The gospel of Christ speaks otherwise. It speaks of a God to whom we are to be reconciled in a mutual act which He begins; and not of an order or process with which we are to be adjusted by our lonely act, or to which we are to be resigned. If we have an idea of such a Godhead as I have been describing, how does it affect our thought of Christ? Christ then becomes but one of its grandest prophets, or one of the greatest instances and illustrations of that adjustment to the mighty order. He first realized, and He first declared, this great change in the way of reading the situation. What you have to do if you accept Him is to change your way of reading the situation, to accept His interpretation of life, and accept it as rationally, spiritually, and resignedly as you best can. Accept His principle. Die to live. But what a poor use of Christ – to accept His interpretation of life, as if He were a mere spiritual Goethe! That is a very attenuated Christ compared with the Christ that is offered to us in the New Testament. That is not the eternal Son of God in whom God was reconciling the world unto Himself. That is another Christ – from some hasty points of view indeed a larger Christ; for the philosophers have a larger Christ, apparently, one more cosmic. But it is a diluted Christ, and one that cannot penetrate to the center and depth of our human need or our human personality, cannot reach our guilt and hell, and therefore cannot be the final Christ of God.
Whether from the side of the philosophers, as I have been showing, or from the side of certain theologians like Ritschl, who was so much opposed to Hegel, you will often hear this said: that only man needed to be reconciled, that God did not need any reconciliation. Now, I have been asking you to observe that we are dealing with persons. That is the first point I put upon the board. Our reconciliation is between person and person. It is not between an order or a process on the one hand and a person on the other. Therefore a real and deep change of the relation between the two means a change on both sides. That is surely clear if we are dealing with living persons. God is an eternal person; I am a finite person; yet we are persons both. There is that parity. Any reconciliation which only means change on one side is not a real reconciliation at all. A real, deep change of relation affects both sides when we are dealing with persons. That is not the case when we are dealing on the one side with ideas, or one vast idea or process, and on the other side a person only.
When Christianity is being watered down in the way I have described, we have to concentrate our attention upon the core of it. All round us Christianity is being diluted either by thought or by blague; we must press to the core of the matter. It is true the theology of the Christian Church on this head needs a certain amount of modification and correction at the present day. That will appear presently. But I want to make it clear that the view of the Church upon the whole, especially the great view associated with the Reformation, preserves the core of the matter, which we are in danger of losing either on one side or the other.