Socialism and the Pope
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IV. The Status of Jesus
The Pope denounces Socialism for its propaganda of "nefarious atheism." He declares that Socialism is anti-Christian because it repudiates the deity of Jesus. This complaint does not indict Socialism, but the Pope. John Wesley developed the fallacy, among Protestants, that no man could be a Christian unless he subscribed to the doctrine of Christ's divinity. When Wesley made this assertion he ran counter to the weight of Christian Scholarship. When the Pope makes the same assertion he shares Wesley's error. Belief in the divinity of Christ is not the teaching of the Christian Church. Christ's divinity is not maintained by the scholars of the Church, nor is it upheld by the leading writers, thinkers, jurists, divines, and philanthropists.
Contemporary with Wesley were Dr. Edmund Law, the celebrated Bishop of Carlisle, who flourished from 1703-1787; Theophilus Lindsey, Vicar of Catterick and founder of the Essex Hall pulpit, who lived in 1723-1808; Dr. Samuel Parr, 1741-1825, the famous schoolmaster, scholar and Prebendary of St. Paul's Cathedral; and Archdeacon Paley, the famous author of Christian Evidences and the watch argument so dear to orthodoxy, who lived from 1743-1805.
Dr. Parr maintained that "Wakefield, the Unitarian, was a profound scholar and earnest Christian." He defined Christianity as "a religion intended for general use," which "never clashes with unbiased dictates of our reason." And he claimed "that the author of it abstained from all abstruse speculations."
This declaration is an obvious denial of the doctrine that belief in the deity of Christ is a first principle of Christian faith.
Law, Lindsey, and Paley were avowed Unitarians, that is, believers in the humanity and not the divinity of Jesus.
Bishop Law edited the writings and wrote the biography of John Locke. He embraced Arianism at Cambridge, where he was educated, and where he became Professor of Moral Philosophy and Master of Peter's College. The first edition of his work, "Consideration on the Theory of Religion," was Arian. It denied the Trinity and the divinity of Christ, but favoured his pre-existence. The final edition, published in 1784, was revised so as to divest it of all expressions of pre-existence of Jesus. Dr. Law surrendered the Arian to the strictly humanitarian conception of Jesus. The following year Archdeacon Paley dedicated his famous work on "Moral Philosophy" to Bishop Law, in these memorable words:-
"Your researches have never lost sight of one purpose, that of recovering the simplicity of the Gospel from beneath that load of unauthorized additions which the ignorance of some ages and the learning of others, the superstition of weak men and the craft of the designing ones have heaped upon it. And your purpose was