Notes On British Theology And Philosophy -- By: James Lindsay
BSac 61:242 (April 1904) p. 373
Notes On British Theology And Philosophy
One of the most interesting of recent works in theology is an “Introduction to the Early History of Christian Doctrine”1 by J. F. Bethune-Baker, B.D., Fellow and Dean of Pembroke College, Cambridge. The book is one of a series of Handbooks on Theology, edited by Principal A. Robertson, D.D., London, and is carried up “to the time of the Council of Chalcedon.” Mr. Bethune-Baker has kept the text-book purpose steadily before him, giving a continuous narrative in free and untechnical fashion, with footnotes for authorities and details. His design is to show theology in the making, and this he succeeds in doing most admirably, for the student’s purpose. The work is performed, not only with wide and painstaking scholarship, but also with discrimination and independence, its prevailing orthodoxy notwithstanding. It would, of course, not be fair to judge particular parts or aspects of a student’s handbook from the standpoints of experts, for it could not but be wanting from such viewpoints. Remembering, however, the purpose of the book, Mr. Bethune-Bakers work is altogether admirable, and deserves to be very extensively used, for teaching purposes, on both sides of the Atlantic. The author in his modest preface says, “I believe that this point of view, from which Christen doctrines are seen as human attempts to interpret human experiences—the unique personality of Jesus of Nazareth supreme among those human experiences, is a more satisfying one than some standpoints from which the origin of Christian doctrines may appear to be invested with more commanding power of appeal.” It cannot be expected that
BSac 61:242 (April 1904) p. 374
different readers will account all parts of such a work equally well done, even for students’ use. Occasionally, one feels tempted to wish the author had practised a less “strict economy” in works referred to, and at stray points one judges philosophical matters readily susceptible of stronger treatment. But, withal, so great learning and labor have been expended on the work that one cares not to indulge in ungracious reflections. To many of us, indeed, such teaching would, in student days, have been a veritable godsend, and they are to be heartily congratulated into whose hands Mr. Bethune-Baker’s extremely able and serviceable book may be placed, for instruction in things theological. It need hardly be said that the publishers have done their part, in all respects, with their usual excellence.
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