The Biblical Doctrine Of Redemption -- By: Harold Paul Sloan

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 089:355 (Jul 1932)
Article: The Biblical Doctrine Of Redemption
Author: Harold Paul Sloan


The Biblical Doctrine Of Redemption

Harold Paul Sloan

In making a study of the Biblical doctrine of redemption we need at the very start to recognize that man’s power to appreciate moral values has undoubtedly been seriously dulled by sin. It will be readily admitted that human society has as yet realized but a fragmentary part of that noble social ideal, a sense of which is embedded in every human heart. We feel that we belong to each other; that the human race is ideally a unity; but we do not live out this unity. We cannot live it out. We lack some inner equipment that would make it possible for us to realize in life the vision we see. This recognized handicap ought to put us on our guard against superficial examinations and quick judgments. We will need to explore moral values deeply, and to catch exactly our moral reactions.

Responsibility

We begin with the fact of moral responsibility. We instantly recognize that men are responsible for their actions. We are consciously free. When we have done wrong we have an unescapable sense of guilt, and this experience presupposes freedom and responsibility. From time to time there are speculations in philosophy, and theories in psychology that disallow freedom; but the reality of man’s moral responsibility is too deeply founded ever to be removed. Freedom is a fact, and the recognition of it is important to any examination of the Biblical doctrine of redemption; we must not, however, let our appreciation of this truth blind us to another that is almost equally important, namely to man’s social entanglement in all of his ideas, choices and responsibilities.

John Wesley had his way into religion prepared before him by the devotion of his mother. Francois Voltaire began life prejudiced against religion through the morally

loose and unbelieving tuition of his first instructor, the Abbey Chateauneuf. The contrast in backgrounds here is challenging. Doubtless personality can rise above its background; holiness can come out of a hovel; but the probabilities are the other way. The newspapers of a single summer recently recorded three instances of murder where the criminal’s background was a broken family circle. There are repeated illustrations of young men and young women, whose moral breakdown dates from the period of their college course, and the influence of negative philosophy taught there. Personal freedom and individual responsibility are certainly facts, but social background is equally a fact; and as certainly as personal guilt is a reality, so certainly also is social guilt a reality.

Social, As Distinct From Personal Guilt

In the matter of achieving a civilization, producing a democracy...

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