Dr. Sanday And Modernism -- By: E. S. Buchanan

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 071:283 (Jul 1914)
Article: Dr. Sanday And Modernism
Author: E. S. Buchanan


Dr. Sanday And Modernism

E. S. Buchanan

Oxford, England.

It is with a sense of profound disappointment, and possibly painful astonishment, that many will read Dr. Sanday’s recently published “Apologia “in reply to the Bishop of Oxford. The effect of the utterance will probably be greater in America than in Oxford, where Dr. Sanday’s relaxing hold of the Apostolic Creed has for some time been known to his friends. There is a parallel in the case of Dr. Salmon, the late Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, who, like Dr. Sanday, departed in his last years from some articles of the faith that he once held and taught.

Is there a reason discoverable for Dr. Sanday’s declension? It seems to lie in an imperfect realization of our human limitations. We are face to face with a formidable array of modern thinkers who fiercely assail the “supernatural,” as they call the attested miracles of the Christian documents. These thinkers have at their head in Germany Dr. Harnack, and Dr. Harnack’s position seems in the main to be that of Dr. Sanday. It is a position of compromise. Part of the Gospel story is true: part is false. To use Professor Burkitt’s words to the present writer: “The Gospels are a mixture of good and bad.”

Dr. Harnack will accept the Evangelists’ account of the moral heights of the nature of the Son of God; but he will not accept their story of his miracles. Dr. Sanday has the same difficulty as Dr. Harnack. But if we grant that Christ is both Son of Man and Son of God, the difficulty about miracles vanishes. If we are told that a man, a simple peasant, with his own unaided hands lifted a ton weight, we are incredulous; but if we are told that the same peasant using a

steam crane lifted twenty tons, we merely remark, “There is no difficulty about believing that.” So if we postulate Manhood in conjunction with Godhead — which has been the confession of the Christian church from the days of St. Paul until now — the whole difficulty of belief in miracles vanishes.

Christ is still the rock of offense and the stone of stumbling. The natural mind has from the beginning resisted the claim of Christ to omnipotence, voiced in the well-known utterance, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (St. Matt. 28:18). Yet the whole Christian revelation is built on this foundation. The Arian position, taken up by Modernism, destroys the hope of the Christian, and therefore the hope of the world. Arius was deservedly detested by the generations that succeeded him for his blighting influence on churches and nations. His sudden and fearful end as recorded ...

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