Tuesday, January 25, 2011

* Introduction

New Haven artist Clarence Brodeur unveils (1980) his new portrait of Douglas Clyde Macintosh which hangs today in the Common Room of Yale Divinity School. He donated the new portrait to replace the commissioned portrait of Macintosh he had painted in 1950, which was vandalized in  1965.
When I enrolled in Yale Divinity School in 1976, I knew very little about Douglas Macintosh, except that my parents adored him as a friend and mentor and had sought to honor him by giving me his name. (I quickly learned that he had a "terribly British" middle name which I confess I was relieved to discover my parents had omitted from their tribute.)

But if I knew little of Douglas Clyde Macintosh, I soon discovered that, three decades after his death, his own Divinity School remembered even less of him.  His writings and memory stood practically abandoned: His portrait (vandalized during the 1960's protest era) lay in shreds in the basement of the Yale Art Gallery; his Fellowship, bequeathed to Yale by his widow, Hope Conklin Macintosh, had fallen into disuse; and (with the loyal exception of Randolph Crump Miller), his name was almost never uttered in Yale classrooms.  Indeed, Professor Miller characterized this situation as "a blackout on Macintosh."

Under this sad cloud I began my private campaign to exhume Dr. Macintosh's memory.  This pamphlet of tributes is one fruit of that private effort: That it has grown into a public centennial celebration is quite accidental, for I almost missed the fact that 1977 is Dr. Macintosh's centennial anniversary.  Even at this writing, I still do not know the exact date of his birth in Ontario, Canada.  His place of burial, Whitneyville Cemetery in Hamden, Connecticut, also denies us this information; for, there is no tombstone for him, but merely a marker for his first wife, Emily Powell, with the tiny words chiseled below her name, "wife of Douglas Clyde Macintosh."  It was only late in 1976 that I located his obituary, which is equally equivocal on the matter, stating simply that he was 71 years old.*  A few rudimentary arithmetical calculations led me to conclude that, had he lived, he would have been 99 years old.  And then it hit me: Next year would be his centennial.

At that very instant the Macintosh Centennial Committee was born. For the first year of its life it was a committee of one.  Now, as it begins the third year of its four-year celebration, the Macintosh Centennial Committee enjoys the assistance of three other Divinity students: Dinah Ansley, Karen Bjorn and Carol Brock.

The Committee has concentrated on four projects: 1.) replacement of the Macintosh portrait [this would be accomplished in 1979/80 when the original artist, Clarence Brodeur, agreed to re-paint a new portrait gratis]; 2.) reactivation of the Macintosh Fellowship and re-publication of Roland Bainton's Fellowship brochure [this was accomplished when the Executor of the Macintosh estate, Julian N. Hartt, threatened to demand an accounting from Yale of the funds bequeathed to Yale by Mrs. Macintosh; the Fellowship has since, again, fallen into disuse]; 3.) presentation of "Folly, Noise and Sin," dramatic readings of seven famous sermons and such from American history and literature; and 4.) publication of this pamphlet of tributes. We have had more success with some of these projects than others.

In this brief pamphlet [now blog] you will learn, as I did, that Dr. Macintosh was more than a teacher at the Divinity School, he was a nationally respected theologian; that his legal struggle was more than a court case, it was a pioneering contribution to the notion of "selective" conscientious objection and became one of the famous Supreme Court battles of the the 1920's and 1930's; and, that Douglas Clyde Macintosh's students did more than learn from him, they loved learning because of him.

I wish to thank the Centennial Committee members and Henri Nouwen and the artist Elizabeth Ruthstrom for their generous contributions to the work of the Committee.   I am especially grateful to the contributors to this publication for their loyalty to Douglas Macintosh.  I have made only minor editorial adjustments in transforming some of their contributions from letter-form to the present format.  I have added two editorial notes as points of information.

Respectfully submitted,

Paul Douglas Macintosh Keane
Macintosh Centennial Committee
September, 1978

*  Ronald B. Flowers,
John F. Weatherly Emeritus Professor of Religion at Texas Christian University,  informs me in a 1 / 28 /11 email that Douglas Clyde Macintosh  “was born February 18, 1877, in Breadalbane, Ontario, Canada.”  (See also bibliographic citations for Professor Flowers' articles on Macintosh at the end of Herman Will post in Blog Archive.) 

Note Link:    My Donation of Macintosh Chalice to Yale Law School

* Context

I am forgotten like a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

KJV, 1611

My friends, in these two errors I think I find the causes of a decaying church and a wasting unbelief.  And what greater calamity can fall upon a nation than the loss of worship?  Then all things go to decay.  Genius leaves the temple, to haunt the senate or the market.  Literature become frivolous.  Science is cold.  The eye of youth is not lighted by the hope of other worlds, and age is without honor.  Society lives to trifles, and when men die, we do not mention them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
An Address Delivered Before the Senior Class in Divinity College
Sunday evening
July 15, 1838

* Richard R. Niebuhr

Richard R. Niebuhr
Hollis Professor of Divinity Emeritus
Harvard University

" . . . As a teacher, Professor Macintosh was unquestionably very influential on H. R. Niebuhr, in the sense that he inspired in my father a deep respect and it was, I believe, partially in engagement with Macintosh's teaching and publications that my father formulated a number of issues that were to remain central in him for his lifetime.  I suspect that Macintosh along with Ernest Troeltsch early focused my father's mind on value theory. So far as the record goes, there is, of course the festschrift that Macintosh's students presented to him, to which both my father and reinhold Niebuhr contributed  . . ."

* Lucien A. DiMeo

Lucien A. Dimeo
Town of Hamden

I am pleased to join Yale Divinity School students in celebrating the centennial anniversary of the birth of one of Hamden's distinguished residents, Professor Douglas Clyde Macintosh, who made his home at 25 Woodlawn Street for many years and who is buried in Whitneyville cemetery.

He was not only an eminent theologian, but he carried on the tradition of outspoken individualism which those of us in Connecticut and Hamden understand and admire so much.

To speak the truth as you see it, even when it is unpopular, is the cornerstone of this great country.

In honoring the Macintosh Centennial we do not necessarily subscribe to Dr. Macintosh's opinions, but we celebrate the First Amendment of the United States' Constitution which protects and cherishes the right of all individuals in this great country to express the truth as they see it.

* Colin Williams

Colin Williams
Yale University Divinity School

It was not my privilege to have known Douglas Clyde Macintosh, nor do I claim any familiarity with his written work.  My acquaintance with him, therefore, is through the reports of his former colleagues and students.

The high personal regard in which he was held is what is most striking.  Clearly he was a man of conscience - - - and one who paid a price for his deep commitment to the cause of peace and justice.  As one whose central theological insistence was that faith centers in experience and that its truth is subject to empirical verification, his own life became for his students a profound illustration of the truth he embraced.

His commitment to the cause of pacifism is well-known as is his struggle all the way to the Supreme Court to appeal the denial of U.S. citizenship on the grounds of his opposition to the First World War.  As one reads the record of his life and of his long service to Yale as a teacher one is struck by the profound impression he made on his students.  They sensed his integrity; but even more, they experienced his personal commitment to each of them as a friend concerned to enable them to grow into the truth.

If the true value of a teacher can be measured by the continuing influence in the life of his students, Douglas Clyde Macintosh can clearly be counted among the great teachers of the Divinity School.


*J. Seelye Bixler

J. Seelye Bixler
President Emeritus
Colby College

It is always hard to put one's finger on the special qualities which distinguish the conspicuously great teacher, but in Macintosh's case I think it was simply the fact that he knew so much and talked about it so well. 

We recognized his prodigious scholarship and we responded to the marvelous luminousness of his presentation.  His classroom produced no fireworks.  He used no tricks of the trade or artificial stimulants to arouse our interest. he was reserved in manner, detached and seemingly almost shy. But what he said produced a tremendous effect.  Our minds responded to its range and accuracy, but what is interesting to look back on is that our hearts responded as well.  This is not only the real thing, we said to ourselves, but it is real for us, what we have wanted to know, representing what we have longed to achieve. It came home to us personally also in that it showed us what we could look forward to.  If these seemingly esoteric truths in all their formidable complexity could be made intelligible in this way and, so to speak, laid on the table before us, then there was a hope that we ourselves with our lesser abilities, might penetrate to their secrets in our own way. In spite of his quiet manner, Mac's classroom thus produced a drama that was unforgettable.

Of course he was not only a scholar.  His control of his material was such as to enable him to treat it creatively.  because he was an original thinker with a standpoint of his own his criticisms of our ideas had a sharp cutting edge.  We respected his empirical method and the theology it led to but it is interesting to think back on the fact that it challenged us instead of converting us.  We were devoted disciples of the man but we tried to express our devotion in following ideas of our own  --- risky as this might be.

Objective as he was and seemingly detached, as I have hinted, there was never any question of his intense interest in us as persons and his concern that we should have the best he could provide.  We loved him because we knew he loved us.

* Roland H. Bainton

Roland H. Bainton
Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History Emeritus
Yale University Divinity School

In 1959 when the Macintosh fellowship was established I composed a little brochure to be given to each of the recipients. It contained brief sketches of the donor Hope Conklin Macintosh and of Douglas.  He commenced his teaching at Yale in 1909. Here he was responsible for establishing in the Graduate School the Department of Religion, of which he was the chairman from 1920-1938. As for his views and his influence on students I venture to repeat what I wrote in the brochure.

He described his own religious position as that of "untraditional orthodoxy."  While always a defender of the faith, he considered the best defense to be the relinquishment of the untenable.  This meant that the theologian could not hold out against the historian: whatever happened in the past happened, and whatever did not happen did not happen., and the only way to find out is through examination of the documents.  The scrutiny must be as rigorous in the case of the Biblical documents as for any other.  But research implies uncertainty and religion can brook no uncertainty, at least not on points of vital importance.  Therefore, religion must be independent of history, even the Christian religion, which takes its rise from the Jesus of history. Should it be proved, as it had not been, that Jesus never lived, Christianity might nevertheless survive.  On this assumption, in a book entitled The Reasonableness of Christianity, Macintosh devoted one hundred and thirty-five pages to a defense of Christianity without mentioning Jesus at all.  In defense of the procedure he said:

"It has been through no oversight that nothing has been said of Christology or the historical Jesus.  There is an important tactical advantage in showing how extensive and vital is that content or essence of Christianity which can be defended successfully without any assumption as to particular facts of history.  We escape the danger of infecting the entire content of essential Christian belief with the necessary incertitude of historical opinion.  All that has been said of the reasonableness and truth of Christianity is demonstrably valid, whether we have any Christology or not, and whatever we may or may not believe about the historical Jesus.  It would still be valid if it should turn out that Jesus was essentially different from what has been commonly believed, or even that he was not truly historical at all . . . it is the systematic thinker's task to lead faith to a sure foundation, independent of the uncertainties of historical investigation."

But if, then, the certitude of the Christian religion does not rest on the facts of history, on what does it rest? Where is the assurance to be found?  This question led to wrestling with the problem of knowledge - - - in general and with reference to religion.  Two of Macintosh's books were devoted to the inquiry: The Problem of Knowledge in 1915 and The Problem of Religious Knowledge in 1940. He was in the tradition of the Scottish Common Sense Realists.  Current philosophy, he held, had wandered in the ways of sophistication until it fain would fill its belly with the husks of skepticism, thus invalidating not only religion but also science.  At the same time science was arrogant in assuming on its part a knowledge more assured than that of religion.  Knowledge rests on experience, and in the name of common sense we can assume immediacy of experience with reference to the natural world, though to be sure our sense impressions require critical correction.  So in religion, there is an immediacy of experience of the divine, again fraught with error and in need of rational check.  The body of assured data, available to those who make the "right religious adjustment" is, however, so large that one may speak of Theology as an Empirical Science., the title of one of his books in 1919.

The social implications of Christianity, though lying outside the immediate field of theology, concerned him gravely and occasioned in 1919 a book entitled Social Religion. His interest was more than academic.  During the first World War as a chaplain to the Canadian forces in France and later as  a Y.M.C.A. worker with the American troops, he had to face the problem of the Christian attitude toward war.  At that time he was able to urge upon the men the obligation the supreme sacrifice, which for the Christian is not to die but to kill.  Later disillusionment as to the "iniquitous 'peace to end all peace' " engendered a "profound distrust of war as a way of settling anything."  When he applied for U.S. citizenship in 1929, he "would not promise in advance to bear arms in defense of the United States unless he believed the war to be morally justified."  The Supreme Court in 1931 denied him citizenship by a vote of five to four. The dissenting opinion was delivered by Chief Justice Hughes.

Douglas Macintosh was a stimulating teacher who engendered and fructified the thinking of a generation of distinguished students.  In 1937, they dedicated to him a collection of essays under the title The Nature of Religious Experience, in which they testified to their "respect for his wisdom . . .their admiration for his integrity and their love for him as a friend."  Integrity was a well-chosen word. Professor Werdermann of Berlin spoke of him as  candida anima, a spirit without guile.  The English word "candid" applied to him also.  He was as frank as he was friendly in disclosing to another his faults.  But he was never censorious and was especially glad to be encouraging to those who needed encouragement.  Seelye Bixler, who was to become president of Colby College, in 1922 needed guidance and reassurance about his profession and about himself.  Of the help which he received from Douglas Macintosh, he reports, "He made scholarship seem not hopelessly difficult, but within the range of one's own feeble capacities.  So strikingly clear were all his pronouncements that you felt the lure of the subject matter as irresistible and had no interest in your doubts about yourself."

There was Souren Vetsigian , who has been now for many years in Bulgaria.  In 1931 he gave a report which elicited  no enthusiasm from a seminar.  He was depressed until Macintosh told him that it had the making of an article.  That encouragement started him toward the production of several books which have appeared in Armenian. The professor's concern extended to the wives and children of students also.  When the Peter Goertz family, en route to China, was at the station in Vancouver, B.C., whom should they meet but Douglas Macintosh!  While Peter was attending to tickets the professor sat down with Mrs. Goertz and gave her words of cheer.  The Baintons remember him holding their first baby during the cutting of her toenails.

He was twice married, first to Emily Powell on February 13, 1921. She died died on November 2, 1922 [in childbirth, as did the baby].  The following week happened to be his assignment for chapel.  He did not flinch but on the first day read as his Scripture the verse from the prophet Habakkuk: "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall the fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."


* William H. Harbaugh

William H. Harbaugh
Professor of History
University of Virginia

I regarded The Rev. Dr. Douglas Clyde Macintosh so highly intellectually and deemed his law suit for the right of conscience so important constitutionally that I devoted a full in my biography of John W. Davis, Lawyer's Lawyer, to United States v. Macintosh.

What impressed me most at the time I was writing and what continues to impress me was Dr. Macintosh's personal and intellectual character.  The one was intertwined with the other. Had he not been a man of high purpose and exceptional integrity, he would have repressed his convictions in the interest of his original objective  - - - naturalization; had he not been also a man of extraordinary prescience, he could not have said:

           "I do not undertake to support 'my country right or wrong' . . . I am not willing to promise beforehand, and without knowing the cause which my country may go to war, either that I will or that I will not 'take up arms in the defense of this country,' however 'necessary the war may seem to the Government of the day.' " 

Although Dr. Macintosh lost his case by a five-four decision his struggle was not in vain.  Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes was prompted to say in dissent: "[In] the forum of conscience a, duty to a moral power higher than the State has always been maintained."  Subsequently, with Justice William O. Douglas writing for the majority, the Supreme Court overturned Macintosh. Finally, in an action which clearly reflected the continuing influence of Dr. Macintosh's moral moral contentions, President Carter pardoned many Vietnam War resisters whose comportment had been in Dr. Macintosh's tradition.


* Herman Will

The United Methodist Building across from the U.S. Supreme Court

Herman Will
Associate General Secretary
Division of World Peace
Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

Douglas Clyde Macintosh was a familiar name to persons concerned about peace and civil liberties in the 1950's.  The Supreme Court's holding that an applicant for citizenship must be willing to bear arms in any war the United States might undertake was a setback for those interested in the rights of conscientious objection.

In 1929, Rosika Schwimmer, a pacifist, had been denied naturalization.  Macintosh, however, held essentially the "just war" position in line with much of Christian teaching on the issue.  Despite his willingness to participate in wars he considered justified, the Supreme Court turned down his appeal.

There were two important points in the decision.  First, the Court's majority opinion stated: "Whether any citizen shall be exempt from serving in the armed forces of the nation in time of war is dependent on the will of Congress and not upon the scruples of the individual, except as Congress provides."  This bore out earlier World War I cases which had held that conscientious objection is not a constitutional right protected by the First Amendment.

The second point related to the oath of naturalization in which the applicant promised to "support and defend" the Constitution and laws of the United States.  Many pacifists have taken this or similar oaths (for state and federal office, for admission to the bar, etc.) in clear conscience, believing that it did not require them to use military force.

In fact, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes in his dissenting opinion in the Macintosh case, argued this very view.  After referring to the long listing of conscientious objection in the United States and the loyal and patriotic citizens who have taken this position, Chief Justice Hughes wrote: "To conclude . . . . representative government."

It may be of interest to the reader to know that the Macintosh case was eventually revised by the Supreme Court in 1946.  A Canadian Seventh-Day Adventists who was willing to enter the Army, but only as a non-combatant, was held to be eligible for citizenship.  With three justices dissenting, Justice Douglas wrote the majority opinion in which he stated that the precedents of the Schwimmer and the Macintosh decisions "do not state the correct rule of law."

In view of the large number of young men who took the selective objector position during the Vietnam War, Professor Macintosh's position of support only for "just wars" is of special interest.  Clearly, governments have great difficulty in adjusting their conscription laws to the consciences of those who insist on applying their own criteria of justice to war.  Though the draft is now in abeyance,  there is no indication that selective conscientious objection will be recognized by law in the foreseeable future.


Editor's note:  Mr. Will is an authority on Constitutional Law.

Further reading on the Macintosh case:

Ronald B. Flowers, “The Naturalization of Douglas Clyde Macintosh: Alien Theologian,” JOURNAL OF SUPREME COURT HISTORY 25/3 (2000): 243-270.

Ronald B. Flowers, “Douglas Clyde Macintosh: Selective Conscientious Objection,” in 100 AMERICANS MAKING CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY: A BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY. Melvin I. Urofsky, ed. (Washington, D.C.: CQ [Congressional Quarterly] Press, 2004, 124-125. Article written by invitation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

* Robert L. Calhoun

A Liberal Bandaged but Unbowed by Robert L. Calhoun
Every decade since 1939 the Christian Century ran a series on How My Mind Has Changed. Robert L. Calhoun was professor of systematic theology at Yale Divinity School and was asked to contribute to this subject on May 31, 1939. This article was published in the Christian Century on that date . . .

Robert L. Calhoun
Sterling Professor of Historical Theology Emeritus
Yale University Divinity School

When I first arrived at Yale in the fall of 1915, Douglas Macintosh was completing a six-year term as assistant professor of systematic theology.  The next year he became Dwight professor of theology, and used a leave of absence to serve as chaplain with the Canadian forces in England and France.  My first classroom experience with him was in 1916-17, in his second-year course in systematic theology.  When the United States joined the allied forces against Germany  in the spring of 1917, the rights and wrongs of participation in the war became an issue more fiercely debated in the Divinity School than any customary theological problem.  Both faculty and student body were overwhelmingly for participation, and the tiny group of student pacifists ( I can think of four, all close friends of mine though I was not one of them) were subjected to shocked, incredulous abuse by fellow-students and teachers alike.  Douglas Macintosh was one of  two faculty members who dealt fairly with the dissenters, whose view they did not share.  His sturdy insistence on the claims of conscience - - - an insistence that later almost blocked his effort to become a citizen of the United States - - - was evident during all the years I knew him.

Personal; memories of those years are too many and varied even to be summarized here.  It is easier to talk about his characteristic temper as theologian.  In 1915 he had published his first big book, The Problem of Knowledge.  It had served notice that his interest in philosophy was not less than his concern with the ususal problems of theology.  To my mind, his most persuasive self-portrait as a thinker took shape when he borrowed a title from John Locke and delivered in 1925 his Taylor lectures on The Reasonableness of Christianity. For him, belief that could not commend itself to careful, honest thinking was belief he as a thinking Christian could not hold.

In pressing this demand for reasonable truth-seeking, he laid himself open to misunderstanding when he talked and wrote about "theology as an empirical science."  People trained in the natural sciences could too easily mistake that phrase  - - - especially when somewhat whimsically he tried to clarify it with pseudo-equations - - -  as an unwarrantable claim to quantitative exactness.  Over against them, churchmen committed to more traditional dogmatics could and did suppose that he intended to substitute bloodless reasoning for faith. He did not.  His intent was much less rash.  To call theology "an empirical science" meant that as every science must have a distinctive body of observable data ( not necessarily sensible data ) and must seek to interpret them by means of suitable hypotheses, in the hope of discovering patterns general and dependable enough to be called laws, and thence developing coherent, relevant theories, so theology.  Its distinctive data are revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the actual experience of personal salvation. its "laws" are the recurrent, generally experienced patterns of life and thought disclosed within this range of discoverable and believable being.  Its appropriate theories must be worked out on these essentially familiar grounds.  The intended issue of this "empirical science," then, is a reasonable Christian faith.

Even so, this academic reading of his thought says far too little of the warmth and depth of Mac's profoundly religious and humanly responsive, if somewhat shy, personal being.  It was that, really, that made possible his theology.


* Julian N. Hartt

Julian N. Hartt
William Kenan Professor of Philosophical Theology
University of Virginia

D. C. Macintosh was one of the principal reasons for my deciding to go to Yale, in 1937, for doctoral studies.  I had read The Reasonableness of Christianity as a seminary student.  Macintosh was the big name in "empirical theology" in this country at that time (he shared some of that distinction, actually, with Henry nelson Wieman).  The Macintosh I met in the fall of 1937 was a fine man.  Of medium height, he was strongly built, and gave the impression of being in excellent physical condition.  His hair was white; his complexion was florid.  He dressed conservatively and in fine taste - - - he was in fact (I learned much later) proud of his good clothes.

I should have to say that Macintosh was not an electric presence in the classroom. My first year as a graduate student I took his famous year-long seminar in Theory of Knowledge.  On no occasion that year did he ever raise his voice above a soft conversational tone, either to underscore a philosophical point or to reprove dullness or perversity.  He listened in apparently inexhaustible patience to things he must have known were ill-considered, if not stupid; but the most extreme criticism I think I heard him utter all year was, "Well, I suppose what you say might be possible". We all learned that that was the full equivalent, from others, of, "How can you possibly propose such an absurdity?"

At the beginning of my second year Macintosh asked me whether I would like to read papers written by the students in his Systematic Theology course - -- the  required course for Divinity School students in those years.  Macintosh knew that the Hartts were poor (years before the gravy-train of graduate school fellowships came into sight!). He was much too thoughtful a person to simply offer us charity.  So he offered me a job instead; which I gladly accepted; and which he paid for out of his pocket. (Later I learned that he subsidized a lot of students one way or another, but never with any advertisement).  So all that year I listened to Macintosh's lectures in Systematic Theology.  He was always completely prepared, so far as I could judge. He presented his material as largely finished lectures, relying on full manuscript rather than on notes or direct inspiration. But again he made very few vocal gestures.  It was quite as though he assumed that reasonable men would be content to listen, for fifty minutes at a throw, to the voice of reason interpret the heart of the Faith.

It was later, a good bit later, that I learned that this eminently reasonable man was also a man of deep piety, indeed, of a piety largely traditional.  Neither in the lecture hall nor seminar did he make any sort of emotional pitch.

Going to the Macintosh home for high tea was a great experience for my wife and me.  Occasionally he would invite a small group of his students to his house.  Mrs. Macintosh prepared lavish teas and served them in high style.  There was little of professional-academic talk on those occasions, but almost everything else under the sun was touched on --- all the way from Charlie McCarthy to international politics (perhaps not as big a leap as one might think).  As seminary students we had been entertained, very occasionally, by faculty people, but not in the Macintosh style.

Macintosh was one of my doctoral dissertation advisors.  For that purpose I saw him seldom, mostly for morale purposes, as it turned out; but that was a considerable contribution.  He didn't say that what I was doing was all right; but he didn't say that it wasn't either.  He was not much given to wasting words.

Then the time came to go in to talk with him about the job offers I brought back from a swing through the south in the spring of '40.  He was a fine listener.  I came away feeling that my decision surprised him somewhat, but he didn't say he thought it was a mistake - - -but I wasn't sure about that.  I really wasn't sure until quite early in the fall of my first year teaching, along came a large box of books: copies of all his writings - - -books and articles --- and all of them autographed.  This was the sort of gesture entirely characteristic of the man: no parade of sentiment, no self-referential gestures; just something he thought a young man new in his  profession, new in his situation, would appreciate. He was entirely right.  He liked being entirely right.

Macintosh talked very little about the Great Legal Battle of his life until his partial recovery from his devastating strokes in the spring of ' 42.  I used to go round on Saturday mornings to take him for a ride - - - in Hope's [Mrs. Macintosh's] car ( we didn't have a car during the war years).  He never recovered full power of  speech, but when he was rested and relaxed he did pretty well.  The Great Case was much on his mind; in fact he had a huge volume of pictures and news stories about it. I am sure that he believed to the day he died that he had been right in his courageous and unflinching stand.  Many distinguished legal minds, then and since, agree altogether with him.

He was a person of the highest rectitude of character and conduct. Indeed in these respects he was a good bit of a Calvinist --- in the best sense.

Not of course in his religious vision and theological system.  Moreover, he was not greatly inclined, once his mind was made up on a matter of crucial importance, to change it before any ordinary show of force.  Once, years and years ago, I heard Millar Burrows say that when Macintosh was prepared to stay in the trenches to the end on a great matter, his voice got softer and softer as his will got stronger and stronger.

It is a melancholy commentary on the state of theological knowledge both at YDS and  elsewhere in the country that so little is known of Douglas Macintosh.  It is not too much to say that he put YDS on the theological map for several generations of theological  thinkers.  But theological styles are subject to sudden shifts of interest and sentiment; quite as much as the size and cut of a man's ties.  During the latter part of the '30's Macintosh could see such shifts coming. He thought these were largely regressive and he said so.

Finally, it is worthy of note that one of the truly rich pieces of theological work to have come out of YDS in the last 35 years is dedicated to Douglas Clyde Macintosh and to Frank Porter.  I refer to H. Richard Niebuhr's The Meaning of Revelation. A worthy tribute offered by one great spirit to another one.


* Raymond P. Morris

Raymond P. Morris
Professor of Religious Literature and Librarian Emeritus
Yale University Divinity School

The library of Professor Douglas Clyde Macintosh, was a specialized collection containing about 2,400 volumes, reflecting in a peculiar way, his professional interests and point of view.  It was free of extraneous, minor, irrelevant material.  Its subject foci were Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy and the philosophical implications of the Natural Sciences, from Kant to early 20th century philosophers.

Macintosh contended that religion not only is consonant with, but can be supported by Philosophy and the Natural Sciences.  In this there was no uncertainty --- he was not a liberal relativist.  He did not deny the contributions of historicism, of Bible and Biblical theology.  He affirmed that the "Christian" view of God and goodness and immortality are true apart from historical or theological evidence, including the historical Jesus, or the Christ of faith.  Consequently, his library contained relatively little classical Christian Theology, Scripture, Biblical theology, creeds, or Symbolism, Patrology, Scholasticism, the reformers ---Luther, Calvin or the latter divines.

His point of view posed the question: How do we know?  The Problem of Knowledge and The Problem of Religious Knowledge constitute what many consider to be his most formidable efforts --- the validation of epistemological realism. It is possible to define Truth with a sufficient identity for practical purposes as to assure belief in a personal God, the Christian law of love and self-sacrifice, and immortality. His position also presented a persistent conflict between the tradition of the the "Enlightenment" and Pietism, a clue to his strong interest in the deputation evangelism.  In effect, he held a mediating position between pure rationalism and subjective rationalism.

In retrospect, Macintosh's theology proved to be of a mediating nature.  He spoke out of the end of an age which had already gone by. His theology stimulated, but it was not appropriated by his students and others.  It was Macintosh the man --- what he was and stood for, his sincerity and convictions ---that attracted an impressive group of students who, in turn, proved so effective in the past generation.


Editor's note: Mr. James Dittes, Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University, has noted that D.C. Macintosh's library contains nearly 100 volumes on the subject of spiritualism and psychic research.

* Randolph Crump Miller

Randolph Crump Miller 
Horace Bushnell Professor of Christian Nurture
Yale University Divinity School

Douglas Clyde Macintosh was at the peak of his powers when I first met him in 1931.  Religious Realism, edited by him, was just off the press.  It included some of the best writing in the field, including a magnificent essay summarizing much of Mac's epistemology, empiricism, and constructive theology.  I started with his seminar in epistemology, not a wise thing for a student just out of college, and I struggled with the topic; but I got the taste of what Mac was striving for and I liked it.  During the next few years, I took every course he offered and found that my own theology was developing along parallel lines.

He helped nurse me through the pre-lims, and I needed his support. When it came time for the choice of a dissertation, he led me to Henry Nelson Wieman, which was not a totally disinterested choice on his part, as he had just finished a tripartite Is there a God? with Wieman and Max Otto.  I succeeded in writing the kind of dissertation he wanted , however, and in the final oral Niebuhr, Calhoun and Sheldon were examining Mac as much as they were me.

Mac made friends but not disciples.  His pupils admired him and learned much from him, but they went their own way.  I tried, more than most, to stay within the structure of his method, and I was pleased when he wrote that he planned to use my What We Can Believe as a text in 1942 (but of course his stroke eliminated that possibility).

He was an outstanding theologian, and although he never developed a full system his methodology promised a move beyond empirical findings to a metaphysical system.  He knew that theology needed metaphysics, and he leaned strongly toward emergent evolution and process thought, although he wanted a more personal deity than Whitehead, for example, would allow for.  I always thought his Baptist piety affected his permissible surmises.

He was my key teacher at Yale.  I still like to deal with his position when I teach contemporary theology. I wish we could recognize the Macintosh Fellows as allowed for in Hope Macintosh's will.  He deserves to be remembered with affection and with honor as one of Yale's great persons.