« PoprzedniaDalej »
of it, but is derived and secondary. The Essence of Christianity consists not in a system of Ideas, but in a tendency of the inner life. It is a pregnant saying of George Hamann, that "the pearl of Christianity is a hidden life in God consisting neither in dogmas, nor ideas nor ceremonies." Dogmas are only that form of the life rooted in God which is constructed by thought and reflection. They may exist where the essence of Christianity is wanting, though without it, their origination would have been impossible. Hence dogmatic differences may exist among men who in the essentials of Christianity stand on an equal footing. If Christ had originally established a definite system of ideas as constituting the essence of Christianity, we should require in all Christians an identity of ideas. This, however, was not his intention, but to leaven by his teaching the entire human race. He himself spoke of Christianity as a leaven, that is, a divine power taking root in the soul and the inner life. This leaven when deposited in the hearts of men, gradually transforms all the powers of the soul by working outwards from within. Hence the intellectual consciousness of Christianity could not be exhibited at once; it was first to be received into the inward experience, and then the consciousness of what this doctrine contained was gradually developed. The mode of effecting this development was determined by the mental culture of the age. No sooner had Christianity made an entrance into the inner life of Humanity than it was confronted by a hostile tendency of the Intellect which could be only gradually overcome. Hence in the first ages of the Church we observe a great variety of dogmatic ideas, and many discordant forms, and yet, under all, it was possible to maintain the continuity of the Christian life and consciousness. Now the History of Dogmas traces the genetic development of Christian doctrine; it shows in what forms the same Christian truth has been developed as doctrine, and the relation of these forms to one another and to Christianity itself.
That we are able to form such an historical survey is owing to the peculiar nature of Christianity by which it is distinguished from all other Religions. In the latter, which were not in close connexion with a divine Revelation and on that account are termed Religions of Nature, Religion was exhibited in a partial manner in the feelings which were over
MYTHOLOGY, THE PRIESTS, AND PHILOSOPHY.
powered by the sensuous element. This stage produced only obscure religious sentiments which could not become the subject matter of any intelligible doctrine. This standpoint gave birth to mythology instead of Dogma, since the Ideas were not received with freedom, but arbitrarily governed the human mind, and by an interchange of the symbol and the idea an historical vehicle was formed in which the ideas were embodied; but they impressed the popular life only with a faint light and a mixture of truth and falsehood. On the other hand along with this Mythology appeared a speculative doctrine of the Priests which blended the philosophic and religious elements in strange confusion, and thus a chasm was formed between the religion of the Priests and that of the People. To both classes Religion was a one-sided affair, to the latter of the feelings, and to the former of the understanding. In this form Religion could maintain itself for centuries among the Oriental nations. In the West it was otherwise, especially under the influence and control of Grecian culture. Here a scientific method was formed, independent of Tradition; a conscious Philosophy made its appearance; free mental development entered the lists against traditionary Religion, and in the issue came off victorious. In Judaism, it is true we find a clear Theistic doctrine instead of Mythology; but even in this form religion was intimately amalgamated with a peculiar civil polity, and was not designed apart from that to develope itself under all the forms of human culture. Christianity first of all presented Religion as a self-subsistent power, independent of any political, poetical, or speculative element, as something which gave birth to an independent religious consciousness among all men, and to a doctrine which would be apprehended with progressive clearness in proportion to its being studied. Hence Christianity alone has furnished a history of Religion considered as doctrine. This History has no limits, for Christianity proves itself to be the only Religion which can satisfy the necessities of Man. It has nothing to dread from a conflict with other forms of culture, for it appropriates all. It has an inexhaustible fulness which can be developed in the consciousness with ever increasing profundity. Not that we obtain anything absolutely new, but we have a deeper insight into its contents. Certainly Christianity could no more than
any other religion escape a collision with the secular culture that opposed it; but while other religions fell into decay because men had outgrown them, Christianity fared differently. Although the conflict has been more fierce during the Christian era, because Natural Reason has brought to the struggle new powers derived from Christianity; yet the human mind has ever been obliged to revert to this Religion as the only one in which it can find satisfaction. It belongs to the History of Dogmas to follow the course of this development.
2. THE RELATION OF THE HISTORY OF DOGMAS TO OTHER COGNATE BRANCHES OF STUDY.
The History of Dogmas stands in very close connexion with the History of the Church, and hence used to be treated as only one department of it; for as Ecclesiastical History is occupied in tracing the development of Christianity among mankind in all its extent, its development as doctrine is necessarily included. But in a general History of the Church this can only be discussed along with whatever besides concerns the development of Christianity in the life of Humanity, and hence not with that thoroughness which it demands as a branch of clerical education. The History of Dogmas must be contemplated from two points of view, either as a section of General Church History, or as an independent study. Church History determines the extensive importance of the phenomena; the History of Dogmas estimates their intensive value. In Church History they are not noticed till their influence has been generally extended; in the History of Dogmas, conflicting opinions are traced to their germ. The former allows no place to differences till they are developed in doctrinal controversies: the latter gropes its way to their hidden origin. Church History busies itself with all the outward embroilments of controversy: the History of Dogmas is confined to the dogmatic interest.
The History of Dogmatics is to be distinguished from the History of Dogmas, inasmuch as the former has to do with Dogmas as they are combined in a system, while the latter treats of them in their separate capacity. Yet we cannot entirely sever one from the other. It may, indeed, often happen that the contrarieties which make their appearance are not apprehended in all their fulness, but the difference in
the contemplation of Dogmas cannot be understood, if it be not traced back to the general treatment of Dogmatics. In the development of the individual Dogma we must aim at discovering its new germinating relation to the whole.
CONNEXION WITH SYMBOLIC.
Moreover the History of Dogmas is allied to SYMBOLIC, or the various fundamental dogmatic forms in the Confessions of the different Churches. The connexion of the two is very apparent; for Symbolic has to do with the existing differences of the Confessions, but the general tendencies which at last found expression in these Confessions, were only gradually developed. To seek out the early germs of these differences is the business of a History of Dogmas which in treating of individual dogmas has to take account of the differences of which the origin must be traced to each. The History of Dogmas proceeds from a definite historical interest, a sort of offset from Church History: Symbolic on the other hand sprang from a controversial dogmatic interest, and in former times was termed Polemic. Its object was to defend the standpoint of one Confession definitely expressed against others, and this necessarily involved giving an account of the dogmatic system that was impugned. But through the prevalence of a partial, one-sided Polemic, injustice was frequently done to the other standpoints, and they were not treated according to their real merits. When this defect was perceived, and attention was paid to the common Christian element which lay at the basis, the ancient art of Polemic was repudiated, and a substitute was found for it in the Comparative. representation of the doctrinal system of the various confessions which was called Symbolic. The progress in impartial historical contemplation which since Planck's time has been applied to opposing standpoints, is unquestionable. But though this as a transitional measure was beneficial, it is not clear that this branch of study should always remain in the form of Symbolic, and that Polemic should be entirely superseded. Even Symbolic may be handled with Polemic partiality, as for example by Möhler. Nor is it essential to Polemic to treat an opponent's standpoint unfairly; it can be carried on very dispassionately, and opposing views may be represented with the impartiality of a justice made attractive by love. As Symbolic originally was subservient to dogmatic purposes, so now after overcoming the false tendency of
Polemic, it must return to its earlier object. Thus what has been distinguished by the name of Symbolic would be included in Polemic, and the presupposed historical development in the History of Dogmas.
The province of the History of Dogmas may be more exactly determined by noticing the points on which it touches other departments. Some might wish to include in it the development of the various Apostolic types of teaching, or the representation of the manner in which Christ himself had taught. Certainly what we have said of the nature of historical Inquiry is applicable here. The various stages and forms of the Truth imparted by Revelation are to be distinguished in their successive historical development from the Truth as presented by Christ himself. But if we make this investigation a part of the History of Dogmas, it cannot be discussed with that fulness and depth which the importance of the subject requires. Moreover, though the development of Christian truth by the Apostles was regulated by the laws of the Human and the Historical, it was distinguished from all subsequent developments by that one harmonising Spirit of Christ which so controlled the Apostles as the immediate organs of Christ's revelation that they could not fall into any irreconcilable differences. We only see in them that in a divided form which was one in Christ. Theirs was the plastic, normal, creative age; and hence the apostolic writings are the absolute source of Christian knowledge, the rule of Christian life and of Christian truth. This rule, as it was carried down the stream of Time, became the subject of controversies and contradictions, from which it must again be freed and restored to its original unity. Hence the History of Dogmas is distinguished from the history of Christian truth as it stands in the original records, which is to be regarded as the peculiar province of New Testament Theology and especially of New Testament Dogmatics. This stands at the head of historical studies connecting itself on one side with Dogmatics. The History of Dogmas is bounded at another point by the representation of the condition of the Church at the present time, which is the business of Statistics, a department which after a beginning had been made by Staudlin, has been principally cultivated as its importance deserves, by Schleiermacher. The History of Dogmas relates therefore to the development of