Recent Questions Of Unbelief -- By: W. A. Stearns

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 027:107 (Jul 1870)
Article: Recent Questions Of Unbelief
Author: W. A. Stearns

Recent Questions Of Unbelief

W. A. Stearns

Never, since the crucifixion, has the religion of Christ, in its purest forms, had a stronger hold on the popular heart than at this day. But at no time has it been assailed with such variety and persistency of argument for its overthrow as during the hundred years just passed, nor in our own country as during the present century. Within the last fifteen or twenty years, especially, every. department of knowledge has been solicited, both here and abroad, to bear witness against it. Even intelligent men, from whom we might have expected more wisdom, if not piety, led away by what the apostle has designated “science, falsely so called,” and by “philosophy and vain deceit,” have, in some instances, surrendered Christian hopes, and embraced a scepticism as terrible as it is unreasonable. The spirit of doubt has been extensively infused into the popular literature of the day; and a romantic semblance of Deity has been substituted in it, to an alarming degree, for the great personal God our Father. These seductive influences have shaken the faith of many who know little of the sources from which their misgivings were derived.

While the unlettered disciple of Jesus, besides that great witness which he has within himself, needs have no fear lest the argument for infidelity should be too powerful—even on the plane of the natural understanding—for the argument which defends the cross, intelligent men, under such circumstances, have a mission, not only to stand with firmness in their own constancy, but to protect and strengthen the weak; beating down antichristian opposition with the weapons of just reasoning and the wisdom of Christ.

We propose a few remarks on the Recent Questions of

Unbelief. We must premise, however, that they so overlap, intermingle, and complicate themselves with each other, that any perfect classification of them, chronologically considered, would be impossible. At the same time, we may hope to set them forth with sufficient exactness for the purpose now in view, by arranging them according to their degrees; beginning with the less formidable, and proceeding to those which leave us nothing but the blackness of darkness, instead of our old religious lights.

The first form of unbelief may be called a question of interpretation. It admits that Christianity is a supernatural religion; that Christ himself, in a high, mysterious, supernatural sense, is the Son of God; that the Bible, at least the New Testament, is a supernatural revelation. But it endeavors to eliminate from the record, by means of criticism and interpretation, all those principles which are distinctly evangelical. While i...

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