DS Clark 15. Review of Basic Beliefs (typed)

[The Presbyterian, January 9, 1930]

Basic Beliefs. By H. Maldwyn Hughes, President of Wesley College. Cambridge, England. The Abingdon Press.

In this book, President Hughes presents a brief statement of his theological holdings, which aims to take middle position between conservative and modernist. He will not meet with entire approbation from either side of the controversy.

The book covers the usual subjects of theological discussion, such as God, Christ, Man, Sin, Reconciliation, Holy Spirit, Trinity, Sacraments, etc.

The author holds to the accepted orthodox views concerning God and his personality, but gives too little weight to the logical proofs of God’s existence, and perhaps too much to a mystical assurance, in which he seems to get the cart before the horse. He holds properly to the Deity of Christ and his Incarnation and his Lordship over the world and men. He has very uncertain views as to the authenticity of Genesis and the truthfulness of the account of the Fall, while as a whole his doctrine of the Scriptures and their inspiration is lamentable. His doctrine of Sin would hardly tally with the creeds of the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches, while his doctrine of the Atonement is correspondingly indefinite. He falls into the very common fallacy that the substitutionary doctrine taught in the Scriptures is only a theory. A theory is man-made, the doctrine of substitution is God-given. His basic fault lies in the expression, “Doctrine should be the outcome of faith thinking in terms of history and experience.” His method is too subjective. The source of doctrine is not experience, but the Scriptures.

There is one consolation in the book, it is not as bad as it might be. It is what it professes to be, a half-way house between the old orthodoxy and the present modernism. A rather extensive bibliography is supplied by the Dr. J.S. Ladd Thomas, the most of which is modernistic and some of it quite radical.

David S. Clark