1. Confucianism. Confucius (Kung-fu-tse), b.c. 551–478, contemporary with Pythagoras and Buddha. Socrates was born ten years after Confucius died. Mencius (371–278) was a disciple of Confucius. Matheson, in Faiths of the World (St. Giles Lectures), 73–108, claims that Confucianism was “an attempt to substitute a morality for theology,” Legge, however, in Present Day Tracts, 3: no. 18, shows that this is a mistake. Confucius simply left religion where he found it. God, or Heaven, is worshiped in China, but only by the Emperor. Chinese religion is apparently a survival of the worship of the patriarchal family. The father of the family was its only head and priest. In China, though the family widened into the tribe, and the tribe into the nation, the father still retained his sole authority, and, as the father of his people, the Emperor alone officially offered sacrifice to God. Between God and the people the gulf has so widened that the people may be said to have no practical knowledge of God or communication with him. Dr, W. A. P. Martin: “Confucianism has degenerated into a pantheistic medley, and renders worship to an impersonal ‘anima mundi,’ under the leading forms of visible nature.”
Dr. William Ashmore, private letter: “The common people of China have: (1) Ancestor-worship, and the worship of deified heroes: (2) Geomancy, or belief in the controlling power of the elements of nature; but back of these, and antedating them, is (3) the worship of Heaven and Earth, or Father and Mother, a very ancient dualism; this belongs to the common people also, though once a year the Emperor, as a sort of high-priest of his people, offers sacrifice on the altar of Heaven; in this he acts alone. ‘Joss’ is not a Chinese word at all. It is the corrupted form of the Portuguese word ‘Deos.’ The word ‘pidgin’ is similarly an attempt to say ‘business’ (big-i-ness or bidgin). ‘Joss-pidgin’ therefore means simply ‘divine service,’ or service offered to Heaven and Earth, or to spirits of any kind, good or bad. There are many gods, a Queen of Heaven, King of Hades, God of War, god of literature, gods of the hills, valleys, streams, a goddess of small-pox, of child-bearing, and all the various trades have their gods. The most lofty expression the Chinese have is ‘Heaven,’ or ‘Supreme Heaven,’ or ‘Azure Heaven.’ This is the surviving indication that in the most remote times they had knowledge of one supreme, intelligent and personal Power who ruled overall.” Mr. Yugoro Chiba has shown that the Chinese classics permit sacrifice by all the people. But it still remains true that sacrifice to “Supreme Heaven” is practically confined to the Emperor, who like the Jewish high-priest offers for his people once a year.
Confucius did nothing to put morality upon a religious basis. In practice, the relations between man and man are the only relations considered. Benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, sincerity, are enjoined, but not a word is said with regard to man’s relations to God. Love to God is not only not commanded—it is not thought of as possible. Though man’s being is theoretically an ordinance of God, man is practically a law to himself. The first commandment of Confucius is that of filial pity. But this includes worship of dead ancestors, and is so exaggerated as to bury from sight the related duties of husband to wife and of parent to child. Confucius made it the duty of a son to slay his father’s murderer, just as Moses insisted on a strictly retaliatory penalty for bloodshed; see J. A. Farrer, Primitive Manners and Customs, 80. He treated invisible and superior beings with respect, but held them at a distance. He recognized the “Heaven” of tradition; but, instead of adding to our knowledge of it, he stifled inquiry. Dr. Legge: “I have been reading Chinese books for more than forty years, and any general requirement to love God, or the mention of any one as actually loving him, has yet to come for the first time under my eye.”
Ezra Abbot asserts that Confucius gave the golden rule in positive as well as negative form; see Harris, Philos. Basis of Theism, 222. This however seems to be denied by Dr. Legge, Religions of China, 1–58. Wu Ting Fang, former Chinese minister to Washington, assents to the statement that Confucius gave the golden rule only in its negative form, and he says this difference is the difference between a passive and an aggressive civilization, which last is therefore dominant. The golden rule, as Confucius gives it, is: “Do not unto others that which you would not they should do unto you.” Compare with this, Isocrates: “Be to your parents what you would have your V 1, p 181 p 181 children be to you.… Do not to others the things which make you angry when others do them to you”; Herodotus: “What I punish in another man, I will myself, as far as I can, refrain from”; Aristotle: “We should behave toward our friends as we should wish them to behave toward us”; Tobit, 4:15—“What thou hatest, do to no one”; Philo: “What one hates to endure, let him not do”; Seneca bids us “give as we wish to receive”; Rabbi Hillel: “Whatsoever is hateful to you, do not to another; this is the whole law, and all the rest is explanation.”
Broadus, in Am. Com. on Matthew, 161—“The sayings of Confucius, Isocrates, and the three Jewish teachers, are merely negative; that of Seneca is confined to giving, and that of Aristotle to the treatment of friends. Christ lays down a rule for positive action, and that toward all men.” He teaches that I am bound to do to others all that they could rightly desire me to do to them. The golden rule therefore requires a supplement, to show what others can rightly desire, namely, God’s glory first, and their good as second and incidental thereto. Christianity furnishes this divine and perfect standard; Confucianism is defective in that it has no standard higher than human convention. While Confucianism excludes polytheism, idolatry, and deification of vice, it is a shallow and tantalizing system, because it does not recognize the hereditary corruption of human nature, or furnish any remedy for moral evil except the “doctrines of the sages.” “The heart of man,” it says, “is naturally perfectly upright and correct.” Sin is simply “a disease, to be cured by self-discipline; a debt, to be canceled by meritorious acts; an ignorance, to be removed by study and contemplation.” See Bib. Sac., 1883:292, 293; N. Englander, 1883; 565; Marcus Dods, in Erasmus and other Essays, 239.
2. The Indian Systems. Brahmanism, as expressed in the Vedas, dates back to 1000–1500 b.c. As Caird (in Faiths of the World, St. Giles Lectures, lecture i) has shown, it originated in the contemplation of the power in nature apart from the moral Personality that works in and through nature. Indeed we may say that all heathenism is man’s choice of a non-moral in place of a moral God. Brahamanism is a system of pantheism, “a false or illegitimate consecration of the finite.” All things are a manifestation of Brahma. Hence evil is deified as well as good. And many thousand gods are worshiped as partial representations of the living principle which moves through all. “How many gods have the Hindus?” asked Dr. Duff of his class. Henry Drummond thought there were about twenty-five. “Twenty-five?” responded the indignant professor; “twenty-five millions of millions!” While the early Vedas present a comparatively pure nature-worship, later Brahmanism becomes a worship of the vicious and the vile, of the unnatural and the cruel. Juggernaut and the suttee did not belong to original Hindu religion.
Bruce, Apologetics, 15—“Pantheism in theory always means polytheism in practice.” The early Vedas are hopeful in spirit; later Brahmanism is a religion of disappointment. Caste is fixed and consecrated as a manifestation of God. Originally intended to express, in its four divisions of priest, soldier, agriculturist, slave, the different degrees of unworldliness and divine indwelling, it becomes an iron fetter to prevent all aspiration and progress. Indian religion sought to exalt receptivity, the unity of existence, and rest from self-determination and its struggles. Hence it ascribed to its gods the same character as nature-forces. God was the common source of good and of evil. Its ethics is an ethics of moral indifference. Its charity is a charity for sin, and the temperance it desires is a temperance that will let the intemperate alone. Mozoomdar, for example, is ready to welcome everything in Christianity but its reproof of sin and its demand for righteousness. Brahmanism degrades woman, but it deifies the cow.
Buddhism, beginning with Buddha, 600 b.c., “recalls the mind to its elevation above the finite,” from which Brahmanism had fallen away. Buddha was in certain respects a reformer. He protested against caste, and proclaimed that truth and morality are for all. Hence Buddhism, through its possession of this one grain of truth, appealed to the human heart, and became, next to Christianity, the greatest missionary religion. Notice then, first, its universalism. But notice also that this is a false universalism. for it ignores individualism and leads to universal stagnation and slavery. While Christianity is a religion of history, of will, of optimism. Buddhism is a religion of illusion, of quietism, of pessimism; see Nash, Ethics and Revelation, 107–109. In characterizing Buddhism as a missionary religion, we must notice, secondly, its element of altruism. But this altruism is one which destroys the self, instead of preserving it. The future Buddha, out of compassion for a famished tiger, permits the tiger to devour him. “Incarnated as a hare, he jumps into the fire to cook himself for a meal for a beggar,—having V 1, p 182 p 182 previously shaken himself three times, so that none of the insects in his fur should perish with him”; see William James, Varieties of Religious Experience, 283. Buddha would deliver man, not by philosophy, nor by asceticism, but by self-renunciation. All isolation and personality are sin, the guilt of which rests, however, not on man, but on existence in general.
While Brahmanism is pantheistic, Buddhism is atheistic in its spirit. Pfleiderer, Philos. Religion, 1:285—“The Brahmanic Akosmism, that had explained the world as mere seeming, led to the Buddhistic Atheism.” Finiteness and separateness are evil, and the only way to purity and rest is by ceasing to exist. This is essential pessimism. The highest morality is to endure that which must be, and to escape from reality and from personal existence as soon as possible. Hence the doctrine of Nirvana. Rhys Davids, in his Hibbert Lectures, claims that early Buddhism meant by Nirvana, not annihilation, but the extinction of the self-life, and that this was attainable during man’s present mortal existence. But the term Nirvana now means, to the great mass of those who use it, the loss of all personality and consciousness, and absorption into the general life of the universe. Originally the term denoted only freedom from individual desire, and those who had entered into Nirvana might again come out of it; see Ireland, Blot on the Brain, 238. But even in its original form, Nirvana was sought only from a selfish motive. Self-renunciation and absorption in the whole was not the enthusiasm of benevolence,—it was the refuge of despair. It is a religion without god or sacrifice. Instead of communion with a personal God, Buddhism has in prospect only an extinction of personality, as reward for untold ages of lonely self-conquest, extending through many transmigrations. Of Buddha it has been truly said “That all the all he had for needy man Was nothing, and his best of being was But not to be,” Wilkinson, Epic of Paul, 296—“He by his own act dying all the time, In ceaseless effort utterly to cease, Will willing not to will, desire desiring To be desire no more, until at last The fugitive go free, emancipate But by becoming naught.” Of Christ Bruce well says: “What a contrast this Healer of disease and Preacher of pardon to the worst, to Buddha, with his religion of despair!”
Buddhism is also fatalistic. It inculcates submission and compassion—merely negative virtues. But it knows nothing of manly freedom, or of active love—the positive virtues of Christianity. It leads men to spare others, but not to help them. Its morality revolves around self, not around God. It has in it no organizing principle, for it recognizes no God, no inspiration, no soul, no salvation, no personal immortality. Buddhism would save men only by inducing them to flee from existence. To the Hindu, family life involves sin. The perfect man must forsake wife and children. All gratification of natural appetites and passions is evil. Salvation is not from sin, but from desire, and from this men can be saved only by escaping from life itself. Christianity buries sin, but saves the man; Buddha would save the man by killing him. Christianity symbolizes the convert’s entrance upon a new life by raising him from the baptismal waters; the baptism of Buddhism should be immersion without emersion. The fundamental idea of Brahmanism, extinction of personality, remains the same in Buddhism; the only difference being that the result is secured by active atonement in the former, by passive contemplation in the latter. Virtue, and the knowledge that everything earthly is a vanishing spark of the original light, delivers man from existence and from misery.
Prof. G. H. Palmer, of Harvard, in The Outlook, June 19, 1897—“Buddhism is unlike Christianity in that it abolishes misery by abolishing desire; denies personality instead of asserting it; has many gods, but no one God who is living and conscious; makes a shortening of existence rather than a lengthening of it to be the reward of righteousness. Buddhism makes no provision for family, church, state, science, or art. It give us a religion that is little, when we want one that is large.” Dr. E. Benjamin Andrews: “Schopenhauer and Spencer are merely teachers of Buddhism. They regard the central source of all as unknowable force, instead of regarding it as a Spirit, living and holy. This takes away all impulse to scientific investigation. We need to start from a Person, and not from a thing.”
For comparison of the sage of India, Sakya Muni, more commonly called Buddha (properly “the Buddha” = the enlightened; but who, in spite of Edwin Arnold’s “Light of Asia,” is represented as not pure from carnal pleasures before he began his work), with Jesus Christ, see Bib. Sac, July, 1882:458–498; W. C. Wilkinson, Edwin Arnold, Poetizer and Paganizer; Kellogg, The Light of Asia and the Light of the World. Buddhism and Christianity are compared in Presb. Rev., July, 1883:505–548; Wuttke, Christian Ethics, 1:47–54; Mitchell, in Present Day Tracts, 6:33. See also V 1, p 183 p 183 Oldenberg, Buddha; Lillie, Popular Life of Buddha; Beal, Catena of Buddhist Scriptures. 153—“Buddhism declares itself ignorant of any mode of personal existence compatible with the idea of spiritual perfection, and so far it is ignorant of God”; 157—“The earliest idea of Nirvana seems to have included in it no more than the enjoyment of a state of rest consequent on the extinction of all causes of sorrow.” The impossibility of satisfying the human heart with a system of atheism is shown by the fact that the Buddha himself has been apotheosized to furnish an object of worship. Thus Buddhism has reverted to Brahmanism.
Monier Williams: “Mohammed has as much claim to be ‘the Light of Asia’ as Buddha has. What light from Buddha? Not about the heart’s depravity, or the origin of sin, or the goodness, justice, holiness, fatherhood of God, or the remedy for sin, but only the ridding self from suffering by ridding self from life—a doctrine of merit, of self-trust, of pessimism, and annihilation of personality.” Christ, himself personal, loving and holy, shows that God is a person of holiness and love. Robert Browning: “He that created love, shall not he love?” Only because Jesus is God, have we a gospel for the world. The claim that Buddha is “the Light of Asia” reminds one of the man who declared the moon to be of greater value than the sun, because it gives light in the darkness when it is needed, while the sun gives light in the daytime when it is not needed.
3. The Greek Systems. Pythagoras (584–504) based morality upon the principle of numbers. “Moral good was identified with unity; evil with multiplicity; virtue was harmony of the soul and its likeness to God, The aim of life was to make it represent the beautiful order of the Universe. The whole practical tendency of Pythagoreanism was ascetic, and included a strict self-control and an earnest culture.” Here already we seem to see the defect of Greek morality in confounding the good with the beautiful, and in making morality a mere self-development. Matheson, Messages of the Old Religions: Greece reveals the intensity of the hour, the value of the present life, the beauty of the world that now is. Its religion is the religion of beautiful humanity. It anticipates the new heaven and the new earth. Rome on the other hand stood for union, incorporation, a universal kingdom. But its religion deified only the Emperor, not all humanity. It was the religion, not of love, but of power, and it identified the church with the state.
Socrates (469–400) made knowledge to be virtue. Morality consisted in subordinating irrational desires to rational knowledge. Although here we rise above a subjectively determined good as the goal of moral effort, we have no proper sense of sin. Knowledge, and not love, is the motive. If men know the right, they will do the right. This is a great overvaluing of knowledge. With Socrates, teaching is a sort of midwifery-not depositing information in the mind, but drawing out the contents of our own inner consciousness. Lewis Morris describes it as the life-work of Socrates to “doubt our doubts away.” Socrates holds it right to injure one’s enemies. He shows proud self-praise in his dying address. He warns against pederasty, yet compromises with it. He does not insist upon the same purity of family life which Homer describes in Ulysses and Penelope. Charles Kingsley, in Alton Locke, remarks that the spirit of the Greek tragedy was ‘man mastered by circumstance’; that of modern tragedy is ‘man mastering circumstance.’ But the Greek tragedians, while showing man thus mastered, do still represent him as inwardly free, as in the case of Prometheus, and this sense of human freedom and responsibility appears to some extent in Socrates.
Plato (430–348) held that morality is pleasure in the good, as the truly beautiful, and that knowledge produces virtue. The good is likeness to God,—here we have glimpses of an extra-human goal and model. The body, like all matter, being inherently evil, is a hindrance to the soul,—here we have a glimpse of hereditary depravity. But Plato “reduced moral evil to the category of natural evil.” He failed to recognize God as creator and master of matter; failed to recognize man’s depravity as due to his own apostasy from God; failed to found morality on the divine will rather than on man’s own consciousness. He knew nothing of a common humanity, and regarded virtue as only for the few. As there was no common sin, so there was no common redemption. Plato thought to reach God by intellect alone, when only conscience and heart could lead to him. He believed in a freedom of the soul in a preëxistent state where a choice was made between good and evil, but he believed that, after that antemundane decision had been made, the fates determined men’s acts and lives irreversibly. Reason drives two horses, appetite and emotion, but their course has been predetermined. V 1, p 184 p 184 Man acts as reason prompts. All sin is ignorance. There is nothing in this life but determinism. Martineau, Types, 13, 18, 49, 78, 88—Plato in general has no proper notion of responsibility; he reduces moral evil to the catagory of natural evil. His Ideas with one exception are not causes. Cause is mind, and mind is the Good. The Good is the apex and crown of Ideas. The Good is the highest Idea, and this highest Idea is a Cause. Plato has a feeble conception of personality, whether in God or in man. Yet God is a person in whatever sense man is a person, and man’s personality is reflective self-consciousness. Will in God or man is not so clear. The Right is dissolved into the Good. Plato advocated infanticide and the killing off of the old and the helpless.
Aristotle (384–322) leaves out of view even the element of God-likeness and antemundane evil which Plato so dimly recognized, and makes morality the fruit of mere rational self-consciousness. He grants evil proclivities, but he refuses to call them immoral. He advocates a certain freedom of will, and he recognizes inborn tendencies which war against this freedom, but how these tendencies originated he cannot say, nor how men may be delivered from them. Not all can be moral; the majority must be restrained by fear. He finds in God no motive, and love to God is not so much as mentioned as the source of moral action. A proud, composed, self-centered, and self-contained man is his ideal character. See Nicomachean Ethics, 7:6, and 10:10; Wuttke, Christian Ethics, 1:92–126. Alexander, Theories of Will, 39–54—Aristotle held that desire and reason are the springs of action. Yet he did not hold that knowledge of itself would make men virtuous. He was a determinist. Actions are free only in the sense of being devoid of external compulsion. He viewed slavery as both rational and right. Butcher, Aspects of Greek Genius, 76—“While Aristotle attributed to the State a more complete personality than it really possessed, he did not grasp the depth and meaning of the personality of the individual.” A. H. Strong, Christ in Creation, 289—Aristotle had no conception of the unity of humanity. His doctrine of unity did not extend beyond the State. “He said that ‘the whole is before the parts,’ but he meant by ‘the whole’ only the pan-Hellenic world, the commonwealth of Greeks; he never thought of humanity, and the word ‘mankind’ never fell from his lips. He could not understand the unity of humanity, because he knew nothing of Christ, its organizing principle.” On Aristotle’s conception of God, see James Ten Broeke, in Bap. Quar. Rev., Jan. 1892—God is recognized as personal, yet he is only the Greek Reason, and not the living, loving, providential Father of the Hebrew revelation. Aristotle substitutes the logical for the dynamical in his dealing with the divine causality. God is thought, not power.
Epicurus (342–270) regarded happiness, the subjective feeling of pleasure, as the highest criterion of truth and good. A prudent calculating for prolonged pleasure is the highest wisdom. He regards only this life. Concern for retribution and for a future existence is folly. If there are gods, they have no concern for men. “Epicurus, on pretense of consulting for their ease, complimented the gods, and bowed them out of existence.” Death is the falling apart of material atoms and the eternal cessation of consciousness. The miseries of this life are due to imperfection in the fortuitously constructed universe. The more numerous these undeserved miseries, the greater our right to seek pleasure. Alexander, Theories of the Will, 55–75—The Epicureans held that the soul is composed of atoms, yet that the will is free. The atoms of the soul are excepted from the law of cause and effect. An atom may decline or deviate in the universal descent, and this is the Epicurean idea of freedom. This indeterminism was held by all the Greek sceptics, materialists though they were.
Zeno, the founder of the Stoic philosophy (340–264), regarded virtue as the only good. Thought is to subdue nature. The free spirit is self-legislating, self-dependent, self-sufficient. Thinking, not feeling, is the criterion of the true and the good. Pleasure is the consequence, not the end of moral action. There is an irreconcilable antagonism of existence. Man cannot reform the world, but he can make himself perfect. Hence an unbounded pride in virtue. The sage never repents. There is not the least recognition of the moral corruption of mankind. There is no objective divine ideal, or revealed divine will. The Stoic discovers moral law only within, and never suspects his own moral perversion. Hence he shows self-control and justice, but never humility or love. He needs no compassion or forgiveness, and he grants none to others. Virtue is not an actively outworking character, but a passive resistance to irrational reality. Man may retreat into himself. The Stoic is indifferent to pleasure and pain, not because he believes in a divine government, or in a divine love for mankind, but as a proud defiance of the irrational world. He has no need of God or of redemption. As the Epicurean gives himself to enjoyment of the world, the Stoic gives himself to contempt of the V 1, p 185 p 185 world. In all afflictions, each can say, “The door is open.” To the Epicurean, the refuge is intoxication; to the Stoic, the refuge is suicide: “If the house smokes, quit it.” Wuttke, Christian Ethics, 1:62–161, from whom much of this account of the Greeks systems is condensed, describes Epicureanism and Stoicism as alike making morality subjective, although Epicureanism regarded spirit as determined by nature, while Stoicism regarded nature as determined by spirit.
The Stoics were materialists and pantheists. Though they speak of a personal God, this is a figure of speech. False opinion is at the root of all vice. Chrysippus denied what we now call the liberty of indifference, saying that there could not be an effect without a cause. Man is enslaved to passion. The Stoics could not explain how a vicious man could become virtuous. The result is apathy. Men act only according to character, and this a doctrine of fate. The Stoic indifference or apathy in misfortune is not a bearing of it at all, but rather a cowardly retreat from it. It is in the actual suffering of evil that Christianity finds “the soul of good.” The office of misfortune is disciplinary and purifying; see Seth, Ethical Principles, 417. “The shadow of the sage’s self, projected on vacancy, was called God, and, as the sage had long since abandoned interest in practical life, he expected his Divinity to do the same.”
The Stoic reverenced God just because of his unapproachable majesty. Christianity sees in God a Father, a Redeemer, a carer for our minute wants, a deliverer from our sin. It teaches us to see in Christ the humanity of the divine, affinity with God, God’s supreme interest in his handiwork. For the least of his creatures Christ died. Kinship with God gives dignity to man. The individuality that Stoicism lost in the whole, Christianity makes the end of the creation. The State exists to develop and promote it. Paul took up and infused new meaning into certain phrases of the Stoic philosophy about the freedom and royalty of the wise man, just as John adopted and glorified certain phrases of Alexandrian philosophy about the Word. Stoicism was lonely and pessimistic. The Stoics said that the best thing was not to be born; the next best thing was to die. Because Stoicism had no God of helpfulness and sympathy, its virtue was mere conformity to nature, majestic egoism and self-complacency. In the Roman Epictetus (89), Seneca († 65), and Marcus Aurelius (121–180), the religious element comes more into the foreground, and virtue appears once more as God-likeness; but it is possible that this later Stoicism was influenced by Christianity. On Marcus Aurelius, see New Englander, July, 1881:415–431; Capes, Stoicism.
4. Systems of Western Asia. Zoroaster (1000 b.c.?), the founder of the Parsees, was a dualist, at least so far as to explain the existence of evil and of good by the original presence in the author of all things of two opposing principles. Here is evidently a limit put upon the sovereignty and holiness of God. Man is not perfectly dependent upon him, nor is God’s will an unconditional law for his creatures. As opposed to the Indian systems, Zoroaster’s insistence upon the divine personality furnished a far better basis for a vigorous and manly morality. Virtue was to be won by hard struggle of free beings against evil. But then, on the other hand, this evil was conceived as originally due, not to finite beings themselves, but either to an evil deity who warred against the good, or to an evil principle in the one deity himself. The burden of guilt is therefore shifted from man to his maker. Morality becomes subjective and unsettled. Not love to God or imitation of God, but rather self-love and self-development, furnish the motive and aim of morality. No fatherhood or love is recognized in the deity, and other things besides God (e. g., fire) are worshiped. There can be no depth to the consciousness of sin, and no hope of divine deliverance.
It is the one merit of Parseeism that it recognizes the moral conflict of the world; its error is that it carries this moral conflict into the very nature of God. We can apply to Parseeism the words of the Conference of Foreign Mission Boards to the Buddhists of Japan: “All religions are expressions of man’s sense of dependence, but only one provides fellowship with God. All religions speak of a higher truth, but only one speaks of that truth as found in a loving personal God, our Father. All religions show man’s helplessness, but only one tells of a divine Savior, who offers to man forgiveness of sin, and salvation through his death, and who is now a living person, working in and with all who believe in him, to make them holy and righteous and pure.” Matheson, Messages of Old Religions, says that Parseeism recognizes an obstructive element in the nature of God himself. Moral evil is reality; but there is no reconciliation, nor is it shown that all things work together for good. See Wuttke, Christian Ethics, 1:47–64; Faiths of the World (St. Giles Lectures), 109–144; Mitchell, in Present Day Tracts, 3: no. 25; Whitney on the A vesta, in Oriental and Linguistic Studies.
V 1, p 186 p 186 Mohammed (570–632 a.d.), the founder of Islam, gives us in the Koran a system containing four dogmas of fundamental immorality, namely, polygamy, slavery, persecution, and suppression of private judgement. Mohammedanism is heathenism in monotheistic form. Its good points are its conscientiousness and its relation to God. It has prospered because it has preached the unity of God, and because it is a book-religion. But both these it got from Judaism and Christianity. It has appropriated the Old Testament saints and even Jesus. But it denies the death of Christ and sees no need of atonement. The power of sin is not recognized. The idea of sin, in Moslems, is emptied of all positive content. Sin is simply a falling short, accounted for by the weakness and shortsightedness of man, inevitable in the fatalistic universe, or not remembered in wrath by the indulgent and merciful Father. Forgiveness is indulgence, and the conception of God is emptied of the quality of justice. Evil belongs only to the individual, not to the race. Man attains the favor of God by good works, based on prophetic teaching. Morality is not a fruit of salvation, but a means. There is no penitence or humility, but only self-righteousness; and this self-righteousness is consistent with great sensuality, unlimited divorce, and with absolute despotism in family, civil and religious affairs. There is no knowledge of the fatherhood of God or of the brotherhood of man. In all the Koran, there is no such declaration as that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16).
The submission of Islam is submission to an arbitrary will, not to a God of love. There is no basing of morality in love. The highest good is the sensuous happiness of the individual, God and man are external to one another. Mohammed is a teacher but not a priest. Mozley, Miracles, 140, 141—“Mohammed had no faith in human nature. There were two things which he thought men could do, and would do, for the glory of God—transact religious forms, and fight, and upon these two points he was severe; but within the sphere of common practical life, where man’s great trial lies, his code exhibits the disdainful laxity of a legislator who accomodates his rule to the recipient, and shows his estimate of the recipient by the accommodation which he adopts.… ‘Human nature is weak,’ said he.” Lord Houghton: The Koran is all wisdom, all law, all religion, for all time. Dead men bow before a dead God. “Though the world rolls on from change to change, And realms of thought expand. The letter stands without expanse or range, Stiff as a dead man’s hand.” Wherever Mohammedanism has gone, it has either found a desert or made one. Fairbairn, in Contemp. Rev., Dec. 1882:866—“The Koran has frozen Mohammedan thought; to obey is to abandon progress.” Muir, in Present Day Tracts, 3: no. 14—“Mohammedanism reduces men to a dead level of social depression, despotism, and semi-barbarism. Islam is the work of man; Christianity of God.” See also Faiths of the World (St. Giles Lectures, Second Series), 361–396; J. F. Clarke, Ten Great Religions, 1:448–488; 280–317; Great Religions of the World, published by the Harpers; Zwemer, Moslem Doctrine of God.
Strong, A. H. (1907). Systematic theology (pp. 180–186). Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society.