Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/567

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551
EDITOR'S TABLE.

EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

PROGRESSIVE THEOLOGY.

WE note with great pleasure the issue by Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., of Boston, under the title of The New World, of a theological periodical which seems to us to be designed on truly progressive lines—to be, that is to say, rather an organ for the discovery of truth on all matters connected with theological belief than for the propagation or defense of the views of any particular theological school. The magazine is under the editorial management of Messrs. 0. C. Everett, 0. H. Toy, Orello Cone, and N. P. Gilman, names which of themselves vouch for the broad and liberal spirit in which the new enterprise is conceived, and for the scholarship which will be placed at its service. These gentlemen, in an editorial note, state that they "have no distrust of the scientific temper which, in many spheres of investigation, has accomplished such great results, or of the critical spirit which has led the way to a better understanding of every literature to which it has been applied." The number before us contains articles by Lyman Abbott, C. C. Everett, J. G. Schurman, W. R. Alger, C. H. Toy, J. Estlin Carpenter, Thomas R. Slicer, Edward H. Hall, and Charles B. Upton, as well as book-reviews by various hands. In all we note a liberal spirit worthy of this new departure in theological literature. Here and there, perhaps, there is a little lack of scientific exactness, as where Dr. Lyman Abbott professes to discover the "evolution of Christianity" in the fact that, while Jesus succeeded in feeding "five thousand men, besides women and children, seated in serried ranks on the ground," in our own day, "an organized benefaction, through the consecrated channels of commerce, so distributes to the needs of man that, in a truly Christian community, a famine is well-nigh impossible." Other articles, however, furnish a guarantee that, within the new review itself, such weak and, we must say, delusive analogies will not pass unchallenged. For example, in discussing The New Orthodoxy, Mr. Edward H. Hall deals in a very thorough-going manner with the evasions of what may be called the pseudo-liberal school—those who welcome criticism so long as it is not "destructive ": as if the function of criticism were never to destroy—and who, in a general way, take back with one hand what they seem to give with the other. Mr. Hall might be fully trusted to point out to Dr. Abbott that, if the feeding of the multitude by Jesus was a mere matter of commissariat, the vaster distributions of to-day point to an evolution in social organization, not to an evolution of Christianity; while if the multitude were fed by a miracle, as the Christian world has hitherto believed, what we see to-day has no relation to it whatever. Mr. Hall contends, and rightly, that if the aid of criticism is to be invoked at all, it is vain to attempt to circumscribe its action. "Whoever," he says, "invokes the name of Science, invokes a great name. He calls to his aid a master, not a servant. Science has its own domain and, in that domain, its own laws and its own rights. It can not be dictated to; it dictates. It suffers no one to assign its limits, but goes wherever there is work for it to do. Wherever there is question of evidence, argument, testimony, or proof, there the scientific method belongs; and, once admitted, it must be given full play." These are brave words, and, if The New World shall present a selection of articles written in frank acceptance of these principles, it will deserve well of all lovers of the truth, even though some of