Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World
This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in
the world byJSTOR.
Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries.
We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial
Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.istor.org/participate-istor/individuals/early-
JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please
2i6 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION
MODERN PROPHETIC PREACHING'
The problem of classification of men and functions grows increasingly-
difficult. How shall Charles D. Williams be fitted into the conventional
office of bishop of Michigan; how shall William Ralph Inge be jammed
into the prescribed limits of dean of St. Paul's ? Such reflections come
to one fresh from the reading of The Prophetic Ministry for Today and
Bishop Williams treats his subject in eight chapters, four of which
may roughly be regarded as dealing with "functions" and four with the
personal qualities involved in their discharge. After a composite view
of the "Modern Minister," he considers the prophetic succession,
inheritance, message, and program. Then follow three chapters in
which the composite conception is studied under the detailed heads of
critic, reformer, priest, and prophet.
The outstanding impression that abides is the superb common sense
of Bishop Williams, coupled with his downright honesty and humanity.
He is a churchman throughout; but he is always spilling over the bounds
of his established churchmanship. We would not have him be anything
else; but we are glad that he is something more than a bishop. Hear
him on "apostolic succession":
Over-stressed, magically interpreted, it becomes an absurdity of super-
stition, the alleged conveyor of manual or digital grace. Underestimated, it
becomes the matter of superficial and often senseless jibes and jests. Duly
estimated and rationally interpreted, as a principle applied habitually every-
where else in himian affairs, it has its large values, I believe, as an assurance of
the regularity of the authoritative commission of the ministry and the conti-
nuity of the historic church.
But there is another succession, vastly more important. It is the only
assurance of the reality of the mission of God in our ministry. It is the one
secret and source of all spiritual vitality, power and eflSciency in that ministry.
And that is the "prophetic succession" [p. 26].
The hot point of contact between these two ideas is not touched,
however. If the prophetic succession does not inevitably depend upon
the apostolic; if the apostolic does not guarantee the prophetic; then
there is something more to be said before one's mind is quite at rest.
Bishop Williams handles the content of the prophetic message with
a firm hand. Note this paragraph:
The prophetic message then is always and everywhere a social message.
It deals with society rather than with the individual. Religion is construed
• The Prophetic Ministry for Today. By Charles D. Williams. New York:
Macmillan Co., 1921. 183 pages.
BOOK REVIEWS 217
as essentially a community concern, first of the family, then of the tribe, then
of the nation, and finally of the nations. The sin it condemns and the right-
eousness it commends are social sin and social righteousness. Its final and
supreme vision and goal are the Kingdom of God in this present world wherein
the wUl of God shall be done on earth as it is in heaven [p. 50].
This is a conception in sharp contrast with the individualistic and
apocalyptic program that is abroad today in the form of fundamentalism
and pre-millenarianism. It interprets the function and the message
of the prophet truly instead of making him the clairvoyant and wizard,
promulgating a blueprint of the future.
We spoke of the. human quality in these lectures. The passage is
too long for quotation, but as an example of the way in which a man can
see himself accurately and appreciate the humor of the vision, we com-
mend the description that Bishop Williams gives of himself as a single-
taxer. We have come nearer being made a disciple of Henry George by
this alluring section (pp. 124 ff.) than by all the forensics in defense of
the cause to which we ever have listened.
We were not so happy after reading pages 148 ff., in which Bishop
Williams tells how he uses the words of the creed, especially in respect
to the "resurrection of the body," with what he calls "liberty of inter-
pretation." Why not find new words that will truly represent the
thought of the modern man in religion as well as in science? Bishop
Williams knows that his ancient brother believed in the resurrection of
"this flesh" as well as in the continuity of personality; when he uses
the ancient brother's language with only half the historic content, is it
quite honest and fully fair? It surely is for Bishop WiUiams, and we
honor his frankness; but there are many young men who will not be
satisfied with the position, and something more must be said on the point.
Does not this same train lead to Rome ? Why get off at Canterbury ?
or Detroit ?
By the way, there is a slip on page 148, where "imminent" is printed
for "immanent." Also the book should have been provided with an
OzoRA S. Davis
Chicago Theological Seminary