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municate ; but this new life is anything but an unconscious one; nor is it imparted by magic, but clothes itself in idea, word, and preaching, and thus becomes essentially and necessarily a new doctrine of divine things. Nor is it otherwise with the content of Holy Scripture as a whole. No doubt that content is above all things testimony, the attestation of facts of divine revelation; but in the testimony there is thought, in the fact there is idea. What God reveals of Himself is truth to be thought about and to be proclaimed; that is, of course, doctrine, or doctrinal content.
This doctrinal content of the Bible must, according to our Protestant principle of Scripture, be the basis of our systematic theology, as well as of our practical preaching. But before we can turn it into the scientific forms of thought of the present day, or bring it to bear in our preaching on the immediate requirements of the Church, it is necessary to realise what was its original shape as it appeared in history. And this is just the task of our biblical theology.
It is therefore the crowning result of our directly biblical studies. Our first duty in coming to the biblical writings, as the historical documents of our religion, is to make ourselves acquainted with their origin, the place and character of their connection with the progress of a historical revelation. This introductory critical task being performed, we search through the several writings once more, word for word, in order to understand them in detail from the general point of view we have gained, and in order to turn their contents to account; this is the work of exposition. But the multifarious results of this work are, at first, but stones which obtain their full and proper value only when they are joined together in a great structure; they are elements which have to be restored to that organic connection to which they once belonged, before that more or less fragmentary and incidental literary verification. Now, according as this mental reproduction takes place from the point of view of the fact, or that of the idea, it yields the theological departments of the history of the old covenant, of the life of Jesus, the history of the apostolic age, or again that of biblical theology of the Old and New Testament. Not, indeed, as if the several parts of the Bible apportioned themselves in a purely external way to the one scientific division or the other, the formally historical parts coming to this, and the formally doctrinal parts belonging to that. That would yield an equally meagre biblical history and biblical theology, as the formal history, quite as much as the intentional teaching in the biblical documents, comes far short of what was really to be narrated and taught. No; to take an example from the Old Testament, while the faith of the Psalmist, the wisdom of the Proverbs, and still more the preaching of the prophets belong to the history of Israel, and indeed present its inmost and most peculiar facts, it is equally certain, conversely, that the religious and moral teaching of the old covenant must be sought not merely in the sayings of Moses and the prophets, but also in the confessions of the Psalms, the sacred institutions, customs, and hopes of the nation. In the same way, it is but a limited part of the New Testament doctrinal content which is purposely developed in the didactic utterances of Jesus and the occasional writings of His apostles; a greater part, perhaps, comes to us but faintly echoed in the form of presupposition or cursory hint, or emerges in the actual conduct of those who teach. But what we have to reproduce is not merely the fragments incidentally worked out in detail, but the whole view of the world as it lived in the hearts of Jesus and His first witnesses.
Accordingly, the idea and function of New Testament theology may be easily and simply expressed. It is the historical presentation of the New Testament religion from its abstract doctrinal side, the scientific restoration of the moral and religious elements of doctrine which existed in the consciousness of Jesus and His first witnesses, and found expression in their words and writings. It is therefore essentially a historical discipline, a branch of theological science which is related to the sacred history of the Bible, very much as the history of dogma is related to the history of the Church.
§ 2. STANDPOINT Protestant theology undertakes such a presentation under the twofold conviction of the revealed character of the biblical religion, and the historical character of the biblical revelation. Not that a presentation of the doctrinal contents of the Bible would be impossible without a belief in its origin as higher than that of non-biblical religions. But quite apart from the question whether such a presentation could do justice to the subject, it would therewith sink to the level of a mere chapter in the general history of religion, which could not claim the rank of a special theological department, or any higher value than other chapters of that history. Attempts have been made to treat biblical theology in this way, but that is not the Christian or Protestant standpoint. As Christians we believe that the biblical, and especially the New Testament religion, as distinguished from every other, rests on a divine revelation, and as Protestant Christians we believe that this revelation has found such complete and final expression in the Scriptures, especially those of the New Testament, that their doctrinal contents remain for all time the standard of Christian faith and practice. We therefore regard New Testament theology as not merely a chapter of the general history of religion, in which we may take a human and purely scientific interest, but as an essential means of learning scientifically from the sources the contents of our Christian faith. We regard it as the touchstone and source from which our Church doctrine is to be renewed, nay, as the indispensable nursery of our whole Church culture. Yet this revealed character of the biblical religion is not to be proved here as a preliminary. So far as this needs to be established scientifically, it belongs to fundamental theology as apologetics ; for biblical theology it is only a presupposition on which its mode of treatment is not dependent, but without which biblical religion would be for us an insoluble enigma. It may be sufficient here to call attention to the proof to be given further on.
To speak briefly, the idea of revelation is the necessary correlate to the idea of religion. If religion, that is, an immediate personal relation of man to God, has any truth at all, then it postulates the possibility of an opening up of the heart of the eternal God to the heart of man coming to meet Him. That is a possibility which cannot be realised in heathendom, where the heart of man, seeking God, blunderingly grasps the hem
of His garment and mistakes nature, His majestic raiment, for Himself. It can only be realised where the heart of man rising above and beyond nature, grasping something supernatural, ethically absolute and holy, presses beyond God's external manifestations into His essence, as is the case in the religion of the Bible, and only in it. This does not mean that the objective revelation is repeated afresh in the case of everyone who embraces this true religion; it is broadly human in its references; it is a communication to one which is meant for others at the same time,-a communication which is effected in a definite historical place and at a crisis in time in such wise that anyone who would take from the fulness of this perfect communication needs only the subjective appropriation, that is, the subjective revelation of its divine truth. The fundamental Christian experience from the beginning to the present day is, that this process of divine revelation, meant for the whole human race, has really taken place within the limits of Scripture, and reached for all time its highest point in Jesus Christ, as well as that the New Testament writings which testify of Him are genuine documents of God's completed revelation. Christendom draws from the person of its founder by means of these writings which testify of Him a supernatural world - overcoming spiritual life, a satisfaction of the deepest needs of the human heart and of the human race such as can be got nowhere else, and by these Scriptures it is led back from all the errors of its historical course to its original and imperishable
The theology of to-day does not deny what has just been declared about Jesus, but it does partly deny what has been asserted of the New Testament Scriptures. It does not deny the revealed character of Christianity in general, but while recognising it more or less definitely in the personal life of Jesus, does not extend that recognition to the New Testament writings as such. In virtue of a conception of revelation which divests it as far as possible of a doctrinal character, it yet considers that literature with its doctrinal contents as a purely human historical product, as the literary source of a first chapter of the history of dogma, in which as in the later chapters there is a theological treatment of the Christian facts of revelation, a series of purely human reflections of these facts which are not even consistent with each other. It is manifest that this would completely destroy the significance of the New Testament teaching as a standard for all time, its significance as a great permanent text for the history of dogma, in a word, the Protestant principle of Scripture. Without falling back on the old dogma of inspiration, or wishing to formulate a new one, we must at once declare ourselves opposed to such a view. Although the New Testament writers belong only in part to the original circle of disciples, the apostles who write being, so to speak, in great measure different from those who preached by word of mouth, yet no one will deny that these writings are the oldest documents of Christianity. It has, however, to be proved that they are not genuine accounts of the actual rise of Christianity, and do not stand to the revelation of God in Christ in a relation of descent so immediate and clear, that this revelation may be learned from them pure and undefiled. The impression which Christendom from the first has received, and still receives, from this early Christian literature, fixes a wide gulf between it and the ecclesiastical literature which followed. These original writings are certainly a subject for free critical examination, which may correct many old church traditions; and certainly this criticism will bring to light deutero-canonical fragments, approximating to the uncanonical in the collection which was formed gradually and without science. Yet it can only in the end confirm the judgment of the Church, which has drawn the boundary-line thus and not otherwise—as against the modern attempts to place an Epistle of Clement or the Shepherd of Hermas on the same level with these deutero-canonical fragments. With a sure religious tact, which does not fail even in those cases where the historic tradition was in error about the origin of a book, the old Church has fixed the classic literature of early Christianity, the collection of writings in which it felt the pulse-beat of the period of creation as distinguished from that of elaboration, and elaboration by means alien in spirit. We feel this pulse-beat still. As often as we base a sermon on a text of Scripture we become convinced that the words of Scripture are in point of fact related to the preaching of