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THE CHURCH THE SCHOOLS and EVOLUTION
J. E. CONANT, D.D.
Bible Teacher and Evangelist
Author of Why the Pastor Failed, Is it Scholarly to Be Orthodox? Is Atonement by Substitution Reasonable? Divine Dynamite, etc.
Chicago The Bible Institute Colportage Ass'n 826 North La Salle Street
Copyright, 1922 by J. E. Conant
The following pages have grown out of a paper, following the same outline more briefly, which was read before the Pastors' Conference of the San Juaquin Valley Baptist Association, the largest association in the Northern California Baptist Convention. At the close of the reading a request for its publication was enthusiastically and unanimously voted.
The author has since divided the paper into two chapters; in the first chapter has added to and classified the quotations concerning evolution, has enlarged the remarks on the influence of evolution on Scripture doctrine, and has both enlarged upon and entirely rearranged the matter of the second chapter, in an attempt to make it both more obvious and more conclusive to the reader than it was felt to be to the hearers.
The term "Church" in the following pages is intended to cover that fellowship, of every name, which includes all who have been really born again. When organized church fellowship is referred to, the whole evangelical Protestant fellowship in general is meant, as distinguished from Roman Catholic, Greek church, or any other non-evangelical faith, although true Christians are to be found within every fellowship. The term "Schools," in its larger meaning, includes all institutions of learning maintained at private, denominational, or public expense; more specifically, those dominated by the present evolutionary philosophy are meant. With notable exceptions in a few schools that refuse to be so dominated, the whole educational system in general, especially in the Northern States, has practically capitulated to the evolutionists, and the schools that have so surrendered are particularly in mind in the following discussion.
It is but a humble effort to point out what is obviously the only possible solution for the present distressing and destructive controversy between the Church and the Schools, but the author fondly hopes that it will prove to be a real, even though small, contribution toward the ending of that controversy.
It is sent out with the prayer that He who is Truth incarnate may lead those in both the Church and the Schools who really want to know the truth at all cost to a common attitude toward Himself, to a common, because truly scientific, method of investigating truth in both the natural and the spiritual realms, and therefore to a common goal which will unite them against all those forces that seek to capture both the Church and the Schools for the enemy.
J. E. Conant.
CHAPTER I THE PRESENT CONTROVERSY—THE CAUSE
I. The Theory of Evolution is Unproven 11 1. The Testimony for Evolution 12 2. The Testimony Against Evolution a. In the Biological Realm; (i) The Doctrine of Natural Selection; (ii) The Doctrine of Acquired Characters; (iii) The Biogenetic "Law" 14 b. In the Geological Realm 19 c. The Whole Theory in General 20
II. The Logic of Evolution is Destructive 23 1. Evolution and Inspiration 23 2. Evolution and the Fall of Man 26 3. Evolution and the Nature of Sin 29 4. Evolution and the Nature of Christ 32 5. Evolution and the Atonement 34 6. Evolution and the New Birth 35 7. Evolution and the Holiness of God 40
CHAPTER II THE PRESENT CONTROVERSY—THE CURE
I. Truth Must be Classified Scientifically 46 1. The Realms of Truth Must be Classified 46 2. The Faculties of Investigation Must be Distinguished 47 3. The Different Kinds of Truth Must be Separated 52 4. The Primacy of Primary Truth Must be Maintained 52
II. Truth Must be Investigated Scientifically 55 1. Faith Must be Given Precedence Over Reason 55 a. The Method of the Rationalist 56 b. The Method of the Believer 61 2. The Spiritual Realm Must be Given Primacy Over the Natural 68 a. By Surrendering the Heart to God 70 b. By Interpreting Natural Truth in the Light of the Bible 76
The Church, the Schools and Evolution
The Present Controversy—the Cause
It must be so self-evident as to be axiomatic that there are two distinct realms in God's universe. One is the realm that contains the Creator, and the other that which contains His creation. Of course, if we are pantheists, we will not admit that classification; but those who believe and accept the Word of God are not pantheists.
It is inevitable, therefore, that the facts, the verities, the truths of the universe should be classified according to their realms; those having to do with the Person and relationships of the Creator being separable into one realm, and those having to do with His creation into another.
That this classification is universally recognized, is a matter of common knowledge. That class of truth which has to do with God we call supernatural, or spiritual, truth, and that which relates to His creation we call natural, or scientific, truth.
It is precisely because of this classification that there are two separate institutions in the world, each of which is working in one of these realms. The Church accepts it as her function to receive and propagate spiritual truth, as God has revealed Himself in His character; while the Schools accept it as their function to study and teach scientific truth, as God has revealed Himself in His works. This is the entire logic of the existence in the world of these two separate institutions, both of which are engaged in the investigation and propagation of truth.
But although the Church and the Schools are entirely separate institutions, and although they are engaged, one in the spread of spiritual truth and the other in the diffusion of scientific truth, yet truth is an eternal unity. This must be so, in the nature of things, for all truth proceeds from and reveals the one and only God Who is its Source and of Whom it is the consistent and perfect expression.
Conflict between these two realms of truth is, therefore, eternally impossible. Men talk of a conflict between science and the Bible, but no such conflict exists. If there is any contradiction, it is not between the statements of Scripture and the facts of science, but between the false interpretations of Scripture and the immature conclusions of science. Herbert Spencer was right when he said:
It is incredible that there should be two orders of truth in absolute and everlasting opposition.
Not until God begins to contradict Himself will these two realms of truth ever be in conflict with each other.
The Church and the Schools, then, can never be in conflict until some abnormal condition creeps into the one or the other; for, although working in different realms of truth, each is yet receiving revelations of the one God who can never be in conflict with Himself.
When these two institutions are in normal condition, each will not only not destroy the work of the other, but each will make every possible contribution to the success of the other, and antagonism between them will be impossible. When conflict occurs, therefore, it is because the teachers in one realm or in both have not arrived at the truth in their respective realms.
And so when the Church denies the facts—not the unproven theories, notice, but the clearly demonstrated facts—of science, something is wrong with the Church. And when the Schools put forth theories that undermine the very foundations of the Church and her work, there is something wrong with the Schools.
Now it is no secret that the Church and the Schools, broadly speaking, are in serious conflict with each other today. Where lies the cause? If the Church is denying and fighting the demonstrated facts of science, then the Church is clearly at fault and ought to get right at once.
But this is not so, for the conflict is altogether over unproven theories, and has nothing to do with demonstrated scientific facts. And so this takes us at once and completely out of the realm of science and lands us in that of speculative philosophy—a fact that shows how unreasonable and even foolish the conflict is. For the thing that has set the Church and the Schools into battle array against each other is that speculative guess concerning origins called the Theory of Evolution. This lies at the heart of the opposition that each of these great institutions feels toward the other.
It is true that a certain amount of the trouble arises from misunderstanding, because the term "evolution" is used in so many loose, illogical, and unscientific ways; but back of all misuse of the term there is a fundamental cause on which this antagonism rests, and that cause is found in the nature of the theory and its effects on those who consistently believe it.
The technical meaning of the term may be said to be a structural change in the direction of development into higher forms of existence, brought about by internal force without external aid.
There is also a scientific classification of the subject, into sub-organic, organic, and super-organic evolution. Sub-organic evolution applies to the development of non-living matter; organic, to the development of vegetable and animal life; and super-organic, to the development of intellectual, moral, and spiritual life. But while the subject is thus classified for convenience, it is all one doctrine, and is meant to describe one process of development from the non-living realm to the spiritual.
There is also one theory which is called causal, and another which is called modal, evolution. According to the former, evolution is the first cause of all life, which, of course, excludes God as the First Cause; and according to the latter, evolution is the mode, or method, used by God in creation.
Now, the Church has vital reasons for fighting this philosophical guess. One reason is, that it is entirely unsupported by facts, and is therefore altogether unproven. But if this were the only reason, the Church could be convicted of the supreme folly of her entire history, for turning aside to fight an unproven guess. A more vital reason is that the theory does not stop with the natural realm, but goes right on up into the realm of spiritual truth, and assumes to pronounce on the most vital spiritual realities in such a way that the logic of the theory, if consistently accepted, utterly destroys both the foundations of the Church and the content of the Gospel. Indeed, evolution has been proclaimed to the world as the ally of a philosophy which boasts of its capacity to drive Christianity out of existence.
For the Church, therefore, to fail to fight a theory that strikes at her very vitals would be to become a traitor to the Lord who bought her and sent her into the world to preach His gospel. And so she is compelled to choose between submitting to an unproven and destructive theory, which has never saved any one who has believed it, and preaching the gospel of God's grace, which has infallibly saved every one who has believed it. The true Church is fighting the theory of evolution in order that the message she is commissioned to preach may not be rendered of no effect by a non-belligerent attitude toward it being mistaken for approval of it.
Not only the fact that the theory is entirely unproven, but also and more particularly the nature of its influence on faith in the Bible compels the Church to reckon with it. We will go into these two reasons for antagonizing this speculative guess.
I. The Theory of Evolution is Unproven.
The reason we reflect on this for a few moments lies in what has already been said. If evolution is a fact, then for the Church to refuse it and fight against it would be to fight against God, which ought to bring her to swift judgment for her mad folly. But if it is only an unproven theory, then she is justified if she has good reasons for fighting its propagation. We will therefore note what the scientists themselves have to say regarding the theory.
1. Testimony for Evolution.
There are teachers of science who do not hesitate to assure us that the doctrine of evolution is now no longer a theory but an assured fact. A few representative quotations from that class will suffice.
Dr. P. C. Mitchell says, in a late edition of the "Encyclopedia Britannica":
The vast bulk of botanical and biological work on living and extinct forms published during the last quarter of the nineteenth century increased almost beyond all expectation the evidence for the fact of evolution.
Prof. S. C. Schmucker, of the West Chester, Pennsylvania, State Normal School, in his book, "The Meaning of Evolution," says:
Among students of animals and plants there is no longer any question as to the truth of evolution. That the animals of the present are the altered animals of the past, that the plants of today are the modified plants of yesterday, that civilized man of today is the savage of yesterday and the tree dweller of the day before, is no longer debatable to the mass of biologists.
Professor Fish, then of Denison University, Granville, Ohio, not long ago dictated to his class, of which the writer's daughter was a member, the following statement:
Organic evolution is the key to all biological thinking of today. It is not a theory but a fact, because the main facts are true. Man is the off-spring of the lower animals, and the ancestry can be traced back to the simplest forms of animals known. All medical research takes that fact into account.
Prof. S. W. Williston, department of paleontology, University of Chicago, says:
I know of no biologist, whether of high or low degree, master or tyro, who ventures to suggest a doubt as to the fundamental truths of organic evolution.
Prof. William Patten, department of biology and zoology, Dartmouth College, says:
Evolution is the accepted doctrine of the natural sciences to the extent that it has long ceased to be a subject of debate in standard scientific journals or in organized conferences of men of science.
Prof. Charles B. Davenport, department of experimental evolution, Carnegie Institute, Washington, D. C., says:
I do not know of a single modern scientific man who does not believe in evolution.
And Prof. Frank R. Lillie, department of embryology, University of Chicago, says:
I feel pretty impatient over the statements of certain religious teachers that evolution has collapsed.
These statements are sufficiently representative to indicate the attitude toward the theory of evolution of a great section of the scientific world today, including many science teachers in schools founded and endowed by the Church for the giving of Christian education.
But it is not true that the theory is universally accepted or even scientifically proved to be a fact. Let a few scientists of at least equal eminence with those quoted above bear their testimony.
2. Testimony Against Evolution.
But before we quote this testimony it may be well to pause a moment for a little information that may make it more intelligible to us.
The so-called proofs of evolution are derived from both the biological and the geological realms of natural science.
a. We will consider, first, the so-called proofs taken from the biological realm.
Darwin's theory was arrived at from data taken from the biological realm, and consists of two doctrines. One is the doctrine of natural selection, which was his own personal contribution to the discussion, and the other is that of the inheritance of acquired characters, which he borrowed from Lamarck. The former is the doctrine meant when pure Darwinism is referred to.
(i). The Doctrine of Natural Selection.
Darwin himself said:
We cannot prove that a single species has changed,
Many of the objections to the hypothesis of evolution are so serious I can hardly reflect on them without being staggered.
Dr. N. S. Shaler, department of geology, Harvard, says:
It begins to be evident that the Darwinian hypothesis is still essentially unverified.... It is not yet proven that a single species of the two or three million now inhabiting the earth had been established solely or mainly by the operation of natural selection.
Professor Fleischmann, of Erlangen, has said:
The Darwinian theory of descent has in the realms of nature not a single fact to confirm it. It is not the result of scientific research, but purely the product of the imagination.
And John Burroughs, although an evolutionist up to his recent death, said of Darwin, in the August, 1920, "Atlantic Monthly":
He has already been as completely shorn of his selection doctrines as Samson was shorn of his locks.
If these statements from scientific men mean anything at all, they mean, at least, that pure Darwinism is altogether unproven, if not that it is dead.
(ii). The Doctrine of Acquired Characters.
Spencer made this doctrine the fundamental one in his evolutionary philosophy. Its importance was so vital to him that he said:
Close contemplation of the facts impresses me more strongly than ever with the two alternatives—either there has been inheritance of acquired characters, or there has been no evolution.
It is of great interest, therefore, to note what competent scientists have said about this doctrine.
Dr. Thomas Hunt Morgan, department of science, Columbia University, says:
Today the theory has few followers among trained investigators, but it still has a popular vogue that is wide-spread and vociferous.
Alfred Russell Wallace, in his "Autobiography," said:
All the available evidence is opposed to the doctrine of acquired characters.
Prof. William Bateson, in his 1914 Presidential Address before the British Association for the Advancement of Science, said:
We have done with the notion that Darwin came latterly to favor, that large differences can arise by the accumulation of small differences.
He also remarks that the new knowledge of heredity shows that whatever evolution there is occurs by loss of factors and not by gain, and that in this way the progress of science is
destroying much that till lately passed for gospel.
And commenting on these remarks of Bateson, Prof. S. C. Holmes, of the University of California, says they are
an illustration of the bankruptcy of the present evolutionary theory.
Then Prof. George McCready Price, department of geology, Pacific Union College, Helena, California, has said very recently:
It has long since been definitely settled that acquired characters are not transmitted in heredity.
And in another place he exclaims:
If cells did not maintain their ancestral character in a very remarkable way, what would be the use of grafting a good kind of fruit on to a stock of poorer quality? The very permanency of the graft thus produced is proof of the persistency with which the cells reproduce only "after their kind."
Then in speaking of Mendel's discoveries in the realm of heredity, and which have now become scientifically demonstrated laws, he says that
the whole foundation of biological evolution has been completely undermined by these new discoveries.
And he sums up the conclusions to which present-day scientists are coming, in the words:
The principles of heredity, as now understood, have brought us back to that great truth which is given in the first chapter of our Bible, that each form of plant or animal was designed by the Creator to reproduce only "after its kind."
The one who accepts this testimony, therefore, is compelled to conclude that the doctrine of acquired characters is also dead.
(iii). The Biogenetic "Law."
In addition to the two forms of the theory above noted, Haeckel added emphasis to these so-called biological proofs by putting forth a doctrine that came to be called the biogenetic "law," even though it was nothing but a hypothesis. It was called the recapitulation theory, because it was imagined that the developing human embryo recapitulates or passes through successive stages of the more mature forms of some of the lower animals.
Concerning this theory Dr. A. Weber, University of Geneva, Switzerland, said in the "Scientific American Monthly" for February, 1921:
The critical comments of such men as O. Hertwig, Kiebel, and Vialleton, indeed, have practically torn to shreds the aforesaid fundamental biogenetic law. Its almost universal abandonment has left considerably at a loss those investigators who sought in the structures of organisms the key to their remote origins or to their relationships.
So it would seem that if this form of the theory is utterly destitute of proof, the whole biological foundation of the theory is gone.
It is perfectly in harmony with scientific testimony, therefore, that Professor Price says concerning this phase of the theory:
The science of twenty or thirty years ago was in high glee at the thought of having almost proved the theory of biological evolution. Today, for every careful, candid inquirer, these hopes are crushed; and with weary, reluctant sadness does modern biology now confess that the Church has probably been right all the time.
If these men have borne faithful testimony to the situation as it now exists in the biological realm, the only conclusion possible is that the borrowed portion of Darwin's theory has also utterly collapsed.
It is passing strange, in view of these facts, that competent and scholarly men of science should still cling to a theory so utterly discredited by eminent scientists. Is it because they are determined to believe in evolution in spite of such evidence to the contrary, or is it because there is still left a foundation for the doctrine lying back of all this which has not yet been disturbed, even though "the biological clues have all run out," as Professor Price says they have?
The supposed evidence of geology, with its theories of uniformity and successive ages, forms precisely such a foundation.
b. We will consider, therefore, in the next place, the so-called proofs taken from the geological realm.
Dr. T. H. Morgan, who was quoted above as against the theory of the inheritance of acquired characters, rests his faith in the theory of evolution on a geological foundation. He says:
The direct evidence furnished by fossil remains is by all odds the strongest evidence we have in favor of organic evolution.
Has present-day science anything to say about this? In spite of the collapse of the supposed biological proofs, are there any tangible and scientifically established proofs in the geological realm?
Professor Price, who, as noted above, is a geologist, and therefore speaks according to first-hand knowledge, shows that fossil remains are deposited over many thousands of square miles in widely separated sections of the earth, not only in the opposite order from that required to prove the theory of evolution, but in a great variety of orders, demonstrating, as he says, that they cannot be arranged off into ages, but that they simply indicate different forms of life that existed side by side. He then exclaims:
How much of the earth's crust would we have to find in this upside down order of the fossils, before we would be convinced that there must be something hopelessly wrong with the theory of Successive Ages which drives otherwise competent observers to throw away their common sense and cling desperately to a fantastic theory in the very teeth of such facts?
Then he tells us that
the theory of Successive Ages, with the forms of life appearing on earth in a precise and invariable order, is dead for all coming time for every man who has had a chance to examine the evidence and has enough training in logic and scientific methods to know when a thing is really proved.
And he concludes that the work of strict inductive science has destroyed this "fantastic scheme" forever,
and thus leaves the way open to say that life must have originated by just such a literal creation as is recorded in the first chapters of the Bible.
If these statements have any meaning at all, they can mean only that the geological foundation for the theory of evolution has also collapsed.
c. It remains for us to listen to the testimony of a few more men of science concerning the whole theory of evolution in general.
Professor Virchow, the greatest German authority on physiology, and once a strong advocate of the theory, has said:
It is all nonsense. It cannot be proved by science that man descends from the ape or from any other animal. Since the announcement of the theory, all real scientific knowledge has proceeded in the opposite direction.
Professor Tyndall, in an article in the "Fortnightly Review," said:
There ought to be a clear distinction made between science in a state of hypothesis and science in a state of fact. And inasmuch as it is still in its hypothetical stage, the ban of exclusion ought to fall upon the theory of evolution. I agree with Virchow that the proofs of it are still wanting, that the failures have been lamentable, and that the doctrine has been utterly discredited.
Prof. L. S. Beal, physiologist and professor of anatomy in King's College, London, says:
The idea of any relation having been established between the non-living and the living by a gradual advance from lifeless matter to the lowest forms of life, and so onward to the higher and more complex, has not the slightest evidence from the facts of any section of living nature of which anything is known.
Professor Zoeckler, of the University of Greifswald, says:
The claim that the hypothesis of descent is scientifically secured must most decidedly be denied.
DeCyon, the Russian scientist, says:
Evolution is pure assumption.
Prof. George McCready Price says:
In almost every one of the separate sciences the arguments upon which the theory of evolution gained its popularity a generation or so ago are now known by the various specialists to have been blunders, or mistakes, or hasty conclusions of one kind or another.
And Sir J. William Dawson says:
"The evolution doctrine itself is one of the strangest phenomena of humanity." It is "a system destitute of any shadow of proof, and supported merely by vague analogies and figures of speech, and by the arbitrary and artificial coherence of its parts." And he concludes that it is "surpassingly strange" that such a theory should find adherents.
To this list might be added such names as those of Professor Henslow, former President of the British Association; Prof. C. C. Everett, of Harvard; Dr. E. Dennert; Dr. Goette; Prof. Edward Hoppe, the "Hamburg Savant"; Professor Paulson, of Berlin; Professor Rutemeyer, of Basel; and Prof. Max Wundt, of Leipsic.
After all this contrary testimony on the part of such unquestioned authorities, we are forced to conclude not only that the testimony for evolution is far from unanimous, but also that the theory is altogether unproven, and that it is therefore utterly unscientific to teach it as a fact, especially when those who do so furnish us with no direct evidence whatever.
So long, therefore, as there is an unbridged gulf in the sub-organic realm between nothing and matter, in the organic realm between the non-living and the living, and in the super-organic realm between animals and man, the Church cannot be blamed for being scientific enough to refuse to accept such an unproven and discredited theory, at least until a few facts are forthcoming. Until then we must conclude that all the proofs the scientists can furnish rest altogether on inferences and assumptions.
When evolutionists can produce matter from nothing or increase energy by any natural means known to man, or bring forth the living from the non-living, or bring into existence even one new and distinct species, then they will be in a position to compel the Church to listen to proofs; but until then the Church is forced to reject evolution.
The most serious aspect of the controversy, however, lies in the second objection mentioned above.
II. The Logic of Evolution Is Destructive.
It is destructive of all the fundamental doctrines the Church was sent into the world to preach.
1. It destroys the doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible, by denying its inerrancy and infallible and final authority.
Over and again in the early verses of Genesis we are told that God created the various species to reproduce after their kind. But evolution says that this is not true, for as a matter of fact, the various species have continuously evolved from one to another all the way to man.
To a mind that is working normally, these two propositions are mutually exclusive. And so those who retain their intellectual integrity and consistency, and who therefore cannot accept two contradictory propositions at the same time, are compelled to make a choice between them.
Huxley saw this when he said:
The doctrine of evolution is directly antagonistic to that of creation. Evolution, if consistently accepted, makes it impossible to believe the Bible.
When Professor Schmucker; therefore, speaks of the creation story as
the poetical account of Genesis;
when Dr. S. B. Meeser, of Crozer Theological Seminary, describes the Scriptures as
the survivals of the fittest of those communion experiences which men, who have lived intensely in the moral interest, have had with God;
when Dr. H. C. Vedder, of the same seminary, says the Scriptures
"grew in ... accuracy" as they were written;
when Dr. W. H. P. Faunce, President of Brown University, can say:
Mr. Gladstone's last book is called "The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture." The very title shows a conception of the Bible at the farthest removed from the present Biblical scholarship, to which the Bible is a growth, not a rock;
when Dr. Ernest D. Burton, of the University of Chicago, says:
Some among us have been constrained to admit that the books [of the Bible] are not infallible in history or in matters of science, and not wholly consistent and therefore not ultimately and as a whole inerrant in the field of morals and religion;
and when Dr. Shailer Mathews, of the same University, urges us to think the gospel
in terms of evolution,
and then shows us what that means to him when he says:
For in the New Testament there are conceptions which the modern world under the dominance of science [at the heart of which lies the evolutionary philosophy] finds it impossible to understand, much less to believe;
these men are simply demonstrating the fact that they still retain their intellectual integrity and consistency, and that they are therefore entirely unable to accept the doctrine of evolution and believe in an inerrant Bible at the same time. That is, the logic of the doctrine of evolution destroys for them the faith that, in its original manuscripts, the Bible as it came from God to man was "truth unmixed with error," with the resulting confidence that He who gave it has preserved it to us by His providence essentially as it was given.
This means that these men and all who agree with them have rejected that Word which is forever settled in heaven, in order to accept a hypothesis which is never settled on earth; that they have given up the Book which has stood unchanged through the centuries against every conceivable form of assault, and taken in its place a set of scientific speculations that have either to be revised or discarded for new speculations every few years; that they have turned from an inspired, inerrant and authoritative revelation of God, and turned to an unproven theory which makes the Bible a human document, of supreme value, so they say, as unfolding the religious evolution of the race, but full of errors because of the human element in it.
The result of this is the so-called "scientific" or "historical" method of interpreting the Bible, which means, to quote Dr. Meeser, that while the Scriptures
have the wisdom of experts in religion, [yet] "authority" is scarcely the term to describe their value, and may, when applied to them, obscure their real character.
"But why make all this ado about it," say the evolutionists; "it is all simply a question of interpretation."
That is absolutely right. It is the interpretation of the evolutionists set in opposition to that of the Holy Spirit; and the true Church, compelled to make a choice, takes that of the Holy Spirit.
2. The logic of evolution destroys the doctrine of the fall of man and its result in total depravity.
After an address somewhat along these lines in one of the largest normal schools in the world, the science professor said to the writer, "Yes, but you know there is evolution and evolution."
That is indeed true. We are all aware of the fact that there are various kinds, shapes, and colors of evolution, from theistic to atheistic; but the fact still remains that every theory is still evolution, and that any theory of evolution whatsoever, if it means anything at all, means steady progress from lower to higher. Progress is certainly the one thought that is vital to any definition of evolution, and progress downward is excluded by the very meaning of the word, and so evolution under any theory can mean nothing but progress upward.
But the Word of God says that man has gone down from a condition of purity and innocence into a condition of such sinful enmity against God, that he is not only not subject to the law of God, but is utterly incapable of bringing himself into subjection to it. And the experience of every Christian gives sorrowful but certain evidence to that fact.
This condition the Bible describes as being dead in sin. And since death is not death at all until it is total, man, therefore, being dead, is totally dead—and this is total depravity.
This means that the only progress possible to man in his natural state is progress in corruption. For total depravity, which is total spiritual death, does not mean that the last limit of corruption has been reached, but that while death is total, corruption may have just begun.
The reality of the natural man's spiritual death is abundantly illustrated in human history. After man fell into sin, and died, he was given fullest opportunity to recover himself and to demonstrate thereby that he was still spiritually alive. But the corruption of spiritual death worked until man was so far down in the filth of his moral putrefaction that the only way God could save the race from extinction was to save the one family that had accepted spiritual life from Him, and blot the rest of the race out in the flood.
Then, starting out again under more favorable circumstances than before, man went from bad to worse until, in one great universal brotherhood, he rose up and defied God at the Tower of Babel, and God had to smash the brotherhood into fragments by the confusion of languages.
Time after time God tried man and found his progress downward always, no matter how favorable the circumstances that surrounded him, until finally he came to earth Himself in the Person of His Son. This brought both the reality and the completeness of man's spiritual death to a demonstration that can never be refuted, for at the cross man displayed, to its eternal uncovering, the awful corruption of that spiritual condition that could not tolerate in its presence incarnate purity and holiness, even though he had to become the murderer of God manifest in the flesh to get away from it.
Even in his worship man's progress is steadily downward. Beginning with God, he progresses downward until he is worshipping birds, then beasts, and then creeping things.
But evolution says that man is coming up from primitive conditions into fuller life. And so the evolutionist cannot tolerate such doctrines as these which the Word of God sets forth. To a consistent evolutionist, man is not spiritually dead, for that would make progress out of the question. And if progress upward is denied—if the only progress possible to the natural man is progress in corruption, then the whole doctrine of evolution is gone.
This is why it becomes necessary for Canon E. W. Barnes, of Westminster Abbey, when he accepts evolution, to reject the Bible. He says:
The inevitable acceptance of evolution means giving up belief in the fall and in all the theology built upon it by the theologians from St. Paul onward. Man was not made perfect and then marred; his evolution is still proceeding.
So here again it is utterly impossible for the consistent evolutionist to accept the Bible doctrine of the fall of man.
3. The logic of evolution destroys the doctrine of sin.
The Bible makes man's fall deliberate and wilful, and his continued attitude of sinful enmity against God, in spite of all God's offered power to change it into love, one of excuseless lawlessness and rebellion.
This makes man entirely responsible for his sin and accountable to God for everything sin does in his life. And so the Bible says:
Every one shall give account of himself to God.
And those who go out of this life in the unconfessed and therefore unforgiven sin of rejecting God's mercy in Christ shall "go away into everlasting punishment," where there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth."
But to the evolutionary philosophy, sin cannot be "exceeding sinful," for it is either inherent in the process of evolution, or, at worst, but an unfortunate slip in the working out of that process, if, indeed, it is not even a mark of budding virtue.
John Fiske says:
Theology has much to say about original sin. This original sin is neither more nor less than the brute inheritance that every man carries with him.
Rev. Dwight Bradley, a Cleveland, Ohio, pastor, says:
There is no escape for intelligent people today from the acceptance of the law of evolution.... It follows that what we call evil [sin] is the remains of a lower form of life.... We are in the midst of the slow process of ridding ourselves of our animal inheritance.
And Dr. Shailer Mathews follows the evolutionary philosophy to its logical and necessary end when he says:
But for men who think of God as dynamically imminent in an infinite universe, who think of man's relation to Him as determined not by statutory but by cosmic law, who regard sin and righteousness alike as the working out of the fundamental forces of life itself, the conception of God as King and of man as condemned or acquitted subject is but a figure of speech.
Such a doctrine as this absolutely and forever destroys man's responsibility for sin. For if sin is what Dr. Mathews suggests it is,—"the working out of the fundamental forces of life itself,"—then it is inherent in man's natural constitution as a process of his evolution. And if this is so, man is in no way responsible for his sin.
This altogether removes man's accountability to God, for he cannot be brought to account for that which is the working out of the fundamental forces of life itself, and which is therefore inevitable in the very workings of his nature. And even if sin is an unfortunate slip in the process of evolution, man cannot be held accountable for an accident.
This doctrine also puts a high premium on the whole beastly, selfish, lustful, murderous history of the race, for it makes sin a ladder up which man is climbing to his high destiny.
Punishment for sin is therefore absolutely out of the question. For if man is not responsible for his sin, and if God punishes him for it, as the Bible says He will, even by the law of cause and effect, that would make God an infinite tyrant and an unspeakable fiend. And so if God is not a monster, and if evolution is true, there is no punishment for sin, and the Bible lies.
Thinking men see that this is the inevitable logic of the doctrine of evolution. Sir J. William Dawson, speaking of the evolutionary doctrines as speculations, says:
They seek to revolutionize the religious beliefs of the world, and if accepted would destroy much of the existing theology and philosophy.... With one class of minds they constitute a sort of religion.... With another and perhaps larger class, they are accepted as affording a welcome deliverance from all scruples of conscience and fears of a hereafter.
The theory of evolution cannot be consistently held and the statements of the Bible concerning sin and its consequences be accepted at the same time. And so the evolutionist will come, sooner or later, to refuse any meaning to Scripture statements concerning sin, as did Dr. W. N. Clarke, when he said:
We have no historical narrative of the beginning of sin, and theology receives from the Scriptures no record of that beginning.
That is, the perfectly plain and easily understood statements of Scripture concerning the beginning of sin are altogether unhistorical and utterly unworthy of credence to the man who looks at the Bible from the "scientific" or "historical" standpoint, which is the evolutionist's method of handling the Word of God. To accept evolution, therefore, is to discredit the Bible.
4. The logic of evolution destroys the doctrines of the Deity and the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible makes Christ the Seed of the woman, not of the man, as all other human beings are; it makes His conception to have been that of the Holy Spirit; it declares His virgin birth in language that cannot be misunderstood; it makes Him the Son of God, not the son of Joseph.
It also makes Him God tabernacling in the flesh; it makes Him the Second Person of the Triune God; it declares in so many words that He is God.
But evolution cannot accept such a doctrine, and so the evolutionist juggles the Scripture statements of His Deity and denies His virgin birth, making Him a Jewish bastard, born out of wedlock, and stained forever with the shame of His mother's immorality.
Dr. A. C. McGiffert says of Christ, that He is
no more divine than we are, or than nature is.
A magazine article on "The Cosmic Coming of the Christ" says:
First the little scum on the warm, stagnant water, then the little colonies of cells, the organisms, the green moss and lichen, the beauty of vegetation, the movement of shell fish, sponges, jelly fish, worms, crabs, trilobites, centipedes, insects, fish, frogs, lizards, dinosaurs, reptile birds, birds, kangaroos, mastodons, deer, apes, primitive man, cave man, man of the stone age, of earliest history, Abraham's migration, the Exodus, the development of the Jewish religious life and the climax in that purest of maidens, Mary of Nazareth. The hour had come for the dawn of a new day, and the light of that new day was the birth of Jesus. The eternal purpose of the ages was now to be made clear, and the long, long aeons of creation explained.
It is no wonder that after quoting these words the "Sunday School Times" exclaims:
In other words, without moss we could not have had Mary; without an ape we could not have had Abraham; and—shocking blasphemy—without a centipede we could not have had Christ! Praise God, we may turn from this to the words of God; "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will bring to naught."
And so here once more the consistent evolutionist is compelled to reject the Bible by denying the doctrines of the Deity and the virgin birth of Christ.
5. The logic of evolution destroys the doctrine of atonement by substitution.
The Bible says:
Without the shedding of blood there is no remission [of sin].
Him who knew no sin He hath made to be sin for us.
The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree.
We "were redeemed ... with the precious blood of Christ."
We are "justified by His blood."
The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.
These and many other statements make Christ's death one of atonement by substitution for our sins.
But evolution cannot tolerate such a doctrine. To the evolutionist this is a "doctrine of the shambles," a "slaughter house religion," a "gospel of gore." Christ's death is rather a revelation of the evolutionist's conception of divine love, and an example of sacrificial service set before struggling man to help him climb. Let those who believe in the evolutionist's "historical" method of interpreting Scripture speak for themselves.
Dr. Gerald Birney Smith, of the University of Chicago, says:
To insist dogmatically, as an a priori principle, that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin," is both foolish and futile in an age that has abandoned the conception of bloody sacrifice and which is loudly demanding the abolition of capital punishment.
Dr. Walter Rauschenbusch said:
What the death of Jesus now does for us, the death of the prophets did for him.
Dr. H. C. Vedder says:
Jesus never taught and never authorized anybody to teach in his name that he suffered in our stead and bore the penalty of our sins;
The "one crowning absurdity of theology" is "that the penalty of an evil deed can be vicariously borne by another while he goes scot free,"
which he describes in another place as
taking an immunity bath in the "fountain filled with blood."
And Dr. J. H. Coffin, of Earlham College, Earlham, Indiana, says:
The sacrificial life of Jesus is the essential factor in His atonement. His principles and example are the way of the individual and society to God.
Such statements make it perfectly evident that those who accept evolution utterly reject God's provision for salvation through the shed blood of Christ as an atonement by substitution for our sins.
6. The logic of evolution destroys the doctrine of regeneration.
The Bible describes man as dead to God and running away from Him; as having a nature so full of corruption that "From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores"; and as having a character in the grip of such enmity against God that by nature he "loves darkness rather than light."
This indicates that man is past improvement in his natural state, for no improvement is possible in the dead.
The Bible therefore speaks, not of the improvement, but of the burial, of the old life, and of resurrection, by the power of a new nature, to newness of life.
Hear what it says:
We were buried with Christ by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
There is a large section of the Church that understand this passage to refer to immersion in water in confession of faith in Christ. Not that they believe that immersion has anything to do with saving us, for they do not, but that it is the divinely appointed symbol or picture of the salvation that has already become a reality in the life.
To an immersionist, therefore, when a believer is buried with Christ in symbol in his baptism, and raised again in symbol of resurrection, he confesses, among other things, that by his first birth he is so completely dead that there is nothing left to do with him but to bury him, and his willingness to be buried in the grave of Christ has been met by God with the gift of the risen and incorruptible life which is in His Son, and by which he is now enabled to walk in newness of life.
And so an immersionist cannot be a consistent evolutionist. For when an evolutionist is immersed, he is either perpetrating a meaningless travesty on immersion, or else he is denying the whole doctrine of evolution. For immersion certainly does not picture a step in the progress of the living, but rather the burial of the totally dead. Immersing churches that have gone over to the evolutionary position should therefore be consistent and nail up their baptistries.
But another large portion of the Church believe that the above passage does not refer to immersion in water, but rather to the statement:
For by one Spirit have we all been baptized into one body.
They regard it as referring to the inward, spiritual union with Christ which takes place in the new birth, rather than to an outward act. For in the moment of regeneration, every believer is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ.
But even so, the word "buried" still stands in the first passage above, and a burial has to do with the dead, not with the living. Being "buried," therefore, when the Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ, it is "into death," not into an enlarging life, because we are so completely dead that the baptizing Spirit sets the "old man" forever aside as utterly unimprovable, in order that He may make us "partakers of the divine nature" by which we become a "new creation" in Christ.
All this, however, is utterly intolerable to the consistent evolutionist. For if man is dead and therefore unimprovable, that makes progress upward impossible, and, if that is impossible, the whole doctrine of evolution is at an end.
And so the evolutionist assumes the presence of life, and conceives the race to be progressing upward out of crude forms and unethical conceptions toward God. It is perfectly consistent, therefore, that he should seek to stir man's noble aspirations and should present high ideals for him to strive after. For it is not life man needs, they say, it is simply conversion to higher ideals and aspirations in life.
Hence Dr. E. D. Burton is in perfect harmony with this evolutionary conception when he says:
Jesus was a teacher of great principles, which it is incumbent upon us to apply to the multitudinous phases and experiences of life, and the embodiment of an ideal, which it is ours to endeavor, as best we can, to achieve.
Dr. Herbert L. Willett, of the University of Chicago, was also in harmony with all this when he said in an address heard by the writer:
It is the task of the Church to interpret to the world the ideals of Jesus for men to strive after.
And Dr. J. H. Coffin also voiced the evolutionary position when, in speaking of conversion, he said:
It is conversion to something, namely, the principles of Jesus.
Now when the logic of this conception is followed out, it turns evangelism into religious education. And so it is easy to see why the advocates of evolution are stressing religious education with increasing insistence. For it is through the methods of religious education, according to Dr. Burton, that the lost are being
led to adopt the principles of Jesus and to accept his leadership quietly and gradually.
This makes regeneration simply an added impulse in the direction in which men are imagined already to be going. It also has the effect of altogether reversing the emphasis in the work of the Church with the lost. According to Dr. Burton, it transfers it
from the salvation of the individual, with emphasis upon rescue from future woe, to the creation of a human society dominated by the spirit of Jesus.
And Dr. Gerald Birney Smith, speaking of present-day missionary methods, says:
Humanly determined programs are being substituted for dogmatic decrees in the work of the churches. This is genuine democracy. The missionary enterprise is rapidly being conceived as a democratic social program rather than as the rescue of a few individuals from the divine wrath.... Education is coming to be a primary means of accomplishing the missionary task.
Such a mission to the lost would be altogether unthinkable if men were believed to be spiritually dead. For dead men are helpless to adopt principles and strive after ideals. Dead men do not need education, they need life.
Any one of average intelligence can see at a glance that these two programs of salvation are headed in opposite directions. By one we strive after an ideal; by the other we quit all striving and surrender to a Person. One is salvation by a human resolution to press toward the pattern set before us by the "Flower of the Race"; the other is salvation by a divine rescue from that natural hatred of purity and holiness which made possible the murder of the Son of God. By one program we adopt the principles and follow the spirit of the life of Christ; by the other we trust in the merits of the shed blood and substitutionary death of Christ.
These two programs are mutually exclusive. Thus the evolutionary philosophy utterly destroys the doctrine of the new birth.
7. The logic of evolution destroys the doctrine of the holiness of God, for it makes God the author of sin.
Le Conte says:
If evolution be true, and especially if man be indeed a product of evolution, then what we call evil is not a unique phenomenon confined to man and the result of an accident [the fall], but must be a great fact pervading all nature and a part of its very constitution.
No thinking man can get away from that conclusion. For if evolution in any form is a fact, then the thing the Bible calls sin was either somehow embedded, by a competent and responsible Creator, in man's very constitution as a necessary process of his evolution, or else it slipped into the race through the bungling and unwatchful incompetence of an impotent Creator. Thus in either case God becomes the author of sin!
This puts evolution almost, if not altogether, on the ground of blasphemy! God responsible for the unspeakable woe and the unmeasured suffering of man? God the author of that inherent force in man's nature which has filled the earth with hatred, violence, bloodshed, and death? Let him think so who can!
After these doctrines of the Word are set beside the evolutionary philosophy, and after it begins to dawn on the thinking mind how utterly irreconcilable they are, the absolute impossibility of a consistent evolutionist believing in an inspired, inerrant, and infallible Bible becomes well nigh an axiom. It is no wonder that Dr. W. B. Riley exclaims:
What thinking man fails to see the infinity of space between Modernism and Orthodoxy, or to apprehend the fact that daily they are drawing farther apart! Time holds no promise of even a patched-up peace.
Lord Kelvin was astonished at the preachers and teachers who are trying to apply the doctrine of evolution to the fundamentals of the faith. He said:
I marvel at the undue haste with which teachers in our Universities and preachers in our pulpits are restating the truth in the terms of evolution, while evolution itself remains an unproven hypothesis in the laboratories of science.
And well might he marvel. And well might the Church become aroused and alarmed as the logical workings of these false doctrines produce more and more fearful results within her ranks. The whole Church is being moved away from the foundations of the faith, and this false philosophy is at the bottom of it all.
The group announcements of the Sunday services of the Los Angeles liberal churches show where all consistent evolutionists are headed. Standing at the head of these announcements are these words, the capital letters being theirs:
We found our faith on the thought of EVOLUTION rather than Special Creation; on revelation through NORMAL HUMAN EXPERIENCE rather than the supernatural; on salvation through GROWTH rather than a miraculous rebirth.
And when it comes to the awful harvest that is being gathered from our churches for the forces of spiritual destruction through our colleges and universities, William Jennings Bryan has had some information given to him that will give us a hint of what is going on. He says:
Having had opportunity to make a personal investigation, I feel it my duty to warn the lovers of the Bible of the insidious attacks which are being made upon every vital part of the Word of God. A father tells me of a daughter educated at Wellesley who calmly informs him that no one believes in the Bible now; a teacher in Columbia University begins his lessons in geology by asking students to lay aside all that they have learned in Sunday-school; a professor of the University of Wisconsin tells his class that the Bible is a collection of myths; a professor of philosophy at Ann Arbor occupies a Sunday evening explaining to an audience that Christianity is a state of mind and that there are only two books in the Bible with any literary merit; another professor in the same institution informs students that he once taught a Sunday-school class and was active in the Young Men's Christian Association, but that no thinking man can believe in God or the Bible; a woman teacher in a public school in Indiana rebukes a boy for answering that Adam was the first man, explaining to him and the class that the "tree man" was the first man; a young man in South Carolina traces his atheism back to two teachers in a Christian college; a senior in an Illinois high school writes that he became skeptical during his sophomore year but has been brought back by influences outside of school while others of his class are agnostics; a professor in Yale has the reputation of making atheists of all who come under his influence—this information was given by a boy whose brother has come under the influence of this teacher; a professor in Bryn Mawr combats Christianity for a session and then puts to his class the question whether or not there is a God, and is happy to find that a majority of the class vote that there is no God; a professor in a Christian college writes a book in which the virgin birth of Christ is disputed; one professor declares that life is merely a by-product and will ultimately be produced in the laboratory; another says that the ingredients necessary to create life have already been brought together and that life will be developed from these ingredients, adding, however, that it will require a million years to do it. These are a few of the illustrations furnished by informants whom I have reason to believe.
These facts certainly furnish sufficient reason why the Church cannot compromise with the evolutionary philosophy. To do so would be to head herself toward destruction. She must stand uncompromised and unflinching against that unproven and discredited theory, the acceptance of which destroys faith in that infallible and inerrant Word on which she was founded, and on whose "thus saith the Lord" she must rest her message to a lost world. There is no middle ground. To compromise would be to commit suicide. If the Church and the Schools are ever to come into harmony, it cannot be because the Church gives up an infallible Book and accepts a discredited theory in its place, and so it must be because the Schools give up this unscientific, because unproven, theory and get back to faith in the inerrant Word of God.
That this is the only basis on which the Church and the Schools can ever come into harmony is strenuously denied by the evolutionists in both Schools and Church. But their denial is meaningless when it is remembered that they are working night and day to capture the Church, as they have already almost done with the Schools, before we wake up to what is going on. But it can never be done. The true Church will never surrender to those who would remove her foundations and wreck her message.
The Present Controversy—the Cure
In the previous pages we went back to the cause of the present controversy between the Church and the Schools. We found that the unproven and discredited theory of evolution lies at the bottom of it. We also concluded that no compromise that permits entrance to this theory in any form is possible, for the truth which is at once both the life and the message of the Church, and the theory of evolution, are mutually exclusive.
In this chapter we will seek to find the cure for this distressing controversy. That there is a cure is beyond all possible question. And if it is not found and applied, the controversy cannot fail to intensify until it may force a re-alignment in the Church—a thing a great company of the most earnest in the Church are fighting to prevent.
Now the only possible basis on which both the Church and the Schools can take their stand, if this controversy is to be settled without final disunion in the Church, was laid down by Christ in that scientific formula:
If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak from Myself.
To follow this formula in our search for common ground is to be utterly scientific, for it is the laboratory method of experiment. The true Church has always believed and received the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, not because, in blind credulity, she has followed some irrational and unscientific impulse, but precisely because she has been scientific enough to work by this formula and carry the laboratory test to its final analysis. And for the Schools to follow this same formula with scientific accuracy would be for them to arrive at the same place at which the true Church has arrived. For when the Church and the Schools start out in search of truth and do not arrive together, it is either because they did not start together, or because one or both of them did not proceed all the way with scientific exactness. Truth is an eternal unity, and conclusions regarding it that are mutually exclusive and therefore the cause of controversy prove to a demonstration that somebody's methods of investigation were unscientific.
If we really intend to be scientific, therefore, when we start out to investigate truth of any sort and in any realm, the first thing we will do will be to classify. We can neither start nor proceed together unless we do. Indeed, if we are to be scientific enough to follow the formula laid down by Christ, we will be compelled to classify before we can even begin our investigation.
I. Truth Must Be Classified Scientifically.
1. The Realms of Truth Must Be Classified.
The first thing the true scientist does is to classify truth into realms. This we have already done by classifying the realm in which God reveals His moral character to the hearts of all moral beings as the spiritual realm, and that in which He reveals His creative power to the minds of all intelligent beings as the natural realm.
If we do not distinguish these realms to start with, we invite confusion; and if we should reach right conclusions without this classification, it would be due to accident, rather than to scientific accuracy.
But that this classification is universally recognized is proved by the fact that the moment science reaches the line where the natural ends and the spiritual begins, it pursues its investigations no farther, on the ground that it has neither the implements nor the capacities with which to investigate in that realm. This proves as conclusively as anything could that the distinction between these two realms is so sharp, as well as so self-evident, that science is compelled to accept it and act accordingly.
2. The Faculties of Investigation Must be Distinguished.
The scientific man will next distinguish the faculties with which the investigating is to be done, according to the respective realms. That this classification is required by the fundamental difference in the nature of the truths in these two realms is so self-evident that it ought to be axiomatic to all who think with any degree of scientific accuracy. For in the nature of things, natural truth requires investigation by intellectual faculties, and spiritual truth by spiritual faculties. Indeed, this distinction is fully recognized when science halts its pursuit of truth at the boundary line of the spiritual realm.
Yet, although this classification is theoretically recognized by science, and although it is absolutely demanded if we are to proceed scientifically in our researches in the spiritual realm, it is little less than amazing how many there are who utterly fail to distinguish these faculties when they start out to investigate spiritual truth. Indeed, this is the first place where the Church and the Schools part company. For the whole attitude of our Schools today, including most of the institutions founded and fostered by the Church, seems to be one that entirely misses the scientific necessity of distinguishing between these essentially different faculties when working in these two utterly divergent realms of truth. And so it comes to pass that while the Church is using one sort of faculties, the Schools are using another kind on the same class of truth.
It needs scarcely to be argued that the intellect, with its capacity to reason, is the proper faculty of apprehension in the scientific realm. But it is equally true that the heart, with its capacity to believe, is the one faculty of apprehension in the spiritual realm. That is, the inquirer reasons his way to knowledge in the natural realm, and believes his way to knowledge in the spiritual realm. He uses his mind in order to understand what God has done in His creation, and he exercises faith in order to come into the knowledge of what He is in His character. In natural things he believes because he understands, and in spiritual things he understands because he believes.
In drawing this contrast between mind and heart, however, it is fully recognized that the term "heart," in much if not all of Scripture, stands for the whole personality, including intellect, emotion and will. But it is also a fact that this term stands for that certain attitude of the whole personality toward God through His Word in which one believes and receives His Word without question, even though it may not be understood, rather than insisting on understanding it in order to believe it.
Paul says by inspiration in First Corinthians 1:17 to 2:16 that mental capacity, even of the highest excellence, when exercised by itself, is utterly incapable of apprehending spiritual truth in any degree whatever. And Christ says that it is with the heart that man believes unto righteousness. This defines that attitude of the whole personality which accepts the Word of God on faith without necessarily understanding it, and which gives evidence of acceptance by such a whole-hearted surrender to it as will eventuate in a life of righteousness.
Then in other Scriptures we find that a life of righteousness, according to the divine standard, is based on right relations with God in Christ through faith in His shed blood, through whose incoming and indwelling life, in response to such a faith, the one who receives it will normally live in right relations with his fellow men. That is, it is a righteousness that is obtained by believing, not attained by working. It is received, not achieved.
The use of the term "heart," therefore, in Scripture, means that certain attitude of the whole personality toward God through His Word which the exercise of the intellect apart from, and unfounded on, faith makes impossible.
It is precisely this distinction in faculties that Christ's formula requires. For it was spiritual truth, not natural, of which He spoke when He said, "If any man wills to do, he shall know." To work by this formula requires the exercise of faith. For faith is that attitude of the heart toward the doing of God's will which is evidenced in willing to do that will, no matter what it costs nor where it leads. This is the first step of faith. For faith is both an attitude and an act, the genuineness of which is proven by an activity. That is, it is an attitude of willingness toward the will of God, an act of surrender to the will of God, eventuating in an activity in continuing in the will of God. Therefore complete surrender of the heart and life to God's will as revealed in the Word, trusting the outcome to Him, is where faith begins.
And so let no man imagine that he has any real faith either in God or His Word who has not begun by willing to do, that he may enter upon the doing of, the will of God. Indeed, this is not simply the place where faith begins, it is also the only place where the presence of faith can be demonstrated. For this is the only possible way of distinguishing that intellectual attitude which simply assents to the truthfulness of the Word, from that genuine heart faith which actively reckons the Word to be true by surrendering the life to its requirements. This formula of Christ's, therefore, not only requires that the spiritual and natural faculties be distinguished, but it is the one scientific test by which they can be distinguished.
Then there is Paul's classification of these faculties just referred to. It is passing strange that so many even in our denominational schools have missed it. He devotes a whole section of First Corinthians, from 1:17 to 2:16, as noted above, to a scientific statement of the natural and total incapacity of the intellect to discern spiritual truth. Consider it a little more in detail. He says that natural human wisdom, "sophia," which Aristotle defines as "mental excellence in its highest and fullest sense," is utterly incapable of operating in the realm of spiritual investigation. For after "the world by mental excellence knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness (to the natural mental capacities) of the thing preached to save those that believe." Not those that understand, for "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God (that is, spiritual things), for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know (or understand) them, for they are spiritually discerned (or understood)." The essential difference between natural and spiritual faculties, as well as the utter incapacity of the natural faculties in the spiritual realm, are so clearly brought out in this passage that it is impossible to miss it.
By this it is not at all meant, however, that mental training and intellectual capacity have no place in certain branches of Bible study. Every believer in the Book welcomes the keenest minds and the most expert scholarship in that branch of Bible study, for example, which seeks, by the investigation of the manuscripts and the variant readings, to arrive at the very words that were written by the inspired writers; or, for example, in that other branch of study which seeks to discover the history and origins of the various books of the Bible. But it is meant that when men seek to know the spiritual truths of the Bible, they are utterly unscientific if they fail to use that faculty in their investigation which the Textbook itself prescribes.
To sum it up, faith opens the way for God to quicken into activity a spiritual capacity through which He educates a man in spiritual things entirely independently of the schools.
The man who really intends to be scientific, then, will approach the Bible in that attitude of faith which will lead him to will to do God's will as the Bible reveals it. He will then be where he can believe his way to an understanding of spiritual truth.
3. The Different Kinds of Truth Must Be Separated.
Another classification which the scientific man makes is to distinguish between the two kinds of truth in each respective realm, and to separate that kind which may be demonstrated to the experience from that which must be taken on hearsay. That is, in the natural realm, in the department of chemistry, for example, the laws of chemical action can be put to the laboratory test of experiment, while the history of the science of chemistry must always be taken on hearsay. And, in the spiritual realm, those truths stated in the spiritual Textbook which have to do with our spiritual relations with God can be put to the laboratory test of the experiment of faith, while all the rest must be taken on hearsay.
4. The Primacy of Primary Truth Must Be Maintained.
One thing more which the scientific man does is to accord primacy to that realm of truth which is primary in importance. In order to do this, the scientific spirit compels the one possessed by it to meet two requirements.
Recognizing that truth is an eternal unity, he will first determine to deal with the facts in any given realm in such a way as to preserve harmony at all times between them and all the known facts of all the other realms. For only thus can he avoid destroying the unity of truth and heading himself toward error and confusion.
He will then determine to maintain the primacy of primary truth by interpreting in its light the facts of all other realms. That is, he will make that realm whose truths are of transcendent importance the norm, or standard, by which to interpret the facts of other realms, withholding interpretations until the facts of any other given realm can be interpreted in harmony with those primary truths which have been made forever secure by being scientifically verified.
These requirements would seem so axiomatic as to need no emphasis, and yet, strange as it may seem, right here is another place where the Church and the Schools part company. For the Church is according primacy to one realm of truth, and the Schools to another, making unity of final conclusions out of the question.
If we are to be possessed by the scientific spirit and proceed with scientific accuracy, however, we will be compelled, in the terms of our present study, to accord that primacy to the spiritual realm over the natural which its transcendent importance demands. For by as much as truth about God is of more eternal value to sinful man than truth about His creation, and by as much as truth by which we are saved is of more transcendent importance than truth by which we are informed, by just that much will the scientific spirit compel us to interpret every bit of information that comes to us from the natural realm in harmony with, and in the light of, the truths of the spiritual realm, for by this method alone can we maintain the primacy of the spiritual realm over the natural.
This means that the man who is truly scientific will never interpret discoveries in the natural realm in such a way as to deny or even throw doubt upon those fundamental truths in the spiritual realm which have been forever secured by scientific demonstration. In other words, he will not seek to bring the Bible into harmony with man's interpretation of scientific facts, but he will seek to bring every scientific discovery into harmony with the Bible, withholding final conclusions from all discoveries that will not so harmonize until he has light enough so they will.
We have now reached the point where we can sum up all the requirements which the really scientific man will meet in order that he may be able to proceed with scientific accuracy in his researches in the realms of truth. He will separate the natural and the spiritual realms of truth from each other. He will investigate natural truth with the intellect and spiritual truth with faith. He will distinguish truth that can be demonstrated to the experience from that which must be accepted on testimony alone. And he will accord primacy to the spiritual realm over the natural.
It only remains to be said that the man who will not meet these requirements is a total stranger to the scientific spirit. "The Standard Dictionary" says that science is "knowledge gained and verified by exact observation and correct thinking," and the man who will not meet requirements that are absolutely necessary for exact observation and correct thinking in the gaining and verifying of knowledge does not have the first qualification of the scientific investigator. For he is really not open to truth at all, and is therefore in no position to maintain either the unity between the realms of truth or the primacy of primary truth, and exact observation and correct thinking are out of the question under such conditions. He cannot verify anything with scientific accuracy when he will not even classify the different realms of truth and the faculties of investigation, or give the realms their respective places in the sphere of truth. And so it is futile for one who refuses to do this to talk about being in harmony with the scientific spirit.
When an investigator meets these requirements, on the other hand, he is then ready to meet the next demand made upon the scientific inquirer, which is—
II. Truth Must Be Investigated Scientifically.
Accepting the self-evident accuracy of the classification we have just outlined, we will now give attention to what the scientific spirit will require of us at those two places where the Church and the Schools have parted company. For if we can get together here, we can both proceed and arrive together in our investigation of truth, and that will end the controversy.
1. Faith Must Be Given Precedence over Reason.
Let us see what it will mean to give precedence to faith over reason when we are working in the realm of spiritual truth.
It will mean that believing will precede reasoning in our approach to the Word of God, and this defines the vital distinction between the true Christian and the rationalist.
a. The Method of the Rationalist.
Faith and rationalism are mutually exclusive in the spiritual realm. Rationalizing and doubting are first cousins when the Word of God is involved.
Satan was the first rationalist on earth, and Eve fell when she accepted his reasonings about the Word of God in the place of simple faith in that Word. For Satan raised a question about the Word,—"Yea, hath God said?"—and thereby opened the way for incipient doubt, and then he reasoned Eve into accepting a "common sense" interpretation of what God had said, which proved to be an outright denial of His Word. And look at the consequences—indescribably terrible—of rationalizing about God's Word instead of believing it!
But rationalism did not stop there, for ever since that day all men without exception have been natural-born rationalists. For it is perfectly natural to all men to rationalize about God's Word, but it takes a miracle of Divine power to make any one willing to believe it.
These two attitudes toward Scripture are forever irreconcilable. In the nature of things, they can never be harmonized. The believer in the Word and the rationalist take two utterly divergent paths that cannot possibly reach the same goal.
The program of the rationalist is to arrive at an understanding of spiritual truth over the pathway of reasoning that is apart from faith. That of the believer is to arrive at it over the pathway of reasoning that is founded on faith.
The program of the rationalist is to harmonize the Word of God with his conclusions. That of the believer is to harmonize his conclusions with the Word. The program of the rationalist is to become a critic of the Word and sit in judgment on it. That of the believer is to let the Word become his critic and sit in judgment on him.
These are certainly reasons enough why the believer and the rationalist can never travel together. For the believer is walking by God's estimate of him, while the rationalist is walking by his estimate of God, and these paths go in opposite directions.
If you sit in judgment on some portion of God's Word and determine that it is reasonable, and that since it commends itself to your judgment it is therefore acceptable and you will believe it, that is not faith in the Word but in your own reason. You have surrendered your intellect to your own conclusions but your heart is far from God. Faith in the Word is surrender to it without passing judgment on it.
And yet surrendering one's mind to one's own conclusions about God is precisely the thing that passes for faith in God on the part of those who have lost their old-fashioned, evangelical faith while they were in the Schools, and yet come out with what they describe as a more intelligent and rational faith in God and the Bible. In their desperate attempt to survive the wreck of their orthodox faith, they have reasoned their way to conclusions about God that harmonized with what they were taught in the Schools; but the God they arrived at was the god of rationalism and not the God of Revelation.
They will say to the orthodox man, "You and I go by different pathways, but we both arrive at the same God." But this is eternally impossible! For there is only one pathway leading to the true God, and that is not followed by reasoning one's way out of a shattered faith, but first by believing one's way out of darkness into light, and then by believing steadily on in that divinely imparted faith which always shatters the reasonings and conclusions of the rationalists.
To be a believer in the Word puts rationalism out of business, for no one can reason himself into the acceptance of truth he already believes. And on the other hand, to be a rationalist regarding the Word puts faith out of business, for faith is the acceptance of the bare Word of God without further evidence, and the rationalizer is compelled to reject that attitude toward the Word so that he may have the way left open to reason his way to what he is willing to accept as evidence. This is why so many of those students who sit in the classes of the rationalists in our colleges and seminaries lose their faith. Rationalism makes Scriptural faith impossible. Rationalizing and believing, when the Bible is in question, are mutually exclusive.
The reason for this is not that the facts of Scripture contradict each other, and certainly not that these facts are one thing to faith and another thing to reason. The antagonism does not arise over the facts of the Word but over the interpretation of them. The rationalist, accepting no interpretation except that furnished by his own puny and incompetent reason unillumined by faith, reaches conclusions absolutely contradicted by those arrived at by the man of faith. The fact is, he could not hope to arrive anywhere else. For how can finite man relate and interpret the few and scattered facts he discovers in the realm of infinite truth? How can a man by searching find out God?
"By whose interpretation, yours or mine?" is a favorite question which the rationalist asks the believer when the meaning of some Scripture passage is in question. By no one's interpretation except the Holy Spirit's! He alone can interpret the Bible, for He alone knows what He meant by what He wrote. And even the Holy Spirit is able to interpret the Bible to no one but the believer. For the rationalist, the unbeliever, rejects faith, and thereby completely closes "the eyes of the heart" to the illumination of the Spirit; while the faith of the believer is the very thing that opens the heart to an understanding of the Word. Spiritual apprehension begins only at the point where faith begins.
This is why it is that when the rationalist tries his hand at interpretation he is sure, sooner or later, to bring perfectly harmonious facts into confusion and contradiction.
Take, for example, the facts regarding the development of the human embryo. The rationalist notes that as it develops it bears a striking resemblance, successively, to the more mature forms of some of the lower animals, in an imagined orderly progress from lower to higher. That this resemblance is a fact no one disputes. There is no controversy over the fact. But when the rationalist attempts to explain this fact, he interprets it to mean that man is the product of evolution, rather than a special creation, as the Bible says he is, and thus he thrusts such confusion and contradiction before us that we are compelled to make a choice between his interpretation and the statements of the Bible. The controversy that results is caused altogether by the rationalist thrusting himself into that place that belongs to the Holy Spirit alone. "He shall lead you into all the truth," said Christ, and it is presumptuous in the extreme to seek to do the Holy Spirit's work for Him.
We are forewarned of the methods of the modern rationalist in his approach to the Bible by what Christ said to the Jews who were finding fault with what He taught:
"For had ye believed Moses," He said, "ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?"
This is precisely the pathway modern rationalism has followed. It began by discrediting what Moses wrote, and it has now gone to the length of denying final authority to what Christ said.
Rationalism is both irreverent and destructive when it seeks to do anything with the Word of God. For that Book is to be handled as no other book is. Behind the historical, and the literary, and the textual, and the philosophical criticism must be a spiritual discernment, born of faith alone, which both dominates and regulates all the rest. For just as a blind man may turn the eyes of his head to the sun and see no physical light, so the rationalist may turn the eyes of his mind to the Bible and see no spiritual truth. It takes the eyes of the heart to see spiritual truth, and they can function only through faith.
b. The Method of the Believer.
In order clearly to understand the method of faith, we need right here to guard against another extreme. By the contrasts we have drawn in the last few pages, it is not at all meant that there is no place in the exercise of faith for the exercise also of the intellect at the same time and toward the same object. For, in the nature of things, the intellect must be exercised in a mental apprehension of that which is to be believed before the way is even open for faith to begin.
Neither is it meant that reasoning is so out of harmony with and destructive of faith that its exercise in connection with faith is impossible. For faith is not blind credulity; it is not jumping in the dark; it is not an irrational impulse; it is not swallowing something with the eyes shut. It is rather an open-eyed stepping out on to the spiritual foundations of the universe. But notice—it is stepping out on to spiritual foundations.
It is meant, however, by the contrasts above, that the moment an intellectual apprehension of what is to be believed, followed by a conclusion to accept or reject it according to whether it is reasonable or not—the moment such an attitude is substituted for the heart acceptance of the bare Word of God, even though it may be beyond understanding and reason, that moment the normal exercise of mind and reason has degenerated into a rationalism that makes faith impossible.
Notice an emphasis above. Faith is stepping out upon spiritual foundations. Then recall that to all except the man of presumption, foundations must be seen before they will be stepped upon. The normal man demands to see where he is going.
Now spiritual foundations can be seen only by spiritual eyes. The natural vision cannot see past the natural realm. And spiritual realities will never be stepped out upon until they are seen. For faith is not an abstract and aimless emotion. It requires an object that can be seen, and one that can be trusted.
It is therefore the one main purpose of the Bible to set before men the one saving Object of faith. This purpose lies behind the multiplied revelations of God all through the Old Testament, and the gathering together of all those revelations into Christ in the New Testament in such fullness and finality that He could say: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."
But God and Christ must be seen before they can be trusted. Not intellectually or historically, but spiritually seen. And they can be seen only by spiritual eyes. And spiritual vision is possible only through the divine touch. And the divine touch is given only to those who consent; it is not forced on any one. And the attitude of consent is precisely the attitude set forth in Christ's formula: "If any man wills to do, he shall know."
Only by coming into this attitude can any man see God. "The pure in heart," said Christ, "shall see God." It is a heart attitude. And the meaning of the purity of heart that opens the vision to God is brought out when Christ is asked the question, "How is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us and not unto the world?" His answer is of the utmost significance. He says, "If a man love Me, he will keep My words." Keeping His words, willing to do His will—this is the attitude that opens the vision to Him. He and the Father can manifest themselves to and be seen by those only who are in the attitude of consent toward the keeping of His words. This is the only attitude that can bring the anointing of the eyes with that eye-salve which opens them to spiritual vision.
But when the eyes, in response to this attitude of willingness toward the will of God, are once opened to spiritual things, then God, in all the perfections of His divine character, is seen both in the Bible, the written Word, and in Christ, the living Word, and this two-fold revelation of Him is seen to be as perfect and flawless as the God who is thus revealed. Those who think they see imperfections either in the Bible or in Christ are spiritually blind. For when one thinks he sees flaws where there are only infinite perfections, he advertises to all that he is attempting the impossible task of examining spiritual realities with his natural vision, and is therefore passing judgment on what he has never seen.
But when the spiritual vision has once been opened, and God is really seen, in the Bible and in Christ, in all the perfections of His infinitely holy and loving character, the reason at once leads to the conclusion from the facts seen that such a Being is to be trusted, and active faith thereby becomes the outgrowth of that kind of reasoning. That is, the faith that begins as an attitude of willingness toward the will of God, through which attitude the eyes are touched into a vision of the character of God, such a faith comes into and continues in an active submission to that will through the normal functioning of reason.
This shows the vital difference between reasoning and rationalizing, and the relation of each to faith. The effect of reasoning on faith is constructive, while that of rationalizing is destructive. And the heart of the difference between the two traces back, in the last analysis, to those two kinds of vision. The rationalist, unyielding to the touch of God on his vision, sees only natural facts, and even then he sees them only partially and wholly out of relation to the spiritual revelation of God in the Bible and in Christ; and thinking that he sees discrepancies between the facts in the natural realm and the statements of Scripture, his reason leads him to reject the Bible as infallible and inerrant, thereby making faith in the God of the Bible utterly impossible. His reasoning powers are simply functioning normally when he concludes to reject the statements about the facts that to him are entirely unseen which do not seem to agree with what he sees. His trouble is not with his reasoning powers but with his vision. Refusing to see what he is passing judgment on, his method of inquiry is rationalizing.
But the believer, utterly yielded to God and therefore seeing Him through anointed eyes in both the written and the living Word, thus seeing the infinite perfections of His character, is led by the normal functioning of the same reason to accept and act on the bare Word of God without further evidence, because the evidence he sees is all the evidence he needs. It is perfectly reasonable, therefore, for Him to accept all that such an One says in His Word, waiting for the partial and apparently contradictory knowledge in the natural realm to be corrected into harmony with the Bible. And his reasoning powers are simply functioning normally when he accepts the Bible as infallible and inerrant, for this attitude is based on what he sees. The entire difference between the rationalist and the believer is a matter of vision. The reasoning powers of each simply act in view of what each sees.
This is why reasoning is never out of harmony with faith, while rationalizing always is. For true reasoning in spiritual things is based on an attitude of faith, while rationalizing rejects that attitude as an essential preliminary to correct conclusions, and therefore reasons either entirely apart from or in order to faith. Such an attitude as opens the vision does not precede the action of reason, and the conclusions cannot help being destructive of faith, for they are pronouncements on things utterly unseen and unknown, and which the Bible says are "foolishness" to the man who sees only through his natural vision. But the attitude of willingness toward the will of God so opens the vision to the whole spiritual realm that the real foolishness is seen to be even the least attempt to pronounce upon or repudiate that which is utterly unseen and unknown.
This is the fundamental reason why there is such divergence, even to the point of mutual exclusion, between the different "interpretations" of Scripture given forth by the believer and the rationalist. The rationalist, with heart and vision closed to spiritual truth, can give no interpretation except that which seems reasonable in view of what he sees; while the believer, in the attitude of faith toward God, sees the interpretation of Scripture through the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
The interpretation of the Word is the very work for which the Holy Spirit has come into the world. That is not all of His work, but a very essential part of it. He is God's official Interpreter of His truth to the believer. Not to the rationalizer, but to the believer. And His work is so divinely perfect and absolutely final that all human attempts at interpretation, which are devoid of faith, are an insult to Him. He is the One who wrote the Word, and so He knows the meaning, not only of what He said, but even of what He left unsaid, and therefore none but He can interpret either the words or the silences of Scripture.