from genuine religion. He thought ?one could not he a man if he must subordinate his nature to Christ?s nature.? He failed to see that Jesus not only absorbs but transforms and that we grow only by the impact of nobler souls than our own. Emerson?s essay style is devoid of clear and precise theological statement, and in this vagueness lies its harmfulness. Fisher, Nature and Method of Revelation, xii ? ?Emerson?s pantheism is not hardened into a consistent creed, for to the end he clung to the belief in personal immortality, and he pronounced the acceptance of this belief ?the test of mental sanity.?? On Emerson, see S. L. Wilson, Theology of Modern Literature, 97-128.
We may call this theory the ?green-apple theory? of sin. Sin is a green apple, which needs only time and sunshine and growth to bring it to ripeness and beauty and usefulness. But we answer that sin is not a green apple but an apple with a worm at its heart. The evil of it can never be cured by growth. The fall can never be anything else than downward. Upon this theory, sin is an inseparable factor in the nature of finite things. The highest archangel cannot be without it. Man in moral character is ?the asymptote of God,? ? forever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. The throne of iniquity is set up forever in the universe. If this theory were true, Jesus, in virtue of his partaking of our finite humanity, must be a sinner. His perfect development, without sin, shows that sin was not a necessity of finite progress. Matthews, in Christianity and Evolution, 137 ? ?It was not necessary for the prodigal to go into the far country and become a swineherd, in order to find out the father?s love.? E. H. Johnson, Systematic Theology, 141 ? ?It is not the privilege of the Infinite alone to be good.? Dorner, System, 1:119, speaks of the moral career, which this theory describes, as ?a progressus in infinitum, where the constant approach to the goal has as its reverse side an eternal separation from the goal.? In his ?Transformation,? Hawthorne hints, though rather hesitatingly, that without sin the highest humanity of man could not be taken up at all, and that sin may be essential to the first conscious awakening of moral freedom and to the possibility of progress; see Hutton, Essays, 2:381.
(b) So far as this theory regards moral evil as a necessary presupposition and condition of moral good, it commits the serious error of confounding the possible with the actual. What is necessary to goodness is not the actuality of evil but only the possibility of evil.
Since we cannot know white except in contrast to black, it is claimed that without knowing actual evil we could never know actual good. George A: Gordon, New Epoch for Faith, 49, 50, has well shown that in that case the
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