KING AND BRADLAUGH DEBATE - PART 5
CHRISTIANITY VERSUS SECULARISM
SIX NIGHTS' DISCUSSION BETWEEN DAVID KING AND CHARLES BRADLAUGH
From "The Interpreter" 1909.
WHAT IS CHRISTIANITY?
Wednesday, 28th September, 1870.
MR. BRADLAUGH'S OPENING ADDRESS
MR. BRADLAUGH: - The subject for tonight is a continuation of the subject of yesterday evening, "What is Christianity?" My opponent told you that Christianity consisted alone of the teachings of Jesus and His apostles and their examples, as recorded in the New Testament; and he told us that Christians had no more to do with the Old Testament than the Jews have to do with the New, and that it is only where the Old Testament is re-enacted in the New that Christians are in any way concerned in it.
If Mr. King be right in his contention, then the Bible in its present state - that is, as we have it here - is clearly an improper book, because the Old Testament and the New Testament are bound up together, without any sort of distinction, any sort of mark between them, to show that the Old Testament is unconnected with the New. Besides, the analogy he gave was entirely faulty, because the Jews, by no possibility, repudiating Jesus as the Messiah, base anything upon the New Testament, while Jesus and the whole of the apostles are repeatedly spoken of in the New Testament as referring to the Old Testament in support of particular matters which they think supported by such references.
In the schools - the ordinary Christian schools of the country - the Old and New Testaments are handed together to the children without any such stipulation being made. In the churches and chapels the lessons are taken out of both the Old and New Testament, and it is only when they have to be debated on a platform that we find it convenient to throw the bulk of them overboard.
Is Mr. King right in his construction of Christianity? Do all the great Christian bodies - do the Church of England - do the 39 Articles of that Church, which are, at the present moment, the Christianity which I am forbidden to deny - do these declare that the Holy Scriptures - meaning by Holy Scripture the Canonical books of the Old and New Testament - stand in the relation that Mr. King says they do? On the contrary, the Articles of the Church of England are explicit. By the Holy Scriptures, meaning the Canonical Scriptures, of the Old and New Testament, these Articles teach and contain God's relation to man of all things necessary to salvation.
However, for the purpose of this discussion, it is a matter of no importance to me. It is more to those who sustain Mr. King and surround him as to the view of Christianity he chooses to define here; but, for the matter of this discussion, I will take Christianity as defined by himself - that is, that where in the New Testament any portion of the Old Testament is re-enacted that there the Old Testament forms part and parcel of Christianity, but that wherever it is not re-enacted in precise terms, or terms equivalent to its re-enactment, that there it forms no part or parcel of Christianity.
I do not know where he gets his new and novel doctrine; if it is Bury Christianity, I don't complain; I only want to discuss the Christianity of the Old and New Testament, and, as my object is to get rid of the whole Bible, I have no objection to get rid of a great piece of it at the beginning, and I am quite content to let that be. But understand that I want to be quite clear what we are discussing.
Well, then, taking Mr. King's own definition of Christianity, is it in the ordinary authorized version, circulated by the Church of England? Is it in the Rheims version, circulated by the Church of Rome? Is it in the Unitarian, or in what version? And I am obliged to put this question; it is no waste of time to put it, because my friend alluded to the matter in his first speech. Is his definition to be found in the new version by Tischendorf, published by Tauchnitz?
Or does he accept any version whatever, or has he got some version in which there is some better evidence which enables him to rely upon it as a matter of authority? Will he also be good enough, as he last night spoke of it, to tell us something more about that particular document which he said the translators used? Does he mean by that particular document, the Received Greek text as printed? Because, if he means that, I shall have to trouble him with the opinion of the Rev. Dr. Irons, a clergyman of the Church of England.
In his work "The Bible and its Interpreters," commencing at page 12, Dr. Irons declares that "in point of fact the Received Greek text was made up from documents or books that could not be carried back beyond a very few centuries; that these were full of inaccuracies; and that the further back you go the greater difficulty you have in finding anything reliable about it." I won't trouble you at this stage of the evening with reading the whole of Dr. Irons' remarks upon this point. It will be sufficient for him to dispute the writer's position. I do not rely upon Dr. Irons myself; I am prepared to prove his statement from independent sources, and I only give it as coming from a man of high repute in the Church, and as being better worth while to notice than if coming from myself.
If, in spite of the 9th and 10th William III., cap. 32, I may reject the authorized version in any place, where am I to find a reliable account of the teachings of Jesus and His apostles? because Mr. King has defined to you the teachings of Jesus and His apostles to make up the totality of Christianity, teaching either by word of example. And I want to know, if this be not good enough, where I can find something good enough to stand the test. For my own part in this debate, I shall hold myself at liberty to confine myself to the ordinary authorized version in this debate. I consider myself bound by no other. If I reject the ordinary English version, the Act 9 and 10 William III, cap. 32, subjects me to an indictment and severe penalty for its rejection, and that is the version almost invariably in use among all the English Protestant Trinitarian bodies.
By the way, our friend did not tell us whether he thinks fairly from the teachings of Jesus and His apostles, the doctrine of Trinity in Unity is deducible. I do not wish to take something he does not hold, and if he is one who does not believe in the Trinity, far be it from me to press it on him. Probably he does believe in it.
There are one or two points that he has not yet explained. He has not told us if be believes in eternal torment yet [laughter], although I have asked him several times. Probably he will tell us that in his first speech, and let us clear up these matters, so that I may go on.
Now, I will submit the teachings of Christianity from the New Testament as I find them, and I say that the first and most important of the teachings is that of faith. Take for example Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." John 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth with him." Acts 16:31, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."
Now, I submit to you that faith is a most important feature of the Christian teachings, and not only that faith is, but faith to the exclusion of works, and that is a point upon which I must challenge my friend, for you will remember that he most distinctly stated last night that faith alone was never mentioned except to be repudiated. And I will read to you from Romans 3:20, "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." And the 27th verse - "Where is boasting, then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith." Romans 4:4-5, "Now to him that worketh is the reward, not reckoned of grace, but of debt; but to him that worketh not, but believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Galatians 2:16, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law, for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Galatians 3:11, "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God it is evident, for the just shall live by faith."
I do not pretend to say that my friend may not quote some text exactly opposite to that: I admit he may. My contention is not that the Bible is contradictory, but that he was utterly wrong when he said that faith alone was never mentioned except to be repudiated. In the 18th Article of the Church of England it is declared as expressly as anything can be in these words: "Of obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ. They also are to be had accursed that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professes, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ whereby man must be saved."
Our friend says he has nothing to do with these Articles. I don't want to bind him by them at all. I only want to show that the construction of Christianity as deduced from the New Testament is by no means an unfair construction by persons in the Christian body at least as competent to form judgment as our friend.
Well, if faith is an important feature of Christianity, what is it that makes up the Christian faith? You are to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and surely at the very least that must include belief in the exact truth of the life of Jesus and His teachings, as recorded in the New Testament. Then, in order to ascertain what is Christianity, we must see what is the life, and what are the teachings, of Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament. Turn to the New Testament, and let us begin at the very beginning, and what do we learn? We will begin at the very place and date of the birth and parentage of Jesus, because, clearly if belief in Jesus is to be the basis of Christianity, and the belief in Jesus Christ alone, surely it must be belief in the entire history of Jesus. You have no right to knock out that history, or any portion of that history, and say it is not important. If the history of Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament, is to be accepted, it must be in its entirety.
Now the very first step in it - the place of the birth of Jesus - is uncertain, as may be seen by careful reference to the text. According to John 7:41, 42, and 52, the Jews, in the very presence of Jesus, reproached Him that he ought to have been born at Bethlehem, and we find Him making no remark to get rid of that reproach.
The Rev. James Cranbrook, in his work on "The Men and Circumstances that originated Christianity," page 122, regards Nazareth as the birthplace of Jesus. He says - "In fixing upon Nazareth rather than Bethlehem as the place of His birth, I am influenced by the fact of His having received His designation from the former place. By the fact that it is acknowledged on all hands that He and His parents lived there all the early part of His life; by the inconsistency, contradiction, and worthlessness of the tradition which mentions Bethlehem as His birthplace; and by the unhistorical character of the fact by which the presence of His parents in Bethlehem is explained, since there was no such enrollment at the time to which the tradition refers."
The Rev. Dr. Giles, a clergyman of the Church of England, in his "Christian Records," page 114, has a very long chapter headed "On the Uncertainty of the Birthplace of Jesus." Matthew, who records that Jesus was born at Bethlehem, bolsters up the story with three pretended prophecies, in verses 6, 15, and 23 of chapter 2, which are all improperly and inaccurately quoted.
W.R. Greg, in his "Creed of Christendom," page 93, says - "In this place we must notice the marked discrepancy between Matthew and Luke as to the original residence of the parents of Jesus. Luke speaks of them as living at Nazareth before the birth of Christ; Matthew, as having left their former residence, Bethlehem, to go to Nazareth, only after that event and from peculiar considerations. Critics, however, are disposed to think Matthew right on this occasion."
Oh, but I may be told that Christianity does not concern itself about the birthplace of Jesus. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." Well, I ask, if there be an uncertainty about the place of birth of Jesus, how can you have a saving belief in it?
But follow it out further. Take the time of His birth. We do not know from the gospels either the day, or hour, or month, or the year in which he was born. The only thing that the gospels do is to make Him be born in the lifetime of Herod, and after he was dead. I may ask you if you believe the time of birth to be of any importance at all, how can you take His birth as being in the reign of Herod, and at the same time as not happening until after the death of Herod? On this point the Rev. Dr. Giles says in his "Christian Record," page 120, - "If Christ was born in the reign of Herod the Great, no Roman census or enrollment could have taken place in the dominions of an independent king." And Dr. Giles, accurately or inaccurately, expresses confidence that the two dates are decidedly opposed. But I don't wish to rely only upon Dr. Giles. I make the statement prepared to demonstrate from the Gospels, that the Gospel of Matthew fixes His birth in the reign of Herod, and that the Gospel of Luke precludes the possibility of His being born until after Herod died.
Now, as to the parentage of Jesus. His descent is traced by absolutely contradictory genealogies to David through Joseph, who was no relation to Him whatever. There are two genealogies - one in Matthew and one in Luke, and in the points where room for comparison is afforded by the Old Testament, those genealogies contradict each other. The genealogy of Matthew is self-contradictory - counts thirteen names as fourteen without explanation, and omits the names of three kings without apology. Matthew says Abiud was the son of Zorobabel (Matthew 1:13). Luke says Zorobabel's son was Rhesa. The Old Testament contradicts both, and gives Meshullam and Hananiah and Shelomith their sister (1 Chronicles 3:19) as Zorobabel's children.
Well, you may tell me these genealogies are of no importance. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." Why, if they are not put there for our belief, why are they put there at all? If we are to cast them out as so much waste and rubbish, where is the process of casting-out to begin and where is it to end?
To be a Christian, then, you must believe each of these incredible or contradictory accounts of the birth and parentage of Jesus. We are told that the birth of Jesus was miraculously announced to Mary and to Joseph by the visits of an angel, but they so little regarded the miraculous annunciation that they marvelled soon after at things spoken by Simeon, which were much less wonderful in character.
According to Matthew 2:13, an angel warned Joseph to flee with Him and Mary into Egypt. And Joseph did fly into Egypt, and remained there with the young Child and His mother until the death of Herod; and this was done to fulfil a prophecy. On referring to Hosea, 11:1, we find the words have no reference whatever to Jesus, and that therefore either the tale of the flight is invented as a fulfilment of the prophecy, or the prophecy manufactured to support the tale of the flight. The Jesus of the third Gospel is never recorded as going into Egypt at all in His childhood. We find no proofs of it at all, and the thing seems absolutely fictitious.
William Rathbone Greg, in his "Creed of Christendom," page 91, says that "either there are two different accounts of the same thing, or two separate annunciations were made - the one to Joseph and the other to Mary, but either of these suppositions is attended with difficulty." I do not quote Mr. Greg as an authority, because I am prepared to prove it from the book itself. I name it lest my friend should say I am only repeating such and such a writer, and I save him the trouble of that.
Passing from this point to the next one, the point of baptism. When Jesus was about thirty years of age He was baptized by John in the river Jordan. Now, John, according to the Gospel of Matthew, knew Him before he came to him, and forbade Him, saying that he was not worthy. According to the other Gospel of John, he did not know Him until after the baptism, and had therefore no occasion to forbid Him; so that, according to Christianity, you must believe in Jesus, and believe the whole of His history, and believe that John did know and did not know Jesus at one and the same time. If you won't believe it, you must reject one or the other, and I want to know on what principle you will reject either.
In Colossians 1:15 we are told that Christ "is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature." In John 1:18 it is stated that "no man hath seen God at any time"; and in Exodus (33:20) it is said that "no man can see God and live." We are told that God is an invisible Spirit, and yet John, who was a man, saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove on the head of Jesus. We are told of God's omnipresence, and yet at His baptism the heavens opened and God spake, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." I do not urge these as matters of contradiction - I only want to know whether you are entitled to believe that an invisible God was seen, and how an omnipresent God was in one place and not in the other.
The next feature of Christianity is the baptism of Jesus. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and he fasted there forty days and forty nights. This account is given by the whole of the Evangelists except one, and that one is John. Jesus was immediately led into the wilderness after his baptism. He fasted for forty days and forty nights; yet on the third of the forty days Jesus was at a wedding feast in Cana, which does not appear to be in the wilderness at all. There is no statement that He did participate in the good things, but I want it explained how Jesus could be in the wilderness with no one but the devil, and yet that he was taking part in the marriage festivities at Cana.
I will take you now to what Jesus Himself has given the full text of. In Matthew 12:39 and 40 - "But he answered and said unto them, 'An evil and adulterous nation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonas. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.'" By the Christian creed you must believe the story of Jonah as well as that of Jesus. Is that portion of the Old Testament re-enacted or no? You must believe that Jonah was charged with a message from the Lord, which he did not like to deliver because he believed that the Lord was changeable. You must know that Jonah wanted to fly from the presence of the omni-present God, and that the Lord caused a storm to arise. You must believe that, in consequence of that storm, the ship in which Jonah was in danger. You must believe that Jonah was flung into the sea, and that the Lord prepared a big fish to swallow him. You must believe that Jonah lived in the belly of the whale three days and three nights - singing psalms and hymns or something of that kind, and that at last Jonah was vomited on dry land. You must believe, in fact, that the story of Jesus is just as true as that of Jonah. But what is the text? As Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the whale, so the Son of Man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Jesus was buried, and, according to the apostle, it was sometime on Friday evening when Joseph of Arimathaea begged the body of Jesus. We are further told that Joseph wrapped the body in a clean linen cloth before he interred it, so that it would probably be late on Friday night before he had interred it. We are also told that "in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week," came women to the sepulchre, and an angel of the Lord, who was at the grave, informed them that Jesus had risen. Now, the Jewish Sabbath is well known to be on the Saturday, and the first day of the week would be the Christian Sunday, so that I want to know how anyone - perhaps my friend can inform me - how we can make it three days and three nights from Friday night to late on Saturday night. I don't say that it is contradictory, but I want to know if the Christian is to believe it. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned."
The theory of the atonement will form the subject of my next attack, but at present I have put to you that the principal doctrine of Christianity is faith; and I have shown what faith is required. I have exhausted now my time, and I ask our friend, in addressing you, not to miss the points to which I have again called his attention, and which he forgot last night.
MR. KING'S FIRST REPLY
MR. KING:- There has been a certain stale trick played upon us tonight, and it has been played on all discussions upon this question, or nearly so, that I have heard or read. It is that of throwing in, in the briefest form possible, far more alleged discrepancies or objections than can be touched upon in double the time allowed to the speaker. [Hear, hear, and applause]. Not only so, but instead of reading each passage and demonstrating the alleged contradiction, merely affirming it, and leaving the other side to open the book, and show that there is no apparent contradiction, or else that it is only apparent.
I have carefully looked over certain debates and certain speeches (some of them delivered by my opponent), and I find this kind of thing thrown in frequently, page after page, at the rate of one alleged contradiction to two and a half lines throughout. Now, what is the result of this? What is intended by it? Why, this is intended - the intention is that even granting that all the points could be answered without difficulty (granting that argumentatively), then an opponent would not have time to notice one half of them, however closely he might devote himself to the work. Now we are in this position tonight, and, therefore, as my opponent is aware of the impossibility of taking up one half of the topics he has crowded in, he is prepared to be down upon me in a moment, and, in regard to whatever I leave from sheer want of time, to say - "Oh, you see, he couldn't touch that." That is the standing trick in his line of business. [Laughter and cheers].
Now allow me to reply to some of the statements made at the beginning of this debate. I have not said, as he put it, that Christians have no more to do with the Old Testament than the Jews had to do with the New. That is Mr. Bradlaugh's - mine is quite a different statement. I intimated that the Old Testament Economy is only of force so far as re-enacted. I spoke of the Jewish law, I did not speak of re-enacting the Old Testament. I spoke of the law - the law given to the Jews - the ordinances and requirements given to them as their national polity. I insisted that those ordinances and statutes are not binding -not one of them - upon us - that is upon Christians. That is to say, not unless re-enacted, and then they are binding, not by the force of the old law, but by the fact they are given to us in the institution under which we live. That, then, is a very different statement. [Hear, hear].
Then you were told that I had abandoned the common version of the Bible, last night. I am not aware of doing so, and I am not aware that in any particular I did so. I have most certainly argued for nothing that is not contained in that version. I made no quotation from any other version. I merely made use of a Greek term instead of an English one, but it did not affect the argument before us. I did not abandon the meaning commonly attached in the common English word. The authorized version, therefore, was not abandoned by me last night, nor will it be tonight. [Hear, hear, and applause]. If in anything I have to say I should have occasion to dissent from the common version, I shall be ready to give my reason for doing so, and it will then be my opponent's opportunity to advance whatever objections he may choose, to the version or text I may quote.
Next in relation to citations made by Mr. Bradlaugh, from works written by clergymen. I am not going to call the clergy of the Church of England Secularists; but my opponent, when in Newcastle, told the people that there were even infidels on the bench of bishops. [Laughter]. And certainly if you take some of the books written by clergymen, it would seem that there are infidels among the clergy, who are not bishops, but who, for anything I know, may be passive members of the National Secular Society, for Mr. Holyoake intimates that there are Secularists who keep up a connection with the Church for personal gain and for the advantage of their relations, and I suppose that if such men hire pews they would not object to fill pulpits. [Hear, hear]. So that the authority of these statements is of very little importance. What if certain clerical passive Secularists in the Establishment give us views in accordance with those of my opponent? [Applause].
Now we come to faith. Faith is the next item which stands upon my paper. I quite agree with the statement made by my opponent last night, and repeated tonight - that faith is a most essential element in Christianity. I have not the slightest objection to use the definite article - the most essential element - and will now give this matter some little attention. I think my opponent was a little too hard on me last night; so severe that I did not know whether I shouldn't feel almost afraid to come here tonight. [Laughter].
But be that as it may, he has played off a trick which I do not think a desirable one. I have had it put up before me, and I have seen it played upon others. It is very clever, and exceedingly taking. Now men tolerably conversant with the New Testament, called upon in answer a statement, suddenly presented, are liable to make some trifling mistake in the hurry of debate. But supposing I did make a slight mistake last night, our courteous friend, with his usual candour, puts it in this form - "Either you knew what you said was not true or you didn't." Well, that is very logical. "If you knew it was not true, you are not exactly honest, and if you did not know it you pretend to know and assume that which you do not know." How very taking! Very clever! And it answers the purpose, and no doubt he has put down in this way many a poor simpleton who has got up for ten minutes at the close of his lectures. [Hear, hear, and laughter].
But what if it should turn out that my statement is true? Well, then, I must just turn the language back on my opponent. I do not take the liberty to say that he is either a knave or a fool, and I shall not address him in the way in which he alludes to me. My statement in regard to Faith I will repeat, "Justification by faith alone is only named to be refuted." But Mr. Bradlaugh refers us to certain passages on justification in which faith only is mentioned. Now, the phrase "faith alone" is not found in any one of them. It occurs only once in the New Testament, and therefore, in spite of all his sharpness, the error lies on the other side of the table. [Applause].
Now, there are some things, in order to grasp this great subject, which I must look at. I am not going to confine myself altogether to questions which Mr. Bradlaugh may choose to put. He has apparently lost his way in this debate. He treats the subjects as if it were my business to tell you what Christianity is and his business to dispute what I say. It will be my business to give evidence as to what Christianity is and to defend my statements; but it is as much Mr. Bradlaugh's business to do the same thing. We are in the position of two men sent by a Company into a mine to bring up minerals, in order that the Company may determine what the minerals are worth. [Hear, hear]. He should have said what he though of my presentation of Christianity, and then have presented his own views. I do not know why he did not do that, unless he wanted the time to crowd in questions so that I might have no time to answer his queries, nor even an opportunity to look at them.
But in reference to this matter of faith. If my opponent's interpretation of the scriptural teaching of faith in regard to salvation be correct, all I have to say is, that I have no longer a wish to be a Christian; and, therefore, on that point, my opponent and myself can join issue. If he could prove that his interpretation is the right one, then the doctrine would be so repugnant to my feelings that I would willingly discard Christianity. What is his argument? He would have us to believe that all the human race are damned on account of Adam's sin. He had something to say about my heterodoxy on that point, but neither my heterodoxy nor my orthodoxy have anything to do with the question at issue. I am here to defend Christianity, and in the outset I told you that Christ and His apostles taught it in its entirety, and that is comprehensive enough. We are not discussing as to what Mr. King or any other body may say Christianity is. The subject for discussion is, "What is Christianity?" and not what does Mr. King think it is. [Hear, hear].
My opponent seems to be particularly attached to the Thirty-nine Articles. He longs after the clergy, so that one might conclude that he would even like to be kicked by a bishop. [Laughter]. But I do not see what we have to do with the clergy or their churches, not even with the church to which I myself belong, in this debate. What I contend is this - that the most popular denominations do not preach certain things which my opponent calls orthodox Christianity. They do not preach that all non-believers will be eternally damned for Adam's sin, and they do not preach that all who do not believe will be damned at all. Why so? They preach infant salvation, which is salvation where there is no faith. They limit salvation, under certain circumstances, to those who believe; but where the Gospel is not known, and where there is not the ability to believe, they do not preach - do not assign condemnation.
Now my opponent is very fond of putting it, that if you only assent to certain dogmas of Christianity you may be as wicked as Nero; that if you have only faith you will be saved. That doctrine is not held by any popular denomination, nor is it preached from any pulpit in the land, that I know of. [Hear, hear.].
I am sure that my friend on my right [Rev. Dr. Scott] is in the habit of preaching to many people who believe the gospel facts - who hold them as true - who never doubted them - who were taught by their parents - and who have never yet allowed themselves to lie under their influence so as to become subject to their power, and who, therefore, are not in possession of that repentance which eventuates in reformation of life. Now, neither the worthy Doctor in the chair, nor any of the ministers upon my side of the platform, nor any Church in the land, can be cited as holding that such mere belief - which is faith alone - ever did or ever can save any one. Dr. Scott is continually preaching to such persons that their belief will only condemn them, and that they must be born again.
Looking then to the apostolic testimony, we are brought to those verses in the Epistle to the Romans, which my opponent says contain the very thing which I said was not named in the Book, except in one paragraph, and there condemned. Well, now, my opponent appears very warm, or almost offended, because last night I made use of the term "scrap-doctor." I did not then apply the phrase to him. I simply used it in reference to a faulty mode of interpretation; but after hearing him tonight - quoting texts without regard to the context - I must say he is the most consummate scrap-doctor I have ever heard or read, and I therefore now give him his diploma, to which he is quite welcome. [Laughter and applause].
In citing from Romans, my opponent altogether lost sight of the fact that the apostle Paul was engaged in proving - not anything about an abstract justification, which is by faith, irrespective of the works of the Jewish law. The apostle says (Rom. 3:20) - "Therefore by the deeds of the law (Jewish law) there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." In the 28th verse, carrying on the argument still further, he says - "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." I might cite circumstances, the sacrifices, and numerous other requirements made binding by the law, some of which certain converts from the Jews were for making obligatory upon the Christians, but none of which have any place in the scheme of justification which God instituted for the Christian dispensation. So far, then, as the deeds of that old, and now abandoned, law are concerned, justification and reception into God's family are irrespective of the whole of them. So that the Gentile, if he were circumcised, would profit nothing thereby. Therefore justification by faith in Christ is irrespective of the works of the law.
We pass now from this passage to a somewhat similar illustration in the Epistle of James. Now, Mr. Bradlaugh said that Mr. King would doubtless present passages which contradicted the passage he quoted, and he added that he did not contend that the New Testament is in harmony. But I contend that on this point the New Testament is in perfect harmony. I take the entire testimony in reference to the subject. When we have the whole before us, and see what the whole means, there is no contradiction, but, on the contrary, the whole is in harmony. Therefore, mine is the true method of interpretation. But this kind of interpretation is a business which my opponent is a child at, which he doesn't practise, and knows nothing about.
In the Epistle of James we read - "What doth it profit though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?" ... "Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead; being alone." That is the only passage in the whole book that names faith alone. And the context says: "Yea, a man may say, thou hast faith and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works." Is there contradiction between Paul and James? Not necessarily - not real. Their two statements are reconciled and brought in perfect harmony. Illustrating faith, as a principle of action, the apostle adds - "Was not Abraham justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was made perfect. Ye see, then, how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."
Now there is the great truth coming out with regard to the matter of faith. The faith meant is not that of mere assent to dogma, but, as the apostle expresses it - "that which works by love and purifies the heart" - that which is a principle of action - which produces repentance and eventuates in reformation of life. And the mere assent to certain doctrines, which does not affect the heart and which produces no repentance, is not the faith which saves.
Don't, if you please, understand that I am teaching that justification is partly by faith and partly by works: I am not. To be justified by works, the works must be absolutely perfect. Justification by faith comes in where the works are not thus absolutely perfect and the faith is counted for righteousness, but that faith is only counted when it is there, as I have said, a principle of action, producing good fruit - as when James refers to the perfecting of Abraham's faith by works.
We may here turn to 1 Cor. 13:1 - "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." There is nothing here which is contradictory of the words of the same writer in the Epistle to the Romans, and if you put the two together you have them in complete harmony with all the teaching of Christ and His apostles upon this great subject.
Now, my opponent, I dare say, will tell you that I have not answered his questions; but if I had alluded to others I must have passed over his demand to have this subject attended to, and he would have then pointed out the omission as proof that I could not have grappled with the subject. So, whatever I deal with I must be wrong, because at the same time I do not attend to something else. [Laughter and applause].
DAVID KING INDEX