The "New" Evangelical Theology of Henry Drummond 1851-97. An Historical Analysis
Wysong, J. M.
Gordon, Donald C.
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Henry Drummond has until now been viewed as a reconciler of science and religion in post-Darwin Scotland, whose views spread throughout Europe and the United States due to the best-selling characteristics of his two main books. This historical analysis of his thought began at this point. But no such reconcilation was found to have been effected. Nor was it ever attempted. Almost all Drummond criticism has been within this framework, viewing him as a Christian apologist, and the most recent works have dealt with tangibles such as his student work and rhetoric. This study was an attempt to reach beyond, to the intangibles of the philosophy which determine his place in the history of ideas. At least two gospels were discovered: one, fairly evangelical and Christ-centered; the other, strongly evolutionary. Attempts to systematize the two views chronologically proved to be impossible as they were too tightly interwoven. Only shifts of emphases could be determined. Drummond's prevailing emphasis throughout his published works is on progress, evolution, or "advolution" with man ascending an exponential curve in the kingdom on earth toward the kingdom in heaven, the lines between the two being blurred by his concept of the "identity" of natural and supernatural. Patterns of evolutionism, naturalism, Christianity, and Pelagianism blend, shift, and interweave in kaleidoscopic fashion throughout his pages; but he wishes to retain sin and rebirth, while deemphasizing most other cardinal Christian doctrines sometimes to the point of exclusion, and these factors make it difficult to classify him historically in either Christian or non-Christian traditions. The full implications of the radical quality of his syncretism, the omission of catastrophe necessitated by his natural-spiritual identification, and his juxtaposition of basic terms such as nature, evolution, God, love, and revelation upon his “new” evangelical theology have yet to be determined. However, it may be postulated that his thought, here considered for the first time in its entirety, reveals itself as revolutionary rather than evolutionary, and, as such, paradigmatic of much twentieth century “Christianity.”