« PreviousContinue »
society of Christendom, as well as all societies in the United States, having been invited to send delegates.
The prospective topics are analytical and broad. We may name only the chief, but these will suffice to indicate the scope of the proposed discussions. They include the essential elements of foreign missions; the present duty of Protestant Christendom to foreign missions; the results of one hundred years of mission work; missionary agencies; the Bible and Christian literature in mission fields; the relations of foreign missions to home churches; missionary methods; the division of the foreign field; missionary comity; the relations of foreign missions to politics and diplomacy and the peace of the world; woman's work for women; litererary work; the special providential demands of foreign missionary enterprise; the relation of students and other young people to foreign missions; the relation of missions to particular evils; the relation of Christian missions to other religions; the support of missions by home churches; the possible power of the pastor in awakening and sustaining the missionary spirit; the present crisis in missions; and the outlook for the coming century.
THE VITALITY OF ISLAM.
We have more than once taken occasion to point out the decline in the territorial extent of the political power of Mohammedanism, but that by no means signifies the decline of its vigor. Besides, it has recently been fortified politically at several points. The visit of the Emperor of Germany to Jerusalem, as the guest of the Sultan of Turkey, has had the effect among Moslems to add greatly to the prestige of the Sublime Porte, if it has not also assured Ahmed II of the support of Germany in an emergency. This, as diplomacy goes, is a warrantable assumption. In the Egyptian section of Islam the triumph of the British in the Upper Soudan leaves Mohammedanism more firmly established than it has been for a long time. The overthrow of the Mahdi as an erratic and fanatical revolutionist might seem to be a check to Islam, but in truth it reestablishes the regular organization of Moslem society, with a guarantee of stability that nothing else could do. Everybody knows the triumph which has been won by Islam, also, in the failure of the European powers to call the sultan to book in the matter of the Armenian massacres.
Besides all this there has been of late a rapid extension of Mohammedan propagandism in Central Africa, the Western Soudan, Northwest and Southeast India, China, and all the Malaysian Islands, especially Java and Borneo. Dr. Hartmann, a member of the famous Oriental Seminary faculty in Berlin and a recognized authority on Eastern affairs, says: “The Mahdistic influence has affected a vast number of peoples throughout Northern Africa; and the European protagonists of Mohammedanism, the empire of the Turks, have inaugurated movements on
a grand scale to spread the teachings and tenets of their religion. The sultan himself is under the absolute control of fanatical dervishes, and is filled with the ambition of establishing Moslem ideas everywhere. Immense sums go every year for missionary purposes to the Cape, to China, to Liverpool, to New York, although a goodly portion of this money never leaves the pious' hands to which it is intrusted. But the movement which has its headquarters in the Yildiz-Kiosk is by no means of insignificant proportions, and all the more so since the selfconsciousness of the Moslems and their self-confidence have been materially increased through recent political events. In all corners of the earth Christianity and Mohammedanism are coming into collision, and the indications are that a struggle for the mastery is inevitable. The Moslems are burning with anxiety to see such a crisis and conflict; but Christianity does not seem to be in a condition to welcome the struggle, as, especially in Europe, it would be almost absolutely impossible to enthuse the masses for a religious contest to the same degree as is possible among the Mohammedan peoples."
The explanation which Dr. Hartmann gives of the inability of the Christian world to meet this impact is suggestive. The kernel of orig. inal Christianity has in the course of time been covered with a shell of political and other interests, and beneath these externals it is often difficult to rediscover that which is genuine Christianity. It strikes us that Dr. Hartmann is less analytical, however, when he says that “ the teachings of the prophet of Mecca have not been dimmed or changed by later development.” Surely anyone familiar with Islam ought to know better than that. In truth, the Koran and its teachings are not apprehended by millions of modern converts in India, Malaysia, and Africa. They know enough to say, “ There is no God but God, and Mohammed is his prophet," but otherwise they are the same heathen as before, or have made a composite faith of their own, as in Java, where Mohammedanism, which is distinct from any other religious system, is known as “ Javanism.” Nevertheless, Dr. Hartmann's caution is timely. “At any rate the peoples of Europe should never forget that the spread of Mohammedanism is a great danger to Christian civilization and culture, and that cooperation among themselves against the extension of its influence and power is one of the crying needs of the hour."
OUR CONTENTION WITH TURKEY.
The claims made by missionaries against Turkey are not for damages done to property by the Koords and others in Armenia. It is true that the only parties demanding redress are missiovaries, but it is not as missionaries that they appear in the political and diplomatic arena. They had business establishments, in the form of schools, where fees were received ; they conducted the manufacture and sale of books and carried on the practice of medicine; and these occupations were dis
tinctly sanctioned by the sultan as business enterprises. It is more than three quarters of a century since American missionaries first entered Turkey under a well-established law of the Turkish government formulated over three hundred years ago. Under this general concession, which dominates all Asia far more than any legislators or conquerors, American missionaries have for several decades successfully prosecuted their distinctly professional business in various parts of the Turkish empire. They were conceded by this law the rights of worship, of publication, and of education, not as missionaries, but in common with all other resident non-Moslems. No professions were excepted, any more than were merchants, nor have these Christian workers claimed any other immunity.
It is not as missionaries conducting a propaganda that any claim is instituted for damages, but as foreigners resident in the empire and entitled to the protection of life and property. By the burning and sacking of a mission station at Harput one hundred thousand dollars worth of property was destroyed in 1895–96. Secretary Olney said there was satisfactory evidence that this destruction was to be attributed to the neglect of the native officials to prevent or check these depredations, and to the fact that the soldiers of the Turkish empire took an active part in the robberies. The missionaries asked for a guard in time to have been furnished with protection. This was not sent till the rioting was at its height, when the Turkish soldiers joined with the mob. It thus appears that the army, if not the officials, was in complicity with the rioters.
An editorial of the Observer thus puts the case: “Our claim for indemnity is thus not merely for injury done by mobs, as in the case of the British, French, and Italian governments, which are also demanding damages from the porte for losses sustained at the same time, but for injury done by the direct agents and representatives of Turkey. Now, it is a sound rule of international law that aliens are entitled to protection in life and property as fully as citizens of the State in which they reside, and that when they suffer losses reparation should be made. Even though its soldiers did not share in the pillage of the mission buildings the porte would thus be responsible for the acts of the mob within its jurisdiction, and so should recognize the obligation to reimburse the sufferers which civilized nations everywhere assume, and which this government has fulfilled in cases of mob violence to citizens of China. Nevertheless, it has persistently refused to do so, though it is explained that there is no intention to discriminate against the United States, the European governments having received no promise of settlement of their claims, or even recognition of them. If this refusal indicates a fixed purpose on the part of the porte to evade a plain international obligation, and Minister Strauss proves no more successful than his predecessors in effecting an adjustment, a very critical situation will have been reached.”
SOME LEADERS OF THOUGHT.
Samuel Eck. The resurrection of Jesus is a theological problem that will not down. On the one hand many are unwilling to accept it as an historical fact; on the other, it is felt by all German thinkers except the most superficial that the belief of the primitive disciples demands explanation. In October, 1898, a company of theologians, all of whom adhere more or less consciously to the liberal school of Albrecht Ritschl, met in Eisenach, Germany, noted as the home of Luther for four years of his schoolboy life, to discuss the significance of the resurrection of Jesus for the early Christians and for those of our day. One of the principal speakers was Samuel Eck. His address as now printed in pamphlet form, under the title, Ueber die Bedeutung der Auferstehung Jesu für die Urgemeinde und für uns (Leipzig, J. C. B. Mohr, 1898), really adds nothing to the considerations long advanced by the so-called liberals. Yet, because he puts these considerations in their modern form, we here give his views. A sign of the modernness of his theory is that he refuses to ground faith in the resurrection on the hypothesis of mere subjective visions. No psychological explanation of these visions, whether supposedly seen by people of sound or of unsound mind, has ever proved satisfactory to careful and exact thought. Another sign is that he really proposes no theory as to the origin of the belief of the early disciples that Jesus was risen and that they had seen him. Directly connected with this is a third sign, namely, that he lays the chief emphasis upon the fact that those disciples believed Jesus lived. To this fact he ascribes immeasurable significance. He adopts the saying of Straus that but for the belief in the resurrection of their Lord the words and deeds of Jesus would have been lost to the memory of mankind. It was his resurrection which gave them their permanent value and which prompted his disciples to treasure and record them. A fourth sign is that he distinctly makes whatever happened by which the disciples came to believe in the resurrection to be the work of God. While he evidently has no sympathy with the doctrine of the bodily resurrection, he nevertheless believes that in some way the belief of the disciples was a result of a divine revelation by means of which the con. tinuance of the personal life of Jesus Christ became with them a wellgrounded conviction. This is at the farthest conceivable remove from the atheistic and infidel theories which made the assertion of the resurrection of Jesus a deliberate falsehood or a product of the tendency to legend, or which based that resurrection upon a deception of which the disciples were the victims. It is but a step to the belief that what God did was to raise Jesus from the dead.
Paul Chapuis. Commencing with the publication of Menegoz's La notion biblique du miracle (1894), already noticed in this department, a dispute has been going on among French Protestant theologians as to the possibility and actuality, as well as the nature, of miracles. Chapuis has come out recently with a strong work on the subject, entitled Du Surnaturel. Etudes de philosophie et d'histoire religieuses (The Supernatural. Stud. ies in Religious Philosophy and History). Lausanne, Payot, 1898. He takes the position that physical science cannot possibly recognize the miraculous, because it has to do with the causes, results, and conditions of the world-process. When the scientist cannot find the cause of any phenomenon he is not at liberty to resort to supernatural causation, but must confess his ignorance of the cause, must regard the event, not as supernatural, but as inexplicable. There can be no question of the truth of this position, taking, as we must, physical science to pertain, as its name indicates, to purely physical existences and forces. But then, also, he should have brought out clearly the fact that while physical. science cannot recognize a miracle it cannot, on the other hand, deny the possibility of the same. That realm in which the causes known to physical science are inadequate for the explanation of events may be the realm of miracle or of divine intervention. He is right, again, when he says that religious faith sees in all events of the natural world, even where the causal connection is perfectly plain, the purpose of God. But he is not as strong as could be wished in the exhibition of the intellectual justification of this faith. True, he does not admit that the only form of certainty is that which rests upon theoretical investigation; but the impression is left that the assertions of the faith relative to the intervention of the supernatural in the natural world are dependent upon their own inherent right to be and upon their utility in the ethical and religious life. In fact, apart from all this, and even if we could see no good reason why this faith should be preserved, we have the best of reasons for maintaining that we know, in the same sense in which we
causal connection at all, the causal connection of God with the operations of the physical world and his intervention in at least some instances in the ordinary course of natural processes. There is nothing in science or philosophy to forbid this doctrine, and a sound pliilosophy demands it. This is itself almost a sufficient foundation. Historical considerations which cannot be now given make certain miracles as sure as any other facts of history.
RECENT THEOLOGICAL LITERATURE. Der Materialismus vor dem Richterstuhl der Wissenschaft. Den Gebildeten aller Stände dargeboten (Materialism Before the Judgment Seat of Science. For the Educated of All Ranks). By Theodor Menzi. Zurich, F. Schulthess, 1898. Althongh materialism is held to-day by but few thoughtful people, this book has its place for the reason that many