Reginald John Campbell
(1867–1956), British Congregationalist divine, son of a United Free Methodist minister of Scottish descent, was born in London and educated at schools in Bolton and Nottingham, where his father successively removed, and in Belfast, the home of his grandfather.
This book has been undertaken at the request of a number of my friends who feel that recent criticisms of what has come to be called the New Theology ought to be dealt with in some comprehensive and systematic way. With this suggestion my own judgment concurs, but only so far as my own pulpit teaching is concerned. I cannot pretend to speak for anyone else, and therefore this monograph must not be understood as an authoritative exposition of the views held and expounded by other preachers who may be in sympathy with the New Theology. From its very nature, as I hope the following pages will show, the New Theology cannot be a creed, but its adherents have a common standpoint. My only reason for calling this book by that title is that a considerable section of the public at present persists in regarding me as in a special way the exponent of it; indeed from the correspondence which has been proceeding in the press it is evident that many people credit me with having invented both the name and the thing. It is of little use objecting to the name, for to all appearance it has come to stay and is gradually acquiring a marked and definite content. So long as it is clearly understood that this book is but an outline statement of my own personal views, the title will do no harm. The controversy which is not yet over has been fruitful in misunderstandings of all kinds, and a great many of the criticisms passed upon my teaching have been wholly due to a mistaken notion of what it really is. In so far as any of those criticisms have been directed against me personally, I have nothing to say; I hope I can leave my vindication to the judgment of whatever public may feel an interest in my work. The best rejoinder that could be made to the various criticisms of the teaching itself would be to publish them side by side, for they neutralise one another most effectually. But a better and more useful thing to do is to let the public know just what the teaching is and leave it to the test of time. I do not greatly object to having it described as “new.” The fundamental principle of the New Theology is as old as religion, but I am quite willing to admit that in its all-round application to the conditions of modern life it is new. I do not see why a man should be ashamed of confessing that he does his own thinking instead of letting other people do it for him.
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