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Ezra AxBert Cook, Pu.D. 


Theology ie brary 


COPYRIGHT 1913 AND 1920 By 

All Rights Reserved 
Published August 1913 
Second Impression March 1914 
Third Impression January 1917 
Second Edition October 1920 

Composed and Printed By 
The University of Chicago Press 
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. 



This book aims to present the essential truths 
of historic Christianity in orderly form, in non- 
technical language, in view of, and in harmony 
with, those elements of the scientific and religious 
thought of today which are generally accepted 
by trained minds. It is intended primarily for 
use in classes for religious study in college, Young 
Men’s Christian Association, Sunday school, and 
kindred organizations. It is the result of my 
experience and work with such classes and has been 
in process of preparation for more than six years. 

It is hoped that it will be found useful to three 
classes of people. First are the young people who 
are in process of forming their conceptions of 
Christianity, and who, being in contact with the 
intellectual life of the age, must necessarily relate 
those conceptions to that which they are learning 
in the realms of history, sociology, and science. 
Second, among those whom I have in mind are 
those older members of the Christian church who, 
having accepted in their youth the current defini- 
tions and doctrines of Christian theology, have 
lately found occasion, perhaps by contact with 
their children now in process of education, perhaps 
by reading and reflection, to consider whether 
some changes of their thought about religion, in 



form if not in substance, are not called for by the 
progress of human thought in various fields of 
knowledge. And third, it is intended for some 
people who, intelligent and influential in other 
departments of thought and life, have remained 
outside the church, under the impression that the 
Christian church is falling so far behind the progress 
of thought in other spheres that one who thinks 
honestly cannot really accept current Christianity 
or ally oneself with the church. 

Religion is not wholly an affair of the intellect; 
it is even more a matter of will and life. But 
Christianity has its intellectual side, and clear 
and strong thinking ought to issue, and in the long 
run and in the large, always does issue, not in 
negations, but in positive convictions, and through 
them in larger and richer life. 

While I am indebted to very many books and 
minds for the development of my own theological 
thought and for assistance in the composition of 
this book, I may mention three men to whom my 
thanks are especially due. President W. Douglass 
Mackenzie, of Hartford Theological Seminary, was 
my teacher in theology and is my dear friend. 
Professor William Adams Brown, of Union Semi- 
nary, was exceedingly kind in reading through the 
manuscript of this book, in earlier forms, twice, 
. and in offering many very helpful suggestions. 
Mr. Frederick M. Harris, editor of publications of 


the International Committee of the Young Men’s 
Christian Association, also read the manuscript 
in an earlier form and in its final revision, and his 
encouragement and advice on many points have 
been of great value. 

I shall greatly appreciate any sympathetic 
criticism or suggestion for improvement of a future 
edition which any careful student of this book 
may send to me, and it goes forth with the earnest 
hope that God may use it for the strengthening 
of the church of Christ and the establishment of 
his kingdom in the hearts of all men. 


April, 1913 


The welcome given to the first edition of this 
little book, which has been surprisingly cordial 
and approving, in view of the great variety 
of religious views and the transitional nature of 
present-day thought, and the concrete evidence of 
its use, in the repeated reprintings, have been most 
encouraging to the author. They have made it 
the more necessary that some more evident errors 
and crudities in the first edition should be removed. 

I should like to refer very briefly to two criti- 
cisms which have been made upon this book by 
friends. The first has to do with the so-called 
“pragmatic method’”’ which has been used. Some 
varieties of pragmatism are supposed to teach 
that some ideas should be held to be true on 
account of their usefulness, even though they are 
not really true, or are at least quite uncertain. 
A fair consideration of the argument in this book 
will not find any such pragmatism in it. I hold 
that the usefulness of an idea in the attainment of a 
desired end is an evidence of its truth, but never 
evidence that can contradict established truths 
or the facts of experience. Further I hold, with 
Professor William James, that there are cases 
. where we must choose and must act, without 
conclusive evidence of the truth of the theory 



upon which we must act; there is no absolutely 
conclusive evidence for either the truth or the 
falsity of Christian theism. But we act and must 
act as if that theory of the universe were either 
true or false. Surely the results of such action in 
either alternative are sufficient grounds for the 
choice of the action. Choosing the action then 
means assuming the theory as a working theory. 
I fail to see that this variety of pragmatism is open 
to serious objection. 

Again, friends have found that the book slights 
the emotional or mystical elements in Christianity 
and that it sometimes seems to make morality 
superior to religion, righteousness of greater value 
than God. I feel that there is some justice in this 
criticism. The reading and experience of the 
seven years since this book was first published 
have led me to approve more heartily than ever 
the words which Principal Garvie of London wrote 
me: ‘‘Assuredly the outward test of the reality 
of religion is the moral character; but it is not 
the whole content, as the inward communion with 
God is in itself an absolute good for man,” and 
I wish that I could so revise this book as to give 
stronger emphasis to the great values of religion 
other than the strictly ‘‘moral.” Yet I think 
such values have not been altogether ignored, 
and that section 71, for example, suggests them 
quite clearly. There is hardly place or space in 


this book to give adequate consideration to 
emotional and mystical experiences. It has seemed 
of first importance to define the idea of God with 
whom we are to come into communion, and to give 
grounds for believing in the reality of such a God 
which would be available for every man, and not 
only for those who had such peculiar and striking 
experiences as fill Professor James’s Varieties of 
Religious Experience and other splendid books. 
I would better refer the reader to that book and 
Hocking’s wonderful Meaning of God in Human 
Experience and Coe’s Psychology of Religion than 
try to amplify that subject in this book. 

The revisions made in this second edition may 
be summarized as follows: On pages 1, 3, 22, 67, 
78, 141, 142, 170, and 231 there have been slight 
corrections of evident errors or infelicities or a 
wrong figure, or the insertion of a helpful word. 
On page 8, a statement about Mohammedanism, 
found to be contradicted by better authorities, 
has been elided and a sentence giving undisputed 
material inserted. On pages 20, 46, 47, 86, and 87 
references by name to certain great historic 
Christian communions, which seemed to some to 
lay the book open to the charge of sectarianism, 
have been omitted, the principles involved further 
explained, and the index corrected accordingly. 
‘ The discussion of Christian Science on page 31 
has been slightly corrected and I hope, improved. 


On pages 141 and 144 the words “conscious” 
and “consciousness” have been changed to avoid 
ambiguity and perhaps incorrect implications. 
On page 143 the thesis and first part of the dis- 
cussion have been modified to refer to the posi- 
tively righteous character rather than sinlessness 
of Jesus. 

An addition which will greatly increase its 
value as a textbook, has been made in the list of 
questions on the text given in Appendix III, 
commencing page 255. I have been using these 
questions in mimeographed form, with the book, 
for theological students, who were not yet pre- 
pared for the more technical and historical trea- 
tises. They have accepted them eagerly as the 
basis for their study, recitation, review, and 
examination. They are even more necessary for 
correspondence students, who will gain a good 
mastery of the book if they can answer properly 
these questions on the text. Most students 
find it profitable to write out their answers to all 
questions, and in cases of uncertainty submit 
their answers to the teacher. 

I feel constrained to call attention again to what 
seems to me to be the most pressing necessity in 
our Christian education today. In place of the 
Bible-study courses of a generation ago, which, 
while assuming an unscientific and in some ways 
mistaken attitude toward the Bible, were yet 


largely classes in Christian doctrine, we have the 
new Bible courses, in which the purer and more 
truly scientific and Christian doctrine is pre- 
supposed, but not taught. ‘The students, however, 
have not learned their Christian doctrine in this 
better form, and some of the doctrines they have 
been taught before coming to college do not seem 
to harmonize with the new Bible teaching. Their 
religious thought is thus confused rather than 
clarified. The colleges and universities have the 
primary duty of bringing through their students 
the pure and scientific Christianity to the world 
of today, in forms suited to the rapidly changing 
needs of this new age. I am convinced that 
nothing will take the place of a simple, elementary 
course in Christian faith for the students in our 
Christian colleges and would like to urge upon 
those responsible for the religious education of 
our college youth the necessity of using such 
a course as this book offers or of preparing a 
better one. 

My sincere thanks are given to the many who 
have given ‘suggestions and uttered words of 
appreciation of the first edition of this book. 
I trust that they may find the second a little more 
worthy than the first. 

July, 1920 











Gop ? 






AppENDIx I. Books for Reference . 

Appenpix II. Notes, References and Ques- 
















“Let no man lead you astray: he that doeth righteous- 
ness is righteous.’’—I John 3:7. 

1. Religion is man’s consciousness of fateful 
relation to his larger environment, (a) his feeling of 
relation to God (or the universe) and to humanity; 
(0) his thought about these relations and their 
consequences, and (c) the action resulting from 
this feeling and belief.—This definition differs from 
many familiar ones, especially in two ways. First, 
it recognizes the participation of the whole nature 
of man, emotions, intellect, and will, whereas 
many have thought that religion belonged to one 
of these three phases of human nature, to the par- 
tial or complete exclusion of the others. Secondly, 
this definition recognizes the essential place in 
religion of man’s relation to humanity at large, as 
a part of his environment. 

This definition includes all forms of religion, 
even atheistic forms such as the original Buddhism, 
which it was very difficult to include in a definition 
which made religion the worship of a god or gods. 
It also recognizes that all men are religious, even 
those who have nothing to do with religious 
organizations or ceremonies. For every man feels 



some relation to the rest of reality, whether he 
thinks of that as fate, or the All, or some good or 
evil spirits, or the God and Father of Jesus Christ. 
For instance, the man whose life is absorbed in 
money-making has a feeling that he is taking the 
best way to obtain the greatest power over the 
earth and man and get the most out of life. His 
real religious faith is made in view of that feeling 
and his action is consistent with it. So too the 
materialist who believes in no spiritual force behind 
and in the universe, but nevertheless devotes 
perhaps his whole wealth and energy to the im- 
provement of the condition of his fellow-men, is 
seen to be religious—indeed, we shall come to see 
that he has a very good form of religion, although 
far from the best. 

We are justified in including the consciousness 
of relation to humanity as an important element 
in religion, philosophically by the fact that espe- 
cially when nature is viewed mechanically as the 
automatic expression of inviolable laws, the sig- 
nificant part of the universe to which relationship 
is felt is humanity; and this feeling with the thought 
and action which go with it may take the place 
which would otherwise be taken by feeling of 
relation to superhuman powers. ‘This definition 
is also justified historically, as we find that the 

‘relationship of each man to other men, at least 
others who are associated with him in the same 


form of religion, is an essential part of historical 
religions, and that the highest forms lay the most 
stress on the necessity of right relations with men. 
The highest form of religion may therefore be 
defined with Professor E. T. Harper as “‘life 
flowing from love to God and fellow-men.”’ 

As a matter of fact, no other religion has 
attained to such a high idea of God and noble 
conception of man, or been developed in such 
harmonious. and helpful relation to the three 
phases of man’s nature, feeling, thought, and 
action, as Christianity. It is in Christianity 
that the highest ideal of religion has been reached, 
and most largely realized, and this will appear 
as we consider that ideal and measure essential 
Christianity by it, in the following pages. 

A helpful conception of the nature of religion 
is that it is the search for friends in the universe. 
For every man instinctively desires to be in friendly 
relations with the rest of reality, and friendship 
can obtain, in its higher forms, only between per- 
‘sonal beings. Hence the universal tendency to 
think of the powers of nature, the great factors 
that determine one’s fortune and destiny as being, 
or being controlled by, a great person or persons, 
a god or gods. All religion in its earlier forms 
assumes that there are such friendly beings with 
which man can come into contact. Pantheism 
and atheism are in every case later developments 


to which some men have thought themselves 
forced by their reason. The worship of unfriendly 
or evil spirits or gods is rightly regarded as either 
a degradation or a counterfeit of religion and not a 
true or natural development. 

2. The best religion, from the standpoint of the 
individual, is that which is of the greatest assistance 
in the development and enjoyment of all his powers, 
or which leads to the most satisfying life. From 
the standpoint of society, it is that which has the 
strongest tendency to make men helpful to each 
other or righteous.—The truth of the first part of 
this thesis is self-evident. Some may question, 
however, whether religion has to do with all phases 
and powers of life, and especially whether it may 
not be necessary, in order to develop and enjoy 
the higher and nobler powers, or to enjoy the life 
of happiness after the earthly life is over, that one 
should deny himself other enjoyments. Different 
forms of religion have emphasized one interest of 
human life, and neglected others or taught that 
the others must be quite abandoned if the more 
important were to be truly attained. It must be 
evident, however, that if it were possible to enjoy 
physical health, the various normal exercises and 
pleasures of mortal life, and of the life after the 
death of the body, and at the same time to attain 
‘the highest development of the spiritual life—that 
is, of character—a religion which enabled a man 


to do this would be better than one which enabled 
him to do only part of this. Christianity in its 
highest form holds that these various forms of 
individual satisfaction are all mutually consistent, 
indeed, that they are all bound up together, so 
that no one can enjoy one phase of life in the best 
way without the development of the other phases; 
and so far as our experience goes Christianity has 
been more successful in thus promoting the larger 
life of the individual than any other form of religion. 

The truth of the second part of this thesis—that 
is, that from the standpoint of society that religion 
is best which best helps men to become righteous— 
will be seen when in section 6 we consider the 
meaning of righteousness, and see that the righteous 
life is just that life which is most helpful to others, 
and therefore most useful to men. 

3. Christianity has satisfied at the same time 
the needs of the individual and of society as no 
other religion has done, and thus harmonized and 
united the elements which in other religions have 
always remained more or less antagonistic.—A 
complete demonstration of this thesis would of 
course require the study of the whole history of 
the world and all of the forms of religion which 
have existed. But for practical purposes we may 
make our study much narrower. Since there is 
a powerful incentive for mankind to retain what 
it finds to be most useful, and social change is in 


general progressive, advancing, although with 
many temporary and local failures, we shall be 
safe in assuming that the best elements in the 
religions of the past have been preserved to the 
present, and we may therefore confine our atten- 
tion to those forms of religion which affect larger 
masses of men at the present time. 

The great forms of religion at the present time 
are Buddhism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism. 
Confucianism is more a system of moral and poli- 
tical teaching than a religion, and its influence in 
China is now rapidly decaying. It is there united 
with various forms of religion, none of which can be 
considered as comparable with Christianity in 
value except Buddhism. Hinduism is a name for 
a multitude of different forms of religion, which 
while having common elements are without true 
unity. It cannot, therefore, come into comparison. 

Buddhism exists in different forms and has 
been corrupted in various ways. As taught by its 
founder, Gautama, it was probably in its best 
form and contained much that was good and true, 
especially in its teachings with regard to the vir- 
tuous life. Gautama taught that no help or 
salvation could be expected from any god, and 
that the salvation which man needed could be 
reached only by the cessation of all desire. This 
state must be reached by everyone for himself, 
unaided by anyone else. Thus original and eso- 


teric Buddhism was practically atheistic. Later 
forms have worshiped Gautama, the founder, as a 
god, or have introduced the worship of other 
deities, but have not changed the general ideal 
of life and salvation. 

The Buddhistic view of life is that it is evil, 
to be gotten rid of as soon as possible, not by 
suicide—that would only prolong it in other, 
perhaps less desirable, incarnations—but by the 
extinction of the desire to live. The highest state 
which the Buddhist hopes to reach is that of the 
Nirvana, a condition of dreamless sleep—impos- 
sible definitely to distinguish from non-existence. 
In the meanwhile a man should treat his fellows 
kindly and rightly. But the path to the Nirvana 
is only for the few who give up their interest in life 
and its activities; and the many have for the 
present only a partial interest in religion and do not 
attain to the salvation which it offers. Aside 
from this highest form, there are many corrup- 
tions and superstitions in the doctrine and practice 
of Buddhism, and the life of the people who adhere 
to it is so manifestly inferior to that of Christians 
that a fair comparison can lead to only one con- 
clusion as to which is better. 

Mohammedanism, when it arose, was a distinct 
advance upon the forms of religion and morals 
which it superseded, among the roving tribes of 
Arabia, but its faith and life have been inseparably 



connected with faith in the Koran as a divine 
revelation of absolute authority in all respects. 
Thus it has stood against progress everywhere 
and does so today. The place which it gives to 
women in this life, whether in monogamous or 
polygamous conditions, is far inferior to man’s. 
Mohammed thought God to have human form 
and human attributes, to be an all-powerful, 
absolute despot of the world, hopelessly beyond 
the understanding of man. The teaching of Islam 
is not worthless but it is far inferior to that of 
Christianity, particularly in its highest forms, 
and a comparison of the life yielded by Moham- 
medanism and Christianity leaves no question as to 
which is superior. Mohammedanism propagates 
‘itself more by the power of the sword than by the 
appeal to reason and conscience, and justifies the 
ruthless slaughter of those who do not accept it. 

This glance at the only important world-rivals 
of Christianity, which should be supplemented by 
study of books referred to in the notes, shows that 
neither of them can be looked to as containing 
even the fundamental principles of the best religion 
in a form definite enough to serve as foundations 
for the development of the best religion, without 
giving up their primary characteristics as historic 
systems. On the other hand, as we shall see in 
succeeding sections, Christianity has had in it, 
from the beginning, the fundamental principles of 


that religion which must be the best and the final 
one for humanity, and these principles must be 
regarded as constituting its real essence, and there- 
fore be used to distinguish it from errors and corrup- 
tions which have been associated with many of its 
historic forms. 

4. Social and historical forms are essential to 
the existence and development of religion, and the 
best form of religion can be most surely found by 
the study of. historical religions, and therefore 
especially by the study of the highest form, 
Christianity—-No sensible man undertakes to 
become expert in any line of study or labor in 
which men have been engaged for centuries, with- 
out acquainting himself with the highest results 
which others have hitherto achieved. So no 
sensible man will undertake, even if it were pos- 
sible, to invent or discover the best form of religion 
without first finding out the highest forms which 
have been reached in the history of men. Every 
building must be constructed from the ground up, 
and every advance must commence at the point 
which has been attained. We may well question 
whether any particular form of Christianity now 
adhered to by large masses of people is in all 
respects true and ideal. If it were, we should 
have a right to expect that the people would be 
perfect in character, or at least far nearer perfec- 
tion than any group with which we are acquainted. 


But the only way in which the ideal religion can 
possibly be reached is by the patient and pro- 
gressive perfecting of the best that we have, by 
the emphasizing of that which proves itself most 
useful and true, and the gradual elimination of 
elements whose value has been but temporary, 
and which have been outgrown. Such a process 
of growth and development belongs to true religion, 
and results from its own nature and vitality, and 
is one of the most remarkable characteristics of 

The question has been raised whether one form 
of religion can be best for all men, or whether one 
form may not be better for one race or nation or 
class, and a considerably different form better for 
another race, nation, or class. No doubt there 
is a sense in which the latter is the case. But 
just as there is but one true science of electricity 
for all men, however differently electrical apparatus 
may be used in different places and conditions, 
and just as true food is nourishing to all human 
beings, even though from various causes the diet 
and the appetite of one man will differ from those 
of another, so the needs and elements of human 
nature are everywhere fundamentally the same; 
and the best religion for one man will probably 
be the best religion for every other man, although 
different elements in it will be of greater value 
and importance in the one case than in the other, 


and the understanding of it will be much less 
complete for one man than for another. 

If, then, the best religion is one which shall 
best meet the needs of all races and classes, we 
may be most confident that we have found the 
best religion, or that from which the best religion 
must be developed, if we find that historical form 
which has met the needs of masses of men of all 
classes and conditions in the best way and this 
we cannot doubt to be historical Christianity. 

If we admit that Christianity has some error 
connected with it in its historical forms, and that 
other great religions contain some of the good 
elements of Christianity, it may be thought that 
after all they should be treated as equals, and that 
we should simply urge the emphasis of the impor- 
tant and rejection of the false in each case, but 
not ask anyone to give up another form for Chris- 
tianity. This is not the right attitude. It may 
be that one form of religion has accepted ele- 
ments of good which belong also to other religions, 
but that its essential features may so obscure these 
good elements as to prevent them from ever attain- 
ing their true place and right emphasis in the 
lives of its adherents. This brings us to the 
question as to what the essence of a religion is. 
Our answer relates to founded religions, particu- 
larly, but as the great religions of the world, 
Buddhism, Mohammedanism, and Christianity, 


all belong to this class, it will apply to them all. 
We hold, then, that the essence of a religion is 
that character or those features, manifest in its 
founding and preserved in its history, which by 
their value and vitality give power to the religion 
to reform and purify itself and adapt itself to 
both the permanent and the changing elements 
in human life. We have briefly considered the 
two rivals of Christianity from this standpoint 
of their essential form. We now have to consider 
Christianity very briefly in the same way. Of 
course the succeeding chapters in the book are 
taken up with the explanation and confirmation 
of the details of Christian faith as they have been 
developed up to the present time. 

5. Jesus in his own life and teaching presented 
the life of largest development and satisfaction for 
the individual.—This appears from the accounts 
which we have in the Gospels, both positively 
and negatively. He did not teach nor practice 
asceticism, although he did teach the life of self- 
sacrifice and self-denial. But almost all of his 
recorded acts are those of promoting the health 
or enjoyment of others. He did not avoid feasts 
nor say much of fasting. He enjoyed and approved 
of home life and of children and in no way suggested 
that a life of seclusion in cell or monastery was 
desired by God. The relations which he sustained 
and taught his disciples to hold to all men were 


determined by the highest emotion, love. In the 
Beatitudes he points out the way to the happy 
life. In his warning against anxiety, worry, and 
covetousness, he was showing the way to peace 
and contentment of mind, conducive to the 
healthiest mental and physical life. He says 
very little about the life after death, and is mainly 
concerned not with that but with mortal life 
itself. In the Fourth Gospel he is represented as 
especially concerned with giving life to men, and 
many expressions emphasize this idea: ‘‘I came 
that they may have life, and that they may have 
it abundantly”; ‘‘I am the bread of life”; ‘Ye 
will not come to me that ye may have life”; 
“T am the way and the truth and the life.” 

6. Jesus taught that righteousness is the most 
important element in the life of the individual and 
of society, that it is of fundamental value for God 
and man.—A man acts righteously or rightly 
when he does what he would want everyone else 
to do under similar circumstances. This defini- 
tion of righteousness was first clearly stated in 
substantially this form by the great philosopher 
Kant, although it was probably understood by 
Socrates, two thousand years earlier. Jesus taught 
it in the form we know as the Golden Rule, and 
all of his teachings are consistent with it. Con- 
fucius also stated it in a negative form, but did 
not realize its truth in the positive form in which 


Jesus taught it. The great value of this definition 
is that everyone who understands it will agree 
that it is correct, although from its nature it will 
be applied differently in specific cases by different 

Apart from some of the teachings of Jesus 
about the “last things,” the judgment, second 
coming, etc., which we shall have to consider 
later, his recorded sayings are mainly concerned 
with two things: the explanation of and exhor- 
tation to the righteous life, and the presentation 
of a spiritual idea of the kingdom of heaven in 
place of the prevailing materialistic idea of it. 
He taught that the essence of righteousness is 
love, and that God, who is perfectly righteous, 
requires his children to be perfect as he is. He 
saw beneath the outward actions to the inward 
motive, and judged man by the latter. The great- 
est commandment is to love God (this perfectly 
righteous Being) with all of one’s nature, and the 
second, like to the first in importance and in 
character, is to love one’s neighbor as oneself— 
that is, one cannot love God truly without loving 
one’s neighbor also truly. Such love to one’s fellows, 
as he taught and exemplified it, was the funda- 
mental principle of the righteousness which he 
demanded, and a moment’s thought will make it 
clear that he was right; for this principle of 
action from loving motives would be immediately 


derivable from the definition of righteousness which 
we have agreed upon. How remarkable it was 
that Jesus had this clear perception of the nature 
of righteousness, when the current teaching of his 
day and his people was so different, need not here 
be dwelt upon. 

Although, as we have seen, Jesus did not teach 
asceticism, he did insist upon righteousness and 
love to others, with all that that involved of self- 
sacrifice, self-denial, and self-restraint, as the first 
condition of God’s approval and man’s happiness 
and welfare. Righteousness—love for others 
shown by word and deed—and not any particular 
form of ceremony or creed, was the test, in the 
great judgment scene which he so dramatically 
pictured as the time of decision of the fate of 
men and nations. 

The teaching of Jesus about the kingdom of 
heaven shows that this kingdom was something 
to be progressively realized on earth by men 
governed by the spirit of love to God and one 
another. It was not primarily an ideal for the 
life after death, but something that was already 
coming in the experiences of his disciples and was 
to spread from them like the yeast in the three 
measures of meal. Thus Jesus united in his 
faith and teaching the ideal of individual satisfac- 
tion, social harmony, and divine perfection, the 
highest appeal to the intellect, feelings, and will. 


Righteousness and love were the key words in 
all three. 

7. The authority to which Jesus appealed was 
always that of the reason and the conscience, and 
whenever tradition, even the most sacred, con- 
flicted with these, he did not hesitate to forsake 
tradition.—Tradition in religion opposes truth and 
progress in two ways. First, it often conflicts 
with the truth about right conduct. ‘The religion 
of a hundred years ago approved or at any 
rate did not condemn certain kinds of action 
which are now seen to have evil results, and there- 
fore to be morally wrong. ‘Then, these results 
may not have been apparent, and the action 
may have been so much of an improvement 
over previous action as to be right at that time. 
But now the man who receives the religion, and 
with it the views of right and wrong of a hundred 
years ago, must choose between this teaching of 
religious tradition and the voice of his conscience. 
The general approval of slavery in the United 
States a century ago is an instance of religious 
tradition which came to be in conflict with 
conscience. We should understand that tradi- 
tion indicates any teaching or custom which is 
“handed down” from one generation to another, 
whether true or false, and that it may be 
very good, as in the case of the Bible. The 
danger is that it may be held sacred and right 


because it has come down from previous ages, 
instead of because it is confirmed by reason and 

The second way in which tradition often opposes 
truth is with respect to teaching concerned directly 
with religious belief or ceremonial. For example, 
a certain creed expressed, a hundred years ago, 
the highest thought of man about God, and a 
certain ceremonial form seemed most suitable to 
the true worship of God. Now, the language 
and ideas of people have changed in many impor- 
tant respects and the creed of that day is not and 
cannot be understood in the same way as it was 
then. In certain ways, also, our ideas of God are 
clearer and higher now than then, so that the 
creed has not now the intrinsic authority of its 
appeal to reason and conscience that it had. But 
tradition insists on its acceptance on the implicit 
ground of the authority which it formerly had, not 
recognizing that the basis of that authority has 
passed away. 

Jesus’ constant appeal to the reason and con- 
science is reflected with special emphasis in the 
Fourth Gospel, where the words “true” and “truth” 
recur so frequently. He appealed to the evidence 
of his works, to the witness that God bore to him 
(how else than by his Spirit in their minds and 
hearts, making the truth plain to those who would 
receive it?); and when he appealed to the Scrip- 


tures for confirmation of the truth of his words 
it was either to point out the inconsistency of those 
who found fault with him while they professed 
the greatest reverence for the Scriptures, or to 
quote some passage the truth of which was evident 
quite apart from the authority of its source. He 
said that he came to fulfil the Scriptures, but, inter- 
preting those words by his life, we must find them 
to mean that he was to show the deeper and truer 
meaning of them by his life and teaching, rejecting 
or revising that in them which was only temporary 
in its value. 

Jesus’ rejection or revision, not only of the 
teachings of the scribes and rabbis but also of the 
Scriptures when they came into conflict with truth 
-and right, is illustrated in his teaching about 
marriage and divorce, about “Korban,” about 
ceremonial defilement in eating with unwashed 
hands or eating meats that were ceremonially 
unclean. It is shown also in his reinterpretation 
of old commandments in the Sermon on the 
Mount where he goes from the outward act to 
the inward motive. ‘‘Ye have heard that it 
hath been said’”—that was the authority of tra- 
dition—‘‘but I say unto you”—that was not 
merely an appeal to his own authority, but rather 
his interpretation of the will of God enforced by 
an appeal to their own perception of how God 
actually works in the world. 


8. Since the characteristic features of the life 
and teaching of Jesus have remained vital in 
Christianity and are the principles of the best 
religion, Christianity must be in essence the best 
and the final religion.—We have seen in the last 
sections that the principles of the life and teaching 
of Jesus are those of the best religion, the one 
giving largest satisfaction to the intellect, emotions, 
and will of the individual and having the strongest 
tendency to make men righteous. A study of 
church history would show that these principles 
were effective in the early organization of the 
church and development of its systems of teaching; 
that, although they have often been lost sight of 
by the ecclesiastical authorities and perhaps the 
larger body of adherents of the church, they have 
yet survived in the minds and hearts of a “rem- 
nant” at all times and come into prominence in 
the lives and teachings of the great prophets and 
reformers of the church from time to time. They 
were the underlying principles of the great refor- 
mation which commenced in the sixteenth cen- 
tury, and are again today being understood more 
clearly than ever before. 

It is of great importance to note that, however 
these principles have been lost from view for a 
time in the history of the church, there never was 
a time when the life and words of Jesus were not 
regarded, theoretically at least, as of fundamental 


value to the church. And the fact that the Gospels 
have from the first century preserved this picture 
of Jesus and record of his words in which these 
principles are so evident has made a reformation 
and purification of Christian life and doctrine 
possible and often inevitable. They have thus 
been the vital principles of Christianity throughout 
its history. And by this history the practical 
value or ‘‘workableness”’ of these principles has 
been shown. 

We have seen that the primary emphasis of 
the religion of Jesus was upon righteous living 
and that, although deeply reverencing the tradi- 
tions of historical religion, he accepted them only 
as they could be shown to promote human welfare 
in his own day. A study of the various forms of 
Christianity, as well as of non-Christian religions 
and of the social conditions in the communities 
and countries in which they prevail, will justify 
the natural expectation that, where these prin- 
ciples of the religion of Jesus are most clearly 
understood and most heartily applied, the 
community is most prosperous economically and 
most progressive intellectually, morally, and 

Granting that Christianity is the best religion 
that the world knows, the question may still be 
raised by some who see imperfections in its 
popular forms whether it may not some time be 


superseded by another still better. It would be 
very unwise in the face of history, even of Chris- 
tian history, to predict permanence for any detailed 
system of doctrine. Although in the following 
pages we give in reasonable detail the elements 
which seem to flow from the fundamental principles 
of the best religion, as they have been developed 
within Christianity up to the present time, it is 
not with the thought that no modification of any 
of them will be found necessary in the future, 
but rather that they fairly state the highest posi- 
tions that have yet been reached, and, by the 
criticism of careful thought and the testing of time, 
will lead to still clearer views of truth in the future. 

But we have found Christianity to be in essence 
identical with the best religion, and that its essen- 
tial principles have proved their value and appli- 
cability to human nature as it is for nearly two 
thousand years. We must therefore hold that 
this essential Christianity is the highest and best 
religion and destined to be permanent and final. 

If it be granted that Christianity is the highest 
form of religion to which the world has attained, 
and that its essence is that of the best conceivable 
religion, we may also say that the final religion 
must be continuous with Christianity as we now 
have it, in substance of doctrine and spirit if not 
in form of organization. It must be our Chris- 
tianity perfected according to its true nature, as 


the child when it develops rightly matures into 
the perfect man or woman. For, as has been 
noted in section 4, the religion of the future must 
always be built upon that of the present—there 
can never be a gap in the development. This 
is a reason for patience with the slow-changing 
forms of Christianity which we know today and 
the faithful effort to develop them rightly from 
within rather than to break away from them and 
organize new forms which would embody the 
truth in a purer and more complete way. Such. 
breaks are sometimes necessary, but the scan- 
dalous multiplicity of Christian sects and all the 
evils of sectarian strife and misunderstanding 
show that there is a very serious danger in such 
impatience with the slower progress of established 
organizations. The great movements of today 
toward the reuniting of Christian organizations 
are one of the proofs of the presence in them of 
the spirit of truth and love. 

Christianity possesses two concrete elements 
whose value for its growth and permanence is 
immeasurable and peculiar. The first is the 
person and teaching of Jesus as described in the 
New Testament. The central place in Buddhism 
of Gautama and in Mohammedanism of Mahomet 
is in many respects similar to that of Jesus in 
Christianity. But while in the case of the two 
first-named forms, adherence to the principles 


and ideals of the founder must ever prevent the 
attainment of the best religion, in the case of 
Christianity the life and teachings of its founder 
are still far beyond what has been practically 
realized and attained in the history of the religion 
which he founded, and are of such a nature that we 
cannot conceive of them being susperseded or 
surpassed. Abstract principles are always in 
danger of being lost in the forms in which they 
are stated or in the minds of those who have not 
learned to grasp or to value principles in abstract 
form. But a definite, divine, heroic figure, with 
a name and history easily grasped, whose life 
illustrates such abstract principles in ways readily 
understood by the simplest and most unlearned, 
is of inestimable value in the maintenance of such 
principles as living forces among men. 

The second concrete element making for the 
permanence of Christianity is the Bible. Again 
we may compare it with Islam, i.e., Mohammedan- 
ism, which in place of the Bible has the Koran. 
The latter, while of great and positive value at 
the time it was written, to the people whose 
religious beliefs and practices had been decidedly 
lower than those it inculcated, has nevertheless 
been an absolute hindrance to growth and progress 
among those who held it sacred. The Bible, on 
the other hand, has had a most favorable influence 
on progress in every line, and when rightly used 
should continue to do so in the future as well as, 


or even better than, in the past. The peculiar 
value, nature, and proper use of the Bible are 
considered in the next chapters. 

In order that we may be able to distinguish 
the permanent, valuable, and true elements in 
Christian faith from temporary or erroneous forms 
or elements which in the course of history have 
become associated with it, we shall need to con- 
sider further some principles for the testing of 
religious teaching, and the basis for our confidence 
that we may come to the real truth in our study. 
This is done in the remaining sections of this 

9. Religious teachings with regard to facts or 
principles, which cannot be verified through the 
senses or the personal experience of the individ- 
ual, belong to the realm of faith, and should be 
distinguished from those which are thus verifiable 
and so belong to the realm of knowledge in the 
technical sense.—By knowledge in the technical 
sense we mean those opinions as to facts and prin- 
ciples which a man cannot doubt when the proper 
evidence has been presented to him—in the 
acceptance of the truth of which a man has no 
choice. When we once understand them, we 
cannot doubt the truth of mathematics and logic, 
the so-called formal sciences. They, however, 
give us no information about any particular 
things, but enable us to use such information 


rightly only when we have obtained it in other 
ways. Aside from these formal sciences, all 
knowledge comes to us through our senses, or 
from our immediate consciousness of our own 
feelings or other experiences. I cannot doubt the 
real existence of the impressions of sight and sound, 
smell, touch, etc., and of feelings of comfort or pain, 
and the thoughts that pass through my mind in 
dreams or waking hours. Practically, I cannot 
doubt the existence of the objects of my sense- 
experiences, of the chair which I see, the type- 
writer which I hear, and the tooth which aches. 

There are many things which belong to the 
realm of knowledge which I know only indirectly, 
but they are things which I might know, or, 
might have known directly if I had been in the 
position of other human beings whose knowledge 
of them was immediate, and from whom my 
knowledge comes. For instance, I know that 
there is a city Jerusalem, although I have not yet 
seen it. But I have the best reason to believe 
that I might see it if I took the time and trouble 
and could meet the expense. My evidence of its 
existence comes to me still through my senses, 
although it is not direct. The books I read, and 
the things I hear from people whom my eyes see, 
give me evidence that there is such a city, and I 
am practically compelled to believe it just as 
certainly by this indirect evidence as if I saw the 


city myself. And even if the evidence were not 
absolutely convincing, the matter would still 
belong to the realm of knowledge. Suppose I 
had only the report of the author of some old 
book on the subject. If I had good reason to 
believe that the book was authentic and the author 
truthful, I should still believe it as fully as if a 
hundred men had witnessed to its existence. If 
I had doubts about the book or its author I might 
doubt the existence of the city for that reason; 
but my opinion about it is still dependent on the 
evidence which comes to my senses, and not on 
my choice, and further evidence might settle the 
matter for me one way or the other. In the same 
way I know that a man named Jesus lived in 
Palestine many years ago. I cannot absolutely 
verify his existence by my senses now, but have, 
nevertheless, evidence through them that if I had 
been in Palestine at the right time I might have 
seen him with my own eyes, and heard his voice 
with my own ears. 

We should understand that a matter may belong 
to the realm of knowledge even though our own 
opinion about it may be erroneous. One man may 
believe that the city of Troy as described by 
Homer and Virgil really existed, and another 
that it never really existed. So far as the opinions 
* have any value at all, they are founded on evidence 
presented to the senses of the men holding them, 


and are in each case held involuntarily—not 
because the men wish to hold them, but because 
the evidence of their senses seems to warrant 
their opinions. If the evidence could be made 
complete and perfect, both men would be compelled 
to come to the same opinion and that the right one. 
We should understand that, as to knowledge of 
our own thoughts and feelings, what we cannot 
doubt is that we have them—we can doubt whether 
or not they are érue. For instance, I know that 
I have had a certain dream. But I cannot know 
that it represents any truth with regard to present 
or future conditions in the outer world, just because 
I have dreamt it. If I believe that it does, that 
is a matter of faith and not knowledge. So I 
may know that certain events have happened after 
my prayer, and may believe that they happened 
because God heard my prayer, but my belief with 
regard to God is a matter of faith and not of 
knowledge. A man who does not doubt my 
account of my prayer and the events which followed 
may nevertheless doubt the existence of God. 
Faith, then, is the conviction which a man 
arrives at as an interpretation of experience, but 
which itself cannot be absolutely established by 
the senses or any personal experience. When all 
the evidences which my senses could receive had 
been presented, I might still hold that some other 
explanation of the existence of the universe was the 


true one, than that it was to be explained by the 
existence of a God such as the Christian believes 
in. The view which I hold is not so involuntary 
as in the case of sense-knowledge. It is dependent 
on the significance which I attribute to certain ex- 
periences above other experiences, and the value 
which the one opinion has for me above the other. 
All theories of science as well as religion which are 
used to explain and to handle facts and experiences, 
but cannot be fully confirmed by the senses or 
personal experience of the individual, belong to 
the realm of faith in this technical sense. All the 
most important teachings of religion belong to the 
realm of faith and not of knowledge. 

Some people distinguish between religious 
belief and faith, making the latter personal trust 
or confidence and commitment to God. The 
question is here one of the use of words. Every 
author has the right to use his terms in the way 
which seems to him best, provided he makes his 
meaning plain. The use which is made of these 
terms in this book is here defined and should be 
clearly understood. It is quite true that a man 
may hold certain opinions about God, correspond- 
ing to those of Christianity, without having a 
personal trust in God, and being a real Christian. 
We should say, however, that such an attitude 
. is possible only when such opinions are held only 
part of the time, and in a weak way; and that it 


is impossible for a man constantly to believe the 
Christian teaching about God, without the personal 
commitment of self to him which some would 
denote by the term faith. 

When it is seen that a man cannot be certain 
of the truth of religion (in the sense of being com- 
pelled to believe its teachings and unable to 
doubt them, or to accept alternative theories in 
explanation of his experience), there is danger 
that a man will say: Then I can never be sure of 
having the true religion, and need not concern 
myself about it; no one can require me to have 
any particular religious faith, since he cannot prove 
that it is true. But this would be a very foolish 
position. We could do hardly anything of con- 
sequence in this world without acting on faith, 
that is, on theories the truth of which can never 
be demonstrated to the senses. And the theories 
of religion are the most important ones for life 
which a man can hold, and while they never become 
knowledge in the technical sense, their truth may 
yet be made so clear as to make their acceptance 
the only sensible thing for a man to do. The tests 
and principles of religious faith are further made 
clear in the following sections. 

to. A religious faith should be reasonable, that 
is, its elements should not contradict each other 
or the testimony of the senses or the facts of 
human experience.—Two statements which con- 


tradict each other cannot both be true. There- 
fore, as we are looking for a true faith, we must 
strive to get rid of contradiction in its various 
parts. This may seem so evident as not to be 
worth mentioning, but as a matter of fact probably 
the faith of most people involves more or less 
contradiction which is not recognized. A man 
believes one thing at one time, and another con- 
tradictory thing at another; and because he does 
not think of both at the same time and compare 
them, he does not realize that one of them must be 
false. Thus contradictions have even crept into 
certain forms of Christian teaching, and sometimes 
been maintained there in spite of evident incom- 
patibility, the difficulty being overcome by calling 
it a mystery beyond the reach of human reason. 
While there is a great deal of truth which is beyond 
the reach of human reason, it does no one any good 
to try to believe what evidently cannot be true. 

It should also be clear that a good faith should 
not contradict our experiences. We may believe 
something about the future which is very different 
from anything which we experience at present. 
The fact that we have not experienced a thing in 
no wise proves that we may not experience it in 
the future, or that others may not have experienced 
it in the past. But we should not deny in our 
faith that which we know to be true in our 
experience. For example, Christian Science denies 


the reality of pain, sin, disease, and death. 
Although this denial might be approved if the 
word ‘‘reality” were interpreted as that which 
is ‘‘eternal, indestructible, true,’’ as in the article 
“Christian Science” in the Encyclopedia of Religion 
and Ethics, as a matter of fact this is not the usual 
meaning of that word either in or outside of the 
literature of Christian Science. Its usual meaning 
is “objective existence.”” The adherents of Chris- 
tian Science are taught that evils exist only in 
their erroneous thought and that if they will only 
“deny” them they will thereby cease to exist. 
Modern medical science recognizes what has been 
known confusedly for many centuries, that one’s 
thoughts and feelings have much to do with the 
conditions of the body, and that there is a certain 
group of diseases roughly classed as “nervous” or 
“functional” in which the principal source of the dis- 
ease and best if not the only means of its cure are 
to be found in the mind. Thus Christian Science 
has brought relief and health to many through the 
mind. Yet it fails in the many cases where the dis- 
ease has causes other than mental. Its doctrine, 
being only partially true and partly contradicted 
by our common experience, is therefore defective; 
for religious faith, if it would meet the demands of 
modern life, must conform to the standard of 
reasonableness which we insist upon in all other 
departments of life. 


1r. The instinct which makes us accept the 
faith which gives the deepest personal satisfaction, 
or hold our highest ideals to be real, is worthy 
of confidence and leads to the best faith.—We 
are constantly exercising our judgment in choice 
between the various experiences possible to us, the 
various things offered to us, and selecting those 
which seem to us best. The food that tastes best, 
the music that pleases most, the friend who is most 
congenial—these we all prefer and take if we can 
get. It is not otherwise with faith. When we 
are in health of body and mind we put the best 
interpretation upon life which we can, and the 
better the interpretation, the more we enjoy the 
life. But this interpretation of life in its widest 
sweep is religious faith; and the acceptance of 
that interpretation of life which yields the greatest 
satisfaction to the mind, the feelings, and the 
conscience is the holding of our highest ideals to 
be real. But the very fact that this religious faith 
or this theory of life gives us what we desire is 
strongest evidence of its truth, just as the truth 
of any theory is confirmed by the attainment, 
through its application, of results sought for. 

In individual cases circumstances will prevent 
the recognition of that which is best in any depart- 
ment of life. Tastes are formed and _ habits 
’ established, prejudices accepted, in early life, 
which make the recognition of that which is really 


better, difficult or impossible in later life. In 
religion the conservative elements are perhaps 
stronger than in any other region of thought and 
interest, but here too life and growth will always 
show themselves by choosing the better when it 
can be made plain that it is better. 

12. The social value of the best faith, that is, 
its power to make men righteous, is a guaranty of 
its truth.—‘‘ No man liveth to himself and no man 
dieth to himself.” My life is immeasurably af- 
fected by the lives of other men, and affects them 
probably more than I imagine. As we have seen, 
the inmost meaning of righteousness is that char- 
acter which acts from love to others. It needs no 
argument to show that it will be best for me to have 
others righteous in character, i.e., loving toward 
me, and best for others if I shall be righteous, 
loving toward them. As the best interests of 
each demand that all the rest shall be righteous, 
so evidently the religion which has the strongest 
tendency to make men righteous will have the 
greatest social value. If there is any such unity 
in the spiritual world as in the physical, then we 
should hold that that theory which is the best for 
all in general is also best for each in particular, 
and that it is not only best for me that every- 
one else should be righteous but also that I my- 
self should be. The laws of physics, chemistry, 
biology, and the other sciences are universal— 


apply equally to all—and no man can gain by 
ignoring for himself the rules that he recognizes 
to be applicable to others. We are justified, then, 
in saying that the rule which works best for society 
will work best for each individual, and the faith 
which has the greatest social value will be finally 
the same as that which has the greatest individual 
value. The fact of such value, then, is the evidence 
of its truth, just as in the case of every theory the 
evidence of the truth of the theory is in giving 
such an explanation of experience as to enable us 
to gain for the future the desired results in expe- 
rience. The final proof of faith lies in its value. 
The key is true if it unlocks the door. The road 
is right if it brings the man home. The lamp is 
real if it dispels the darkness. The faith is firm- 
founded if it transfigures the life. 

The two tests of faith which are most practical 
and easy to apply are those of reasonableness and 
tendency to make men righteous. While we need 
not neglect the other elements of personal satis- 
faction, we shall be more independent of individual 
error and variation if we consider mainly the 
intellectual and social value of an article of faith, 
assuming that that which is reasonable and helps 
toward righteousness will also yield the greatest 
satisfaction to each individual. 

13. Everyone is bound to accept the best faith 
he can find.—It is just as truly a man’s duty to 


believe in God, if that can be shown to be the best 
faith, as for him to pay his just debts, or work 
honestly for his living. All must admit that there 
is such a thing as duty, and that the sum of all 
duties is to do absolutely right. The duty to do 
right carries with it the duty to use all proper 
means within one’s power to help one to do right. 
The mightiest power to help a man to do right is 
that of true religious faith. This is one implication 
of the famous doctrine of Protestantism which 
Luther received from Paul, “justification by faith”’; 
namely, that right faith directs and transforms life. 

If circumstances should arise so that it is 
clearly my duty to get from Chicago to New York 
as soon as possible, and I have physical power to 
go on foot, and money to pay my fare on the fastest 
train, it is clearly my duty to take the train. It 
is no excuse to say that I am doing my duty if 
I start out on foot and run as fast as I can. So 
whatever I take to be my duty to my fellow-men, 
to be the completely righteous life for me, I am 
not doing my duty if I strive to live this righteous 
life without religious faith, for with that faith I 
might make much more rapid progress in the 
righteous life. 

Let it again be noted that by our definition 
the best faith is one which can be accepted. It is 
one which is reasonable and against which no proof 
(I do not say no evidence, but no proof) can be 


brought. No man can be required by his duty 
to do that which is impossible, and one impossible 
thing for an intelligent man is to hold that to be 
true which his mind pronounces false. We realize 
that the human mind is very liable to error, and 
that it is both possible for an intelligent, even a 
learned, man to hold that to be unreasonable which 
is really reasonable, and to maintain the reasonable- 
ness of that which really involves contradiction 
and error. It remains true, however, that each 
man must use his own reason and moral judgment 
to direct his life, and experience justifies us in 
holding that this individual judgment, honestly 
exercised, will not lead men into ever-greater 
diversity of faith and life, but rather to ever more 
harmonious and lofty faith and life. 

The principles of religious faith set forth in 
this book are presented to be carefully considered 
by each individual and accepted in so far as they 
are found to be reasonable and helpful. The 
author believes them to be substantially the highest 
views of Christian teaching as it has been revealed 
through Christ and the experience of the church 
from his day to the present, but that in the future 
they will doubtless be still further improved in 
some ways. 

From whatever point of view our religious be- 
liefs are considered, whether as an attainment of 
man or a revelation of God, it must be recognized 


that they have been acquired only gradually. 
Geometry was not always known as it is today. 
Before anything like our geometry was known to 
the world, certain geometrici’ relations were per- 
ceived more or less clearly by the artisans and 
builders of early ages. Although their knowledge 
was very imperfect, it would have been only 
folly to have rejected it for that reason. In 
so far as it enabled men to build successfully, 
it was not only useful but true, although mixed 
with imperfection or error. So today we must 
accept the highest form of religious faith which 
has been and can be attained, although acknowl- 
edging that further development and growth is still 

An objection to the method of determining the 
substance of religious faith—of finding that which 
is true and that which contains error in Christian 
teaching—which has been explained in the pre- 
ceding sections, will occur to many earnest Chris- 
tians. They might say that it ignores God and 
his revelation, without which we cannot come to 
divine truth; that it is subjective, individualistic; 
that the result will be a man-made God, instead of 
a self-revealed God, for man to worship and obey. 
These objections will be seen to be groundless as 
we proceed with our study, but it will be well to 
give a brief answer to them here in order, if possible, 
to remove any prejudice to further study. 


The religious interpretation of the method we 
have outlined is a thoroughly biblical and Christian 
one; it is the principle of the guidance of man by 
the Spirit of God, or the immanence of God in 
the minds and hearts of men. The Bible teaches 
that the Spirit of God is the “light that lighteth 
every man coming into the world”; that the 
breath of life breathed into man at his creation, 
or the image of God in which he made man, is 
his reason and conscience, those divine powers in 
him, through which God reveals to him his truth 
and wins him to himself. These powers of reason 
and conscience or moral judgment which we have 
made the tests for every man of religious truth are 
the only conceivable means by which God could 
reveal his truth to men; and every honest search 
for those principles which ennoble life and develop 
in character that marvelous fruit of “love, joy, 
peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 
meekness, temperance” is evidence of the re- 
vealing and inspiring activity of the Holy Spirit. 
And the Christian should hold this to be true even 
where the person in whom these forces are active 
has at first no clear faith in God. It is not less 
God’s activity because it is not recognized as such. 

At the same time our method is not open to 
_ the objection that it begs the question at the start, 
assuming the faith for which it proposes to present 
the evidence. The validity of our method does 


not depend on this religious interpretation, but 
should appeal to every honest, serious person who 
desires the fullest life for himself and the best 
character for the sake of others, whatever be the 
state of his religious faith or lack of faith at the 



‘“‘Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for 
teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is 
in righteousness.” —II Tim. 3:16. 

14. The Bible is the most valuable collection of 
religious writings which the world possesses, and 
meets the need which man feels of a real and defi- 
nite knowledge of the character of God and his 
relations with mankind.—‘‘Oh, that I knew where 
I might find him” is the cry of man all over the 
world, and especially of him who is in trouble and 
believes that God might help him out if he could 
be found and properly appealed to. In every 
known form of religion it has been thought that 
such knowledge of God or of the ultimate reality 
back of the universe was at hand either in common 
possession or among the priests or religious leaders. 
In order that religious faith may be strong, those 
who hold it must be confident that the truth which 
they hold has been revealed to men in the past or 
present in a clear and definite way. But knowing 
that each form of religion makes such claims for 
its system, and that as they differ greatly from 
‘ each other, they cannot all be true, we seek to 
know whether any form of religion can justify 



these claims in a way which will be superior to all 
others, and will satisfy the need of the most intelli- 
gent and educated, as well as the ignorant and 
humble, at the present time. In this and the 
remaining sections of this chapter, reasons are 

given for holding that the Bible meets these needs | 

as no other revelation does. 

We should notice that the Bible is a collection 
of writings and not a single writing. The time of 
composition of the biblical writings commences 
probably about a thousand years before Christ, 
and ends about the year 100 A.D. They were 
written primarily for the age and the people of 
their own time, by men (or women) moved by the 
Holy Spirit. The Old Testament gives the choicest 
surviving literature of the nation which up to the 
time of Christ possessed the highest type of religion 
known to men, and shows the progressive develop- 
ment of thought and life within this nation. The 
New Testament is all concerned with the life of 
Jesus and his apostles and the growth and literature 
of the church founded by the apostles in the first 
century. The Old Testament was the sacred 
literature known and revered by Jesus and all 
the writers of the New Testament, and it thus 
forms a background for, and explanation of, the 
latter to a large extent. With these elements of 
unity there is great variety in the language, con- 
tent, and purpose of these writings. 


When the Bible is compared with the Koran, the 
writings of Confucius, the sacred writings of India, 
or any other known collection of religious writings, 
it will without question rank far above them all 
for the unprejudiced thinker. Many of the truths 
contained in the Bible are also taught in some of 
these other writings. And some parts of the Bible, 
such as chapters of names or ceremonial laws, 
have little or no religious value to the world today. 
It still remains true that the Bible, in view of its 
nature, history, the regard in which it is held, and 
the extent to which it is known, is by far the most 
valuable religious literature which the world pos- 
sesses. Attention is called to special elements of 
value in succeeding sections. 

15. The need is felt for a revelation of God 
more authoritative than the opinions of ordinary 
men. The Bible is an extraordinary revelation of 
religious truth, tested by many generations of the 
best men and found to show the working of God’s 
Spirit upon its authors.—The realization of the 
fallibility of ordinary men, and of the fact that 
religious truth cannot be directly discovered 
through the senses, explains the desire which men 
have had for a ‘‘supernatural revelation.” In the 
past it has generally been in peculiar visions or 
dreams or unusual experiences, often of a startling 
or terrible nature, that men have thought to receive 
revelations from God. We are coming to realize 


now that, although God reveals himself in all 
experiences of life, his greatest and most important 
revelations are to be known, not by some unusual 
manner in which they were first received, but by 
the nature of the revelation itself, the evidence 
of its truth which comes from its results in yielding 
the fullest and noblest life. 

We do not know the detailed history of the 
formation of the “canon” (the standard list of 
books regarded as especially inspired) of the Old 
Testament or the New, but we know that these 
books were sifted out from among a much larger 
number, because they seemed to be of especial 
religious value in one way or another. Some of 
the books were selected because they gave the 
history, actual or traditional, from the creation 
down to the period a few centuries before Christ, 
with the older accounts purified by the high moral 
and religious spirit of later ages and of the writers, 
and with the religious interpretation of the actual 
history in the light of faith in Jehovah. Some of 
the books were the recorded words of the prophets 
which had stirred their generation and succeeding 
ones most powerfully to the reformation of religion 
and life. Some contained the songs used in temple 
and synagogue and doubtless also in the home, 
to express need for, and faith in, God. Some gave 
the wise sayings of the sages of various times, as 
they had been collected. Of the nature of the 


New Testament books we have already spoken. 
They were gradually formed into a special col- 
lection to be read in the churches, and finally, 
after some centuries, given a place beside the Old 
Testament as especially inspired and sacred. 

All this process of sifting and selection, carried 
on both by the mass and by the leaders of the 
people, brought together a collection of books of 
very extraordinary value, recognized as setting 
forth the highest conceptions of God and man. 
The evidence that the authors of the books of the 
Bible were moved by the Spirit is the same as the 
evidence that men today are moved by the Spirit, 
namely, that their words, and, so far as we know 
them, their lives showed the influence of the Spirit 
of righteousness, purity, and love working through 
them, and inspiring in them the highest faith in 
God and zeal for the welfare of man. 

It is helpful to remember that religious revela- 
tion proceeds by the same method as revelation 
of other forms of truth. In science for the most 
part a theory is proposed by someone with a kind 
of intuitive perception of probable truth, and then 
tested by experiment and confirmed or dismissed. 
So in religious revelation. Many have thought 
God had revealed truth to them, and have declared 
it in his name, but the test of application to life 
has shown it to be partially or wholly false. It is 
the wonderful tests of the millenniums of practice 


which guarantee to us the divine authority of the 
Bible, and we must keep on testing in order to 
discover what has present value for us. 

16. Belief in a good God implies belief that he 
would reveal his nature and will to men, in a way 
characteristic of his nature. The Bible bears the 
marks of giving a revelation from God as well as of 
God.—If God be loving, he would want to reveal 
himself to men. If he be just, he could not require 
men to obey him unless he had made plain to them 
what his will was. As we recognize the word of 
a friend by peculiarities in his voice, or the letter 
from a friend by his handwriting and signature, 
so we should expect that a revelation from God 
would bear marks peculiar to his nature. In 
former ages when the primary characteristic of 
God was thought to be power, evidences of his 
manifestation of himself were found in unusual 
exhibitions of power. But as we have come to 
believe that the peculiar characteristic of God is 
loving character, and recognize that power is not 
necessarily good, we come to find evidences of the 
self-revelation of God in that which expresses and 

inculcates loving character. 
In view of the actual nature of man, and our 

faith about God, we should expect him to be 
revealing himself to men progressively, in ever- 
increasing measure; that those whose faith was 
approaching the truth would feel especially con- 


fident that he was revealing himself to and through 
them. Such experiences we find recorded in the 
Bible. The men who had the loftiest faith in 
God and the clearest perception of the need for 
faith in and love for him and for one another 
spoke with the consciousness of divine authority— 
“Thus saith the Lord”’—and the conscience of man 
responded to the message thus spoken in God’s 
name, thus indicating that God’s Spirit was active 
both in the prophet or apostle and in the hearer, 
who recognized God’s voice in the message of 
righteousness or love. Every point of value in the 
Bible, all those qualities which have made it pre- 
eminent as a book of religious instruction and 
inspiration, tend to show that it is the result not 
only of the efforts of the best men to find God, but 
of God’s revelation of himself to man. 

17. A divine revelation is needed through which 
the plain and ignorant man can learn of God, with- 
out the interference of priests or religious leaders 
who might come between him and God. The 
Bible meets this need in a remarkable way.—The 
extreme of the caste system of India, with its 
great evils, is due to the fact that the highest caste, 
the Brahmans, are supposed to be the only people 
who understand the truth about the gods and reli- 
. gion so that they can properly conduct sacrifice 
or other religious ceremonies. Those who have 
been set apart and prepared for positions of leader- 


ship by special training and study are tempted to 
assume an authority beyond that which their 
special knowledge and training give them. Since 
both science and experience show that nothing can 
free a human being from liability to error, it is 
clear that religious authorities are often wrong in 
their acts and teachings. Failure to recognize 
this fact is likely to lead the ordained teacher to a 
false valuation of his own authority or to an 
improper and. sometimes dishonest subservience 
to higher authorities, and to lead the layman to a 
faith that is not only blind: but often unmeaning. 

Christianity teaches that God reveals himself 
directly to all who have receptive minds. The 
Bible offers to the layman a wonderful body of 
religious literature in such form as to stimulate 
and develop his own powers of recognizing truth 
and rejecting error. Unfortunately no Christian 
communions have consistently applied this prin- 
ciple of God’s direct revelation to the individual, 
but all have tried to force certain dogmas or 
interpretations of the Bible upon those under their 
control. The result has been the arising of 
innumerable sects, competing and to some extent 
warring with each other. The recognition of 

tFor discussion of problems here touched upon see the 
author’s articles in the Biblical World: “The Bible as God’s 
Word,” September, 1913; “Church Union and the Minimum 
Creed,’”” October, 1914; “Blind Faith,’ March, 1919. 


the right and duty of every man to study the 
Bible for himself, and believe and live according 
to the highest truth he finds revealed there and 
in the other experiences of his life, is making it 
possible now for large bodies of Christians which 
have been separate to co-operate and even to 
unite in fellowship and work for God and man. 
The Bible is wonderfully suited to be such a 
guidebook to the unlearned man, and release 
him from bondage to ecclesiastical authority. 

At the same time there is much truth in the 
position that the unlearned man cannot alone 
properly interpret the Bible. There is much 
difference in this regard in different parts of the 
Bible, and many cannot be properly understood 
and used without the guidance of those who after 
careful preparation can give the true meaning or 
explain the right use. And in general we must 
recognize that it is foolish for any man to disre- 
gard the knowledge and wisdom which have been 
acquired by the great labors of the greatest minds 
and truest hearts of the past; and so that there 
must be much authority in the interpretations and 
statements of belief which the church has received 
from past ages. Only these things must be pre- 
sented to the individual for God’s Spirit to use 
in making plain to him the truth, instead of being 
’ thrust upon him as something which he must 
accept without question. 


18. Man requires religious truth, not in the form 
of logical treatises, but in forms which stir the 
noblest and strongest feelings. The Bible presents 
religious truth in such forms.—Deep, clear, and 
logical thinking is not easy nor common among 
men, and although such thinking and writings 
embodying it in suitable form for the student are 
very necessary for the attainment of the truth 
and preparation to teach it, they alone will not 
reach and movea man. The same principles may, 
however, be grasped and applied by him, if they 
are presented in song and story, parable and pic- 
ture. This is done incomparably in the Bible. 
Its descriptions of the beginnings of order and life 
in the world are simple and grand—not in scientific 
language but in the forms of the traditions and 
legends of remote ages modified and purified by 
faith in the one righteous and loving God. The 
primal needs and passions of life, with the religious 
and moral principles which underlie them, meet us 
in the stories of the patriarchs and the early 
legends and history of Israel. The Psalms give 
us songs and prayers of devotion that appeal to 
all ranks and classes of men, and the books of the 
prophets in many cases deal with social and 
religious problems in a direct and popular way 
which makes them useful and applicable to the 
present day as well as to the day in which they 
were first given. So in the New Testament the 


simple narratives of the life of Jesus and his 
parables, the pictures of the glories of the future 
life in the Book of Revelation and other parts of 
the New Testament have stirred the highest 
enthusiasm and brought faith, wisdom, and com- 
fort to all the generations which have known 

19. That people of all classes and conditions 
may be united in the worship of one God and co- 
operation in doing his will, a revelation is needed 
with great variety in its appeal to men of all classes 
and conditions. The sweep and variety of the 
appeals made to all classes, in the Bible, are un- 
paralleled by any other collection of religious writ- 
ings.—Almost all the religions of mankind have 
been local in their character. They have been so 
closely related to the places and people where they 
grew up that, while they powerfully influenced 
the men of that vicinity, they were of very much 
less interest or value to people farther away. 
Sacred cities and places, such as Mecca or Jeru- 
salem, may be of positive value for people living 
near enough to visit them, but may much lessen 
the value of a religion for people farther distant. 
The Koran appealed very strongly to the people 
of Arabia and at the time of Mahomet, but distance 
in time from its author and in place from the sacred 
* city of Mecca seriously decreases its interest and 


The great variety of physical and geographical 
conditions existing in the little land of Palestine, 
in which most of the Bible was written, including 
lake and river, mountain and plain, desert and 
fertile country, temperate and torrid climate, and 
the long sea coast, with animals, vegetables, and 
minerals belonging to these various conditions, 
gives to its literature a wealth of allusion which 
appeals to people of almost all human conditions. 
The fact that the biblical Scriptures were written 
at different times during a period of about eleven 
hundred years, which witnessed great historic 
events and changes and brought its people into 
contact with the great empires of the earth, adds 
greatly to the breadth of its appeal. References 
in the New Testament to conditions, good and 
bad, in various parts of the Roman Empire, which 
have their parallels in all parts of the world, have 
helped to make the Bible a book for all men. 
People in both Orient and Occident have found 
the character of Jesus appealing to their highest 
ideals. Thus has the Bible been peculiarly and 
providentially fitted to reveal God to men of all 

20. A revelation is required by man, and found 
in the Bible, which shows men how at the same 
time, consistently with each other, to come into 
harmony with God and to gain or preserve those 
things which are necessary or valuable for the 



interests of the various phases of the physical and 
spiritual life of man.—In the simpler and more 
primitive forms of religion, the religious ceremonies 
and actions were mostly related to the physical 
needs of the people for rain, good harvests, safety 
‘from enemies, success in war, health, children, etc. 
These needs are permanent ones and a God whose 
power extends to all the affairs of life must have 
something to do with supplying these needs. 
| Different forms of religion have recognized the 
, various needs of men in unequal degree. Moham- 
medanism emphasizes the sensuous needs and 
sensual desires of men. Buddhism aims to abolish 
: all desire whatever. Christian Science is mainly 
| concerned with physical health. Asceticism exalts 
| spiritual development at the expense of the body. 
| But the Bible recognizes the needs of both body 
, and soul as legitimate and not antagonistic. The 
need and value of the common comforts for the 
| body, the institutions for social welfare, the family, 
| school, church, and state, that which appeals to 
| the sense of the beautiful in scenery, music, form, 
_and literature, and finally and fundamentally those 
moral principles which make society happy and 
‘healthful and character noble and heroic, are all 
recognized in the Bible as in no other religious 

literature. It thus serves as a healthy corrective 
‘ to extremes of all sorts which would tend to make 
life narrow or one-sided, at the same time that it 



is uncompromising in its condemnation of the 
slightest evil in the spiritual life. Written in 
periods when society was much farther from the 
ideal state than it is now, it served to point the 
way and establish the principles which have led, 
and must lead, to a constant progress toward 
social perfection. 

21. If the greatest force in and behind the 
universe be a God whom it would be right to 
worship and obey and natural to love, then we shall 
be able to recognize in any revelation of the best 
religion a revelation of and from God. The pre- 
eminence of the Bible as a revelation of God arises 
from the fact that the reason and conscience of any 
man may find in it the highest conceptions of God 
and man and he may thus receive the revelation of 
God for himself.—If God had not given to man the 
power to recognize his truth and to receive his 
revelation, then all claims made for the Bible as 
a revelation of God would be idle and impossible 
to substantiate, and there would be no such thing 
as divine revelation. And if the real God be one 
who is not perfectly righteous and loving, whose 
worship and service would be something less than 
the best religion, then man has no right to worship 
and obey him. It is only on the supposition that 
the highest teaching of Christianity is true, namely, 
that God embodies in his character our highest 
ideals of love, justice, purity, and power, that we 


can be justified in loving and obeying him, and 
can be sure of knowing his will. This principle 
must imply that God reveals himself constantly 
in all of our experience, and not through the Bible 
alone, that every truth which brings us to a higher 
idea of God and understanding of our duty to men 
is a revelation of God. It also gives us the funda- 
mental principle for the right use of the Bible, which 
is the subject of the next chapter. 

In science and all other activities of thought, 
we assume that the universe is rational. If there 
be a God at all whom our reason can in any degree 
apprehend, it must be that his revelation of him- 
self will be, like the knowledge of his universe, ac- 
cording to reason, and not contrary to it. 

There is no hope of the reuniting of the various 
Christian sects or of agreement as to the nature 
and will of God, so long as each holds as infal- 
lible truth .its own interpretation of writings 
of the distant past through which God revealed 
himself to men of earlier generations. This has 
been one of the very serious errors of Christian 
people as well as of adherents of Mohammedanism 
and other forms of religion. ‘‘Conservatism”’ 
stands for the preservation of that which has come 
down from the past. Its general attitude is right. 
It often errs, however, in failure to distinguish 
between that which is of permanent value in that 
which has been received, and that which was 


temporary in form or value. True Christianity 
insists on the necessity for the constant revelation 
of truth to each man by the Holy Spirit, by which 
he shall be able to recognize in the Bible and the 
teaching of the church and that of science or any 
other department of thought or experience, what 
he needs in order to come to God himself, and do 
his will in the world of the present. 



“Tf any man willeth to do his will he shall know of the 
teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from 
myself.”—John 7:17. 

22. To use the Bible as a source for non- 
religious truth, one should understand the human 
elements in its origin.—The principal non-religious 
uses which men have made or desired to make of 
the Bible may be classified as scientific and his- 
torical. It has been thought that whatever the 
Bible said about the order and process of creation, 
and the laws of the physical universe, animate and 
inanimate, must be absolutely accurate and true. 
It has also been held that all narratives of events 
must be held to be accurate and inerrant history. 
Both of these views leave out of consideration the 
conditions and circumstances of the composition 
of the books. 

The views of the origin and laws of the physical 
universe which are found in the Bible are the 
views which were current at the time those writings 
were composed and we have no reason to think 
that they were based on careful scientific investi- 
gation. Nor have we any sufficient reason to 
think that they were supernaturally revealed. 



There is no such claim made for them by their 
authors. On the other hand, it is clear that these 
writings were composed first of all for the people 
of the time in which they lived, written in the 
language and reflecting the highest ideas of the 
time. For instance, when the early chapters of 
Genesis were composed, it would have been impos- 
sible for a writer to have explained the processes 
of development of order, beauty, and life in the 
universe as scientists do today. The principles 
of such science were unknown, and if someone had 
understood and tried to explain them, he would 
not have had words in which to do so, and would 
have been certain to have created false impressions 
instead of true. Bible statements concerning 
topics now within the realm of science, then, must 
be considered as giving the views of their times, 
and as containing just such truth as had been 
reached by the processes of thought and observa- 
tion which had been developed up to that time. 
The narratives of the Bible represent what 
their authors believed to be the facts of history 
at the time of writing. A large part of the narra- 
tives of the Old Testament was put into the form 
which we have, many centuries after the events 
which they describe. For some of them the origi- 
nal documents from which they were gathered 
are specifically referred to, and the writings are 
evidently arrangements by “editors” of material 


both oral and written which was available for 
them. The original documents were doubtless 
written in some cases by contemporary witnesses 
of the events described, and in other cases were 
just the writing-out of oral tradition which had 
been handed down for generations. In all these 
cases it would be inevitable that errors of memory 
and unscientific views of events would color the 
narratives and prevent them from being fully 
accurate. It is further clear that the methods of 
the editors in using the material which they had was 
not scientific, but that they pieced together more 
or less conflicting narratives of different persons, 
and included comments or explanations of their 
own or of others which would not be of full his- 
torical value. The Bible was written in the Orient, 
primarily for orientals, and we find in the Orient 
little or no conception of history in our exact 
western sense, and must not expect it in the 
Bible. Marvelous tales very quickly grow up 
about heroes of past ages, and are readily accepted 
as true by unscientific minds and passed on by 
them to later generations. No doubt these 
processes took place in connection with biblical 
narratives. The historical value of biblical narra- 
tives is therefore unequal, and depends in each 
case upon the evidence which may be found from 
- the consistency and verisimilitude of the narrative 
itself, and its agreement with other biblical and 


“profane” narratives, monuments, or other sources 
of history. 

It is well to note here that for most people of 
today the question of the accuracy and truth of 
the historical narratives and “scientific” teachings 
of the Old Testament is of very little importance. 
It is the religious and ethical teachings which are 
of value, and their value is quite independent of 
their truth as history or science. And this is the 
principal significance of these writings as biblical 
Scriptures. It is of no religious value for us to 
know the order or method of creation. It is of 
great value for us to believe that the God and 
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator 
of the universe. It is of little importance whether 
a Hebrew of the name Jacob ever lived and acted 
according to the Genesis narrative. It is of great 
importance for us to find barren places turning 
into Bethels, and supplanters into princes of God, 
both in history and in our own experience. We 
have seen that our thoughts about God must be 
faith and cannot be knowledge in the literal sense, 
and the teachings of the Bible cannot change that 
fact for us. So that if the story of Jacob’s life is 
all literal and accurate history, so far as it describes 
events within the realm of sense and knowledge, 
that does not prove that there ever was such a 
God as Jehovah. Nor, if we should come to think 
of Jacob as an entirely mythical character, would 


that affect the truths of faith which are taught us 
in the narrative of his life. 

The question of the historicity of the New 
Testament narratives is of more vital importance 
to Christian faith, although it does not depend 
absolutely upon their accuracy in any way. But 
whatever their value, they must be treated on the 
same principle as those of the Old Testament, 
and any other historical documents. To bring 
strong evidence of their general historical value is 
comparatively easy. To prove that they are 
correct in every detail is absolutely impossible. 
Even here the religious value is of far more impor- 
tance than the historical, nor can it depend upon it. 
God has revealed his love and righteousness and the 
truths of his spiritual kingdom to us in the Gospels, 
whether they are accurate history or not. 

“Render unto Caesar the things that are 
Caesar’s,”’ unto science the things that are science’s, 
unto history the things that belong to history, 
“and unto God the things that are God’s.” 

23. To use the Bible as a guide to right conduct, 
one must seek the light which it throws on the 
results of different kinds of action and the relative 
worth of different motives; that is, the assistance 
which it renders to reason and conscience.—How- 
ever literally a man thinks of the Bible as the rule 
. of conduct today, no one undertakes to obey all 
of the commands which it contains, which were 


given at one time or another as rules of conduct. 
Different sects have picked out certain command- 
ments which they feel required to obey as literally 
as they can, such as that concerning baptism or 
the keeping of the seventh day holy. But all 
are agreed that we cannot be expected to obey 
all the commandments in the Bible—that God 
does not want us to do so today. And the only 
consistent principle for the acceptance of some and 
rejection of others is that which is stated in the 
thesis of this section. No commandment is a 
command of God to a given man, until it appeals 
to the conscience of that man—until he has some 
reason for thinking that it will be helpful to himself 
or to other men and pleasing to God for him to do 
the thing enjoined. It is not as a code of laws, but 
as a source of light upon human life and its prob- 
lems, that the Bible has its marvelous value as a 
guide to the highest life. A good man does not 
regard it as wrong to covet his neighbor’s property 
because the Bible prohibits it, but because when 
he reads in the Bible, “‘Thou shalt not covet,” 
his conscience approves that command as a right 
one. When he reads the rules for the test of the 
purity and faith of a wife by the drinking of the 
holy water containing the dust from the tabernacle 
floor (Num. 5:11 ff.), he does not regard the rules 
as suitable to the life of the present day. They 
are not God’s command to this generation. 


In section 15 attention was called to the peculiar 
value of the Bible due to the process of the selection 
of the books of which it is composed. The testing 
of the Bible as a guide to life by its use in the church 
and among its members since the formation of the 
canon of the Scriptures has increased this value. 
Not the indiscriminate but the discriminating use 
of the Bible as a light on the path of life by Chris- 
tians for many centuries has showed by its results 
that the light is very great—so great that it is 
foolish and wrong for one to try to go right without 
it when he might have its aid. In this sense of a 
tested and proved light upon the problems of life, 
the Bible is the highest written authority for 
conduct which is known in the world. But it 
must ever be remembered that it is because God 
uses it to make the path of duty plain to the reason 
and moral judgment, and not as a system of laws 
which may be accepted without regard to the 
reason or conscience, that it has this value. 

24. To use the Bible as a guide to the true faith, 
one must seek in it the highest interpretations of 
experience, that is, those in harmony with and 
promotive of the best life, individual and social.— 
In chapter i it was shown that it was both natural 
and obligatory for a man to adopt the best religion, 
with the best faith which he could find, and it 

. was also pointed out how the best faith should be 

tested and recognized. Before a man has any 


right to accept the Bible or any other book as 
teaching the true faith, he must have evidence that 
it teaches him the best faith which he has thus far 
been able to find. This can be known for him 
only by the examination of its teachings in the 
light of the general principles which determine 
the best faith—reasonableness, value for individual 
life, and value for social life or tendency to make 
men righteous. 

As a man tests the Bible in this way he finds 
many passages and parts which meet these tests, 
as well as some which do not. That is, he finds 
the truth revealed more clearly and perfectly in 
the life and teachings of Jesus than in the stories 
of the Book of Judges, for example. There should 
not be the slightest hesitation which standards 
to accept for his faith. Reason and conscience 
instinctively select the highest which they find, 
and this process should become a conscious and 
definite one. Let the student get light from every 
part of the Bible which offers him light, but let 
him not try to believe any teaching about God or 
his relations to men just because it is in the Bible, 
nor try to harmonize all the teachings of the Bible 
perfectly. Such exercise will be found to be vain 
and confusing rather than enlightening. As a 
matter of fact, there are different and to some 
extent conflicting ideals of faith and conduct set 
forth in the Bible—we may well say that the lower 


ideals are the more undeveloped, and that they 
contain truth which is made clearer in the later 
and higher forms—but we shall do best to take it for 
ourselves in the highest forms in which we can 
understand it. 

While the time-honored custom of reading the 
Bible through in course a chapter a day, from 
Genesis to Revelation, has its value, it does not 
logically supply the daily need for faith and 
courage. Under proper guidance it is well to 
become thoroughly acquainted with all parts of 
the Bible. But for the planting and cultivating 
of faith and guidance of conduct, those books and 
chapters should be used which are most useful 
for these purposes. The New Testament should 
come before the Old, and the gospels before the 
epistles. Many of the psalms and chapters in 
Isaiah are of the greatest value for devotion and 
inspiration, and the proverbs, for practical wisdom. 
The Bible is a library and should be used like other 
libraries, those books being read first and most 
frequently which are of most value for the needs 
of the reader. 

In the realm of faith the Bible is authoritative 
in the same way in which it was found to be 
authoritative as a guide to right conduct. The 
church has found its highest faith taught in the 
Bible, has found its life made strong and glorious 
by accepting the biblical ideal of God, as revealed 


especially in Christ, as real, and by viewing the 
daily experiences of life, joy and sorrow, pleasure 
and pain, in the light of this interpretation of the 
final explanation of all these things, the heavenly 
Father. This long experience of the church forms 
a powerful argument for the truth and value of the 
highest faith illustrated and affirmed in the Bible, 
and thus gives to it its peculiar authority as a 
guide to faith. 

The great creeds of the church have a corre- 
sponding authority—not as finally determinative 
of the forms of faith but as pointing out to the 
reason and conscience the great interpretations 
of life and history which through long ages have 
been found to lead to righteousness and hope. 
However our belief may differ from that expressed 
in these creeds, it must express the great truths 
which they contain, or fail of being the best faith. 

25. To use the Bible as a progressive book, one 
must apply to the conditions of today the permanent 
principles which he finds to have determined the 
highest forms and interpretations of life in the 
changing and advancing intellectual and social 
conditions described in the Bible——The conditions 
of human life have been rapidly and remarkably 
changing during the last century; and they are 
still changing rapidly. The growth of cities, the 
division and specialization of labor, and the large 
and increasing use of machinery and ever-new 


inventions for the convenience and welfare of men 
are some of the features of these changes. Political 
and social forms have been changing with indus- 
trial, and finally the literature and thought of 
today is very different from that of a century ago, 
and has come to no stable or permanent condition. 
While language does not seem to change much, 
the meaning which is received from its words, 
the thoughts which they suggest are inevitably 
changing with these changes in the forms of the life 
to describe which it is used. All these changes are 
so marked that many are inclined to think that the 
religion which has been good in the past is out of 
date, and like the simple machinery of a century 
ago must be thrown to the rubbish heap. It is 
probably true that religion has not changed its 
forms to adapt them to the changing needs of hu- 
manity, as readily and quickly as the other factors 
in human life, and still it has been changing too, 
here more and there less, but everywhere to some 

A careful study of the Bible will show that the 
life described there and the religious views which 
were related to it also changed from time to time. 
In the early history of Israel, its God, Jehovah, 
was still regarded as one among many gods— 
doubtless the greatest and best, and the only one 
whom the Israelites ought to worship, but still 
he was only the god of their tribe, and other nations 


had other gods. But as civilization progressed and 
thought developed, the belief that there was but 
one God for the whole world gradually took ever- 
deeper root in the minds, first of the prophets, and 
then of the priests and common people, and after 
the exile, monotheism was firmly established as the 
Jewish faith. But even in the time of Christ we 
find that there were serious defects in the Jewish 
religion, from which the disciples themselves were 
not free, and which have left their marks on the 
writings of the New Testament as well as the Old. 

The main characteristics of human nature 
remain the same, while its surroundings vary in a 
thousand ways. The principal needs of men 
remain the same, while the ways in which they are 
supplied are constantly changing. And thus the 
fundamental principles of religion are constant, 
while their application may and should be ever 
advancing. These principles we have considered 
in the first chapter, and they have been found 
in Christianity from its beginning, and may be 
traced still farther back into the earliest period of 
Old Testament times. As we find these principles 
applied first rudely and to the simple forms of 
patriarchal life, and then ever more intelligently 
to the increasingly complex forms of tribal and 
national life, we may learn the need and possibility 
of their reinterpretation and application to all 
the needs and problems of today, and thus have 


our religion progressive and suited to the needs of 
today, in its forms, without losing any of the value 
which it has gained from its millenniums of develop- 
ment, just as the most modern and complicated 
machinery embodies the simple mechanical prin- 
ciples of earlier ages and the improvements and 
inventions which have been gradually added from 
time to time. 

Let us remember, too, that no actual form of 
organized religion has ever yet met the needs 
of humanity perfectly. We may say, if we will, 
that Christianity has never yet been properly 
tried. But .if that is true it means an ideal 
Christianity, for there have been forms of creed 
and of organization under the name of Christianity 
and doubtless with something of its spirit and 
reality which have been tried by large numbers of 
people. If the faith has never yet been fully 
applied to life, it may be that the fault was partly 
in the way the faith was stated and taught, 
and not entirely in the lack of earnestness and 
sincerity in those who professed to hold it. If the 
organization did not establish the kingdom of 
God in any complete and satisfactory form, it 
may be partly because it was never completely 
adapted to the nature and needs of society, and 
not merely because its efforts were opposed in 
» various ways. So we cannot say with confidence 
that the highest form of religion prevailing among 


men at any time in the past was the best form 
even for that generation and community, much 
less that it is perfectly suited to our time. Our 
effort should not be, therefore, to retain the form 
of organization or of doctrine which belonged to 
the church established by the apostles, but to find 
the principles of truth and value in those earliest 
forms and in the development of those forms 
since then, and apply those principles to present 
needs and conditions so as to get the best possible 
religion for humanity today. 

26. To use the Bible as a Christian book one 
must seek (1) from the effects which the life and 
words of Jesus had upon his disciples and the early 
church, as indicated by the writings of the New 
Testament, to understand as clearly as possible the 
character of the cause, in the Spirit of God which 
determined his life; and then (2) to find in the Old 
Testament writings the evidences of the work of 
the same Spirit and the preparation for the revela- 
tion in Jesus; and finally (3) to develop the faith, 
conduct, and institutions of today in harmony with 
the truth revealed in Jesus and thus establish the 
kingdom of God in all the world.—Jesus is the 
center of interest in the Bible. In the light of 
this interest the Bible acquires a unity which does 
not belong to it otherwise. The New Testament 
is concerned with his life and its results in the 
early church. The Old Testament forms the back- 


ground of the New and shows how preparation 
was made for the work of Jesus. 

The facts of the life of Jesus have a great and 
special religious significance for the Christian, to 
which attention is called later (see sections 57-61). 
Many people think that if we cannot be quite 
certain of the accuracy of the gospel stories the 
whole Christian faith is in danger. While there 
is the best reason to believe that the Gospels give 
us good history, and that their value as history 
cannot be destroyed by any legitimate criticism, 
it is of importance to look deeper into their 
meaning, and see that even if this were not true, 
Christian faith as a whole would not be endangered. 
For Christian faith is concerned fundamentally 
with God and his relations with men. These are 
matters of faith and not of knowledge (see sec- 
tion 9) and can neither depend upon historical 
facts for their evidence, nor be disproved by the 
invalidation of supposed history. 

Christian faith has held that in Jesus it found 
God manifest in the flesh. The evidence for this 
was never solely the confirmation of miracles but 
the recognition of the ideal character, the spirit 
which most completely met the needs of men, in 
the life of Jesus. ‘The fundamental question, then, 
with regard to the New Testament as a religious 
» and Christian book is: What are the main features 
of this ideal character and what was the result of 


the acceptance of this ideal as the highest type of 
man and the most perfect possible revelation of 
God to man, upon the earliest Christians ? 

The central and essential question in any form 
of religion must be as to the nature and character 
of God or the ultimate reality which governs man’s 
destiny. Our method, as already explained and 
more fully developed in later chapters, is to find 
what conception of God best corresponds to the 
facts of our experience and to our needs, individual 
and social. If God really is such a being as our 
highest thought believes him to be, then he would 
confer the greatest possible blessing upon men by 
revealing himself to them—giving to them in 
some way the thought of the ideal character which 
most fully represented him. 

_ We have, then, the Gospels with their story of 
the life of Jesus, and the other books of the New 
Testament describing the effects of that life upon 
the people of the first century. And we know 
something of the effect which the faith set forth 
in the New Testament has had upon society as 
expressed in the church and the civilization which 
it has influenced from that day to this. We con- 
clude that all that is good in these effects came 
from truth in the faith which lay behind them as 
cause. We are concerned, then, as noted in the 
last section, not with the exact forms of either the 
faith or the organization of the apostolic church, 


but with that 7 them which gave them their power. 
The truth had to be put into the language and 
thought-forms of that day. The same truth must 
be put into somewhat different language and 
thought-forms if we are to understand it today. 
In our use of the Bible, then, we can never be 
relieved of the necessity for seeking for the truth, 
and proving it by the tests by which truth is known. 

Many have thought the chief value of the Old 
Testament in relation to the life of Christ was in 
the foretellings of characteristics or details in his 
life, by the fulfilling of which he is known to be 
the Messiah whom God promised, and finally 
sent. The Gospel of Matthew refers to passages 
of the Old Testament with this purpose in view. 
The Old Testament has two truer and much more 
important relations to Christ. In the first place, 
it was for him and his disciples and the people 
among whom he lived what the Bible has been 
to the church since it was completed. We can 
understand his teachings, then, only in their 
relation to this fact of the position of the Old 
Testament in the knowledge and faith of himself 
and the Jews of that time. And his use of the 
Scriptures is very suggestive for us (see section 7). 

But another and more important way in which 
the Old Testament is a Christian book is that the 
revelation most fully made in Jesus is foreshadowed 
in it. As noted in the last section, there is to be 


found in the Old Testament a gradually advancing 
conception of God, becoming ever more spiritual, 
pure, loving, and righteous. In the Book of 
Isaiah (who was therefore called the messianic 
prophet), and in other books less clearly and 
frequently, we find expressed many of the ideals, 
hopes, and expectations fulfilled in the life of 
Jesus. From the beginning there is the thought 
of God as having the character and likeness of the 
best man, and in the patriarchal stories of God 
appearing to men, he is thought of as appearing 
in human form. Gradually the cruder anthro- 
pomorphism disappears, and God becomes a 
spiritual being whom the heavens cannot contain, 
but ever one with whom men may have com- 
munion and fellowship; and the thought that 
he is morally righteous takes the place of the idea 
of ceremonial holiness, and the belief that he is 
Creator of the universe and Father of all men is 
reached by the most spiritual minds, although the 
latter idea, so wonderfully exemplified in Jesus, 
never obtained a strong hold in the mind of the 
ordinary Jew before his coming. Thus Jesus 
could appeal to the Scriptures as being fulfilled 
in his life and words, as he taught and lived their 
noblest precepts and truths. 

It is becoming ever more clear that the life of 
Jesus, and the Bible in which that life is described, 
are of value to men in the degree in which they 


help men to live similar lives, that is, lives governed 
by the same motives and determined by the same 
principles. The words at the head of this chapter 
draw attention to the fundamental rule or method 
of interpreting and using the Bible: “If any man 
willeth to do his will he shall know of the teaching, 
whether it is of God or whether I speak of myself.”’ 
The determination to do the will of God, to live 
the life completely dominated by love to God and 
men, is the great condition of making the highest 
use of the Bible and finding out the best faith. 
For the man who is guided by these motives 
looks for, and seizes upon, everything which will 
strengthen them in him and aid him in their ex- 
pression; and thus he is guided to the deeper truths 
beneath the outward forms, and to the higher 
standards of action rather than the lower. The 
meaning and use of the Bible will become ever 
clearer and at the same time more wonderful to 
him whose life is devoted to the establishment of 
the kingdom of God in the hearts of all men. 


“Have faith in God.”—Mark 11:22. 

27. We ought to believe that there is but one 
God, that is, that there is one force in the universe 
which is more powerful than any other or all others 
together, so that it can control the universe 
absolutely—The name for this belief is mono- 
theism. It stands opposed to polytheism which 
denotes belief in many gods, but is commonly used 
to denote belief in more than one god, however 
few the number may be. It is in reality a form 
of polytheism when Christians hold an exaggerated 
or perverted form of trinitarianism, a belief in 
three gods who are in some way both three and 
one. This belief is also called tritheism. We 
discuss later a form of belief in the ‘‘Trinity” 
which is monotheistic. Tritheism is the faith that 
there are three individual, divine beings, Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost, differing in certain respects 
from each other and so distinct that we may pray 
to one without praying to all, or love one more 
than another, however we may think of them as 
being one or united. But all forms of polytheism 
tend to have a bad effect upon character. This 
may be seen by contrasting them with a true 



monotheism. If I believe that there is one right- 
eous being who controls the universe superior to 
all other powers, then I must believe that if I 
strive to do right I will have the approval and 
help of this one God and that nothing can prevent 
him from accomplishing his will. 

Tritheism has sometimes taught that Christ 
is God but at the same time different in character 
from God the Father. Many people think that 
Christ may be appealed to through the Virgin 
Mary because she was his earthly mother; and 
that God may be reached and persuaded to think 
kindly and deal gently with men through Christ 
because he is the Son of God, or because he won 
the Father’s favor or appeased his wrath by his 
death on the cross. Both of these ideas picture 
God as less loving or less indulgent than Christ or 
the Virgin. But if he be less loving he is less great, 
for a perfectly loving God is greater than one less 
loving. And if God can in any way be moved to 
deal kindly with men other than by his own char- 
acter or by the actions of men striving to do his 
will, then he is not perfectly righteous, and encour- 
agement is given to believe that God’s favor may 
be won in some other way than by a trustful heart 
and a righteous life. Thus the tritheistic belief 
always involves a lower conception of God than 
the true Christian belief, and it does not so strongly 
favor a righteous life, but often tends to an un- 


righteous one. The evils here illustrated belong to 
all forms of polytheism. 

In our chapter about Jesus we shall find good 
reason to believe that God revealed himself through 
him, but we must be very careful if we say that 
Christ was God, not by that to mean that he was 
a different God from the Father, for in such a doc- 
trine lie the same evil germs that manifest them- 
selves in the most degraded polytheism. In some 
cases they may do little or no harm, but in others 
they will develop and do great harm as they have 

Mormonism is the most base and degrading 
form of polytheism which claims to be Christian 
and found its teachings on the Bible. It furnishes 
us, too, one of the strongest arguments which could 
be desired of the great evils which may arise from 
the unquestioning and literal use of the Bible as 
an infallible authority; for if it be so accepted, a 
large part of Mormon teaching can be justified as 
biblical, whereas if Mormonism be tested and the 
Bible be used according to the principles we have 
explained, it is seen to be a very bad religion and 
to be utterly condemned by the Bible. 

28. We ought to believe that God is personal, 
that is, that he thinks, feels, and wills in a way 
somewhat similar to human thinking, feeling, and 
willing, although without human limitations.— 
There is in human life a physical or material part 


of man’s being which has very vital relations to the 
spiritual parts denoted by the words thinking, 
feeling, and willing. But the importance of the 
physical part depends entirely on the spiritual part 
—a body that could not think, feel, or will might 
as well be dead. It is the spiritual part that is 
righteous or wicked, the spiritual part that enters 
into relation with other human beings as well as 
with God. It is this capacity to think, feel, and 
will that we mean by the word spirit. Now spirits 
can only love or obey or worship other spirits. We 
cannot in the fullest sense love or worship or obey 
God unless he is a spirit—unless he can love us in 
return, think about us, command us, and notice 
and be pleased with our obedience. Thus to say 
that God is a “principle,” that God is law or order 
or mere force, is to say that God is a being whom 
we cannot worship, love, or obey, who does not hear 
or answer prayer, who cannot be called righteous, 
and who cannot be in any true sense known by a 
spiritual being. Of course we must not try to 
define this personality of God too closely—we 
shall only succeed in putting limitations upon our 
idea of God, and confusing ourselves. We know 
no spiritual beings except those dwelling in bodies. 
When they cease to dwell in bodies we cease to 
know them, and so we cannot imagine how spirits 
may think and feel and will and act, without 
bodies. But as we have good reason to believe 


that spirits do live and act without such bodies 
as we have, we must not let our ignorance keep us 
from a most important faith. 

29. It is contrary to the best faith to say that all 
that exists is part of God, that everything taken 
together makes up God.—This faith, that the 
whole universe is God, is called pantheism. There 
are many reasons why pantheism is not a good 
faith. In the first place, it is hardly possible to 
think of the whole universe as a spiritual being, 
righteous and loving, and yet made up of all the 
spiritual beings which exist, including all men, the 
most ignorant and wicked as well as the good. 
Then, such a belief tends to destroy the feeling of 
moral responsibility, and the distinction between 
right and wrong, for if God is all, then I am a part 
of God, and what I do, God is doing—he is all- 
powerful, so I cannot help doing what I do and am 
not responsible for it. And as it would be absurd 
to say that God does wrong, so what I do cannot 
be wrong, for it is just God’s doing. There is then 
no such thing as sin, nothing to repent of, nothing to 
be forgiven for, no real distinction between man 
and God. To believe in such a God would also 
destroy the possibility of prayer, for instead of 
praying to a Father, we could only pray to the All, 
including ourselves and the rest of mankind, good 
and bad, wise and ignorant. It should be quite 
clear that such a belief will not help a man to 


become righteous, at least not in any such way as 
belief in a personal, powerful, righteous God who 
gives to men responsibility, requires them to be 
righteous, punishes them for their sin, hears their 
prayer, and is ready to help them at all times. 
Christian Science is a form of pantheism, and much 
of the so-called “‘New Thought” of our day is 
strongly pantheistic in tendency. 

30. We should believe that God is righteous 
and loving in character, like the character of Christ 
as pictured in the Gospels.—We are not here 
concerned with the historicity of the Gospels, but 
with the character of God. The rules of our faith 
require that we should attribute the highest char- 
acter to God, that is, think of him as a being whose 
character and action promote the righteous life 
among men in the most complete way possible. 
Thus we must think of him as just, as desiring and 
requiring righteousness among men, and as being 
ready to help men in every way possible to become 
good. But most men who are familiar with the 
story of the life of Jesus as told in the Gospels 
agree that his character is the most ideal one which 
we have; that his spirit of love to all, especially 
the neediest, of forgiveness, and of demanding 
purity of heart and the absolutely unselfish life, 
consecrated to helping others, is the best spirit 
we can think of to help people to become righteous. 
Finding in the gospel picture the ideal character, 


we therefore say that if God is the best imaginable 
being, his character must be like that attributed to 
Jesus. Another way of putting it is to say that 
we believe that if Jesus could be always accessible 
to everyone, as he was to the people he met in the 
few years of his Palestine, only in the 
spiritual way, and without the limitations under 
which he then worked, that is what we would want 
God to be. To believe that God is thus with us 
in the loving and righteous character pictured of 
Jesus is the most helpful faith which we can think 
of for us in our struggle for Christlike character 
for ourselves. 

31. Belief in the Christlike character of God is 
the essential part of belief in ‘“‘God the Son” or 
“the second person in the Trinity.””—The Christian 
doctrine of the Son of God has always been con- 
nected with the faith that the life of Jesus was a 
peculiar revelation of the character of God the 
Father, or of the absolute God. In the great his- 
torical creeds, the theologians tried to maintain 
the truth of what they more or less clearly 
recognized to be a contradiction, but which they 
called a mystery, i.e., that Jesus was at the same 
time omnipotent and omniscient God, and man 
with all the limitations which belong to real human- 
ity. There were various reasons for the great 
effort to maintain this contradiction, but the most 
important of them may be summed up in two: 


(1) It is of the greatest value for men to believe 
that the God who created and still controls the 
world is a righteous, loving, forgiving, helping 
person who may be approached by anyone in need 
and never in vain, just as the man Jesus, as 
described in the Gospels, was righteous, loving, 
forgiving, helping, and accessible to even the lowest 
and most unworthy. (2) It is of very great value 
to men to believe that God himself has shown men 
the sort of life he would have them live, and which, 
with his help, it is possible for them to live, and 
that this life is the kind of life which, in the Gospels, 
Jesus is said to have lived. The first of these 
reasons shows why men have held to the “deity 
of Christ,’’ and the second, why they have held to 
the “humanity of Christ.” In considering the 
doctrine of the Trinity, we are mainly concerned 
with the first of these reasons. (The other will be 
considered in other connections.) 

In our time students of history have raised 
doubts as to the historical truth of the description 
of the life of Jesus found in the Gospels, varying 
from questions as to the accuracy of the account 
of certain incidents, to the position that no person 
corresponding to the Jesus of the Gospels ever 
lived at all. While the latter position seems 
thoroughly absurd, and we believe that it is quite 
untenable, we must face the fact that it is honestly 
held by good and intelligent people and ask what 


effect such a position would necessarily have on 
their faith. Here we need to remember that our 
faith about God is not knowledge, but faith; and 
that it cannot be demonstrated to be true, but is 
to be arrived at and maintained by the processes 
and tests which we have seen belong to “pure 
faith.” The question, then, as to whether God is 
such a righteous and loving person as Jesus was 
said to have been, cannot be answered by proving 
or disproving the historicity of the gospel stories. 
Therefore, in so far as we are asking what to believe 
about God, we are not concerned directly with 
the facts about Jesus. The only important part 
of the faith in “‘God the Son” is therefore belief 
in the Christlike character of God, and this cannot 
be proved by the gospel history. 

32. The meaning of the doctrine of the Holy 
Spirit, or the “third person in the Trinity,” is that 
God is not only the creator of the world but that he 
is present in all the world, and particularly in the 
hearts of men, to guide and bless.—Although we 
are not to confuse the Spirit of God with our own 
spirits, yet we believe that his spirit is constantly 
with ours, to prompt good and pure thoughts and 
give us strength to do whatever we should do. 
Different people receive greater or less measures of 
help from the Holy Spirit at different times, accord- 
ing to their special needs, and readiness to receive 
his help, but he is never absent from the world, nor 


from the heart of any man unless he becomes 
absolutely and wholly bad. God’s Spirit was in 
the world and in men’s hearts before Christ came, 
as after, and in heathen lands as in Christian. 
We should think of God as helping us in every 
good thing that we think or do. The evidence of 
the presence of God (for the Holy Spirit is not a 
part of God, but God himself, present in his world) 
is not to be found mainly in supernatural mani- 
festations, “‘speaking with tongues” or visions or 
anything of that sort, but in the power that makes 
men righteous and does whatever good is done 
in the world. We cannot be sure what was meant 
by the “speaking with tongues” reported when 
the power of the Holy Spirit was especially shown 
on the day of Pentecost—it seems then to have 
been some means by which men of different lan- 
guages understood the gospel message, when one 
man was speaking in one language. But the 
“speaking with tongues” referred to in other parts 
of the New Testament was the making of sounds 
unintelligible until interpreted, and Paul speaks 
of the gift of tongues as one of little practical use. 
Whatever it was, it is not something to be sought 
by us except as a means for becoming, or helping 
others to become, righteous. We have abundant 
evidence of the presence and power of the Holy 
Spirit in the turning of men from sin to righteous- 
ness, and in their inspiration to good works of all 


sorts, and this is the kind of work we should expect 
and desire God to do in the world, and therefore 
the best evidence of his activity. 

33- Various arguments have been given to 
“prove” the existence of the Christian God, but 
none of them is conclusive.—One such argument is 
that we cannot help thinking of the greatest and 
best possible being as existing. But that is not 
true, for many people do not believe it. Another 
argument is that the world is a great piece of work- 
manship or effect, and that as every effect must 
have an adequate cause, we must hold to the exist- 
ence of a great and intelligent God as cause of the 
universe. The evidence of the adaptation of one 
thing to another, and of the working of many 
things together to produce certain results, is held 
to prove that there is a great designer or a mind 
with great purposes behind the world, as it is 
impossible to believe that all that we see and know 
in the universe can be the result of the blind play 
of mechanical and chemical forces. We notice 
that the arguments mentioned, after the first one, 
depend for their value on the truth of the law 
“every event must have an adequate cause,” 
which we believe to be completely true within the 
realm of knowledge; that is, with regard to things 
which are perceptible to the senses. If, however, 
we try to go, by means of this principle, outside 
of the world of sense, the first step, it is thought, 


brings us to God, but the question immediately 
occurs, ‘‘What caused God?” and if the law of 
cause and effect is to be relied on, we cannot stop 
with God, but must go on forever from effect to 
cause, and will never get to a stopping-place. 
The arguments we have given help to make it 
reasonable to believe in God—we might say more 
reasonable than not to—but they still leave doubt, 
particularly as to the existence of the Christian 
God. That is, the argument is strong for the 
presence in the universe, as creating and controlling 
force, of a great mind or intelligence, but it is not 
at all so clear that that mind must have the char- 
acter found in Christ, and that is the most impor- 
tant thing of all to believe. 

34. The strongest reason for believing in the 
Christlike God is the value which that faith has for 
the development of righteous character and the 
largest life.-—We believe that the history of nations 
and individuals will show that the lives which have 
come most completely under the influence of this 
faith have been the most helpful to the world and 
the most fully developed in character and expe- 
rience. This can be seen on a large scale by com- 
paring Christendom with non-Christian nations, 
and Protestant Christendom (where this faith 
and those communities where faith in the Christ- 
like God and the Christlike life for man has been 
taught more clearly as the one essential doctrine 
of Christianity, with those where its fundamental 


significance has been lost in a mass of other doc- 
trines of minor importance. It can also be seen 
in the study of the lives of great statesmen and 
great missionaries and in general in our everyday 
experience of the best and most reliable and lov- 
able people we know. 

It ought not to be difficult, however, for us to 
form a very valuable estimate of this faith apart 
from the effect which it has had in history. We 
have considered in previous sections the value of 
special elements in this faith and contrasted it with 
others. We cannot see how a better belief with 
regard to God can be proposed than that which 
finds its main elements in the Christian faith which 
we have sketched. If it can, we should accept 
it. If it cannot, we should accept that which has 
been outlined here. The two tests of the best 
faith, reasonableness and most beneficial effect on 
character, seem to be most fully satisfied in the 
conception of the Christlike God, and these tests 
are being constantly made in human experience. 
When we say “‘the Christian faith works well” or 
enables a man to get along best in the world, we 
are just saying that it meets these two tests. We 
hold to the reality of the power or force called 
gravity, because the calculations made and action 
performed on the assumption that it is real and 
that its laws are those discovered by Newton never 
lead to error or failure, and that fact justifies 


our assumption of the truth of Newton’s theory. 
Just so the universal success of the life guided by 
Christian faith is the strongest proof of its truth 
which we can have. The lives of most so-called 
Christians are determined only in a very limited 
degree by the Christian faith, and hence are very 
imperfect arguments for its truth; but most 
people will agree that even these imperfect lives 
are successful in the highest sense (not necessarily 
in business or money-making, but in the attain- 
ment of the most useful and best-developed life) 
in the measure that they are determined by the 
Christian faith. 

35. By speaking of God as Creator, we mean 
that he has always been the cause and has had 
complete control of the development of the uni- 
verse.—The position of modern science that 
matter is indestructible seems also to imply that 
it has never been created. We do not seem yet to 
have come to final conclusions as to the nature of 
matter, but it is certainly difficult for one educated 
in modern science to believe that there was ever a 
time when the primary atoms of matter did not 
exist. The reason why theologians have considered 
it important to believe that God created the world 
out of nothing (apart from the fact that that has 
been understood as the biblical teaching) is that 
if any different idea was held it seemed necessary 
to think that matter was something which was 


opposed to God, and which God had gradually 
to conquer and bring under his control; that sin 
and corruption were necessarily connected with 
our material bodies because they were matter, and 
thus that matter formed a permanent force opposed 
to God’s will. Some of the ancient philosophers 
held such doctrines, and they have largely affected 
the faith and practice of parts of the Christian 
church. However, it is not necessary to hold 
that God brought matter into existence, and that 
there was a time when it did not exist, in order to 
believe that it has always been completely under 
God’s control. We may think of the chemical, 
mechanical, electrical, and any other forces operat- 
ing in matter as being forms of the will or the 
power of God, and thus that God has eternally been 
immanent in, or in complete mastery over, matter. 
This view is consistent with the positions of modern 
science and still avoids the danger which theologians 
tried to avoid by the doctrine of creation out of 
nothing. This is also decidedly superior to that 
in another way, for the tendency in that theory 
was to say that God had made the world perfect 
at the time of creation, and started it going like 
a watch wound up, and that after that it continued 
to go by the laws he had established, but without 
needing any care or having any interference from 
him except on special occasions when he intervened 
with a miracle. But our belief in the continuous 


process of creation holds that God is never absent 
from his world, but is in constant control and 
manipulation or development of it, and that thus 
the natural forces are working out his righteous 
and loving will. 

36. Evolution, in so far as it is scientific and not 
a system of philosophy or faith, indicates something 
of the order and method of God’s creation of the 
universe, but does not in any way dispense with 
belief in God as Creator.—Practically all scientists 
of today are agreed that the development of life 
as we know it on the earth has occupied great 
periods of time, probably many millions of years; 
that there has been progress from simpler to more 
complex forms of life through such long periods; 
and that the law of ‘“‘the survival of the fittest in 
the struggle for existence” is one of the factors 
in this development. However, no scientist can 
prove that this development either could have 
taken place or did take place without the constant 
control of a great mind, that is, without the 
constantly directing and supporting power of God. 
When a scientist tells you that he can completely 
explain the universe without the theory of the 
activity of a mind in its development from the 
first, he is merely displaying his ignorance and 
foolishness—a great scientist would know better. 
But if he says that it is more reasonable to believe 
that the universe has attained to its present stage 


of development without the activity of a creative 
mind than with it, then we should note that that 
is his fazth or “philosophy”’ and not his knowledge, 
and that he cannot prove it, scientifically, and no 
scientist will ever be able to do so from the very 
nature of the case. Then we should further ask 
ourselves if his theory really is more reasonable, 
and if our thought is careful and deep we shall 
probably conclude that it is not; for the very word 
“evolution” means the “rolling out” or “unroll- 
ing” and implies that something has been rolled 
up. That is, it is just as absurd for the evolu- 
tionist to try to account for mind by the develop- 
ment of matter which has no mind in it as for 
a person to believe that a “magician” can get 
money out of a hat in which there is none. As a 
matter of fact, evolution has as yet no theory to 
account for the first appearance of animal or 
vegetable life in matter, nor for the first appearance 
of sensation or of self-consciousness such as we 
know in the human mind. Probably it will always 
be immensely easier to conceive of the development 
of the universe as we know it, under the direction 
and control of mind, than without such control. 
But when we come to apply our final test to these 
two contrary faiths (1) that no creative mind has 
been active in the development of the universe, 
and (2) that the universe is the work of a Christ- 
like God, we find that the latter is required to 


satisfy our demand for the best faith—that which 
will have the best effect upon character. That has 
already been shown. 

37. We should believe in the Providence of 
God, that is, that he has such complete control of 
the universe that he is accomplishing his will in 
it—This faith is involved in that of God as 
Creator as explained in section 35, but is worthy 
of special emphasis. Older ideas of God as Creator 
were separable from that of God as preserving and 
guiding the development of the universe which he 
had made. We think rather of creation as a per- 
manent process, involving the continuous care 
and control of God. If we consider the wonderful 
progress which has been made in the development 
of the universe from the chaotic forms of matter 
to the various forms of life, culminating (so far as 
we know) in human life where by far the most 
remarkable characteristics are mental and moral 
rather than physical, it is easy to believe that a 
personal being of the greatest intelligence and most 
perfect character has been in constant control of 
these forces of the universe and determined how 
they should develop. So we should believe that 
God is in such control at the present time, that he 
can bring to pass that which will be for the best 
interest, the highest good of his human children. 

This belief should take a reasonable form, and 
not fail to consider that God himself is in some ways 


limited. When we say that God is all-powerful, 
we must not understand that to mean that he can 
make black be white, nor make what has happened 
in history not to have happened, or any other 
absurd things. He is limited by his own nature 
and will, so that he cannot contradict himself, 
cannot do that which would be unrighteous or 
unloving, nor go contrary to that which he sees 
would be the best way to accomplish his purposes. 
We shall also see later that he is limited by the 
wills of human beings who are not in harmony with 
him or who disobey him. We cannot say that 
he is in perfect control of bad men, nor, indeed, of 
anyone who is not perfectly good. But we may 
believe that he, with all the resources of the uni- 
verse and of his infinite mind, will find ways of 
helping and caring for those who are trying to do 
his will, that is, to become righteous; and that he 
will finally accomplish his will completely in the ~ 
universe, although that may take a very long time. 

38. We should believe that pain and all 
physical evil are intended by God for the good of 
humanity, especially for the discipline and develop- 
ment of character, and will accomplish this result 
in so far as men will permit them to do so.—The 
problem of evil is a great one and we can here 
consider only the fundamental principles of our 
belief about physical evil; that is, pain and suffer- 
ing of the body, and every kind of deprivation or 


loss except that which is moral—sin and sinful 
nature. The nature and cause of sin is considered 
in the next chapter and we cannot hold that God 
is at all responsible for it except that he made it 
possible for man to sin when he made man free, 
and that freedom is the one condition of the possi- 
bility of the development of moral character. 

We can easily see that pain and evil are of great 
value in the education of the race and development 
of character, where they are evidently the conse- 
quence of sin, for they help to show sin in its true 
horrible colors, and to turn people away from it. 
The pain which I suffer on account of my own sin 
does very much to turn me from my sin. The pain 
which I suffer, or those whom I love suffer, on 
account of the sins of others, helps me to strive 
with all my might to make all men good, to get 
sin out of the world, to promote righteous character 
in society as a whole and in all its parts. 

It is not so easy to see the value of suffering 
where its connection with sin is not direct and 
evident, but we should be able to recognize here 
also great advantages that come to individuals and 
to the race by its means. We all know how some 
of the highest virtues, sympathy, patience, courage, 
heroism, loyalty, and love, are often tested and 
developed by suffering as they could be in no other 
way which we can imagine. We can understand 
* that faith in God is comparatively easy while 


everything goes well, but that its true test as well 
as its greater value is shown when the pain comes 
and things seem to go wrong. The faith which will 
not stand the test of suffering even when no good 
seems to be in view is a very weak faith, and that 
which survives a severe test has acquired much 
strength by the test—strength which may be of the 
highest value in helping others to the same faith. 

But there is also an education of society by 
means of pain. It is suffering or its possibility 
which has been one of the greatest spurs to dis- 
covery and invention, to progress in civilization, 
in every direction. Common perils and great 
calamities have perhaps done more than anything 
else to unite the people of one nation, and to bring 
together different nations in a common sympathy 
and works for the common good. The earthquake 
in one city or the famine in one land, which brings 
gifts and expressions of sympathy from all over 
the world, does more than can be calculated to 
promote the spirit of universal brotherhood which 
is the highest religious and social ideal. 

No explanation of the immeasurable values 
which flow from the existence or the possibility 
of pain will be able to satisfy all who are in the 
deep experiences of sorrow; but all should realize 
that their faith in God involves their faith that 
“all things work together for good to them that 
love God,” and should cling to this faith until the 


particular uses of the pain shall have become 
clearer. And it is to be noted that that event 
which perhaps causes more and deeper pain than 
any other in human life—the death of a loved one 
—must lose a very large part of the terror which 
still clings to it, when our faith in a loving God 
becomes strong enough to make us really believe 
that the loved one is not dead, but only passed on 
to a larger and more beautiful life than the one he 
has left, where we shall later see and know him 
again. Thus the best faith, by its interpretation 
and use of pain and suffering, will actually make it 
a blessing to man and society, whereas without 
such a faith it would remain, as it seems to do for 
some people, and may actually do for those who 
refuse to turn to righteousness and the higher life, 
unmitigated evil. But in this case God cannot 
be blamed. He means it for good, and for him 
who chooses the evil way, even the greatest pleas- 
ures and greatest blessings which God can give 
must be really evil. 

39. We should believe that God can and will do 
anything which is consistent with the character of 
a righteous, loving Father of mankind and Creator 
of the universe, and not think that the partial dis- 
coveries which men, especially scientists, have 
made, of some of his methods of working, preclude 
our belief that he may work in many other ways, of 
which we have as yet little or no knowledge.—The 


question we have especially in mind here is that of 
“miracles.” There are various wrong ideas of 
miracles which we should not hold. We cannot 
believe that God would or could do anything con- 
trary to his own character. This we have indi- 
cated in the last paragraph. It is a part of the 
character of God that he should be consistent in 
his action, just as the best men we know are con- 
sistent. The better a man is, the surer we can be 
of what he would do under any given circumstances. 
So we should expect consistency and not arbi- 
trariness or caprice in God’s action. But men are 
constantly using the forces and material of nature 
to accomplish their will, and do what matter and 
force without their added intelligence and will 
would never accomplish. So we should not think 
of God as unable to use the forces of nature for 
‘his own purposes, but rather as ever using them in 
the fullest degree as a man would do if his power 
and intelligence were infinite instead of finite. 
A man in his works of invention and skill never 
interrupts or interferes with the laws of nature. 
He makes use of them to accomplish his purposes. 
We have a right, then, to think of God as accom- 
plishing his will through natural laws (as well as 
spiritual laws), and not as having to suspend them 
in order to do what he chooses. 

When we think of God as doing his will in 
a consistent, regular, uniform way, that is by no 


means to exclude real answer to prayer—that is, 
the doing by God of things, in view of our prayer, 
different from what he would have done if we did 
not pray. Here again let us consider the action 
of the best men. ‘There are good reasons why they 
should always (that is, regularly and uniformly) do 
things for other people (when the requests are right 
and lie within their power to accomplish) when 
they are asked to do them, which they would not 
do if they were not asked. The acceding to the 
request brings the parties into closer and more 
sympathetic relationship, and the things desired 
are appreciated much more if granted in answer tc 
requests than if they were given without the 
requests. ‘There is no reason why we should not 
think that God acts in the same way. 

We may believe that God acts according to 
law, without holding that we know already all 
the laws according to which he acts. While the 
discoveries in science in the last century or two 
are marvelous, they are but as a drop in an ocean 
when compared with the universe of reality which 
remains unexplored. Because we do not yet 
know how God could accomplish something which 
is said to have been done in the past, or which we 
wish might be done in the future, is no good reason 
for saying that he has not done it or could not do 
it. The first question to ask is, Would the result 
desired probably be according to the wise and 


loving will of God? If it would not, we should not 
expect God to do it. If it would, we should pray 
that he might do it, if the first principle of our 
prayer is the desire that his will, that is, that which 
is really best, should be done. Then we should 
take the result as manifesting his will in the 

40. The value of wonderful works or ‘‘mir- 
acles,” in so far as they are thought of as 
coming from God, does not lie in the power that is 
shown, but in the character that is revealed.—No 
one can tell how much power may eventually come 
under the control of man, nor how great powers 
might belong to other spirits than God. Human 
beings could never possibly perceive any works so 
wonderful that they could rightly say, ‘‘No power 
but God’s could do this”; for a finite being cannot 
perceive a work of infinite power and know it to 
be such, and any wonderful event which we could 
imagine would require only power enough to ac- 
complish it, and no more. Men can do things to- 
day which a hundred years ago would have been 
considered miracles manifesting absolutely divine 
power. The inventions of science—steam engine, 
telephone, telegraph with and without wires, air- 
ships, electrical apparatus of all sorts—show one 
kind of modern miracles. The discoveries in the 
realm of disease and healing are perhaps even more 
wonderful. The prevention and the cure of former 


great scourges of humanity, the healing of diseases 
regarded for thousands of years as incurable, even 
of leprosy, and the healing of certain forms of 
disease by carefully studied and applied mental 
treatment (‘‘psychotherapy”) are among the 
wonders of the present age, which only a short 
time ago would have been imagined only as mani- 
festations of the power of God, absolutely beyond 
the control of men. It has probably already been 
accomplished in various cases that life has been 
reinstated by means, e.g., of electricity, where 
it had actually ceased, i.e., where the heart had 
ceased its beating and the lungs their breathing; 
and it is quite conceivable that this might be done 
frequently in the future, when decay has not pro- 
ceeded too far. And it is to be noted that the 
accomplishment of these results does not depend 
on the holding of any particular religious faith. 
The nerve specialist, the hypnotist, the Christian 
Scientist, and the faith-healer, with all shades of 
belief and unbelief, accomplish the same kinds 
of healing without medicine, when the disease is 
of the form which yields to that sort of treat- 
ment. The wonderful nature of an event, then, 
or the amount of power which seems to be in- 
volved in it, is no indication that it comes from 
God, and it proves nothing with regard to the 
. character of the person through whom the event 
is caused. 


The only way of telling whether anything is a 
manifestation of God, as the Christian conceives 
him, is to see whether it reveals the character of 
God—love and righteousness. We should believe 
that every event which shows the spirit of love 
and goodness in it, that is, which is evidently 
intended to manifest this spirit, and flows from 
such motives, is from God. If it comes through 
human beings, and shows such good motives in 
them, it proves that to that extent they are in 
harmony with God and his agents in the world. 
It does not, however, prove that they are different 
from other people in other ways—that they can 
foretell the future, that they cannot sin, that they 
can actually do supernatural works, or anything 
else of that sort. 


“He arose and came to his father. But while he was 
yet afar off his father saw him and was moved with com- 
passion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”— 
Luke 15:20. 

41. Man is a spirit dwelling in a body but not 
entirely dependent upon it.—By a spirit we mean a 
being having power to think, feel, and will. Each 
of us knows directly that he has these powers and is 
therefore a spirit. We have learned from psychol- 
ogy that there is a parallelism between the thoughts 
and feelings which make up the stream of con- 
sciousness and the processes in our nervous systems. 
And it is quite certain that in normal human life 
our memories, thoughts, and feelings are dependent 
for their presence in consciousness upon the proper 
condition and working of the brain and nerves. 
No one, however, can imagine the nature of the 
connection between nervous processes and thoughts 
or feelings; and however they may be related, it is 
clear that they are not identical, for a thought ora 
feeling has no properties in common with what we 
mean by matter or energy. We know also that 
although our consciousness is largely determined 
: by the situation and condition of our bodies, the 
converse is also true. We may determine what 



sensations we will attend to, and where our bodies 
shall be. Our spirits are, then, not wholly depend- 
ent upon our bodies, and we have some good 
reasons for holding that they may continue to exist 
without bodies like those we have at present. This 
will be considered when we study the doctrine of 

So far as religion is concerned, it is not par- 
ticularly important what theory we hold in regard 
to how man came into being, providing we recog- 
nize that God brought him into being. There is 
good reason to believe that man on his physical side 
has developed from the manlike ape. This is 
certainly no more degrading a conception than the 
one that he was made directly from lifeless earth. 
The important question is not from what condition 
or form man sprang but what he és, and although 
man’s body is in all essential respects like the bodies 
of other animals, his spirit places him almost 
infinitely above them all. 

Tracing man’s ascent through lower forms of 
life in nowise accounts for him. There is really no 
accounting for life without life, nor for thought 
without thought; and no materialistic theory can 
do any more than to describe some of the steps in 
the process by which living and spiritual beings 
have reached the stage to which humanity has 
attained. We cannot know how man came into 
being, but it is far more reasonable to believe that 


it was through the will and power of God than 
through the play of non-spiritual energy upon 
lifeless matter. 

42. In the nature of each man there is a narrow 
margin of freedom of choice and action, within 
which life is not determined by his surroundings 
nor by the character which he has inherited and 
developed up to that point.—Psychology as a 
science is ‘‘deterministic.” It assumes that if all 
the circumstances affecting a man in any given case 
could be known, and the character and habits 
which he has developed up to the given moment 
were known, it could be predicted absolutely what 
he would think and choose and do the next moment, 
so that his whole life moves on with absolute 
machine-like precision, and under its circumstances 
could not possibly be anything else than it is. 
This conception of life, however, does not cor- 
respond at all to what every man feels to be true of 
himself and of others. We feel that we could 
choose the better or the worse, and that we are 
worthy of blame when we choose the worse, and 
deserve praise or approval when we choose the 
better. Of course this feeling is entirely deceptive 
if as a matter of fact we could not choose other 
than we do. In that case there can be no real 
responsibility, sin or righteousness, praiseworthi- 
ness or blameworthiness. But psychology cannot 
deny the universal presence of this feeling of 


freedom and of responsibility, and on the other 
hand it can never fully account for any man’s 
thought and action in actual practice, and can 
therefore never prove this feeling to be a mistaken 

We should therefore hold that man is free to 
choose the better or worse, as this feeling best fits 
our experience and is most encouraging to the effort 
to become righteous. This belief in freedom is a 
matter of faith. Its truth cannot be demon- 
strated any more than the truth of determinism. 
But it is a better faith and therefore we ought to 
hold it. 

The margin of freedom is a narrow one, but 
therefore of all the more significance. A man 
may turn quite around and start in the opposite 
direction in a narrow passage, and this is what 
occurs in “conversion.” But a large part of each 
life is determined by its character and environ- 
ment, so that an intimate friend can generally 
tell what a man will do in a given case. Yet 
in any given case if for that particular man 
two choices are offered which both attract him, 
he may choose the better, and thus grow stronger 
and better in character; or the worse, and 
take a step downward. The sum of these free 
and unpredictable choices and their general 
direction determine the moral destiny of the 


43. Belief that God has given man freedom 
means belief that God has limited his own power 
and knowledge.—There are two reasons why men 
have held that God knows everything which 
happens or shall occur in the future, and that he 
has determined beforehand exactly how everything 
shall be. The first is that belief in the perfection 
of God seems to require that he be absolutely 
omniscient and omnipotent, and the second that 
we need to believe in this foreknowledge and pre- 
destination in order to believe that his kingdom 
will come, and that he will be able to accomplish 
his will and to help those who pray to him. But 
the difficulties and loss which come from such 
belief about God are greater than the gain. For 
if God predestines all that occurs, then he and he 
alone is responsible for all the sin and evil in the 
world, and cannot then be held to be a really 
righteous and loving God. And it does not really 
help matters to say that God knows everything 
before it occurs, and yet man is free to act, and 
is responsible for sin; for it is impossible to con- 
ceive of an event being known beforehand unless 
it is determined beforehand, and if it is determined 
then man is not free to choose at all. 

Thus the highest Christian faith, and that 
which corresponds best to our experience and has 
the strongest tendency to make us feel our moral 
responsibility and act righteously, is that God 


has given to man a certain degree of freedom, 
and thereby limited both his own power and 
his knowledge. We should hold, however, that his 
power still remains so great and his knowledge so 
thorough that he will accomplish his will at last, 
and will help every man who trusts in him, even 
though he is hindered in the accomplishment of his 
will by every man who sins against him—for sin is 
certainly opposition to his will, since he is good. 

44. A sin is any failure to choose the best that 
one knows, to live absolutely righteously, or to will 
to act from the best possible motives. The sin lies 
entirely in the motive; no action considered by 
itself is sinful—In section 6 it was explained 
that righteousness is doing what we would want 
everyone else to do under the same circumstances. 
To choose to do this is to choose the best that one 
knows, for we would want everyone to do the best 
thing for the welfare of others, when we were 
among the others concerned by his action. So 
finally we should want everyone to act from the 
best possible motives, or, more concretely, from 
love to others. Since this is righteousness, any 
failure to attain this is sin. 

Sin may also be defined as wilful disobedience to 
God, and this is a more truly religious definition. 
The reason for beginning with another definition is 
that it shows more clearly and directly the nature of 
sin, and would apply to a man who did not believe 


in God or who said that we cannot know what his 
will is so as to obey him. It is evident that if 
there be a perfectly righteous and loving God, he 
would require nothing more or less of man than 
perfectly righteous action, and such action we have 
defined above. On the other hand, every man 
who believes in duty or righteousness at all must 
acknowledge his obligation to be righteous, whether 
he believe in God or not. 

It has been thought that God has given to men 
commandments with regard to certain actions or 
kinds of actions; that he should do some and refrain 
from others; and that sin is a failure to obey these 
injunctions. But in our study of the nature of 
the Bible and how to use it, we have seen that, in 
order to be able to recognize a command as being 
from God and for us, we must first be able to see 
that it is a command which requires us to do right. 
Even the Ten Commandments cannot be considered 
as God’s commands to any particular person until 
he sees that action from the highest motives would 
require him to obey them. In the case of most of 
them, however, it is so evident that the highest 
motives would require compliance that their au- 
thority is immediately felt by almost everyone. 

Many have difficulty at first in realizing that 
no action considered by itself is sinful. Until they 
have considered it carefully they might think that 
even if I did some act out of the deepest love for 


others it might be sinful. Take murder or theft, 
they would say, are they not always wrong? But 
that depends on what is meant by those terms. 
They usually imply some evil motive, and action 
from an evil motive is, as we have said, always 
wrong. But it may be possible to kill a man from 
the highest motives, for example, in a surgical 
operation, in the effort to save his life, or when he 
is a dangerous criminal, in the effort to save the 
life of someone else whom he is trying to kill. So 
also we could imagine circumstances where every- 
one would consider it his duty to take someone’s 
else property in order to avert some disaster, 
although to take the same thing under ordinary 
circumstances would be “‘stealing”—action from a 
selfish motive and therefore sinful. So with every 
kind of action, the motive determines its rightness 
or sinfulness. It will be easier to understand this 
if we ask what motive could make a man refrain 
from doing what his love for others prompted him 
to do. Suppose I think God requires me to go to 
church at a certain hour. It will therefore be 
sinful for me to do anything which would hinder 
me from such church attendance. But my love to 
others requires me in given circumstances to help 
a man who has “fallen among thieves,” just at the 
hour for church. If I “‘pass by on the other side”’ 
and leave the man for the church, it will be because 
I desire the reward I think God will give me for 


obeying him, more than the welfare of theman. In 
other words, I obey God from selfish motives. But 
a good God could not be pleased with such selfish 
action, and, as Jesus said, the commandment to love 
one’s neighbor as oneself is like to that to love God 
with all one’s heart, and if one neglects the former 
he cannot do the latter. 

It is common to say that our consciences tell us 
what is right and wrong, and accordingly to define 
sin as disobedience to conscience. This is well if 
conscience be rightly defined and understood. 
Conscience is the moral judgment, the power which 
values motives and decides which is the better. 
To obey conscience is therefore to act from the 
motive which one judges to be highest and best or 
to do what we would want everyone else to do in 
similar circumstances. But many people think of 
conscience as being the feeling of discomfort or 
of disapprobation with which they view certain 
actions planned or accomplished in their own lives, 
a feeling which in many cases has no relation to 
their judgment of the motives which they would 
have or did have in doing the act under considera- 
tion. This feeling in such cases is due to the 
taking-over of the views or feelings of others so 
that their disapprobation is feared or is accepted 
without criticism as one’s own. If the judgment of 
conscience is applied to the motives for the action 
(which in any given case must be largely deter- 


mined by what the person thinks its results will be) 
then conscience is the guide, and the only proper 
guide, of conduct. The Bible, books of ethics, 
civil laws, and other rules for conduct must be 
used in order to form the best judgment as to the 
results of different lines of action, and for the 
strengthening of the higher motives—they are all 
aids to the conscience but can never take its place, 
any more than the sun or lamps of any sort can 
take the place of a man’s eyes. 

45- The worst result of sinning is the formation 
of a sinful character, or the gradual estrangement 
of oneself from God and good people.—The pain 
and loss which result from sin may under certain 
circumstances be blessings, but the sin itself works 
only evil in the sinner. Punishment for sin can be 
intended only to prevent sin and reform the sinner, 
and so must be considered as really good, but the 
sin itself has no good results in the sinner. Every 
sinful act makes it easier to do the act again and 
tends to establish the habit. Every sinful choice 
tends to make the choice of the lower motives 
habitual. Thus continual sinning may so fix the 
character in sinful ways that it will become almost 
and perhaps quite impossible for the sinner to 
change and become good. When in religious 
language we speak of a man as being lost, we mean 
that he has formed habits of yielding to the lower 
motives and is becoming more and more degraded 


in character so that if he keeps on in this direction 
he will finally lose everything good there is in him. 
We can have real friendship and fellowship with 
people only when we can sympathize with them, 
enjoy what they enjoy, sorrow in their sorrow, 
value things somewhat as they value them. But 
for God and good people the highest values are those 
of character. The more I yield to lower motives 
the less sympathy I have for those who prefer the 
higher, and the farther I remove myself from them. 
And not only is the same thing true about our rela- 
tions to God, but every sin is disobedience to God, 
and therefore puts me not only out of fellowship and 
sympathy but in direct antagonism to him. Thus 
he who continues in sin makes it more and more 
difficult to do or even to understand the will of 
God, and is in great danger of coming to believe 
finally that there is no God. And yet God is the 
power which creates and controls the universe, and 
in opposing it a man is on the way to inevitable 
destruction. God is the all-loving Father, and in 
turning from him, one is turning from all that is 
good and loving toward all that is base and evil. 
46. Salvation is the deliverance of a man’s 
character from an actual or possible sinful condition 
to a righteous condition, and from a condition of 
opposition and disobedience to God to one of fellow- 
’ ship and trust in God, and every means of bringing 
this about is a means of salvation.—Common ideas 


of salvation have been that it is deliverance from 
the punishment of sin after death, and to a life of 
eternal pleasure and delight. It has often been 
thought and taught in various forms of Chris- 
tianity, as well as other forms of religion, that 
there were certain ways by which a sinful man 
might, at any rate after mortal life, escape the 
penalty of his sins and live the life of happiness. In 
Christianity it has generally been held that this 
way of escape from punishment was made possible 
by the death of Jesus. The deeper thinkers have 
realized that such salvation must result in the 
change of the sinful character, or it could not 
deliver from the punishment. But very often it 
was the punishment which was the great thing to 
be saved from, and in many cases it has been 
thought that professing a creed or partaking of 
sacraments would insure the salvation of a man no 
matter how he continued in sin. 

As spiritual ideas of God and man have become 
clearer, this position has changed in important 
respects. First, the significance of character has 
been more clearly recognized. It has been seen 
that a man’s character determined very largely 
whether he were happy or not. A man who loves 
God and those about him will be happy in circum- 
stances in which a bad man would be quite mis- 
erable, and a bad man in heaven would find the 
presence of good people about him so unpleasant 


that he would not want to remain—it could not 
be a place of happiness for him. The making of 
the character right, then, is the first necessity in 
making a man happy, or bringing him to a real 

Then it has become clear that if God love men 
as Jesus loved them, he would be ready to forgive 
them and receive them into fellowship with him- 
self on no other conditions but those of repentance 
for sin and desire for such fellowship, just as Jesus 
received men on these conditions; and thus that 
these could be the only conditions of God’s favor 
and of salvation so far as heis concerned. Repent- 
ance and the desire for forgiveness would be evi- 
dence that the character was moving in the right 
direction—away from sin and toward goodness. 
And the faith that God had forgiven the man must 
result in helping him to be better. 

The great problem of salvation, then, is just the 
problem of making good character. If a man’s 
character is becoming good he is being saved; if 
not, he is being lost, no matter what he believes or 
does not believe. And we must take this in a real 
and literal way. There must be no religious 
quibble by which a character that loves God and 
man shall be called bad or depraved because the 
man holds or fails to hold some particular belief; 
* and no legal fiction whereby a bad character shall 
be called good under any circumstances. There is 


a great truth in the doctrine of the “imputation” 
of Christ’s righteousness to those who accept him, 
that is, who become his true followers and trust in 
the Father whom he revealed. But that truth is 
not that a bad man is looked upon as good, but 
that a man is judged by God not according to what 
he has attained but by what he is striving to 
attain. And the man who desires most of all to 
become Christlike, and strives with all his might to 
become so, is regarded by God with loving approval, 
even though the evil habits of the sinful life have 
not yet entirely lost their hold upon him. 

The process of salvation may be going on in a 
man even before he has faith in God, although such 
faith is one of the most powerful means to salva- 
tion. But owing to intellectual experience or 
environment a man may not have learned how he 
may believe in God, and may think he cannot, 
while at the same time his life is growing better. 
In such cases we must recognize God’s action just 
as clearly as when the man perceives that it is God 
who is saving him, and not deny God’s work 
because the man in whom he is working does not 
understand it. ; 

47. Conversion is a change from a general 
downward direction or evil development of char- 
acter to a general upward direction or righteous 
development of character.—Few, if any of us, know 
anyone who has not some good in him, who does 


not sometimes act from noble motives, take a step 
upward in character; but we should recognize 
clearly the distinction between the life of a man 
whose controlling motives are lower, who is gradu- 
ally becoming worse in character, and the man who 
is struggling upward, desiring above all to become 
Christlike, to do right. The latter may often 
stumble in the way, he may even appear worse in 
character than the former, especially if the one 
who is growing worse has been brought up in good 
surroundings so that certain forms of goodness have 
become habitual in him. But the man who is 
moving in the right direction will some time gain 
the goal sought, although he start from a great 
way off; and the man whose direction is wrong is 
getting farther and farther from the home of the 
soul, although at the beginning he had a great 
advantage over the other man. Thus the impor- 
tant thing is the direction of movement. The word 
“conversion” means turning around or turing 
back, and as used in religion it means the change in 
the direction of a man’s life from wrong to right. 
If a man believe in a righteous God, then turn- 
ing toward the right will mean for him turning 
toward God and accepting the guidance of his 
Spirit. If, on account of atheistic teaching, it is 
for a time impossible for him to believe in God, he 
may be none the less converted. He may take the 
upward direction, and choose the higher motives, 


and until he is able to believe in God, the highest 
motives will be those of love to his fellow-men. 
We may be sure that God would be pleased with 
such a life, and that it is God’s power which is 
helping the man to the better life, even though for 
a time it is not recognized as such. 

In many cases it is impossible to know cer- 
tainly whether another person is thoroughly con- 
verted or not. Outward actions are not always 
clear evidence of the movement of character, much 
less professions of faith. Many a life is vacillating 
for a period so that it is difficult to tell whether 
more is being gained or lost. We may be sure, 
however, that the man whose highest desire is for 
righteousness will become righteous, and receive 
God’s help in gaining this desire, although the 
progress may seem slow for a time. 

48. If the movement of character is in the right 
direction, it is of no importance to know the time 
of conversion or even that there has been any 
conversion.—When a man has been living a very 
sinful life for a considerable time, and then stops 
the downward and commences the upward move- 
ment, the change will be a very noticeable one— 
he will have a ‘‘remarkable experience”’ of conver- 
sion. There is, however, no good reason why a 
child brought up in a really Christian home should 
have any experience of a general movement in the 
wrong direction. He may learn from those about 


him, by precept and example, what the right life is 
and how much better it is than the wrong, and so 
be always growing better, moving upward, in 
general, although like converted persons he stumble 
sometimes in the way. It is a great mistake to 
expect of such that they shall have such experi- 
ences of conversion as those do who have long 
continued in sin. 

It has sometimes been thought that the teaching 
in John 3:3, etc., is contrary to the position taken 
above. ‘‘Except a man be born again, he cannot 
see the kingdom of God.” A study of the context 
shows the meaning to be that the Spirit of God 
must give to a man the nature that loves righteous- 
ness in order that he may “enter the kingdom of 
God”; that being a descendant of Abraham or 
fulfilling the ceremonial law was not sufficient. 
But the evidence of the work of the Spirit, like that 
of the blowing of the wind, is to be found in the 
results, and when we have before us the life which 
shows the presence in it of the Spirit of God, there 
is room for no further question. When we have a 
live child before us, we need no birth register to 
prove that it has been born. The love-inspired life 
is the conclusive evidence of the presence of God’s 
Spirit, and in many cases we shall not be able to 
find any specific time when the work of the Spirit 
_ in that life clearly began. 

As will be seen in the next section, we cannot 


deny the universal tendency to sin in every human 
being. We know of no one except Jesus who has 
grown into self-directing life without showing that 
the nature he has inherited or the temptations 
which surround him were such that he did not 
remain without sin. These facts have been the 
foundation of the doctrine of “original sin.”” While 
we cannot now hold the doctrine in its older form, 
we must admit the facts, and the consequent need 
which every man has for salvation, for “grace” to 
overcome his sinful tendencies. A man needs not 
only forgiveness for the sins he has committed, and 
help to overcome his besetting sins, but he needs to 
develop such a character as shall be fully and 
positively righteous. Many a man has not com- 
mitted certain sins simply because the temptation 
to commit them has not been strong enough, and 
not because he is really good in character. He 
may thus need salvation as truly as the one who 
has yielded to temptation. 

49. Salvation is a process requiring a consider- 
able time for its completion, and all teaching that 
it may be completed in a single moment is likely 
to lead to error and deception.—In the past, 
salvation has been distinguished from ‘‘sancti- 
fication,” which meant originally making holy, or 
separating unto God, but is better understood now 
as meaning the act or process of making righteous. 
The highest meaning of holiness is righteousness, 


although the word has been used with very differ- 
ent meanings in the past. When salvation was 
thought of as deliverance from the liability to 
eternal punishment, then it was accomplished by 
God’s act of pardon, as soon as the sinner had met 
the conditions. And we may recognize, still, the 
great value of the choice of will by which a man 
abandons a sinful life, consecrates himself to God 
and righteousness, and accepts the forgiveness of 
God for his sin. But we see now that the impor- 
tance of this experience lies in the fact that it is the 
beginning of a great process, and not the complete 
attainment of the thing desired. 

For us, therefore, salvation and sanctification 
mean essentially the same thing, and it is important 
that we recognize that for any sinful human being a 
process is involved, and not a sudden act or experi- 
ence which is then complete. The great philoso- 
pher Kant held that it would take an infinite time 
for a will (i.e., character) to become perfectly good. 
At any rate we may question whether characters 
do become perfectly good within the brief bounds of 
mortal life; and our experience is not to be doubted, 
that many Christian people have not yet attained 
to perfection at the close of human life. We find 
in general that the better a man becomes, the 
more conscious he is of moral imperfection, and 
* the higher his ideal of perfect character rises. We 
know, further, from psychology, that it is impos- 


sible for the mass of thoughts and habits which 
have been developed through many years to be 
totally changed in a moment, although the general 
direction of the life may be thus instantly changed. 

There are two serious dangers in the teaching 
which some sects have maintained, that a man may 
be perfectly sanctified in an instant. The first is 
that a man who is seeking for God’s fullest blessing, 
and thinks God will thus instantly sanctify him, 
will, if he be honest with himself, be disappointed, 
and perhaps abandon his Christian faith altogether 
for a time, as a friend of mine once did, under such 
conditions, thinking that God would not give him 
what he had given others. 

The other danger, more serious still, is that of 
self-deception or hypocrisy when a man claims to 
have been thus ‘‘sanctified” and yet frequently 
does wrong. His actions prove his words, and 
perhaps even his thought with regard to himself, 
false. Such a man often says, in the phrase of his 
sect, that it is not ke who commits the sin, but the 
“old man” in him, for which he is no longer 
responsible, or else that what would in others be 
sin is not in him, because he is sanctified, or because 
he is “‘no more under law but under grace”’ or 
something of that sort. But this is merely to 
introduce moral confusion into his life in the place 
of mental. If sin be what we have judged it to be, 
we should always call it by the same name and not 


try to make ourselves or others believe that we are 
what we know we are not. We must carefully 
avoid all juggling with moral distinctions in the 
name of “religious truths,” for it throws serious 
discredit on religion. 

50. The doctrine of “justification by faith’’ 
means that we attain to conscious fellowship with 
God through trust in his forgiving love and not 
through any number of good deeds.—We have laid 
special stress on the “ethical” side of salvation, 
that is, its character as deliverance from sin, be- 
cause that is fundamental and can be appreciated 
and applied by all, whatever their belief or lack of 
belief about God. We need to give a little special 
attention to the religious side, that is, that which 
concerns our relations to God, both to understand 
the doctrines of the past, and to get the value of 
them for our life today. Paul experienced the fact 
that ‘‘by the works of the law shall no flesh be 
justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:20), and Luther 
and many others who were striving to get rid of sin 
and do good works so that their lives might be 
pleasing to God, have had the experience of despair 
of ever attaining to such a condition that they could 
claim God’s approval for their lives. They found 
at last that they must abandon such attempts to 
become good enough to please God, and merely 
_ trust to God’s love and mercy to receive them while 
they were still sinful and imperfect. They found 


then, too, that the confidence that they received 
when they thus simply trusted in God’s love and 
free, undeserved forgiveness gave them new hope 
and power to become really righteous. 

These experiences should be very instructive for 
us. They should teach us that, on the side of 
character, self-satisfaction is deadly; and that the 
only safe and only absolutely essential thing is that 
our controlling motive should be that of love to 
God and man, and our constant effort to become 
better. They should teach us that on the religious 
side we cannot please God by anything less than 
trust in his love and free forgiveness, and earnest 
desire to do his will, and that “good works” please 
him only as the proof of this controlling motive of 
love, and the presence of this desire to do his will. 
Any good works except those which flow from such 
love and obedience arise from lower motives and are 
therefore really sinful. So we still are concerned 
with character—the character of love and childlike 
trust (as opposed to Pharisaic self-righteousness) 
that pleases God, so that we are “‘justified,” that is, 
approved, in his sight. It is our effort and not our 
attainment that pleases him. We shall see in the 
next chapter in what sense it is true that we are 
justified through faith in Jesus Christ. But we 
may say here that it is because through Jesus we 
come to this trust in God that we are thus justified, 
through the love of God manifested in Jesus, and 


not through the acceptance of any creed, or 
particular belief about the nature or work of Jesus 
himself except as it brings us to this confidence in 
the love and forgiveness of God. 

51. We should believe that all human beings 
are children of God until they have absolutely 
renounced his fatherhood by the destruction of 
everything good in them.—By being children of 
God we mean having something of the spiritual 
nature that God has, some capability of responding 
to good motives, the influence of the Spirit of God, 
and such relation to God that on his side nothing is 
lacking to make our fellowship and communion with 
him of the highest nature. This position is the 
higher Christian teaching from the time of Jesus to 
the present, but it differs from other things that 
have been taught in two ways. First, it has been 
taught that, through the sin of our first parents or 
in some other way, men have entirely lost the 
character of God, totally defaced his image in them, 
and thus become “‘ totally depraved” and “‘children 
of the Devil.” Generally it has been admitted 
that very few human beings seemed thus entirely 
bad to themselves or others, but it was explained 
that whatever good appeared in them was the 
action of God’s Spirit, while the evil in them was 
their own true nature. Of course this is not a fair 
_ way to judge anyone. If we hold a man respon- 
sible for the evil that is in him, we must give him 


credit for the good too. We may well say that all 
the good in man is due to the presence in him of 
God’s Spirit; but that is properly only another way 
of saying that he has retained something of the 
image of God in him, or is still a child of God, 
although a fallen one. The term “regeneration,” 
which means rebirth, is a figurative expression 
denoting the action on God’s part which cor- 
responds to man’s repentance and conversion. 
Both expressions refer to the changing of the 
direction of a man’s life, and the meaning of both 
is fulfilled when the life is developing in the right 
way. But asa deaf man cannot hear, and a blind 
man cannot see, so a “totally depraved” man, one 
in whom was nothing good, no higher motives, no 
desire for righteousness, could not respond to the 
influence of God’s Spirit, and so conversion or 
regeneration would be impossible. 

The second teaching differing from our position 
is that God could not love a man, on account of his 
sin, until something had been done by Jesus to 
make such love possible, and the man had accepted 
this work of Jesus as done for him. But the true 
teaching of Jesus and the New Testament is that it 
is the very love of God which is revealed in Jesus, 
and that God loves every man whom he has made 
and desires the salvation of all. We know not 
whether anyone ever becomes so bad as completely 
to destroy his divine sonship, and burn out every- 


thing good that is in him, but we should believe 
that if anyone desires God’s love and forgiveness it 
is because he is God’s child, and God will never 
cast him out, and we should never abandon anyone 
as hopeless. It is not sonship to God, that we are 
to seek, but the “spirit of sonship,” the spirit of 
trust and obedience that should be in the life of 
every child of God, that is in every man whom 
God has made. 

52. All sin is punished, but the purpose of the 
punishment is not to “give a man what he deserves” 
but to prevent sin and reform the sinner.—We all 
recognize that it is right for those who have con- 
sciously and intentionally done wrong to suffer for 
their wrongdoing, but we can imagine no just way 
of apportioning to a man the punishment which he 
deserves. For what a man deserves must depend 
on the circumstances under which the wrong was 
done, the motives of the deed and the strength of 
the temptation. But no one can know the inner 
working of another’s mind, the strength of his 
passions, the reasons for his ignorance or prejudice; 
and thus no man can rightly decide what the 
punishment ought to be in a given case. This 
becomes still clearer when we remember that a 
given penalty may be a heavy punishment for one 
man and none at all for another. For one man 
. death is the most severe possible penalty. Another 
may desire to die. So in the case of human justice, 


the only right way to do is to try to make the 
punishment of such a form and degree as to 
protect society in the best way and to reform the 
criminal if possible, so that he will become a useful 
member of society. Any penal system different 
from this is a relic of barbarism. 

We may believe that God knows just what 
punishment a man deserves in any given case, and 
we see that to a certain extent, at any rate, the 
punishment for sin is automatically adjusted to the 
sin. The worst result of sinning is the degradation 
of character and the estrangement from God and 
good people, and these results must depend 
directly on the nature and strength of the evil 
motive. But even in the case of God, or perhaps 
we should say, especially in the case of God, it is 
better to believe that the only purpose of punish- 
ment is the prevention of sin and reformation of 
the sinner. This is all that anyone can rightfully 
require from either human or divine justice. We 
want the penalty to counterbalance the motives to 
the crime, so that a man will see that he cannot 
gain by crime, but will always lose. So we should 
believe that God punishes sin because of his love 
for all men, the sinner as well as those sinned 

It is clear, then, that it will best deter from sin 
if the punishment follows it inevitably, but best 
encourage repentance and improvement if the 


forgiveness and cessation of punishment follow 
immediately upon repentance. This we may and 
should believe. The worst results of sinning, the 
decay of character and the estrangement from God, 
cease when we turn from sin and trust in God’s 

53- The results of sin which continue after 
repentance should be looked upon no longer as 
punishment but as means of discipline and the 
development of character, as blessings and not as 
evil.—On account of God’s love we should expect 
forgiveness to follow immediately upon repentance, 
and we cannot think of punishment as continuing 
after one has been pardoned. But we see that the 
results of sin in suffering and loss often continue 
long after the sin has been repented of and has 
ceased. We can see also that these results may be 
of great value to the sinner as well as to others in 
deterring from sin and showing its awful nature, 
and that if taken in the right spirit they may prove 
of great value in the strengthening and purifying of 
character, developing patience, sympathy, and 
other virtues. Thus we should regard the after- 
results of sin, when it has been forgiven, as intended 
only for good, and no longer as punishment. The 
problem of evil other than sin has been more fully 
considered in section 38. 

From the foregoing sections it should be clear 
that faith is necessary to salvation only in so far as 


it keeps a man’s character developing rightly, or 
helps him to righteousness. Without faith of some 
sort, at least in the value of righteousness in some 
of its expressions, no man can or will be or become 
righteous. The value of Christian faith is not that 
no man can be saved without it in all of its details, 
but that it is the quickest way to righteousness and 
to God. If aman truly and constantly holds it he 
is certain to be becoming steadily better, and this 
in a greater degree and shorter time than would be 
possible without it. 

In the next chapter we consider some of the 
most important ways in which the life and work of 
Jesus may help to this highest faith and fullest life. 


‘But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself 
through Christ and gave unto us the ministry of reconcilia- 
tion; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world 
unto himself.”—II Cor. 5:18, 19a. 

54. No belief with regard to Jesus is of any 
value except as it helps a man to a better character 
or fuller life.—This must be true if God is righteous 
and loving, and has the spirit which was shown 
in Jesus. Many people have thought that God 
has revealed to men certain truths about Jesus, or 
about himself, through Jesus, and that he would 
refuse to forgive and save any man, no matter how 
much he loved God and men, unless he believed this 
revelation; and some have thought that if a man 
should believe this revealed truth about Jesus, he 
might be saved, as a reward for believing it, or from 
a sort of a magical efficacy obtained through believ- 
ing it, no matter how wicked he might be and re- 
main. ‘The true position is that God has revealed 
great truths about himself and human life through 
Jesus, which, if a man believe, will be of the greatest 
assistance to him in becoming righteous and in ob- 
taining the highest faith in God; and the true faith 
. in Jesus is thus the greatest power for the salvation 
or transformation of life and character. 



We may be sure that a righteous, loving God 
could require of no man any belief as a condition 
of his favor, except such as would be possible for the 
man under his peculiar circumstances to accept, 
and such as would be accepted by the man if he 
were trying to find out the truth and choose the 
right. God would not reward us with forgiveness 
or salvation or heaven or anything else good 
because we did what we could not help doing. 
Such action deserves no reward. It is when we 
choose to do the better of two or more things that 
we have shown ourselves worthy of approval and 
reward. ‘There are various things about the life 
of Jesus which a man would be compelled to believe 
if the proper evidence were presented to him, and 
which he could not possibly believe unless they were 
at least told him in such a way as to make him 
think they were true. In such cases, although the 
facts accepted or rejected might be of value to the 
man, we could not think of God as rewarding or 
punishing the man, since he had no choice in the 
matter. But where there is a choice, the only 
thing which makes one belief better than another 
is that the one will improve the life and character 
of the man more than the other. This we have 
seen in the discussion about faith and knowledge, 
in the first chapter. Therefore it is clear that it is 
only such belief as a man would choose because 
of its value in making his life richer or his chat- 


acter better which could please God or be of any 
value to men: 

55. We should believe that Jesus was a real 
man; that is, that he was limited in power and 
knowledge in the same way that other men are.— 
We shall consider in later sections the reasons why 
it is of great importance to believe in the true 
humanity of Jesus. Practically all great theo- 
logians, from the earliest times to the present, 
have recognized the importance of this belief. 
We have here to consider what is meant by being 
aman. We have already considered what human 
nature is in section 41. It includes such relation 
of the spirit to the body that the former is largely 
dependent on and limited by the latter. All the 
data for the knowledge and thought of the mind 
come through the body and its senses. Even our 
highest and most spiritual faith must be repre- 
sented and pictured in terms gained first from 
the world of sense. While it is true that there 
are some phenomena as those of telepathy, 
mind-reading, clairvoyance, etc., which in some 
cases we cannot doubt to be genuine, and in 
which there is apparently some communica- 
tion of thought without the medium of the 
senses, even in such instances there can be no 
confirmation of the truth of the impressions thus 
. communicated, without the senses, and the sphere 
of such communication is comparatively small, 


and entirely out of the control of the ordinary 
healthy person. 

It is clear, then, that the knowledge of any 
human being is and must be very limited indeed, 
compared with all that might be known. And 
it is further to be most carefully considered that 
such limitation in knowledge is one of the essential 
conditions of our moral experience and develop- 
ment. If every man knew that every sin would 
be punished, and could foresee the results, no one 
would want to sin. It is because we cannot know 
beyond a doubt, that righteousness will always 
bring good, and sin always evil, that sin is so tempt- 
ing and virtue so difficult, and that a man has a 
duty to choose the best faith when he might choose 
something else. We have no moral obligation 
to do the things we cannot help doing. The moral 
obligation, the duty, commences when there is a 
choice between different possibilities. There is 
much truth in the saying of Socrates that ‘‘sin is 
ignorance,” for although we knowingly sin, we 
never knowingly injure ourselves, and if we knew 
that every sin injured us far more than it benefited 
us, we should not sin. As most if not all human 
beings, then, are so limited in knowledge that they 
cannot know certainly what the results of their 
actions will be, and cannot know beyond doubt the 
existence of God and of a life beyond the grave, and 
the truth of the other most important doctrines 


of religion, so we must hold that Jesus, if he was 
a real human being, was limited in the same way, 
and that religious truth was faith for him as well 
as for us. Having a human body would not make 
him a man in any true sense if he did not have the 
other limitations which human beings have. If 
he was tempted in the same way that we are, and 
developed character in the same way that we do; 
if he by being human himself could enter into 
complete sympathy with human beings, and could 
become in any way a real example for our lives, 
then he must have been limited as we are. 

What has been said above has been concerned 
primarily with limitation in knowledge. The 
same general arguments apply also to limitations 
in power. If Jesus could have done anything he 
wished to do, then he was different from any other 
human being who ever lived; or, in other words, 
he was not truly human. We may see, on the 
one hand, that limitation in knowledge would 
necessarily imply limitation in power; and on the 
other, that if he had had actual superhuman 
powers, i.e., powers which no other human being 
could control or use in any way, whether in answer 
to prayer or otherwise, then he could not com- 
pletely sympathize with men who were thus lim- 
ited, nor be tempted as they were. It will readily 

.be seen that much of our temptation and sin is 
directly related to our weakness and inability 


to control events as we should like to do. For 
instance, in modern times a large part of the 
temptation and sin which belong to men is related 
to the effort to make money, i.e., to obtain the 
“good things” necessary or desirable for life, which 
can be obtained only through gift, hard work, 
or dishonest means. But if we had power to 
obtain any of these things, or all of them, without 
work, these temptations would disappear, and 
if Jesus could have obtained all that he wished of 
food, clothes, money, etc., he would have had no 
such temptations as those which form a most 
serious part of ours, and give rise in one way or 
another to by far the larger part of the social 
evils which we know. 

We should note that the limitations under which 
Jesus lived, although of the same kinds, were not 
therefore necessarily those of the average man, 
nor even those of the best, wisest, or most skilful 
man that we may know of. They were the 
limitations which are implied in human nature, but 
what the final bounds of human knowledge and 
power are, when it shall have made the fullest 
possible discoveries of the laws of matter and 
mind, and when it shall have come into complete 
harmony with God, we have not yet the faintest 
knowledge. Jesus may have had powers which 
no other human being has yet attained, because of 
his perfect harmony with God and man, and still 


have been subject to the human limitations of 
knowledge and power. 

56. We should believe that an ideal, sinless 
human being would be the most perfect possible 
revelation of God’s nature and character which 
man could receive-—We can understand the 
nature and character of other beings only in so 
far as we have similar natures and characters. 
Several centuries before Christ, Xenophanes, the 
Greek philosopher, asked: “‘By what right do we 
attribute human form to the gods? Everyone,” 
he said, “imagines them to be like himself. 
Negroes think of the gods as black and flat-nosed; 
Thracians, as blue-eyed and red-haired, and if the 
horses and oxen could paint, doubtless they would 
represent the gods as horses and oxen.” With these 
words Xenophanes thought to show the absurdity 
of what is known as ‘‘anthropomorphism,” that 
is, thinking of the gods as being like men. But 
although he was to a certain extent right, that 
is, in holding that we should not think of God 
as being like ourselves in all respects, in outward 
appearance, in sensuous needs and passions—yet 
he was wrong in thinking that we can truly 
worship or even imagine a god who is totally 
unlike ourselves, and indeed we must say that our 
idea of God must be limited to the ideas which 
come from our knowledge of ourselves and of the 
world about us. We should not say that we can 


thus form adequate and satisfactory conceptions 
of God, and we find it necessary to hold that 
our highest thought of God represents only a 
small part of his real nature, character, and power. 
Nevertheless, our ability to form any conception 
of God at all, depends on our own experience, and 
we must use the forms of our own experience to 
construct an idea of God for ourselves. As a 
man who has been blind from birth can form no 
idea of what it means to see, and a man who has 
never heard does not know what sound means, 
so we cannot imagine any particular powers in 
God, of which we have no experience, although we 
may well imagine that he has many powers of 
which we can form no definite conception because 
we do not possess them. 

If we are to have a faith in God which will 
make us love him, and which will help us to love 
one another, to become righteous, then the most 
important element in our faith in God must be the 
thought that he is of a loving, altogether admirable, 
and attractive character, and that the closest 
harmony and fellowship with him would make 
us most nearly what we should be in relation to our 
fellow-men. The thought of God’s knowledge and 
power as universal and complete is the thought 
which will most readily be developed in men’s 
minds, and which the study of the great religions 
of the world will show has developed most quickly 


and easily. The experience which each man has 
of some knowledge and power in himself, and his 
feeling of dependence upon the forces at work in 
the world about him, lead naturally to the thought 
of a great and powerful mind which controls these 
forces. But among men we find both power and 
knowledge possessed by characters of different 
sorts, tyrants, bullies, criminals, grafters, philan- 
thropists, statesmen, etc., and so they are not 
necessarily associated with any one kind of char- 
acter. It is therefore more of a question what 
sort of character man will think of as belonging to 

Every man has, unless he destroy them, the 
powers of reason and conscience, enabling him 
to judge the kind of motives and the kind of char- 
acter which have the highest value. When men 
have developed the idea that God is morally good— 
an idea which is found wherever we have a real 
civilization—then it is most natural for them to 
attribute to God the best moral character of which 
they conceive. But men know moral character 
from their own experience of their own characters 
and of those of other men, and the highest char- 
acter which they come to know will naturally 
determine in large measure their ideals of the best 
possible character. If aman should appear whose 
character was actually ideal, that is, whose life 
was determined by the highest conceivable motives, 


then such a man would show the character which 
it would be most proper to attribute to God; and 
unless men had already had as high an ideal of 
the character of God as his life presented, it would 
be likely to fix that ideal for the future. And 
if God be the greatest and best conceivable being, 
then such a man would be the most perfect revela- 
tion of the nature or character of God which it 
would be possible for men to have. We have seen 
(cf. especially sections 30 and 31) that the best 
faith requires us to believe that God has the best 
possible moral character, or the character of the 
best conceivable man, and as our highest ideal 
of the character of God must be based on our high- 
est experience of human character, we must con- 
clude that the best human character which exists 
would be the best actual presentation of the char- 
acter of God in human form, and that if such an 
actual human character were in reality a sinless 
character, one completely determined by the 
highest faith in God and deepest love for man, we 
should be able to say that it was the most complete 
revelation of God’s nature or character which 
could be made. 

57. It is reasonable to believe that the sketch of 
the life of Jesus given in the Gospels is, in its main 
features, historically true.—Questions as to the 
origin, authorship, date, and degree of historical 
accuracy of the four gospels have required many 


volumes for their discussion and engaged the most 
careful and thorough investigation of some of the 
greatest scholars of the last century, and the 
problems are by no means all solved or settled. 
‘We cannot here present any of the details of the 
problems or their attempted solutions, but give 
what we believe to be the general results of the 
best scholarship. Some scholars have gone so far 
as to assert that there is practically no historical 
element in our Gospels whatever. We believe, 
however, that their arguments are very unsatis- 
factory and have been sufficiently answered by 
clearer and more scientific thinkers than they are. 
The evidence is good that the Gospels give us 
accounts of the words and acts of a real man, 
called Jesus, based on the memories of the dis- 
ciples who were present with Jesus and heard his 
words and saw his deeds. There can be no reason- 
able doubt that some errors have crept into the 
accounts of Jesus’ life as we have it, and that we 
should certainly expect under the circumstances. 
There seems no likelihood that any written record 
of Jesus’ words and actions was made during his 
earthly life, or for some few years after it, and we 
all know how certain it is that words repeated and 
events narrated from memory of what happened 
some years before, will be inaccurate in details, and 
will be colored by the thoughts and experiences of 
the narrator quite unintentionally. We note also 


that no claim is made in the Gospels to any unusual 
accuracy in the narratives, and we find indisputable 
evidence that for the first three Gospels some com- 
mon written or verbal sources were largely used, 
so that in general they do not represent three inde- 
pendent accounts, but two primary accounts in 
which additions, changes in arrangement, etc., 
were made by two or more other authors or 

After these elements have been taken into con- 
sideration, we find that we have in the Gospels by 
no means a carefully arranged and fairly complete 
biography, but at least a number of pictures or 
sketches giving impressions which were made by 
the life and words of Jesus upon those among 
whom he lived.. The accounts indicate that he 
taught to others the faith which he himself had, 
in a loving, righteous, heavenly Father of all men, 
who was ready to forgive and receive even the most 
sinful who repented of his sin and desired forgive- 
ness and the righteous life. Jesus himself showed 
the same loving spirit which he taught belonged to 
God, and showed no evidence that he was conscious 
of being sinful himself, while he was the sternest 
judge of sin wherever he found it. He also did 
many wonderful works, certainly of healing, and 
perhaps of other kinds. He believed that he had 
a close, filial relation to the God of whom he 
taught, and a special work to do by the power 


and Spirit of God, for men. His love for God 
and for men was so great that he did things which 
he knew would bring him into serious conflict with 
the Jewish authorities, and be the means of his 
being put to death at theirdemands. Insome way, 
after his death his disciples were convinced that he 
was still living. And, as we see in the Acts of 
the Apostles and the rest of the New Testament, 
with this assurance that his work had after all been 
successful in the highest degree (instead of being, 
as at his death it seemed, an utter failure) and that 
through him they came into communion and fel- 
lowship with God himself, the disciples preached 
the new truths which had come to them, and 
helped others to have the same new experiences 
of communion with God which they had, and 
gradually established the Christian church, al- 
though they regarded it at first as only the highest 
and true form of the Jewish religion and not as 
something essentially new, different, or opposed 
in any way toit. We believe that the best schol- 
ars of the world, both “conservative” and ‘‘radi- 
cal,’’ would agree that we have good reasons to 
accept the historicity of the events roughly 
described above. We believe also that in this 
brief description of the historical facts narrated 
in the Gospels we have the essential elements which 
we need for the best possible conception of the 
value of the life and work of Jesus. 


58. We have good grounds for believing that 
Jesus was positively and thoroughly righteous in 
character, moved by the highest motives and there- 
fore the most perfect possible revelation of God to 
men.—The evidence of the Gospels that Jesus was 
thoroughly righteous, has been referred to (p. 141). 
The question whether Jesus ever committed a 
single sin, in thought, word, or deed, from birth 
to death, was of significance for the magical view 
of his life and work, but has lost its importance 
for us today. The positively righteous character 
of his life during his ministry, is of great value for 
our faith and is well attested by the records. 
Some students have found fault with some of his 
words and actions, and thought that they indicated 
some moral weakness or error. Without taking 
up the points raised in detail, we must notice that 
we cannot judge accurately of the motives behind 
particular acts, and that the only valid question 
with regard to the acts criticized is not, Were 
they such as we could do with the highest motives, 
or such as did in fact result in the best possible 
way ? but, Were the motives of Jesus the highest, 
when he did the acts in question? We must 
answer that no low motives are assignable for 
these cases, and that the general character of the 
work of Jesus and the consciousness of moral 
integrity which he showed are good evidence 
for the consistent purity of his life. 


If we have good reason to believe that Jesus 
thus had a thoroughly righteous character, and 
that this character was bound up with, and largely 
explained by, his unfailing faith in God and strong 
confidence that his words and works were in a 
special way God’s, that he had a peculiar mission 
to reveal God to men, then we have very good 
reason to believe that Jesus was such a revelation 
of the character of God—the most perfect possible 
revelation to men, which we have seen (section 56) 
a sinless human life would be. Such a faith would 
have two special values: first, it would indicate 
that God intentionally revealed himself to men, in 
this most perfect conceivable way, and would thus 
help us to believe in the personal nature of God 
and his warm and direct interest in humanity and 
desire that all men should come to know him; and 
secondly, it would be a special reason why we 
should think that the outstanding moral features 
of the life and teaching of Jesus must be a revela- 
tion of the most significant elements in the 
character of God himself, and thus give an added 
weight to them, whatever they might be, as 
divine attributes. We should be compelled to 
say that God could not be less admirable in 
character than Jesus, and that whatever we found 
in the character of Jesus which was most helpful 
and attractive should be attributed to God, his 
Father and ours. ji 


59. In the life and death of Jesus we have the 
strongest possible evidence and most remarkable 
manifestation of the character of God as hating sin, 
but loving all men and desiring to forgive and 
cleanse them from their sins, of his suffering on 
account of the sinfulness of men and for the sake 
of saving them from their sin, and being ready 
to do anything, to make the greatest possible 
sacrifice for their salvation.—If, as we have seen 
there is good reason to believe, the Gospels give 
us any adequate idea of the character and life of 
Jesus, then we must maintain the truth of this 
proposition even apart from the question of the 
absolute sinlessness and unique consciousness of 
Jesus, although if these things be admitted, the 
argument may appear much stronger. As we have 
shown, the best human character must be the 
one most like the character of God, of which we can 
know. Any noble man, then, shows the divine 
character to the extent that he is noble. It is 
hardly questioned that the character described in 
the Gospels and commonly attributed to Jesus 
is the highest which human history presents. We 
need only to consider it, then, with a little care to 
find that the striking elements in it are those which 
we consider here. 

The awfulness of sin is seen not only in the 
preaching of Jesus, but also by contrast with his 
own righteous and loving life. It stands out in 


peculiar horror as we see that it was the sinfulness 
of the people among whom he labored which 
caused his suffering and death—the jealousy and 
envy of the priests and rulers, and the anger and 
hatred of those whose sins were condemned and 
whose hypocrisy was exposed. It is clear, how- 
ever inevitable his death may have been under the 
circumstances, that he made no effort to avoid it, 
but rather, in a sense, courted it by the bold con- 
tinuance of his work when he knew the danger 
that threatened him. He thus, so far as he was 
concerned, voluntarily submitted to the hatred 
and anger of the people, that they might see the 
more clearly the awfulness of their sin and the 
depth of his love. In his death, then, the horror 
of sin and the power of love and righteousness 
stand out in the strongest possible contrast. The 
spirit of forgiveness which he showed all through 
his ministry has a splended manifestation in the 
familiar words: “Father, forgive them, for they 
know not what they do,” uttered as he was being 
crucified. His preaching—‘‘ Love your enemies’””— 
and his acts show the love that included every 
human being in its scope. 

This character, then, unsurpassed in history, 
must be believed to belong to God, whom we cannot 
think to be excelled in power or goodness by any 
man whom he has made—least of all, then, by 
one who is in constant communion and fellowship 


with him, and finds in him the source of all his 
life and power. When one begins to realize that 
God himself has this character, the strongest 
force has come into operation for the reconciling 
of man unto God, the strongest motives are aroused 
for turning from sin to God, and living in the power 
of the Spirit of love, which is the Spirit of God 
himself. This revelation of God in the life and 
death of Jesus is thus the greatest element in the 
atonement, or the bringing of man into harmony 
with God. 

60. In Jesus, the most perfect revelation of 
God, we have the “incarnation of God’’ or ‘“‘God 
manifest in the flesh’’—a concrete human figure in 
which our faith in God may center.—In the early 
forms of religion, when God was thought to dwell 
literally in a temple, or to appear occasionally in 
visible form in certain places, or to manifest his 
power directly and supernaturally in certain vis- 
ible or tangible ways, it was easy for faith in his 
existence, providence, and activity to be strong 
and vivid. As the thought of God becomes more 
spiritual, there is a tendency for it to become more 
elusive and unreal. When we realize that we 
cannot see or hear or touch God in a literal way, 
there is great danger that we shall think that we 
can know little or nothing about him, or that he 
seem so far away that he cannot be concerned about 
us, and we need not be about him. The more 


spiritual a religion becomes, the greater need there 
is for special efforts and methods to make the 
thought of God appeal strongly to the imagination 
—to help men to have a pure and at the same time 
real, definite, and vivid faith in him. But the 
naming of attributes or qualities of character and 
person is a very abstract, and for most people 
unsatisfactory and insufficient, way of promoting 
real acquaintance with a person. The Hebrews 
had a vivid idea of Jehovah because of their 
accounts of his messages and commands and revela- 
tions to them through their prophets, and his 
dealings with them, bringing them out of the 
“house of bondage” into the “land flowing with 
milk and honey,” and of the ways in which he 
cared for them and trained them, rewarding their 
virtue and punishing their sin. Their records of 
God’s words and especially his acts made his 
character vivid and real to them. But as we 
cannot accept all of these stories as literal history, 
since we find the truth clothed in anthropomorphic 
forms which belong to earlier stages of thought, 
there is danger that we shall lose the truth and 
vividness, the feeling of reality which they gave, 
in our thought of God. We find, then, in our 
accounts of the life and words of Jesus, the picture 
of such a character as belongs to our highest con- 
ception of God. If the picture is historical, then 
we have in him, in a true sense, ‘‘God manifest 


in the flesh” or “God incarnate”; for if properly 
understood, those phrases express the idea which 
has been already presented, of the fullest mani- 
festation which could be made of God in human 
form. And even if the picture should not be in all 
respects historical, it nevertheless presents in a 
concrete form, as a description of a human life, 
the highest ideal we can have of the nature of 
God. While we must hold that the important 
thing is to have the vivid, powerful faith in the 
“‘Christlike God,’ and that when one has that 
faith he has the central and essential element in 
the Christian religion, however he may have come 
to that faith, yet we must say that it is the embodi- 
ment of this faith in the concrete figure of the man, 
Jesus, which has given to Christianity its distinc- 
tive character and peculiar power, just for the 
reason presented, that it has made this conception 
of God real, vivid, and personal. As we saw in the 
last section that it is faith in God as righteous, 
loving, and suffering for sin that is the strongest 
force, drawing men from sin and to God, so we 
see here that it was “‘God incarnate” or the revela- 
tion of God in the man Jesus which has most 
clearly revealed this character of God and made 
this faith both possible and vivid, and that in 
this great way Jesus made atonement for us— 
made us “‘at-one” with God, became the mediator 
of salvation, that is, the means by which the way 



of salvation was shown to us most clearly, and 
became the Savior of men. But there is also one 
other great element in this ‘‘at-one-ment” which 
we must consider now. 

61. It is of great value to man to have a perfect 
example, an ideal character as model and inspira- 
tion for his own life, and it is also of great value to 
believe that it is possible for a real man, in sinful 
surroundings, to live the ideal, sinless life. Both 
of these values we have given to us in Jesus.— 
Where many volumes have been written on the 
subject, it will of course be impossible to do justice 
to the ideal elements in the character of Jesus, as 
pictured in the Gospels, in a few words. It may 
nevertheless be useful to call attention to some of 
the striking features of his life. His life, then, 
gives us the perfect faith in God naturally and 
completely united with, and expressed in, the 
fullest love for man. It is pre-eminently the life 
of service to others, and thus gives to the world 
the most-needed ideal, which, if it had been ade- 
quately expressed in the lives of his disciples in the 
Christian church from his day on, would have 
made Christianity the religion of all mankind, and 
established the kingdom of God on earth, by this 
time, perhaps not completely, but in a form which 
yet remains a far-off Utopia. This expression of 
the spirit of loving service is thus the complete 
realization of the ethical ideal, that is, the ideal of 


duty or of the righteous life among men, and it 
is at the same time the expression of one of. the 
two fundamental elements in the highest religion, 
which is the life flowing from love to God and men. 
It is to be noted that this life is pure and self- 
sacrificing, but not ascetic, nor one of retirement 
from the world; that pleasure is enjoyed and not 
avoided, but it is not sought as an end. The life 
is not in any way weak or effeminate, even though 
it is, to some extent at least, one of non-resistance 
to physical force. It is thoroughly manly, exhib- 
iting the highest courage, firmness, and strength. 
The conclusion of the earthly life of Jesus has 
a very peculiar value as an example for succeeding 
generations, in that he was faithful unto death. 
Whether or not he could have avoided death, 
as we have noticed before, he did not do so, nor 
make any effort to do so; and his death was the 
natural result of the conflict of his righteous life 
with the sinful lives which surrounded it. It 
could readily be imagined that he might have 
found good reasons for avoiding such an early 
and cruel closing of his ministry on earth, and might 
have found ways of doing so, without violating 
any of the ordinary rules for right conduct. But 
a little thought will show us the immeasurable 
value for mankind of the fact that he suffered the 
bitterest possible result of the righteous life, even 
the shameful, agonizing death, forsaken by friends, 


rejected by adherents as well as by the religious 
leaders of the people, with the outward appear- 
ance of utter failure as a result of his whole life- 
work. For again and again have his disciples been 
called upon to give up their. own lives as the price 
of their loyalty to him and to the highest interests 
of their fellow-men, and without such an example 
from their leader and Lord, who can say how many 
of them would have been faithful unto death? 
If Jesus had not paid the uttermost price for the 
privilege of serving humanity, would it not be 
very likely that his disciples would say, when the 
final sacrifice was demanded: ‘‘The Master did 
not give up his life for his faith or his work—it is 
not likely that he would expect us to do so. We 
must yield a point here, or turn aside there, to 
save our lives. What service can we perform after 
we are dead?” And so there would have been a 
measuring of the amount of faithfulness required 
by God, and not a complete and unquestioning 
faithfulness. But history shows that the example 
of Jesus, followed by many thousands of martyrs 
in all lands, and followed, in spirit, by many times 
their number who were ready for the uttermost 
sacrifice, although not called upon to make it, has 
been one of the most powerful forces in promoting 
the spread and purifying the spirit of Christianity. 
The death of Jesus, then, was not only, as we have 
already seen, the supreme manifestation of the 


suffering love of God, but also the supreme mani- 
festation of the faithfulness of the ideal human 
life, and thus again of the love of God for men 
(in giving them such an example through Jesus) 
and of the love of Jesus, the ideal man, for men, 
thus completing the perfect example for human 
life—not, of course, to be followed in details, but 
in spirit and fundamental principles. 

The second value referred to in the thesis of 
this section is one which is often not recognized, 
but which should be constantly kept in view. It 
is a very evil and false doctrine, that every man 
is constantly sinning, consciously or unconsciously, 
and must expect so to continue until the end of 
mortal life. The sinful life should not be looked 
upon as the norma] human life, but as the ab- 
normal life, and the man with the right faith in 
God must expect to be constantly and increasingly 
triumphing over every evil motive which he finds 
within himself. Although the common experience 
of mankind may not favor the faith that many, 
if any, of us shall be able, during our earthly lives, 
completely to avoid yielding to the lower motives 
for periods of months or years (although we may 
find frequent cases where this seems to be at least 
approximated), yet we should expect this experience 
to become more and more frequent in the future, 
as the spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God, becomes 
more dominant in its influence over both indi- 


viduals and society; and we should expect the time 
to come, when—not after, but during the earthly 
life—most men, perhaps all men, shall be completely 
ruled by the spirit of love to God and to men. If 
we seriously take Jesus as our example, and really 
believe, as we have good grounds for doing, that 
he, a real human being, subject to the same sort 
of limitations, weaknesses, and temptations which 
belong to our condition, yet yielded to none of these 
temptations—never failed in his love for God and 
men—then certainly it will greatly strengthen our 
faith in the possibility of the sinless life for us, 
and we shall never again be satisfied as so many 
people are, with lives that are outwardly respect- 
able, or, at best, ruled only part of the time by the 
spirit of love, and yielding much of the time to 
selfish habits and evil thoughts. The danger of 
some forms of ‘‘holiness”’ doctrine has been pointed 
out in section 49. There is perhaps greater danger 
in the idea that sin is necessary to human life, and 
that we cannot hope completely to overcome it, 
and need not struggle to do so, until the body 

62. Every way in which the life of Jesus reveals 
God and helps us to turn from sin and become 
righteous is a means of atonement or of reconciling 
man unto God, and the atoning work of Jesus 
consists in the sum of such influences.—One of the 
greatest hindrances to progress in the perception of 


religious truth, and to the co-operation of religious 
persons for the carrying-on of work for humanity, 
has been the failure to admit relativity or incom- 
pleteness in the views which have been gained. 
Probably there has been no great teaching for which 
honest and well-intentioned people have argued, 
struggled, and sacrificed which has not had some 
real and important truth embodied in it. The 
difficulty and falsity, and the injury to the church 
and to religion have come when people have held 
their theory or doctrine to be the complete and 
only expression of truth in regard to the matter 
concerned. Various “‘saving truths” are held by 
various people, who think that no one can be saved 
except by believing these truths in the same way 
that they do. But when we consider that it is sin 
that we are to be saved from, and goodness that we 
are to be saved to, we are compelled to hold that 
anything that saves from sin, in any degree, or 
helps toward righteousness in any degree is a means 
of salvation. And we see that as a matter of fact 
many people profess and believe that they have 
the same faith, but the effect of this common faith 
upon their characters is very unequal and dis- 
similar in different cases. So we must say that 
any belief with regard to Jesus which helps a man 
to become better is valuable to that extent, and 
any way in which the life and words, death and 
resurrection of Jesus help any man toward right- 


eousness is a way by which Jesus saves men from 
sin. But this salvation from sin must be held to 
mean the same thing as reconciling to God or 
making man at one with God, in the most im- 
portant sense, if God is such a being as we believe 
him to be. We have pointed out the two principal 
ways in which the life of Jesus helps men to the 
life of love to God and man. If any other ways 
can be thought of which are not included in these 
two fundamental ones (and their effect upon 
society, and the prolongation and multiplication 
of their influence through the lives of those who 
have been influenced by them), they should be 
included in the doctrine of the “atonement,” or 
the way in which Jesus brings man into harmony 
with God. 

In section 54 we showed that we could not con- 
sider any belief with regard to Jesus as of any 
value apart from its effect upon character. We 
need here only to call attention to the fact that 
various theories of the atonement have been held 
in which Jesus is represented as doing something 
through which, or through belief in which, a man 
is saved quite apart from the influence of the belief 
upon the character, or even without any such influ- 
ence. We have shown that such theories are with- 
out value. We believe, for this reason, that they 
are false, and in many cases we could point out 
direct injury which results from such faith. Indeed, 


we may say that every theory that salvation comes 
in any other way than by the reformation of char- 
acter, or that God requires a man to believe any- 
thing which will not affect his character favorably, 
is an immoral theory, misrepresenting God and 
misleading men. 

Space will not permit us here to go adequately 
into the various theories which have been and are 
still held of the way in which Jesus reconciles us 
to God, or even of the meaning of New Testament 
passages bearing on the subject. But there is 
no doubt that later theories have been mistakenly 
read back into the New Testament. If the student 
will carefully consider what has been said in pre- 
ceding sections about the ways in which Jesus by 
his life and death helps us to come to God for salva- 
tion and forgiveness, he will be able to interpret 
almost all, if not all, the New Testament passages 
in the light of these facts, and much more correctly 
than is done in many of the traditional interpreta- 
tions. He will see that Jesus did suffer “vicari- 
ously” for our sins—that is, on account of his 
suffering we are enabled to escape consequences 
of our sins and sinfulness which we could not 
otherwise escape. He does reconcile us to God 
(not God to us—that is never suggested in the 
Bible), and his life is in a very true sense a ransom 
for ours. His blood cleanses us from sin. God 
is pleased with his perfect. sacrifice, and imputes 


to those who come to him in faith that he loves 
and forgives as Jesus did, and who earnestly 
desire to become like Jesus, the righteousness of 
Jesus. Careful thought will show how all of these 
expressions are justified and find their highest 
interpretation in those influences which we have 
seen to come from the life and death of Christ, and 
will bring great relief to those who have found at 
the same time help and comfort, and difficulty and 
perplexity in the traditional theories, which grew 
up after the atmosphere and many of the ideas 
which belonged to New Testament times were 
gone, and no longer understood. 

As has already been pointed out, we must not 
say that Jesus is the only “way of salvation” or 
that no man can be saved except by some particu- 
lar faith in, or relation to, him, if we use those 
words as they would ordinarily be understood. By 
holding such a doctrine we are in danger of making 
Jesus a hindrance to salvation instead of the 
mediator of salvation. He must not come between 
God and us so as to separate us from him. It is 
only when he brings us to God that he becomes in 
any literal sense our Savior, and it is God who 
finally saves us, by whatever means. If the words 
“‘No man cometh to the Father but by me” are 
rightly attributed to Jesus, we must interpret them, 
as we do his other words, in the light of his general 
teaching and his life, and hold that he meant that 


the principles which he taught and according to 
which he lived were the only ones by which-a man 
might come into harmony with God, and these 
principles were summed up in the one of loving, 
self-giving service to men. With this interpreta- 
tion of his words we might hold that a man who 
had never heard of Jesus might still come to the 
Father ‘‘by him” if he lived the life of love to men; 
but we must recognize that this is a figurative and 
not a literal use of the expression. These words 
are, however, probably better understood as em- 
bodying the doctrine of the author that Jesus is 
the “Logos,” the ‘“‘Word,” manifest in the flesh, 
but the same ‘‘Word” which “‘lighteth every man 
that cometh into the world.” So understood, 
these words would mean, “No man cometh unto 
the Father except by accepting the revelation 
which, given to every man in some degree, was 
peculiarly manifested in Jesus,” and their truth 
would be evident. 



“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”— 
Mark 12:27¢. 

63. The teachings of the Bible with regard to 
future events are valuable as the expression of 
the gradually developing faith of the people among 
whom and by whom its books were written, but not 
as giving us accurate information or final doctrine 
with regard to them.—This position should be clear 
from the discussion of the Bible and its uses and 
claims in chapters ii and iii, but it may be well to 
consider the particular application of the principles 
explained there to the subject now to be considered. 
Bible scholars are practically unanimous in recog- 
nizing progress in the attainment of religious faith, 
expressed in the books of the Bible. It is agreed 
that the early Hebrews had no such faith with 
regard to the future life as was later developed, 
that they thought of God’s relations with men as 
practically confined to the earthly life, and that 
all men, good and bad, went at death to “Sheol,” 
a place of shadowy and undesirable existence, of 
which little definite was known or thought. This 
word ‘“‘Sheol” and the Greek word ‘‘Hades”’ which 



corresponds to it, have both been translated 
“hell” in our “authorized version” and been taken 
to mean a place of eternal torment, prepared for 
devils and wicked men. It is clear that this was 
an incorrect rendering of these terms. 

At the time of Jesus’ life, a doctrine of resurrec- 
tion and immortality was known among the Jews, 
which forms the atmosphere of the thought on 
these subjects in the New Testament. The resur- 
rection for which the Pharisees hoped, however, 
was one confined to good Jews, and it was to be 
an earthly one, to occur at the time when the 
Messiah would appear and establish his kingdom, 
and for the purpose of enabling the faithful of 
past ages to participate in the glory of the Messiah’s 

The Book of Revelation, which in its closing 
chapters gives some beautiful pictures of the glories 
of the future kingdom of God, does not profess 
to give a description of a heaven above the earth 
to which good people are to go at death or after 
the judgment, as it has generally been understood, 
but to describe the supernatural city of Jerusalem, 
which is to come down from heaven, and take the 
place of the earthly city of that name. In order 
to understand this book and the thought presented 
in it, much of which was familiar to the Jews at 
the time of Jesus and to Jesus himself, we need to 
know that this book and the Book of Daniel are 


only two of a considerable number of apocalypses 
known at this time, and similar in thought and style. 
The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, the Secrets of Enoch, 
the Assumption of Moses, the Ascension of Isaiah, 
the Apocalypse of Ezra, and the Apocalypse of 
Baruch are some of these other “Revelations” full 
of curious imagery and visions of the future. They 
constituted the literary expression of the confidence 
of that time that God’s judgment on the wicked 
and deliverance of his people from all their troubles 
were certain. 

In view of the nature of these books and of 
their influence on the New Testament writers and 
thinkers and the people of Jesus’ time, in view of 
the general attitude which we have seen must be 
taken toward the Bible, and finally in view of the 
fact that the humanity of Jesus limited his knowl- 
edge of the future as that of other men, and the 
beliefs of the people whom he was teaching were 
necessarily assumed in the form of his teaching 
except where he found it necessary to correct them, 
we must say that we can expect no definite and 
detailed information in the New Testament, 
even in the words attributed to Jesus, of the events 
and conditions of the future, and must put all 
expressions bearing on this subject to the test 
which we have found necessary as the test of all 
religious faith. The teachings of Jesus about the 
future must have an especial value for us as com- 


ing from the one who uniquely manifested God’s 
character on earth, who had the strongest faith 
in God and the most vivid perception of the natural 
results of sin, and the things to be expected from a 
loving and righteous heavenly Father. That the 
words of Jesus on this subject, and still more, the 
record of those words, given us from memory, and 
written probably several years at least after they 
were spoken, should bear the form and color of the 
ideas current at the time would be inevitable. 
So far as the teaching of Jesus differed from the 
faith common among the people where he was, we 
must hold that it was derived from, and based on, 
the firm conviction of the love and power of the 
heavenly Father, and thus it will have great value 
for us, whose faith must be derived and based in 
the same way. 

64. We should believe that the personal 
existence of those who have been striving for 
righteousness in the earthly life will be continued 
after the death of the body and forever afterward.— 
We know that the visible, tangible human body 
disintegrates after death, and its dust is often 
scattered to the winds or waters, or taken up into 
the life of vegetation. It is of no value to believe 
that the particular atoms of matter which compose 
the body at the moment when it dies shall be 
gathered together, restored to their former shape, 
and revitalized at some future time. But it is 


of great value to believe that in some form we 
shall continue to exist, to think and love, remember 
and act, to be able to recognize friends, to enjoy 
beautiful things. And we have no sufficient 
reason for denying that this will be the case for 
those who have come into harmony with the Power 
that governs the universe—who have been yielding 
themselves to the control of the Spirit of God. 
So far as experience goes, the evidence is at best 
negative. We have not yet sufficient evidence to 
say that we know that human life continues 
after the death of the body, although the psychic 
phenomena which point to such a continued 
existence are many and are being carefully investi- 
gated by some of the great scientists. It is con- 
ceivable that within a century or less we may have 
conclusive evidence that the soul or spiritual 
nature of man continues to exist after the body’s 
decay. At any rate, no one can bring evidence 
to the contrary. The strongest reason for doubting 
this, so far as science is concerned, is the very close 
relation which we know to exist between our 
mental nature, thoughts, feelings, etc., and our 
physical constitution, brain, and nervous system. 
But, as Professor James has suggested, it may well 
be that the nervous system is more like a great 
window of colored glass which lets only a part of 
the outer light into the temple, than like the lamp 
which is the source of the light which illumines it, 


and that when our minds shall be freed from the 
limitations of the nervous system, they will be 
far more active and powerful than they are now, 
instead of being destroyed. In any case, there is 
such an utter difference between thought and 
brain, between emotion and nerve-currents, that 
we cannot hold the destruction of the sensorium to 
prove the annihilation of the personality. 

Everyone will easily recognize the fact that it 
would be a great encouragement to one who was 
sacrificing opportunities of pleasure, putting forth 
great effort, and perhaps wearing out or even 
destroying (as in martyrdom) the body, for the 
sake of the development of the highest character, 
and the showing of the truest faith in God and 
love for man, to believe that all that had been 
attained in this struggle would be preserved; that 
instead of the human organism which decayed, 
a still better vehicle for the impression and expres- 
sion of the character would be supplied. It is 
certain, then, that the faith in immortality for 
those who were good, or becoming good, would 
have a good effect upon character. 

This faith, however, is indissolubly connected 
with our faith in God. If, as we believe, mankind 
has been created by a Being with the character 
which Jesus showed, and with this fundamental 
purpose in view, that beings might be developed 
who should freely love God and each other, and 


gain characters like that of God, then it is incon- 
ceivable that God would permit those who have 
been gaining such characters by the help of his 
Spirit to die utterly. It is inconceivable that such 
a God should have permitted Jesus to live and die 
as he did, if his death was the end of his existence; 
and also that if Jesus continues to live, those whom 
he loves, and who love him on earth, shall fail of 
opportunity to live on and become more like him, 
after the brief course of earthly life is completed. 
The fundamental argument of Jesus for the truth 
of the resurrection was the power of God—“‘ God is 
not the God of the dead, but of the living’”’—that 
is, those whom he loves, and who love him cannot 
die. Even Socrates, more than four hundred 
years before Christ, said, ‘The gods cannot neglect 
the affairs of the righteous man,” and expected 
immediately after his death to be with the happy 
spirits. Kant showed that we require belief in 
immortality in order to justify us in obeying our 
consciences. The value of this belief, then, must 
be admitted by all who find any value in life at all. 

65. We should believe that if there be any 
person who becomes utterly bad, or so hopelessly 
bad that there is no possibility of his repenting and 
becoming righteous, his life will cease at the death 
of the body, or at some time afterward, when the 
evil nature of his character is consummated.— 
There are, in our experience, some reasons for 


thinking that some people refuse the good and 
choose the evil so often that their characters 
become in time quite insensitive to every higher 
motive and divine influence, that they destroy 
entirely their ability to distinguish between right 
and wrong—the “‘sin against the Holy Spirit” 
or “unpardonable sin” against which Jesus so 
solemnly warned those who attributed his works 
of love to the spirit of evil. But we know so 
little of the power of God, and of the conditions 
of the future life, that we cannot say positively 
that there is any human being whom God’s love 
will ultimately fail to reach and win. We may 
hope that he will accomplish this purpose of salva- 
tion in the case of everyone, but we cannot be 
sure. From the loving, righteous character of 
God, however, we may be very confident that he 
will take no pleasure in the suffering of anyone 
whom he has created, nor allow anyone to suffer 
except in so far as the suffering aids in the accom- 
plishment of his purpose of salvation. We can- 
not conceive that it would be of any value to other 
men to have the absolutely bad tormented forever 
and ever, or even continue to exist at all, nor 
can we imagine that this would be of any value 
to God. On the other hand, we must hold that 
such eternal torment is absolutely contrary to 
the nature of a God who is loving, as well as just 
and righteous. 


It is a still more cruel and degrading conception 
of God to hold that he will torture people forever 
and ever because they fail to believe certain 
doctrines of which they may or may not have 
heard, but which, in any case, were not presented 
to them in such a way as to make their acceptance 
either absolutely unavoidable, or else a final test 
of character, so that none could reject them except 
those who rejected everything good. In the past, 
when the conception of God centered in the thought 
of his majesty and might, and when there was no 
question about his revelation of himself and his 
will, and it was thought that the least sin, because 
it was against an infinite God, constituted an 
infinite insult to, or crime against, the majesty of 
God, which deserved an infinite punishment, it 
was possible for good people to believe in the 
eternal torment of both wicked and “unbelievers.” 
But for those who accept the teachings of Jesus 
about God as the loving, heavenly Father of all 
men, it becomes a very serious contradiction in 
faith to believe such a doctrine, and all such would 
abandon it if they did not think that the teaching 
of the Bible required them to believe it. It seems 
to us that the Bible teaching on the subject is 
capable of a very different interpretation, and, 
in any case, we must rather believe that God is 
the greatest and the best possible Being, and 
will act consistently with his character, than to 


accept any contrary interpretation of Scripture 
about him. 

66. We should believe that the life after death 
is somewhat similar to our earthly life, and that it 
commences at the point of development reached at 
death and makes progress from that point on.— 
The reasons which we have found for believing 
in the continuance of life after death require that 
this life should be somewhat similar to the earthly 
life. If righteous character is of value, we must 
suppose the character to continue. But this 
means that the reason and memory must continue, 
at least, and that there must be some experiences 
in the future life for which the present experiences 
form a preparation. The article of the Creed 
which maintains faith in “the resurrection of the 
body” signifies not so much the idea that the 
future life shall find expression in bodies formed 
of the same atoms as those which composed it at 
the time of death, as that we are to have a life 
just as real and full, at least, as the one which we 
know now, and to which the body with all its 
organs and senses is so necessary. So we should 
believe that we shall have powers of perception not 
less varied and valuable than the present senses 
of the body, and we cannot imagine such except 
in some real physical form, not altogether dis- 
similar to our present bodies. Paul’s teaching 
about the future life was that it was to be in bodily 


form, but in bodies different from, and superior 
to, those we know here. Our faith in God would 
require us to believe that the future life is in no 
way inferior to our present life, but rather in 
various ways superior. Of course we cannot 
describe those ways, since we have no experience 
of them. 

As character, in our experience, is always 
developed by gradual stages, we have no right or 
reason to think that when the body decays we 
shall suddenly become perfect in character, or 
make any tremendous leap forward all at once. 
We may well think that in the future life some of 
the temptations of the present will be wanting, 
and that there will be, perhaps, a segregation, at 
least of those who are worst in character, so 
that conditions for becoming good will be more 
favorable in some respects. But it certainly is 
not the best form of life of which we can think, 
that there should be no further test or development 
of character in the ages which we hope to live 
after this brief life is over. And so we cannot 
think that we either cease to grow, or attain 
completeness, at the hour of death. There is no 
reason why we should not expect to grow in 
knowledge and skill as well as character in the 
future life, as we do here, and to continue from the 
stage where we here leave off. 


67. We should believe in both a heavenly state 
and place for those who love God and man, follow- 
ing this earthly life, but should not attempt to 
determine either the conditions or the location of 
this life definitely —The earlier pictures of heaven 
were of a place of delight to the senses, where 
everything was beautiful, golden, crystal, and 
where everything which could please the senses 
abounded—splendor, music, fruits of all kinds, etc. 
And in the days before the revolution of the earth 
on its axis, and the form and conditions of the 
stars and planets, were understood, it was thought 
that this beautiful heaven was to be found some- 
where in the sky above us, among or beyond the 
stars. Knowledge of astronomy, leading to the 
conclusion that the “‘sky above us” is really the 
space about the earth in every direction, compelled 
the abandonment of the idea that we could tell 
definitely just where “‘heaven” is. It is never- 
theless true that the only existence of which we 
know or which we can imagine is existence in 
space, and in some particular part of space. If, 
then, we believe that good people continue to live 
and to associate with one another, we must think 
of this as taking place in some particular location 
or locations, but whether this shall be on earth or in 
the air, or on some planet or star, we have no rea- 
son for guessing. It may be that we shall be free 
to roam through the uttermost regions of the uni- 


verse, but even then we should not want to be quite 
homeless and with no place in which to expect to 
find our friends. It is helpful, then, to continue to 
use the word heaven to indicate the place in which 
the good shall meet each other in the future life. 

But it has also become apparent, from our 
experience, that no outward surroundings can fully 
determine our mental conditions, either of happi- 
ness or of misery; and so it is evident that the most 
important meaning of the term heaven is that of a 
happy condition of spirit, with the opportunities for 
enjoying friendship and expressing love continued 
and improved. Our own characters, then, and 
those of the people with whom we associate, will be 
the most important conditions of future happiness, 
and we may expect the outward surroundings to be 
suitable to the inner, and both to be better than we 
can imagine here. Browning’s lines: 

All we have ever hoped or dreamed of good, shall exist, 
Not its semblance, but itself, 
are the expression of the highest faith in God and 
for man. 

68. We should believe that God is constantly 
judging us according to our character and motives, 
but not that there will be any set time, as, for 
example, the hour of death, for the judgment of the 
individual, or a specific judgment day for the 
judgment of all who live and have lived, or of the 
nations.—If, as we believe, God knows all about us, 


our past lives, our thoughts, and our motives, then 
he is constantly judging us, and giving us, not so 
much what we deserve as what is best for us, in 
view of his infinite love and knowledge of our 
needs. As people die at all stages of the develop- 
ment of character—when it is just beginning as 
well as when it seems to have taken permanent 
form, to have crystallized or hardened--we cannot 
think that a righteous God would make the eternal 
condition of happiness or misery dependent on the 
stage which a person had reached at death. We 
may well say that the whole future life is to some 
extent determined by the state which we have 
reached at any particular time, as it cannot be 
uninfluenced by it, and must always go on from 
what has been gained at any time; but as we have 
seen that we must believe in development after 
death as well as before, there seems to be no 
sufficient reason for holding that the moment of 
transition from the bodily life to what may lie 
beyond should be of such terrible significance. 
Apart from the better ideas of God’s ways of deal- 
ing with men and determining their destinies, 
it is contrary to our conception of justice to think 
that the events of human life, or perhaps of only 
the last few minutes of it, should determine for 
any man either an eternity of unblemished bliss 
or one of unmitigated suffering and horror. That 
faith in God which says that such a judgment is 


inconceivable is far truer than that which believes 
that it will come because some metaphorical 
writings which men have imagined to literally 
reveal God’s will without error seem to teach such 
a thing. 

As individuals are constantly being judged 
and rewarded or punished according to their deeds, 
so, in a true sense, are nations also. The nation 
in which principles of selfishness, luxury, vice, and 
cruelty prevail is already judged and being punished 
by decay of health and character. The nation in 
which the principles of altruism, righteousness, 
and purity prevail is also judged and is being 
rewarded by increase of power and prosperity. 
Probably the principal meaning, and certainly the 
whole value of the biblical pictures of judgment 
scenes consist in this truth that individuals and 
nations will all be judged according to their lives, 
by the highest principles of action. And the real 
meaning of the doctrine that Jesus will be the 
judge of the whole earth is that the whole earth is 
constantly being judged and approved or con- 
demned by the moral principles which Jesus showed 
in his life. 

It should be noted that when we speak of 
national sin, guilt, and punishment we are using 
a very convenient figure of speech, which, how- 
ever, must not be taken literally, or we shall come 
into difficulty and confusion. Only individuals 


can sin or be guilty or be punished. ‘National 
sin” is sin which is common or prevailing in a 
nation, among the individuals which compose it, 
or wrong which is regarded as done by the nation 
in its corporate capacity, as by the government 
or army. The fact that each individual of a 
nation, and especially many innocent individual 
members of it, may suffer on account of such 
“national sins” has led to a too literal application 
of the terms guilt, punishment, etc., to such com- 
mon or prevailing sins. The deeper problems 
involved are considered in the general problem 
of evil and its meaning. (See section 38.) Here 
we are only considering what meaning there is in 
the idea of national judgment. 

The only imaginable value of a literal fulfilment 
of the visions of future judgment scenes would be 
to impress the justice or power of God on some 
onlooker, since God requires no such circumstances 
to determine the guilt or innocence of anyone; 
and to think of God as doing his judging and 
sentencing in the same way that men do, only 
on a larger scale, is to make his judgment an 
unspiritual and artificial thing, and to think of 
him as being under limitations like those of human 
judges and kings. And as there would be no 
indifferent onlookers in such a final judgment of 
the earth as that imagined, there is no conceivable 
value in thinking that such a spiritual vision will 


be literally fulfilled; and on the other hand, it is 
contrary both to the laws of space and time under 
which we live, and to the ways in which we know 
God to deal with men and nations. 

69. We should believe that the lives of men, 
both as individuals and as masses or society, will 
constantly improve under the influence of God’s 
Spirit working upon and through the lives of men, 
on earth, but not that there will be any sudden and 
supernatural events which will change the influence 
of God upon society from its spiritual form to that 
of force.—A careful consideration of God’s ways 
of making men good and bringing them into 
submission to his will, into the fellowship of his 
love, will show that they are fundamentally spiritual 
or ethical. It is true that God constantly rewards 
virtue of certain sorts with physical comfort or 
pleasure and punishes sins of certain sorts with 
physical pain; but it is to be noted that a person 
might abstain from the vices which bring physi- 
cal disease and pain and live the life tending to 
physical health and pleasure, from motives of pure 
selfishness and without developing a good charac- 
ter at all. It is the voluntary obedience to the 
voice within, irrespective of outward consequences, 
the choosing of the higher motives because they 
are higher, and not from any other compulsion, 
the yielding to the attraction of the righteous and 
loving person, not because of some reward or 


punishment of a physical sort that is expected 
or feared, which develops true character. Jesus 
refused to convince his hearers of his divine 
authority by wonderful deeds, because the only 
real ground of his authority was the righteousness 
and truth of what he taught and enjoined, and 
that authority appealed directly to the reason 
and conscience of those who listened to him. 
The obedience which follows only upon physical 
compulsion of some sort has no element of real 
righteousness in it and develops no valuable 

These considerations lead us to the conclusion 
that the ways in which God has hitherto taught 
men and helped them to become good will never 
be superseded, as they are the best, and indeed the 
only imaginable ways in which the kind of life 
which God desires could be developed. We must 
therefore conclude that the apocalyptic pictures 
of a millennium in which all evil will be forcibly 
removed and subdued, and good will reign by 
force and not by the free acceptance by men of the 
principles of goodness, belong to an age when God’s 
ways were not clearly understood and, as literal 
prophecies of the future, must be abandoned by 
those who have received God’s fuller revelation. 
If, as some Christian people hold, particularly 
because they think the Bible teaches it, the world 
is growing continually worse, then it is evident 


that the work of Jesus and the Spirit of God is 
unsuccessful in the world; that the kingdom of 
God is not coming and spreading as yeast in the 
meal, or as seed growing in the ground, but is 
being more and more defeated; and that the 
methods which God has been using to bring the 
world to himself are not adapted to the most of 
mankind. But this is really to give up our faith 
in a Christlike God. For the methods which 
Christ used and set in motion for the salvation 
of society were moral and spiritual, and if God is 
like Jesus we must think that he would certainly 
make use of the most effective methods of saving 
the world, and would also use the methods which 
Jesus used. To hold that the kingdom of God 
could be established only by supernatural and non- 
ethical, non-moral means is to deny the teaching 
of Jesus and the value of his life and work. 
To hold that the world is constantly growing 
worse, in spite of the influence of the Holy Spirit 
and the efforts of the disciples of Christ and the 
children of God, is to take a most discouraging 
view of the power of God and of Christianity, and 
of the value of missionary and general efforts for 
the improvement of society in all ways. It tends 
to make people regard all efforts for the bettering 
of social conditions, and improvement of the gen- 
eral standards of morality as useless, and has 
kept many people from co-operating in such work. 


Besides, this view ignores the plain facts of history. 
It is only the most prejudiced who can fail to see 
that there has been great progress and improve- 
ment in the conditions of mankind, not only 
materially, but also morally and spiritually, since 
the time of Christ; and although doubtless “evil 
men and seducers” are waxing worse and worse, 
yet the masses of men are becoming better and 
the possibility of living human life according to 
Christian principles is yearly becoming greater 
and clearer. There has probably been no decade 
since the time of the apostles when Christians 
have not seen the signs of the “last days” in the 
events about them, “wars and rumors of wars,” 
calamities, and impostors of all sorts, and what was 
taken for apostasy and the teaching of the “‘anti- 
Christ.” But the looked-for supernatural events 
of the return of Jesus literally in the clouds and 
glory, and the establishment of his reign on earth 
in outward visible form, have not yet come. The 
failure of the prophecies of those who thought it 
of more importance to calculate from the obscure 
language of Daniel and Revelation, as to just 
when these supernatural events should come, and 
to prepare their “ascension robes,” rather than to 
help make the Spirit of God, the spirit of loving 
service, regnant in all the affairs of human life, has 
shown how they have misunderstood the gospel 
and its fundamental principles. 


We need not concern ourselves with the final 
end of human life upon the earth. Probably life 
on the earth will at some time come to an end, 
although that may well be millions of years hence, 
but when it comes, it will doubtless come in the way 
that God sees best, and probably in a “natural” 
way, aS God probably does everything in natural 
ways, if we could only fully understand them. 
But however it may be, it will at worst be but a 
changing from the earthly life to the later form of 
life in a sudden way, earlier for some people than 
would perhaps naturally be expected; and it would 
be nothing more to be feared than the familiar 
forms of death which surround us. If God re- 
vealed his very nature in Christ, then the one who 
has the Christian faith has nothing to fear but 
everything to hope for, in the future. The Chris- 
tian faith is the purest and most concrete form of 



“How then shall they call on him in whom they have 
not believed ? and how shall they believe in him whom they 
have not heard? and how shall they hear without a 
preacher ? and how shall they preach except they be sent ?” 
—Rom. 10:14, 15¢. 

70. As the primary test of the best faith is the 
kind of character or life which it will produce, so the 
absolutely essential expression of the best faith is 
the life of loving service to men.—There are two 
dangers with regard to religious faith. The first is 
that a man may profess to believe something and 
even fancy he does believe it, when it really is little 
more than a form of words to him, and if you should 
make a plain application of his professed faith to 
his life, at some sensitive point, he would, if honest, 
acknowledge that he did not believe what he had 
thought he did. But the other danger, which is 
probably the more common one, is that a man 
should honestly believe some religious principle 
but have it so seldom in his mind and think so 
little about it that his life would show few or no 
results from it, or, in other words, that he should 
hold his faith only part of the time instead of all 
the time. 



So far as our actions are voluntary, they are 
determined by the thoughts and emotions that are 
in our minds when we act. A man strikes his wife 
because he is angry with her. He may at other 
times ‘love his wife—at such times he could not 
strike her. At one time the only thought in his 
mind is of something displeasing to him about his 
wife’s words or actions. Then he is angry and 
strikes. If at that moment his mind had been 
filled with thoughts of all the good things his wife 
had done, it would have been quite impossible for 
him to strike her. Thus one’s action is determined 
by the thought or the faith that he has at the time 
of action. 

As the idea has been so prevalent that when we 
have the right religious faith we are in some way 
safe, have some great advantage from it, we need to 
keep continually reminding ourselves that our faith 
is worth nothing except as it affects our life, and 
thus to be continually testing our faith by its 
fruits in life. 

As we have seen, the only life that would 
naturally spring or could possibly flow from the 
best faith is that which has for its determining 
motive love for God and men. But the love for 
men is the easier to test, and is even more essential 
than love for God as an evidence of a right devel- 
opment of character. For a man may honestly 
doubt whether there be a Christlike God, and 


therefore be unable truly to say he loves God, but 
no one who has learned to think rightly can doubt 
his duty to love and serve his fellow-men. If God 
be what Christians believe him to be, it would be 
impossible for a man to love him without loving his 
fellows, since love to men is the will and command 
of God, and the nature which would love God truly 
must be one which would love man truly. So 
we may be sure that one who does not love his 
fellows does not truly love God. But the con- 
verse is not true. One may love his fellow-men 
while, for a time, unable to believe in God. How- 
ever, in this case the man has. the character 
which would love God, and will, as soon as, 
through intellectual enlightenment, belief in God 
becomes possible. The life of love to men is 
therefore the necessary and only positive evidence 
of a saving faith. 

71. As the central principle of the best faith is 
belief in a Christlike God, its most direct expression 
will be in the form of personal communion or 
prayer.—In comparing this thesis with the last one, 
we note that the central principle is a different 
thing from the “primary test,” and that the most 
direct expression is not the same as its “absolutely 
essential expression.” If Jesus were with us today, 
and we really loved him, the most natural and 
direct expression of that love would be in our 
entering into personal touch and fellowship with 


him, if that were possible. And if we realized our 
need of health of soul or of body for ourselves or for 
our friends, and believed that he could give what 
was needed, it would be most natural that we should 
go to him and ask him for what we wanted. If, 
then, we really believe that God is in character like 
Jesus, and that we can speak to him, and have a 
real fellowship with him, even though he does not 
answer us in just the way other personal beings— 
those with bodies and mouths—do, and that he 
can give us and our friends the things which we 
need, it is most natural that we should seek for 
such fellowship and bring to him our requests. 
If we fail to do this, it must be because we doubt 
either the possibility or the value of such fellowship 
or favor. 

The principal value of prayer is to be found in 
the fellowship with God which it promotes, and 
which can be promoted in no other way so well. 
We shall consider in succeeding sections the subject 
of requests made in prayer, and reasons for expect- 
ing them to be granted. But since God loves us 
and knows our needs and desires without our 
expressing them to him in definite form, we shall 
not find the bringing of requests to God for the 
sake of getting favors, which we could not expect 
otherwise, the most important element in prayer. 
Many of the blessings thus asked for and granted 
would come to us if we did not ask for them, but 


in that case they would not promote in us the 
feeling of personal relationship between God and us 
which is of the highest value for the development of 
our faith and religious life. This sense of fellow- 
ship is to be promoted by the expression of adora- 
tion, praise, thanksgiving, and the confession of sin, 
as well as the asking for blessings which we need; 
and particularly the greatest and most important 
ones, which we are surest that it is in accordance 
with God’s will to grant—namely, those that con- 
cern the spiritual life most directly. And the 
answers to such prayers are to be found, not, for 
the most part, in mystical experiences or unusual or 
supernatural events, but in those familiar experi- 
ences which we have learned to know as the only 
sure tokens of God’s dealings with us—namely, the 
arising of good thoughts, the development of high 
motives, the increasing of our love for all that is 
good, and the strengthening of our faith in God. 
These experiences seem to us so common and 
so natural that we often fail to recognize them 
as messages and blessings from God of the great- 
est value. Their value for us would be much 
greater if we did receive them as answers to our 
prayers, and as that reciprocation on God’s part 
of our expressions of love to, and fellowship 
with, him. 

It should be carefully noted that nothing else 
can take the place of prayer in thus promoting the 


sense of personal relationship with God. It is very 
true, from one point of view, that— 

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, 

Uttered or unexpressed, 
since God knows our desires and will grant them if 
they are for things which are really good for us, 
whether we formulate them in definite prayer or 
not. But if I fail to spend some time in definite, 
expressed prayer, and consider the having of good 
thoughts and desires sufficient, I shall certainly not 
strengthen but rather weaken my faith in God asa 
personal friend, whose fellowship I desire to cul- 
tivate as the greatest joy and privilege; and thus 
my religion is likely to decay and not to grow, for 
life and growth depend upon exercise and expression 
and will certainly cease without it. 

72. Since prayer to God presupposes true faith 
in God, including the belief that God wills every- 
thing that is best for men, everyone who prays 
should believe that his prayers are heard and 
answered in the highest and best way possible.— 
Strength of faith is often considered to be the chief 
requisite to prevailing prayer, but it is likely that 
truth of faith is at least as important. That is, in 
order to pray effectually and helpfully, we must 
realize the character of God to whom we pray, and 
our prayers must be suited to such a Person as the 
one to whom they are directed. Now, as we have 
seen, we should believe that God’s action in the 


universe is fundamentally determined by his loving 
character, and his action in relation to men must be 
thought of as completely determined by his desire 
for their highest good. Further, we must believe 
that God knows just what is for the highest good 
of men as no man can know it either for himself or 
for others. Hence we must believe, constantly, 
that all the events in the world for which God is 
responsible are the best that could possibly happen 
to men in view of all the conditions and circum- 
stances. When we pray, therefore, we must always 
pray ‘‘Thy will be done,” and desire, above all and 
including all, that God’s will for men should be 
accomplished. Our particular requests, therefore, 
must always have this provision expressed or 
understood: “If it be best,” or “If it be according 
to Thy will.” And then, since God is sure to do 
what is best, in so far as that is possible, we must 
regard the things which actually happen (in so 
far as they are God’s action) as the best that 
could happen, and believe that our prayers are 
answered and our requests in their real inten- 
tion granted. Thus we, if we have the right faith 
in God, should never speak of unanswered prayers. 
All of our prayers are answered, and our requests 
are granted if they are best and possible; and 
if they are not best, we would not want them; 
if they are not possible, we cannot expect them 
to be granted. 


73. We should understand that God’s power is 
limited in certain ways and should not ask God to 
do what we have good reason to believe he could 
not do.—Although we speak of God as almighty, 
that attribute is not to be taken to mean that he 
can do everything which can be imagined. It 
means rather that God can do whatever can be done 
which is in accordance with his character and will. 
We must therefore recognize some limitations 
which belong even to God’s action, and recognize, 
too, that there may be others of which we do not 

God is limited by reality or fact—he cannot 
make that which has happened not to have 
happened. He may have many ways which we 
cannot imagine of changing the expected course of 
events, so that our prayers with regard to the future 
might be granted, even though the forces which we 
know to be in operation would (without the modify- 
ing effect of some other force, which perhaps does 
not come into operation until we pray) bring about 
a contrary result. But we have no right to ask 
him to do anything which would clearly: involve 
the contradiction or reversal of what has actually 
occurred. He cannot change the fact that it has 

God is also limited by his nature and will. He 
has instituted certain methods of creation and 
support of the universe as the best if not the only 


possible ones. His methods are always consistent 
or uniform, not with the mechanical uniformity of 
a machine—at least not in all the departments of 
his activity—but with the consistency of the 
highest knowledge, wisdom, and justice, in which 
there can be no arbitrary action, but only that 
which follows from his loving and righteous char-_ 
acter. We have come, in the last century, to see 
that God’s ways in Nature are uniform; that he 
does nothing by magic, but all by what we call 
natural forces or means; that there is no such thing 
as a suspension of or interference with the forces of 
Nature, but that God always accomplishes his will 
in the physical universe by means of, and not in 
spite of, “‘natural forces.” If he moves a ship, it is 
either by wind or tide or engine. If he makes or 
keeps a man alive, it is always by means of the 
beating of the heart, the circulation of the blood, 
the breathing of the lungs, and never without 

In the realm of the spirit he also works in uni- 
form ways. We have a much less comp’*te under- 
standing of the laws of the mind and spirit than of 
the ways of matter, but we can trace their working 
to some extent. God brings people to repentance 
and makes them good through thoughts which 
come to them from words that are spoken or read 
or experiences which happen in the daily life. 
Doubtless there are other and less explicable ways 


in which he works upon the spirit, but we should 
not think that they are more divine because we 
cannot understand them. We should rather seek 
to understand them as fully as possible in order 
that we may come into the fullest harmony 
with them. 

One of the ways in which God is limited, which 
concerns us most directly, is by the freedom which 
he has given to man to choose good or evil. We 
have considered the reasons for this freedom and its 
value for man. We cannot expect that God will 
violate this freedom in answer to our requests— 
that he will make us or others what we and they do 
not choose to be made. He may, in answer to 
prayer, bring certain special influences to bear to 
make a higher choice easier or more evidently 
better, but not in such a way as to take away the 
power to make or refuse it. Probably if we under- 
stood the reason for all the limitations of God’s 
power, we should see that even these limitations 
were for our best good, and thus in accordance 
with the fundamental desire that the best—that is, 
God’s will—should be done. But we shall pray 
better as we pray more intelligently, and it is well 
for us to understand, so far as possible, the ways in 
which God accomplishes his will, and to make our 
requests in harmony with these ways. Thus will 
our requests be more frequently and clearly granted 
and our faith thereby strengthened. 


74. We should believe that prayer to God has a 
value for us and for the world which could not be 
gained in any other way, and should not hesitate 
to ask God to do anything which we believe may 
be according to his will—If, as we have seen, God 
is ready to do everything that is for the highest 
welfare of men, whether we pray to him or not, and 
knows the needs of men without our telling him, 
the question naturally occurs: Why should we 
then ask anything of God? What difference can 
it make whether we ask or not? We offer two 
answers to this question. In the first place, we 
may believe, although we cannot, perhaps, be sure, 
that a prayer which is the expression of an earnest 
desire may be a real force which is in this way 
placed at God’s disposal, to accomplish the thing 
asked for. As we know that there are many things 
which God does only through men—through the 
influence of human personality—we may say that, 
since that is the best way, therefore it is the only 
way in which God could accomplish certain things, 
since he must do them in the way he knows to be 
best. Of course if the result of our prayer is to 
make us willing and ready to go and do the thing 
we have prayed might be done, our prayer has 
enabled God to answer it as he might not otherwise 
have been able. But we are only beginning to find 
out the laws of thought, and it is possible that an 
earnest prayer, even when it makes no difference 


in what we are able to do toward its fulfilment, may 
yet be a force which will affect other minds far 
away, in ways that we do not yet understand, and 
perhaps may never understand—a force thus 
placed at God’s disposal and which he is able to use 
to accomplish his will as he uses the forces of 

But another difference which prayer makes in 
the situation, which we may all be sure about, is 
that it may change those who pray, and thus make 
it possible for God to give to them what, without 
their prayer, would not be good for them, and to do 
through them what, without the preparation of 
spirit which results from earnest desire and faithful 
communion with God, he could not do. It must 
thus be clear to every thoughtful person that 
earnest prayer for spiritual blessings must at least 
result in blessing to the one who prays, and make 
him more able to help others. The effect of 
prayer, then, is not to change God, but to change 
the one who prays so that God can do for him and 
through him what otherwise would not be done. 

We must say a word in answer to the question, 
“Ts it possible to think that a God whose power is 
shown in and through Nature, and never in opposi- 
tion to, or interference with, it, and whose action 
always follows regular principles or laws, can 
nevertheless in some way manipulate the forces of 
Nature and of mind so as to accomplish results in 


a personal rather than a mechanical way, and do 
things in answer to requests, which are not merely 
the psychological effect of the prayer upon the one 
who prays, and which yet would not have occurred 
without the prayer?” Our answer will be twofold. 
First, we certainly cannot give a positive No to 
the question about God’s real, personal use of 
physical nature to accomplish special purposes. 
We may not be able to understand how he could do 
so, and yet there are so many events in physical 
nature which have actually occurred after special 
prayer, and which seemed most improbable, when 
the prayer was offered, that it would be difficult 
and unscientific to maintain positively that they 
were all mere coincidences. And further, the realm 
of mind is so different from that of matter that it 
seems still more probable that God’s thought may 
act directly on the minds of men, and thus prompt 
them to do things which they otherwise would not 
do. We should notice, on reflection, that a very 
large proportion of our prayers for things which 
were not primarily “‘spiritual benefits” might be 
answered if our prayers should result in thoughts 
being put into the minds of those who otherwise 
would not have them. 

Our second answer to this question is that prayer 
would be eminently worth while, even were its 
results no other than those which we are sure do, 
and must, naturally follow it, for they are results 


of the highest importance and could probably be 
reached in no other way. 

Finally, as a volume could not say all that 
might well be said on this subject, we must con- 
clude this discussion with the principle that the 
natural expression of faith in a heavenly Father 
is prayer, and we should not let our ignorance as 
to how he might be able to grant requests hinder 
us from making them, unless we are quite sure 
that from their nature they are requests which 
he cannot grant. The greatest blessings which we 
can desire from God are those which strengthen 
and purify the character, and these are the ones 
which we are sure would be according to his will, 
and for which we have the clearest evidence that 
they are given in answer to prayer. 

75. We should acquire and strengthen the 
thoughts and feelings belonging to the best faith 
by the constant use of the Bible and of such other 
literature as is most helpful to this end.—We need 
not here repeat what has been said about the value 
and use of the Bible in chapters ii and iii. But we 
need to call attention to the fact already noticed, 
that, in order to make religious faith effective in life, 
we must be constantly thinking of the different 
elements of our faith and how they would apply to 
the various problems of our life. For this purpose 
experience shows us that no other book compares 
with the Bible in value, for a large part of it is 


concerned with relating how the highest faith has 
determined life under various circumstances and 
thus it will suggest to the man with an open mind 
and sensitive heart how he should apply his faith 
to the ever-changing circumstances of his life. 

We have no right, however, to confine our time 
to the Bible when there are other books which meet 
needs not completely met in the Bible. The most 
direct message from God to the people of any time 
is that which comes in the language of that time 
and is applied specifically to the conditions of that 
time, and we must hear God’s voice just as clearly 
in the messages of the prophets of today as in those 
of past centuries. 

76. We should regularly unite in public worship 
with some part of the organized church, thus 
recognizing and expressing the social nature of our 
faith and receiving the advantages made possible 
by the common worship of those who have a 
common faith.—True religion involves recognition 
of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all 
men. It is therefore very important that this 
principle of brotherhood should be recognized most 
clearly in our worship, in which we express our 
highest thoughts and feelings about God and to 
God. We must take every means of uniting the 
law of love to God with that of love to men in order 
to have a complete religion. The expression of our 
faith in, and love for, God and men should thus be 


made in company with others who have the same 
faith and love, that each may be encouraged and 
inspired by the sympathy and co-operation of the 
rest, and that the unity of Christians which is 
believed in may thus be visibly set forth. Where 
“two or three” are met together in the name of 
Jesus, his spirit is present with them. It is just as 
truly present where one alone worships God, but 
the presence of another with the same purpose and 
faith makes the feeling of his presence stronger. 
Where it is a struggle to hold a faith or stand for a 
principle, everyone who stands with me helps to 
confirm my faith and make my struggle for 
righteousness more effectual. We must therefore 
regard the ‘‘assembling of themselves together”’ of 
those who have a common faith and purpose, for 
common worship, of very great importance from 
this standpoint alone, even if there were no other 
advantage: that thus they show themselves in 
sympathy with each other and are united in their 
outward expression of the thoughts and feelings 
which make them one in spirit. In the church, 
then, it should be true that “the rich and the poor 
meet together”; that all classes unite themselves 
in sympathetic voicing of their belief in, and 
thanksgiving to, the God who is no respecter of 

Besides the great value of the public recognition 
of social fellowship with others, the actual forms 


and instruments of public worship have great value 
in promoting feelings of adoration and love to God 
and sympathy with men. The sound of many 
voices united in reading the words of Scripture 
or offering prayer or singing praise, with what 
assistance may be added by choir and organ, should 
do much toward arousing our deepest and best 
emotions, and affect us in ways in which we cannot 
be affected by our private or family worship. 
These latter are of the highest importance, but they 
do not give us all we need. Those who have 
charge of public worship should do everything 
possible to make it inspiring and uplifting, and 
those who come to enjoy it should also take their 
share in it, so that the value which should belong 
to it shall really be gained. We should abandon 
the idea of coming to church just for the sake 
of something new or entertaining in either ser- 
mon or music. The primary function of church 
“services” is the common expression of worship, 
and this should be at least one of the govern- 
ing motives for our regular attendance on them. 
It would be very easy for any intelligent man to 
find sermons which he might read at home, which 
will be better than the average to be heard at 
church; and in many homes, as well as in other 
places outside the church, music of a greater 
artistic value may be heard and rendered than 
will be found in most churches. But none of 


these things can take the place of sincere public 

We have spoken of the “organized” church. 
This does not refer to any particular form of 
organization. It should be apparent, however, 
that, in order to have regular and helpful gather- 
ings for public worship, some form of organization 
must and will inevitably arise, and the practical 
question is only how we may find the most helpful 
form for such organization. All attempts to avoid 
“sectarianism” and “formalism” by withdrawing 
from the organizations of believers already in 
existence result in the arising of new sects and new 
forms. We have no acquaintance with any life 
without organs—some real form of organization, by 
whatever name it may be called—and religious life 
is no exception to this rule. Without some form of 
organization, however loose, no men will do any- 
thing together or work in harmony. The problem 
is, as we have said, to find the form of organization 
which will best suit the purpose in view, and then 
to have such life within the forms of organization 
as will make each organ do its part in the best way. 

77. We should receive for ourselves and help to 
give to everyone else the best possible instruction 
in the principles of the best religious faith, through 
the organized church.—It is possible that the time 
may come again, as it has been in the past, when 
there shall be such a general agreement as to the 


principles of the best religious faith, the highest 
form of religion, in given communities, that 
instruction in the fundamental teachings of religion 
may be given by competent teachers in the common 
schools, where the so-called secular branches of 
knowledge are taught. That time is probably to be 
desired, but by no means to be forced, and when it 
comes, the teachers of religious truth must not be 
limited to the expression of any exactly formulated 
views, but must be as free to teach what they 
believe to be the truth as teachers in other depart- 
ments are to teach what they believe to be true. 
Doubtless textbooks and “authorities” will be 
used, but as guides and assistants rather than 
ultimate canons which are not to be questioned in 
any way. 

But until in any given community there shall be 
practical unanimity of opinion in regard to the 
general principles of religion and the wisdom of 
such teaching of all pupils together, the organized 
church must bear the responsibility for specifically 
religious instruction. The foregoing pages, we 
hope, have made clear the importance of having the 
right ideas with regard to God and his relations to 
man, and it should be evident that people will not 
come to these ideas spontaneously and without 
study and instruction. The highest religious 
truths which we know have come to us as the 
result of thousands of years of progressive revela- 


tion by God, and study, meditation, discussion, 
and experiment on man’s part; and it is just as 
important that the valuable results of past ages of 
toil in the realm of religious thought should be 
preserved and handed down to the future genera- 
tions, as that the knowledge of any other sciences 
should be thus preserved and transmitted. 

It is of the first importance, then, that the 
different organized churches should each take its 
share in solving the tremendous problem of giving 
to each child proper instruction in the highest 
subjects, religion and morals, while the state 
arranges for instruction in the less important 
branches in which there is little difference of 
opinion about what should be taught. 

The sermon in the church should have con- 
stantly something of the element of instruction in 
it, although its principal function is inspiration, the 
confirming of faith, and the assisting of worship. 
The Sunday school is at present the best instrument 
of instruction which the church has, although it is 
yet exceedingly inadequate for its task and needs to 
be improved and supplemented. But the realiza- 
tion of the responsibility and necessity of this work 
must be more general and deep before it will be 
properly done. Let all Christians unite to see that 
this duty of instruction is fulfilled in the future as it 
never has been in the past, as a work of the highest 
social and religious importance. 


78. We should take our share in the work of the 
church to promote the strongest love in all men for 
one another and to encourage all true forms of 
social service.—The doctrine of the brotherhood 
of all men has spread from the Christian church 
into various organizations and groups of society 
not directly connected with the church. This is a 
hopeful sign of the times and yet its value may be 
overestimated. It should be recognized that the 
idea of universal brotherhood has no great depth 
or significance to it until it has become a funda- 
mental principle of life, or in other words a matter 
of religious faith. It must be related to the ‘‘ world- 
view”? and applied so as to determine the aims, 
activities, and relations of life. When the brother- 
hood of man is given such a place in life it must 
be one of the two fundamental principles of the best 
faith, and with the other principle of belief in the 
fatherhood of God must yield, when it is thoroughly 
applied to all the conditions of life, an ideal state of 
society, the ‘kingdom of God.” 

Neither in history nor in theory can be found 
a higher and better way of making the thought of 
the brotherhood of man a real and determining 
element in the organization of human life than 
by giving it its place with faith in the heavenly 
Father. The implanting of this twofold faith in 
all men is the highest and fundamental work of 
the church. 


The cry is common today that we need 
“practical religion” and that organizations for social 
service, for caring for the sick, ignorant, poor, un- 
fortunate, and delinquent, and improving in every 
way the social and political conditions, are showing 
this practical religion far more than the church is 
doing. This cry is a healthy reaction from the 
idea that religion has no concern for society or for 
the affairs of the earthly life, but almost if not quite 
exclusively for preparing the few who should accept 
the true religion for the life beyond the grave. 
Nevertheless this cry has gone to the other extreme 
and brought about a dangerous situation in society. 
It has forgotten that faith always goes before 
practice and that the life which involves self- 
sacrifice for the good of others will never be lived 
long without a strong religious faith as its basis. 
It has also failed to realize that although the 
churches as organizations are not directly con- 
ducting the larger part of these works of “practical 
religion” they would not be possible at all with- 
out the spirit, the money, and the labor of those 
who belong to the church or at least have grown 
up under its influence. These benevolent enter- 
prises and works of social improvement cannot be 
maintained without much self-sacrifice; and it 
ought to be clear to everyone, in this age of selfish- 
ness, money-loving, and pleasure-seeking, that the 
spirit of self-sacrificing altruism will not spring up 


spontaneously in every breast, but must be care- 
fully propagated and instilled into the life-principles 
of the children and youth if it is not to die out, and 
civilization perish in its luxury and cruel selfishness. 

It is, then, one of the first duties of every lover 
of mankind to take his share in the work of some 
religious organization to educate the coming gen- 
erations and maintain so far as possible the pres- 
ent generation in the religious faith which shall 
keep alive and make universal the spirit of loving 
service to humanity, without which that service 
must soon die. 

79. The primary work of the church as an 
organization is to maintain public worship and 
education in religion and morals, and it should 
undertake to organize and control particular forms 
of social improvement and service only when local 
circumstances make this advisable.—It has been 
well said that ‘“‘sound administration is the only 
sound philanthropy: other philanthropies are only 
plasters on sores.” It seems almost certain that 
when a fair approach is made to the best forms of 
social and political organization, carried out by, 
and applied among, people properly educated both 
intellectually and morally, there will be very little 
need of the many philanthropic enterprises which 
are now doing such a valuable and necessary work 
for even the most progressive and enlightened 
nations. When that time shall come, the influence 


of the church will be not less but far greater than it 
.is today. Its primary functions of maintaining 
religious worship and education will be just as 
necessary as ever, and they will be performed very 
much more thoroughly than now. But that time of 
ideal social organization is a good distance off still, 
although it seems to be approaching with very 
hopeful rapidity; and in the meanwhile there are 
many works for the promotion of social welfare 
which must be maintained by voluntary effort 
actuated by the Christian spirit. Many churches 
have done a great deal to improve social conditions 
in their parishes by so-called “institutional” 
methods. They have established gymnasiums, 
baths, reading-rooms, employment agencies, and 
other instrumentalities for meeting the special 
needs of the community, which were not otherwise 
met. Aside from the immediate value of these 
things to the community, they have had this great 
value, that they promoted in the church the feeling 
of responsibility for, and interest in, the rest of the 
community, and gave expression to the love for 
men which belonged to the religion; and they also 
proved to the community that the church was really 
interested in its highest welfare, and that its religion 
was thus genuine and valuable, and so attracted 
outsiders into the church and promoted the spirit of 
unselfishness in the community as a whole. There 
are and doubtless will for many years be many 


communities where such institutional methods 
would be a great blessing to both church and. 
neighborhood, and it is of the first importance that 
each church shall feel its responsibility to express 
its spirit of love, and in every possible way promote 
the best physical and moral conditions in the place 
where its work is carried on. Still the institutional 
church should not be regarded as the normal one. 
If the political, commercial, industrial, educational, 
and sanitary conditions are what the state or city 
should make them, extreme needs, the provision 
for which we have been describing, should not exist, 
and of course there are many places where they do 
not. And where they do exist, they may very 
often be much better met by organizations work- 
ing independently of any particular church, but 
supported by the interest, labor, and money from 
various churches rather than by the efforts of the 
churches individually. The Young Men’s Chris- 
tian Association is an institution for social service 
carried on by no particular denomination, and 
generally no particular church in a given place, but 
supported by the churches, and doing a work which 
in many cases it would be foolish and wasteful for 
the church to try to duplicate. Movements for 
temperance, political and social reform, etc., will 
generally best be carried on by people in whom the 
church has implanted the highest moral principles, 
in organizations independent of the church, where, — 


if it were attempted to have such movements pro- 
moted by the church itself, disagreement and strife 
would arise among the church members, and hurt 
its influence. The primary functions of the church 
should therefore always be clearly kept in mind: 
to furnish the power, but not necessarily the 
machinery for social improvement. And the 
policy of a given church organization should be 
determined by the needs of the community, what 
seems to be the best way of meeting those needs, 
and the measure of unanimity with which the 
church could take up a particular work for the social 
improvement of the community. 

80. The Holy Spirit is the only final authority 
for the church, and the form of organization of the 
church should be such as to promote the freest 
response to the guidance of God’s Spirit—We 
have already discussed the reasons why the Bible 
cannot be regarded as the absolute authority of 
the individual or the church. We shall hardly need 
argument to show that other teachings of men, 
whether of popes or councils, general assemblies, 
“fathers,” or saints, reformers, philosophers, or 
theologians, cannot be regarded as of absolute 
authority if the Bible cannot, whether their views 
are formulated in creeds, catechisms, or confessions, 
loci, institutes, or decrees. Neither can we regard 
Christ as such an infallible authority, if that means 
that we are to accept the human and fallible 


records of his words and deeds which have come 
down to us, as laws for our conduct and faith which 
are not to be examined, tested, or questioned. It 
should have become plain in our study that God is 
continually revealing himself and his truth to men, 
and that each generation and each man needs the 
direct guidance of God for itself and himself in 
order to have the best faith and live the highest 
life in the ever-varying conditions. 

For each particular local church organization 
or congregation, there are two classes of problems 
in both of which the church should be guided by the 
Spirit of God. The first class includes questions as 
to what should be believed and taught, and the 
second as to what should be done, the forms of 
worship, of organization, and of the expression of 
the spirit of Christ in the congregation and com- 
munity. With regard to both classes of problems 
there are two principles which must be most 
carefully guarded: the first, that of order, which 
would preserve what is good and helpful in past 
experience, and prevent arbitrary, ignorant, or 
careless innovation or confusion; and the second, 
that of free development and adaptation to ever- 
varying and changing conditions and increasing 
perception of truth. The former of these prin- 
ciples might be called conservative and the latter 
progressive. In the vast majority of churches, 
particularly in the more general forms of denomina- 


tional organization, the conservative principle is 
often applied far too extremely, and almost to the 
exclusion of the principle of progress. The more 
centralized and powerful the denominational con- 
trol is, the more difficult does progress become 
within the organization, so far as that involves 
change of any sort. For the officials at any given 
time have accepted the traditional forms of the 
past as a condition of receiving their positions and 
often owe their special power to their enthusiastic 
defense of them. With regard to the application 
of these two principles of order and progress to the 
expression and teaching of the fazth of the church, 
we shall speak more particularly in later sections, 
but will say here that where the individual con- 
gregation is a reasonably intelligent one, the utmost 
freedom which is at all consistent with common 
_ fellowship and co-operation should be allowed 
to it in both the formulation and the use of its 
articles of faith. It should have guidance from 
without but not compulsion. 

This same rule of guidance from without but not 
compulsion might well be applied to the order and 
forms of worship and the laws according to which 
the other activities of the individual Christian 
congregations are carried on. Neither by rules or 
commands imposed upon it from without nor. by 
laws incorporated in the trust deed of the church 
property or its constitution should the faith and 


activity of the local church be so limited that after 
careful consideration and general agreement they 
could not be modified to suit changing needs and 
fresher revelation of truth—to embody the direc- 
tions of God’s Spirit in its life. 

81. The form of organization of the church 
should be such as to promote the fullest fellow- 
ship and most effective co-operation between the 
different congregations and groups of Christian 
people.—There are great advantages to be gained 
by the local congregation from the wider view and 
knowledge and greater experience of those outside 
its immediate membership, and provision should be 
made for the fullest use of such advantages. The 
assisting of weaker congregations, establishing of 
churches where they are needed, evangelizing of 
non-Christian countries, and doing other works 
which belong to the church but cannot be well 
done by the individual congregations as such, must 
be provided for by the most effective possible 
relationship between the congregations. 

No gne can say just what the best way of 
combining the proper degree of autonomy of the 
local congregation with the most effective co- 
operation between different congregations will be. 
The Bible does not prescribe the polity of the 
church, and if it did its prescription would not 
necessarily be the word of God to this generation. 
The historical forms are not necessarily the best. 


A great many abuses have come to us through 
history and have existed alongside of real effective- 
ness in work and advancement of civilization and 
religion. And indeed history shows us the greatest 
variety in the methods of conducting Christian 
worship and work, all of which were useful. We 
must say that inasmuch as the forms of civil 
government, the social atmosphere and ideals, the 
conditions of society in respect to education, 
industry, housing, and other interests of life exist 
in the greatest variety and are constantly chan- 
ging, the most effective work of the church for 
humanity will require great elasticity and adapt- 
ability; and only experiment can determine what 
forms of .worship and procedure are the best for 
given situations. As a matter of fact, among 
the Protestant churches in English-speaking coun- 
tries there has been a marked movement on the 
part of those denominations having stronger cen- 
tral control toward greater freedom for the local 
congregation, and on the part of those denomi- 
nations where each local congregation was the- 
oretically completely autonomous, toward closer 
relations and more effective supervision by the 
larger organization. Thus the congregational 
churches (including Baptist, Disciples of Christ, 
and other denominations having congregational 
government) have been finding the local congre- 
gations too independent and isolated for the truest 


fellowship and most effective co-operation, and the 
episcopal and presbyterian churches have found 
that more freedom must be given to the local 
congregation to adapt itself to its environment and 
follow the guidance of the Spirit, and these different 
forms of church polity have been thus approaching 
each other. 

Finally, it should be said that the strong 
movement toward the reuniting of different sects 
or denominations of Christian churches, which is 
apparent and rapidly growing at the present time, 
is one of the most hopeful signs of the coming of the 
kingdom of God. The differences between their 
beliefs and methods are fast disappearing or at 
least diminishing under the influence of the higher 
and truer ideals, religious, moral, intellectual, and 
social. The loss to humanity arising from their 
continued separation and competition is incal- 
culable. The waste of effort and of money 
involved, while great and shameful, is probably 
of much less importance than the confusion of 
thought and unsympathetic attitude of heart 
which this lack of unity among those who wor- 
ship the same God and seek the same end 
causes. We believe that a careful and prayerful 
consideration of this principle of the guidance of 
the churches by the Spirit, and what it involves, 
must lead most directly to the church unity which 
is so desirable. 


82. The qualifications for membership in the 
church should be such as to make it possible for 
everyone who holds its fundamental faith in a 
Christlike God and in the life of love to all men, 
and shows his faith by his life, to enjoy full 
fellowship in its worship and work.—When we 
consider the real meaning of the term ‘‘member”’ 
—a part of a living body, as an arm or a limb—we 
realize that the members of a church must be those 
who are moved by the Spirit which guides or should 
guide the church, and that all who are under the 
control of the Spirit which rules the church are thus 
properly its members, and no others. But we have 
seen that the various details of the best faith and 
principles of activity which belong to it are all 
derivable from these two fundamental attitudes of 
faith in a Christlike God—in the God who revealed 
himself in Jesus— and love for allmen. Those who 
have and show in their lives this faith and love are 
united by bonds of sympathy and common purpose 
of far greater strength and significance than any of 
the customs or opinions which divide them, and 
they should learn to throw all their energy into 
the accomplishment of the great work which their 
faith gives to them, and waste none of it in per- 
petuating their differences by maintaining separate 
names and organizations. 

It is well for denominations and individual 
congregations to formulate for themselves state- 


ments of the different articles of their faith, from 
time to time, when this can be done in the spirit of 
love. Such confessions of faith or creeds, however, 
should not be used as tests in connection with any 
part of the life of the church, either of its member- 
ship or its ministry. They should not be regarded 
as final in form or absolute in value. The changes 
in the details of belief which the history of doctrine 
reveals should make every man humble in his view 
of the degree to which he has attained to a perfect 
understanding of final truth, and no one should do 
anything to hinder the people of later times from 
immediately applying such new phases of the truth 
as they should discover. Some diversity of views 
among thoughtful people is a thousand times more 
likely to lead to a real perception of the truth than 
a thorough conformity, and those whose lives are 
governed by the purpose to become Christlike in 
their faith in God and relations with men, are the 
best material for the membership of any church, no 
matter in how many minor ways they may differ. 

83. The pastors or ministers of the church 
should be such as have, in addition to the qualifi- 
cations proper to membership, such ability and 
preparation, intellectual and otherwise, as shall best 
fit them for their special duties.—It will hardly be 
necessary to say that the first qualifications for the 
ministry should be those of Christlike character. 
While we cannot expect it in perfect development, 


there must be present at least the germs of the 
character of Jesus and something of the “‘fruit of 
the spirit,” and this must be far enough in its 
growth to exclude the greater and coarser sins 
that are universally condemned and the presence of 
which in the life of a religious leader must be fatal 
to his influence. 

It is of very great importance to the life and 
progress of the church that its leaders shall be those 
with the peculiar talents and the special preparation 
which shall best fit them for their tasks. A 
preacher should have some gift of public utterance, 
naturally, and this should be carefully trained so as 
to enable him to inspire and instruct people in the 
best way, and so that he shall attract them to his 
church and they shall enjoy his sermons. For if 
they do not enjoy them, they are unlikely to hear 
them at all, even if present in the room. A teacher 
must first be thoroughly instructed himself in the 
truth which is to be taught, the difficulties which 
are likely to arise in the minds of his hearers in the 
reception of the truth, the special problems of the 
day to which the truth must be applied, and he 
must also have something of the gift as well as the 
training in method, to impart his knowledge to 
others, and help them to make it theirs. And a 
pastor must have the personal graces which will 
enable him to sympathize with people of all grades 
and classes, and win their confidence and affection, 


that he may help them in the best way. The most 
thorough possible preparation for the work of the 
ministry will not be superfluous even in the 
smaller fields of labor, and the entering upon the 
regular ministry of the church by those whose 
preparation is very partial or one-sided, or lacking 
altogether, although they may have a religious 
fervor or a gift of ready and interesting speech and 
even. a deep consecration, should be discouraged. 
In all other lines of work, the value and necessity of 
thorough preparation is recognized. It should be 
as fully recognized in the ministry. 

84. Ministers and candidates for the ministry 
should not be required to assent to definite, 
detailed statements of doctrine.—It is still a very 
common requirement, although a very dangerous 
and hurtful one, that ministers or candidates for 
ordination to the ministry should declare their 
belief in, and promise to teach a body of, doctrines, 
generally formulated some generations or even 
centuries in the past and stated in the language of 
discarded systems of thought. Many of the larger 
denominations of Christians are today in a very 
humiliating position in this use of their doctrinal 
standards. The best schools of theology no longer 
do or can teach all the forms of doctrine embodied 
in these confessions of the past, and the best- 
educated candidates for the ministry cannot give 
to them their hearty and unqualified assent. 


Sometimes they openly express their dissent and 
still, in spite of contrary rules, are ordained to the 
ministry. More often, probably, they accept the 
creed with ‘‘mental reservations” or with interpre- 
tations of it which they know to be essentially 
different from those intended by the framers of the 
creed and understood’ by many of the members of 
the church. 

There should probably be an examination of 
candidates for the ministry with regard to their 
faith as well as character and other qualifications. 
But this should be conducted by those who them- 
selves are the best trained in the knowledge of 
theology, and without requiring conformity to any 
statement of doctrine which has been either 
inherited from the past or arranged so as to con- 
tinue the traditional statements of belief, not be- 
cause they are true but because a departure from 
them would excite strife or opposition on the part 
of the conservative and uninformed elements in 
the church. The church of today needs to have its 
conscience quickened with regard to strict adher- 
ence to truth—to have a great deal higher desire to 
find and teach the truth, to accept what God is 
ready to teach her, than to cherish the beliefs which 
have been handed down by generations of pious 
but fallible mortals, regardless of whether God 
has shown to this generation something truer and 
better or not. It is a great deal better to be right 


than “orthodox” and to have a teachable mind 
than a fixed body of doctrine, however reverend 
from age and sacred associations. 

85. The church is the organization charged 
with the establishment of the kingdom of God on 
earth, and it must not rest until every human 
being has come into that kingdom and voluntarily 
accepted the rule of the spirit of Christ for his life.— 
Every organization which exists for the funda- 
mental purpose of promoting the life of love to one 
personal, righteous, loving God and to all men is 
properly a part of the church. Hence the church 
is the only organization or collection of organiza- 
tions which has this work to do for the world. 
But this work is the greatest conceivable work for 
humanity, and everything else that is good must be 
related to it or molded according to its principles 
before the highest conditions of human welfare can 
be attained. It must furnish the spirit and energy 
which shall make every work for the improvement 
of society possible and actual, and this must be 
primarily by propagating the best faith and 
illustrating its effects by the most loving and help- 
ful life. The mission of the church, then, is to all 
mankind, and it must be satisfied with nothing less 
than the salvation of every human being. This 
may not mean the disappearance from the world of 
all the religious customs and great names and 
forms of faith which are now considered as outside 


of, or opposed to, Christianity, but it will mean the 
expulsion from all forms of religion of everything 
false, base, and superstitious, the readjustment of 
emphasis on the various forms of religion so that 
the spiritual and essential shall be recognized as 
such and the addition to any existing form of 
religion of that which it lacks in order to meet the 
deepest needs of men and which may be found in 
other forms of religion. Whether this can be done 
without putting Jesus into the center of all religion 
as it is in Christianity, we cannot say for the 
coming millenniums, but we can at present imagine 
nothing else that would in any degree be a satis- 
factory substitute. This must mean finally, per- 
haps many centuries hence, perhaps sooner than 
we have faith to hope, that men everywhere will 
come to agree on the most important elements of 
faith and principles of life, and, under whatever 
name or form, to worship the God and Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ and receive from his Spirit 
and hold toward him that which shall truly be the 
best faith showing itself in the Christlike life. 


: Baie er Oy 

Faw ean 

r a? y 
re) eee a 


For general purposes it is very desirable that the 
student should have the Bible in the Revised Version. 
The marginal references will often be found very useful in 
finding other passages bearing on the same topics. 


Every student of Christianity should have access to, 
and if possible own, a good modern Bible dictionary. 
Well-equipped public or college libraries should have 
Hastings’ Bible Dictionary in five volumes, published by 
T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, and Scribner, New York. For 
students, a good one-volume dictionary will supply the 
most important needs. A Standard Bible Dictionary by 
Jacobus, Funk & Wagnalls, and Hastings’ one-volume 
Bible Dictionary by the same editor and publishers as the 
larger one, the articles, however, being much briefer and by 
different authors from those writing for the larger one, are 
both good. 


A good and complete concordance is a necessity in 
proper study of the Bible. Two good English concordances 
are Cruden’s and Young’s. The latter is more useful for the 
scholar and should be in institutional libraries. Cruden’s is 
cheaper and may be sufficient for private libraries. 

Nave’s Topical Bible, printed by Eaton & Mains, is 
better than any concordance in showing the Bible texts 
bearing on a given topic, as, to a large extent, the passages 
bearing on a given subject are printed in full. 

; 221 


Sir Oliver Lodge’s The Substance of Faith, Harper, New 
York, gives a very helpful view of Christian Doctrine from 
the standpoint of an eminent scientist. 


Two very good books for a deeper knowledge of Chris- 
tian doctrine in more technical form for Christians of today 
are Clarke’s An Outline of Christian Theology, and Brown’s 
Christian Theology in Outline, both published by Scribner. 
The latter is especially complete as a presentation of 
Christian teaching as it was developed and maintained in the 
past and modified by historical forces down to the present, 
showing the relation of present to past views of Christianity. 
A teacher using this textbook in a group would do well to 
make frequent use of one or both of these more technical 
books to supplement his own knowledge and develop his 


Some knowledge of other religions is necessary for 
the intelligent defender of Christianity today. For this 
purpose Barton’s The Religions of the World (University 
of Chicago Press) is very good. Another book of quite 
unique value, which gives a view only of the principal 
present-day rivals of Christianity, Mohammedanism, 
Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism, particularly in 
their present forms, and with a description of their results 
in social life is The Light of the World, by Robert E. Speer. 
It is written with the missionary interest predominant and 
is readily obtainable where missionary books are sold. 

References to other books are given in the following 

notes, and an extensive bibliography will be found in 
Brown’s book above referred to. 




It is strongly recommended that where this book is used 
as a class textbook the students be required to look up at 
least the Bible references given in the following notes and 
copy into notebooks enough of each passage so that its 
significance and bearing on the subject will readily be 
recalled. The student should also explain in his notes how 
the Bible passage bears on the topic under discussion, and, 
if there is any question as to its meaning, what interpretation 
seems the most reasonable. He should be encouraged to 
find other Bible passages bearing on the subject and report 
them in his notebook, whether they seem to confirm the 
positions taken in this textbook or to oppose them. For 
this purpose a good concordance and topical Bible will be 
found of great value. 

The questions and topics for further consideration may 
be used for essays, for reports assigned to different class 
members, for expansion in the notebooks, and for class 

For convenience, the notes are divided into chapters 
and sections corresponding to the foregoing text. 


1. Compare with definition of religion here given, 
definitions and discussions in dictionaries, encyclopedias, in 
introductory chapter of Menzies, History of Religion, etc. 

Bible references: Acts 17:22-31, especially vss. 26-28. 
See also references for section 2, and Luke 10: 25-28. 



For further consideration— 

(a) What illustrations can you give, from Christian 
churches, of overemphasis on one of the three phases of 
religion—emotional, intellectual, and volitional or ethical— 
to the neglect of the other two and injury of life? (6) 
Describe cases of which you know, of serious-minded people 
who have been called irreligious, and show (i) why they 
were so-called, and (ii) how they were really religious. (c) 
Is real irreligiousness anything more than a failure to take 
life seriously at all, an absence of principle, purpose, thought- 
fulness, a mere floating on the currents from day to day? 
(d) Name some of the most important values to individuals 
and to society of the best forms of religion which you know. 

2. The principles of the harmonious development of the 
individual life, the nature of the swmmum bonum, or highest 
good, the road to happiness, the relative value of. various 
forms of individual satisfaction and of the relation of the 
individual to others, are considered in treatises on ethics 
and cannot be discussed here at length. A careful study of 
ethics should, however, form a part of the education of every 
intelligent person. 

Bible references: Pss. 1; 15; 37:4, 9 ff., 91; Lev. 
26:3 ff.; Deut. 7:12 ff.; Prov. 3:7-10 and passim; Matt. 
5:I-10; 19:27-29; Mark 10:28-30; Luke 6:20-26; I 
Tim. 4:8; Rom. 14:17; I Cor. 10:23, 24; I John 3:7; 
Isaiah 1:11-17;  Ezek., chap. 18; Mic. 6:18; Matt. 
5:48; 7321; 22:37-40; 25:31-46; Rom. 232-16; I Cor., 
chap. 13; Jas. 1:27; 2:20; Rev. 21:8. These references 
indicate (1) the value of religion for the satisfaction of the 
individual in the various phases of his nature, physical and 
spiritual, and (2) the primary place of righteousness in true 
religion. Note that the Book of Job is concerned with the 
question why the righteous man sometimes endures great 


For further consideration— 

(a) Can we expect the best religion to enable every 
individual who accepts it to enjoy complete satisfaction in life, 
in its every aspect, even though it is lived among people 
many of whom have not accepted that religion; or must we 
judge religion from the standpoint of the individual, more 
from its tendency to give satisfaction and its principles of life, 
than from what it actually accomplishes in a given case? 
(6) Is the best way to judge of the value of a form of religion 
to consider its success in helping those who accept it toward 
righteousness? (c) What forms of religion do you know which 
have little or no concern for the promotion of righteousness, 
for the sake of society, but are concerned only with the gain- 
ing of individual satisfaction in one or more forms? 

3. On Buddhism and Mohammedanism, compare works 
of Menzies and Speer referred to in Appendix I. The social 
conditions resulting from these religions, as described by 
Speer, are peculiarly significant. 

For further consideration— 

(a) Read what you can from the Koran (in English 
translation) and compare it, or descriptions of it in other 
books, with the Bible. (6) Compare the most famous 
teachings of Gautama (the Buddha) with those of Christ. 
(c) What evils in social conditions have been approved by 
the church (Christian), or considerable portions of it, in the 
past, and what are still tolerated by it? (d) What is there 
in the form of worship, faith, or government of Christian 
churches which tends to maintain some of these unrighteous 
social conditions ? 

5. In looking up the references to show the nature of the 
teaching of Jesus, as well as in any study of the four gospels, 
it will be well to have in mind the following points. Many 
references to Matthew have duplicate or parallel passages 
in the other gospels. In order readily to see the parallel 


passages of the Gospels, it is very desirable to have a 
“Harmony of the Gospels” such as that of Stevens and 
Burton, published by the Association Press. The Gospels 
give us the accounts of the words of Jesus as they were 
remembered by those who had heard them or reports of 
them, and recorded a number of years after Jesus was gone 
from the earth. The words recorded are doubtless some of 
those which were most impressive and regarded by those 
who heard them as most significant and characteristic of his 
teaching. They were not fully understood by his disciples, 
still less, probably, by others to whom they were repeated; 
and thus doubtless they have been imperfectly and incor- 
rectly reported in some cases, in the Gospels as we have 
them. The Fourth Gospel was written much later than the 
others and probably represents the spirit of Jesus and the 
effect which his life had upon the thought of his disciples and 
the early church more vividly, while reproducing his actual 
words less accurately than the other gospels. 

Bible references: Matt. 5:1-12; 6:25-34; 11:2-6, 
16-19, 28, 29; Luke 5:29-35; John 4:14; 5:26; 5:40; 
6:35, 48; 10:10. See also some of the references for sec- 
tion 2. For works of bodily healing see the Gospels passim. 

6. Bible references: Matt. 5:38-48; 7:1, 2, 12, 16-20; 
Luke 6:38; John 13:35; Rom. 13:8-10; I Cor. 6:9, 10; 
Gal. 5:19-23; Matt. 3:15; 4:17; chaps. 5 to 7, especially 
7215-23; 6:23 10:34—385) 15:17—20;' 18:7-0; 710; 10-215 
20:25-28; 25:31-46, and passages about kingdom of 
Heaven or kingdom of God in the Gospels, and passages 
about “life” or “eternal life” in John, for which see con- 

For further consideration— 

(a) Would a man be justified in obeying any God whose 
commands were not perfectly righteous? (0) If I did 
something in (supposed) response to a command of God 


which I knew would injure my neighbor, could it be from 
any motive other than a selfish one, i.e., to gain the approval 
of God with its advantage for myself at the expense of my 
neighbor? And if not, must I not hold it to be wrong, 
whatever assurance I think I have that it is God’s com- 
mand? (c) Is it a safe principle to assume that what is 
plainly right to my conscience is God’s command to me, 
whatever others may think? (Cf. sections 23 and 44.) 
(d) Was the kingdom of Heaven which Jesus preached 
something to come after earthly life or in it? (What shall 
we think about the prayer Jesus taught—“Thy Kingdom 
come, thy will be done on earth,” etc.?) (e) Did Jesus say 
anything about hell except in connection with warnings 
against evil life on earth? Did he suggest any way of 
escape from hell except through the avoidance of the evil 
life on earth? (f) In John the mission of Jesus is repre- 
sented as being mainly to give eternal life to men. Is it 
something to begin after death or to enjoy while alive on 
earth? (g) Some have thought that Jesus’ principal work 
was to get men to believe that he was the Messiah or the 
Son of God, and that the evidence for these “claims” of 
Jesus was to be found in his miracles. Did Jesus generally 
encourage or discourage the attributing to him of the title 
Messiah, the attempt to make him king, or to consider him 
what the people thought the Messiah would be? (See 
Mark 9:33-37; 8:26, 30.) (4) Did Jesus seek oppor- 
tunity to work miracles or avoid it? When asked for 
miracles to prove his authority, what was his answer? 
(See Matt. 12:38-40; Mark 8:11, 12.) (k) Were the 
miracles mainly works of love and mercy and thus the signs 
of divine character; or works of power, and signs of peculiar 
authority and title? The author of the Fourth Gospel 
speaks of them as signs. Of what were they signs? Does 
Jesus speak of them as signs? 


7. In studying the teaching of Jesus with reference to 
tradition, the Scriptures, etc., as well as in other matters, 
we must be careful not to take literally what he did not mean 
literally. See notes on section 23. 

Bible references: Matt. 5:21, 22, 27, 28, 31-34, 38, 39, 
43,44. Cf. with these passages Deut. 24:1, 3; Lev. 19:12, 
18; Num. 30:2; Exod. 21:24. See further Matt. 12:1-14; 
Mark 7:1-23; Matt. 15:1-20; 19:3-9; 21:23-32. 

For further consideration— 

(a) What evils are today sometimes defended on the 
ground of Bible passages or religious tradition? (6) Show 
how Jesus’ rejection of, or opposition to, religious custom 
and tradition was one of the principal causes of his 

8. A book of great interest and value on the subject of 
the conflict of tradition with truth in religion and especially 
in Christianity is Religions of Authority and the Religion of 
the Spirit, by Auguste Sabatier (London: Hodder & 
Stoughton; New York: Doran). 

For further consideration— 

Compare the value of the character of Christ as a 
religious ideal with that of other founders of religion or 
leaders of sects making claim to special supernatural 
authority, etc., as Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, Joseph 
Smith, Mrs. Eddy, Dowie, Elijah Sanford. 

9. Cf. also section 16 and chap. iii, and first part of 
Tennyson’s ‘‘In Memoriam.” 

Bible references: John 1:18; Rom. 8:24, 25; I Cor. 
220801224518 1193 Le Cor Msi tlebaenens wie betwen anos 
Note that where faith is enjoined or referred to in the Bible, 
it is concerned with things which could not be known 
through the senses. 

In these sections a necessary technical distinction is 
made between faith and knowledge. We must not expect 


this distinction, which concerns primarily the technical use 
of these words for the denoting of two different ways of 
coming to opinions, to be generally recognized in religious 
literature, for example, in the Bible. 

to. Bible references: On the relation of religion to this 
present life: Job 42:10-17; Ps. 34:9, 10; Ps. 121 and many 
references under section 2; on truthfulness in describing 
experience: Isa. 5:20; I Pet. 3:15. 

For further consideration— 

(a) What apparently mutually contradictory beliefs do 
you know to be held by the same people? (b) What beliefs 
do you know to be taught in the name of religion which 
seem to contradict common human experience? (c) What 
things do you know to have been taught as the will or 
revelation of God which were quite inconsistent and irrecon- 
cilable with qualities which you were taught belonged to 
the character of God? (d) How may Tennyson’s words 
be true that 

There’s more true faith in honest doubt, 
Believe me, than in half the creeds! 
(e) Is it really possible for a man to believe two statements 
to be true which he sees are absolutely contradictory to 
each other ? 
For further consideration— 

(a) In what other departments of thought and life 
besides religion is the tendency noticeable among mature 
persons to preserve old views unchanged when better ones 
are offered? (6) Why should this conservative tendency be 
stronger in distinctively religious thought than in other 
departments of thought? (c) What cases do you know of 
people abandoning Christianity for some fad religion, and 
how can you explain this action? Is this any real argument 
against true Christianity ? 


12. Bible references: Matt. 7:15-20 and Heb., chap. 
11. Seealso references under section 2 and note the require- 
ment and use of faith in the healing works of Jesus and the 

For further consideration— 

(a) Illustrate the possibility of different rational con- 
clusions from the same facts, by cases of different conclusions 
as to the character of a person arrived at by different 
interpretations of the same actions, and in any other ways 
youcan. (6) Illustrate the different views of the world, or 
of a part of experience, caused by differences in mood or in 
health or in temporary circumstances of a given person. 
(c) What factors would you suggest in explanation of the 
recent statement of Judge Lewis L. Fawcett of Brooklyn, 
N.Y.: “Approximately 2,700 cases have been brought 
before me in my five and a half years of service on the 
bench. During all this time I have never had to try a man 
who was, at the time of the alleged offense, or ever had 
been, an active member of the church”? (d) Point out the 
different tendencies for the interpretation of the universe 
and the determination of life of those who hold as the most 
significant phenomena in experience each one of the follow- 
ing and subordinate the rest: pleasure, beauty, thought, 
matter, conscience and moral relations. 

13. Bible references: Gen. 1:26, 27; 2:7; Ps. 139:1-5, 
17,18; John 1:1-4, 9; §:30; 7:17, 26, 27; Luke 12:54-57; 
Gal. 5:22, 23. Note in regard to Matt. 21: 23-32 that the 
reason for Jesus’ question with regard to the baptism of 
John and refusal to answer the question as to his own 
authority was that in both cases the appeal was to the 
conscience. If they had recognized John’s baptism as from 
heaven because the Spirit of God within them, speaking 
through their consciences, approved it, they would have 
recognized Jesus’ authority even more quickly. 



14 and 15. In reference to the date and authorship of 
the different books of the Bible and the history of the 
formation of the “canon” of the Old and New Testaments, 
see articles in modern Bible dictionaries on the separate 
books, and on Old Testament Canon and New Testament 
Canon. On the origin and growth of the Old Testament see 
the very useful, popular book The Making of the Bible, by 
A. E. Dunning (Boston: Pilgrim Press). 

Bible references: I Kings 18:1-40; Job 23:3 ff.; Ps. 
42:1-3; Isa. 55:8,9; Judg. 6:36-40; Gen. 15:12; 28:10-173 
Matt. 12:38; 16:1; John 2:11; I John 1:1-4. 

For further consider ation— 

(a) What religious experiences do you know people to 
have had, on the ground of which they have assumed that 
every item of a system of religious doctrine was absolutely 
true? (b) What do we know about the causes of dreams 
which would take from them the mysterious or supernatural 
character which has often been attributed to them? (c) 
Should we be more confident of a message from God in some 
unusual or inexplicable experience in a dream or trance or 
other abnormal psychological state, or in clear thoughts of 
what was right and good which come when our bodies are 
healthy and our minds clear? (d) How many books of the 
Bible claim or seem to claim to be descriptions of super- 
natural revelations made through dreams, trances, etc. ? 
(e) Should it lessen our admiration and love for the Bible 
and confidence in its truth to find some of its thoughts 
anticipated or expressed in other literature and in connection 
with other forms of religion? (f) If God’s Spirit is con- 
stantly active in the world, and in the past inspired men to 
utter great spiritual and religious truths during a period of 
a thousand years, would it seem natural or unnatural, in a 
world of ever-changing circumstances and ever-new prob- 


lems, for such inspiration to be continued down to the 
present and future? (g) What phenomena which had no 
really Christian characteristics have been looked upon as 
special evidence of the influence of the Holy Spirit in 
recent times? 

16. Bible references: Jer. 7:13, 25; 11:7, etc.; Mic. 
6:8; Heb 2:1625: Gal: 5:22, 23) Exod..3:1-125 Isa..1:24;5 
chap. 6; Jer. 1:1, 2; Ezek. 1:3; 2:1—3:11; the Book of 
Jonah; Amos 7:10-17; Luke 1:1-4; II Pet. 1:21 and 
opening verses in Minor Prophets and New Testament 
epistles, indicating consciousness that speakers or writers 
are messengers of God. 

For further consideration— 

(a) Is there any more reason for expecting a priori (that 
is, before examining the facts to see what is actually the 
case) that God would give to men a written revelation of his 
nature and will, perfect in every way, than that he would 
preserve such revelation perfect in its text, and guarantee 
the perfection of translations of it and interpretations of it 
by religious teachers, or that he should give to every man 
perfect eyes, perfect hearing, and a mind which should 
understand perfectly every truth presented to it? (0) Of 
what value is the search for, and struggle to obtain, knowledge 
of various sorts in the development of mind and character ? 
Is there a similar value in the effort to attain to the highest 
religious truth, which perhaps has not yet been completely 
attained by any human being? (c) What is the significance 
of the “laboratory method” in present-day education ? 
Does it mean that those who know the truth leave the 
ignorant to find it out for themselves without any assistance, 
or that they “reveal” it to the students in the way best 
calculated to develop their mental powers and impress the 
truth upon them? Does God use the “laboratory method” 
in educating the race? 


17. Bible references: Isa. 35:8; Matt. 15:14; 23:13, 
16 ff.; John 7:17. 

19. Let the student, with the help of Bible dictionary 
and concordance and articles on Palestine, geography, 
climate, etc., make lists, giving references and at least a part 
of the passage referred to of: (a) the various physio- 
graphical features referred to, especially where the reference 
is poetical or striking, as to mountain, sea, cave, etc.; (0) 
the features of air and upper regions, as storm, lightning, 
stars and constellations, etc.; (c) the different forms of 
animal life, wild and tame, birds, insects, etc.; (d) the 
different forms of vegetable life, flowers, trees, grains, etc.; 
(e) the different kinds of minerals, gold, silver, etc.; (f) 
the different occupations of men and women, soldier, 
shepherd, weaver, etc.; (g) the different nations, races, 
countries, and cities of the world, in so far as they still exist 
or are known in history outside of, as well as in, the Bible; 
(h) the different forms of building, shelter, furniture, tools 
and instruments for various purposes; (k) references to 
babies and children and their special interests and 

20. Bible references: Gen. 28:20; 41:28 ff.; Lev. 26: 
3-13; I Kings 17:1; 18:1. 

For further consideration— 

(a) Which would be the greater God, one who was 
interested in the petty details of the daily life and struggle 
of each individual and pleased to hear and answer prayer 
about such matters, or one who was not at all concerned 
about such things, but only about the general trend of 
civilization, or about the honor paid to him in religious 
assemblies, etc.? (0) Which man is likely to have the more 
vivid, constant, and effective faith in God, the one who 
prays only on Sundays when led by the minister, or the one 
who maintains regular family and private prayer in which he 


presents the personal petitions which embody his particular 
needs? (c) Let the student make lists, as called for in 
notes on last section, above, of references to (i) common 
bodily needs and means of their satisfaction, varieties of 
food, clothing, etc., such as bed, sleep, bread, shoes; (ii) 
diseases, sicknesses, means, instances and promises of 
restoration to health, etc.; (iii) desires, pleasures, passions, 
etc., whose satisfaction is regarded as legitimate under 
proper conditions, as sexual affection, friendship, feasting, 
dancing, singing, enjoyment of beauty, etc.; (iv) institu- 
tions for the promotion of justice, social welfare, etc., 
government, courts, synagogues, means of education or 
provision for instruction, worship, protection, etc.; (v) 
some of the most important injunctions for the maintenance 
of law and order, justice, peace, etc., which are still recog- 
nized as necessary moral laws. 

21. Those who are familiar with the thought of past 
generations about the Bible will recognize the fact that the 
position taken in this book differs in some important 
respects from the traditional one. The former position was 
that the original texts of the sixty-six books which make up 
our Bible were written by God himself, through the hands of 
men indeed, but without the slightest admixture of human 
error, limitation, or inaccuracy of any sort, thus making it 
the ‘Word of God” in a sense that no other written docu- 
ment ever was or could be. The argument in support of 
this position may be briefly summed up in this way: Claims 
are made by various writers in both Old and New Testa- 
ments to speak for God or that which God has said to them. 
Jesus and the New Testament writers assume the Old 
Testament to be ‘‘God’s Word” in this peculiar sense. The 
writers of New Testament books, being apostles of Jesus, 
had special divine authority and power to write the “‘ Word 
of God,” which none less closely related to him could have, 


and they claim God’s authority for their writings. The 
divine authority of some of the writers of both Old and New 
Testaments was confirmed by their power to work miracles. 
Finally, the Bible has had in history such power to transform 
both individual and social life that it must be a revelation of 
God, and therefore all claims made in it for any part of it, 
of truth or authority, must be true, for if they are not true, 
their authors were impostors, which is inconceivable in view 
of the effect which the Bible has had in the world. 

Space will permit only a very brief comment on these 
arguments. In the first place, a careful study of the 
positions taken in this book will show the needs and reasons 
which have led men to think of the Bible in this peculiar 
way, and how in fact the Bible does meet these needs. 
Thus it is seen that there is a true sense in which the Bible 
is the Word of God or a revelation from God. But the 
study of the Bible in recent times which has been more 
careful and thorough and in the light of more consistently 
spiritual principles than ever before, has shown that the 
human weaknesses, errors, and limitations of its human 
authors are by no means excluded—that it is a divine 
revelation of marvelous power in spite of these human 
elements. A few words must therefore be said to show that 
the “claims” for divine authority in the Bible are not 
inconsistent with this position. 

The Old Testament books were selected after a le 
process of testing and choosing of those books which were 
found most helpful in the religious life of the Jews, and they 
were thus gradually separated from other literature, some 
of which would be just as valuable for us as some of that 
which was retained. They were not selected by scientific 
methods, nor by miracle of any sort, but by their suitability 
to various needs of the people, patriotic, liturgical, ethical, 
and religious. By the time of Christ, on account of the 


religious use and high value of these writings, they had 
come to be regarded as such an “infallible” perfect revela- 
tion from God as later the whole Bible was thought to be. 
This attitude is assumed by all the New Testament writers, 
and, so far as we know, by Jesus in his public utterances. 
Centuries later, the literature of the early church was thus 
collected after a similar process of testing and sifting, and 
in time was thought to have the same divine origin and 
authority as that attributed to the Old Testament. An 
impartial study of the New Testament writings will show 
that no such claim is made in them, ie., that they are 
perfect, without human error, etc., as was afterward made 
for them. The most careful research into the history of the 
books leaves the authorship of many of them doubtful, and 
without the authority which (without any biblical justifica- 
tion) it is assumed would belong peculiarly to apostles of 
Jesus. Their value for us then is intrinsic, and not due to 
apostolic authorship primarily. If we have no guaranty 
against human error in the writers of the New Testament, 
then their view of the Old Testament cannot bind us. As 
to the teachings of Jesus, let us remember: (1) They come 
to us through the medium of writers who mistakenly believed 
the Old Testament to have a perfection which it is now seen 
it never had, and who would thus be likely to assume the 
same belief on the part of Jesus. (2) Where Jesus is repre- 
sented as using the Old Testament in his argument, the 
truth of his teaching in no case depends on the perfection 
and superhuman authority of the words of the passage 
quoted, but is justified by the reason and conscience apart 
from them. (3) While Jesus insisted that he was come 
to fulfil the “law and the prophets” (that is, the Old 
Testament Scriptures), his actual use of them was quite 
inconsistent with the theory of such absolute perfection, 
and was in complete harmony with the principles of the 


use of the Bible presented in this book. (See section 7 and 
notes upon it.) 

Such phrases in the Old Testament as “Thus saith the 
Lord” must be considered to be formulae used by the 
prophets and writers to direct attention to the truth of their 
words, which they were confident were from God, as true 
ministers and preachers of today must be confident if they 
would preach effectively. There is no hint in any Old 
Testament book that the message from God was thought to 
be without such limitations as would be natural to its 
proclamation by a fallible man. 

A proper understanding of the real authority of the 
Bible, proved by its immense value in history, and approving 
itself to every honest individual who will use it rightly, will 
make it in the future a far more potent instrument in the 
hands of God for the revelation of his will to men, than it 
has been under the misunderstandings of the past. The 
way to use the Bible rightly is briefly explained in chap. iii. 


22. In regard to creation and flood stories, see parallels 
in Babylonian myths, appendices of Kent, Beginnings of 
Hebrew History (Scribner). For references to sources in 
compilation of history, see I Chron. 29:29; II Chron. 9:29; 
12:15; 13:22; 20:34; 32:32; etc. For evidence of use of 
common sources in the composition of the first three 
gospels, called the ‘‘Synoptists,” see any “Harmony of the 
Gospels,” e.g., Stevens & Burton’s, or Kerr’s, the latter 
published by the American Tract Society. 

23. As illustrating the necessity of the use of reason and 
moral judgment in the application of Bible teaching, we may 
consider Matt. 5:27-42 and 6:19. Regarded as positive 
rules for action, to be literally obeyed, they may lead, as 
they have done, to the mutilation of one’s body, to the 


maintenance of marriage bonds between two people when 
one of them was worthless or cruel and separation was 
justified if not required by the law of God in the heart and 
reason; to the keeping-apart of people who would have been 
made happier and better and of more use in the world if 
they had been married, to the unwise refusal to take oaths 
in court or oaths of loyalty to the government, to yielding 
without resistance to the violence of criminals and to 
carelessness in the use of money, improvidence, laziness, and 
shiftlessness. And yet all these teachings contain important 
moral principles, just as valuable and necessary today as 
ever. Interpreted by the reason and conscience, these 
passages teach that one should avoid temptation, even at 
the cost of painful sacrifice; should regard marriage as a 
relation entered into for life and to be maintained in love 
and purity with the utmost endeavor; should speak the 
truth so faithfully and constantly that no oath could increase 
the confidence of others in one’s words; should have love in 
his heart for everyone, the hostile and dangerous as well as 
the friendly, and in the treatment of the hostile should never 
be actuated by desire for revenge but only for the best good 
of the enemy, perhaps the criminal; should not worry about 
the future, but, having done all that circumstances made 
possible to provide for it, should trust God’s care, and give 
greater attention to the more important side of life, that of 
character, than to the matter of food and clothes. 

For further consideration— 

Take some chapter in Leviticus, e.g., chap. 25, and 
see: (a) what commands, there, may be helpfully applied 
to present-day conditions; (0): what moral principles 
whose validity we recognize are involved in commands 
not completely applicable to our conditions or justified 
by our conscience; (c) what commands involve elements 
of which we today must disapprove; (d) what injunc- 


tions seem to involve no moral principle but only an 
economic one. 


For further consideration— 

Pick out, in the first chapters of Genesis, (a) verses 
giving teachings about God and his relations to the world 
and men which seem to be valuable elements of the best faith 
in their natural meaning; (0b) those which have no evident 
religious value in themselves but would have been interest- 
ing and natural explanations of conditions of the world, 
man, and society at a time when they were current and there 
were no better; (c) those which, taken in their natural 
meanings, involve conceptions of God or nature no longer 
possible to us. 

25. Is there any progress in the thought of God between 
(1) Gen. 6:6, 7; 8:21; I Sam. 26:19; and (2) Ps. 1309; 
John 4:24; I John 4:8? 

26. The thesis of this section, which may at first appear 
somewhat complicated, might be stated thus: To use the 
Bible as a Christian book, we must find how a Christlike 
God is revealed init. It is the one, eternal God whom man 
needs to find. Really to find this God is to find salvation 
and eternal life. (Cf. John 17:3, and on the subject of the 
revelation of God in Jesus, chap. vi and section 31 in 
chap. iv.) 


27. Mormonism is frankly tritheistic or polytheistic, 
besides having degradingly sensual conceptions of the gods 
and their relations to men, from which flow sensual con- 
ceptions of human life. It is to be noted that the Mormon 
theology still and necessarily makes polygamy a divine 
principle of life and therefore something to be expected in 
ideal human society (even though suspended for a time in 


practice, out of respect for civil laws made by their oppo- 
nents, whether the charge is true that it is still secretly 
fostered by the Mormon church or not). 

Bible references: Gen. 1:1; 17:1; Deut. 6:4; Matt. 
19:26; Luke 1:37; Acts 17:24; I Tim. 2:5. 

28. The personality of God is assumed all through the 
Bible. This personality and its nature are the fundamental 
and most difficult problems of Christian belief, but there can 
be no question about the value of belief in a personal God, 
and no faith can properly be called Christian in which it is 
not central. 

29. Bible references: Gen., chap. 1; Isa. 55:6-9; Ps. 
102: 25-27. 

30 and 31. Compare, in connection with these sec- 
tions, chap. vi and notes on section 26. In regard to 
question as to whether Jesus ever actually lived, see 
Case, The Historicity of Jesus (University of Chicago 
Press, 1912). 

Bible references: Exod. 34:6, 7; Num. 14:18; Ezek., 
chap. 18; John 1:1-18; 3:16; 5:19-47; 6:38-40; 8:18, 
19, 29, 42, 49, 50, 54, 55; 10:30, 37, 38; 12:44, 45, 49, 50; 
13:31, 32; I4:Q-II, 23, 24; 15:15, 23, 24; Rom. 3:21-26; 
LT Cor.12224,' 30; IL Cor. 4:6;5: 18-20; (Col. a 215. 9203 
Heb. 1:3; I John 4:8. 

32. Bible references: What is the Holy Spirit? Gen. 
4:2; 2:7; Job 33:4; Ps. 139:1-5, 17, 18; John 1:9. What 
does God’s Spirit do in and with men? Exod. 31:3; Num. 
27:18; Judges 14:6; 15:14; Isa. 11:2; 61:1; Ezek. 36:7; 
Matt. 10:20; John 3:5-8; 14:26; 16:7, 8, 13, 14; Acts 
2:37-30, 41, 42; I Cor. 12:7-11; Matt. 3:16. How shall 
we know the presence and work of the Holy Spirit? Matt. 
52724-28,333° 10 Tim: 1:7; Gal. 5:22,:035 1 John 41307,,3, 
Who may receive the Holy Spirit and how? Isa. 44:3; 
Joel 2:28, 29; Luke 11:13; John 1:9; Acts 5:32. 


33 and 34. For arguments for the existence of God, see 
Clarke, op. cit., pp. 102 ff., and Brown, op. cit., chap. ix, 
pp. 124 ff. 

Bible references: Matt. 7:17-20; 12:33-35; Heb., 
chap. 11; Jas. 2:14-26. 

For further consideration— 

(a) Can you suggest any different or contrary principle 
which would be more promotive of general human welfare in 
all its phases than that of the brotherhood of Man—the 
duty of love toallmen? (6) Can you imagine any attitude 
toward the universe (i.e., any religion) that would be more 
in harmony with, and promotive of, this principle of love to 
men than the belief in a Christlike God who desired and 
required Christlike character in all men? (Cf. sections 70 
and 76.) (c) Compare the countries of the world in which 
Christianity prevails with those in which other forms of 
religion prevail, as to civilization, education, culture, 
commerce, etc. (d) Compare the countries in which 
Roman Catholicism prevails with those in which Protestant- 
ism is strong, in the same respects. (e) What part have 
Christian missions and missionaries played in the develop- 
ment and improvement of India, China, Japan, Africa, 
Turkey? (f) To what extent can we regard the existence 
of evil social conditions in so-called Christian countries as a 
failure of Christianity? (g) What testimonies to the value 
of Christian faith can you get from the lives, words, and 
deeds of famous statesmen, rulers, generals, authors, artists, 
musicians, sailors, business men, etc. ? 

35. Bible references: Gen. 1:1—2:7; Job, chaps. 38, 
39, 40, 41; Pss. 8; 19:1-6; 24:1, 2; 29; 33:6; 74:12-17; 
102:25; Isa. 40:22; 42:5; 45:18; John 1:1, 2; Acts 17:24. 

36. Concerning materialistic evolution and Christianity, 
see discussion in Fairbairn, Philosophy of the Christian 
Religion (Hodder and Stoughton). 


- A theory of evolution differing much from the familiar 
Darwinian theory is maintained by Bergson, one of the 
prominent philosophers of France at the present time. His 
Creative Evolution (Holt, 1911) makes life instead of matter 
the first principle of reality and the creative force of the 
world. Although his philosophy is very different from the 
faith of Christianity, there is much in it which throws light 
on problems of creation and evolution which a Christian 
might accept, and which may compel a general revision of 
ideas about the process of development of the universe. 
For Bergson, inert matter is not eternal, but is the inversion 
or interruption of life. 

For further consideration— 

(a) Which is the more reasonable and helpful faith, 
that God created the various forms of nature by some vocal 
or mental fiat—“ Let there be”—or that by his wisdom he 
used various forces and means under his control to develop 
nature as we know it? (0) Is creation by fiat a possible 
positive conception for an educated person today, or is it 
merely of negative value to express our ignorance of means 
or method? (c) If the author of Genesis had understood 
and accepted the theory of evolution, could he have 
explained it to the people of his time? Is it conceivable 
that the first chapter of Genesis was intended to teach 
evolution? (d) Does it in any way detract from the glory 
of God to think that many millions of years were occupied 
in the bringing of the present cosmos out of an early chaos, 
instead of six days? (e) Is the question as to God’s method 
of creation one of amount or degree of power or of the way 
in which he used the power? Does it belong to the realm of 
faith or knowledge ? 

37. For further discussion of the providence of God, his 
limitations, etc., see succeeding sections and sections 71 
to 74. 


Bible references: Gen. 8:1, 21, 22; Pss. 1:3; 23; 37; 
QI; 101; 121; Matt. 6:25-34; Acts 17:25; Rom. 8:28. 

38. For further discussion of the problem of evil, see the 
very interesting sections on that subject in Fairbairn, of. cit. 

Bible references: Gen. 3:17-19 (can “for thy sake” be 
understood as meaning “for thy good” ?); Job 5:17-20; 
232- TOME OsTh Og eS. OAt12* /brov., 3:21, 12°) Dh iSam:. 
r2:1-14; I Cor. 15:54-57;. I Cor. 6:4-10; 11:16, 23-33; 
12:7-10; Heb. 12:5-13; Jas.1:2-4; I Pet. 1:6, 7; 4:12—-14. 

39. For further discussion of prayer, see sections 71 to 
74. Bergson, in the work above referred to, rejects the idea 
of the uniformity of nature as a final principle of reality. 
He finds life creating forms not only new in actual existence, 
but unforeseeable, unpredictable, not even pre-existent in 
thought or idea. His argument, which is very plausible, 
may lead to an abandonment of the too strict principle of 
uniformity and make it easier to conceive of God’s free 
action in the universe. 

40. Cf. questions “for further consideration” on 
sections 14 and 15. 


41. Bergson (op. cit.) maintains that consciousness in 
man cannot be regarded as conditioned by the brain and 
neural processes in any such sense as action in the lower 
animals is so conditioned. The brain is the “cutting 
edge” of consciousness in man, inseparable from con- 
sciousness just as the edge is inseparable from the knife, 
but no more coextensive or parallel in the one case than in 
the other. In man, as not in the animals, consciousness is 
free and the nervous system is the servant. Professor 
William James has made a similar suggestion. (See section 
64.) Cf. also Fairbairn (0p. cit.) on evolution of man and 
relation of man to the ape, etc. 


42. On the subject of the freedom of human conscious- 
ness see further Bergson, Creative Evolution, references in 
index under “Man in Evolution,” ‘“Unforeseeableness,” 
“Freedom,” and the general trend of the whole book. 

Bible references: Josh. 24:15; I Kings 18:21; Ezek., 
chap. 18; Rom. 8:29, 30; 9:11-28. It may be questioned 
whether Paul would have assented to any thoroughgoing 
system of determinism, but it is true that in the passages in 
Romans, here referred to, he holds to an election or pre- 
determination of human fate and action which is not 
consistent with the belief in human freedom. It is worthy 
of note, however, that in Rom. 8:29, 30 his purpose is to 
encourage men in the struggle for righteousness, by assuring 
them of God’s determination to justify and glorify those 
whom he foreknew would accept of his salvation, rather 
than to teach the doctrine of “predestination,” and that in 
the next chapter the fate of those who do not accept God’s 
grace is really for him a problem, to which he can only reply 
by questions and exclamations referring to God’s sovereignty 
and power, and what seem to him the undeniable facts of 

43. Bible references: Gen. 6:5-7; Gen. 18:20, 21, 26, 
etc.; Exod. 32:7-14. Are these passages consistent with 
the idea that God knows from eternity everything which is 
going to happen? Notice that in Rom., chap. 9, especially 
vs. 19, Paul himself presents the argument against the idea 
of complete foreknowledge and determinism and has no 
logical answer to that argument. 

44. Bible references: Gen. 2:16, 17; 3:6, 10, 17; Isa. 
1:19, 20; Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:28-34; Rom. 
2:12-15; 14:13-23, especially vss. 14, 20, and 23; I Cor. 
6:12; 8:4-13; 10:23—11:1; Luke 10:26; Rom. 13:1-10; 
Gal. 3:24. 

45. Bible references: Look up marginal references 


(in Revised Version) to Matt. 5:22; and article on 
“Gehenna” in a good Bible dictionary. (The idea of the 
fire of Gehenna comes from that of the rubbish fires of the 
Valley of Hinnom, and suggests the destruction of that 
which has become worthless, not the torturing of that 
which has life and possible goodness remaining.) See 
also I Tim. 4:2; Rom. 1:24-32; 2:8, 9; II Pet., chaps. 
13, 17; Rev. 22:11, 12, 15; Matt. 12:22-37. Note that 
the “unpardonable sin” is the calling of works of good- 
ness works of evil, attributing works of God’s Spirit to the 
Evil Spirit. Such absolute failure of moral judgment could 
be the result only of long-practiced hypocrisy and sin, and 
the reason that the sin is unpardonable is that it is not 
realized, acknowledged, or repented of, since the whole 
moral nature has become corrupt. Thus the possibility 
of committing such a sin, or reaching such a state, is the 
worst punishment conceivable. 

46. On the subject of this section see also sections 2 
and 6 and notes and references belonging to them, and also 
the following: 

Bible references: Isa. 53:5, 6, 10-12; Matt. 1:21; 
20:25-28; Luke 15; John 1:29; Acts 13:38, 39; Rom. 
6:4-14; 8:9; 1 Cor. 11:1; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 4:13-15; 5:12; 
Phil. 3:8-14. These passages call attention to the work of 
Christ to free people from sin, the necessity of following 
Christ, having his spirit, developing his character, etc. In 
addition the following are especially related to salvation as 
involving the forgiveness of God, and fellowship with him: 
Deut. 30:19, 20; Isa. 1:18; 55:6, 7; Matt. 11: 28-30; 
Mark 2:17; Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:1, 4, 5; Col. 1: 20-23. 

47. Bible references: Ps. 51:13; Matt. 18:3; Luke 
22:32; Acts 3:19; 2:37-42; 16:22-34; 26:9-20; Jas. 
5:20; I John 3:7; Pss. 5:12; 11:7; 34:15; 37:17; Isa. 
3:10; Ezek. 18; Matt. 9:13; Gen. 28:16. Note the 


difference in location and in direction of movement of the 
two sons in the story Luke 15:11-32. 

48. Bible references: Matt. 18:1-6, 10, 14; Mark 
10:14, IS. 

49. Bible references: Acts 2:47 (margin of Revised 
Version, “being saved”); Rom. 7:15-25; Phil. 3:11-14; 
I John 3:2, 3. 

50. Bible references: Isa. 61:1-3; Rom. 1:16, 17; 
3121-28; 4:1—5:2; 11:6; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 
14; Titus 3: 5-7. 

s1. Bible references: Gen. 1:26, 27; 2:7; Num. 16:22; 
27:16; Isa. 9:6; 63:16; 64:8; Ezek. 18:4; Matt. 5:16, 48; 
6:1, 4, 6, 8, etc.; Luke 15:11-32; John 6:37; Rom. 9:26. 
(Cf., as apparently contrary, Matt. 13:38; Eph. 2:3; I 
John 3:10.) 

52 and 53. See section 38 and notes and references for 
the same, and the following: 

Bible references: Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:16-21; II 
Sam. 22273;:'145)-Ps.)\003$3; .Isa, 2:18; 443225) 5 Matt. 
6:14, 15; Acts 5:31; 13:38; 26:18; Eph. 1:7; 4:32; Col. 
TDA eee as, 3313 my asmsca son L Onn EIOs2 ara. 


55- It is worthy of note that the special purpose in the 
Apostles’ Creed and the Te Deum of calling attention to the 
birth of Jesus “‘of the virgin Mary” was not to emphasize 
the virgin birth but the human birth and thus the humanity 
of Jesus. So also Paul (whether referring to the reported 
virgin birth or not), in Gal. 4:4, 5, is calling attention to the 
humanity of Jesus. The whole gospel picture of Jesus is 
understandable only on the theory that Jesus was regarded 
as a real man by all among whom he moved, whatever else 
some of them came to believe about him. His death is 
the final incident in his humanity. The man Jesus died. 


Whatever value the death of Jesus had for humanity, it 
must have had as the death of aman. If we think of Jesus 
as being in some way God himself, we cannot think of him 
as being God in the full meaning of the word, when he died; 
for the thought of a dying God, although familiar in non- 
Christian religions, is contradictory to the Christian con- 
ception of God. 

Bible references: Limitations of man: Job 40:4; Pss. 
103:14-16; 39:4—6; Isa. 2:22; Jer.17:5; Human features or 
indications of human nature in Jesus: Matt. 4:1-11; 8:24; 
11:19; Mark 13:32; 15:34; Luke 2:40, 52; John 4:6; 14:12; 
19:28; Gal. 4:4, 5; I Tim. 2:5; Heb. 2:18; 4:15; Relation 
of uncertainty of punishment to sin: Eccl. 8:11. 

56. Bible references: Apart from the passages about 
Jesus, which will be considered later, the following are 
related to the matter of this section: Man in the image of 
God and living by God’s “‘breath” (‘“‘spirit”): Gen. 1:26, 
27; 2:7; Anthropomorphisms, i.e., passages representing 
God as being or acting like a man in ways which we 
cannot now accept as literally true although they were 
originally understood literally: Gen. 1:3, 31; 2:2, 8, 21, 
29: °3°8,\21; 6:6, 7; 7:16; 8:21; 9:13-16;-1177; Theoph- 
anies (appearances of God) in which God is said to have 
appeared in human form (note that in several of the passages 
it is related that an “angel” or “the angel of Jehovah” 
appeared, but that in the course of the story in each case, 
in at least one place, the word “‘angel,” i.e., messenger, 
drops out and it is said that Jehovah spoke, or the person 
looked upon Jehovah, etc. This suggests the probability 
that in the earlier form of the stories, the word “angel”’ 
did not appear, but that it was later inserted when it was 
no longer believed possible for a mortal to see God): Gen. 
17!1-3, 22; 18:12, 20-22, 33; 32:24-29; Exod. 3:2 ff.; 
22740, 54, 10; 33:11, 18-23; 34:5-7; Judges 6:11-24; 


13:3-22; passages suggesting superiority of God to man: 
Pss. 50:21; 104;. Isa. 55:8, 9; John 1:18; Jas. 1:17; I John 
Tags aoe 

57. As to the general historical value of the Gospels, see 
introductions to the Gospels, by best modern scholars, 
articles in Bible dictionaries on the New Testament, 
authenticity, Canon, etc., and on the “synoptic problem,” 
and the separate gospels. 

58. Bible references: John 8:46; Heb. 4:15; Acts 
2:22; II Cor. 5:21; I Pet. 2:22; I John 3:5. 

59. On the subject of this section see also sections 6, 30, 
and 31 and references for them in notes, and the following: 

Bible references: Jesus’ opposition to sin shown in its 
condemnation and forgiveness, etc.: Matt. 1:21; Sermon on 
the Mount, chaps. 5, 6, and 7; Matt. g:1-7; 11:20-24; 
21:12, 13; 23:13-39; Luke 7:36-s50; chap. 15; 23:34; 
John 1:29; 8:1-11; 8:31-36; I John 4:10; His love for 
men: Matt. 9:35-38; 10:1, 7,8; 11:4, 5; 11:28-30; 23:37; 
Luke 4:16-21; 6:27, and in general his works of healing 
for all who came to him; His suffering and death, its cause, 
voluntariness, purpose, results, etc.; Matt. 20:28; Luke 
9:22-24; Matt. 26:26-29; John 10:15-18; Matt. 26:50; 
27:18, 41, 42; Luke 23:13-25; John 11:47-53; 12:10, 10, 
32,333 (16:13; 34; Rom. 6$6-125! S210, anjol Core1s23; 
II Cor. 5:15; I Thess. 5:9, 10; Rev. 1:5; 5:9, 10. 

60. On this section see the New Testament references to 
sections 30 and 31 and also the following: 

Bible references: John 8:23, 26-29; 17:3; Gal. 3:25; 
Eph. 1:17-23; 3:14-19; Phil. 2: 5-11. 

61. Bible references: See section 5 and references and 
the following: Matt. 4:18, 19; 8:22; 10:38; 19:21; John 
S22; 10227512320; 13294-1650 wgsr—to; Li Corsass rs 
Phil. 3:13, 14; I Thess. 1:6; Heb. 2:18; 4:15; I Pet. 2:21; 
Rev. 2:10. 


For further consideration— 

(a) What are the principles according to which we 
should make use of the example of Jesus as a guide to our 
action? Should we aim to heal by suggestion or faith, to 
preach in the open air, to wander from place to place, to be 
poor, to die a martyr’s death, to remain unmarried, because 
he did? What difference should it make to us, in our lives, 
whether he was a ‘“‘total abstainer,” a worker for political, 
social, or industrial reform, a university-educated man, a 
believer in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, or not ? 
(6) In what ways is it easier for a man to live a Christlike 
life today than in the time of Christ? What has Christian 
faith had to do with the improvement, and what is its 
significance for the future ? 


63. See note on section 45 on Gehenna. 

64. On the subject of this section and some of the 
succeeding ones, compare section 41 and notes, and the 
following books: Meyer, Human Personality and Its 
Survival after Death (Longmans Green & Co., 1907); James, 
Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality (Houghton Mifflin Co., 
1900); Brown, The Christian Hope (Scribner, 1912). 

Bible references: Mark 12:18-27; I Cor. 15:12-26; 
II Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:21-23; I Thess. 4:13-18; Heb. 
6:17-20; 11:13-16; 13:14; Rev. 2:10. 

65. With regard to Bible passages which have been 
used as a basis for the doctrine that all who fail to attain 
salvation by believing certain things about Christ are to be 
eternally tormented, the following may be said. First, no 
Old Testament passages bear on such a doctrine. The word 
translated “hell” in the King James Version in the Old 
Testament is the Hebrew word “Sheol,” which means the 
place of the dead or the grave, and it was thought of as a 


place of undesirable and shadowy existence to which all, 
good and bad, went at death. Secondly, in the New 
Testament, passages referring to punishment of wicked men 
after death use either the word Hades or Gehenna, for 
“hell.” Hades corresponds to the Hebrew Sheol, and 
refers to the place of the dead, both good and bad. In the 
parable of the rich man and Lazarus, both are in Hades, but 
the rich man is in a place of suffering, separated from the 
place of happiness where Lazarus is, by a great gulf. 
Nothing is said here about efernal suffering. In notes on 
section 45 we have spoken of Gehenna and its meaning. 
Expressions like those in Mark 9:48, ‘‘where their worm 
dieth not, and their fire is not quenched,” are far better 
interpreted as referring to an unescapable process of destruc- 
tion than to an unceasing torture of the indestructible. 
It is the worm and the fire, and not the life of the sinner 
that is spoken of as unending. Expressions like that in 
Matt. 10:28, ‘Fear him who is able to destroy both soul 
and body in hell,” must be taken to mean what they say. 
To “destroy” is not to preserve indestructible for the sake 
of tormenting. A few passages, such as Matt. 25:41, 46; 
Jude, vs. 7; Rev. 14:10, 11; 20:10, seem to hold the idea of 
never-ending suffering for the wicked. We must hold them 
to represent the thought of men in a time when the right- 
eousness and love of God was not so clearly realized as to 
make it inconceivable, as it should be for us at this time. 

66. Bible references: In regard to the body after death, 
see I Cor. 15:35-58; Phil. 3:20-21. In regard to the time 
when this body is given, or the time of the resurrection, etc. 
see notes on section 68. 

67. Bible references: John 14:2, 3; Rev. 2:7; 21:1— 

68. On matters treated in this section see articles in 
Bible dictionaries on Judgment, Parousia (second coming of 


Christ), resurrection, eschatology. The expectation is 
clearly shown in the New Testament, outside of the Book of 
Revelation, that Jesus would soon return visibly to earth, to 
judge it and establish his kingdom. This return was 
looked for confidently, but in vain, by Paul and other 
disciples, within their lifetime. We have good reason to 
believe that the teaching of Jesus on this subject was not 
rightly understood and taught by his disciples. We see 
that God is still establishing his kingdom in the same 
spiritual way which Jesus used when he was on the earth, 
and constantly judging men and nations. We have no good 
reason to believe that he will some time abandon this way for 
the way of outward compulsion by supernatural, physical 
force. See Sharman, The Teaching of Jesus about the Future 
(University of Chicago Press, 1909); and the following: 

Bible references: Dan. 7:9-14; Matt. 10:23; 16:27; 
16:28; 24:3-51; 26:64; Mark 8:38 ff.; 13:26; Luke 21:27; 
Acts 1:11; I Cor. 15:23; I Thess. 1:10; 4:16; II Thess. 
Beg 107 220,15) J05567 403 1 Pet.2216;-9:45 £251 John 
2:28; Rev. 1:7; 20:11-15; Il Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1: 21-23; 
I Thess. 4:13-18; Matt. 10:15; 11:22; 12:36-41; John 
12:31; Heb. 9:27; II Pet. 2:9; 3:7; I John 4:17; Rom. 
216; 14:10; I Cor. 6:2,.3;, II Tim..4:1; I Pet..4:5. 

69. See last section and notes and references, and 
following passages referring to the second coming or 

Bible References: Matt. 10:23; 16:28; 24:3-44; 26: 
64; Mark 8:38 f.; 13:26; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:11; I Cor. 
15:23; I Thess. 1:10; 4:16; II Thess. 1:7, 10; 2:1, 8; 
Jas. 5:7 ff.; IL Pet. 1:16; 3:4, 12; I John 2:28; Rev. 1:7; 
John 21:22. 

For further consideration— 

If Jesus were to reign over all men and nations as an 

earthly sovereign, with his capital at Jerusalem, according 


to the thought of the millennium and the early disciples’ idea 
of the messianic kingdom, what problems as to form and 
method of government would be involved for our thought, 
and in what ways could we think of such a kingdom as being 
an improvement over present methods of self-government 
which the most advanced nations are learning and 
developing ? 

70. Bible references: Matt. 22:35-40; 25:31-46; 
Luke 10:25-37; Jas. 2:1, 14-26; I John 2:3-6, 9-11; 
B32 7,)1O) TIS I4S=18 3427, 8) 120027. 

71. Bible references: Matt. 6:6-15; 26:41; Luke 
18:1-14; John 16:23, 24; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; Col. 
4:2; I Thess. 5:17; I Tim. 2:1-3, 8. 

72. Bible references: Matt. 7:7-11; 18:19, 20; 21:22; 
Mark 11:24, 25; Luke 11:5-13; I John 5:14-16. 

For further consideration— 

(a) Could a person who had true faith in God (i.e., who 
had the right belief about the nature and will of God) take 
Matt. 17:20 literally and ask that a mountain be moved 
from one place to another for the sake of the marvel and the 
showing of the power of faith? (6) In the light of I John 
5:14-16 and other passages, how must we understand the 
apparently unlimited promises like Matt. 18:19; 21:22 and 
Mark 11:24, 25? (c) Should we consider events which 
surprise us on account of their unusual character, improba- 
bility, etc., if they happen after a prayer that some- 
thing should be done which is fulfilled by these events, 
as more truly or more evidently answers to prayer 
than events whose occurrence seems natural, probable, 
or explicable ? 

73. Bible references: Num. 23:19; Ps. 119:89-91; 
Mal* 3:6: IL Tits 22133); Heb. 62285 Jas. aes tags al 
John 3:22. 


74. Bible references: John 14:13, 14; 15:16; Jas. 1:5~-8; 

For further consideration— 

(a) What is the right meaning of prayer “in the name 
of Jesus” and what wrong ideas are often held about prayer 
in Jesus’ name? (b) What are the chief spiritual blessings 
which we may obtain through prayer? (c) How would you 
explain the coming of these spiritual benefits as a result of 
prayer by the psychological influence of the prayer itself 
upon him who prays? (d) What principles as to time, 
manner, contents of prayer, etc., may be deduced from this 
understanding of the psychological relation between prayer 
and its results? (e) Is the psychological result of prayer 
upon him who prays, to be considered as any the less the 
action of God upon him, in answer to that prayer, because 
we can partly understand why these results follow as 
psychological effects? (f) Is there any possibility of prov- 
ing that the results of prayer in bringing spiritual blessings 
to him who prays are entirely the natural reflex action of the 
prayer, or may we reasonably suppose that there is also a 
positive and added spiritual influence of God upon the 
suppliant, which could therefore not be obtained by any 
other psychological exercise ? 

75. Bible references: Deut. 6:6-9; Josh. 1:8; Pss. 1:2; 
19:7-I1; I19:9, 15, etc.; Prov. 6:20-23; Isa. 20:21; 55:11; 
John 8:31, 32; Phil. 4:8; Col. 3:16; II Tim. 3:1¢, 16. 

76. Bible references: Deut. 31:12, 13; II Kings 17:36; 
Pss. 5:73 22:22; 27:4; 35:18; 42:43 45:11; 48:9; 55:14; 
63:1, 2; 84:1-10; 95:6; 96:8, 9; 100:1-4; 107:32; 116: 
17; 122:1; 149:1; Luke 4:8; Acts 2:1 ff.; Luke 4:16; 
Heb. 10:25; Rev. 14:7. 

77. See references for section 75. 

78. Bible references: John 10:32; Acts 10:38; I Tim. 
2:10; 5:10; Matt. 25:34-40; Jas. 2:14-20; I Tim. 6:17, 


18; Titus 3:1, 8,14; John 15:8; Matt. 5:16; I Pet. 2:12; 
Jas. 1:25, 27: I Tim: 5:25; Matt. 10:42; 19:21; Heb. 
10:24; I Cor., chap. 13; Luke 10:25-37; I John 3: 16-23; 
Heb. 13:1-3; Acts 2:44, 45. 

79. Bible references: Acts 6:2; Rom. 14:17; Matt. 
6: 31-34. 

80. Bible references: Acts, chap. 15, especially vs. 28; 
I Cor. 12:4-31; 13:1-13; and see also sections 23, 25, and 
32 and references in notes. 

81 and 82. Bible references: John 10:16; 17:11, 21-23; 
Romittr234srisst LuCorw 102175) 28's) 12sers,) 2Onme7: 
Eph. 4:4-6, 11-16. 

For further consideration— 

(a) What tests, if any, did Jesus require a man to meet 
that he might become one of his disciples? (0) What con- 
ditions keep various denominations from uniting in one, 
today, and how far can these hindrances be regarded as 
resulting from readiness to be led by God’s Spirit, and how 
far as promoting the true interests of the kingdom of God ? 
(c) Whai evils are there in sectarianism and denominational 
rivalry? (d) On what principles should it be possible for 
different denominations to agree and unite into one organi- 
zation ? 

83 and 84. Bible references: Matt. 20:25-28; Acts 
1:8; II Cor. 6:3-6; I Dim. 3:1-14; IL Tim. 2:21-25; 
3:14-17; Titus 1:5-14; 2:7, 8. Note that the words 
“bishop,” ‘‘deacon,” and “elder” are used in the New 
Testament mainly in their original sense of overseer, 
ministrant, and older person, not with the technical mean- 
ings and functions which have been given to them since, 
in the development of church organization. 

85. Bible references: Matt. 4:17; 10:7; 28:19, 20; 
John 12:32; II Cor. 5:18, 19; Rom. 10:14, 15. 


When this book is to be used as a textbook in a course 
for which academic credit is to be given, it will be found 
very helpful for the student to answer, and preferably 
write out his answer to, each question on the section which he 
is studying. Ability to answer correctly all of the follow- 
ing questions will insure a good mastery of the book. The 
first question for each section will usually be answered by the 
words of the “‘thesis” printed in boldface type. Whether 
copied into the notes or not, this should be committed 
to memory by the student, practically word for word as 
given in the text. The answers to the other questions 
should be given so far as possible in different words from 
those used in the text, as this will best reveal whether the 
text has been understood or not. For review and prep- 
aration for examination the teacher may well select the 
questions by number which cover the most important 
points, and indicate to the students the wisdom of special 
attention to those numbers and that examination questions 
will be chosen from this selection. 


Sec. 1.—1. Define religion, indicating its relation to 
feeling, thought, and action. (Thesis.) 2. How does 
this definition differ from those defining religion in terms of 
creed, or of feeling, or of conduct? 3. What place is given 
to man’s relation to humanity in this definition? 4. Why 
is this definition better than one regarding religion as man’s 
relation to God? 5. How does this definition indicate 



that all men are religious? 6. Describe the religion of 
the man who is absorbed in money-making. 7. of the 
benevolent atheist. 8. How is the inclusion of relation to 
humanity, in this definition, justified philosophically? 
9. How justified historically? 10. Give Harper’s definition 
of the highest form of religion. 11. What fact with regard 
to Christianity justifies special study of it? 12. What 
value is there in the definition of religion as the “‘search for 
friends in the universe’? 13. What did early religions 
assume concerning such ‘friends’? 14. How should the 
worship of evil spirits be regarded? 

Sec. 2.—1. What kind of religion is best (a) from the 
standpoint of the individual? (5) from the standpoint of 
society? (Thesis.) 2. Some forms of religion hold that 
the lower interests of human beings must be sacrificed in 
order that the higher may be obtained, or present interests, 
in order that future may be gained. What does the highest 
form of Christianity teach in these respects? 

Sec. 3.—1. How has Christianity shown its superiority 
to other forms of religion? (Thesis.) 2. What assumption 
may we make in regard to the best elements in the religions 
of the past, and on what general principle? 3. What are 
the three great forms of religion today? 4. Why should 
Confucianism not be named as one? 5. Why not Hindu- 
ism? 6. What did early Buddhism teach about the nature 
of salvation needed by man? about the gods? about the 
way of obtaining salvation? 7. What is the Buddhistic 
idea of life? of the highest good? 8. What is the Buddhistic 
idea of proper relations with one’s fellows? 9. To whom 
does Buddhism offer its highest benefits? 10. How does 
the life of adherents to Buddhism compare with that of 
Christians? 11. What is the absolute authority of Moham- 
medanism, and why does this keep it from progress? 
12. What place does it assign to woman? 13. What is 


its idea of God? 14. How does Mohammedan life compare 
with Christian life? 15. What fault may be found with 
the methods of propagation of Mohammedanism? 

Sec. 4.—1. Can a man discover for himself the best 
form of religion by theorizing alone? (Thesis.) 2. Explain 
the necessity of a knowledge of the best religion in history 
if one will develop a still better religion. 3. Why is it 
doubtful whether any form of Christianity accepted by 
large masses of people today is perfect? 4. Describe the 
process of development in Christianity which has been one 
of its highest and most unique characteristics, and evidences 
of vitality. 5. Why may not other religions be better 
for some races than Christianity is? 6. If no religion is 
perfect, and all have some truth in them, why not treat 
all as equals? 7. What is the essence of a religion? (Use 
words of text for answer.) 

Sec. 5.—1. What is the value for the individual of the 
life lived and taught by Jesus? (Thesis.) 2. Characterize 
his attitude toward asceticism—feasts, fasts, marriage, 
and home life; toward physical health. 3. Indicate teach- 
ings of his tending to promote happiness and the highest 
emotions, and to prevent their opposites. 4. Is he mainly 
concerned with this earthly life or the life after death? 
5. Quote passages from the Fourth Gospel characteristic 
of his principle aim. 

Sec. 6.—1. What was Jesus’ valuation of righteousness? 
(Thesis.) 2. Define righteous action. 3. What two great 
philosophers have taught essentially this definition? 
4. In what form did Jesus teach it? 5. How near did 
Confucius come to it? 6. Apart from his teachings about 
“the last things” what were the two principal themes of 
Jesus’ teaching? 7. What did he teach to be the essence of 
righteousness? 8. Did he judge men primarily by their 
acts or their motives? 9. What was the difference between 


the “sheep” and the “goats” in the judgment scene pictured 
by Jesus? 10. What was Jesus’ conception of the King- 
dom of Heaven, as to place and mode of its realization? 
11. What three ideals and what three appeals did Jesus 
unite in his teaching ? 

Sec. 7.—1. To what authority did Jesus appeal, and 
how did he treat tradition when it conflicted with this 
authority? (Thesis.) 2. Explain and illustrate two ways 
in which tradition often hinders progress and opposes 
truth. 3. Mention three or more teachings of Jesus in 
which he rejected traditional doctrines, even of the Old 

Sec. 8.—1. On what grounds can it be claimed that 
Christianity is the best and final religion? (Thesis.) 
2. Name again the three principles in the life and teaching 
of Jesus (theses 5, 6, and 7) which belong to the best religion, 
and trace their history briefly in the history of the Christian 
church. 3. How may their value be demonstrated in the 
social life of today? 4. In what way or in what sense may 
Christianity be superseded in the future, and in what sense 
can we be sure of its finality? 5. Explain the reasons for 
patience with the slowly improving, imperfect forms of 
Christianity. 6. What two concrete elements does Chris- 
tianity possess which are of peculiar value for its life and 
growth? Compare them with corresponding elements in 
Mohammedanism, Buddhism, and any other known forms 
of religion. 

Sec. 9.—1. State the technical distinction as to verifi- 
cation, between faith and knowledge? (Thesis.) 2. When 
suitable evidence has been presented, can we doubt, in a 
matter of “knowledge’’? in a matter of “faith”? 3. Give 
illustrations of knowledge through the “formal sciences”; 
through the senses. 4. Illustrate matters which belong to 
the “realm of knowledge,” although a given person may not 


know them directly, or may not know the truth about them. 
5. When all possible evidence has been duly considered, 
has a man any choice as to his opinions, in the realm of 
knowledge? inthe realm of faith? 6. Tell to which “realm” 
(faith or knowledge) beliefs with regard to the following 
supposed objects or facts belong: (a) the existence and 
character of God; (6) the existence of “heaven”; (c) the 
virgin birth of Jesus; (d) the divinity of Jesus; (e) 
the physical resurrection of Jesus; (f) the authorship of the 
Fourth Gospel; (g) Jesus’ authority to forgive sins. 7. How 
(if at all) does “trust” in God, differ from “belief” or 
“faith” in God as loving heavenly Father of all men? 
8. Why may one not be indifferent to matters of faith if he 
finds that absolute certainty is unattainable? 

Sec. 10.—1. What are the principal tests of reason- 
ableness in a matter of religious faith? (Thesis.) 2. How 
is it possible for one to hold views which contradict each 
other? 3. When religious doctrines are seen to contradict 
each other, but are still taught, how is the difficulty of 
their contradiction avoided? 4. What is usually under- 
stood by the denial of the “reality” of sin, disease, and 
death? 5. What facts known to modern medical science 
account for healings through ‘‘Christian Science’’? 

Sec. 11.—1. If differing religious faiths are apparently 
reasonable, how shall we choose between them? (Thesis.) 
2. How is a scientific or religious theory verified? 3. What 
circumstances may prevent the recognition of the best 
faith when it is offered? 

Sec. 12.—1. What is the second test of the value of a 
religious faith? (Thesis.) 2. Explain reasons why right- 
eousness is probably best for every individual as well as for 
society. 3. What are the two most important and practical 
tests of any religious faith? 4. What is the other prin- 
cipal test? 


Sec. 13.—1. What duty has everyone with regard to 
religious faith? (Thesis.) 2. Give the argument to support 
this position. 3. Can it ever be one’s duty to abandon 
his own judgment, in accepting religious faith? Why so, 
or why not? 4. Will freedom of judgment properly 
exercised in religion, probably lead to greater diversity or 
greater unity in Christian faith? Why? 5. May we 
properly accept the highest form of religious faith available 
today, while acknowledging that it is imperfect and will 
probably be improved in the future? Why? 6. What 
objections are likely to be raised to the methods of deter- 
mining religious faith which have been proposed in the 
preceding sections? 7. What is the Christian doctrine 
expressed in this method? 8. What other method or 
methods than those proposed here might God conceivably 
use to reveal his truth tomen? 9g. If the Christian doctrine 
(referred to in question 7) is not accepted by a man, is this 
method thereby invalidated for him? Why? 


Sec. 14.—1. How does the Bible compare with other 
collections of sacred writings, and what great religious needs 
does it meet? (Thesis.) 2. What common assumption 
with regard to religious knowledge has been made by all 
forms of religion? 3. What are the approximate dates of 
the first and last writings of the Bible? 4. For whom were 
its books primarily written? 5. Characterize the Old 
Testament, with reference to (a) the nation in which it 
arose; (b) changes within that nation; (c) Jesus and the 
New Testament writers. 6. With what four things is the 
New Testament principally concerned? 7. Name three or 
more other collections of sacred writings which contain 
many of the same truths which the Bible contains. 8. Men- 
tion some parts of the Bible which have little or no religious 
value for the world today. 


Sec. 15.—1. How does the Bible differ from the opinions 
of ordinary men? (Thesis.) 2. Why have men desired a 
supernatural revelation? 3. In what kind of experiences 
have men in the past generally thought to recognize the 
revelation of God? 4. How does God reveal himself, and 
what are the marks of his greatest and most important 
revelations? 5. Explain four reasons for the selection of 
different groups of biblical writings. 6. How and when 
did the New Testament books come to be regarded as holy 
and inspired like those of the Old Testament? 7. What 
was the process, and by whom carried on, which resulted 
in the selection of the extraordinary books which make up 
the Bible? 8: What is the evidence that the writers 
of the Bible were moved by the Holy Spirit? 9. Compare 
the methods by which the truths of science and of religion 
are revealed and confirmed. 

Sec. 16.—1. If God is good, what help might we expect 
from him, which is given us in the Bible? (Thesis.) 
2. Compare the way we recognize the word of a friend with 
the way we recognize the word of God. 3. Compare 
different ways in which men have thought to recognize 
God’s word. 4. Should we expect God to reveal himself 
completely and perfectly to a man, all at once? if not, how? 
5. What corresponding experiences of prophet and hearer, 
writer and reader, indicate the activity of God’s Spirit in 
the composition of the Bible? 6. What two implications 
have all elements of religious value in the Bible? 

Sec. 17.—1. Of what special value is the Bible to com- 
mon people who have had little education in philosophy and 
religion? (Thesis.) 2. What is the special distinction of 
the Brahman caste in India? 3. Explain three evils which 
arise when religious leaders assume infallibility or absolute 
authority over the faith of laymen. 4. What effect does 
the Bible naturally have on the mind of the layman seeking 


religious truth? 5. What is the Christian doctrine with 
regard to the persons to whom God directly reveals himself; 
how has this doctrine been neglected and with what evil 
results? 6. What great good is coming from renewed 
recognition of this principle? 7. When and why is it 
right and necessary for the unlearned person to depend 
upon the learned for a correct understanding of the Bible 
and of religion? 

Sec. 18.—1. In what forms must religious truth be 
presented in order to be most effective with ordinary 
people? (Thesis.) 2. Tell of the different forms of litera- 
ture in the Bible which appeal most strongly and helpfully 
to the feelings. 

Sec. 19.—1. What special value for humanity has the 
Bible, in view of the great variety of classes and conditions 
of people on the earth? (Thesis.) 2. Mention elements of 
local interest in Mohammedanism which are not of universal 
interest. 3. Explain how the times and places of the 
writing of the books of the Bible make it interesting to 
people of all classes, places, and conditions. 

Sec. 20.—1. What central human interests, which in 
some forms of religion seem to conflict, are harmonized in 
biblical teaching? (Thesis.) 2. What human interests 
have been cared for at the expense of others, by (2) Moham- 
medanism, (6) Buddhism, (c) Christian Science, (d) asceti- 
cism? 3. Name four important human needs which are 
recognized in the Bible. 

Sec. 21.—1. State the argument for the pre-eminence 
of the Bible on the ground that it contains the principles 
of the best religion. (Thesis.) 2. What does this argument 
imply with regard to revelation of God outside of the 
Bible? 3. Why should we expect a revelation from God 
to appeal to our reason? 4. How does conservatism often 
err? Can you give an illustration? 



Sec. 22.—1. What must one understand about the 
origin of the Bible in order to use it properly as a source 
for non-religious truth? (Thesis.) 2. What two kinds of 
non-religious information have men sought in the Bible? 
3. Explain the relation of- the scientific teachings of the 
Bible to the time in which they were written. 4. When 
were the historical narratives of the Bible written, with 
reference to the date of the events narrated? 5. What is 
known of the sources and methods of composition of these 
writings? 6. Upon what does the historical value of the 
biblical narratives depend? 7. What is the value of the 
historical and scientific parts of the Bible, for us, as com- 
pared with its religious and ethical teachings? 

Sec. 23.—1. In what two fundamental ways is the Bible 
a guide to right conduct? (Thesis.) 2. When does a 
commandment of the Bible become a commandment of 
God to a particular individual? 3. Mention some injunc- 
tions of the Bible which are not God’s commands to us 
today. How do we know that they are not? 

Sec. 24.—1. For what must one look, in the Bible, in 
order to use it as a guide to the true faith? 2. Do all 
teachings of the Bible with regard to God and his relations 
with men agree? Illustrate. 3. How should we choose in 
case of apparent disagreement? 4. How should we select 
portions of the Bible for reading and study? 5. What 
historical argument have we for the special value of the 
Bible for faith and conduct? 6. How does the authority 
of the historic creeds compare with that of the Bible? 

Sec. 25.—1. How may the Bible be used to assist 
progress today? (Thesis.) 2. Mention some of the most 
important changes which have been taking place in human 
life in the last century. 3. Mention some of the changes 
which took place in human life and thought in the period 


covered by the Bible. 4. Has the world ever had a perfect 
form of organized religion? 5. What should be our attitude 
toward the form of faith and organization of the church in 
the time of the apostles? 

Sec. 26.—1. That we may use the Bible as a Christian 
book, (a) what must we seek in the New Testament? 
(b) and in the Old Testament? (c) How shall we apply 
Christian truth from the Bible to the life of today? (Thesis.) 
2. With what is Christian faith fundamentally concerned? 
Why not with the historicity of the New Testament stories . 
of the life of Jesus? 3. What has been the principal 
evidence for Christian faith that, in Christ, God was 
manifest in the flesh? 4. Explain a common but mistaken 
idea as to the chief value of the Old Testament for Chris- 
tianity. 5. What two greater values has it? 


Sec. 27.—1. What is monotheism? (Thesis.) 2. What 
is polytheism? 3. What is tritheism in Christianity? 
4. Describe some polytheistic (or tritheistic) forms of 
Christian belief and explain the evil in them. 5. If we 
speak of the “deity of Christ” or say that Christ was God, 
how should we guard the meaning, to avoid the evils of 
polytheism? 6. What is the worst form of polytheism 
claiming to be Christian? What lesson does it illustrate 
of the mistake of an unintelligent use of the Bible? 

Sec. 28.—1. What is meant by the personality of God? 
(Thesis.) 2. What isaspirit? Explain the relative impor- 
tance of the human body and spirit. 3 Why should we 
not be satisfied with saying that God is a “Principle” or 
“Law” or “Force”? 4. What precaution should we use in 
defining the personality of God? 

Sec. 29.—1. Should we regard the universe as God? 
(Thesis.) 2. What difficulties are there in the conception 
of pantheism? 3. What is the relation of pantheism to 


the principle of moral responsibility, and why? 4. What 
is the relation of pantheism to prayer? 5. What modern 
forms of religion are pantheistic? 

Sec. 30.—1. What should we believe about the character 
of God? (Thesis.) 2. On what principle should we define 
the character of God? 3..Why do we hold that God’s 
character is like that of Jesus as described in the Gospels? 
4. If a man should doubt that the narratives of the Gospels 
were historically true, would he therefore have to doubt 
the Christlike character of God? Why? 

Sec. 31.—1. What is the essence of belief in ““God the 
Son” or in “the second person in the Trinity”? (Thesis.) 
2. What contradiction have theologians tried to hold with 
regard to Jesus in his earthly life? 3. How have they 
avoided the charge of advocating belief in a contradiction? 
4. Give two reasons why men have tried to hold this 
self-contradictory doctrine with regard to Christ? 5. Why 
is the question of the Christlike character of God inde- 
pendent of the question of the historicity of the Gospels? 

Sec. 32.—1. What is the meaning of the doctrine of the 
Holy Spirit or “the third person in the Trinity’? (Thesis.) 
2. Is “Holy Spirit” a name for a part of God or for all of 
God—the name calling special attention to certain activities 
of God? 3. When did the Holy Spirit first come into the 
world? 4. What was the common idea of the nature of 
the Holy Spirit and evidence of its presence, in the Christian 
church of the first century? 5. What is the true evidence 
of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit? 6. What 
New Testament passage is most helpful in indicating the 
nature of the work of the Holy Spirit? 

Sec. 33.—1. How can the existence of the Christian God 
be proved? (Thesis.) 2. State the argument from effect 
to cause. 3. from design to designer. 4. How do these 
arguments fail with regard to the Christian God? 


Sec. 34.—1. What is the strongest reason for believing 
in the Christlike God? (Thesis.) 2. What evidence may be 
found in the past and present, for the value of this faith? 
3. What two tests of the best faith does belief in a Christ- 
like God meet? 

Sec. 35.—1. What is the proper meaning of the doc- 
trine of God as Creator? (Thesis.) 2. Why do we hold 
that matter has not been created? 3. What are the two 
reasons why theologians have held to creation ex nihilo? 
4. How may the chief objection to belief in the eternity of 
matter be overcome? 5. What religious objection is 
there to the doctrine of creation ex nihilo? 

Sec. 36.—1. How is the science of evolution related to 
the doctrine of God as Creator? (Thesis.) 2. Name 
three positions of the evolutionary theory which are accepted 
by practically all scientists. 3. Is there any way of proving 
that the present universe evolved without the direction 
and control of a mind? 4. Which is more reasonable, to 
hold that the universe developed without or with such 
control? 5. What is the final test for deciding whether to 
accept theistic or atheistic evolution, and what is its result? 

Sec. 37.—1. What is meant by the Providence of God? 
(Thesis.) 2. Relate the doctrine of Providence to the two 
different forms of the doctrine of creation. 3. How must 
the doctrine of the omnipotence of God be guarded? 
4. Name three principal ways in which God is limited. 

Sec. 38.—1. What is the highest religious interpretation 
of the presence of pain and physical evil in this world? 
(Thesis.) 2. Of what value is pain which is evidently 
the consequence of sin? 3. What virtues are developed 
through the presence or possibility of pain which could not 
exist or could not be largely developed without it? Explain 
and illustrate. 4. Explain the value of pain in the testing 
of faith in God. 5. Explain the value of the presence or 


danger of pain for the development of society. 6. How 
does Christian faith in God diminish or transform the pain 
of bereavement? 7. Show how it depends on human 
choice whether pain shall be a blessing or not. . 

Sec. 39.—1. On what principles is God’s action deter- 
mined, and what supposed limitation of his powers should 
be rejected? (Thesis.) 2.What characteristic of God’s 
action corresponds to the principle of “the uniformity of 
nature”? 3. What is the relation of God’s action to the 
“laws of Nature’? 4. Explain how God may answer 
prayer without interfering with natural law. 5. Why 
should we not hold that God is limited by the laws known 
to science? 6. How should we determine whether or not to 
ask God for some particular thing? 7. Howshould we inter- 
pret succeeding events after we have offered a prayer to God? 

Sec. 40.—1. In what does the religious value of wonder- 
ful works consist? (Thesis.) 2. Why cannot we attribute 
an event to God rather than to some other spirit on the 
ground of the amount of power manifested? 3. Name 
some of the things which men can do today which a century 
ago would have been thought to require supernatural power. 
4. What is the one characteristic of an event which indicates 
the activity of God? 


Sec. 41.—1. Define Man. (Thesis.) 2. Define a spirit. 
3. Tell of some of the relations known to exist between the 
spirit and the body of the normal human being. 4. Why 
can we not hold that thoughts and feelings are merely 
manifestations of the body? 5. What is religiously impor- 
tant (and what unimportant) in belief as to the origin of 
man? 6. What is the principal distinction between man 
and other animals? 7. What are the limitations of natural- 
istic evolution in accounting for man? 8. What is the most 
reasonable account of the origin of man, and why? 


See. 42.—1. To what extent and from what two influ- 
ences is the will free? (Thesis.) 2. What assumption is 
usually made by psychology as to the degree in which these 
influences determine human action? 3. What facts of 
experience demand modification of this assumption? 
4. What principle for the determination of faith leads to 
belief im human freedom? 5. Discuss the adequacy of the 
margin of freedom for human progress. 

See. 43.—z. What does God’s gift of freedom involve 
as to his power and foreknowledge of human action? 
(Thesis.) 2. What are the two reasons why men have 
held to God’s absolute foreknowledge and predestination of 
all events? 3. What objection is there to believing in 
complete predestination? 4. How great should we believe 
the power and knowledge retained by God to be? 

See. 44—ax1. Give the threefold definition of sin. (The 
sis.) 2. Defend this definition in view of the definition of 
righteousmess. 3. What is the best possible motive for 
action? 4. Give a religious definition of sin. 5. Why is it 
well to begin with other definitions? 6. Show how the reli- 
gious defimition harmonized with the others. 7. Howcanone 
whe believes in God tell whether a command or prohibition 
is from him or not? 8. Harmonize the principle that no 
action considered by itself is sinful with the principle that 
murder and theft are always wrong. 9. Explain why 
unleving action could not come from the best motives. 
10. What is the nature and work of conscience? rz. Why 
is disobedience to conscience sinful? 12. Describe a 
common but mistaken view of conscience and show why it is 
mistaken. 13. Describe the true use of the Bible, books 
of ethics, etc., in determining right and wrong. 

Sec. 45.—1. What are the worst punishments for sin? 
(Thesis) 2. sin ever do the sinner good? 3. Why 
dees God punish sin? 4. Explain the relation of habit 


to the evil of sin and to the condition of being “lost.” 
5. What are the conditions of real friendship and fellowship? 
6. Explain how sin destroys fellowship with God and good 
people. 7. What two facts about God make sin especially 

Sec. 46.—1. Define salvation, and the means of salvation, 
from the standpoint (a) of man’s moral condition and 
(6) relation to God. (Thesis.) 2. Explain the error in 
some popular erroneous ideas of salvation and its means. 
3. Describe the relation of character to happiness. 4. What 
must man do in order that God may save him? 5. Can it 
ever be true to say that a man is lost when he is becoming 
better in character, even if he does not go to church or 
profess any Christian faith? Why? 6. Are there any 
ceremonies or beliefs through which a man may be saved 
while his character is becoming worse?, Why? 7. What 
truth is there in the doctrine of the ‘‘imputation of Christ’s 
righteousness to the sinner”? How may it be wrongly 
understood? 8. May God be saving a man while he does 
not believe that there is a God? Explain. 

Sec. 47.—1. Define conversion. (Thesis.) 2. If most 
men are mixed, having both good and bad qualities, how 
shall we distinguish them in relation to salvation? 3. If 
a man believes in God, what change will conversion make 
in his relation to God? 4. If a man does not believe in 
God may he be truly converted without immediately 
coming to believe in him? Why or how? 

Sec. 48.—1. Must everyone be converted in order to be 
saved? Why or why not? (Thesis.) 2. Under what 
circumstances will the experience of conversion be most 
marked? 3. Contrast the true meaning of “Except a 
man be born again,” etc., with a mistaken interpretation. 
4. What is conclusive evidence of “birth from above”’ 
or “from the Holy Spirit”? 5. On the ground of what fact 


should we say that all men require God’s grace to save 

Sec. 49.—1. What should be said with regard to the 
common belief that salvation is an act which may be 
completed in an instant? (Thesis.) 2. What is the original 
meaning of the word “sanctification”? 3. What is the 
highest. meaning of “holiness”? 4. On what theory of 
salvation was it thought to be completed in an instant? 
5. What instantaneous event is often of great importance 
for salvation and why? 6. What psychological reason is 
there for denying instantaneous sanctification? 7. Explain 
the danger (a) of disappointment and (6) of hypocrisy 
to one who has been taught “instantaneous sanctifica- 

Sec. 50.—1. What is the true meaning of the doctrine of 
justification by faith? (Thesis.) 2. Explain the difference 
between the ethical and the religious meaning of salvation. 
3. What experiences of Paul, Luther, and others gave 
rise to the doctrine of justification by faith? 4. What 
should these experiences teach us with regard to (qa) self- 
satisfaction in the matter of character? (0) the one essential 
thing in religion? 5. Why do not good works always 
please God? In what case do they please him? 6. How 
are we justified ‘‘through faith in Jesus Christ’? 

Sec. 51.—1. What is the natural relation of all human 
beings to God? (Thesis.) 2. What is meant by being a 
“child of God”? 3. What is the doctrine of “total deprav- 
ity” and what objections are there to it? 4. What 
mistaken doctrine has been taught about the relation of 
the work of Jesus to God’s love for the sinner, and what is 
the teaching of the New Testament in this regard? 5. If 
all are children of God, what is the difference between the 
sinful and the followers of Jesus in their relation to God, 
and what change is to be sought for the sinful? 


Sec. 52.—1. In what cases is sin punished, and what 
are the purposes of the punishment? (Thesis.) 2. Upon 
what three factors does the degree of punishment which a 
person deserves depend? 3. What two kinds of difficulties 
have human beings in correctly calculating what punishment 
a man deserves in any particular case? 4. What two aims 
should determine the punishment inflicted by men? 5. Ex- 
plain some ways in which God adjusts the penalty to the 
sin. 6. What motive should be attributed to God in his 
punishment of sin? 7. What conditions of forgiveness and 
cessation of punishment would most encourage true repent- 
ance? 8. What evil results of sinning cease upon repent- 
ance and forgiveness? 

Sec. 53.—1. What transformation occurs in the results 
of sin which continue after repentance? (Thesis.) 2. Ilus- 
trate and explain some such transformations. 3. In what 
way is faith necessary to salvation? 4. Is the complete 
Christian faith necessary to salvation? If so, why? If 
not, why should we teach the Christian faith? 


Sec. 54.—1. In what, alone, does the value of belief in 
Jesus consist? (Thesis.) 2. Why cannot we hold that God 
requires men to accept certain beliefs about Jesus (give 
examples) as an absolutely necessary condition of salvation? 
3. What other false ideas of the efficacy of belief in Jesus 
have been held? 

Sec. 55.—1. What is implied in belief in the humanity 
of Jesus? (Thesis.) 2. In what ways is the knowledge of 
human beings limited? 3. How is this limitation a neces- 
sary condition of the reality of temptation and development 
of character? 4. Why should we hold that Jesus was 
limited in knowledge in the same way that other men are? 
5. What common temptations of men follow from their 


limitation in power? 6. Should we hold that Jesus was 
limited as much as the average man in all respects? Why? 

Sec. 56.—1. What would be the most perfect revelation 
of God’s nature and character which men could receive? 
(Thesis.) 2. What was the argument of Xenophanes against 
“anthropomorphism’’? 3. To what extent should we 
accept his argument? 4. In what ways must we have an 
anthropomorphic conception of God? 5. What elements 
in the Christian faith in God are most important and why? 
6. How and when do men begin to think of God as having 
infinite knowledge and power, and why are these beliefs 
less important than belief in God’s love? 

Sec. 57.—1. How much of the gospel narratives of the 
life of Jesus may be held to be historically true? (Thesis.) 
2. Why cannot we hold that these narratives are correct 
in every detail? 3. Give a brief account of the faith, 
teaching, and life of Jesus with respect to: (a) God, (0) love, 
(c) sin in himself and others, (d) wonderful works, (e) belief 
in his special relation to God and special mission, (f) death, 
(g) resurrection. 

Sec. 58.—1. What character, and therefore value as a 
revelation of God, does history justify us in attributing to 
Jesus? (Thesis.) 2. What question should be asked in 
determining whether the action of Jesus was right in par- 
ticular cases, and what answer must we give for all cases of 
which we know? 3. What two arguments are strongest 
for the purity of Jesus’ character? 4. What two values 
does belief that Jesus was the highest possible revelation of 
God have for us? 

Sec. 59.—1. What character and saving activities of 
God are manifested in the life and death of Jesus? (Thesis.) 
2. In what ways, in the life and death of Jesus is God’s 
hatred of sin evidenced? 3. In what way the love and for- 
giveness of God? 4. In what ways does the life and death 


of Jesus help men to hate sin, turn from it, love God, and 
seek help from him to live the righteous life? 

Sec. 60.—1. What historic phrases may be rightly used 
to describe God’s revelation of himself in Jesus? (Thesis.) 
2. How does God seem to become less real as religion 
develops into higher forms?, 3. How was the thought of 
God made real to the ancient Hebrews, and why can it not 
be made real to us in the same way? 4. What is the 
proper meaning of “God incarnate” as applied to Jesus? 
5. What is the special value of faith in Jesus as the great 
manifestation of God, in addition to faith in a Christlike 

Sec. 61.—1. What two great values have we in the life 
of Jesus as an example? (Thesis.) 2. Discuss the values 
of the example of Jesus with regard to (a) its union of faith 
in God with love for men; (0) service to others; (c) asceti- 
cism; (d) relation to “the world’; (e) pleasure; (f) man- 
liness. 3. What is the peculiar value of the voluntary 
death of Jesus, as an example? 4. What is the value of 
the completely righteous character of his life? 

Sec. 62.—1. In what does the atonement of Jesus con- 
sist? (Thesis.) 2. Why has there been so much conflict 
about doctrines of the atonement and other religious 
doctrines? 3. What kind of theories of the means of 
salvation must we regard as false? 4. Give mistaken 
uses and true uses of the following ten phrases as descriptive 
of the atoning work of Jesus: (a) vicarious suffering; 
(b) ransom for many; (c) cleansing by the blood; (d) offer- 
ing or propitiation for our sins; (e) reconciling the world 
to God; (f) ““He became what we are that he might make us 
what he is”; (g) imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us 
and of our sin to him; (h) paying the debt; (k) govern- 
mental theory; (J) mediator of our salvation. 5. Why 
should we not say that Jesus is the only way of salvation? 


6. What interpretation of “No man cometh to the Father 
but by me” stands for evident truth? 


Sec. 63.—1. Of what real value are the teachings of the 
Bible with regard to future events? (Thesis.) 2. What 
ideas with regard to the future life had Old Testament 
writers? 3. What errors have been made in the inter- 
pretation of Sheol and Hades in our authorized English 
Bible? 4. What resurrection doctrine was held by Jews in 
the time of Jesus? 5. What are the two principal apocalyp- 
ses of the Bible? 6. Name four or more other apocalypses 
known to the Jews of about the time of Christ. 7. What 
three considerations prevent us from expecting definite 
information about the future in the New Testament? 
8. Why are the teachings of Jesus more helpful to us 
than other New Testament material in anticipating the 

Sec. 64.—1. What should we believe about the future 
life of those who have been moving upward in this life? 
(Thesis.) 2. Distinguish the important from the unim- 
portant in the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. 
3. What objection is there to believing that exactly the 
same body that dies will be raised again? 4. What is the 
relation of psychic research to faith in immortality? 
5. What is the strongest argument against future life for 
men? How may it be answered? 6. What is the strongest 
religious argument for immortality? 

Sec. 65.—1. What does belief in a righteous God imply 
as to the future of the hopelessly bad, if there be any such? 
(Thesis.) 2. What is the unpardonable sin? 3. What 
reasons are there for and against universalism? 4. What 
objections are there to the traditional doctrine of eternal 


Sec. 66.—1. What should we believe about the mental 
and moral conditions of the future life? (Thesis.) 2. Give 
reasons for maintaining this thesis. 

Sec. 67.—1. What two meanings should belong to our 
conception of heaven and how definitely should we picture 
it? (Thesis.) 2. Why must the traditional idea of the 
location of heaven be abandoned? 3. What is most 
important in our faith about heaven? 

Sec. 68.—1. When does God judge individuals and 
nations? (Thesis.) 2. What objections are there to holding 
that everyone is judged and his fate irrevocably settled at 
death? 3. Describe the constant judgment of nations. 
4. What is the principal meaning and value of biblical 
pictures of judgment scenes? 5. What objections are there 
to believing in a literal fulfilment of these pictures? How 
would such fulfilment be contrary to God’s laws of time, 
space, and moral government? 

Sec. 69.—1. How should we expect the Kingdom of 
God to come onearth? (Thesis.) 2. Describe the spiritual 
methods by which God helps men develop good character 
and establishes his Kingdom. 3. What objections are 
there to believing that these methods will be superseded by 
magical or physical methods of compulsion? 4. Apart 
from the facts of history, what objections are there to 
holding that the world is continually growing worse? 
5. What historical facts can you mention to show that the 
world is growing better? 6. What has been the history 
and the use of calculations as to the time of Jesus’ second 
coming in the past? 


Sec. 70.—1. How does the essential expression of the 
highest faith correspond to its primary test? (Thesis.) 
2. What are the two principal dangers with regard to 
professed creeds? 3. In what way will the true faith make 


us safe? 4. How are love to God and men alike, and 
which is more fundamental and why? 

Sec. 71.—1. What is the most direct expression of faith 
in a Christlike God? (Thesis.) 2. What is the principal 
value of prayer? Why? 3. In what forms of prayer will 
fellowship with God be best promoted? 4. What are the 
most important petitions which we can.ask of God and how 
are they usually answered? 5. Can anything else take the 
place of expressed prayer? Why? 

Sec. 72.—1. What should we believe about answers to 
prayer? (Thesis.) 2. What characteristic of faith besides 
intensity is essential for effectual prayer? 3. Why must 
“Thy will be done” be a fundamental part of every true 
prayer? 4. How can we truly say that all prayers are 

Sec. 73.—1. Why and how should our requests to God 
be limited? (Thesis.) 2. What should we mean when we 
speak of God as “Almighty”? 3. Explain the limitation 
of God by reality or fact. 4. How is God limited by his 
nature or will? 5. What is the relation of this limitation to 
the uniformity of Nature? 6. What parallels are there in 
the spiritual realm to the uniformity of Nature? 7. Explain 
how God is limited by man’s freedom. 8. Explain how 
all God’s limitations may be regarded as limitations by his 
own will. 

Sec. 74.—1. What general rule should we follow with 
regard to petitions in prayer? (Thesis.) 2. How is prayer 
answered through its reaction upon ourselves? 3. How 
may prayer be answered in accordance with the laws of 
telepathy? 4. What answers may be given to the question: 
Can we expect changes in physical nature in response to 
our prayers? 

Sec. 75.—1. How should we be constantly strengthening 
the thoughts and feelings belonging to the highest religion? 


(Thesis.) 2. Why is the Bible of special value for this 
purpose? 3. Why should we not confine ourselves to the 

Sec. 76.—1. Give two important reasons for regularly 
engaging in church worship. (Thesis.) 2. How are love to 
God and man visibly united in public worship? 3. How 
is one’s faith and courage strengthened by sharing in public 
worship? 4. How should all classes be bound together 
through public worship? 5. What are the principal 
features of public worship which should be made as effective 
as possible? 6. How would you reply to one who said he 
would not go to church because he could read better sermons 
at home, and hear better music in other places? 7. Why 
is it useless to try to avoid sectarianism or formalism by 
refusing to work with a religious sect or organization? 

Sec. 77.—1. State the responsibility of the church for 
instruction. (Thesis.) 2. What conditions must be met 
before there can properly be definite religious instruction in | 
the public schools? 3. When it is given, what should be 
the conditions of the teaching? 4. Why is it necessary to 
teach religious truth instead of leaving each to form his own 
religious views? 5. What are the two principal agencies 
for instruction in the church as it is at present? 6. Should 
they be supplemented? Why? 

Sec. 78.—1. In what work of the church for social 
welfare should every Christian share? (Thesis.) 2. Why 
may we not leave to other organizations the promotion of 
the “brotherhood of man”? 3. What other doctrine most 
strongly implies and enforces that of the brotherhood of 
man? 4. From what extreme does the cry for practical 
religion call the church? 5. To what opposite extreme 
does this sometimes lead, and why is it dangerous? 
6: What is the most important work of the church with 
respect to social service? 


Sec. 79.—1. Name the two permanent functions of the 
church and the circumstances in which it should engage in 
particular forms of social service. (Thesis.) 2. How and 
when should we expect the need for charitable and philan- 
thropic organizations to diminish or disappear? 3. What 
is an institutional church? 4. Explain three or more prin- 
cipal values of institutional methods. 5. Why are social 
and reform activities often better carried on by other 
agencies than the organized church? 

Sec. 80.—1. What is the final authority for the church, 
and how should its form of organization be related to this 
authority? (Thesis.) 2. What other authorities for the 
church must be subordinated? 3. What are the two 
classes of problems of the church? 4. Name and describe 
two principles which should be applied in the solution of 
these problems. 5. Which of these principles has commonly 
been applied too exclusively? 6. What should usually be 
the relation between the local congregation and outside 
authorities in its formulation of its faith and order? 

Sec. 81.—1. What principle should determine the 
organized relations between different congregations and 
groups of Christians? (Thesis.) 2. What works of the 
church require co-operation of various congregations in 
order to be effectively carried on? 3. What authority for 
us have biblical and historical forms of organization? 
4. What changes and variations in social conditions require 
change and adaptability in church methods and forms? 
5. What contrary movements with respect to co-operation 
are noticeable among churches today? 6. Under what 
influences are movements toward church union taking 
place? 7. What three great evils arise from separation and 
competition between denominations? 

Sec. 82.—1. What qualifications, two of faith, and one 
of life, should be sufficient for membership in any Christian 


church? (Thesis.) 2. Defend this thesis in view of the 
significance of the word “member.” 3. What value is 
there in the formulation of creeds, and against what misuses 
should they be guarded? Why? 

Sec. 83.—1. What qualifications should the pastor of a 
church possess? (Thesis.) . 2. What special gifts and prep- 
aration should be expected in a pastor? 

Sec. 84.—1. What requirement commonly made of 
ministers and candidates for the ministry should be aban- 
doned? (Thesis.) 2. What existing conditions make such 
a requirement dangerous? 3. How is it often evaded? 
4. By whom and how might candidates properly be exam- 
ined in doctrine? 

Sec. 85.—1. How wide is the responsibility of the 
church? (Thesis.) 2. How might a church be defined? 
3. Of what importance is the work of the church for human- 
ity? Why? 4. Does the triumph of Christianity necessarily 
involve the disappearance of the names and forms of all 
other religions? Explain. 5. Who is likely to hold the 
central place in the final religion? Why? 



Norte.—The figures in the following index refer to pages of the book, except 
when preceded by the sign §, which indicates “section.”” The material in the 
appendices is not indexed except in a few cases where explanations or questions 

throw some direct light upon the subject referred to. 

For further use of the 

notes, the reader should find the topic in the text and then look for the notes on 

the section in which it is treated. 

Advent. See Second Advent 

Anthropomorphism, 136, 147, 

Apocalypses, 161, 162, 179 

Asceticism, 4, 12, 15, 52, 151 

Atheism, 1, 3, 7, 116, 183 

Atonement, §59, 149, 
§ 61, § 62 


Bergson, 242, 243, 244 

Bible, 17, 18, 23 

—Infallibility of, 234-37 

—Use of, chap. iii, 77, § 63, 
§ 75, 237, 238 

—Value of, chap. ii 

Brotherhood of man, 195, 201. 
See also Love to man 

Browning, Robert, 172 

Buddhism, 1, 6, 7, 22, 52 

Character, § 45, 113, §§ 46-49, 
123, §54, $65, §66, 172. 
See also Righteousness 

Children, 12, 117 

Christ. See Jesus 

Christian Science, 30, 31, 52, 

80, 100 

Christianity, Defined, 3 

—Progress in, 10, 21, 22, § 25, 
§ 63. See also Religion, 
Development in; and Prog- 
ress in religion 

—Supremacy of, 37t 257 § 3, 
§ 4, §8, § 85 __ 

Church, Christian, 71, 142, 
§§ 76-79, § 85, 230 


—Institutional, § 78, § 79 

—Membership, § 82 

—Ministry of, 213, § 83, § 84 

—Organization, 198, § 80, § 81 

—Union, 211 

Clairvoyance, 132 

Confucianism, 6 

Confucius, 13, 42 

Conscience, § 7, 38, 46, 60, 
61, TIO, Ir 

Conservatism, 16, 17, 33, 54, 
207, 208 

Conversion, 105, §47, § 48, 

103, 242 

Creed, 15, 17, 65, 81, 113, 114, 

54, $62, 169, 212, 213, 

§ 84, 246 

Death, 96, § 64, § 65, § 68 

Depravity, § 51 

Determinism. See Predestina- 

Devil, 4, 124 

Doubt. See Atheism 

Duty, § 13, 133, 183 

56, 59, §§ 35-37, 

Education in religion, § 77, 

203, § 79, 214 
Evil, Physical, § 38, § 53 
Evolution, 57, § 36, 92, 103, 

Faith, § 9, § 10, § 13, § 24, 70, 
83, §33, §34, 91, 94, 95; 
105, 128, 129, $$ 70-72 


Fallibility, Human, 36, 42, 
§ 22, 67, 68, 99, 140, 155, 
217, 236, 237 

' Forgiveness, 114, 

128, § 59 as 
Future life, 13, 96, chap. vii 

123, 127, 

Gautama Buddha, 6, 22 
Genesis, 57, 59 
God, Existence of, 27, § 33, 

§ 34 
—Fatherhood of, 73, § 30, § 31, 
§ 30, § 51,144, 163, 195, 201 
—Fellowship with, 73, 08, 
§ 45, §46, §50, §71. See 
also Prayer 
—Foreknowledge of, § 43. See 
also Will, Freedom of 
—Immanence of, 89, 92 
—Limitations of, 93, § 43, 175, 


—Nature of, 14, 45, 71, 73, 
chap. iv, §43, §56, 144, 
§ 59, § 60 

—Omnipotence, 89, 93, 106, 
137, 188 

—Omniscience, § 43, 137 

—Personality of, 73, 
§ 56, 144, 193 

—Will of, 61, 89, § 37, 98, 
99, 107, 108, 112, § 72, 188, 
190, 194. See also Right- 

Gospels, 70, 71, 72, 83, § 57, 
225, 226 

Habit, § 45 

Health, Physical. 
tian Science; 

Heaven, 113, 114, 161, § 67. 
See also Future life 

Hell, § 63, § 65, 245, 249, 250 

Heresy. See Creed; Truth in 
religion; Atheism 

Hinduism, 6 

History, § 22, 179 

§ 28, 

See Chris- 


Holiness. See Perfection 

Holy Spirit, 17, 18, 38, 44, 55, 
§ 26, § 32, 118, 124, 153, 
167, § 80 

—Blasphemy against, 245 

Home, 12 

Hypocrisy, 121, § 70 

Immortality, §§ 63-67. See 
also Death; Future life 

Incarnation, 70, § 60. See also 
Jesus, Person and work 

Individual satisfaction, § 2, § 5, 
15, § II, § 20, 224, 225 

Jesus, Authority of, in religion, 
§ 7) IQ; 20, 22, 162, 163, 177; 
206, 218, 230 

—Divinity of, § 56, § 58, § 50, 
§ 60 

—Example, 134, § 61, 249 
—Historical existence, 82, 83, 

—Humanity of, § 55, § 57, 
§ 58, § 61, 162, 246 
—Life and teaching, § 5, §6, 
$7, 51, §26, 80, 83, §55, 
$57, § 58, § Or, 237, 238 
—Person and work, 22, 23, 70, 
76, 81, § 31, 113, 114, 115, 
123-125, chap. vi 
—Resurrection of, 142, 155 
John, Book of. See Gospels 
Judgment, 162, § 68 
Justification, 35, § so 

Kant, Immanuel, 13, 120, 166 

Kingdom of God or heaven, 14, 
15, 178, 201, § 85 

Knowledge, §0, $33, §55. 
See also Faith 

Koran, 8, 23, 42, 50 

Love, to God, 14, 110, 123, 
137, 154, 183 

—to man 2, 7,13, 14, 15, 107, 
110, 137, 146, 154, §70. 


See also Brotherhood of man; 
Social service 
Luther, Martin, 122 

Man, Ideal, § 56, §58, $50, 
§ 62 

—Nature of, 1, 78, § 41, § 42, 
§ 51, § 55, § 64 

Materialism, 2, 103, § 36. See 
also Evolution 

Matter, 88, 89, 102 

Mental healing. See Psycho- 
therapy; Christian Science 

Messiah, 72, 161 

Millennium, § 69, 251, 252 

Ministry, 213, § 83, § 84 

Miracle, 70, 89, §39, § 40. 
See also Supernatura: 

Missions, § 85 

Mohammedanism, 6, 7, 8, 22, 
23, 52, 54 

Money-making, 2, 135 

Monotheism, 67, § 27 

Mormonism, 77, 239 

Motives, 18, 74, § 44, 111, 116, 
123, 126, 176. See also 

Music, 197 

Mystery, 81 

Nature, Uniformity of. See 
Science, Physical; and 

“New Thought,” 80 

Nirvana, 7 

Obedience. See God, Will of; 
Righteousness; Sin 
Optimism, 172, 180 

Pain. See Evil, Physical 

Palestine, 51, 233 

Pantheism, 3, § 2 

Perfection, § 49, § 61, 170 

Pessimism, 7, 177, 178 

Philanthropy. See Brother- 
hood of man; Social service; 

, Love to man 


Polygamy, 8 

Polytheism, 66, § 27 

Prayer, 27, 79; 98, §§ 71-74 

Predestination, § 43, 244. See 
also Will, Freedom of; God, 
Foreknowledge of 

Progress in religion, 8, 10, 21, 
a 23, 41, § 25, § 63, 207, 

Providence, § 37 

Psychology, 102, §42, 120, 
I2I, 164, 243 

Psychotherapy, 100 

Punishment. See Sin, Punish- 
ment of 

Reasonableness. See Truth of 

Regeneration, 118, 125. See 
also Conversion; Salvation 
Religion, Atheistic. See Athe- 

—Definition, § 1, § 2, 32 

—Development in, 8, §4, 21, 
36, 37, 64, §25, 73. See 
also Progress in religion 

—False, 4 

—Final, 9, §8 

—Historical, § 3, § 4, §8 

—Ideal, 3, § 2, § 8, 32 

—Local, 50 

—Practicality of, § 20, 233, 
234. See also Individual 
satisfaction; Religion, Social 

—Social, §2, $4, §12, § 20, 
95, § 76, § 78 

Repentance, 114, 127, 128 

Resurrection, 166, 169. See 
also Future life; Immor- 

Revelation, 38, chap. ii, chap. 
iii, § 56, 232 

Revelation, Book of, 161 

oa pie § 2, §6, §12, 

13, §23, 76, §29, $30, 

§ 34, 94, 107, § 64, 224, 225. 


See also Salvation; Sin; 

God, Will of 

Salvation, 94, §§ 46-50, § 54, 
§ 59, § 61, § 62 

Sanctification, § 49 

Science, Physical, 54, 56, 57, 
59, 88, 89, § 36, § 39, 243. 
See also Evolution 

Second Advent, §68, § 69, 

Sects, 22, 47, 61, 198. See also 

Self-sacrifice, 12, 151, 202 
Sermon, 197, 200, 214 
Sin, 124, chap. v, 145, 146, 

—Cause of, 94, 106, 121 
—Forgiveness of. 
—Nature of, § 44 
—Original, 119, 124, 125 
—Punishment of, 94, § 45, 
$46, §52, §53, 133, 174, 

—Unpardonable, 245 

See For- 

Social service, § 70, § 78, § 79. 
See also Brotherhood of man 

Socrates, 13, 133, 166 

Spirit, 78, § 41, 189, 190. See 
also Holy Spirit 

Sunday school, § 77 

Supernatural, 42, 56, 84, § 39, 
$40, §69, 189, 192, 193. 
See also Miracle 

Teaching, Suggestions for, 223 

Tradition, §7, 20. See also 

Trinity, § 31, § 32 

Tritheism, § 27 

Truth of religion, § 7, §§ 9-12, 
40, 53, 54, 216 

Virgin Mary, 76, 246 
Will, Freedom of, 94, § 42, 

§ 43, 190, 244 
Worship, § 76, § 79 

Xenophanes, 136 

Young Men’s Christian Asso- 
ciation, 205 


The Constructive Studies comprise volumes suitable 
for all grades, from kindergarten to adult years, in 
schools or churches. In the production of these studies 
the editors and authors have sought to embody not 
only their own ideals but the best product of the 
thought of all who are contributing to the theory and 
practice of modern religious education. They have 
had due regard for fundamental principles of peda- 
gogical method, for the results of the best modern 
biblical scholarship, and for those contributions to 
religious education which may be made by the use of 
a religious interpretation of all life-processes, whether 
in the field of science, literature, or social phenomena. 

Their task is not regarded as complete because of 
having produced one or more books suitable for each 
grade. There will be a constant process of renewal 
and change, and the possible setting aside of books 
which, because of changing conditions in the religious 
world or further advance in the science of religious 
education, no longer perform their function, and the 
continual enrichment of the series by new volumes so 
that it may always be adapted to those who are 
taking initial steps in modern religious education, as 
well as to those who have accepted and are ready to 
put into practice the most recent theories. 

As teachers profoundly interested in the problems of 
religious education, the editors have invited to co- 
operate with them authors chosen from a wide territory 
and in several instances already well known through 
practical experiments in the field in which they are 
asked to write. 

The editors are well aware that those who are most 
deeply interested in religious education’ hold that 
churches and schools should be accorded perfect 
independence in their choice of literature regardless of 
publishing-house interests and they heartily sympa- 
thize with this standard. They realize that many 
schools will select from the Constructive Studies such 
volumes as they prefer, but at the same time they 
hope that the Constructive Studies will be most widely 
serviceable as a series. The following analysis of the 
series will help the reader to get the point of view of 
the editors and authors. 


The kindergarten child needs most of all to gain 
those simple ideals of life which will keep him in har- 
mony with his surroundings in the home, at play, and 
in the out-of-doors. He is most susceptible to a reli- 
gious interpretation of all these, which can best be 
fostered through a program of story, play, handwork, 
and other activities as outlined in 
The Sunday Kindergarten (Ferris). A teachers’ manual 

giving directions for the use of a one- or two-hour 
period with story, song, play, and handwork. Per- 

manent and temporary material for the children’s 
table work, and story leaflets to be taken home. 


At the age of six years when children enter upon a 
new era because of their recognition by the first grade 
in the public schools the opportunity for the cultivation 
of right social reactions is considerably increased. 
Their world still, however, comprises chiefly the home, 
the school, the playground, and the phenomena of 

nature. A normal religion at this time is one which 
will enable the child to develop the best sort of life 
in all these relationships, which now present more 
complicated moral problems than in the earlier stage. 
Religious impressions may be made through inter- 
pretations of nature, stories of life, song, prayer, simple 
scripture texts, and handwork. All of these are 
embodied in 

Child Religion in Song and Story (Chamberlin and Kern). 
Three interchangeable volumes, only one of which is 
used at one time in all three grades. Each lesson pre- 
sents a complete service, song, prayers, responses, texts, 
story, and handwork. Constructive and beautiful 
handwork books are provided for the pupil. 


When the children have reached the fourth grade 
they are able to read comfortably and have developed 
an interest in books, having a “‘reading book” in 
school and an accumulating group of story-books at 
home. One book in the household is as yet a mystery, 
the Bible, of which the parents speak reverently as 
God’s Book. It contains many interesting stories 
and presents inspiring characters which are, however, 
buried in the midst of much that would not interest 
the children. To help them to find these stories and 
to show them the living men who are their heroes or 
who were the writers of the stories, the poems, or 
the letters, makes the Bible to them a living book 
which they will enjoy more and more as the years 
pass. This service is performed by 

An Introduction to the Bible for Teachers of Children (Cham- 
berlin). Story-reading from the Bible for the school 
and home, designed to utilize the growing interest in 
books and reading found in children of this age, in 

cultivating an attitude of intelligent interest in the 
Bible and enjoyment of suitable portions of it. Full 
instructions with regard to picturesque, historical, and 
social introductions are given the teacher. A pupil’s 
homework book, designed to help him to think 
of the story as a whole and to express his thinking, 
is provided for the pupil. 


Children in the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades are 
hero-worshipers. In the preceding grade they have 
had a brief introduction to the life of Jesus through 
their childish. explorations of the gospels. His 
character has impressed them already as heroic and 
they are eager to know more about him, therefore the 
year is spent in the study of 
The Life of Jesus (Gates). The story of Jesus graphically 

presented from the standpoint of a hero. A teacher’s 
manual contains full instructions for preparation of 
material and presentation to the class. A partially 
completed story of Jesus prepared for the introduction 
of illustrations, maps, and original work, together with 
all materials required, is provided for the pupil. 

In the sixth grade a new point of approach to some 
of the heroes with whom the children are already 
slightly acquainted seems desirable. The Old Testa- 
ment furnishes examples of men who were brave 
warriors, magnanimous citizens, loyal patriots, great 
statesmen, and champions of democratic justice. To 
make the discovery of these traits in ancient characters 
and to interpret them in the terms of modern boyhood 
and girlhood is the task of two volumes in the list. 
The choice between them will be made on the basis of 
preference for handwork or textbook work for the 

Heroes of Israel (Soares). Stories selected from the Old 
Testament which are calculated to inspire the imagina- 
tion of boys and girls of the early adolescent period. 
The most complete instructions for preparation and 
presentation of the lesson are given the teacher in his 
manual. The pupil’s book provides the full text of each 
story and many questions which will lead to the consid- 
eration of problems arising in the life of boys and girls 
of this age. 

Old Testament Stories (Corbett). Also a series of stories 
selected from the Old Testament. Complete instruc- 
tions for vivid presentation are given the teacher in 
his manual. The pupil’s material consists of a note- 
book containing a great variety of opportunities for 
constructive handwork. 

Paul was a great hero. Most people know him only 
as a theologian. His life presents miracles of courage, 
struggle, loyalty, and self-abnegation. The next book 
in the series is intended to help the pupil to see such a 
man. The student is assisted by a wealth of local 

Paul of Tarsus (Atkinson). The story of Paul which is 
partially presented to the pupil and partially the result 
of his own exploration in the Bible and in the library. 
Much attention is given to story of Paul’s boyhood 
and his adventurous travels, inspiring courage and 
loyalty to a cause. The pupil’s notebook is similar in 
form to the one used in the study of Gates’s ‘“‘Life of 
Jesus,” but more advanced in thought. 

In the secular school the work of the eighth grade 
is tending toward elimination. It is, therefore, con- 
sidered here as one of the high-school grades. In the 
high-school years new needs arise. There is necessary 

a group of books which will dignify the study of the 
Bible and give it as history and literature a place in 
education, at least equivalent to that of other histories 
and literatures which have contributed to the progress 
of the world. This series is rich in biblical studies 
which will enable young people to gain a historical 
appreciation of the religion which they profess. Such 
books are 

The Gospel According to Mark (Burton). A study of the 
life of Jesus from this gospel. The full text is printed in 
the book, which is provided with a good dictionary and 
many interesting notes and questions of very great 
value to both teacher and pupil. 

The First Book of Samuel (Willett). Textbook for teacher 
and pupil in which the fascinating stories of Samuel, 
Saul, and David are graphically presented. The com- 
plete text of the first book of Samuel is given, many 
interesting explanatory notes, and questions which 
will stir the interest of the pupil, not only in the present 
volume but in the future study of the Old Testament. 

The Life of Christ (Burgess). A careful historical study of 
the life of Christ from the four gospels. A manual for 
teacher and pupil presents a somewhat exhaustive treat- 
ment, but full instructions for the selection of material 
for classes in which but one recitation a week occurs 
are given the teacher in a separate outline. 

The Hebrew Prophets (Chamberlin). An inspiring presen- 
tation of the lives of some of the greatest of the prophets 
from the point of view of their work as citizens and 
patriots. In the manual for teachers and pupils the 
biblical text in a good modern translation is included. 

Christianity in the Apostolic Age (Gilbert). A story of 
early Christianity chronologically presented, full of 
interest in the hands of a teacher who enjoys the his- 
torical point of view. 

In the high-school years also young people find it 
necessary to face the problem of living the Christian 
life in a modern world, both as a personal experience 
and as a basis on which to build an ideal society. To 
meet this need a number of books intended to inspire 
boys and girls to look forward to taking their places 
as home-builders and responsible citizens of a great 
Christian democracy and to intelligently choose their 
task in it are prepared orin preparation. The following 
are now ready: 

Problems of Boyhood (Johnson). A series of chapters 
discussing matters of supreme interest to boys and 
girls, but presented from the point of view of the boy. 
A splendid preparation for efficiency in all life’s relation- 

Lives Worth Living (Peabody). A series of studies of 
important women, biblical and modern, representing 
different phases of life and introducing the opportunity 
to discuss the possibilities of effective womanhood in 
the modern world. 

The Third and Fourth Generation (Downing). A series of 
studies in heredity based upon studies of phenomena 
in the natural world and leading up to important 
historical facts and inferences in the human world. 


The Biblical studies assigned to the high-school 
period are in most cases adaptable to adult class 
work. There are other volumes, however, intended 
only for the adult group, which also includes the 
young people beyond the high-school age. They are 
as follows: 

Great Men of the Christian Church (Walker). A series of 
delightful biographies of men who have been influential 
in great crises in the history of the church. 

Social Duties from the Christian Point of View (Henderson). 
Practical studies in the fundamental social relationships 
which make up life in the family, the city, and the 

Religious Education in the Family (Cope). An illuminating 
study of the possibilities of a normal religious develop- 
ment in the family life. Invaluable to parents. 

Christian Faith for Men of Today (Cook). A re-interpretation 
of old doctrines in the light of modern attitudes. 

The Life of Christ (Burton and Mathews). A careful 
historical study of the life of Christ from the four 
gospels, with copious notes, reading references, 
maps, etc. 

It is needless to say that the Constructive Studies 
present no sectarian dogmas and are used by churches 
and schools of all denominational affiliations. In the 
grammer- and high-school years more books are pro- 
vided than there are years in which to study them, 
each book representing a school year’s work. Local 
conditions, and the preference of the Director of 
Education or the teacher of the class will be the guide 
in choosing the courses desired, remembering that 
in the preceding list the approximate place given to 
the book is the one which the editors and authors 
consider most appropriate. 

Prices always placed at the minimum but liable 
to change from year to year may be learned from the 
latest price list. Address the 



Tr? wets LFeu 
_ Cook, Ezra Albert. 
Christian faith for men of today/ . 

BT Cook, Ezra Albert 
17 Christian faith for men of today / Ezra Al 
C745 Cook. -- 2d ed. <= Chicago : University of 
1920 Chicago press, 1920. 
xvii, 286p. ; 20cm. -- (The University of 
Chicago publications in religious education. 
Constructive studies) 

"Books for references": p.221~222, 
Includes index. 

1. Theology, Doctrinal~«« Popular works, I. Title. 
II. Series: Chicago. ) University. ,Publications 4: 
religious education, oa Constructive studies, 
ie? (ey ge _ besc/a