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BOOK REVIEWS 657 

leads, not to negative results, but to the negation of some fact in the 
Christian religion or the life of Christ." The essentially supernatural 
elements of the gospel story are "falsified accounts." The crucifixion 
story is made up of elements borrowed or invented. The evangelists 
seem to have had singularly little conscience, moral or literary. Luke is 
peculiarly culpable. "He knew very little of what he was writing 
about, committing blunder after blunder, and thus discredits the Chris- 
tian message as a whole." Thus the primitive Christian documents, 
proven so very corrupt, can no longer serve as the basis of our faith. 
" Until we learn better, then, it would seem our duty to base our religion 
on the safe and simple practice of wisdom and goodness, rather than 
on the uncertainty of anything come down from above." 

Exactly one-half of the book is given up to a reprint of the author's 
Consecutive Life of Christ, a fusion of the four Gospels into one continuous 
narrative, which originally appeared in ion. The text has been revised. 



Meadville Theological School 



Clayton R. Bowen 



GEORGE BURMAN FOSTER'S LECTURES ON 
THEOLOGY 1 

At the time of his death, December 22,1918, Professor Foster occupied 
the chair of the Philosophy of Religion in the University of Chicago. 
Some years previously he had been professor of Systematic Theology 
in the Divinity School of the same institution. A comprehensive state- 
ment of his theological views was never prepared for publication by him 
but, fortunately, extensive notes of his classroom lectures were left in 
manuscript. These, supplemented by student notes taken substan- 
tially verbatim by the editor, are now made accessible to students of 
theology in the work under review. The preparation of this work for 
publication by the editor is a labor for which all the old students of 
Dr. Foster will be profoundly grateful. It is true that this work repre- 
sents his interpretation of Christianity some twelve years prior to his 
death and one must presume that such a keenly inquiring mind as his 
must have moved forward beyond some of the positions taken here. 
But Professor Macintosh, who had singular opportunities to know his 
opinions, says in the Preface, after referring to Dr. Foster's confession 
of the deepening of one's faith in God through the experiences of tragedy 
in one's life: 

1 Christianity in Its Modern Expression. George Burman Foster, edited by 
Douglas Clyde Macintosh. New York: Macmillan. xii-f- 294 pages. $3.75. 



658 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

With all allowance for such modifications of opinion as are to be expected 
from time to time in the mind of so eager and incessant a thinker, I believe it 
may be said that this book as it stands represents in the main those moral and 
religious convictions to which in the various vicissitudes of life this sincere 
lover of truth was ever wont to return after all investigation and reflection. 

The work comprises two treatises, dealing respectively with the 
dogmatics and the ethics of the Christian religion. Both are incom- 
plete, particularly the second. The procedure in both is the same, 
from a discussion of the "Foundation" to the "Superstructure" of each. 
The separation is not altogether natural to one inclined to pragmatism, 
the ethics being really a continuation of the dogmatics. It seems to 
me, however, that in spirit the work belongs to apologetics rather than 
to dogmatics, since it is evident from the outset that the author is much 
less concerned with the task of elaborating a body of specific Christian 
doctrines or beliefs than with the prior question of the possibility of a 
truly scientific theology and the method of doctrinal formulation that 
shall be in accord with the character of the Christian religious experience, 
on the one hand, and the actual processes of the real, objective world, 
on the other. Throughout the author is the student, the inquirer, rather 
than the dogmatician. Formal doctrinal statements there are, but 
they are distributed through the book rather disconnectedly and mingled 
with expressions of personal feeling and conviction or startling questions 
and surprising digressions. It is doubtful that a modern theologian 
can be found who is more thoroughly aware of the supreme issues theol- 
ogy must face today because of the tremendous changes that have 
recently come over the spirit of the thinking public, or who is more 
modestly aware of the imperfect character of all those formal statements 
that attempt to exhibit to intelligence the inner movement of the 
modern Christian spirit Godward and manward. Dr. Foster was 
evidently in search of a theology when he wrote these notes and his 
work tends to awaken the minds of young men rather than to satisfy 
them. For him, as thinker, Christianity was not so much a solution 
of mental difficulties as it was a prodigious problem and in spirit he was 
more a mystic than a rationalist. 

The opening sentences are indicative of the attitude throughout the 
entire work: 

The dogmatics of the Christian religion seeks [italics mine] to give a 
scientific exposition of the Christian faith. It is a doctrine of faith, of the 
content of faith, and therefore of the world of faith, i.e., a world which faith 
affirms to be reality. But it is precisely on this account that the fundamental 
difficulty of dogmatics arises, viz., How can the invisible spiritual reality 



BOOK REVIEWS 659 

[italics the author's] affirmed by faith become an object of scientific investiga- 
tion and exposition? 

Subjective, personal faith is what he is thinking of. He desires to find 
a way of regarding it as more than subjective, that is, as constituting 
a world of reality in which believing spirits live. But his problem, which 
remains unsolved, is, how to relate this inner world of faith to the world 
of historical occurrence and external observation. Is the faith-world to 
be affirmed in spite of the other real world, or alongside of it but equally 
true, or because of it, or must one or the other be declared illusion ? It 
seems to me that, on the whole, the second of these positions is the author's. 
Science is and so is faith. Science must be free and so must faith. If pos- 
sible, they must be reconciled and unified, but that remains a problem 
still awaiting solution. The work labors under the disadvantage of the 
Ritschlian effort to secure religion against the dangers of scientific inves- 
tigation by assigning to it a separate realm where it may reign, no matter 
what science may discover, instead of finding in religious faith the unity 
of our whole life and seeing in science one of the forms in which it op- 
erates. What is the world of faith but that same world which is the 
object of scientific investigation and exposition ? 

The author seeks to lay the foundation of Christian dogmatics in 
a discovery of the essence and vindication of the truth of the Christian 
religion. The fundamental distinction of religion from other sides of the 
spiritual life lies in " the certainty of a supramundane power on which 
we, together with the world, are totally dependent," toward which there 
is a surrender of will and a feeling of confidence, and with which there is 
an effort to obtain personal communion (pp. n, 12). This definition 
is evidently drawn from Christianity itself rather than from a generaliza- 
tion of religions. Religion is said to be one of man's spiritual activities, 
essentially different (pp. 18, 19) from the aesthetic, the scientific and 
the moral, though allied with them. But does not this attempt to pro- 
tect religion against the entanglements which these involve, deprive it 
of its dignity by limiting it to one phase of life instead of making it the 
whole ? Its dignity and supreme worth seem thereby endangered. 

Classifying religions as nature religions, folk religions, and redemption 
religions, Christianity is placed among the last. In distinction from 
mystical and pessimistic redemption religions, "Christianity is his- 
torical redemption-religion par excellence" in that its faith centers in 
the historical Jesus who lives through history as the "abiding ground 
and immediate object of personal faith." It is ethical redemption, 
whose good consists in unity of character with the perfect God and with 



660 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

all the children of God (pp. 29, 30). Well said, indeed, but is it not 
thereby too negatively conceived ? Is not Christianity creative firstly 
and redemptive secondarily? Is it not deliverance from the lower 
because it is attainment of the higher ? Is not the " trustful surrender 
to Jesus Christ" in the first instance an identification of the purpose of 
our life with his ? In places the author seems to turn to this view. For 
example, he says (p. 41), "Eternity is the persistence of the worthful 
through the mutations and illusions of the temporal; it is essentially con- 
tinuation of values. Eternity is thus not a gift, but an achievement." 

When it comes to the question of the truth of the Christian religion 
it is pointed out (p. 35) that "the collapse of all efforts at proof 
is grounded in the character and limits of theoretical cognition." The 
reality of the faith-content of Christianity transcends these modes of 
knowledge. The standard orthodox proofs are outlined and shown to 
culminate in the affirmation that we know the Scriptures are divinely 
inspired "by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, who, as we read in the 
Holy Scriptures, recognizes his own work therein." "Good again," 
says the author (p. 37), "but how shall we be certain that this really 
originates from the Holy Spirit, and not from our own spirit? Here 
the thread of the orthodox view snaps." Is there anything fundamen- 
tally different offered in its stead ? For answer we are referred (p. 39) 
to the Christian's inner " certainty" of a supreme goal of filial communion 
with God as "unconditionally worthful and obligating," of a free uplift 
above guilt and weakness, pain and death. What guarantees the cer- 
tainty of the absolutely worthful ? The answer is (p. 45), "a disclosure 
belonging to human history .... the person and spirit-work of 
Jesus Christ." That which was " inexpugnably certain to Jesus on the 
basis of his inner experience" becomes ours as the effect of "the impres- 
sion" which his person and work make on us. Thus we pass to the 
idea of revelation. Our certainty rests on the "central revelation of 
God " in his (Jesus') spiritual person and effectiveness. Thus we become 
certain of God. "It is God in him that does it. The object of faith is 
God himself; but the disclosure of God is in the spirit and disposition 
of Jesus. Not Jesus with God, but God in Jesus is the object of religious 
faith." This is a very different thing from certainty of the historicity 
of the career of Jesus (p. 46). It is a value-judgment. "The certainty 
we need is religious as against historical certainty. Its basis is not an 
historical inquiry, but a moral and religious experience." The truth of 
Christianity is thus assured by revelation. "Revelation is an historical 
phenomenon which is yet super-historical in content and kind." How 
then do we know that the revelation is real ? We know it because we 



BOOK REVIEWS 661 

experience it, that is, we feel and esteem it to be such. Thus the author 
makes the great leap into the transcendent, as do the orthodox and the 
mystics. 

The body of the work, so far as it is a coherent whole, elaborates 
these positions under the rubrics of traditional theology. It is evident 
that the principal factors which co-operate in these lectures are four: 
First, the traditional Christian dogmas as respects both their form and 
their content; second, the conviction that the worth of any theological 
dogma reposes on the manner in which it springs from religious experience 
and ministers to the spirit of religion; third, the necessity of satisfying 
the claims of the scientific and philosphic spirit by exhibiting the genu- 
ine knowledge of reality inherent in faith; fourth, the feeling that the 
ultimate test of the truth of any doctrine is found in the guidance and 
strength it furnishes for the practical issues of life. These, it seems to 
me, are to receive emphasis in any theological effort of the present day. 
Of this Dr. Foster was well aware and he approached his problem with 
courage, though he was probably conscious of having done less in the 
end to solve his problem than he hoped for at the outset. 

As respects the first of these factors, he follows the main traditional 
order, namely, God and the world (Man is subsumed under the world), 
God and Jesus Christ the Lord, God and the Holy Spirit. (The last, 
as the editor points out, does not here appear under that head but much 
of the material pertaining to it is supplied in the ethics.) It is to be 
kept in mind that his acceptance of the revelation of God as in some 
sense trinitarian was not based on its supposed origin from an authorita- 
tive source or on the belief that it was truly biblical. On the latter 
point he says (p. 99), "the ecclesiastical doctrine of the trinity is not a 
synthesis of the content of the Scriptures but rests upon violent inter- 
pretation of single sayings in the Scriptures." "At the same time he 
says (p. 99), "the religious basic views of Christianity gave impulse to 
its formation in the old church," and, "in the Reformation the evangeli- 
cal knowledge of salvation was interpreted in the use of the traditional 
doctrine of the trinity." His interest in the doctrine rested on his 
interest in the progress of the Christian religious spirit. The doctrine 
expressed, though defectively, the life of Christians in the spirit. The 
soul of Dr. Foster's theology is to be found in the second of the factors 
named above. It was because he loved and lived the religious life that 
he theologized. He regarded the older life with reverence because the 
higher life of the present grew out of it but also transcended it. And it 
must, therefore, seek more adequate expression than the older formula- 
tions supplied. He says (p. 102) : 



662 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

The vital essence of trinitarianism is the idea of world-upholding holy love, 
with its self-revelation in history and its self-communication to the individual. 
.... But in distinction from the ecclesiastical doctrine of the trinity, we 
have not reached three hypostases, but only three sides (modes of operation) 
of the Divine Being actively disclosing himself. 

The author persistently seeks by the aid of science and philosophy 
to set forth consistently the knowledge-content of Christian faith but 
he does not entertain for a moment the supposition that faith must 
wait upon either science or philosophy for its right to live. They are, 
rather, its servants. But one could wish that, instead of giving to reli- 
gion, as he seems to do, a self-guaranteed place beside them, he had 
sought to set forth the wholeness and unity which all the spiritual capa- 
cities of men find in the exercise of religious faith. It would be in 
entire keeping with the spirit of the author. He was profoundly a 
religious man, held to his faith amid all the trials of life and made it his 
purpose to impart that faith to all, though it was done in a way which 
most of his contemporaries who heard of him failed to appreciate duly. 

George Cross 
Rochester Theological Seminary 



PRINCIPAL GARVIE ON PREACHING 1 

The long-expected volume in the International Theological Library 
from the hand of Principal Alfred Ernest Garvie of New College, London, 
is entitled The Christian Preacher. This applies strictly to only the 
second part of the volume; the first 271 pages being devoted to a survey 
in large outline of the history of Christian preaching. This serves as a 
desirable introduction to the second section, and may seem to many 
readers as the more interesting and profitable part of the book. This 
first part contains ten chapters. Large obligation to Hering, Ker, and 
Dargan is recognized. The names chosen are selected with fine dis- 
crimination. The quotations are given with excellent insight. For 
example, the excerpt from the sermon of Bernard of Clairvaux in preach- 
ing the Second Crusade is more valuable than pages of description would 
have been. Fuller quotation would have increased the value of the book. 
The example of spiritualizing a text, given from Thomas Aquinas 
(p. 113), is better than many paragraphs describing the method and 
warning a preacher against it as a homiletic habit. This touch upon 
sources is a valuable factor in Dr. Garvie's work. The method in this 
first section is topical rather than chronological, although the larger 
divisions of history are generally regarded; this adds to our interest, 

1 The Christian Preacher. Alfred Ernest Garvie. New York: Scribner, 1921. 
xxvii+49° pages. $3.50.