The Spirit of Orthodoxy

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another
Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.”
John 14:16-17

Dr. Daniel Steele (1824-1914) served his Lord and the Methodist Church as a pastor, evangelist, college president (two colleges), professor (including Boston University), and as a writer to the church at large. He was the founding president of Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.

Steele served on the committee assigned to create a charter for Syracuse, which was designed to be a Methodist-affiliated school. Upon reading the charter’s first draft, he remarked later, it “would have suited a Muslim or Buddhist institution, for there was no reference to Christ.”*

One of Steele’s recommended corrections to the first draft was that the adjective “Christian” should be inserted at one point before the word “learning.” A Methodist judge serving on the committee was asked by a colleague “whether an evangelical interpretation to ‘Christian’ could not be incorporated into this charter of the university, so that it could be forever held for orthodoxy as found in the Methodist standards.”

Daniel Steele said he never forgot the judge’s response: “There is no safeguard possible. Harvard went over to Unitarianism because the church itself apostatized from the faith. You cannot by legal documents prevent a denomination from drifting away from its creed. If Methodism backslides from orthodoxy, she will take her schools with her.”

Steele later, in writing about this insightful remark, commented:

“The lawyer taught the preacher an important lesson, which he has sought to teach others ever since: Orthodoxy can be conserved only by the Holy Spirit abiding in the consciousness of the individual members of the church. Then, and then only, are we safe.”

Many Christians, churches, and institutions have betrayed the faith they once held fast, and they did it all while they preached and taught from the Bible!

The Holy Spirit—abiding in the hearts of God’s people—is the sole conservator of orthodoxy.

*Daniel Steele, The Gospel of the Comforter, (Salem, OH: Schmul Publishing Co., 1960; reprinted from 1897 edition), 282-283.

Taken from . . .
Renewed by the Spirit: 365 Daily Meditations
by Ralph I. Tilley
copyright © 2016 Ralph I. Tilley
(May be copied for noncommercial purposes,
not to exceed 500 copies.)

Author: Ralph I. Tilley

I joyfully identify with the long history of the orthodox, evangelical stream of the Church. Theologically, I am a conservative. On issues of secondary importance, I will not quibble with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I would hope I have no doctrinal biases; however, I realize that is a practical impossibility: “Now I know in part.” You can read more on the About page.