Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

in the recognition of the relative claims of subjectivity in religion, notwithstanding that, in the reaction from deistic to modes of thought that seek to be just to those pantheistic elements which any worthy modern speculative theism must duly recognise, excesses of subjective rationalism have by no means been wanting. The agnosticism of Mansel, designed, with all its misconstructions of the Divine Infinity, as an apologetic support of orthodox Christianity, has had its danger divined and declared by Maurice in England, and, more ably, by Dorner in Germany, and has been speedily used by Herbert Spencer in defence of the position of our modern agnostics, not to speak of the use made of it by modern idealism in garbs now ethical and now æsthetic. The result has been to induce, on the theological side, a more thorough analysis of the grounds of Christian belief in the cognisability of God and the possibility of revelation.

While modern evolutionary philosophy has had a quickening effect on theology, Christian thought is to-day stronger for the clearness and insight with which it has perceived the “unknowable”

[ocr errors]

Absolute of the realistic forms of that philosophy to mean the negation of thought and an illegitimate terminus of all things rational in the irrational; with which, moreover, it has postulated for God, in distinction from its idealistic forms, a real existence which is by no means dissolved in its manifestations in the life of the universe. Modern Christian thought has freely allowed itself to be enriched by the influences and results of Hegel and Neo-Hegelianism, and has trod an upward path in the way it has been able to preserve the personality and transcendence of its own Deity. In growing accord with the tendency of modern philosophy towards some form of philosophical Monism, it has, more skilfully than ever before, presented in its Philosophy of Religion the Absolute or “World-Ground” as a single, perfect, ethical, and ästhetical Life or Personality.

If paucity of results or absence of materials subservient to the uses of Christian theology be urged against philosophy, and its movement deemed orbicular or gyratory rather than forward in its progress, the impulse given by philosophy to theological thinking, from Descartes and Spinoza to Schopenhauer and Hartmann, must be held as undoubted, as also the influence of each leading philosophy of the modern period on the tone and colour of theological representation. Alike in advancing the art of thinking in our modern Christian theology, whereby it has become more self-consistent, and in compassing an harmonious agreement of its methods with those of philosophy and science, consistently with what is due, in respect of method, to the nature of its own contents or phenomena, the influence of philosophy has been paramount. It is at the same time to be remembered that the philosophical value of Christian theology in imparting intellectual light and moral power, with which the philosophic function has, in modern days, been exercised, cannot be estimated. In fine, the ultimate basis of all knowledge, whether scientific, or philosophic, or religious, as grounded in faith or involving an ultimate element of trust, and the fundamental unity of all truth, have been better understood, and the relations of faith and knowledge (Glauben und Wissen) more thoroughly investigated. While the power of philosophy has been more clearly seen in its providing the rationale of the phenomena of science, its dependence on theology for a deeper principle than its own as the true philosophic basis—the principle of the Absolute Reason of Christian Theism, has been more deeply felt.

i Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie, Mars 1890, p. 108 : “En donnant à la théologie sa methode, la philosophie donne sa propre base à la théologie.”

There is decided advance in the realisation of true relations between life and literature and art on the part of Christian theology. Recent effort has been towards bringing all the facts of human life within the widening reach of theology, so that the kindling touch of Christian theology shall be felt by human nature and experience at every point, and Christian inspiration and direction prove commensurate with the whole range of man's existence. Modern Christian theology has gained a better understanding of the bearing of its contents upon the real conditions and complex relations and manifold problems of life to-day, and is still showing itself able to look at life across its whole compass, at humanity in its passion and its destiny, and infinitely capable of adapting itself to every exigency and problem of modern life and

ca

civilisation. No marvel that theology and life came into sharpest mutual antagonism, seeing that the systematising tendency, the speculative interest of thought, was allowed to shut out the scope and play of life, to become too dissociated from feeling and action. Than the theologians, in their efforts, as encyclopædic students of life, after the comprehensive synthesis of faith, none more truly cry, “More life and fuller.” The facts of life, with its mystery so “ heart-piercing, reason-bewildering,” are no longer overborne by the uncritical use of isolated texts, and rudely hustled out of court : it is Christian theology which demands that the texts shall find their true scope and significance in the hearing of the testimony of every fact of life, for her progress has been towards an absolute fearlessness of facts in every direction. The antagonism between theology and life has progressively diminished since theology has laid deserved stress on life as being for man a divine education realised through sonship, with its growing perfectness of moral and spiritual character, and on life as, even in those aspects which men deem most secular, part and parcel of the progress of that

« AnteriorContinuar »