Critique Of Professor Ambrose W. Vernon’s Paper, “The Message Of The Modern Minister.” -- By: Charles Caverno
BSac 66:261 (Jan 1909) p. 105
Critique Of Professor Ambrose W. Vernon’s Paper, “The Message Of The Modern Minister.”1
The paper aforesaid deserves careful consideration. It was written by a Professor in Yale University, read before the great representative assemblage of the Congregational Churches of the United States, and is given place in the public record of its proceedings. It is thus put in prominent position before the minds of thoughtful Congregational Christians. I have read the paper many times. I have a decided conviction adverse to its main drift. I find it the product of misunderstanding, misconstruction, and consequent misrepresentation. There is in Professor Vernon’s paper an expression of enthusiasm for the spirit of a certain man named Jesus. But what Jesus? Whose Jesus?
Not the Jesus of the whole New Testament; not the Jesus of the Four Gospels, for all reference to the Gospel according to John is ostentatiously omitted, and attention expressly confined to the Synoptics; not even the Jesus of the Gospel of Mark, for the Professor says that in a certain case “Mark has not reported Jesus correctly,” and then he adds, “But if he be manifestly incorrectly reported once, no one can say how often.” The author of the paper says Matthew has not “preserved the connection of the words of Jesus.” Who said he
BSac 66:261 (Jan 1909) p. 106
did? But the Professor adds, “Luke’s occasional attempts are not always to be trusted.” When John is gone and the Synoptics discredited, again I ask, What Jesus? Whose Jesus am I to take a message from to mankind?
The answer of Professor Vernon’s paper is, Such Jesus as Professor Vernon and his brethren in criticism will allow me out of the profundity of their several subjectivisms. But who are these critical brethren? They appear to be an asteroidal belt of divers and diverse rocks, floating along in space, having nothing in common except a general drift toward the position that there have been, through the ages, revisions of the Scriptures — in some cases amounting to re-compilations. This in a general way can be granted; as we have seen something of it in our own revisions. As to any particular rearrangements or modifications of text, let each instance alleged make its own case. Inferences in each case are another matter still. I would rather trust to the correctness of the definition of Jesus that comes to me from the whole New Testament than to what is left to me after such an unorganized board of critics, at their pleasure, have made therefrom their rejections. Here I want to suggest that when a minister discards the Gospel of John as unhistoric, he ought to do his conscience the honor no...
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