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MODERN THOUGHTS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1997, 26 November 1888
MODERN TH OUGHTS.
TO THE BDITOB. ; Fir,—l Hate tboiiglit that ffßp^ufter'a " criticism of Mr Monro'aWrmon called for some reply, but now .find, that before I cpuld spare timei to comment-onhis severe' "strictures oh *• our .local" clergytoen;'* ai ;'* One Who'was there "!baflaaticipate(d f mf -> T ! interitioii'. This need not K6#aVeV, pr^e'ift I';*l';* my offering a few additional remarks. ♦"i')Ji^ ;Of Mr Monrp. , fits •• noTeltiejß," or •< pleasant original'fl't^le,"* I haVe; nothing to cay, .unless it bo iiial •"Enqq'ir*r's" eulogy of the ,eermpn is about the poorest compliment tbat could be paid to a sincere and ooDsiatent Christian teacher. My purpose is to deal with " Enquirer's" 1 modern thought' notion thnt ", most of our preachers are behind the :agei"<-: that ••■ thinking men are' driven ' from 1 the ohurchea,''and that •/if preaohers, instead iof drumming into us absurd theories .and " diabblioal creeds, would give ub somethinjSt modern and believable and that would •' counteract the disbelief <j that is now b'eooming almost uoiysrsai, there wonld <.. be some hbpe for Christianity" , ': ' '%-> Of our looal clergy and their preaobing*I know but little, bdtl vp?esumi» that * " Bnqulrerj's" remarks 'apply td all wlf6 !l) give prominence to' the doctrine' of'?. vicarious sacrifice for human sin,'and "in';' faottoall the fundamental doctrines'"df!^ the Gospel which.,, radiate, round this central one. In defence of such preachers let me quote from a reoent address ofa- v r leading .Christian thinker and. teaotieirV who io spite of training.under "advanced " influenoep, holds that the > fundamental idea; of 'modern thought' is';a mistaken;« one, m tbat it implies that Christianity .or .i theology is progressive, . Replying to thV'"" contention of those who think with " Enquirer" that, religiously, as m ©.fhejy.; things, w,j must keep abreast of the timea,^ he says:—- , ;., &, ■'-.. •.'.,„ '.. '.' ', t,. t >"Ohrietianity is mi generis; it is, not,'r after the order of other things. Read the ♦ % text as wo have it. m tho new version, * the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints,' This does opt maan tbat there was darkness m the past; from which we should seek to escape. It means there was perfect light to which we' should * eagerly return True progress m religion is progress backwards 1 Christianity was ... not given m embryo, but m matured perfection. It comes to ub m complete, not imperfect, form It is Divinely revealed, not huoaauly discovered.... I£ it be natural we may improve upon it ;■ If it be supernatural, we shall scarcely attempt the task. It is ihe faith bnoe for 1 'a'l delivered unto the sainte. , From this faith wo dare not take away } to'ii'typ '• dare not add. Bnt we are constantly urged m these directions, Nothing vexes the modern thought religionist more' than to be invited to go back.' Ode of the/ most popular modern thought newspapers besought us only a day or two since on no acoount to take so disastrous a course. It said that ' to look baok upon the past wafc a counsel of despair!' It affirmed that .such counool «never was blessed to the Church since Ood rebuked Moses for not bidding the children of Irael go forward •; which 18, to cay the least, a singular state-1 ment, buttressed ry as extraordinary a theological argument as' probably'ever entered into the heart of man to conceive." Christianity being a faith onqe delivered, „ m delivered once for all and completely. T • • Enquirer " would apparently:; have the preacber, who stands before it he public jbqa minister of this ' once for all delivered faith,' practically deny its. doctrines m order to keep abreast of tbe times. He would " have him retain hi*'pulpit -atf a> Christian, minister, but, instead of proclaiming his rightful message, devote himself to ascertaining what "Enquirer " and bia friendß <l believe, 1 ' and be. for everY inventing something new m/ order to tickle their fanoy. In a carping style be ridicules the evangelical olergv as being more an iioub about U their > situations than about the • truth," and asserts that" this is .the cause of empty churches and shifts to collect neceßstry revenue." What doeo i( Enquire! 1" mehnV by 'the truth?' Such a preacher a«f he desires would be a most untruthful man m the pulpit of a Christian Churoh. ■He must pose before the public as a minister of tho '" once delivered faitb," but woe betide him if he proclaims any thing that i», old. IncoDßietent! Illogical! Ridioulous! It is mean and unfair to ridioule a preacher because hin sermons are .pormeated with old dootrimea, for if ho is » sincere man. it cannot- be otherwise. - Alas! too many of the Churobea admit within their folds persons of tbe «• Enquirer* type, who become deadweights and hindrances to real Ohriatinn work. Their influenoo' retards the preacber, for he being 'only ■ human is hindered by the knowledge thatl' they' are not m sympathy' with, him, and Bometimen seeks to shape the gospel' dbptrines to their liking. Consequently ( :tbose dootrinen lose, thoir power, and|the\ Churoh sinks from being a hyibgex?, pofitor of Christianity to a mere moral;, edooational or eoolal lnttltatlon. This Js oblcfly at the bottom of empty pewiind^ shifts to oolleot revenue. X the evangelK oal preacher Is not In touoh with hie oongregatlon, it Is beoaaae the cbngreg*-' t(on is not m touoh with evangsllosl' doctrine, or if his preaching is doll and lifeless, probably the odngrepation Is more m fault than himeeif. But I deoy ♦' Enqnlrer'a" sllegntioo, that what' he calls the " dry-as-dast doctrines," and " absurd 1 theories," which, being Interpreted,ineans the faithful proclamation iof the old* Gospel, Is driving away thinking men. ..,£ know that the preaoher who truckles and: panders to modern thonght, offcea has eventually a miserable oongregatlon, and that many persons of medloore intelleot and ability, have In all ages rejected the Gob* pel dootrines, but I also knovr that m the jld country and In othee lands wherever, the' once delivered faith' Is proolstmedlt baa the Same power pyer iiU classes ssiftvsr.' Doea " fnqulrer " not know that the moil profound thinkers and scientists the world hasproduaed, Its New tons and Hersohejls huvtybeld to the dootrioes of the old filth evenjas the iste'Earla Cairn* and,Shsftas. bury of our own time. Spnrgeoo; the celebrated London' 1 preaoher, Henry V4t> ley, Moody, iq4 hoiti of Qlbtr|g|i|||
lame type, proclaim the simple unadulterated Gospel, and wherever they do bo, overflowing congregations listen eagerly to them- Mr Spurgeon has preaobed the ••dryai-dust doctrines and absurd theories' 1 for years, and his congregation average! 6000, amo»g whom are some thinking men. Henry Varley reoently eondaotcd mission services In t^o south of England, and at the last 9000 locked to hear him The scene was euoh that scepticism might well have exclaimed with Julian of old, " The Naasrene has won. " Nearly 1000 persons gathered here to hear an address from Spurgeon, junior, And bpiJtiarc? «>» iieiuu. *i:i: v . v» e-«» l«d attention, while In simple and artless ■tyle he txpounded a welt known passage, and nrged the necessities of close adherenos to the plain teaching of Soripture. Doubtless the prestige of his name drew many, bat I believe if he or any one else told the old story here every Sunday afternoon simply, forcibly, and IntelllK«ntly, numbers would gather to hear him, •nd among them would be many of as good mental calibre as " Enquirer." My experience of men of " Enquirer's" sort Is that one ohW oause of the rejection of the doctrines of Revelation Is that they are almost as Ignorant of what Is within the books of that Book as the heathen. The manner In which "Enquirer" denonnoes the modern pulpit makes me ■uipeot that he too fa thus Ignorant. Let me adviie him to acquaint himself with the teaching of Sorlpture. Tf he get a beart knowledge of Its doctrines, he will ■cc that the preachers have too much else to occupy them to trouble about modern thought or keeping abreast of the times. I am, etc, WHO TVAB THREE.
MODERN THOUGHTS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1997, 26 November 1888
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