Historical Reprints Religion Miracles and Supernatural Religion

Miracles and Supernatural Religion

Miracles and Supernatural Religion
Catalog # SKU3820
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name James Morris Whiton
ISBN 10: 0000000000
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Miracles &
Supernatural Religion

James Morris Whiton

A transitional state of mind is clearly evidenced by the present division and perplexity of Christian thought concerning the Christian miracles. Many seem to regard further discussion as profitless, and are ready to shelve the subject. But this attitude of weariness is also transitional. There must be some thoroughfare to firm ground and clear vision. It must be found in agreement, first of all, on the real meaning of a term so variously and vaguely used as miracle.



In the present imperfect state of knowledge it may be impossible to enucleate miracle, however defined, of all mystery. But even so will much be gained for clear thinking, if miracle can be reasonably related to the greater mystery which all accept, though none understand,-the mystery of life. This view of the dynamic relation of life to miracle is here suggested for what it may prove to be worth.

The great and general change that transfigured theology during the nineteenth century was characteristically ethical. This, indeed, is the distinctive feature of the so-called new theology, in contrast with that which the Protestant Reformers inherited from St. Augustine. God and Man, Faith, Salvation and Inspiration, Redemption and Atonement, Judgment and Retribution,-all these themes are now presented in orthodox pulpits far more conformably to ethical principles, though in degrees varying with educated intelligence, than was customary in the sermons of half a century ago. "One great source and spring of theological progress," says Professor Bowne, in his recent work on Theism, "has been the need of finding a conception of God which the moral nature could accept. The necessity of moralizing theology has produced vast changes in that field; and the end is not yet."

The ethical character of the theological change will perhaps be most obvious in the field of Biblical study, to which the present subject belongs. The traditional solution of such moral difficulties in the Old Testament as commands, ostensibly divine, to massacre idolaters has been quite discarded. It is no longer the mode to say that deeds seemingly atrocious were not atrocious, because God commanded them.

Writers of orthodox repute now say that the Thus saith the Lord, with which Samuel prefaced his order to exterminate the Amalekites, must be understood subjectively, as an expression of the prophet's belief, not objectively, as a divine command communicated to him. This great change is a quite recent change. If a personal reference may be indulged, it is not twenty years since the present writer's published protest against "The Anti-Christian Use of the Bible in the Sunday School," the exhibition to children of some vestiges of heathen superstition embedded in the Old Testament narratives as true illustrations of God's ways toward men, drew forth from a religious journal a bitter editorial on "The Old Testament and its New Enemies." But a great light has since dawned in that quarter.

It is no longer deemed subversive of faith in a divine Revelation to hold that the prophet Gad was not infallible in regarding the plague which scourged Jerusalem as sent to punish David's pride in his census of the nation.

A significant fact is presented in the comparison of these two aspects of the theological change that has come to pass,-the growing importance of the ethical, and the dwindling importance of the miraculous in the religious thought of to-day. This may reassure those who fear whereto such change may grow. The inner significance of such a change is most auspicious.

It portends the displacement of a false by the true conception of supernatural Religion, and the removal thereby of a serious antagonism between Science and Christian Theology, as well as of a serious hindrance of many thoughtful minds from an intelligent embrace of Christianity.

80 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 14 point font

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