The Theology Of The Fourth Gospel: A Guarantee For Its Genuineness. -- By: J. J. Lias

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 068:270 (Apr 1911)
Article: The Theology Of The Fourth Gospel: A Guarantee For Its Genuineness.
Author: J. J. Lias

The Theology Of The Fourth Gospel:
A Guarantee For Its Genuineness.

Chancellor J. J. Lias, M.A.

One of the most remarkable features of twentieth-century thought is its inconsistency. Especially in theological literature is this characteristic found. If there be one principle in which the prominent theological writers of the day are agreed, it is in their condemnation of dogma. And yet their writings are full of hardly anything else. The Old Testament critic builds his whole system on dogma. This passage is corrupt, that is unintelligible. This belongs to “JE,” that to “P,” the other to the Deuteronomist or one of his disciples. This book has undergone “revision,” that is of later date. On these points “all critics are agreed.”

The New Testament critic follows on the same lines. A particular passage in the Synoptic Gospels must be rejected because it conflicts with the rest. St. Luke’s report of the Sermon on the Mount must be set aside because it is socialistic, and is inconsistent with the anti-socialistic principles inculcated by St. Matthew and St. Mark. No proof is vouchsafed for assertions of this kind. We are required to believe them on the personal authority of the critic, and it alone. It is not to the point that this view of the case has been confuted in anticipation by hundreds of writers. In an enlightened age like the present such antiquated whimsies do not count.

There is no need to confute them. It is quite sufficient to mention them with a smile which borders on a sneer. “We are the men, and wisdom will die with us.” Revealed religion has been accustomed to give evidence for its claims on the allegiance of mankind. The majestic personality of the critic, it is to be supposed, speaks for itself.

This spirit of dogmatism seems to reach its climax when we deal with what has now come universally to be called the “Fourth Gospel.” Of course no scholar in the present age of “research “and unprecedented skill in critical methods could possibly be so absurd as to imagine that this Gospel was written by St. John. Still less, if possible, can any reasonable person believe that its “dogmatic “teaching has any title to be represented as that of our Lord Jesus Christ. The modern “theologian” and “critic “may dogmatize in this fashion as much as he pleases. He has — or thinks he has — earned the right to do so. But though he may dogmatize to his heart’s content, no one else must presume to imitate him. If Moses, or Isaiah, or our Lord Jesus Christ, or St. Paul, or St. John dares to put forth “dogma “on his own authority, let it be anathema. The only person who has a right to do this is he who enunciates the i...

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