History of Church Doctrine
By Heman Lincoln
We are making available this concise treatise on doctrinal history in the Christian Church as a valuable contribution toward a simplicity of understanding, without necessarily agreeing with some of the theological positions expressed by the author.
I N T R O D U C T I O N
1. The History of Doctrine is of a twofold nature, general and special.
The general history treats of the complex series of influences, Pagan and Christian, civil, social, political, literary, and scientific, which have helped or hindered the apprehension of revealed truth.
The special history treats of the forms of statement in which the thought and experience of the Church have found expression in successive ages.
These forms of statement include the conception of the Christian system as a whole, and of the particular doctrines which compose it.
On neither the special nor the general side can the History of Doctrines ever become a complete science. There are great gaps, as in geologic history, impossible to fill. There are long periods of which no definite knowledge can be obtained; other long periods in which the data are obscure, confused, and uncertain. [Dr. Lincoln is not speaking here of the Scripture itself but doctrine as man teaches it and interprets it. But it still proves that the truth of God’s Word has to be believed by faith and not by the sciences.]
2. The History of Doctrine presupposes the Bible as the source of all doctrine. The germ from which growth must go forward, and the test by which all supposed developments of truth must be tried.
In the apostolic teaching, we already have forms of development, types of those of later ages. James and Peter give the practical side of Christianity; Paul, its logical growth by analysis, from the guilt and ruin of all men to redemption through Jesus Christ; and John, by synthesis, starting from the Logos, unfolds the plan of salvation, completed through His incarnation and death. [The doctrinal development of the apostles.]
1.) Some object to the idea of development of doctrine, and would make Biblical statements not only the norm, but also the final expression of revealed truth. But, as God gave the earth to man to cultivate and beautify, and to discover and organize its forces, so has He given revealed truth to be appropriated by the human reason and to be vitalized by the experience of His people. The expression of truth, wrought out by the varied experiences of ages and nations, and by all forms of culture, Grecian, Roman, Barbaric, Mediaeval, and Modern, must have a great historical value. It shows the affinity of human nature for divine truth, and the permanence of cardinal truth through all changes of form.
2.) As the truth is to be developed through the reason and affections warped by sin, it is certain that many developments will be abnormal and false. All developments, therefore, need to be carefully tested by the infallible Word and the most enlightened Christian consciousness.
As the Roman Church holds its decisions to be final, and incapable of revision or correction, it has no escape from the manifold errors which have been formulated in times of perplexity and struggle, when the apprehension of truth was imperfect.
3.) The growth in doctrine is due, in part, to external influences, climatic, social, political; and, in part, to dynamic laws of development. But one who believes in a supernatural revelation will recognize also a providential guidance by the Holy Spirit who guards the truth. It is certain that the goal is not yet reached. There is room for large progress in our day and in coming ages.
3. The History of Doctrine is included in Church History,
But is [here] treated by itself to insure greater completeness [focus]. History proper relates more to outward organization and growth; the History of Doctrine, to inner thought and life. But each acts and reacts inevitably on the other. Doctrine inspires religious life and shapes church growth; and, on the other hand, new-born life, as at the Reformation, is certain to remold doctrine.
Antinomianism and the Pelagianism paralyze spiritual activity. Calvinism creates strong character and inspires earnest life. [Amenianism creates a sense of study and responsibility toward the development of the divine nature] A monastic life is certain to develop justification by works, and a life of meditation to create a mystical theology.
4. Other branches of Church History come into direct relation with the History of Doctrine.
a) History of Heresies. A heresy is, in general, an important truth wrenched from its relations, and pressed beyond its limits. In its formative period, before it has crystallized into dogma, it may have a helpful influence upon doctrine, in opening to view neglected truths, in compelling a broader outlook, and in leading to correlation of truths supposed to be antagonistic. [Describes the Pentecostal heresy of Charismaticism]
Arminianism corrected a hyper-Calvinism. Unitarianism led to new study of the humanity of Christ. The moral theory of the atonement helped to modify the commercial elements in the theory of substitution. [?]
b) Patristics. Patristics properly treats of the opinions held by the Fathers of the church, and of the way in which they came to hold them. It touches the History of Doctrine so far as these individual opinions have had an influence in shaping the general belief of the Church. Patristics asks, What influence did the Pelagian and Donatist controversies have in shaping Augustine’s doctrines of grace and of the church? The History of Doctrine asks, What influence have Augustine’s doctrines had in shaping the belief of his own age and of subsequent ages?
1.) Protestants, generally, limit the term “Fathers” to the first six centuries: Catholics extend it to the thirteenth century.
2.) High Churchmen, in the Church of England, agree with Catholics in attaching great importance to the opinions of the early Fathers. They ascribe a kind of inspiration to the Church so long as it retained its purity, but fail to agree on the precise period when the inspiration ceased. In the Tractarian movement, Newman and Pusey and Keble made little distinction between the authority of the New Testament writers and of the Fathers of the first five centuries.
c) Symbolism is properly a branch of History of Doctrine, as the latter is of general Church History. It is often, however, treated by itself for greater fulness. But the great symbols of the Church, like the Apostles’ and Athanasian Creeds, the Augsburg and Westminster Confessions, mark important stages in the growth of doctrine.
Dr. Schaff’s work on The Creeds of Christendom is a valuable contribution to symbolism. It shows clearly the growth of doctrine in the larger apprehension of truths by the broader experience of the Church.
5. The History of Doctrine intimately connected with the History of Philosophy. The quality and methods of philosophic thought in any age will have a direct influence on the manner of conceiving and expressing Christian truth. The scholastic theology grew out of the philosophy of Aristotle. The English theology of the eighteenth century was molded by the philosophy of Locke. The German theology of the last half-century, both orthodox and rationalistic, shows the prodigious influence of Hegel.[And the philosophy of Kiekegaard became the basis of modern Charismaticism, placing the emphasis of doctrine on personal advantage over the importance of
1.) Philosophy and theology deal with similar questions and seek similar ends. But philosophy can build only on the facts of consciousness. A Biblical theology rests on the great historic facts of the Savior’s life and work and a supernatural revelation. [Here is the difference I also made when distinguishing philosophy from religion – only Lincoln has worded it much better!].
2.) A true dogmatic theology is Biblical theology unfolded, verified, and justified by philosophy and science. The history of doctrine is the connecting link between Biblical and dogmatic theology. Formerly, dogmatic theologians began with philosophy, and from the concept of God evolved, by synthesis, and complete theology, and then confirmed it by Scripture. Even later German theologians do not begin with Biblical theology. Hofmann makes personal Christian experience the foundation of systematic theology, and does not introduce Biblical theology save as a confirmation and test. He shows the strong influence of Schliermacher, who made the Christian consciousness the ultimate ground of appeal.
3.) The term “Biblical theology” has taken on a peculiar meaning in recent German writers. It does not imply the sum total of Biblical teaching, as with Storr and Flatt in the last century, but the unfolding of “the religion of the Bible, according to its progressive development and the variety of forms in which it appears.” Ochler. See article by Dr. A.H. Newman, in Baptist Review, April 1884.[Modernists often take original fundamental or traditional names, terms and titles and use them with changed meaning, e.g., “Full Gospel,” “Holiness,” “Righteousness,” etc..]
6. The History of Doctrine is of great importance to the student.
It helps him to solve many difficult problems in Church History. It helps him to form a broad, clearly defined, and connected system of theology, and to understand the laws of its growth. It guards him from an extreme conservatism, which resists progress, and from an extreme liberalism, which is deluded by specious claims of progress. [Good observation by Lincoln. It fits our claims that we must be progressive but not liberal in our doctrine and practices.]
1.) One familiar with the history of doctrine can be calm, when confident attacks are made by unbelievers on Christianity. He knows, in general, that the new assailants are only repeating an old story, which has been refuted many times.
2.) He is safe against the fascination of new doctrines, like Edward Beecher’s Conflict of Ages, or Ward Beecher’s substitution of the Logos for a rational soul in the God-Man, or Bushnell’s moral influence theory. He knows them to be only restatements of views which have been already tried and found wanting. [This observation is the same claim we make when teaching THE 7 PILLARS OF TRUTH as the 7 basic doctrinal truths of the Bible which once learned will make it impossible to believe a false doctrine.]
7. Method of Treatment.
The more scientific and thorough method is, no doubt, to treat each period separately, and to show how the conditions of its life, intellectual, social, and religious, influenced Christianity, as a system, and shaped the expression of individual truths. Such a treatment gives a clear view of the intimate connection between the life and thought of an age.
But the simpler and more practical method which we shall follow is to trace, chronologically, the views held of the great doctrines in successive periods, and thus to place more distinctly in memory the unfolding of each doctrine from the germ in Biblical teaching to its largest growth in the experience of the Church.
From one point of view, the practical method is also the scientific; for the object of studying the history of doctrine is to comprehend the growth of each doctrine, and the series of influences which have controlled and guided the growth. The chronological method of treatment is the most natural for this end, and is, therefore, scientific.
[Following is Dr. Lincoln’s 5 “scientific” division of the church periods followed by my Biblical revision of these 5 divisions to include all 7 periods of the church history using Revelation chapters 2 and 3 as historical church divisions up to the end of the church age.]
8. Division into Periods.
a) First Period: A.D. 3 – A.D. 325. 322 years.
From the Apostles to the Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325.
A period when doctrine was framed chiefly by individual opinion and the general experience of the Church. (Note:) Origen is the best illustration of the absolute freedom of thought in this period.
b) Second Period: A.D. 325 – A.D. 681.356 years.
From Nicaea to the Sixth General Council at Constantinople, A period when there was less freedom of thought and doctrine was framed by the decisions of councils.
The Council of Chalcedon (451) is the most celebrated in the period, defining the doctrine of the person of Jesus, condemning heresies, and denying the right of the Bishop of Rome to establish dogmas without revision by a council.
c) Third Period: A.D. 681 – 1517. 836 years.
From the Sixth Council to the Reformation, a period when systematic theology was dominant, and systems born rather from the philosophy of Aristotle than from the Bible received the sanction of the church authorities. Note: There were great thinkers and writers in the Dark Ages. Scotus Erigena, Anselm, Abelard, Hugo of St. Victor, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William Occam would have been leaders of thought in any age. But they developed theology far more by philosophic thought than by Biblical study. They accepted the
system of doctrine enforced by the Church, and tested it by philosophy.
d) Fourth Period: A.D. 1517 – 1720. 203 years
From the Reformation in A.D. 1517 to 1720, a period pre-eminently of symbolism, when Catholic theology was defined by the Decrees of Trent and the leading Protestant bodies adopted the creeds which distinguish them.
1.) More symbols were framed in this period than in all the others combined. The Tridentine Decrees, the Augsburg and Helvetic and Westminister Confessions, the Thirty-nine Articles, the Decrees of the Synod of Dort, the Baptist and Quaker Confessions in England, and the Socinian in Poland, and belong to this period.
2.) The terminus of this period is a little vague. But, in the rise of the philosophy of Wolf in Germany, it marks the beginning of a series of attacks on historical Christianity, chiefly from the side of philosophy in the last century, but also from science and humanitarianism and Biblical criticism in our century.
e) Fifth Period: from 1720 – the present time. [1886 Date of publication]
A period of disintegration and reconstruction, when Christianity, as a system, and its cardinal doctrines have been assailed by philosophy and science and literature. The attacks have called out a new order of apologetics, new interpretations of the Scriptures, and a careful revision of theological dogmas.
The Seven Historical Periods of the Church Corresponding With Revelation Chapters 2 and 3
|Periods||Dates In History||Church Name||
|A.D. 3 – A.D. 60
|Church of Ephesus
THE TIME OF
|A.D.60 – A.D. 20
|Church of Smyrna,
THE TIME OF
|A.D. 200 –
|Church of Pergamos,
THE TIME OF
1521 920 years
|Church of Thyatira,
|A.D. 1521- A.D.
1750 – 230 years
|Church of Sardis
THE TIME OF
|A.D. 1750 – A.D.
1900 – 150 years
|Church of Philadelphia
|THE TIME OF REVIVAL|
|A.D. 1900 – A.D.
2000 – 100 years
|Church of Laodicea
|THE TIME OF APOSTASY|
First period comments: age of testing
The emergence of gnostics such as Marcion testing the church with doctrinal corruptions from within and the persecutions of the Romans and pagans from without.
Second Period Comments: age of persecution
64 Nero burns Rome
70 The destruction of Jerusalem
81 Domitian persecution begins
98 Tragen persecution begins
100 Justin Marytr Is born
117 Hadrian persecution begins
130 Conversion of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus is born
138 Antoninus Pius persecution begins
161 Marcus Aurelius persecution begins
193 Septimius persecution begins
Third period Comments: age of state religion
211 Caracalla persecution begins
249 Decius begins empire-wide presecution
251 Problem of the “lapsed” begins
255 Rebaptism Controversy
257 Valerian persecution begins
264 Counsils at Antioch
311 Edict of Toleration, the Donatist schism begins
312 Battle of Milvian Bridge
315 Arian controversy begins
325 Council of Nicea
353 Constantius’ pro-Arian policy
410 Fall of Rome
418 Synod of Carthage
431 Council of Ephesus
440 Leo the Great becomes pope beginning the papal reign
449 The second council of Ephesus (the Robber Synod)
451 Council of Chalcedon
455 Vandals sack Rome
529 Synod of Orange
553 Second Council of Constaninople
Fourth Period Comments: Dark Ages
664 Synod of Whitby
731 Bede writes church history
787 Second Council of Nicea
1095 Council of Clemont
1099 Crusaders take Jerusalem
1122 Concordat of Worms
1215 fourth Lateran Council
1379 The Great Schism
1409 Council of Pisa
1413 Lollard Rebellion
1517 Luther’s 95 theses
Fifth period Comments: Reformation
1521 Diet of Worms
1522 Ignatius Loyola writes Spiritual Exercises
1525 Anabaptist movement begins
1530 Ausburg Confession
1545 Council of Trent and counter reformation
1549 Book of Common Prayer
1572 Huguenot St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre
1596 Japanese persecutes Christians
1598 Edict of Nantes
1611 King James Bible
1618 Synod of Dort
1646 Westminister confession
1556 Quakers persecuted in Massachusetts
1685 Revocation of Edict of Nantes
1735 The Great Awakening
Sixth Period Comments: age of revival
1784 Methodist Episcopal Church founded
1793 William Carey sails for India
1801 Cane Ridge revival
1804 British and Foreign Bible Society formed
1816 American Bible society, Judson sails for India
1830 Finney revivals (Rochester)
1853 Hudson Taylor to China
1854 Kierkegaard’s attack on Christendom
1859 Daewin’s Origin of Species
1864 Syllabus of Errors
1869 I Vatican Council
1879 Dogma of Papal Infallibility
Seventh Period Comments: age of apostasy
1904 Azusa Street revival
1909 Scofield’s Bible
1926 First Chinese Catholic bishops
1937 Oxford and Edinburgh Conferences
1940 Wycliffe Bible Translators founded
1947 Dead Sea Scrolls discovered
1948 World Council of Churches formed
1950 Dogma of Assumption of Mary
1962 Vatican II
This period of apostasy can be divided into three periods from 1850 to 2000 (150 years)
1850 to 2000 Starts with existential philosophy becoming theology, Ends with existential Charismaticism and Charismatic Ecumenism.
Existentialism which gave rise to
Modernism, which fostered
Higher criticism, (sciences)
Textual criticism (sciences) and
The World Council of Churches, representing the humanism of world politics
1850 to 1950. Modernism.
1900 to 1950 – Pentecostal outpouring.
1950 to 2000 – Charismaticism the degenerated form of Pentecost.
Burkett notes on the 7 church Ages
To be compared with Heman’s 5 periods
All insertions into Lincoln original MS enclosed with brackets, [ ] so as to distinguish Lincoln’s original MS. with any additions not his.
[MODERNISM: Modernism was born out of the influence of the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard that religion should be more focused on the personal needs of people than on “things.” (See appendix on Kiekegaardism at end of this book.) German theologians discovered Kierkegaard’s ideas giving modernism the theory they needed to reinterpret Biblical values and introduce higher criticism’s views that Biblical interpretation had to be based on the needs of man and the gifts of science rather than purely on faith in the Scripture. Higher criticism reinforced the ideas of textual criticism endorsing, science and academics, making them the credential of the ministry rather than pure doctrine and proven ministry which the fundamentalists were determined to keep. There is a shift from the reformation emphasis on the individuals right of direct access to God back to an elite class of scholars as being the authority in a structured church government (denominationalism).People and not principles became the theme of Christian theology in this period. Known as modernism, the German theologians imported Kiekegaard’s philosophy, which they rewrote as theology, and imported to the rest of the rest of the western world. It was from this “personalizing” of the gospel that the idea of our personal and human needs became central over the Christian’s faithfulness to the “things” of God.
Modernism gave rise to several doctrinal movements;
1. Higher criticism (as opposed to lower criticism) questioning the authenticity of Scripture, and especially the authority given to the Greek Textus Receptus ( received text), subjecting Scriptures own claims to the conjectures of science.
2. Textual criticism a pure science assuming the authority to include corrupted Greek texts into a text more reliable than the A.V. on the basis of science rather than revelation and rejecting Providential Preservation, the traditional doctrine of the church advocating the plurality of Greek texts thus obscuring the one providentially preserved text (Textus Receptus).
3. The World Council of Churches which pushes the ecumenical union of all churches into a world church Federation. The WCC has from its inception been supported the political ideals of one world government. It promoted every English Bible translation and indiscriminately encouraged the plurality of Bible texts.
f) Sixth Period: A.D. 1900 – 1950. 50 years.
There were two great events taking place in this short period of church doctrine;
(A) The phenomena of the Pentecostal movement that was widely rejected by the holiness and historical churches for fifty years. But in spite of it’s speckled bird image in the church world the Pentecostals experienced phenomenal growth. In the 1950’s the Assemblies of God was starting a new church every day and two on Sundays. In its earlier days it held a good stance doctrinally proclaiming the full gospel which consisted of the four major doctrines of the Pentecostal church;
1. Salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ;
2. The baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Holy Spirit gives utterance, subsequent to salvation;
3. Divine healing provided in the atonement for all believers;
4. The return of Christ for the church.
The Voice of healing movement consisting of a fellowship of Pentecostal evangelists carrying the message of miracles and deliverance came into great prominence. Oral Roberts, Tommy Hicks, Bill Branham, Sam Todd, Richard Vinyard, T.L. Osborn and Cliff Erikson were only a few of those men God anointed with the gifts of healing and miracles. These men shared a magazine publication edited by Gordon Lindsey of Dallas, Texas. They revived the doctrine of healing as it was experienced in the book of Acts. By some it was believed that the Pentecost that came at the turn of the 20th century signaled the soon return of Christ, and was an empowering of the church to preserve and proclaim pure
doctrine being threatened by the modernist movements..
By the 1960’s the Pentecostal movement became known as the third force in religion. Some saw this rebirth of Pentecost as the latter rain spoken by Joel for the last days. The Pentecostal emphasis on the supernatural and the gifts of the Spirit incurred a serious doctrinal failure. The emphasis on the doctrine of supernaturalism obscured and eclipsed the character doctrines of sanctification and the fruit of the Spirit. This doctrinal omission would prove to be the undoing of the Pentecostals and create a hyper Pentecostalism come to be known as the Charismatics.
(B) A surge of modernism that would reach into even the evangelical seminaries and pulpits. In these fifty years there was a complete departure from lower criticism in the fundamental camp to higher criticism. Fundamentalism made dramatic changes from traditional Biblical doctrine to academics and accreditation in their training centers. Bible Institutes became fully accredited colleges with much secular influence replacing the emphasis of pure doctrine, prayer and on campus revivals. In spite of a the “power” of Pentecost that had become so prominent in the church world, modernisms higher criticism was taking over in the Bible colleges. This period ended with modernism and the ecumenical leaders in full power in the denominational churches. Men such as bishops Oxnam and Blake denying the redemptive blood of Christ and leading the World Council of Churches into rank modernism denying the authority of Scripture and even the deity of Christ.
This was a doctrinally turbulent period for the church with this great paradox of Pentecostalism and Modernism both coming into prominence in the same time period. Doctrinally they were world’s apart – at first. But ultimately these two great church entities, evangelicalism and modernism would merge to embrace the doctrines of the Catholic church. This emergence by some is believed to be “the end-time revival” that will ultimately usher in the coming of Christ. A faithful Christian remnant movement rejects the revival theory and sees the evangelical ecumenism as the Laodicean church of the end-time representing the falling away mentioned by Paul to precede the return of Christ for the church.
g) Seventh Period: From A.D. 1950 – A.D. 2000. 50 years.
This is the period of apostasy. Apostasy is always preceded by doctrinal corruption. The period between 1950 and the end of this millennium was marked with moral and historical turbulence. The new morality was introduced in the secular colleges; big bands faded as rock and roll came in with mini-skirts in fashion. The world was never to be the same as television brought the Hollywood and soap opera mentality to adults and violence to children; The hippy culture came with its philosophy of rebellion against the system (government), and then the most ridiculous of all wars fought in American history, the UN controlled Viet Nam war broke out taking the lives of 58,000 American boys – for no justifiable reason. The evangelical world was badly shaken with two of its most visible ministries with sensational sex scandals. Departure from pure doctrine is taking its toll in this period of the church. The Charismatic movement has replaced the divine healing ministries. The emphasis on God’s power has become an emphasis of political power through numbers and Christian Coalition. Doctrine in this period has taken on the bizarre! Tongues and praise have replaced the teaching on intercession and secret prayer. Television has replaced family alter. There comes a string of Charismatic doctrines: The pyramid teaching; the “covering” teaching; The “daddy” teaching; the anti-doctrine teaching, “doctrine separates but the Spirit unites; the sensual teaching and the approval of cosmetics by Christian ladies; The faith teaching; the prosperity teaching; the positive confession teaching (oriental visualization); Dominion teaching; the gods teaching; blowing people down; Hebrew dancing teaching; the Holy Ghost dance teaching;
Other status symbols became church authority on doctrine. High profile televangelist and radio evangelists also share in the pseudo authority structures. Popularity was raised to new levels of influence upon the church through television, radio and graphic printing. These became known as parachurch ministries that used the people being pastored by local church shepherds as the means of promoting and supporting their personality empires. Much of the doctrinal distortion in the period of apostasy was fostered by men who’s theology was based on “what the people want,” or “what the people need,” with little or no thought on “What pleases God,” or “What God commands.”
End of Burkett additions
Deism in England, Rationalism in Germany, Atheism in France, and the Pantheism of later German philosophers have aimed to destroy or modify Christian doctrine. The so-called “Higher Biblical Criticism” is doing a similar work in our day, and the end is not yet reached.
But the history of doctrine in the past assures us that “the things which cannot be shaken shall remain.”
9. Sources of Material. a) Direct. Such sources include public documents at firsthand, creeds, decrees of councils, papal bulls, letters of ecclesiastical superiors, catechisms, liturgies, and the hymns of the Church.
The writings of theological leaders, the works of Christian thinkers and poets, and the representations of Christian art are also of high value.
1. A distinction must be made between a scientific treatise and a sermon, or popular tract. The latter would often mislead, if accepted as tests of doctrinal belief.
2. Letters are sometimes the most valuable contributions to the history of an age. One can learn more accurately the religious thought of the early part of the fifth century from Augustine’s letters than from his great works against the Pelaginas and Donatists. Cyprian’s letters are better than his formal treatises.
b) Indirect. The works of church historians, and of other historians who treat of church matters, where allowance must always be made for the bias of the writer. Many of the writings of the heretics, and of assailants of the Church, like Celsus, and some of the writings of the Fathers, as of Origen, come to us only at second-hand, through translations and transcriptions. There is need of great critical sagacity in the use of such documents.
Rufinus has taken great liberties with Origen, adapting his teaching to the spirit of a later age.
First Period, A.D. 70-325.
1. Christianity in this period had to win its way, to gain foothold in the world, and establish its claim to supremacy. It was forced to contend against the old religions, Judaism, Greek and Roman Mythology, and Paganism in general.
This was a period of great personal activity. Private Christians were preachers of the Word no less than ministers set apart for the work. The lives of Christians, so unlike those of Pagans, and their patience and fortitude in martyrdom, won many converts to the new religion.
2. It was opposed by Ebionitism, which claimed that Judaism was divine and permanent, and could not be superseded; by Gnosticism, which, uniting Platonism and Eastern Mysticism with Christian elements, placed the redemptive power in the incarnation rather than the passion of Christ; and by Pagan writers, who asserted
that Christianity gave unworthy views of God by anthropomorphism, and by its provisions for the salvation of the lower classes and of great sinners.
From the birth of Christianity, great Christian teachers have insisted on the importance of right belief to a godly life. Paul had no tolerance for the false Judaism which subsequently ripened into Ebionitism; and John’s large charity could not include the early Gnostics, who denied the deity of Christ.
Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian tolerate no compromise with the heresies of their time.
3. There were two extreme views, also of the method by which Christianity was to spread on earth. Montanism believed in a predominance of supernatural agencies, with prophetic gifts; and Rationalism, represented by the Alogi and the Monarchians, believed in growth by the exercise of the reason, without supernatural helps.
1.) These two tendencies, the one magnifying the divine element in Christianity, and the other the human, have continued to our time. 2. The Montanistic movement was also a reaction against the new idea of an organic Church as the only channel of divine grace. The Montanists insisted on the direct agency of the Spirit in individual souls.
4. During this period, Christianity was considered as a whole more than in separate doctrines. There were discussions in theology about the Trinity, and in Christology about the person of Christ. But Anthropology was scarcely touched, and Soteriology only in a general way. Pre-Millennial theories gave some prominence to Eschatology.
As Christianity was a new religion, displacing all others, its exclusive claims to a divine origin must first be established.
SECOND PERIOD, A.D. 325-681.
1. Christianity was now the religion of the Roman Empire. It still struggled to extend itself by missionary labors beyond the boundaries of the empire in Europe and Asia and Africa.
1.) The missionary spirit naturally declined, as the energies of Christian leaders were absorbed largely in organizing the Church in harmony with its new relations to the State.
2.) Pre-Millennial views lost favor. The rapid growth of the Church, and its outward prosperity, diverted attention from the predictions of its future triumph.
2. The Church had leaders thoroughly educated, of high character, vigorous thinkers, elegant writers, eloquent preachers. In the Eastern Church, Athanasius; Eusebius of Caesarea, and of Nicomedia; Gregory of Nazianzus and of Nyssa; Basil and Chrysostom. In the Western Church, Lactantius, Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine, Leo and Gregory the Great.
This was the golden age of the Church in the scholarship and high mental and moral qualities of its leaders. The best minds of the empire were in the Church.
3. The School of Alexandria lost the freedom which had distinguished it under Clement and Origen, and became dogmatic. The School of Antioch supplanted it, with better principles of interpretation and less of dogmatism.
The selfish ambition of Alexandrian bishops, like Theophilus, Cyril, and Dioscurus, and the fanaticism of idle monks who filled the city, were fatal to the love of Christian learning for which Alexandria had been distinguished.
4. The great discussions of this period embraced: a) Theology, the persons of the Trinity, and their mutual relations; and the heresies condemned were known as Sabellian and Arian, semi-Arian and Macedonian. b) Christology, the two natures of Christ, condemning Apollinarian, Nestorian, Eutychian, and Monothelite heresies. c) Anthropology and Soteriology, condemning Pelagian and semi-Pelagian. d) The Church, condemning Donatists. The Manichaean heresy attracted much attention. The discussions; except on Manichaeism, were all within the Church at first.
1.) In the previous period, the discussions had been almost exclusively with Pagan philosophers and scholars, or with heretics outside the Church. In this period, they were chiefly within the Church; and the decisions reached were formulated by the decrees of ecumenical councils.
2.) Manichaeism must have had peculiar attractions for speculative minds, for the strong intellect of Augustine was bewildered for years by its teachings.
5. After the first century of this period, the Eastern Church began to lose pre-eminence, and the Western Church to take the lead, both in mental vigor and in practical church work. In the latter part of the period, Eastern Christianity was nearly extinguished by Mohammedanism.
The Eastern Church has never recovered from the lethargy which followed the Mohammedan conquest. It has contributed nothing of value to the outward growth of Christianity, nor to the development of doctrine.
6. The great councils of the Church in this period were at:
1) Nicaea, with 318 bishops. Deciding that the Son was of the same essence with the Father, and begotten in eternity, not created in time.
2) Constantinople (381), 150 bishops. Confirmed the decrees of Nicaea, adding one also on the divinity of the Holy Spirit, condemning Macedonius; also one asserting the perfect humanity and perfect deity of Christ, and condemning Apollonius who denied the possession of a rational soul.
3) Ephesus (431), 200 bishops. Not truly ecumenical, as Syrian bishops held a separate council. It condemned Nestorianism, or the doctrine of two persons as well as two natures in Christ, and virtually asserted a single nature as well as a single person.
4) Chalcedon (451), over 600 bishops. Affirmed the perfect humanity and perfect deity of Christ, asserting the single personality with two natures which are neither separated nor mixed. It condemned both Nestorianism and Eutychianism.
A kind of infallibility was attached to the decisions of councils. Papal supremacy was yet unknown, and the highest authority in the Church was supposed to vest in its bishops gathered in council.
THIRD PERIOD, A.D. 681-1517.
1. The period was marked by general ignorance, as education was confined almost wholly to the clergy, and given only in monasteries. It was also a period of sluggish religious life; for the Bible was little read, even in monasteries, preaching was greatly neglected, and the clergy did little to elevate the people.
1.) It was inevitable, in the social chaos which followed the overthrow of Roman institutions by the successive Barbarian invasions, that education should be neglected and church activities be paralyzed. But, if the best Christian leaders had remained in the churches instead of retiring into monasteries, the lethargy would not have been so general nor so protracted.
2.) It is not surprising that the clergy were statesmen and courtiers and social leaders. They only had minds disciplined by education for work requiring severe thought.
2. In the latter part of the period there were great changes. The revival of learning, following the Crusades and the capture of Constantinople by the Turks; the new universities founded and thronged with students; the invention of printing; the writings and labors of devout Mystics; and the establishment of preaching orders of monks, gave a new spiritual as well as intellectual life to Europe.
The intimate relation between social and religious life is shown in this period by the impulse given to religious movements by new social forces, and in the next period by the larger views of civil freedom and social progress born of the Reformation.
3. There was profound thinking by the leaders of the Church in this period, and directed almost exclusively to theology. Theology was systematized and the effort was made to prove a perfect harmony between reason and revelation. But vital piety was too weak, and fresh Biblical study too rare, to guide the metaphysical drift; and this busied itself with frivolous inquiries which dishonored both philosophy and theology. Men
grew weary of endless discussions without profit, and Scholasticism fell into general odium.
The frivolous tendencies of Scholastic theology were due in large measure to monastic seclusion. The great theologians were not practical workers like the Reformers in the next period. They could not test the truth of their theories by experience in actual life. Speculation in the cloister is very different from the earnest thinking of men who grapple with evil in the busy world, and seek to save lost sinners. Such men have neither time nor wish for idle speculations.
FOURTH PERIOD, A.D. 1517-1720.
1. This period, opening with the Reformation, was one of extraordinary activity. Europe woke to a new life. A new world had been discovered, giving a great impulse to commerce and maritime adventure. Education became general; and books multiplied by printing, just invented. Individual freedom of thought was regained, and the Bible was searched by eager students. Bold thinkers undermined despotism in the State, as in the Church; and Republican ideas took root in Switzerland and the Netherlands, in France and England.
Note: Students who recognize a providential guidance in history will be impressed with the wonderful concurrence of discoveries and inventions and social revolutions, by which the progress of the Reformation was hastened and its success insured. A century earlier, Luther would have been burned at the stake, like John Huss.
2. Church unity was permanently broken. By obstinate resistance to the religious reforms demanded by the age, Rome lost England and Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland, and a large part of Germany and Switzerland.
If the Papal Court had yielded to the demand for reforms urged by monarchs and statesmen and theologians and the people, and formulated in the great councils of Pisa and Constance and Basle, the Catholic Church would have taken on a new spiritual life, and Protestantism would not have been born.
3. Protestantism lost aggressive power, and was weakened internally by numerous divisions. Lutheranism, Calvinism, and a host of small sects wasted energy in conflicts with one another, which would have been effective against the common enemy.
But religious activity and theologic thought had never been so earnest since the apostolic age.
The advocates of Rome could point to the multitudinous sects of Protestantism, as a proof that liberty was identical with license. They could point, also, to the burning of Servetus by Calvin and the drowning of Mantz by Zwingle, in proof that heresy deserved death.
4. The two cardinal doctrines of the Reformation were the Supremacy of the Scriptures against the Roman dogma of the Authority of the Church and of tradition, and Justification by Faith against the Roman dogma of Justification by Works.
Rationalists have claimed that they are the only consistent Protestants; but, while the Reformers gave full scope to reason in deciding the genuineness and inspiration of the Canon of Scripture, they held that a divine revelation, once established, has a supreme authority over the reason and conscience.
Protestantism was a revolt against usurped authority, not against rightful authority. It threw off the yoke of the Church, but adored the absolute sovereignty of God, and yielded to the supreme authority of the Scriptures.
FIFTH PERIOD, A.D. 1720 TO THE PRESENT TIME.
1. The life and thought of this period have been far more complex than in any previous age. The growth of the national literatures; the birth of new sciences; the wonderful inventions which have revolutionized commerce and changed the industries of the world; the multiplication of books and newspapers, -have opened new realms of observation and new lines of thought.
No contrast can be more striking than that presented by the narrow and monotonous life of the Scholastic age and the broad and intense life of our time.
2. The social activity has had its parallel in the religious world. Great religious movements, like Methodism in England, Pietism in Germany, and the series of powerful revivals in the United States, have inspired new life and enterprise in the Church. Vigorous missions have been planted in all parts of the heathen world, and philanthropic societies of many names abound in Christian nations.
Social philosophers often criticize modern revivals as outbreaks of fanaticism. They would be wiser observers, if they recognized the fact that the exuberant and intense life of the age manifests itself in religion as in social movements; and revivals are its natural expression.
3. The outward religious life has quickened spiritual thought, and changes in theology have kept pace with revolutions in industry and science. Biblical criticism in Germany, New England theology in this country, and Anddrew Fuller’s vigorous common-sense theology in England have modified the sterner Calvinistic dogmas, and introduced changes in the form and internal relations of doctrines.
As the statements of Christian doctrine are the natural out-growth of Christian experience, it is inevitable that a broader Christian life, nurtured by new insight into truth and a deeper experience of its power, will create new statements of doctrine in harmony with the new life. This is the true development of doctrine.
4. As might be expected from the concurrence of absolute freedom of thought with the growth of new sciences, and the appearance of the most remarkable group of philosophic thinkers since the Platonic age in Greece, the period has been distinguished for bold and confident forms of unbelief. English Deism, French Atheism, and German Rationalism have assailed the entire Christian system, and nearly every one of its distinguishing doctrines.
Scepticism is not the cause nor the occasion of intense intellectual activity, but the natural result.
The pressure of a multitude of new facts, the opening of new views and new relations of truth, unsettle the old foundations of faith, and compel re-examination and readjustment.
Section I Divine origin of Christianity
a) In the first period, Christianity, like the Old Testament, was held to be a direct revelation from God. It was defended against Pagans as the only and final religion, against Jews as the goal to which Judaism led. Paganism was regarded by some of the Fathers as a preparation for Christianity, and teachers like Socrates and Plato were thought worthy of heaven. The corruption of the original truths committed to Paganism was ascribed to demons. The common arguments for the divine origin of Christianity were drawn from miracles and prophecy, especially from Messianic prophecy and that foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem. Tertullian appealed to the adaptation of Christianity to human nature, and to its rapid spread through the Roman empire. Confirmations were found in the Sibylline Oracles.
b) The second period reproduced similar arguments. Augustine’s great apology, The City of God, answered the objection that Christianity underminded the Roman State, and set forth the superior glory and eternal duration of Christ’s kingdom. Lactantius taught that religion consisted in fellowship with God, and not in reverence and outward worship alone; deriving it from religare, and not from religere, as Cicero.
c) Christianity was defended in the third period against Mohammedanism, which denied the deity of Christ; and against the forms of scepticism which flourished in the decline of Scholasticism.
Scholasticism aimed to demonstrate the identity or harmony of the truths of revelation and of the human reason. It was satisfied with apparent success in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. But, in the fourteenth century, the sharp criticisms of Duns Scotus and Occam on the Schoolmen created doubt of the soundness of their methods; and the criticisms of the Humanists, in the fifteenth century, created doubts of their doctrines. A period of unbelief followed the centuries of unquestioned faith.
d) The authority of Christianity, and its supreme value as a revelation, were maintained against the English Deists, who asserted the sufficiency of natural religion and denied the need of the revelation; against Rome, which maintained the equal authority of tradition; and against the Mystical sects, who assigned a co-ordinate value to the inner revelations of the
Spirit, as a continuous inspiration.
The English Deists ascribed absolute perfection to the God of nature, and held that a supernatural revelation dishonored Him by involving imperfection in His moral government. Bishop Butler aimed to prove that all the objections made to revelation had equal weight against natural religion.
e) Christianity as a complete and final religion, incapable alike of errors or additions, has been maintained against English Deism, French Atheism and German Rationalism; against the Positivism of modern science, denying the supernatural; and against the claims of Comparative Religion, that Christianity is only the best of many religions, all of which are the outgrowth of the human soul.
Less weight has been given in our time to external evidence from prophecy and miracles. A higher authority is attached to the internal evidence. Great stress is laid on the unity of the Bible, allowing an evident growth in ethical teaching and in the unfolding of the plan of redemption. The perfect adaptation of its teaching to the moral nature and needs of man, and the ideal standard of character presented in Jesus Christ, are held to be a demonstration of the divine origin of Christianity.
Section II Sources of authority
a) The early Church uniformly limited revelation to the apostolic age, but ascribed to the oral teaching of the apostles an equal authority with their writings. The oral teaching was called tradition, and was considered a trust given to the Church to preserve. Subsequently, tradition took on a new meaning, the authoritative interpretation of both the oral and the written word. This interpretation was to be found in the churches historically connected with apostolic teaching, and was enforced against heretics, who claimed the right to interpret for themselves.
1. The Catholic Church holds today that revelation ended with the apostles. But it claims to possess, as a sacred trust, the oral teachings of the apostles; and from this vast reservoir it can draw new truths for the new needs of the Church. 2. “The reading of the Scriptures is necessary to the demonstration of what is said.” Clement, Stromata vi., II. “Custom without truth is the antiguity of error.” Cyprian, Ep.73.
b) The written word was appealed to as the final authority, and reference was seldom made to the oral teaching. But tradition, as the Church’s interpretation of the Scriptures by divine authority, gained greatly in power; and it was considered heresy to interpret them against the decisions of Fathers and councils. The famous maxim of St. Vincent of Lerins came into use: “That is to be received as truth which has been held always, everywhere, and by all.”
1. The Catholic Church denies the right of private interpretation, and holds the even the Church itself cannot bring in new interpretations, contrary to the Fathers. 2. While the Bible was universally read in this period, and held to be the final authority, we find tendencies to restrict the reading and to exalt tradition. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus both intimate that harm may come from indiscriminate reading. 3. The Ecumenical Councils, as defining doctrine, had equal authority with Scripture to many. Gregory the Great said, “I receive and venerate the four councils as I do the four books of the Holy Gospel.”
c) The Bible was little known; and tradition, the system of truth taught by the Church, assumed its place. In the absence of the Bible, nature and dreams and visions were accepted as divine teachers, and the Mystics assigned authority to the Spirit in the soul. Toward the close of the period, the Bible began to be read with new earnestness, and to reassert its claim to absolute supremacy.
1. The Bible was still nominally supreme to the great thinkers, but, being little known, was practically neglected. Aquinas said, “Our faith rests on revelation made by the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, not on the revelation of other doctors, if there had been such.” Summa Theologia. 2.The authority of the Church was synonymous with tradition, and was practically supreme. This authority was held to reside either (1) in the Church as a whole, or (2) in the Church represented in an oecumenical council, or (3) in the Pope as the highest church official. 3. As heresies began to multiply, Bible reading, without special permission of the clergy, was forbidden by councils in 1229, 1233, 1246.
(d) The Reformation accepted the Bible as the only source of authority, and rejected tradition. But it allowed many beliefs and customs to continue, which, though not taught in the Bible, were supposed to be in harmony with it.
Rome formally defined the dogma that tradition, the teaching of the Church, has a co-ordinate authority, some included the Bible with the Church, and held that the human reason is the ultimate authority. Others, magnifying the privilege of individual interpretation, also disparaged the Bible, and held to new revelations by the Spirit; or, in general, that the Spirit in the soul supersedes the authority of the written word.
1. Hagenbach states in concise form the points of difference between Protestant and Catholic: (1) The Protestant asserts that the Bible is the sole rule of faith; the Catholic, that tradition is of equal authority.
(2) The Protestant ascribes authority only to the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments; the Catholic, to the Apocrypha also.
(3) The Protestant regards the Hebrew and Greek texts as the standards of authority: the Catholic gives preference to the Vulgate version.
(4) The Protestant holds that all of suitable gifts and attainments, and in a certain sense all Christians, have a common right of interpreting is confined to the Church, which may also forbid the private reading to Scripture.
2. The original idea of tradition, oral apostolic teaching, was restored by the Tridentine decrees, though it was practically blended with church authority.
Bellarmine says: “When the Universal Church embraces anything as a dogma of the faith which is not found in the Divine Word, it is necessary to say that it is derived from apostolical tradition. Nothing is of the faith except that which God has revealed through apostles or prophets, or which is evidently deduced from those sources.” -De Verbo Dei, book iv., chap.9.
(c) Evangelical Protestantism gives supreme authority only to the Bible, Rome to the Bible and tradition. But liberal religionists of many names hold that nature, reason, the intuitions of the soul, the laws of science, and the principles of ethics have an equal authority with the Bible or the Church.
1. The denial of the supernatural by scientific leaders involves a similar denial of supernatural agency in the growth of religions. Many students of Comparative Religions ascribe no higher divine authority to the Bible than to the writings of Buddha and Confucius. Religion they hold to be an evolution from the human soul, as the universe is an evolution from natural forces.
2. One of the peculiarities of our age is the importance assigned to Christian consciousness as invested with a divine authority. It assumes in the New Theology a rank co-ordinate with tradition in the Catholic Church. Indeed, tradition in the secondary sense, as the authoritative interpretation of Christian doctrine, is a synonym with consciousness. It means, in both cases, Christian doctrine as tested by Christian experience.
SECTION III INSPIRATION
(a) The inspiration of the Old Testament was universally admitted. It was a common belief, also, that the Septuagint revision was inspired. As the canon of the New Testament was formed, it came to be regarded with equal reverence. Its teachings were held to be infallible, and its authority final. The Fathers generally preface their quotations, “The Holy Spirit says.”
Origen derived the proof of Old Testament inspiration from the New Testament. Tertullian distinguished between the infallible inspiration of the apostles and the general illumination of believers by the Spirit. He said, “Our Sacred Scriptures are the very words and letters of God.” But there were no careful definitions of the nature and degree of inspiration, nor was inspiration limited to the written word. The apostles were held to be inspired teachers by tongue and by pen.
The early apologists-Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Justin Martyr-seem to have transferred Pagan ideas of inspiration to the sacred writers. They supposed the writers to be passive, like musical instruments in the hand of a player, and to be in a state of ecstasy, speaking without consciousness of the words they uttered. The Alexandrian School rejected the idea of ecstasy, and held that inspiration quickened and elevated the mental powers and gave a clearer insight into truth.
(b) Other doctrines occupied attention, and no thorough investigation was given to inspiration. The theory of verbal inspiration was generally accepted. Chrysostom says, “John and Paul did not speak themselves, but God spoke through them.” Augustine says, “No word or syllable in the Bible is superfluous, and without great and deep meaning”; and “I most firmly believe that no one of the authors erred in writing anything.” Ephesians 8 2,1.,3.
Theodoret and Gregory the Great say that it is of small importance to know the human author of any book in the Canon, “as the Holy Spirit is the real author.”
But the human element was not overlooked. Defects of style were acknowledged, and discrepancies between the writers. Jerome notes literary blemishes in Paul.
A few Fathers, like Theodore of Mopsuestia, thought that the sacred writers, being human, could not serve as a perfect medium for communicating divine truth.
(c) The Scholastics directed little of their subtle thought to the question of inspiration, and made few additions to the dogmas of the previous periods on its scope or method. They accepted, in general, the infallibility of the Scriptures. Thomas Aquinas taught degrees of inspiration: Paul is higher than Moses.
Anselm discussed the method of prophetic inspiration: the prophets saw the future as present. Agobard of Lyons held that thoughts were inspired, but the words, humanly chosen, might convey the thoughts imperfectly. Fredegis of Tours taught that the Spirit not only gave the thoughts, but every word was divinely taught. He ascribed inspiration even to translators. Abelard held that prophets and apostles were liable to mistakes, to keep them humble.
The Mystics taught the continuance of inspiration and of revelation.
The forerunners of the Reformation-Wyclif, Wessel, and others insisted on the perfectness of the Bible. The human agency of the writers could not mar the infallibility of the truth communicated.
Some of the Mystics held that the Spirit gave as much knowledge of the sciences as was helpful to the aim of the Scriptures in the salvation of men.
(d) Catholic and Protestant agreed in regarding the Bible as the inspired Word of God. But the spirit of inquiry awakened by the Reformation, and the revival of letters and classical studies, led to a greater freedom among Protestants in judging the Scriptures.
Luther and Zwingle did not accept the inspiration of the entire Canon, nor the infallibility of all the inspired books. They admitted errors both in the Old and New Testaments, errors of statement and errors of argument, and applied subjective tests such as are common today. What did not find them and meet their spiritual needs, they were inclined to reject. But they were inconsistent; for they often insisted on the infallibility of Scripture and on the binding force of a single word or even letter. Other Reformers admitted errors of memory or of careless record.
Calvin accepted inspiration in the form equally with the substance of Scripture, and held its teachings to be as authoritative “as if the living words of God were heard from heaven.” He held to plenary inspiration in a dynamic way, which did not interfere with the individuality of each writer.
The mystical spirit of the Reformers weakened their view of inspiration. It was of great service on the side of personal piety, in setting aside the ceremonials and penances of Rome; but it was harmful on the side of the authority of the Bible, in leading them to test the Scripture by its direct influence on their own piety,- a narrow, inadequate, and false standard of judgment.
In the seventeenth century, German Protestants, by reaction from the loose view of Luther, went to an opposite extreme, and made the sacred writers passive in communicating the thoughts and words of the Holy Spirit. Inspiration, with them, was verbal and mechanical.
The Arminians of Holland held loosely to inspiration, acknowledging a divine guidance in general, but admitting errors in the historical books where the writers were left to their own memories.
The Socinians limited inspiration to esential truths, which the human mind cannot discover of itself. In other matters, the writers were without divine control and were liable to error.
1. Luther anticipated Coleridge in defining personal experience as the test of inspiration in the Canon. He did not use Coleridge’s pithy phrase “find me,” but expressed the precise idea.
2. The inconsistency of Luther and Zwingle in conceding absolute supremacy to the Scriptures in religious teaching, while holding that errors were possible both in matters of fact and of argument, was due in large measure to the spirit of the age. The earnest spirit of inquiry, rejecting authority and searching only for truth, would naturally ask if prophets and apostles might not have been fallible, like later great teachers of the Church. The new religious life, recognizing the abiding of the Holy Spirit in believers, could hardly fail to magnify personal experience or the inner light as a sure interpreter of the written Scriptures.
3. In 1675, Turretine and Heidegger, with the universities of Zurich, Geneva, and Basle, adopted a dogma defining inspiration to be verbal, and including even accents and points- Presbyterian Quarterly Review, 1881, p.565.
4. In England, also, John Owen adopted the theory of verbal inspiration. “The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were immediately and entirely given out by God himself; His mind being in them represented to us without the least interveniency of such mediums and ways as were capable of giving change or alteration to the least iota or syllable. -Presbyterian Review, 1881, p.566.
5. Neither the Augsburg nor Heidelberg nor Westminster Confession adopts the literal theory. They virtually indorse the dynamic theory, though the epithet was not then in use.
(c) The question of inspiration, its nature and limits, has been discussed with more fulness and exactness in this period than in all preceeding periods, and the conclusions reached are more diverse. It is considered a vital and fundamental question, while formerly it was regarded as incidental. The theories are numerous.
1. The mechanical theory. This involves dictation by the Holy Spirit, and the passive agency of the sacred writers. Inspiration is, of necessity, verbal and plenary. It is identical with the views of Theophilus and Justin Martyr in the first period. Gaussen is a good representative of this theory.
2. The dynamic theory, admitting the free use of the faculties of the writers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This theory requires subdivisions, to denote different grades of inspiration.
(a) Inspiration is plenary and virtually verbal. The faculties of the writers unconsciously to themselves, were under the control of the Holy Spirit to communicate the truths He wished, unmixed with error of any kind. Meylen and Bishop Wilson are representatives of this view. See also Presbyterian Review, 1881, p.232, and Dr. Hodge’s Theology.
(b) Inspiration is not plenary, but is restricted to the thought; and the writers, left to themselves, may have expressed it inadequately. Paley and Van Oosterzee represent this view.
(c) Inspiration is neither plenary nor general, but limited to religious truth. The Bible was intended to be an unerring guide only in religious truth; and mistakes in history, chronology, and science are of small importance. Tholuck, Jowett, Conybeare, and Row represent this theory.
(d) Inspiration varies in degree, and is sometimes plenary. It varies in accordance with the subject-matter treated. In prophecy and spiritual truth, it takes the form of revelation, and is infallible. In common matters of history, it amounts only to permission, and does not guard against error. Walter Browne represents this theory.
(e) Inspiration is imperfect and fallible even in the communication of religious truth. It insures only elevation of mind, with new insight into the spiritual world. But human minds are finite, and are always liable to error. Boleridge, Dr. Arnold, and Robertson represent this view.
Dr. Hovey, In Baptist Review for January, 1884 has a valuable article on Inspriation, with an analysis and criticism of various theories. Dr. A.A. Hodge, in the April number of the Presbyterian Review for 1881, has an admirable article on Dynamic Inspiration; and Prof. C.A. Briggs criticizes it in the July number.
3. The natural theory. Inspiration is neither mechanical nor dynamic. There were no peculiar divine influences operating on the sacred writers. They were endowed with religious genius as other writers with a genius for poetry, philosophy, science, and art. But they were liable to mistakes, like others.
Schleiermacher, Wegscheider, Morell, and Maurice represent this theory.
SECTION IV INTERPRETATION
(a) The Bible, as the Word of God, was held to be unlike other books, and to have of necessity, deep meanings and many meanings. It could teach nothing unworthy of God, and any passage seeming to inmply this must have a profounder meaning.
Origen held that every verse had three meanings, corresponding to the threefold division of human nature, the spirit, the soul and the body.
In general, the Fathers, besides the obvious grammatical meaning, taught an allegorical or spiritual meaning, and an anagogical or celestial meaning, of which earthly things are types.
(b) The Antiochian School taught a grammatico-historical system of interpretation, like the best excgetes of our time. Chrysostom was a wise and safe interpreter.
But allegorical interpretation, as upheld by the Alexandrian School, was in general favor. Augustine taught a fourfold sense: historical; allegorical; atiological, a special meaning, derived from the context; and analogical, a general meaning derived from harmony with the entire Bible.
(c) Allegory was still in favor, but a dogmatic interpretation came into use, drawn from the writings of the early Fathers. Scotus Erigena expanded the threefold sense of Origen and the fourfold of Augustine into an infinite sense, inexhaustible.
Toward the close of the period, soberer views prevailed among the forerunners of the Reformation; but the Mystics transferred their wild dreams to the sacred text, and drew from it any meaning desired.
(d) Allegory was not abandoned, but the grammatico-historical method dominated. The Reformers restored the right of individual interpretation, and it was held that spiritual insight given by the new birth is essential to understand the spiritual truths of the Bible. Difficult passages were interpreted by the analogy of faith, as the Bible must be self-consistent. The Socinians gave supremacy to reason in exegesis.
(e) The grammatico-historical method is almost universal among orthodox interpreters. The allegorical tendency is in full force among Swedenborgians.
In Germany, the accommodation theory and the mythical theory have been adopted, to explain away the miraculous element in the New Testament.
Paulus and a large school of Rationalistic interpreters maintained the historical truth of the Gospels, but said that Jesus and the apostles accommodated themselves to Jewish prejudices, and that the miracles are natural events ascribed to
supernatural agencies. Strauss denied the historical veracity of the Gospels, and explained the miracles as myths which took shape gradually, and embodied the longings and expectations of the Jewish people.
SECTION I THE BEING OF GOD
(a) In the first period, no arguments were needed to prove the divine existence. Pagans believed no less than Christians. The only proof needed was for divine unity against polytheism, and for the divine personality against the fate of the Stoics.
Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement appealed to the intuitions of the soul; and many of the Fathers referred to the beauty and order of the universe, and to the intelligent design everywhere manifested.
1. The beauty and order of the universe were held to be proofs of one comprehensive plan, and, therefore, to indicate a single Divine Author.
2. Christians were often obliged to prove that they had a God to worship. As no images were seen in their temples, Pagans, who were accustomed to visible symbols, charged them with Atheism.
(b) In the second period, the argument from design was still in favor. The cosmological argument-from a mutable and dependent universe to a sufficient and self-existing cause- was developed by Diodorus of Tarsus. One form of the ontological argument- the existence of general truths, independent of the human mind, which must have their foundation in an infinite intelligence- was unfolded by Boethius and Augustine.
Boethius held that imperfection is recognized as a law in the visible universe, and that imperfection involves perfection, which is God.
Augustine argues that the human reason is the highest part of man; but universal truths transcend man,and can come only from God.
(c) In the third period, all the methods of proof known in our time were in favor. John of Damascus developed in full the cosmological argument from a dependent universe. Hugo of St.Victor developed it from human reason, which has a beginning and needs an Eternal Author.
Anselm made an ingenious ontological argument. The human mind has the idea of a most perfect being; and existence is essential to the idea, or it would not be perfect. Gaunilo replied that the idea did not involve the reality, but Anselm said it must be so with the idea of God. His realism was of importance to his argument.
Raimund of Sabunde introduced the moral argument, that the sense of responsibility in man involves a Moral Governor, to whom all must give account.
Savonarola appealed to the historical argument,- the universal belief of the race, in all ages in a Divine Ruler.
The Mystics appealed to the direct revelation of God in human souls.
It is singular that so keen a logician as Anselm did not see the fallacy of his argument. Reduced to syllogistic form, it would run thus: The human mind has the idea of most perfect being. Existence is essential to the most perfect being as existing. He proved only that the mind has an idea of a living God; but, unless ideas have an existence independent of the mind and unless thought and being are identical, the argument is worthless. For us, it can only prove that, as the idea of a living and perfect being is a primary truth of the human reason, therefore man must believe in such a God. In this form, it ceases to be a priori argument, and is changed into an a posteriori. Thomas Aquinas, and other leaders of thought in this period, did not accept Anselm’s argument as conclusive.
(d) In general, the existence of God was assumed from the fact of a revelation given to man in the Bible.
Descartes revived the ontological argument, is a different form from Anselm’s. The idea of an infinitely perfect God is beyond the power of the human mind to conceive of itself. Its existence in the mind proves that it must have come from such a being. Calvin, on the other hand, appealed to this idea as essential to human nature, and, therefore, a valid proof. Dr. Samuel Clarke argued that all attributes must have a substance in which they inhere, and infinite space and duration must attach to an infinite being.
(e) Kant denied validity to any method of proof, save the moral- the recognition of moral law and its eternal force by the conscience. It is only an expansion of Raimund’s argument.
The philosophies of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, claimed a direct knowledge of God; but they were various forms of Pantheism, teaching that God came to self-consciousness only in man, and, in this process man must know God. But all other arguments were, of course, worthless, as a universe evolved without intelligence or plan could not reveal an impersonal God.
Evolutionists claim that progress by natural selection overturns the argument from design; but the answer is cogent, that nothing can be evolved which was not previously involved. And the argument is still valid.
1. Kant’s criticism of the ontological argument is generally held to be valid; but Lotze and others put it in a new form, that the idea of a perfect being belongs to the human mind, is a part of man’s constitution, and therefore must be accepted.
Kant’s criticism on the cosmological and teleolgical arguments is chiefly that, as they deal only with finite laws and effects, they cannot prove an infinite cause or intelligence, and is technically sound; but it does not weaken their practical effect. 2. The teleological argument assumes that an intelligent plan is evident in the entire universe, by which a vast and connected system of means is made tributary to certain ends. Extreme evolutionists hold that organisms are dependent on environment, and do not conform to a general plan. Teleologists maintain that the plan still remains, and becomes more comprehensive, being included in the primordial germ. Prof. Fiske, as avowed evolutionist and a disciple of Herbert Spencer, educes from the order of nature a demonstration of the existence of a personal God and of the immortality of man. See The Idea of God as affected by Modern Knowledge and the Destiny of Man.
SECTION II THE NATURE OF GOD
(a) The divine unity was held strongly in opposition to Paganism; but the triune personality was regarded as a doctrine of a Scripture, confirmed by Christian experience.
The apostolical Fathers make formal statements of the New Testament doctrine, but attempt no definition. Justin Martyr asserts the personal distinctions, which admit the use of the pronouns “I” and “thou.” He first speaks of eternal generation. Tertullian insists on the personal distinctions against the Patripassians, and urges that there could be no eternal Father without an eternal Son. He dwells on the identity of essence.
Origen first makes a distinction of essence: The Son was generated by the will of the Father, and therefore, of an inferior nature and subordinate; but the generation was eternal. Arius carried Origen’s idea farther, and made the Son not only of inferior nature, but a created being, and created in time.
The Council of Nicaea condemned Arius, and decreed that the Son was generated, not created, and of the same substance with the Father. There is no difference of nature or of power, only of person; and there is the same necessity for the existence of personal distinctions as of the divine substance. The distinctions are a necessary part of the immanent life of God. The admitted, also, an inequality in the order and relative position of the persons. In dignity of person, not of nature, the Father had precedence of the Son, and the Son of the Spirit.
It was difficult to hold the middle ground between Sabellianism and Arianism. If one magnified the personal distinctions against Sabellius, there was danger of admitting a subordination of the Son. If one magnified the sameness of essence against Arius, there was danger of overlooking the personal distinctions.
1. The famous bon mot of Talleyrand, that “language is intended to hide thought,” finds confirmation in the lofty flights of eminent theologians. It would be hard for Hegel, the obscurest of philosophers, to equal a sentence from Dr. Dorner.
he defines God’s relation to the universe in the following lucid sentence: “Aussichselbstsein kraft des Durchsichselbstsein mit dem Fursichselbstsein sich zusammenschliesst,” -“By means of His Inseity, the Extraseity of God coalesces with His Aseity.”
2. Earlier writers than Origen, Justin Martyr, Tatian, and Tertullian, ascribe the generation, also, to the will of the Father; but, with them, the generation relates only to the personal distinction, not to the essence. Origen is not always consistent with himself in making the generation dependent on the will of the Father. He sometimes seems to regard it as a necessity of the divine nature.
3. There was a tendency to ascribe a kind of subordination to the Son, because the term “generation” implied a derivation of person or rank or office from the Father.
4. Unitarians have claimed that the ante-Nicene Fathers did not teach the deity of the Logos; and Petavius, a Catholic writer, famous for patristic learning, half concedes it; and Gieseler likewise. But, while some of the Fathers imply, or even assert, a kind of inferiority or subordination, on account of a derived existence, they all agree in ascribing to the Logos the fulness of the divine power and essence.
5. Sabellianism recognized no distinction of persons, but only a distinction of offices in the work of redemption. The distinction would end in the future world, when this work was completed.
(b) In the second period, the semi-Arians, following Origen, maintained a similarity of essence, but not an identity. Macedonius, also, denied the personality of the Spirit. At the Council of Constantinople, 381, the identity of essence and the distinction of persons were both clearly defined and settled.
1. For a period between the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, Arianism was dominant in the Eastern Church. Successive emperors supported it by the whole power of the State. In the Western Church, it had little strength, save among the Gothic tribes. As recent converts from Paganism, they could understand a subordination of persons in the Godhead more easily than a Trinity in unity. After the Council of Constantinople, in 381 A.D. Arianism ceased to have importance as a disturbing element.
2. Augustine anticipated the philosophic theory of our age, that the Trinity is essential to the fulness of divine life. The subject must have an object, and a relation be established between the two. He illustrated it by human memory, knowledge, and will or love.
(c) In the third period, the trinity of persons was accepted as the doctrine of the Church; and there was no formal dissent.
Some of the Scholastics seemed to teach Tritheism, as Roscelin, a Nominalist, made the term “God” an abstract genus, comprehending the three species or individuals, – Father, Son and Spirit. In like manner, Gilbert of Poitiers, a Realist, made the
divine essence a mere form, in which God exists as humanity is a form for man, and seemed to separate the persons, like Arius.
Richard of St. Victor expanded the idea of Augustine, and said that the Trinity was essential to the exercise of divine love. The Father must have an object to love, and love to creatures would not be the highest love. Love must have a divine object, and yet not Himself. Love is also social, and the Father and Son unite in loving the Spirit.
(d) In the fourth period, the discussions of the first period were revived. Arianism was advocated by Dr. Samuel Clarke, in the Church of England; and Bishop Bull admitted a subordination of the Son to the Father. Servetus maintained the views of Sabellius, denying the personal distinctions in the Godhead. Laelius and Faustus Socinus denied the divine nature of Jesus, like the early Alogi, but admitted a supernatural birth and a divine endowment and a deification in heaven, on account of his work on earth, with a title to worship.
(e) Unitarianism prevailed widely in England, absorbing most of the Presbyterian churches. It obtained, also, a strong hold in Massachusetts in the early part of the nineteenth century, growing in secret and by deliberate concealment of views, until it was strong enough to take possession of Harvard College and of more than half the Puritian churches in Eastern Massachusetts.
It looks like a gross violation of equity for the Unitarians to alienate college and church funds established for the Puritan faith, but there was a legal basis for the transfer. To compel all citizens to support the Puritan churches, the right of holding property and of controlling church action had been vested in te towns. All parish business was transacted at town-meetings. When the majority of voters became anti-Puritan, they could take possession of church property.
SECTION III RELATION OF GOD TO THE UNIVERSE
(a) 1. The belief was uniform in creation, in distinction from all forms of emanation. The Fathers, generally, held that it was a creation from nothing,- not from the divine essence nor from previously existing matter. It was a free and voluntary creation, proceeding from the divine love. The first chapter of Genesis was interpreted literally.
2. The Fathers had no sympathy with Pantheism. They believed universally in the transcendence of God and in the fulness of divine life apart from the universe. But they believed also in the divine immanence, that God is everywhere present in His works, and the life and force of nature are an outflow of the divine energy.
1. Irenaeus taught that the world was made for man, and man was made as a channel for the divine beneficence.
2. The Alexandrian School, Clement and Origen particularly, did not accept the literal days. Clement said they could not be literal, as time began only with creation. Origen said, the creation must be an eternal act, or God would not be immutable. He held that this world was created as a home and school for fallen souls, where they could recover purity; also, that all souls were created by one act, and the number admits of no increase. On possible eternity of creation, see Dorner’s System of Christian Doctrine, ii.,28.
3. The belief was uniform that God brought matter into existence by an omnipotent act of will. Both Plato’s unformed matter and his world of forms or ideas were rejected even by the Platonic Fathers. See Oosterzee’s Dogmatics, i., 300, “The Universe.”
4. The Gnostics denied an absolute creation, and denied also that creation was the direct work of God. They held to original emanations from the Deity, and to subsequent reshapings by inferior aeons.
5. It was also uniformly held that the creation was the immediate work of the Logos, and that the end of creation is the exaltation of the Logos to the headship of a vast spiritual kingdom.
6. Prof. Allen, in his Continuity of Doctrine, maintains that the early Christians derived their belief in the divine immanence from the Stoical philosophy. But the God of the Stoics was an all-pervading energy rather than a personal intelligence, and the divine immanence is the law of the Old Testament. None of the Fathers were Stoics.
(b) In opposition to Gnosticism and Manichaeism, the doctrine of creation from nothing was vigorously maintained and the literal interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis. Augustine, however, doubted if the days were literal. He also believed that the universe is dependent immediately on God for continued
existence. He made Providence a kind of continuous creation. Chrysostrom and others developed the idea of a special Providence, but Jerome thought it unworthy of God to care for individuals.
(c) The idea of a creation from nothing generally prevailed; and the distinction was drawn between the primal creation, in the first verse of Genesis, and the reshaping of matter and forces in the six days. The days were held to be literal, though Anselm doubted. Cur Deus Homo? 1-18.
Erigena and Echart were virtual pantheists, and held to the emanation theory and to the continuance of the universe, because the divine essence pervades it and gives it life and form.
(d) The creation from nothing in six days was the general belief, but Limborch and others limited the work in each day to a moment of time. A few Catholics adopted Augustine’s idea, that the entire creation was in a moment; and the mention of days is a condescension to human weakness. A few Protestant writers accepted Augustine’s idea, that the preservation of the world is a continuous act of creation.
Spinoza denied creation and the distinction between God and the universe. God is the only substance with the two attributes of thought and extension. The modes of thought occasion ideas, the modes of extension bodies. All are developed from God by inward necessity, and there is freedom neither in God nor man.
(e) The creation from nothing has been generally held by theologians, though the old idea of a formless matter or a latent divine energy, as the basis of the universe, has been revived. The discoveries of geology have led to a surrender of the literalness of the Mosaic days, and the theory of evolution is modifying the popular idea of creation. Various forms of Pantheism have shaped theological thought in Germany, born of the philosophies of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel; and something worse than Manichaeism has been taught by Schopenhauer and Hartmann.
1.It is often said by unbelievers in inspiration that no one would have thought of doubting the literal days of Genesis, but for geological discoveries. They only confess their ignorance; for Origen, Augustine, and Anselm doubted before geology was born.
2. The German philosophers admitted no proper creation and no essential distinction between God and the universe.
SECTION I CONSTITUTION OF MAN
(a) In the first period, it was generally held that man has a three-fold nature: the first, a material nature, uniting him with theorganic universe; the second, the soul, the (Grk:soul) seat of the animate life he shares with the animal universe; and the third, the spiritual nature, which makes him a religious being, capable of fellowship with God.
Tertullian rejected the three-fold nature, and maintained that man has only soul and body.
1. The Gnostics perverted this theory by giving to one element a dominance over the whole nature, so that somatic and psychic men can never rise to the pneumatic state.
2. Some of the Fathers held that the (Grk:YwXn) was not endowed with a natural immortality, but received it through the (Grk:Tveiiua) as a reward for a pious life. The Adventists wrongly claim them as denying immortality.
3. Irenaeus and Tatian seem to teach that the (Grk:Tveiipa) is not anorganic part of human nature, but is the Holy Spirit working in man.
(b-e) In subsequent periods, the dichotomitic theory has generally prevailed, though individual theologians may be found in almost every age holding to trichotomy. In our day there have been earnest attempts to revive the latter theory. Olshansen, De Wette, Alford, Ellicott, Van Oosterzee, and Delitzsch favor it. See Dodge’s Theology, p. 183; G.D. Boardman’s articles, Baptist Quarterly; also H.B. Goodwin’s Christ and Humanity.
1. The trichotomistic theory is suggested by several New Testament passages, but the distinction between (Grk:Yxwii) and (Grk:Tviua) often disappears.
2. In the fourth period, not only was the separate existence of “spirit” denied, but, by some theologians, material qualities were ascribed to the soul, such as extension. See Henry More, Immortal Anima, iii.,2.
3. The inherent immortality of the soul was genrally accepted in all the periods. Nicholas of Methone held that it was immortal only by divine grace. In our time, the Second Adventists hold a similar doctrine; and theologians, like Rothe and Weiss, seem to teach that immortality depends on a religious life. Socinians have generally doubted inherent immortality. A school of materialistic philosophers in England and Germany- Bain, Maudsley, Vogt- deny the separate existence of the soul, and hold that thought is a function of nerve and brain. See Bowen’s Gleanings, p136.
SECTION II THE ORIGIN OF THE SOUL
a) It was universally held that man was created by God, made in the divine image, but not from the divine essence. Three theories of the origen of the soul found strong advocates:
1) Of Pre-existence: advocated by Origen, that all souls were created by God in the beginning, and that their entrance into human bodies is a penalty for sin committed in a previous state.
Note: It is singular that so acute a thinker as Origen did not see that penalty loses its moral force when no one is conscious of its workings. men have no memory of sins in a previous life. They have no consciousness of suffering for them in this life. See Dodge’s Theology, p. 176.
2) Of Creationism: that each human soul is created directly for the body with which it is to be united, and that the union is affected by God at some time before birth. This theory was held generally by the Greek Fathers.
It is a formidable objection to Creationism that it destroys the unity of the race and makes the laws of heredity impossible. There can be no possible connection between Adam’s sin and the depravity of the race, unless spiritual corruption comes through the body, or God makes each soul depraved as a penalty for Adam’s sin. If there be no race connection, this
divine action seems arbitrary and unjust. Pelagius naturally adopted Creationism, and maintained that Adam’s sin could not affect souls independent of him and come directly from God.
3) Of Traducianism: that man as a unit, with body and soul, is propagated by the law of parentage. This was defended by Tertullian, and accepted in general by the Latin Fathers.
Traducianism explains human depravity as an inevitable result of the law of heredity. It seems essential to the Calvinistic system. But two formidable objections lie against it,-that the physical act of generation can begat an immortal spirit, and that Christian children do not come from Christian parents, as sinful children come from sinful parents.
b) In the second period, the Greek Fathers, Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa excepted, generally adopted Creationism; while the Latin Fathers as generally, Jerome and possibly Ambrose excepted, favored Traducianism. Augustine’s theory of original sin inclined him to Traducianism, and he states strong objections to Creationism, but says that neither theory is distinctly taught in Scripture; and he, therefore, adopts neither decisively. The theory of pre-existence was generally abandoned.
c) The Scholastics, with general unanimity, accepted Creationism. They thought that Traducianism tended to a belief in the materialism of the soul.
d) The Catholic Church still held to Creationism, but the Reformers were divided; Luther and most of his following accepting Traducianism, while Calvin and the Reformed leaders generally, inclined to Creationism.
e) In our time, all the theories have found advocates. Origen’s’s view of Pre-existence has been defended with great ingenuity and force by Julius Muller in Germany and by Edward Beecher in this country. Dr. Hodge was a strong advocate of Creationism; while President Edwards, Dr. Hopkins, and the New England School, generally, hold to Traducianism. Darwin’s theory of development by natural law, if applied to man, seems to deny, not only the origin of the soul by direct creative act, but even the existence of the soul as an individual intelligence. Bain, Maudsley, Moleschott, and the whole school of German And English thinkers, who resolve Mental Philosophy into Physiology, deny the separate existence of the soul, and explain all mental acts as functions of matter.
The scientific development of the laws of heredity and the more careful study of the marked distinctions between nations and races give a strong support to the Traducian theory. A combination of the two has been attempted, by which God, as immanent in nature and working through established law, may impart a supernatural energy to each individual soul. Edwards says, “The child and the acorn, which come into existence in the order of nature, are truly immediately created by God.” Thomasius, Martensen, Rothe, and Dorner hold to a divine agency operating on individual souls. See Dodge’s Theology, p. 188.
SECTION III MAN’S ORIGINAL STATE AND THE FALL
a) The Fathers, generally, held to the historic truth of the Mosaic account of creation. Some, however, like Origen, interpreted it allegorically. They regarded man as made in the divine image, intellectually and morally, but held that he could attain the divine likeness only by a holy life (ethically) or by the gifts of the Holy Spirit (by divine grace). Man’s state before the fall was not so much holy, which implies character tested, as innocent, like the purity of childhood. The fall was regarded as a historical fact, and the cause of death and the whole train of physical evils. It injured the spiritual condition of the entire race. But the doctrine of the original sin, or inherited depravity, was not clearly wrought out in this period.
In opposition to the Gnostics who maintained a physical fatalism, there was a disposition to magnify human freedom,–to define sin as a voluntary choice of evil,–and to hold that man co-operates with God in regeneration no less than in the Christian life which follows. Irenaeus and Tertullian taught an inherited depravity, and Origen a universal depravity, not inherited from Adam, but the result of sin in a previous state of existence.
1.) Tertullian held that God was corporeal: others held that the body of Christ was the model for human bodies.
2.) In the idea of attaining the divine likeness by special gifts of the Holy Spirit is an anticipation of the later distinction of the Catholic Church between pura naturalia and the donum superadditum.
3.) The Ophites, a Gnostic sect, taught that the fall was an uplifting and emancipation from the Demiurge who had restricted man’s freedom.
b) 1. In this period, the consequences of the fall were more sharply defined. The theologians of the Greek Church held milder views than those of the Latin Church; and, while conceding a serious injury to both the soul and the spirit during the fall, they maintained that the will still possessed freedom of choice between good and evil, and must co-operate with God in the work of the regeneration. The Latin Fathers, before Augustine, Arnobius, Hilary, and Ambrose, taught that the race was depraved in consequence of Adam’s sin, but did not deny human freedom. Augustine, before the Pelagian controversy, advocated the doctrine of Synergism. Pelagius, carrying the doctrines of the Greek Church to the extreme of denying original sin and inherited depravity and the need of divine grace in regeneration, roused the antagonism of Augustine, and led to the defining of the doctrines of sin and grace, which have ruled the church for many centuries
1. In regard to original sin, Augustine taught the organic unity of the race, by which all men where in Adam, as their head, and sinned in him, and are therefore partakers in his guilt.
1.) The differences of theological belief between Augustine and Pelagius were the natural outgrowth of differences of temperament, life, and philosophy. Pelagius was a man of calm temperament and easy life, who had experienced no fiery temptations and passed through no great inward struggles. He felt no profound convictions of sin or need of divine grace. He held, also, to individualism and the direct creation of each human soul, and could not understand how one man can influence another, save by example. Augustine was of an intense nature; and his whole life, till conversion, had been a long struggle with sin. He believed, also, in the solidarity of the race, that all its possibilities were included in the first man.
2.) The organic headship of Adam, taught by Augustine, is an entirely different doctrine from the federal headship taught by Dr. Hodge. The latter originated in the century after the Reformation.
3.) The theory of organic unity may be true, but Augustine’s Biblical foundation was insecure.–Rom.v.,12: Death passed on all men,-(Greek term), in whom all have sinned.
(2) In regard to divine grace, Augustine taught its absolute necessity to begat spiritual life. Man’s will is in bondage to sin, and will not choose the good until renewed by the Holy Spirit. God acts alone in this work, and man does not co-operate till after regeneration.
Augustine’s view of freedom was peculiar. It did not involve power of the contrary choice. He thought the will free only when it spontaneously chose the good. God, absolutely incapable of sin, alone has perfect freedom. Angels and men approximate, as far as they have no tendencies to evil.
(3) The divine predestination, in Augustine’s theory, was the effective cause of regeneration. For His own good pleasure, not for any good foreseen in the creature, God has elected a part of the human family to salvation, and left the rest to adhere to their own choice, and perish.
(4) There was much opposition to these views of Augustine in Gaul, where semi-Pelagianism prevailed; but, at length, by decrees of synods, they were established as the doctrine of the Western Church.
2. Augustine constructed a new theology for the church. It differed from the Greek theology, which preceded it, in magnifying the divine element in redemption and minifying the human. It differed from the Protestantism of the sixteenth century in dwelling almost exclusively on the subjective side of Redemption,-the inward work of the Spirit in reconciling man to God,-and, failing to develop the objective side in the incarnation,-uniting humanity to God, and in the atonement providing justification for a guilty race.
Semi-Plegagianism differed from Pelagianism in admitting the depravity of the race through Adam, and the necessity of divine grace for recovery. It differed from Augustinianism in holding that man must co-operate with God even in preveniens grace, and that man may begin the work of recovery. Cassianus, a disciple of Chrysostom, and St. Vincent of Lerins were leaders; and the doctrine had a strong hold in the monasteries. It gradually gave way to a modified Agustinianism, which, leaving irresistible grace in the background, insisted that divine grace must begin the work of Regeneration. Avitus of Vienne and Caesar of Arles, preachers, not monks, were leaders of the new Augustinianism, and Gregory the Great, its most illustrious advocate.
(c) Augustine was still the highest authority in the Western Church; and the great leaders of the Scholastic period, Anselm especially, claimed to hold his views. But a gradual change took place, which has since become the accepted doctrine of Rome.
(1) Man was not created perfect and holy, but innocent with the appetites of the body active and vigorous and the powers of the soul dormant and undeveloped. His moral condition, therefore, was weak. But righteousness was imparted to him as a special gift of grace, called donum superadditum, by which his moral weakness might be strengthened and the moral nature become more dominant.
1. Thomas Aquinas held that this righteousness was imparted at creation, and might be considered, therefore, a kind of natural endowment. He was created in grace. But the Scholastics, generally, held that it was conferred later, and did not belong to him as a part of his constitution.
2. The Scholastics did not draw the same distinction between the divine image and likeness which had previously prevailed. They made it consist in a difference of intellectual and spiritual gifts.
2) This original righteousness was lost by the fall.
The Scholastics did not accept Augustine’s idea of original sin, that the race sinned in Adam, as joint agents. Aquinas says that, by racial connection with Adam, all share in his sin; Anselm, that, by similar connection, we share his depraved nature. In general, original sin was held to be only the negative absence of righteousness.
(3) The condition of the race, therefore, after the fall was a return to the original created state, morally weak, but not sinful or guilty.
Anselm and Aquinas taught a moral inability to turn to God; but a large number of the Scholastics, toward the close of the period, held to man’s ability to co-operate with God before as well as after regeneration.
(4) Sin was supposed to consist in disobedience to God, springing from pride. The Mystics defined it as an attempt at independence of God; like the primal revolt of Satan. Many like Hugo of St. Victor, explained it as a deliberate choice of a lower good over a higher.
(5) In the attempt to honor Mary as the mother of Christ, it was taught that she was born free from the original sin, – The Immaculate Conception. The doctrine was opposed strongly by Aquinas, Albert Magnus, and Bonaventura, but was favored by Duns Scotus and the Franciscans. It came to be the general belief of the Church, and was expressed in the Festival of the Immaculate Conception, sanctioned by Pope Sextus IV., in 1474.
Hugo of St. Victor explained the possibility of the fall by the theory that man had two tenancies: the one, appetitus justi, the love of the right; the other, apptetus commodi, the love of the agreement. The latter is perfectly lawful in itself, but pushed beyond its limits, becomes sin. He also defined liberty to be: 1) at creation, posse peccare et posse non peccare; 2) after the fall and before the new birth, posse peccare et non peccare; 3) after the new birth, possse peccare et posse non peccare; 4) in glory, posse non peccare et non posse peccare.
(d) Protestants, generally, taught that man was originally created holy, and immortality, as well as holiness, belonged to Adam. In consequence of the fall, human nature became totally depraved, and incapable of holiness without the new birth by divine grace.
The Arminians denied original holiness, asserting only man’s innocence; and denied also the guilt of the depravity incident to the fall.
The Socinians interpreted the divine image as implying only dominion over the lower creation; denied that depravity is a result of the fall, and maintained Pelagian views of human nature. Man is born , like Adam, free from sin. Bodily death is the chief penalty of Adam’s sin.
The Roman Church at Trent affirmed the views of Augustine in form, but interpreted them in a Pelagian sense; and Pelagianism has since been the theology of Rome. The distinction was clearly defined between the pura naturalia of man’s nature at creation and the domum superadditum of righteousness.
1.) The school of Saumur in France anticipated the New England Theology, and taught, in general, its doctrines both of sin and grace: inherited depravity, not imputed guilt; an atonement universal in scope, and limited only in appropriation; the essence of the atonement in the passion of Christ, not in his obedience.
2.) Cocceius, in Germany, instituted the theology of the Covenants, so called. He regarded Adam as the federal head of the race. His sin and guilt, as their representative, is imputed to his posterity. Augustine’s theology made the guilt real; the new theory only made it imputed.
(e) In Germany, the bold philosophical theories from Kant to Hegel occasioned many changes in the doctrine of the Reformation relating to the fall and its consequences; but the old views are gradually coming again to recognition.
In the United States, the new School Theology, originating with Jonathan Edwards and Hopkins, has modified the idea of original sin, making it consist in inherited depravity, but limiting guilt to actual and voluntary sin. It has drawn sharp distinction between natural and moral inability, and defines the impotence of the sinner as a want of inclination to love God, or an alienated will.
1.) The early Rationalists denied original sin. Kant admitted depravity, but denied its hereditary origin. Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, by their pantheistic views, virtually eliminated guilt from sin, and made it only the imperfection of a finite being. Schleiermacher taught depravity by nature, from which the only deliverance is by the new birth.
2.) The discussions in Germany have given birth to the works on Sin by Julius Muller, a contribution to Anthropology of the highest value.
3.) Many of the New England theologians, while holding that inherited depravity is not guilty, teach that by voluntary sin one accepts and indorses this depravity, and becomes guilty for it as well as for the voluntary sin. This was also the teaching of the School of Saumur, and was called “mediate” imputation.
4.) A more recent form of theology, claiming to be a development of the New England theology and a revival of the early Greek theology, rejects the peculiar features of the Augustinian creed. It virtually denies both natural and moral inability, and clothes man with the power at any time to repent and return to God. Its more important changes, however, will be noticed in the departments of Soteriology and Eschatology.
THE PERSON OF CHRIST
a) The early Fathers laid great stress on the Incarnation, as unfolding the love of God and carrying to completion His purpose in the creation of man.
They held uniformly to a union of deity and humanity in the person of Jesus Christ, and rejected alike the theory of the Ebionites, who denied His deity, and the theory of those Gnostics who denied His humanity. But some of them seem to have imperfect views of His humanity, doubting if He possessed a human soul, or if His body, like ours, was subject by nature to pain and death. All held Him to be absolutely sinless.
Reviewing the various controversies of this period and the early part of the second period to the Council of Chalcedon (451), it may be said that the church accepted in full that fact of the incarnation and of the real union of the two natures in a single person. It remained for later ages to define the relation of the two natures to each other and to the single personality.
1. Some of the Fathers thought that the incarnation would have taken place even if man had never sinned. Dorner has advocated this view in our day.
2. They held that the incarnation, apart from the passion, new and divine forces were brought into the world for overcoming evil.
3. On the Jewish side, the Ebionites and Nazarenes asserted a simple humanity, though the latter admitted a supernatural birth. On the Gentile side, the Monarchians and Alogi denied the existence of the Logos in the divine nature, and therefore rejected the incarnation.
4. Different Gnostic Schools taught different views of the incarnation. The Docetae magnified the divine side, and held the human body to be unreal, a phantom. Others held that Christ took nothing from Mary, but simply passed through her to come into the world; others, that the Logos entered into the man Jesus at baptism. Marcion, rejecting the Old Testament, taught that Christ came suddenly into the world, not in fulfillment of a divine purpose.
b) The discussions on theology in the first period had been occupied largely with the pre-existence of the Logos before the incarnation, and His relation to the Father. The discussion in this period took a Christological turn,-the relation of the Logos to the human nature in the person of Christ.
1) Apollinaris, thinking to exalt the person of Christ, maintained that the Logos took the place of the rational soul in Him. Arius had previously taught the same view. It gave to Christ an imperfect humanity, and was condemned by the Second Council of Constantinople (381).
Apollinaris thought his theory the only way to escape from a double personality. If the humanity were complete, there must be also a human will; and with the perfect deity, a divine will. Two wills and two consciousnesses, he thought, involved a double personality no less than a double nature.
(2) Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, shrinking from the bald statement that Mary was the mother of God, insisted that she was the mother only of the man Christ Jesus. But he fell into the error of denying the union of the two natures in a single person, and held to a mere conjunction of the two, so that there were two personalities acting together, the divine Logos and the man Christ Jesus.
1. It is not quite certain that Nestorius went as far as his followers in making two personalities in Christ, but this was the logical result of his views. If he had said that Mary was the mother of the God-man, not of God, he would have stated the exact truth.
2. The Council of Ephesus (431), which condemned Nestorius, was not strictly as oecumenical council, as the Eastern bishops, generally, did not join it, and refused to accept its decisions. It was conducted by Cyril of Alexandria, a personal enemy of Nestorius, who hurried its meeting and its decisions. It virtually adopted Eutychianism, but saved itself by a single phrase, “the unconfounded unity.”
(3) Eutyches, an abbot of Constantinople, taught that the two natures were united in the incarnation, but the divine assimilated the human, and became the only nature during the earthly life.
Dioscurus, successor of Cyril at Alexandria, succeeded in passing a decree defining this doctrine in what was called the Robber Synod of Ephesus, in 449.
At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, both Nestorianism and Eutychianism were condemned, and the true doctrine of the person of Christ was defined “as perfect God and perfect man, begotten of the Father as to his deity, born of Mary as to his humanity. He is one Christ existing in two natures, without mixture (Greek word), without change (Greek word), without division (Greek word), without separation (Greek word).” Dr. Shedd thinks that the personality of the divine nature, excluding the personality of the human, is found in the symbol; but it must be put there by the interpreter, before he can find it.
1. The entire Alexandrian School tended toward a unity of nature as of person. Even Athanasius said, “There are not two natures, the one to be worshipped and the other not, but one nature of God, the incarnate and adorable Word.”- Crippen, p.109.
2. The Chalcedon symbol read: “We teach that Jesus Christ is perfect as respects Godhead, and perfect as respects manhood; that he is truly God and truly a man, consisting of rational soul and a body; that he is consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity, and consubstantial with us as to his humanity, and like us in all respects, sin excepted. He was begotten of the Father before creation (Greek word) as to his deity; but, in these last days, he was born of Mary, the mother of God, as to his humanity. He is one Christ existing in two natures, without mixture, without change, without division, without separation, the diversity of the two natures not being at all destroyed by their union in the person, but the peculiar properties (Greek word) of each nature being preserved, and concurring to one person (Greek person) and one subsistence (Greek word).” -Shedd, i., 399.
(4) The Western Church accepted the symbol of Chalcedon, but many in the Eastern Church adhered to the supremacy of the divine nature in Christ. In 482, the Emperor Zeno published a decree for union, called the Henoticon. It condemned Nestorianism and Eutychianism, but set aside the Chalcedon decree, and returned to the less definite decisions of Constantinople (381). The patriarchs of Alexandria and Constantinople accepted it, but Rome excommunicated the latter for heresy; and for thirty-five years there was a schism between the two Churches, when the Henoticon was abolished.
There were divisions among the Monophysites, some affirming that the divine nature made the human body incorruptible, others denying; some asserting the ignorance of Christ on certain points, others claiming for Him an absolute omniscience.
(5) A century later, the Emperor Justinian endeavored to establish unity. He condemned treatises written by Diodorus (394), Ibas (450), and Theodoret (457), as teaching Nestorian views. The treatises were called “The Three Chapters.” Carrying out his purpose, the Fifth Council at Constantinople (553) formally condemned “The Three Chapters” as heresy, and adopted a decree “that God was crucified for us,” thus giving the sanction of the Church to the supremacy of the divine nature, and reversing the decree of Chalcedon.
1. Theodora, the infamous wife of Justinian, was a Monophysite; but he was orthodox. For political reasons, however, he sought to please the Monophysites, and by making concessions to win them back to the Church. The decree of the Fifth Council was, “If any one does not confess that the one crucified in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, was the true God and Lord of glory, and one of the holy triad, let him be accursed.” -Hagenbach, i., 280, note 3.
2. John II., Bishop of Rome, consented to Justinian’s view that “the one crucified was of the holy and consubstantial Trinity.” -Hagenbach, i., 280, note 3.
(6) A last attempt was made at union by the Emperor Heraclius, in 630. He proposed a compromise, asserting the two natures in the person of Christ, but united so closely as to have but one will and one operation. This was for a time successful. Sergius, of Constantinople, for the orthodox party, and Cyrus, of Alexandria, for the Monophysite party, in the Eastern Church, accepted the basis of union. Honorius of Rome approved it also. But opposition soon arose; and the Sixth Council at Constantinople, in 686, condemned it, and adopted the dogma that in the person of Christ there are two natures and two wills, the human will being subordinate to the divine. Honorius was condemned by the council, and by successive bishops of Rome, as a heretic.
It is evident that after the Council of Chalcedon had defined the union of the two natures, the general tendency in the Eastern Church was to magnify the relative importance of the divine element and to depreciate the human. The full meaning of the
incarnation was not apprehended, and the Fifth and Sixth Councils receded rather than advanced in their attempts to interpret it.
The doctrine of two wills in one person is the doctrine of the Roman Church. But it is hard to understand why two wills do not involve two persons, and re-establish Nestorianism. The Reformers did not accept the decision of the Sixth Council.
(c) John of Damascus made a new attempt to solve the mystery of the Incarnation, by ascribing the single personality in Christ to the Logos, who united to Himself an impersonal human nature. He introduced a new element into the union, endowing the two natures with a power of interpenetration and interchange of attributes. Many of the Scholastics accepted the single personality of the Logos, while rejecting the exchange of attributes. This was a new form of the tendency to exalt the divine nature over the human. The tendency continued till the Reformation.
In Spain, the Adoption theory taught that the Logos was the natural Son of God, and the human Jesus a Son only by adoption, either at birth or baptism or the resurrection.
Many of the Scholastics revived the opinion of the early Fathers, that the incarnation was essential to a completion of the divine purpose in creation, and would have taken place if man had never sinned. John Wessel advocated this view strongly.
1.- Adoptionism was a natural result of the long depreciation of the human nature in the God-man, and expressed a purpose to reclaim its rights by lifting it also to the honor of Sonship. It was also a natural outgrowth of the application of the term “Son” by Origen to the Logos before the incarnation. The Church had retained this use, and explained it by an eternal generation.
2. Peter Lombard expressed the tendency to magnify the divine element in the union, by affirming that the Logos became nothing by the incarnation, meaning only that the divine nature remained unchanged, but virtually assuming that the human nature was of no value.
(d) From the Reformation onward, the human nature in Christ has received full recognition and honor. Even Luther, who revived Eutychianism, and ascribed to the human nature divine attributes received by the union, exalted the human by the change. Calvin denied the possibility of a transfer of attributes from the divine to the human, but said that both forms of attributes could be rightly ascribed to the single person. The University of Giessen held that the Logos abdicated the possession of divine attributes during the human life (Greek word). The University of Tubingen said that He only concealed them (Greek word). The Reformed Church admitted that He abdicated their use. Servetus denied the divine nature, but said the human nature was filled with God. Socinus admitted only the human nature, but said this was glorified by obedience, and became the object of worship in heaven. A few Catholic Mystics, like Weigel, taught the pre-existence of the humanity of Christ; a few Protestants, like Dr. Watts, the pre-existence of the human soul.
Luther’s idea of Consubstantiation was dependent on the omnipresence of the body derived from the divine nature.
(e) In Germany, beginning with Kant, the ideal Christ has been magnified at the expense of the historical. Strauss invented the mythical theory, and denied the historical facts of the Gospels. Baur made Paul rather than Jesus the author of Christianity.
Many theories have been devised by Rationalists to explain away the supernatural facts in the life of Christ.
Unitarians in England and this country have generally denied the deity of Jesus Christ.
The controversy concerning the (Greek word), has taken on new forms, and has been applied chiefly to the divine nature instead of the human. Ebrard teaches a double life of the Logos, in heaven and the universe, in full possession of the divine attributes; and in the man Jesus, emptied of the divine glory. Thomasius holds that the Logos, entering humanity, surrendered the divine attributes and self-consciousness, and confined Himself within the limits of a human life. Gess adds that the Logos abdicated His divine life in the Trinity, and resumed His place, after the resurrection, as the God-man. Dorner and Martensen maintain that the inflow of the divine into the human was limited by the capacity of the human, and therefore increased with the growth of the human.
In our own country, Dr. Howard Crosby has advocated the view of the earlier Giessen theologians, that Christ voluntarily abdicated the use of divine attributes during the human life, and was unconscious of his full deity till after the resurrection. See True Humanity of Christ and Shedd’s review in Presbyterian Review, 1881, p.429.
H.M. Goodwin, Christ and Humanity, accepts Gess’ view of an abdication of the rank of Logos in the Trinity, and a return as the God-man.
But, in an beyond the controversies of the age, the historical Christ has become more and more the ideal of humanity and the Redeemer of the race; and the demand is general that theology be made Christo-centric.
Christology has been greatly enriched by the Lives of Christ, written by the foremost theologians in Germany. These have demonstrated the historic truth of the Gospels.
English scholars, like Farrar and Geikie, have made contributions to Christological literature as valuable as the works of German theologians. Henry Ward Beecher’s incomplete Life of Christ is popular rather than scientific, and adopts the Apollinarian theory of the substitution of the Logos for the rational soul in the God-man.
SECTION I. -THE ATONING WORK OF CHRIST.
(a) It was held by all the early Fathers that men are pardoned and saved only in virtue of Christ’s life and death. But there was no scientific statement of the merit of Christ’s sacrifice. Ebionite and Gnostic denied its vicarious character. The germs of Anselm’s theory of substitution may be found in the apostolic Fathers, Polycarp and Barnabas: of Abelard’s moral influence theory, in Ignatius and Clement.
Irenaeus insists on satisfaction to divine justice, but the satisfaction is rather to the claims of Satan on fallen man than to the claims of God’s broken law. Origen, also, overlooks the judicial punishment of sin as guilt, and magnifies the moral influence of Christ’s sufferings in winning to a new life, and the power of the new life in overcoming sin. He extends its power to other worlds.
I. J.P. Thompson calls Irenaeus’ theory the military theory, -rescue from an enemy, the devil; or the civil theory,- ransom from a master, the devil.
2. Irenaeus also anticipated in part Anselm’s theory of the restoration of the honor to God taken from Him by sin. “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, rectifying that disobedience which had occurred by reason of a tree through that obedience which was upon the tree.”
3. The Epistle to Diognetus suggests the vicarious element in atonement, without hinting at the method: “He took on Him the burden of our iniquities. He gave His own Son a ransom for us, the Holy One for transgressors, the Blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal.”
(b) Athanasius recognizes guilt and penalty, and holds that human guilt can be expiated only by Christ’s bearing its penalty. Like Anselm, later, he teaches that the necessity for expiation lies in the divine nature.
Gregory of Nazianzus ascribed the necessity to the demands of the divine government rather than the divine nature, but held that guilt can be cancelled only by penalty endured.
Cyril of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea thought that full satisfaction can be made only by a theanthropic person.
Augustine held to judicial satisfaction rendered both to the claims of Satan and to the claims of God’s nature; but he sometimes confounds sanctification with justification, and anticipates the later theory of the Catholic Church.
“God justifies the ungodly, not only by remitting the sins he commits, but also by giving him inward love, which causes him to depart from evil, and makes him holy through the Spirit.” -Shedd, ii., 256.
The need of expiation was fully recognized in this period, and the infinite value of Christ’s sacrifice. But the method of expiation, and the quality which made it effective, were not clearly defined.
Augustine unfolded also the moral theory, that the atonement is a display of divine love to win human hearts. “It was mainly for this purpose that Christ came; to wit, that man might learn how much God loves him, and that he might learn this to the intent that he might be kindled to the love of Him by whom he was first loved.” -De Catech.,iv.
(c) Anselm unfolded the first scientific theory of the atonement. Perfect obedience is due from man to God. Sin, or disobedience, robs God of the honor belonging to Him. His immanent righteousness demands restitution of the lost honor. Man can never restore it, for perfect obedience in the future cannot make good past failures. Eternal punishment is due to the infinite demerit of His obedience and sacrifice (as voluntary, not required), can restore the lost honor and make pardon possible.
Anselm puts human sin and divine justice in a strong light, and maintains the absolute necessity of the atonement. But, while he makes Christ’s work vicarious, it is in no sense expiatory. Like the later Catholic theory, he teaches that Christ acquires infinite merit for us by absolute obedience; and, in consequence of His merit, pardon is possible. Christ does not bear our sins. He only works out a perfect righteousness.
Other great teachers- Bonaventura, Bernard, and Aquinas- accept Anselm’s view in general, but make the necessity of the atonement relative rather than absolute, dependent on the will and plan of God in place of His nature. Aquinas and others followed Augustine in making justification dependent in part on inwrought righteousness.
Duns Scotus denied the infinite merit of Christ’s sacrifice. God graciously accepted it as an equivalent for the penalty due to sin.
Bernard of Clairvaux taught that a mystical union existed between Christ and His people, by virtue of which He suffered what was due to them, and they receive what is due to Him for humiliation and death.
Abelard denied the necessity of the atonement Godward, Christ suffered only to win men to God by an exhibition of love. He develops this idea much more fully than Origen or Augustine in previous periods.
Duns Scotus anticipated the later theory of Grotius, that law is the expression of the divine will, and therefore can be reversed or remitted at His pleasure. Anselm, on the other hand, taught that law is the expression of the divine nature. The will cannot act against the nature, and decree a wrong thing or repeal a just one.
(d) The Catholic theory of the atonement, defined at Trent, accepted Aquinas’ view instead of Anselm’s. The need of the atonement, it says, is relative, not absolute. The ground of pardon is twofold,- the objective work of Christ and a holy principle in the soul, infused by grace. Justification is not a judicial act, forgiving the past. It is a progressive work in the soul, insuring final holiness.
Bellarmine, the great Jesuit doctor, defines justification to be (1) the infusion of a principle of grace, (2) the holy life which flows from this inward principle.
The Reformers accepted Anselm’s view of the absolute necessity of the atonement to satisfy the divine nature; but they differed from him by making it an expiation, a vicarious suffering of the penalty due to sin. Pardon is possible only through its objective value. They improved on Anselm by defining clearly the relation of faith to justification. Faith has no merit: it simply appropriates the results of Christ’s work. It is only the instrumental cause, never the procuring cause of justification.
The Arminians, under Grotius as leader, modified the Protestant theory. They denied the absolute need of the atonement. It is only a governmental expedient. Law is arbitrary, the expression of God’s will, not of His nature. Penalty is also arbitrary. Law may be changed at God’s pleasure, and penalty remitted. Christ’s suffering taught that sin is odious to God, and deserves punishment. Pardon teaches the greatness of divine love.
The Socinians denied the expiatory nature of Christ’s suffering. He died to set a perfect example to men of obedience and patience in suffering.
In the seventeenth century, Cocceius introduced a new theory in regard to the atonement. It was founded on the idea of the two covenants made with Adam and Christ. Adam, as the representative of the whole race, sinned; and his guilt was imputed to them. Christ, as the representative of the redeemed, atoned for their sin. Their sin was imputed to Him, and His righteousness to them. It has been called the federal theory in distinction from Augustine’s theory, and involves a limited atonement.
1. In the Reformation leaders, we first find a clear and full doctrine of an atonement vicarious in bearing the penalty of sin. Luther expresses it in a dramatic form, which is repulsive to our age. “Our most merciful Father sent His only Son into the world, and laid upon Him the sins of all men, saying, Be Thou Peter, that denier; Paul, that persecutor, blasphemer, and cruel oppressor; David, that adulterer; that sinner which did eat the apple in Paradise; that thief which hanged on the cross; and, briefly, be Thou the person which hath committed the sins of all men. See, therefore, that Thou pay, and satisfy for them.” Commentary on Galatians, 3:13.
2. Grotius’ view is complemental to Origen’s and Abelard’s moral theory. The atonement has no inherent worth. It is spectacular, designed only for impression. In the former case, it exhibits love, and wins to repentance: in the latter, it exhibits punishment, and awakens hatred of sin.
(e) The New England Theology has introduced some new views into the Protestant theory of the atonement.
The younger Edwards teaches that Christ’s death was a perfect satisfaction to the public justice of God, but not to His distributive justice. It opened the way for the pardon of sin; but distributive justice allots the pardon only to those who, by personal repentance and faith, accept the divine plan.
The atonement, the New England theologians teach, satisfies the law of God, which has for its end the good of the universe. The death of Christ is a full moral equivalent for the penalty threatened. It secures the ultimate end of the law, by making certain a higher good of the universe than could have been reached if sin had never entered it. It secures the mediate ends of the law, by producing love and obedience and holy character in the pardoned.
More recently, the so-called “New Theology” has magnified the incarnation above the passion, as embodying the redemptive love of God. The entrance of God into humanity attests this eternal purpose to elevate and sanctify the race, and the Passion as an exhibition of His love in suffering is one of the moral forces employed. Some of its advocates include the entire race among the redeemed. Others assert that all must know the “historical Christ” either in this world or in a second probation. See Mulford’s Republic of God and Allen’s Continuity of Doctrine.
The distinction by the younger Edwards was designed as an answer to Universalists who held that the infinite merit of Christ’s sacrifice must save all sinners.
This syllogism had been long held to be conclusive. Either Christ suffered for all the sins of all men, and all must be saved; or for some of the sins of all men, and none can be saved; or for all the sins of some men, and the elect must be saved.
The Universalists accepted the first alternative, and the advocates of a limited atonement the last. Edwards’ theory denies alike the logic of both conclusions. All are not saved, because all do not repent and believe. All may be saved, because Christ’s sufferings atone for all sin; and all are invited to believe and obtain pardon.
SECTION II SUMMARY OF THEORIES OF THE ATONEMENT
I. Strictly vicarious.
(1) Satisfaction to Satan, who holds man in bondage by reason of voluntary sin. He accepts Christ as a ransom. Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa.
(2) Satisfaction to the ethical nature of God. Adam sinned by disobedience to God’s law. Christ obeyed, not only by a perfect life, but by voluntary submission to death (“Obedient unto death”). Anselm and Oxenham.
(3) Satisfaction to the divine law, as an expression of the divine nature. Christ’s sufferings are a perfect equivalent for the penalty. This will include both the federal theory of imputation and the organic theory of Augustine.
II. Governmental. The necessity is dependent, not on the divine nature, but the divine law.
(1) Arbitrary punishment inflicted. The law of God is only a positive enactment. It may be repealed or its penalty remitted, if the object of the law can be gained by some other alternative Grotius.
(2) The suffering of Christ not a perfect equivalent for the penalty, but accepted by divine grace as sufficient. Duns Scotus.
(3) The suffering of Christ a perfect equivalent, not in kind, but in merit. The ends of the law better secured than by obedience or punishment. New England Theology.
(4) The suffering of Christ a perfect equivalent in kind as well as merit. In some proper sense, Christ bore the penalty of our sins. Luther and Calvin and early Reformation leaders.
III. Moral. No expiation Godward, but an exhibition of divine love to reconcile man to God. Origen, Abelard, McLeod Campbell, and Bushnell in part.
IV. Mystical. By identity of nature with us, Christ literally bore our sins; by a similar identity with Him, his righteousness belongs to His people. This involves a limited atonement. Bernard and Dr. Gordon.
V. Sacrificial, identical in many respects with the vicarious.
(1) A voluntary offering, which atones for human guilt.
The Arminians of Holland.
(2) A complete surrender of the will of God. Oxenham.
(3) By identity with the race, Christ’s intense sympathy took in all human sins, and felt them as if they were His own. Robertson.
VI. Ethical. A perfect example to men in personal righteousness and absolute submission to God’s will.
1. Did the divine plan of creation include the incarnation as a means of displaying God’s love to men and lifting the human race to the headship of the universe? Was the atonement incidental to this plan, made necessary by human sin, and operating Godward rather than manward? Or
2. Was the atonement the essential part of the original plan, and designed as the highest possible exhibition to the universe of the divine love? Was the incarnation an incident in this plan, as a prerequisite to the atonement?
If the plan of the atonement preceded the creation, is not the supra-lapsarian theory to be accepted, and the fall to be included in the divine purpose? Or
3. Is the sub-lapsarian theory the true one, by which the atonement and the whole system of grace supplement the fall, and neither the incarnation nor the passion was an essential part of the plan of creation? Or
4. Does the eternity of God, excluding succession, forbid all thought of precedence, either to the incarnation or the atonement, the fall, or the recovery of man in the divine mind?
SECTION III EFFECTS OF THE WORK OF CHRIST
PART I DIVINE AND HUMAN AGENCY IN REGENERATION
(a) In the first period there was no attempt to limit human freedom. The apostolic Fathers and the early Christian Fathers held that man cannot regenerate himself, but depends on divine grace for a new life. But they held as strongly that the human will co-operates with the Spirit, both in the inception and growth of the new life. They magnified human freedom in opposition to the fatalism involved in many Gnostic theories. And they were an earnest in adoring divine grace in the incarnation, which exalted human nature, as in the passion, which redeemed human nature from guilt and ruin. No careful distinction was drawn between the divine and human agency in conversion, and the relation between predestination and human actions was seldom discussed. Origen thought that God’s decrees were controlled by His foreknowledge. “That which is to be does not take place because it is known; but it is known that it will be, because it is to take place.” -Comm. on Genesis.
The early Fathers were more absorbed in exalting Christianity as a new religion which united God and man, and brought to man divine forces adequate for a new life, than in analyzing the forces by which the result was attained.
(b) In the Greek Church, a strong emphasis was still laid on man’s co-operation with God in the entire work of redemption. The fulness of divine grace was magnified in providing a Saviour adequate for human needs, and less attention was given to the way in which individuals are led to accept Him.
In the Latin Church, until the Pelagian controversy, the doctrine of Synergism also prevailed, even Augustine advocating it. In the reaction from Pelagianism, which denied inherent depravity from the fall and the bondage of the will to evil, Augustine was led to a new view of the impotence of man and of the sovereignty of divine grace. He taught that the human will, since the fall, is enslaved by sin, and cannot co-operate with God until the new life is introduced. He distinguished, therefore, between three processes of grace: gratia prevenians(?), which rouses the soul from lethargy; gratia operans, which effects the change; and gratia co-operans, which works through the Christian life. God does the entire work in the first two processes: man co-operates in the last. To solve the problem why the quickening grace does not always end in regeneration, Augustine developed the idea of the divine predestination by which God, acting only from His sovereign will, elects some to salvation and ordains grace irresistible for that end, and leaves others to their own choice and unhelped.
Augustine’s views were generally adopted by the Latin Fathers, though they were modified by an omission of the irresistible grace for the elect and of the abandonment of the non-elect to reprobation. Augustine denied that predestination was dependent in any degree upon the divine foreknowledge of human choice and character.
Semi-Pelagianism, intimately allied with the Greek theology, prevailed for a time in Gaul, but gave way gradually to the stronger views of Augustine.
1. It is possible that Augustine’s idea of regeneration in baptism may have helped in forming the new view of man’s passivity in the change. If infants are new-born in baptism, they must be passive.
2. It is possible, also, that the same idea led to his extraordinary dogma, that regeneration may take place without a predestination to eternal life. He saw baptized babes grow up without Christian character, and it was easier to deny their predestination to life than to surrender his belief in baptismal regeneration.
(c) Augustine’s influence was dominant through this period, though a few of the Scholastics modified his views. Alexander Hales and Hinemar made predestination dependent on foreknowledge, and Abelard asserted that reprobates were responsible for their ruin by a neglect to improve the grace given to them. But Anselm and Aquinas taught taught a predestination as absolute in saving the elect as Augustine; and Gottschalk went farther, in teaching a predestination of the reprobate to punishment. He was, however, condemned for heresy, which indicates, as Hagenbach thinks, an aversion to Augustine’s views working beneath the surface. Several of the Scholastics taught a general atonement adequate for the race.
Peter Lombard and Aquinas made a distinction between the workings of grace, gratia gratis dans (the efficient principle of grace), gratia gratum faciens (the active cause of regeneration), and gratia gratis data (the ground of justification), which became an inherent righteousness.
(d) 1. The Reformers, in general, accepted Augustine’s views, and ascribed the efficacy of redemption to the predestination of the elect. Luther believed in a general atonement and in a special grace securing the salvation of the elect: this grace was monergistic before conversion. Calvin ascribed an absolute power to the divine decrees, – grace to the elect flowing from His infinite mercy, perdition to the reprobate from their own desert. The glory of God was the end in both cases, with the elect by the display of His love, with the lost by the display of His justice. The grace of regeneration was monergistic. Similar views found expression in the Westminster Assembly, in the Synod of Dort, and in the Thirty-nine Articles.
The Lutheran views were modified, in the seventeenth century, by making predestination conditional on the foreknowledge of faith in the elect and of the rejection of grace by the reprobate. The views of Calvin were also modified by the School of Saumur in France, which laid emphasis, with Amyraut, on the universality of God’s love in the atonement, and with Pajon on the universality of the Spirit’s work through the truth.
The Arminians and Quakers rejected both unconditional election and irresistible grace, and made salvation and perdition dependent on the free choice or rejection of divine grace.
2. The Catholic world was divided on the relation of predestination to salvation.
The Jansenists accepted Augustine’s views without qualification, and held to the sovereignty of grace in regeneration by a monergistic act.
The Council of Trent, while pronouncing no condemnation of Augustine, adopted Pelagian views, and made them the faith of the Catholic Church.
1. One Catharinus, at the Council of Trent, advocated a doctrine exactly antipodal to Augustine’s strange dogma, that regenerate souls may be lost, because they are not among the elect. He taught that many not among the elect may be saved, because they make good use of common grace.
2. Bellarmine, the great Jesuit theologian, held to a modified Augustinianism, even after the Council of Trent. He taught that some are saved by an unconditional election, and without foresight of good works. But to all, mediately or immediately, is given sufficient grace, if they will use it. They fail to use it only by their own choice, and are justly condemned. The distinction is virtually that of Augustine between sufficiens and efficiens grace.
3. A curious theory of scientia media was developed by Molina, the Spanish theologian, to avoid unconditional election and irresistible grace. The theory asserts that God, knowing all possible workings of the human mind, sees what motives will influence each human soul. He predestines, therefore, for His people the use of those motives which will prove effectual; and the human will is perfectly free in responding to these motives.
(e) It is difficult to define the manifold views in this period of the relations between divine and human action.
The Catholic Church has abandoned the Augustinian doctrine, and no longer teaches either unconditional election or irresistible grace.
The same is true, to a large extent, of the Lutheran Church. Few of its theologians adopt the strong language of Luther. In the Reformed Churches of Europe, save in Scotland, few leaders give assent to the strong statements of Calvin. In this country,
Presbyterian and Congregational and Baptist representatives of the old theology are still numerous.
The Methodists uniformly define election as dependent on foreknowledge of character, and maintain the synergistic action of the human will with the divine in the entire work of salvation.
The New England Theology, founded by Edwards and Hopkins, attaches equal importance, with the old theology, to God’s elective grace; but it changes the method of its working, and finds the ground of election, not in the arbitrary will of God nor in His sovereign power, but in His supreme love. He saves, therefore, all whom His love can save, without violence to His own nature and government, and to the freedom of man created in His own image.
PART II JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
(a) The vision of the early Church was clear in recognizing the Pauline doctrine, that salvation is by faith alone, without admixture of works. So the apostolic and Christian Fathers uniformly teach in theory. But the theory was obscured in practice by the magical power of cleansing assigned to baptism, and by the ascetic tendency, which ascribed a special merit to celibacy, to beneficence, and to martyrdom. The germ of the Romish docrine of the merit of good works is clearly discerned in the last half of this period.
At first, the relation between faith and works was well defined. All good works flowed from faith, and could not exist without it; but, gradually, faith came to be looked on as a virtue in itself, which imparted its own quality to good works.
(b) The churchly tendencies of this period tended to obscure more completely the doctrine of justification by faith. As regeneration was supposed to be wrought in infants – and adults, also – by baptism, faith was of small value. But baptism only washed away sins committed before its administration. Something was needed to remove the sins after baptism. An increasing value was attached to works of self-denial and of mercy. Augustine made no distinction between justification and sanctification. The former included not only the pardon of sin, but the imparting of righteousness. There was a tendency even to limit the meaning of faith, and to apply it to an intellectual apprehension of the truth.
A foundation was laid for the Roman doctrine of a treasury of merit, in the keeping of the Church, by the distinction drawn between “precepts” and “counsels.” To the former, obedience was required; to the latter, it was voluntary, and, therefore, meritorious. The superfluous merit might avail for others.
Among Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, personal merit was assigned an important place in connection with grace. The monastic life, so common in Gaul, attached a high value to self-renunciation, and made it an important element in salvation.
But, while the theory of an organic Church, conveying sacramental grace, was radically at variance with the New Testament doctrine of justification by faith, this was still held in theory, and taught by church leaders. It occupied, however, less prominence toward the close of the period.
(c) The darkness deepened in the third period, and justification by faith became a doctrine practically obsolete in the Church. It was held nominally, in deference to Augustine, but was covered up by Pelagian ideas of personal merit. Faith itself, when springing from love (called fides formata, in distinction from fides informis, without love), was held by Aquinas to be a virtue. Augustine’s idea of justification, as involving the infusion of personal righteousness, was generally received, and more carefully defined. One could not be justified unless he were made righteous.
1. The Scholastics distinguished between merit acquired by nature and merit acquired grace. The former was called de congruo, and the latter de condigno. Some of the early teachers, like Aquinas, made even the former the effect of grace. It could not be acquired till after regeneration, but was the result of free choice, with no special help of the Spirit. The later Scholastics made it attainable by the unrenewed man; and, as a reward for it, grace was bestowed by which the higher form of merit de condigno could be obtained.
2. By enlarging the general idea of merit, works of supererogation were gathered into a great treasury for the benefit of the Church. Anselm laid the foundation for the theory in the infinite merit of Christ’s death, as the death was needless after the perfect obedience of His life. THis merit availed for others. Aquinas defined carefully the distinction between precepts and counsels, which had been recognized in the previous period. By a voluntary submission to the counsels, merit like Christ’s could be acquired, and applied to others. This treasury of merits, accumulated by Christ and the saints, might be appropriated by the Church to those who obtained indulgences, and to departed souls in purgatory for whom masses were offered.
(d) The Reformation, in opposition to the cumbrous system of merit wrought out by the Church of Rome, made justification by faith its cardinal doctrine. Luther magnified it as the article “of the standing or the falling Church.” All the Reformers were explicit and enthusiastic in ascribing pardon to divine grace alone, and in renouncing all merit from penances or charities, or even from faith itself. Faith had no inherent value, but was simply the act by which the soul appropriated the redemptive work of Christ.
The Church of Rome, in the decrees of Trent, pronounced an anathema on all who declare that faith alone justifies, and defined the dogma that works are essential to justification, and that justification is not an immediate but a progressive work.
It may be fairly conceded that the difference between the two creeds lies partly in the language, and not wholly in the thought. By faith, the Reformers understood an act of trust, proceeding from a right moral disposition; the Catholics understood a simple acceptance of the truth. By justification, the latter included not only the remission of sins, but the
sanctification ending in final holiness.
1. The Arminians in Holland, and a few Protestant theologians in Germany and England, were inclined to give a higher value to faith. They made it the direct cause instead of the means of justification, “faith is counted for righteousness.” Other English divines, like Bishop Bull, attributed an inherent value to the works produced by faith. Such works are essential to justification. This involved the Catholic idea of justification as a continuous, and not an immediate work.
2. The Quakers, like the Catholics identified justification with sanctification. It makes one just with God, and is a growth through life.
3. Protestants, equally with Catholics, insisted on good works. But they were a fruit, not a cause of justification. Unless they appeared in the life, there was no divine grace in the heart. Amsdorf, in opposition to Major, who ascribed merit to works, insisted that works hinder rather than help salvation.
(e) The Catholic theory remains as formulated at Trent. Justification includes, not only the remission of sins, but an infusion of righteousness. It is an actual, not a forensic, change. Good works are essential to its completeness.
The Tractarian movement was an introduction of the doctrines of Rome into the Church of England. It denied the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and accepted the decrees of Trent rather than the Thirty-nine Articles. Ritualism, like early Monasticism, gives a meritorious quality to good works.
Many Protestant theologians define justification as including pardon and an imputation of Christ’s righteousness. This is an approximation to the Catholic idea, that the sinner must become just before he can be justified. The Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and Old School Presbyterians in this country, generally, adopt this view; and it is a natural outgrowth of the theory of a representative headship of the race in Adam, and of the redeemed in Christ.
The so-called “New Theology” of our time accepts the Catholic theory,- that the sinner must become just, in order to be justified,- but rejects the theory of imputation. It holds that the righteousness must be real, in personal character sanctified by divine grace. This involves a double justification: the former at regeneration, when the sinner is pardoned, in anticipation ow what he is to be; the latter at the judgment day, when he is accepted, because he has become holy through indwelling grace. This theory attaches little value to the objective work of Christ, but extols its subjective power. It gives a higher place in the divine plan of redemption to the incarnation than to the passion of Christ, and substitutes the moral power of the atonement for its expiatory character. See Mulford’s Republic of God.
The common Protestant theory holds that justification is by faith alone, not by inward righteousness, whether inherent or infused or imputed. God offers pardon to men in virtue of the perfect work of Christ; and, when faith accepts this offer, the sinner receives pardon, both for the guilt of actual sin and the guilt of deficient righteousness. All idea of merit is excluded, both in the exercise of faith and in the personal character, which is the fruit of faith. The character will grow in holiness by the power of the new life; but at no period of life on earth will it reach the standard of perfect holiness, required for the divine approval. At death, as at conversion, salvation can be only by grace.
PART III SANCTIFICATION
(a) No stress laid on the need of sanctification or the means of obtaining it. It was uniformly taken for granted that the new life, introduced by Christianity, changes the entire character. Apologists called attention to this wonderful change of character, in proof of the divine origin of Christianity. But no distinction was drawn between justification and sanctification, and there was no discussion concerning the degree of personal holiness required or attainable in this life. All were agreed that the work of Christ was complete, and would save His people here and hereafter.
(b) The growth of the churchly spirit was not favorable to clear views of sanctification. Little was said of the personal relation of Christ to the believer, and much of the grace that flows through the Church. As regeneration came through baptism, and growth through the Supper and church fellowship, no clear definitions could be given of the work of the Spirit in individual hearts. Attention was drawn more to outward forms than to inward life; and an ascetic spirit, with mortifications of the body, was cultivated with more earnestness than spiritual communion with God. But all tacitly held to final sanctification and to the perseverance of believers.
(c) The churchly spirit was still too dominant to leave room for discussions on personal growth in holiness, except among the Mystics. All of the Scholastics have much to say of grace contained in the sacraments, and flowing through them even to unworthy recipients. But only the Mystics dwell on personal union with Christ and the divine life unfolded by this fellowship; and, even with the Mystics, the hidden life is more a pantheistic inflow of God into the receptive soul than a growth by faith through the agencies of prayer and the Scriptures, and struggles with temptation and evil.
The doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and His work in individual souls, was not understood by the leaders of Scholasticism. Nor did the forerunners of the Reformation define the work more clearly, though they urged the necessity of personal piety.
The belief in the purifying influences of purgatory could hardly fail to weaken the motives to a holy life in this world.
(d) Earnest Bible study and a profound religious experience gave a new insight into the work of the Holy Spirit. A personal Saviour became the object of faith, instead of an organic Church; and the Holy Spirit, instead of the sacraments, was regarded as the author and sustainer of the new life. Less attention was paid to forms, and more to immediate and vital fellowship with God; but the great conflict with Rome centred about the doctrine of justification, and it was developed with great fulness, while sanctification, though carefully distinguished from it, received a less accurate treatment. All the Reformers insisted on a personal growth in holiness as the fruit of the new life and of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
1. Sir William Hamilton asserted that the emphasis laid on justification by faith alone led to carelessness in Christian living, and immoralities multiplied in Germany. Julius Hare, in an elaborate reply, refuted the charge. In the seventeenth century, when the value of Orthodoxy in belief was magnified above the value of holiness of life, Spener and the Pietists recalled attention to the need of sanctification as a test of the reality of the new birth.
2. The Quakers, in England, attached a higher importance to sanctification that to justification. The witness of the Spirit (Christ in the soul) was of superior authority to the Bible (Christ in the Word). In like manner, the work of the Spirit (Christ in the soul) was of more value than the atonement (Christ on the cross). Such extreme views were a natural reaction from the long neglect of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The Quakers insisted, also, on the possibility and duty of perfect sanctification.
(e) The doctrine of the Holy Spirit and His work has received a fuller treatment in this period than in all previous periods. His person and office, His relation to the inception and completion of the new life, to the origin of the Scriptures, and to their power over human souls, has been discussed with great thoroughness. It is admitted by all that the powerful revivals characteristic of the period are the special work of the Holy Spirit, and that longings for holiness of heart and large attainments in a divine life are equally His work in individual souls.
The importance of the doctrine of sanctification, as the correlate of justification, has never been so clearly seen or so earnestly enforced. The larger views of Christian beneficence, the prodigious growth of missionary zeal at home and abroad, the well-developed characters seen in all departments of life, are a natural outgrowth of the better apprehension of this doctrine.
Its influence is seen, in a less healthful form, in the doctrine of perfection taught by Wesley in England, by Finney, Mahan, and many others in this country. Similar recognitions of the Spirit’s work find utterance in the Life of Faith, by Upham; in the Higher Life, by Boardman; and in the Faith Cure, by Dr. Cullis.
1. In the duty of perfection, taught in England and this country, allowance is made for the imperfection of human nature occasioned by the fall. It is not the ideal perfection of the Scriptures, nor the absolute perfection of the divine nature, which is urged, but a freedom from deliberate and wilful sin. Perfection is an unfortunate term to employ, as it is likely to convey a false impression.
2. There is a more subtle danger in the theory of the Higher Life, as its tendency with many is to beget spiritual pride and self-security. Human nature is weak. Among the early Gnostics and the pantheistic Mystics of the Middle Ages, the sins of the flesh were held to be of no importance, if the soul continued in a high spiritual mood. There is danger in the same direction from the new theory.
3. The hyper-Calvinism prevailing in some parts of England and this country has nurtured a practical Antinomianism, fatal to an earnest Christian life. The perfect righteousness of Christ, imputed to the believer, seemed to make personal righteousness needless.
THE CHURCH AND SACRAMENTS
SECTION I THE CHURCH
(a) 1. An apostolical “church” was a company of baptized believers, who had personally received divine grace, and had united in fellowship for their own spiritual growth and for the conversion of the world. The term “church” was also used in a broader sense, to include the whole company of the redeemed on earth and in heaven.- Eph.iii.,21; v., 23-32. Heb.xii.,23.
2. Every church believed in the universal spread of Christ’s kingdom and in the duty of hastening its triumph.
3. All members were under a common obligation. All were priests and all were preachers. But, in accordance with diversities of gifts, and for good order as well as edification, there soon came to be officers of preaching and government.
CYXXX; IRXXX Universal power structure church believed by Cyprian and Irenaeus.
4. The New Testament idea of churches independent and equal was soon supplanted by the conception of one organic Church,- “the Holy Catholic Church,”- the only channel of grace, out of which salvation was impossible. Irenaeus maintains this view at the close of the second century; and it is unfolded fully by Cyprian, in the middle of the third, – “No one can have God for his father who does not have the Church for his mother.”
1. The single organic Church involved a loss of equality no less than of independence. The country churches were made subordinate to the city churches and the relative rank of cities decided the relative rank of churches. (See MSS D:\mss\bishops w/historical documentation listing the Cardinals of the chief cities in the early Catholic church system. It speaks (in documentation) of the Catholic system consisting of powerful clergyman with rank according to the size of the city and chuirches under it. LU Jerusalem w/find.)
2. A change in the relations of the clergy to the people and to each other was coincident with the change in the idea of the Church. The clergy became a separate class, mediators between God and man, having peculiar sanctity, like the Jewish priests; and distinctions of rank- presbyter, bishop, metropolitan, and patriarch- naturally followed.
3. The New Testament idea of a new spiritual birth before baptism and church membership was lost, when the sacraments became the channels of grace, and baptism was the only means of regeneration, and the Supper of spiritual growth.
(b) The new idea of the Church, as the divine organ of grace to men, was generally received; and schism was regarded as an unpardonable sin. The attempt at purity, by the exclusion of unworthy members, was abandoned; and the parable of the tares was thought to teach that the field is the Church, in which tares must always grow with the wheat. Salvation out of the Church was held to be impossible, if one remained without by deliberate choice. “No one can have Christ for his head who is not in His body,- the Church.” Augustine.
1. The union of Church and State made inevitable the entrance of many unworthy members, from aims of self-advancement.
2. The rapid growth of the Donatists proves that the original idea of purity in the Church, and rigid discipline to exclude all who dishonored the Christian name, still had great force. Against the Donatists, Augustine taught that the test of the Church is not purity, but universality and historical connection with the apostolic churches.
3. The power of the hierarchy steadily increased. Bishops were regarded as rulers by divine right. They only represented the Church in Ecumenical councils, and their united decision on points of doctrine was infallible. The Bishop of Rome, at first invested with superior dignity, because Rome was the capital of the empire, gradually claimed a right to rule the whole Church as successor of St. Peter.
4. Augustine justified the use of force to punish heretics and compel them to enter the Church.
(c) The Church had grown into a universal spiritual despotism. Infant baptism was general, and the union of Church and State made all citizens church members. Connection with the Church was essential to salvation, as spiritual life could be obtained only by baptism and nurtured by the other sacraments. All heretics and unbaptized persons were doomed to perdition.
1. The gospel idea of salvation by faith was almost lost, and sacramental grace was the uniform doctrine of the Church.
2. Papal power continued to grow. After the forged Isidorian decretals, in the middle of the ninth century, the spiritual supremacy of the Pope was generally admitted. Temporal supremacy was claimed by Hildebrand at the close of the eleventh century, and won by Innocent III., but lost by Boniface VIII., a century later, and never regained. Boniface, in the famous Bull Unam Sanctam, defined subjection to the Pope to be essential to salvation. The three great councils at Pisa, Constance, and Basle, defined the highest power of the Church as residing in councils, to which even the Pope must submit; and they exercised the power by removing popes and pronouncing them heretics.
3. There was a great loss of moral power to the papacy by popes whose lives were a disgrace to humanity; by the removal to Avignon; by rival popes at Avignon and Rome; and by papal opposition to the reforms attempted by the great councils of Pisa, Constance, and Basle.
4. A widespread dissatisfaction with the tone of church life prevailed at the close of the period; and many attempts were made at reform by leaders like Wyclif, Huss, and Savonarola.
5. Thomas Aquinas and other great leaders urged the duty of suppressing heresy by violence, as the greatest of evils. By a subtle distinction, the Church sought to escape the odium of persecution by transferring condemned heretics to the charge of the State; but the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) decreed that, if any temporal lord neglected to punish heretics, he forfeited his estates and the allegiance of his subjects, and was excommunicate.
(d) The unity of the Church was broken by papal resistance to reforms, and Protestantism prevailed in nearly one-half of Europe. It would have spread more widely but for the bitter persecutions incited by the Jesuits, which exterminated its adherents in many countries. It restored the old ideas of access to Christ by personal faith, not through the Church, and of the universal priesthood of believers.
1. The Reformation gave a new spiritual life to Europe. It gave expression to profound longings which had been struggling for utterance through the previous century, but had been repressed by the Papal Court. Its complete unfolding was hindered by the control of the State over church organizations, and by the retention of the Roman doctrine of sacramental grace.
2. The Anabaptist movement laid a special emphasis on the need of personal faith before admission to the sacraments, and on the New Testament idea of the Church, as composed only of regenerate members.
3. Protestant growth was checked by its numerous divisions, which assailed one another as bitterly as they opposed the Church of Rome.
4. The Church of Rome took on new life by the genuine piety and spiritual labors of many of its leaders, and by the learning, tact, and unscrupulous policy of the order of the Jesuits. There was a revival of earnest, spiritual life among both clergy and people, which might have prevented the Protestant movement, if it had taken place in the fifteenth century.
5. The extent of papal power was still undecided, but the influence of the Jesuits tended to exalt the authority of popes above councils. Even Bellarmine, the great Jesuit doctor, admitted the possibility of heretical popes. In the Gallican Church, the National Synod of 1682, of which Bossuet was leader, claimed the right of self-government and limited the authority of papal decrees, unless confirmed by a council.
(e) In the United States, it has been proved that religion can flourish vigorously without support from the State; and this has tended to weaken the national churches of Europe.
But advocates of the union still maintain that the Church is only the religious side of the State, as the State is the secular side of the Church, and that all good citizens are equally members of both. A new attempt to support this view is founded on the theory of the solidarity of the race, by which successive generations are lineally connected.
1. The Baptist theory of individualism is the exact antipode of the theory of an organic Church; and this theory, which has been accepted, generally, by evangelical denominations in the United States, is subversive of infant baptism and infant church membership, and is bringing them into disuse.
2. The theory of the necessary union between the Church and State is losing ground even in Europe, and vigorous thinkers in the national Churches of England and Germany are advocating the policy of disestablishment.
3. Even in Catholic countries, statesmen forbid priestly interference with education and with social life.
SECTION II BAPTISM
PART I.- MODE AND SUBJECTS OF BAPTISM.
(a) 1. Great importance was early attached to baptism; and, by many, it was considered essential to the pardon of sin and to regeneration. This theory was the natural outgrowth of the doctrine of an organic Church as the only channel of divine grace.
Baptism was often postponed till the dying hour, that all sin might be washed away and salvation by made certain. Constantine’s delay was ascribed to this cause.
2. Baptism was uniformly administered by immersion, the only exceptions being in the case of sick persons, when immersion was impossible. Novatian is the first one on record to whom pouring was administered in sickness; and objection was made to his right of holding a clerical office, because of this defect. Those baptized in sickness were not eligible to church offices. Cyprian justifies pouring only in sickness. See Ep.76 to Magnus.
The Teaching of the Apostles recognizes the validity of pouring where it is impossible to procure water for immersion; but it is incredible that this could have been known to Cyprian, or he would have referred to it.
3. In great emergencies, laymen, and even women, were allowed to administer baptism.
CYXXX Infant baptism.
4. The first clear recognition of infant baptism with approval is in the middle of the third century, by Cyprian (Ep.59) Tertullian opposed it on the ground that instruction was needed before baptism, and a consciousness of the responsibility assumed. Tertullian does not speak of infants, but of children too young to understand the meaning of the act.
ORXXX Infant baptism.
Origen, in commenting on Rom.v., says that infant baptism was received from the apostles; but the German critics believe that this sentence was interpolated by Rufinus.
2. So far as we know, not a single church leader, up to the fifth century, received infant baptism. Cyprian, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Jerome, Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Augustine were all baptized after conversion. Gieseler says that it did not become universal till after the death of Augustine.
5. The North African churches, and many others, held that baptism was invalid, if administered outside of the Church, as grace could flow only through this channel. But Rome held that, if duly performed, with a right intention, baptism was always valid, and ought never to be repeated. This was gradually adopted as the church dogma. A sharp controversy prevailed on this question between Cyprian and Stephen of Rome, in which all the churches in North Africa sustained Cyprian.
(b) 1. The mode still continued to be immersion, except in sickness. No cases are on record of departure from the general law. Augustine held that baptism cleanses from original sin and from guilt of actual sin, but not from internal corruption.
2. Infant baptism became general in this period, as the only way of cleansing from original sin. Augustine thought there was no hope of salvation for those unbaptized.
(c) 1. At the Council of Ravenna, in 1311, the Catholic Church decreed that sprinkling and pouring could be accepted as valid baptism; but immersion still continued to be the common method.
1. Aquinas, in the thirteenth century, asserts the validity of sprinkling, while he gives the preference to immersion. “Ablution can be made by water, not only by the mode of immersion,but also by the mode of aspersion or effusion. And, therefore, although it is safer to baptize by the mode of immersion (because this is the prevailing usage), yet baptism can be performed by the mode of aspersion.”- Summa Theologia, iii.66,67.
2. Van Oosterzee says, “Sprinkling, which appears to have fist come generally into use in the thirteenth century, in place of the entire immersion of the body, in imitation of the previous baptism of the sick, has certainly this imperfection: that the symbolical character of the act is expressed by it much less conspicuously than by complete immersion and burial under the water.”- Dogmatics, ii., 749.
2. It was held that baptism not only washed away original sin, but also imparted special grace for a holy life.
3. Sponsors were appointed for infants, to make the pledges which the latter were unable to make.
4. The Scholastics discussed learnedly the validity of other fluids, if water could not be obtained.
(d) 1. The Reformers, generally, accepted the Catholic custom of infant baptism, and their belief in the necessity of baptism to salvation.
Luther and Zwingle might have advanced to Baptist principles, if they had not been repelled by the fanaticism of Anabaptist Socialists.
2. The Anabaptists uniformly rejected infant baptism, but came more slowly to the acceptance of immersion as the only lawful mode of baptism.
3. The Romanists, true to their own principles, accepted the baptism of Protestants as valid.High Churchmen in England denied the validity of baptism by any persons not episcopally ordained.
(e) 1. For the first time in church history, American writers have denied that immersion prevailed in the apostolic age, and that immersion is valid baptism. The candor of such writers can be accepted only at the expense of their learning. They are either ignorant of church history or too prejudiced to accept established facts, or judicially blinded.
Prof. Paine, Professor of Church History in the Bangor Theological Seminary (Congregational), says that any one who denies that immersion was the apostolic baptism, and prevailed generally in the Church until the fourteenth century, convicts himself either of a lack of scholarship or a lack of candor.
2. The want of candor is a result in part of the rapid growth of Baptists, and of the impossibility of answering their appeals to the Bible and to church history.
3. Many Protestant churches find it difficult to justify infant baptism. They cannot accept the High Church theory that regeneration is secured by baptism, nor the theory that it is a substitute for circumcision. It is falling among them into general neglect. But a new attempt is made to revive it, by making it simply an act of consecration.
PART II.-THEORIES OF INFANT BAPTISM
I. Baptist principles are fourfold.
(1) Loyalty to Christ is a personal act.
The act of discipleship involves personal love and choice, and no act of a nation or a parent or a sponsor can be a substitute for the personal choice.
(2) The Bible is the only authority for church organization and membership.
This sets aside all personal ideas of the fitness of things, and national regulations and church customs not derived from the Bible.
The Catholic idea, that the ultimate power lies in the CHurch; and Dean Stanley’s claim, that the Church, for good reasons, has changed the New Testament law of the subjects and mode of baptism, -must both yield to this principle.
(3) The ordinances and membership belong only to believers.
All go together, and cannot be separated consistently.
It is absurd to give baptism, and refuse the Supper.
It is absurd to give baptism, and deny membership.
Pedobaptists are closer in communion than Baptists, for
they refuse it to the baptized. Romanists and HIgh Churchmen are the only consistent Pedobaptists, for they hold that baptized children are regenerate and members of the Church.
(4) Whenever children give evidence of regeneration, they are entitled to baptism and church membership.
II. Pedobaptist principles are unscriptural and self-contradictory. The theories of infant baptism are numerous and inconsistent.
(1) Regeneration needless for infants.
Dr. Mercein and other Methodist divines have maintained that children are innocent and sinless, and therefore entitled to baptism.
The same reason would entitle them to church membership, but it is in conflict with the whole drift of New Testament teaching and with the aim of Christianity.
(2) Regeneration secured for all infants by the redemptive work of Christ.
F.W. Robertson teaches that children belong to the Lord, and baptism is only an acknowledgment of a relation already existing.
Mr. Maurice’s view may be classed under this head, that, as infants have been redeemed by Christ, the fact should be avowed in baptism.
Unfortunately, the theory accords neither with the New Testament teaching nor with the experience of centuries.
(3) Regeneration pledged through family and church covenant.
Growth, not conquest, is the law of the CHurch.
Children, therefore, should grow into piety, not come into it by a sudden regeneration. So Dr. Bushnell teaches in Christian Nurture.
He concedes an inherent depravity in the race, but maintains that baptized children, by virtue of church and family training, will come into a true Christian life, without any conscious change of heart.
It is a hopeless attempt to engraft the sacramental grace of HIgh Churchism on Congregational individualism. It accords neither with Scripture nor with facts. Dr. Nevin, in the Mercersburg Review, says that Congregational individualism makes infant baptism indefensible.
(4) Regeneration the result of sacramental grace.
The Church is the only channel of grace and confers grace on all recipients of the sacraments. Regeneration is given in baptism, and nurture by the other sacraments.
All belong to the Church, not the children of believers alone, but the whole race; and all alike may recieve the same grace from the sacraments. Roman Catholics.
A consistent and logical theory, and capable of defence from Scripture. The only exceptions to church membership are voluntary, – “heathen, schismatics, heretics, and excommunicate.” If the theory of the Church is sound, the baptism of infants is a duty.
(5) Regeneration not to be expected.
The nation and the Church are co-extensive; and every
subject has a right to baptism and confirmation and church privileges.
This is the law in England and Germany, and appeals for support to the parable of the wheat and tares.
(6) Regeneration involved in parental faith.
The family is the unit of the Church, and the child is entitled to the privileges of the parent. Only the children of church members are entitled to baptism.
This theory rests on the Abrahamic covenant, that the children are in the parent, and come into the same relation with God. The children are entitled to baptism on parental faith.
If baptism takes the place of circumcision, then all baptized children are church members; and so the Westminster Confession (art.25) teaches, and Presbyterian Confessions in this country confirm.
Many Congregationalists, holding to the personal theory of conversion and membership maintained by Baptists, reject the logical consequences of the Abrahamic covenant. But it is absurd to accept the symbol and deny the covenant. It is irrational to identify the Church with the family, and then refuse to baptized children a place in the Church.
SECTION III. -THE LORD’S SUPPER.
(a) 1. A high value was attached to the Supper by the early Church; and the Saviour was supposed to be present in a special way at its observance, and to confer grace on worthy recipients. But there were no careful definitions of the nature of the presence, whether spiritual to the faith of the recipient or
bodily in the bread and wine. Ignatius and Irenaeus seem to have believed in a real union of the body of Christ with the bread and wine. Tertullian and Origen and Cyprian, on the other hand, laid stress on the symbolic value of the elements, by which faith brings Christ into fellowship with the communicant.
2. The word “sacrifice” came into use in connection with the Supper, but in a vague way, chiefly to denote that the bread and wine were thank offerings from Christians. But, once employed, it was easy to add a larger meaning to the word, till it comprehended the later idea of the Mass.
(b) 1. The idea of a Real Presence of Christ in the elements became more common, but its nature and limits were still undefined. The highly figurative language is hard to interpret. It implies sometimes a spiritual change in the recipient; sometimes a union of Christ’s body with the elements, without change of substance in the elements; but often a real change of the elements into the very body and blood of Christ. Athanasius and Augustine, however, held to the symbolic character of the Supper.
Gelasius, a Roman bishop, denied explicitly the idea of transubstantiation, a specimen of infallible teaching hard to reconcile with the present Roman doctrine. “The sacraments which we receive of the body and blood of Christ are a divine thing, because through the same we are made partakers of the divine nature; and nevertheless, the substance of bread and wine does not cease to be.” -De Duabus Naturis.
Ambrose, Cyril, and Chrysostom use stronger language, which implies a change in the substance of the bread and wine. The Latin Church, generally, taught the spiritual value of the Supper to the faith of the recipient.
2. The idea of the Supper as a sacrifice for sin continued to gain ground. Gregory the Great asserted that Christ’s sacrifice was constantly repeated in the Supper.
(c) 1. The belief in transubstantiation, or the actual change of the elements into the body and blood of Christ, became general: and Berengar, who questioned it, was subjected to bitter persecution, and compelled to retract publicly his heresy. Innocent III. formally defined the dogma. The escape practical objections, it was held that the accidents of bread and wine- i.e., the qualities manifest to the senses- remain after the essence is completely changed.
In the early part of the period, Ratramn and Rabanus Maurus did not accept transubstantiation.
2. The cup was denied to the laity; and the denial was justified by the plea that the whole body- both flesh and blood- is present in the wafer, and the cup is not needed for perfect participation in the sacrament. This new theory was called the doctrine of concomitance.
The withholding of the cup grew out of a superstitious reverence for the elements. There was a kind of horror in the thought that the blood of Christ might be spilled. To avoid the danger, it was thought wise to withhold the cup altogether from the laity. Infant communion was given up for a similar reason.
3. The sacrifice of the Mass, repeating Christ’s offering on the cross, became the central doctrine of Catholic faith and the glory of Catholic worship.
(d) The Reformers were united in rejecting transubstantiation. But Luther taught a kindred doctrine of consubstantiation, that, as the body of Christ is omnipresent like his Spirit, it must be present and received in and with the elements, though the latter remain unchanged in essence. Calvin taught that the body of Christ is limited in space, and is in heaven alone; but a dynamic force goes out from it, to impart grace to worthy participants. Zwingle denied both the actual and the dynamic presence, and held that grace is received only by spiritual communion with Christ, suggested and quickened by the symbols. The Socinians and Arminians viewed the Supper as a simple rite, commemorating the death of Christ. The Quakers thought the Supper needless to all who enjoy spiritual communion with Christ.
(e) During the previous periods, it was held, almost uniformly, that church members only should be admitted to the Supper; but, toward the close of the fourth period, Bunyan and other English Baptists denied its churchly character. In the fifth period, Robert Hall and a majority of English Baptists adopted Bunyan’s view. In the United States, Baptists commonly hold the view which has prevailed from the apostolic age. Other denominations also accept it, in general, though a few ministers and churches accept Bunyan’s opinion, – that the Supper is a Christian and not a church ordinance.
SECTION IV. -OTHER SACRAMENTS.
(a) The term “sacrament” had an indefinite use, borrowing its peculiar force from the Greek word (Greek word) rather than from the Latin sacramentum. It was applied to the wonderful works of creation and to the mysteries of the redemptive scheme. But baptism and the Supper were uniformly called sacraments.
(b) The word gradually took on a more limited meaning, and was applied only to rites connected with the Church, which held in them a hidden grace conveyed to the recipient. But it was used by some of the Fathers of this period to denote the profound mystery in the incarnation and atonement. The number of sacraments increased, but none were held to be of equal importance with baptism and the Supper.
(c) Both the meaning of the word and the number of the sacraments were more clearly defined. Hugo of St. Victor’s definition expressed the general belief,- “It is a visible sign of the invisible grace conveyed through it.” The grace was held to reside in the sacrament, and not to depend on the character of the administration or the disposition of the recipient. It was effective ex opere operato, not ex opere operans. The intention of the Church is conveyed in the words of the priest; and this insures the grace, if his personal intention is at fault.
The number of sacraments was stated by Peter Lombard as seven; and the sacred number, having once been named, was readily accepted and easily justified. The additional sacraments were confirmation, ordination, penance, marriage, and extreme unction. Of these, baptism, confirmation, and ordination imparted an indelible character, and could not be repeated. The Greek Church, at Council of Florence, accepted the seven sacraments.
The forerunners of the Reformation- Wyclif, Huss, Wessel, and others- did not accept either the enlarged number of the sacraments or the theory of their effectiveness apart from the disposition of the recipient.
The advocates of the seven sacraments were often perplexed to find in each of them the conditions of a true sacrament,- the material sign, the inward grace, and the Scripture command.
1. Confirmation. The spiritual life received in baptism was strengthened by confirmation. Its form was the hand of the bishop, with the oil; its grace, the new strength imparted; and its Scripture authority, the laying on of apostolic hands. At one period as if to confer spiritual knighthood, the subjects were smitten on the cheek like candidates for knighthood.
2. Penance. This was a necessary sacrament, to insure the forgiveness of sins after baptism, for which the Catholic doctrine made no other provision. It was hard to define the visible form; but it was generally considered a complex form, – the contritio cordis, the confessio oris, and the satisfaction operis, and the words of the priest, “I absolve thee.” The Scripture authority was also doubtful. “Confess your sins one to another,” required a severe strain to mean, “Confess them to a priest.” Nor was the grace conveyed, absolution, perfectly intelligible. Some held that God only could forgive sin, and the priest simply declared what God had done. Even Peter Lombard went no farther than this. Richard of St. Victor added a new element,- that, while the power of forgiveness is with God, He takes priests into fellowship with Himself in the act of remission. Thomas Aquinas went a stage farther,- that, by the binding and loosing, a power is conferred on the priesthood to give absolution, and not merely pronounce it.
In the Catholic theory of justification, forgiveness is never complete without temporal punishment on the part of the penitent. The satisfactio operis was intended to cover this need, and consisted of prayers, fastings, self-tortures, and any penances imposed by the priest. If the temporal punishment were not endured in this world, it was inflicted in purgatory. The doctrine of indulgences was connected with it; for it was in the power of the priest to prescribe the form of the penalty, and to accept a payment of money as an equivalent.
3. Orders. This was held to communicate ecclesiastical character and grace, by which the priest became a fit medium of transferring grace from Christ to His people. It is involved in the Catholic idea of the Church that the priest is separated from the people, and appointed a mediator between them and God.
4. Matrimony. It was hard to understand why sacraments should be antagonistic, that ordination should forbid matrimony, and matrimony exclude ordination. It was even harder to understand, if matrimony were a sacrament, how celibacy was a more holy state. It was equally perplexing to distinguish the visible sign or to define the grace communicated.
5. Extreme Unction. This was held to secure the pardon of all venial sins, and relief from bodily pain. It was to be administered only to adults in expectation of immediate death. It was a grave question whether it could be repeated.
(d) 1. The Council of Trent defined the number of sacraments to be seven, ascribed to them an inherent efficacy, and declared them to be essential to salvation. But it required for their full power an habitual intention to administer them in the priest, and a disposition in the recipient which imposed no hindrance to their working.
2. The Reformers accepted only two sacraments, – baptism and the Supper, – and limited their efficacy by faith in the recipient. Luther set a high value on confession, and the Church of England invested ordination with a sacramental grace.
(e) 1. There has been no change in the Church of Rome or the Greek Church in regard to the number and importance of the sacraments.
2. In the Lutheran Church and the Church of England, a high importance is attached to confession as a channel of divine grace. In the Church of England and Episcopal churches generally, ordination is regarded as a sacrament, though not called by the name; for the orders of other Protestant churches are not recognized.
SECTION I.- THE MILLENNIUM
(a) Pre-Millennial views, a belief in the Paousia and the personal reign of Christ on earth, prevailed widely in this period. They included- from Rev.xx., 4 and 5- a first resurrection of the saints to share in the reign, – a thousand years of holiness and glory; an apostasy to follow under antichrist; and a second resurrection of the ungodly, followed by the judgment.
Alexandrian School > No pre-trib rapture of the church
Only Barnabas, Hermas, and Papias, among the apostolical Fathers, held these views. But, in the days of persecution and trial, it was natural to long for the Parousia. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, and the church leaders generally, with the exception of the Alexandrian School, advocated them.
1. It was natural for Jewish Christians to be pre-Millennialists, for the Jews had cherished similar views of a temporal reign of the Messiah.
2. The naturalness of the longing for the Parousia, in Roman persecutions, is seen in later periods of depression and trial, when the expectations was certain to reappear.
(b) With the triumph of Christianity over Paganism and its alliance with the State, the longing for the Parousia abated; and Lactantius was the only leader of eminence who maintained pre-Millennial views. Augustine defined the first resurrection to be the new birth and the deliverance from the power of sin.
(c) There were revivals of pre-Millennial views in this period. As the tenth century witnessed the lowest spiritual debasement of the Church, it was natural that a longing for the Parousia should return. The conviction was general that, at the end of the century, Christ would appear. Five thousand years had preceded his first advent. One thousand more closed the secular week, and the Sabbath was to begin. Others held that the first resurrection was His birth and passion and the establishment of Christianity on earth, and the end of the thousand years’ reign was at hand, when He would come to judgment.
A few centuries later, the Abbot Joachim announced that the dynasty of the Spirit was to follow the dynasty of the Son, as that had succeeded the dynasty of the Father.
In the contests between the papacy and the empire, the Pope was often called Antichrist. The persecuted sects naturally adopted the name, and its use was continued by the Reformers in the next period.
(d) The Parousia was generally regarded in this period as terminating human probation and introducing the Judgment and the final state. But individuals still maintained pre-Millennial views, and among them many of the German and Swiss Anabaptists, and the Fifth Monarchy men under the English Commonwealth.
Spener developed fully the post-Millennial theory, that Christianity is to triumph on earth, Romanism disappear, and truth and holiness prevail, before the Parousia and the final Judgment.
(e) Pre-Millennial views have prevailed more widely in our period than at any time except in the first period. They find advocates among all denominations, are common in the Church of England and among Episcopalians in this country, and give a name to some minor sects. Eminent German scholars hold these views.
Never before have attempts been made to decide the precise year of the Parousia by a careful exegesis of prophetic dates. Bengel fixed it in 1836, Miller in 1843, and English and German writers from 1875-85.
Recently, a new theory has found advocates, that the Parousia began at the destruction of Jerusalem; and the Millennium and the Resurrection and Judgment are all in progress. See Warren on the Parousia.
1. The post-Millennial view has had advocates in every period, but in various forms. The general idea, in which all unite, is that Christianity, applied by the Holy Spirit, is to win a gradual and complete triumph in our world. All nations will be evangelized, and the race will become at least nominally Christian.
2. One repulsive form in which pre-Millennialism is presented is teh failure of Christianity to win men. The dispensation of the Spirit must give way to the dispensation of the Son, and the power of the suffering Messiah be superseded by the sovereignty of the King. This is an inversion of New Testament teaching.
SECTION II THE RESURRECTION
(a) In this period, a literal view was generally held of the resurrection. It was supposed that the identical body, with its various organs, comes from the grave and enters the future state.
Origen and the Alexandrian School held more spiritual views, and maintained, like Paul, a distinction between the body buried and raised. Clement thought a body would be objectionable in a future state.
The Gnostics denied the resurrection of the body, and held it to be one of the glories of the future state to be delivered from bondage to it.
Arabian teachers maintained a sleep of body and soul till the final judgment.
No distinction was made, in this period, between the resurrection of the (Greek word) and the (Greek word).
Origen held that the germ of the future body is concealed in the earthly body, as the germ of the stalk of grain lies in the seed. Van Oosterzee has revived a similar theory in our day.
(b) Origen’ spiritual views of the resurrection prevailed widely in the Eastern Church; but, in the Western Church, the absolute identity of the raised body and all its organs was maintained. Jerome, as an exegete, insisted on the hair and teeth. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” “They shall gnash with their teeth.” Even Augustine accorded with the grosser views of Jerome.
(c) The resurrection opened a boundless field for scholastic subtleties of thought. Thomas Aquinas cultivated it well. The resurrection will occur at evening. THose living must die to share in it. The substance of the body at death will be what is raised; but all raised will be in the prime of youth (Augustine’s idea, about thirty years of age). The bodies will be fine and light, subject to the spirit; will be bright and beautiful, visible only to the eyes of the glorified. The bodies of the lost will conform to their state, and will be ugly and hideously deformed.
With a few exceptions, like Erigena and Durandus, the whole trend of this period was toward an extreme literalism.
(d) The Reformers, generally, accepted a literal view of the resurrection, maintaining the identity of the body raised with the body buried.
(e) Many views of the resurrection have prevailed in this period. The literal identity has had numerous advocates, and the poet Young developed it with an appalling minuteness. Rationalists have urged that the language is figurative, denoting only the immortality of the spirit. The force of objections from the side of physical science has been felt; and many thinkers have been content to maintain a personal identity, without identity of particles or even of organs. If the central principle, which gives unity to the individual, remains, the spiritual body may differ widely from the physical.
Some, who hold that the Parousia began at the destruction of Jerusalem, maintain that the resurrection is in progress, and follows each one’s death.
Several distinct theories find advocates: (1) The “enswathement theory” of Swedenborg, Ulrici, and Joseph Cook,- that a spiritual body enswathes the soul through life, and at death becomes its organ for communicating with the new world into which it enters.
(2) The “organizing theory” of Dorner, Martensen, and Julius Muller. The identity does not consist in the material of which the body is composed, but in the organizing power, in the soul itself, which can make to itself a body in any environment. See Dodge’s Theology, p.748.
(3) The “germ theory” of Van Oosterzee. This is a revival of Origen’s idea, that the germ of the future body lies in the earthly body, as the germ of the plant in the seed. This resembles closely the previous theory.
1. Now charnels rattle: scattered limbs and all. The various bones, obsequious to the call, Self-moved, advance; the neck, perhaps, to meet The distant head; the distant legs, the feet. Dreadful to view, see through the dusky sky Fragments of bodies in confusion fly, To distant regions journeying, there to claim Deserted members, and complete the frame.
Young, Last Day, ii.
2. No theory can be held to conform to New Testament teaching, unless it includes two great facts: first, that the resurrection continues the identity of the body,- the personality of each human being with the duplex nature must be preserved; secondly, the resurrection must be a future event, in relation to the race no less than to the individual. It cannot take place at each man’s death.
3. It is certain that the identity cannot exist in the particles of material flesh: for the identity continues through life, while these particles are in perpetual flux.
SECTION III THE GENERAL JUDGMENT AND
THE INTERMEDIATE STATE
(a) The general judgment was uniformly held to be connected with the general resurrection, and was supposed to determine, beyond possibility of change, the eternal state.
An intermediate state, corresponding to the hades of the Greeks and the sheol of the Hebrews, was generally accepted as the abode of the soul between death and the resurrection. Such a theory was the natural outgrowth of the belief that the final state of happiness and woe did not begin till after the judgment and the reunion of soul and body. But Tertullian held that martyrs escaped this period of detention, and entered heaven directly after death. And Cyprian, like many ministers today, connected the final reward with the dying hour.
The idea of a purifying fire to consume the last remains of sin is suggested by Clement of Alexandria and Origen, but is not assigned to the intermediate state. It is connected rather with the conflagration preceding the Judgment. In it lay the germ of the future purgatory.
(b) The antecedents of the Judgment and its attendant scenes were described in vivid language, and many additions were made to Scripture teachings.
The purifying fire, consuming the remains of sin in the saints, was located by Augustine in the intermediate state; and, by Gregory the Great, purgatory was defined as a dogma, from which deliverance might be obtained by prayers and masses.
(c) Christ was uniformly held to be the final judge, and the saints were associated with Him, especially the monks.
The fires of purgatory were regarded as material flames, from which release might be obtained by masses for the dead. Peter Lombard admitted that the rich fared better in this respect than the poor. John Wessel denied that the fires were material or penal. They were the fires of divine love, purifying from all sin, and were the beginning of heavenly blessedness. Saints free from all sin entered heaven without passing through purgatory.
Thomas Aquinas said the Judgment must be a mental process, otherwise it would occupy an untold period.
(d) The Reformers added little to the previous views of the judgment, except to draw distinctions between the general Judgment, when the divine government is vindicated, and the particular judgment passed on each man at death. THey also distinguished between the happiness or woe of spirits in the disembodied state, and when reunited to the body.
Little account was made of the intermediate state. The Protestants uniformly rejected the idea of purgatory; but the Greek Church accepted it, and held that prayers and masses will shorten the period of confinement. Some of the Anabaptists believed in the sleep of the soul till the Judgment.
(e) The Judgment is commonly associated with the general resurrection. But the opinion is privately held by some that each man enters his final state at death, and there is no general resurrection or Judgment.
Most evangelical sects believe that an intermediate state is a necessity, as the final judgment cannot be pronounced nor the final destiny reached until the unity of life is restored by the resurrection. A few theologians believe that imperfect Christian character may be prepared in this state for the holiness of heaven.
The “New Theology” teaches that a second probation may be given to all who have not heard of the historical Christ. This may be granted to many in the intermediate state, and to others even after the general Judgment.
SECTION IV HEAVEN AND HELL
(a) It was uniformly held that there were different states for the righteous and the wicked; and, with few exceptions, these states were thought to be eternal and unchangeable.
They admitted, however, of degrees of happiness and woe, in accordance with the life on earth; and there was opportunity for infinite progress in heaven.
Origen believed in the final restitution of all things and the complete triumph of Christ’s kingdom over evil; but he held, also, that as a necessity of moral freedom there will be repeated falls and mediations and recoveries.
(b) It was held almost universally that happiness and suffering are alike eternal. Even Palagius taught that the penalty of sin is eternal. Gregory of Nyssa inclined to Origen’s view of a final restitution and the complete triumph of righteousness. Arnobius taught that the wicked would be at last annihilated.
The happiness of heaven was thought to consist in freedom from the fetters of the body, in a large increase of knowledge, and in fellowship with God and angels and saints.
Gregory of Nazianzus and Augustine thought that punishment consisted in separation from God and a consciousness of vileness.
(c) The Scholastics made few changes in the views handed down from the previous period. They accepted the eternal duration of happiness and of punishment. The former consisted in communion with God, the fellowship of saints, and acuteness of the intellectual powers, and in beatific vision of God; the latter, in separation from God and useless repentance.
They divided heaven into three parts: the visible firmament; the spiritual heaven, the abode of saints and angels; and the intellectual heaven, where the direct vision of God is enjoyed.
Hell, also, was divided into two parts: hell proper, where the retributions are eternal; and the intermediate states,- (a) purgatory, nearest to hell; (b) limbus infantum, the abode of unbaptized children; and (c) limbus patrum, the abode of Old Testament saints, nearest heaven.
Scotus Erigena, with his Pantheism, held curious views. He thought individual souls would be resolved into God, and would yet retain something of individual life.
He agreed with Origen in believing in the final restitution of all things and the overthrow of evil, and yet held that individual sinners might suffer forever. Their punishment would consist in the consciousness of sin and of their impotence.
(d) The Reformers agreed with the Catholic Church in their doctrines of heaven and hell as involving unchangeable states.
Some of the Anabaptists and of the smaller sects held to the final restitution of all things and the universal reign of Christ.
(e) No doubt has been entertained of the eternal happiness and glory of the saints, but never have doubts of the eternal punishment of the lost been so widespread or so deeply rooted. The grounds of doubt or unbelief are numerous and varied. They are capable of many subdivisions.
1. The work of Christ as an atoning Saviour is of infinite merit and infinite scope, and will include the whole human race in its benefits. Murray, Winchester, and the early Universalists.
The Bible teaches plainly that many will resist even the grace of Christ, and will refuse the benefits of His work, though infinite in merit and scope.
2. The sins of a brief lifetime cannot have the infinite ill-desert involved in eternal punishment. There would be a vast disproportion between the guilt and penalty. The Unitarians generally.
Sin will be eternal, and the punishment must therefore be eternal.
3. Human sin is inevitable in a finite being struggling toward perfection. It must incite the pity and invoke the help of God rather than His wrath. Theodore Parker and pantheists generally.
The argument is plausible, but not Biblical. The Bible treats of sin as voluntary, deliberate, and without excuse.
4. The loving Fatherhood of God will not permit the final loss of any of His children. Robertson and Beecher.
The Bible teaches that God is not only a Father, but a sovereign, and, as lawgiver and ruler, must punish sin by the necessity of His nature.
5. Punishment is corrective, not vindicative, in its aim, and would fail, therefore, of its purpose, if it did not accomplish the final repentance of all sinners. The Restorationists.
Penalty is vindicative in relation to law and government, and cannot therefore be simply corrective in relation to the offender.
6. Human nature is so depraved by the fall that recovery is impossible without the historical Christ. But multitudes never hear of Him in life, and other multitudes have no moral possibilities of repentance and faith. Divine justice, therefore, requires that for such classes there should be a second probation.
Dr. Peabody, I think, first used the phrase “the unprivileged classes,” who deserve a second probation; and the “New Theology” is only taking up and broadening his view.
No second probation is revealed or even suggested in the Bible. Nor is it needed. It is safer to trust the divine goodness in the first, however “unprivileged,” than human goodness in a second, however favorable. God will never require of any man that which he hath not; and the work of an atoning
Saviour can save any one who would have accepted the historical Christ, if known.
7. The term (Greek word) does not imply duration, but condition, and therefore does not teach endless punishment. Maurice and J.M. Whiton.
The best scholars deny that such an exegesis is valid.
– END –
We are making available this concise treatise on doctrinal history in the Christian Church as a valuable contribution toward a simplicity of understanding, without necessarily agreeing with some of the theological positions expressed by the author.
There was in the northeastern part of America a spirit of revival during the last century (particularly the first half), which made its impression upon the seriousness and earnestness of the theological inquiry, even among those who held important differences on theological questions.
Gordon C. Olson, October 1978
Bible Research Fellowship, Inc.
P.O. Box 66160
Chicago, ILL 60666
Appendix on Kierkegaardism
There have been many doctrines introduced into the thought streams of the church over the centuries. But none have been so devastating leaving far reaching impact as the philosophy of existentialism. Without realising it, this philosophical movement that started early in the 1800’s has had a profound effect on the state of the Bible believing church of today!
Existentialism is a philosophy. Soren Kierkegaard observed that all philosophy up to this time (1813) was based on the Greek idea of things rather than on the personal existance of beings. He ontended that Western philosophy was more concerned with generalities rather than the specific needs of man.
Although Soren Kierkegaard was a little known and neglected Danish philosopher, his works were discovered and translated into German early in 19th century, and then later into English. So hisphilophy of existentialism did not become popular until the 1940’s in American theology, but once brought here the teaching spread through the writing of many well known theologans such as Karl Barth. But by the end of the 1940’s existentialism was strongly entrenced and a popular philosophy in all of the modernist seminaries of America and throughout Europe.
Out of this teaching taught in American seminaries the existential philosophy became a part of Christian doctrine. At first it was only taught in modernist seminaries but soon developed into a doctrine that found its way into the Bible believing Bible Colleges and Institutes. Of course there were many parallels between the philosophy of existentialsim and Scriptures. Does not the Bible teach that God is a personal God and interested in our personal welfare and that He is a God of love? Does not the Bible teach that God seeks the happiness of man in his present state right here on the Earth? And so does existentialsim teach these things – but minus God!
The popularity and exposure of existentialism finally found it way in many different forms into the theology of the fundamnetal church. The fundamentalists simply added God to the philosophy of Kierkegaard. From that point the logical conclusions of Kierkegaard began to be woven into the interpreation of the Bible. Certain intellectual fundamentalists became read on existentialsim and saw a fresh new approach in Biblical interpretation. It was not long until much of this man’s philosophy was being used in the form oflittle cliches and woven into the teaching of Bible pulpits and colleges. There started a whole love cult movement within the Bible believing churches and unconditional salvation began to such virtues as obedience and the fear of God. Positivism became a famous philosophy by many fundamentalists, but especially the Pentecostals. Diregard for tradition and talk about being under bondage to do’s and don’ts all have their origin in the philosophy of existentialism and the escape from “things.” The trend toward “personalizing” the gospel message that characterizes modern Charismaticism, Fundamental modernism and the Evangelical Ecumenism were induced to accept a neo-gnosticism by Kiekegaard’s existentialism – not the Holy Spirit.
Self denial, self discipline, obedience to God’s Word, the moral law of God, and the imperial doctrine of sanctification were discarded by the new trend of positivism. Doctrines and values came to be considered as non-essentials. Folowing that trend came apostasy as we see it today. The modern church phenomena called the Charismatic movement has its roots in exeistentialism. Charismaticism is the classic example of what existentialism did to the fundamental faith. It produced a mutated antinomian church – existential Pentecostalism.
There are similarities between existentialism and Grace, between the philosophy of Kierkegaard and the apostle’s doctrine. But in Scripture God and not the changing society is the authority. We may now mention that this modified existential teaching as it was mixed with Scripture became one of Satan’s most effective means of garbling and distorting the doctrine of Grace. A good example of this mixing of Christian theology with kierkegaard’s existential philosophy is seen in H. Richard Niebuhr’s book entitled Christ and Culture.(Harper and Row Publishers. Niebuhr’s lectures given at Austin Theological Seminary, January 1949.)
There were many reknowned theologinas who became advocates of existentialism in different parts of the world after the German Karl Jaspers of Germany and Jean-Paul Sartre of France first gave treatment to Kierkegaard’s philosophy enlarging Kierkegaards writings. But there were many others such as Karl Barth, Rudolph Bultmann, Friedrich Gogarten, Emil Brunner, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebuhr. Roman Catholic theologians Gabriel Marcel and Karl Rahner also embraced the philosophy. All of these great minds wrote volumes of books on existentialsim until it was popularized to a position acceptance by most theologians of the historical churches. Finally as these denominational came into the Charismatic movement, even the Evangelicals became effected by the modernist existential philosophies.
The parallels between Existentialism and Charismaticism
Existentialsim teaches radical freedom. This is one of the theories existentialsim places strong emphasis. Little do “liberated” Christians who speak of “finding their freedom” when they move from a church of traditional values into the Charimatic church environment realize they are using the very terminology taught by exitentialists. It teaches through the writings of these philosophers that man must not be inhibited by some set of external moral laws but be free to exist without these “things” inhibiting them. Sensitivity training in the college and University curriculam is one of the bridges that takes people from the inhibitions of Christian values to the other side of morality where freedom from these values is experienced.
Existentialism declares that there are to be no external moral laws governing my life and advocates the freedom of the individual to determine what is right or wrong on the basis of my personal preferences and feelings rather than a moral instruction from outside of one’s personal life. These laws and teachings and doctrines of the apostle’s are “thing” and impersonal. Therefore they diregarded as archaic inhibitions and have no jurisdiction over my life. Jesus said, If you love me (that is personal), keep My commandments (those are impersonal “things”). (See also John 14:21-23; Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 5:3.)
The Faith Teaching also stems from the existential philosophy. It teaches that obedience to an external moral law of God has no bearing on my salvation, but that by simply believing in Christ and placing my faith in His finished work on the cross, gives me His righteousness and by this faith faith in Him alone I am saved. But Jesus asks, And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Luke 6:46. And, Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. Matthew 7:24 So, it becomes very clear that faith in Christ must be accompanied by obedience to His teaching. Charismatic existentialism drops moral obligation from the Biblical formula of salvation and makes salvation exclusively a matter of belief apart from obedience to His Word. Positivism is a form of existentialsim.
Prosperity and materialsim a revivas of Greek Hedonism.
(Note: by tracing the word philosophy through this text you will see how Christianity has been deeply effected by the existential philosophy it coexisted with.)
The church has always been profoundly effected by the secular philosophical and ideas picked up from the world environment in the universities where most preachers and “Christian” psychologists do their degree work, or from environmental conditions. Example: the prosperity teaching became popular in the materialistic societies of the West.
Christian colaition, a move to political unite the churches through ecumenism and according to Pat Robinson, usher in the mellenial age of the world.]]]
History of Doctrine By Dr. Heman Lincoln
Boston Press of George H. Ellis, 141 Franklin Street – Printed in 1886
Dr. Heman Lincoln was Professor of Church History at Newton Theological Seminary near Boston, which was founded in 1825 as the earliest American Baptist seminary and one of the most important of that denomination. The author was a graduate of Brown University and Newton, and spent a number of years in pastorates and editorial work before being called to his professorship.
The Early Church had leaders thoroughly educated, of high character, vigorous thinkers, elegant writers, eloquent preachers. Following are a collection of early church fathers that we want to research and write short doctrinal biographies. Be sure to include source.
INDEX. We suggest that if you cannot find the item you’re looking for that you scroll through the index and then use the search engine at the top right corner of the ACTSion.com window.
Book First.-General History.
First Period………………………….. 10
Second Period………………………. 11
Third Period…………………………. 13
Book Second.-Special History.
CHAPTER I. Apologetics…………….17
I. Divine Origin of Christianity………17
II. Sources of Authority…………………18
I. The Being of God…………………..27
II. The Nature of God…………………29
III. Relation of God to the Universe……32
I. Constitution of Man………………..35
II. Origin of the Soul………………..36
III. Man’s Original State and the Fall….38
The Person of Christ…………44
I. The Atoning Work of Christ………….51
II. Summary of Theories of the Atonement..55
III. Effects of the Work of Christ……..57
CHAPTER Cardinal Doctrines
I. Divine and Human Agency
II. Justification by Faith…………….61
VI. The Church and Sacraments…………68
I. The Church………………………..68
I. Mode and Subjects of Baptism………..71
II. Theories of Infant Baptism…………74
III. The Lord’s Supper………………..76
IV. Other Sacraments………………….78
I. The Millennium…………………….82
II. The Resurrection………………….84
III. The General Judgment……………..86
IV. Heaven and Hell…………………..87
Outline Lectures on HISTORY OF DOCTRINE for use by the students of the Newton Theological Institution by HEMAN LINCOLN. Printed By Request. Boston Press of George H. Ellis, 141 Franklin Street – Printed in 1886
Thinkers and writers in the Dark Ages.
SPECIAL NOTE: If you are surfing this web site and have any good source of information on the doctrines of the church Fathers and in particular peculiar or false doctrines, please email us and share the information we are doing on the Fathers we have listed below – Thanks much BB.
Abelard: Believed the atonement was of no inherent worth.
Origen: Head of the Alexandrian school. Taught infant baptism; preexistence of the soul (re-incarnation);
Ambrose: Introduced hymnology to the church 350 A.D.
Augustine: (H1) Doubted days of creation were literal. Taught infant baptism, first introduced predestination to the council of bishops then known as _____________
Hugo of St Victor
Jerome: Thought it unworthy of God to care for individuals.
Other Early Church names to be researched for error teachings.
Barnabas, Anti-Nicenne Fathers volumes; Wrote in one of his epistles of animals changing gender which was a false belief of ancient times.
Augustine, (360 AD)
Origen (220 AD),
Tertullian (210 AD),
Irenaeus (210 AD), LU – Did he change the Greek text of the TR?
Cyprian: My favorite theologian among the church Fathers. Lincoln attributes to Cyprian the belief in universal church government which was a highly structured system of senior churches and senior pastors officiating over other churches and ministers. However, It is documented to the contrary in the article It Seemed Good Unto Us (you may go to this MS and use the find button to search Cyprian and check this reference and then return to this study) on church government that Cyprian was one of the few opposed to this doctrine. I choose to believe the ancient docuement over the writing of Lincoln because authority would tend to be established more in the writer of the ancient record than the information Lincoln has here. He has writings in the Anti- Nicenne volumes (ANF). He withstood the bishops over bishops doctrine when it came in. (I will Build My Church) Seems to have the purest doctrinal stance of all of the Fathers.Wrote and excellent treatise on CHASTITY I found in ANF.
Ambrose, Introduced hymnology to the church about 350 A.D..
Eusebius (330 AD)
In the Eastern Church; (Antioch?)
EUSEBIUS of Caesarea, and of Nicomedia;
GREGORY of Nazianzus and of Nyssa;
In the Western Church, (Alexandria?)
GREGORY the Great.