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lXoA^\■. X • -^D
TILfr'N FOL N i 't.l IONS.


Copyright, 1901
Th£ Booklovers Library


Course XVII: Booklovers Reading Club







HE following three books are supplied by
The Booklovers Library to Club Members
who have enrolled for Course XVII.


(George A. Gordon)


(George Adam Smith)


(Francis Greenwood Peabody)

The course of reading as outlined in this handbook
is based on these books. A supplementary list^ recom-
mended by Dr. Lyman Abbott^ will be found at the


Current Religious Thought














The papers by Dr. Minton, Dr. Thomas^ Dr. McConnelly
Dr. Munger and Dr. Bradford have been pre-
pared especially for readers of this course.






HE selection of books for an adequate

and authoritative presentation of current

religious thought is ?nafiifestly a difficult

task. We committed this responsibility

with entire confidence to Dr. Lyman

Abbott and Dr. Washington Gladden,

and we feel that our readers will share

our satisfaction in the result.

The books furnished with this course represent

three important phases of the general subject of

religious thought. Gordofi presents the subject

from the philosophic point of view ; Ge:>rge Adam


A Word from the Director

S7nith gives us the outcoj?ie of the higher criticism
of the Old Testame?it; Peahody deals with the
application of Christian prijiciples to the solution
of present social problems.

'The books we put into the hands of our readers
have received the most cordial approval of both
of the authorities who?n * we consulted. Dr.
Abbott commends GordoJi s New Epoch for
Faith as " modern^ spiritual, profound, but popu-
lar. The style is clear a?id often genuinely
eloquent.'' In recommending Smith's Modern
Criticism and the Preaching of the Old Tes-
tament Dr. Gladden says: ''It seemed to me
that ojie book on the Bible, giving the fjiodern view
of it, was essential ; and Smith's book is scholarly,
and popular, and reverent." And of Peabody's
Jesus Christ and the Social Question Dr.
Gladden writes : ''It is a beautiful exposition of
Christianity on its social side."

We believe that the three books which we sup-
ply constitute the very best available treatment of
current religious thought for our special purpose,
but we have taken pains to offer in the hand-
book abundant suggestion for the student who is
stimulated to undertake a broader course of read-
ing. On pages i^g-l6o the reader will find
a list of books specially recommended by Dr.

A Word from the Director

Lyman Abbott. Moreover^ D?\ Bradford offers
7iumerous bibliographical hints in his article ^ and
Dr. Munger gives the last pages of his paper
to a discussion of iinportant books.

hi addition^ we have a special article devoted
to a survey of the field of religious literature.
Under the title^ The Wider Outlook, the Rev.
Lyman P. Powell indicates by the topical 7?iethod
the ffiost profitable supplementary I'eading for the
studetit who regards our course as an introduction
to more serious work. The Illustrative Selections
have been chosen with nice discri?nination by
Mr. Powell to illuminate points made in his

The papers of the course need no com?nent.
We sought to represent both wise conservatism
and rational radicalism, and a glance at the
na?nes of the contributors will assure the student
that we have accomplished our purpose.


The Idea of the Course

LL the ways of thought lead to reHgion.
uk There is no escape from its problems.
They must be met and attacked. Man's
place in nature, man's place in eternity,
immortality, God — these and kindred
topics have a fascination, subtle, imper-
ative, persistent, all inclusive.

This course aims to meet the needs
of the general reader, but it has also
been framed for men and women trained to think
about theological questions, and the books chosen
have peculiar claims on the confidence of those
who pursue the course with serious purpose to
avail themselves of all its possibilities.

It hardly need be said that The Booklovers
Library represents neither conservatism nor rad-
icalism. We have no thesis to maintain and no
school of theology to sustain or discredit. We
desire simply to present the best that men are
thinking and writing about religion. Is there
really a resurgence of faith after the long calm of
spiritual apathy, or the storm of doubt ? What
is left after modern criticism has had its way with
the Scriptures? Is there at last a real knowl-
edpfe dawnincr as to the social teachingfs of our
Lord ? These questions and others of vital im-
port the course will help the reader to answer for



The three books offered are typical. They do
not exhaust the field of current theological litera-
ture, but they start the reader on the right way.
It would be well, first, to read the books in the
order in which the titles are given, then, adhering
closely to the topics, to verify or challenge each
heading or sub-heading till the main points are
firmly fastened in the mind.

The questions and the list of subjects for essays
are only suggestive. The reader who has mastered
the three books will find that subjects and ques-
tions will beat in upon his mind with every page
he turns. He will be capable of caring for him-

In the study of current religious thought it is of
first importance that one should be in a proper
frame of mind. For a proper appreciation of
the truth that the mental attitude " counts for
more than the clear-cut conviction and positive
creed which one brings to his task," the reader is


The Booklovers Reading Club

referred to the lucid paper contributed to this
course by Dr. Henry C. Minton.

The past century has been one of unsettHng
and transition. Faith has lost her ancient per-
spective ; her one-time groupings are dissolved ;
her new groupings are not yet arranged. Across
the storm of modern doubt a deeper voice is
sounding, but some have not yet heard it. They
need a word of hope and confidence. They need to
understand that the eternal realities are as real as
ever ; that, though institutions may perish and con-
ventional morality change, the spirit which creates
all institutions, the essential morals which under-
lie the conventions of a day, still exist, and as
long as they live religion cannot pass away. Dr.
H, W. Thomas gives vigorous expression to
these ideas in the paper which he has written for
this handbook.

The new century finds the organized religious
life of the western world broken up into Roman
Catholicism, Protestantism, and the Christianity
represented by the Church of England and the
American Episcopal Church. But outside of or-
ganized Christianity there are many who seem to
prefer the freedom they find there. Some are re-
ligious, some are indifferent, some are avowedly
irreligious. Few of the many who have attempted
to analyze the situation have shown an equal ap-


Current Religious Thought

preciation of the feeling of those outside the
Church and those within. Our paper by Dr.
McConnell has significance because he under-
stands the situation and writes with the charm
and lucidity which make all his writings standard

There are still some who hark back to the good
old days when nothing was in doubt except the
salvation of unbaptized infants and who close
their eyes to the transitions of the time as though
the world stood still. For them Dr. Theodore
T. Munger has a word to say. No one can read
his paper without realizing that many, if not all,
of our most thoughtful theologians are shifting
from the traditional viewpoint to the evolutional
and are accepting the methods, if not all the re-
sults, of the literary interpretation of the Bible as
both necessary and helpful to the understanding
of the Scriptures.

Of course, there are some who think that be-
cause evolution and modern criticism have given
us a larger world, there is no longer any possi-
bility of defining and systematizing religious
truth. To such. President Hyde's paper, re-
printed from his luminous book, God's Ediicatiofi
of Man, must give pause and furnish food for seri-
ous thouorht. It shows that the work of intel-
lectual destruction has gone far enough ; that the


The Booklovers Reading Club

real work of the new century is to be construc-
tive and is already begun.

In making up a budget of specially prepared
papers to introduce and illustrate this course, it
was important to have in mind the needs of those
who wish to learn very quickly where to lay em-
phasis on current religious thinking. Dr. A. H.
Bradford stands in the vanguard of interpreters
of faith in twentieth century terminology ; and his
comprehensive paper covers the whole field and
will serve as an excellent resume of the case
covered by this course.

If the reader desires to pursue the course be-
yond the limits of the three books supplied by
the Library, it will perhaps be best to adhere
closely to the topical suggestions of The Wider
Outlook, on pages 1 19-133. The editor has
therein brought to bear upon the three books of
the course information gleaned from a score or
more of books, chosen because they are repre-
sentative rather than exhaustive, chosen with no
purpose to discredit other good books in the





Topical Outline of the Course:
Part I. The New Epoch for


I. Assumptions that Underlie the
Course. Chap. I.

''The being of God, the vioral order of the
zvor/d, the worth of history, the iminortality of
man, and the soc ial life beyond time are funda-
mental assumptions y (9)

II. The New Humanism. Chap. II.

' ' Sloidy and in spite of all opposing forces life
itself has been winning the chief place in
thought^ (28)

1. Obstructions. 32-53.

2. Steady growth. 53-60.

3. Witnesses to its coming. 60-101.

III. The New Appreciation of Chris-
tianity. Chap. III.

''Christianity has ivaited for the coming of man
to himself, in order to declare its character!'

I. The two ways to God. 102-124.


The Booklovers Reading Club

2, The ultimate irresistibleness of Chris-
tianity. 124-169.

3. Because Christianity is Christ. 169-182.

IV. The Discipline of Doubt. Chap. IV.

" The doubt of the world, the lojig and sore agi-
tations of history, the sad intensity of the nega-
tive intellect in the ninetee?ith century is for no
other purpose than to free the essential from the
tmessential, the abiding truth from the beggarly
elenients, the eternal gospel from the vanishing
traditions of men." (245)

1. Doubt is essentially distrust. 189.

2. But it persists. 191-203.

3. Its sources. 203-225.

4. Its supreme services to faith. 225-245.

V. The Return of Faith. Chap. V.

'' Sojnething in man moves that zvay, and even
when arrested it seldom desists or dies, but bides
its time!' (247)

1. For "man is a religious animal."

2. The return is to Christian faith. 261-280.

3. And to humanity. 280-290.

VI. The New Help History Gives.

Chap. VI.

' 'And the help which comes to faith is through
the new conception of history as the form that


Current Religious Thought

reality has taken ; it conies in the old ways of
sentiment, Jmmor, ethical wisdoin, and religious
insighty (298)

1. The modern meaning of history. 294-

2. History and sentiment. 299-315,

3. " " hmnor. 315-350.

4. " " conscience. 351-373-

5. " ■ " the religious instinct. 374—


VII. Things Expected. Chap. VII.

" hi the discipline of the nineteenth century, what
has occurred, hozvever, is not the expulsion but
the sobering, the pwification of expectation!'


1. Humanity to influence faith more pro-
foundly. 387-390.

2. Faith to influence humanity more vitally.

3. Not probation but education to be recog-
nized as the purpose of life. 392-396.

4. Life to grow more ethical and more
hopeful. 396-398.

5. P^undamental assumptions to be progres-
sively verified. 398.

6. Contradiction of hope to be resolved
into vaster fulfilment. 399-402.


Topical Outline of the Course:

Part II. Modern Criticism and

the Preaching of the Old Tes-

VIII. The Christian Right of Biblical

Criticism. Lecture I.

' ' Those who have beeti led into ufibelief by mod-
em criticism are notfor one moment to be com-
pared in number with those who have fallen
from faith over the edge of the opposite extreme ^


1. The growth of the Old Testament
canon gradual. 7-10.

2. It bears the authority of Christ himself,

3. Who was also its first critic. 11— 14.

4. As were the apostles too. 14-23.

5. But the Church has sometimes fallen
into literalism. 23-28.

IX. The Course and Character of

Modern Criticism. Lecture II.

' ' Modern Criticism has won its war against the
Traditiojial Theories. It only 7'emai?is to fix
the ainount of the indemnity T (72)


Current Religious Thought

1. Not new. 31-46.

2. Mainly historical. 46-56.

3. Criticism and archeology. 56-70.

X. What is Left of the Old Testament
after Criticism? Lecture III.

•' The first thing to rally our fniiids is to re-
member how small a portion, after all, of the
Old Testament has been affected!' (76)

1. Of the Hexateuch. 89-108.

2. Of Judges. ']'].

3. Of Samuel and Kings. 77-84.

4. Of the Prophets. 85.

5. Of the Psalms. 86-89.

6. Of Jonah. 89.

XI. Is Belief in a Divine Revelation

Left ? Lecture IV.

" We cannot doubt that the history of eai'ly
Israel, as critically i7iterpreted, was an authen-
tic a7id a tinigue stage in the process of Revela-
tiojt — that Israel zvcre receiving through their
national God real impressions of the character
and mind of the Deity. " (143)

1. The claims the Old Testament makes
to divine inspiration. 1 1 1— 1 14.

2. Modern criticism confirm s these claims
by shifting tlic viewpoint. 115.


The Booklovers Reading Club

3. Renan's "monotheism theory" over-
turned. 1 18-12 1,

4. Forces in Israel making for monotheism.

/ 5, Only revelation can explain the appear-

^ ance of monotheism in Israel alone of

all Semitic people. 126-144.

XII. The Spirit of Christ in the Old

Testament. Lecture V.

" The lengtJi and the breadth, the JieigJU and
the deptJi of it belong to the Old Testament' s
revelation of God hints elf!' (176)

1. Before David. 148-157.

2. In the prophets' time. 158-176.

XIII. The Hope of Immortality in
the Old Testament. Lecture VI.

' ' Whatever hopes of immortality arose in Israel
arose by development from the native principles
of Israel s religion!' (207)

1. The data, i 78-191.

2. The tribal explanation. 191-202.

3. The emergence of hope. 202-208.

XIV. The Preaching of the Prophets.

Lecture VII.
" The idtimate fountain of the prophetic
preaching is the passion to win men." (281)


Current Religious Thought

1. Influence on the social ethics of Chris-
tianity. 215-265.

2. Their ideal of a national religion. 265-

3. The absence of miracles. 274-279.

4. Their style. 279-282.

XV. The Wisdom Literature. Lecture

" The }}iass of it seems to be post-exilic. " (286)

1. The wise men and the prophets com-
pared. 287-292.

2. The Book of Job. 293-300.

3. The Book of Proverbs. 300-314.

31 (33)

Topical Outline of the Course:
Part m.^esus Christ and the So-
cial ^lestion by f. g. peabody

X\ 1. The Social Question. Chap. I.

" It is the age of the social question T (3)

1. Its commanding position, 1-9.

2. Its ethical character. 9-21.

3. Plans to Christianize it. 21-52.

4. The attitude of Jesus. 52-75.

XVII. The Social Principles of Jesus.

Chap. II.

" The social teaching of Jesus Christ is this,
•^ that the social order is not a product of mecJiaji-
ism but of personality, and that personality ful-
fils itself only in the social order!' (102)

1. The primary purpose of Jesus. 76-91.

2. The doctrine of the kingdom. 91-104.

3. Its application. 104-128.

XVIII. Concerning the Family. Chap.

" The teaching of Jesus, so slightly accepted in y
many ways of life, has actually taken firm root I
■ in the soil of the family. " (182)

I. The domestic instability of today. 129-
133. 161-166, 171-179-


Current Religious Thought

2. The history of the family. 135-144.
3. J esus emphasize s the family relation-

i ship! 1 44-1 51. ' ~

4. His specific teachings. 151-161.

5. Hopeful signs. 166-170.

6. The ideal. 180-182.

XIX. Concerning the Rich. Chap. IV.

' ' //e does not present a scheme of economic re-
al- ra^igement ; he issues a summons to the king-
dom!' (215)

1. The largeness of the question. 1 83-191.

2. The varying testimony of the Gospels,

3. The social environment of Jesus. 202-

4. Apparent conflict of his utterances.

5. The three Christian uses of wealth.

XX. Concerning the Poor. Chap, V.

" The transition made by the ministry of fesiis
in the history of philanthropy is hardly less
rem,arkable than the transition made in the his-
tory of theology. " (226)

1, The attitude of the ancient world. 226-

2, The conduct of the Church. 231, 235-


The Booklovers Reading Club

3. Secular charity today. 233.

4. Preliminary aspects of Jesus' teachings.

5. Individualized as seen in scientific char-
ity. 248-258.

6. The real aim of Jesus always to grive
power. 258-266.

XXI. Concerning the Industrial Or-
der. Chap. VI.

" If any ^'evolution in the industrial order is to
overthrow the existing economic system, the new
order must depe7id for its perma7ience on the
principles of the teaching of fcsus ; but if the
principles of the teaching of fesus should co77te to
co7it7'ol the existi7ig eco7wmic system, a revolutio7i
i7i the i7idustrial order would seem to be U7i7ieces-
sa7y." (325)

1. The industrial problem. 268-273.

2. Was the teaching of Jesus specific?

3. He views the problem from above.

4. He begins with the individual. 280-285.

5. A seeming contradiction dissipated.

6. His transcendent optimism. 300-314.

7. Its reahzation through service. 314-


Current Religious Thought

XXII. The Correlation of the Social
Questions. Chap. VII.

" TJie relation of the social questions with each
other is not that of mere sequence or expansion ;
it is one of niiitiial dependence and transfer-
ability y (328)

1. Appreciation of correlation necessary to
true philanthropy. Z-l-'h'hZ-

2. No panacea for social ills. 333-335.

3. Doctrine of correlation a stimulus to
efforts for social betterment. 335-340.

4. The larger teaching of the doctrine of
correlation. 340-343.

5. Social progress the expression of moral
energy. 343-347-

6. Directing social energy. 347-351.

7. The Christian Church the social dynamic.



The Frame of Mind for

Religious Study: A Talk



The Frame of Mind for

Religious Study: A Talk


Rev. Henry Collin Minton is a native of
Pennsylvania, and was graduated from Wash-
ington and Jefferson College in 1879. For seven
years he held the pastorate of the First Presby-
terian Church, San Jose, Cal., and since 1892 he
has been Stuart professor of systematic theology
in the San Francisco Theological Seminary. His
Christianity Supernatural^ published in 1900,
strengthened the literary reputation previously
acquired by his scholarly contributions to the
various religious periodicals. Dr. Minton was
moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly
in 1901.

In the study of current religious thought it is a
matter of the greatest importance that the
student be in a proper frame of mind in coming
to his pursuit. Not unfrequently this frame of
mind counts for more than the clear-cut convic-
tions and positive creed which one brings to his
task. Indeed, it has a very great part in determin-
ing what those convictions shall be. It is not very
easy to define exactly what this frame of mind is.
It has to do with the prejudices and preconceptions
which one brings with him. That we all have
these goes without the saying, and often to deny
them in words is to prove all the more clearly to
others the fact that they exist. It is a sort of mental


The Book lovers Reading Club

attitude. One may be hospitable or hostile; one may-
be open-minded or unapproachable. We are not
now at all referring to that distinctively devotional
frame which makes its possessor personally reli-
gious, but to that mental condition which the
ordinary student who comes to the study of reli-
gious questions as a matter of common intelligence
ought to possess. There must be a measure of
sympathy with the subject. This is always indis-
pensable to genuine progress. Renan thought
that if any man is to be an impartial judge of a
religion, he must once have accepted it and after-
wards have renounced it. We do not believe this.
Not doubt but faith, not hostility but sympathy, is
a qualification in the student of any subject. A
man must love Shakespeare if he is to be a good
student of that master. No one ever achieved
eminence in science who was not a lover of nature.
There is nowhere enthusiasm without sympathy,
and there is no success without enthusiasm.

In this frame of mind two extremes are pos-
sible. One is that of denying at the start the
distinctively sacred elements in religion. To be
sure, everything is sacred in a sense, but religion
is in a peculiar sense sacred. To deny this is to
annihilate religion at once. If religion is but a
bare item in the vast program of nature, then
we may as well take down the distinguishing sig-
nal and address ourselves to the study of natural
science at once and for all. This is no special


Current Religious Thought

pleading. What we are saying is that no one who
comes to the study of rehgious Hterature with the
idea in his mind that reHgion, as such, is an empty
or meaningless thing can ever catch the spirit of
religious thought. The scientist must surrender
himself to nature's charms ; the reader must lend
himself to his author's leading ; the student of
religious literature must get en rapport with the
underflowing currents of religious thought.

The other extreme is that of regarding religious
spheres as intrinsically insulated from all others.
It is a mistake too often made to suppose that
our religious convictions are to be wholly exempt
from the common tests of our believinor. Reli-
gion has no franchise to violate the laws of sound
thinking any more than of pure living. What is
true in religion cannot be false in geology or
astronomy or philosophy. There is no barbed-
wire fence between the fields of religion and any
other territory. All truth is one. No truth can
contradict any other. If there be a contradiction,
then there is falsehood at one end or the other,
possibly both. Pascal said that truth on this side
of the Pyrenees is error on that, and Pascal was
wrong. The Creator has never authorized the
prohibition to be placarded on any field he has
made, " Keep off the grass." What is truth in

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Online LibraryLyman AbbottStudies in current religious thought → online text (page 1 of 8)