"Our New Departure" by E. G. Brooks


Just got my copy in this morning. Good Lord… when I saw an independent bookseller on Amazon was selling a copy, I thought I was going to get a transcribed printoff or something (especially since the seller mistyped the title).

I now have a first-edition hardback, printed and bound in 1874.
:open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth:

I’m scared to even touch the thing. It feels like it could fall apart if I try to read it. I have a couple of books in my library printed in the 20s, but nothing else this old that I recall.

For those who don’t know, this book was suggested as the flagship work of the burgeoning (but eventually aborted) “catholic universalist” movement back in the late 19th century, in an article called “Catholic Universalism” written by Henry I. Cushman , whose essay one of our new members, Christine, linked to here at GoogleBooks (from a periodic journal of a universalist association of the time, April 1888.)

The essay itself is quite interesting; and worthy of contemplation. (The author isn’t talking about Roman Catholics becoming universalists, by the way, but about what I usually call ‘orthodox universalism’, i.e. orthodox trinitarian Christian universalism. I have been unable to find any other article, yet, written by this pastor.)

This post is mainly provided as a reminder to me, to report on the contents of this rare book someday before hell freezes over perhaps. :laughing: But the essay, which takes this book (apparently) as a good recent inspiration, is available for any forum visitor to read at any time.

(PS: I am pretty sure that the copyright has expired, so any enterprising typist who would like to transcribe the article as a .doc or .pdf file for the forum, has my blessings to do so.)

(PPS: I am pretty sure that the copyright has expired on the book I’m holding, too, but I would rather read it to see if it is worth transcribing for posterity first. If so… guh, when would i have the time… sigh… It’s over 355 pages. And also, how to do so without destroying the book!!)


That book sounds really interesting. :slight_smile:

I hope time permits you to post excerpts here ( like the ones from George MacDonald, on another thread ), and I look forward to reading them.


Well. Hm.

I just finished speed-reading through the book this morning–a process I don’t normally try to do, but in this case I wanted to get an accurate snapshot of the work as quickly as possible.

The fact that I started by saying, “Well. Hm,” ought to be a clue that I was ambivalent about the book at best. Close-to-gravely-disappointed would be more accurate, though. :frowning: :wink:

I want to think about it some more before I try posting up remarks on it. The most important thing I can think of to say at the moment, is that I do not understand how Henry Cushman, writing a few years afterward, could have considered this to be the new flagship of what he called “Catholic Universalism”. As far as I can tell, Brooks never once opposes (and tends to tacitly accept, even if he doesn’t talk about it much) the broad acceptance of unitarian Christianity in his denomination, as a progress which needs no further comment or critique. And his book is full of critique for the state of the Universalist Church at that present time, so it isn’t as though reformation and (where necessary) repair of moves his denomination has made in the past 100 years, isn’t on his mind–heavily so, rather!

Maybe I totally and utterly misunderstood Cushman’s article??! It isn’t impossible, but it seemed like much of his point was to emphasize the importance of trinitarian orthodoxy to Christian theology: thus “Catholic” (I would say ‘orthodox’) “Universalism”. I’ll have to go back and read it again.

This kind of theological disconnect may not be important to other people; but it’s important to me, because it makes a substantial difference (pun intended :wink: ) in what kind of God we’re talking about: a point which Brooks seems completely oblivious to, spending the whole book inveighing against ‘orthodoxy’ as though the typical acceptance of hopeless damnation among nominally orthodox congregations was the main theological component of ‘orthodoxy’. It ought to make a huge difference to Brooks!–who makes sure to emphasize that the character of God, particularly that God is love, is of utmost theological importance in the Christian proclamation. But he seems to have absolutely no idea that this has anything at all to do with claims about the trinitarian nature of God and orthodox doctrines of the nature of Christ. Not his fault, perhaps, but… sigh. (It’s depressing to read a book where the author honestly and sincerely wants to accomplish and promote certain things, but is quietly dismissive, at best, of the best possible ground for believing such things to be true and worthy of promotion and enaction.)

More comments later, maybe.