He … Read More. Abraham Kuyper was one of the most important and influential figures of the 19th century and early 20th century. Kuyper was not only a Dutch theologian, writing several works of theology that we still have with us today, but a politician, journalist, and statesman, being the prime minister of the Netherlands at the start of … Read More. He has studied … Read More. Since publishing his work on J. Gresham Machen in , the Church has been blessed with a series … Read More. Sin, Introduc. The self-abnegation of infinity is but a form of self-assertion, and the only form in which it can reveal itself However instantaneous the omniscient thought, however sure the almighty power, the execution has to be distributed in time, and must have an order of successive steps; on no other terms can the eternal become temporal, and the infinite articulately speak in the finite.
Perfect personality excludes, not self -determination, but determination from without , determination by another. God's self-limitations are the self-limitations of love, and therefore the evidences of his perfection. They are signs, not of weakness but of power. God has limited himself to the method of evolution, gradually unfolding himself in nature and in history. The government of sinners by a holy God involves constant self-repression. Above all, in the person and work of Christ, we have infinite self-limitation: Infinity narrows itself down to a point in the incarnation, and holiness endures the agonies of the Cross.
God's promises are also self-limitations. Thus both nature and grace are self-imposed restrictions upon God, and these self-limitations are the means by which he reveals himself. Because all knowledge is relative to the knowing agent; that is, what we know, we know, not as it is objectively, but only as it is related to our own senses and faculties.
In reply: a We grant that we can know only that which has relation to our faculties. But this is simply to say that we know only that which we come into mental contact with, that is, we know only what we know. But, b We deny that what we come into mental contact with is known by us as other than it is. So far as it is known at all, it is known as it is. In other words, the laws of our knowing are not merely arbitrary and regulative, but correspond to the nature of things.
We conclude that, in theology, we are equally warranted in assuming that the laws of our thought are laws of God's thought, and that the results of normally conducted thinking with regard to God correspond to the objective reality. Versus Sir Wm. Hamilton, Metaph. The forms of thought are also facts of nature. The mind does not, like the glass of a kaleidoscope, itself furnish the forms; it recognizes these as having an existence external to itself. The mind reads its ideas, not into nature, but in nature. Our intuitions are not green goggles, which make all the world seem green: they are the lenses of a microscope, which enable us to see what is objectively real Royce, Spirit of Mod.
Human reason does impose its laws and forms upon the universe; but, in doing this, it interprets the real meaning of the universe. Ladd, Philos. We cannot have philosophy without assumptions. You dogmatize if you say that the forms correspond with reality; but you equally dogmatize if you say that they do not Harris, in Journ. Ritschl, Justification and Reconciliation, , sets out with a correct statement of the nature of knowledge, and gives in his adhesion to the doctrine of Lotze, as distinguished from that of Kant.
We do not know either things or God apart from their phenomena or manifestations, as Plato imagined; we do not know phenomena or manifestations alone , without knowing either things or God, as Kant supposed; but we do know both things and God in their phenomena or manifestations, as Lotze taught. We hold to no mystical union with God, back of all experience in religion, as Pietism does; soul is always and only active, and religion is the activity of the human spirit, in which feeling, knowing and willing combine in an intelligible order.
But Dr. He holds that we can know things not as they are in themselves, but only as they are for us. We reply that what things are worth for us depends on what they are in themselves. Ritschl regards the doctrines of Christ's preexistence, divinity and atonement as intrusions of metaphysics into theology, matters about which we cannot know, and with which we have nothing to do.
There is no propitiation or mystical union with Christ; and Christ is our Example, but not our atoning Savior. Ritschl does well in recognizing that love in us gives eyes to the mind, and enables us to see the beauty of Christ and his truth. But our judgment is not, as he holds, a merely subjective value-judgment,—it is a coming in contact with objective fact. Smith, Faith and Philosophy, ; J. Anderson, art. Alden, Intellectual Philosophy, , esp. Intellect, ; Murphy, Scientific Bases, ; Bib. April, ; Princeton Rev. In God's actual revelation of himself and certain of these relations. We shall consider the grounds of this belief hereafter.
Our aim at present is simply to show that, granting the fact of revelation, a scientific theology is possible. This has been denied upon the following grounds:. That revelation, as a making known, is necessarily internal and subjective—either a mode of intelligence, or a quickening of man's cognitive powers—and hence can furnish no objective facts such as constitute the proper material for science. Morell, Philos. Pfleiderer, Philos.
It follows that, so far as reason acts normally, it is a part of revelation. In reply to this objection, urged mainly by idealists in philosophy, a We grant that revelation, to be effective, must be the means of inducing a new mode of intelligence, or in other words, must be understood. We grant that this understanding of divine things is impossible without a quickening of man's cognitive powers. We grant, moreover, that revelation, when originally imparted, was often internal and subjective.
Matheson, Moments on the Mount, , on Gal. Nothing can be revealed to us which has not been revealed in us. The eye does not see the beauty of the landscape, nor the ear hear the beauty of music. So flesh and blood do not reveal Christ to us. Without the teaching of the Spirit, the external facts will be only like the letters of a book to a child that cannot read.
Even if religious ideas sprang wholly from within, an external revelation might stir up the dormant powers of the mind. Religious ideas, however, do not spring wholly from within. External revelation can impart them. Man can reveal himself to man by external communications, and, if God has equal power with man, God can reveal himself to man in like manner. Morell and Newman can teach by a book, cannot God do the same? Rainy, in Critical Review, , well says that Martineau unwarrantably isolates the witness of God to the individual soul. The inward needs to be combined with the outward, in order to make sure that it is not a vagary of the imagination.
We need to distinguish God's revelations from our own fancies. Hence, before giving the internal, God commonly gives us the external, as a standard by which to try our impressions. We are finite and sinful, and we need authority. The external revelation commends itself as authoritative to the heart which recognizes its own spiritual needs. External authority evokes the inward witness and gives added clearness to it, but only historical revelation furnishes indubitable proof that God is love, and gives us assurance that our longings after God are not in vain.
The universe is a revelation of God; God's works in nature precede God's words in history. We claim, moreover, that, in many cases where truth was originally communicated internally, the same Spirit who communicated it has brought about an external record of it, so that the internal revelation might be handed down to others than those who first received it.
We must not limit revelation to the Scriptures. The eternal Word antedated the written word, and through the eternal Word God is made known in nature and in history. Internal revelation is preceded by, and conditioned upon, external revelation. In point of time earth comes before man, and sensation before perception. Action best expresses character, and historic revelation is more by deeds than by words.
Dorner, Hist. The whole creation reveals the Word. In nature God shows his power; in incarnation his grace and truth. Scripture testifies of these, but Scripture is not the essential Word. The Scripture is truly apprehended and appropriated when in it and through it we see the living and present Christ. It does not bind men to itself alone, but it points them to the Christ of whom it testifies. Christ is the authority. In the Scriptures he points us to himself and demands our faith in him. This faith, once begotten, leads us to new appropriation of Scripture, but also to new criticism of Scripture.
We find Christ more and more in Scripture, and yet we judge Scripture more and more by the standard which we find in Christ. His Spirit works in many ways, but chiefly in two: first, the inspiration of the Scriptures, and, secondly, the leading of the church into the truth. The latter is not to be isolated or separated from the former. Scripture is law to the Christian consciousness, and Christian consciousness in time becomes law to the Scripture—interpreting, criticizing, verifying it. The word and the spirit answer to each other. Protestantism has exaggerated the first; Romanism the second.
We may illustrate the need of internal revelation from Egyptology, which is impossible so long as the external revelation in the hieroglyphics is uninterpreted; from the ticking of the clock in a dark room, where only the lit candle enables us to tell the time; from the landscape spread out around the Rigi in Switzerland, invisible until the first rays of the sun touch the snowy mountain peaks. Christ is the organ of external, the Holy Spirit the organ of internal, revelation.
In Christ 2 Cor. Objective certainty must become subjective certitude in order to be a scientific theology. We have objective revelation at Sinai Ex. Although revelation in its widest sense may include, and as constituting the ground of the possibility of theology does include, both [pg ] insight and illumination, it may also be used to denote simply a provision of the external means of knowledge, and theology has to do with inward revelations only as they are expressed in, or as they agree with, this objective standard.
We have here suggested the vast scope and yet the insuperable limitations of theology. So far as God is revealed, whether in nature, history, conscience, or Scripture, theology may find material for its structure. Since Christ is not simply the incarnate Son of God but also the eternal Word, the only Revealer of God, there is no theology apart from Christ, and all theology is Christian theology.
Nature and history are but the dimmer and more general disclosures of the divine Being, of which the Cross is the culmination and the key. God does not intentionally conceal himself. He wishes to be known. He reveals himself at all times just as fully as the capacity of his creatures will permit. The infantile intellect cannot understand God's boundlessness, nor can the perverse disposition understand God's disinterested affection. Yet all truth is in Christ and is open to discovery by the prepared mind and heart. The Infinite One, so far as he is unrevealed, is certainly unknowable to the finite.
But the Infinite One, so far as he manifests himself, is knowable. But theology presupposes both God's external and God's internal revelations, and these, as we shall see, include nature, history, conscience and Scripture. Truths, ; Auberlen, Div. Mead, in Boston Lectures, That many of the truths thus revealed are too indefinite to constitute the material for science, because they belong to the region of the feelings, because they are beyond our full understanding, or because they are destitute of orderly arrangement.
They are not more obscure than are the facts of morals or of psychology, and the same objection which would exclude such feelings from theology would make these latter sciences impossible. See Jacobi and Schleiermacher, who regard theology as a mere account of devout Christian feelings, the grounding of which in objective historical facts is a matter of comparative indifference Hagenbach, Hist.
Doctrine, Kaftan improves upon Ritschl, by granting that we know, not only Christian feelings, but also Christian facts. Theology is the science of God, and not simply the science of faith. Allied to the view already mentioned is that of Feuerbach, to whom religion is a matter of subjective fancy; and that of Tyndall, who would remit theology to the region of vague feeling and aspiration, but would exclude it from the realm of science; see Feuerbach, Essence of Christianity, translated by Marian Evans George Eliot ; also Tyndall, Belfast Address.
We may define our concepts of God, and even of the Trinity, at least sufficiently to distinguish them from all other concepts; and whatever difficulty may encumber the putting of them into language only shows the importance of attempting it and the value of even an approximate success. Fisher, Nat. Thus religious beliefs are made to hang in mid-air, without any support. But the foundation of these beliefs is no less solid for the reason that empirical tests are not applicable to them.
The data on which they rest are real, and the inferences from the data are fairly drawn. The doctrine of the Trinity is not wholly comprehensible by us, and we accept it at the first upon the testimony of Scripture; the full proof of it is found in the fact that each successive doctrine of theology is bound up with it, and with it stands or falls.
The Trinity is rational because it explains Christian experience as well as Christian doctrine. Astronomy and geology are constructed by putting together multitudinous facts which at first sight seem to have no order.
So with theology. And yet, although revelation does not present to us a dogmatic system ready-made, a dogmatic system is not only implicitly contained therein, but parts of the system are wrought out in the epistles of the New Testament, as for example in Rom. We may illustrate the construction of theology from the dissected map, two pieces of which a father puts together, leaving his child to put together the rest.
Or we may illustrate from the physical universe, which to the unthinking reveals little of its order. It is man's business to distinguish and classify and combine. Scripture hints at the possibilities of combination, in Rom. God's furnishing of concrete facts in theology, which we ourselves are left to systematize, is in complete accordance with his method of procedure with regard to the development of other sciences.
See Martineau, Essays, , 40; Am. The necessity of theology has its grounds:. This organizing principle is a part of our constitution. The mind cannot endure confusion or apparent contradiction in known facts. The tendency to harmonize and unify its knowledge appears as soon as the mind becomes reflective; [pg ] just in proportion to its endowments and culture does the impulse to systematize and formulate increase. This is true of all departments of human inquiry, but it is peculiarly true of our knowledge of God. Since the truth with regard to God is the most important of all, theology meets the deepest want of man's rational nature.
Theology is a rational necessity. If all existing theological systems were destroyed to-day, new systems would rise to-morrow. So inevitable is the operation of this law, that those who most decry theology show nevertheless that they have made a theology for themselves, and often one sufficiently meagre and blundering. Hostility to theology, where it does not originate in mistaken fears for the corruption of God's truth or in a naturally illogical structure of mind, often proceeds from a license of speculation which cannot brook the restraints of a complete Scriptural system.
President E. Has God then left only the facts with regard to himself in so unrelated a state that man cannot put them together? All other sciences are valuable only as they contain or promote the knowledge of God. If it is praiseworthy to classify beetles, one science may be allowed to reason concerning God and the soul. Truth thoroughly digested is essential to the growth of Christian character in the individual and in the church.
All knowledge of God has its influence upon character, but most of all the knowledge of spiritual facts in their relations. Theology cannot, as has sometimes been objected, deaden the religious affections, since it only draws out from their sources and puts into rational connection with each other the truths which are best adapted to nourish the religions affections.
On the other hand, the strongest Christians are those who have the firmest grasp upon the great doctrines of Christianity; the heroic ages of the church are those which have witnessed most consistently to them; the piety that can be injured by the systematic exhibition of them must be weak, or mystical, or mistaken. Some knowledge is necessary to conversion—at least, knowledge of sin and knowledge of a Savior; and the putting together of these two great truths is a beginning of theology.
All subsequent growth of character is conditioned upon the increase of this knowledge. Ignorance is the mother of superstition, not of devotion. Talbot W. We cannot long keep the fruits of faith after we have cut down the tree upon which they have grown. Virtue without religion will die. The withered apple swells out under the exhausted receiver, but it will go back again to its former shrunken form; so the self-righteousness of those who get out of the atmosphere of Christ and have no divine ideal with which to compare themselves.
His chief intellectual qualification must be the power clearly and comprehensively to conceive, and accurately and powerfully to express, the truth. Nothing more certainly nullifies his efforts than confusion and inconsistency in his statements of doctrine. His object is to replace obscure and erroneous conceptions among his hearers by those which are correct and vivid. He cannot do this without knowing the facts with regard to God in their relations—knowing them, in short, as parts of a system. With this truth he is put in trust. To mutilate it or misrepresent it, is not only sin against the Revealer of it,—it may prove the ruin of men's souls.
The best safeguard against such mutilation or misrepresentation, is the diligent study of the several doctrines of the faith in their relations to one another, and especially to the central theme of theology, the person and work of Jesus Christ. The more refined and reflective the age, the more it requires reasons for feeling. Imagination, as exercised in poetry and eloquence and as exhibited in politics or war, is not less strong than of old,—it is only more rational. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff.
As well be a howling dervish, as to indulge in windy declamation. Thought is the staple of preaching. The preacher must furnish the basis for feeling by producing intelligent conviction. He must instruct before he can move. If the object of the preacher is first to know God, and secondly to make God known, then the study of theology is absolutely necessary to his success. Shall the physician practice medicine without study of physiology, or the lawyer practice law without study of jurisprudence?
When people are shifting their doctrinal principles, they do not bring forth much fruit We shall never have great preachers till we have great divines. You cannot build a man of war out of a currant-bush, nor can great soul-moving preachers be formed out of superficial students. Slight divergences from correct doctrine on our part may be ruinously exaggerated in those who come after us. Though the moth-miller has no teeth, its offspring has. Defective understanding of the truth results sooner or later in defects of organization, of operation, and of life.
Thorough comprehension of Christian truth as an organized system furnishes, on the other hand, not only an invaluable defense against heresy and immorality, but also an indispensable stimulus and instrument in aggressive labor for the world's conversion. The creeds of Christendom have not originated in mere speculative curiosity and logical hair-splitting. They are statements of doctrine in which the attacked and imperiled church has sought to express the truth which constitutes her very life.
Those who deride the early creeds have small conception of the intellectual acumen and the moral earnestness which went to the making of them. The creeds of the third and fourth centuries embody the results of controversies which exhausted the possibilities of heresy with regard to the Trinity and the person of Christ, and which set up bars against false doctrine to the end of time.
Life and Theol. Such a shock was given by the rough and coarse doctrine of Arius, upon which the conclusion arrived at in the Council of Nice followed as rapidly as in chilled water the crystals of ice will sometimes form when the containing vessel receives a blow. They insisted on preserving that idea in all its inexplicable fulness. In self-defense the church was compelled to become somewhat of a school on its own account. It had to assert its facts; it had to define its ideas; it had to interpret in its own way those facts which men were misinterpreting. A man does not need to wear his backbone in front of him; but he must have a backbone, and a straight one, or he will be a flexible if not a humpbacked Christian.
Yes, but who knows what the Fathers believe now? The metaphysics of Jesus are absolutely essential to his ethics If his thought is a dream, his endeavor for man is a delusion. The Scripture urges upon us the thorough and comprehensive study of the truth John , marg. As a means of instructing the church and of securing progress in his own understanding of Christian truth, it is well for the pastor to preach regularly each month a doctrinal sermon, and to expound in course the principal articles of the faith. The treatment of doctrine in these sermons should be simple enough to be comprehensible by intelligent youth; it should be made vivid and interesting by the help of brief illustrations; and at least one-third of each sermon should be devoted to the practical applications of the doctrine propounded.
The actual sermons of Edwards, however, are not models of doctrinal preaching for our generation. They are too scholastic in form, too metaphysical for substance; there is too little of Scripture and too little of illustration. The doctrinal preaching of the English Puritans in a similar manner addressed itself almost wholly to adults.
The preaching of our Lord on the other hand was adapted also to children. No pastor should count himself faithful, who permits his young people to grow up without regular instruction from the pulpit in the whole circle of Christian doctrine. Shakespeare, K. Theology and religion are related to each other as effects, in different spheres, of the same cause. As theology is an effect produced in the sphere of systematic thought by the facts respecting God and the universe, so religion is an effect which these same facts produce in the sphere of individual and collective life.
This derivation was first proposed by Lactantius, Inst. But we reply that these verbs of the first conjugation, like many others, are probably derived from obsolete verbs of the third conjugation. For the derivation favored in the text, see Curtius, Griechische Etymologie, 5te Aufl. In a system of idealistic pantheism, like that of Hegel, God is the subject of religion as well as its object. Religion is God's knowing of himself through the human consciousness.
Hegel did not utterly ignore other elements in religion. To know God is eternal life, and thinking is also true worship. Here was the reason for the bitterness between Hegel and Schleiermacher. Hegel rightly considered that feeling must become intelligent before it is truly religious, but he did not recognize the supreme importance of love in a theological system.
He gave even less place to the will than he gave to the emotions, and he failed to see that the knowledge of God of which Scripture speaks is a knowing, not of the intellect alone, but of the whole man, including the affectional and voluntary nature. Never by thinking, but by doing. Try to do your duty, and you will know at once what you are worth. You cannot play the flute by blowing alone,—you must use your fingers. Life, ; Bib. In German theology, Schleiermacher constitutes the transition from the old rationalism to the evangelical faith.
But Christianity is distinguished from other religions by its peculiar religious conceptions. Doctrine precedes [pg ] life, and Christian doctrine, not mere religious feeling, is the cause of Christianity as a distinctive religion. Though faith begins in feeling, moreover, it does not end there. We see the worthlessness of mere feeling in the transient emotions of theatre-goers, and in the occasional phenomena of revivals. Sabatier, Philos. Schleiermacher apparently believed in neither a personal God nor his own personal immortality; see his Life and Letters, ; Martineau, Study of Religion, Charles Hodge compares him to a ladder in a pit—a good thing for those who wish to get out, but not for those who wish to get in.
Origin of Christianity, ; Caird, Philos. Religion, The voice that speaks is the voice of love, rather than the voice of law. A truer statement would be that religion is morality toward God, as morality is religion toward man. Religion in its essential idea is a life in God, a life lived in recognition of God, in communion with God, and under control of the indwelling Spirit of God. Since it is a life, it cannot be described as consisting solely in the exercise of any one of the powers of intellect, affection, or will.
To feeling, however, we must assign the logical priority, since holy affection toward God, imparted in regeneration, is the condition of truly knowing God and of truly serving him. Christian theology once grounded itself in man's natural knowledge of God; we now start with religion, i. Religion is the discovery, by the son, of a Father who is in all his works, yet is distinct from them all. The emotion which accompanies the religious life is that which accompanies the complete activity of ourselves; the self is realized and finds its true life in God.
Sin, ; Nitzsch, Syst. Truths, ; Twesten, Dogmatik, From this definition of religion it follows:. Man is a religious being, indeed, as having the capacity for this divine life. He is actually religious, however, only when he enters into this living relation to God. False religions are the caricatures which men given to sin, or the imaginations which men groping after light, form of this life of the soul in God.
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If Judaism be also true, it is so not as distinct from but as coincident with Christianity, the one religion to which it can bear only the relation of a part to the whole. If there be portions of truth in other religious systems, they are not portions of other religions, but portions of the one religion which somehow or other became incorporated with fables and falsities. Comparative religion does not bring to Christianity new truth; it provides illustrations of how Christian truth meets human needs and aspirations, and gives a full vision of that which the most spiritual and gifted among the heathen only dimly discerned.
All false religions have some element of truth; otherwise they could never have gained or kept their hold upon mankind. We need to recognize these elements of truth in dealing with them. There is some silver in a counterfeit dollar, else it would deceive no one; but the thin washing of silver over the lead does not prevent it from being bad money. He treats it with sympathy and justice. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto you. Which has not taught weak wills how much they can? Which has not fallen on the dry heart like rain? Which has not cried to sunk, self-weary man, Thou must be born again?
It is not an amalgamation of other religions, but it has in it all that is best and truest in other religions. It is the white light that contains all the colored rays. God may have made disclosures of truth outside of Judaism, and did so in Balaam and Melchisedek, in Confucius and Socrates.
But while other religions have a relative excellence, Christianity is the absolute religion that contains all excellencies. Christianity includes the aspiration of Egypt; it sees, in this aspiration, God in the soul Brahmanism ; recognizes the evil power of sin with Parseeism; goes back to a pure beginning like China; surrenders itself to human brotherhood like Buddha; gets all things from within like Judaism; makes the present life beautiful like Greece; seeks a universal kingdom like Rome; shows a growth of divine life, like the Teuton.
Christianity is the manifold wisdom of God. The facts of religion come within the range of theology only so far as they can be definitely conceived, accurately expressed in language, and brought into rational relation to each other. This principle enables us to define the proper limits of religious fellowship.
It should be as wide as is religion itself. But it is important to remember what religion is. Religion is not to be identified with the capacity for religion. Nor can we regard the perversions and caricatures of religion as meriting our fellowship. Otherwise we might be required to have fellowship with devil-worship, polygamy, thuggery, and the inquisition; for all these have been dignified with the name of religion.
True religion involves some knowledge, however rudimentary, of the true God, the God of righteousness; some sense of sin as the contrast between human character and the divine standard; some casting of the soul upon divine mercy and a divine way of salvation, in place of self-righteous earning of merit and reliance upon one's works and one's record; some practical effort to realize ethical principle in a pure life and in influence over others.
Wherever these marks of true religion appear, even in Unitarians, Romanists, Jews or Buddhists, there we recognize the demand for fellowship. Christian fellowship must have a larger basis in accepted Christian truth, and Church fellowship a still larger basis in common acknowledgment of N. It therefore properly includes the reading of Scripture and preaching on the side of God, and prayer and song on the side of the people.
Christian worship is communion between God and man. But communion cannot be one-sided. To praise a man is to put one's self on his level. What its true essence, its inmost spirit may be, the writer does not say, but leaves this to be inferred. Day, in New Englander, Jan. God himself, in the last analysis, must be the only source of knowledge with regard to his own being and relations.
Theology is therefore a summary and explanation of the content of God's self-revelations. These are, first, the revelation of God in nature; secondly and supremely, the revelation of God in the Scriptures. Johnson, What is Reality? Revelation helps reason and conscience, but is not a substitute for them.
But Catholicism affirms this substitution for the church, and Protestantism for the Bible. The Bible, like nature, gives many free gifts, but more in the germ. Growing ethical ideals must interpret the Bible. It is your business and mine to see the stars with our own eyes.
Books at a Glance
But it is useless when you put your eyes out. We can know God only so far as he has revealed himself. The immanent God is known, but the transcendent God we do not know any more than we know the side of the moon that is turned away from us. The thing added is the personal element of witness. This is needed wherever there is ignorance which cannot be removed by our own effort, or unwillingness which results from our own sin. In religion I need to add to my own knowledge that which God imparts.
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Reason, conscience, church, Scripture, are all delegated and subordinate authorities; the only original and supreme authority is God himself, or Christ, who is only God revealed and made comprehensible by us. Man is made in God's image: he is, in his fundamental capacity, a son of God, and he becomes so in fact, and fully, through union with Christ. Therefore in the truth of God, as Christ presents it to him, he can recognize his own better reason,—to use Plato's beautiful expression, he can salute it by force of instinct as something akin to himself, before he can give intellectual account of it.
Balfour, Foundations of Belief, , holds that there is no such thing as unassisted reason, and that, even if there were, natural religion is not one of its products. Behind all evolution of our own reason, he says, stands the Supreme Reason. Theology, ; , , maintains that there is no other principle for dogmatics than Holy Scripture. Yet he holds that knowledge never comes directly from Scripture, but from faith. The order is not: Scripture, doctrine, faith; but rather, Scripture, faith, doctrine.
Scripture is no more a direct authority than is the church. Revelation is addressed to the whole man, that is, to the will of the man, and it claims obedience from him. Since all Christian knowledge is mediated through faith, it rests on obedience to the authority of revelation, and revelation is self-manifestation [pg ] on the part of God. Revelation is an organic whole, which begins in nature, but finds its climax and key in the historical Christ whom Scripture presents to us. See H. Minton's review of Martineau's Seat of Authority, in Presb. By nature we here mean not only physical facts, or facts with regard to the substances, properties, forces, and laws of the material world, but also spiritual facts, or facts with regard to the intellectual and moral constitution of man, and the orderly arrangement of human society and history.
To nature in this sense man belongs only as respects his body, while as immaterial and personal he is a supernatural being. Free will is not under the law of physical and mechanical causation. Man is supernatural to the mineral; God is supernatural to the man. See Hopkins, in Princeton Review, Sept. Nature is a blind train of causes. God has nothing to do with it, except as he steps into it from without. Man is supernatural, because he is outside of nature, having the power of originating an independent train of causes.
There can be none, because there is no forgiveness. We cannot be sure about her. She is only aesthetic. Her ideal is harmony, not reconciliation For the conscience, stricken or strong, she has no word Nature does not contain her own teleology, and for the moral soul that refuses to be fancy-fed, Christ is the one luminous smile on the dark face of the world.
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As there was an astronomy without the telescope, so there was a theology before the Bible. As soon as the question How is answered, the questions Whence and Why arise. Nature is to God what speech is to thought. The Scriptures assert that God has revealed himself in nature. There is not only an outward witness to his existence and character in the constitution and government of the universe Ps. The systematic exhibition of these facts, whether derived from observation, history or science, constitutes natural theology.
Outward witness: Ps. There are two books: Nature and Scripture—one written, the other unwritten: and there is need of studying both.
The Liturgy and the Word of God
On the passages in Romans, see the Commentary of Hodge. Spurgeon told of a godly person who, when sailing down the Rhine, closed his eyes, lest the beauty of the scene should divert his mind from spiritual themes. The Puritan turned away from the moss-rose, saying that he would count nothing on earth lovely. But this is to despise God's works. God is present in nature, and is now speaking. Nature is not so much a book , as a voice.
To neglect the study of the natural mysteries of the universe leads to an arrogant and illicit intrusion of moral and spiritual assumptions into a different world. This is the lesson of the book of Job. The Scriptures plainly declare that the revelation of God in nature does not supply all the knowledge which a sinner needs Acts ; Eph. This revelation is therefore supplemented by another, in which divine attributes and merciful provisions only dimly shadowed forth in nature are made known to men. This latter revelation consists of a series of supernatural events and communications, the record of which is presented in the Scriptures.
Hegel, in his Philosophy of Religion, says that Christianity is the only revealed religion, because the Christian God is the only one from whom a revelation can come. We may add that as science is the record of man's progressive interpretation of God's revelation in the realm of nature, so Scripture is the record of man's progressive interpretation of God's revelation in the realm of spirit.
The same divine Spirit who gave both revelations is still present, enabling the believer to interpret the one by the other and thus progressively to come to the knowledge of the truth. Because of our finiteness and sin, the total record in Scripture of God's past communications is a more trustworthy source of theology than are our conclusions from nature or our private impressions of the teaching of the Spirit. Theology therefore looks to the Scripture itself as its chief source of material and its final standard of appeal.
There is an internal work of the divine Spirit by which the outer word is made an inner word, and its truth and power are manifested to the heart. Scripture represents [pg ] this work of the Spirit, not as a giving of new truth, but as an illumination of the mind to perceive the fulness of meaning which lay wrapped up in the truth already revealed. The incarnation and the Cross express the heart of God and the secret of the universe; all discoveries in theology are but the unfolding of truth involved in these facts. The Spirit of Christ enables us to compare nature with Scripture, and Scripture with nature, and to correct mistakes in interpreting the one by light gained from the other.
Christian experience is sometimes regarded as an original source of religious truth. Experience, however, is but a testing and proving of the truth objectively contained in God's revelation. As I get through the service-pipe in my house the same water which is stored in the reservoir upon the hillside, so in the Scriptures I get the same truth which the Holy Spirit originally communicated to prophets and apostles. Calvin, Institutes, book I, chap. The standard of infallibility is not in man's consciousness, but in the Scriptures.
When consciousness in any matter is contrary to the word of God, we must know that it is not God's voice within us, but the devil's. George A. But the highest authority available for men in morals and religion is the truth concerning Christ contained in the Christian Scriptures.
What the truth concerning Christ is , is determined by: 1 the human reason, conditioned by a right attitude of the feelings and the will; 2 in the light of all the truth derived from nature, including man; 3 in the light of the history of Christianity; 4 in the light of the origin and development of the Scriptures themselves. The authority of the generic reason and the authority of the Bible are co-relative, since they both have been developed in the providence of God, and since the latter is in large measure but the reflection of the former.
This view enables us to hold a rational conception of the function of the Scripture in religion. This view, further, enables us to rationalize what is called the inspiration of the Bible, the nature and extent of inspiration, the Bible as history—a record of the historic unfolding of revelation; the Bible as literature—a compend of life-principles, rather than a book of rules; the Bible Christocentric—an incarnation of the divine thought and will in human thought and language. Since the Scriptures have the same author as nature, the same principles are illustrated in the one as in the other.
All the doctrines of the Bible have their reason in that same nature of God which constitutes the basis of all material things. Christianity is a supplementary dispensation, not as contradicting, or correcting errors in, natural theology, but as more perfectly revealing the truth. Christianity is indeed the ground-plan upon which the whole creation is built—the original and eternal truth of which natural theology [pg ] is but a partial expression. Hence the theology of nature and the theology of Scripture are mutually dependent. Natural theology not only prepares the way for, but it receives stimulus and aid from, Scriptural theology.
Natural theology may now be a source of truth, which, before the Scriptures came, it could not furnish. John Caird, Fund. Ideas of Christianity. Christianity is more profoundly, more comprehensively, rational, more accordant with the deepest principles of human nature and human thought than is natural religion; or, as we may put it, Christianity is natural religion elevated and transmuted into revealed. The revealed religion of earth is the natural religion of heaven.
Note Plato's illustration of the cave which can be easily threaded by one who has previously entered it with a torch. Nature is the dim light from the cave's mouth; the torch is Scripture. But it was the Cross that taught the world the love of God, and apart from the death of Christ men may hope that there is a heart at the centre of the universe, but they can never be sure of it.
So Mr. Spencer fancies that he invented ethics. He is only using the twilight, after his sun has gone down. Strong, Christ in Creation, , Although the Scriptures make known much that is beyond the power of man's unaided reason to discover or fully to comprehend, their teachings, when taken together, in no way contradict a reason conditioned in its activity by a holy affection and enlightened by the Spirit of God. To reason in the large sense, as including the mind's power of cognizing God and moral relations—not in the narrow sense of mere reasoning, or the exercise of the purely logical faculty—the Scriptures continually appeal.
The proper office of reason, in this large sense, is: a To furnish us with those primary ideas of space, time, cause, substance, design, right, and God, which are the conditions of all subsequent knowledge. Thus reason itself prepares the way for a revelation above reason, and warrants an implicit trust in such revelation when once given. See Calderwood's illustration [pg ] of the party lost in the woods, who wisely take the course indicated by one at the tree-top with a larger view than their own Philosophy of the Infinite, The novice does well to trust his guide in the forest, at least till he learns to recognise for himself the marks blazed upon the trees.
Luthardt, Fund. Truths, lect. Ritschl denies the presuppositions of any theology based on the Bible as the infallible word of God on the one hand, and on the validity of the knowledge of God as obtained by scientific and philosophic processes on the other. Because philosophers, scientists, and even exegetes, are not agreed among themselves, he concludes that no trustworthy results are attainable by human reason.
We grant that reason without love will fall into many errors with regard to God, and that faith is therefore the organ by which religious truth is to be apprehended. But we claim that this faith includes reason, and is itself reason in its highest form. Faith criticizes and judges the processes of natural science as well as the contents of Scripture. But it also recognizes in science and Scripture prior workings of that same Spirit of Christ which is the source and authority of the Christian life. Ritschl ignores Christ's world-relations and therefore secularizes and disparages science and philosophy.
The faith to which he trusts as the source of theology is unwarrantably sundered from reason. It becomes a subjective and arbitrary standard, to which even the teaching of Scripture must yield precedence. We hold on the contrary, that there are ascertained results in science and in philosophy, as well as in the interpretation of Scripture as a whole, and that these results constitute an authoritative revelation.
Rationalism, on the other hand, holds reason to be the ultimate source of all religious truth, while Scripture is authoritative only so far as its revelations agree with previous conclusions of reason, or can be rationally demonstrated. Every form of rationalism, therefore, commits at least one of the following errors: a That of confounding reason with mere reasoning, or the exercise of the logical intelligence. Reason must not be confounded with ratiocination, or mere reasoning. Shall we follow reason?
Yes, but not individual reasoning, against the testimony of those who are better informed than we; nor by insisting on demonstration, where probable evidence alone is possible; nor by trusting solely to the evidence of the senses, when spiritual things are in question.
??Questions?? | Arminian Perspectives
The light of love reveals much that would otherwise be invisible. Moral truth Is no mechanic structure, built by rule. Rationalism is the mathematical theory of knowledge. Spinoza's Ethics is an illustration of it. It would deduce the universe from an axiom. So reason stops and faith goes on, finding its proper element in the invisible. Reason is the feet that stand on solid earth; faith is the wings that enable us to fly; and normal man is a creature with wings. As rationalism recognizes too little as coming from God, so mysticism recognizes too much. True mysticism. The Spirit, however, makes no new revelation of truth, but uses for his instrument the truth already revealed by Christ in nature and in the Scriptures.
The illuminating work of the Spirit is therefore an opening of men's minds to understand Christ's previous revelations. As one initiated into the mysteries of Christianity, every true believer may be called a mystic. True mysticism is that higher knowledge and fellowship which the Holy Spirit gives through the use of nature and Scripture as subordinate and principal means.
He should have said reason applied to a sphere above rationalism. Its fundamental doctrine is the unity of all existence. Man can realize his individuality only by transcending it and finding himself in the larger unity of God's being. Man is a microcosm. He recapitulates the race, the universe, Christ himself.
It implies 1 that the soul can see and perceive spiritual truth; 2 that man, in order to know God, must be a partaker of the divine nature; 3 that without holiness no man can see the Lord; 4 that the true hierophant of the mysteries of God is love. It is a mysticism which feeds, not upon its own feelings and fancies, but upon Christ.
It involves an acceptance of him, and a life of obedience to him. Its motto is: Abiding in Christ. False mysticism. It either partially or wholly loses sight of a the outward organs of revelation, nature and the Scriptures; b the activity of the human powers in the reception of all religious knowledge; c the personality of man, and, by consequence, the personality of God.
By these tests we may try Spiritualism, Mormonism, Swedenborgianism. Compare Ps. False mysticism is sometimes present though unrecognized. All expectation of results without the use of means partakes of it. Christian Science would trust to supernatural agencies, while casting aside the natural agencies God has already provided; as if a drowning man should trust to prayer while refusing to seize the rope.
Not that God may not reveal his will thus; but because it is hardly the behavior of a child with its Father. Such action makes us victims of temporary feeling and a prey to Satanic deception. In that system man becomes most divine in the extinction of his own personality. The cracked bell has no individuality. In Christ we become our complete selves. The fleshly self is the root of all evil; the spiritual self belongs to a [pg ] higher realm.
But this spiritual self lies at first outside the soul; it becomes ours only by grace. Plato rightly made the eternal Ideas the source of all human truth and goodness. Bradford, The Inner Light, in making the direct teaching of the Holy Spirit the sufficient if not the sole source of religious knowledge, seems to us to ignore the principle of evolution in religion. God builds upon the past.
His revelation to prophets and apostles constitutes the norm and corrective of our individual experience, even while our experience throws new light upon that revelation. While the history of doctrine, as showing the progressive apprehension and unfolding by the church of the truth contained in nature and Scripture, is a subordinate source of theology, Protestantism recognizes the Bible as under Christ the primary and final authority.
Romanism, on the other hand, commits the two-fold error a Of making the church, and not the Scriptures, the immediate and sufficient source of religious knowledge; and b Of making the relation of the individual to Christ depend upon his relation to the church, instead of making his relation to the church depend upon, follow, and express his relation to Christ.
In Roman Catholicism there is a mystical element. The Scriptures are not the complete or final standard of belief and practice. God gives to the world from time to time, through popes and councils, new communications of truth. John Henry Newman, Tracts, Theol. In reply to the Romanist argument that the church was before the Bible, and that the same body that gave the truth at the first can make additions to that truth, we say that the unwritten word was before the church and made the church possible.
The word of God existed before it was written down, and by that word the first disciples as well as the latest were begotten 1 Pet. The grain of truth in Roman Catholic doctrine is expressed in 1 Tim. So we may say that the American Republic is the pillar and ground of liberty in the world; but this is true only so far as the Republic is built upon the principle of liberty as its foundation. Where was your face before it was washed? Where was the fine flour before the wheat went to the mill?
Yet the Romanist principle sometimes appears in so-called Protestant churches. Do you know why? It is because God, when on earth, gave to his priests and to them alone the power of forgiving sins. Go to the priest, who is the doctor of your soul, and who cures you in the name of God. See Dorner, Gesch. Lectures, ; Fisher, Nat. Law in Spir.