The American Board And Speculative Theology -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 044:176 (Oct 1887)
Article: The American Board And Speculative Theology
Author: Anonymous

The American Board And Speculative Theology

The activity of the new departure theologians at Andover continues to tax to the utmost the wisdom of the Prudential Committee of the American Board, and the capacity of the Congregational church polity to guard itself against the incursion of vital error. The approaching meeting at Springfield seems likely to be even more eventful than the one a year ago at Des Moines. It is becoming more and more evident that temporizing measures will be of little avail. The theological questions at issue are not such as can be overlooked, or regarded as of secondary importance. At bottom they are the issues which have separated the Universalists, the Unitarians, and the rationalizing heretics in general from the evangelical body of Christians. The doctrines involved pertain, first of all, to the sufficiency of the Scriptures as a guide to religious faith; and, secondarily, to the integrity of that central group of evangelical doctrines including and clustering about the atonement; viz., the extent of man’s natural powers, the guilt of sin, the hazard of impenitence, and the self-imposed restrictions of Divine Wisdom under which salvation is offered to men.

These are deep questions, upon which the human mind in all ages has been active, and upon which it will ever continue to be active. No mechanical adjustment of church polity has ever been able to repress the tendency of the human mind to speculate upon them. Speculation upon them has been curbed only by profound reverence for the authority of the word of God. Nor does enforced subscription to a cast-iron creed seem to be any more availing. Indeed, if we mistake

not, the effect of subscription upon the Andover professors has been unfortunate in stimulating speculation in unlawful directions. Like Paul, these professors were alive once without the law; but when the yoke of their legal subscription pressed heavily upon their necks, their speculative tendencies revived, and they became dead to the ordinary considerations governing men in the administration of such public trusts. We doubt if there has ever been a more striking instance of mental confusion on the part of eminent men than is exhibited in the efforts of the Andover professors to convince themselves and the world that the doctrine of future probation could be legitimately taught under the creed of Andover Seminary.

In determining the proper course of action at Springfield, several principles of public policy should be well considered and some errors and fallacies carefully avoided. In the present limits we can do but little more than indicate a few dangers, and emphasize some of the principles that should guide the action of the Board.

1. And, fi...

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