New, not Made Over

PAUL'S appealing counsel, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans, 12:2), as etymologically interpreted in generally accepted theology, has given rise to the belief that regeneration, the new birth, is a process in which the old man is simply cleansed and reclothed; the form, appearance, condition, and activities are all new, but the substance is preserved. That which was "conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity," has been made pure and Christlike; the obdurate sinner is metamorphosed into a child of God!

This commonly entertained belief resolves itself into the simple declaration that evil can be fashioned into good, and the self-contenting materialist expresses himself in very kindred terms. He says, "Evil is but good in the making," it belongs to the cycle of things in which there are no absolute values, but only relative, and in which each factor has its necessary place and function. The Christian believer can but see that the logic of the materialist's position involves the giving up of moral discriminations, and he may vigorously protest, and yet if man was constituted by his Creator with the capacity to fall into sin, that capacity must be natural; i.e., it must belong to the divine ordering. Furthermore, if the resistance of and final escape from sin is essential to character, effects a fine, high quality of manhood which, as we have been taught, is to be secured in no other way, then surely evil has a necessary place in the believer's cycle no less than in the materialist's, and in this respect they are legitimately classed together.

The study of St. Paul's teaching as a whole makes it clear that by "transformation" he meant the realization of that spiritual manhood in Christ which not only presents an entire contrast to the old man, in character and conduct, but which is wholly different, the change being effected not by the renovation of "the old man" but by his elimination. Again and again he emphasizes the thought that there is no good whatever in "the carnal man," and no good to be made out of him; that he is to be denied, "put off" and wholly separated from; and in all this he maintains the teaching of the Master and of the prophets, that evil is in its every sense, aspect, and degree "an abomination unto the Lord," for which he has, and can have neither use nor tolerance.

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Letters to our Leader
August 5, 1905

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