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                    CHURCH "DISTURBANCES."

    Too much  importance it attached to the disturbances of belief and
practice within the church of the present day, for our age is in no wise
peculiar in respect to such upheavals, points out Prof. Adolf Harnack.
"Disturbances,"  he asserts, "are as old as the church itself."  "At the
present time they are not more powerful than in earlier periods," he adds.
"In more than one respect they are weaker." Tertullian, Eusebius, and
Vincent of Lerins all dealt with "church disturbances." Successive ages
were likewise pdentifully supplied with obstructions to the easy flowing
course of church life. A historical survey of these events, says Professor
Harnack, "will help to free us from the complacent, unjust, and harmful
illusion that our generation is endowed with quite special kinds of knowl-
edge and is exposed to unheard-of struggles and difficulties." Such a
survey is presented by Professor Harnock in Die Christliche Welt (Mar-
burg, June 20), a summary of which is given in The Churchman (New
York, July 27). The method of Eusebius, says Professor Harnack, de-
serves attention. He continues:
    "To-day we are in the habit of treating heresies, sects, and schisms
as negative  and  positive factors in the history of dogma.         Eusebius's
plan of summarizing them and discussing them from the point of view of
their influence on Christian belief and Christian practice is more instruc-
tive. It is a good thing to ask what were the effects of the disturbances
and diffculties. Their results for the church are a more important study
than their classification. This practical point of view was taken in ancient
times. The people who wrote against heresies devoted themselves to
showing how heresies affected the Christian community. Sometimes the
effects are by no means proportional to the disturbing phenomena. Some-
times vital errors have produced very small results. On the other hand,
a small deviation from customary faith has brought about violent results.
Indeed, attacks on the church's teaching have gone through all stages,
from the severest to the relatively very moderate form of disturbance.
The first thing to notice is who has been the cause of the disturbance.
This makes a great difference. The effect, from the point of view of the
author, decreases as the square of his distance from the church. A clergy-
man, a monk, a really pious layman, and a trained theologian can produce
mighty disturbances. We know how it is said to-day:  'If Dr. So-and-So
left the theological faculty and went into the philosophical one, instead
of an unbelieving theologian we should have a believing philosopher.' . . .
    "As to the history of disturbances, the first thing that strikes the
historian is their regularity and their frequency. The causes are numer-
ous; they are perpetually producing typical results. The types of men
who cause disturbance are not particularly varied. They can be reduced
to a very few. The points of departure of a disturbance may be found
in teaching, in public worship, in the conception of the religious ideal or


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African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, Vol. 24, Num. 2


Volume:  24
Issue Number:  02
Page Number:  177
Date:  10/1907


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