True Greatness Of Christianity
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
No; the mystery hidden from ages and generations, which none of the rulers of this world knew, the mystery revealed finally by Jesus Christ and rejected by the Jews, was not the doctrine of the Trinity, nor anything speculative. It was the method and the secret of Jesus. Jesus did not change the object for men,—righteousness. He made clear what it was, and that it was for all men, and that it was this : —his method and his secret, in union with his temper.
This was the mystery, and the Apostles had still the consciousness that it was. To 'learn Christ,' to 'be taught the truth .as it is in Jesus,' was not, with them, to acquire certain tenets about One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. It was, `to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.' 3 And this exactly amounts to the method and secret of Jesus.
For Catholic and for Protestant theology alike, this consciousness, which the Apostles had still preserved, was lost. For Catholic and Protestant theology alike, the truth as it is in Jesus, the mystery revealed in Christ, meant some-thing totally different from his method and secret. But they recognised, and indeed the thing was so plain that they could not well miss it, they recognised that on all Christians the method and secret of Jesus were enjoined. So to this extent the method and secret of Jesus were preached and had their effect. To this extent true Christianity has been known, and to the extent before stated it has been neglected. Now, as we say that the truth and grandeur of the Old Testament most comes out experimentally,—that is, by the whole course of the world establishing it, and confuting what is opposed to it—so it is with Christianity. Its grandeur and truth are far best brought out experimentally; and the thing is, to make people see this.
But there is this difference between the religion of the Old Testament and Christianity. Of the religion of the Old Testament we can pretty well see to the end, we can trace fully enough the experimental proof of it in history. But of Christianity the future is as yet almost unknown. For that the world cannot get on without righteousness we have the clear experience, and a grand and admirable experience it is. But what the world will become by the thorough use of that which is really righteousness, the method and the secret and the sweet reasonableness of Jesus, we have as yet hardly any experience at all. Therefore we, who in this essay limit ourselves to experience, shall speak here of Christianity and of its greatness very soberly. Yet Christianity is really all the grander for that very reason which makes us speak about it in this sober manner,-that it has such an immense development still before it, and that it has as yet so little shown all it contains, all it can do. Indeed, that Christianity has already done so much as it has, is a witness to it ; and that it has not yet done more, is a witness to it too. Let us observe how this is so.