Readers of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, and the wider Christian public, must be grateful to the Editor for his courageous call that the controversy between so-called modernism and fundamentalism should be reassessed. Nothing but harm can result from the ignoring of vital issues. And while unnecessary and virulent controversy is rightly to be deplored, there can be no genuine peace or cooperation so long as there is division on questions of basic importance. On both sides, therefore, it is right and proper that there should be a fresh wrestling with the difference.
Beyond The Breach
At the same time, it will be generally accepted that the debate should be resumed with a view to an outcome which is positive and fruitful. If the only result of a resumption of the controversy were to be hardening in hostility and suspicion, with the consequent strengthening of uncharitable attitudes on both sides, then it would be far better to leave things as they are. The fact has to be recognized that the continuance of this division is not helpful to the witness of the Protestant world, and that if the discussion is reopened it should be very definitely for the purpose of healing the disastrous breach.
But this is the whole difficulty, for compromise is obviously ruled out by the nature of the division. We cannot discuss merely in the hope of bringing opposing views into line, or finding a minimum of common ground on which to take a stand. Nor is it enough merely to attempt a sympathetic understanding. To be sure, a historical understanding is useful, for it enables us to see how it is that others have come to adopt the positions which they now hold. In this way, it helps us to go back to the root of the division, and perhaps to apportion the responsibility. ...1
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