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Questions of Science Affecting Religion

Théodore Monod


A very great responsibility devolves upon us at the present time in reference to questions of science affecting religion. Our first duty is to be true to our own faith and to our own thoughts, i.e. not to say anything beyond what we actually do think, and what we actually do believe; not to bear witness to what we think we ought to believe, much less to what we may be expected to believe, but to that only which we know to be the living truth of God. Thus alone shall we have a hold upon those who do not see things as we see them, and who have not come to a full knowledge of the truth. I am thinking especially of our young men. Few of them (at least in France) are to be seen in our churches. Part of the responsibility for this lamentable state of things surely rests upon us. We must be very careful to meet them as far as we can, and to ask them not so much, "Where do you come from?" or even, "Where are you standing?" but, "Where are you going? What do you want? What are you after? Are you really after truth? Are you after righteousness? Are you after God?" If they are obliged to say that they are not, we have a hold upon their conscience, and if they can say that they are, then we are in a good position to show them that in Christ they have the answer to all their need. And this is the time to do it.

We have been told that we are in too much of a hurry in coming to a decision about purely scientific questions that can only be settled by patient and careful investigation. Quite true. There is another thing we are in a hurry about; that is, the putting of a label upon every man, with some long name upon the label. Then we think we have classified him, which is a shorter and easier process than to try to understand his views. It does harm to him and no good to us. Let it be clearly seen that there is a fellowship of heart, if not of mind, between us and every one of those who will have Christ to be known, believed in, loved, followed, and served. People may call us by what name they please, if only God can say of each one of us, "He is true to the light he has"; if only, obeying the words of our Lord, we believe in the light, that we may be the children of light (John xii. 36).—Pasteur Théodore Monod, Minutes and Proceedings of the Fourth General Council, London, 1888, (London: Presbyterian Alliance Office, 1889), 112.