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for itself universal validity as practical rational faith. And lastly, the objective truth of Christian faith would be proved from this, that the latter rests upon a Divine revelation in history. The proof for the truth of Christianity would be a proof for the reasonableness and universal validity of faith in revelation.
It is obvious that the mode of proof first described is a wrong one, as it derogates from the distinctive character of Christian faith and of the knowledge that springs from it. This must now be more distinctly shown by a historical study of Church dogma.
II. When the matter in hand is the formulation of the particular faithpropositions, the function of reason is to reduce them to the most appropriate expression, and to derive them from a given principle. The dogma of the Church has admitted reason to a much more independent part in the work. It seeks to know objectively the Christian faith-truth as a given reality. In carrying out this undertaking, there does not merely belong to reason the worth and importance of a formal means, it becomes rather an independent organ of knowledge in addition to faith; it does not continue subordinated to the way in which the subject-matter is apprehended, it gains an influence in determining the way.
The simple operations of reason may continue to be pretty much identical with themselves : the reason which occupies itself with the highest and ultimate questions is something variable, so that not unfrequently results that were once held to be reasonable have afterwards appeared unreasonable. We must therefore ask, What kind of reason was engaged in the formation of Church dogma? It was the reason of the Græco-Roman world of the time, as brought to view in the idealistic philosophy of later antiquity. From a combination of Christian faith with this philosophy Church dogma
If Christianity was to be accepted by the educated world of the time, it was requisite that it should enter into its thought life. This combination was accordingly necessary; nor would any harm have come of it if, in the process of combination, that philosophy had only contributed the outward form. But that philosophy was not only the sum and substance of the science of the time, it contained religious factors as well, and held the place of religion for those who had broken with the popular faith ; it set forth moral ideas likewise, and so it was also a moral and religious mode of thought.
In this philosophy science, religion, and morality are combined in a quite definite way. It teaches men to seek for salvation-for the highest good—through knowledge, and in its view the knowledge of God is the highest knowledge. This knowledge acquires a religious importance and worth, in virtue of which it transcends in value all other things. It is held as having a higher place due to it than belongs to the morality that has its sphere in common life. As the end of human existence can only be reached through the knowledge that completes itself in religion, there belongs to practical life in the world only a subordinate place.
The idealistic mode of thought appears in two forms. The one, which is at once rationalistic and moralistic, bases itself on common experience, and on that account will easily appear to be reasonable. It applies the familiar notions of cause and effect to the universe; it attains in this way to religious conceptions; and the thought of deity which it thus obtains appears as the result of a rational contemplation of the world which best corresponds with ordinary thinking. Equally natural is it for the ordinary man to connect the transgression of moral law with the thought of penalty. And with this again religious conceptions naturally ally themselves. Moral law proceeds from God, He rewards and punishes, He has power over the world and over the destinies of men. The contact is obvious between these positions of the popular philosophical mode of thought and important positions of the Christian faith. And yet, however intelligible it is that the two should have effected a union-however much this union served in opening a way for Christianity into the educated world of the time—however little, even, the union needed at that time to impair the subjective force of faith, yet it is not to be denied that Christian faith is something else than philosophical theology made it. This is shown very clearly by the faith in Providence of which both the rational study of the world and Christian faith undertake to speak. The former acquires the thought of a wise originator and director of all things, from the experience that there is everywhere purpose and order in the world; it seeks to interpret the ineans and ends in detail; but it remains uncertain about the supreme purpose. The Christian faith in Providence, on the other hand, does not arise from a study of the world, but from the certainty of the love of God, as made manifest in Christ, a love that contemplates as the supreme end the salvation of all. The particular means towards this end are often enough vague to the Christian. But while rational study not unfrequently leaves thought helpless before the seeming absence or contravention of design in the world, the Christian in every particular case is certain that for him everything must serve for the bestfor the attainment of his highest end. For the popular philosophy faith in Providence bases itself on a rational study, and is therefore knowledge possible for any one. For the evangelical Christian it is the fruit of saving faith, and is not to be obtained by means of knowledge.
The propositions which arose through combination of Christian faith with popular philosophy have become a permanent portion of Church theology; they became its rational basis. The fundamental idea of the ecclesiastical theology—the idea by which it is dominated—is due to the speculativemystic tendency of the idealistic philosophy. As the latter aimed at being at the same time a moral and religious mode of thought, it required to fix the relation of God, the world, and man, and for this there was requisite an idea that would give expression to the connection between these three. This was found in the idea of the Logos, which, in the form developed by Philo, became regulative for Christian theology. As that philosophy emphasized so strongly the supra-mundane character of God that a direct connection between God and the world seemed impossible, it restored the connection through the Logos. The Logos is the Middle-being in which God is present with the world, and the world with God, so that man comes into union with God through the Logos. As conceived of in thought an abstract principle; the Logos, as dealt with by the imagination, became personified.
The question as to the relation between God and the world which was the most important for that philosophy is also the most important for Christian faith. And as the idea of the Logos, which was taken as answering that question, dominated the philosophical system, so Christian faith also knows of something which stands at the centre of all thoughts about God, the world, and mankind. This is the person of Christ. In Him the completed revelation of God is given. He is therefore regulative for the relation that exists in the Christian community between God and men; in Him the relation of God to the world is known. But by what idea is the person of Christ understood ? The answer to this question discloses a far-reaching distinction between Christian faith and Church dogma. In Christian faith it is the idea of the kingdom of God; in dogma it is the idea of the Logos. The former is dislodged by the latter from its regulative place. And this was all the more disastrous that, between the two, points of the most important opposition obtain.
For our comprehensive view of the world it is a question of decisive importance whether we assign to knowledge or to moral action the superior rank. For we thereby determine which of the two shall be in the forefront when we seek God. The idea of the Logos belongs to a philosophy that assigns to knowledge the highest place, while Christianity knows of no religious knowledge apart from subjection of the will to the divine commands. For it the highest end of man is inseparably united with moral righteousness. A similar point of opposition presents itself in the way in which man's place in the world is conceived of. Christian faith sees in this world a means for the kingdom of God; it so subordinates the world to man's end that his end is at the same time the world's end. The Logos-philosophy, on the other hand, determines the end and life-work of man according to the understanding of the world it has acquired from the idea of the Logos. The Logos-idea views the whole world as the revelation of God : for it the spiritual and historic life of men is only the highest stage of the world-life. But according to the Christian idea of the kingdom of God it is this spiritual and historic life that is the proper province of the revelation of God, and the world is the stage created by God for this kingdom. In the union of these points of opposition, the historical Christ, who founded the kingdom of God, retired behind the Christ who, as the eternal Son of God, was the personal mediator of the world-creation. And thus the centre of gravity in Church dogma lies, not in the manifested Christ of history, but in the mysterious event of the incarnation of the Logos, a displacement which there was a constant difficulty in bringing to terms with the historical lifepicture of Jesus.
If the whole stress is thus laid on the Logos as the mediator of the world-creation, then it follows as a matter of course that the original endowments that were received by man at his creation from the Logos must provide the determining point of view. If the first man was in possession of all perfection, then what Christ has brought is only the restoration of what was lost by the fall. Strictly speaking, therefore, it is the idea of the first man that is determinative for the thought-structure of dogma. Beyond this Christ comes into view only in so far as He is the cause and restorer of what was original. The place of the historical life of Christ, through which alone the perfect revelation of God is given to us, comes to be occupied by supernatural and supra-historical occurrences. If, on the other hand, the view of the world taken by Christian faith is projected according to the idea of the kingdom of God, then it at once lies in what forms the basis of this view, that the Divine world-plan could only be realized through historical life, and that particular historic occurrences must acquire determinative importance for faith.
The combination of Christian faith with Greek philosophy was directed towards an objective knowledge of the contents of faith, and thereby towards an advance in the knowledge of God. What is objectively known (erkannt) became knowledge (Wissen), and this is a more perfect knowledge (Erkenntniss) than faith. Faith here becomes something theoretic, an imperfect fore-stage of the knowledge (Wissen) to which there is assigned the highest place in religion ; in this also there is involved an injury to Christianity.
The originators, therefore, of the old theology have certainly not used Greek philosophy as a mere formal means. They allowed it to have a material influence on faith-knowledge. And of this also they were conscious. They were aware that all Christian knowledge must be based on revelation. They required, therefore, to justify themselves in introducing thoughts of Greek philosophy into Christian faith. This justification they furnish in the assertion that that philosophy also is a revelation of the Logos, or in the assertion that the philosophy springs from the Old Testament.
At the time when dogma arose the Divine revelation presented in Scripture was also held to be an authority that demands the obedience of faith. Now, if dogma was to be the correct expression of Christian truth, an objective knowledge, a knowledge of the contents of faith, then revelation, which certainly imparts supernatural truths, could only be regarded as a supernatural source of knowledge. Its truths address themselves to faith with an inward, invariable force; here they become propositions which can be appropriated by the intellect, and faith appears as a subordinate function of the inner man. There is still much else to be added if the believer is to rank as a Christian. Besides this, at the time when dogma arose, Scripture was not understood according to its own contents; foreign groups of thought were freely introduced into it. In what way, then, was the Scripture interpretation given in the Church, of which the main characteristic was its arbitrariness, to be justified against dangerous Church parties ? To Scripture itself the appeal could not be made, for these parties did the same. Hence the appeal on behalf of the correctness of Scripture interpretation was made to oral tradition, which was held as originating with the Apostles. If it was asked, Who guarantees the trustworthiness of this tradition? the answer was, The Church. If oral tradition became regulative for the understanding of Scripture, if the tradition was accredited by the authority of the Church, this meant nothing else than the elevation of the authority of the Church above Scripture. The place belonging to the authority of Divine revelation came to be occupied by the Church.
III. It was inevitable that the question should arise which was keenly enough discussed in the Middle Ages. Faith came to be understood, though not exclusively indeed, as assent to truth which the authority of the Church furnishes as something fixed and complete. Knowledge, on the other hand, is the truth that rests upon the grounds of reason. How, then, are authority and reason related to each other ? Reason necessarily contradicted the claim that it must implicitly acknowledge authority. If it was sought to answer the question by saying, True reason must of itself arrive at the same truth which is presented once for all in Church doctrine, this was at bottom a contradiction of the principle of authority. So long as the reason which contradicted the authority of dogma did not distinguish itself from the reason that was at work in the origination of dogma, this contradiction was of a more formal kind. Materially it acquiesced with dogma, and even undertook the proof of its reasonableness. But when the influence of Aristotle became predominant the situation changed. By means of his philosophy only a part of the dogmas could be proved. Those of which this was the case were now held to be rational, the others (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Sacraments) as supra-rational-as beyond the power of human reason to grasp. The doctrine of principles propounded by Thomas, the originator of this division, bases itself on the antecedent theological development; it corresponds to the Catholic conception of Christianity, with its dualism and external supra-naturalism—the foundation a rationalistic view of the world, and reared upon this the supernatural structure of Christian truths announced by the authority of the Church. These thoughts of Thomas, moreover, have definite points of connection in the general relations of spiritual and intellectual life. His distinction between rational and supra-rational religious truths coincides pretty much with the rationalistic-moralizing and speculative tendencies referred to above. The former corresponds with the habits of thought and views of life of the average reasonable man; the propositions of the latter, Thomas will have to be regarded, not certainly as really rational truths, but as mysteries accepted on authority. Yet it by no means contradicts the habits of human reason when a rational proof is conducted up to a certain point, and then a leap is taken into the undefinable and mysterious. In this way it can be understood how Thomas's doctrine of principles became unusually influential.