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Israelites. Turtak, the Accadian deity of the Tigris, is the Tartak of the Bible, (2 Kings xvii, 31.) Lagamar, whose temple at Susa was rebuilt by the emperor Kudur-Nakhunte, has left his name in Kedorlaomer, who fought in Palestine in the time of Abraham, (Genesis xiv, 1-17.) Deities of surrounding nations were legitimate spoils of war. Assurbanipal captured and carried away into Assyria nineteen “gods and goddesses, with their valuables, their gods, their furniture, and priests and worshipers." *
The comparison of the Assyrian religion with the Old Testament Scriptures must be reserved for a second paper.
ART. VII.-PRESENT STATE OF PROTESTANT
THEOLOGY. That is a superficial view of theology which makes it simply a science of religion. In its literal sense it means a science of God, or divine things. But even this definition, derived from the etymology of the word, is too meager. To be exhaustive as well as comprehensive it must include more. Our Protestant theology is based upon the Christian religion, which is a supernatural revelation of salvation through Jesus Christ. The facts of Christianity were first divinely revealed, then realized in man's experience, and lastly elaborated into a systematic whole by a reflection on the facts of man's consciousness as guided and enlightened by the divine Spirit. Theology is, therefore, not only an affair of the head, but also of the heart; it is a theory and a practice as well; not only a form of knowledge, but also a precious experience. Hence a complete definition of theology must take these three points into consideration : first, the supernatural communication of the facts of salvation ; second, the personal experience of these facts by man; and, third, their scientific arrangement.
From this point of view an attempt will be made to sketch the Protestant theology of to-day, which may be divided, according to its hostile or friendly attitude toward the Bible, into two groups. The one reverently accepts, the other deliber
*" Records of tlie Past," vol. i, pp. 87, 88.
ately rejects, the divine authority of the Scriptures. This attitude toward the Bible has acted as a sifting power, eliminating the unlike elements and drawing the like elements together more closely. The growth of Protestant theology seems to have been along two lines, parallel at first, but now diverging more and more. The champions of either side are uniting more closely in their respective encampments, while the breach between them is widening and the antagonism intensifying.
For a clearer apprehension of this process of selection and rejection let us make
I. A BRIEF IIISTORICAL REVIEW. We must go back to the Reformation, which is the mother, and, as it were, the source, of Protestant theology, in order to get at the fundamental principles which underlie the present. One of these primary principles of the Reformation was to put the divine authority of the Bible over the authority of the Church, thereby proclaiming freedom from all outward traditional tramiels. Protestantism delivered from the tyranny of the Church by carrying back to the Bible. Another of these first principles was its teaching that man is justified by faithi, that he is dependent on God alone, with whom he can hold direct intercourse at any time by faith, without human intervention or priestly mediation.
These two principles of man's dependence and man's independence-obligation and liberty-when held together properly balance each other. But the equilibrium was sometimes destroyed by unduly emphasizing the one at the expense of the other. The two extremes in the Protestant theology of the present can be traced to a divorce of these two pervading principles of the Reformation. Whenever the idea of man's dependence has been so strongly insisted upon that the idea of his independence was lost sight of and separated from the true liberty of a living faith, then a cold orthodoxy, which ended with a soulless confessionalism, was the result. If, on the other hand, independence was exalted and faith severed from reason, it developed into latitudinarianism and generally ended with negation. But, happily, in the course of this listoric process a theology has grown up, based upon the Bible, recognizing the dependence required in the Scriptures and
preserving independence, or the true liberty of the spirit. Without falling into confessionalism, it values creeds and confessions of faith as representing the ripest results of the piety and scholarship of the Church at any given period. This biblical orthodoxy rests upon the broad basis of the Scriptures, and counts its adherents by thousands in every tongue and clime.
If we closely observe this critico-historical process we shall find that a dry and lifeless orthodoxy gained the ascendency, not only in Germany and Switzerland, but also in Scandinavia, Holland, and England. In Germany, Luther had hardly closed his eyes when the opposing factions, which had been kept down by his personal presence and influence, began to threaten trouble. The conflict between the strict orthodoxy, led by Flaccius, and the milder evangelical faction, whose chief man was Melanchthon, ended with a signal victory for the orthodox party. In Switzerland, Holland, France, and Scotland, a Calvinism so stern that it was a crime to differ from it held absolute sway. In England the constitution of the State Church was about as exclusive and inflexible as could be devised. The unhappy effects of this controversial period which followed the Reformation appeared in a twofold manner : first, in a decay of vital religion ; second, in a petrifaction of the living doctrines of the Reformation into mere intellectual formulas.
Such a frigid and rigid orthodoxy was impotent to satisfy the capacities of the head and the cravings of the heart. It was barren of all vital results. It could not inspire the heart with hope nor incite the intellect to any fruitful activity. It barred the door to all independent inquiry with its inexorable credo. No wonder, then, that the people, embittered at such a soulless orthodoxy, which suppressed the Christian truth, revolted, and, in their reaction against this ecclesiastical despotism which fostered such a theology, seriously threatened Christian truth itself. Nor did this process go on in Germany only. It appeared in Italy in a revival of the humanities; in England as deism, and in France as atheism and bald materialism. In Germany sovereign reason, throwing away the “humility of knowledge,” assumed the throne, and the so-called rationalism vulgaris began to prevail in the countries of the Reformation.
In its interpretation of the Bible it did not trouble itself with any deep critical questions; its exegesis was of a very elastic nature; it set history aside when its testimony was not suitable, and simply denied the supernatural, and ended with becoming so trivial and frivolous that its divines preached on the best methods of raising and caring for cattle. The philosopher Kant calls the style of sermons of the age “Prose
Although this rationalism counted several able men among its ranks, as Dr. Semler, and deserves credit for having given the cold, dry orthodoxy a death-blow, yet its influence upon theology and upon public life was a very deplorable one. It produced a large class of persons devoid of principle, who called themselves theologians, as the notorious K. F. Bahrdt.
Single men here and there stood on Bible ground, and let their light shine in the universal darkness; yetupon the whole, the theology of that period was at a very low ebb. But the Lord provided. He raised up Spener, Zinzendorf, and Wesley to purify and vitalize this corrupt theology. It is a great mistake to think that these men were merely the founders of the modern home mission work. For although the pietism of a Spener had no formulated creed, it nevertheless exerted a great influence upon the doctrines of the Church by placing the almost-forgotten Christian life in the foreground. Zinzendorf, with his motto, “My passion is He, only He,” touched the theology of the day by its Achilles' heel. Wesley, with his clear notions of sin, justification, regeneration, and sanctification, and with his wonderful talent for presenting these great truths level to the understanding of all classes, has helped, from his time onward to the present, both inside and outside of Methodism, at forming theological ideas.
To be sure, the work of these divinely commissioned men did not end this process of separating all unlike elements, for that is still going on now. But one fundamental principle has been so firmly fixed that it has never since been lost sight of; namely, that a true theology is not merely a speculative form of knowledge, but a mode of living as well—a habitus practicus—and that it must produce the fruits of a practical Christianity. We have never forgotten that there is an inseparable connection between religion and morality. Conflicts
have not been wanting. The admiring disciples of Kant attempted all kinds of possible and impossible “ critiques of pure reason.” Idealism was in its prime at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Bible has had to sustain a constant warfare with intellectualism, and, at present, is brought into frequent contact with the natural sciences. But, notwithstanding the most determined opposition, Bible theology has, from the times of Zinzendorf and Wesley forward, gained ground, established itself as a science, and driven to a decision either for or against itself.
The last act of this theological clarification was precipitated by the appearance of Strauss' Leben Jesu, (1835.) It was not an epoch-making work in the sense of being productive of new ideas. On the contrary, it was not creative. structive power was almost equal to zero, but its destructive tendency was so much greater. It does not so much mark an epoch as a crisis which dissipated dreams and illusions, showed the futility of vague theories and half-measures, and caused emphatic divisions on vital questions of religion. The eyes of the theological world were opened as never before. It became evident that Strauss' road led to the atheism of a Feuerbach, and that this landed into the materialism of a Darwin. The friends of a supernatural revelation rallied around the Bible. Christians took a definite stand, and asked each other: Is your theology based upon the Bible? Do you belong to the positive or negative party? Thus this earnest conflict has created a chasm, growing wider and more impassable than ever.
In England and Germany honest efforts were made by the 50-called Compromise Theology (Vermittlungs-Theologie) to settle these differences. Schleiermacher, born at Breslau, 1768, is the founder of this movement. Ilis father, an ariny claplain, was favorably disposed to the Moravians, and had him educated in their schools. Their deep piety and spirituality made a life-long impression on Sehleiermacher. gifted with a wonderful talent for metaphysical speculations. He made the essence of religion consist in a feeling of absolute dependence upon God, and attempts to give to the religious consciousness a scientific expression. lle was peculiarly fitted, by nature and by training, to put an end to the conflict between the Christian dogma and rationalism, and to offer a