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SOME RESOURCES OF THE MODERN 
PREACHER 



EDWARD INCREASE BOSWORTH 
Oberlin Graduate School of Theology 



Christian ministers axe very conscious today of looking 
out on a world that is dark and discouraging. There are, 
however, fundamental reasons for expecting within the life- 
time of those now preparing for the ministry unusual success 
in the great work that they have undertaken. Success comes 
through intelligently facing the great facts of life, and men 
know more today about three of these facts than ever before. 

i. We know more about what we mean by the will of God. 
Our idea of what we mean by "will" comes to us from experi- 
ence with our own wills. The will is the intelligent push of 
a personality on its environment, the set of a personality 
toward a goal. The will of God is a form of energy in the 
midst of which we live, which is set toward the securing of an 
honest and friendly world. It tends to rise in every individual, 
claiming him for the honest and friendly life. It tends to 
rise in the common life of man, to make all social institutions, 
laws, and customs honest and friendly. In ways that are 
sometimes gentle and sometimes rough it is crowding men up 
against the necessity of working with it to make truth and 
beauty, in moral relations honesty and friendliness, universal 
and secure in the civilization of the world. 

The minister's great and indispensable work is one of 
leadership in making the masses of men, into whose hands 
power is so rapidly passing, aware of the will of God, aware of 
an energy near enough to them to give them being and keep 
it going, distinct enough from them to give them a chance to 
be themselves. Our better understanding of what we mean 

174 



SOME RESOURCES OF THE MODERN PREACHER 175 

by the will of God enables us to show men where to look for it, 
how to recognize intelligently the "feel" of it, and how to share 
in its great push toward the honest and friendly world. The 
Christian minister can interpret the will of God to men in 
terms of that which is most real to them, the universal experi- 
ences of plain daily living. 

2. We know more about the nature of man than we ever 
did before. We have not only the results of psychological 
study but we have seen the naked nature of man uncovered 
by the war. We have seen man's lust, his greed, his brutality, 
and we have seen his high purpose, his idealism, his self- 
sacrifice. We have seemed to see these qualities in the same 
individual. We have seen "bad" men catch a glimpse of 
some phase of the great vision of an honest and friendly world 
and under its inspiration in the brutality of battle go stumbling 
and cursing on their way into some vital accord with the will 
of God. 

We are seeing this same incongruous combination of the 
good and bad of human nature in whole nations. During the 
war the great idea of co-operation for the creation of an 
honest and friendly world entered for the first time in a domi- 
nant way the practical politics of the whole world. All 
nations and tribes of the world felt its influence at the same 
time in their practical politics. Mohammedan chieftains from 
the heart of Africa and Arabs from east of the Jordan dis- 
cussed President Wilson's "fourteen points" with keen inter- 
est. And now this insistent idea is compelling nations and 
tribes in all the world at the same time to bring all phases of 
their life before its judgment seat. All things good and bad 
in political, industrial, social, and international relations 
must appear in bewildering confusion, and experience some 
new degree of adjustment to the great idea— adjustment to 
the unfolding will of God. 

Here is our great chance as Christian ministers, specialists 
in character, to work with new knowledge of human nature and 



176 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

fresh hope of success for the moral evolution of the individual 
and the race. 

3. We know more than we ever did before about the religious 
experience of Jesus Christ. The tendency to investigate the 
life that expresses itself in literature has operated in the study 
of the Christian gospels. As a result we are slowly making our 
way into the presence of the religious experience of Jesus. 
We begin to see the hard problems that he faced, the fierce 
temptations that he resisted, the vague ideals that he made 
definite and secure, the processes of moral redemption that he 
wrought out in personal religious experience. He has become 
for us the world's supreme leader and savior in the great push 
of the will of God in the life of man toward an honest and 
friendly world, because he had the supreme religious experi- 
ence with the will of God; and because through the influence 
of his immortal spirit he has been able to lead men into a 
morally redeeming share of his own experience. 

And so, although we have come to a place where the world 
looks dark and discouraging, it is a place where long avenues 
of growing knowledge and power converge. In this place the 
Christian minister stands, with a larger chance than ever 
before to contribute to the moral evolution of man.