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which we obtain the laws of science—then faith in God will be seen to have no less sure a foundation than faith in the Cosmos; the mode of God's manifestation in history—I mean the revelation of the Trinity—will be more certain than the laws of physical development; and the salvation of Christ as sure in its action as the movements of the heavenly bodies.” 1
This scientific temper modern theology has progressively evidenced, for it has had a consciousness developed within it that it is mistress of a domain whose data, laws, unity, and order are no whit less real than those of any of the physical sciences, or less capable of scientific treatment. There has also been a Christianising spirit at work in recent theology, and a new infusion of ethical power, as in other spheres of thought, due to its growing recognition of the ethical not less than the intellectual conditions of theological progress
—those ethical qualities which, it has been said, “ are no less necessary than intellectual to the seeker after truth in any department higher than that of physical science.” 2 A deepening conviction has been growing at the heart of modern theology that, as the outer and variable forms of truth decay, new and adequate forms for the inner and constant essence are indefeasibly secured to living thought through increasing moral oneness with Him who is the undecaying Head of all vital theology.
i Liberalism in Religion, By Rev. W. Page Roberts, M,A., p. 73. ? Ancient Religion and Modern Thought. By W. S. Lilly.
The use of the subjective method which has prevailed during our century, deriving its theology from the contents of Christian faith, has been marked by gratifying advance since Schleiermacher: Nitzsch, Neander, Twesten, Julius Müller, Thomasius, Hofmann, Lange, Frank, Rothe, Dorner, Liebner, Martensen, are among those by whom the objective sources and criteria of theological truth have been more strenuously sought in the regressive movement of individual faith to the Scriptures as the supreme corrective and chief illuminating light, beside which stands the lamp of history — “bright lamp of God”; and in whom have been witnessed an advance on former subjectivism, and a pressing
Vide Preface, But I should not wish it to be thought that I deem ethical powers unimportant to the investigator in physical science.
on, through faith, reflection, and experience, to an objective knowledge and scientific verification of Christianity.
In respect of those improved METHODS to which we have been so largely indebted for better results in recent theology, it can hardly be needful to instance that use of the inductive method which marks our century, and which, in historical and comparative investigation, has secured to theology, so often called to deal with facts obscure and complex, new wealth of result. It is of consequence to remember in this connection that it is of the essence of inductions, carried on under the fruitful inductive process that rests on primitive convictions intuitively known, but recognised as such only in course of experience, to be progressive, receiving everenlarging light from experience and for ever running up into deduction. It is not, of course, to be supposed that the deductive method, once so potent in the dogmatic à priori systems, is to be wholly done away, for, though the deductive process be no longer that almost exclusively pursued in theology, “induction must receive from deduction some measure of assistance and guidance. This certainly holds true in theology," for “the abstraction of induction from deduction” would be “fatal to its practical efficiency."1 But the deductive method, which by its very nature is demonstrative, and does not admit of enlargement, like induction, has been in recent times called into requisition with more becoming caution, and, instead of outrunning its inductive ally, allowed to proceed only on the basis of carefully ascertained results. The advance is well illustrated in the new inductive method of dealing with the actual phenomena of the Scriptures, instead of the old deductive procedure on the basis of a preconceived theory of inspiration. Recent Christian thought has, in fact, perceived how little warrant there was for the too speculative methods theology was wont to employ, since it finds no realm of inquiry where we are more confronted with the element of fact than that which, as theological knowledge, professes to deal with the facts of the Divine Being and character, the facts of the world's moral discipline and religious progress, and the facts of the spiritual development of man, individually and collectively.
Besides the new and larger use of the genetic method in proper conjunction with the inductive, there has been the fuller recognition of the historical method, not, however, as displacing the thetical, valid and indispensable in its own sphere. Recent Christian thought has grown more percipient of the fact that the historical runs back in its ultimate grounds into the philosophical and ethical. With the bearings of method on the progress of modern Christian thought, it is to be remembered that the century has seen the birth of Comparative Theology, and the virile development of Biblical Theology, whose analytical method has in an especial manner been exemplified by writers like Oehler, Schmid, Reuss, Weiss, Schultz, Kuenen, and other skilled toilers in this field.
Along another line conspicuous progress has been made, namely, in the more natural and progressive order in which scientific method has been able to distribute and co-ordinate the contents of Christian theology by proceeding from the doctrines which are simpler, in the sense of lending themselves more readily to isolated or detached investigation, and advancing to