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Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines in either direction are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly.In defense of these opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman.(1) have I been ”keeping up,” keeping abreast of recent movements in theology?
This immediately helps them to realize that what is being discussed is a question about objective fact--not gas about ideals and points of view.
Secondly, this scrupulous care to preserve the Christian message as something distinct from one’s own ideas, has one very good effect upon the apologist himself.
If I address you it is in response to a request so urged that I came to regard compliance as a matter of obedience. Christianity, of course: and Christianity as understood by the church in Wales.
And here at the outset I must deal with an unpleasant business.
The great difficulty is to get modern audiences to realize that you are preaching Christianity solely and simply because you happen to think it true; they always suppose you are preaching it because you like it or think it good for society or something of that sort.
Now a clearly maintained distinction between what the faith actually says and what you would like it to have said or what you understand or what you personally find helpful or think probable, forces your audience to realize that you are tied to your data just as the scientist is tied by the results of the experiments; that you are not just saying what you like.It forces him, again and again, to face up to those elements in original Christianity which he personally finds obscure or repulsive, He is saved from the temptation to skip or slur or ignore what he finds disagreeable.And the man who yields to that temptation will, of course, never progress in Christian knowledge.It seems to the layman that in the Church of England we often hear from our priests doctrine which is not Anglican Christianity.It may depart from Anglican Christianity in either of two ways: (1) It may be so “broad” or “liberal” or “modern” that it in fact excludes any real supernaturalism and thus ceases to be Christian at all. It is not, of course, for me to define to you what Anglican Christianity is--I am your pupil, not your teacher.I want to say emphatically that the second question is far the more important of the two.Our upbringing and the whole atmosphere of the world we live in make it certain that our main temptation will be that of yielding to winds of doctrine, not that of ignoring the.But I insist that wherever you draw the lines, bounding lines must exist, beyond which your doctrine will cease to be Anglican or to be Christian: and I suggest also that the lines come a great deal sooner than many modern priest think.I think it is your duty to fix the lines clearly in your own minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession.In the same way, there will be progress in Christian knowledge only as long as we accept the challenge of the difficult or repellent doctrines.A “liberal” Christianity which considers itself free to alter the faith whenever the faith looks perplexing or repellent must be completely stagnant, Progress is made only into a resisting material.