IT has been said, and so often and so insistently that it has become platitudinous, that the present age is an age of questions. As in all platitudes there is at least a foundation of truth in this remark. The scientific spirit which has pervaded the western world for the last century and more with its tireless exploration of the unknown has become the basic element in modern intellectual life.
Along with this spirit of questioning has come moreover the tendency to elevate purely scientific standards in comparison with which every phenomenon of life must stand or fall. And out of this has grown what seems to be one of the greatest controversies of contemporary life, that between, science and religion. It is, indeed, whether subconsciously or not, from this controversy that the books by Mr. Spaulding and Dr. Brown--two among many--have come, each representing a different attitude. Mr. Spaulding, a professor of Philosophy at Princeton, has attacked the subject of "What Am I"? and "What Shall I Believe"? with the full weight of a wide knowledge of philosophy, modern psychology, and the physical sciences behind him. Working up gradually, through an ethical philosophy to the concept of religion in general, as distinct from any particular theology, he builds his foundation upon the basis of generally accepted scientifically demonstratable truths. To bridge the charm between philosophy and religion, one must, however, as Mr. Spaulding points out, take flight from the solid earth, and to pronounce upon the success with which he had done this must be left to the individual reader. Dr. Brown's volume "Beliefs That Matter," is on the other hand written purely from the standpoint of Christian theology. With the subtitle, "A Theology For Laymen," it contains, for example, subchapters on "The Lost Sense of Sin and What to Do About It," and "What the Bible Can Do for Us." In a word it is frankly an interpretation of Christian theology on the basis of the Bible and the Church Fathers--much the same thing that is done in the average Sunday School and on ninety-nine out of a hundred pulpits.
Of the two books, certainly, Dr. Brown's does little to satisfy the questioning spirit which above all must be met with its own weapons. Whether Mr. Spaulding has succeeded in doing this is an open question, but at least he has descended from the pulpit and entered into the midst of the congregation.