Friday, September 02, 2005

Fill the earth and subdue it!

The August 22 New Yorker had a very interesting article on Billy and Franklin Graham and American Protestantism. It quotes an apparently famous sermon called 'Shall the Fundamentalists Win?' given by Harry Emerson Fosdick on May 21, 1922 at the First Presbytarian Church on W. 12th street in New York City. Fosdick was "a Baptist minister raised in the old orthodoxy" who "found his faith transformed by a study of the orthodoxy's hindrance to the progress of mankind".

He said that Liberal Christians (of his era)
have assimilated as part of the divine revelation the exhilarating insight which these recent generations have given to us, that development is God’s way of working out his will. They see that the most desirable elements in human life have come through the method of development. Man’s music has developed from the rhythmic noise of beaten sticks until we have in melody and harmony possibilities once undreamed. Man’s painting has developed from the crude outlines of the cavemen until in line and color we have achieved unforeseen results and possess latent beauties yet unfolded. Man’s architecture has developed from the crude huts of primitive men until our cathedrals and business buildings reveal alike an incalculable advance and an unimaginable future. Development does seem to be the way in which God works.
There is much to pick apart, to be sure. Ancient forms of music still extant, such as Indian sitar music is hardly primitive. There is much to be commended from the past as well as in the present and future. But Fosdick worded a good point well.

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