CHRISTIA\II!Y TODAY - The Gordon H Clark Foundation

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Published monthly by
525 Locust Street. Phlla.. Pa.
JUNE, 1936
Vol. 7
Editorial Notes and Comments
HE wDrst .of all heresies is the antin.omian heresy
-the heresy that asserts that c.onduct d.oes n.ot
matter as as belief is c.orrect. Christ came t.o
save men from their sins, n.ot merely the c.onsequences
.of sin, s.o that His eff.orts fall shDrt .of their aim save as He
bec.omes a transf.orming and sanctifying p.ower in human
lives. Whatever else Christianity is, it is a manner .of life;
m.ore particularly, it is a manner .of life that finds its pattern in the life that Jesus Himself lived.
In the G.ospel, Jesus presents Himself as .one WhD n.ot
.only says, "I am the truth", "My teachings are free
the all.oy .of err.or", but as .one wh.o says, "I have given y.ou
un example that YDU sh.ould d.o as I have''.. "I have
always acted as I sh.ould have acted." There have been
many .others wh.o have had a firm c.onvicti.on .of the truth
.of what they taught and wh.o have n.ot hesitated t.o exh.ort
.others t.o d.o as they said, but n.o .other has ever said with
equal emphasis, "D.o as I have" And that because
.others have been c.onsci.ous-in pr.opDrti.on as their lives
have beell pure and their ideals l.ofty-.of the chasm that
yawned between what they were and what they .ought t.o
have been. Jesus, h.owever, was c.onsci.ous .of n.o such c.ont .. r ..," rnd s.o had as little hesitati.on ab.out saying, "D.o as
, •.lan He had ab.out saying, "D.o as I say."
There is s.omething even mDre remarkable t.o be n.oted in
this c.onnecti.on. Mankind as a wh.ole, in as far as it has had
kn.owledge .of Jesus, has ackn.owledged the jnstice .of this
demand., In the case .of m.ost great teachers, it is easier t.o
pick flaws in their c.onduct than in their teachings. M.ost
.of us find it easier t.o defend .our beliefs than .our practices.
The reverse has pr.oven true in the case .of .Jesns. We do
nDt mean tD imply that it is easier tD discDver flaws in His
teachings than in His cDnduct-we regard bDth as flawless.
What we mean is that many WhD have seen what they suppDsed tD be flaws in His teachings have affirmed the flawlessness .of His life. It is true that there have been and are
thDse WhD ascribe imperfectiDn tD Jesus even in the realm
.of cDnduct; nDne the less, mankind as a whDle. in as far as
Entered as second-c:la.s matter May 11.
1931. at the Poot Office at Philadelphia.
Pa •• under lb. Act of March 3. 1879.
it has knDwn Him, has made its .own the wDrds .of Pilate:
"BehDld, I find nD fault in Him."
Only as we live as Jesus lived are we exemplifying the
kind .of life Christianity asks .of its adherents. SD difficult
and apparently imp.ossible are the things demanded that
we are tempted tD IDDk upDn it as a whDlly impracticable
demand. "What", we are dispDsed tD ask, "dD YDU mean tD
say that I in my .ordinary life, I with my antecedents and
surrDundings, I with my way tD make in the wDrld as it is
-must I seriDusly endeavDr tD live as Jesns lived if I am
tD call myself a Christian and rejDice in the thDUght that
I share the Christian heritage?" Well, that is just ab.out
what we mean. The demand may seem a hard .one, but we
have nD authDrity tD change it. Men may judge the demand
impracticable but .only as they judge Christ and His
apDstles as impracticable. It is upDn their authDrity, nDt
.our .own, that we prDclaim it.
There are thDse WhD think that Christianity wDuld have
achieved greater results, been mDre effective in the field
.of mDral transfDrmatiDn, if it had nDt urged SD IDfty an
ideal. It is .often said that tD set up perfectiDn as a gDal
is tD deaden effDrt and tD enthrDne despair. Snrely nD .one
can live up tD the standard set by Jesus. Why, then, attempt it? We agree in as far as it is meant that nDne .of
Christ's imitatDrs ,have ever fully realized their ideal, but
differ in as far as it is meant that a man with an imperfect
ideal will make greater prDgress in the ethical life than a
man with a perfect ideal. A IDwering .of .our standard
always means a slackening .of .our effDrts. Any standard
shDrt .of perfectiDn enables us tD IDDk upDn evil with a certain degree .of allDwance. HistDry and experience, we believe, alike justify the thDUght that .our ideal .ought tD be
perfect hDwever imperfect .our attempt tD translate it intD
as well as lofty aspiratiDn lie
cDnduct. Practical
back .of and giYe significance to the demand that we take
Jesus as .our m.odel, that we walk as He walked, dD as
He did.
By way .of cautiDn we need tD keep in mind, in the first
place, that .our imitati.on .of Jesns shDuld be accDrding tD
the spirit rather than accDrding to the letter. TD say that
we ShDUld d.o as He did is nDt t.o say that we ShDUld d.o the
same identical things He did. It is t.o say rather that we
(A Table of Contents will be found on Page 48)
June, 1936
Relativity and the Absolute
By Rev. David S. Clark. D.D.
abstractions? No, practical ethics_
For as a man thinketh in his heart so is he_ It
makes some difference in a man's life whether his
philosophy is Relativity or the Absolute.
There are some fads in philosophy; and philosophies
change like the fashions of women's bonnets. There are
lords many and gods many in philosophy; and they multiply at that.
It is a far cry from the Idealism of Berkeley and Hegel
to the materialism of Tyndall and Haeckel. Berkeley denied
the corporeity of the world; and Tyndall told the British
Association for the Advancement of Science that "we must
look to matter for the power and potency of all that is."
There are even styles of Materialism and Idealism. It is
some step from the materialism of Hobbes and Haeckel to
the Behaviorism of John Dewey, or the super-behaviorism
of the later philosophers who substitute for the human
soul the mere response of the organism to its environment.
The farther this latter philosophy proceeds, the worse it
becomes. Matter has some recognizable qualities even if
we deny it mentality. But to rest mentality on mere organization of neural and vital forces is to step from terra firma
into empty space. The newer materialism is more subtle
and more irrational than the older.
Idealism has had its developments. There is some difference between the Idealism of Berkeley and that of Schelling; and also between both of them and the modern
Idealism of Josiah Royce and James H. Snowden.
All Idealism loses the tangible world in the subjective
conception. But there are differences even in that. Berkeley referred it to the fiat of God; but the later Idealists to
the all-pervading life of God,-a distinction which only
makes the modern Idealism more abstruse and incomprehensible. with a little tinge of Pantheism.
is known
The phjlosophy of Fichte.
as the philosophy of the Absolute. But the chief error in
the philosophy of Schelling and Hegel at least lay not in
its Absolutism, but in its extreme Pantheism.
There must be an Absolute. We may not be able to get
our fingers on it, but it' is a metaphysical necessity. It
takes its place in our thinking along with the axioms of
Euclid, and the First Principles of Dr. McCosh. The Absolute, together with the Infinite, is It necessity of thought,
It is questionable whether the relative is conceivable apart
from the Absolute, in regard to which it is relative. Or
can the relative be relative to another relativity, the second
as uncertain as the first?
When we proceed along these lines we discover that
l'elatidty ends in universal doubt. That is why the discussion of this subject has a religious value. This is not swivelchair philosophy. It is the solvency or bankruptcy of all
thought, life, and truth.
Here we touch the question, not only what is truth? but
is there <lny tru th? Some European writer recen tly de-
clared that relativity is worse than materialism. Quite
true. Materialism believed something i-held that its premises were true,-argued on the basis of those premises to
what it thought were legitimate conclusions. It kept its
feet on the ground to say the least. But Relativity stands
in a quagmire .without bottom. It is not worth while to
argue with Relativity, because no premise, for it, has any
certainty. And no argument can be built on universal
negation. If all is uncertain, then relativity is as uncertain as all the rest. And therefore its very uncertainty is
uncertain; and thus it destroys itself.
Further if Relativity is destructive of truth, it is likewise destructive of religion and morality. The most soulblasting heresy in the world is to think that there is nothing right and nothing wrong ,and it doesn't make any
difference anyway. No religion nor morality can survive
such a philosophy. How refreshing to turn from the
vagaries of the world to the faith of the New Testament
and hear Paul and John say: "I know", "I know."
Relativity applies to only a few realms of human knowledge, and is qnestionalJle e\'en there. If it obtains in the
sphere of the empirical, and e\'en that is not absolutely
certain always and everywhere, at least we are sure that
it has no place in consciousness. There is no disputing
with consciousness that I am, or that I know my states,
01' my personal identity.
Neither have the mathematical certainties been weakened by any claims of relativity. The multiplication table
is good for all time and all worlds; and true in spite of
all philosophies. We think there are some things in human
knowledge that may' lay claim to being fundamental truth.
Fundamentalism, whether in religion or philosophy, is the
only rational standpoint.
It is supposed that the New Physics favors Relativity,
and that therefore Relativity has a quasi scientific basis.
But the New Physics is itself only a theory and in need of
verification. And another generation will probably leave
most of it on the scrap-heap, while some newer theory will
clamor for recognition.
Our humble conviction is that the Quantum Theory will
not stand; and that Energism as a philosophy is unthinkable. Much is said these days about "pure energy." We
\'enture to think that there is no such thing. Energy does
not exist apart from substance. Energy as we know it in
this world is an effect, and cannot exist without a cause.
It is not sui
As there can be no motion without
something that moves, so there can be no force without
something that gives rise to it.
We are far from thinking that the resolution of the atom
into electricity has banished matter. The resultant electricity is still material substance, according to the best
authorities. No bridge has been found to span the gap
between matter and spirit, and the chasm is too wide to
leap across. Up to the present we are decidedly dualists.
An assumed \'e!ocity has been invoked to destroy the
fact of gravitation, and the estimate of measurements. If
the earth should hurtle. through space 161,000 miles per
second our horizontal, head·on yard sticks would be reduced to 18 inches, and the distance from Philadelphia to
Harrisburg, or from Pittsburgh to Altoona would shrink
to 50 miles. So that attraction and distance are relative
to velocity.
Even admitting the principle for the sake of generosity,
what we are concerned with is not what would result under
unreal and impossible conditions, but what is the fact
under the conditions that now exist.
Alluding to another phase of the subject, Einstein's
algebraic equations are incomprehensible to the ordinary
scholar, not because Algebra is incomprehensible; but because of the values, or rather lack of values, attributable to
the terms. In Algebra if a,b,c have assigned values, then
x,y,z are easily deducible. But if a,b,c represent nothing
definite, nor numerical, what conclusion can be arrived at
as to x,y,z? This seems to us another phase of the quagmire.
For example, Professor Edington says: "If today you
ask a physicist what he has finally made out the aether or
the electron to be, the answer will not be a description in
terms of billiard balls or flywheels or anything concrete;
he will point instead to a number of symbols and a set of
mathematical equations which they satisfy. What do the
symbols stand for? The mysterious reply is given that
physics is indifferent to that; it has no means of probing
beneath the symbolism. To understand the phenomena of
the physical world it is necessary to know the equations
which the symbols obey, but not the nature of that which
is being symbolized:"
One could wish for something more concrete; and wonders whether such indefinite processes insure reality in
the visible and tangible world in which we live.
We think that even in this age of uncertainty there are
some things certain enough to enable us to say with the
man born blind: "One thing I know."
We think too that in this time when uncertainty is exploited in physics and philosophy, the Absolute deserves
renewed emphasis. A merely empirical philosophy may result in the Unknowable of Herbert Spencer. But there is
an a pdoris1n that has to be recognized, and the Absolute
is a metaphysical necessity. The laws of thought are as
valid and far more certain than scientific experimentation.
Religion and morality find a Gibraltar in the Absolute.
while Relativity presents itself as The Beautiful Isle of
Presbyterianism, Lutheranism and Methodism:
Our Common Heritage and Our Differences
By Dr. Loraine Boettner. Professor of Bible. Pikeville Colleqe. Pikeville. Ky.
Part III
E SHOULD notice that in the Reformed Church
the Reformation was much more radical and com·
plete than in the Lutheran Church. While both
churches accepted the Bible as their final authority, the
tendency in the Lutheran Church was to keep all of the
old system which did not have to be thrown out, while in
the Reformed Church the tendency was to throw out all
that did not have to be kept. :Many Lutherans even at the
present day boast that theirs was a "conservative reformation." The fact of the matter is that some few elements
of the old sacerdotal or priestcraft system are still found in
Lutheranism. While the evangelicalism of the Protestant
churches was set over against the legalistic Rystem of the
Roman Ohurch in which it was taught that man could
receive salvation only through the instrumentalities of the
Church, it is fairly clear that the evangelicalism of the
Lutheran Church was formed on the basis of the sacer·
dotalism of the old church, out of which they had made a
rather painful but not altogether perfect exit, while that
of the Reformed Church was based only on the Scriptures
as a guide and was designed to contrast as strongly as pos·
sible with the old system. True evangelicalism sweeps away
every intermediary between the soul and its God, and
leaves the person dependent for salvation on God alone.
Evangelicalism does not do away with the church and its
ordinances, but keeps them in their proper place as instru·
mentalities through which the Holy Spirit ordinarily
works in bringing a soul to salvation.
Lutheranism, like Romanism, teaches that the grace of
God is conveyed mainly-some say only-through the
means of grace, stress being laid not on the sacraments
but on the Word, which is referred to as the chief "means
of grace." True, in Lutheran sacerdotalism we do not heal'
much about "the Church," which is the very heart of
Roman sacerdotalism, for at this point the system is not
very consistent. But in holding that saving grace is given
mainly or only through the means of grace, it imposes a
set of instrumentalities between the sinner and his God.
This means that the central evil of sacerdotalism has been
brought over into Lutheranism; and where it is con·
sistently worked out we find men exalting the means of
grace and giving proportionally less attention to the Holy
Spirit who is the true agent in all of these saving operations. Hence the energy with which the Reformed have
insisted that, while the means of grace are important in
their place as instruments for developing and strengthen·
ing faith, the HolySpil'it works immediately upon the soul .
in regeneration and brings the person from a state of