At the fifth conference meeting last night Rev. Lyman Abbott spoke on the Bible in its Relation to Modern Problems. There is, said Dr. Abbott, a personal God, an infinite being who thinks and feels, a being who has made man in his own image, able to communicate himself to man and to effect his life. Through the ministration of divine spirit, truth may be revealed. It is the generally church belief that the Bible is the real inspired revelation of God. The book is a dead thing and cannot be inspired; the writers were inspired, and, being quickened by the spirit of God, truth was flashed over their vision and so, through their utterance, it has been revealed to us. One question that arises is the relation of the Bible to Modern Thought. Modern thought is best expressed by the word evolution. There is a theory that opposes the doctrine of evolution, and that is that God gave to Moses a full and complete revelation of himself; what should be the constitution of a church, told him the history of the past, the remedy for evil, the process of redemption and so on. The Bible is the history of the development of the knowledge of God in the consciousness of man.
The Bible as a collection of books is clearly the product of evolution. For many years man wrote about God in history and nature, and a few of these books remaining, constitute the Bible. The construction of the Bible was never decided by any conference of church members; Nature decided it.
The conception of God is traced through the Biole. First, God is not the only god, but is placed above all other gods. Then there grew the conception of only one God, others being of no account. But in the time of David, God became the god for the individual. Later there was a prophet who saw a God that washed away sins and loved men in spite of their iniquity. So there are three conceptions of God; the God of nature, the God of justice and the God of love.
The Bible is not an infallible guide,- it was never meant for that. For then people would never think for themselves. The book is not to save us from the trouble of living and thinking, but to inspire us to work for a spiritual revelation, to wrestle for the truth, and, by our own efforts, to get it.