Dr. Briggs’s “Whither?” -- By: G. Frederick Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 047:185 (Jan 1890)
Article: Dr. Briggs’s “Whither?”
Author: G. Frederick Wright

Dr. Briggs’s “Whither?”

Rev. Prof. G. Frederick Wright

The publication of this book is very significant, not only as revealing the difficulties of creed revision in the Presbyterian Church and of creed subscription in general, but as bringing to a direct issue many of the rather vague questions of theological discussion characteristic of the present decade. Professor Briggs announces himself as a Broad Churchman, in favor both of more liberal terms of subscription to creeds in general, and of a free revision of the Westminster symbols. Into the merely denominational elements of the discussion it does not concern us to enter, but some of the views maintained are of so general and fundamental a character that they should not be suffered to pass unchallenged.

At the outset, Professor Briggs invents the word “or-thodoxism,” to express the spurious as distinguished from the true orthodoxy. With his distinctions upon that point there is no fault to find. Orthodoxism as he defines it is reprehensible and should be discountenanced. We agree with Dr. Briggs that true orthodoxy “is ever anxious to learn, is meek, lowly, and reverent, is full of charity and love” (p. 7). We cordially agree also that “Any man or church that refuses to accept the discoveries of science or the truths of philosophy or the facts of history, or the new light that breaks forth from the word of God to the devout student, on the pretence that it conflicts with his orthodoxy or the orthodoxy of the standards of his church, prefers the traditions of man

to the truth of God, has become unfaithful to the calling and aims of the Christian disciple, has left the companionship of Jesus and his apostles and has joined the Pharisees, the enemies of the truth” (p. 9). While we hope there are not many who have consciously joined the Pharisees in cherishing this attitude of mind towards discoveries, it is but just to remark that the world has had so much experience with science falsely so called and with visionary advocates of progress, that those may be pardoned whose reverence for the Bible, and for the faith which has sustained the church through its past trials, makes them slow in yielding to every gust of new doctrine and every new scheme for harmonizing the facts of the universe. The alleged discoveries of science, the assumed truths of philosophy, the supposed fresh facts of history, and even the new light thought to spring from the word of God, should all be tried, and we should hold fast only to so much of these as endures a rightful and scientific ordeal. Some of these assumed truths and new facts as presented by Dr. Briggs we will now subject to a brief examination.

The first general topic attracting the atte...

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