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Series of 1912-1913
OUR EYES SHALL SEE THINGS WHOLE
EUCKEN AND THE SPIRITUAL NATURE
SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY IN A FREE CHURCH
THE FORGOTTEN MAN, JESUS
ANARCHY, THE DESTINY OF HIM
March and April, 1913
HUMAN NATURE AND SOCIAL SERVICE
Copies of these discourses may be had on application to the Sermon Publication Committee.
TEXT; Luke X. 23:- Blessed are the eyes which see things which ye see.
Why the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
In a quiet talk with an earnest person, he asked me to explain the first sentence in the statement of our faith, as it appears regularly in The Calendar. "This Church bases itself on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, without any formal creed, and guarantees the largest liberty in belief." A declaration, we may say in passing, which is taken with no variation from the substance and only slight variation from the form of the preamble of the Constitution of this Church. It is not only in keeping with the letter of that important document, but in harmony, as we shall see, with the spirit of pure religion. The inquirer, a man of fervent spirit and the most honorable insistence upon the integrity of reason, doubted if the declaration expressed his attitude. He stands at variance with many things which have apparently been dear to the heart of many Christians. He has been uncompromising in his devotion to the things which he considers they have not been ready to see and believe. Thus he is typical of the membership of our Church.
The crux is right here: The theories about the Christian religion have been made identical in many a mind with the essence of the religion of Jesus, the thing itself. As a matter of fact they are markedly different, if not in their central character, certainly in the divergences which have grown farther and farther from the elements which the founder gave to the world. So we answered the questioner: We say "the Gospel of Jesus Christ" because that Gospel
in its inmost heart, in the realm removed from dispute and controversy, in its elemental expression, says that life is the key as it is the quest. Life is the spring of all human inquiry, the goal of all progress. We begin and end with life. Jesus began and ended with life. And those doctrines which are efficacious in the world are the doctrines which have become so because they are true to life and the progress of life.
It is not true that Jesus alone made belief square with life, for that has been the great endeavor of many men who have brooded on life and its meaning. But somehow and here is the marvel of it - the manner and the spirit of Jesus and the truths he has found in these great deeps of the human soul have satisfied us better than the spirit and manner and truths of any other great leader of religion, or any other religious system. That is why we are Christians. Through his way of conceiving and interpreting life deep calleth unto deep in our beings better that through any other medium. And that is the only reason we call ourselves Christians, the only basis upon which we can honorably stand. The religion of Jesus therefore is not a peculiar dogmatic excrescence from an abnormal experience in a strange, romantic, yea, tragic land. It is not different in essence from all the rest, having a nature of its own. It is superior and fuller and freer, rather, because with a liberality, an open-mindedness, a temper of teachableness not equalled in the other great institutions founded upon human life, it has come down through the ages, struggling, it is true, and torn, by those within as well as without its own household in many a terrible day, and yet living on and on, and increasing in life and power, because you cannot kill the human soul nor blind its eye which would see life and see it whole.