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Need Of A Mental Reconstruction Of The Human Nature Of Christ


As the interval of time widens, separating Christians from the human
life of their God, the more urgent becomes the obligation to put forth
a constructive effort of the historical imagination. The attempt to
keep that memory green grows harder and harder as the centuries pass;
but Christians must make it; otherwise the historical character of
their religion will perish. There need be no fear that the interests
of spiritual religion will suffer. Amongst moderns the danger of
idealising the human is greater than that of humanising the divine. An
intelligent appreciation of Christ's human life draws out love and
kindles reverence towards the divine personality who condescended to
the level of mankind. We may point by way of illustration to the
effect of biblical criticism. Christians of a previous generation
dreaded the touch of criticism. They thought it profanation. They
refused to admit any human element in the bible. Criticism, however,
had its way. Bibliolatry had to go. The result is that the bible is a
living book to us to-day. In spite of the fears of the devout there
was little to lose and much to gain by recognising the human element in
the bible. As with the written word, so with the living Word. Without
a recognition of the human element in His being, a full assimilation of
His teaching and an intimate perception of His real presence are
unattainable. If this recognition be accorded, the great past will
live again in the present. Hostile critics study the life and
character of Christ and the records of them with a view to proving that
He was merely man. Believers may adopt their method with a different
object. They may undertake the same study in order to comprehend the
wonder of the Man, and so rise to some conception of the wonder of the
God. The gospels are read mainly as a handbook of devotion; they
should be studied as the biography of a hero. The face-value of its
incidents is often neglected, while the reader seeks allegorical and
mystical interpretations. To form a mental picture of Christ in His
environment, to read ourselves back into His world and then into His
ways of thought, such efforts are more than ever needed to-day, and
they are more than ever absent. Historic sense and imagination should
be allowed to play upon the recorded acts and sayings of Jesus, until a
great temple to His memory rises in the high places of the mind,
dominating thence the whole intellectual and moral life. Such an
enterprise would infuse life and meaning into the Christological
formula, and would effect, so to speak, a reconstruction of the human
nature of the historic Christ. The Christian's attitude towards the
Man Christ Jesus is the "acid test" of the sincerity of his faith. No
one can bring intellectual difficulties to a being to whom cognising
was a foreign process, nor moral difficulties to one who knew no
conflict of wills, nor sorrows to one "all breathing human passion far
above." If we picture the ideal of all mankind as thinking our
thoughts, willing as we will, feeling as we feel, we are united to Him
by an intellectual, moral and emotional bond of sympathy. Such a
threefold cord is not quickly broken. Communion with such a Being
leads the worshipper to the heart of the Christian religion.

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