Some Methods Of Theological Criticism -- By: James Lindsay

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:289 (Jan 1916)
Article: Some Methods Of Theological Criticism
Author: James Lindsay


Some Methods Of Theological Criticism

James Lindsay

Irvine, Scotland.

In the theological interest, I wish to direct the attention of readers of the Bibliotheca Sacra on both sides of the Atlantic to specimens of uncritical dogmatisms in recent theological criticism. With the personality of the writers I have no concern, and I therefore leave them anonymous: I

am only concerned with their methods of criticism. It will be remembered that I recently reviewed in this Journal Dr. George Galloway’s “Philosophy of Religion,” pointing out some grave defects.1 Some of these criticisms I repeated in the chapter on Theism contributed by me to the Life of Professor Flint, of which the author is the Rev. Dr. Donald Macmillan, a distinguished biographer and historian of the Church of Scotland. In passing, I strongly recommend this work 2 to the notice of readers. Since I wrote, one writer (in a weekly London paper) has declared Dr. Galloway’s work an “unqualified success,” and competent “from end to end,” and so forth. Let these inflated judgments pass. But when he claims to speak for “the world,” for “the Church,” for “those who think deepest and know most,” and for “all approved judges,” we say, — What an avalanche of pontifical authority! Is this a new method, in the free British press, of attempting to make a “corner “in criticism? The unreasoned opinion of this writer is to be the sole and only opinion. I know what sensible men will say.

Another example of uncritical dogmatism, but happily free from the taint of intolerance in the previous case — so far at least as the notice goes — is a notice of the same work (in a London quarterly) by a writer who presumes, he says, to criticize only the first part of the work. But, after disclaiming all authority, he proceeds to deal with the second and third parts of the work, judging them, all the time, in the uncritical dogmatist’s style of lo! mastery here, and lo! competence there. That is to say, the self-acknowledged incompetence or lack of authority in respect of all but the first part of the work, straightway proceeds in the other parts, out of the bosom of that self-acknowledged incompetence, to issue certificates of “mastery” and “competence”! Could absurdity further go?

I have no concern with these unreasoned dogmatisms further than to say that it might be inferred by some, from these

methods of dogmatic pronouncement, that I had done some injustice to Dr. Galloway...

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