A Neglected Apologetic -- By: Everett F. Harrison

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 095:380 (Oct 1938)
Article: A Neglected Apologetic
Author: Everett F. Harrison


A Neglected Apologetic

Everett F. Harrison

For a number of years, the organized Church has been facing a growing disunity within itself. Two camps have gradually formed, though the number of stragglers in both keeps the lines from being sharply defined. Outward professions of harmony cannot hide the fact of basic difference. The traditional position has been cautiously challenged, then openly flouted, and finally subjected to ridicule. Staid conservatism has been palpably shocked by this, has ventured a timid protest now and then, has reiterated its confidence in the Bible and the creeds of the Church, but for the most part has sat back dismayed at its inability to stem the tide.

The new theology is something of a misnomer. It has little theology to begin with, and what it has cannot be termed new. But it does have a new spirit, and that is the all-important thing to reckon with. It has been captivated by the expanding universe. Progress appears on every front in the realm of scientic endeavor. Why should religion, the highest sphere of human life, lag behind in development? There must be no strictures to hinder the fullest and the freest inquiry, nor any barriers against incorporating the best of new thought into the platform of the Church. The claim is frankly made that the Reformation was incomplete. It dethroned papal infallibility, but put in its place the infallibility of the Book, its authority and sanctity carefully guarded by a rigid theory of inspiration. Modernism detests anything that is static. It finds the Bible outworn and outmoded, valuable indeed as a monument to a certain stage in the history of religious evolution, but requiring careful sifting in order to extract the elements that are congenial to the

modern temper. Thus would it sacrifice form for substance, letter for spirit, and count its shrunken treasures as purer gold.

Leaders of the new theology readily admit that there is a price to be paid. Even as they do not believe what their fathers believed, they must face the possibility that their own children will not follow them. What is truth today may be error tomorrow. The renunciation of an authoritarian faith grounded on absolute, changeless truth couched in terms of a divine and special revelation necessarily leads to the espousal of subjectivism. No one can have a corner on the truth. The ancient slogan to the effect that man is the measure of all things takes on a vicious reality. Yet-and this is the crux of the matter-so great is the urge for freedom and progress that no sacrifice is too costly if only the unfettered search for the truth will result.

The achievement of independence has produced a few shouts of victory, but sober contemplati...

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