Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

sence

viewed as an instinct, declaring less the abiding presence of God than His primitive agency in man's creation. It is to that somewhat vague and ill-defined yet real spiritual faculty in man, termed the “God-consciousness,” that modern Christian thought looks for certification of the Being of God: God, our ideas of whom have grown so much larger and ethically purer, is verified to the soul through this God-recognising faculty as He comes in the revelation that is in Christ: the God so known, not with a perfect but a real and progressive knowledge, is God-inHimself, not Ritschl's God-for-us, shadowy and indeterminate reflex of the world, as this latter could only be : faith in the divine existence, it will be seen, has become founded on the divine immanence, as proved in the world of nature, the movements of history, and the capacities of the soul, but not without having deeply struck its roots in the divine transcendence, on which, indeed, the life of immanence depends.

We find Nitzsch saying that, though no definition could be explanatory of the concept of God, yet a knowledge of what is distinct and defined in the being of God's diversity is found immedi

ately in our consciousness of God;1 but such intuitive perception of God as is ours theology has rightly regarded as so inadequate as to call for the exercise of rational reflection on this content of our Christian consciousness, that our idea of God may receive explication, development, and adjustment, and God become known, not as World-Cause or World-Architect, but as the absolute Personality.

A sign of strange and pleasing progress may be seen in the fact that, succeeding last century with its rationalistic rejection of the Trinity, stands our own, in which Trinitarian thought has asserted itself with keenness and depth unexampled since the age of Arianism. In those recent essays at synthesis of the doctrine of the Trinity, it no longer appears simply as a traditional burden heavy to be borne, but has been presented in its naturalness and necessity to living thought and actual experience, no less than to the absolute Divine Personality. It emerges, not as a metaphysical subtlety or arbitrary imposition of the dogmaticians, but as carrying to the rational faith that cannot rest in a God who is a monotonous unity its threefold personality of God in the mutual relationship of three so-called “Persons” or personal “subsistences,” contained, in virtue of their indivisible and inexpressible unity, without being confounded, in the one “essence” of the Godhead.

1 System der Christlichen Lehre, § 61: "Definition Gottes als Begriffs-Erklärung giebt es also nicht. Aber das Wissen vom verschiednen, in der Verschiedenheit also bestimmten Sein findet sich unmittelbar in Bewusstsein von Gott vor."

In the doctrine of the Trinity of God, we have in God, the Divine Organism, the dynamic centre whence life-movement of the Godhead has, by recent Christian thought, been better seen to be secured through the living interaction of three eternal personal members of the organic whole, each hypostasis realising, in its own mode, the totality of Being in the Godhead. It has been recently viewed, in fact, less as an absolute ontology, more in the light of the doctrine of the Economical Trinity, as a doctrine historically developed on inductive basis of revealed fact, but this without the supra - historical Trinity of the Divine essence being relinquished. In the metaphysical foundations laid by Schelling and Hegel, with their progressive Deity in course of self-realisation through a Trinitarian process:

in the Sabellian treatment of the theme of the Trinity by Schleiermacher and Rothe, and in the Tritheistic tendencies of Thomasius: in the efforts to evolve the Trinity, by means of the world-idea, exhibited by Weisse, K. Ph. Fischer, J. H. Fichte, Twesten, Lücke, Beyschlag, and others: most of all, in the endeavours of Nitzsch, Julius Müller, Liebner, Sartorius, Frank, Delitzsch, Dorner, and their followers, to develop the doctrine of the Trinity on such basis as, that not as Absolute Love, Absolute Life, or Absolute Intelligence, can God be thought save in a Trinitarian mode,—we see those attempts at Trinitarian definition and speculation which have been really fruitful of advance to modern Christian theology. The rational character of Trinitarian thought has grown more apparent, as it has been shown to be the complement and conclusion of what Lotze calls “those upward - soaring trains of thought which reason itself began” but could not complete, and as theology has ceased to present the Trinity in its mystical and transcendental aspects as an occult dogma authoritatively imposed by revelation, and has set it in less foreign relations to actual Christian experience, in which, if not the verification, the suggestion or presupposition of the doctrine is found, at least in its main features.

We pass now to Christian thought concerning the angels-hierarchia cælestiswhom theology was so long wont to contemplate as perfect though peccable beings who “issued into glorious birth” and instantaneous completeness before an omnipotent fiat, and were not subject to limitations as men are. Theology, not quite accepting Schleiermacher's dismissal of angelology as without significance for religious thought, is now more fully recognising the enlargement of spiritual consciousness that comes of our realising the vastness of the world of spirits that lies beyond the bounds of this petty planet, and has grown more free from dogmatic utterance, as this spiritual aspect has become, in its naturalness and rational possibility, more acknowledged. Martensen, Delitzsch with less firmness, and others, have in recent times sought to vindicate for man a position of dignity superior to angelic orders, urging much that is both fresh and forcible, particularly in support of man's intrinsic dignity, while Dorner has maintained a rather indecisive

« AnteriorContinuar »