The Finality Of Christianity -- By: William Hallock Johnson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 077:307 (Jul 1920)
Article: The Finality Of Christianity
Author: William Hallock Johnson

The Finality Of Christianity

William Hallock Johnson, Ph.D.

Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? “This question of John the Baptist was a natural and legitimate one. John, indeed, had said, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” but John never supposed that his career would end with a long imprisonment in a dungeon and a criminal’s death. The thought would be insistent, “If Jesus is the Messiah, why is he indifferent to the fate of his forerunner? Is not the release of the prisoner a sign and credential of the true Messiah?” That even John the Baptist, who had given so wonderful a testimony to the office and character and work of Jesus, should in his prison be subject to despondency, impatience, and doubt, is not to be wondered at. There was a gentle rebuke in the answer which Jesus sent back to him, but this was followed by a splendid eulogy upon the greatness of John’s character.

The question which John asked of Jesus is being asked today in a slightly different form: Is Christianity the religion that was to conic, or do we look for another? Is there to be some other religion more satisfying in its sup-ph of human need, richer in its promise of health and happiness for the individual, and offering a quicker and surer remedy for the economic and social ills of the race? The question is again a legitimate one. We recall a noonday sermon in Trinity Church. New York City, in the course of which the preacher, Phillips Brooks, remarked: “If I can find any being who will lead me higher and farther than the Christ, I will drop the hand of the Christ and follow that being.” Is there, then, or will there be, any other religion, or any substitute for religion, or any improvement upon Christianity, that will lead us higher and farther? Is Christianity the final religion, needing

only to be more clearly apprehended and more fully applied, or do we look for another? Some reasons for believing in the finality of Christianity may be suggested.

1. Christianity is the final religion because it is the most historical of all religions. In no other religion can there be traced centuries of preparation in the education of a people, leading up to the supreme revelation in the fullness of time. The Word was made flesh, the creed was wrought “in loveliness of perfect deeds,” and the message of the gospel was written in letters large and plain across the face of human history. Scholars have pointed out some close affinities between Christianity and the mystery religions of the time which centered about the dying and rising of the god of vegetation, but these mystery religions lacked historical foundation as well as moral power and have passed away; while ...

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