Chapter II

CHAPTER II.

PLAN, DIVISIONS, AND SUBDIVISIONS.

Dividing, then, the topics that fall under the general title of Theological Science, in accordance with the four principal themes that have been mentioned, we have the following divisions: Bibliology, Theology (Doctrine of God), Anthropology, Christology, Soteriology, and Eschatology.

Bibliology (/S^SXtov Xo-yo?) includes those subjects that relate to the Bible. 1. Revelation and Inspiration. 2. The Authenticity of the Scriptures. 3. Their Credibility. 4. Their Canonicity.

Theology (Seov X6705) as a division in Theological Science, is employed in a restricted signification. It denotes that branch of the general science of theology which discusses the divine being. It includes: 1. The Nature and Definition of God. 2. The Innate Idea of God. 3. The Arguments for his Existence. i. His Trinitarian Existence. 5. His Attributes. 6. His Decrees. 7. His Works of Creation and Providence, and his Miraculous Works.

It is to be noticed that the doctrine of the trinity is an integrant part of theology, in the restricted signification of the term, because according to revelation trinality as necessarily marks the deity as unity. Here is one of the points of difference between Christianity and deism, or theism, as this term was used by Cudworth and Warburton. Deism discusses the divine nature as mere unity, by itself and alone, because it denies trinality in the divine constitution; but Christianity, following the revealed idea of God, discusses the divine unity only as triunity or trinity. Trinitarianism, according to Scripture, is not a subject separate from theology proper, but enters into it as a necessary constituent. The revealed idea of God as much implies his trinity as his eternity. The Socinian and the Mohammedan doctrine of God is deistical, in distinction from Christian. Each alike denies interior distinctions in the divine essence, and is anti-trinitarian.

This intrinsic and necessary connection of trinality with unity in God is indicated in the patristic use of the term "theologian," as the synonym of "trinitarian." In the patristic age, the apostle John was denominated o SeoXoyo?, because of the fulness with which he was inspired to teach the doctrine of the trinity. Gregory of Nazianzum also obtained the same designation by reason of the ability of his trinitarian treatises. In modern phrase it would have been St. John the trinitarian, and Gregory the trinitarian.

Anthropology (avSpdnrov Xo-yo?) treats of man in his original, and in his fallen condition. It comprises the following subjects: 1. Man's Creation. 2. His Primitive State. 3. His Probation and Apostasy. 4. Original Sin: its nature, transmission, and effects. 5. Actual Transgression. This division is concerned mainly with the subject of moral evil. Man as a holy being has but a brief history, because his apostasy occurred at the beginning of his career. Hence, anthropology discusses sin principally.

Christology (Xpurrov Xoyo?) treats of the person of the Redeemer. The subjects under this head are: 1. Christ's Theanthropic Person. 2. His Divinity. 3. His Humanity. 4. His Unipersonality. 5. His Impeccability.

Soteriology (aiorvpias X670?) discusses the work of the Redeemer. It naturally follows Christology. Having investigated the complex person and characteristics of the redeemer, we are prepared to examine redemption itself. Since soteriology covers the whole field of the divine agency in the salvation of the human soul, it is abundant and varied in its contents. The work of Christ in atoning for sin, and the application of this work to the individual by the Holy Spirit, both belong to soteriology. The entire process of redemption is included, from the foundation laid in the sacrifice of the Son of God, to the superstructure reared upon it by the operation of the Holy Ghost. And as the Holy Ghost in effectually applying the work of Christ makes use of instrumentalities, as well as employs his own immediate energy, the means of grace come under the head of soteriology. Soteriology, then, comprises the following subdivisions:

1. The Mediatorial Offices of Christ, as prophet, priest, and king. Since the second of these offices holds a prominent place in the economy of redemption, it naturally furnishes much material. The doctrine of atonement is central in soteriology. Hence we have, 2. Vicarious Atonement: its nature and extent. As this atoning work is made effectual in the case of the individual by the Holy Spirit, soteriology passes to: 3. Regeneration and its consequences, viz.: 4. Conversion; 5. Justification; 6. Sanctification. But as sanctification is a gradual process carried on by the Holy Ghost in the use of means, we have to consider: 7. The Means of grace, viz.: the word and the sacraments. And since these are employed only in connection with the Christian Church, this also comes into consideration with them. Some methods make a separate division of this last, under the title of Ecclesiology.

Eschatology {^vyarcov X0y0?) discusses the final issue and result of redemption in the winding up of human history. It treats of the last events in the great process, and embraces the following subjects: 1. The Intermediate State.

2. The Second Advent of Christ. 3. The Resurrection. 4. The Final Judgment. 5. Heaven. 6. Hell.

The proper mode of discussing any single theological topic is: 1. Exegetical. 2. Rational. The first step to be taken is, to deduce the doctrine itself from Scripture by careful exegesis; and the second step is, to justify and de« fend this exegetical result upon grounds of reason.

Christian theology differs from every other branch of knowledge, by being the outcome of divine revelation. Consequently the interpretation of Scripture is the very first work of the theologian. When man constructs a system of philosophy, he must look into his own mind for the data; but when he constructs the Christian system he must look in the Bible for them. Hence the first procedure of the theologian is exegetical. The contents and meaning of inspiration are to be discovered. Christian dogmatics is what he finds, not what he originates.

The term "dogma" has two significations: 1. It denotes a doctrinal proposition that has been derived exegetically from the Scriptures. 2. It denotes a decree or decision of the Church. The authority of the dogma, in the first case, is divine; in the latter, it is human. Dogmatic theology, properly constructed, presents dogmas in the first sense; namely, as propositions formulated from inspired data. It is, therefore, biblical, not ecclesiastical in its substance. There is no difference between it and the s0-called "biblical" theology in this respect. If a dogmatic system imports matter from uninspired sources—say a school of philosophy, or a theory in physics—and makes it of equal authority with what it gets from the Scriptures, it is a spurious system. No tenets can be incorporated into systematic theology any more than into exegetical, that are contrary to revelation. The only difference between "biblical" and dogmatic theology is in the form. The first examines the Bible part by part, writer by writer. The last examines it as a whole. Should "biblical" theology examine the Bible as a whole, it would become systematic theology. It would bring all the varieties under one scheme. The socalled "higher unity," to which the exegete endeavors to reduce the several " types " of "biblical" theology is really a dogmatic system embracing the entire Scriptures.

Dogmatic theology may be thoroughly biblical or unbiblical, evangelical or rationalistic; and so may "biblical" theology. The systematic theology of Calvin's Institutes is exclusively biblical in its constituent elements and substance. Calvin borrows hardly anything from human philosophy, science, or literature. His appeal is made continually to the Scriptures alone. No theologian was ever less influenced by a school of philosophy, or by human science and literature, than the Genevan reformer. Dogmatic theology, as he constructed it, is as scriptural a theology as can be found in the ancient or modern church. "The first dogmatic works of the Reformers, Melanchthon's Loci, Zwingli's Fidei Ratio, Calvin's Institutes, are in the proper sense biblical theology. They issued from the fresh, vital understanding of the Scriptures themselves." Schenkel: On Biblical Theology, Studien und Kritiken, 1852. On the other hand the Institutes of Wegscheider is rationalistic and unbiblical. This system, while appealing to the Scriptures, more or less, yet relies mainly upon the data of reason, and the principles of ethics and natural religion.

And the same remark is true of the so-called "biblical" theology. This method, like the systematic, may construct a biblical or an unbiblical book; an evangelical or a rationalistic treatise; a theistic or a pantheistic scheme. As matter of fact, all varieties of orthodoxy and of heterodoxy are to be found in this department. In Germany, in particular, where this method has been in vogue for the last half century, both the theist and the pantheist, the evangelical and the rationalist, have been fertile in the use of it. Under the pretence of producing an eminently scriptural theology, a class of theologians and critics like Baur and Strauss have subjected the Scriptures to a more capricious and torturing exegesis than they ever received before. They contend that the idea of Christ and of Christianity, as it is enunciated in dogmatic theology and the creeds, is erroneous; that the Gospels must be re-examined under higher critical principles, and the true conception of Christ and his religion be derived from the very text itself; that is, what of the text is left after they have decided what is spurions and what is genuine. Baur was active and prolific in the department of "biblical" theology, as distinct from systematic. He composed a Theology of the New Testament (Vorlesungen iiber nentestamentliche Theologie), but it is biblical neither in substance nor spirit. Strauss's Leben Jesn professes to present the theology of the Gospels—the true biography, opinions, and religion of Jesus Christ according to a scientific exegesis. But it is an intensely antibiblical treatise. The disciples of Baur, the so-called Tubingen school, have produced a body of " biblical theology" that is marked by great caprice in textual criticism, and ingenuity in interpretation, but is utterly antagonistic to what the Christian mind of all ages has found in the Bible. The school of Kuenen and Wellhausen have employed this method in the same general manner in interpreting the Old Testament.

But another class of German theologians and critics, like Neander, Tholuck, Ebrard, Weiss, and others, handle the "biblical" method very differently. The results to which they come in their Lives of Christ, and their study of John, Paul, Peter, and James, are drawn from an unmutilated text, and agree substantially with the historical faith of the church, and with systematic theology as contained in the creeds. As, therefore, we have to ask respecting systematic theology, whose system it is; so, also, in regard to "biblical" theology, we must ask whose " biblical" theology it is.

Systematic theology should balance and correct " biblical" theology, rather than vice versa, for the following reasons: 1. Because "biblical theology" is a deduction from only a part of Scripture. Its method is fractional. It examines portions of the Bible. It presents the theology of the Old Testament, apart from the New: e.g., Oehler's Biblical Theology of the Old Testament; of the New Testament apart from the Old: e.g., Schmid's Biblical Theology of the New Testament; of the Gospels apart from the Epistles; of the Synoptists apart from John's gospel; the Petrine theology in distinction from that of the Pauline; the Pauline in distinction from that of James, etc. Now this mothod, while excellent as a careful analysis of materials, is not so favorable to a comprehensive and scientific view as the other. Science is a survey of the whole, not of a part. True theological science is to be found in the long series of dogmatic systems extending from Augustine's City of God to the present day. To confine the theologian to the fragmentary and incomplete view given in "biblical" theology, would be the destruction of theology as a science. 2. A second reason why "biblical" theology requires the balance and symmetry of systematic theology, is the fact that it is more easy to introduce subjective individual opinions into a part of the Bible, than into the whole of it. It is easier (we do not say easy) for Banr to prove that Christianity was originally Ebionitism, if he takes into view only the Gospels, and excludes the Epistles, than it is if he takes the entire New Testament into the account. It is easier to warp the four Gospels np to a preconceived idea of Christ and Christianity, than it is to warp the whole Bible. This is the danger to which all interpretation of Scripture is exposed, which does not use the light thrown by the interconnection and harmony of all the books of the Old and New Testaments; and perhaps this is the reason why the pantheistic and rationalistic critic is more inclined to compose a "biblical," than a systematic theology. The attempt to understand revelation piecemeal, is liable to fail. In every organic product—and the Bible is organized throughout—the whole explains the parts, because the parts exist for the whole, and have no meaning or use separate from it. The interpretation of Scripture should be " according to the proportion of faith " (Kara Ttjv avaXoylav Tt?? 7rtcrTe&>?). Rom. 12: 6.

When the work of deriving doctrines from Scripture has been done, the theologian must defend them against attacks, answering objections, and maintaining the reasonableness of revealed truth. The elder Protestant divines devoted great attention to this part of theological science, under the title of Theologia Polemica. Here is where religion and philosophy, faith and science meet. Human reason cannot reveal anything, but it can defend what has been revealed.

It is important to notice at this point, that in respect to the doctrines of Christianity the office of reason is discharged, if it be shown that they are self-consistent . A rational defence of the doctrine of the trinity, for example, consists in demonstrating that there is no contradiction between the several propositions in which it is stated. To require of the theologian a complete explanation of this troth in proof of its rationality, is more than is demanded of the chemist or the astronomer in physical science.

When the individual doctrines have been deduced, constructed, and defended by the exegetico-rational method, they are then to be systematized. Systematic theology aims to exhibit the logical order and connection of the truths of Revelation. Schleiermacher mentions as a rule that is to guide in the construction of a system of Christian doctrine, the exclusion of all heretical matter, and the retention of only what is ecclesiastical. Glaubenslehre, § 21. Only the historical and catholic faith belongs to the Christian system, because it is more probable that the one catholic Church has correctly understood and interpreted the Scriptures, than that the multitude of heretical schools and parties have. The substantial unity of the Church upon the cardinal doctrines of the trinity, the apostasy, the incarnation, and the redemption, can be expressed in one self-con'sistent system. But the diversity and contrariety of the numerous heretical sects cannot be.