The Paramount Problem Of Protestantism -- By: Albert H. Baldinger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 085:338 (Apr 1928)
Article: The Paramount Problem Of Protestantism
Author: Albert H. Baldinger


The Paramount Problem Of Protestantism

Albert H. Baldinger

No apology will be offered for anything in this paper except perhaps in one particular, viz., its frequent use of the unhappy word “problem.” I do not like it. We are problem’d to death. Every department of life is suffering from an epidemic of problemitis. The word has become so meaningless and threadbare that one hesitates to use it in connection with a matter of major consequence. Nevertheless, there is an issue confronting the Protestant Church which is rightly termed a problem, the solution of which will require a lot of straight, steady, sober thinking as well as courageous action.

The paramount problem of Protestantism is not the problem of uniting a disjointed church. Personally I believe that this is a question that will imperiously demand an answer in the years ahead. We cannot let it alone, and it will not let us alone. It will be repeatedly on the dockets of church courts, and it will increasingly demand consideration in committee and convention. A Lausanne Conference may register few if any immediate or tangible results; it is nevertheless an index to present-day thought, an expression of Protestant hopes and aspirations. A hundred years from now history will probably acclaim it as one of the significant councils of the Twentieth Century.

The stiffest problem confronting Protestantism is not the issue between Modernism and Fundamentalism. This controversy has caused a good deal of heart-burn in some of our churches, and it may yet disturb the peace of others. It is not a superficial question, nor a mere passing symptom of the age. It represents two widely divergent tendencies in human nature. We frankly confess, however, that for ourselves, in spite of the apparently irreconcilable difference between the extremes of this contro-

versy, we do not fear the loss of anything vital to the church or essential to the faith of our fathers. We have confidence in the level-headedness of that vast majority of evangelicals who walk the via media and without whose support neither extreme can annihilate the other. At all events the ark of a satisfying orthodoxy seems to rest rather securely in the home of United Presbyterianism. We probably wrought better than we knew when we rewrote in modern terms the essentials of our historic symbols, thus measurably fortifying ourselves against the hazards of a creedal war.

The foremost problem confronting the church is not the increasingly complicated problem of Protestant missions. No intelligent person would minimize its seriousness. Recent developments in some of the more prominent fields, notably in China, have been rather disconcerting, if n...

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