The Bible In The Conditions Created By Modern Scholarship -- By: Henry A. Stimson
BSac 57:226 (April 1900) p. 366
The Bible In The Conditions Created By Modern Scholarship
The time has come when we may believe that the state of things for which the late Professor Robertson Smith pleaded is realized; biblical discussion can now be “kept free from rancor and derisive utterance.” Less than twenty years have passed since his deposition, and his own city and university of Aberdeen are uniting to honor his memory. The change has resulted from two different impulses. Men have come to see that the real controversy is not, as has been supposed, between new views and traditionalism. That is a conflict which could never long prevail. It is rather, as has been frequently pointed out, between new views and deeply rooted spiritual experience, which, as the foremost of all spiritual possessions and possessed anteriorly to the new views, is often firmly and strenuously arrayed against them. This is a contest which should not exist, as religious experience is never the monopoly of those who hold any given intellectual view. Men’s minds are often greatly distressed when called to adjust themselves to the results of new lines of investigation into the history and contents of the Bible; but soon discovery of the real nature of their distress tends to alleviate it. The spiritual experience reasserts itself, and in time the new truth, if it proves true, is comfortably accepted.
The scientific point of view has also ceased to be unfamiliar. Every one knows that there is such a tiling as modern scholarship. In science, it appears in the new
BSac 57:226 (April 1900) p. 367
chemistry and the new physics, which already have made antiquated the text-books, if not the learning, of a decade or two ago; in philosophy, where we have both new methods and new data, and where the experimental laboratory has become as important a feature as the quiet meditation of the study; in history, where the adoption of new principles has made it necessary to rewrite a large part of the history of the world, relegating to the past the stories of wars and military chiefs, to give room for studies of intellectual and social movements; in economics, where the great text-books of Bentham, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill are superseded by a new series from the pens of men who are still living.
This new scholarship has of necessity created new conditions. It applies to every department of human thought. No area, however traditional or however sacred, can be cantoned off and shut out from its influence. No reverent Christian would for a moment wish that the Bible should be so treated. It is the best product of the intellect, human or divine, and has had an influence upon the development of human thought which will always maintain for it the first place, ...
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