Criticism And The Common Life -- By: A. A. Berle
BSac 50:197 (Oct 1893) p. 52
Criticism And The Common Life
Among all the chapters of change which the progress of the scientific spirit in all forms of inquiry has wrought, none is more remarkable or full of moment than that which has to do with the religious opinions of our generation. The causes which have brought this about are many, but it is enough to enumerate three; viz. the revival of critical science in all its forms, the rapid succession of objective and experimental examples of the method, and the changes within the domain of biblical criticism itself. The almost universal acceptance of the doctrine of evolution in one or another of its modes has affected not only the stupendous results that have appeared in natural history and biology, but also others of like importance in the literary, critical, and historical fields as well, and the whole circle of human knowledge is at this present moment groaning under the attempt to force it all, and all at once, into the evolutionary mould. Theology, also, has been brought into this curious spectacle, as the latest captive to be dragged after the triumphant chariot of the evolutionary creed.1 The mental activity thus engendered could not but be productive, and a vast literature has accumulated in a few years, all of which has for its problem the reconciliation of traditional views and the presentation of the supplanting.
BSac 50:197 (Oct 1893) p. 53
new ones. The outflow of this material has not yet quite ceased, though there seems to be a cessation in the volume, even if the quality is little improved. The introductory passages in all these works are exactly alike. They begin by lauding the progressive spirit of the times, the critical nature of the period through which we are passing theologically and otherwise, and urge the need of bringing the religious thinking if the time line with the new movements that are demonstrating their presence so effectively in other sciences. Universal theological unrest and the undeniable insufficiency if traditional theology are the assumed but unproven postulates of this class of productions. It is always the representation of absolute atheism in the future, that moves these saviours of religion to their sacred task of rehabilitating the religion of the Christians of this generation.
The spectre is not a new one. It is as old as the beginnings of the Hebrew priesthood, and has survived ever since. No age but has fancied itself one of general and unprecedented scepticism. At no periods has the church lacked a sufficient number of zealous advocates who predicted her utter ruin unless certain changes were instantaneously incorporated into her creeds. The rather peculiar fact must here be noted, that while the new...
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