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form of religion which could both satisfy the simple yearnings of a humble heart and the most exacting demands of an enlightened intellect. It must be confessed, however, that he did not accomplish this object, despite liis most strenuous efforts. One class called him a rationalizing skeptic, and the other an incorrigible orthodoxist. But much was gained, even if he did not fully realize his ideal. Schleiermacher impressed upon the educated classes what Spener, Zinzendorf, and Wesley had taught the masses, that theological knowledge and picty are not identical, but must always be united in a true theology. Ile has, therefore, often been called the father of modern theology.
Quite a number of eminent men, following Schleiermacher's footsteps, tried to reconcile the teachings of the Bible with the results of modern science. But the believers among these compromise theologians soon learned that the unbelievers made demands which those standing on Bible ground could not grant, and that these negative critics were not half so eager to arrive at a mutual understanding of the controverted points as to secure a full recognition of their claims. It soon became evident that concessions and half-way measures would not answer. Lafayette's remark explained the situation : “If I affirm 2x4=8, and some hot-head denies it, saying it is ten, then the compromiser comes in between, with dignified demeanor, and says, The truth is somewhere between you; we must strike the difference, 2x4=9.” Tholuck's words, that “ truth is not in the middle but at the bottom,” were taken to heart. To-day this kind of Vermittlungs-Theologie is a thing of the past. Our age is one of intense earnestness and decision, and has inscribed upon its banner: “Be wholly what thou art.” Let us now glance at
II. THE PRESENT SITUATION. This critical historical process is marked by three characteristic tendencies.
1. We shall first notice the so-called Liberal or Modern Theology. Of course this term is somewhat ambiguous. It is as indefinite as it is comprehensive, and may include pantheists, atheists, and materialists; in fact all who are generally
given to drawing theological conclusions from philosophical premises. But, however great their difference otherwise, they all agree on this point, that the human mind is the determinator of religious truth, and clearness the criterion of truth. It is in reason alone that truth and reality are to be found. Reason is the ultimate test of religious truth as well as of all truth. Reason must be obeyed as the only supreme guide. What the light of your mind pronounces incredible, that you are to leave uncredited. In a word, their principle is the absolute supremacy of the natural faculties of man.
Some of these liberal theologians deny the supernatural in all of its forms. Vith one grand sweep they dispose of revelation, inspiration, miracles, and providence. They cull a few moral precepts from the Scriptures, but reject its objective elements entirely. They repudiate an historical Christianity, especially the God-man, Jesus Christ, his sinlessness, wondrous works, atoning death, and his resurrection. There are other liberals who are not quite so radical. While they profess great respect for Christianity-namely, their Christianity-and would shudder at the thought of rejecting Christ altogether, yet they assume the right to set up an eclectic Christianity, and decide how much is permanent and necessary and how much is temporal and accidental, what is essential and what is superfluous in Christ's teachings. Revelation is not denied, but qualified. Revelation, as the outer light, is to be respected only so far as it agrees with reason, the inner light. This class approaches the holy word of God as a dinner-party does a well-spread table, where each may take what suits his taste. They sort the Bible, and say this passage we must accept and that we must reject; this passage is genuine, that is doubtful, and that is corrupt. They approve of heaven, but ridicule the idea of hell; they earnestly advocate immortality, but just as firmly reject what the Bible teaches on resurrection.
These theories may be “modern,” fashionable, and highly acceptable to a large class of people, but they certainly are not a theology, in so far as they refuse homage to Jesus Christ. The adjectives “liberal ” and “modern” have entirely displaced the substantive “theology.” IIowever much we may respect the sincerity of its advocates, we cannot call their theology Christian. Although they have rendered some real and
permanent services to theology by bringing a very industrious and acute, though not always fair, criticism to bear on the Christian records, and thus making a fresh study of the Scriptures and the grounds of their defense necessary, yet they awakened an appetite which could not produce bread, much less the bread of life. It leaves the cravings of the heart unsatisfied, and many unsolved problems for the inquiring mind. Pearson has truly said : “ Modern theology is full of contradictions, which no philosopher would tolerate.” You cannot live by, nor die on, such a theology; it is an insufficient light for those who tread the dark and dreary mazes of life; its inany interrogations can give no consolation in the gloom of death, nor fire the dying eye with the hope of life eternal.
Those who venture upon this slippery ground are in danger of falling into absolute negation. If we can deny one Christian truth, why not a second or a third ? There is only one step between rejecting a divine revelation and denying the existence of God. The next thing, after having denied God and put man upon his throne, is to obliterate the distinction between mind and matter. This leaves no room for human libberty, and lands in a fatalistic materialism.
Strauss, together with many others, has traveled this downward road. The denial of an historical Christianity led to a denial of God. Here was atheism and pantheism. The next was a denial of mind, as a free, self-active, and self-determining intelligence. Here was materialism. This extreme wing of modern theology was, as a matter of course, barren of all vital results. It lays its destructive hand upon every thing positive, and ends with nihilism. And how could it be otherwise ? If you add an infinite number of negations the sum will be nothing.
This movement has a larger following in the Protestant world than is generally believed. It counts its adherents by the thousand in all the State Churches of Europe---sometimes lurking under guise of a faultless orthodoxy; sometimes boldly avowing its purpose, as the Protestant Association of Germany, which welcomes to its wide folds all factions, orthodox, liberal, pantheist and materialist, in so far as they are willing to accept and adhere to the ethical principles of Christianity.
It claims to maintain a laudable ambition of “harmonizing
discordant elements into a better consistency.” In England and America they are generally, but not always, to be found in independent congregations, or among the Unitarians and Universalists. There are, however, a great many others, sailing under orthodox colors, who are more or less infected with this modern theology.
The characteristic of this movement is that it emphasizes man's independence in things spiritual at the expense of a true dependence, and thus turns liberty into license. This caused a strong reaction. Another party arose and songht to avoid this extreme and save evangelical liberty. But it did so by hedging it in with narrow creeds and Church doctrines. This is
Instead of relying upon the power of faith, it relies upon the power of the past, and goes back to the seventeenth century. Its position is explained in the sentence, “ Teneamus, quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.” The theology of the nineteenth century must go back to the seventeenth century, or to the Reformation, or farther still, for its warrant. Hengstenberg, the father of the restored Lutheranism, and Pusey, the founder of the IIigh Church party in England, were by and by distanced by their bolder followers.
This movement gave great prominence to the ceremonies and ordinances of the Church, and restored a sort of sacrament worship. The sacraments are not only a means of grace, but the only medium througli which grace is granted. The altar is, consequently, placed above the pulpit; baptism is regeneration ; justification is a material cominunication of divine life through the sacraments; the visible Church is the true Church, and all who are baptized are its members. Besides this, the real presence of Christ in the elements of the Lord's Supper is taught, and confirmation and ordination are regarded as sacramental acts. Protestant theologians here take the place of the Catholic bishop, and the reformers the place of the Pope. Not the fellowship of saints or brotherhood of believers, but the adherents to a certain creed, compose the true Church. Its standard and sacred treasure is the “ sound doc. trine," and anathema sit upon him who varies from it a hair's
breadth! Piety is displaced by a belief which is not born of an inner conviction, but has been outwardly proposed for acceptance as a mathematical formula. Any one can see that this tends toward Catholicism. Many of its leaders, in fact, are dallying with Romanism, and some of them openly avow that the Catholic idea of a Church is the only true one. Auricular confession, absolution, and extreme unction have been introduced by Loche among the Neo-Lutherans in Germany, and by the extreme left wing of the Puseyites in England.
In connection with this abstract dogmatism we find their juridic construction of the rights of the Church, whose existence, they teach, as a propounder and conserver of the sound doctrines, is guaranteed by state and international law. To hear the current talk of many Lutherans in our own country, one might conclude that theirs was the only Church which had a legal right to exist in the United States. All this savors strongly of Romanism, with which it has these and many other points in common. It is every-where infected with the prevailing social and political views, and is likewise strongly tainted with modern philosophy, which it really abhors and combats, but whose forms and culture it uses to ingratiate itself with, and retain its hold upon, the public mind. Strifes and internal divisions also indicate that it is afflicted with the same symptoms that trouble Romanism. All of its dissimilar elements are gathered under one cover, and this harmonious company is faithfully described by the prophet : “ They will eat every man the flesh of his own arm : Manasseh, Ephraim; Ephraim, Manasseh ; and they together will be against Judah.” Isa. ix, 21, 22.
But redeeming features are not altogether wanting. It deserves credit for having brought about a better understanding of the Old Testament canon. Some of their spokesmen were very able IIebraists. But it has brought forth nothing that has the power to transform the heart and life of the individual, or to protect the Church universal from its common foe. For what is gained in this conflict against skepticism if you bolt the doors of your own little room when the entire structure upon which all creeds are built is assailed ? In fortifying and fighting for the Church these hide-bound orthodoxists seem to think that Christ's promises with regard to his Church, “ The