The Present Religious Outlook -- By: Hugh Macdonald Scott

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 063:250 (Apr 1906)
Article: The Present Religious Outlook
Author: Hugh Macdonald Scott

The Present Religious Outlook

Professor Hugh Macdonald Scott

The impressions here set forth are partly the result of a visit of seven months to Great Britain and Ireland, the Continent, Constantinople, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. They will consequently be fragmentary and tentative, rather than complete and assured. But for that very reason they may lead others to supplementary and more substantial investigations. In both America and Europe there is found a growing consciousness of lack of religious power. Many causes have combined—wealth, worldliness, extreme scientific views, criticism of the Bible, intellectualism, and rationalism in many forms— to cripple the energies of the churches. A paralysis seems creeping over Christian benevolences, missions, education, and preaching, in many quarters.

But one good thing has appeared in this time of religious decline,—the desire for union. It has often been so. It was in 1817, amid the demoralization that followed the Napoleonic wars, that the Reformed and Lutheran churches in Germany united. The recent union of the United Presbyterian and Free churches in Scotland; the decision of the Cumberland and regular Presbyterians in America to become one church; and the conference just held in Dayton, Ohio, looking toward a union of the Congregationalists, United Brethren, and Methodist Protestants,—all teach the same thing. When prominent Christian teachers are declaring the Bible not different from other books, putting evolution in place of revelation, going back to Socinian and deistic views of Christ and his work,

reviving the “Accommodation “theory of Semler to make Paul teach only ethics and natural theology,—repeating, in other terms, the old rationalism of the eighteenth century as the new theology, and with the new psychology and the new pedagogy letting creep in much of the mere naturalism of Rousseau :— when these things are borne with, certainly the distinctions that keep one kind of Presbyterian from another, or a Congregationalist from a Methodist Protestant, may well appear insignificant. This feeling after fellowship among Christians, going so far in Canada and Australia as to bring Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Methodists into deliberations looking towards union, and the splendid practical federation of all nonconformists in England, which has put more of their men into Parliament than ever before, are certainly spots of radiance on our religious horizon.

In Ireland I was much impressed by the need of reforms in church methods. A bright young Irish girl said to me, “Rum and Romanism are the chief enemies of our country.” There is much truth in the remark. When the Irish pay $30,000,000 a year for rent, a...

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