The theological leader of to-day cannot be a creed-monger: he must be a creed-maker. Side by side with the executive officers who will reorganize the Christian forces, there will stand great creed-makers, giant theologians, firm, logical, scientific, and convincing, who, out of the vast array of new facts brought forth by modern science, will produce new creeds, a new catechism, a new dogmatic series. It is worth while to live in these days—to know the possibility of such monumental constructive work in one’s own lifetime. The creed-makers must have a thorough literary training; no mere vocabulary of philosophy will answer. Like the Elizabethan divines, they must rule the living word, which shall echo for a century yet to come.
As the great Ecumenical Council was convened for missionary progress, so the times are now ripe for the assembling of a historic Theological Council, to revise and restate, not one denominational catechism, but the creed of Christendom; to provide a new literary expression of the Christian faith. Together we are working in God’s world, and for His kingdom.
If doctrine be the crystallized thought and belief of godly men, what is heresy? What is schism? Who is dictator of doctrine? How far are the limits of authority to be pressed? What are the bounds of ecclesiastical control? of intellectual mandate in the Christian Church?
In the academic world, we do not cast a man out of his mathematical chair because he can also work in astro-physics or in psycho-physics. If he can pursue advanced research in an allied or applied field, it will help him in his regular and prescribed work. We do not cast an English professor out of his chair, because he announces that there are two manuscripts of Layamon’s Brut, and that the text of Beowulf has been many times worked over, before we have received it in its present form. Yet there are accredited professors of English who do not know these facts, and who, if called upon, could neither prove them nor disprove them. They have not worked in the Bodleian, in the British Museum, or in other foreign libraries, on Old English texts and authorities. They think themselves well up in Old English if they can translate the text of Beowulf fairly well, remember its most difficult vocabulary, and can tell a tale or two from the Brut.
Not every man has Europe or Asia in his backyard, nor a lifetime of leisure for research, for special learning, on the moot questions of church-scholarship. Progress consists in each man’s doing his best to advance the interests of the kingdom of God in his own special sphere. From others he must take something for granted. The ear of the Church ought always to be open to the sayings of the specialist. A Church should grant liberty of research, of thought, of speech—to a degree.