Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 11 June 15, 1938
There are two interesting points which arise out of the "mess" in which the world-finds itself to-day, said Mr. Ryburn in commencing his series of addresses on the Christian Faith and the Student: (1) The constant turning of the world to the Church, saying "Why don't you do something?" and (2) the bewilderment of the ordinary Churchman at his own inability, to frame a santisfactory answer. The Church knew that it had some thing to say, but, owing to the lack of contact between the Church and the world there had arisen in the spiritual world a real problem of poverty amidst plenty. The Christian knew that in Christ the Church had a pearl beyond all price, but how to convince the outsider was the difficulty.
Mr. Ryburn Illustrated, by reference to statistics. Church membership was hereditary and the Increase in numbers corresponded roughly to the increase in population. If any real progress was to be made it must arise out of return of Christians to the real source of their power—their faith in Christ. Christians would then be separate from the world, not because they withdrew from it, but because their different quality of life made such a distinction inevitable.
God or Man?
The Church existed to tell people that God had come into this world. In popular Jargon. "To clean up the mess." It was important, therefore, that people should have a clear conception as to who Jesus of Nazareth really was (or is!). God or Man? This was the burden of the address on the Wednesday evening.
To doubt the historicity or Jesus was no longer a live issue. Reputable secular historians agreed as to the veracity or the gospel records concerning the life and work of Jesus, Whatever they thought about the resurrection story, these facts were Indisputable:—
(1) The disciples believed that Jesus was risen from the dead, and (1) that He was the Messiah: (3) the growth of the Church.
What a man thinks of Christ will possibly depend upon his predilections. Maybe he will be agreeable to recognise Jesus as the greatest moral teacher or the supreme of the way of life, and therefore to call Him divine. But by approaching the question "Who was Jesus?" in this fashion they will never discover what the Christian Church has known Him to be. When Jesus was asked by the Council of the Sanhedrin whether he was the Messiah be was making a claim to deity.
There is the slightest doubt that for Paul. Jesus Christ stood alongside God aS the Creator The in prologue to St. John's Gospel says that this Jesus of Nazareth had a hand in the creation of the universe. Therefore the Church, in formulating her creeds, insisted that Christ should be described as being of the "same" substance as the Father and not of "like" substance.
Of course the secular historian can never arrive at this understanding of the Christian faith by ordinary human reasoning. Nevertheless, when Paul talks of reconciliation and redemption he is talking about things which have been experienced by him. Paul said that from the time he met Christ on the Damascus road his life was changed.
From the day when he completely reversed his attitude to the Church, Paul's life as a leader of the Jews was finished. Yet he endured all this and more because his experience was real.
A New Joy and Peace.
"And." continued Mr. Ryburn, "I have seen these changes taking place before my own eyes." This change is visible: it is a moral change: it is intellectual; and it is emotional. Moral because men find power to overcome bad habits and lack of will power. Intellectual because there is such a thing as release from spiritual blindness. Emotional because men have found a new joy and peace.
Men say Christ is God because they find God through Him. Men find God through Christ because He is God.
One cannot say Christ is Divine because of the historicity of the miracles; a Christian believes in the truth of the miracles because he believes that Christ is "of the some substance as God." As in human relations it is impossible to get to know a person unless be cares to open his heart to you, so it is with God. There can be no knowledge of God unless He cares to reveal Himself: and it is the Christian Faith that Christ is God revealing Himself to this world. When we come to the point where we are ready to respond to what God has done for us, then will we be able to say with St. Thomas, "My Lord and my God."—P.K.