Full Text for Proselytizing, a New Problem (Text)
lurrection of Christ is highly
problematical. Lewis distinguishes between the view of the disciples
who thought they had seen Jesus in the flesh and Paul's way, who
had an inward experience (p.60). Tb discussion here contradicts
the consonant testimony of the Paulin letters to the bodily resur-
rection of our Lord. What, then, does the resurrection story mean
to us 1 As long as Jesus is a living experience with us, we may well
regard the resurrection narratives "not as literal statements of fact,
but as 'a more or less pictorial effort on the part of the early Chris-
tian community to account for their expel'ience of Christ" (p.61).
After this we are not surprised to hear that the entire doctrine of
the Incarnation and also that of the Trinity is brushed aside by the
author as "rather elaborate speculation" (p. 62).
The discussion of conversion is along definitely Pelagian lines.
Faith is a surrender to God, "meaning that you will highly resolve
to act at all times as one should who sees in Jesus Christ the final
truth about life" (p. 69.) Baptism for infants is no more a sign
that they belong to God; "an infant, as such, is not 'lost'; therefore
it is not 'saved' merely [?] by being baptized" (p.82).
All the teachings reganling death, the future life, heaven, and
hell are termed "apocalyptic," and Lewis maintains that this ex-
pression means "figurative." For instance, there is much in the Bible
about the second coming of Christ. But this simply means "the
progressive realization of His spirit in human lives and affairs"
(p.90). The rising of the dead from their graves is justifiable as
"picture-thinking"; it belongs to "the realm of imagination" (p.92).
Reflections on the Status of Our Preaching. 759
The conventional views of heaven and hell as states of bliss and of
torment are "utterly repellent" (p. 93).
I have carefully reread Lewis's Great Ohristian Teachings and
have failed to find in its pages one sentence ora line that main-
tains any element of supernatural religion except the existence of
a God (who is not a Trinity, however) and of the possibility of the
persistenco of the soul after death. It is a faith that will be readily
subscribed to by the Ethical Society, by the M onistenbund, and by
the rationalism of the streets. The fundamental doctrines of Ohris-
tianity are denied implicitly and explicitly. The book is antichris-
tian, destructive of faith in the Bible and in its teachings.
Methodist and Baptist publishers, not to mention Scribner's and
the Macmillans, have for the past twenty years placed their facil-
ities at the command of Modernists. As a result we have to-day
a grown-up generation in the Protestant churches which from the
days of its youth has no acquaintance with the doctrines of Chris-
tianity. This unbelieving generation is now in (lontml of the Sun-
day-schools and other teaching agencies of the sectarian bodies.
More and more it becomes a problem how to deal with this
situation in our mission-work. IVhcn is a "prospect" to be regarded
as a Christian who holds membership in another co=union and,
as such, not to be looked upon as missionary materiaH Until fifteen
or twenty years ago we would say that adult persons who professed
membership in the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches
were members of a Christian body and could be presumed to have
received and accepted Christian instruction. But the uuquieting
thought forces itself upon us - if proselytizing means to steal the
sheep of some other shepherd, how about our attitude toward sheep
whose shepherd we know to be a wolf? THEO. GRAEBNER.
Reflections on the Status of Our Preaching.
A Symposium of Eighty Opinions.
Christian preaching never continues very long on the same plane.
On the contrary, it is subject to a continual alternation of revival
and decline, and that not merely with reference to its literary and
homiletical qualities, but above all in the substance, the power, and
the effectiveness of its message. There is nothiug extraordinary about
this; for "human progress of every kind is usually not steady and
continuous, but rather goes by waves, like the rising tide. Declen-
sion and revival, forward and backward, up and clown, these are the
common Christian phenomena, individual, local, general. Even the
most superficial study reveals the connection, at once causal and