From “Faith and Life”: a thought on doctrine – and a PDF!
For some time now I have been posting excerpts from a book to which I have referred by a somewhat abbreviated title, Faith and Life: Readings compiled from ancient writers, by William Bright. If readers would like to read it in PDF, here it is as a file on this blog, and I am showing the link under its full name:
This is a quite impressive book, and William Bright had a sure sense of the importance of doctrine. I’ll post for tonight an excerpt from the Preface to the book, which we should all heed:
…Revealed religion is by its very nature dogmatic to the very core. It has stood the highest of all tests. The heart of man, which it has stirred to its inmost depths, which it has revealed to itself, which it has called out of itself, into which it has infused unearthly powers, powers of humility, powers of endurance, powers of love, is an eternal witness to its truth. It is indeed this—the witness of the present Spirit—which is the highest of all Christian evidences. It is this that breathes life into the dead bones of doctrine, and bids them stand upon their feet, an exceeding great army. It is by this Spirit, by showing in our own lives, if God give us grace, by showing in our teaching to others, that the doctrines of the Bible, the doctrines of the Church, have a vitality within them imparted by God Himself; that they are powerful to purify the heart, to elevate the hopes, to sustain under affliction, to reassure under doubt, to give peace within, to give strength without,—it is by this life and by this teaching that we shall most effectually serve the cause of Christ and of His Church. “By indifference to doctrine altogether,” says Dr. Moberly, “and representing the whole care for doctrine as narrow-mindedness and bigotry, the battle of infidelity against true religion has been fought in every age. Doctrine, indeed, is commonly the first point of attack; and in the attack upon doctrine, the more inward parts of religion, such as faith and holiness, are often made use of as points of advantage, on which the batteries against doctrine may be planted. But, in truth, the attack is against religion altogether; and faith and holiness themselves, and all the structure of religion, inward and outward, shortly disappear, when the assault upon doctrine has by any wilful heart, with whatever pretext, been made successfully; not to say, that it is commonly because faith and holiness are themselves in decay within that the assault on doctrine is thought of.”
To say the least, history has borne this out the past century! But if you have the time and the inclination, I believe you’ll enjoy Faith and Life.