The Jesus of History eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 209 pages of information about The Jesus of History.
mine, “but the Gospel came and drove them away.”  I do not know what is going to keep them away yet but Jesus Christ.  The Christian read the ancient literature with the same freedom of mind, and was not in bondage to it; he had a new outlook; he could criticize more freely.  One great principle is given by Clement of Alexandria:  “The beautiful, wherever it is, is ours, because it came from our God.”  The Christian read the best books, assimilated them, and lived the freest intellectual life that the world had.  Jesus had set him to be true to fact.  Why had Christian churches to be so much larger than pagan temples?  Why are they so still?  Because the sermon is in the very centre of all Christian worship—­clear, definite Christian teaching about Jesus Christ.  There is no place for an ignorant Christian.  From the very start every Christian had to know and to understand, and he had to read the Gospels; he had to be able to give the reason for his faith.  He was committed to a great propaganda, to the preaching of Jesus, and he had to preach with penetration and appeal.  There they were loyal to the essential idea of Jesus—­they were “sons of fact.”  They read about Jesus,[32] and they knew him, and they knew where they stood.  This has been the essence of the Christian religion.  Put that alongside of the pitiful defence which Plutarch makes of obscene rites, filthy images, foolish traditions.  Who did the thinking in that ancient world?  Again and again it was the Christian.  He out-thought the world.

The old religion crumbled and fell, beaten in thought, in morals, in life, in death.  And by and by the only name for it was paganism, the religion of the back-country village, of the out-of-the-way places.  Christ had conquered.  “Dic tropoeum passionis, dic triumphalem Crucem”, sang Prudentius—­“Sing the trophy of the Passion; sing the all-triumphant Cross.”  The ancients thought that God repeated the whole history of the universe over and over again, like a cinema show.  Some of them thought the kingdoms rise and fall by pure chance.  No, said Prudentius, God planned; God developed the history of mankind; he made Rome for his own purposes, for Christ.

What is the explanation of it?  We who live in a rational universe, where real results come from real causes, must ask what is the power that has carried the Christian Church to victory over that great old religion.  And there is another question:  is this story going to be repeated?  What is there about Shiva, Kali, or Shri Krishna that essentially differentiates them from the gods of Greece and Rome and Egypt?  Tradition, legend, philosophy—­point by point, we find the same thing; and we find the same Christian Church, with the same ideals, facing the same conflict.  What will be the result?  The result will be the same.  We have seen in China, in the last two decades, how the Christian Church is true to its traditions; how men can die for Jesus Christ.  In the Greek Church—­a suffering Church—­on the round sacramental wafer there is a cross, and in the four corners there are the eight letters, IE, XE, NI, KA, “Jesus Christ conquers.”  That is the story of the Christian Church in the Roman Empire.  That is the story which, please God, we shall see again in India.  “Jesus Christ conquers.”

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The Jesus of History from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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