For ages humanity has accepted evil as a fearful reality,...

Haverhill (Mass.) Sunday Recorder

For ages humanity has accepted evil as a fearful reality, never doubting that the wretched havoc following as the consequence of this belief was in some manner ordained by an actual power. Intelligent Truth-seekers have sometimes perceived more or less clearly that the government of the universe could not possibly be divided between two opposite and antagonistic powers; and sometimes they have inquired how evil can exist in spite of divine and infinite Love; but no explanation consistent with the omnipotence and goodness of God has ever been furnished by scholastic theology. So Christendom has taken its choice between evil as an independent and actual power and a concept of God which includes evil as His agent. In either view the resistance to evil has been vitiated by the admission of its reality; for no effort which concedes the truth of evil can ever overcome it; it can be abolished only with the understanding which dispels it as illusion or error. Therefore, although Christ Jesus plainly taught the omnipotence and the absolute goodness of God and the consequent unreality and nothingness of evil, the adulteration or dilution of his instruction has postponed for centuries the fruition of his work.

One reason—perhaps the main reason—why Christianity has not yet accomplished all that Christ Jesus foretold for it, is that his ministry has been misunderstood. The various theories which have been formulated to explain his life-work need to be reconsidered; they need to be reexamined in the light of both reason and revelation; and in the final decision, predominance should be ascribed to what he himself said concerning his mission.

Whatever may have been the earlier view of Christian salvation, it was succeeded by a theory which no one entertains today, but which was generally accepted by Christendom for eight or nine centuries. From the time of Irenæus in the third century to the time of Anselm in the twelfth, the accepted theory was that Jesus, by his sufferings, paid a ransom to the devil, and thus wrought the deliverance of those who believed on him. This was followed by the substitutional-sacrificial doctrine of atonement as formulated by medieval theology. According to this belief, the career of Jesus, culminating in his suffering and death, was designed as a sacrificial offering which should expiate the sins of other people, and thus make possible their salvation after death, the main act required of them before death being the acceptance, through faith, of his sacrifice. This is the view still entertained by millions of people who profess the Christian religion.

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