“… Many plausible attacks upon the Christian creed are due to the inadequate methods of its professed interpreters. Fragments of doctrine, torn from their context and deprived of their due proportions, are brandished in the eyes of men by well-meaning but ignorant apologists as containing the sum total of the Christian faith, with the lamentable consequence that even earnest seekers after truth, and much more its unearnest and merely factious adversaries, mislead themselves and others into thinking Christianity discredited, when in reality they have all along been only criticizing its caricature. The general tendency of thought since the Reformation has been in the direction of these partial presentations of Christianity.”
“The Incarnation in Relation to Development,” by the Rev. J. R. Illingworth, in Lux Mundi: A Series of Studies in the Religion of the Incarnation, Charles Gore, ed.; London, 1889
I couldn’t say it better myself, but this was written over 120 years ago!
Lux Mundi is an early document of what might be called “Liberal Orthodoxy,” a cross-denominational movement within Christianity which combined a strong defense of the doctrine of the Incarnation with a very learned criticism of the unbending doctrines of evangelicals and establishment conservatives, whose views these writers judged were contributing most to the rejection of Christianity by the modern world.
“The Reformers, from various causes, were so occupied with what is now called Soteriology, or the scheme of salvation, that they paid but scant attention to the other aspects of the Gospel. And the consequence was that a whole side of the great Christian tradition, and one on which many of its greatest thinkers had lavished the labors of a lifetime, was allowed almost unconsciously to lapse into comparative oblivion; and the religion of the Incarnation was narrowed into the religion of the Atonement. Men’s views of the faith dwindled and became subjective and self-regarding, while the gulf was daily widened between things sacred and things secular. Such men need reminding that Christianity is greater than its isolated interpreters or misinterpreters in any age …”
Even though published under the editorship of the Bishop of Worcester, Lux Mundi was roundly attacked by evangelicals and high church conservatives. Yet it was revised and reprinted 16 times in less than six years, and continued to be reprinted into the twentieth century.