Religious Items

The Outlook has thus answered a correspondent who was troubled about the orthodoxy of the editor:—

The Outlook has never intimated that the story of the Virgin birth is a myth, or that the worship of Christ is man-worship, or that he is not the supreme Son of God in a sense not shared by our common humanity, or that he is not to be the object of our faith in himself as a divine being, or that he is simply a great prophet born of an earthly father. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the express image of his person; that God was in Christ, and that Christ was God manifest in the flesh. And we believe that this was true in such a sense that he who has seen—that is, known—Christ has seen—that is, known—the Father. We emphatically deny that any theological theories respecting the relation of Jesus Christ to the Father are a condition of acceptance with Christ. We condemn such a misconception respecting the relations of intellectual theories to the religious life as irrational, unscriptural, and pernicious. It is irrational because it substitutes theories about life for life itself. It is unscriptural, because it substitutes a mediæval and scholastic test of character for the simple test which Christ prescribed,—"if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love." It is pernicious because it shuts the door of the kingdom of God against the humble, the uneducated, the little children, and because it turns the zeal of men away from doing the work of the Master in simple loyal service and incites them to doubtful disputations about words and phrases which have different meanings to the different disputants, and to many mean nothing at all. To be a Christian is not to have a theory about Christ's relation to the Father, ancient or modern, conservative or liberal. It is to love him because he loves us, to give ourselves to him because he has given himself to us.

How much more some people believe than they think they do. Technically, some theologians hold to the total depravity of men; that there is absolutely no good in them. Some hold that there are many who, if not elected to be damned, certainly stand no chance of being saved. And yet these same people enter heart and soul into the work of saving these totally depraved men because they really believe they are worth saving, and they work with confidence in spite of their theories that many must be lost, because of their real belief that they are not only worth saving, but that they can be saved if the saviors will only work hard enough. What sacrifices are made, what heroic effort, what splendid consecration displayed by those who, if held strictly to their formal belief, must be heartless and indolent. If the religious world would only make its creeds as Christian as the hearts of those who profess to believe that which their lives contradict, they would magnify the divine attractiveness of religion.

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September 5, 1901

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