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"Cur Deus Homo?"-" Why God Man?" Why? Then began the emphasis of this tremendous supposed fact of human sin at the beginning, this great break in human allegiance, this falling away from God into utter loss and ruin. There must have been this tremendous catastrophe, in order to make it reasonable that God should visit the earth. So this catastrophe is emphasized. Whatever the result, it must be something fearful, in order to make it necessary for God himself to come to earth and suffer and die to deliver people from it. So the great central fact in the theology of the world has been this Christology, the tremendous catastrophe in the beginning and with a catastrophe at the end, in order to explain the fact that God himself should leave heaven and come down to suffer and die. And, in order to make the suffering and death of Jesus significant enough to fit into the scheme, he must be made to be God. As a matter of historic fact, treating Jesus as a man, thousands and thousands have suffered unspeakably more than he did. But note the influence of this Christ idea that developed the theory of infinite suffering as an atonement for an infinite sin. It was said that Jesus suffered when he was in hell, since he was God, as much as all the lost would need to have suffered to all eternity. In this way he balanced and paid off the debt. I have heard sermons over and over again, since my recollection of preaching, that outlined the terrific nature of sin; and how did they set it forth? Not on account of the evil it causes in this world, the real wrongs that men do each other; but they said it must have been an unspeakable wrong, or else God would not have needed to die to save people from it. That was the method of the argument. Think for a moment,- as though a little child of three years of age should speak or act disrespectfully in the presence of an emperor, and then the child should be judged guilty, not from the point of view of the child of three, but from the point of view of the supposed offended majesty of the emperor. That is the way human sin has been judged.
I heard Mr. Stanley yesterday afternoon. Among other
things, he described the pygmies that he discovered,— little men less than four feet high. They were scattered in a forest in Africa. He said that they seemed to him the most degraded that is, the least human- of any beings on the face of the earth with which he was acquainted. Now, think for a moment of one of those little men, who never heard anything about God, who are hardly more than animals, not able to read or write, simply under their animal impulses to get something to eat and protect themselves from the weather, being able to insult the King of heaven, the infinite God of this universe, of whom they never heard or dreamed, so as to become guilty of an eternal sin and deserving of eternal pain. This is the theory, the exaggerated, the unreal, and hideous development of doctrine along the line of this growth of the Messianic dream, the Messianic office of Jesus.
As a matter of fact, it is time for all intelligent thinkers to be done entirely with this whole Messianic conception. Let us study the Jesus of history. Let us learn what he did. Let us reverence him. Let us love him. Let us be followers of his spirit. Let us be children of the Father, as he Let us be brothers in relation to our fellow-men, as he was. But do let us be done forever with this tradition, this myth, this exaggerated, unreal growth of thought, of belief, of doctrine, that goes under the name of the Messianic idea. Jesus was not the Messiah that the Jews looked for.
And let us once for all absolve the Jewish race from that hideous load of imaginary guilt under which they have labored for centuries, of having consciously or purposely, or even ignorantly, put to death the son of God. As carefully as I have been able to study it, I have never seen any reason whatsoever for blaming the Jews at that time for anything more than that same kind of spiritual blindness which has manifested itself a thousand times in the history of the world, in the rejection, for the time being, of a higher, finer, clearer thought, and a nobler divine message. The Jews naturally looked on Jesus at that time-for there had been
many other so-called Messiahs, persons who got them into difficulty with the Roman people as another fanatic, very much as the officers out West are looking upon our Sioux Messiah who is claiming the guidance of the people to-day. Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah. Let us eliminate from our doctrine, our thought, our feeling, this whole conception, and go back along the lines of intelligent, critical discovery until we find the actual, historic, grand character,- Jesus of Nazareth.
Father, we thank Thee for Jesus,- for the great light he brought into the world; for the high and pure teaching that fell from his lips; for his heroism, his fortitude, his faithfulness, even in the face of death. And we ask Thee that we may be his followers, not by using his name as a shibboleth, but his followers only in the sense that we shall follow the spirit of love to God and of love to man which he manifested, and so help to realize the ideal which animated his soul. Amen.
Price $1.50 a year, or 5 cents single copy
Entered at the Post-office, Boston, Mass., as second-class mail matter.
CALENDAR FOR 1891.
Friends of Rev. Minot J. Savage will be glad to know that Miss Dora Bascom Smith has compiled with great care from Mr. Savage's published works short selections for each day in the year, which are printed in good plain type, and mounted on a card about 8x11 inches, with a fine portrait of Mr. Savage and a small process picture of the Church of the Unity.
Price in box suitable for mailing 50 cents each.
GEO. H. ELLIS, Publisher,
141 Franklin Street, Boston.