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EXPERIENCE



THE
AUTHORITY OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE

THE PADDOCK LECTURES FOR 1912



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The Master of the World: A Study of
Christ. Crown octavo.

Life Beyond Life: A Study of Immortality.
Crown octavo.

The Historic Ministry and the Present
Christ: An Appeal for Unity. Crown
octavo.

Present-Day Preaching. Crown octavo.
The Authority of Religious Experience.
Crown octavo.

II

Felix Reville Brunot (i 820-1 898): A
Civilian in the War for the Union; Presi-
dent of the First Board of Indian Com-
missioners. With Portraits, Illustrations,
and a Map. 'Crown octavo.

Edward Lincoln Atkinson (i 865-1902).
With Illustrations. Crown octavo.

Alexander Viets Griswold Allen (1841-
1908). With Portrait and Illustrations.
Small octavo.

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.

new YORK, LONDON, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA



THE AUTHORITY

OF

RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE



BY



CHARLES LEWIS SLATTERY, D.D.

RECTOR OF GRACE CHURCH IN NEW YORK



LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.

FOURTH AVENUE & 30th STREET, NEW YORK
LONDON, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA

1912



THE NEW YORK.

PUBLIC LIBRARY]

555166

A8T0R, »-F^°*Ji!!!.

TILDEN FOUNOATTOMt-^



COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.



THE • PLIMPTON • PRESS

[ W' D- O ]
NORWOOD • MASS • U • S • A



PREFACE

THESE lectures were delivered on the Pad-
dock Foundation at the General Theological
Seminary in New York in the Lent of 1912. I
cannot send them out in the form of a book with-
out inscribing my gratitude to the officers of the
Seminary, who three years ago elected me to
the chair of Ecclesiastical History. After full
consideration I felt obliged to depline the call and
to remain in the parochi^i ministry. The process
of decision brought to niy' ihirid with great force
the complementary cojitfibntions w^hich the tech-
nical student and the Christian pastor ought to
make to theological knowledge. Because I lay
stress on the value of experience, I am as far as
possible from wishing to minimize the value of
scholarship. I should like to believe that it
might be a help to suggest to scholars in some
detail the theological material that is stored in
the experiences of any hard-working parochial
clergyman. I should like to believe also that
these suggestions might lead some discouraged



vi PREFACE

and lonely worker to appreciate the dignity and
importance of his opportunity.

I make no excuse for introducing a series of
the greatest subjects in a single course of lectures.
By thus applying the principle I have in mind, I
can best illustrate its capacity to serve. Ob-
viously the lectures can be only suggestive, in no
sense comprehensive. There must be inconsis-
tencies, because experience is full of them; it is
the part of a sound theology not to explain away
inconsistencies and contradictions, but to carry
them up into some higher unity. I have had no
intention of .gjyjjtig ,eyen', tjbq- oiitline of a system.

I acknowl^gel^-grkteftfl'debl'to my friend and
colleague, the ReV.'.ijjeoKgE? HiH Bottome, who has
read the book bo'thi'il* n^apuscmpt and in proof,
and has given rrtJB V^fuegtiH^Jp.and suggestions.

C. L. S.

Grace Church Rectory

New York
Monday before Easter, 1912



CONTENTS

I. RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE Page

I. Scholarship Cooperative 3

II. The Technical Theologian and the Pastor . 5

III. Constant Revision of Scholars' Views ... 8

IV. The Laboratory Method 10

V. Christianity a Present Theology .... 16

VI. The Pastor's Qualifications ....... 22

VII. The Possible Outcome 39

II. THE BIBLE

I. The Finding of Valid Evidence .... 43

II. Questions of Authorship and Date ... 48

III. The Argument from Silence 63

IV. Defining the Impossible 70

V. The Letter and the Spirit 76

VI. The Word of God 83

III. THE CHURCH

I. Tolerance 91

II. Institutional Churches 95

III. Missions 98

IV. Church Unity 105

V. Authority 112

VI. Power 131

IV, IMMORTALITY

I. The Wish to Live 142

II. Faith in the Future Life 146

vii



viii CONTENTS

IV. IMMORTALITY — con^inMeti Page

III. Would Religious Experience Welcome Scien-

tific Demonstration? 150

IV. Is the Soul Temporarily Asleep? .... 160
V. Shall Souls have Material Bodies? . . . 164

VI. Do the Departed Know our Condition? . . 170

VII. Is Heaven a Place? 175

VIII. Does Character Count? 180

IX. Shall We See the Divine? 187

V. JESUS CHRIST

I. The Reliability of the New Testament . . 196

11. The Alleged Differences between the First and

the Twentieth Centuries 200

III. The Difficulty of Christ's Humanity . . . 211

IV. The Lightheartedness of Christ .... 218
V. The Second Coming 223

VI. God's Character in Christ 231

VII. Christ's Ability to Create Great Men . . 235

VIII. Christ's Power over the Laws of Nature . . 239

IX. The Present Christ 248

VI. GOD

I. The Instinctive Recognition of God . . . 254

II. Why God Made Us 257

III. God So Loved the World 264

IV. The Eternal Change in God 275

V. God Immanent and Transcendent .... 282

VI. The Trinity in Unity 292



I

RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE



I

RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE

I

SCHOLARSHIP COOPERATIVE

MEN recognize to-day, as never before, the
immeasurable ranges of knowledge. All
ages have been impressed with the limitation of
human understanding, confessing its littleness
when compared w^ith the vastness of men's
ignorance; but now, though we confess that the
whole w^orld knows little enough, we meditate
upon the mere fragment of that total which any
one man can acquire, though he be as clever and
industrious as, for instance. Lord Acton. Sev-
eral years ago a philosopher wrote a careful
monograph in which he boasted that he had delib-
erately avoided reading all that his brother phi-
losophers had said upon the subject, and therefore
all the thought in his book was his own. No one
seemed to read the book. The reason may have
been that first note, — the admission that it was



4 RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE

written in isolation, without the help of men in
slightly different fields of research. It is only the
very exceptional man whose mental processes we
care to know, in and for themselves alone.

We say that this is an age of specialists.
Thoughtful men tend to become specialists be-
cause they see the futility of covering the whole
area of any one of the branches of learning. They
become authorities in their chosen narrow space.
They are quite aware that it is dangerous to treat
their specialization as if it were the whole of truth.
The historian, for example, knowing thoroughly
the sources in his chosen department, does not feel
obliged to consult the sources in another depart-
ment, when he wishes to make a general statement,
provided he can discover an expert whom he
trusts and who has done that work for him.
There is the balance to be kept between the
intensive and the extensive. The eye that looks
only at one tiny object, at last grows dim and sees
nothing. The eye must look off to the distances
in order to see truly what is near. Thus, the
men of our time feel that scholarship, or the
search for truth, is a cooperative matter. No
man can know enough by himself: he must make
such use as he can of those standing about him
who also know. Their knowledge may confirm



TECHNICAL THEOLOGIAN AND PASTOR 5

or supplement or correct his own. The student
who to-day locks himself in his cell is, however
profound and accurate, an unsafe guide.

II

THE TECHNICAL THEOLOGIAN AND THE
PASTOR

In that part of scholarship w^hich we call
theology there has too often been a refined sort
of intellectual contempt marking the relationship
of the practical pastor of human needs and the
theologian to one another. The pastor has
smiled upon the remoteness of the theologian:
he seems to know nothing of men's present
reality. "This man," says the pastor, "is aca-
demic." The theologian, on the other hand, has
found the pastor a man of expediency. One
hears Jerome laughing in his monastery, because
the Bishop of OEa in his active work found the
change from ivy to gourd in Jerome's version of
Jonah a distressing innovation for his conserva-
tive congregation, and therefore threw Jerome's
scholarship to the winds rather than lose his flock.
The theologian is apt to despise the mind of the
pastor; sometimes with reason.

There may be reason for criticism on both



6 RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE

sides. Yet the truth would be more securely
understood if theologian and pastor could see
each as necessarily complementary to the other.
The Bishop of CEa needed the bracing thorough-
ness of the scholar's findings. So too in our day
the practical men in the Church, appalled by the
frequency of divorce and remarriage, need to be
reminded by the scholar of just what they are
doing when they take a certain passage in St.
Matthew and ascribe it to a later hand. The>
need to be told by the man who knows manu
scripts and the laws of criticism, as they cannot
know them, that by precisely the same critical
method part of the Lord's Prayer must go, the
Lord's commission to St. Peter must go, and
even the formula for Baptism must go. Of
course the practical man in the Church might
decide that these passages were too valuable to
be cut from the narrative. On the grounds of
expediency and use he would have them retained.
"I know of no greater injury that can be done to
the faith of our Church members by their spiritual
leaders," writes a learned living commentator
on St. Matthew,^ " than to lead them to suppose
that the Church is prepared to reject words of
Scripture on critical grounds, only when the words

^ Rev. Willoughby C. Allen, in London Guardian, June 24, 1910.



TECHNICAL THEOLOGIAN AND PASTOR 7

in question are difficult, or inconvenient, to
ecclesiastical theory." There is no doubt that
the painstaking scholar, removed from the stress of
life, has important news for the man at the front.

So too the scholar needs the news which the
pastor can give to him. The pastor cannot com-
pete w ith him in the unravelling of the progress of
Christian doctrine; he cannot sound the verdict
of a sane textual criticism; he cannot group the
facts of history with the same facility. But he
is meeting human souls as no mere scholar can
meet them. He is permitted, in so far as he is a
real pastor, to see the depth of human need, not
in an historical summary, but in the concrete
life of one man; in so far as he is a real pastor he
also receives revelations of what God is, not to a
race, but again to the concrete life of one man.
The pastor unable to write his sermon, his soul
dead within him, often escapes into the streets,
presents himself at the door of some parishioner,
gives help and receives help in that parishioner's
house which sends him home full of God's inspira-
tion to write such a sermon as he never could
have preached without this experience, even
though he had known all history and all theology.
Through the life of one man he has, in a valid
sense, seen God face to face.



8 RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE

Now the man who has such access to hving
reality is the man without whom no true theology
can be evolved. There is first-hand information
in that man's keeping which no theologian can
discover in any book or in any train of reasoning.
These lectures are concerned with the contribu-
tion which the pastor may make to theology; it
will therefore be necessary to examine the reasons
why we may expect extraordinary help from
the practical ministry in the solution of theological
problems.

Ill

CONSTANT REVISION OF SCHOLARS' VIEWS

It is at once the merit of modern theological
scholarship and an evident defect in it that some
of the most distinguished scholars change their
views with startling rapidity. There has of late
been a general movement of scholars both con-
servative and radical towards a middle ground.
Conservative scholars, who have said bitter words
against all forms of the higher criticism of the
Old and New Testaments, are now saying plainly
that the method is essential to all honest dealing
with the material before us. Radical scholars
who began with saying that we had only frag-



rem:sion of scholars' mews 9

merits of Christian literature of the first century
are pushing many of tlic books of tlie New Testa-
ment down into the fifth and sixth decades of the
first century, in* some cases maintaining an
earher date than that assigned by tradition.
The various estimates of the Fourth Gospel
within the last thirty years by the same scholars
are an illuminating commentary on honesty and
inadequate material for judgment. The scholars,
both conservative and radical, w^ho have thus
changed ground, are not tyros. They are men of
the utmost eminence, commanding the serious
respect of all. They are everywhere honoured as
leaders of theological thought.

^^^len once we have admired their candour, we
must face the fact that their whole attitude has
lacked an element of fresh air and reality. This
element of fresh air and reality ought to have
been given them by the parochial clergy, meeting
their problems in the practical experience of
living religion. WTiose fault it is that the con-
tribution was not given and received need not
now be asked. Some scholars, for example,
have concocted theories about the Old Testament
that have been no less absurd than the crypto-
gram theory that would make Shakespeare's
plays declare themselves the work of Bacon. The



10 RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE

absurdities have been committed by the extremes
of scholarship, conservative as well as radical.
The pastor has too often read dictionary articles
and heavy books with dazed 'reverence for the
marvels of scholarship, when he ought to have
thought of the face of some simple parishioner
which he had seen that very afternoon, and, in the
contrast between ingenious theory and living fact,
laughed outright. Instead he has waited pa-
tiently for the nimble scholar to swing himself
down from his dizzy heights till he too walked
upon the earth.

These changes in the theologian's point of view
are the first reason for believing that he has
neglected a source of knowledge which would be
of the utmost use to him in guiding him to the
truth. If the pastor must humbly sit at the feet
of the scholar, the scholar quite as humbly must
sit at the feet of the pastor.



IV

THE LABORATORY METHOD

We hear a good deal about scientific theology.
There is an almost cant phrase which calls theol-
ogy the queen of the sciences. If these words



THE LABORATORY METHOD 11

are to be more than empty phrases we must
examine the method of modern science.

The first note of science is that it spends its
time on the present moment. It has httle to say
of the past, nothing of the future: its record is
always, "This I now see, or feel, or hear." To
this end there has sprung up what is known as
the laboratory method. The laboratory is not
for the famous scholar only; it is for the beginner
in every department of scientific research. What
he has learned out of a book, receiving testimony
from another, however trustworthy, is discounted;
he must with his own senses perceive the laws he
would know. So he is trained in observation;
so he is taught to be wary of all human testimony.
The laboratory method is not confined to the
chemist and the ph^^sicist, to the botanist and
the geologist; it is also the method of the psy-
chologist and the physician. The most successful
law school to-day trains its students by what is
called the "case method." The best business
man ordinarily is the man who has begun at the
bottom and with his own hands has done the
labour which later he is to direct. In all depart-
ments of life the scientific method sends students
away from theory and generalization to minute
and direct observation.



12 RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE

In this movement toward the preeminently
scientific method, theology has lagged behind.
The chief authority adduced is the record of the
first century, the concurrent witness of the early
councils, or the consensus of history. We dare
not minimize the vahie of such carefully at-
tested authority. But it is not scientific au-
thority. Science demands its laboratory. The
theologian cannot search manuscripts, know the
intricate thought and life of remote periods, and
also maintain such a laboratory.

The laboratory of theology is the parish, and
the only man who can w^ork in it effectively is the
pastor who by instinct and choice gives every inch
of his life to the people who are his. The theolo-
gian may have been a pastor for a period, but the
fact that he leaves his laboratory for a school
shows, without any disparagement to himself, that
the immediate contact with present religious facts
is not in his estimate so important or so interest-
ing as the study of past records. Nor is it easy
to return to the parochial ministry after years in
the scholastic life. Much as they may long for it,
the wisest scholars confess themselves unfitted
for it, and decline all calls to it. Nor, again, can
the contact with a body of students, in a quasi-
pastoral relationship, be a substitute. It can



THE LABORATORY METHOD 13

have small revelation of the human soul, compared
with the revelation that comes to a man who
serves old and young, strong and feeble, learned
and ignorant, the laughing and the weeping, rich
and poor, bad and good; and this not for a year
or two, but through long periods, many of them
for life, and more, — because to whatever field
the pastor may remove, he and his are bound by
ties of sympathy and understanding which not
even death can snap.

If theology is to be the queen of the sciences,
the only man in the Church who has the oppor-
tunity to become "scientific" must be invited by
the theologian to give his testimony to theological
facts which he knows at first hand. That man is
the real pastor who has a genius for knowing the
hfe of the people he serves. He alone can tell
what the present facts of theology are. No
theology, however acute and widely read, can be
scientific without the testimony which he can give.

Within the present generation there has been
one notable act of recognition of the pastor's
contribution to technical theology; this was the
act of one of the few technical theologians that
America has produced. I refer to Dr. Allen's
elaborate estimate of Phillips Brooks's theology



14 RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE

in his memoir. Phillips Brooks was remarkable
as a preacher, but those who knew him as a pastor
almost forget his preaching in their exalted mem-
ory of his personal ministrations. Dr. Allen may
be justly criticised perhaps for his estimate of
Brooks's acquirement by reading. I suppose we
have no right to compare his reading with the
reading of a diligent teacher in a good theological
seminary. But his knowledge of theology was
more direct and sure than can come from reading
books; he daily read human souls. All sorts and
conditions sought him out, because they recog-
nized his pastoral genius. God spoke to him
through their troubles and hopes. It is well
known that Brooks was in the deepest things
extremely reticent. Through one medium only
he told what his life as a pastor had revealed to
him; that was through his sermons. Probably
no pastor has ever left a more thorough record of
his wonderful laboratory discoveries. Dr. Allen,
a man who had almost no experience as a pastor,
who was essentially the theologian, had the vision
and the generosity to recognize the right of such
a pastor to have a highly important system of
theology, — important enough to rank with the
technical systems of Augustine and Anselm and
Aquinas and Calvin. And so he wrote the long



THE LABORATORY METHOD 15

and careful chapter on Brooks's theology, the
theology of a man who read the message of God
through the lives of the men and women whom he
himself saw and heard and loved.

The forlorn sequel to this record was the prac-
tically unanimous verdict of theologians, great and
little, that it was absurd to give Brooks a title to
be WTitten down a theologian in any sense. He
was, said these superior people, an inspiring
preacher, a mighty force for righteousness in his
day, but he had not read the Fathers since his
seminary career, he read afterw^ard only the con-
spicuous theological treatises as they appeared,
he was not a profound student of books. There-
fore he could not have any system of theology.
Nothing could more clearly show the need of the
theologian to awake to the scientific method of
his fellow-scholars in other fields.

A few years ago the Rev. R. J. Campbell, of
the City Temple in London, wrote a book which
became widely popular. Principal Fairbairn, of
Oxford, rebuked the book, with what seemed to
many full justice and show of reason. So far
Dr. Fairbairn was within his rights. Then he
proceeded to rebuke the author for even daring
to write the book. Speaking for the Congre-
gationalists in England, with whom both were



16 RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE

associated, he said that Mr. Campbell had been
chosen to preach, and it did not become him to
write a book about theology. This is a vicious
distinction. Dr. Fairbairn had every right to
pick flaws in Mr. Campbell's system. But it
was obscurantism of the worst kind to say that
the preacher had no authority to bring his direct
religious experience to bear on theological prob-
lems in a formal treatise. For if theology is to be
even a pawn among the sciences, it must pay the
utmost respect to any effort which shall make use
of the testimony of men whose one business it is
to cooperate with living souls to find and know
the living God.

V

CHRISTIANITY A PRESENT THEOLOGY

The scandal of the ordinary theologian's atti-
tude to the pastor's witness is deepened by the
fact that the theologian would, on theory, be the
first to quarrel with anyone who said that Chris-
tianity was a mere set of rules discovered in the
past; he would be the first to quote from the
saints in all ages that Christianity is a present
life. He would read to you phrases from ancient
collects: "O God, from whom all holy desires,



CHRISTIANITY A PRESENT THEOLOGY 17

all good counsels, and all just works do proceed";
"O Lord, raise up tliy power, and come among
us"; "Almighty and everlasting God, who dost
govern all things in heaven and earth"; "O
Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly
wills and affections of sinful men"; '*0 God, the
strength of all who put their trust in thee"; "O
God, who declarest thy almighty power chiefly
in showing mercy and pity." He would quote
St. Paul: "To me to live is Christ." He would
quote mystic and literalist, reformer and reac-
tionary, ancient and modern. And yet in spite
of all this excellent theory he would deny the
right of the man who, by reason of his vocation,
witnessed this present religion in abundance, to
make any valid contribution to the ultimate ques-
tions of theology. This is not only to discard the
scientific method; it is also to deny, in a practi-
cal and emphatic manner, the profoundest truth
of Christianity; namely, its immediate and
present reality.

There is suflScient danger, both within and
w^ithout the Church, that men shall be little
better than the deists of the eighteenth century;
they will believe in God, but they will not truly
believe that He is here now. There is a view of
the Sacraments that would make them not the



18 RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE

perpetual pledges of the Divine Nearness, but
merely the isolated and precarious points of con-
tact whereby a distant God vouchsafes to touch
His children's lives. This is dangerously close
to deism. The parable of the Prodigal Son is de-
nied; it is, in essence, declared that God is not
on the border of every life awaiting with infinite
love the first signal of admission, however uncon-
ventional that signal may be. Beyond the Church
and its influence is the man who so abuses his
fellow-children of God, drawing them into sorrow
and worse than sorrow, that it is inconceivable
that he can believe that his Maker sees him.
Doubtless he too would say that he believed in
God; certainly he does not beheve in a God here
and now.

Quite apart from these practical considerations
is the general estimate of the worth of theology.
It is not the careless passer-by (he does not think
about it), it is the thoughtful and earnest student
who is apt to smile upon theology. It seems to
him an unreal accumulation of by-gone principles,


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