Postscript: The Religious Turmoil of the Mid-Nineteen-Sixties
Since this book was written, the leading weekly magazines have come out with a description of what is regarded by some as the greatest religious revolution since the time of Luther.
We shall not here treat further of the lunatic fringe, who, considering themselves to be Christian, say that "God is dead" and speak of Christian Atheism, but shall analyze the ideas of a present line of thought concerning the question "Who was Jesus?" held by many of those who have departed from the traditional Christian faith.
There are many who consider themselves Christian who deny the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of Christ, and miracles ; they deny or question the life after death in the Kingdom of Heaven; they question or deny the Deity of Christ. Thus they deny ninety-five per cent of the verses of the Gospel and still consider themselves Christians. Many of them put the emphasis on what they call "the Social Gospel."
Christianity without God is nonsense, but Christianity without Christ is more obviously nonsense. A member of a church who is not eager to know who Christ was and to know His teaching is not a Christian. Neither is one a Christian who searches to know Christ and His teachings but does not live according to them. The higher, the purer, and the nobler a religion, the worse are they who are in it and do not live according to its precepts. A bad heathen is not nearly as bad as a bad Christian. As the Lord said, "That servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes." (Luke 12:47,48.)
A nonreligious agnostic is not nearly as bad as a bad so-called Christian; whereas a Christian who lives contrary to the Lord's Commandments, and feels certain he is saved, is the worst of all, for to his other sins he adds the worst form of pride.
What is called the Social Gospel can be found in the Old Testament as well as the New. The two great commandments are in the Old Testament, as is also the teaching that one is to regard others as one's brothers. The eternal mercy of God and the importance of mercy on the part of man are frequently taught in the Old Testament, and also that love should extend not only to one's brethren by race, but to all. The Old Testament also speaks of the duty of charity toward the poor, the miserable, and the afflicted. The teachings which are most distinctly new in the New Testament and are not found in the Old are particularly a totally new idea of the nature of Christ, the Messiah; and the Kingdom of Heaven as the all-important goal of life.
Those who regard the belief in one God and in love to one's neighbor as the only things of importance are not distinctly Christian, for the Jewish faith includes this, as also does Islam. As to what is called the Social Gospel, much of this is included in the teaching of Confucius.
Those who would do away with most of what is said in the Gospels are apt to accept the Crucifixion and to regard this as important. But why was Christ crucified? If Christ was a wonderful, gentle, and loving man who taught the social gospel, as many think, why was He crucified? There is no record in history of a man being put to death for being a gentle and loving man and for teaching love toward one's neighbor.
According to the Gospels, the Jews stated the reason for the crucifixion: "Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy: and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." (John 10:32, 33.)
According to the account in the Gospels, the Lord said, of the leaders of the Jews, that their father was the devil, that they were hypocrites, whited sepulchres full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Such statements by most so-called Christians would be called very unchristianlike. If we believe the Lord made them, it is understandable why they crucified Him. But if it is thought that He did not claim to be one with the Father, and did not make the above statements about the leaders of the Jews, then His crucifixion is inexplicable.
The idea of a gentle and lovable man preaching the social gospel and getting crucified for it does not make sense. Who would wish to crucify the late Pope John?
If one does not believe in the possibility of miracles, he may in one sense believe in a God, but is he really a Christian?
It is said that science has proved that miracles are impossible. A true scientist would never make such an omniscient, dogmatic statement, for he would have a feeling for the truth in the words of Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
To regard oneself as a Christian and to regard Jesus as only a lovable man, contrary to all the records we have concerning Him, is nonsense.
Note that no one has been able to explain away the miracle of how a man born in a despised nation, with no formal education and with a few fishermen as followers, was accepted as God by all the nations of Europe.