The New Apologetic In Theology -- By: John Moore

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 082:325 (Jan 1925)
Article: The New Apologetic In Theology
Author: John Moore

The New Apologetic In Theology

John Moore

Old theological beliefs die a gasping, lingering death; but traditional theological forms are endowed with strange qualities of perpetuity. An examination of theological text-books reveals this clearly. The spirit of these books has changed greatly during the last half century, but their forms have scarcely changed at all. I turn to a well-thumbed “Manual of Christian Doctrine” by John Shaw Banks, that did me service over twenty years ago, and it yields an Introduction of General Principles and General Facts, then is divided into two parts, PART I— DOCTRINES PRESUPPOSED IN REDEMPTION. Under this head are treated the problems The Divine Existence, Divine Revelation, Divine Attributes, Creation and Providence, and Sin. PART II—DOCTRINES OF REDEMPTION. Which treats of Christ’s Person, Atonement, Experience of Salvation, The Church, and Last Things. This outline is typical of the form into which theological apologetic was cast centuries prior to the publication of the “Manual.”

I turn to a more recent book, “The Meaning of Christianity,” by F. A. M. Spencer (first published in 1912), a book that deserves to be better known than it apparently is. In many respects it is an up-to-date and forward-looking theological work. But it likewise follows the old form, even though its spirit breaks clear of the old method. It contains, Introduction, The Spiritual, God, Christ, The Holy Spirit, Sin, The Atonement, The Doctrine of Grace, The Institutions, The End of the World, The Resurrection, The Judgment, The Kingdom of God. In general this is the method: the new ideas and the new spirit are pressed into the old scheme of doctrines after this fashion, Man materializes into a world prepared for him—the Garden of Eden. In the fulness of time Jesus comes into a prepared world. Through the ages His way had been prepared. Everything in Judaism waits

for Him—”Divine hands, put forth from the dim eternity, have moulded it to give Him witness. Until He appears nothing is finished, nothing complete.”1 In like manner the Pagan world aspires toward Him,—”By the river of time humanity stands like the devotee on the Ganges bank waiting for the rising of the sun that it may fall down and worship.”2 Jesus steps into a framework politically, morally, and religiously prepared for Him,—”Wisdom was wandering. Thinker after thinker had spun his web of speculation, only to find it torn to shreds. One by one the little systems had their day and ceased to be. Great Pan was dead. Then appeared the Christ and all things became new.”...

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