The Influence of Greek Ideas on Christianity (1888)
by Edwin Hatch
No sooner is any new impulse given either to philosophy or to religion than there arises a class of men who copy the form without the substance… So it has been with Christianity. It came into the educated [Greek] world in the simple dress of a Prophet of Righteousness. It won that world by the stern reality of its life, by the subtle bonds of its brotherhood, by its divine message of consolation and of hope. Around it thronged the race of eloquent talkers who persuaded it to change its dress and to assimilate its language to their own.
It seemed thereby to win a speedier and completer victory. But it purchased conquest at the price of reality. With that its progress stopped!
There has been an element of sophistry in it ever since; and so far as in any age that element has dominated, so far has the progress of Christianity been arrested. Its progress is arrested now, because many of its preachers live in an unreal world. The truths they set forth are truths of utterance rather than truths of their lives.
But if Christianity is to be again the power that it was in its earliest ages, it must renounce its costly purchase… The hope of Christianity is, that the class which was artificially created may ultimately disappear; and that the sophistical element in Christian preaching will melt, as a transient mist before the preaching of the prophets of the ages to come, who, like the prophets of the ages that are long gone by, will speak only “as the Spirit gives them utterance.”