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will bear, in other words, its own intrinsic worth in itself, and carry with it its own authoritative claim upon the conscience and the religious intuition of men.
We have no external test available by which we can differentiate with infallible certainty between the human and the Divine element in any 'Revelation,' whether it be embodied in a book or in a society, in an ethical code or in a religious experience.
The only test we can apply to Christianity as an historic religion claiming Divine sanction and Divine origin will not be an external authority of a Church, but the authoritative character of the Revelation as standing upon its own intrinsic merits in rivalry with other religions and tested by comparison with other spiritual experience and ethical systems. If the Christian conception of God and Christian Ethics are held to be the noblest and the purest to be found in the religions which commend themselves to man's acceptance, this will in itself be eloquent testimony to the character of the source whence Christianity claims to have been derived and be in itself a witness to the authoritative character of the Revelation. If it can be shewn that the Christian Revelation of God and Christian Ethics fall below the loftiest and purest ethical and spiritual conceptions now known to the world as the result of a comprehensive study of Comparative Religions, then the finality and validity of Christianity in its claim to be of Divine origin, and in its claim to find in Christ Jesus the fullest and crowning Revelation of God to man-God in man made manifestmay be seriously challenged. The Church must be prepared to meet this challenge at any time and itself challenge other religions and their rival claims on these lines. It is a question of the survival of the fittest. The originality, authoritative character, and finality of the Christian message will not be based upon anything external to itself, nor on any appeal to miracles or prophecy as a test of its authentic claim to our acceptance. The one and only test will be its own intrinsic worth, as shewn in history and experienced to-day. On the question as to the claims of Christianity to be the only permanent, universal, and final
religion for mankind, the writer of the article Christianity' in Hastings' Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels points out that no vindication of them can amount to actual demonstration. But the argument, he says,
would take the direction of inquiring whether history thus far confirms the high claim of Christianity to suffice for the needs of man as man. Is Tertullian's phrase anima naturaliter Christiana borne out by facts ? . . . Such an argument would have to take full account of criticisms like those of Nietzsche and his school ... that Christianity profoundly misunderstands human nature and man's position in the Universe ; that it amounts, in fact, to a worship of failure and decay. . . . Such objections are sure to recur together with kindred difficulties arising from a naturalistic view of man which claims to be supported by physical science. They can be effectually repelled only by practical proof that the teaching of Christianity accords with the facts of human nature and meets the needs of human life more completely than any other system of philosophy or religion.
On the other hand, the triumphs which Christianity has already achieved; the power it has manifested of being able to satisfy new and unexpected claims; the excellence of its ideal of character, one which cannot be transcended so long as human nature continues to be what it is; the success with which it has brought the very highest type of character within the reach of the lowest, as attested by the experience of millions ; the power of recovery which it has exhibited, when its teaching has been traduced and its spirit and aims degraded by prominent professors and representatives; these, with other similar characteristics, go far towards proving the Divine origin of Christianity, and its claim to be the perfect religion of humanity, sufficing for all men and for all time.'
We conclude, then, that room can be found in a Christian Philosophy for the concept of Divine Revelation without any violence being done to Reason, and if we bear steadily in mind the essential conditions which must govern the relationship between the human and the Divine, we shall avoid many of the difficulties which in the past have been urged by Reason against theories of Divine Revelation which have been reached as the result of ignoring the human
element with disastrous results. A pregnant sentence of Dr. John Oman sums up the point we have tried to emphasize in the elucidation of this Christian postulate of 'Divine Revelation, where he speaks of our being helped to understand what he calls the patient humanness of God's revelation, if we take it to be a dialogue in which God could not speak the next word till man had responded to the last.'
If we think of Divine Revelation through Inspiration as commencing with the first dawning of self-consciousness in man created in the image of God and continued all through as a dialogue between the Living God and the spirit of man, culminating in the Incarnation and the Revelation to man in human form of the Unseen Speaker and continued as an Inner Voice by the same Speaker after His Resurrection and return as God the Spirit speaking in the hearts of men, we preserve the essence of the Revelation as a relationship between persons, God and man, as a dialogue not conducted primarily by means of written messages, but by living contact of personality, and continued right through the ages and to be continued as the Living God speaks in and to and through man to men. The written Word may embody the substance of the messages conveyed from time to time so far as understood and interpreted by men, but it must be studied in the light of its historical origin and progressive character, and checked from time to time by the light continually being thrown upon it by the living dialogue which is still going on between man and God. Present religious experience must be continually applying itself to the interpretation of the written word and the elucidation of its meaning in the light of an ever advancing knowledge of the Most High, derived not simply, still less solely, from the past, but from the present living contact of the soul with God. The Living Church in all ages will witness in its corporate consciousness to the presence of the Living God in Christ Jesus, and His promise that the Holy Spirit will guide His followers into all truth will be vindicated in that in every age, with the progress of human thought, there will be also a progressive appreciation of the
inner essence of Christianity by Christians themselves, and the Church will be ever bringing forth from its treasury things new and old to meet the need of the times. If Höffding is right in claiming for the principle of personality supreme worth in the right estimate of values, the Church is in a real sense the corporate personality of the whole Body of Christ and claims to be the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works both in the interpretation and in the propagation of the revealed truth. The fact that the Holy Spirit has to work through human media rules out, as we have seen, any claim the Church may make to infallible truth, but this does not exclude a claim to any authority as the guardian and interpreter of the Revelation of God in Christ Jesus. Such authority as the Church does claim need not fear any argument or test the world may legitimately apply to it. If the intrinsic worth of the message the Church proclaims is its best witness, this not only substantiates the truth of the Revelation but also in turn reflects back upon the worth of the authority of the Church which claims to possess the deposit of faith. To the extent to which the living Church through the ages and to-day has been governed by One Who is the way, the Truth, and the Life, to this extent it may claim authority as the Voice of Him in Whom all authority ultimately lies. Whether the Church in its interpretation of the truth has or has not been so guided, has or has not succeeded in giving to the world a true insight into Reality, can only be decided by an examination of the actual content of the message it delivers and the work of Christianity in the world. If when this content is criticized and judged at the bar of the highest and noblest idealism of any age, it survives the test and outrivals its rivals, this is at once the vindication of its own intrinsic worth, and evidence at the same time of its claim to be derived from a Divine source and also a witness in substantiation of the authority of the media through which the message is delivered, viz. : the Church of the Living God as 'the pillar and ground of the Truth' (1 Timothy iii 15). History justifies this claim in that Christianity in every age has proved itself as a dynamic force and revealed itself as a living activity—the activity of a Living God entering effectively into human life in the Christian consciousness and regenerating human sons by adoption and grace. The spiritual power of God, His Holy Will in action, in regeneration and sanctification is revealed as a matter of history in the ages that are past and in the world to-day. The Christian consciousness points to the Living Christ of experience as the effective entrance of God into human life. God acts in and upon man to-day in Christ Jesus. The Spirit of Christ Jesus to-day animates and controls, guides and directs the religious life of millions who own allegiance to Him, and in prayer and communion are the recipients of His Divine Revelation of Himself and learn of the deep things of God. The greatness of Christ's Personality as God's supreme Revelation of Himself in human life is to be gauged not by its past effects in the history of the world, vast as these have been, but also by its present activity and the knowledge we have from a study of history that no past age has succeeded in exhausting the resources of the Christian Faith, and that the fullness of the power of Christ's Person is still a thing not yet revealed. History has shewn us the significance of some aspects of Christianity, but it is still in the world a religion, the universality and exhaustless power of which can only be known in the future if, and when, men of every race and tongue bow down in allegiance. The full significance of Christ is yet to be revealed, but history has shewn enough to convince us that His Coming in the past cannot be accounted for in any adequate sense as simply one of the human race. His greatness and uniqueness must be judged by the effects of His Personality upon history. The claim of Christianity to be a Divine Revelation centres in the claims made on behalf of Christ by His followers in every age, and these claims may legitimately be put to the test of the fruit of Christianity in the world's life and thought. What has Christianity done in men's lives—what has it effected in the realm of ethical and spiritual values ? Whence does it derive its marvellous vitality to-day ? It is no dead religion we are studying and no dead Christ with whom we believe that we