KING AND BRADLAUGH DEBATE - PART 11

CHRISTIANITY VERSUS SECULARISM 11

SIX NIGHTS' DISCUSSION BETWEEN DAVID KING AND CHARLES BRADLAUGH

From "The Interpreter" 1909.


IS CHRISTIANITY OF DIVINE ORIGIN?

Thursday, 29th September, 1870.

MR. KING'S SECOND REPLY

MR. KING: - There has been an attempt to insist that the Sabbath referred to must be the Seventh-day Sabbath because of the use of the definite article, as: "Now when the even was come, because it was the day of preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath." Now, there was a special preparation day preceding the festival Sabbaths, but I know not of any special time or day of preparation preceding the Seventh-day Sabbath. I know they observed every Seventh-day as a Sabbath, but I do not know that they were ever called upon to, or ever did, set apart every Friday as a day of preparation for the ordinary Sabbath. When you come down to the next chapter - and, mark you, there is an interval of three days - then you read: "And when the Sabbath was past;" and, says my opponent, with a curious kind of logic, the Sabbaths were on one day, and consequently the definite article further on must refer to the Seventh-day Sabbath. Nothing of the kind. It was the Sabbath preceded by a fixed day of preparation. In the other case, and with regard to the ordinary Seventh-day Sabbath, there is no day of preparation.

As to the burden of proof - that lies with him, not with me, and on this ground - if I affirm that certain things were done in a certain room and at a certain time, by Mr. Bradlaugh, he calls on me to show that it was not possible for anyone else to do it; and unless I can prove that it was not or could not have been done by any other person, he is free from the charge. And as there were other Sabbaths falling at that time, he must prove that this was not one of those special festival Sabbaths, before I can allow that it refers necessarily to the Seventh-day Sabbath. The mere possibility of its being one of these special Sabbaths overturns his assertion that it must have been a Seventh-day Sabbath.

Then he very carefully turns to the two verses which I read from Leviticus, and shows that the Sabbaths there referred to did not fall in the right month. Quite correct. The Sabbaths there referred to were not in the Passover month. But then the fact is before you that similar special Sabbaths were connected with the institution of the Passover as I indicated by the other verses; and, therefore, that being in evidence, and those Sabbaths being preceded by a day of preparation and the one in question being also so preceded, you have even more than is necessary to meet the case, and our opponent is no longer in a position to utter again what he has so often uttered, as to the time in which the Saviour was in the grave. [Hear, hear].

Then he asks, how can the fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy prove the truth of Christianity? I look for practical results, and I am quite satisfied when these results are ascertained. I have never yet met a man who believes the Bible to be a book of prophecies which have been fulfilled, or are now fulfilling, who doubts that Christianity is of Divine origin. I don't believe such a man lives or has lived. No man can be found in this country who so believes and yet rejects Christianity. And under these circumstances, taken with the multitudinous fulfilment of prophecy, I shall be willing to give up the whole case if a man can be produced who admits that the prophecies have been fulfilled, or are fulfilling, and who yet says that he does not accept Christianity as true. The men who assent to the evidence of prophecy in every case accept the religion of Jesus; and under the circumstances, with that fact before me, knowing that it cannot be shaken, I am quite content to leave the matter where it stands. I know what the result will be if I convince Secularists that the Old and New Testament prophecies are fulfilled or are in process of fulfilment. They would not withhold their assent from the Christian religion, whatever Mr. Bradlaugh may urge to the contrary.

We are specially asked with regard to the Papal territory, and to save time I remark that the phrase "Papal territory" may be contemplated in two aspects. In one sense this kingdom has never been Papal territory; Garibaldi has never been here and handed it over to anyone; but in a very important sense this kingdom has been Papal territory. The Pope has ruled here through a nominal king. The Pope has had England's king prostrate at his feet, and has interfered with the civil action of the people and the operation of the law. He has changed the laws of this country, and to that extent enslaved its people. In that sense the kingdoms around the Roman territory proper may be contemplated very reasonably and properly as Papal territory. Their governments were in a large measure in subjection to Papal influence and they were rescued one after another, so that at this date there is no longer any Papal power in existence which can enforce the Papal decrees. The Pope may still effect much by moral suasion, but he has no longer power to afflict nations as this country was afflicted, when, as I have said, its monarch was prostrate before the Papal throne.

Next I am appealed to concerning the death of Christ - whether He died to save the whole world from the consequences which come upon all men through Adam's sin? I answer - Yes, He came to save the whole of our race from that one result which came upon all by the transgression of Adam. But that one result common to all is not (as Mr. Bradlaugh puts it) eternal burning, but death - that death which overtakes us all, saved and unsaved, and which would have been followed by no resurrection had not Christ died. And the result of Christ's atoning work in this particular is declared to be that of bringing again from the dead the descendants of Adam. So that thus a justification unto life comes upon all as did a condemnation to death. But that justification which thus comes upon all through the work and death of Christ is not unto eternal life, but only unto resurrection life, and consequently only amounts to deliverance from that death which by virtue of our connection with Adam comes upon all irrespective of our sins. The race thus raised to life through Christ is raised to judgment - each one to give an account of himself, and to be judged for his own deeds alone, and not for those of Adam. Mr. Bradlaugh is in the habit of urging that men are to be damned for the sin of Adam. And if he cannot prove it let him not say it. [Applause]. Adam's sin brings all men unto the grave, but, as I said last evening, a justification unto life - resurrection - comes on all men through Christ, as intimated by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:22: "For, as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." Here you have universal deliverance from the grave. It is clearly intimated that all who die in Adam will be made alive in Christ - but not all to eternal life - for it is clearly said that in the resurrection some will arise to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and contempt. Thus you have the matter as it stands before you in the doctrine of Christ and His apostles.

We have again been referred to Mormonism. My opponent says that I misrepresent. If I do I am sorry for it, but we shall then only be equal, for he continually misrepresents me. But he puts it that I said that Mormonism did not seek to oppose the old faith. What I set forth was, that Mormonism did not come avowing opposition to Christianity, but that it put prominently forward leading articles of the Christian faith. That it largely neutralized those doctrines by certain additions, which tend to demoralize, is readily admitted. But, nevertheless, whenever it was presented among professedly Christian people it came telling of the Gospel, pointing to Christian institutions, thus laying hold of people in an entirely different manner to what Christianity did in its early days, when it denied the gods of the people it addressed, repudiated their ordinances, refused all compromise, and demanded that Christ be accepted as the one and only Mediator. Now, if my opponent can show that Mormonism came and progressed under circumstances at all similar, then in that particular he will have established his point, but until he does that he has not established anything, but only wasted time by pressing the subject further upon us.

I shall have to call your attention somewhat further to prophecy. In doing this I shall come to the New Testament. We must presently come back to the Old Testament, and I presume there can be no question raised as to the existence of the New Testament sufficiently early for my present purpose. I shall accept any time my opponent may please to fix. Of course he cannot put it beyond a given date, and the latest he can suppose will fully answer my purpose, as the fulfilment of New Testament prophecy comes down to our own day. I come then to the predicted apostacy in the church - the predicted rise of a vast unchristian ecclesiastical despotism, under the Christian name, but subversive of its principles. Christ's own teaching in general, and His parables in particular, foretell this. But the chairman calls time. I must therefore leave it for the present. [Hear, hear, and applause].


MR. BRADLAUGH'S THIRD REPLY

MR. BRADLAUGH: - Mr. King says the definite article is applied to a Sabbath three days afterwards. I read the texts and showed what happened immediately after the definite article was applied, and the three days intervention is only dragged in to save Mr. King from the position in which he has placed himself. He says the mere possibility of there being two Sabbaths is enough - that the argument is answered by the mere possibility of my being wrong. But then it is a mere possibility, and let us see what it is. He says that I carefully turned to Leviticus. Where should I turn but to where he told me? I turned to one - he gives me another. I decline to wander about through the book for his amusement. Curiously, the matter remains just as it did in the beginning. My allegation was, that so far from the allegation of Jesus being three days and nights in the grave being true, it was shown that he was buried late on the evening preceding the Sabbath, and that he was out of the grave before the night of the Sabbath was over: and if he can make three nights and three days out of that you have it before you. You have Jesus out of the grave before the Sabbath is completely over, and the man who says that the two "the"s apply to two different Sabbaths asks you not to judge the book as you would any other book, but to manufacture an interpretation to relieve him from a false position.

Then I asked him what Papal territory Garibaldi handed over to Victor Emmanuel. He talks a lot of nonsense about England either having been or not having been Papal territory. What he meant I do not know, but I have got in my mind the precise territory handed over, and he has never yet told me what Papal territory he referred to. Let him find any territory to which his remark applies. I know the land, and the bulk of the laws of the kingdom as it stands at present, and I say they do not come under such a definition as he has given. I can't guess what territory he refers to until he tells me, because the explanation he has given does not apply to any territory; and if in a modern instance our friend breaks down so evidently, is it worth while to wade through the others? One brick out of the structure is enough for my purpose.

Then he says - "Mr. Bradlaugh asks me, supposing Daniel's prophecy is admitted, how I connect that with any sort of conclusion that the history of Jesus is of Divine origin," and Mr. King replies, "I never met a man who believed the prophecies and not Christianity." But the men Mr. King never met are not the men to quote here tonight. We are here to discuss on a fair, logical basis, and I ask if the bulk of the men of Naples believe that the Pope was divinely placed at the head of affairs, is that evidence of the Divinity of the Papacy? Surely if we are to discuss this matter at all, we must reason it out for you as a jury to come to a conclusion on the argument. Mr. King says, did I ask him if Jesus came to save from Adam's sin. No, I asked whether Jesus came to save all mankind from Adam's sin whether they believed in him or not.

MR. KING: - Yes.

MR. BRADLAUGH: - Yes. He came to save them whether they believed in Him, or not. Well, then, can that religion be of Divine origin which has so much blundered that at the present moment the Church of England teaches the precisely opposite doctrine? Can that religion be of Divine origin in which so large a number of persons have been utterly misled by it? Jesus has come to save men whether they believe or not. Men are only then to be judged by their works. They are relieved from the consequences of Adam's sin. Then where is the need of teaching men to believe an impossible story and hindering them in that progress of life which they might otherwise achieve? What is the use of your chapels and churches if men are relieved from the consequences of Adam's sin? It is better to go with us who are unbelievers, living well here whatever may be your fate hereafter. Because, according to Mr. King's doctrine now it is not necessary to believe, though you may still do your work in life honestly, fairly, and truly. But if Mr. King is right you are wrong, and you have to consider whether the doctrine is of Divine origin which says that all who do not believe shall be damned. Mr. King chooses to say that damnation is not eternal.

MR. KING: - I did not.

MR. BRADLAUGH: - The Bible says the burning shall never cease; the Bible says the fire shall never be quenched; the Bible says that the worm dieth not; and I say that unless the words are a mockery, that unless you twist all signs of English out of it, the Bible does teach that the unbeliever shall suffer the penalty of eternal damnation, and that there is a lake of brimstone and fire where we shall consciously suffer the pains of burning for eternity. If the Bible don't say that I don't understand the meaning of the English language, and the man who pretends that it does not twists the English language to bolster up a weak case, and does not judge the author as he would any other author or book.

Let us say a word about Mohammedanism, and mark how recklessly my opponent passes over everything that it does not suit his purpose to notice. Let me again ask him to quote the passages in the Koran which accommodate themselves to men's passions more than Christianity. He says that I misrepresent him; I don't know that I do; the report will speak for itself.

As to Mormonism putting forth the leading doctrines of Christianity, so did Christianity put forth the leading doctrines of the Jewish system. It put God as the God of Moses, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and the variations were of a character not more diverse than the variations which the Mormons made from Christianity. Both of them stood, therefore, in the same relation, but it is convenient for Mr. King to forget that the whole question did not turn upon that relation, but upon his allegation that the numbers of the Christians were proof of divinity of origin. I say, take age for age in the history of the world and show me that the Christians were more numerous than the Mohammedans in the same period, and that argument has been quietly and completely overlooked, and I don't see how this sort of thing is to be persevered in.

Then Mr. King says he is going to the New Testament, and he will allow me to put any date to it I please. Why, my opinion of the Bible is, that of the writer of not one of its pamphlets is there the slightest reliable evidence. It was written we don't know where, or by whom, and in the first times when you find it, it is mixed up with forgery and fraud, so that Lardner speaks of the use of forged evidence. As to the gospels themselves, I allege, without fear of contradiction, that the only evidence of the existence of the gospel refers to a gospel not alike in character to the gospel we have. I ask you, then, why you put these books to me for me to discuss when you have no data for them at all. I won't have the book put in that way, but you must fix your own date for it. If you want the date fixed you shall fix it with all the consequences.

If Christianity is of Divine origin, how is it that during two or three centuries of the Christian Church, certainly with little omission, you find forgery and fraud resorted to on every side? Why, if they believed it to be of Divine origin, and if it was of Divine origin, at least it must have been protected against these kinds of corruption in its earlier years. I ask that this may be met, and I ask that when Mr. King replies he will give his reasons why punishment should be inflicted upon all men for the crime of another, and say what Papal territory it was that was handed to Victor Emmanuel by Garibaldi - [laughter and cheers] - and don't let him keep me driving away as I did for his views about eternal torments, until I found out what he was at. If he has made a mistake, I have knocked one brick out of the fabric, and the whole theory falls.

We have now got a step farther. We have got to the step of having it taken as a part of Christianity that Jesus died for all men, whether they believed or not. I ask again, is that religion of Divine origin, which teaches that it is part of God's special plan that He should have for hundreds of years punished the whole human race, and that then He should let one man die to give an excuse for not punishing them any more? With regard to the doctrine of eternal or other torments, I ask, does it not look like the religion of a fiend, rather than that of a good and wise God? Is it a religion of Divine origin that condemns men for a crime they have nothing to do with, and then released them afterwards by an atonement they need not be acquainted with? [Applause].


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