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and dirt and rocks and rubbish of the human frailties and weaknesses of
the ages in which it was accumulated in this mine. The pure gold must
be separated from this dross in the crucible of _present day_ human
intelligence, reason and experience. It is like a great river that has
wound its course thru many countries and as many different kinds of
soil, receiving tributaries from many different sources and directions.
It contains much pure water; but it is impregnated with the sand and
dirt and mud of the channels thru which it has passed. It must be
filtered and these elements eliminated before it can be put to its
highest and best use. As a great book of religious instruction it
contains riches in human experience and inspiration from which any and
all may draw something to fit their particular case and need. But to
get the highest value, each must separate the gold from the dross, the
pure water from the sand and mud, according to his particular case and
need. Used in this way and for this purpose, the Bible will doubtless
remain the world's greatest book of religious instruction and
inspiration. But to persist in the claim, in the light of present-day
knowledge, that the whole of it is a divine revelation, supernaturally
given from heaven, and infallibly and inerrantly true, is to perpetuate
confusion and discord among men, and cause the wisest and best among
them to discredit it altogether, as many of them have already done.
But to reverence it for what it really is, a record of the religious
evolution of the most intensely religious nation of antiquity, a great
race that has contributed more to the religious life of the world than
any other, is a credit to the intelligence of any one. To enshrine it
in superstition, and make it a fetish, is idolatry.


INSPIRATION AND REVELATION

I am a strong believer in inspiration. But I believe it to be, like
religion, natural, in a greater or less degree, to all peoples, in all
ages and at all times; and _not_ something miraculous and supernatural,
limited to a select few, of a single race, in a long past age, and
since then has forever ceased. It is perhaps hard to define
inspiration according to this view of it. Like religion, its very
simplicity and universality eludes any exact definition; especially by
one person for another. That it has often been manifest in much
greater degree in some persons than in others; and in these much
stronger at some times than at others, is not to be doubted for a
moment. It is no more a uniform condition than human attainment in
intelligence and character are uniform.

The simple dictionary definition will perhaps be adequate for our
purpose, - at least as a starting point: "The inbreathing or imparting
of an idea, emotion, or mental or spiritual influence; the elevating,
creative influence of genius; also, that which is so inbreathed or
imparted." It is that elevation of mental conception usually produced
by intense concentration of mind, deep earnestness of thought, intense
interest and zeal in a special subject or cause, or by some objective
environment. A few simple illustrations will convey my meaning better
than any lengthy metaphysical analysis. One night a long time ago,
some sage philosopher was looking out upon the heavens, contemplating
the beauties of the stars in their majesty and glory. These _inspired_
a train of thought in his mind that found utterance in the nineteenth
Psalm: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth
his handiwork...." This is inspiration if there ever was such a thing;
and yet there is nothing miraculous or supernatural about it. It is as
natural as the raindrops that fall from the clouds.

On another occasion some devout and intensely religious saint, but at
the same time probably a great sufferer from some adverse fortune,
beheld a shepherd taking care of his sheep, providing for them food and
water, caring for the sick and lame and nursing them back to strength,
leading them out to pasture thru the narrow defiles of the mountains,
amidst many dangers, yet guarding them diligently against all. And
this sight gave rise to reflections on the divine providence that found
expression in that sublime and beautiful Twenty-third Psalm:

"The Lord is _my_ shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside still waters;
He restoreth my soul."

What is there in all the world's literature more inspired and more
inspiring than this? And yet it is no more miraculous nor supernatural
in its origin than the shepherd caring for his sheep.

Inspiration is simply a condition or state of mind. It is purely
psychological in its nature, and may be produced by a great variety of
causes; but is not supernatural. To some extent, and in some degree,
but by no means always equal, it has been common among all peoples of
the past; and at all periods of their history. Specimens of it have
come down to us in this age, enshrined and preserved in the literature,
music and art of these peoples. It is as common among men today as it
ever was in any past age. It is embodied in some degree, in most, if
not all the literature, art and music of all ages; but by no means to
the same extent in all. There are passages in Dante, Goethe,
Shakespeare, Milton, Browning, Emerson, Carlyle, Bryant, Longfellow,
Lowell, and a thousand others, ancient and modern, that are just as
much the products of inspiration as the Twenty-third Psalm or the
Sermon on the Mount. But no one would pretend to say that _all_ that
these men wrote was equally inspired, or of equal value.

What then is to be the test of inspiration? How are we to know what is
inspired from what is not? There is no absolute and infallible test.
The rule I have generally followed is what may be termed, the test of
reproduction. The test of the perfect life of an oak is the production
of an acorn that will produce another oak. The test of all complete
and perfect animal life is its power to reproduce itself in the
perpetuation of its own species. The test of inspiration is whether or
not it reproduces its kind: - Does it inspire? Who can read the
Twenty-third Psalm, or the Sermon on the Mount, the parable of the Lost
Sheep, or the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians without feeling
the spirit of inspiration in his own soul? Therefore these must be
inspired, because they inspire others. Who can read Emerson's essay on
Spiritual Laws, or The Over-Soul, and not be inspired? or Longfellow's
Resignation? or Bryant's Lines to a Water-fowl, or Thanatopsis, and not
be inspired? Then these must have been inspired, or they could not
inspire. Who today can sing the Star Spangled Banner, Geo. F. Root's
Battle Cry of Freedom, or Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the
Republic, without feeling a thrill of inspiration that stirs the very
depths of the soul? Then, these must have been inspired. Time and
space fail me to mention even any of the great orators of history from
Demosthenes to Woodrow Wilson, who by the power of their eloquence have
been able to so inspire men to action as to change the course of
empires and the destiny of nations. The secret of all this is that
these men were themselves inspired, - not by some miraculous
supernatural influence, - but by the natural intensity of their own
earnestness, sincere devotion to, and all-absorbing interest in the
cause they espoused, until they _lost themselves_ in their cause, and
became thus inspired, and inspired others.

Yes, inspiration is as common and potent in the world today as it ever
has been in any age of the past. Its spirit still "enters into holy
souls, making them friends of God and prophets."

Just a few words about Revelation will suffice. Revelation has been
generally looked upon as almost synonymous if not identical, with
inspiration; or so intimately connected with it that they could not be
separated. What might be distinctively called revelation was the
product, or out-put of inspiration. Whatever truth may still remain as
to these relations, since we have seen that inspiration is not
something miraculous and supernatural, but purely and wholly natural,
there can be no such a thing as revelation in any miraculous or
supernatural sense. And yet, all that man has ever learned,
accomplished, attained to, or achieved is a revelation. Man, with all
his boasted knowledge and achievement, has never created anything; all
that man has ever done, at his best, has been to discover and utilize
things and forces that are as old as the universe itself. All the
discoveries he has ever made, all the knowledge he has ever gained, all
that he has ever accomplished or achieved, has been the result of a
continuous, unfolding revelation from the dawn of time to the present
day; by which he has been able to discover, utilize and appropriate to
his own use and benefit, that which has existed, in one form or
another, eternally - all of which is a revelation, divine, but not
miraculous.

A few centuries ago Copernicus gave us a new view of the universe.
This was revelation. But the universe had existed in exactly the same
form and relations since "the morning stars sang together." A little
later Newton revealed to us the law of gravitation. This was the first
man ever knew of it. But the law had existed just the same since the
chaos was first reduced to cosmos. The potential power of steam as a
mechanical force was just as great in the days of Noah or Abraham as it
is today. But it remained for Robert Fulton, but a little over a
century ago, to apply it to practical use; and this was just as much a
divine revelation as the call of Abraham, or the vision of Moses on the
Mount. The same is true of electricity. All the multifarious uses to
which it has ever been applied, were just as potent in the days of
Shalmanezer or Solomon as they are today. Every discovery and new use
to which it has been applied since the day that Franklin drew it from
the clouds and corked it up in a bottle, has only been so many new
divine revelations; as much so as the vision of Paul before the gate of
Damascus, or John on the Isle of Patmos. In fact more so.

And on _ad infinitum_. All the progress man has ever made or ever will
make is only the result of this divine revelation ever unfolding itself
to him, just as fast, and no faster than he is able to appropriate and
use it. Thus God reveals himself to man, not miraculously, but
naturally and _thru nature itself_, just in proportion to man's ability
to understand, receive and appropriate it. Jesus is quoted as saying:
"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Howbeit when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into
all the truth." Did that spirit of truth ever come? And if so when,
if ever, was it withdrawn? He said in another place that it should
remain forever. Yes, I believe that same spirit of truth is still in
the world today and has been ever since man has been here, guiding men
into the way of truth just in proportion to their ability to receive
it. And also, all truth is divine, because all truth comes from the
same source - God. The truth concerning the universe, the laws of
nature in the material world are thus just as divine, as are the moral
laws governing man in his social relations, or those governing his
relations to God. And the great store-house of Nature has not yet
revealed even an infinitesimal part of her infinite riches for man's
use and benefit, that are yet to be revealed as man progresses onward
and upward. Instead of having reached the zenith of man's discoveries
and achievements, and therefore a finished revelation, we have not yet
passed the dawn. The heavens still declare the glory of God; but the
scientist, philosopher, and astronomer of today sees much more in them
than does the savage, or did the author of the Nineteenth Psalm. And
as man goes on he will see more and more of God in Nature, and
understand him better, until the final fruition of his hope and faith
is reached. Inspiration and revelation are thus both living realities,
as much so now as at any time in the past, and will continue so while
mankind continues to inhabit this planet.

All the progress, achievement and attainment mankind has ever made,
from the days of the Cave Man and the Stone Age to the present time,
are but the products, results, fruits of this inspiration and
revelation, that has ever impelled and led mankind onward and upward.
I firmly believe that the future holds in store a civilization, social
status, human achievement, intellectual and moral attainment on this
planet, as far above the present as this is above that of the Cave Man;
and as inconceivable to us now as this was to him; and all this will be
but the product, result, fruit of this eternal, never-ending process of
inspiration and revelation that has brought mankind to where he is
today.




CHAPTER VIII

JESUS OF NAZARETH

We have now reached the most interesting, if not the most vital part of
this Confession of Faith. Thus far I have said almost nothing about
the Man of Nazareth. "What then shall I do unto Jesus, who is called
Christ?" The temptation is very great here to elaborate at some length
upon my views of this, the most unique character in all history. I
would like to give my views in full, with all the arguments, pro and
con, as to his personality, character and mission. But this would
extend this work to an undue length. Some day I may write it more
fully in another book. I must be content now to give as briefly as
possible the conclusions I have reached, without going into any very
detailed arguments to support them.

What do we know about Jesus anyway? He never wrote a line that we have
any record of, except a few words in the sand when the Jews brought a
sinful woman before him to accuse her; and we know not what these words
were. We have no record that he ever authorized any one else to write
anything for, or about him. We have three short biographies of him
that were written anywhere from fifty to eighty years after his death,
the exact date of neither being known. The authors of two of
these - Mark and Luke - it is admitted were not Apostles; and there is no
evidence that either of them ever knew Jesus in his lifetime. It is
admitted that each of them got all his information from another, and
that one of them got his information from a person - Paul - who himself
never knew Jesus in the flesh. It is admitted that the
other - Matthew - as we now have it, is not the original writing of the
Apostle of that name; that the original is entirely lost, and no one
knows what additions or eliminations it underwent in its translation
and transcription into another language. Years later a fourth
biography appeared by an unknown author, - tradition being the only
evidence that it was written by the Apostle John - so entirely different
in its general make-up and contents, that but for the _name_ of its
subject and a very few passages in it, no one would ever take it to be
about the same person that formed the subject of the other three.

When these four are taken together, and all repetitions and
duplications are eliminated, it would leave us with a small pamphlet of
some sixty or seventy pages as our only record of this most remarkable
character of all history. None of the epistolary writings throw any
light on the life, doings, sayings or personality of Jesus. They only
deal with deductions drawn from or based upon it. When we add to this
the fact that at least fifty years had elapsed, after the events
described had happened, before a line of it - at least in its present
form - was written; and that in an age when few people could write and
no accurate records were preserved, and when those that did then write,
wrote only from memory or tradition; and when we further consider the
varying and often very different accounts given by the different
writers of the events they describe, differences in both the doings and
sayings of Jesus, altho these are mostly only matters of minor detail,
yet we become more and more convinced that we have no means of knowing
for certain just what Jesus did; nor whether or not he uttered the
exact words that the writers put into his mouth. Compare today the
memory of any individual as to the exact details of some event, even
that he personally witnessed, fifty years ago; especially as to the
exact words used on any particular occasion, and we will have more than
a fair example of the imperfection of human memory. Add to this the
fact that this was in a very superstitious age, when every wonder was
translated into a supernatural miracle, and our perplexity only becomes
the greater. The doctrine of infallible guidance by divine inspiration
is out of the question. If there was no other evidence against such an
idea, the internal contents of these books themselves would forever
destroy it.

Then, what do we _know_ about Jesus? Very little. I do not accuse
these writers of any deliberate misrepresentation, conscious fraud or
forgery. They undoubtedly wrote what they honestly and sincerely
believed at the time to be the truth. But they wrote simply as
fallible men like ourselves. Their means of information in many cases
was doubtless very meager and uncertain. They doubtless did the best
they could under the circumstances. They wrote the truth as they
understood it to be truth, just as any other historian or biographer
would do today.

And what they wrote is all we know. It is the only basis we have upon
which we can form any judgment as to who or what Jesus of Nazareth was.
What Paul may have thought of him, and the system of theology he built
thereon, is of but little value. What the Church Fathers may have
thought, in the light of the age in which they lived, and their own
standard of intellectual attainments, is of less. We have got to fall
back upon the four gospels, and interpret them, not in the light of the
superstitious age in which they were written; not assuming them to be
exact truth; for in view of the fact of their own contradictions of
each other on material and vital points this is impossible; but in the
full light of this age of science and exact knowledge; of a more highly
developed intelligence, and a deeper and more accurate reasoning power.
With these records as a basis, or starting point, we must work out the
problem for ourselves: Who and what was Jesus?

First, he was a Jew, - born, lived and died a Jew. There is no evidence
that he ever rejected, or abrogated the religion of his fathers. That
he tried to reform it, inject into it a deeper spiritual life, a more
rational and higher ethical standard, will more fully appear as we
proceed. He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, - not by
dying on the cross, for the law nowhere says, or even intimates,
anything about anybody dying on a cross or anywhere else. He came to
fulfill it by living up to its full ethical and spiritual import, and
teaching others to do so. "Moses had summed up the law in ten
commandments, the Pharisees of the time of Jesus had made of these ten
thousand - to be exact, six hundred and thirteen - and Jesus reduced them
to two," - and kept them. This is how he fulfilled the law.

Next, Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary by the same process of
natural generation by which all other human beings come into the world.
Paul, the earliest and most elaborate writer of the New Testament,
nowhere gives us the remotest hint that he had ever heard of any such a
thing as the supernatural birth; and it is wholly unthinkable that if
such had been the truth he should have been ignorant of it; or that if
it sustained such a vital relation to the Christian system of religion
to which he devoted his whole life, he should never in the remotest
manner refer to it.

Mark's gospel, written to the best of our knowledge about fifty years
after the death of Jesus, nowhere refers to it. As we have already
seen, we do not know what the Apostle Matthew may have written, as we
do not have his original writing at all. The early Ebionite copies of
the Greek translation and transcription did not contain the first two
chapters, and consequently no reference to the supernatural birth. We
are left to fall back on Luke and we will have to examine his story a
little in detail. In all of its details, including the genealogy, it
is quite different from that in Matthew. Luke alone mentions the visit
to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years old, and in which he was
missed from the company when they started on the return home. When
Joseph and Mary found him in the temple, she is quoted as saying, "Son,
why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold thy father and I have sought
thee sorrowing." Now, if Jesus was _not_ really the son of Joseph, but
of the Holy Ghost, his mother certainly knew it; and if so her
statement, "_thy father_ and I have sought thee sorrowing," was not
only a deliberate untruth; but if Jesus was God, he also knew it was an
untruth. Another inconsistency in the story is, that if Jesus was thus
the son of the Holy Ghost, and therefore God, and his mother knew it,
why should she worry about his being missing from the caravan?
Couldn't God take care of himself and find his way back to Nazareth at
any time he wished to go? On another occasion, mentioned by all the
synoptics, when Jesus was teaching, his mother and brethren are
reported as calling for him, evidently for the purpose of restraining
him in his work, or persuading him to desist, - and this is the
interpretation that has been most generally given to these passages,
and the answer which Jesus gave supports it as correct, - such a course
is entirely inconsistent with any conception that his mother at the
time _knew_ him to be the supernaturally born Son of God.

Turning now to the Fourth Gospel, we have not only an entirely
different character, but an entirely different philosophy as to his
life and mission. Not a word is said or anywhere hinted about a divine
birth. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and
the Word was God.... and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us."
To state it in the simplest words I can command, the theory of the
Fourth Gospel is that of the old Alexandrian philosophy of the
incarnation of the Divine Logos, or Word, or message from God, in human
flesh, applied to Jesus of Nazareth. His pure and simple manhood is
recognized, into which, in some mystical manner, nowhere explained, the
Divine Logos, or Word, or Life, or God Himself, entered into _the man_
Jesus, whereby he became the Son of God and the Messiah, - and not by
the process of miraculous generation in the flesh. The old Ebionite
doctrine was that this Divine Logos, or Word, or Spirit of God entered
Jesus at his baptism, and that he thereby became the Messiah,
distinctively "the Son of God" by divine selection, and not by
supernatural generation.

There is no evidence that his disciples during his lifetime ever had
the slightest conception that he had a supernatural birth. When Philip
tells Nathaniel that he has found the Messiah of whom Moses and the
prophets wrote, he also tells him that this Messiah is "Jesus of
Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

Even after the death of Jesus the disciples seem to have had no
knowledge of any supernatural birth. The two on their way to Emmaus,
after the crucifixion, express their disappointment: "We hoped that it
was he who should redeem Israel." No such expression of disappointment
can possibly be reconciled with any thought that this Jesus who had so
recently been crucified was the "eternal Son of God" incarnated in
human flesh. On the day of Pentecost Peter speaks of him in no higher
terms than "A man approved of God."

If Jesus was supernaturally born, as a matter of course his mother knew
it all the time; yet during the whole life of Jesus she is nowhere
mentioned as giving the slightest intimation of it; but on the contrary
all the record we have of anything she did do or say would naturally
lead to just the opposite conclusion. Of course no one else knew
anything about it. Taking it naturally for granted, that at least at
the beginning, his disciples knew nothing of it, if they ever learned
it afterwards, there must have been some special time, condition or
circumstance under which they came into possession of these remarkable
facts. Yet, there is not a hint in the New Testament about any such
time, place, circumstance or incident.

How then did the idea of a supernatural birth and the deification of


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