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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/357

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CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM.

I not only used the expression "the story of the Passion" but I explicitly stated in my reply to him for what purpose I appealed to it. I said that "that story involves the most solemn attestation, again and again, of truths of which an agnostic coolly says he knows nothing"; and I mentioned particularly our Lord's final utterance, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," as conveying our Lord's attestation in his death agony to his relation to God as his Father. That exclamation is recorded by St. Luke; but let me remind the reader of what is recorded by St. Mark, upon whom Prof. Huxley mainly relies. There we have the account of the agony in Gethsemane and of our Lord's prayer to his Father; we have the solemn challenge of the high priest, "Art thou the Christ, the son of the Blessed?" and our Lord's reply, "I am; and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven," with his immediate condemnation, on the ground that in this statement he had spoken blasphemy. On the cross, moreover, St. Mark records his affecting appeal to his Father, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" All this solemn evidence Prof. Huxley puts aside with the mere passing observation that he has "no inclination to argue about the precise accuracy of every detail of that pathetic story of suffering and wrong." But these prayers and declarations of our Lord are not mere details; they are of the very essence of the story of the Passion; and, whether Prof. Huxley is inclined to argue about them or not, he will find that all serious people will be influenced by them to the end of time, unless they can be shown to be unhistorical.

At all events, by refusing to consider their import. Prof. Huxley has again, in the most flagrant manner, evaded my challenge. I not only mentioned specifically "the story of the Passion," but I explained what I meant by it; and Prof. Huxley asks us to believe that he does not understand what I referred to; he refuses to face that story; and he raises an irrelevant issue about the resurrection. It is irrelevant, because the point specifically at issue between us is not the truth of the Christian creed, but the meaning of agnosticism, and the responsibilities which agnosticism involves. I say that whether agnosticism be justifiable or not, it involves a denial of the beliefs in which Jesus lived and died. It would equally involve a denial of them had he never risen; and if Prof. Huxley really thinks, therefore, that a denial of the resurrection affects the evidence afforded by the Passion, he must be incapable of distinguishing between two successive and entirely distinct occurrences.

But the manner in which Prof. Huxley has treated this irrelevant issue deserves perhaps a few words, for it is another characteristic specimen of his mode of argument. I note, by the way,