The Lost Christ -- By: E. S. Buchanan

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:289 (Jan 1916)
Article: The Lost Christ
Author: E. S. Buchanan

The Lost Christ

E. S. Buchanan

In the July number of the Quarterly Review, in an article on “Patriotism” by the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, I lighted on these words: “Among the great men who were certainly (or probably) Germans were Agamemnon, Julius Caesar, the Founder of Christianity, Dante, and Shakespeare.”

The Dean of St. Paul’s sets Jesus Christ between two warriors and two poets, and thinks the greatness of these five “great men” is to be traced to their ancestry and their Aryan blood. Such a theory causes to-day no stir in English ecclesiastical circles. The New Theology and its advocate at the London City Temple, the Rev. R. J. Campbell, who is now entering the same fold as the Dean of St. Paul’s, have familiarized England and America with speculations even more novel. American visitors to London, after viewing St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, make it a matter of conscience to hear the pastor of the City Temple. I have been asked to direct them thither, and have seen them emerging from the doors of the sacred edifice after receiving the illumination without which their visit to London would have been incomplete. It was preachers like Charles Spurgeon and Dr. Parker who were once sought out by the eager tourist. But these men have gone, and their

preaching of Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world has largely gone with them.

I remember Bishop Wordsworth preaching a sermon in Salisbury Cathedral and teaching us concerning the Virgin birth of Christ. But that was nearly twenty years ago. In the last twenty years theology has traveled far; and we see the Dean of Durham on Christmas Day (1911) telling his listeners that the Gospel story of the Virgin birth is pure poetry and not history. This sermon was printed next day in the London Times. No one raised a protest; the event passed without any notice whatever from the Church papers. The attitude of these journals seemed to be, “Tell us, Mr. Dean, something that we have not heard before.”

A Church of England vicar in London just before the War said in my hearing that the Incarnation and Life of Jesus were meant to teach us not how God became man, but how man could become God. And some devout ladies of the congregation said to me afterwards, “What a beautiful sermon Mr. Thompson preached!” The late Canon Barnett, of Toyn-bee Hall, I once heard define Christ as the ideal of goodness that shaped itself in every young man’s mind. Christ, he said, was subjective, not objective; an ideal, not a living Person.

Without further instances from England, the present position of Christian teachers in America illustrates much the same tend...

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