Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
may be that even yet we imperfectly understand our wondrous Bible.  It may be that we have yet much to learn about it.  It may be that there is much that is very difficult about it.  Let us reverently and fearlessly learn all we can about it.  Let us take care not to misuse it, as it has been terribly misused.  But coming to us from the company and with the sanction of Christ risen, it never can be merely like other books.  A so-called Christianity, ignoring or playing with Christ’s resurrection, and using the Bible as a sort of Homer, may satisfy a class of clever and cultivated persons.  It may be to them the parent of high and noble thoughts, and readily lend itself to the service of mankind.  But it is well in so serious a matter not to confuse things.  This new religion may borrow from Christianity as it may borrow from Plato, or from Buddhism, or Confucianism, or even Islam.  But it is not Christianity. Robert Elsmere may be true to life, as representing one of those tragedies which happen in critical moments of history.  But a Christianity which tells us to think of Christ doing good, but to forget and put out of sight Christ risen from the dead, is not true to life.  It is as delusive to the conscience and the soul as it is illogical to reason.

XI

RENAN’S “VIE DE JESUS"[13]

  [13]
  Histoire des Origines du Christianisme.  Livre I.—­Vie de Jesus
  Par Ernest Renan. Guardian, 9th September 1863.

Unbelief is called upon nowadays, as well as belief, to give its account of the origin of that undeniable and most important fact which we call the Christian religion.  And if it is true that in some respects the circumstances under which the controversy is carried on are, as it has been alleged, more than heretofore favourable to unbelief, it is also true that in some other respects the case of unbelief has difficulties which it had not once.  It has to accept and admit, if it wishes to gain a favourable hearing from the present generation, the unique and surpassing moral grandeur, depth, and attractiveness of Christianity.  The polemic method which set Christianity in broad contrast with what was supposed to be best and highest in human nature, and therefore found no difficulty in tracing to a bad source what was itself represented to be bad, is not a method suited to the ideas and feelings of our time; and the sneers and sarcasms of the last century, provoked by abuses and inconsistencies which have since received their ample and memorable punishment, cease to produce any effect on readers of the present day, except to call forth a passing feeling of repugnance at what is shallow and profane, mixed, it may be, sometimes, with an equally passing admiration for what is witty and brilliant.  Even in M. Renan’s view, Voltaire has done his work, and is out of date.  Those who now attack Christianity have to attack it under the disadvantage of the preliminary

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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