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BOOK REVIEWS 553 

pendent judgment. He always seemed to be reading he Bible for the 
first time, and was therefore impressed by many things which escape 
the attention of the casual reader, or even of the close student in search 
of support for various hypotheses. Everywhere in these pages we have 
the testimony of the eyewitness, one who has reflected on the meaning 
of the Tower of Babel under the shadow of the mighty ruins of the 
ziggurat at Borsippa, or who has read the Pilgrim Psalms as he journeyed 
westward in the hot days and cold nights along the Euphrates, with 
the camp fires of the Bedouin gleaming threateningly around him, or 
who has sought to look beneath the surface of Jerusalem and thus to 
reconstruct the true background for the dramatic scenes which have 
crowded its narrow streets throughout the ages. The reviewer used to 
feel, himself, that he could never penetrate the mysteries of that most 
fascinating city in the world until the soles of his feet had become so 
sensitive that he could distinguish between a twenty-foot layer of 
debris and a forty-foot layer just by walking over them. As one reads 
his pages, the joy which Dr. Peters experienced in revisiting the Holy 
City only a few months before his death, his growing certainty of the 
genuineness of the tradition as to many of the sacred sites (the City of 
David, the Temple, the Holy Sepulchre, Gethsemane, the Praetorium), 
become contagious. The fact is, the force and value of tradition are 
factors which those who have never felt its mysterious power, because 
the privilege of a lengthened sojourn in the Near East has been denied 
them, are tempted to underestimate. It was an especially kindly provi- 
dence which permitted this veteran traveler and excavator and devout 
biblical student to revisit at the end of his life the scenes he loved so 
well, and to record for us his final impressions of what they signify for 
the understanding of the Scriptures. 

Kemper Fullerton 
Obekxin Graduate School op Theology 



CREATIVE CHRISTIANITY 

For two or three decades Christian theology has been hampered with 
a negative conception of the significance of historical criticism. The 
historical investigation of the Bible and of the events of Christian history 
has made it evident that traditional views must be revised in the light 
of more exact knowledge. Inasmuch as theology in the past has under- 
taken to set forth an unchanging truth, this demand of historical criti- 
cism has been unwelcome. For the most part theologians have attempted 



554 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

to redefine the nature and method of theology so as to avoid any en- 
tangling alliance with the tentative and varying outcome of historical 
criticism. 

There are signs that a new era of theological scholarship is beginning. 
Historical investigation has now come to be primarily social in its char- 
acter. It discloses the vital movements of human thought and activity, 
and uses the records of the past as the means by which we may discover 
the rich content of ongoing human life. Professor George Cross has 
made a valuable contribution to this conception of theology in his recent 
lectures delivered on the Nathaniel W. Taylor Foundation at Yale. 1 He 
begins by stating with admirable candor the significance of critical 
historical study. The general outcome of this criticism may be said to 
be the elimination of the possibility of any fixed and final tests. We 
discover that the personality, with its ideals and its limitations, of every 
reporter of historical facts is so blended with the facts which he records 
that what we have in any document is quite as much the personal con- 
fession of faith of the writer as it is a record of historical events. More- 
over, it is impossible by any process of historical analysis to draw with 
absolute certainty a dividing line between the facts-in-themselves and 
the person-in-himself who records the facts. The two are indissolubly 
blended in the record. This means that in our Bible we have the con- 
victions of the writers and compilers so interwoven with the events which 
they narrate that we are inevitably left with a large personal equation in 
the biblical records. On the older hypothesis that we ought to seek to 
attain the unmixed divine as the basis of our theology, such an interweav- 
ing of the human element is a disturbing factor. Professor Cross, how- 
ever, sees clearly that a constructive use may be made of this personal 
equation. If, instead of regarding the biblical writers as mere channels 
through which a message comes to us, we give them their proper creative 
place in the making of an ever-developing faith, we have the clue to 
a conception of religion which the author happily calls "creative" Chris- 
tianity. 

Professor Cross makes use of this aspect of the matter by turning 
theological interpretation in the direction of personal idealism. In his 
second lecture, entitled "The Discovery of the Perfect Personality," 
he sympathetically sketches the various attempts to describe Jesus as the 
absolutely perfect one, and shows how these descriptions, in so far as 
they leave the character of Christ sharply contrasted with humanity, 
will require some artificial means of bridging the chasm. The perfect 

1 Creative Christianity. By George Cross. New York: Macmillan, 1922. 164 
pages. $1.50. 



BOOK REVIEWS 555 

personality of Jesus is actually to be discovered in the creative life 
which he produces in those who have come into contact with him. Thus 
the perfect personality is best defined, not in terms of opposition to 
humanity, but in terms of creative personal relationship by which those 
who become Christians share the life of Jesus. 

If this is the significant thing about Christianity, it faces us toward 
the future rather than toward the past. The third and fourth lectures 
deal with this future-looking Christian faith. The making of a better 
world is the characteristic outcome of this discovery of the power of 
creative personality. For a long time that better world seemed to be 
out of reach of human endeavor, and so was located in a transcendent 
realm. But our present-day Christianity is daring to hope for the 
transformation of our present social order through the power of a creative 
social Christianity. The final lecture indicates the consequences of this 
faith in the realm of cosmic interpretation. Here Dr. Cross builds on 
the foundations of an idealistic philosophy and indicates that just because 
the idealist, with his creative interpretation, is part and parcel of the 
cosmos his interpretation is more valid than any account which omits 
the factor of personal consciousness. Believing in the unity of the cosmic 
order, we are compelled to attribute to the whole of it the spiritual reali- 
ties which we find in any part of it. The personal faith of the 
Christian thus becomes the ground for a religious interpretation of the 
world with its hope of eternal life. 

The suggestiveness of Dr. Cross's book is out of all proportion to its 
modest size. It is a sign of a new constructive era that theologians have 
passed beyond the Ritschlian attempt to make theology immune from 
historical criticism, and are beginning to make positive and constructive 
use of the social interpretation of history which is so fruitful in other 
realms of thought. One may raise the question whether the particular 
solution toward which Professor Cross points does not depend too much 
upon an a priori idealistic philosophy to be convincing to everybody. It 
is probable that some theologians will take a less metaphysical pathway. 
They will define Christianity in terms of a social movement, namely, 
the life of the ever-living church rather than in terms of so individualistic 
a religious philosophy as that which Professor Cross suggests. But the 
conception of Christianity as a creative force rather than as an officially 
fixed system will give new vitality and impetus to theological interpreta- 
tion. 

The interpretation of Christianity by a representative of a church 
which claims to possess its authority on the basis of an official ministry 
descending in unbroken line from the apostles is always of great interest 



556 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

to dissenters. As a rule these interpretations show an admirable zeal 
and devotion coupled with an exclusively rigid conception of a valid 
ministry. It is refreshing to read so broad-minded and searching a 
message as that of Dr. Leighton Parks, the gifted rector of St. Bartholo- 
mew's Church in New York. 1 Written in brilliant style and with charm- 
ing candor, this book will doubtless challenge fruitful discussion. Dr. 
Parks first confronts us with the formidable question as to whether our 
civilization can endure. His recital of the number and the power of 
the forces which may overthrow our culture is enough to make every- 
one stop and think. He declares that the spiritual force of Christianity 
will possibly be the determining factor in the answer to this question 
which confronts the world. In the light of this unexampled responsibility 
and opportunity he inquires whether the churches are equal to the task. 
He finds that at present Christianity is weakened and divided by secta- 
rian disputes. Sectarianism he rightly sees to be an expression of the 
habit of claiming exclusive divine authority for some one branch of the 
Christian church. Such a claim of authority means that men are always 
looking backward and are attempting to vindicate a divine commission 
which they believe to have been officially given. In particular, Dr. 
Parks boldly criticizes the proposals for organic church unity which are 
advocated by some leaders in his own communion. In emphatic terms 
he declares that neither his communion nor any other can claim to be 
the sole "true" church in contrast to other bodies. He would recog- 
nize without qualification the entire validity of all Christian denomi- 
nations. When this is once recognized he finds that there is as a 
matter of fact a real spiritual unity of Christendom which binds men 
together in a common purpose and a common faith shared by Christians 
of all periods of history and of all varieties of belief and practice. Says 
he: "I see no sign that the spiritual unity of the church has been broken. 
What I do see is that another sort of unity has been substituted for the 
original one, and that because of that the rivalries of the churches have 
been increased. I think the time has come when we should ask our- 
selves whether a more spiritual union should not be sought." 

Having thus eliminated all suspicion of superior claims on his own 
part, Dr. Parks then indicates why he believes that the Protestant 
Episcopal church has a great mission. He holds that it is in a peculiarly 
favorable position to bring to realization that actual spiritual unity which 
has been obscured because of emphasis upon technical questions of 
authority. The Christian church which is to serve the needs of the world 

1 The Crisis of the Churches. By Leighton Parks. New York: Scribner, 1922. 
xxx+256 pages. $2.50. 



BOOK REVIEWS 557 

today must make abundant room for self-determination, must recognize 
that the forms and the creeds of historical Christianity stand as land- 
marks of a living and growing faith rather than as rigid forms to which 
life must perpetually be molded. The Apostles' Creed, for example, is 
to be used not as an adequate intellectual expression of the faith of today, 
but as a great historical statement of the faith of an earlier century. In 
repeating it we signify our purpose to continue the spiritual vitality of 
that faith in our own day and to interpret it in our own language. 

While this book is not a theological treatise, it nevertheless implies a 
conception of Christianity which is historical in, the best sense of the 
word. It would conserve for us the driving power of the church in the 
past centuries without in any way impairing our freedom and our respon- 
sibility to create expressions of Christianity adequate in our day for the 
task which confronts us. When leaders of all denominations shall come 
to share Dr. Parks's point of view the practical unity of Christendom 
will not be far away, and this newly united Christendom will be one 
which makes a positive and constructive use of the best historical 
scholarship. 

Gerald Birnky Smith 

University of Chicago 



For a review of The Reconstruction of Religion, by Charles A. Ellwood, 
see article, "Social Science and Religion ," by Harry F. Ward.