Christianity And Culture -- By: E. J. Wolf

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 051:202 (Apr 1894)
Article: Christianity And Culture
Author: E. J. Wolf

Christianity And Culture

Rev. Prof. E. J. Wolf

THE very nature of Christianity warrants the assumption that it promotes the highest and fullest culture. It is not a mere ceremonial, a perfunctory ritual. It is a religion of ideas, of living truths. It is addressed to human thought. It aims at enlightenment and conviction. Its principles seek to impress themselves upon the mental and moral faculties. These ideas possess inherent energy and force. They stimulate thought. The Word of God is quick and powerful. It arouses intellectual action, starts inquiry, awakens reflection, provokes often to opposition, counter-argument, controversy, and in many ways exerts a drastic and enduring effect upon the whole intellectual life. Note the transcendent sweep of gospel themes! The revelation of God, the prospect of eternity, the exhibition of moral perfection, of infinite love, of omnipotence and omniscience, the incarnation, the atonement— themes tending to excite to their utmost tension the noblest powers of the human mind. A missionary who labored for a while on the Dark Continent tells of a rude African chief who was so deeply impressed by some of these mighty truths that he exclaimed, “I feel as if my head were too small, and would swell and break with these great subjects.”

The essential duties of Christianity are of a nature to exercise the highest attributes of the mind. How can a man worship the Spirit without summoning his intellectual energies to a strain of eager and sustained attention? How can. he live a life of faith without the thoughtful survey of unseen things, the apprehension of spiritual realities, and the contemplation of issues that compass eternity? How can he raise his prayer to the Most High without a degree of mental exertion that is most favorable to the growth of intellectual power and refinement? How can he cherish the sublime hopes which Christianity kindles and supports, and not find all his views broadened, all his endowments enlivened, and especially his imagination set aglow with heavenly fire? How can he offer supreme and adoring love to God, and not feel an. excitement of the higher aspirations, while at the same time the mind is turned from grosser and lower pursuits, which do so much to fetter and degrade it? By this dominant principle of love, the soul experiences a transforming and refining power which in the nature of things must impart a new life to all the faculties, and have a quickening and ennobling effect upon every branch of culture. Christianity makes moral conformity to God a cardinal virtue. Thus the mind is moved not only to study the divine perfections, but to turn inward upon itself, to apprehend its godlike properties, to recognize its inherent dignity and its boundless capacities...

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