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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/477

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AGNOSTICISM AND CHRISTIANITY.

every-day occurrences. Nor did the Reformation make any difference. Whatever else Luther assailed, he left the traditional demonology untouched; nor could any one have entertained a more hearty and uncompromising belief in the devil, than he and, at a later period, the Calvinistic fanatics of New England did. Finally, in these last years of the nineteenth century, the demonological hypotheses of the first century are, explicitly or implicitly, held and occasionally acted upon, by the immense majority of Christians of all confessions.

Only here and there has the progress of scientific thought, outside the ecclesiastical world, so far affected Christians that they and their teachers fight shy of the demonology of their creed. They are fain to conceal their real disbelief in one half of Christian doctrine by judicious silence about it; or by flight to those refuges for the logically destitute, accommodation or allegory. But the faithful who fly to allegory in order to escape absurdity resemble nothing so much as the sheep in the fable who—to save their lives—jumped into the pit. The allegory pit is too commodious, is ready to swallow up so much more than one wants to put into it. If the story of the temptation is an allegory; if the early recognition of Jesus as the Son of God by the demons is an allegory; if the plain declaration of the writer of the first Epistle of John (iii, 8), "To this end was the Son of God manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil," is allegorical, then the Pauline verson of the fall may be allegorical, and still more the words of consecration of the Eucharist, or the promise of the second coming; in fact, there is not a dogma of ecclesiastical Christianity the scriptural basis of which may not be whittled away by a similar process.

As to accommodation, let any honest man who can read the New Testament ask himself whether Jesus and his immediate friends and disciples can be dishonored more grossly than by the supposition that they said and did that which is attributed to them; while, in reality, they disbelieved in Satan and his demons, in possession and in exorcism?[1]

An eminent theologian has justly observed that we have no right to look at the propositions of the Christian faith with one eye open and the other shut. ("Tract 85," p. 29.) It really is not permissible to see with one eye, that Jesus is affirmed to declare the personality and the fatherhood of God, his loving providence, and his accessibility to prayer, and to shut the other to the no less definite teaching ascribed to Jesus in regard to the personality and the misanthropy of the devil, his malignant watchfulness,

  1. See the expression of orthodox opinion upon the "accommodation" subterfuge, already cited, "Nineteenth Century," February, 1889, p. 173; "Popular Science Monthly," April, 1889, p. 754.