Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Theology

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THEOLOGY

The word theology in the classics;THE The word theology comes from a heathen source—from the Greek classics. In the Republic of Plato and the Metaphysics of Aristotle it occurs, and in its etymological meaning of " discourse or doctrine con cerning Deity and Divine things" Xo yos irept TOV Oeov Kal Trfpl TOOV Ofiwv. Men who wrote about the gods and their doings, or who speculated about the Divine in the origination and operations of nature men like Homer, Hesiod, Pherecydes, and Thales, were called tfeoAo yot. But there could, of course, be no theological science based on the popular religion of Greece. Theology was only to be found among the Greeks in the form of philosophical speculation. Through St Augustine we know that Varro, "the most learned of the Romans," distinguished three kinds of theology, the first mythical or fabulous, the second physical or natural, and the third civil or popular. The mythical theology he censured as containing many things contrary to the dignity and nature of immortal beings; the natural theology he described as that which is true but beyond the capacity of the vulgar; the civil theology he considered to be that which it was good for the citizens to believe the received religion of Rome. The general attitude of the Greek and Roman mind to religion was unfavourable to the cultivation of theology. Religion being dissociated in thought from truth could not give rise to science.

in the fathers;The words theology and theologian do not occur in Scripture, but it was inevitable that they should be trans planted into Christian soil. e6Xoyo<s is found, as a V.R. in the inscription of the Apocalypse the Revelation of John "the Divine," "the theologian," and almost certainly refers to his maintaining the Divinity of the Logos -rijv TOV Adyou OCOTTJTO., that the Xoyos is 0eds. In the 3d and 4th centuries a theologian usually meant one who distin guished himself in defending the personality and Divinity of the Logos. It was on this ground that Athanasius and Gregory Nazianzen were honoured with the distinctive appellation of " theologians." The term theology has not yet lost its early signification of "doctrine concerning God," although a much wider meaning is more common. Theology in its ordinary general acceptation includes, as one of its divisions, theology understood as the treatment of the problems which directly refer to the being, attributes, and works of God. in the Middle Ages;The Introductio ad Theologiam, and a later form of it, the Theologia Christiana, composed by Abelard in the 12th century, first gave currency to an acceptation of the word inclusive of all religious truth or belief. Among later scholastics the common designation for a general compendium of religious doctrine was Summa Theologies. Of such Summse among the most celebrated and characteristic are those of Alexander Hales, Albertus Magnus, and Thomas Aquinas. The mediaeval mystics deemed the essence of theology to be the immediate intuition of God, who, being once in contact with the soul, reveals to it the truth of all the principles of faith, and gives it at the same time spiritual peace and happiness. at and after the Reformation.This view led to a use of the word which was prevalent among the Reformers and their immediate successors, a subjective application which identified it with what was characteristic of the mind of a true theologian, an enlight ened and experienced homo renatus. In this sense it was a living practical acquaintance with the revelation of grace and truth made by God to man, a "habitus practicus," a "sapientia eminens practica," as it was called. With it, however, these earlier Protestant divines generally con joined that objective application of the term which was current in later scholasticism, and this at length wholly displaced the subjective acceptation; in other words, theology came to signify, not knowledge of a certain kind as inherent in the mind and operative in the life of the individual, but knowledge in itself, a body of systematized truth, a science. Theology, thus understood, may be viewed, discussed, and applied in a variety of ways, so as to give rise to certain kinds or species of theology. In the 17th century the necessity for specialization of this sort began, from the operation of several causes, to be widely and strongly felt, and it became usual for divines to indicate by the titles of their theological systems the point of view and mode of treatment adopted. An adjec tive added to the term "theologia" served their purpose. Of adjectives thus employed in the 17th and early part of the 18th century, the following may be mentioned as either frequently used or of some intrinsic interest: theoretica, practica, didactica, elenctica, polemica, irenica, pacifica, positiva, comparativa, dogmatica, theoretico-practica, didactico-elenctica, &c.

The extension given to the signification of the term theology was for a very lengthened period almost univer sally restricted to the knowledge derivable from the Scrip tures, the systematic exhibition of revealed truth, the science of Christian faith and life. It is still thus, per haps, that the word is most commonly understood. Two things, however, have naturally suggested the employment of it in a wider manner. Natural theology.First, there was the rise and development of a theology not based on revelation,—the rise and development of what is called natural theology. The Greeks and Romans could not distinguish between nature and revelation, reason and faith, because ignorant of revelation and faith in their distinctive Christian sense. In the patristic and scholastic ages of the church, and for some time after the Reformation, men were not in general prepared to admit that there was a knowledge of God and of His attributes and of His relations to the world which might be the object of a science distinct from and inde pendent of revelation. Yet the most learned and thought ful even of the scholastic divines recognized in some measure that such was the case, and could hardly, indeed, do otherwise after they had become acquainted with the contributions which Greek, Jewish, and Arabian philo sophers had made to the defence and elaboration of the doctrine concerning God. The separation of natural and revealed theology was virtually the work of the scholastics. The Theologia Naturalis sive Liber Creaturarum of the Spanish physician, Raymond de Sebonde, who taught theology in the university of Toulouse during the earlier part of the 15th century, was, perhaps, the first work which, proceeding on the principle that God has given us two books, the book of nature and the book of Scripture, confined itself to the interpretation of the former, merely indicating the mutual relations of natural and revealed religion. A conviction of the truth of the distinction which he so clearly apprehended gradually spread; more and more importance came to be attached to it. The deists proceeded on it, and tried to exalt natural theology at the expense of all theology professedly based on revela tion, by representing the former as the truth of which the latter was the perversion. The wisest of their opponents, and thoughtful Christian writers in general the adhe rents of the moderate and rational theology of the 17th and 18th centuries strove, on the other hand, to show that natural theology was presupposed by revelation and should carry the mind onwards to the acceptance of reve lation. Thus natural theology came into reputation, not withstanding the opposition of those who have denied its existence and contended that the reason of itself can teach us absolutely nothing about God or our duties towards Him. Comparative theology.The recognition of natural theology contributed to awaken an interest in the various religions of the world, and thus led to the second circumstance referred to, namely, the rise of what may be called comparative theology, although it has hitherto been more generally designated the science of religions. It can be shown to have originated in the attempts made to prove that the principles of natural theology were to be found in all religions. In Bishop Steuco of Kisami's De Perenni Philosophia, published in 1540, and in Lord Herbert of Cherbury's De Religione Gentilium, published in 1663, we have two of the earliest and most characteristic attempts of the kind. From that time to the present the study of religions has proceeded at varying rates of progress, but without interruption. Important results have been ob tained, and especially this result, the ascertainment, to the satisfaction of all competent judges, of a right method of investigation, the establishment, as the true mode of study, of the comparative method. As we have a right to speak of comparative anatomy and comparative philology, so have we a right to speak of comparative theology. The inference from the preceding remarks is obvious. If there be a natural theology and a comparative theology, it is a mistake to identify theology per se with Christian theology. The word Christian is, in this case, a real and great restriction of the signification of the word theology, and Christian theology is not the only kind of theology. The proper procedure is to give to theology a general and comprehensive meaning, which can be limited and specialized, when requisite, by adjectives like "natural" or "Christian." Is theoology the science of religion or the doctrine of God?What, then, is the general signification which we should give to the term? There is room for difference of opinion, and especially as to whether God or religion should be regarded as the object of the science. Is theology the science which treats of God? or is it the science which treats of religion? The latter view is now, perhaps, the more current. In addition to intrinsic reasons, the critical and sceptical spirit of the time is in its favour. Many speak of theology as a science of religion because they disbelieve that there is any knowledge of God to be at tained. Dr Martineau, in his lecture on Ideal Substitutes for God, protests against this tendency, and contends that the older view of theology, as the doctrine or rational apprehension of God, ought not to be abandoned, seeing that the new "science of religions," i.e., "the systematic knowledge of what men have believed and felt on things sacred to them," can be no proper substitute for the old "theology." We may admit, however, that the protest is essentially true, that a knowledge of man's religious opinions, emotions, and actions can never supply the place of a knowledge of God, that, when from religion its objec tive basis, the reality and apprehensibility of God, is taken away, the study of it can have merely the psychological interest which belongs to mental disease and illusions, and yet prefer the definition of theology as "the science of religion" to its definition as "the doctrine of God." The latter seems much too narrow. Even Christian dogmatics is about as much occupied with man as with God. The doctrines of sin and of the church, for example, are not doctrines regarding God. Then, although the new "science of religions" is not a substitute for the old "theology," it is still a science, or at least a very interest ing and important branch of knowledge, which yet cannot be brought under the definition of theology approved by Dr Martineau, the definition immediately yielded by the etymology of the term. The science of religion is a very different thing from the "science of religions." It is far more comprehensive. The "science of religions" is but one of the latest offshoots of the science of religion; the old theology is its main trunk or stem. Theology, when viewed as the science of religion, has not to do merely with the religious consciousness and its states. It must aim at the complete comprehension of religion, and, unless religion be a delusion and disease, this can never be attained by treating religion merely as a subjective or psychological process to which there are no corresponding objective realities manifested either through nature or revelation. We have no right to assume that it is thus without a real and rational foundation in fact; on the contrary, we are bound to inquire whether it has external grounds and real objects or not, and, if it have them, what they are. We must endeavour to ascertain and expound its objective grounds as well as its subjective contents. Thus the definition of theology as the science of religion in no way excludes what is implied in the definition of it as the science conversant about God and Divine things. It includes more than the latter definition, but does not exclude anything contained therein.

Objections to the former definition metThe definition of theology as the science of religion has been objected to by Dr Charles Hodge on two grounds:[1]— first, that the word religion is ambiguous, having both an objective sense and a subjective sense, and that its etymology is doubtful; and, second, that to define theology as the science of religion "makes theology entirely independent of the Bible. For, as moral philosophy is the analysis of our moral nature and the conclusions to which that analysis leads, so theology becomes the analysis of our religious consciousness together with the truths which that analysis evolves." As to the first objection, the word religion has, it is true, more significations than one, and consequently may be ambiguously used, but in point of fact it is not so used in the definition in question, in which religion is understood in its generic meaning, and as inclusive both of subjective and of objective religion. Theology has to treat of both, and if it treat of them aright it will not confound them. "The etymology of the word religion is doubtful." Very true. But is no word to be employed in a definition if its etymology be doubtful 1 That would be an extremely hard law. In definition we have only to do with the actual meaning of terms; we have nothing to do with their origin or history. As to the second objection, it has to be remarked that the definition does not make theology entirely independent of the Bible. It does not make Biblical theology in any degree independent of the Bible. It does not imply that the Bible is not the sole perfect standard by which truth and error, health and disease, are to be separated in the religious consciousness of individuals and the religious history of the race. It only implies that all religious phenomena whatever are to be studied by the theologian, just as moral philosophy cannot leave any moral pheno mena unstudied. Moral philosophy, in treating of vice as well as of virtue, does not thereby equalize vice and virtue; and no more does comparative theology, when it treats both of Christianity and heathendom, assume that the former has no superiority over the latter. It is merely a part of the task of moral philosophy to analyse the moral consciousness; it is an equally essential "part thereof to inquire into the foundation of rectitude, and to determine objective moral distinctions and relations. In like manner theology has much more to do than merely to analyse the religious consciousness; it has also to treat of the grounds and objects of religion. If some reduce it to a mere analysis of the religious consciousness, and overlook or deny that there is an objective religious revelation in nature and Scripture as well as a religious susceptibility in the mind of man, this is no logical consequence of the statement that theology is the science of religion. There needs, perhaps, no other proof that the definition to which Dr Hodge objects is of some use than to consider for a moment his own definition. "Theology is the science concerned with the facts and the principles of the Bible." Is theology, then, not concerned with the facts and prin ciples of the physical world, the human mind, and history, so far as these are disclosures of God's nature and ways? How can theology start from the Bible when it needs to be proved that there is a revelation from God in the Bible 1 And how can this be proved unless it is known from other sources than the Bible that there is a God? If there be such sources, theology must have to do with them; it can have no right to neglect anything by which God may be known or by which light may be thrown on the relations between God and man. It is a service to theology so to define it as to leave no room for asserting that it is only conversant with the Bible.

Relation of theology to religion.Theology, then, is the science of religion. What does this definition imply as to the relation of theology to religion? It implies, first, that theology presupposes and is preceded by religion. This is but an instance of the general truth that experience must precede science, and that science must be founded on experience. The implicit use of principles is always prior to their explicit development. Speech is a great deal older than gram mar; men reasoned long before Aristotle taught them how they reasoned; and just as there must be speech before grammar, and reasoning before logic, so must there be religion before theology. Secondly, that theology is the science of religion implies that theology must not only succeed religion, but must evolve out of it a system of truths entitled to be called a science. Science is know ledge in its completest, highest, and purest form. Theo logy, therefore, by claiming to be the science of religion, professes to be the exhibition of religious facts and prin ciples in their most general and precise shape, in their internal relationship to one another, in their organic unity and systematic independence. The principles of causality and of unity in the human mind impel it to seek law and order, explanation and connexion, as regards the pheno mena of religion no less than any other species of pheno mena; they impel it, in other words, to perfect its know ledge of these phenomena, and can allow it no rest until it has attained to the system and science of them. Theology is the scientific system of them, and as such is a necessity to the thoughtful religious mind. It is no accident that in every age and nation thoughtful men have reflected on their religious convictions, and sought to trace them to their grounds, and to harmonize and systematize them, or that the Christian church has anxiously studied and debated for centuries problems concerning God, Christ, sin, salvation, &c., no accident, but the necessary conse quence of those fixed laws of human nature by which man ever seeks, once that his intellect has been truly awakened, to define and complete his knowledge. Conscious that his religious experience, however vivid, involves much which requires to be cleared up; perceiving that the religious history of his race presents many apparently contradictory facts, many perplexing problems; aware that the Bible is no more a system of theology than nature is a system of mechanics or chemistry, man cannot, as a rational being, do otherwise than endeavour by the investigation of the whole phenomena of the case to verify, analyse, combine, and co-ordinate his notions as to spiritual things, so as to work them up into a comprehensive, consistent, firmly established, adequately certified, naturally organized whole, a scientific system.

But how may man hope to succeed in his efforts to arrive at a scientific understanding of his religious beliefs, feelings, and practices 1 How may he educe-and elaborate from the phenomena of religion a system of theology entitled to be called science? Only, it is obvious, by following a truly scientific method. What then is a truly scientific method in theology? And what is implied in following it? To these questions a comprehensive, al though necessarily brief, answer must now be given.

Scientific A right method in theology, as in all other sciences, is method ^^ a use O f re ason on appropriate facts as will best attain in eo- t- ru j.n_ It implies, therefore, as an essential condition, a right relation of reason to religious truth or fact, and to the evidence for it. What the right relation is may, perhaps, be defined with substantial accuracy in the Religious following propositions. (1) Eeligious truth, like all other truth truth, is " above reason " in the sense of being not created above ^ v kut manifested to reason, but is not " above reason " reason, in any special sense which withdraws it from the cogniz ance of reason. The truths of all science are the dis coveries but not the creations of science, and they have been discovered because they existed, because they are the equivalents of a reality which is independent of science. In regard alike to mathematical, physical, mental, and religious truth, reason has only power to seek it, and to find or to miss it; it has no power to make it or right over it, but must accept it as something presented or given to it, and to which it is bound to do homage and yield submission. In this sense all truth is above reason and revealed to reason. In this sense reason stands to re ligious truth in the same relation as to physical truth, and to Christian truth in the same relation as to the truth in natural religion. Reason is simply the instrument or faculty of apprehending the truth manifested or revealed to it, and it can in no case apprehend truth without the aid of the appropriate manifestation or revelation. Unless Christ had lived and taught, reason could never have known His character and doctrine; but no more could it have known Dante and his Divina Commedia, Shakespeare and his creations, Napoleon and his achievements, unless these men had appeared in the world and accomplished in it their work. Without Christ the truth in Christ could not be known, but, Christ being given, that truth comes under the cognizance of reason, ceases to be in any special sense above reason, and affords to reason material for science. By truths above reason are sometimes meant truths which cannot be fully apprehended by reason. Such truths are, however, in no way peculiar to religion. In all regions and directions reason finds that its range of vision is limited, and that its knowledge and science are bounded by nescience and mystery. Truths of special revelation are sometimes represented as above reason in the sense that reason can have no other evidence for them than that of testimony and external authority. But what truths of Scripture have thus been revealed to reveal no thing, and are thus devoid of intrinsic light, of natural affinity to reason, of self-evidencing power? If there be any such, it must be admitted that they cannot in them selves fall within the province of science, although the testimony and assent to them may. Where reason stops science must end. (2) Reason in its investigation of Reason religion must be completely free, i.e., subject to no other must to laws than those which are inherent in its own constitution. free In regard to most sciences there is no need to insist that the method of science is one in which reason is free, because all who occupy themselves with these sciences acknowledge it. But in regard to theology it is other wise. All who call themselves theologians are by no means disposed to admit that reason, in its search for religious truth and in its efforts to construct theological science, must be absolutely free; on the contrary, many of them hold that the church or the Bible, tradition or the common sense of humanity, must be allowed to have a co-ordinate or even superior jurisdiction. The proposition laid down implies that, if any view of this kind be true, theology is essentially different from science, and it is vain to speak of scientific method in theology. It implies that all claims to religious authority must be based on and con formed to reason, and that all the deliverances of every professedly religious authority must be submitted without reserve or restriction to the reason of the theologian before he can make a scientific use of them. This leads us to another proposition. (3) The only ascertainable limits of Reason reason in the investigation of religious truth, as of other }| m jted truth, are those which are inherent in its own constitution; ^ s and in the search of religious truth, as of all other truth, i aws . reason ought to go as far as it can go without violation of the laws of its own constitution. Reason has its limits in its own laws. It is the business of psychology and logic to discover what these laws are. When they are known the powers of reason are known, because reason can never claim to be irrational. It is useless, however, to attempt to mark off the external or objective boundaries of rational research. Human inquiry has, no doubt, external bound aries beyond which it will never pass, but all apparent boundaries of this kind recede as they are approached. There is even absurdity, self-contradiction, in the very attempt to draw any line separating the knowable from the unknowable. To know it one must have already done what we affirm to be impossible, known the un knowable. We cannot draw a boundary unless we see over it. Reason cannot investigate too deeply any matter whatever, cannot possibly go too far, so long as it remains reason. Its own laws, the laws of evidence and of inference, are the only discoverable expression of its lawgiver s " thus far." When it violates any of these laws it has gone too far, but only then, and then simply because it has ceased to be rational. As long as it con forms to them the farther it goes the better. All this holds good not less in regard to religion than to any other object of investigation, and is an essential condition of the possibility of religious science. (4) In the study of religion, as in every other department of study, reason should admit nothing as true without sufficient evidence, while rejecting nothing sufficiently proved by evidence of any kind although it cannot be proved by evidence of another kind, or although it may be imperfectly under stood or have unsolved difficulties connected with it. Theology is sometimes said to be a doctrine or science of belief or faith (a " Glaubenslehre "). Not a few, however, of those who say so regard belief or faith as essentially inclusive of reason, in the form of an immediate apprehen sion of primary truth or self-evident fact ; in which case theology is only a Glaubenslehre in common with other sciences, and belief or faith is in no special mode or measure its foundation. But, whenever by belief or faith is meant mere belief or faith, a belief or faith independ ent of and unconformed to reason, the apprehension and appreciation of truth, to affirm that theology is based on such belief or faith is to represent it as so unlike every other science that it clearly cannot be a science at all. For all belief or faith we are bound to have real evidence, and enough of it. But we have no right to reject any real evidence because there is not more or because there is not evidence of some other kind, no right to neglect to follow any light there is because it may be dim, and much around it may be dark, no more right to refuse to accept any well-established conclusion as to God and religion because there is great uncertainty as to the essence of religion, and because God in His absoluteness and infinity immeasurably transcends our highest thoughts, than we have to ignore or contest the conclusions of physical science because we cannot tell what matter is, and because we find that every hypothesis as to its nature brings with it many doubts and difficulties.

The foregoing conditions are perhaps the most general an( i fundamental of those to which reason must conform if it would originate and follow a scientific method in theology. The next question which demands an answer is, Whence are the data to be derived on which reason must operate in religious apprehension and theological investigation ? What are the sources of religious truth ? Reason has not the truth in itself, but in order to possess it must find it. As the eye has not physical light within itself, but merely so corresponds to it as to apprehend it, not otherwise is it with reason and intellectual light. By sources of religious truth can only be meant the media through which God manifests Himself, the ways by which He makes himself known ; and the physical world, finite minds, human history, Scripture, and the testimonium Spiritus Sancii may all be maintained to be such sources. The atheist and the agnostic will not allow that there are any sources of religious truth ; the deist and the ration alist will only admit the claims of general revelation, the exclusive Biblicist only of Scripture ; and the mystic will trust chiefly to special spiritual illumination; while the theologian of broader view will hold that all the ways indicated are sources, seeing that in and through them all knowledge and experience as to God and religion may be acquired, and must contend that in the study of theology none of them is to be ignored or excluded, underestimated or overestimated, but all are to be duly considered, and the information supplied by each to be taken in connexion with that supplied by the rest. The sources are distinct, but not isolated. The light from each combines and harmonizes with the light from all the others. The revela tion of God in nature is presupposed by that in Scripture, and Scripture contributes to unveil the spiritual signifi cance of nature. Without the light which the human mind supplies there can be no illumination from any other source, and yet all the light of the human mind is gained in connexion with the light from external sources. History gradually evolves the significance of nature, mind, and Scripture, yet cannot be understood if dissevered from the creation in which it is placed, from the mind of man in the principles and faculties of which it is rooted, or from Scripture as the record of the development of a plan of redemption which gives unity and meaning to the whole historical movement. However deep and full a source of religious truth the Bible may be, it is neither independent of other sources nor a substitute for them ; on the con trary, while casting light on them all it likewise receives light from them all. The living apprehension of spiritual realities presupposes a discernment which the Divine Spirit alone can give ; yet that Spirit, according to the testimony of Scripture, speaks not of Himself, but only in conformity with what has already been uttered by the Father and the Son. It would obviously neither be consistent with the scope nor possible within the limits of an article like the present to determine the distinctive features, natural spheres, and various relationships of the media of revela tion or sources of religious truth, but a sufficiently thorough investigation having this aim may safely be pronounced to be one of the chief desiderata of theological science.

The process of theological method itself has next to be Process considered. Its first step is the ascertainment of the of t he - relevant facts. But these are all the facts of nature and log ljj al d history, all the truths of Scripture, and all the phases of religion. The various departments of theology are based on and inclusive of various orders of these facts, and each order of facts must be ascertained and dealt with in appropriate special ways. Thus the relevant data of The facts natural theology are all the works of God in nature and of natu - providence, all the phenomena and laws of matter, mind, j" eo and history, and these can only be thoroughly ascertained by the special sciences. The surest and most adequate knowledge of them is knowledge in the form called scien tific, and therefore in this form the theologian must seek to know them. The sciences which deal with nature, mind, and history hold the same position towards natural theo logy which the disciplines that treat of the composition, genuineness, authenticity, text, development, &c., of the Scriptures do towards Biblical theology. They inform us, as it were, what is the true text and literal interpretation of the book of creation. Their conclusions are the pre misses, or at least the data, of the scientific natural theo logian. All reasonings of his which disregard these data are ipso facto condemned. A conflict between the results of these sciences and the findings of natural theology is inconceivable. It would be a conflict between the data and conclusions of natural theology, and so equivalent for natural theology to self-contradiction. Then, the data of of Bibli- Biblical theology are all the words contained in the Bible, c al theo- viewed in their appropriate positions and historical con- ^ nexions, and what these are and signify can only be ascertained by the processes of historical criticism and of hermeneutics. Biblical theology is the delineation of a section of the history of religious ideas, that section of which the traces and records remain in the Bible. But the Bible comprehends many strata of writing, deposited at different times, and collocated and connected in various ways, and the history of its composition, the age and suc cession of its parts, must be ascertained before we can exhibit the history of its contents, the course of the evoluPage:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/283 Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/284 Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/285 Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/286 Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/287 Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/288 Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/289 Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/290 Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/291 Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/292 Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 23.djvu/293 of the development of the doctrines. It is incorrect, therefore, to represent the discipline as having its general distribution into periods given it by church history.[2]

Symbolics.Symbolics is the historico-comparative study of the dogmatic systems of the various Christian communions, as expressed and involved in their symbolical documents. It treats of the origin, history, and contents, and relations of difference and agreement, of the various creeds and confessions of Christendom. It was preceded by "polemics" and "controversial theology" pre-scientific and anti-scientific kinds of theology. The older so-called systematic theologies and systems of divinity consisted largely of symbolical matter treated in an unscientific and ungenerous spirit. Christian dogmatics will never be properly purified until Christian symbolics receives intelligent and due recognition, and has relegated to it the subjects which properly belong to it. Christian symbolics may be said to have made its appearance as a separate scientific discipline with Marheineke's Symbolik, published in 1810. The chief reason why it appeared thus late was the difficulty of exercising in this sphere the impartiality of the true historical spirit. The arrangement of its material is determined partly by the order of succession in which the churches appeared in history and partly by the historical importance of the different churches. " In some treatises on symbolics the symbolical system of doctrine of each church is treated separately, while in others the several doctrines of the various churches are compared together. Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages. Their combination is requisite."[3]

Biblical psychology.The psychology of Christianity may be held to include Biblical psychology and the psychology of the Christian life. It must be admitted, however, that the right of the former to a place among psychological sciences is doubtful. It is universally admitted that it ought to present what is taught in the Bible as to the origin, nature, faculties, states, processes, and future development of the human spirit, and also elicit the conceptions implied and pre-supposed in the Biblical statements on these points. But if it do this in a merely historical manner, and do nothing beyond this, it must manifestly be regarded as simply a section of Biblical theology. To be entitled to be considered a separate psychologico-theological discipline it must at least also discuss the questions as to the truth of the ideas relative to the human spirit expressed and implied in Scripture, as to their accordance with the facts of mind, and their relationship to the conclusions of ordinary scientific psychology; and even then it may be held to be rather the result of a peculiar combination of history, apologetics, and psychology than a properly psychological discipline. However this may be, the study is an exceedingly interesting one. It has had a lengthened history, for in almost every generation since the 2d century treatises on some of its subjects have appeared. It was inaugurated by Melito and Tertullian, obtained in the 17th and 18th centuries distinct re cognition under the designation of " psychologia sacra" or " psychologia e sacris literis collecta," and acquired fresh life and scientific form from the publication of Beck's Umriss der biblischen Seelenlehre in 1843.[4]

The psychology of the Christian life is a much more comprehensive discipline than Biblical psychology, and one as to the precise place and scope of which no dubiety need be felt. Christian psychologyIts work is to elucidate all the distinctively Christian phenomena both of the individual and of the collective life. As to the former it should evolve a theory of personal Christian experience, normal and abnormal, in its purity and in its perversions. As to the latter, it should explain the spiritual experience of Christian society—the development of Christian piety—in different ages, countries, and churches. For the accomplishment of the former task it will find help and material in religious poetry, religious biography and autobiography, and all other expressions and records of personal Christian experience; and for the accomplishment of the latter in all the sources and contents of church history, although these must be used in accordance with the psychological purpose in view. Christian psychology thus understood is a department of theology still to form. And the difficulties in the way of its formation must be allowed to be very great. They will only be overcome by men in whom profound psychological science and insight are combined with a rare susceptibility and richness of spiritual life.

For Christian apologetics, see Apologetics. For Christian dogmatics, see Dogmatic.

Christian ethics.Christian dogmatics and Christian ethics are the two disciplines included in Christian systematic theology. They ought to be separated and cultivated apart, and yet must be recognized to be closely connected, and each the necessary complement of the other. The former sees in Christ the truth and the way thereto; the latter sees in Him the life and the way thereto. Christian ethics is much the more recent discipline of the two, and it has not yet attained the same definiteness and homogeneousness. Alike as to method and distribution there is greater indecision and confusion. Among its earlier cultivators were Daneeus, Calixtus, Perkins, Ames, Colville, Mosheim, Crusius, Staudliu, and Von Ammou. Schleiermacher may justly be regarded as the founder of modern Christian ethics. His superiority to his predecessors was due chiefly to his profounder apprehension of the nature of the problems of philosophical ethics, and to his comprehensive and spiritual conception of the kingdom of God as the highest good, pervasive and regulative of every sphere of human life, industry and art, science and philosophy, family, church and state. The following may be given as a scheme of Christian ethics. I. Determination of the nature, limits, and method of the science, and of its relations to other disciplines, and especially to those which are ethical and theological. II. Presuppositions of the science: these are (1) the ethical idea of God as revealed in nature and in Christ; (2) man as a moral being and in his relation to the law and revelation of God; (3) creation and providence as ethical systems; and (4) the king dom of God in itself, in relation to creation and providence, and as the goal of moral life. III. The fundamental conceptions of the science: these are (1) the Christian ethical law; (2) the Christian conscience; (3) the Christian ethical ideal; and (4) Christian virtue. IV. The reign of sin in the individual and society viewed in the light of Christianity. V. The origin and progress of the kingdom of God in the individual soul, and its manifestation in the virtues and graces of the Christian character. VI. The realization of the kingdom of God in the various spheres of society the family, the church, the nation.[5] (R. F.)


  1. Systematic Theology, vol. i. pp. 20-21.
  2. Among the best general histories of Christian doctrine are those of Neander, Gieseler, Hagenbach, Baur, Nitzsch, Thomasius, Harnack, Haag, Shedd, and Sheldon. There is a multitudinous literature relating to doctrine in particular periods and to particular doctrines.
  3. See Lumby's History of the Creeds, 1873; Schaff's Creeds of Christendom, 3 vols., 4th ed., 1884; Winer's Confessions of Christendom; and the Symbolics of Möhler, Köllner, Guericke, Oehler, Hofmann, &c.
  4. The following are among the most useful books for the student of Biblical psychology: Beck's Outlines of Biblical Psychology (Eng. tr.); Delitzsch's System of Biblical Psychology; Heard's Tripartite Nature of Man; Laidlaw's Bible Doctrine of Man; and Dickson's Baird Lecture for 1883.
  5. The history of Christian ethics has been written by Wuttke, Christian Ethics, vol. i., but much better by Gass, Gesch. der christl. Ethik, 2 vols., and by Ziegler, Gesch. d. christ. Eth., 2 vols. Bestmann has written two volumes of a Gesch. d. christl. Sitte. Among well-known treatises on Christian ethics are those of De Vette, Schleiermacher, Hirscher, Harless, Rothe, Wuttke, Sartorius, Martensen, Oettingen, Lange, Hofmann, Frank, and Dorner. Those of Wuttke, Sartorius (Doctrine of Holy Love), Harless, and Martensen have been translated into English. German literature is extremely rich, while French and English literatures are miserably poor, in this department. Wardlaw's Christian Ethics may be mentioned, but merely because it is English.