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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/438

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

presuppose both, and conduct is the final aim and crown of the whole development. And yet there are some scholars who exaggerate the relative importance of each one of the three in its relation to the other two and to the whole.

In our age greater attention is given to Christian ethics and sociology than ever before. A man who has the ethical enthusiasm of our times is inclined to criticise historical Christianity with great severity, because of its failure to realize the highest ethical ideals, and especially those presented by Jesus in his teaching and his example. Historical Christianity is so far below these ideals, even in its best types, that one is inclined to say if the Church has failed so badly in nineteen centuries, what prospect has it in the present or the future? Some good men in our times are disgruntled with historical Christianity for its ethical failures, and keep aloof from the Church on that account; but these are after all proportionately few, and they are unreasonable, for they exaggerate the ethical phase of Christianity over against the doctrinal and the vital; they fail to see what is necessarily involved in the development of the Christian religion, that the ethical age should come last of all; and they also are not just in their estimate of Christian history, for, notwithstanding the failure of the Church, there has been a wonderful and steady ethical advance through the centuries. Indeed, it is Christianity itself which is chiefly responsible for the ethical enthusiasm of the present time, and this is an evidence that Christianity is about to enter upon the last and highest stage of its development. Holy love in principle and practice in the liberty of self-sacrifice is better understood in the Church to-day than ever before, and it is becoming more influential in the Church and in the world. The Church is about to put forth the supreme ethical influence of holy love to transform society and the lives of men.

In large sections of the Church the greatest stress is still laid upon Christian doctrine, especially as expressed in dogmatic forms. If a man thinks that orthodox doctrine is the test of a healthful and vigorous church, he will make that the determining element in his judgment whether Christianity is advancing or declining. In this sphere we have to distinguish three things: (1) The popular orthodoxy, which is determined by the consensus of teaching from the pulpit; (2) the scholarly orthodoxy, which is determined by the teaching of the theologian from the chairs of the theological schools and in text-books of dogmatic theology; (3) the official orthodoxy, which is determined by creeds, liturgies, confessions of faith, and canons of the Church.

There can be no doubt that there has been a great overturning of dogma in our times, and it is altogether probable that this will