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that the paper does not intend to publish the articles as news. Mr. Wells' "ruling passion" thus discovers itself again. But in the case of Christianity any stick will do to beat a dog, and what the historian has written concerning Christ will without doubt be taken as truth by persons who will not be able to see that his methods are unscholarly, his reasoning faulty and his statements in many matters of fact quite untrue.
The Christian religion has long ago been driven out of the realm of sentiment and into the area of scholarship, evidence and reason. The liberty by which a man accepts it or rejects it is a matter of divine establishment. But when a man who has rejected it puts pen to paper he must remember, unless he does not mind making himself absurd, that he is dealing with a matter which has become standardized, along with other sciences, and which he cannot dispose of with the formula that "he never liked it anyhow."
The Failure of Protestantism
REV. FREDERICK SHERMAN ARNOLD
N ALL fairness, it would be easy enough to write an essay on the successes of Protestantism. One sometimes feels that that is what all the essays of Macaulay and Froude are about. Referring to the line of demarcation in Europe between Protestant and Catholic, Macaulay (on Von Ranke's "History of the Popes"), says: "The Protestant boasts, and boasts most justly, that wealth, civilization and intelligence have increased far more on the northern than on the southern side of the boundary, and that countries so little favored by nature as Scotland and Prussia are now among the most flourishing and best governed portions of the world, while the marble palaces of Genoa are deserted, while banditti infest the beautiful shores of Campania, while the fertile sea-coast of the Pontifical State is abandoned to buffaloes and wild boars." So boasted Protestantism in the fourth year of Queen Victoria's reign. Today the progress of the northern nations is ascribed by some to the presence of iron and coal; by others to their being members of the Nordic race. The religious argument is not emphasized by thinkers as once it was. Nevertheless it is true that for several centuries Protestants have made more money than have Catholics. Cash talks.
A nobler argument is the argument that Protestantism favored constitutional freedom and religious toleration. The argument based on liberty seems to be only true of the Calvinistic form of Protestantism. Calvinism was generally a persecuted sect, therefore it was against the government. Calvin himself established a bitter tyranny at Genoa. As to toleration, that seems to have arisen accidentally from the balance of contending sects, none of which favored it on principle.
Success or failure is largely a matter of the values one has in mind. Protestantism may or may not have been an economic success or a political success, or a success from the point of view of scientific progress. It certainly was not an artistic success, but is was a kind of literary and musical success. When we talk of the failure of Protestantism, we eliminate all these secular values. Those people to whom these secular values are almost the only values will, of course, lose interest accordingly. That we must realize. Doubtless such persons will consider our value valueless and ourselves benighted. We are, however, considering the religious and moral failure of Protestantism.
Yet Protestantism was not always a religious and moral failure. First, there was the original, old, High Church Protestantism. This was not Protestantism in the current sense at all. It was, and, by the German and English reformers it was intended to be, a reformed Catholicism. The failure of this tendency was due to the fact that it lost control. Other spirits grasped the helm and guided the Reformation. The old High Churchmanship has revived, however, particularly in the Anglican Communion. It now frankly proclaims itself Catholic. It is not Protestant according to the current use of the word, although, beyond doubt, it was the original Protestantism.
Then there was that mighty system of logical doctrine and puritanical living, named, for its founder, Calvinism. This was the swelling stream that swept the ship of the Reformation from its old Catholic moorings down into the gulf of secularism and infidelity, where the ship was wrecked. Surely that high creed and stern morality that formed the righteous, if a bit forbidding, characters of the forebears of so many of us was no religious or moral failure. The failure of Calvinism was like the failure of early Lutheranism and High Church Anglicanism, only much more complete. It vanished away. It is the Boojum among theologies.
We do not know how far the official symbols may have been modified in Churches formerly Calvinist. Yet we do not believe we shall be very seriously criticized when we say that nobody today believes in the Calvinist theology.
Why Calvinism failed might explain why Protestantism failed, for, in a sense, the disappearance of Calvinism constitutes the religious and moral failure of Protestantism.
In a sense, Calvinism and Protestantism became synonymous. The Churches of England and Scandinavia never became Calvinist. The English Church was delivered, however, by the narrowest kind of chance. Non-conformity was Calvinist. So was the Low Church. Calvinism influenced also the Church of Denmark. After Frederick William III's "Union," Calvinism triumphed in Prussia. In Scotland, France, Switzerland, the Low Countries, South Germany, and America there was no large body of Protestants other than Calvinists. Aside from the fact that their numbers were small, moreover, the sects that were not Calvinist, the Baptists,
some of whom were Calvinists, the Quakers and the Unitarians, even /
were all rather indefinite on faith and morals. The Quakers and Unitarians have always refused to formulate definitions which they will insist on as an exclusive orthodoxy. The Broad Church
men seem to incline to this attitude also. So Calvinism was the Calvint
one definite Protestant orthodoxy.
Why did Calvinism vanish? Certainly not because it was disproved. We have never seen that either Romanist, Lutheran, or Anglican has picked a flaw in the Calvinist logic. We ourselves always feel a kind of awe in the presence of that horrible psychology. We do not mean to treat it lightly; far from that. Perhaps, if John Calvin could have claimed an original divine inspiration, like Mahommet or Joseph Smith or Mrs. Eddy, Calvinism would have persisted. That was impossible under the conditions of the sixteenth century. Protestantism was an appeal to Scripture. Calvinism was based on the literal infallibility of the Scripture text.
When the logic of a doctrine is so firm that it will yield to no attack the opponents attack the premises. So it was that Calvinism was undermined. The criticism of the Bible so far as it came to be accepted broke the authority on which alone Calvinism claimed to rest. It was in the circles formerly Calvinist that the criticism was most eagerly accepted. Even so, there must have
been something about the atmosphere of a commercial and plutocratic civilization with which Calvinism did not agree. Beyond doubt, Protestantism was yearning to escape, in those early years of the nineteenth century, from the Calvinistic prison. That passion to be free from the constraining logic of the "Institutes" undoubtedly had something to do with two very different movements: with New England Unitarianism, which set up an entirely different conception of religion, and with the Oxford movement, which subordinated the dead letter to the living Church. Chiefly, however, in France, Germany, England, and America, Protestantism hailed the Higher Criticism as the deliverer. The authority of Scripture over their thought was not denied, but undermined. With the crumbling foundations there tumbled to destruction, not only the Calvinistic orthodoxy, but all other orthodoxies. If Protestantism today still holds to any of the supernatural elements of Christianity, or of the authoritative dogmas in faith and morals, it holds them as isolated beliefs, not as portions of any system whatsoever. As isolated beliefs they cannot stand. The Virgin Birth, the Bodily Resurrection, the Nicene Creed, when isolated from the Catholic system of thought and the Calvinistic system of thought, both alike, will not bear examination. As parts of a vast view of the universe they find their place. As isolated accidents in the scheme of things, they lack evidence.
The formal principle of the Reformation was the literal infallibility of Holy Scripture. The Bible and the Bible alone was the religion of Protestants. So, when criticism had dissolved the literal authority of the Bible over Protestant thought, there was no authority left. This is why the collapse of Calvinism was so tragic. The foundation collapsed. There was nothing left on which to build a new and gentler religion, such as the age evidently demanded.
The constructive mind of Protestantism today seeks to go beneath the Scripture text, which the Higher Criticism has discredited for Protestantism. The authority shall be Christ. No better motive could exist. Of course, Christ is the authority for all Christians, Eastern, Roman, Anglican or Protestant. The puzzle is to find Christ. The Catholic has a very simple method. "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." Christ is here and now in the holy Catholic Church, whose book the Scripture is. His Holy Spirit teaches, guides and
develops His holy Church. "Behold I am living for ever and ever, and have the keys of death and of hell."
Protestantism cannot accept that. The simple gospel of Jesus, according to the new theory, was shortly involved in the subtleties of Greek philosophy and mystery-religion. It must be sought under these overlaying externals. Calvinism had a simple method also. God did not guide the Church, but He did guide the sacred authors. The Holy Scripture contains the infallible record of the divine Life and teaching.
Current Protestantism cannot accept this either. If God infallibly guided any group, it is most reasonable to suppose with the Catholics that He would guide the Church throughout the ages, "even to the consummation of the world." If that was really God's method, why did He discontinue it? Surely, there was need of guidance in the ensuing ages of darkness. No, the apostolic and sub-apostolic age was as free to err as the Nicene age or the age of the Council of Chalcedon. In fact, it is quite plain that the process of overlaying the simple gospel with Greek thought and mystery-religion began within the New Testament. The main principles of Catholic theology are found in St. John's gospel. The germs of it all are found in St. Paul. St. Paul does not preach the simple gospel, but the risen Christ; that is, the mystery-religion. It would be much easier to prove the Nicene Creed by texts from St. Paul than to prove the Sermon on the Mount or the Parables by the Sea by texts from St. Paul. The Protestantants do not exactly say that, but they feel it. So they eliminate St. John and, largely, St. Paul, in their higher criticism, and turn to the Synoptics. Even here all is not plain sailing. Large parts of St. Luke are evidently ecclesiastical and theological. The original St. Mark and the Q-Source are about the residuum. The question must arise, what confidence have we even in this residuum? In their "Short History of Rome," Ferrero and Barbazello write: "The besetting sin of this school (the German critical school) is its determination to extract at all costs from the abysses of the past historical data which are hopelessly lost. The ancient Romans, being nearer in time to that event, were in a better position than we to know when their city was founded. And, even if for some reason they should themselves have falsified the true date, it seems very unlikely that after so many centuries we should succeed in discovering it." Does not this acute obser