« ÎnapoiContinuați »
This book is an interweaving of the Four Gospels into one connected account of the Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, in which the attempt is made by free translation and paraphrase to bring out clearly the unity and the reasonableness of his system of thought from a modern point of view.
In Matthew 4: 23 the message of Jesus is spoken of as the Good News of a Spiritual Realm. The Jews of his day were looking forward to the restoration of their nation as a Messianic Kingdom and had almost no conception of a Spiritual Realm; to them the message of Jesus was a disappointment. We must admit also that, with splendid exceptions, the full spiritual significance of his teaching, even down to our own day, has not been understood nor appreciated.
This is particularly true in regard to his teaching concerning the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of heaven. It has been variously misinterpreted: as the Church; as an ideal state of human society where the will of God will be more perfectly done; as another realm, similar the natural realm, where the life after death will be passed. There is no mistaking the fact that the study of natural science has placed those who want to believe in a spiritual interpretation of it on the defensive; and forced many, who ought to have had more faith in a spiritual interpretation, back into a second line of defense where they are defending, not the independent reality of a Spiritual Realm, but an intellectual and spiritual idealizing of it, which makes of the Kingdom of God an ideal state of human society, and limits the purpose of the Christian life, very largely, to living a good life and “to the getting of God's will done among men.” However much the teachings of Jesus may have been misunderstood in the past, or are being misunderstood to-day, there is no mistaking the fact, if this effort to present his teachings is sound, that four assertions stand out in clear relief. First. He asserts the existence of two levels of reality: a higher or Spiritual Realm, and a lower or natural realm. Second. He asserts that God is Sovereign of the Spiritual Realm as well as the Creator and
Ruler of the natural realm; that God is Love Absolute and is manifested to human minds in three categories: Moral Purpose, Idea, and Vitality; that God can be best understood as Sovereign Love, as the Love Thought, and as Love Vitality. Third. He asserts that the supreme and characteristic law of the Spiritual Realm is the Law of Love; that the Spiritual Law of Love is operative also in the natural realm and, when appealed to, is paramount. Fourth. He asserts the existence of a Way by which human personality with the aid of spiritual forces, can dominate and transcend natural law and advance into the Spiritual Realm. The Way to do this, he taught, was to conform one's life to the Spiritual Law of Love, that is, to believe in the Love Idea, to trust in the Divine Love Vitality, and to obey Sovereign Love. This system of thought is certainly philosophic in its unity and universality; and it is scientific in its openness to test and proof. Christendom has ever been divided on questions of definition and dogma. Why should this be so? Jesus' system of thought does not so much call for defense by logic and argument, as it does for demonstration and test. As he said, if we have the courage to put his Way to the test, we shall know whether his assertions are true or not. If there is a Spiritual Realm and if there is a Way for us to advance into it, then the message of Jesus is the best of Good News.
But as we think about it the thought comes home to us that Jesus’ Way is the only reasonable and hopeful way of escape from the grim determinism of nature, “Lord, to whom else can we go? Thou alone hast the words of eternal Life.” Other men have offered good advice as to how it is best to live this natural life; Jesus is the only One who has told us how we may transcend it.
The characteristic mark of Jesus' system of thought, after all, is its winning appeal, that must either be rejected, or be accepted gratefully and with trustful obedience.
To freshen this appeal by clothing it in new phraseology, and by so doing to make it more insistent and forceful, is the purpose of this work.
DwigEIT GODDARD. February 1, 1915. Ann Arbor, Michigan.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.