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Zbe Editor's page 



^-■^HAT is the outcome of the 
Ml historical method of study- 
VM-^ ing reUgion? We are already 
aware of the important consequences 
in the field of Old Testament study. 
We are gradually adjusting ourselves 
to the necessity of a thoroughgoing 
historical study of the origins of 
Christianity, but there is still con- 
siderable uncertainty even in the 
minds of those who employ this 
method as to its real contribution to 
our understanding of religion. 

The negative aspects of historical 
criticism are readily evident. In the 
place of dogmatic statements in regard 
to the Scriptures we find the historical 
critics confronting us with conjec- 
tures, hypothetical reconstructions, 
confessions of ignorance, formulations 
of unsolved problems. These his- 
torians seem to be "ever learning and 
never coming to a knowledge of the 
truth." There seem to be no "as- 
sured results" of criticism in the 
sense that conclusions are reached 
which will never need revision. This 
seems to many people to be fatal to 
the strength of religion. Even those 
who recognize that historical criticism 
is inevitable often attempt to establish 
religious faith on some supposedly 
unchangeable basis which shall be 
untouched by criticism. 

The negative aspects of a non- 
historical method are often over- 
looked, though these are quite as 
evident as are the uncertainties of 



historical criticism. The non-histori- 
cal mind is bewildered at the rapidly 
changing ideals and attitudes of men 
today. The discovery that doctrines 
and institutions which had been re- 
garded as eternally fixed no longer 
evoke from men an eager response 
raises serious questions. The person 
who is not historically minded is 
likely to lay all the blame upon the 
new forces which have changed men's 
attitudes. His only recourse is to 
protest and to condemn. Such men 
are finding themselves today forced 
into a purely negative denunciation of 
the cultural forces in our society. 

The real outcome of the historical 
method is a new way of understanding 
religion. For the historian the past 
appears as an unceasing process of 
life in which changes are inevitable. 
The very fact that there is such a 
thing as history means that changes 
have a positive and constructive place 
in the development of human life. 
Historical interpretation prepares one 
to appreciate the changes which are 
going on in our own day as evidence 
of a vital religious growth. Thus 
justice can be done to the actual 
religious motives and aspirations of 
the present even when these do not 
conform to the standards of the past. 

The Journal of Religion exists to 
exemplify the historical method in the 

interpretation of religion. The pres- 
ent issue is an admirable example of 
what occurs when the historical view- 



The Editor's Page 



point prevails. We are able to ob- 
serve religion in the making and by 
our interpretations to have a share in 
that development of religious thought 
and life which is the outgrowth of its 
vitality. The articles in this issue 
may well be read with this in mind. 
The reconstruction of our conception 
of God; the rapid changes of senti- 
ment on the part of native Christians 
on the mission field; the influence of 
our social ideals on our conception of 
religion; the psychological problem 
which the missionary in South Amer- 
ica must face; and the vicissitudes of 
the caste system in India in relation to 
modern life, are all first-hand studies 
of actual changes which are going on 
under our eyes. If it be true that the 
study of the historical development of 
any period in the past prepares us for 
an adequate appreciation of the out- 
come of that development, then such 
studies of religious life in our own day 
are glimpses of religion in the making. 

WHO'S WHO 
in this issue of the Journal? 

Eugene W. Lyman is Marcellus 
Hartley Professor of the Philosophy 
of Religion in Union Theological 
Seminary. — Kenneth J. Saunders is 
professor of the History of Religions 
and Missions in the Pacific School of 
Religion. — Harry F. Ward is pro- 
fessor of Christian Ethics in Union 
Theological Seminary. — Samuel Guy 
Inman is executive secretary of the 
Committee on Co-operation in Latin 
America. — Carl S. Patton is pastor of 



the First Congregational Church of 
Los Angeles, California. — A. M. San- 
ford is principal of Columbian Col- 
lege, New Westminster, British 
Columbia. — A. Stewart Woodburne is 
Professor of Philosophy in Madras 
Christian College, Madras, India. 

IN OUR NEXT ISSUE 

The Modernist Movement in the Church 
of England, by Professor C. W. 
Emmet, of Oxford University, fur- 
nishes an illuminating survey of the 
sharp controversies which are tak- 
ing place in the Anglican Church. 

Religion and Anthropology, by Pro- 
fessor S. F. MacLennan, of Oberlin 
College, indicates how our better 
understanding of the beginnings of 
human culture throws light on the 
nature of religion. 

From Comparative Religion to the 
History of Religion, by Professor 
A. Eustace Haydon, of the Uni- 
versity of Chicago, will show the 
direction in which the scientific 
study of religion has been progress- 
ing in recent years. 

Other articles are: The Organization 
of Religious Experience, by Dean 
William Clayton Bower, College of 
the Bible, Lexington, Kentucky; 
Psychoanalysis and Religion, by 
Rabbi Abraham Cronbach, of Chi- 
cago; and The Weakness of Protes- 
tantism in American Cities, by 
Reverend William H. Leach, of 
Buffalo, New York.