Dr. Magoun’s Reply. -- By: Frank Hugh Foster

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 051:202 (Apr 1894)
Article: Dr. Magoun’s Reply.
Author: Frank Hugh Foster


Dr. Magoun’s Reply.

Frank Hugh Foster

Chicago, Feb. 2, 1894.

In the Christian Mirror of December 17, 1892, Dr. G. F. Magoun expressed a somewhat indistinct but sweeping condemnation of an effort by me to set forth the place of Christian experience as a source of doctrine. His condemnation led me, as I stated in the ‘‘critical note” in the Bibliotheca Sacra of April, 1893, “to examine again my position, to see if, indeed, it were true “; and I presented the most fundamental portion of my previous discussion in a new form under the title: “Do we know anything by consciousness “of the New Birth?” This was courteous to Dr. Magoun, for certainly a writer cannot pay a greater compliment to a critic than to review his whole position in view of the criticism. Dr. Magoun, however, complains that I shifted the issue. I leave him to adjust this complaint to the following statement of his own: “Professor Poster himself starts by saying that I merely ‘questioned the assertion that we know some things about Christian doctrine by consciousness,’ which is entirely true, and is all that is true”: with the simple remark that the quoted sentence is the only one in which I mentioned Dr. Magoun’s views at all. I simply restated my own views, and asked him what he now thought of them. That was both courteous and fair.

What kind of an answer did I receive? I find on an examination of Dr. Magoun’s reply that he agrees with me in acknowledging that some things about the New Birth are known in consciousness. What they are he nowhere

specifies. The bulk of his reply is taken up in criticisms, some of which need my attention. But he should beware of implying, when I have explicitly said that I advanced from the domain of immediate consciousness to that of “inference,” that I am claiming that we know these inferences by consciousness.

Dr. Magoun says that the statement, “The man knows by immediate consciousness that he is a sinner,” made by me, “may pass as a popular statement, though conscience is ignored.” The statement is strictly scientific. Conscience, among other things, presents the law of duty. The man is choosing something else. This fact, which is the same fact as that indicated by the phrase “is a sinner,” since it is an activity, is and must be known by consciousness, which is “the knowledge the mind has of its own activities.”

The next criticism shows, however, that we diverge too far to render it profitable to debate. I say, the man “knows by immediate consciousness what are the prevailing tendencies of his being, and what their character<...

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