Those who are acquainted with Dr. Macintosh's Problem of Knowledge, will take up this book with large expectation and will not be disappointed. It is a book not for those who have no doubts, but rather for those who seek apart from tradition and dogma the confirmation of Christian belief. From the beginning the author aims to meet the attack of scientific doubt and to defeat it upon scientific grounds rather than by appeal to authority or dogma.
Through the volume he holds to the scientific validity and reality of religious experience and hopes to discover therein all the facts needed for a tenable working theology.
Just as William Newton Clarke brought an answer to the theological questionings of fifteen years ago the author will do an undoubted service to the present time. The direct resort to religious experience for the proofs of ordinary doctrine is made because the writer believes that "Speculation can only elucidate what is involved in a hypothesis. It cannot, apart from any resort to experience provide verification. . . . And if theology is to become scientific it must be by becoming fundamentally empirical"
The foundations of the discussion are laid upon the answers to the following questions:
"(1). Is there religious perception, or something in the religious realm corresponding to perception, viz., cognition of the divine as revealed within the field of human experience? (2). Is it possible to formulate, on this basis of the data made available in religious experience, theological laws, or generalizations as to what the divine Being does on the fulfillment of certain discoverable conditions? (3). Can theological theory be constructed in a scientific manner upon the basis of these laws?"
Calling attention to the necessary presuppositions of all science he claims the same need for a theological science. Having done this he proposes to proceed with only such theological material as may be beyond proper scientific question or cavil to see if there is not enough to provide the necessary supports for religious theory. This method will of course be unsatisfactory to the theologian who deplores any compromise with the modern scientific spirit. The value of the volume, however lies in this, that it shows how without resort to those doctrines that give offense to many reverent thinkers, a vital and convincing theology may still be constructed.
So out of experience he draws conclusions for immortality, for the profound nature of sin, for the existence of God, and the uniqueness of Christ as the revelation of God.
His discussion of the attributes of God gains force by the settlement of the conflict of immanence with transcendence by means of personality in the divine Being.
With many points, the reader will find himself in disagreement, and some of these should doubtless be brought out in this review, except for the fact that the attempt made to furnish an empirical grounding for theology is so wholesome, and is here done so skillfully and with such constructive results that criticism is relatively unimportant in the face of positive advantages to be gained. It is a volume worth reading and owning for one's self.
-The Personalist, Volumes 1 show more