As far back as 1919 those of us who were serving on the General Department of Education in the Church of the Nazarene felt keenly the need of a work on systematic theology of sufficient scope and thoroughness that it might serve as a standard of doctrine in connection with the development of the literature of our church and movement, and we asked Dr. H. Orton Wiley to undertake to produce such a work. Pressed by many duties as college president, and for a time as editor of the Herald of Holiness, Dr. Wiley was unable to give the thought and attention to this subject that was necessary for its speedy completion. Sometimes we felt that he did not make sufficient progress with the task to furnish ground for hope that he would live to complete it. But this delay was useful, for during all this time Dr. Wiley has been gathering material, rearranging his own thought and growing in courage for the stupendous task set before him. And now within recent months he has found it possible to devote more time and thought to the direct task, and he has been able to do better work than otherwise would have been possible. So we are the gainers for waiting.
I am glad to be counted among those who have encouraged Dr. Wiley from the beginning. I have never missed an opportunity to urge him to pursue his task of writing the standard theology for our church, even though he must do it at the expense of neglecting other duties. For I have felt that he would through this channel make the greatest and most lasting contribution of his life. And just now as he is ready to hand over the first volume to the publishers, having myself made a careful examination of it, I am more convinced than ever that he has done a work that few men of this generation are prepared to do, and that he has given us a theology so fundamental and so dependable for scholarship that it will stand as standard with us for many years to come.
Dr. Wiley is a scholar, but he is more than a scholar. He is an unctuous preacher, and an administrator. He has been compelled to try out his theories in the school of life and to test his claims in the furnace of trial and affliction. He is not a speculator nor an inventor. He is at most a discoverer and a judge of sound words. For the space of an average generation he has been before us as a Christian and a leader, and he has everywhere and all the time deserved and received the full commendation of his contemporaries and intimate coadjutors. He is a man of good report among all who know him intimately or distantly. It is a joy to commend him because it is certain none will arise to contradict.
It is not expected that one writing a foreword should enter into an analysis of a book. Especially is this the case when the book is one demanding so much of study and thought as this monumental work which you now have in hand. But you will find the scope adequate, the theses orthodox, the arguments convincing, and the conclusions clear and unequivocal. I really do not see how more could be done with the subject of systematic theology than Dr. Wiley has done.
This work will find its place as a textbook in our schools and in the course of study for ministers. This will probably be its two largest fields. But its style brings it within the scope of the Sunday school worker and layman of the church, and many who are not in the official callings of the church will find pleasure and profit in the study of the great doctrines which lie at the base of our holy religion. I believe the demand for such material is sufficiently great that Dr. Wiley's theology will find a wide field among spontaneous students, as well as among those who must take it in connection with technical preparation for given tasks.
Without the slightest reservation, and with the fullest satisfaction, I commend Dr. Wiley and his work on Systematic Theology to all men everywhere to whom such commendation from me can carry meaning. And my prayer is that God may continue to bless the author and publishers, and that the leaves of this book may serve for healing, even as leaves from the tree of life.
JAMES B. CHAPMAN,
Church of the Nazarene.Kansas City,
Missouri, April 6, 1940.
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