Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

sonal realising of which alone our calling and election can be made sure. It has been viewed, neither as due to mere Calvinistic sovereignty that willed it aforetime nor to Arminian merit aforeseen, but, as Predestinationist theories have fallen into the background, to grace, seizing and energising souls so that they are in Christ raised to sainthood and fitted for service, apart from Whom elective decree would be no more than a barren metaphysical abstraction. Recent Christian theology, avoiding the one-sidedness of Calvinism and Arminianism alike, has taken as its point of departure neither divine sovereignty nor human freedom, but, while seeking to do justice to both, has found in the formative force and constructive power of the Christ-idea, the idea of Jesus in His divine-human personality as God's Incarnate Son, a sounder and more adequate basis for theological thought than could formerly be found in metaphysical systems based either on freedom of choice or unconditional decree.

While the necessity and the reality of the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in man's Regeneration, that Divine Spirit of peace being the prime and fundamental gift in the communi

cation of the new, inward, spiritual life implied in regeneration, are enforced no less strongly than in our older theology, more emphasis is now laid, in Britain and America as in Germany, on its necessity because of our being flesh as well as of our having lapsed and sinned, as also more stress on the glory and blessedness of the life Christ gives, when in the new-formed life He becomes immanent in the soul, as essential to the true life of man. For it sees in regeneration, now viewed in closer relation to actual experience, not merely the implanting of a new life—though it is more careful than some modern German theologians how it speaks of a new ego or personality—the basis of whose ethical and spiritual necessity was laid in sin, but the fulfilment of the original conception of man's nature, in that divinely communicated life, without which humanity unsinning and unfallen could not have lived, ceasing to be for him alien or abnormal, and coming to be for him the true life perfected in the grace of the Spirit.

Our modern Christian theology has gained a growingly clearer perception of the grounding of the truth of Justification by Faith, like that of the Atonement, in the deeper truth of those relations of real union between Christ and humanity which are revealed in the Incarnation. Notwithstanding a somewhat prevalent modern un-Protestant tendency to view faith as no longer the instrument, but the ground, of justification, because through faith we become personally righteous, actual righteousness being induced in us by the law of faith, our wisest Christian thought has not forsaken the lines of progress that lie along the Pauline, Reformational, and Protestant teaching of justification, solâ fide, not by works; by the righteousness of Christ, not by inherent and developing righteousness of our own. It has, however, relieved it of the forensic mask it so often wore, bringing into light its higher than merely legal features in the necessary presence of faith's free spiritual activities and ethical effects in the divine - human process, the faith that justifies being now better exhibited as heart-righteousness evinced in discipleship of Christ. By this clearer insistence on the essential presence in man's justification of appropriating faith and spiritual receptiveness in respect of Christ and His living righteousness, the magical and fictional look of the saving process has disappeared, and its moral character has been more satisfyingly presented. Our recent Christian thinking has also conceived the divine judicial act, not as a simple pronouncement within the Deity's own nature that might remain of idle import for us because of its outwardness, but as also voiced by His holy Spirit in the rejoicing soul of the justified man, whose sense of release from guilt makes him joy in hope of the glory of God. Justification by faith has thus been better conceived as no arbitrary requirement, since Christian thought has recognised how necessary faith itself, as the prime and essential condition of right character, is to any justification that shall be truly moral, any justification that shall introduce us to real spiritual states and not merely forensic relations. Thus it has come about that, in seeking to weed out with firmer hand the fictitious and unreal, the unethical and arbitrary, from the elements of its faith, recent Christian thought has put the doctrine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness and merits on more substantial basis by its more careful recognition that God's taking of us, not for what we are, but for what, by the faith that does most surely yield righteousness, we are becoming, is not deed divorced from reality, but anticipative deed dependent on our most real renunciation of sin in soul and purpose.

In the sphere of Sanctification, there has been quickened thought in modern Christian theology. It has been felt that Christian teaching has too long deferred its ideal of holy life to another date and sphere, so paralysing spiritual aspiration and endeavour here and now : less artificial and more healthful notions of holiness have found place in the best recent Christian teaching: in the reigning Christ have been better disclosed at once the ideal and the power of sanctified life, while there has also been more clearly exhibited the importance of faith to sanctification in its wondrous possibilities progressively to assimilate man to the image of Christ, Who, though transcendent, becomes the immanent Christ, an immanent vital principle in all Christianised souls: the duty and the privilege of walking in the grace of life and in conscious spiritual union with Christ as living Head have been in recent years more effectively presented, and it has become better understood that sanctification is effected not so much by

« AnteriorContinuar »