The Alleged Collapse Of New England Theology -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 065:260 (Oct 1908)
Article: The Alleged Collapse Of New England Theology
Author: Anonymous


The Alleged Collapse Of New England Theology

The collapse of New England Theology has been principally inferred from the alleged fact that it is no longer taught in any or in most of the Congregational seminaries in America. But if this be so, it still may be questioned whether this proves the collapse of the theology or of the seminaries. For, a theology which is full of truth is not collapsible.

“Truth crushed to earth shall rise again:
The eternal years of God are hers.”

If the New England theology incorporates into itself in usable form of statement the great body of biblical truth, then it has not collapsed, and it will not collapse; while, if the seminaries have turned their backs upon the central luminary and are walking in the light of “sparks of their own kindling,” the question of their collapse is one of only a very short time.

Considered, also, from the viewpoint of actual facts, it is not clear that New England theology has collapsed, or that it is in the way of collapsing. Certainly the seminaries that have discarded it are not in a specially flourishing condition; while preaching of the Old New England type was never more effective than it has been during recent years. Witness the revivals which have attended the preaching of Moody, Pente-

cost, Torrey, Chapman, Campbell Morgan, and a host of other less well known but equally effective preachers.

The New England theology is a modified form of Calvinism, originating, about the middle of the eighteenth century, in the fertile mind of Jonathan Edwards during the great religious movement in America of which his ministry was the center. For more than a century and a half it has dominated the preaching of nearly all the denominations in the United States, and has been the mainspring of the home and foreign missionary efforts which have attained such wide-spread influence throughout both our own country and the world. In reality it does not differ much from the modified Arminianism of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America; while Andover Theological Seminary, which was its chief representative, furnished theological instruction for half a century to the most active minds of the Presbyterian, the Reformed, the Baptist, and the Protestant Episcopal, as well as of the Congregational churches. If a tree is ever recommended by its fruits, New England theology is worthy of preservation and nurture. At any rate it should not be cast off without much prayer and fasting, and urgent supplications that Divine wisdom may give us something better in its place. In view of these things, it is important for us to consider first, what the theology is which the age is said to be discarding; and secondl...

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