there is the widespread pantheism 
of the day, which brings God into some sort of neces- 
sary connection with the world. According to the pan- 
theistic view, not only does the world not exist apart 
from God, but God does not exist apart from the world; 
God is either to be identified with the totality of the 
world-process or else He is to be regarded as connected 
with the world-process as the soul of man is connected 
with his body. That way of thinking is very, wide- . 

*# f X3 f .-SS,^.~-* l *-+' I--****--'--* -'.-I ...-.=--. .-,'.. -,,...V.-- '- -**- "' '"" ' * "" 

spread and very popular; it is called, by a perversion of 
a great truth, the "immanence" of God; it runs through 
a large part of contemporary preaching. Whether ex- 
plicit or not, whether thoroughgoing or present only in 
tendency, pantheism colors very largely the religious life 


of our time. Yet as a matter of fact it will ultimately 
make religious life impossible; certainly it will make im- 
possible anything that can be called faith. It is really im- 
possible to trust a being that is conceived of merely as 
the whole of which we are parts; in order to trust God . 
one must think of God as a transcendent, living Person. 

It is true that pantheists represent their view as 
bringing God near to man. "We will have nothing to 
do," they say in effect, "with the far-off God of the 
creeds of the Church; the problem of the union between 
God and man, with which the older theologians 
wrestled and as a solution of which they constructed 
their elaborate doctrine of redemption, is no problem 
at all for us; tq us God is closer than breathing and 
nearer than hands, and feet; jHis life pulses through the 
life of all the world and through the lives of every one 
of us." Thus pantheism is substituted for theism on 
the ground that it brings God nearer to men. 

In reality, however, it has exactly the opposite effect. 
Far from bringing God nearer to man, the pantheism 
of our day really pushes Him very far off; it brings 
Him physically; near, but at the same time makes Him 
spiritually remote; it conceives of Him as a sort of 
blind vital force, but ceases to regard Him as a Person 
whom a man can love and whom a man can trust. 
Destroy the free personality of God, and the possibility 
of fellowship with Him is gone; we cannot love or 
trust a God of whom we are parts. 

Thus if we are going to retain faith we must cling 
with all our hearts to what are called the metaphysical 
attributes of God His infinity and omnipotence and 


creatorhood. The finite God of Mr. H. G. Wells and 
of some other modern men, for example, seems to us 
to be almost as destructive of faith as is the impersonal 
God of the pantheists; He seems to us to be but a 
curious product of a modern mythology; He is not God 
but. a god; and in the presence of all such imaginings 
we for our part are obliged to turn very humbly but 
very resolutely toward the dread, stupendous wonder of 
the infinite and say with Augustine: "Thou hast^made 
us for Thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds 
its rest in Thee." 

This devotion to the so-called metaphysical attributes 
of God is unpopular at the present day. There are 
many who tell us that we ought to cease to be inter- 
ested in the question how the world was made, or what 
will be our fate when we pass beyond the grave; but 
that we can hold to the goodness of God though His 
creatorhood and His might are gone. 

A notable presentation of such a view is found in 
Dr. McGiffert's book, The God of the Early Chris- 
tians. 2 That book is very provocative and to our mind 
very erroneous. But it possesses at least one merit that 
is rare among contemporary religious literature it is 
interesting. It is the work of one of the foremost 
American scholars, who is possessed of a radical, incisive 
mind, which, if it does not succeed in solving the prob- 
lem of Christian origins, at least, unlike most contem- 

2 Arthur Cushman McGiffert, The Cod of the Early Chris- 
tians, 1924. Compare for what follows the more extended treat- 
ment of the book in The Princeton Theological Review, xxii, 
1924, pp. 544-588. 


porary minds, detects what the problem is. Such a 
book, with its learning and its originality, whatever 
may be its faults, repays careful examination far more 
than many a five-foot shelf of the ostensibly startling 
and progressive but really thoroughly conventional re- 
ligious books which are so popular just now. 

Dr. McGiffert himself is an advocate of an "ethical . 
theism/* which is very far removed indeed from what 
the word "theism" can properly be held to mean. The 
question as to how the world came into being is, he 
holds, a matter of indifference to religion, as is the 
whole question of the power of God in the physical 
realm. But we moderns, he says in effect, though we 
are no longer interested in the power of God, can hold 
at least to our faith in goodness; and in doing so we can 
be religious men. 

The author is far too good a scholar to suppose that 
this non-theistic "ethical theism" is taught in the New 
Testament; certainly, he admits, it was not taught by 
Jesus. Jesus' doctrine of God, on the contrary, he says, 
was nothing new; it was simply the Jewish doctrine 
which He found ready to hand; it laid great stress on 
the sovereignty of God, the absolute power of the 
Creator over His creatures, and it laid great stress upon 
the awful severity of God rather than upon His love. 
In other words, Dr. McGiffert admits though his 
terminology is somewhat different that Jesus was a 
"theist" in the usual meaning of that word; the whole 
sentimental picture of the "liberal Jesus," with His 
"practical" view of God that was not also theoretical, 
and With His one-sided emphasis upon the Fatherhood 


of God as over against His justice, is here brushed reso- 
lutely aside. Dr. McGiffert has read the Gospels for 
himself, and knows full well how unhistorical that pic- 
ture of Jesus is. 

Paul, also, according to Dr. McGiffert, was a theist; 
he maintained the Jewish view of God which Jesus 
had taught, though he added to that view the worship 
of Jesus as a Saviour God. But and here we come 
to the really distinctive thesis of the book the primi- 
tive simple-minded Gentile Christians in the early days, 
unlike Jesus and unlike Paul, were, according to Dr. 
McGiffert, not monotheists; they took Jesus as their 
Saviour without being interested in denying the exist- 
ence of other saviours; in particular they were not inter- 
ested in the connection between Jesus and a Maker and 
Ruler of the world. 

The interesting thing about this remarkable theory 
is not found in any likelihood of its truth, for it is not 
really difficult to refute; but it is found in the connec- 
tion between the theory and the whole anti-intellec- 
tualistic trend of the modern religious world. Dr. 
McGiffert, as most Modernists have done, has given up 
any clear belief in theism; he has ceased to base his 
religion upon a supreme Maker and Ruler of the 
world: yet he desires to maintain some sort of conti- 
nuity with the primitive Christian Church. And he does 
so by the discovery of a primitive non-theistic Gentile 

3 It is hoped that our readers will pardon our use of this hy- 
brid word. "Atheistic" obviously would not do at all. And 
even "antitheistic" would perhaps be too strong; since Dr. Mc- 
Giffert does not maintain that these Christians expressly denied 
theism, but only that they were not interested in it. 


Christianity whose religion in important respects was 
similar to his own. The interesting thing about the 
book is not the thesis itself so much as the way in which 
in the propounding of the thesis the author's assump- 
tions are allowed to appear. 

The incorrectness of those assumptions becomes evi- 
dent at many points. Particularly faulty is the separa- 
tion of "salvation" from theism a separation which 
recurs again and again in the book. "That there were 
philosophical thinkers," the author says, "who were 
attracted by the monotheism of the Jews and became 
Christians because of it is undoubtedly true, but they 
were vastly in the minority, and the Roman world 
was not won to Christianity by any such theological 
interest. On the contrary, faith in Christ and in his 
salvation converted the masses then, as it has converted 
multitudes in every age since." 4 It was therefore! ac- 
cording to the author, a decline such is the clear im- 
plication of the book- when "Christianity ceased to be 
a mere religion of salvation a mere saving cult and 
Christ ceased to be a mere saviour;" when He became, 
instead, the "creator, ruler, and judge of all the earth." 

This separation between theism and salvation ig- 
nores the simple fact that there can be no salvation 
without something from which a man is saved. If 
Christ saves the Christians, from what does He save 
them? Dr. McGiffert never seems to raise that ques- 
tion. But the answer to it is abundantly plain, and 
it destroys the entire reconstruction which this book so 
brilliantly attempts. Is it not abundantly plain that 

4 Op. tit., pp. 44 f. 


Christ saves Christians from sin, and from the con- 
sequences which it brings at the judgment-seat of God? 
And is it not plain also that this was just the thing 
that appealed most strongly to simple people of the 
first century, as it appeals most strongly to many per- 
sons today? The truth is, it is quite impossible to 
think of Christ as Saviour without thinking of the 
thing from which He saves; the justice of God is every- 
where the presupposition of the Saviourhood of Christ. 
No doubt modern men, especially in the circles in which 
Dr. McGiffert moves, have lost the sense of sin and 
guilt and the fear of God's awful judgment-seat. But 
with this loss there goes the general abandonment even 
of the word "salvation," to say nothing of the idea. 
Without the sense of sin and the fear of hell, there may 
be the desire for improvement, "uplift," betterment; 
but desire for "salvation," properly speaking, there can- 
not be. Modernism does not really "read Christianity 
in terms of salvation," but reads salvation out of Chris- 
tianity. It usually gives even the word "salvation" 
up. JFor salvation presupposes something from which 
a man is saved; it presupposes the awful wrath of a 
righteous God; in other words it presupposes just the 
thing which the non-theistic Modernism of Dr. Mc- 
Giffert and others is most eager to reject. Very dif- 
ferent was the situation in the early days of the Chris- 
tian Church. Modern men have lost the sense of guilt 
and the fear of hell, but the early Christians, whether 
Jews or Gentiles, had not. They accepted Christ 8 as 
Saviour only because He could rescue them from the 
abyss and bring them into right relation to the Ruler 


and Judge of all the earth. The Saviourhood of Christ 
involved, then as always, the majesty and justice of 

Even more radically at fault is another distinction 
which is at the very root of Dr. McGiffert's thinking 
throughout the distinction, already alluded to, "be^ 
tween a god of moral and a god of physical power." 5 
According to this distinction, Dr. McGiffert holds, as 
we have already seen, that it is or should be matter of 
indifference to Christians how the world came into 
being; trje doctrine of creation belongs, he thinks, to a 
region of metaphysics with which religion need have 
nothing to do. Similar is really the case with respect 
to the doctrine of providence; the whole thought of 
the power, as distinguished from the goodness, of God 
is, our author evidently thinks, quite separable from 
religion; we can, he thinks, revere God's goodness with- 
,out fearing His power or relying upon His protection 
from physical ills. 

Such skepticism may be justified or may not be justi- 
fiedwith that great question we shall not now under- 
take to deal but indifferent to religion it certainly is 
not. Give up the thought of a Maker and Ruler of 
the world; say, as you must logically say if you accept 
Dr. McGiffert's view, that "the Great Companion is 
dead," and you may still maintain something like re- 
ligious fervor among a few philosophical souls. But 
the suffering mass of humanity, at any rate, will be lost 
and hopeless in a hostile w^orld. -And to represent 
these things as matters of indifference to religion is to 

5 Op. tit., p. 154. 


close one's eyes to the deepest things of tHe human 
heart. Is the doctrine of creation really a matter of 
no religious moment; may the religious man really re- 
vere God without asking the question how the world 
came into being and what it is that upholds it on its 
way? Is the modern scientist wrong, who, pursuing 
his researches into nature's laws, comes at length before 
a curtain that is never lifted and stands in humble awe 
before a mystery that rebukes all pride? Was Isaiah 
wrong when he turned his eyes to the starry heavens 
and said: "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who 
hath created these things, that bringeth out their host 
by number: he calleth them all by names by the great- 
ness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not 
one faileth"? Was Jesus wrong when He bade His 
disciples trust in Him who Clothed the lilies of the field 
and said: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's 
good pleasure to give you the kingdom?" 

To these questions philosophers may return this 
answer or that, ' but the answer of the Christian heart 
at any rate is clear. "Away with all pale abstractions," 
it cries, "away with all dualism between the God of 
power and the God of goodness, away with Marcion 
and his many modern followers, away with those who 
speak of the goodness of God but deprive Him of His 
power. As for us Christians, we say still, as we con- 
template that green field gleaming in the sun and those 
dark forests touched with autumn brilliance and that 
blue vault of heaven above we say still, despite all, 
that it is God's world, which He created by the fiat 


of His will, and that through Christ's grace we are safe 
forever in the arms of our heavenly Father." 

But what have we left when, according to Dr. Mc- 
Giffert, our heavenly Father is gone? The answer that 
he gives is plain. "We have goodness left," we are told 
in effect; "we do not know how the world came to 
exist, we do not know what will be our fate when we 
pass through the dark portals of death. But we can 
find a higher, disinterested worship far higher, it 
would seem, than that of Jesus in the reverence for 
goodness divested of the vulgar trappings of power." 

It sounds noble at first. But consider it for a mo- 
ment, and its glory turns into ashes and leaves us in 
despair. What is meant by a goodness that has no 
physical power? Is not "goodness" in itself the merest 
abstraction? .Is it not altogether without meaning ex- 
cept as belonging to a person? And does not the very 
notion of a person involve the power to act? Good- 
ness altogether divorced from power is therefore no 
goodness at all. And if it were goodness, it would still 
mean nothing to us included as we are in this physical 
universe, which is capable apparently of destroying us 
in its relentless march. The truth is that overmuch 
abstraction has here destroyed even that which is in- 
tended to be conserved. Make God good only and not 
powerful, and both God and goodness have really been 
destroyed. , 

Feeling, even if not fully understanding, this objec- 
tion, feeling that goodness is a mere empty abstraction 
unless it inheres in good persons, many modern men 
have, tried to give their reverence for goodness some 


sort of subsistence by symbolizing this "ethical" (and 
most clearly antitheistic) "theism" in the person of 
Jesus of Nazareth. They "read Christianity only in 
terms of salvation" and take the man Jesus as their 
only God. But who is this Jesus whom they make 
the embodiment of the goodness that they revere? He 
is certainly not the Jesus of the New Testament; for 
that Jesus insisted upon everything that these modern 
men reject. But he is not even the Jesus of modern 
reconstruction; for even that Jesus, as Dr. McGiffert 
has shown with devastating clearness, maintained the 
theism which these modern men are rejecting with such 
contempt. The truth is that it is impossible for such 
men to hold to Jesus even as the supreme man, even 
as the supreme embodiment of that abstract goodness 
which Modernism is endeavoring to revere. For the 
real Jesus placed at the very centre, not merely of His 
thinking but of His life, the heavenly Father, Maker 
and Ruler of the world. 

Is, then, the antitheistic Modernism of our day, read- 
ing Christianity solely in terms of salvation and tak- 
ing the man Jesus as its only God, to relinquish all 
thought of continuity with the early glories of the 
Christian Church? Here Dr. McGiffert comes with a 
suggestion of hope. He abandons, indeed, the former 
answers to the question; he destroys without pity the 
complacency of those who have supposed that the early 
history of Christianity on naturalistic principles is all 
perfectly settled and plain; he throws the historical 
problem again into a state of flux. Hence we welcome 
his brilliant and thought-provoking book. Such books, 


we believe, by their very radicalism, by their endeavor 
after ever new hypotheses, by the exhibition which 
they afford of the failure of all naturalistic reconstruc- 
tions especially their own may ultimately lead to an 
abandonment of the whole weary effort, and a return 
to the simple grounding of Christian history upon a 
supernatural act of God. Meanwhile, however, Dr. 
McGiffert comes to the Modernist Church with a word 
of cheer. The continuity with primitive Christianity, 
he says in effect, does not need to be given up even by 
an antitheistic, non-theological Christianity which at 
first sight seems very non-primitive indeed. 

It would be a great mistake, we think, to ignore this 
practical reference of the book. It is no doubt largely 
unconscious; Dr. McGiffert writes no doubt with the 
most earnest effort after scientific objectivity. But no 
historian can be altogether without presuppositions; 
and the presupposition of the present author is that an 
antitheistic Christianity is the most natural thing in the 
world. Accordingly, as many notable historians have 
done, he finds what he expects to find. Baur, on the 
basis of his Hegelian philosophy, with its "thesis, anti- 
thesis, synthesis," expected to find a conflict in the 
apostolic age with a gradual compromise and settlement. 
And so he found that phenomenon surely enough in 
defiance of the facts, but in agreement with his phil- 
osophy. Similarly , Dr. McGiffert, on the basis of his 
pragmatist skepticism, expects to find somewhere in the 
early Church a type of. religious life similar to his own. 

Why is it that despite our author's own admission 
of the precariousness of many of his arguments he yet 


"cannot resist the conclusion that there was such a primi- 
tive Christianity" as that which he has just described? 8 
The answer is plain. It is because he is seeking a pre- 
cursor in early Christianity for the non-theistic Mod- 
ernism which he himself supports. Others have found 
precursors for it in the New Testament even in Paul. 
But Dr. McGiffert is far too good a scholar to be satis- 
fied with any such solution as that. Still others have 
found it in Jesus, and so have raised the cry, "Back to 
Christ." But Dr. McGiffert has read the Gospels for 
himself, and knows full well how false is that appeal 
of the popular Modernist preachers to the words of the 
one whom they call "Master." Rejecting these obvi- 
ously false appeals, the author is obliged to find what 
he seeks in the non-literary, inarticulate, and indeed 
unattested, piety of the early Gentile Christians. 
"There," he says in effect to his fellow-Modernists, "is 
our religion at last; there is to be found the spiritual 
ancestry of a religion that reads Christianity exclusively 
in terms of salvation and will have nothing to do with 
'fiat creation' or the divine justice or heaven or hell or 
the living and holy God." And so for the cry of the 
older Liberalism: "Back to Christ" upon which Dr. 
McGiffert has put, we trust, a final quietus there is 
now apparently to be substituted the cry: "Back to 
the non-theistic Gentile Christians who read Chris- 
tianity only in terms of salvation and were not inter- 
ested in theology or in God." But if that really is to 
be the cry, the outlook is very dark. It is a sad thing 
if the continuity of Christianity can be saved only by 

Op. cir., p. 87. 


an appeal to the non-theistic Gentile Christians. For 
those non-theistic Gentile Christians never really existed 

at all. 

The truth is that the antitheistic or non-theistic re- 
ligion of the present day popularized hy many 
preachers and undergirded by scholars such as the author 
of the brilliant book of which we have just been speak- 
ing the truth is that this non-theistic religion, which, 
at least in one of its most characteristic forms, takes the 
man Jesus of naturalistic reconstruction as its.only God, 
will have to stand at last upon its own feet. With the 
historic Christian Church, at any rate, it plainly has 
little to do. For the Christian Church can never re- 
linquish belief in the heavenly Father whom Jesus 
taught His disciples to love. 

At the root, then, of faith in God, as taught in the 
Bible, is simply theism: the belief, namely, that the 
universe was created and is now upheld by a personal 
Being upon whom it is dependent but who is not de- 
pendent upon it. God is, indeed, according to this 
Christian view, immanent in the world, but He is also 
personally distinct from the world, and from the finite 
creatures that He has made. The transcendence of God 
what the Bible calls the "holiness" of God is at the 
foundation of Christian faith. The Christian trusts 
God because God has been pleased to reveal Himself 
as one whom it is reasonable to trust; faith in God is 
based on knowledge. 

Certainly that knowledge does not remove our feel- 
,ing of wonder in the presence of God; but should rather 
deepen it till it leads to a boundless awe. Some things 


have been revealed to us about God, and they are by far 
the greatest things that have ever entered the mind of 
man; but how limited they are compared to the bound- 
less mystery of the unknown! If a man's knowledge 
of God removes His sense of wonder in the presence of 
the Infinite One, he shows thereby that He has hardly 
begun to have any true knowledge at all. 

Yet partial knowledge is not necessarily false; and 
the partial knowledge that we have of God, though it 
leaves vast mysteries unexplored, is yet sufficient as a 
basis f or> faith. If such a God be for us, the Christian 
can say, who can be against us? Such a God is One 
whom a man can trust. 

At this point it may be well to pause for a few mo- 
ments at the text from the eighth chapter of Romans, 
which we have just quoted. "If God be for us," says 
Paul, "who can be against us?" 7 

These words constitute a veritable battle cry of 
faith; they might have served as the motto for countless 
heroic deeds. Trusting in the God of Israel, men 
fought mighty battles and won glorious victories; the 
Lord of hosts is a powerful ally, 

Jonathan thought so, when he and his armour- 
bearer made that foolhardy attempt upon a garrison of 
the Philistines. "There is no restraint to the Lord," 
he said, "to save by many or by few." David thought 
so, with his five smooth stones from the brook and his 
great boasting adversary. "Thou comest to me," 
he said, "with a sword, and with a spear, and with a 
shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of 

7 Rom. viii: 31. > 


hosts, the God of the armies of Israel." Elisha thought 
so, when he and his servant were shut up in Dothan. 
The Syrians had sought to take his life; he had revealed 
their plans to the king of Israel; and at last they had 
caught him fair. When the servant of the prophet 
arose in the morning, the city was all surrounded hy the 
Syrian hosts. "Alas, my master," he said, "how shall 
we do?" But the prophet was not dismayed. "Open 
his eyes," he said, "that he may see." And the Lord 
opened his eyes, and behold the hills were covered not 
only by the Syrian armies, but also by the fiery horses 
and chariots of God's protecting care. The apostles 
thought that God was a powerful ally, when they testi- 
fied in the council of the Jews: "We must obey God 
rather than men." Luther thought so on that memor- 
able day when he stood before kings and princes, and 
said -in substance even if not in word "Here I stand, 
I cannot do otherwise, God help me! Amen." 

In these great moments of history the hand of God 
was revealed. But, alas, the thing is not always so 
plain. Many prophets as true as Elisha have been sur- 
rounded by the armies of the aliens, and no fiery horses 
and chariots have put in an appearance; five smooth 
stones from the brook, even when slung bravely in the 
name of the Lord of hosts, are not always able to cope 
with modern artillery; many men of God as bold as 
Peter, as sturdy as good Luther, have testified faithfully 
to the truth, and, being unprotected by the favor of the 
people or by wise Gamaliels or by friendly Electors of 
Saxony, have gone to the stake for their pains. Nor 
does it always seem to be true that the blood of the 


martyrs is the seed of the Church. Persecution some- 
times seems to be crowned with a tragic success. As 
when pure religion by the use of physical weapons was 
largely stamped out of Italy and Spain and France, so 
often the blood of the martyrs seems to be shed in vain. 
What is true, moreover, in the large arena of history 
is also true in our workaday lives. Sometimes, in times 
of great spiritual crisis, the hand of God is revealed; 
there has been a signal answer to prayer; deliverance 
has come in wondrous ways when expected least. But 
at other times prayer just as earnest seems to go un- 
answered, and faith seems set at naught. 

In our perplexity we. are sometimes tempted to think 
of our God very much as He was thought of on one 
occasion by the enemies of Israel. "Their gods/' they 
said with reference to Israel, "are gods of the hills .... 
but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we 
shall be stronger than they:" 8 So our God, we are some- 
times tempted to say, can help us in some of the circum- 
stances of life; but at other times, whether by the lack 
of the power or by the lack of the will it makes little 
practical difference at other times He fails. Religion, 
we say, will help sometimes; but there are troubles in 
which some far more definite assistance is required; our 
God is a God of the hills, but beware, O Christian, of 
the plain. 

Such doubts, in the text to which we have referred, 
are all brushed grandly aside. "If God be for us," says 
Paul, "who can be against us?" The challenge, in the 
Apostle's mind, can receive no answer; if God be for 

I Kings, xx: 23. 


us, none can be against us none in hill or dale, in 
cloud or sunshine, in life or death, among things present 
or things to come. 

Such a faith is magnificent; it is heroic; it fires the 
imagination and stirs the will. What a glorious thing 
it is, to be sure, when a strong man stands with God 
against the world! But mere magnificence is not 
enough, and a lurking doubt remains. The belief of 
Paul is magnificent, but is it founded upon sober truth? 
Is God, as we know Him, really sufficient not merely 
for some, but for all, of our needs? 

The answer to that question obviously depends upon 
what you think of God. If God be merely the tribal 
divinity of a people of the hills, as He was thought to 
be by those enemies mentioned in the twentieth chapter 
of the First Book of Kings, then certainly we cannot 
expect Him to fight for us in the plain. Of course the 
polytheism of those Syrians is gone for good; it may 
almost evoke a smile. But other errors, though more 
refined, are equally fatal to the comfort of the text. 
There are ways of thinking about God, widely preva- 
lent today, which make Him of even less value than a 
local divinity of the Israelitish hills. 

Some of these ways of thinking have already been 
mentioned. There is, for example, the common view 
which identifies God with the totality of the world. 
That view goes by different names, and most commonly 
by no name at all. It may best be called pantheism. 
But we ought not to be confused by a technical term; 
whatever may be thought of the name, the thing itself 
is. not confined to the philosophers. It is sometimes 


called the "new theology;" it is sometimes called (quite 
falsely) the doctrine of divine "immanence." But it- 
is, at any rate, a mistake to think that it affects only 
the classroom; on the contrary, it affects the plain man 
as well as the scholar, and not only the pulpit but the 
pew. In the religious life of our day it is almost domi- 
nant; few of us can altogether escape its influence. 
Certainly it is nothing new; far from being the "new 
revelation" which it is sometimes represented as being, 
it is really as old as the hills; for millenniums it has 
been in the world dulling the moral sense and blighting 
the religious life of man. But it has never been more 
powerful than it is today. 

We find ourselves in this world in the midst of a 
mighty process. It manifests itself in the wonders of 
the starry heavens, and in the equal wonders that the 
microscope has revealed. It is seen in the revolving 
seasons, and in the achievements of the human mind. 
In the presence of it, we stand in awe; we are impressed 
by our own littleness; we are but infinitesimal parts of 
a mighty whole. And to that whole, to that mighty, 
all-embracing world-process, which we moderns have 
learned with a new clearness to regard as one, the pan- 
theist applies the dread name of God. God is thus no 
longer thought of as an artificer apart from his machine; 
He is thought of as naught but the universe itself, con- 
ceived of not in its individual manifestations, but as a 
mighty whole. 

Who does not appreciate the appeal of such a view? 
It has stimulated some of the profoundest thinking and 
inspired some of the grandest poetry of the race. 


But it comfort whatever for oppressed 
and burdened souls. If God be but another name for 
the totality of things, then when we possess Him we 
possess nothing that we did not have before. There 
is then no appeal from the world to Him; when the 
world treats us ill, there is no help for us, for we have 
already had our "God." "If God be for us, who can 
be against us?": these words were spoken by no 
pantheist, but by one who could appeal from nature to 
nature's God. 

That appeal is possible only if God is a free and holy 
Person, eternally sovereign over all that He has made. 
True, He is immanent dn the world; He is no far-off 
deity separate from His works. There is an important 
truth in pantheism; the Christian too can say, "In Him 
we live, and move, and have our being," and "Closer 
is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet." 
God is present in the world; not a single thing that 
happens is independent of Him. But that does not 
mean that He is identical with the world or limited by 
it; because the world is dependent upon Him, it does 
not follow that He is dependent upon the world. He 
is present in the world not because He is identical with 
it, but because He is Master of it; the universe is per- 
vaded and enveloped by the mystery of His will. 
These things have been hidden from the wise and pru- 
dent and revealed urito -babes. It is simplicity that is 
here profound; the stupendous wonder of God's works, 
the boundless complexity of His universe, should never 
be allowed to conceal the simple fact that He is a Per- 
son; that simple fact, the child's possession of every 


trusting soul, is the greatest mystery of all. Jesus 
taught, indeed, the immanence of God; He saw God's 
hand in the sprouting of the seed; not a sparrow, He 
said, could fall to the ground without God. That 
might have been said hy the philosophers. But Jesus 
did not put it merely in that form; what He said was, 
"One of them shall not fall on the ground without your 
Father." And when He said that, the long searchings 
of philosophy were over, and He whom men had dimly 
felt for, the personal, living God, was revealed. 

If, then, there is to be an appeal from nature to na- 
ture's God, if there is to be real faith, God must be 
thought of as a God who can work wonders; not as 
.another name for the totality of existing things, but as 
a free and living Person. Think of Him otherwise, 
and you remain forever bound in the prison-house of 
the world. 

But another form of error is equally fatal. It is a 
homelier, less pretentious form of error, but it is equally 
destructive of a faith like the faith of Paul. We have 
insisted that God is free, that He can govern the course 
of nature in accordance with His will; and it is an im- 
portant, truth indeed. But many men make of it the 
only truth, and in doing so they make shipwreck of 
their faith. They think of God only as one who can 
direct the course of nature for their benefit; they value 
Him only for the things that He can give. 

We are subject to many pressing needs, and we are 
too much inclined to value God, not for His own sake, 
but only because He can satisfy those needs. There is 
the need of food and clothing, for ourselves and for our 


loved ones, and we value God because He can answer 
the petition, "Give us this day our daily bread." There 
is the need of companionship; we shrink from loneli- 
ness; we would be surrounded by those who love us 
and those whom we can love. And we value God as 
one who can satisfy that need by giving us family and 
friends. There is the need of inspiring labor; we would 
be delivered from an aimless life; we desire oppor- 
tunities for noble and unselfish service of our fellow- 
men. And we value God as one who by His ordering 
of our lives can set before us an open door. 

These are lofty desires. But there is one desire that 
is loftier still. It is the desire for God Himself. That 
desire, too often, we forget. We value God solely for 
the things that He can do; we make of Him a mere 
means to an ulterior end. And God refuses to be 
treated so; such a religion always fails in the hour of 
need. If we have regarded religion merely as a means 
of getting things even lofty and unselfish things 
then when the things that have been gotten are de- 
stroyed, our faith will fail. When loved ones are taken 
away, when disappointment comes and failure, when 
noble ambitions are set at naught, then we turri away 
from God; we have tried religion, we say, we have 
tried prayer, and it has failed. Of course it has failed! 
God is not content to be an instrument in our hand or 
a servant at our beck and call. He is not content to 
minister to the worldly nee.ds of those who care not 
a bit for Him. The text in the eighth chapter of 
Romans does not mean that religion provides a certain 
formula for obtaining worldly benefits even the high- 


est and most ennobling and most unselfish of worldly 
benefits. "If God be for us, who can be against us?", 
that does not mean that faith in God will bring us 
everything that we desire. What it does mean is that 
if we possess God, then we can meet with equanimity 
the loss of all besides. Has it never dawned upon us 
that God is valuable for His own sake, that just as per- 
sonal communion is the highest thing that we know 
on earth, so personal communion with God is the sub- 
limest height of all? If we value God for His own 
sake, then the loss of other things will draw us all the 
closer to Him; we shall then have recourse to Him in 
time of trouble as to the shadow of a great rock in a 
weary land. I do not mean that the Christian need 
expect always to be poor and sick and lonely and to 
seek his comfort only in a mystic experience with His 
God. This universe is God's 'world; its blessings are 
showered upon His creatures even now; and in His own 
good time, when the period of its groaning and travail- 
ing is over, He will fashion it as a habitation of glory/ 
But what I do mean is that if here and now we have 
the one inestimable gift of God's presence and favor, 
then all the rest can wait till God's good time. 

If, then, communion with God is the one great pos- 
session, worth more than all the rest besides, how shall 
we attain unto it how shall we come to know God? 

Many men, as has already been observed, are telling 
us that we should not seek to know Him at all; the- 
ology, we are told, is the death of religion. We do not 
know God, then such seems to be the logical implica- 
tion of this view : but simply feel Him. In its con- 


sistent form such a view is mysticism; religion is re- 
duced to a state of the soul in which the mind and the 
will are in abeyance. Whatever may be thought of such 
a religion, I cannot see that it possesses any moral qual- 
ity at all; pure feeling is non-moral, and so is religion 
that is not founded upon theology. What makes our 
love for a true friend, for example, such an ennobling 
thing is the recognition by our mind of the character 
of our friend. Human affection, so beautiful in its 
apparent simplicity, really depends upon a treasured host 
of observations of the actions of our friend. So it is 
also in the case of our relation to God. It is because 
we know certain things about Him, it is because we 
know that He is mighty and holy and loving, that our 
communion with Him obtains its peculiar quality. The 
devout man cannot be indifferent to doctrine, in the 
sense in which many modern preachers would have us 
be indifferent, any more than he can listen with equa- 
nimity to misrepresentations of an earthly friend. Our 
faith in God, despite all that is said, is indissolubly con- 
nected with what we think of Him. The devout man 
may indeed well do without a complete systematization 
of his knowledge though if he be really devout he 
will desire just as complete a systematization as he can 
possibly obtain but some knowledge he certainly must 

How then may we attain to this knowledge of God 
that is so necessary to faith; how may we become ac- 
quainted with Him? We may do so, I think, in the 
old, old ways; I have no entirely new ways to suggest. 

First of all, we may do so by a contemplation of His 


works in nature. "The invisible things of him from 
the creation of the world are clearly seen, being under- 
stood by the things that are made, even his eternal 
power and Godhead." "The heavens declare the glory 
of God; and the firmament showeth his handy work." 
By some men, indeed, the glory is unperceived. There 
are some men who look upon a mountain as a mere 
mass of rock and stone, a thunderstorm as a mere phe- 
nomenon of the atmosphere, and a fair flower as a mere 
combination of leaves and petals. God pity them the 
poor blind souls! But when the eyes of our souls are 
opened, then as we stand before a great mountain range 
we shall say: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills: 
from whence shall my help come?"; in the fury of the 
storm we shall think of Him who did fly upon the 
wings of the wind; and the flowers of the field will 
reveal to us the weaving of God and even Solomon 
in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 

In the second place, God is known by His voice 
within us. The contemplation of the universe, of 
which we have just spoken, brings us to the very brink 
of infinity; the world is too vast for us, and all around 
it is enveloped by an impenetrable mystery. But there 
is also an infinity within. It is revealed in the voice 
of conscience. In the sense of guilt there is something 
that is removed from all relativity; we stand there face 
to face with the absolute. True, in the humdrum of 
life we often forget; but the strange experience comes 
ever again. It may be in the reading or witnessing of 
a great drama; the great tragedies, in the world's liter- 
ature, are those that pull aside the curtain of the com- 


monplace and makes us feel anew the stark irrevocable- 
ness of guilt. It may also be, alas, in the contempla- 
tion of our own lives. But however conscience speaks, 
it is the voice of God. The law reveals a Lawgiver; 
and the character of this law reveals the Lawgiver's 
awful righteousness. 

In the third place, God is known through the Bible. 
And He is known through the Bible in an entirely fresh 
and peculiar way. True, the Bible does repeat and en- 
force what ought to have been learned elsewhere; it 
does reinforce the voices of nature and of conscience; it 
tells us anew that the heavens declare the glory of God ; 
it presents the law of conscience with a new and terrible 
earnestness as the law of God. But it does far more 
than all that; it also presents God in loving action, in 
the course of history, for the salvation of sinful men. 
From Genesis to Revelation, from Eden to Calvary, as 
the covenant God of Jsrael and as the God and Father 
of ouf Lord Jesus Christ, all through th? varied course 
of Bible story, God appears in the fulfilment of one lov- 
ing plan. The marvel is that it is so plainly the same""' 
God throughout. The manner of His action varies ; 
we see various aspects of His person; He appears in anger 
as well as in love. But it is plainly the same Person 
throughout: we rise from the Bible I think we can 
say it without irreverence with a knowledge of the 
character of God. There is a real analogy here to our 
relation with an earthly friend. How do we come to 
know one another? Not all at once, but by years of 
observation of one another's actions. We have seen a 
friend in time of danger, and he has been brave; we 


have gone to him in perplexity, and he has been wise; 
we have had recourse to him in time of trouble, and he 
has given us his sympathy. So gradually, with the 
years, on the basis of many, many such experiences, 
we have come to love him and revere him. And now 
just a look or a word or a tone of his voice will bring 
the whole personality before us like a flash; the varied 
experiences of the years have been merged by some 
strange chemistry of the soul into a unity of affection. 
So it is, somewhat, with the knowledge of God that we 
obtain from the Bible. In the Bible we see God in 
action ; we see Him in fiery indignation wiping out the 
foulness of Sodom; we see Him leading Israel like a 
flock; we see Him giving His only begotten Son for the 
sins of the world. And by what we see we learn to 
know Him. In all His varied dealings with His people 
He has never failed; so now we know Him and adore 
Him. Such knowledge seems to be a simple, an in- 
stinctive, thing; the varied dealings of God with His 
people have come together in the unity of our adora- 
tion. And now He is revealed as by a flash by every 
smallest dispensation of His providence, whether it be 
in joy or whether it be in sorrow. 

As thus made known, surely God is sufficient for all 
our needs. There is no limit to His power; if He be 
our champion, we need not fear what principalities and 
powers and the whole universe can do. He alone is 
righteous; His presence will make us spotless as the 
light. He is loving, and His love will cast out fear. 
Truly we can say with Paul: "If such a God be for 
us, who can be against us?" 


But that text begins with "if," and it is a stupen- 
dous "if." "If God be for us" but is God for us? 
Many persons, it is true, trip along very lightly over 
that "if"; they have no doubt about the matter; they 
are quite sure that God is for them. But the curious 
thing is that those who have no doubt about the mat- 
ter are often just the ones who are most sadly wrong. 
The people of Jerusalem at the time of Jeremiah had 
no doubt; they were quite sure that God was for them; 
but they went into exile all the same; God was not 
for them at all. The Jews in the days of John the 
Baptist had no doubt; were they not God's chosen 
people? Even in the darkest days of Roman rule they 
were quite sure that God would give them the victory. 
But as a matter of fact the axe was even then laid at 
the root of the tree. The Pharisee in the parable was 
quite sure that God was for him when he went up into 
the Temple to pray "God, I thank thee that I am not 
as other men are .... or even as this publican." 
But the publican, it will be remembered, went down 
into his house justified rather than he. 

These men were all quite sure that God was for 
them, but they were all entirely wrong. How then 
may we be sure; and if we become sure, is not our 
assurance a delusion and a snare? How can we remove 
the "if" of this text; how can we be sure that God is 
for us? 

There are only two possible ways. 

One way is to do what is right. God always stands 
for the right; if we are right, then no matter what men 
and demons may do God is on our side. But are we 


right? The Pharisee was quite sure that he was right, 
hut as a matter of fact he was most terribly wrong. 
May we not be equally mistaken? 

No doubt we think we ,can avoid the Pharisee's 
error. God was not for him, we say, because he was 
sinfully contemptuous toward that publican; we will 
be tender to the publican, as Jesus has tafight us to be, 
and then God will be for us. It is no -doubt a good 
idea; it is well that we are tender toward the publican. 
But what is our attitude toward the Pharisee? Alas, 
we despise him in a truly Pharisaical manner. We go 
up into the temple to pray; we stand and pray thus 
with ourselves: "God I thank thee that I am not as 
other men are, proud of my own righteousness, un- 
charitable toward publicans, or even as this Pharisee." 
Can we really venture thus, as the Pharisee did, to stand 
upon our obedience of God's law, as being better than 
that of other men, whether publicans or Pharisees, in 
order to assure ourselves of God's favor? 

Paul at least said, "No!"; and surely Paul has some 
right to be heard, since it is he who gave us the heroic 
text to which we have turned. Paul had tried that 
method, and it had failed; and the seventh chapter of 
Romans is a mighty monument of its failure. The 
power of the flesh is too strong; we are living over an 
abyss of sin and guilt. Of course we may forget what 
lies beneath; we may forget if we are willing to live 
on the surface of life and be morally blind like the 
Jews before the exile or the Pharisee who went up into 
the Temple to pray. But when the eyes of our souls 
are opened, when we catch a terrifying glimpse of the 


righteousness of God, then we are in despair. We try 
to escape; we try to balance the good in our lives against 
the evil; we give tithes of all we possess; we point 
frantically to our efforts as social workers; and thus we 
try to forget the terrible guilt of the heart. Such is the 
bondage of the law. 

But why should we x not give up the struggle? It 
is so hopeless, and at the same time so unnecessary. Is 
God for us, despite our sin? Joyfully the Christian 
answers, "Yes." But why is He for us? Simple 
indeed is the Christian answer to that question: He 
is for us simply because He has chosen to be. He surely 
has a right to receive whom He will into His fellow- 
ship: and as a matter of fact He has chosen to receive 
us poor sinners who trust in Christ; He chose to receive 
us when He gave Christ to die. It was His act, not 
ours. The "if" of the text is a stupendous "if"; but 
such a word is not allowed to stand very long in the 
eighth chapter of Romans. "If God be for us, who can 
be against us?" it is a large "if," but it melts away 
very soon in the warmth of God's grace. "If God 
be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not 
his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall 
he not With him also freely give us all things? Who 
shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is 
God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?" 

Appeal to God's act alone can enable us to face every 
adversary. It can of course enable us to face the unjust 
condemnation of men. What care we what men may 
say, if we have the approval of God? But it can do 
vastly more than that; it can enable us to face not only 


the unjust condemnation of men, but the condemna- 
tion of men that is perfectly just. And nothing else on 
earth or in heaven can enable us to do that. There 
are some things that the world never forgives; Peter 
could never, I suppose, have been received again into 
the society of gentlemen after he had played the traitor 
under fire. But God chose to receive him, and upon 
the rock of his faith the Church was built. There may 
be some foul spot in our lives; the kind of thing that 
the world never forgives, the kind of thing, at any 
rate, for which we who know all can never forgive 
ourselves. But what care we whether the world for- 
gives, or even whether we can forgive ourselves, if God 
forgives, if God has received us by the death of His 
Son? That is what Paul means by "boasting" in the 
Cross of Christ. If we could appeal to God's approval 
as ours by right, how bravely we should boast boast 
in the presence of a world of enemies! If God knows 
that we are right, what care we for the blame of men? 
Such boasting, indeed, can never be ours. But we can 
boast in what God has done. Little care we whether 
our sin be thought unpardonable or no, little interested 
are we in the exact calculation of our guilt. Heap it up 
mountain high, yet God has removed it all. We can- 
not explain God's act; it is done on His responsibility, 
not ours. "I know not," the Christian says, "what 
my guilt may be; one thing I know; Christ loved me 
and gave Himself for me. Come on now ye moralists 
of the world, come on ye hosts of demons, with your 
whisperings of hell! We fear you not; we take our 
stand beneath the shadow of the Cross, and standing 


there, in God's favor, we are safe. No fear of chal- 
lenge now! If God be for us, who can be against us? 
None, in heaven or in earth or in hell. 'Neither death, 
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor 
things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor 
depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate 
us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our 



It appears from what has just been said that although 
theism is necessary to the Christian's faith in God, it is 
not all that is necessary. It is impossible to trust God 
in the Christian sense without holding that He is a 
free and living Person, Creator and Ruler of the world; 
but it is also impossible to trust Him without convic- 
tions that go far beyond that. Indeed the Christian 
doctrine of God in itself, far from leading to faith, 
would lead only to despair; for the clearer be our view 
of God's righteousness, the deeper becomes our con- 
sciousness of guilt. God has done all things well; we 
are His creatures upon whom He has showered His 
bounty; but a mighty barrier has been placed between 
us and Him by the fact of sin. 

That fact is recognized in the Bible from beginning 
to end; and it is recognized with particular clearness 
in the teaching of Jesus. Jesus does indeed speak much 
of the Fatherhood of God, and His words are full of 
comfort for those who are God's children. But never 
does He speak of God as being the Father of all men; 
in the Sermon on the Mount those who can say, "Our 
Father which art in heaven," are distinguished in the 
sharpest possible way from the world outside. Our 
Lord came not to teach men that they were already sons 
of God, but to make them sons of God by His redeem- 



ing work. The Fatherhood of God as it is taught in 
the New Testament designates not a relationship in 
which God stands to all men, hut a relationship in 
which He stands to those who have been redeemed. 

That assertion may be surprising to men who have 
never turned from what is said ahout the New Testa- 
ment to what the New Testament says itself; but it is 
unquestionably true. It needs, however, to be guarded 
against two misunderstandings. 

In the first place, it does not mean that the New 
Testament ignores those features in the relationship of 
God to all men which are analogous to the relationship 
in which an earthly father stands to his children. God 
is the Author of the being of all men, whether Chris- 
tians or not; He cares for all; He showers His bounty 
upon all: 'and apparently the New Testament does here 
and there even use the term Father to designate this 
broader relationship. But what we are insisting upon 
is that such a use of the term is to say the least highly 
exceptional, and that it does not enter into the heart 
of what the New Testament means by the Fatherhood 
of God. It is not that the doctrine of the universal 
fatherly relationship in which God stands to His crea- 
tures is unimportant; indeed a large part of our pre- 
vious discussion has been taken up with showing how 
very important it is; but our point is that the New Tes- 
tament ordinarily reserves the tender words, "Father" 
and "Son," to describe a far more intimate relationship. 
Everything in the* Bible is concerned with the fact of 
sin; the relationship in which man as man stood to God 
has been broken by transgression, and only when that 


barrier is removed is there sonship worthy of the name. 
Thus we are not saying that the doctrine of the uni- 
versal Fatherhood of God is untrue: but what we are 
saying is that far from being the essence of Christianity, 
it is only the presupposition of Christianity; it is only 
the starting-point which the New Testament finds in 
"natural religion" for the proclamation of the gospel 
of divine grace. 

The second misunderstanding which needs to be 
guarded against is the common impression that there 
is something narrow about what we have designated 
as the New Testament doctrine of the Fatherhood of 
God. How narrow a thing it is, the modern man ex- 
claims, to hold that God is the Father of some and not 
of all! This objection ignores the central thing in the 
New Testament teaching, and the central thing in 
Christianity; it ignores the Cross of Christ. It is true 
that men are separated from God by the awful fact of 
sin; it is true that sonship worthy of the name is pos- 
sessed only by those who are within the household of 
\ faith: but what men do not seem to understand is that 
,> * '\ the door of the household of faith is open wide for all 
ir ,,>. men to <come in. Christ died to open that door, and 
\ ^ the pity is that we try to close it by our failure to spread 
^^ f ) the invitation throughout all the world. As Christians 
-'* \f we OTJ S^ t certainly to love all our fellow-men every- 
^ k -/ where, including those who have not yet come to 
Christ; but if we really love them, we shall show our 
love not by trying to make them content with a cold 
natural religion, but by bringing them in, through the 
^ . . 



proclamation of the gospel, into the warmth and joy 
of the household of faith. 

In the Bible, then, it is not merely God as Creator 
who is the object of faith, but 'also, and primarily, God 
as Redeemer from sin. We fear God because of our 
guilt; buf"we trust Him because of His grace. We trust , 
Him because He has brought us by the Cross of Christ, 
despite all our sin, into His holy presence. Faith in 
God depends altogether upon His redeeming work. 

That fact explains an important feature of the New 
Testament teaching about faith the feature, namely, 
that the New Testament ordinarily designates as the 
object of faith not God the Father but the Lord Jesus 
Christ. The New Testament does indeed speak of faith 
in God, but it speaks more frequently of faith in 

The importance of this observation must indeed not 
be exaggerated; no man can have faith in Christ with- 
out also having faith in God the Father and in the 
Holy Spirit. All three persons of the blessed Trinity -v 
are according to the New Testament active in redemp- 1 
tion; and all three therefore may be the object of faith 
when redemption is accepted by sinful men. 

Redemption was accomplished, however, 'according 
to the New Testament, by an event in the external 
world, at a definite time in the world's history, when 
the Lord Jesus died upon the cross and rose again. In 
Christ the redeeming work of God became visible; it 
is Christ, therefore, very naturally, who is ordinarily 
represented as the object of faith. 

But as in the case of God the Father, so in the case 


of Christ, it is impossible to have faith in a person 
without having knowledge of the person; faith is al- 
ways based upon knowledge. 

That important principle is denied by many persons 
in the modern world in the case of Christ, just as we 
have seen that it is denied in the case of God the Father. 

It was denied in typical fashion, for example, in a ser- 
mon which I remember hearing some years ago. The 
subject of the sermon was the incident of the healing 
of the centurion's servant. 1 That centurion, the dis- 
tinguished preacher said in effect, knew nothing about 
theology; he knew nothing about the Nicene or Chal- 
cedonian doctrine of the Person of Christ; he knew 
nothing about the creeds: but he simply trusted Jesus, 
and Jesus praised his faith in the highest terms. So we 
also, it was said in effect, may be quite indifferent to 
the theological controversy now raging in the Church, 
and like the centurion may simply take Jesus at His 
word and do what Jesus says. 

From the point of view of common-sense reading of 
the Bible that sermon was surely quite incorrect; it was 
rather an extreme instance of that anti-historical forc- 
ing of the plain words of the Bible which is so marked 
a feature of the intellectual decadence of the present 
day. Where is it said in the Gospel narrative that the 
centurion obyed Jesus' commands; where is it said that 
he did anything at all? The point of the narrative is 
not that he did anything, but rather that he did noth- 
ing; he simply believed that Jesus could do something, 
and accepted that thing at Jesus* hands; he simply be- 

ulce, vii : 2- 1 ; Matt; viii : 5 - 1 3 . 


lieved that Jesus could work the stupendous miracle of 
healing at a distance. In other words, the centurion is 
presented as one who had faith; and faith, as distin- 
guished from the effects of faith, consists not in doing 
something but in receiving something. Faith may re- 
sult in action, and certainly true faith in Jesus always 
will result in action; but faith itself is not doing but 

But the sermon in question was not merely faulty 
from the point of view of common-sense reading of the 
Bible; it was also faulty from the point of view of 
psychology. The centurion, it was said in effect, knew 
nothing about the Christology of the creeds; he knew 
nothing about the doctrine of the two natures in the 
one person of our Lord; yet he believed in Jesus all the 
same. Clearly the inference intended to be drawn was 
that opinions about Jesus are matter of indifference to 
faith in. Jesus; no matter what a man thinks about the 
person of Christ, it was maintained in effect, he may 
still trust Christ. 

That principle is maintained with the greatest con- 
fidence by. present-day writers and speakers on the sub- 
ject of religion. But surely it is quite absurd. Let 
us see how it would work out in ordinary life. Can 
it really be held that I can trust a person irrespective of 
the opinions that I hold about the person? A simple 
example may make the matter clear. 

Suppose I have a sum of money to invest. It may 
be father a wild supposition but just let us suppose. 
I have a sum of money to invest, and not knowing 
al&iut-tlie stock Market I g til an 


of mine and ask him to invest my savings for me. But 
another acquaintance of mine hears of it and injects a 
word of caution. 

"You are certainly taking a great risk," he says to 
me. "What do you know about the man to whom 
you are entrusting your hard-earned savings? Are you 
sure that he is the kind of man that you ought to trust?" 

In reply I say that I do know certain things about 
the man. "Some time ago he came to this town and 
succeeded in selling the unwary inhabitants of it some 
utterly worthless oil-stock; and if he is not in jail, he 
certainly ought to be there. But," I continue, "opin- 
ions about a person may differ that is merely an intel- 
lectual matter and yet one may have faith in the per- 
son; faith is quite distinct from knowledge. Conse- 
quently I can avoid the unpleasant duty of raking up 
the past of the speculative gentleman in question; I can 
avoid unseemly controversy as to whether he is a rascal 
or not, and can simply trust him all the same." 

Of course if I talked in that way about so serious a 
thing as dollars and cents, I should probably be regarded 
as needing a guardian; and I might soon find my prop- 
erty being better managed for me than I could manage 
it for myself: yet it is just exactly in that way that 
men talk with regard to the subject of religion; it is 
just in that way that they talk with regard to Jesus. 
But is it not quite absurd? Surely it is impossible to 
trust a person whom one holds in one*s mind to be 
untrustworthy. Yet if so, we cannot possibly be in- 
different to what is called the "theological" controversy 
of the present day; for that controversy concerns just 


exactly the question whether Jesus is trustworthy or 
not. By one party in the Church Jesus is presented as 
One in whom men can have confidence in this world 
and the world to come; by the other party He is so 
presented as that trust in Him would be ignoble if 
not absurd. 

Yet there may be an objection. "Faith," it may be 
said, "seems to be such a wonderfully simple thing. 
What-has the simple trust which that centurion reposed 
in Jes'us to do with the subtleties of the Chalcedonian 
creed? What has it" to do even with a question of fact 
like the question of the virgin birth? And may we not 
return from our theology, or from our discussion of 
details of the New Testament presentation, to the sim- 
plicity of the centurion's faith?" 

To this objection there is of course one very easy 
answer. The plain fact is that we are by no means in 
the same situation as the cenjturion was with reference 
to Jesus; we of the twentieth century need to know 
very much more about Jesus in order to trust Him than 
the centurion needed to know. If we had Jesus with 
us in bodily presence now, it is quite possible that we 
might be able to trust Him with very little knowledge 
indeed; the majesty of His bearing might conceivably 
inspire unbounded confidence almost at first sight. But 
as a matter of fact we are separated from Him by nine- 
teen centuries; and if we are to commit ourselves unre- 
servedly to a Jew Wjho lived nineteen hundred years ago, 
as to a living person, there are obviously many things 
about Him that we need to know. For one thing, we 
need to know that He is alive; we need to know, there- 


fore, about the resurrection. And then we need to 
know how it is that He can touch our lives; and that 
involves a knowledge of the atonement and of the way 
in which He saves us from our sin. But it is useless 
to enter into further detail. Obviously it is a very 
strange thing that persons of the twentieth century 
should come into a relation of living trust with a man 
of the first century; and if they are to do so, they must 
know much more about Him than His contemporaries 
needed to know. Even if the centurion, therefore, 
could get along with very little knowledge of the person 
of Christ, it does not follow that we can do so. 

There is, however, another answer to the objection. 
Men say that faith for example the faith of the cen- 
turion is a simple thing and has nothing to do with 
theology. But is faith really so simple a thing? The 
answer is not so obvious as many persons suppose. 
Many things which seem to be simple are really highly 
complex. And such is the case with respect to trust in 
a person. Why is it that I trust one man and do not 
trust another? Sometimes it may seem to be a simple 
thing; sometimes I trust a man at first sight; trust in 
these cases seems to be instinctive. But surely "in- 
stinct" in human beings is not so simple as it seems. 
It really depends upon a host of observations about the 
personal bearing of men who are trustworthy and those 
who are not trustworthy. And usually trust is not 
even apparently instinctive; usually it is built up by 
long years of observation of the person who is trusted. 
Why do I trust this man or that? Surely it is because 
I kntfw t$m; I have seen him trieH a'gain arid again, and 


he has rung true. The result seems to be very simple; 
fit the end a look or a tone of the voice is sufficient to 
give me as in a flash an impression of the whole person. 
But that impression is really the result of many things 
that I know. And I can never be indifferent to what 
is said about the one whom I trust; I am indignant 
.about slanders directed against him, and I seek to defend 
my high opinion of him by an appeal to the facts. 

So it is in the case of our relation to Jesus. We are 
committing to Him the most precious thing that we 
possess our own immortal souls, and the destinies of 
society. It is a stupendous act of trust. And it can 
be justified only by an appeal to facts. 

But what becomes, then, it may be asked, of the 
childlike faith which seems to be commended by our 
Lord Himself? If faith is so elaborate an intellectual 
affair, how could Jesus ever have said: "Whosoever shall 
not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he 
shall not enter therein." 2 Surely a little child does not 
wait until all probabilities have been weighed, and until 
the trustworthiness of its parents has been established 
at the bar of reason, before it reaches out its little hands 
in simple trust. 

In answer, three things need to be said. 

In the first place, in holding that knowledge is log- 
ically the basis of faith we are not holding that it nec- 
essarily precedes faith in the order of time. Sometimes 
faith in a person and knowledge of the person come in 
the same instant. Certainly we are not maintaining 
that faith in Jesus has to wait until a man has learned 

2 Mark, x: 15. 


all that the theologians or even all that the Bible can 
tell him about Jesus; on the contrary, faith may come 
first, on the basis of very elementary knowledge, and 
then fuller knowledge may come later. Indeed that is 
no doubt quite the normal order of Christian experi- 
ence. But what we do maintain is that at no point 
is faith independent of the knowledge upon which it is 
logically based; even at the very beginning faith con- 
tains an intellectual element; and if the subsequent in- 
crease of knowledge should show the person in whom 
trust is reposed to be untrustworthy, the faith would be 

In the second place, the question may well be asked 
whether the faith of a child, after all, is independent 
of knowledge. We for our part think that it is not, 
provided the child has come to the age of conscious 
personal life. The child possesses, stored up in its 
memory, experiences of the mother's goodness, knows 
how to distinguish her from other persons, and hence 
smiles at her approach.- Very different is the non- 
theological "faith" of the modern pragmatist, that can 
subsist independently of the opinions which may be 
held as to the object of faith. Whatever may be said for 
that pragmatist attitude, it is certainly as unchildlike as 
anything that could possibly be imagined. A child 
never trusts a person whom it holds with its mind to be 
untrustworthy. The faith of the modern pragmatist 
is a very subtle, sophisticated, unchildlike thing; jwhat 
is really childlike is the faith that is founded upon 
knowledge of the one in whom trust is reposed. 

There is, indeed, perhaps one stage of childhood 


where the intellect is in abeyance; but it is the stage 
where conscious personal life has not yet been begun. 
Is it that stage to which Christian faith ought to re- 
turn? There are many who answer this question, im- 
plicitly if not explicitly, in the affirmative; these are the 
mystics, who hold that religion is an ineffable experi- 
ence in which the ordinary faculties of the soul are 
quiescent, and who must hold, if they be consistent, 
that the goal of religion is a sheer loss of individual 
consciousness through the merging of the soul in the 
abyss of the divine. It is toward such mysticism that 
the modern depreciation 6f the intellect in religion 
really tends. No doubt the anti-intellectualism of our 
day does not often consciously go so far; but that is 
not because the starting-point is right, but because the 
way has not yet been followed to the end. The ulti- 
mate goal of the modern view of faith is a nirvana in 
which personality is lost. 

In the third place, we have so far really not gotten 
at what Jesus meant at all. When our Lord bade His 
disciples receive the kingdom of heaven as little children, 
was it really the ignorance of the little children to which 
He appealed? We think not. No, it was not the 
ignorance or children to which our Lord appealed, but 
their conscious helplessness, their willingness to receive 
a gift. What mars the simplicity of the childlike faith 
which Jesus commends is not an admixture of knowl- 
edge, but an admixture of self-trust. To receive the 
kingdom as a little chil v d is to receive it as a free gift 
without seeking in slightest measure to earn it for one's 
self. There is a rebuke here for any attempt to earn 


salvation by one's character, by one's own obedience to 
God's commands, by one's own establishment in one's 
life of "the principles of Jesus"; but there is no rebuke 
whatever for an intelligent faith that is founded upon 
the facts. The childlike simplicity of faith is marred 
sometimes by ignorance, but never by knowledge; it 
will never be marred and never has been marred in the 
lives of the great theologians by the blessed knowl- 
edge of God and of the Saviour Jesus Christ which is 
contained in the Word of God. Without that knowl- 
edge we might be tempted to trust partly in ourselves; 
but -with it we trust wholly to God. The more we 
know of God, the more unreservedly we trust Him; 
the greater be our progress in theology, the simpler and 
more childlike will be our faith. 

There is no reason, then, for us to modify the con- 
clusion to which we were led by an examination of 
the centurion's faith; faith in Christ, we hold, can be 
justified only by an appeal to facts. 

The facts which justify our appeal to Jesus concern 
not only His goodness but also His power. We might 
be convinced of His goodness, and yet not trust Him 
with these eternal concerns of the soul. He might 
have the will to help and not the power. We might 
be in the position of the ship-captain's child in the 
touching story, who, when all on shipboard were in 
terror because of an awful storm, learned that his father 
was on the bridge and went peacefully to sleep. The 
confidence of the child very probably was misplaced; 
but it was misplaced not because the captain was not 
faithful and good, but because the best of men has no 


power to command the wind and the sea that they 
should obey him. Is our confidence in Jesus equally 
misplaced? It is misplaced if Jesus was the poor, weak 
enthusiast that He is represented as being by naturalistic 
historians. But very diff erent is the case if He was the 
mighty Person presented in the Word of God. The 
question as to which was the real Jesus may be decided 
in one way or it may be decided in the other; but at 
any rate it cannot be ignored. We cannot trust Jesus 
if Jesus is unworthy of our trust. 

Why then do those who reduce Jesus to the level of 
humanity, who regard Him (if traditional language be 
stripped off) simply as a Jewish teacher of long ago, 
the initiator of the "Christ-life" why do such per- 
sons speak of having "faith in Jesus"? They do so, 
I think, because they are slipping insensibly into a 
wrong use of terms; when they say "faith in Jesus," 
they mean really not faith in Jesus but merely faith in 
the teaching and example of Jesus. And that is a very 
different thing. It is one thing to hold that the ethical 
principles which Jesus enunciated will solve the prob- 
lems of society, and quite another thing to come into 
that intimate, present relation to Him which we call 
faith; it is one thing to follow the example of Jesus and 
quite a different thing to trust Him. A man can ad- 
mire General Washington, for example, and accept the 
principles of his life; yet one cannot be said to trust 
him, for the simple reason that he died over a hundred 
years ago. His soldiers could trust him; for in their 
day he was alive ; but we cannot trust him, because now 
he is dead. And when persons who believe that 


Jesus was simply a great teacher of long ago, and are 
not particularly interested in any personal identity be- 
tween that mystic experience which they call "Christ" 
in the soul and the historic person Jesus of Nazareth 
when such persons speak of "faith in Jesus," the ex- 
pression is merely a survival, now meaningless, of a 
usage which had meaning only when Jesus was re- 
garded as what He is said in the New Testament to 
be. Real faith in Jesus can exist only when the 
lofty claims of Jesus are taken as sober fact, and 
when He is regarded as the eternal Son of God, come 
voluntarily to earth for our redemption, manifesting 
His glory even in the days of His flesh, and now 
risen from the dead and holding communion with 
those who commit their lives to Him. 

The truth is that in great sections of the modern 
Church Jesus is no longer the object of faith, but has 
become merely an example for faith; religion is based 
no longer upon faith in Jesus but upon a faith in 
God that is, or is conceived to be, like the faith that 
Jesus had in God. 

This mighty transition is often unconscious; by 
a loose use of traditional language men have concealed 
from themselves as well as from others the decisive 
step that has really been taken. By no means all, 
it is true, of those who have taken the step have 
been thus self -deceived; there are among them some 
real students of history who detect clearly the mo- 
mentous difference between a faith in Jesus and a 
faith in God that is like Jesus' faith. For such schol- 
ars the origin of "faith in Jesus" becomes the most 


important problem in the entire history of religion. 
How was it that a Jewish teacher, who (in accord- 
ance with modern naturalism) did not exceed the 
limits of humanity, came to be taken as the object of 
religious faith; how aiid when did men add to a faith 
in God that was like Jesus' faith a faith in Jesus 
Himself? However and whenever this event took 
place, it was certainly a momentous event. Of 
course to anyone who accepts the testimony of the 
Bible the problem is quickly solved; the New Testa- 
ment throughout the Gospels as well as the Epistles 
depicts Jesus of Nazareth as one who from the be- 
ginning presented Himself, and with full justification, 
as the object of faith to sinful men. But to modern 
naturalistic historians the problem remains; and by 
the more thoughtful of them it is placed in the very 
forefront of interest. How was there added to faith 
in God, encouraged and inspired by Jesus, a faith in 
Jesus Himself? 

Many solutions of this problem have been pro- 
posed in the course of modern criticism, but none of 
them has won universal acceptance. According to 
the older Liberalism, represented, for example, by Har- 
nack, faith in Jesus as Redeemer, in the Pauline sense, 
was merely the temporary form in which the religious 
experience brought about by contact with the real Jesus 
had to be expressed in the forms of thought proper to 
that day. According to a radical like Bousset t on the 
other hand, faith in Jesus arose in Damascus or Anti- 
och, when, in a meeting of the disciples full of ecstatic 
phenomena, someone uttered the momentous words, 


"Jesus is Lord," and thus the One who in Jerusalem 
had heen regarded as absent in heaven came to be re- 
garded as present in the Church and hence as being the 
object of faith. Many other solutions, or varieties of 
the few generically differing solutions, have been pro- 
posed. But it cannot be said that any one of them has 
been successful. Modern naturalism so far has expended 
all its learning and all its ingenuity in vain upon the 
question how it was that a Jew of the first century came 
to be taken as the object of religious faith, despite the 
strictness of Jewish monotheism, by contemporaries be- 
longing to His own race. 

Yet although we do not think that scholars like Bous- 
set have been successful in solving the problem, they 
have at least seen clearly what the problem is; and that 
is great gain. They have seen clearly that faith in 
Christ is quite different from a faith merely like Christ's 
faith: and they have seen clearly that not the latter but 
the former is characteristic of the historic Christian 
Church, If the choice of the Church is now to be re- 
versed, the radicalness of the decision should not be 

Such clearness, however, is, unfortunately, in many 
quarters conspicuous by its absence; there are many who 
by a sort of spiritual indolence or at least timorqusness 
x seek to conceal the issue both from themselves and from 
others. It is evident that they have a sentimental at- 
tachment to Jesus; it is evident that they love Him; 
why then should they try to decide whether such 
attachment is or is not what is designated by the 
New Testament and by the historic Church as "faith"? 


"Surely," men say, "it is better to let sleeping dogs 
He; surely it is better not to mar the peace of the 
Church by too careful an effort at definition of terms. 
If those who are called 'Liberals' in the Church will 
only consent to employ traditional language, if they 
will only avoid offending friend as well as foe by the 
unpardonable ecclesiastical sin of plainness of speech, 
all will be well, and the work of the Church can go 
satisfactorily on as though there were no division of 
opinion at all." 

Many are the ways in which such a policy is com- 
mended to our favor; plausible indeed are the methods 
by which Satan seeks to commend an untruth; often the 
Tempter speaks through the lips of sincere and good 
men. "Let us alone," some devout pastors say, "we 
are preaching the gospel; we are bringing men and wo- 
men into the. Church; we have no time for doctrinal 
controversy; let us above all have peace." Or else it is 
the greatness and beneficence of the work of the organ- 
ized Churcfi which catches the imagination and inspires 
the cry of "peace and work." "Let us sink our doc- 
trinal differences," it is urged, "and go on with our 
work; let us quit defending Christianity and proceed to 
propagate it; whatever be our theological differences let 
us conquer the world for Christ." 

Plausible words these are, and uttered sometimes 
no doubt, by truly Christian men. For such men we 
have full sympathy; their eyes are closed; they have no 
inkling of the facts; they have no notion how serious is 
the issue that faces the Church. But for us, and for all 
who are aware of what is really going on, the policy of 


"peace and work," the policy of concealment and pallia- 
tion, would be the deadliest of sins. IJJ'he Church is 
placed before a serious choice ; it must decide whether it 
will merely try to trust God as Jesus trusted Him, or 
whether it will continue to put its trust in Jesus Him- 
self. Upon that choice depends the question which of 
two mutually exclusive religions is to be maintained. 
One of the two is the redemptive religion known as 
Christianity; the other is a religion of optimistic confi- 
dence in human nature, which at almost every conceiv- 
able point is the reverse of Christian belief. We must 
decide which of the two we shall choose. \ But above 
all things let us choose with our eyes open; and when 
we have chosen let us put our whole souls into the 
propagation of what we believe. If Christ is the object 
of faith, as He is held by the New Testament to be, then 
let us proclaim Him not only in our pulpits but by all 
our activity in the Church. There is nothing more un- 
reasonable than to preach the gospel with our lips and 
then combat the gospel through the funds that we con- 
tribute to agencies and boards or through the votes that 
we cast in Church councils and courts. 

It is the encouragement of such inconsistency that 
places the most serious ethical stain upon Modernism 
in evangelical churches today. It is not a stain which 
appears merely in weaknesses and inconsistencies of in- 
dividual men for such failings we have the greatest 
possible sympathy, being keenly conscious of worse 
moral failures in ourselves than can be found in other 
men but it is a stain that is inherent in the settled 
policy of a great party in the Church. Concealment of 


the issue, the attempt to slur over a mighty change as 
though full continuity were being preserved, the double 
use of traditional language, the acceptance on false pre- 
tences of the support of old-fashioned evangelical men 
and women who have no inkling of what is really being 
done with their contributions or with their votes these 
are things that would convince us, even prior to his- 
torical or theological investigation^ that there is some- 
thing radically wrong with the Modernist movement 
of the present day. "By their fruits ye shall know 
them," said our Lord, 3 and judged by that ethical stan- 
dard the present movement will not stand the test. 
There are, indeed, exceptions to the particular fault 
upon which we are now insisting for example the ex- 
ception formed by the honesty of the Unitarian 
Churches, for which we have the very highest possible 
respect but the chief outward successes of Modernism 
have been won by the wrong methods of which we 
speak. A true Reformation would be characterized by 
just what is missing in the Modernism of the present 
day; it would be characterized above all by an heroic 
honesty which for the sake of principle would push all 
consideration of consequences aside. 

Such a Reformation we on our part believe to be 
needed today; only, we believe that it would be brought 
about, not by a new religion which consists in imitation 
of the reduced Jesus of modern naturalism, but by the 
rediscovery of the gospel of Christ. This is not the 
first time in the history of the world when the gospel 
has been obscured. It was obscured in the Middle Ages, 

3 Matt, vii: 20. 


for example; and how long and how dark, in some re- 
spects, was that time ! But the gospel burst forth with 
new power the same gospel that Paul and Augustine 
had proclaimed. So it may be in our own day; the 
gospel may come forth again to bring light and liberty 
to mankind. But this new Reformation for which we 
long will not be brought about by human persuasions, 
or by consideration of consequences, or by those who 
seek to save souls through a skfllful use of ecclesiastical 
influences, or by those who refrain from speaking the 
truth through a fear of "splitting the Church" or of 
making a poor showing in columns of Church statistics. 
How petty, in the great day when the Spirit of God 
again moves in the Church, all such considerations will 
seem! No, when the true Reformation comes, it will 
come through the instrumentality of those upon whom 
God has laid His hand, to whom the gospel has become 
a burning fire within them, who speak because they are 
compelled to speak, who, caring nothing for human in- 
fluences and conciliation and external Church combina- 
tions and the praise or blame of men, speak the word 
that God has given them and trust for the results to 
Him alone. In other words, it will be brought about 
by men of faith. 

We do not know when such an event will come; and 
when it comes it will not be the work of men but the 
work of the Spirit of God. But its coming will be 
prepared for, at any rate, not by the concealment of 
issues, but by clear presentation of them; not by peace 
in the_ Church between Christian and anti-Christian 
forces, but by earnest discussion; not by darkness, but 


by the light. Certainly it will not be hindered by an 
earnest endeavor to understand what faith in Christ 
really is, and how it differs from a faith that is merely 
an attempt at imitating Christ's faith. 

Such an endeavor may perhaps be furthered by a con- 
sideration of one or two of the shibboleths which appear 
in the religious literature of the day. Nothing like com- 
pleteness will be necessary; we may begin at almost any 
point in the literature of the Modernist movement, in 
order to discover the root from which it all comes. 

There is, for example, the alternative between a gos- 
pel about Jesus, and the gospel of Jesus. The Church, 
it is said, has been so much concerned with a gospel 
about Jesus that the gospel of Jesus has been neglected; 
we ought to reverse the process and proclaim the gospel 
that Jesus Himself proclaimed. 

With regard to this proposal, it should be noticed 
that even in its relation to the question of the seat of 
authority in religion, it is not so innocent as it might 
seem. ^ It proposes that the seat of authority shall be 
"the teachings of Christ." But the seat of authority 
for the historic Church has been not merely the teach- 
ings of Christ, but the whole Bible. For, the Bible, 
therefore, which was formerly regarded as the Word of 
God, is to be substituted the very small part of the Bible 
which consists in the words which Jesus spoke when 
He was on earth. Certainly there are difficulties con- 
nected with such a change, due, for example, to the 
fact that Jesus, who is to be held as the supreme and sole 
authority, placed at the very basis of His own life and 
teaching that view of the authority of the whole Bible 


which is here so lightly being abandoned. The view 
which regards the "teachings of Christ" as the sole 
authority seems therefore to be self -contradictory; for 
the authority of Christ establishes the authority of the 
Bible. The truth is that "the teachings of Christ'* can 
be truly honored only when they are taken as an organic 
part of the divine revelation found in the Scriptures 
from Genesis to Revelation; to isolate Christ from the 
Bible is to dishonor Christ and reject His teaching. 

But the point now is not that the substitution of 
the teachings of Jesus for the whole Bible as the seat 
of authority in religion is unjustifiable, but rather that 
it is at any rate momentous. If it must be accom- 
plished, let it at least be accomplished with full under- 
standing of the importance of the step. 

The true seriousness of the substitution of the gospel 
of Jesus for a gospel about Jesus is not, however, limited 
to the bearing of this step upon the question of the seat 
of authority in religion; even more serious is the differ- 
ent attitude toward Jesus which the step involves. The 
advocates of a "gospel of Jesus" in the modern sense 
seem to imagine that the acceptance of such a gospel 
brings Jesus closer to us than is done by the acceptance 
of a gospel about Jesus. In reality, the exact opposite 
is the case. Of course if the "gospel about Jesus" is 
not true, if it sets forth not the facts that inhere in 
Jesus Himself, but merely the false opinions of other 
persons about Him, or "interpretations" of Him which 
have merely temporary validity, then the gospel about 
Jesus does place a veil of falsehood between Jesus and 
us and should be rejected in order that we may find 


contact with Him as He actually was. But entirely 
different is the case if the gospel about Jesus sets forth 
the facts. In that case that gospel hrings us into a kind 
of contact with Him compared with which the mere 
acceptance of a gospel which He Himself proclaimed 
is a very cold and distant thing. 

Acceptance of what Jesus Himself proclaimed does 
not in itself mean any more than that He is taken as a 
teacher and leader; it is only what might conceivably 
be done in the case of many- other men. A man can, 
for example, accept the gospel of Paul; that means 
merely that he holds the teaching of Paul to be true: 
but he cannot accept a gospel about Paul; for that would 
give to the apostle a prerogative that belongs only to 
his Lord. Paul himself expressed what we mean when 
he wrote to the Corinthians: "Was Paul crucified for 
you"? 4 The great apostle to the Gentiles, in other 
words, proclaimed a gospel; but he was not himself the 
substance of the gospel, the latter prerogative being re- 
served for Jesus Himself. A gospel about Jesus exalts 
Jesus, therefore, and brings Him into far closer contact 
with us than could ever be done by a gospel of Jesus. 

But what was this gospel which Jesus proclaimed, 
this gospel that is now to replace the gospel about Him 
which has been proclaimed by the Apostle Paul and by 
the historic Church? Our only knowledge of ft is ob- 
tained from the words of Jesus that are recorded in the 
New Testament. But those words as they stand make 
it abundantly plain that the gospel which Jesus pro- 
claimed was also, at its very centre, a gospel about Him; 

4 I Cor. i: 13. 


it did far more than set forth a way of approach to God 
which Jesus Himself followed, but it presented Jesus 
as Himself the way which could be followed by sinful 
men. According to the New Testament our Lord even 
in the days of His flesh presented Himself not merely 
as Teacher and Example and Leader but also, and pri- 
marily, as Saviour; He offered Himself to sinful men 
as One who alone could give them entrance into the 
Kingdom of God; everything in His teaching pointed 
forward to His redeeming work in His death and resur- 
rection; the culmination of Jesus' gospel was the Cross. 
The significance of redemption could not, indeed, be 
fully pointed out until redemption had actually been 
accomplished; and our Lord therefore pointed forward 
to the fuller revelation which was to be given through 
His apostles: but, although only by way of prophecy, 
yet clearly enough, He did, even when He was on earth, 
tell men what He had come into the world to do. 
"The Son of Man," He said, "came not to be minis- 
tered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom 
for many/' 5 

So much will perhaps be generally admitted; if the 
words of Jesus as they are recorded in the Gospels are 
accepted as authentic, then the separation of the gospel 
about Jesus from a gospel of Jesus is radically false; for 
the gospel about Jesus (which is the gospel that all 
through the centuries has brought peace to burdened 
souls) was also the gospel which Jesus Himself, even 
in the days of His flesh, proclaimed. 

If, then, we are to obtain a Jesus who kept His own 

5 Mark x: 45. 


Person out of His gospel, and offered to men merely the 
way of approach to God which He had followed for 
Himself, we cannot do so by an acceptance of the New 
Testament account of Jesus' words as it stands, but can 
do so, if at all, only by a critical process within that 
account. The true words of Jesus must be separated 
from words falsely attributed to Him before we can 
obtain the modern gospel which omits redemption and 
the Cross. 

But that critical process, upon investigation, is found 
to be impossible. Even in the earliest sources supposed, 
rightly or wrongly, by modern criticism to underly our 
Gospels, Jesus presented Himself not merely as an ex- 
ample for faith but as the object of faith. 6 He invited 
men not merely to have faith in God like the faith which 
He had in God, but He invited them to have faith in 
Him. He clearly regarded Himself as Messiah, not in 
some lower meaning of the word, but as the heavenly 
Son of Man who was to come with the clouds of heaven 
and be the instrument in judging the world; He clearly 
pointed forward to some catastrophic event in which 
He was to have a central place, some catastrophic event 
by which the Kingdom of Heaven was to be ushered in. 
The truth is that the Jesus who preached a gospel of 
universal divine fatherhood and a sonship which was 
man's right as man never existed until modern times; 
the real Jesus presented Himself not merely as Teacher 
but also as Lord and as Redeemer. If, therefore, we 
are to hold to the real "gospel of Jesus," we must also 

6 See James Denney, Jesus and the Gospel, 1909. 


hold to "the gospel about Jesus/' and the separation 
between the two must be given up. 

Another way in which the opposition between a 
religion that makes Jesus merely the example for faith 
and a religion that makes Him primarily the object of 
faith appears in the modern world, is to be found in 
the varying answers to the question whether Jesus was 
or was not a "Christian." According to a very wide- 
spread way of thinking Jesus was the Founder of the 
Christian religion because He was the first to live the 
Christian life, in other words because He was Himself 
the first Christian. According to our view, on the 
other hand, Jesus stands in a far more fundamental and 
intimate relation to Christianity than that; He was, we 
hold, the Founder of our religion not because He was 
the first Christian, but because He made Christianity 
possible by His redeeming work. 

At no point does the issue in the modern religious 
world appear in more characteristic fashion than just 
here. Many persons hold up their hands in amazement 
at our assertion that Jesus was not a Christian, while 
we in turn regard it as the very height of blasphemy to 
say that He was a Christian. "Christianity," to us, is 
a way of getting rid of sin; and therefore to say that 
Jesus was a Christian would be to deny His holiness. 

"But," it is said, "do you mean to tell us that if a 
man lives a life like the life of Jesus but rejects the 
doctrine of the redeeming work of Christ in His death 
and resurrection, he is not a Christian?" The question, 
in one form or another, is often asked; but the answer 
is very simple. Of course if a man really lives a life 


like the life of Jesus, all is well; such a man is indeed 
not a Christian, but he is something better than a Chris- 
tian- he is a being who has never lost his high estate of 
sonship with God. But our trouble is that our lives, 
to say nothing of the lives of these who so confidently 
appeal to their own similarity to Jesus, do not seem to 
be like the life of Jesus. Unlike Jesus, we are sinners, 
and hence, unlike Him, we become Christians; we are 
sinners, and hence we accept with thankfulness the re- 
deeming love of the Lord Jesus Christ, who had pity on 
us and made us right with God, through no merit of 
our own, by His atoning death. 

That certainly does not mean that the example of 
Jesus is not important to the Christian; on the contrary, 
it is the daily guide of His life, without which he would 
be like a ship without a rudder on an .uncharted sea. 
But the example of Jesus is useful to the Christian not 
prior to redemption, but subsequent to it. 

In one sense indeed it is useful prior to redemption: 
it is useful in order to bring a sinful man into despair 
of ever pleasing God by his own efforts; for if thejife 
of Jesus be the life that God requires, who can stand in 
His holy presence? Thus to the unredeemed the ex- 
ample of Jesus has an important part in the proclama- 
tion of that terrible law of God which is the school- 
master to bring men unto Christ; it serves by its lofty 
purity to produce the consciousness of sin and thus to 
lead men to the Cross. 

But so far as any comfort or positive help is con- 
cerned, the example of Christ is useful only to those 
who have already been redeemed. We disagree very 


strongly therefore with those teachers and preachers who 
think that Jesus should first be presented as a leader and 
example in order that afterwards, perhaps, He may be 
presented as Saviour; we deprecate the popular books 
for young people which appeal to the sense of loyalty 
as the first way of approach to Jesus; it seems to us 
very patronizing and indeed blasphemous when, for ex- 
ample, Jesus' choice of a life-work is presented as a 
guide toward the choice of a life-work on the part of 
boys and young men. The whole method, we think, 
is wrong. The example of Jesus is, indeed, important, 
but it is not primary; the first impression to give to a 
child is not that of the ways in which Jesus is like us 
but that of the ways in which He differs from us; He 
should be presented first as Saviour and only afterwards 
as Example; appeal should be made not to latent forces 
capable of following Jesus' example but to the sense of 
sin and need. 

Let it not be said that this method of approach is 
ill suited to the young, and founded on a false psy- 
chology; on the contrary, its effectiveness has been 
proved through the long centuries of the Church's life. 
Now that it has largely been abandoned boys and girls 
drift away from the Church, whereas when it was fol- 
lowed they grew up into stalwart Christian men and 
women. It is very natural for a child of the covenant 
to learn first to trust Christ as Saviour almost as soon 
as conscious life begins, and then, having become God's 
child through Him, to follow His blessed example. 
There is a child's hymn a child's hymn that I think 


the Christian can never outgrow which puts the mat- 
ter right: 

O dearly, dearly has He loved, 

And we must love Him too, 
And trust in His redeeming blood, 

And try His works to do. 

That is the true order of Christian pedagogy "trust 
in His redeeming blood" first, and then "try His works 
to do." Disaster will always follow when that order 
is reversed. 

The Lord Jesus, then, came into this world not 
primarily to say something, not even to be something, 
but to do something; He came not merely to lead men 
through His example out into a "larger life," but to 
give life, through His death and resurrection, to those 
who were dead in trespasses and sins; we are Christians 
not because we have faith in God like the faith in God 
which Jesus Himself had, but because we have faith in 

But can we really have faith in Him? We cannot 
do so if He be the mere initiator of the "Christ life" 
who is presented in much modern preaching; but we 
can do so if He be the living Saviour presented in the 
Word of God. 

One fearful doubt, however, still assails us. It comes 
from what may be called the cosmic aspects of human 
life, from the dread thought of the infinite abyss which 
is all about us as we walk upon this earth. 

Reflections on the nothingness of human life, it must 
be admitted, are often rather dull; they clothe them- 
selves readily in cant. But if a thing is true, it cannot 
become false by being hackneyed. And as a matter of 


fact, it cannot be denied that man is imprisoned on one 
of the smaller of the planets, that he is enveloped by in- 
finity on all sides, and that He lives but for a day in 
what seems to be a pitiless procession. The things in 
which he is interested, the whole of his world, form but 
an imperceptible oasis in the desert of immensity, 
Strange it is that he can be absorbed in things which 
from the vantage ground of infinity must seem smaller 
than the smallest playthings. 

It cannot be denied: man is a finite creature; he is 
a denizen of the earth. From one point of view 
he is very much like the beasts that perish; like them 
he lives in a world of phenomena; he is subject to 
a succession of experiences, and he does not under- 
stand any one of them. Science can observe; it can- 
not explain: if it tries to explain, it ceases to be sci- 
ence and sometimes becomes almost laughable. Man 
is certainly finite. 

But that is not the whole truth. Man is not only 
finite; for he knows that he is finite, and that knowl- 
edge brings him into connection with infinity. He 
lives in a finite world, but he knows, at least, that 
it is not the totality of things. He lives in a pro- 
cession of phenomena, but to save his life he cannot 
help searching for a first cause. In the midst of his 
trivial life, there rises in his mind one strange and 
overpowering thought the thought of God. It may 
come by reflection, by subtle argument from effect to 
cause, from the design to the designer. Or it may come 
by a "sunset touch." Back of the red, mysterious, ter- 
rible, silent depths, beyond the silent meeting place of 


sea and sky, there is an inscrutable power. In the pres- 
ence of it man is helpless as a stick or stone. He is as 
helpless, but more unhappy unhappy because of fear. 
With what assurance can we meet the infinite power? 
Its works in nature, despite all nature's beauty, are hor- 
rible in the infliction of suffering. And what if phys- 
ical suffering should not be all; what of the sense of 
guilt; what if the condemnation of conscience should 
be but the foretaste of judgment; what if contact with 
the infinite should be contact with a dreadful infinity 
of holiness; what if the inscrutable cause of all things 
should turn out to be, after all, a righteous God? 

This great beyond of mystery can Jesus help us 
there? Make Him as great as you will, and still He 
may seem to be insufficient. Extend the domains of 
His power far beyond our ken, and still there may seem 
to be a shelving brink with the infinite beyond. And 
still we are subject to fear. The mysterious power that 
explains the world still, we say, will sweep in and 
overwhelm us and our Saviour ; alike. We are of all 
men most miserable; we had trusted in Christ; He car- 
ried us a little on our way, and then left us, helpless 
as before, on the brink of eternity. There is for us no 
hope ; we stand defenseless at length in the presence of 
unfathomed mystery, unless a wild, fantastic thought 
unless our Saviour, this Jesus in whom we had 
trusted, were Himself in mysterious union with the 
eternal God. Then comes the full, rich consolation 
of God's Word- the mysterious sentence in Philippians: 
"who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery 
to be equal with God"; the strange cosmology of Col- 


ossians: "who is the image of the invisible God, the first- 
born of every creature: for by him were all things 
created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible 
and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, 
or principalities, or powers: all things were created by 
him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by 
him all things consist"; the majestic prologue of the 
Fourth Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and 
the Word was with God, and the Word was God"; the 
mysterious consciousness of Jesus: "All things are de- 
livered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth 
the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the 
Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son 
will reveal him." 

These things have been despised as idle speculation, 
but in reality they are the very breath of our Christian 
lives. They are, indeed, the battle ground of theolog- 
ians; the Church hurled anathemas at those who held 
that Christ, though great, was less than God. But 
those anathemas were beneficent and right. That dif- 
ference of opinion was no trifle; there is no such thing 
as "almost God." The thought is blasphemy; the next 
thing less than the infinite is infinitely less. If Christ 
be the greatest of finite creatures, then still our hearts 
are restless, still we are mere seekers after God. But now 
is Christ, our Saviour, the One who says, "Thy sins 
are forgiven thee," revealed as very God. And we be- 
lieve. It is the supreme venture of faith; faith can go 
no higher. Such a faith is a mystery to us who possess 
it; it is ridiculed by those who have it not. But if 
possessed it pvercomes the world. In Christ all things 


are ours. There is now for us no awful Beyond of 
mystery and fear. We cannot, indeed, explain the 
world, but we rejoice now that we- cannot explain it; 
to us it is all unknown, but it contains no mysteries for 
our Saviour; He is on the throne; He is at the centre; 
He is ground and explanation of all things; He pervades 
the remotest bounds; by Him all things consist. The 
world is full of dread, mysterious powers; they touch 
us already in a thousand woes. But from all of them 
we are safe. "Who shall separate us from the love of 
Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, 
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is 
written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we 
are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all 
these things we are more than conquerors through Him 
that loved us. - For I am persuaded, that neither death, 
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor 
things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor 
depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate 
us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our 


It has been shown in the last chapter that the Jesus 
who is presented in the New Testament is one whom a 
man can trust; there are no limits to His goodness and 
no limits to His power. But that presentation in it- 
self does not afford a sufficient basis for faith; no mat- 
ter how great and good be the Saviour, we cannot trust 
Him unless there be some contact specifically between 
ourselves and Him. Faith in a person involves not 
merely the conviction that the person trusted is able to 
save, but also the conviction that he is able and willing 
to save us; that there should be faith, there must be 
some definite relation between the person trusted and a 
specific need of the person who trusts. The men and 
women to whom Jesus said in the Gospels (in substance 
or in word) : "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace," 
all had very definite needs that they trusted Jesus to 
relieve. One was sick, one was deaf, one was blind; 
and when they came to Jesus they were not merely con- 
vinced that He was in general a powerful healer, but 
each of them was convinced, more or less firmly^ that 
He could heal his peculiar infirmity, and each of them 
sought healing in his own specific case. So it is with 
us today. It is not enough for us to know that Jesus 
is great and good; it is not enough for us to know that 
He was instrumental in the creation of the world and 



that He is now seated on the throne of all being. These 
things are indeed necessary to faith, but they are not 
all that is necessary; if we are to trust Jesus, we must 
come to Him personally and individually with some 
need of the soul which He alone can relieve. 

That need of the soul from which Jesus alone can 
save is sin. But when I say "sin," I do not mean 
merely the sins of the world or the sins of other people, 
but I mean your sin your sin and mine. Considera- 
tion of the sins of other people is the deadliest of moral 
anodynes; it relieves the pain of conscience, but it also 
destroys moral life. Very different is that conviction 
of sin which leads a man to have faith in Christ. 

That true conviction of sin appears as the prerequisite 
of faith in a great verse in the Epistle to the Galatians, 
which describes in briefest compass the true Christian 
way of approach to Christ. "Wherefore," says Paul, 
"the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto 
Christ." 1 No doubt Paul is referring specifically to the 
law of Moses as the schoolmaster to bring the Jews to 
Christ; but we are fully justified in giving the verse a 
far wider application. The particular way in which 
the Old Testament law, according to Paul, led the Jews 
to Christ was that it brought them to despair because 
of their sin, and so made them willing to accept the 
Saviour when He came. The "schoolmaster" of the 
Pauline figure of speech was not, in ancient life, a 
teacher; but he was a slave appointed in well-to-do fam- 
ilies of the time to go with the children to school and 
in general prevent them from having any liberty. The 

-1 Gal. iii: 24. 


figure of speech in that verse is only slightly varied, 
therefore, from that which appears just before, where 
the law is represented as a jailer. But for the law, 
Paul means, the Jews might have thought that their 
own righteousness was sufficient; hut every time that 
they were tempted to seek escape from condemnation, 
the high standard of the law showed to them how very 
far short they had come of the will of God, and so they 
were prevented from false hopes. 

Of course, this is only one aspect of the old dispensa- 
tion; even under the old dispensation, according to 
Paul, there was faith as well as law; the grace of God 
was revealed as well as His awful righteousness; the 
religion of the Old Testament is by no means repre- 
sented by Paul as one of unrelieved gloom. But so far 
as man's own efforts were concerned, the gloom, ac- 
cording to Paul, was complete; hope was to be found, 
not in man, but in God's gracious promise of a salva- 
tion that was to come, 

Thus the law of Moses, according to Paul, was a 
schoolmaster to bring the Jews to Christ because it pro- 
duced the consciousness of sin. But if so, it is natural 
to suppose that any revelation of the law of God which, 
like the law of Moses, produces the consciousness of sin 
may similarly serve as a schoolmaster unto Christ. In- 
deed we have direct warrant for this wide extension of 
the application of the verse. "When the Gentiles," 
Paul says in another passage, "which have not the law, 
do by nature the things contained in the law, these, 
having not the law, are a law unto themselves." 2 Here 

2 Rom. ii: 14. 


the law of Moses is plainly brought into relation to a 
law under which all men stand; the Old Testament 
Scriptures make the law of God plainer than it is to 
other men, but all men have received, in their con- 
sciences, some manifestation of God's will, and are with- 
out excuse when they disobey. However the law is 
manifested, then, whether in the Old Testament, or 
(still more clearly) in the teaching and example of 
Jesus, or in the voice of conscience, it may be a school- 
master to bring men to Christ if it produces the con- 
sciousness of sin. 

That is the old way of coming to Christ first peni- 
tence at the dread voice of the law, then joy at the gra- 
cious invitation of the Saviour. But that way, in rec- 
ent years, is being sadly neglected; nothing is 'more char- 
acteristic of present religious conditions than the loss of 
the consciousness of sin; confidence in human resources 
has now been substituted for the thankful acceptance 
of the grace of God. 

This confidence in human resources is expressed in 
many ways; it is expressed even in prayer. I remember 
a service which I attended a year or so ago in an attrac- 
tive village church. The preacher, who was a well-edu- 
cated, earnest man, had at least the courage of his con- 
victions, and gave expression to his optimistic religion 
of humanity not only in his sermon but also in his 
prayers. After quoting the verse in Jeremiah which 
reads, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and des- 
perately wicked," 3 he said, in effect (though I cannot 
remember his exact words) ; "O Lord, thou knowest 

8 Jer. xvii: 9. 


that we cannot accept this interpretation; for we believe 
that man does not will to do evil but fails only from 
lack of knowledge." That was at least frank and con- 
sistent, and I must confess that I had much more respect 
for it than for the pious phrases in which the modern 
religion of humanity is usually veiled. It was pagan- 
ism pure and simple, but it was at least a respectable 
paganism not afraid of plainness of speech. And in- 
deed it ought not to be forgotten that paganism can be 
a very respectable thing; the modern confidence in man 
is not unlike that of the ancient Stoics ; and Stoicism, 
with its doctrine of a universal human brotherhood and 
its anticipations of modern humanitarian effort, has 
some high ethical achievements to its account. 

But the gospel of paganism, ancient and modern, the 
gospel that a preacher, whom I heard preach recently, 
commended as "the simple gospel of human worth," 
has its limitations; its optimism remains, after all, upon 
the surface of life, and underneath there are depths that 
it can never touch. It is at any rate quite different 
from Christian belief; for at the root of Christianity is 
a profound consciousness of sin. Superficially, indeed, 
there is some similarity; the Modernist preacher speaks 
with apparent humility of the sad defects of human 
life, and of the need of divine assistance. But such 
humility does not touch the heart of the matter at all; 
indeed it really implies a similarity in kind, though not 
in degree, between what now is and what ought to be. 
Very different is the Christian attitude. To the Chris- 
tian, sin does not differ from goodness merely in the 
degree which achievement has attained ; but it is regarded 


as transgression of a law that is absolutely fixed; the 
pagan sense of imperfection is widely different from 
the Christian sense of sin. 

At the root of the, Christian attitude is a profound 
consciousness of the majesty of the moral law. But the 
majesty of the moral law is obscured in many ways at 
the present time, and most seriously of all in the sphere 
of education. Indeed, strangely enough, it is obscured 
in the sphere of education just by those who are be- 
coming most keenly conscious of the moral bankruptcy 
of modern life. There is something radically wrong 
with our public education, it is said; an education that 
trains the mind without training the moral sense is a 
menace to civilization rather than a help; and something 
must quickly be done to check the impending moral 
collapse. To meet this need, various provisions are 
being made for moral training in our American public 
schools; various ethical codes are being formed for the 
' instruction of children who are under the care of the 
State. But the sad thing is that these efforts are only 
making the situation tenfold worse; far from checking 
the ravages of immorality, they are for the most part 
themselves non-moral at the root. Sometimes they are 
also faulty in details, as when a recent moral code in- 
dulges in a veiled anti-Christian polemic by a reference 
to differences of "creed" that will no doubt be taken 
as belittling, and adopts the pagan notion of a human 
brotherhood already established, in opposition to the 
Christian notion of a brotherhood to be established by 
bringing men into a common union with Christ. But 
the real objection to some, if not all, 6f these efforts 


does not depend upon details; it depends rather upon 
the fact that the basis of the effort is radically wrong. 
The radical error appears with particular clearness in 
a "Children's Morality Code" recently proposed by 
"The Character Education Institution" in Washington. 
That code contains eleven divisions, the sub-headings 
of which are as follows: I, "Good Americans Control 
Themselves"; II, "Good Americans Try to Gain and 
Keep Good Health"; III, "Good Americans are Kind"; 
IV, "Good Americans Play Fair"; V, "Good Amer- 
icans are Self -Reliant"; VI, "Good Americans Do Their 
Duty"; VII, "Good Americans are Reliable"; VIII, 
"Good Americans are True"; IX, "Good Americans 
Try to do the Right Thing in the Right Way"; X, 
"Good Americans Work in Friendly Cooperation with 
Fellow-Workers"; XI, "Good Americans are Loyal." 

Here we have morality regarded as a consequence of 
patriotism; the experience of the nation is regarded as 
the norm by which a morality code is to be formulated. 
This (thoroughly non-moral) principle .appears in 
particularly crass form in "Point Two" of the Insti- 
tution's Five-Point Plan for Character Education in 
Elementary School Classrooms: "The teacher," says the 
pamphlet, "presents the Children's Morality Code as a 
reliable statement of the conduct which is considered 
right among boys and girls who are loyal to Uncle 
Sam, and which is justified by the experience of multi- 
tudes of worthy citizens 'who have been Uncle Sam's 
boys and girls since the foundation of the nation. The 
teacher advises the children to study this Morality Code 


in order to find out what Uncle Sam thinks is 
right, ..." 

But what of those not infrequent cases where what 
"Uncle Sam" thinks is right is what God thinks is 
wrong? To say to a child, "Do not tell a lie because 
you are an American," is at bottom an immoral thing. 
The right thing to say is, "Do not tell a lie because it 
is wrong to tell a lie." And I do not think that it is 
an unconstitutional intrusion of religion into the pub- 
lic schools for a teacher to say that. 

In general, the holier-than-thou attitude toward other 
peoples, which seems to be implied in the program of 
the Character Education Institution almost from begin- 
ning to end, is surely, at the present crisis in the history 
of the world, nothing short of appalling. The child 
ought indeed to be taught to love America, and to feel 
that whether it is good or bad it is our country. But 
the love of country is a very tender thing, and the 
best way to kill it is to attempt to inculcate it by 
force. And to teach, in defiance of the facts, that 
honesty and kindness and purity are peculiarly Amer- 
ican virtues this is surely harmful in the extreme. 
We blamed Germany, rightly or wrongly, for this kind 
of thing; yet now in the name of patriotism we advo- 
cate as truculent an inculcation of the same spirit as 
Prussia could ever have been accused of at its worst. 
Surely the only truly patriotic thing to teach the child 
is that there is one majestic moral law to which our own 
country and all the countries of the world are subject. 
But the most serious fault of this program for "char- 
acter building" is that it makes morality a product of 


experience, that it finds the norm of right conduct in 
the determination of that "which is justified hy the 
experience of multitudes of worthy citizens who have 
been Uncle Sam's boys and girls since the founda- 
tion of the nation." That is wrong, as we have al- 
ready observed, because it bases morality upon the ex- 
perience of the nation; but it would also be wrong if it 
based it upon the experience of the whole human race. 
A code which is the mere result of human experimenta- 
tion is not morality at all (despite the lowly etymolog- 
ical origin of our English word) , but it is the negation 
of morality. And certainly it will not work. Moral 
standards were powerful only when they "were invested 
with an unearthly glory and were treated as quite dif- 
ferent in kind from all rules of expediency. The truth 
is that decency cannot be produced without principle. 
It is useless to try to keep back the raging sea of passion 
with the flimsy mud-embankments of an appeal to ex- 
perience. Instead, there will have to be recourse again, 
despite the props afforded by the materialistic paternal- 
ism of the modern State, to the stern, solid masonry of 
the law of God. An authority which is man-made can 
never secure the reverence of man; society can endure 
only if it is founded upon the rock of God's commands. 
It will not now be possible to propose in full our 
own solution of the difficult educational problem of 
which we have just been speaking. We have indeed 
such a solution. Most important of all, we think, is 
the encouragement of -private schools and Church 
schools; a secularized public education, though perhaps 
necessary, is a necessary evil; the true hope of any 


people lies in a kind of education in which learning and 
piety go hand and hand. Christianity, we believe, is 
founded upon a body of facts; it is, therefore, a thing 
that must be taught; and it should be taught in Chris- 
tian schools. 

But taking the public school as an established insti- 
tution, and as being, under present conditions, neces- 
sary, there are certain ways in which the danger of that 
institution may be diminished. 

1. The function of the public school should be 
limited rather than increased. The present tendency to 
usurp parental authority should be checked. 

2. The public school should pay attention to the 
limited, but highly important, function which it is now 
neglecting namely, the impartation of knowledge. 

3. The moral influence of the public-school teacher 
should be exerted in practical rather than in theoretical 
ways. Certainly the (thoroughly destructive and im- 
moral) grounding of morality in experience should be 
avoided. Unfortunately, the true grounding of moral- 
ity in the will of God may, in our public schools, also 
have to be avoided. But if the teacher himself knows 
the absolute distinction between right and wrong, his 
personal influence, without theoretical grounding and 
without "morality codes," will appeal to the distinction 
between right and wrong which is implanted in the soul 
of the child, and the moral tone of the school will be 
maintained. We do not for a moment mean that that 
sort of training is sufficient; for the only true grounding 
of morality is found in the revealed will of God: but at 
least it will avoid doing harm. 


4. The public-school system should be kept healthy 
by the absolutely free possibility of the competition of 
private schools and Church schools, and the State should 
refrain from such regulation of these schools as to make 
their freedom illusory. 

5. Uniformity in education the tendency which 
is manifested in the proposal of a Federal department 
of education in the United States should be avoided 
as one of the very greatest calamities into which any 
nation can fall. 

6. The reading of selected passages from the Bible, 
in which Jews and Catholics and Protestants and others 
can presumably agree, should not be encouraged, and 
still less should be required by law. The real centre 
of the Bible is redemption ; and to create the impression 
that other things in the Bible contain any hope for 
humanity apart from that is to contradict the Bible at 
its root. Even the best of books, if it is presented in 
garbled form, may be made to say the exact opposite 
of what it means. 

7. Public-school children should be released at cer- 
tain convenient hours during the week, so that the 
parents, if they choose, may provide for their religious 
instruction; but the State should entirely refrain both 
from granting school credit for work done in these 
hours and from exercising any control whatever either 
?upon attendance or upon the character of the instruc- 

Such are in general the alternative proposals that we 
might make if we were dealing with the problem 
which has led to the efforts at "character building" of 


which we have .spoken. We recognize to the full the 
good motives of those who are making such efforts; 
but the efforts are vitiated by the false principle that 
morality is based upon experience; and so they will 
only serve, yet further, we fear, to undermine in the 
hearts of the people a sense of the majesty of the law 
of God. 

Certainly if there be no absolute law of God, there 
can be no consciousness of sin; and if there be no con- 
sciousness of sin, there can be no faith in the Saviour 
Jesus Christ. It is no wonder that many persons re- 
gard Jesus merely as the initiator of a "Christ life" into 
which they are perfectly able, without more ado, to 
enter; it is no wonder that they regard their lives as 
differing only in degree from His. They will never 
catch a real glimpse of the majesty of His Person and 
they will never understand His redeeming work, until 
they come again into contact with the majesty of the 
law. Then -and then only will they recognize their 
sin and need, and so come to that renunciation of all 
confidence in themselves which is the basis of faith. 

It must be admitted that this way of approach to 
Christ is often rough and thorny. That does not mean, 
indeed, that faith in Christ must always be preceded 
by agony of soul. Almost unlimited is the variety of 
Christian experience; and often faith seems to come 
at the same moment as contrition. The children of 
Christian parents, in particular, often come to trust 
Christ as their Saviour almost as soon as consciousness 
begins; these children of the covenant know the grace 
of God almost as soon as they know sin. But what- 


ever be the particular form of Christian experience, the 
way of approach to Christ through the law of God al- 
ways involves a rebuke to human pride. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that other ways of 
approach are often proposed. This way being rough 
and thorny, other ways are being sought. It seems 
hard to many men to enter into the Christian life 
through the little wicket gate; and many therefore are 
clambering up, over the wall. 

In the first place, there is the purely intellectual way. 
The claims of Christianity, it is said, must be investi- 
gated on their merits, by the use of a rigidly scientific 
method; and only if they are established as true may 
they be allowed to control the emotional and volitional 

For this method of approach, as will be clear from 
all that has been said in the preceding exposition, we 
have the warmest sympathy; indeed, we believe, there 
is nothing wrong with the method itself, so far as it 
goes, but the trouble lies in the application of the 
method. If a man were truly scientific, we think, he 
would be convinced of the truth of Christianity 
whether he were a saint or a demon; since the truth 
of Christianity does not at all depend upon the state of 
the soul of the investigator, but is objectively fixed. 
But the question is whether a method which ignores the 
consciousness of sin is really scientific or not; and the 
answer must be, we think, that it is not. If you take 
account of all the facts, you will be convinced of the 
truth of Christianity; but you cannot take account of 
all the facts if you ignore the fact of sin. You cannot 


take account of all the facts if, while searching the 
heavens above and the earth beneath, you neglect the 
facts of your own soul. 

Let us see how the ostensibly scientific approach to 
Christianity works out. In pursuance of it we begin 
in a systematic way; we bring forward, first, our ar- 
guments for the existence of a personal God. And I 
for my part believe that they are rather good argu- 
ments; they have not altogether been demolished, I 
think, by the criticism of Kant. If, then, we have 
established the existence of God, the question arises 
whether He has revealed Himself in such fashion as 
that personal communion with Him becomes possible 
for mankind. Probably it will be admitted that if 
He has done so at all, He has done so in the Christian 
religion ; Christianity will probably be admitted to offer 
the most plausible claim, at least,, among all the re- 
ligions of the world to be based upon a real revelation 
of God. But has even the Christian claim accredited 
itself? It has done so to put the matter in briefest 
compass and deal with it at the really crucial point 
if Jesus rose from the dead; it has not done so if He 
did not rise. Now there is certainly some evidence for 
the resurrection of Jesus. Admittedly His intimate 
friends believed that He had risen, and upon that be- 
lief the Church was founded. But what in turn caused 
that belief? Many answers have been proposed to this 
question; but none of them is thoroughly satisfactory, 
except the simple answer that the belief of the disciples 
was founded upon fact. So much will be rather widely 
admitted; the origin of the Christian Church is 


admittedly a very puzzling fact; only ignorance can 
deny the difficulty of the historical problem that it in- 
yolves for all naturalistic historians. 

But a difficulty, it will be said, is also found in the 
traditional solution, as well as in the naturalistic solu- 
tions. The difficulty appears in the supernatural char- 
acter of the alleged event. If the resurrection were an 
ordinary event, the evidence for it would admittedly be 
sufficient; but then as a matter of fact it is not an ordi- 
nary event but a miracle, and against the acceptance of 
any such thing there is an enormous weight of pre- 

This objection I for my part am not at all inclined 
to take lightly. Indeed, if the evidence for the resur- 
rection, as we have outlined it, stood alone, it might, 
I think, b'e insufficient. Even if a dozen men for whose 
character and attainments I had the highest respect were 
to come into the room and tell me, quite independently, 
that they had seen a man rise from the dead, I am not 
sure whether I should believe them for a moment. Why, 
then, do I accord to witnesses of so long ago witnesses 
too, who lived in a comparatively unscientific age 
(though its unscientific character is often enormously 
exaggerated) a degree of credence which I might re- 
fuse to trained observers of the present day? Why do 
I believe in the resurrection of Jesus when I might not 
. believe, even on the basis of overwhelming testimony, 
in the resurrection of one of my contemporaries? 

The question seems at first sight hard to answer, but 
the answer is really not so difficult as it seems. The 
answer is that I believe in the miracle which is at" the 


foundation of the Christian Church because in that case 
the question does not concern merely the resurrection 
of a person about whom I know nothing, a mere x or y, 
but it concerns specifically the resurrection of Jesus; and 
Jesus was like no person who has ever lived. It is un- 
believable, I say, that any ordinary man should be 
raised from the dead, but then Jesus was no ordinary 
man; in His case the enormous presumption against 
miracle is reversed; in His case, far from its being in- 
conceivable that He should have been raised, it is incon- 
ceivable that He should not have been raised; such an 
one as He could not possibly have been holden of 
death. Thus the direct evidence for the resurrection 
is supplemented by an impression of the moral unique- 
ness of Jesus' person. That does not mean that if 
we are impressed by the moral uniqueness of Jesus' per- 
son, the direct evidence for the resurrection is unneces- 
sary, or that the Christian can be indifferent to it; but 
it does mean that that impression must be added to the 
direct evidence in order to produce conviction. 

But how do we know that Jesus' moral character is 
absolutely unique? We do so only because of our con- 
viction of sin. Convinced of our own impurity, as re- 
vealed by the majesty of the divine law, we become con- 
vinced of His dissimilarity in kind from us, and thus 
we say that He alone was pure. Thus even in order to 
establish the fact of the resurrection, the lesson of the 
law must be learned. . 

In another way also the conviction of sin is neces- 
sary in order that we may believe in the resurrection of 
Christ and thus accept the claims of Christianity. The 


resurrection, as we have seen, if it really took place, was 
a miracle; it involved an intrusion of the creative power 
of God into the course of the world. So stupendous 
an event is difficult to accept unless we can detect for 
it an adequate purpose; and the adequate purpose is 
detected only by the man who is under conviction of 
sin. Such a man alone can understand the need of re? 
demption; he alone knows that sin has introduced a 
great rent into the very structure of the universe, which 
only a creative act of God can close. The truly peni- 
tent man rejoices in the supernatural; for he knows 
that nothing natural can possibly meet his need. He 
rejoices even in the new consciousness of the uniformity 
and unity of nature which has been so widely dissemi- 
nated by modern science; for that uniformity of nature 
only reveals with new clearness the sheer uniqueness of 
the redemption offered by Christ. 

Thus even in order to exhibit the truth of Christi- 
anity at the bar of reason, it is necessary to learn the les- 
son of the law. It is impossible to prove first that Chris- 
tianity is true, and then proceed on the basis of its truth 
to become conscious of one's sin ; for the fact of sin is 
itself one of the chief foundations upon which the proof 
is based. 

When that fact of sin is recognized, and when to 
the recognition of it is added a fair scrutiny of the his- 
torical evidence, then it seems thoroughly reasonable 
to believe that Christianity is true. Anyone whose 
mind is clear, no matter what his personal attitude may 
be, will, we think, accept the truth of Christianity; 
but no one's mind is clear who denies the facts of his 


own soul: in order to come to the Christian view of 
Christ it is necessary only to be scientific; but no one 
can be truly scientific who ignores the fact of sin. 

We are not ignoring the emotional and volitional 
aspects of faith; we are not denying that as a matter 
of fact, in, humanity as it is actually constituted, an in- 
tellectual conviction of the truth of Christianity is al- 
ways accompanied by a change of heart and a new 
direction for the will. That does not mean that Chris- 
tianity is true only for those who thus will to accept 
it, and that it is not true for others; on the contrary 
it is true, we think, even for the demons in hell as well' 
as for the saints in heaven, though its truth does the 
demons no good. But for a thing to be true is one 
thing and for it to be recognized as true is another; 
and in order that Christianity may be recognized as true 
by men upon this earth the blinding effects of sin must 
be removed. The blinding effects of sin are removed 
by the Spirit of God; and the Spirit chooses to do that 
only for those whom He brings by the new birth into 
the Kingdom of God. Regeneration, or the new birth, 
therefore, does not stand in opposition to a truly scien- 
tific attitude toward the evidence, but on the contrary 
it is necessary in order that that truly scientific attitude 
may be attained; it is not a substitute for the intellect, 
but on the contrary by it the intellect -is made to be a 
trustworthy instrument for apprehending truth. The 
true state of the case appears in the comprehensive an- 
swer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism to the ques- 
tion, "What is effectual calling?" "Effectual calling," 
says the Catechism, "is the work of God's Spirit, where- 


by, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening 
our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing 
our wills, He doth persuade and enable us to embrace 
Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel." That 
does justice to all aspects of the matter; conviction of 
ism and misery as the prerequisite of faith, the enlight- 
ening of a mind blinded by sin, the renewing of the 
will; and all these things produced by the Spirit of God. 

In the second place, instead of following the purely 
intellectual way that has just been discussed, men some- 
times try to come to Christ through the sense of beauty. 
And indeed it is a beautiful thing this life of Christ 
rising like a fair flower amid the foulness of the Roman 
Empire, this strange teaching so simple and yet so pro- 
found. But there is at least one objection to the sense 
of beauty as the way of approach to Christ it cannot 
be forced upon those who desire it not. There is no dis- 
puting about tastes: one man may admire Jesus, an- 
other may prefer the pagan glories of ancient Greece or 
of the Italian Renaissance; and if it is a merely~sthetic 
question, no universally valid decision can be attained. 
If the way of approach is merely through the sense of 
beauty, then the universality of the Christian religion, 
at any rate, must be given up. 

Is the life and teaching of Jesus, moreover, so beau- 
tiful after all? Jesus said some things that offend the 
sensibilities of many people, as when He spoke of the 
outer darkness and the everlasting fire, and of the sin 
that shall not be forgiven either in this world or in that 
which is to come. These things cannot be called exactly 
"pretty"; and by many men they are simply ignored. 


Some years ago I heard a preacher who, after the cus- 
tomary abuse of Calvin and others, obtained a smile 
from his congregation by quoting something that Cot- 
ton Mather had said about hell. The question that 
might have occurred to me as I listened was why the 
preacher had to go so far afield. Why should he have 
had recourse to Cotton Mather, when Jesus would have 
done just as well? There are words of Jesus about hell, 
just as terrible as any that can be found in the writings 
of the theologians; and those words might have obtained 
as good a smile from that congregation as the words 
of Jonathan Edwards or Cotton Mather or the rest. 

There is, however, one class of persons from whom 
those words would have obtained no such smile, and 
to whom they would have seemed not to mar one whit 
the beauty of the teaching of our Lord. These are the 
persons who have passed through the strange experience 
of the conviction of sin, the persons who hold the same 
view of sin and retribution that Jesus held. To such 
persons, and to such persons alone, the beauty of Jesus 
is without a flaw. That beauty cannot be appreciated 
without a knowledge of the holiness upon which it is 
based; and the holiness is unknown except to those who 
have been convicted of their own sin through learning 
the lesson of the law. 

In the third place, men try to come to Christ through 
the desire for companionship; they seek in' Him a friend 
who will be faithful when other friends depart. But 
companionship with Jesus is not always the comfort- 
able thing that it is sometimes thought to be; Jesus 
did not always make it easy to be a disciple of Him. 


"Let the dead bury their dead," He told the enthusiast 
who came eagerly to Him but was not willing at once 
to forsake all. "One thing thou lackest," He said to 
the rich young ruler, and the young man went sorrow- 
ing away. "He that is not with me," He said to men 
who wanted to enjoy His companionship without defi- 
nitely taking sides, "is against me," "If any man 
come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and 
wife, and children .... he cannot be my disciple." 
It was a very serious thing, in those Galilean days, to 
be a disciple of Christ. 

And it was a serious thing not only in the sphere of 
conduct but also in the sphere of thought. There could 
be no greater mistake than to suppose that a man in 
those days could think as he liked and still be a follower 
of Jesus. On the contrary the offence lay just as much 
in the sphere of doctrine as in the sphere of life; the 
exclusive claims of Jesus that a man should if neces- 
sary forsake all to follow Him were grounded in the 
stupendous view which He held of His own Person and 
mission; no man could really enjoy the companionship 
of Jesus who did not admit His absolute sway. . 

There were some indeed to whom His yoke was easy 
and His burden was light; there were some who re- 
joiced in His lofty demands as the very hope of their 
lives. These were the men who had come under the 
conviction of sin the sinners, who without a plea 
except in His mercy heard the gracious words, "Thy 
sins are forgiven thee." 

As it was then, so also it will be, today: the com- 
panionship of Jesus is indeed a gracious thing for bur- 


dened souls; but it is a terrible thing for those who 
have any trust in a righteousness of their own. No 
man can call Jesus friend who does not also call Him 
Lord; and no man can call Him Lord who could not 
say first; "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, 
Lord." At the root of all true companionship with 
Jesus, therefore, is the consciousness of sin and with it 
the reliance upon His mercy; to have fellowship with 
Him it is necessary to learn the terrible lesson of God's 

Finally, men seek to come to Christ through the 
desire for a worthy ideal; indeed that way is just now 
the most commonly followed of all. "I may not be 
very orthodox," says many a modern man, "but I am 
a Christian because I believe that the principles of Jesus 
will solve all the problems of my life and also all the 
problems of society." 

The most obvious objection to this way of approach 
to Jesus is that it will not work; an ideal is quite 
powerless to a man who is under the thraldom of sin; 
and the real glory of Jesus is that He breaks that thral- 
dom, and instead of giving merely guidance, as an ideal 
would do, gives also power. 

There is, however, also another objection. Jesus, 
it is said, can be taken as the supreme and perfect ideal 
for humanity. But is He really a perfect ideal? There 
is one difficulty which modern men find about taking 
Him as such the difficulty due to His stupendous 
claims. There can be no real doubt, in the mind of a 
historian who examines the facts, but that Jesus of 
Nazareth regarded Himself as the Messiah; and there 


can also be no real doubt but that He regarded Himself 
as the Messiah not merely in some lower meaning of 
the term, but in the lofty meaning by which it desig- 
nated the heavenly Son of Man, the glorious figure who 
appears in the seventh chapter of Daniel in the presence 
of the Ancient of Days. This Jesus of Nazareth, in 
other words, who is to be taken as the supreme moral 
ideal of the race, actually believed, as He looked out 
upon His contemporaries, that He was one day to sit 
upon the throne of God and be their Judge and the 
Judge of all the earth! Would not such a person have 
been, if not actually insane, at least unbalanced and 
unworthy of the full confidence of men? 

There is only one way of overcoming this difficulty 
it is to accept the lofty claims of Jesus as sober truth. 
If the claims are denied, then argue as men will the 
Galilean prophet ceases to be a supreme and perfect 
ideal. But the claims can be accepted as true only when 
one takes the same view of Jesus' mission as that which 
Jesus took, only when one regards Him as the divine 
Redeemer who came voluntarily into the world to save 
mankind from the guilt and power of sin. If Jesus 
is only an ideal, He is not a perfect ideal; for He claimed 
to be far more: but if He is the Saviour from sin, then 
He is the perfect Example that can never be surpassed. 
But He can be accepted as the Saviour from sin only 
by those who hold the same view of sin as that which 
He held; and that view can be held only by those who 
have learned the lesson of the law. 

The fact is, then, that there is no other way of 
coming to Christ except the old, old way that is found 


in the conviction of sin. The truth of Christianity 
cannot he established hy the intellect unless an impor- 
tant part of the argument is based upon the fact of sin 
which is revealed by the law of God; the beauty of 
Jesus, which attracts the gaze of men, cannot be appre- 
ciated without a knowledge of the holiness upon which 
~it is based; the companionship of Jesus is possible only 
to those who say first, in deep contrition; "Depart 
from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord"; the example 
of Jesus is powerless to those who are in the bondage 
of evil habit, and it is not even a perfect example unless 
He be the divine Redeemer that He claimed to be. The 
true schoolmaster to bring men to Christ is. found, 
therefore, now and always in the law of God- the law 
of God that gives to men the consciousness of sin. 

A new and more powerful proclamation of that law 
is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men 
would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had 
only learned the lesson of the law. As it is, they are 
turning aside from the Christian pathway; they are 
turning to the village of Morality, and to the house of 
Mr. Legality, who is reported to be very skillful in re- 
lieving men of their burdens. Mr. Legality has indeed 
in our day disguised himself somewhat, but he is the 
same deceiver as the one of whom Bunyan wrote. 
"Making Christ Master" in the life, putting into prac- 
tice "the principles of Christ" by one's own efforts 
these are merely new ways of earning salvation by one's 
own obedience to God's commands. And they are 
undertaken because of a lax view of what those com- 
mands are. So it always is: a low view of law always 


brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes 
.V a man a seeker after grace. Pray God that the high 
view may again prevail; that Mount Sinai may again 
overhang the path and shoot forth flames, in order that 
then the men of our time may, like Christian in the 
allegory, meet some true Evangelist, who shall point 
them out the old, old way, through the little wicket 
gate, to the place somewhat ascending where they shall 
really see the Cross and the figure of Him that did hang 
thereon, that at that sight the hurden of the guilt of 
sin, which no human hand could remove, may fall 
from their back into a sepulchre beside the way, and 
that then, with wondrous lightness and freedom and 
joy, they may walk the Christian path, through the 
Valley of Humiliation and the Valley of the Shadow 
of Death, and up over the Delectable Mountains, until 
at last they pass triumphant across the river into the 
City of God. 



If what we have said so far be correct, there is now 
living a Saviour who is worthy of our trust, even 
Christ Jesus the Lord, and a deadly need of our souls 
for: which we come to Him, namely, the curse of God's 
law, the terrible guilt of sin. But these things are not 
all that is needed in order that we may have faith. It 
is also necessary that there should be contact between 
the Saviour and our need. Christ is a sufficient Saviour; 
but what has He done, and what will He do, not 
merely for the men who were with Him in the days 
of His flesh, but for us? How is it that Christ touches 
our lives? 

The answer which the Word of God gives to that 
question is perfectly specific and perfectly plain. Christ 
touches our lives, according to the New Testament, 
through the Cross. We deserved eternal death, in ac- 
cordance with the curse of God's law; but the Lord 
Jesus, because He loved us, took upon Himself the guilt 
of our sins and died instead of us on Calvary. And 
faith consists simply in our acceptance of that wond- 
rous gift. When we accept the gift, we are clothed, 
entirely without merit of our own, by the righteousness 
of Christ; when God looks upon us, He sees not our 
impurity but the spotless purity of Christ, and accepts 
, us "as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness 

1 143 


of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone." 
That view of the Cross, it cannot be denied, runs 
counter to the mind of the natural man. It is not, 
indeed, complicated or obscure; on the contrary it is 
so simple that a child can understand, and what is really 
obscure is the manifold modern effort to explain the 
Cross away in such fashion as to make it more agreeable 
to human pride. But certainly it is mysterious, and 
certainly it demands for its acceptance a tremendous 
sense of sin and guilt. That sense of sin and guilt, that 
moral awakening of a soul dead in sin, is the work of 
the Spirit of God; without the Spirit of God no human 
persuasion will ever bring men to faith. -But that does 
not mean that we should be careless about the way in 
which we proclaim the gospel: because the proclama- 
tion of the message is insufficient to induce faith, it does 
not follow that it is unnecessary; on the contrary it 
is the means which the Spirit Himself graciously uses 
in bringing men to Christ. Every effort, therefore, 
should be made, with the help of God, to remove ob- 
jections to this "word of the Cross" and to present it 
in. all its gracious power. 

No systematic effort can indeed here be made to deal 
with the objections. 1 All that can be done is to men- 
tion one or two of them, in order that our present 
point, that the Cross of Christ is the special basis of 
Christian faith, may become plain. 

In the first placerthen, tEe view of the Cross which 
has just been outlined is often belittled as being merely 

* Some of them have heen dealt with briefly in Christianity and 
Liberalism, 1923, pp. 120-136, 


a "theory of the atonement." We can have the fact 
of the atonement, it is said, no matter what particular 
theory of it we hold, and indeed even without holding 
any particular theory of it at all. So this substitution- 
ary view, it is said, is after all only one theory among 

s This objection is based upon a mistaken view of the 
'distinction between fact and theory, and upon a some- 
what ambiguous use of the word "theory." What is 
meant by a "theory"? Undoubtedly the word often 
has rather an unfavorable sound; and the use of it in 
the present connection might seem to imply that the 
view of the atonement which is designated as a "theory" 
is a mere effort of man to explain in his own way what 
God has given. But might not God have revealed the 
"theory" of a thing just as truly as the thing itself; 
might He not Himself have given the explanation when 
He gave the thing? In that case the explanation just 
as, much as the thing itself comes to us with a divine 
authority, and it is impossible to accept one without 
accepting the other. 

We have not yet, however, quite gotten to the heart 
of the matter. Men say .that they accept the fact of 
the atonement without accepting the substitutionary 
theory of it, and indeed without being sure of any 
theory of it at all. The trouble with this attitude is 
that the moment we say "atonement" we have already 
overstepped the line , that separates fact from theory; an 
, "atonement" even in the most general and most indefi- 
nite sense that could conceivably be given to the word, 
cannot possibly be a mere fact, but is a fact as explained 



by its purpose and results. If we say that an event was 
an "atonement" for sin or an "atonement" in the sense 
of an establishment of harmony between God and man, 
we have done more than designate the mere external 
event. What we have really done is to designate the 
'event with an explanation of its meaning. So the 
atonement wrought by Christ can never be a bare fact, 
in the sense with which we are now dealing. The 
bare fact is simply the death of a Jew upon a cross in 
the first century of pur era, and that bare fact is entirely 
without value to anyone; what gives it its value is the 
explanation of it as a means by which sinful man was 
brought into the presence of God. It is impossible for 
us to obtain the slightest benefit from a mere contem- 
plation of the death of Christ; all the benefit comes 
from our knowledge of the meaning of that death, or 
in other words (if the term be used in a high sense) 
from our "theory" of it. If, therefore, we speak of the 
bare "fact" of the atonement, as distinguished from the 
"theory" of it, we are indulging in a misleading use of 
words; the bare fact is the death, and the moment we 
say "atonement" we have committed ourselves to a 
theory. The important thing, then, is, since we must 
have some theory, that the particular theory that we 
hold shall be correct. 

But, it may be said, might not God really have ac- 
complished some wonderful thing by the death of 
Christ without revealing to us, except in the most gen- 
eral terms, what it was? , Might He not have told us 
simply that our salvation depends upon the death of 
Christ without at all telling us why that is so? We 


answer that He certainly might have done so; but the 
question is whether He has actually done so. There 
are many things which He might conceivably have done 
and yet has not actually "done. Conceivably, for ex- 
ample, He might have saved us by placing us in a coa- 
dition of unconsciousness and then awakening us to a 
new life in whid? sin should have no place. But it is 
perfectly plain that as a matter of fact He has not done 
so; and even we, with our poor finite intelligence, may 
perhaps see that His way is better than that. So it is 
perfectly conceivable that He might have saved us by 
the death of Christ without revealing to us how He 
did so; in that case we should have tp prostrate our- 
selves before a crucifix with an understanding far lower 
than that which is found in the lowest forms of Roman 
Catholic piety. He might conceivably have treated us 
thus. But, thank God, He has not done so; thank 
God He has been pleased, in His infinite grace, to deal 
with us not as with sticks and stones, but as with per- 
sons; thank God He has been pleased to reveal to us 
in the Cross of Christ a meaning that stills the despair^ 
ing voice of conscience and puts in our hearts a song of 
joy that shall resound to His praise so long as eternity 

That richness of meaning is found only in the blessed 
doctrine that upon the Cross the Lord took our place, 
that He offered Himself "a sacrifice , to satisfy divine 
justice, and reconcile us to God." There a're indeed 
other ways of contemplating the Cross, and they should 
certainly not be neglected by the Christian man. But 
it is a sad and fatal mistake to treat those other ways 


as though they lay on the same plane with this one 
fundamental way; in reality the other "theories" of 
the atonement lose all their meaning unless they are 
taken in connection with this one blessed "theory." 
When taken with this way of looking upon the Cross, 
the other ways are full of helpfulness to the Christian 
man; but without it they lead only to confusion and 
despair. Thus the Cross of Christ is certainly a noble 
example of self-sacrifice; but if it be only a noble ex- 
ample of self-sacrifice, it has no comfort for burdened 
souls; it certainly shows how God hates sin; but if it 
does nothing but show how God hates sin, it only 
deepens our despair; it certainly exhibits the love of 
God, but if it does nothing but exhibit the love of God 
it is a mere meaningless exhibition which seems un- 
worthy of God. Many things are taught us by the 
Cross; but the other things are taught us only if the 
really central meaning is preserved, the central meaning 
upon which all the rest depends. On the cross the 
penalty of our sins was paid; it is as though we our- 
selves had died in fulfillment of the just curse of the 
law; the handwriting of ordinances that was against 
us was wiped out; and henceforth we have an entirely 
new life in the full favor of God. 

There is, however, another objection to this "word 
of the Cross." The objection comes from those who 
place faith in a person in opposition to acceptance of a 
doctrine, especially a doctrine that is based upon what 
happened long ago. Can we not, it is said, trust Christ 
as a present Saviour without accepting a doctrine that 
explains the death that He died in the first century of 


our era? This question, in one form or another, is 
often asked, and it is often answered in the affirmative. 
Indeed, the doctrinal message about Christ is of ten rep- 
resented as a barrier that needs to be done away in order 
that we may have Christ Himself; faith in a doctrine 
should be removed, it is said, in order that faith in a 
Person may remain. 

Whatever estimate may finally be made of this way 
of thinking, it must at any rate be admitted at the start 
that it involves a complete break with the primitive 
Chrisian Church. If any one thing must be clear to the 
historian, it is that Christianity at the beginning was 
founded squarely upon an account of things that had 
happened, upon a piece of news, or in other words, 
upon a "gospel." The matter is particularly clear in 
the summary which Paul in I Cor. xv. 3-7 gives of the 
primitive Jerusalem tradition: "How that Christ died 
for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he 
was buried, and that he rose again the third day accord- 
ing to the Scriptures." The earliest Christian Church 
in Jerusalem clearly was founded not merely upon what 
always was true but upon things that had happened, 
not merely upon eternal truths of religion but upon 
historical facts. The historical facts upon which it was 
founded were, moreover, not bare facts but facts that 
had a meaning; it was not only said that "Christ died" 
that would be (at least if the word "Christ" were 
taken as a mere proper name and not in the full, lofty 
signification of "Messiah") a bare fact- but it was 
said "Christ died for our sins," and that was a fact 


with the meaning of the fact in other words it was 
a doctrine. 

This passage is of course not isolated in the New 
Testament teaching, but is merely a summary of what 
is really the presupposition of the whole. Certainly the 
grounding of Christianity upon historical facts, upon 
events as distinguished from mere eternal principles, can- 
not be regarded as a point in which the apostolic Church 
was in contradiction to the teaching which Jesus Him- 
self gave in the days of His flesh, but finds it justifica- 
tion in the words which Jesus uttered. Of course if 
Jesus really, as the New Testament books all represent, 
came to use the language of a certain distinguished 
preacher not primarily to say something but to do 
something, and if that something was done by His death 
and resurrection, then it is natural that the full ex- 
planation of what was done could not be given until 
the death and resurrection had occurred. It is a great 
mistake, therefore, to regard the Sermon on the Mount 
as somehow more sacred or more necessary to the nur- 
ture of the Christian life than, for example, the eighth 
chapter of Romans. But although the full explanation 
of redemption could not be given until the redeeming 
event had taken place, yet our Lord did, by way of 
prophecy, even in the days of His flesh, point forward 
to what was to come. He did point forward to catas- 
trophic events by which salvation was to be given to 
men; all efforts to eliminate this element in His teaching 
about the Kingdom of God have failed. During Jesus' 
earthly ministry the redeeming work which the Old 
Testament prophets had predicted was still in the 


future; to the apostolic Church it was in the past: but 
both Jesus and the apostolic Church did proclaim, the 
one by way of prophecy, the other by way of historical 
testimony, an event upon which the hopes of believers based. 

Thus the notion that insistence upon the message of 
redemption through the death and resurrection of our 
Lord places a barrier between ourselves and Him was 
not shared by the earliest Christian Church; on the 
contrary, in the apostolic age that message was regarded 
as the source of all light and joy. And in the present 
instance, as in so many other instances, it can be shown 
that the apostles (and our Lord Himself) were right. 
The truth is that the whole opposition between faith in 
a person and acceptance of a message about the person 
must be given up. It is based, as we have already seen, 
upon a false psychology; a person cannot be trusted 
without acceptance of the facts about the person. But 
in the case of Jesus the notion is particularly false; for 
it is just the message about Jesus, the message that sets 
forth his Cross and resurrection, that brings us into 
contact with Him. Without that message He would be 
forever remote a great Person, but one with whom we 
could have no communion but . through that mes- 
sage He comes to be our Saviour. True communion 
with Christ comes not when a man merely says, in 
contemplating the Cross, "This was a righteous man," 
or "This was a son of God," but when he says with 
tears of gratitude and joy, "He loved me and gave Him- 
self for me." 

There is a wonderful clause in the Westminster 


Shorter Catechism which puts the true state of the -case- 
in classic form. "Faith in Jesus Christ," says the Cate- 
chism, "is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest 
upon Him alone for salvation, as He is offered to us in 
the gospel" In that last clause, "as He is offered to 
us in the gospel," we have -the, centre and core of the 
whole matter. The Lord Jesus Christ does us no 
good, no matter how great He may he, unless He is 
offered to us; and as a matter of fact He is offered to 
us in the good news of His redeeming work. There are 
other conceivable ways in which He might have been 
offered to us ; but this has the advantage of being God's 
way. And I rather think that in the long run we may 
come to see that God's way is best. 

At the beginning, it is true, there may be much that 
we cannot understand; there are things about the way 
of salvation that we may at first have to take in the 
fullest sense "on faith." The greatest offence of all, 
perhaps, is the wondrous simplicity of the gospel, which 
is so different from the plans which we on our part 
had made. Like Naaman the Syrian we are surprised 
when our rich fees and our letters of introduction are 
spurned, when all our efforts to save ourselves by our 
own character or our own good works are counted as 
not of the slightest avail. "Are not Abana and Phar- 
par, rivers of Damascus," we say, "better than all the 
waters of Israel?" Are not our own efforts to put into 
operation the "principles of Jesus," or to "make Christ 
Master" by our own efforts in our lives, better than this 
strange message of the Cross? But like Naaman we 
may find, if we put away our pride* if we are/willing to 


take God at His. word, if we confess that His way is 
best, that our flesh, so foul with sin, may come again 
like the flesh of a little child and we may be clean. 

And then will be revealed to us the fuller wonders 
of salvation; then, as the years go by, we shall come to 
understand ever more and more the glory of the Cross. 
It may seem strange at first that Christ should be 
offered to us not in some other way, but so specifically 
in this way; but as we grow in knowledge and in grace 
we shall come to see with increasing fullness that no 
way could possibly be better than this. Christ is offered 
to us not in general, but "in the gospel"; but in the gos- 
pel there is included all that the heart of man can wish. 

We ought never, therefore, to set present communion 
with Christ, as so many are doing, in opposition to the 
gospel; we ought never to say that we are interested 
in what Christ does for us now, but are not so much 
interested in what He did long ago. Do you know 
what soon happens when men talk in that way? Tht 
answer is only too plain. They soon lose all contact 
with the real Christ: what they call "Christ" in the 
soul soon comes to have little to do with the actual 
person, Jesus of Nazareth; their religion would really 
remain essentially the same if scientific history should 
prove that such a person as Jesus never lived. In other 
words, they soon came to substitute the imaginings of 
their own hearts for what God has revealed; they sub- 
stitute mysticism for Christianity as the religion of their 

That danger should be avoided by the Christian man 
with all his might and main. God has given us an 


anchor for our souls; He has anchored us to Himself 
by the message of the Cross. Let us never cast that 
anchor off; let us never weaken our connection with 
the events upon which our faith is hased. Such de- 
pendence upon the past will never prevent us from hav- 
ing present communion with Christ; our communion 
with Him will be as inward, as intimate, as untram- 
melled by any barriers of sense, as the communion of 
which the mystics boast; but unlike the communion of 
the mystics it will be communion not with the imagin- 
ings of our own hearts, but with the real Saviour Jesus 
Christ. The gospel of redemption through the Cross 
and resurrection of Christ is not a barrier between us 
and Christ, but it is the blessed tie, by which, with the 
cords of His love, He has bound us forever to Him. 

Acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ, as He is offered 
to us in the gospel of His redeeming work, is saving 
faith. Despairing of any salvation to be obtained by 
our own efforts, we simply trust in Him to save us; 
we say no longer, as we contemplate the Cross, merely 
"He saved others" or "He saved the world" or "He 
saved the Church"; but we say, every one of us, by the 
strange individualizing power of faith, "He loved we 
and gave Himself for me." When a man once says 
that, in his heart and not merely with his lips, then no 
matter what his guilt may be, no matter how far he 
is beyond any human pale, no matter how little oppor- 
tunity he has for making good the evil that he has 
done, he is a ransomed soul, a child of God forever. 

At this point, a question may perhaps be asked. We 
have said that saving faith is acceptance of Christ, not 


merely in general, but as He is offered to us in the gos- 
pel. How much, then, of the gospel, it may be asked, 
does a man need to accept in order that he may be saved; 
what, to put it baldly, are the minimum doctrinal re- 
quirements in order that a man may be a Christian? 
That is a question which, in one form or another, I 
am often asked; but it is also a question which I have 
never answered, and which I have not the slightest in- 
tention of answering now. Indeed it is a question 
which I think no human being can answer. Who can 
presume to say for certain what is the condition of 
another man's soul; who can presume to say whether 
the other man's attitude toward Christ, which he can 
express but badly in words, is an attitude of saving 
faith or not? This is one of the things which must 
surely be left to God. 

There is indeed a certain reason why it is natural to 
ask the question to which we have just referred; it is 
natural because of the existence of a visible Church. 
The visible Church should strive to receive, into a com- 
munion for prayer and fellowship and labor, as many as 
possible of those who are united to Christ in saving 
faith, and it should strive to exclude as many as pos- 
sible of those who are not so united to Him. If it does 
not practise exclusion as well as inclusion, it will soon 
come to stand for nothing at all, but will be merged in 
the life of the world; it will soon become like salt that 
has lost its savour; fit only to be cast out and to be 
trodden under foot of men. 

In order, therefore, that the purity of the Church 
may be preserved, a confession of faith in Christ must 


be required of all those who would become Church 
members. But what kind of confession must it be? I 
for my part think that it ought to be not merely a ver- 
bal confession, but a credible .confession. One of the 
very greatest evils of present-day religious life, it seems 
to me, is the reception into the Church of persons who 
merely repeat a form of words such as "I accept Christ 
as my personal Saviour," without giving the slightest 
evidence to show that they know what such words 
mean. As a consequence of this practice, hosts of per- 
sons are being received into the Church on the basisras 
has been well said, of nothing more than a vague ad- 
miration for the moral character of Jesus, or else on 
the basis of a vague purpose of engaging in humani- 
tarian work. One such person within the Church does 
more harm to the cause of Christ, I for my part believe, 
than ten such persons outside; and the whole practice 
ought to be radically changed. The truth is that the 
ecclesiastical currency in our day has been sadly debased; 
Church membership, as well as Church office, no longer 
means what it ought to mean. In view of such a sit- 
uation, we ought, I think, to have reality at least; in- 
stead of comforting ourselves with columns of church 
statistics, we ought to face the facts; we ought to re- 
call this paper currency and get back to a standard of 

To that end, it should, I think, be made much 
harder than it now is to enter the Church: the confes- 
sion of faith that is required should be a credible con- 
fession; and if it becomes evident upon examination 
that a candidate has no notion of what he is doing, he 


should be advised to enter upon a course of instruction 
before he becomes a member of the Church. Such a 
course of instruction, moreover, should be conducted 
not by comparatively untrained laymen, but ordinarily 
by the ministers; the excellent institution of the cate- 
chetical class should be generally revived. Those 
churches, like the Lutheran bodies in America, which 
have maintained that institution, have profited enor- 
mously by its employment; and their example deserves 
to be generally followed. 

After all, however, such inquiries into the state of 
the souls of men and women and children who desire 
to enter into the Church must be regarded as at the 
best very rough and altogether provisional. Certainly 
requirements for Church membership should be dis- 
tinguished in the sharpest possible way from require- 
ments for the ministry. The confusion of these two 
things in the ecclesiastical discussions of the past few % 
years has resulted in great injustice to us who are called 
conservatives in the Church. We have been represented 
constantly as though we were requiring an acceptance of 
the infallibility of Scripture or of the confession of faith 
of our Church from those who desire to become Church 
members, whereas in point of fact we have been re- 
quiring these things only from candidates for ordina- 
tion. Surely there is a very important distinction here. 
Many persons to take a secular example can be ad- 
mitted to an educational institution as students who yet 
are not qualified for a position in the faculty.. Similarly 
many persons can be admitted to Church membership 
who yet ought not to be admitted to the ministry; they 


are qualified to learn, but not qualified to teach; they 
should not be allowed to stand forth as accredited 
teachers with the official endorsement of the Church. 
This analogy, it is true, does not by any means al- 
together hold: the Church is not, we think, merely an 
educational institution, but the visible representative in 
the world of the body of Christ; and its members are 
not merely seekers after God, but those who have al- 
ready found; they are not merely interested in Christ, 
but are united to Christ by the regenerating act of the 
Spirit of God. Nevertheless, although the analogy does 
not fully hold, it does hold far enough to illustrate 
what we mean. There is a wide margin of difference be- 
tween qualifications for Church membership and qual- 
ifications for office especially the teaching office that 
we call the ministry. Many a man, with feeble, strug- 
gling belief, torn by many doubts, may be admitted 
into the fellowship of the Church and of the sacra- 
ments; it would be heartless to deprive him of the com- 
fort which such fellowship affords; to such persons 
the Church freely extends its nurture to the end that 
they may be led into ever fuller knowledge and ever 
firmer faith. But to admit such persons to the ministry 
would be a crime against Christ's little ones, who look 
to the ministry for an assured word as to the way by 
which they shall be saved. It is not, however, even 
such persons to whom chiefly we have reference when 
we advocate today a greater care in admitting men to 
the ministry. It is not men who are struggling with 
doubts and difficulties about the gospel to whose admis- 
sion we chiefly object, but men who are perfectly satis- 


fied with another gospel; it is not men of ill-assured 
faith, but men of assured unbelief. 

Even with regard to Church membership, as dis- 
tinguished from the ministry, there is, as we have seen, 
a limit beyond which exclusion must certainly be prac- 
tised; not only a desire to enter the Church should be 
required but also some knowledge of what entering the 
Church means, not only a confession of faith but a 
reasonably credible confession. But the point that we 
are now making is that such requirements ought clearly 
to be recognized as provisional; they do not determine 
a man's standing before God, but they only determine, 
with the best judgment that God has given to feeble 
and ignorant men, a man's standing in the visible 
Church. That is one reason why we must refuse to 
answer, in any definite and formal way, the question 
as to the minimum doctrinal requirements that are 
necessary in order that a man may be a Christian. 

There is, however, also another reason. The other 
reason is that the very asking of the question often be- 
tokens an unfortunate attitude with regard to Christian 
truth. For our part We have not much sympathy with 
the present widespread desire of finding some greatest 
common denominator which shall unite men of dif- 
ferent Christian bodies; for such a greatest common 
denominator is often found to be very small indeed. 
Some men seem to devote most of their energies to the 
task of seeing just how little of Christian truth they 
can get along with. For our part, we regard it as a 
perilous business; we prefer, instead of seeing how little 
of Christian truth we can get along with, to see just 


how much of Christian truth we can obtain. We 
ought to search the Scriptures reverently and thought- 
fully and pray God that he may lead us into an ever 
fuller understanding of the truth that can malce us wise 
unto salvation. There is no virtue whatever in ignor- 
ance, but much virtue in a knowledge of what God has 



We have been engaging, in the latter part of the 
last chapter, in something like a digression, and it is 
time to return to the point at which we left off. When 
a man, we observed, accepts Christ, not in general but 
specifically "as He is offered to us in the gospel," such 
acceptance of Christ is saving faith. It may involve a 
smaller or a greater amount of knowledge. The 
greater the amount of knowledge which it involves, the 
better for the soul; but even a smaller amount of 
knowledge may bring a true union with Christ. When 
Christ, as he is offered to us in the gospel of His re- 
deeming work, is thus accepted in faith, the soul of 
the man who believes is saved. 

That salvation of the Christian, in one of its aspects, 
is called "justification by faith;" and the doctrine of 
justification by faith must be considered specifically, 
though briefly, at the present point in our discussion. 

There will perhaps, however, be an objection to the 
terminology that we are venturing to employ. "Justi- 
fication," it will be said, is a distressingly long word; 
and as for the word "doctrine," that has a forbidding 
sound. Instead of such terminology surely we ought 
to find simpler words which will bring the matter home 
to modern men in language sucE as they are accustomed 
to use. 



This suggestion is typical of what is often being said 
at the present time. Many persons are horrified by the 
use of a theological term; they seem to have a notion 
that modern Christians must be addressed always in 
words of one syllable, and that in religion we must 
abandon the scientific precision of language which is 
found to be so useful in other spheres. In pursuance 
of this tendency we have had presented to us recently 
various translations of the Bible which reduce the Word 
of God more or less thoroughly to the language of the 
modern street, or which, as the matter was put recently 
in my hearing by an intelligent layman, "take all the 
religion out of the New Testament." But the whole 
tendency, we for our part think, ought to be resisted, 
Back of it all seems to lie the strange assumption that 
modern men, particularly modern university men, can 
never by any chance learn anything; they do not under- 
stand the theological terminology which appears in 
such richness in the Bible, and that is regarded as the 
end of the matter; apparently it does not occur to any- 
one that possibly they might with profit acquire the 
knowledge of Biblical terminology which now they 
lack. But I for my part am by no means ready to 
acquiesce. I am perfectly ready, indeed, to agree that 
the Bible and the modern man ought to be brought 
together. But what is not always observed is that 
there are two ways of attaining that end. One way is 
to bring the Bible down to the level of the modern 
man; but the other way is to bring the modern man up 
to the level of the Bible. For my part, I am inclined to 
advocate the latter way. And I am by no means ready 


to relinquish the advantages of a precise terminology in 
summarizing Bible truth. In religion as well as in 
other spheres a precise terminology is mentally eco- 
nomical in the end; it repays amply the slight effort 
required for the mastery of it. Thus I am not at all 
ashamed to speak, even in this day and generation, of 
"the doctrine of justification by faith." 

It should not be supposed, however, that that doc- 
trine is an abstruse or intricate thing. On the contrary 
it is a very simple thing, and it is instinct with life. 

It is an answer to the greatest personal question ever 
asked by a human soul the question: "How shall I 
be right with God; how do I stand in God's sight; 
with what favor does He look upon me?" There are 
those, it must be admitted, who never raise that ques- 
tion; there are those who 'are concerned with the ques- 
tion of their standing before men, but never with the 
question of their standing before God; there are those 
who are interested in what "people say," but not in the 
question what God says. Such men, however, are not 
those who move the world; they are apt to go with 
the current; they are apt to do as others do; they are 
not the heroes who change the destinies of the race. 
The beginning of true nobility comes when a man 
ceases to be interested in the judgment of men, and 
becomes interested in the judgment of God. 

But if we can gain that much insight, if we have 
become interested in the judgment of God, how shall 
we stand in that judgment? How shall we become 
right with God? The most obvious answer is: "By 
obeying the law of God, by being what God wants us 


to be.*' There is absolutely nothing wrong in theory 
about that answer; the only trouble is that for us it does 
not work. If we had obeyed the law of God, if we 
were what God wants us to be, all would no doubt be 
well; we could approach the judgment seat of God and 
rely simply upon His just recognition of the facts. 
But, alas, we have not obeyed God's law, but have 
transgressed it in thought, word and deed; and far 
from being what God wants us to be, we, are stained 
and soiled with sin. The stain is not merely on the 
surface; it is not a thing that can easily be wiped off; but 
it permeates the recesses of our souls. And the clearer 
be our understanding of God's law, the deeper becomes 
our despair. Some men seek a refuge from condemna- 
tion in a low view of the law of God; they limit the 
law to external commands, and by obeying those com- 
mands they hope to buy God's favor. But the moment 
a man gains a vision of the law as it is especially as it. 
is revealed in the words and example of Jesus at that 
moment he knows that he is undone. If our being right 
with God depends upon anything that is in us, we are 
without hope. 

Another way, however, has been opened into God's 
presence; and the opening of that way is set forth in 
the gospel. We deserved eternal death; we deserved 
exclusion from the household of God; but the Lord 
Jesus took upon Himself all the guilt of our sins and 
died instead of us on the cross. Henceforth the law's 
demands have been satisfied for us by Christ, its terror 
for us is gone, and clothed no longer in our righteous- 
ness but in the righteousness of Christ we stand without 


fear, as Christ would stand without fear, before the 
judgment seat of God. Men say that that is an intri- 
cate theory; but surely the adjective is misplaced. It is 
mysterious, but it is not intricate; it is wonderful, but 
it is so simple that a child can understand. 

Two objections to the doctrine of justification, how- 
ever, need to be considered even in a brief presentation 
such as that in which we are now engaged. 

In the first place, it is said, "justification" is a 
"forensic" term; it is borrowed, that is, from the law- 
courts; it smells of musty volumes bound in legal calf; 
and we moderns prefer other sources for our figures of 
speech; we prefer to conceive of salvation in a vital, 
rather than in a legal, way. 

In answer it may be said, of course, that justification 
by faith is by no means all of the Christian doctrine of 
salvation; it has as its other side the doctrine of regen- 
(eration or the new birth. What the Christian has from 
God is not merely a new and right relation to Him in 
which the guilt of sin is wiped out, but also a new life 
in which the power of sin is broken; the Christian 
view of salvation isj^ljas. well as forensic. This 
modern way of thinking, on the other hand, errs in 
being one-sided; it errs, not indeed in insisting upon the 
"vital" aspect of salvation, but in maintaining that 
salvation is only vital. When the vital aspect of salva- 
tion is thus separated from the forensic aspect, the con- 
sequences are serious indeed; what really happens is that 
'-the whole ethical character of Christianity is endangered 
or destroyed. It is important to understand that the 
Christian has a new life in addition to a new standing 


before the judgment seat of God; but to be interested 
in the new life to the exclusion of the new standing 
before God is to deprive the new life of its moral sig- 
nificance. For it is only as judged in accordance with 
some absolute norm of righteousness that that new life 
differs from the life of plants or beasts, , 

The ultimate question, however, that is involved in 
the objection concerns the validity of retributive justice. 
The objection regards as derogatory to the doctrine of 
justification the fact that it uses the language of the 
law-courts. But is that fact really derogatory to the 
doctrine? We for our part think that it is not, for the 
simple reason that we hold a totally different view of . 
the law-courts from the view that the objector holds. 
At this point, as at so many other points, there is re- 
vealed the far-reaching character of the disagreement 
in the modern religious world. The disagreement con- 
cerns not merely what is ordinarily called religion, but 
it concerns almost every department of human life. In 
particular it concerns the underlying theory of human 

The objector regards as derogatory the fact that our 
doctrine of justification uses the language of the law- 
courts. But he does so only because of the limited func- 
tion with which according to his view the law-courts 
must be content. According to his view our courts of 
law are concerned only with the reform of the criminal 
or the protection of society; in connection with our 
courts he thinks that the whole notion of retributive 
justice must be given up. Very different is our view; 
and because it is different, the fact that the doctrine of 


justification uses legal language appears to us to be not 
a reproach but a high commendation. Courts, we 
think, even human courts, far from exercising a merely 
utilitarian function, are founded upon a principle that is 
rooted in the very being of God. They do, indeed, 
also exercise the utilitarian functions of which we have 
just spoken; they do seek the reform of the criminal and 
the protection of society: and they must never allow 
these considerations to be forgotten. But back of all 
that lies the irreducible fact of retributive justice. We 
do not mean that human judges can ever speak in any 
infallible way with the voice of God; human limita- 
tions must constantly be borne in mind; a truly just 
and final settlement must often be left to a higher As- 
size. But still, when all that and more is admitted, 
there remains a basis of eternal significance in every true 
court of law. That significance is, indeed, today often 
obscured; the low utilitarian theory of which we have 
just spoken has invaded only too frequently our court- 
rooms, and put trivial consideration of consequences in 
place of the majesty of the law. Men are complaining 
of the result, but are not willing to deal with the cause. 
They are complaining loudly of the growth of crimi- 
nality; they are feverishly filling statute books with all 
sorts of prohibitions; they are trying their best to pre- 
vent the disintegration of society. But the whole ef- 
fort is really quite vain. The real trouble does not lie 
in the details of our laws, but in the underlying con- 
ception of what law is. . 

Even in the field of detail, it is true, there is room for 
improvement improvement in a very different direc- 


tion, however, from that in which contemporary law- 
makers are accustomed to turn, improvement in the di- 
rection not of increased multiplication of statutes, but 
of a return to simplicity. Instead of the mass of trivial 
and often irksome prohibitions which now clog our 
statute books, legislatures ought to content themselves 
with what is demanded by the overwhelming moral 
judgment of the people; one way to encourage respect 
for law, we think, would be to make law more respect- 
able. The real trouble, however, is more fundamental 
than all that; it lies, not in matters of detail, but in the 
underlying principle. Respect for human laws cannot, 
in the long run, be maintained unless there is such a 
thing, in the ultimate constitution of things, as justice; 
mere utilitarianism will never check the rebellion of the 
flesh; human judges will be respected only when again 
they are clothed with a majesty which issues ultimately 
from the law of God. 

It is not, therefore, at all derogatory to the doctrine 
of justification that it uses the language of a court of 
law; for a court of law represents in obscure fashion, 
it is true a fact in the being of God. Men say indeed 
that they prefer to conceive of God as a Father rather 
than as a Judge; but why must the choice be made? 
The true way to conceive of Him is to conceive of Him 
both as a Father and as a Judge. Fatherhood, as we 
know it upon this earth, represents one aspect of God; 
but to isolate that aspect is to degrade it and deprive it of 
its ethical quality. Important indeed is the doctrine of 
the Fatherhood of God; but it would not be important 



if it were not supplemented by the doctrine of God as 
the final Judge. 

The other objection to the Christian doctrine of jus- 
tification can be dealt with just as briefly; since the ob- 
jection, upon examination, soon disappears. Justifica- 
tion, we are told, involves a mere legal trick which is 
derogatory to the character of God; according to this 
doctrine, it is said, God is represented as waiting until 
Christ has paid the price of sin as a substitute for the 
sinner before He will forgive; He is represented as being 
bought off by the death of Christ so that He pronounces 
as righteous in His sight those who are not really right- 
eous at all, "How degrading all that is," the modern 
man exclaims; "how much better it would be simply 
to say that God is more willing to forgive than man is 
willing to be forgiven!" Thus the doctrine of justifi- 
cation is represented as doing despite to the love of God. 

This objection ignores a fundamental feature of the 
doctrine which is being criticized; it ignores the fact 
that according to the Christan view it is God Himself 
and not someone else who in the atoning death of Christ 
pays the price of sin- God Himself in the person of the 
Son who loved us and gave Himself for us, and God 
Himself in the person of the Father who so loved the 
world that He gave His only begotten Son. For us, 
the Christian holds, salvation is as free as the air we 
breathe; God's alone the cost, and ours the wondrous 
gain. Such a view exalts the love of God far more 
than is ever done by modern theories as to the forgive- 
ness of sin: for those theories are alike in denying, in 
the last analysis, the dreadful reality and irrevocableness 


of guilt; they seek to save the love of God by denying 
the moral constitution of His universe, and in doing so 
they finally destroy even that which they started out 
to conserve; the divine love which they seek to save at 
the expense of His justice turns out to he hut an easy 
complacency which is no love at all. It is misleading to 
apply the term "love" to a sentiment that costs noth- 
ing. Very different is the love of which the Bible 
speaks; for that love brought the Lord Jesus to the 
cross. The Bible does not hold out hopes to the sinner 
by palliating the fact of sin; on the contrary it proclaims 
that fact with a terrible earnestness which otherwise has 
not been known. But then, on the basis of this ruthless 
illumination of the moral facts of life, it provides a full 
and complete and absolutely free way of escape through 
the sacrifice of Christ. 

No doubt that way is not of our own choosing; and 
no doubt it may seem strange. It may seem to be a 
strange thing that One should bear the guilt of others' 
sins. And indeed for anyone save Christ that would 
have been far beyond even the power of love. It is per- 
fectly true that one man cannot bear the guilt of another 
man's sins; the instances of "vicarious" suffering in 
human life, which have been brought to our attention 
as 'being in the same category with the sufferings of 
Christ, serve only to show how far the men who adduce 
them are from comprehending what is meant by the 
Cross. But because a weak and sinful man cannot bear 
the guilt of others' sins, it does not follow that Christ 
cannot do so. And as a matter of fact, thank God, He 
has done so; at the Cross the burden of men's sins has 


rolled away, and there has come a peace with God that 
the world can never know. We are certainly not in- 
tending to exalt emotion at the expense of objective 
proof; we are opposed with all our might to the substi- 
tution of "experience" as the seat of authority in reli- 
gion for the Word of God: but the Holy Spirit in the 
individual soul does bear witness, we think, to the 
truthfulness of the Word, and does bear witness to the 
saving efficacy of the Cross, when He cries "Abba, 
Father" in our hearts. That cry, we think, is a true 
echo of the blessed sentence of acquittal, the blessed 
"justification," which a sinner receives when Christ is 
His advocate at the judgment seat of God. 

We have been speaking of "justification." It de- 
pends, we have seen, altogether upon the redeeming 
work of Christ, But another very important question 
remains. If justification depends" upon the redeeming 
work of Christ, how is the benefit of that redeeming 
work applied to the individual soul? 

The most natural answer might seem to be that the 
soul applies the benefit of Christ's work to itself by its 
own appropriation of that work; it might seem natural 
to regard the merits of Christ as a sort of fund or store 
which can be drawn upon at will by individual men. 
But if one thing is clear, it is that such is not the teach- 
ing of the Word of God; if one thing is plain, it is that 
the New Testament presents salvation, or the entrance 
into God's Kingdom, as the work not of man, but of 
God and only of God. The redeeming work of Christ 
is applied to the individual soul, according to the New 
Testament, by the Holy Spirit and by Him alone. 


What then do we mean when we speak of "justifica- 
tion by faith"? Faith, after all, is something in man; 
and therefore if justification depends upon our faith it 
depends apparently upon us as well as upon God. 

The apparent contradiction is welcome; since it leads 
on to a true conception of faith. The faith of man, 
rightly conceived, can never stand in opposition to the 
completeness with which salvation depends upon God; 
it can never mean that man does part, while God merely 
does the rest; for the simple reason that faith consists 
not in. doing something but in receiving something. To 
say that we are justified hy faith is just another way of 
saying that we are justified not in slightest measure by 
ourselves, but simply and solely by the One in whom 
our faith is reposed. 

At this point appears the profound reason for what 
at first sight might seem to be a surprising fact. Why 
is it that with regard to the attainment of salvation the 
New Testament assigns such an absolutely exclusive 
place to faith; why does it not also speak, for example, 
of our being justified by love? If it did so, it would 
certainly be more in accord with modern tendencies; 
indeed, one popular preacher actually asserts that Paul's 
fundamental doctrine was salvation by love rather than 
justification by faith. 1 But of course that only means 
making the wish the father to the thought; as a'matter 
of fact, whether we like it or not, it is perfectly clear 
that Paul did not speak of salvation by love, but 
that he spoke instead of justification by faith. Surely 
the thing requires an explanation; and certainly it does 

1 Charles E. Jefferson, The Character of Paul, 1923, p, 323. 


not mean that the apostle was inclined to depreciate love. 
On the contrary in one passage he expressly places love 
ahead of faith. "And now abideth faith, hope, love," 
he says, "these three; but the greatest of these is love." 3 
Why then, if he places love higher, does he attribute, so 
far as the attainment of salvation is concerned, such an 
absolutely exclusive place to faith? And why did not 
Jesus say: "Thy love hath saved thee, go in peace," but 
rather: "Thy faith hath saved three"? Why did He 
say only that to the men and women who came to Him 
in the days of His flesh; and why does He say only that, 
in accordance with the whole New Testament, to bur- 
dened souls- today? 

The answer to this question is really abundantly 
plain. The true reason why faith is given such an ex- 
clusive place by the New Testament, so far as the attain- 
ment of salvation is concerned, over against love and 
over against everything else in man except things that 
can be regarded as mere aspects of faith, is that faith 
means receiving something, not doing something or even 
being something. To say, therefore, that our faith 
saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in 
slightest measure, but that God saves us. Very different 
would be the case if our salvation were said to be 
through love; for then salvation would depend. upon a 
high quality of our own. And that is what the New 
Testament, above all else, is concerned to deny. The 
very centre and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine 
of the grace of God the 'grace of God which depends 
not one whit upon anything that is in man, but is abso- 

2 1 Cor. xiii: 13. 


lutely undeserved, resistless and sovereign. The theo- 
logians of the Church can be placed in an ascending scale 
according as they have grasped with less or greater clear- 
ness that one great central doctrine, that doctrine that 
gives consistency to all the rest; and Christian experi- 
ence also depends for its depth and for its power upon 
the way in which that blessed doctrine is cherished in 
the depths of the heart. The centre of the Bible, and 
the centre of Christianity, is found in the grace of God; 
and the necessary corollary of the grace of God is salva- 
tion through faith alone. 

We are brought at this point to a profound fact 
about faith, a fact without which everything else that 
we have tried to say would be valueless. The fact to 
which we refer is this: that it is not as a quality of the 
soul that faith saves a man, but only as the establishment 
of contact with a real object of the faith. 

This fact, in present-day thinking, is generally de- 
nied; and from the denial of it proceed many of the 
evils, intellectual and otherwise, which beset the religious 
world. Faith is, indeed, nowadays being exalted to the 
skies; but the sad fact is that this very exaltation of faith 
is leading logically and inevitably to a bottomless skep- 
ticism which is the precursor of despair. 

The whole trouble is that faith is being considered 
merely as a beneficent quality of the soul without re- 
spect to the reality or unreality of its object; and the 
moment faith comes to be considered in that way, in 
that moment it is destroyed. 

Yet at first sight the modern attitude seems to be full 
of promise; it avoids, for example, the immense diffi- 


culty involved in differences of creed. Let a man, it is 
urged, hold to be true whatever helps him, and let him 
not interfere with whatever helps his neighbor. What 
difference does it make, we are asked, what does the 
work just so the work is done; what difference does it 
make whether the disease is cured by Christian Science 
or by simple faith in Christ Jesus? Some people scent 
to find even bare materialism a helpful doctrine con- 
ducive to a calm and healthy life, preventing morbid 
fears and nervous strains. If so, why should we unset- 
tle their "faith" by talking about guilt and retribution? 
There is unfortunately one great obstacle in the way 
of such a broad eclecticism. It is a very real obstacle, 
though at times it seems to be not a bit practical. It 
is the old obstacle truth. That was a great scheme of 
Lessing's Nathan der Weise, to let Judaism, Moham- 
medanism, and Christianity live peacefully side by side, 
each contributing its quota to the common good of 
humanity; and the plan has attained enormous popu- 
larity since Lessing's day by the admission, to the pro- 
posed league of religions, of all the faiths of mankind. 
But the great trouble is, a creed can be efficient only so 
long as it is held to be true; if I. make my creed effective 
in my life I can do so only because I regard it as true. 
But in so doing I am obliged by an inexorable necessity 
to regard the creed of my neighbor, if it is contradictory 
to mine, as false. That weakens his faith in his creed, 
provided he is at all affected by my opinions; he is no 
longer so sure of the truth of it; and so soon as he is 
no longer sure of the truth of it, it loses its efficiency. 
Or if, in ^deference to my neighbor and the usefulness 


of his creed, I keep my creed in the background, that 
tends to weaken my faith in my creed; I come to have 
the feeling that what must be kept in the dark will not 
bear the light of day; my creed ceases to be effective in 
my life. The fact is that all creeds are laying claim to 
the same thing, namely truth. Consequently, despite 
all that is said, the creeds, if they are to be held with 
any fervor, if they are really to have any power, must 
be opposed to one another; they simply cannot allow 
one another to work on in peace. Ift therefore, we want 
the work to proceed, we must face and settle this conflict 
of the means; we cannot call on men's beliefs to help 
us unless we determine what it is that is to be believed. 
A faith that can consent to avoid proselytizing among 
other faiths is not really faith at all. 

An objection, however, may remain. What we have 
said may perhaps sound very logical, and yet it seems 
to be contradicted by the actual experience of the race. 
Physicians, for example, are very practical persons; and 
yet they tell us that faith in very absurd things some- 
times brings beneficent and far-reaching results. If, 
therefore, faith in such diverse and contradictory things 
brings results, if it relieves the distresses of suffering 
humanity, how can we have the heart to insist on log- 
ical consistency in the things that are believed? On the 
contrary, it is urged, let us be satisfied with any kind 
of faith just so it does the work; it makes no difference 
what is believed just so the healthgiving attitude of 
faith is there; the less dogmatic faith is, the purer it is, 
because it is the less weakened by the dangerous alloy 
of knowledge. 


It is perfectly clear that such an employment of faith 
is bringing results. But the curious thing is that if 
faith be employed in this particular way it is always 
employment of the faith of other people that brings the 
results, and never employment of one's own faith. For 
the man who can speak in this way is himself always 
not a believer but a skeptic. The basal fact about f aitli 
is that all faith has an object; all faith is not only pos- 
sessed by someone, but it consists in confidence in some- 
one. An outsider may not think that it is really the 
object that does the work; from his scientific vantage 
ground, he may see clearly that it is just the faith itself, 
considered merely as a psychological phenomenon, that 
is the important thing, and that any other object would 
have answered as well. But the one who does the be- 
lieving is always convinced just exactly that it is not 
the faith but the object which is helping him; the mo- 
ment he becomes convinced that the object was not 
really important and that it was really just his own 
faith that was helping him, at that moment his faith 
disappears. It was that previous false belief, then the 
belief that it was the object and not the faith that was 
cbing the work it was that false belief that helped him. 

Now things that are false will apparently do some 
rather useful things. - If we may be permitted to use 
again, and to apply a little further, an illustration that 
we have already used in a different connection, 3 it may 
be remarked that a counterfeit note will buy many use- 
ful commodities until it is found out. It will, for 
example, buy a dinner; and a dinner will keep a man 

3 See Christianity and Liberalism, 1923, pp. 1 142 f. 


alive no matter how it is obtained. But just when I am 
buying the dinner for some poor man who needs it very 
badly indeed, an expert tells me that that useful result 
is being accomplished by a counterfeit note. "The 
miserable theorized," I may be tempted to exclaim, "the 
miserable traditionalist, the miserable demolisher of 
everything that pragmatism holds most dear! While he 
is discussing the question of the origin of that note 
though every up-to-date man knows that the origin of 
a thing is unimportant, and that what is really impor- 
tant is the goal to which it tends while he is going into 
learned details about the primitive history of that note, 
a poor man is suffering for lack of food." So it is, if 
the current view be correct, with faith; faith, we are 
told, is so very useful that we must not ask the question 
whether the things that it leads us to accept are true or 

Plausible are the ways in which men are seeking to 
justify this circulation of counterfeit currency in the 
spiritual sphere; it is perfectly right, we are told, so 
long as it is not found out. That principle has even 
been ingeniously applied to the ordinary currency of the 
realm; if a counterfeit note were absolutely perfect, it 
has been said, so that by no possibility could it ever be 
detected, what harm should we be doing to a man if we 
passed it out to him with his change? Probably it will 
not be necessary to point out at least to the readers of 
the present book the fallacy in this moral tour de 
force; and that fallacy would really apply to the spirit- 
ual currency as well as to five-dollar notes. By circu- 
lating bad money we should be diminishing the value of 


good money, and so should be robbing the generality of 
our fellow-men. . But after all, that question is purely 
academic; as a matter of fact counterfeit notes are never 
sure not to be found out. And neither is bad currency 
in the spiritual sphere. It is a dangerous thing to en- 
courage faith in what is not true, for the sake of the 
immediate benefits which such faith brings; because the 
greater be the building that is erected on such a founda- 
tion, the greater will be the inevitable crash when the 
crash finally comes. 

Such counterfeits should be removed, not in the in- 
terests of destruction, but in order to leave room for 
the pure gold the existence of which is implied by the 
presence of the counterfeits. There is counterfeit money 
in the world, but that does not mean that all money is 
counterfeit. Indeed it means the exact opposite. There 
could be no counterfeit money unless there were genuine 
money for it to imitate. And the principle applies to 
the spiritual realm. There is in the world much faith 
in what is false; but there could hardly be faith in what 
is false unless there were also somewhere faith in what 
is true. Now we Christians think that we have found 
faith in what is true when we have faith in the Lord 
Jesus Christ as He is offered to us in the gospel. We 
are well aware of what has been said against that gos- 
pel; we are well aware of the unpopularity that besets 
a man the moment he holds any one thing to be true 
and rejects as false whatever is contradictory to it; we 
are fully conscious of the risk that we are taking when 
we abandon a merely eclectic attitude and put all our 
confidence in one thing and one thing only. But we 


are ready to take the risk. This world is a dark place 
without Christ; we have found no other salvation either 
in ourselves or in others; and for our part, therefore, 
despite doubts and fears, we are prepared to take Christ 
at His word and launch forth into the deep at His 
command. It is a great venture, this venture of faith; 
there are difficulties in the way of it; we have not solved 
all mysteries or resolved all douhts. But though our 
minds are still darkened, though we have attained no 
rigidly mathematical proof, we have attained at least 
certitude enough to cause us to risk our lives. Will 
Christ desert us when we have thus committed ourselves 
to Him? There are men about us who tell us that He 
will; there are voices within us that whisper to us 
doubts; but we must act in accordance with the best 
light that is given us, and doing so we have decided for 
our part to distrust our doubts and base our lives, des- 
pite all, upon Christ. 

The efficacy of faith, then, depends not upon the 
faith itself, considered as a psychological phenomenon, 
but upon the object of the faith, namely Christ. Faith 
is not regarded in the New Testament as itself a meri- 
torious work or a meritorious condition of the soul; 
but it is regarded as a means which is used by the grace 
of God: the New Testament never says that a man is 
saved on account of his faith, but always that he is saved 
through his faith or by means of his faith; faith is 
merely the means which the Holy Spirit uses to apply 
to the individual soul the benefits of Christ's death. 

And faith in one sense is a very simple thing. We 
have been engaged, indeed, in a sort of analysis of it; 


but we have been doing so, not in the interests of com- 
plexity, but, on. the contrary, in order to combat the 
false notions by which simplicity is destroyed. We 
have not for a moment meant to imply that all the log- 
ical implications which we have found in faith are al- 
ways consciously or separately in the mind of the man 
who believes; mysterious indeed is the chemistry of the 
soul, and a whole new world of thought as well as life 
is often conveyed to a man in an experience of faith that 
seems to be as simple as the falling of a leaf from the 
bough and as inevitable as 'the flow. of a mighty river 
to the sea. Certainly,^ at bottom, faith is in one sense 
a very simple thing; it simply means that abandoning 
the vain effort of earning one's way into God's presence 
we accept the gift of salvation which Christ offers so 
full and free. Such is the "doctrine" let us not be 
afraid of the word such is the "doctrine" of justifica- 
tion through faith alone. 

That has been a liberating doctrine in the history of 
the world; to it was due the breaking of mediaeval 
bondage at the Reformation; to it is due ultimately the 
civil liberty that we possess today. And now that it 
is being abandoned, civil liberty is slowly but steadily 
being destroyed in the interests of a soul-killing collec- 
tivism that is worse in some respects than the tyrannies 
of the past. Let us hope that the process may be arrested 
in time. If we are interested in what God thinks of 
us, we shall not be deterred by what men think; the 
very desire for justification in the sight of God makes us 
independent of the judgment of men. And if the very 
desire for justification is liberating, how much more the 


attainment of it! The man who has been justified by 
God, the man who has accepted as a free gift the condi- 
tion of tightness with God which Christ offers, is not 
a man who hopes that possibly, with due effort, if he 
does not fail, he may finally win through to become a 
child of God. But he is a man who has already be- 
come a child of God. If our being children of God de- 
pended in slightest measure upon us, we could never be 
sure that we had attained the high estate. But as a 
matter of fact it does not depend upon us; it depends 
only upon God. It is not a reward that we have earned 
but a gift that we have received. 



Because of the fundamental nature of faith, as it has 
been set forth, on the basis of the New Testament 
teaching, in the last chapter, it is natural to find that in 
the New Testament faith, as the reception of a free gift, 
is placed in sharpest contrast with any intrusion of 
human merit; it is natural to find that faith is sharply 
contrasted with works; The contrast is really implied 
by the New Testament throughout, and in one book, 
the Epistle to the Galatians, it forms the express subject 
of the argument. That book from the beginning to 
the end is a mighty polemic in defence of the doctrine of 
justification by faith alone; and as such it has rightly 
been called the Magna Charta of Christian liberty. At 
the beginning of the sixteenth century the world was 
lying in darkness; but God then raised up a man who 
read this Epistle with his own eyes, and the Reforma- 
tion was born. So it may be in our own day. Again 
the world is sinking into bondage; the liberty of the 
sons of God is again giving place to the bondage of a 
religion of merit: but God still lives, and His Spirit 
again may bring the charter of our liberty to light. 

Meanwhile a strange darkness covers the eyes of men; 
the message of the great Epistle, so startlingly clear to the 
man whose eyes have been opened, is hidden by a mass 
of misinterpretation as absurd in its way as the mediae- 



val rubbish of the fourfold sense of Scripture which the 
Reformation brushed aside, Grammatico-historical in- 
terpretation is still being favored in theory, but despite 
is being done to it (by preachers if not by scholars) in 
practice; and the Apostle is being made to say anything 
that men wish him to have said. A new Reformation, 
we think, like the Reformation of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, would be marked, among other things, by a re- 
turn to plain common sense; and the Apostle would be 
allowed, despite our likes and dislikes, to say what he 
really meant to say. 

But what did the Apostle, in the Epistle to the Gala- 
tians, really mean to say; against what was he writing 
in that great polemic; and what was he setting up in 
place of that which he was endeavoring to destroy? 

The answer which many modern writers are giving 
to this question is that the Apostle is arguing merely 
against an external ceremonial religion in the interests of 
a religion based on great principles; that he is arguing 
against a piecemeal conception of morality which makes 
morality consist in a series of disconnected rules, in the 
interests of a conception that draws out human conduct 
naturally from a central root in love; that he is arguing, 
in other words, against the "letter of the law" in the 
interests of its "spirit." 

This interpretation, we think, involves an error 
which cuts away the very vitals of the Christian reli- 
gion. Like other fatal errors, indeed, it does contain 
an element of truth; in one passage, at least, in the 
Epistle to the Galatians Paul does seem to point to the 
external character of the ceremonial law. as being inferior 


to the higher (or to use modern terminology, more 
"spiritual") stage to which religion, under the new dis- 
pensation, had come. But that passage is isolated mere- 
ly, and certainly does not in itself give the key to the 
meaning of the Epistle. On the contrary, even in that 
passage, when it is taken in its context, the inferiority 
of the old dispensation as involving ceremonial require- 
ments is really put merely as a sign of an inferiority 
that is deeper still; and it is that deeper inferiority which 
the Epistle as a whole is concerned to set forth. The 
ceremonial character of the Old Testament law, so in- 
ferior to the inwardness of the new dispensation, was 
intended hy God to mark the inferiority of any dispen- 
sation of law as distinguished from a dispensation of 

Of .course a word of caution should again at thii. 
point be injected. Paul never means to say that the 
old dispensation was merely a dispensation of law; he 
always admits, and indeed insists upon, the element of 
grace which ran through it from "beginning to end, the 
element of grace which appeared in the Promise. But 
his opponents in Galatia had rejected that element of 
grace; and their use of the Old Testament law, as dis- 
tinguished from its right use as a schoolmaster unto 
Christ, really made of the old dispensation a dispensa- 
tion of law and nothing more. 

What then, according to Paul, was the real, under- 
lying inferiority of that dispensation of law; how was 
it to he contrasted with the new dispensation which 
^Christ had ushered in? It is hard to see how the an- 
swer to this question .can really he regarded as obscure; 


the Apostle has poured forth his very soul to make the 
matter plain. Most emphatically the contrast was not 
between a lower law and a higher law; it was not be- 
tween an external, piecemeal conception of the law and 
a conception which reduces it to great underlying prin- 
ciples; but it was a contrast between any kind of law, 
no matter how sublimated, provided only it be con- 
ceived of as a way of obtaining merit, and the absolutely 
free grace of God. 

This contrast is entirely missed by the interpreta- 
tion that prevails popularly in the Modernist Church: 
the advocates of "salvation by character'* have sup- 
posed that the polemic of the Apostle was turned 
merely against certain forgotten ceremonialists of long 
ago, while in reality it is turned quite as much against 
them. It is turned, indeed, against any man who 
seeks to stand in God's sight on the basis of his own 
merit instead of on the basis of the sacrifice which 
Christ offered to satisfy divine justice upon the cross. 
The truth is that the prevailing Modernist interpreta- 
tion of Galatians, which is in some respects apparently 
just the interpretation favored by the Roman Church, 
makes the Apostle say almost the exact opposite of what 
he means. 

The Modernist return to mediaevalism in the inter- 
pretation of Galatians is no isolated thing, but is only 
one aspect of a misinterpretation of the whole Bible; 
in particular it is closely akin to a misinterpretation of 
a great sentence in one of the other Epistles of Paul. 
The sentence to which we refer is found in II Corinth- 


ians iii, 6: "The letter, killeth, but the Spirit giveth 

That sentence is perhaps the most frequently misused 

utterance in the whole Bible. It has indeed in this re- 
spect much competition: many phrases in the New 
Testament are being used today to mean almost their 
exact opposite, as for example, when the words, "God 
in Christ" and the like, are made to be an expression 
of the vague pantheism so popular just now, or as 
when the entire gospel of redemption is regarded as a 
mere symbol of an optimistic view of man against which 
that doctrine was in reality a stupendous protest, or as 
when the doctrine of the incarnation is represented, as 
indicating the essential oneness of God and man! One 
is reminded constantly at the present time of the way 
in which the Gnostics of the second century used Bib- 
lical texts to support their thoroughly un-Biblical sys- 
tems. The historical methocf 'of study, in America at 
least, is very generally being abandoned; and the New 
Testament writers are being made to say almost any- 
thing that twentieth-century readers could have wished 
them to say. 

This abandonment of scientific historical method in 
exegesis, which is merely one manifestation of the intel- 
lectual decadence of our day, appears at countless points 
in contemporary religious literature; but at no point 
does it appear with greater clearness than in connection 
with the great utterance in II Corinthians to which we 
have referred. The words: "The letter killeth, but the 
Spirit 'giveth life/* are constantly interpreted to mean 
that we are perfectly justified in taking the law of God 


with a grain of salt; they arc held to indicate that Paul 
was no "literalist," but a "Liberal," who believed that 
the Old Testament was not true in detail and the Old 
Testament" law was not valid' in detail, but that all 
God requires is that we should extract the few great 
principles which the Bible teaches and not insist upon 
the rest. In short, the words are held to involve a con- 
trast between the letter of the law and "the spirit of 
the law"; they are held to mean that literalism is deadly, 
while attention to great principles keeps a man intellect- 
ually and spiritually alive. 

Thus has one of the greatest utterances in the New 
Testament been reduced to comparative triviality a 
triviality with a kernel of truth in it, to be sure, but 
triviality all the same. The triviality, indeed, is merely 
relative; no doubt it is important to observe that atten- 
tion to the general sense of a book or a law is far better 
than such a reading of details as, that the context in 
which the details are found is ignored. But all that is 
quite foreign to the meaning of the Apostle in this 
passage, and is, though quite true and quite important in 
its place, trivial in comparison with the tremendous 
thing that Paul is here endeavoring to say. 
/ What Paul is really doing here is not contrasting 

the letter of the law with the spirit of the law, but 
contrasting the law of God with the Spirit of God. 
When he says, "The letter killeth," he is making no 
contemptuous reference to a pedantic literalism which 
shrivels the soul; but he is setting forth the terrible maj- 
esty of God's law. The letter, the "thing written," 
in the law of God, says Paul, pronounces a dread sen- 


tence of death upon the transgressor; but the Holy 
Spirit of God, as distinguished from the law, gives life. 
The law of God, Paul means, is, as law, external. 
It is God's holy will to which we must conform ; hut 
it contains in itself no promise of its fulfilment; it is 
one thing to have the law written, and quite another 
thing to have it obeyed. In fact, because of the sinful; 
ness of our hearts, because of the power of the flesh, the 
recognition of God's law only makes sin take on the 
definite form of transgression; it only makes sin more 
exceeding sinful. The law of God was written on 
tables of stone or on tjie rolls of the Old Testament 
books, but it was quite a different thing to get it written 
in the. hearts and lives of the people. So it is today. 
The text is of very wide application. The law of God, 
however it comes to us, is "letter"; it is a "thing writ- 
ten," external to the hearts and lives of men. It is 
written in the Old Testament; it is written in the Ser- 
, mon on the Mount; it is written 'in Jesus' stupendous 
command of love for God and one's neighbor; it is 
written in whatever way we become conscious of the 
commands of God. Let no one say that such an exten- 
sion of the text involves that very anti-historical mod- 
ernizing which we have just denounced; on the contrary 
it is amply justified by Paul himself. "When the Gen- 
tiles," Paul says, "which have not the law, do by nature 
the things contained in the law, these, having not the 
law, are a law unto themselves." 1 The Old Testament 
law is just a clear, authentic presentation of a law of 
God under which all men stand. 

1 Rom. ii: 14. 


And that law, according to Paul, issues a dreadful 
sentence of eternal death. "The soul that sinneth, it 
shall die"; not the hearer of the law is justified hut the 
doer of it. And, alas, none are doers; all have sinned. 
The law of God is holy and just and good; it is inexor- 
able; and we have fallen under its just condemnation, 

That is at bottom what Paul means by the words, 
"The letter killeth." He does not mean that attention 
to pedantic details shrivels and deadens the soul. No 
doubt that is true, at least within certain limits; it is 
a useful thought. But it is trivial indeed compared with 
what Paul means. Something far more majestic, far 
more terrible, is meant by the Pauline phrase. The "let- 
ter" that the Apostle means is the same as the curse of 
God's law that he speaks of in Galatians; it is the 
dreadful handwriting of ordinances that was against us; 
and the death with which it kills is the eternal death of 
those who are forever separated from God. 

But that is not all of the text. "The letter killeth," 
Paul says, "but the Spirit giveth life." There is no 
doubt about what he means by "the Spirit." He does 
not mean the "spirit of the law" as contrasted with the 
letter; he certainly does not mean the lax interpretation 
of God's commands which is dictated' by human lust or 
pride; he certainly does not mean the spirit of man. No 
real student of Paul, whatever be his own religious 
views, can doubt, I think, but that the Apostle means 
the Spirit of God. God's law brings death because of 
sin; but God's Spirit, applying to the soul the redemp- 
tion offered by Christ, brings life. The thing that is 


written killcth; but the Holy Spirit, in the new birth, 
or, as Paul says, the new creation, giveth life. 

The contrast runs all through the New Testament. 
Hopelessness under the law is described, for example, 
in the seventh chapter of Romans. "Oh wretched man 
that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this 
death?" 2 But this hopelessness is transcended by the 
gospel, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus 
hath made me free from the law of sin and death." 3 
The law's just sentence of condemnation was borne for 
us by Christ who suffered in our stead; the handwriting 
of ordinances which was against us the dreadful "let- 
ter" was nailed to the cross, and we have a fresh start 
in the full favor of God. And in addition to this new 
and right relation to God, the Spirit of God also gives 
the sinner a new birth and makes him a new creature. 
The New Testament from beginning to end deals glori- 
ously with this work of grace. The giving of life of 
which Paul speaks in this text is the new birth, the 
new creation; it is Christ who liveth in us. Here is the 
fulfillment of the great prophecy of Jeremiah: "But this 
shall be the covenant that I will make with the house 
of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put 
my law in their inward parts, and write it in their 
hearts." 4 The law is no longer for the Christian a com- 
mand which it is for him by his own strength to obey, 
but its requirements are fulfilled through the mighty 
power of the Holy Spirit. There is the glorious free- 

2 Rom. viii: 24. 

8 Rom. vih 25; viii: 2. 

*Jer. xxxi:33. 


dom of the gospel. The gospel does not abrogate 
God's law, but it makes men love it with all their 

How is it with us? The law of God stands over us; 
we have offended against it in thought, word and deed; 
its. majestic "letter" pronounces a sentence of death 
against our sin. Shall we obtain a specious security by 
ignoring God's law, and by taking refuge in an easier 
law of our own devising? Or shall the Lord Jesus, as 
He is offered to us in the gospel, wipe out the sentence 
of condemnation that was against us, and shall the 
Holy Spirit write God's law in our heart, and make us 
doers of the law and not hearers only? So and only so 
will the great text be applied to us: "The letter killeth, 
but the Spirit giveth life." 

The alternative that underlies this verse, then, and 
that becomes explicit in Galatians also, is not an alter- 
native between an external or ceremonial religion and 
what men would now call (by a misuse of the New 
Testament word) a "spiritual" religion, important 
though that alternative no doubt is; but it is an alterna- 
tive between a religion of merit and a religion of grace. 
The Epistle to the Galatians is directed just as much 
against the modern notion of "salvation by character" 
or salvation by "making Christ Master" in the life or 
salvation by a mere attempt to put into practice "the 
principles of Jesus," as it is directed against the Jewish 
ceremonialists of long ago: for what the Apostle is con- 
cerned to deny is any intrusion of human merit into- the 
work by which salvation is obtained. That work, ac- 
cording to the Epistle to the Galatians and according to 


the whole New Testament, is the work of God and of 
God alone. 

At this point appears the full poignancy of the great 
Epistle with which we have been dealing. Paul is not 
merely arguing that a man is justified by faith so much 
no doubt his opponents, the Judaizers, admitted but 
he is arguing that a man is justified by faith alone. 
What the Judaizers said was not that a man is justified 
by works; but that he is justified by faith and works 
exactly the thing that is being taught by the Roman 
Catholic Church today. No doubt they admitted that 
it was necessary for a man to have faith in. Christ in 
order, to be saved: but they held that it was also neces- 
sary for him to keep the law the best he could; salva- 
tion, according to them, was not by faith alone and not 
by works alone but by faith and works together. A 
man's obedience to the law of God, they held, was not, 
indeed, sufficient for salvation; but it was necessary; and 
it became sufficient when it was supplemented by Christ. 
Against this compromising solution of the problem, 
the Apostle insists upon a sharp alternative: a man may 
be saved by works (if he keeps the law perfectly) , or 
he may be saved by faith; but he cannot possibly be 
f'saved by faith and works together. Christ, according 
to Paul, will do everything or nothing; if righteousness 
/ is in slightest measure obtained by our obedience to the 
/ law, then Christ died in vain; if we trust in slightest 
measure in our own good works, then we have turned 
away from grace and Christ profiteth us nothing. 
. To the world, that may seem to be a hard saying; 
it is not a hard saying to the man who has ever 


been at the foot of the Cross; it is not a hard saying to 
the man who has first known the bondage of the law, 
the weary effort at establishment of his own righteous- 
ness in the presence of God, and .then has come to under- 
stand, as in a wondrous flash of light, that Christ has 
done all, and that the weary bondage was vain. What a 
great theologian is the Christian heart the Christian 
heart that has been touched by redeeming grace! The 
man who has felt the burden of sin roll away at the 
sight of the Cross, who has said of the Lord Jesus, "He 
loved me and gave Himself for me," who has sung with 
Toplady: "Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to 
Thy cross I cling" that man knows in his heart of 
hearts that the Apostle is right, that to trust Christ only 
for part is not to trust Him at all, that our own right- 
eousness is insufficient even to bridge the .smallest gap 
which might be left open between us and God, that 
there is no hope unless we can safely say to the Lord 
Jesus, without shadow of reservation, without shadow 
of self- trust: "Thou must -save, and Thou alone." 

That is the centre of the Christian religion the ab- 
solutely undeserved and sovereign grace of God, saving 
sinful men by the gift of Christ upon the cross. Con- 
demnation comes by merit; salvation comes only by 
grace: condemnation is earned by man; salvation is 
given by God. The fact of the grace of God runs 
through the New Testament like a golden thread; in- 
deed for it the New Testament exists. It is found in 
the words which Jesus spoke in the days of His flesh, 
as in the parables of the servant coming in from the 
field and of the laborers in the vineyard; it Is found 


more fully set for th after the redeeming work was done, 
after the Lord had uttered his triumphant "It is fin- 
ished'* upon the cross. Everywhere the basis of the 
New Testament is the same the mysterious, incalcu- 
lable, wondrous, grace of God. "The wages of sin is 
death; but the gift of God is eternal life through 
Jesus Christ our Lord." 5 

The reception of that gift is faith: faith means not 
doing something but receiving something; it means not 
the earning of a reward but the acceptance of a gift. A 
man can never be said to obtain a thing for himself if 
he obtains it by faith; indeed to say that he obtains it 
by faith is only another way of saying that he does not 
obtain it for himself but permits another to obtain it 
for him. Faith, in other words, is not active but pas- 
sive; and to say that we are saved by faith is to say that 
we do not save ourselves but are saved only by the one 
in whom our faith is reposed; the faith of man pre- 
supposes the sovereign grace of God. 

Even yet, however, we have not sounded the full 
depths of the New Testament teaching; we have not 
yet fully set forth the place in salvation which the Bible 
assigns to the grace of God. A sort of refuge, in what 
we have said so far, may seem to have been left for the 
pride of man. Man does not save himself, we have 
said; God saves him. But man accepts that salvation 
by faith; arid faith n though a negative act, seems to be 
a kind of act; salvation is freely offered by God; the 
offer of it does not depend at all upon man; yet a man 

6 Rom. vi: 23. 


might seem to obtain a sort of merit by not resisting 
that offer when once it is given him by God. 

But even this last irefuge of human pride is searched 
out and destroyed by She teaching of God's Word; for 
the Bible represents even faith itself -little merit as it 
could in any case involve as the work of the Spirit of 
God. The Spirit, according to a true summary of the 
New Testament, works faith in us and thereby unites 
us to Christ in our effectual calling; sovereign and resist- 
less is God's grace; and our faith is merely the means 
which the Spirit uses to apply to us the benefits of 
Christ's redeeming work. 

The means was of God's choosing, not ours; and it 
is not for us to say, "What doest Thou?" Yet even 
we, weak and ignorant though we are, can see, I think, 
why this particular means was chosen to unite us to 
Christ; why faith was chosen instead of love, for ex- 
ample, as the channel by which salvation could enter 
into our lives. Love is active; faith is passive; hence 
faith not love was chosen. If the Bible had said that 
we are saved by love, then even though our love was 
altogether the gift of the Spirit, we might have thought 
that it was our own, and so we might have claimed 
salvation as our right. But as it is, not only were we 
saved by grace, but because of the peculiar means which 
God used to save us, we knew that we were saved by 
grace; it was of the very nature of faith to make us 
know that we were not saving ourselves. Even before 
we could love as we ought to love, even before we could 
do anything or feel anything aright, we were saved by 
faith; we were saved by abandoning all confidence in 


our own thoughts or feelings or actions and by simply 
allowing ourselves to be saved by God. 

In one sense, indeed, we were saved by love; that in- 
deed is an even prof ounder fact than that we were saved 
by faith. Yes, we were saved by love, but it was by a 
greater love than the love in our cold and sinful hearts; 
we were saved by love, but it was not our love for God 
but God's love for us, God's love for us by which he 
gave the Lord Jesus to die for us upon the cross. "Here- 
in is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, 
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 6 
That love alone is the love that saves. And the means 
by which it saves is faith. 

Thus the beginning of the Christian life is not an 
achievement but an experience ; the soul of the man who 
is saved is not, at the moment of salvation, active, but 
passive; salvation is the work of God and God alone. 
That does not mean that the Christian is unconscious 
when salvation enters his life; it does not mean that he 
is placed in a trance, or that his ordinary faculties are 
in abeyance; on the contrary the great transition often 
seems to be a very simple thing; overpowering emotional 
stress is by no means always present; and faith is always 
a conscious condition of the soul. There is, moreover, 
a volitional aspect of faith, in which it appears to the 
man who believes to be induced by a conscious effort of 
his will, a conscious effort 'of his will by which he re- 
solves to cease trying to save himself and resolves to 
accept, instead, the salvation offered by Christ. The 
preacher of the gospel ought to appeal, we think, in 

6 1 John iv:10. 

198 \yHAT IS FAITH? 

every way in his power, to the conscious life of the man 
whom he is trying to win; he ought to remove intellec- 
tual objections against the truth of Christianity, and 
adduce positive arguments; he ought to appeal to the 
emotions; he ought to seek, by exhortation, to move the 
will. All these means may be used, and have been used 
countless times, by the Spirit of God; and certainly we 
have not intended to disparage them by anything that 
we Kave just said. But what we do maintain is that 
though necessary they are not sufficient; they will never 
bring a man to faith in Christ unless there is with them 
the mysterious, regenerating power of the Spirit of God, 
We are not presuming to treat here the psychology of 
faith; and certainly we do not think that such a psy- 
chology of faith is at all necessary to the man who be- 
lieves; indeed the less he thinks about his own states of 
consciousness and the more he thinks about Christ the 
better it will often be for his soul. But this much at 
least can be said: even conscious states can be induced 
in supernatural fashion by the Spirit of God, and such 
a conscious state is the faith by which a man first ac- 
cepts Christ as his Saviour from sin. 

But if the beginning of the Christian life is thus not 
an achievement but an experience, if a man is not really 
active, but passive; when he is saved, if faith is to be 
placed in sharp contrast with works, what becomes of 
the ethical character of the Christian religion, what be- 
comes of the stimulus which it has always given to 
human individuality and to the sense of human worth, 
what becomes of the vigorous activity which, in marked 
contrast with some of the other great religions of the 


world, it has always encouraged in its adherents? Such 
questions are perfectly legitimate; and they show that 
we are very far from having given, up to the present 
point, any adequate account of the relation, in the 
Christian religion, between faith and works, or between 
doctrine and life. 

That relation must therefore now he examined, 
though still briefly, a little more in detail. 

The examination may best be begun by a considera- 
tion of what has been regarded by some devout readers 
of the Bible as a serious difficulty, namely the apparent 
contradiction between the second chapter of Galatians 
and the second chapter of the Epistle of James. '"A 
man is not justified by the works of the law, but only 
through faith in Christ Jesus/' says Paul; 7 "Ye see then 
how that by , works a man is justified and not by faith 
only," says James. 8 These two verses in their juxta- 
position constitute an ancient Biblical difficulty. In the 
verse from Galatians a man is said to become right with 
God by faith alone apart from works; in the verse from 
James he is said to become right with God not by faith 
alone but by faith and works. If the verses are taken 
out of their wider context and placed side by side, a 
contradiction could scarcely seem to be more complete. 

The Pauline doctrine of justification by faith alone, 
which we have just treated at considerable length, is, 
as we have seen, the very 'foundation of Christian lib- 
erty. It makes our standing with God dependent not 

7 Gal. ii: 16. It is evident from the immediate context that 
this is the correct translation. 

8 James ii: 24, ~ 


at all upon what we have done, but altogether upon 
what God has done. If our salvation depended upon 
what we had done, then, according to Paul, we should 
still be bondslaves; we should still be endeavoring fever- 
ishly to keep God's law so well that at the end we 
might possibly win His favor. It would be a hopeless 
endeavor because of the deadly guilt of sin; we should 
be like debtors endeavoring to pay, but in the very effort 
getting deeper and deeper into debt. But as it is, in , 
accordance with the gospel, God has granted us His 
favor as an absolutely free gift; He has brought us into 
right relation to Himself not on the basis of any merit 
of ours, but altogether on the basis of the merit of 
Christ. Great is the guilt of our sins; but Christ took 
it all upon Himself when He died for us on Calvary. 
We do not need, then, to make ourselves good before 
we become God's children ; but we can come to God just 
as we are, all laden with our sins, and be quite certain 
that the guilt of sin will be removed and that we shall 
be received. When God looks upon us, to receive us or 
to cast us off, it is not we that He regards but our great 
Advocate, Christ Jesus the Lord. 

Such is the glorious certainty of the gospel. The sal- 
vation of the Christian is certain because it depends 
altogether upon God; if it depended in slightest measure 
upon us, the certainty of it would be gone. Hence ap- 
pears the vital importance of the great Reformation 
doctrine of justification by faith alone; that doctrine is 
at the very centre of Christianity. It means that ac- 
ceptance with God is not something that we earn; it 
is not something that is subject to the wretched uncer- 


tainties of human endeavor; but it is a free gift of God. 
It may seem strange that we should be received by the 
holy God as His children; but God has chosen to re- 
ceive us; it has been done on His responsibility not ours; 
He has a right to receive whom He will into His pres- 
ence; and in the mystery of His grace He has chosen 
to receive us. 

That central doctrine of the Christian faith is really 
presupposed in the whole New Testament; but it is 
made particularly plain in the Epistles of Paul. It is 
such passages as the eighth chapter of Romans, the sec- 
ond and third chapters of Galatians, and the fifth chap- 
ter of II Corinthians, which set forth in plainest fashion 
the very centre of the gospel. 

But in the Epistle of James there seems at first sight 
to be a discordant note in this great New Testament 
chorus. "Ye see then," says James, "how that by works 
a man is justified, and not by faith only." If that 
means that a man is pronounced righteous before God 
partly because of the merit of his own works and only 
partly because of the sacrifice of Christ accepted by faith, 
then James holds exactly the position of the bitter op- 
ponents of Paul who are combated in the Epistle to 
the Galatians. Those opponents, the "Judaizers" as 
they are called, held, as we have seen, that faith in 
Christ is necessary to salvation (in that they agreed with 
Paul) , but they held that the merit of one's own observ- 
ance of the law of God is also necessary. A man is 
saved, not by faith alone and not by works alone, but 
by faith and works together that was apparently the 
formula of the Judaizing opponents of Paul, The 


Apostle rightly saw that that formula meant a return to 
bondage. If Christ saves us only part way, and leaves 
a gap to be filled up by our own good works, then we 
can never be certain that we are saved. The awakened 
conscience sees clearly that our own obedience to God's 
law is not the kind of obedience that is really required; 
it is not that purity of the heart which is demanded by 
the teaching and example of our Lord. Our obedience 
to the law is insufficient to bridge even the smallest gap; 
we are unprofitable servants, and if we ever enter into 
an account with our Judge we are undone. Christ has 
done nothing for us or He has done everything; to ; de- 
pend even in smallest measure upon our own merit is 
the very essence of unbelief; we must trust Christ for 
nothing or we must trust Him for .all. Such is the 
teaching of the Epistle to the Galatians. 

But in the Epistle of James' we seem at first sight to 
be in a different circle of ideas. "Justified by faith 
jllone," says Paul; "Justified not by faith alone," says 
James. It has been a difficulty to. many readers of the 
Bible. But like other apparent contradictions in the 
Bible it proves to be a contradiction merely of form and 
not of content; arid it serves only to lead the devout 
reader into a deeper and fuller understanding of the 

The solution of the difficulty appears in the definition 
of the word "faith." The apparent contradiction is 
due simply to the fact that when James in this chapter 
says that "faith" alone is insufficient, he means a dif- 
ferent thing by 'the word "faith" from that which Paul 
means by it when he says that faith is all-sufficient. 


The kind of faith which James is pronouncing insuffi- 
cient is made clear in the nineteenth verse of the same 
chapter: "Thou believest that there is one God; thou 
doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." The 
kind of faith which James pronounces insufficient is 
the faith which the devils also have; it is a mere intel- 
lectual apprehension of the facts about God or Christ, 
and it involves no acceptance of those facts as a gift 
of God to one's own soul. But it is not that kind of 
faith which Paul means when he says that a man is 
saved by faith alone. Faith is" indeed intellectual; it 
involves an apprehension of certain things as facts; and 
vain is the modern effort to divorce faith from knowl- 
edge. But although faith is intellectual, it is not only 
intellectual. You cannot have faith without having 
knowledge; but you will not have faith if you have 
only knowledge. Faith is the acceptance of a gift at 
the hands of Christ. We cannot accept the gift without 
knowing certain things about\ the gift and about the 
giver. But we might know all those things and still 
not accept the gift. We might know what the gift is 
and still not accept it. Knowledge is thus absolutely 
necessary to faith, but it is not all that is necessary. 
Christ comes offering us that right relation to God 
which He wrought for us on the cross. Shall we ac- 
cept the gift or shall we hold it in disdain? The ac- 
ceptance of the gift is called faith. It is a very wonder- 
ful thing; it involves a change of the whole nature of 
man; it involves a new hatred of sin and a new hunger 
and thirst after righteousness. Such a wonderful change 
is not the work of man; faith itself is given us by the 


Spirit of God. Christians never make themselves Chris- 
tians; but they are made Christians by God. 

All that is clear from what has already been said. 
But it is quite inconceivable that a man should be given 
this faith in Christ, that he should accept this gift 
which Christ offers, and still go on contentedly in sin. 
For the very thing which Christ offers us is salvation 
from sin not only salvation from the guilt of sin, 
but also salvation from the power of sin. The very 
first thing that the Christian does, therefore, is to keep 
the law of God: he keeps it no longer as a way of earn- 
ing his salvation for salvation has been given him 
freely by God but he keeps it joyously as a central 
part of salvation itself. The faith of which Paul speaks 
is, as Paul himself says, a faith that works through 
love; and love is the fulfilling of the whole law. Paul 
would have agreed fully with James that the faith of 
which James speaks in our passage is quite insufficient 
for salvation. The faith that Paul means when he 
speaks of justification by faith alone is a faith that 

But if the faith regarded insufficient by James is dif- 
ferent from the faith commended by Paul, so also the 
works commended by James are different from the works 
fegarded inefficacious by Paul. Paul is speaking of 
works of the law, he is speaking of works that are in- 
tended to acquire merit in order that God's favor may 
be earned; James on the other hand is speaking of works 
like Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac that are the result of 
faith and show that faith is real faith. 


The difference, then, between Paul and James is a 
difference of terminology, not of meaning. That dif- 
ference of terminology shows that the Epistle of James 
was written at a very early time, before the controversy 
with the Judaizers had arisen and before the termi- 
nology had become fixed. If James had been writing 
after the terminology had become fixed, what he would 
have said is that although a man is justified by faith 
alone and not at all by works, yet one must be sure 
that the faith is real faith and not a mere intellectual 
assent like that of the demons who believe and tremble. 
What he actually does is to say just that in different 
words. James is not correcting Paul, then; he is not 
even correcting a misinterpretation of Paul; but he is 
unconsciously preparing for Paul; he is preparing well 
for the clearer and more glorious teaching of the great 

The Epistle of James ought to be given its due place 
in the nurture of the Christian life. It has sometimes 
been regarded as the Epistle of works. But that does 
not mean that this Epistle ignores the deeper and more 
meditative elements in the Christian life. James is no 
advocate of a mere "gospel of street-cleaning"; he is no 
advocate of what is falsely called today a "practical," 
as distinguished from a doctrinal, Christianity; he is not 
a man who seeks to drown an inward disquiet by a 
bustling philanthropy. On the contrary he is a great 
believer in the power of prayer; he exalts faith and de- 
nounces doubt; he humbles man and glorifies God: 
"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will 
go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy 


and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall 
be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even 
a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then 
vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord 
will, we shall live, and do this, or that." 9 The man 
who wrote these words was no mere advocate of a 
"practical" religion of this world; he was no mere ad- 
vocate of what is called today "the social gospel"; but 
he was a man who viewed this world, as the whole 
New Testament views it, in the light of eternity. 

So the lesson of James may be learned without vio- 
lence being done to the deepest things of the Christian 
faith certainly without violence being done to the gos- 
pel which Paul proclaims. It was as clear to Paul as it 
was to James that men who had been saved by faith 
could not continue to live unholy lives. "Be not de- 
ceived," says Paul: "neither fornicators, nor idolaters, 
nor adulterers .... nor thieves, nor covetous, nor 
drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit 
the kingdom of God." 10 It is difficult to see how any- 
thing could be much plainer than that. Paul just as 
earnestly as James insists upon the ethical or practical 
character of Christianity; Paul as well as James insists 
upon purity and unselfishness in conduct as an abso- 
lutely necessary mark of the Christian life. A Chris- 
tian, according to Paul (as also really according to 
James), is saved not by himself but by God; but he is 
saved by God not in order that he may continue in sin, 

8 James iv: 13 f. 
1 I Cor. vi: 9 f. 


but in order that he may conquer sin and attain unto 

Indeed so earnest is Paul about this matter that at 
times it looks almost as though he believed Christians 
even in this life to be altogether sinless, as though he 
believed that if they were not sinless they were not 
Christians at all. Such an interpretation of the Epistles 
would indeed be incorrect; it is contradicted, in par- 
ticular, by the loving care with which the Apostle ex- 
horted and encouraged those members of his congrega- 
tions who had been overtaken in a fault. As a pastor 
of souls Paul recognized the presence of sin even in those 
who were within the household of faith; and dealt with 
it not only with severity but also with patience and 
love. Nevertheless the fact is profoundly significant 
that in the great doctrinal passages of the Epistles Paul 
makes very little reference (though such reference is 
not altogether absent) to the presence of sin in Christian 
men. How is that fact to be explained? I think it is 
to be explained by the profound conviction of the 
Apostle that although sin is actually found in Chris- 
tians it does not belong there; it is never to be ac- 
quiesced in for one single moment, but is to be treated 
as a terrible anomaly that simply ought not to be. 

Thus according to Paul the beginning of the new 
life is followed by a battle a battle against sin. In 
that battle, as is not the case with the beginning of it, 
the Christian does co-operate with God; he is helped 
by God's Spirit, but he himself, and not only God's 
Spirit in him, is active in the fight. 

At the beginning of the Christian life there is an act 


of God and of God alone. It is called in the New 
Testament the new birth or (as Paul calls it) the new 
creation. In that act no part whatever is contributed 
by the man who is born again. And no wonder! A 
man who is dead -either dead in physical death or 
"dead in trespasses and sins'* can do nothing what- 
ever, at least in the sphere in which he is dead. If he 
could do anything in that sphere, he would not be 
dead. Such a man who is dead in trespasses and sins 
is raised to new life in the new birth or the new crea- 
tion. To that new birth he himself cannot contribute 
at all, any more than he contributed to his physical 
birth. But birth is followed by life; and though a man 
is not active in his birth he is active in the life that fol- 
lows. So it is also in the spiritual realm. We did not 
contribute at all to our new birth; that was an act of 
God alone. But that new birth is followed by a new 
life, and in the new life we have been given by Him 
who begat us anew the power of action; it is that power 
of action that is involved in birth. Thus the Chris- 
tian life is begun by an act of God alone; but it is con- 
tinued by co-operation between God and man. The 
possibility of such co-operation is due indeed only to 
God; it has not been achieved in slightest measure by 
us; it is the supreme wonder of God's grace. But once 
given by God it is not withdrawn. 

Thus the Christian life in this world is not passive 
but active; it consists in a mighty battle against sin. 
That battle is a winning battle, because the man that 
engages in it has been made alive in the first place by 
God, and because he has a great Companion to help him 


in every turn of the fight But, though a winning hattle, 
it is a battle all the same; and it is not only God's battle 
but ours. The faith of which we have been speaking 
consists not in doing something but in receiving some- 
thing; but it is followed every time by a life in which 
great things are done. 

This aspect of faith is put in classic fashion by the 
Apostle Paul in a wonderful phrase in the Epistle to 
the Galatians. "Neither circumcision availeth any 
thing," says Paul, "nor uncircumcision; but faith which 
worketh by love." 11 In that phrase, "faith which 
worketh by love," or, more literally, "faith working 
through love," a whole world of experience is com- 
pressed within the compass of four words. 

Surely that is a text for a practical age; the world 
may perhaps again become interested in faith if it sees 
that faith is a thing that works. And certainly our 
practical age cannot afford to reject assistance wherever 
it can be found; for the truth is that this practical age 
seems just now to be signally failing to accomplish re- 
, suits even on its own ground; it seems to be signally 
failing to "make things go." 

Strangely enough the present failure of the world 
to make things go is due just to that emphasis upon 
efficiency which might seem to make failure impossible; 
it is the paradox of efficiency that it can be attained only 
by those who do not make it the express object of their 
desires* The modern one-sided emphasis upon the 
practical has hindered the progress of humanity, we 
think, in at least two ways. 

"Gal. v:6. ,' 


The first way has already been treated in what pre- 
cedes. Men are so eager about the work, we observed, 
that they have neglected a proper choice of means to 
accomplish it; they think that they can make use of 
religion, as a means to an end, without settling the 
question of the truth of any particular religion; they 
think that they can make use of faith as a beneficent psy- 
chological phenomenon without determining whether 
the thing that is believed is true or false. The whole 
effort, as we observed, is vain; such a pragmatist use 
of faith really destroys the thing that is being used. 
If therefore the work is to proceed, we cannot in this 
pragmatist fashion avoid, but must first face and settle, 
the question of the means. 

In the second place, men are so eager today about the 
work that they are sometimes indifferent to the ques- 
tion what particular kind of work it shall be. The 
efficient, energetic man is often being admired by the 
world at large, and particularly by himself, quite ir- 
respective of the character of his achievements. It often 
seems to make little difference whether a man engages 
in the accumulation of material wealth or in the quest 
of political power or in the management of schools and 
hospitals and charities. Whether he engages in rob- 
bery or in missions, he is sure of recognition, provided 
only he succeeds, provided only he is "a man who does 
things." But however stimulating such a prizing of 
work for its own sake may be to the individual, it is 
obviously not conducive to any great advance for hu- 
manity as a whole. If my labor is going to be opposed 
to the work of my neighbor, we might both of us 


enjoy a good, old-fashioned, comfortable rest, so far 
as any general progress is concerned. Our efforts simply 
cancel each other. Consequently, although a great deal 
of energy is being displayed in the world today, one 
cannot help having the feeling that a vast deal of it 
is being wasted. The truth is that if we are to be 
truly practical men, we must first be theorizers. We 
must first settle upon some one great task and some one 
great force for its accomplishment. 

The Pauline text makes proposals in both directions. 
It proposes both a task and a force to accomplish it. 
"Faith working itself out through love" love is the 
work, faith the means. 

It should be noticed in the first place that this work 
and this means are open to everyone. In Christ Jesus 
neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircum- 
cisionj there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither 
bond nor free, there is no male and female; nothing is 
required except what is common to all men. If we 
like the work We cannot say that it is beyond our reach. 

The work is love, and what that is Paul explains in 
the last; division of the same Epistle. It is not a mere 
emotion, it is not even a mere benevolent desire; it is 
a practical thing. We sometimes say of a rather un- 
principled and dissipated man: "He is weak, but he has 
a good heart," Such mere good-heartedness is not 
Christian love. Christian love includes not merely the 
wish for the welfare of one's fellow-men, not merely 
even the willingness to help, but also the power. In 
order to love in the Christian sense, a man must be not 
only benevolent, but also strong and good; he must 


love his fellow-men enough to build up his own 
strength in order to use it for their benefit. 

Such a task is very different from much of the work 
that is actually being done in the world. In the first 
place, it is a spiritual not a material work. It is really 
astonishing how many men are almost wholly absorbed 
in purely material things. Very many men seem to 
have no higher conception of work than that of mak- 
ing the dirt fly: the greatest nation is thought to be 
the nation that has the largest income and the biggest 
battleships; the greatest university, even, to be the one 
that has the finest laboratories. Such practical material- 
ism need not be altogether selfish; the production of ma- 
terial goods may be desired for others as well as for 
one's self. Socialism may be taken as an example. It 
is not altogether selfish. But at least in its most 
consistent forms it errs in supposing that the proper 
distribution of material wealth will be a panacea. In- 
deed, such a habit of thought has not been altogether 
absent from the Church itself. Wherever the notion 
is cherished that the relief of physical suffering is some- 
how more important more practical than the wel- 
fare of the human spirit, there material things are being 
made the chief .object of pursuit. And that is not 
Christian love. Christian love does not, indeed, neglect 
men's physical welfare; it does not give a man a ser- 
mon when he needs bread. It relieves distress; it de- 
lights in affording even the simplest pleasure to a child. 
But it always does these things with the consciousness 
of the one inestimable gift that it has in reserve. 
In the second place, Christian love is not merely 


>-^ "- " "~" "' "~ -^ - -" "" '. ~ :-~ " -- -~:~^r~.^r.--..-r L _ ,1 -. . : ^1I-.. -i; _ Jfr -_ _ J ~~ 

intellectual or emotional, but also moral. It involves 
nothing less than the keeping of the whole moral law. 
"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; 
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." 12 Chris- 
tianity may provide a satisfactory world-view, it may 
give men comfort and happiness, it may deprive death 
of its terrors, it may produce the exaltation of religious 
emotion; but it is not Christianity unless it makes men 
better. Furthermore, love is a peculiar kind of observ- 
ance of the moral law. It is not a mere performance of 
a set of external acts. That may be hypocrisy or ex- 
pediency. Nor is it a mere devotion to duty for duty's 
sake. That is admirable and praiseworthy, but it is 
the childhood stage of morality. The Christian is no 
longer under the schoolmaster; his performance of the 
law springs not from obedience to a stern voice of duty 
but from an overpowering impulse; he loves the law 
of the Lord; he does right because he cannot help it. 

In the third place, love involves, I think, a peculiar 
conception of the content of the law. It regards moral- 
ity primarily as unselfishness. And what a vast deal 
of the culture of the world, with all its pomp and 
glitter, is selfish to the core! Genius exploits the plain 
men; Christ died for them: and His disciples must 
follow in the footsteps of their Lord. 

In the fourth place, Christian love is not merely love 
for man; it is also, and even primarily, love for God. 
We have observed that love for God is not the means 
by which we are saved: the New Testament does not 
sayJThy love hath saved thee," but "Thy faith hath 

"GaL v: 14. 


saved thee"; it does not say, "Love the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and thou shalt be saved," but "Believe on the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." But that 
does not mean that the New Testament depreciates 
love; it does not mean that if a man did love, and al- 
ways had loved, God the Father and the Lord Jesus 
Christ and his fellow-men, as he ought to love them, he 
would not be a saved man; it only means that because 
of sin no unregenerate man who has ever lived has 
actually done that. Love, according to the New Testa- 
ment, is not the means of salvation, but it is the finest 
fruit of it; a man is saved by faith, not by love; but he 
: is saved by faith in order that he may love. 

Such, then, is the work. How may it be accom- 
plished? "Simply by accomplishing it," 'says the 
"practical" man; "no appeal need be made except to the 
sovereign will; any time a man desires to stop his evil 
ways and begin to serve God and his fellow-men, the 
way is perfectly open for him to do it," Yet here is 
the remarkable thing: the way is always perfectly open, 
and yet the man never enters upon it; he always can, 
but never does. Some of us feel the logical necessity 
of seeking a common cause for such a uniform effect. 
And the common cause that we find is sin. 

Of course if there is no, such thing as sin, then noth- 
ing is needed to overcome it, and nothing stands in the 
way of Christian love. The existence of sin, as we 
observed, is quite generally denied in the modern world. 
It is denied in at least two ways. In the first place, men 
sometimes say in effect that there, is no sin, but only 
imperfection; what we call "sin" is just one form of 


imperfection. If so, it may perhaps well be argued that 
the human will is sufficient for human tasks. We have 
obviously made at least some progress, it is said; we 
have advanced beyond the "stone age"; a continuation 
,of the same efforts will no doubt bring us still further 
on pur way; and as for perfection that is as impossible 
for us in the very nature of things as infinity. In the 
second place, it is said, there is no sin but only sins. 
It is , admitted that moral evil is different in kind from 
imperfection, but it is thought to possess no unity; 
every individual choice is thought to be independent of 
every other; a man is thought to be free every time to 
choose either good or evil ; no one else can help him, it 
is said, and no one need help him. 

Paul's view of sin is opposed to both of these. In 
the first place, sin, according to Paul, is deadly guilt, and 
in the second place it is not inherent merely in the indi- 
vidual acts. It is a mighty power, in the presence of 
which man is helpless. "It. is no more I that do it, but 
sin that dwelleth in me/' 13 "But," it may be objected, 
"what a dangerous form of expression that is! If it is 
no more I that do it, my responsibility is gone; how can 
I still feel guilt? If I am to be guilty, then sin' must be 
a property simply and solely of my conscious acts." 
Yet experience curiously reverses such a priori reasoning; 
history teaches that the men who have actually felt most 
deeply the guilt of sin have been just the men who re- 
garded it as a great force lying far beneath the individual 
acts. And a closer examination reveals the reason. If 
each act stands by itself, then a wrong choice at any par- 

13 Rom. vii: 17 '. - 


ticular time is, comparatively speaking, a trifling thing; 
it may easily be rectified next time. Such a philosophy 
can hardly produce any great horror and dread of sin. 
But if sin is regarded as a unitary power, irreconcilably 
opposed to what is good, then acts of sin, apparently 
trifling in themselves, show that we are under the domin- 
ion of such a power; the single wrong action can no 
longer be regarded by itself, but involves assent to a 
Satanic power, which then leads logically, irresistibly to 
the destruction of every right feeling, of every move- 
ment of love, of pity, of sympathy. When we come 
to see that what Paul calls the flesh is a mighty power, 
which is dragging us resistlessly down into an abyss of 
evil that has no bottom, then we feel our guilt and 
misery, then we look about for something stronger to 
help us than our own weak will. 

Such a power is found by the Apostle Paul in faith; 
it is faith, he says, that produces, or works itself out in, 
the life of love. But what does Paul mean when he 
says that "faith works"? Certainly he does not mean 
what the modern pragmatist skeptic means when he uses 
the same words; certainly he does not mean that it is 
merely faith, considered as a psychological phenomenon, 
and independent of the truth or falsehood of its object, 
that does the work. What he does mean 1 * is made 
abundantly clear in the last section of this same Epistle 
to the Galatians, where the life of love is presented in 
some detail. In that section nothing whatever is said 
about faith; it is not faith that is there represented as 
producing the life of love but the Spirit of God; the 

14 Compare Christianity and Libttetistn, 1923, pp. 146 ff. 


Spirit is there represented as doing exactly what, in the 
phrase "faith working through love," is ascribed to 
faith. The apparent contradiction leads us on to the 
right conception of faith. True faith, strictly speaking, 
does not do anything; it does not give, but receives. 
So when one says that we do something by faith that is 
just another way of saying that we do nothing at 
least that we do nothing of ourselves. It is of the very 
nature of faith, strictly speaking, to do nothing. So 
when it is said that faith works through love, that 
means that through 'faith, instead of doing something 
for ourselves we allow some one else to help us. That 
force which enters our life at the beginning through 
faith, before we could do anything at all to please God, 
and which then strengthens and supports us in the 
battle that it has enabled us to begin, is the power of the 
Spirit of God. 

So in the midst of a practical world, the Christian 
exhibits a practical life of love a busy life of helpful- 
ness, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, 
receiving the strangers, clothing the naked, visiting the 
sick and the prisoners. And all that accomplished not 
by his own unaided efforts, riot even merely by his own 
faith, but by the great object of his faith, the all-power- 
ful God. 

The Christian preacher, then, comes before tKe world 
with a great alternative. Shall we continue to depend 
upon our own efforts, or shall we receive by faith the 
power of God? Shall we content ourselves with the 
materials which this world affords, seeking by endlessly 
new combinations to produce a building that shall en- 


dure; or shall we build with the materials that have no 
flaw? Shall we give men new motives, or ask God to 
give them a new power? Shall we improve the world, 
or pray God to create a new world? The former alter- 
natives have been tried and found wanting: the best of 
architects can produce no enduring building when all 
the materials are faulty; good motives are powerless 
when the heart is evil. Struggle as we may, we re- 
main just a part of this evil world until, by faith, we 
cry: "ISfot by might, nor by power, but by Thy Spirit, 
O Lord of Hosts/* 



It has been shown in the last chapter that the Ghris- 
tion life is a life of love^ and that it is produced by the 
power of the Spirit of God received through faith in 
Christ. Such is the Christian work, and such is the 
power that accomplishes it. But. what is the goal, what 
is the end for which the work is done? 

That there is some goal beyond is suggested even by 
the very character of the means by which we accom- 
plish even this present task. Just as the power of sin 
was not exhausted by the evil actions committed here 
and now, so the power of the Spirit is not exhausted 
by His present fruits. Just as sin was felt to contain 
infinite possibilities of evil, to be leading toward dread- 
ful unf athomed depths, to contain a certain fearful 
looking for of judgment, so the Spirit is felt to be far 
greater than anything that He is now accomplishing. 
The Christian has within him a mysterious power of 
goodness, which is leading him by paths he knows not 
to an unknown and Blessed country. The "practical" 
man of the world sees but little of the true life of the 
Christian. He sees but the bare outward manifestation 
of the infinite power within. It is no proof of the 
absolute truth of Christianity that it has made the 
world better; for that achievement it shares perhaps 
with other religions, though no doubt they have it 



in far less degree. Other religions make men better: 
but Christianity alone makes them good; for Chris- 
tianity alone can exhibit one absolutely good human 
life, and with it the promise that other lives will one 
day be conformed to that. The Christian alone has 
really close and vital contact with absolute goodness 
a goodness that contains in its very nature and presence 
the promise that every last vestige of evil will finally 
be removed. 

So the Christian's love for his fellow men, which is 
so much admired by the world, seems to the Christian 
himself to be in one sense but a by-product; it is but 
an effect of the greater love for God and but one step 
in its unfolding. The relation of the Christian to that 
force that sustains and guides him is not that of a dead 
instrument in the hand of the workman, but that of a 
free man to his loving father. The work is felt to be 
all the more our work because it is also God's work. 
That personal relation of love between the Christian 
and his God is not seen by the world, but to the Chris- 
tian it, and it alone, contains the promise of final good- 

The Christian, then, produces the practical life of 
love on the way to something greater; the Christian 
lives by hope. That is sometimes made a reproach. 
The Christian does what is right, it is said, because of 
the rewards of heaven. How much nobler is the man 
who does what is right simply because it is right, or 
because it will lead to the happiness of generations yet 
unborn, even though he believes that for himself the 
grave ends all! The reproach would perhaps be justi- 


fied if heaven involves mere selfish enjoyment. But as 
a matter of fact heaven involves not merely enjoyment, 
not merely happiness, but also goodness, and goodness 
realized in communion with the One who alone is good. 
To regard that communion as broken off forever in 
death does not in actual practice lead, as at first sight 
it might seem as though it would naturally lead, to 
a height of unselfish service in which without thought 
of individual survival a man would live for the sake 
of the race. For the race is worthy of a man's service, 
not if it is composed of mere creatures of a day, whose 
life is essentially like the life of the beasts, but only 
if it is composed of men with immortal souls, A de- 
graded view of human life by which it is deprived of 
its eternal significance does not in the long run lead to 
unselfish service, but it leads to decadence and despair. 
At the very heart of the Christian religion, at any rate, 
despite what is being said today, is the hope of heaven. 
That hope is not selfish, but it is the highest and noblest 
thought, perhaps, that has ever been placed in the mind 
of man; it is the highest and noblest thought because 
it involves not mere selfish enjoyment but the glory of 
God. For the glory of God, realized through the 
creatures that He has made, eternity will not be too 
long. Man's chief end is not merely to glorify God and 
enjoy Him, but it is "to glorify God and to enjoy Him 
for evet." 

This thought of heaven runs all through the New 
Testament; and it is particularly prominent in the 
teaching of Jesus. Not only is it important in itself, 
moreover, but it has a very important bearing upon the 


subject of the present little book. Faith is closely con- 
nected in the New Testament with hope; and it is con- 
trasted in .notable passages with sight. In contrast 
with sight it is represented as a way by which we can 
learn of things that are to be ours in the future world. 
If, therefore, we are to understand in any adequate 
manner what the New Testament says about faith, we 
must attend very carefully to what the New Testament 
says about heaven. 

But we cannot understand at all what the New Tes- 
tament says about heaven, unless we attend also to what 
the New Testament says about hell; in the New Testa- 
ment heaven and hell appear in contrast. That contrast 
is found most clearly of all, strange though it may seem 
to some persons, in the teaching of Jesus. Jesus speaks 
not only about heaven but also, with very great plain- 
ness, about hell. "Fear not them which kill the body," 
said our Lord (to quote a typical utterance) , "but are 
not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is 
able to destroy both soul and body in hell." 1 

These words were not spoken by Jonathan Edwards; 
they were not spoken by Cotton Mather; they were not 
spoken by Calvin, or by Augustine, or by Paul. But 
they were spoken by Jesus. 

And when they are put together with many other 
words like them in the Gospels, they demonstrate the 
utter falsity of the picture of Jesus which is being con- 
structed in recent years. According to that picture, 
Jesus preached what was essentially a religion of this 
world; he advocated a filial attitude toward God and 

1 Matt, x: 28. 


promoted a more abundant life of man, without being 
interested in vulgar details as to what happens beyond 
the grave; in the words of Professor Ell wood, he "con- 
cerned himself but little with the question of existence 
after death." 2 

In order to destroy this picture, it is necessary only 
to go through a Gospel harmony and note the passages 
where Jesus speaks of blessedness and woe in a future 
life. If you do that, you may be surprised at the re- 
sult; certainly you will be surprised at the result if 
you have previously been affected in slightest degree by 
the misrepresentation of Jesus which dominates the 
religious literature of our time. You will discover that 
the thought not only of heaven but also the thought of 
hell runs all through the teaching of Jesus. 

It runs through the most characteristic parables of 
Jesus- the solemn parables of the rich man and Laz- 
arus, the unrighteous steward, the pounds, the talents, 
the wheat and the tares, the evil servant, the marriage 
of the king's son, the ten virgins. It is equally promi- 
nent in -the rest of Jesus' teaching. The judgment 
scene of the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew is only 
the culmination of what is found everywhere in the 
Gospels: "These shall go away into everlasting punish- 
ment: but the righteous into life eternal." 3 There is 
absolutely nothing peculiar about this passage amid the 
sayings of Jesus. If there ever was a religious teacher 
who could not be appealed to in support of a religion 

2 Ellwood, The Reconstruction of Religion, 1922, p. 141. 
3 Matt, xxv: 46. 


of this world, if there ever was a teacher who viewed 
the world under the aspect of eternity, it is Jesus of 

These passages and a great mass of other passages like 
them are imbedded everywhere in the Gospel tradition. 
So far as I know even the most radical criticism has 
hardly tried to remove this element in Jesus' teaching. 
But it is not merely the amount of Jesus taching about 
the future life which is impressive; what is even more 
impressive is the character of it. It does not appear as 
an excrescence in the Gospels, as something which might 
be removed and yet leave the rest of the teaching intact. 
If this element were removed, what would be left? Cer- 
tainly not the gospel itself, certainly not the good news 
of Jesus' saving work; for that is concerned with these 
high issues of eternal life and death. But not even the 
ethical teaching of Jesus would be left. There can be 
no greater mistake than to suppose that Jesus ever sep- 
arated theology from ethics, or that if you remove His 
theology His beliefs about God and judgment, about 
future woe for the wicked and future blessedness for 
the good you can have His ethical teaching intact. 
On the contrary, the stupendous earnestness of Jesus' 
ethics is rooted in the constant thought of the judg- 
ment seat of God. "And if thine eye offend thee, pluck 
it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter 
into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to 
be cast into hell fire." 4 These words are characteristic 
of all of Jesus' teaching; the stupendous earnestness of 

4 Matt, xviii: 9. 


His commands is intimately connected with the alter- 
native of eternal weal or woe. 

That alternative is used by Jesus to arouse men to 
fear. "And fear not them which kill the body, but 
are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which 
is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." 5 Luke 
records a similar saying of Jesus: "And I say unto you 
my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, 
and after that have no more than they can do. But I 
will forewarn you whom ye^hall fear: Fear him, which 
after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, 
I say unto you, Fear him." 6 There are those who tell 
us that fear ought to be banished from religion; we 
ought, it is said, no longer to hold before men's eyes 
the fear of hell; fear, it is said, is an ignoble thing. 
Those who speak in this way certainly have no right 
to appeal to Jesus; for Jesus certainly did employ, and 
insistently, the motive of fear. If you eschew alto- 
gether that motive in religion, you are in striking cpn- 
tradiction to Jesus. Here, as at many other points, 
a choice must be made between the real Jesus and much 
that bears His name today. But who is right? Is 
Jesus right, pr are those right who put out of their 
minds the fear of hell? Is fear altogether an ignoble 
thing; is a man necessarily degraded by being afraid? 

I think that it depends altogether upon that of which 
one is afraid. The words of the text that we have 
been considering, with the solemn inculcation of fear, 

8 Matt, x: 28." 
6 Luke xii: 4 f. 


are also a ringing denunciation of fear; the "Fear Him/' 
is balanced by "Fear not/' The fear of God is here 
made a way of overcoming the fear of man. And the 
heroic centuries of Christian history have provided 
abundant testimony to the efficaciousness of that way. 
With the fear of God before their eyes, the heroes of 
the faith have stood boldly before kings and governors 
and said: "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God 
help me, Amen." It is certainly an ignoble thing to 
be afraid of bonds and death at the hands of men; it 
is certainly an ignoble thing to fear those who use 
power to suppress the right. Such fear has always 
been overcome by true men of faith. 

Even the fear of God, indeed, might be degrading. 
It all depends upon what manner of being you hold 
God to be. If you think that God is altogether such 
an one as yourself, your fear of Him will be a degrad- 
ing thing. If you think of Him as a capricious tyrant, 
envious of the creatures that He has made, you will 
never rise above the grovelling fears of Caliban. But 
it is very different when you stand in the presence of 
all the moral order in the universe; it is very different 
when God comes walking in the garden and you are 
without excuse; it is very different when you think of 
that dread day when your puny deceptions will fall off 
and you will stand defenceless before the righteous 
judgment throne. It is very different when not the 
sins of the other people but your own sins are being 
judged. Can we really come before the judgment seat 
of God and stand fearlessly upon our rights? Or can 


we really repeat with Henley the well-known words: 

Out of the night that covers me, 

Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 

For my unconquerable soul, 
or this: 

It matters not how strait the gate, 

How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate: 

I am the captain of my soul. 

Is this the way to overcome fear? Surely it is not. 
We can repeat such words only by the disguised coward- 
ice of ignoring facts. 

As a matter of fact, our soul is not unconquerable; 
we are not masters of our fate or captains of our soul. 
Many a man has contemplated some foul deed at first 
with horror, and said, "Am I a dog that I should do 
this thing?" And then has come the easy descent 
into the pit, the gradual weakening of the moral fibre, 
so that what seemed horrible yesterday seems excusable 
today; until at last, at some sad hour, with the memory 
of the horror of sin still in the mind, a man awakes 
to the realization that he is already wallowing in the 
mire. Such is the dreadful hardening that comes from 
sin. Even in this life we are not masters of our fate; 
we are of ourselves certainly not captains of our bodies, 
and we are of ourselves, I fear, not even captains of our 
v souls. 

It is pitiable cowardice to try to overcome fear by 
ignoring facts. We do not become masters of our fate 
by saying that we are. And such blatancy of pride, 


futile as it is, is not even noble in its futility. It 
would be noble to rebel against a capricious tyrant; but 
it is not noble to rebel against the moral law of God. 

Are we, then, forever subject to fear? Is there 
naught, for us sinners, but a certain fearful looking 
for of judgment and fiery indignation? Jesus came to 
tell us, No! He came to deliver us from fear. He did 
not do so, indeed, 'by concealing facts; He painted no 
false picture of the future life as a life of undifferen- 
tiated futility such as, that which the "mediums" re- 
veal; He encouraged no false notion of a complacent 
God who could make a compact with sin. But he 
delivered men from fear by leading them to trust in 
Him. Terrible is the issue of eternal life and eternal 
death; woe to the man who approaches that issue in 
his own righteousness; but Christ can enable us to 
face even that. 

Even the Christian, it is true, must fear God. But 
it is a new kind of fear. It is a fear, at the most, of 
chastisement and rebuke, not of final ruin; it is a fear, 
indeed, rather of what might have been than of what 
is; it is a fear of what would have come were we not 
in Christ. Without such fear there can be, for us sin- 
ners, no true love; for love of a saviour is proportioned 
to one's horror of that from which one has been saved. 
And how strong are the lives that are filled with such 
a love! They are lives brave not because the facts have 
been ignored, but because they have been faced; they 
are lives founded upon the solid foundation of the 
grace of God. If that is, the foundation of our lives, 
we shall not fear when we come to the hour that other- 


wise we should dread. It is a beautiful thing when 
a Christian who has received Jesus as His Saviour comes 
to the moment of death; it is a beautiful thing to fall 
asleep in Jesus, and, as one enters that dark country of 
which none other can tell, to trust the dear Lord and 
Saviour and believe that we shall there see His face. 

Thus faith is not merely founded upon knowledge; 
but also it leads to knowledge. It provides informa- 
tion about a future world that otherwise would be 
unknown. Our discussion would be incomplete if we 
did not examine a little more fully this aspect of faith. 

The examination may be based upon one great verse 
in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the chapter that deals 
expressly with faith. "Now faith/' says the author 
of Hebrews at the beginning of that chapter, "is the 
substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things 
not seen." 7 

These words are not a definition or a complete ac- 
count of faith: they tell what faith is, but they do not 
tell all that it is, and they do not separate it from all 
that it is not. There are other utterances also in the 
New Testament, which are sometimes treated as defini- 
tions and yet are not definitions at all. Thus when 
James says that "pure religion and undefiled before God 
and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows 
in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from 
the world/' 8 he is not giving a definition or a complete 
description of religion; he is telling what religion is, 
but he is not telling all that it is: pure religion is to 

7 Heb. xi: 1. 
8 James i: 27. 


visit the fatherless and widows and to keep himself 
unspotted from the world, but it is far more than that. 
Or when it is said that "God is love," 9 that does not 
mean at all that God is only love. It is a very great 
logical error to single out such an affirmation and treat 
it as though it were a definition; many such affirma- 
tions would be necessary in order to obtain anything 
like a complete account of God; God is love, but He is 
many other things as well. 

So when it is said that faith is "the substance of 
things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," that 
does not mean that the substance of things hoped for 
or the evidence of things not seen is always faith, or 
that faith is only what it is here said to be. What we 
have in this verse is not all of faith, but one particular 
aspect of it. But since this particular aspect is an as- 
pect which is usually being neglected today, this text 
may perhaps be considered just now with special profit. 
The aspect of faith which is here placed in the fore- 
ground is one special part of the intellectual aspect of 
it; faith is here regarded as contributing to the sum of 
human knowledge. 

At the present time it is the fashion to ignore this 
aspect of faith: indeed faith and knowledge, as we have 
already observed, are often divorced; they are treated 
as though they belonged to two entirely different 
spheres, and could therefore never by any chance come 
either into relation or into contradiction. This sepa- 
ration between faith and knowledge has already been 
considered so far as the basis of faith is concerned; 

9 I John iv: 8. 


true faith, we have observed, is always based upon 
knowledge. But true faith is not only based upon 
knowledge, but also it leads to more knowledge; and it 
is this aspect of faith that is presented in classic form 
in the great verse at the beginning of the eleventh chap* 
ter of Hebrews. 

"Faith," the author of Hebrews says, "is the sub- 
stance of things hoped for." The word here translated 
"substance" is translated in the American Revised Ver- 
sion "assurance." But the difference is not important. 
The point in either case is that by faith future events 
are made to be certain; the old translation merely puts 
the thing a little more strongly: future events, it means, 
become through faith so certain that is as though they 
had already taken place; the things that are promised 
to us become, by our faith in the promise, so certain 
that it is as though we had the very substance of them 
in our hands here and now. In either case, whether 
the correct translation be "substance" or "assurance," 
faith is here regarded as providing information about 
future events; it is presented as a way of predicting 
the future. 

There are various ways of predicting the future; 
faith is one way, but it is not the only way. An- 
other way is provided, for example, by astronomy. 
On the twenty-fourth day of January, 1925, there 
was visible; in the eastern part of the United States a 
total eclipse of the sun. Elaborate preparations were 
made in order to take observations; the experts were 
so firmly convinced that the eclipse would take place 
that large sums of money were invested on the basis 


of the conviction. In connection with another eclipse 
that took place a few years before, even more expen- 
sive preparations were made. On that occasion the 
eclipse was visible in a much less accessible region, and 
various expeditions had to be sent many thousands 
of miles in order that the observations might be made; 
the astronomers seemed very firmly convinced indeed 
that the eclipse would take place. 

It is true that in some cases the labor was all 
wasted. In the places to which some of the expedi- 
tions went it rained or was cloudy; bad weather 
spoiled those elaborate scientific expeditions just as 
effectually as if they had been any ordinary Sunday 
School picnics. It may be, of course, that scientific 
men will learn to eliminate even this source of error; 
it may be that they will learn to predict with certainty, 
or even control, the weather. We certainly hope that 
it will not come in our day. For if it comes in our 
day, no doubt the farmers' bloc will want one kind of 
weather and the industrial workers another, so that 
what is now almost the only really safe topic of casual 
conversation will become a cause of civil war. But al- 
though the weather could not be predicted long enough 
ahead, and although it obscured the eclipse, yet no 
doubt the eclipse did take place on schedule time. On 
the last occasion, I believe, the eclipse was four seconds 
late: but those four seconds did not trouble me nearly 
so much as they troubled the astronomers; from my 
layman's point of view I am bound to say that I think 
the astronomers had succeeded fairly well in their way 
of predicting the future. 


But although astronomy is one way of predicting 
the future, and a very good way too, it is not the only 
way. Another way is faith. And what ought to be 
observed with special care is that faith is just as scientific 
as astronomy. The future is predicted by means of 
faith when one depends for one's knowledge of the 
future on the word of a personal being. And in ordi- 
nary life that method of prediction Is constantly em- 
ployed. Upon it depends, for example, the entire or- 
derly conduct of economic, political and social life. 
Business is carried on by rfleans of credit, and it is per- 
fectly scientific to carry it on so; it is perfectly scientific 
to hold that reputable men of business, especially when 
they eliminate -personal idiosyncrasies by acting collec- 
tively, will meet their obligations. Political life is pos- 
sible only by faith reposed in the government, and 
where such faith is destroyed one has hopeless anarchy. 
Social life is possible only because of faith social life 
in its larger aspects and also in the humblest and most 
individual details. It is really just as scientific to pre- 
dict that a mother will give the medicine at the proper 
time to her sick baby as it is to predict an eclipse of the 
sun. No doubt there are more disturbing factors in 
the former case than in the latter, and no doubt those 
disturbing factors must be duly taken into account ; but 
that does not affect the essentially sound scientific char- 
acter of the prediction. In any ideally complete scien- 
tific mapping out of the future course of the world the 
probability that the mother would give the medicine 
to the baby would have to be taken into account just 
as truly as the probability of the eclipse of the sun. 


Sometimes a prediction as to the future conduct of a 
person can be established with a certain degree of mathe- 
matical precision: it is discovered that a certain person 
has met his obligations in ninety-nine out of a hundred 
past cases; the probabilities, therefore, it will be said, 
are strongly in favor of his meeting his obligations in a 
similar case in the future. Certain forms of liability 
insurance, I imagine (though I know very little about 
it), are based upon some such calculation. But very 
often one's predictions as to the future conduct of a 
person, though attaining a very high degree of proba- 
bility indeed, are not based upon any such merely 
mathematical reasoning: a- person sometimes inspires 
confidence by his entire bearing; soul speaks to soul; 
and even apart from long experience of that person's 
trustworthiness one knows that he is to be trusted. 
That kind of trust has a larger place, by the way, in 
producing Christian conviction than is sometimes sup- 
posed. Even that kind of trust is thoroughly reason- 
able; it adds to the sum-total of knowledge, and is in 
a true sense of the word "scientific." Common experi- 
ence bears out the words of the text that faith is "the 
substance of things hoped for." 

The text also says that faith is the "evidence of 
things not seen." That assertion includes the other. 
Future things the things hoped for are always also 
"things not seen." The Christian, for example, in 
thinking of his communion in heaven with Christ, 
walks by faith not by sight; because he does not now 
see heaven. He has not the evidence of his eyes, but 
needs confidence in Christ to make heaven real to him. 


But this second affirmation of the text, though it in- 
cludes the first, goes also beyond it; faith is sometimes 
needed not only to predict the future hut also to give 
information about hidden things that already exist. 
Whether the information concerns the future or the 
present, it is based upon faith if it depends upon the 
word of a personal being. 

Faith, then, though it has other aspects, is always, if 
it be true faith, a way of obtaining knowledge; it 
should never be contrasted with science. Indeed, in any 
true universal science a science that would obliterate 
the artificial 'departmental boundaries which we have 
erected for purposes of convenience and as a concession 
to human limitations in any true universal science, 
confidence in personal beings would have a recognized 
place as a means of obtaining knowledge just as truly 
as chemical balances or telescopes. 

It is therefore only with great caution that we can 
accept the distinction set up by Tennyson at the begin- 
ning of In Memoriam: , 

Strong Son of God, immortal Love, 
Whom we, that have not seen thy face, 
By faith, and faith alone, embrace, 

Believing where we cannot prove. 

"Believing where we cannot prove" it all depends 
upon what you mean by "prove." If you mean by 
"prove" "obtain knowledge by your own observation 
without depending upon information received from 
other persons," then of course the distinction between 
belief (or faith) and proof is valid, and it may readily 
be admitted that in that sense the Christian religion 


'depends upon faith rather than upon proof. But what 
ought to be insisted upon above all things is that "be- 
lief" or faith, in the Tennysonian sense, may afford 
just ,as high a degree of scientific certitude as "proof" 
in the narrower sense of the word. Indeed in count- 
less cases it affords a much higher degree of certitude. 
Perhaps the reader may pardon an illustration from or- 
dinary life. I have an account at one of the Princeton 
banks. It is not so large an account as I should like, 
but it is there. Every month the bank sends me a 
report as to my balance. I also obtain information as 
to the same thing by the calculation which I make on 
the stubs of my check book. The information which 
I obtain by my own calculation is obtained by "proof" 
in the Tennysonian sense (or the sense which rightly 
or wrongly we have attributed to Tennyson). The 
information which I obtain from the bank, on the 
other hand, is obtained by faith it depends upon my 
confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the employees 
of the bank. I have not the slightest notion how the 
banks attain such a marvellous degree of accuracy. 
One of the first teachers of mathematics that I ever had 
told me, I think, something to the effect that the offi- 
cials of a bank sometimes spend the entire night search- 
ing the books for one cent that is unaccounted for. 
Recently I think I read in the Saturday Evening Post or 
some such journal, to my great disappointment, that if 
they are only one cent off, they go to bed. It was a 
youthful idol shattered! At any rate I do not know 
how they do it; I have not at all followed the steps of 
their calculation of my balance: yet I take the result 


with perfect confidence. It is a, pure matter of faith. 
Now not infrequently at the end of a month differences 
of opinion emerge, I am sorry to say, between the bank 
and myself as to the amount of my balance; "faith" 
in the bank's report is pitted against "proof" as based 
on my own calculations. And the curious thing is 
that faith is much stronger, much more scientific, than 
proof. I used to think that my calculation might be 
right and the bank's report wrong, but now I trust the 
bank every time. It is true, I have the desire to make 
the two means of obtaining knowledge converge; I 
have the intellectual desire of financially unifying my 
world. But I do so not by correcting the bank's report 
but by correcting my own calculation. I correct "proof" 
because I have obtained better information by "faith." 

That case, simple as it is, illustrates, I think, a great 
principle which goes to the vitals of religion. It is not 
true that convictions based on the word of others must 
necessarily be less firm and less scientific than convictions 
based on one's own calculation and observation. One's 
own calculation and observation may turn out to be 
wrong as well as one's confidence in the word of another 

So it is in the case of the Christian religion. The 
central convictions of the Christian religion, at least 
so far as the gospel of salvation is concerned, are based 
not upon our own observation, but upon testimony; 
they are based, in the first place, upon the testimony of 
the Biblical writers as to things said and done in the 
first century of our era in Palestine. That testimony 
may conceivably be true and it may conceivably be 


false; but to say beforehand that it cannot be true is to 
fall into a very serious intellectual fault. If the testi- 
mony is true, then the rejection of it is just as unscien- 
tific and the acceptance of it just as scientific as the re- 
jection or acceptance of assured results in the field of 
the laboratory sciences. 

As a matter of fact, we Christians think that the 
testimony is true. Why do we think so? No doubt 
there are various reasons; we test the assertions of the 
Biblical writers in many different ways before we accept 
them finally as true. But one reason has sometimes 
not been given quite the degree of prominence that it 
deserves. One very important reason for accepting the 
testimony of the New Testament about Christ is that 
we become personally acquainted with the writers who 
give us the testimony and on the basis of that acquaint- 
ance come to have an overpowering impression that 
they are telling us the truth. If you are troubled with 
doubts about the truth of the New Testament, if these 
marvellous things seem to you too strange ever really 
to have happened upon this earth, I should like to com- 
mend to you an exercise that has been helpful to me; 
I should like to suggest to you the plan of reading 
rapidly great sections of the Gospel narrative as though 
for the first time. The Gospel of Mark, for example, 
lends itself readily to this purpose; perhaps that is the 
reason why God has given us one Gospel that is so 
short. Read the Gospel of Mark all through, then, in 
one sitting; do not study it this time (important though 
detailed study at other times will be found to be) , but 
simply tead it; simply let the total impression of it be 


* . ^.-.M..... ' ---M-- _---... .-.. __._.._ . ..I. -. ____. . .....,. ...,....-........... j 

made upon your mind. If you do that you will feel 
that you have become well acquainted with the author; 
and you will have an overpowering impression that he 
is telling the truth. It is inconceivable, you will say, 
that this stupendous picture of Jesus could ever have 
been the product of invention or of the myth-making 
fancy of the Church; the author of the Gospel of Mark, 
if he could be placed upon the witness-stand, would 
make an overpoweringly good witness, and would bring 
conviction to the mind of any jury that was open to 
the facts. 

The same thing may be done also in the case of a book 
that is so much attacked as is the Fourth Gospel. In 
the course of my life, if a personal allusion may be par- 
doned, I have read a great deal that has been written 
against the historical trustworthiness of that book. 
Some of it at times has seemed to me to be plausible; 
I have been troubled at times by serious doubts. But 
at such times I have turned away from what has been 
written about the book to the book itself; I have tried 
to read it as though for the first time. And when I 
have done that, the impression has sometimes been quite 
overpowering. Clearly the author is claiming to be an 
eyewitness, and clearly he lays special stress upon the 
plain testimony of the senses. If he was not really an 
eyewitness of the life of Jesus, he is engaging in a re- 
fined piece of deception, vastly more heinous than if 
he had merely put a false name at the beginning of his 
book. That he is engaging in such a piece of deception 
may seem plausible when one merely reads what has 
been written about the author by others; but it seems 


to be a truly monstrous hypothesis when one gets per- 
sonally acquainted with the author by reading his book 
for one's self. When one does that, the conviction 
becomes overpowering that this author was actually, as 
he claims to be, an eyewitness of the wondrous things 
that he narrates, that he actually beheld the glory 
of the incarnate Word, and that the stupendous Person 
of whom he writes actually walked upon this earth. 

To neglect this kind of evidence the kind of evi- 
dence that is based upon personal testimony is, we 
maintain, a thoroughly unscientific thing. There is a 
breadth and open-mindedness about true science of 
which many persons seem not to have the slightest con- 
ception. They become immersed in one kind of evi- 
dence; within one limited sphere, their observations are 
good: but with regard to other kinds of evidence they 
are totally blind. Such blindness needs to be overcome 
if we are to have real scientific advance; the true scien- 
tist has his mind open not merely to some, but to all, 
of the facts. And if he has his eye open to all of the 
facts, he will not neglect what is told him by credible 
witnesses with regard to Jesus Christ. 

Still less can we neglect, if we be truly scientific men, 
what is told us by Jesus Himself. The New Testa- 
ment writers tell us about Jesus; on the basis of their 
testimony we are convinced that the Jesus of the New 
Testament really lived in this world, that He really 
died for our sins, that He really rose from the dead, 
and is now living so that He can be our Saviour. If 
we have accepted that testimony about Jesus, then we 
have Jesus Himself; and if we have Jesus Himself, it is 


reasonable to trust Him not only; for this world but 
also for the world to come. 

It is highly misleading, therefore, to say that religion 
and science are separate, and that the Bible is not in- 
tended to teach science. No doubt that assertion that 
the Bible is not intended to teach science does contain 
an element of truth: it is certainly true that there are 
many departments of science into which the Bible does 
not enter; and very possibly it is advantageous to isolate 
certain departments provisionally and pursue investiga- 
tions in those departments without for the moment 
thinking of others. But such isolation is at the best 
provisional merely; and ultimately there ought to be a 
real synthesis of truth. On principle, it cannot be de- 
nied that the Bible does teach certain things about which 
science has a right to speak. The matter is particularly 
clear in the sphere of history. At the very centre of 
the Bible are assertions about events in the external 
world in Palestine in the first century of our era events 
the narrating of which constitutes the "gospel," the 
piece of good news upon which our Christian faith is 
based. But events in Palestine in the first century of 
our era are just as much a proper subject for scientific 
history as are events in Greece or Rome. And in an 
ideally complete scientific account of the physical uni- 
verse the emergence or non-emergence of the body of 
Jesus from the tomb a question upon which the very 
existence of Christianity depends would have to be 
recorded just as truly as the observations that are made 
in the laboratory. 

We shall have to reject, therefore, the easy apologetic 


for Christianity which simply declares that religion and 
science belong in independent spheres and that science 
can never conceivably contradict religion. Of course 
real science can never actually contradict any religion 
that is true; but to say, before the question is deter- 
mined whether the religion is true or false, thajt science 
cannot possibly contradict it, is to do despite both to 
religion and to science. It is a poor religion that can 
abandon to science the whole realm of objective truth, 
in order to reserve for itself merely a realm of ideals. 
Such a religion, at any rate, whatever estimate may be 
given of it, is certainly not Christianity; for Christianity 
is founded squarely, not merely upon ideals, but upon 
facts. But if Christianity is founded upon facts, then 
it is not entirely independent of science; for all facts 
must be brought into some sort of relation. When any 
new fact enters the human mind it must proceed to 
make itself at home; it must proceed to introduce itself 
to the previous denizens of the house. That process of 
introduction of new facts is called thinking. And, con- 
trary to what seems to be quite generally supposed, 
thinking cannot be avoided by the Christian man. The 
Christian religion is not an innocent but useless epi- 
phenomenon, without interrelation with other -spheres 
of knowledge, but must seek to justify its place, despite 
all the intellectual labor that that costs, in the realm of 

Let us, however, have no fear. Our religion is really 
founded upon words of soberness and truth; it suffers 
just now not from an excess of thinking, but from a 
woeful deficiency of it, and a true broadening of knowl- 


edge would lead again into faith. It is, of course, a 
mistake to apply to one science the methods of another; 
perhaps that is the reason why men who are experts in 
the sphere of the laboratory sciences are often so very 
unscientific when they come to deal, for example, with 
history. Moreover the evidence for the truth of Chris- 
tianity is very varied, and it is not all of a kind that 
can easily be reduced to measurement. The Gospel wit- 
ness to Jesus, for example, is wonderfully convincing 
when one attends to it in the way that such evidence 
requires; it is wonderfully convincing when one brings 
it into connection with the facts of the soul. The evi- 
dence in favor of that Gospel witness, moreover, is 
cumulative; it will not lightly be rejected by anyone 
who really has an open mind. And when, by accepting 
that witness about Jesus, we have Jesus Himself, still 
more clearly can we trust Him for time and for eternity. 
(The witness is confirmed here and now by present expec- 
rience; the Christian knows the One in whom He has 
'believed. Faith need not be too humble or too apolo- 
getic before the bar of reason; Christian faith is a 
thoroughly reasonable thing; it is, as the Epistle to the 
Hebrews puts it, "the substance of things hoped for, 
the evidence of things not seen/* 

Our treatment of faith is nearly at an end. But one 
very practical question remains. Faith, we have seen, is 
the appointed means of salvation; without it there is 
at least for those who have come to years of discretion 
no saving contact with Christ. But faith is some- 
times strong and sometimes weak: how strong, then, 
does it have to be in order that a soul may be saved? 


In answer to this question, it must certainly be ad- 
mitted that the New Testament does recognize vary- 
ing degrees of faith; and it does seek with great earnest- 
ness to make faith strong instead of weak. According 
to the New Testament a strong, firm faith unmixed 
by doubts is something that is used by God to accom- 
plish great things. The matter is particularly plain in 
the case of prayer; the efficacy of prayer, according to 
the New Testament, does depend to some extent upon 
the degree of faith that is given to the man who prays; 
a weak, trembling faith is not ordinarily the instrument 
that removes mountains and casts them into the sea. 
But there is another aspect of the New Testament 
teaching; and it should not be neglected if we are to 

have comfort in the Christian life. Though God can 
use a firm, strong faith exercised in prayer; he also 
often uses a faith that is very weak. It is a great mistake 
to think that prayer works in any mechanical way; so 
that while a good prayer brings a good result a poor 
prayer necessarily brings a poor result. On the con- 
trary, the efficacy of prayer depends after all not upon 
the excellence of the prayer but upon the grace of God, 
and often God is pleased to honor prayers that are very 
faulty indeed. Thank God that it is so; thank God 
that though we know not what we should pray for as 
we ought His Spirit "maketh intercession for us with 
groanings which cannot be uttered"; thank God that 
He does for us not in proportion as we ask, but "ex- 
ceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." 

Thus it is, then, with prayer: there must be some 
faith if prayer is to be prayer at all and not a meaning- 


less form of words; but even weak faith is sometimes, 
in God's infinite mercy, used to accomplish great things. 
But if it is thus with the details of the Christian life, 
if it is thus with prayer, how is it with salvation? Faith 
is necessary to salvation, hut how much faith is neces- 
sary? How does God treat the man of little faith? 

In answer to this question we have in the Gospels a 
wonderful incident with which the present little attempt 
at exposition of the New Testament teaching about 
faith may fitly close. 

The incident is the healing of the demoniac boy in 
the ninth chapter of the Gospel according to Mark. 10 
It is also contained in Matthew and Luke as well as in 
Mark, but in very much briefer form. It is Mark alone 
who paints the picture in 'detail; it is Mark far more 
than the other two who enables us to see with the eyes 
of those who were present at the scene. If early Chris- 
tian tradition be right, as no doubt it is right, in holding 
that the Second Gospel embodies the missionary preach- 
ing of Peter, then the vivid character of the narrative 
is explained. The evangelist enables us to see with 
Peter's eyes. Peter with two other disciples had been 
upon the Mount of Transfiguration; he had seen the 
Lord in glory with Moses and Elias; and now on the 
descent from the mountain he tells us, through the 
words of the second Gospel, exactly what he saw below. 
Mark has preserved the details; he has made no attempt 
at stylistic smoothness; his narrative is rough and vigor- 
ous and natural. Nowhere is Mark more characteris- 
tically Marcan than here. 

10 Mark ix: 14-29. 


As thus depicted the scene is a scene of human misery 
and need. A man was in distress; his son was in the 
grip of an evil spirit, he foamed at the mouth and 
gnashed his teeth and now lay wallowing on the 
ground. In the presence of this distress, men were 
powerless to help; even the disciples of Jesus, despite all 
the power of their Master, could do nothing. It is a 
picture of human need and the powerlessness of man. 
And the scene has not heen made antiquated today. 
The cause of the ill then, I helieve, was different from 
that which is observed at the present time; hut the re- 
sulting misery was in important respects the same. Med- 
ical science has not yet gotten rid of human misery; and 
it is quite inconceivable that it ever will succeed in doing 
so. No doubt the form of misery may be changed; it 
is perfectly conceivable, though perhaps highly improb- 
able, that disease may be conquered. But death, at 
least, in the present order, will remain; and with death 
and bereavement there will be the distressed cry of the 
human soul. 

The man in the Marcan scene was at the very extrem- 
ity of distress. All resources had failed, and misery 
was at its height. And then Jesus came down from 
the mountain. In Him was a new and the very last 
resource. But Jesus did not help at once. The means 
of his helping was faith, and did the man believe? "If 
thou canst do anything," said the man; and it was a 
despairing rather than a believing "if." But Jesus did 
not despair. Faith was not apparent, but Jesus knew 
how to bring it forth; he brought to light the faith 
which the man possessed. "How long is it ago,** he 


said, "since this came into him?" And then he said, to 
call faith forth: "All things are possible to him that 

The answer of the man is one of the unforgettable 
utterances of the human spirit; it will remain classic so 
long as the race endures. It is not merely the voice of 
one man, but it voices the cry of the race. Thus, I 
suppose, out of wild distress, do many great utterances 
come. Ordinary speech covers the thought in conven- 
tional trappings; but in times of overpowering emotion 
the form of expression is forgotten and a cry comes un- 
bidden and unshaped from the depths of the soul. 

So it was with the man of this incident. Conceal- 
ment was forgotten; there was no pretence of a confi- 
dence which was not possessed; there was no attempt at 
logical harmony between the faith and the unbelief 
that struggled unreconciled in the soul. "Lord I be- 
lieve," said the man; "help thou mine unbelief." That 
was the faith, weak faith it is true, that was born of 
need. ., 

So must all faith, I suppose, be born. I do not mean 
that faith in Christ cannot come without previous an- 
guish of soul. Some children of Christian homes be- 
lieve in their Saviour almost as soon as full conscious- 
ness begins; and that simple faith of childhood remains 
sometimes grandly unshaken through all the storms of 
life. But hosts of men today do not believe in Christ 
at all. How shall they be led to faith in Him? We 
have already seen what the answer is; 11 they can be led 
only through the sense of need. 

11 See Chapter IV. 


The need of the man in the Gospel of Mark was 
plain. His son was gnashing with the teeth and .wal- 
lowing on the ground. But the need of all men, if they 
could only discern the facts, is equally clear. The great 
need of the human soul which leads to faith in Christ 
is found, as we have seen, in the fact of sin. A man 
never accepts Christ as Saviour unless he knows him- 
self to be in the grip of the demon of sin and desires 
to be set free. One may argue with a man on the sub- 
ject of religion as long as life endures; one may bring 
forward arguments for the existence of a personal God; 
one may attempt to prove on the basis of the documen- 
tary evidence that only the Christian view of Christ 
and only His resurrection from the tomb can explain 
the origin of the Christian religion. Men will listen, 
if they be broad-minded (as, however, they seldom are 
today) ; but repelled by the stupendous nature of the 
thing that we ask them to believe, they will reject all 
our arguments and conviction will not be formed. But 
then, as we despair of bringing them ever to faith, we 
receive sometimes an unexpected ally. In some unex- 
pected way the hollo wness and hopelessness of their lives 
comes home to them; they recognize the awful guilt 
of sin. And when that recognition comes, the proofs 
of the Christian religion suddenly obtain for them a new 
cogency; everything in the Christian system falls for 
them into its proper place; and they believe. Belief in 
Christ, today as always, can be attained only when there 
is a sense of need. 

That does not mean that we despise the external 
proofs of the Christian religion. They are absolutely 


necessary; without them the sense of need would lead 
only to despair. It is one^of the root errors of the pres- 
ent day to suppose that because the philosophical and 
historical foundations of our religion are insufficient to 
produce faith, they are therefore unnecessary. The truth 
is that their insufficiency is due not at all to any weak- 
ness of their own but only to a weakness in our minds. 
Pragmatism should be avoided by the Christian with all 
the energy of his soul, as indeed it should be avoided 
by everyone who will not acquiesce in the present lam- 
entable intellectual decline which pragmatism has 
brought about. The facts of the Christian religion re- 
main facts no matter whether we cherish them or not: 
they are facts for God; they are facts both for angels 
and for demons; they are facts now, and they will 
remain facts beyond the end of time. 

But/ as we have observed in an earlier part of our 
discussion, the facts are one thing, and the recognition 
of the facts is another. And it is the recognition of the 
facts that depends for us upon the sense of need. The 
man who has come to discern the sin of his own soul, 
who has stripped aside the miserable conventional ex- 
cuses for sin and seen himself as God sees him, is a man 
who like a drowning person will snatch at a plank that 
may save him from the abyss. Without the sense of 
dire need the stupendous, miraculous events of Jesus' 
coming and Jesus' resurrection are unbelievable because 
they are out of the 'usual order; but to the man who 
knows the terrible need caused by sin these things are 
valuable just because they are out of the usual order. 
The man who is under the conviction of sin can accept 


the supernatural; for He knows that there is an ade- 
quate occasion for its entrance into the course of this 

Bring even modern men to a real sense of sin, and 
despite all the prejudice against the gospel story, they 
will be led to cry at least: "Lord, I believe; help thou 
mine unbelief/' That cry of the distressed man in 
Mark was not the cry of perfect faith. But through 
it the man was saved. So it will be today. Even very 
imperfect and very weak faith is sufficient for salvation; 
salvation does not depend upon the strength of our 
faith, but it depends upon Christ. When you want 
assurance of salvation, think not about your faith, but 
about the Person who is the object of your faith. Faith 
is not a force that does something, but it is a channel 
by which something is received. Once let that channel 
be opened, and salvation comes in never to depart. It 
is a great mistake to suppose that Christians win 
through to salvation because they maintain themselves 
by their own efforts in an attitude of faith. On the 
contrary, saving faith means putting one's trust once 
for all in Christ. He will never desert those who are 
committed to Him, but will keep them safe both in 
this world and in that which is to come. 

In the second part of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress 
there is one of those unforgettable portraits which have 
caused the book of the tinker of Bedford that tender- 
est and most theological of English books to be one 
of the true masterpieces of the world's literature. It is 
the portrait of "Mr. Fearing." Mr. Fearing had "the 
root of the matter" in him; he was a true Christian, But 


he got little comfort out of his religion. When he came 
to the Interpreter's house, he was afraid to go in; he 
lay trembling outside till he was almost starved. But 
then, when at last he was brought . in, he received a 
warm welcome. "I will say that for my Lord," said 
Great-heart, "he carried it wonderful lovingly to him." 
And so Mr. Fearing went meaningly on his way; and 
when he was come to the entrance of the Valley of the 
Shadow of Death, "I thought," said the guide, "I 
should have lost my man." At last he came to the 
River which all must cross, and there he was in a heavy 
case. "Now, now, he said, he should be drowned 
for ever, and so never see that face with comfort that 
he had come so many miles to behold." But never, we 
are told, had the water of that River been seen so low 
as it was on the day that Mr. Fearing went across. "So 
he went over at last, not much above wet-shod. When 
he was going up to the Gate, Mr. Great-heart began to 
take his leave of him, and to wish him a good reception 
above. So he said, / shall, I shall." 

Such is the blessed end of the man even of little faith. 
Weak faith will not remove mountains, but there is one 
thing at least that it will do; it will bring a sinner into 
peace with God. Our salvation does not depend upon 
the strength of our faith; saving faith is a channel not 
a force. If you are once really committed to Christ, 
then despite your subsequent doubts and fears you are 
His for ever. 





Abraham, 204. 

Admiration, to be distinguished 
from faith, 97 f. 

America: abandonment of scien- 
tific method in, 24-26; the 
Church in, 40-43; education 
in, 123-129. 

American Revised Version, 231. 

Anti-intellectualism, 13-45,47- 
51, 95. 

Astronomy, 231-233. 

Atonement, the, 82, 86f., 143- 
154, 164f., 169-171, 194, 

Augustine, 54, 222. 

Banks, illustration derived from, 
23 6f. 

Baur, 63. 

Beauty, the sense of, as a way 
of approach to Christ, 136f. 

Bible, the: ignorance of, 20-23; 
is the supreme textbook on 
faith, 45; gives knowledge of 
God, 77f., is the seat of au- 
thority in religion, 105f.; 
reading of, in public schools, 
128; how bring the modern 
man into connection with, 
162; teaches things with 
which science is concerned, 

Bible classes, 21, 23. 

Bousset, 99f, 

Bradley, 35f. 

Bunyan, John, 14 If., 250: see 

also under Pilgrim's Progress, 
Business, is carried on by means 

of frith, 233. 

Caliban, 226. 

Calvin, John, 137, 222. 

Chalcedonian Creed, 88, 91. 

Character education, 123-129. 

Character Education Institution, 
the, 124-126. 

Chemistry; compared with the- 
ology, 33. 

Children, the faith of, 93-96. 

Christian Science, 175. 

Christianity: applied, 23; doc- 
trinal content of, neglect of, 
24; is abandoned by those 
who abandon theology, 39f. ; 
is founded upon facts, 15 Of. 

Christianity and Liberalism, 
144, 177, 216. 

Christology, 89; see also un- 
der "Jesus Christ," etc. 

Church, the: in America, 40- 
43; condition of, 100-105; 
doctrinal requirements for ad- 
mission to the visible, 155- 

Church union, 159f. 

Collectivism, 181. 

Communion with Christ, not 
hindered by dependence upon 
the gospel, 153f, 




Companionship, desire for, as a 
way of approach to Christ, 

Confession of faith, a credible, 
should be required for ad- 
mission to the Church, 155- 
157, 159. 

Conscience, gives knowledge of 
God, 76f. 

Controversy: benefits of, 40- 
43 ; importance of the pres- 
ent, 89-97; opposition to, 

Counterfeits, monetary and 
spiritual, 177-180. 

Courts of law, the function of, 

Creation, the doctrine of, 54- 
55, 57, 59-61, 65. 

Creeds: ancient and modern, 
28-39; pragmatist treatment 
of, 33ff.; faith involves 
assent to, 47f. ; difficulty in- 
volved in differences among, 

Cross, the, see under "Atone- 

David, 66. 

Death, the, of the Christian, 

Decadence, intellectual, 15ff. 

Definitions, 13f. 

Denney, James, 109. 

Doctrine: neglect of, 21-23; 
pragmatist attitude toward, 
28-39; is the foundation of 
the Christian religion, 47f. ; 
acceptance of, falsely con- 
trasted with faith in a per- 
son, 148-154; how much 
need be accepted to make a 
man a Christian, 154-160; 
how much required for ad- 
mission to the visible Church, 
155-159; how much re- 
quired for ordination, 157- 

Downs, Francis Shunk, 23. 

Eastern mind, the, 3 Of. 

Eclipse of the sun, the, 231- 

Education, relations of, to the 
moral law, 123-129; see 
also under "Pedagogy." 

Edwards, Jonathan, 137, 222. 

Effectual calling, 135f., 196. 

Efficiency, true and false, 209ff. 

Elisha, 67, 245. 

Ellwood, 25f., 37, 223. 

Emotional aspect of faith, the, 

Epistemology, 27. 

Ethics of Jesus, the, 26, ~224f. 

Example of Jesus, the Christian 
use of the, 111-113. 

Exegesis, 23-26, 183f., 186ff. 

Experience, regarded by Mod- 
ernism as the basis of theol- 
ogy, 28-39. 

Fact of the atonement, the, re- 
lation of, to the theory, 

Facts: the place of, in educa- 
tion, 15ff., 19ff.; Christian- 
ity founded upon, 15 Of. 

Family, the Christian, decline 
of, as an educational institu- 
tion, 22. 

Fatherhood of God, the 168f., 
171: teaching of Jesus 
about, 55, 60, 62, 84-87. 

Fear, the motive of, in religion, 

Flesh, Paul's doctrine of, 216. 

Fosdick, Harry Emerson, 33f. 

Future life, Jesus' teaching 
about the, 25f. ; see also 
under "Heaven" and "Hell." 

Galatians, the Epistle to the, 
183-186, 192-194, 199- 
207; see also Index of Bib- 
lical Passages. 

Gamaliel, 67. 



.Gentile Christianity, early, ac- 
cording to Dr. McGiffert, 

Germany, 125. 

Gift, faith is acceptance of a, 
180-182, 195ff. 

God: the personality of, 36f., 
5 Of., 53, 7 If.; communion 
with, is based upon knowl- 
edge, 36f. ; in what sense 
known only through Jesus, 
37f.; Jesus' teaching about, 
38f., 72; faith in, 46-83; 
belief in the existence of, is 
necessary to faith in, 47-50; 
direct contact with, 49; re- 
vealed as trustworthy, 52; 
false notion of immanence of, 
52f., 70; transcendence of, 
53, 65; infinity of, 53f.; 

. metaphysical attributes of, 
53f.; Jesus' doctrine of, ac- 
cording to Dr. McGiffert, 
55f., 64; Paul's teaching 
about, according to Dr. Mc- 
Giffert, 56, 64; the justice 
of, is necessary to the idea of 
salvation, 57-59; the good- 
ness of, falsely separated from 
His power, 59-61; the im- 
manence, of, 72; is to be 
valued for His own sake, 72- 
74; communion with, 74, 
79-83; knowledge of, at- 
tained through nature, 75 f., 
through conscience, 76f., 
through the Bible, 77f.j the 
grace of, 81-85, 173f., 192- 
196; the justice of, 163- 
169, 18 If.; the Fatherhood 
of, 55, 60, 62, 84-87, 
168f., 171; the love of, is 
not contradicted by the doc- 
trine of justification by faith, 

Goodness of God, the, falsely 
separated from His power, 

Goodspeed, Edgar Johnson, 

Gospel, the: relation of, to 
faith, 143-160; offers Christ 
to us, 151-154; the preach- 
ing of, as a means to the 
salvation of men, 197f 

Gospel of Jesus, the, falsely 
distinguished from a gospel 
about Jesus, 105-110. 

Gospels, the testimony of the, 
237-240, 243. 

Grace of God, the, 81-83, 
173f., 192-196. 

Grammatico-historical exegesis, 
abandonment of, 23-26, 
183f., 186ff. 

Greece, 136. 

Guilt, assumed by Jesus on the 
cross, 164ff. 

Harnack, 99. 

Heaven, 25f., 220-222, 234f. 
Hegelian philosophy, the, 63. 
Hell, Jesus' teachings about, 

25f., 136f., 222-225. 
Henley, 227. 
Honesty, is a necessary basis of 

a true Reformation, 103. 
Hope, relations of, to faith, 

Holy Spirit, the, 104, 158, 171, 

190-192, 196, 207-209. 

207f.. 216f. 

Ideal, approach to Jesus 

through the desire for an, 

Ignorance: the growth of, in 

the Church, 21-26; may mar 

the simplicity of faith, 96. 
Immanence of God, the, 72; 

false notion of, 52f., 70. 
Infinity, relations of man to, 


Infinity of God, 53f. 
Intellect, the: depreciation of, 

13-45; primacy of, 26ff.. 



47ff., 51; is separated from 
religion by the mystics, 49f.; 
exclusive use of, in approach 
to Christ, 130-136. 
Intellectual decadence, 15 S. 

James, Epistle of, 199-207. 

Jefferson, Charles E., 172. 

Jeremiah, 79. 

Jesus Christ: misrepresentation 
of, 25f.; ethics of, cannot be 
separated from His theology, 
26, 224f.; did not leave His 
own person and work out of 
His gospel, 39, 107-110; His 
teaching about God, accord- 
ing to Dr. McGiffert, 55f., 
64; early Gentile Christian 
view of, according to Dr. 
McGiffert, 56ff.; teaching of, 
about God, 38f., 60, 62, 64, 
84-87, 172; is taken by 
Modernists as the embodiment 
of abstract goodness, 6 If.; 
faith in, 84-117, 179f.; is 
the object of faith according 
to the New Testament, 187ff; 
the power of, necessary as 
basis of faith in Him, 86f. ; 
faith in, different from faith 
in His teachbg and example, 
97f.; acceptance of the claims 
of, necessary to faith, 98; is 
He the object of faith or 
merely an example for faith, 
98-102; the gospel of, 
falsely distinguished from the 
gospel about, 105-110: the 
teachings of, are not the sole 
seat of authority in religion, 
105f.; presented Himself as 
the object of faith, 107-110; 
regarded Himself as Messiah, 
109, 139: was not a Chris- 
tian, 11 Of.; the example of, 
111-113; cosmic aspects of, 
113-117; the deity of, 113- 
117; ways of approach 

to, 130-141; the resurrection 
of, 131-134, 151, 241, 
248; teaching of, .about 
heaven and hell, 136f., 221- 
225; claims of, 138-140; 
teaching of, about His re- 
deeming work, 15 Of.; is of- 
fered to us in the gospel, 
151-154; communion with, 
not hindered by dependence 
upon the gospel, 153; para- 
bles of, 223; use of motive 
of fear by, 225. 

John the Baptist, 79. 

John, the Gospel according to, 

Jonathan, 66. 

Justice, human, the basis of, 

Justice of God, the, 57-59, 

Justification by faith, 161-182, 

Kant, 14, 23, 131. 

Kingdom of God, the, Jesus' 
teaching about, 38f. 

Knowledge: is basis of com- 
munion with God, 36f. ; re- 
lations of, to faith, 40, 46ff., 
50, 87ff., 176-180, 203; 
partial, is not necessarily false, 
5 If., 166; more of it needed 
as basis of faith in Jesus now 
than when Jesus was on 
earth, 9 If.; does not destroy 
the simplicity of faith, 91- 
96; does not necessarily pre- 
cede faith in order of time, 
93f.: is involved in the faith 
of a child, 94f. : how much 
of it is required for salvation 
and for admission to the vis- 
ible Church and to the min- 
istry, 154-160; is obtained 
by faith, 229-243. 

Law, human, need For sim- 
plicity in, 167f. 



Law of God, the: function of, 
in producing the consciousness 
of sin, 1 1 9 - 14 2 ; Paul's doc- 
trine of, 184ff. 

Lessing, 175. 

Liberalism, 33f., 64, 99: see 
also under "Modernism." . 

Liberty, 181. 

Lord, origin of the title as ap- 
plied to Jesus, according to 
Bousset, 99f. 

Love: relations of, to faith, 100, 
196f.; the New Testament 
does not speak of justification 
by, 172-174; as the summa- 
tion of the Christian life, 

Love of God, the: not contra- 
dicted by the doctrine of jus- 
tification by faith, 169-171: 
brings salvation through the 
gift of Christ, 197. 

Luther, Martin, 67, 83. 

Lutheran Church, the, 157. 

McGiffert, Arthur Cushman, 

Marcion, 60. 

Mark, the Gospel according to, 
23 8f., 245. 

Materialism , practical, 212. 

Mather, Cotton, 1 3 7f., 222. 

Messiah, the, Jesus regarded 
Himself as, 109, 139. 

Metaphysical .attributes of God, 
the, 53f. 

Metaphysics: abandoned by pos- 
itivists, 38; . indifference to, 
advocated by Dr. McGiffert, 

Ministers, are neglecting educa- 
tion, 22. 

Ministry, the, docttinal require- 
ments for admission to, 157- 

Miracles, 8 8f., 249f.: presump- 
tion against, overcome in the 
ease of Jesus, 131-136. 

Modernism, 32-ff., 34ff., 62-64, 
122, 165f., 186f., 214-216: 
is a retrograde movement, 1 8 ; 
the anti-intellectualism of, 
39; is a religion distinct from 
Christianity, 102; the ethical 
fault of, in the evangelical 
churches, 102f. 

Monotheism, indifference to, in 
early Gentile Church, ac- 
cording to Dr. McGiffert, 

"Morality Codes," 123-129. 

Moses, 245; the law of, 119- 

Mysticism, 33-37, 49f., 95. 

Naaman, 152f. 

Naturalism, 100. 

Nature, 'affords knowledge of 

God, 75f. 
Need, the sense of, is necessary 

to faith, 118-142, 246-250. 
Nicene Creed, 30, 88. 

Object of faith, importance of 

an, 174-180. 
Originality, true and false, 17- 


Paganism, 41, 122f. 

Pantheism. 52f., 69-72. 

Parables of Jesus, 194f., 223. 

Patriotism, 125. 

Patton, Francis Landey, 10. 

Paul, 68ff., 72, 119ff., 149, 
172, 183-195, 199-21.8; 
misinterpretation of, 24f . ; 
the teaching of, about faith, 
44f.; the teaching of, ac- 
cording to Dr. McGiffert, 5 6, 
64; proclaimed a gospel but 
was not the substance of a 
gospel, 107. 

"Peace and work," policy of, in 
the Church, lOlf. 

Pedagogy: the modern theory of, 
15ff.; our theory of, 18ff. 



Persecution, apparent success of, 

Person, falitb in a, 46: falsely 
contrasted with assent to 
creeds, 47f., with acceptance 
of a doctrine, 148-154. 

Personality of God, the, 5 Of., 
53, 7 If. 

Peter, 67, 245. 

Pharisee and publican, parable 
of the, 79f. 

Philosophy, anti-intellectualistic 
tendency in, 14, 23, 27. 

Physicians, attitude of, toward 
faith, 176. 

Pilgrim's Progress, 14 If.. 2 5 Of.: 
see also under "Bunyan." 

Political life, possible because of 
faith, 233. 

Positivism, 37-39. 

Power: of God, falsely separated 
from His goodness, 59-61 ; of 
Jesus, necessary if there is to 
be faith in Him, 96f. 

Pragmatism. 27-45, 94, 174- 
180, 210, 216, 249. 

Prayer, 68, 73, 205f., 244f.: 
modern, 121f. 

Princeton Theological Seminary, 

Princeton Theological Review, 
6, 34, 54. 

Progress, true and false concep- 
tions of, 29-34. 

Proof, relation of, to belief, 

Providence, the doctrine of, 

Reason: depreciation of, 13- 
45: function of, 5 If. 

Redemption, 150ff. : see also 
under "Atonement," etc. 

Reformation, the. 181, 183f., 

Reformation, the new. 18f., 
1Q3-10.5, 184. 

Regeneration, 207f., 135f., 158, 
165f.. 190-192, 197f. 

Religion: falsely distinguished 
from theology, 28-39; ap- 
parent failures of, 68, 73; 
relation of, to science, 24 If. 

Renaissance: the new, 18f.; the 
Italian, 136. 

Resurrection of Jesus, 131-134. 
151, 241. 248. 

Revelation, 5 If. 

Revival, the hoped for, 18f. 

Ritschl, 15, 23. 

Ruler, the rich young, 138. 

Salvation: falsely separated 
from theism by Dr. Mc- 
Giffert, 57-59; faith as the 
means of, 161-182; how 
strong faith is required for, 

Saturday Evening Post, The, 

Saxony. Elector of, 67. 

Schleiermacher, 14f., 23. 

Science: progress in. 29, 3 If.; 
relations of, to faith, 235- 
243: relation of. to religion, 

Scientific method, abandonment 
of, in exegesis, 23-26. 

Schools, moral education in, 

Seminaries, theological, 22. 

Sermon on the Mount, the, 84. 
150, 189. 

Shorter Catechism, Westminster, 
36, 135f., 147, 151f., 221. 

Self-trust, destroys the simplicity 
of faith, 95f. 

Sight, contrasted with faith, 

Simpicity of faith, is not de- 
stroyed by knowledge, 93- 

Sin: is the thing from wrrch 
Christians are saved, 57f.; 
loss of the consciousness of. 



58; Christianity is a way of 
getting rid of, 110; the con- 
sciousness of, necessary to 
faith, 118-142, 248-250; 
the fact of, must not be ig- 
nored in the intellectual 
approach to Christ, 132- 
136; the consciousness of, is 
necessary to the esthetic ap- 
proach to Christ, 136f., is 
necessary to the approach to 
Christ through the desire for 
companionship, 137-139, is 
necessary to the approach to 
Christ through the desire for 
an ideal, 34f., is necessary to 
the understanding of the 
atonement, 144; salvation 
from the power of, 204 ; the 
teaching of Paul about pres- 
ence of, in Christians, 207; 
the existence of, is denied in 
the modern world, 214-216. 

Social life, is possible only be- 
cause of faith, 233. 

Socialism, 212. 

Son of Man. the, 109. 

Spencer, Herbert, 35f. 

Stoicism, 122. 

Students, theological, 22, 42. 

Sunday Schools, 23. 

Supernatural, the: see under 

Tennyson, 71, 25 5f. 
Terminology, theoogical, 161- 

Testimony, is at the basis of the 

Christian religion, 237-240. 
Theism, 47-66, 84, 131. 
Theology: falsely distinguished 

from religion, 28-39; is a 

science, 33; is regarded by 
Modernists as the symbolic 
expression of experience, 28-, 
39; abandonment of, in- 
volves abandonment of Chris- 
tianity, 39f.; intrusion of, 
into Christianity, according 
to Dr. McGiffert, 57. 

Theory of th; atonement, the, 
realtion of, to the fact, 144- 

Thinking, facts are necessary to, 

Toplady, 194. 

Transcendence of God, 53, 65. 

Translations, modern, of the 
New Testament, 162. 

Trinity, the, all three Persons 
of, are objects of faith, 87. 

Truth: objectivity of, 32ff.; 
relation of, to faith, 174- 

Undergraduates, modern, 16f. 

Virgin birth, the, 91. 
Volitional aspect of faith, the, 

Waterhouse. E. S., 35f. 
Weather, possible control of the. 


Wells. H. G., 54. 
Westminster Confession, SO, 34. 
Westminster Standards. 36. 
Westminster Shorter Catechism, 

36. 135f., 147, 151f.,221. 
Wonder, is not destroyed by the 

knowledge of God, 65f. 
Works, the relation of, to faith. 

183-218. " 
Woman's .Home Companion, 

The. 6. 



i: 1 

......= 501 

xix: 1 . . 

.-.-.-. v-.i 76 

I Samuel 

........ 66 

cxxi: 1 . . .". 


xl' 26 


xvii: 45 . . 

.., 66f. 

xvii: 9 


I Kings 
xx: 23 

.., 68 

xxxi: 33 . . 

.. 191 

xviii: 4 


II Kings 
v: 12 


vii ...... 

..... 140 

vi: 15-17 . 


v-vii . . . '. . . 

...... 84 


vii: 2-10 
xii: 4f. .. 

. . . 88-96 

vi: 11 . . . . 

...... 73 

...... 225 

vii: 20 . . . 


xii: 32 .. 

...... 60 

Viii: 5-13 
viii: 22 . . . 


xiv: 26 . 



xxiii: 47 . 


x: 28 

. .26, 222, 225 

i: 1 . 

. . . .. .106-116 

xi ...... 


xi: 27 . . . 


xii: 30 

. . 138 

xix: 30 . 


xviii : 9 . . . 

...... 26, 224 

v: 29 ... 

. .... 67 

xxvj 46 . i 

. .... 223 

ix: 14-29 . 


xvi: 31 . 

....... 214 

i: 20 

. . 76 

x: 15 


x: 21 


x: 45 


ii: H 

120. 189 

xv: 39 . . . 


vi: 23 ... 






vii: 17 215 

vii: 25 191 

viii 150, 201 

viii: 2 191 

viii: 24 ......... 191 

viii: 31 66-83 

viii: 35-39 117 

viii: 38f 83 

I Corinthians 

i: 13 

vi: 9f 

xiii: 13 . . . . 
xv: 3-7j . . . 

II Corinthians 
iii: 6 .... 





ii: 16 . 
ii: 20 . 


. . 201 



iii: 23 44 

iii: 24 119-142 

v: 6 209-218 

v: 14 213 

ii: 6 



i: 15-17 115f. 


xi: 1 229-235 

xi: 3 50 

xi: 6 47-51 


i: 27 229f. 

ii: 19 203 

ii: 24 199-206 

v: 13f 205f. 

I John 
iv; 8 
iv: 10 





What is faith? 


m a 


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UL 10 

IAY 13 1938 

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