Theological Seventeen.

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The Faith of
a Modern

Papers by the







BR 50 .F3 1922

The Faith of a modern

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The Faith ^. „
of a Modern ChristiafT

Papers by the Theological Seventeen

*' Behold Him now ivhere He connes!
Not the Christ of our subtle creeds,
But the Lord of our hearts, of our homes.
Of our hopes, our p^^ayers, our needs;
The brother of want and blame,
The lover of women and men.
With a love that puts to shame
All the passions of mortal ken.

"Ah, no, thou life of the heart,
Never shalt thou depart.
Not till the leaven of God
Shall lighten each human clod;
Not till the world shall climb
To thy heights serene, sublime,
Shall the Christ who enters ou/r door
Pass to retu7'n no Tuore."

— Richard Watsoii Gilder, The Passing of Christ.


Columbus, Ohio


Copyright 1922



Columbus, Ohio


The Theological Seventeen is a group of pastors of
different denominations bound together into a fellow-
ship. It has never become a highly organized club with
rules, by-laws and red tape. It has always possessed
an intangible and vital quality of spirit rather than of

From the beginning it has attracted men of a definite
quality and of a distinctive faith. Its members have
been men of religious conviction; dominated and con-
trolled by Christian principles and ideals, who have
consecrated their lives to the Christian ministry.
These men have, also, won through to a definite inter-
pretation of the supreme realities of life — they have
believed in the progressive nature of revelation and in
the social feature of redemption. They have felt that
science is not in conflict with religion, and they have
become convinced that religion has a social as well as
an individual message.

Since the outset the meetings of this fellowship have
combined social and instructional features. There
have always been moments of relaxation, of play and
laughter, of friendliness finding new treasures of com-
panionship. At the meetings, papers have been read
on topics educational, economic, or theological, and
a free and friendly discussion has followed. In this
simple manner the members have experienced a ripen-
ing of friendship and a deepening of faith.

The fellowship has always had beside its qualitative
test for membership, a maximum limit to its member-
ship. And in these two elements is found the secret
of its name. It is the Seventeen, not because there
are or ever have been seventeen members, but because

that is the arbitrary limit set to its membership. It
is the Theological Seventeen, not because its members
claim to be theologians of distinction or authority, but
because they are interested in theology, hold that it
has a message for this modern world, and that the
truth which it upholds will free a world enchained by
old concepts, half-truths, and new fancies.

Last spring the Theological Seventeen held an In-
stitute of Religion. It felt that the truth which it had
gained through exchange of ideas should be shared
with others. It even dared to believe that what had
become a supreme value to each member, should be
given a wider circulation and would be of worth to
many. With that conviction in mind a program of
religious significance was outlined, papers of half -hour
length were prepared, and the public in the City of
Columbus was invited to come.

This pamphlet is that Institute of Religion visualized,
and carries to a larger public the faith and the friend-
liness of that fellowship, known as the Theological
Seventeen. It is our humble contribution to the age-
long quest after Truth. It is also our high conviction
that it comprises within its small compass something
of the truth which will make men free.

— E. F. C.



Foreword 3

E. F. Chauncey

Introduction 7

Charles Foster Kent

An Outline Statement of the Faith for Today 9

Burt D. Evans

Modern Science and Christian Faith 21

Joseph A. Leighton

The Christian Idea of God 31

Irving Maurer

The New Testament 39

E. F. Chauncey

The Old Testament 50

Charles B. Ketcham

The Christian Idea of Christ 65

Walter E. Burnett

The Christian Idea of Man 81

Edwin A. Ralph

The Christian Idea of Salvation 90

Gilbert S. Cox

The Christian Idea of Prayer 105

Sidney E. Sweet

The Christian Idea of the Church 116

Harold Cooper

Internationalism 130

Oliver C. Weist


Periods of upheaval, like the present, are not with-
out their ultimate values. They compel thoughtful men
to test and redefine the faith that is within them. They
reveal the need of a religious philosophy of life that is
equal to every strain and stress. They are also rapidly
dispelling the apathy regarding religion that had set-
tled like a pall upon large groups of men.

The new born interest in religion is expressing itself
in widely divergent forms. A period of upheaval is
usually a period of reaction. Many, as in the days of
Manasseh, are crying *'Back to the old Gods." "Down
with the prophets who would interpret religion in
terms of life and deeds." Fortunately for the courage-
ous men who uttered the addresses contained in this
volume, the custom of killing the prophets is no longer
in vogue; but the spirit reflected in certain public ut-
terances and articles directed against them grimly re-
call the days of the Inquisition. One newspaper in the
city in which the addresses were delivered, in its edi-
torial column, refused to publish these attacks because
they were so bitter.

On the other hand thoughtful men and women of the
city responded in large numbers. Many gained a new
conception of the religion of Christ and have, as a re-
sult, actively identified themselves with the building of
the Kingdom. They are but a section of that vast
army of forward-looking men and women who crave a
simple, sane, spiritual interpretation of religion that
will be in harmony with established results of science
and with their own experience. Moreover, such inter-

pretation alone will satisfy the demand of Twentieth
Century youth. If their faith and morals are to survive
this period of upheaval, they must speedily be helped
to find it.

These addresses are well fitted to satisfy the deepest
needs of the present age. They are the outgrowth of
genuine spiritual experience. They are the fruits of
fearless but constructive thinking. Here many will
find convincing reasons for the faith that is within
them. They are the worthy expression of that new
evangelism which aims to set forth in the language
of today the eternal and ever-satisfying message of
the Master and to carry that message into life.

Charles Foster Kent,

Yale University.



In the realm of religious thought nothing is more
apparent than the universal recognition of the neces-
sity for a restatement of the Faith of Christendom.
In this respect two things are conceded to be true:
namely, — the inadequacy of the older presentation of
what has been termed the essentials of Christianity,
and the urgent demand that there be formulated such
a deliverance of Christian truth as will express not
only the fundamental facts of man's being, but will also
furnish an adequate foundation for a Gtable civiliza-

In a recent volume entitled, "The Reconstruction of
Religion" Professor Charles Ellwood says, **A crisis
confronts religion in the modern world. A new Re-
formation is necessary within the Christian Church
if it is to survive, besides which the Protestant Re-
formation will seem insignificant. Like all our other
institutions, religion is in revolution. Either some
new form of Christianity or sheer atheism will soon
become dominant in the more advanced nations, with
scientific agnostic positivism as a third possibility. A
fourth possibility, of course, is that our whole civiliza-
tion may revert to a lower level, and that the older
and cruder forms of religion may again appear and
become common." That statement is not the pessi-
mistic utterance of a superficial thinker, rather, it is
the sober judgment of a leading American scholar v/ho


is not only in the fullest touch with the world situa-
tion, but is also competent to weigh the problem and
render a sane judgment concerning the same.

It should be added, however, that the difficulties
confronting the present age are not insurmountable.
If met in an honest and sincere spirit they may be
overcome and the human race, instead of retrograd-
ing, may reach the higher attainments in ethical and
spiritual progress. Therefore, we come with a plea
for a more rational and spiritual expression of the
Christian Faith. In the discussions presented we are
only secondarily concerned as to whether this recon-
struction will strengthen the various forms of organ-
ized or institutional Christianity. That may follow,
but the real and vital concern is that it shall bring
humanity a truer conception of the meaning of life
and of its relations to the unfolding purposes of an
Infinite God. This transition will not affect real re-
ligion; religion is natural to man, he does not need a
priest or a miracle to create it. Its extinction would
require a miracle, for in that event man would become
dehumanized and lose his divine heritage. Religion
today is moving out into the open; it is including
humanity as well as divinity in its analysis and its
cynthesis. That is the fact on which v/e base our
fundamental appeal. It might be v/ell, however, for
us to note the fact that the great difference between
the reconstruction that is coming and the previous
landmarks in religious thinking lie in the difference
in the method of approach. In our search for the
spirit of Jesus we are moving away from the proof
and the methods of proof furnished by the ecclesiastics
of the past thousand years. The present generation


is approaching the problem from a different angle; it
is endeavoring to include the various facts of man's
being and development. This implies that not the
future but the present is the crux of the question, and
that this question includes everything that pertains
to man's highest welfare and possible destiny.

Therefore in our attempts to assist in the recon-
struction of Faith we build upon the validity of the
theory of Evolution. We act upon the supposition
that the newer scientific view is more nearly correct.
We throw overboard the teaching that four to six
thousand years of history will take us back to a myth-
ical Garden of Eden with a future that ends before a
Great White Throne. "That seems like a fairy tale
to us and not a very moral one at that. It does not
satisfy us and there is no use pretending that it does."
Those words express our views and we accept, there-
fore, the more satisfactory teaching of Theistic Evolu-
tion which begins with the vision of an Infinite Per-
sonal Creative Energy sweeping out into the records
of time and the confines of space. It brings us the
welcome message of God as man's Father leading His
children through the mists of ignorance and the almost
defeated struggles of the ages toward the realization
of the highest ideals of humankind. We are en-
abled to believe thereby that "Our world is not
hopelessly decayed, doomed to utter destruction in
the course of a few days or years. It is vigorous
with the splendid strength of youth. Back of us
stretch the uncounted ages during which star dust has
gathered together and organized the marvellous
symphony of form and motion. Little by little our
planet was prepared for the life which began its won-


derful course of evolution. Today v,e see ^;in just
emerging from helpless infancy into a real conscious-
ness of his powers ; and before the human race stretch
millions and millions of years in which progress may
be made." Religion shares this cosmic movement, it is
not closed and final, but, with everything else in the
created universe, is evolving. Consequently, that
which satisfied the worshiper of yesterday is not suffi-
cient for the growing spirit of man. The very logic
of events compels us to accept a theory that is in-
clusive enough for the demands of a being created in
the image of the living God.

In the presentation of this Outline of Faith it is
necessary that we differentiate between the essentials
and the non-essentials of the Christian religion. While
the Church looks unto Jesus as the author and the
finisher of her faith, it is true that the Church has em-
bodied in the expression of that faith many things
that Jesus never taught ; at least, there is no evidence
that He taught them; on the other hand, organized
Christianity has neglected many truths upon which
He placed the greatest emphasis. Among these non-
essentials we include the following : the teaching of the
Virgin Birth of Christ, which has insufficient evidence
to support it ; miracles, which Jesus always discounted ;
the idea of an infallible Book as the supreme court of
appeal in matters of faith and practice. Jesus said,
"You search the Scriptures, imagining you possess
eternal life in their pages — and they do testify of me —
but you refuse to come to me for life." The various
Sacraments of the Church, well enough in their place
but the new age will relegate them to a position of
secondary importance.


The essentials upon which we base our Outline of
Faith are the three outstanding facts of Christian
revelation : namely, — the fact of God, the fact of Jesus
Christ, and the fact of the Kingdom of God. Beyond
those truths we cannot go; we believe that in them
we have all that is necessary for the salvation of man
and the redemption of the race.

I. The Fact of God.

In his volume entitled 'The Idea of God," Prof. John
Fiske gives us his early, childish view of God, "I
remember distinctly the conception which I had
formed when five years of age. I imagined a nar-
row office just over the zenith, with a tall, stand-
ing desk running lengthwise, upon which lay sev-
eral open ledgers bound in coarse leather. There
was no roof over this office, and the walls rose
scarcely five feet from the floor, so that a person
standing at the desk could look out upon the whole
world. There were two persons at the desk, and one
of them — a tall, slender man, of aquiline features,
wearing spectacles, with a pen in his hand and another
behind his ear-was God. The other, whose appearance
I do not distinctly recall, was an attendant angel.
Both were diligently watching the deeds of men and
recording them in ledgers. To my infant mind this
picture was not grotesque, but ineffably solemn, and
the fact that all my words and acts were thus written
down, to confront me at the day of judgment, seemed
naturally a matter of grave concern."

"If we could cross question all the men and women
we know, and still more all the children, we should


probably find that, even in this enlightened age, the
conception of Deity running throughout the civilized
world contains much that is in the crudest sense anth-

In the Faith of today we shall come more and more
to think of God as a Divine Eternal Energy manifest-
ing Himself in terms of human thought and action.
We shall regard Him as the immanent co-worker al-
ways toiling with His children rather than as a sov-
ereign to whom they are subject.

"We still say, *In the beginning God' ; and we declare
over against the world as the only answer to its riddle,
*God created the heavens and the earth.' But how
different our picture is ! The world is in the making.
Not six days, but endless ages give the story of its
creation. And God does not stand outside the world
as its carpenter, but moves in it as its shaping and in-
forming life. 'Of Him and through Him and unto
Him are all things.' The whirling electron infinitely
small moves in Him. The circling worlds are His deed.
The prayer that rises in us is the gift of His life. This
is the new world that we can only understand by the
doctrine of His presence.

'Earth's crammed with heaven.

And every common bush aflame with God.'

Day by day His presence creates this world anew.
Day by day His shaping power leads it on toward its
goal." In this view of the im^manent God leading His
children out of animalism into saintliness of character


we have a conception of Deity that makes life, not an
accident meaningless in the scheme of things, but the
expression of a divine purpose manifesting itself in
fashioning a perfect humanity. This implies that all
truth is sacred and divine. Whenever we discover a new
truth, whether in astronomy, or chemistry, or electri-
city, or wireless telegraphy, we discover another eternal
thought of God. All science is religious at heart.
There is no conflict between science and religion; the
more science, the more religion; the more religion,
the more science. Every man who adds to useful
knowledge is a theologian and preaches the Christian

11. The Fact of Christ.

In the presentation of the personality of Jesus,
doubtless we have much that is mythical and legend-
ary. At times we have emphasized His divinity ; again,
we I'ay great stress on His humanity. But why separ-
ate Jesus from the evolutionary processes of the
revelation of an Immanent God? Jesus is the Master
of life; He is the crown of creation, therefore. He is
manhood at its best; humanity filled with the fulness
of God. We regard it impossible to satisfactorily in-
terpret the life and the teachings of Jesus from any
other standpoint. It is difficult for us to see that He
had other than a human soul, intellect and will, and that
His human soul did not have a pre-existence. That
which pre-existed was the Logos; the divine Logos is
the element of Christ's nature which is one with the
Eternal Father. It was thus that Jesus was the Word
made flesh and it was from His consciousness of like-
ness to the Eternal One that enabled Him to say : "I


and my Father are one." "He that hath seen me hath
seen the Father."

In His relation to man, Jesus Christ expresses the
ultimate human manifestation of divine and spiritual
values. The Christ life is God's method of making
men. Eventually manhood and Christianity must be-
come synonymous in meaning. The whole process
meant Jesus from the beginning. He is the head of
the human race and the human race is the head of crea-
tion. At the heart of the universe and upon its central
throne is Jesus Christ. Upon every part of it He has
stamped the seal of His power and wisdom. Nothing
in the created universe or in the soul of man is known
aright until His name is read. Separate and apart
from the divine Word life has no meaning and human
existence no solution. But with that Word we have
the revelation of the Infinite and the story of His love.

III. The Fact of the Kingdom of God.

The present day message of the supremacy of the
Kingdom flows naturally and necessarily out of the
truth cf the Divine Immanence and the revelation of
the V/ord. That Kingdom is the crown, the climax of
creation and partakes of the distinctive features of
the processes which have preceded. In a recent
article Dr. Frederick Shannon has said "The King-
dom of God did not begin with time, or history,
or the Bible. It is as much older and greater
than these cis the universe is older and greater th'm
the comparatively youthful planet on which v/e live.
For the Kingdom of God is primarily of the heavens


and the eternities. No seer first foresaw it; no
prophet first foretold it; no poet first visuaKzed it. It
began first in the heart of God; it is the irruption of
God into humanity and history." The thought of an
immanent God working throughout the eternities and
in the centuries toward the establishment of that King-
dom furnishes hope and idealism for the human race.
It is not to be wondered at that Jesus made the mes-
sage of the Kingdom the key-note of His ministry. It
was the message that was continually upon His lips;
Jesus made very little reference to the Church as an
institution but He was ever preaching the Kingdom.
The establishment of that final achievement of the
human race absorbed His interests and consumed His
energies. His life, teachings, death, and resurrection
find their meaning in their relation to this supreme
purpose of the living Christ.

It is encouraging to note that the followers of Jesus
are returning to this central thought of the Master.
Business, art, commerce, literature, education, in fact
a] I fcrnis of thought and action, have to do with
that Kingdom and find their real significance in re-
lation thereto. "With the fact of the Kingdom are two
correlated truths. The first is that of sin, the second
that of salvation.

In our efforts to arrive at a clear understanding of
the spirit and the teaching of the Master we cannot
fail' to note His description of and His attitude toward
sin. Jesus announced the purpose of His coming in
the words, *1 am come that ye might have life and
have it more abundantly." Anything that interfered
with the fullness of life He regarded as sin. The


Greek word hamartia we translate sin. It means miss-
ing the mark. Failure to achieve the divine man-
hood is sinful. Our Lord manifested manhood in its
fullness and declared that sin blasts the nobler powers
of the human soul and drives man from the Father's
house and the Father's love.

The apostle Paul made sin an intellectual abstrac-
tion, a theological concept. He regarded man as in
universal bondage brought upon the race by the fall
of the first man. Dante, Milton, Angelo and others
have embodied that teaching in art and literature and
for more than one thousand years we have been pro-
claiming the fact of sin from the standpoint of those
teachers rather than from the position of the Great
Teacher. Now we are approaching the interpretation
that would bring us into closer harmony with the ideas
of our Redeemer and we shall see sin as a force blast-
ing and blunting the higher powers of the human soul.

The second correlated truth is that of salvation. The
battles of the ages have been waged over the meaning
of that word. The preponderance of modern thinking,
however, regards salvation as a process to be
achieved. It is not something done for man on the
outside, but it is something done with man on the in-
side. We are not so much saved as we are in the
process of being saved. Furthermore, the salvation
that God recognizes and that Jesus taught is social
salvation. Separate and apart from social redemption
there is no individual salvation. The fruits of the
spirit that characterize salvation are supremely social
qualities. Salvation is a by-product of the program
of the Kingdom of God. The individual who gives
himself to the control of the forces making for that


Kingdom thereby finds salvation. 'Tie that seeketh
to save his soul' shall lose it, and he that loseth his
soul for my sake shall find it."

In this Outline of Faith for Today I have assumed
the present fact of eternal values. Faith, Hope, Love
these endure; that is, they have lasting qualities.
To build life into the Kingdom is to be immortal. To
put into life the fundamental laws of that Kingdom, as
those laws are expressed in the personality of Jesus,
is to build into the eternal order. The spirit of Jesus
manifest in terms of human living is conqueror of
death and the grave. There is one life and one world ;
we are eternal here and now or we never shall be. That
eternal life has to do with the transaction of business,
the teaching of school, the mining of coal, the running
of street cars, the practice of the physician, the mak-
ing of treaties and the organization of the human
race into one brotherhood. The Kingdom is here, we
do not have to go elsewhere to find it. But, are we big
enough and brave enough to enter into it?

And so the essentials of our Faith are not many;
they are plain and simple. The fact of God as man's
Father; the fact of Christ as man's Redeemer; the
fact of the Kingdom into which we may build the pro-
gram of life; these are essential and these only.
The men and the women v/ho are greeting the dawn-
ing of the New Day are fashioning civilization accord-

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Online LibraryTheological SeventeenThe Faith of a modern Christian → online text (page 1 of 10)