restricted access Introduction to Revelation, eds. John Baillie and Hugh Martin
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472 ] Introduction to Revelation, eds. John Baillie and Hugh Martin1 London: Faber & Faber, 1937. Pp. xxiv + 312; Introduction 1-39. What I have to write is not an introduction to the essays in this book, but an introduction to the subject; and it is because I am not a theologian that I have been asked to contribute. I am not to concern myself with the different forms in which men may hold a doctrine of revelation, or with the consequences they may deduce from it; either with the different theological systems, nor with the different Christian communions. I am concerned with the general differences between those who maintain a doctrine of revelation and those who reject all revelation. I am assumed to have an intimate and affectionate acquaintance with the limbo and lower regions in which the secular world moves: a knowledge of objects towards which the theological mind is not often directed. My qualification is the eye of the owl, not that of the eagle. I take for granted that Christian revelation is the only full revelation; and that the fullness of Christian revelation resides in the essential fact of the Incarnation, in relation to which all Christian revelation is to be understood. The division between those who accept, and those who deny, Christian revelation I take to be the most profound division between human beings. It does not merely go deeper than divisions by political faith, divisions of class or race; it is different in kind, and cannot be measured by the same scale. It need not cancel these divisions, in so far as they represent principles of union and not of discord. To deny the ties of blood and of congeniality wholly would be to widen the chasm between the Church and the World, and obstruct our indirect, still more than our direct, missionary activity. The emphasis should be on what binds together Christians the world over, rather than on what divides them from others: so that Christian brotherhood should be not merely an idea held, a phrase spoken, but something consistently felt. Nevertheless, it is well for us to study what I may call the folk-lore and practices of the non-Christian world, for we shall not convert it unless we understand it. The line to be drawn between the Christian and the non-Christian world is at present extremely difficult to draw. It is not enough, for our [ 473 Introduction to Revelation present purposes, to propound the wholesome reflexion that not all those who deny Christ are necessarily His enemies, and that many who profess Him are living by the World. The first remark to be made is that not even the Oxford English Dictionary definition of secularism is quite comprehensive: The doctrine that morality should be based solely on regard to the wellbeing of mankind in the present life, to the exclusion of all considerations drawn from belief in God or in a future state. A doctrine of morality based not solely, but primarily, on regard to the well-being of mankind in the present life might also be classified as secularist. Also,whatescapesthenecessaryconcisionofadictionarydefinition, notions of what the “present life” is, and accordingly of what “well-being” is, may vary extremely; and we can only say that secularism tends to restrict the conception to what we call, still vaguely, “material” well-being. And finally, a belief may be far from excluding considerations drawn from belief in God or in a future state, and yet, because of its conception of the nature of God, or of the future state, still be predominantly secularist. The first error would be to identify secularism with what was called rationalism. I say “what was called,” because the word “rationalism” can in general mean so much that in particular it is likely to mean something very much less, and to have accidental associations. The rationalism of the nineteenth century (that of the Rationalist Press Society) now seems very oldfashioned : the rationalism of Tyndall, Haeckel, and Mr. Bernard Shaw.2 This antiquation is not the result of any religious revival but, I believe, of a further stage of religious decay. In countries like France where Christianity still means for the most part the Roman Catholic Church, and means a traditional Catholicism rather than one of individual conversion, the nonChristian forces are still anti-Christian, and therefore maintain a repudiation of anything that might be associated with religion. The sceptical state of mind is there still fundamentally Cartesian; and in spite of...


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