DIVISIONS OF APOLOGETICS.
§ I. General Divisions.
OUR previous account of the elements and stages of this intense spiritual conflict between Christianity and its opponents—Christ and Anti-Christ—has indicated the general conclusion that all the lines and forces are concentrating upon three decisive questions: (a) a Personal God and his Moral Law and Government: (b) a Living Christ and his Redemptive Work: (c) the Christian System, Church, and Life as the highest and best form of Religion—the absolute Religion for man. Hence Apologetics embraces not only the person of Christ and his testimony, but also presupposes as a part of it a personal God and a moral government, and likewise has to do with what arises from and after Christ, the whole system radiating from him to bless and save the race.
The materials of which' Apologetics must make use may perhaps be best distributed in the following general scheme:
First: Fundamental Apologetics—comprising the questions embraced in Natural Theology—the Being and Nature of God and his relations to us; the spiritual and moral nature of man; with an examinai* 9
tion of the Anti-Christian schemes of philosophy— materialistic, pantheistic, or mixed.
SECOND: Historical Apologetics, comprising the evidences of the divine origin and authority of the Christian faith.
Third: Philosophical Apologetics, taking its materials (i) from the Philosophy of Religion, proving by the history of religion, and a comparison of its various forms, that Christianity is the one absolute religion; (2) from the Philosophy of History, showing that Christianity is the key to the enigmas of man's destiny; (3) from the Nature (or Philosophy) of Christianity itself, especially as compared with philosophy in general: making it evident that Christianity as a system of truth is higher and better than any scheme of philosophy—is the sum of wisdom for the human race.
These main divisions given in the idea of Apologetics as a science correspond also to the forms which the assaults in our day are taking. These are: first, the theory of naturalistic development—that all things go on according to a fixed and necessary order, without the breaking forth at any point of a strictly creative power, or supermundane will. . The second is, from the sphere of historical criticism, striving to show that the ancient documents of our faith, Jewish and Christian, will not stand the test of historical inquiry, but that both Jewish and Christian history must be reconstructed, according to the hypothesis of a simple development from lower to higher forms, involving of course, the elimination of all miraculous and propTietic elements. And the third is, the presenting a system that is to be pantheistico-materialistic, which, it is claimed, is a more complete and satisfactory system for the race, meeting all their wants, than that which is given us in the Christian creed.
The main characteristic of the present attack upon, and defense of, Christianity is, that it is all along the line. Forces that have been gathering for centuries are concentrating simultaneously. Systems of science and philosophy hitherto at war have made peace with each other that they may attack the common foe, viz., Christianity. History, in its process of recovering all the records of the past, and of criticising the Biblical records, is in many quarters trying to undermine our historic basis: and many of the socalled philosophies of history and civilization attempt to explain the whole course of human history without God and Christ.* The followers of Strauss and the school of Tubingen, and many critics of no special philosophical school, are ransacking early Christian and Pagan literature to disprove the Gospels and the Acts, and to explain the rise and growth of Christianity without supernaturalism. Almost all the sciences, in some of their representations, are constructing a theory of the earth and the heavens, of the origin and growth of all life, at war not only with the Scriptures, but also with the first principles of natural theology, of ethics, and of all rational psychology—scouting not only the dogmas of faith, but the very dictates of reason; rejecting not theol
* See Buckle, Lecky, etc.
ogy alone, but all metaphysics; denying all final causes, all consciousness, all intelligence in the first cause of finite being, and leaving only a blind unconscious force as the source of an unconscious development, whereby everything is educed out of an inscrutable void in which all is to end. All efficient and final causes being denied, matter and force are feigned to produce vegetable and animal life and organisms; a blind principle of natural selection takes the place of creation by a law and a lawgiver; the soul is a mode of matter; thought is a secretion of the brain; the moral law is made by physical laws; ideas are generated out of sensations; immortality is true only of the race, and not of individuals; there is no hereafter for us—no judgment nor heaven nor hell; sin is a necessity, free-will a fiction, a personal God a subjective delusion.
Against these Christianity has to vindicate the reality of its revelation—the authority of its records—the completeness and harmony of its system —its superiority to any other system of truth in its individual doctrines—and its adaptation to man's needs, man's conscience, man's reason, and man's highest welfare. It has to show that it is the wisest and best system for man—the true wisdom. It is to do this, not by denying any truth of science or of - reason, but by appropriating every such truth, and giving it its due place.
It is to show this comprehensively by proving that the true—
Philosophy of Religion leads to and rests in Christianity; and that the true—
Philosophy of all History can only be found in that which forms the center and head of Christianity, viz.,
That in the Person and Work and Church of the Incarnate God all the vital problems of Human Nature and Destiny find their best and only real solution—that Christianity is, in short, the one Absolute System of Truth.
Such a vindication of Christianity forms the scope of Apologetics.*
§ 2. Fuller Distribution of the Subject.
First DIVISION.—Fundamental Apologetics. Preambula Fidei, or Rational Theology.
This comprises the essential truths of Religion and Ethics against the anti-religious schemes of speculation.
Book A.—The Underlying Religious Question. The Being and Nature of God as a Conscious Intelligence, personal and ethical, against anti-theistic and anti-religious theories: Materialism, Atheism, Pantheism. Or, the Being and Nature of God : with the arguments a priori and a posteriori against the objections of anti-theists. Here efficient and final causes are to be vindicated.
Book B.—The Cosmological Question. Creation by Fiat: its order and end.
* It is not to be expected that a complete vindication on all of these points will be brought within any one course, or be given by any one man. But this scope is forced on us by the present attitude of the subject and of infidelity, in its last forms and battles—the real battle of Armageddon and the true Anti-Christ.
Creation against anti-theistic Evolution and Development—as emanation—development by matter and motion.
Creation against the Infinite Series.
Successive Creations. There may be development and evolution as well as fiat.
Book C.—The Anthropological Question.
Man's nature—as spiritual or only material.
Relation of man to nature and the brutes that perish.
Man as. free agent.
Man as a religious being, essentially made for worship. Chief end of man.
Book D.—The Ethical Question. (The aim and end of what is set forth in Books B and C is in that which is moral or spiritual. Nature and man have a moral and religious end, and can only so be understood.) J
The Reality of the Moral Idea and of Moral Order.
1. In relation to the Divine Nature and Government.
2. In relation to Man—a being essentially moral— existing for moral ends.
Infer: Man as sinful, standing in conflict with the moral law and order, and needing salvation. All bearing on—
Book E.—The question of Man's Immortality. (Perhaps also Book F. The chief Anti-Theistic and AntiChristian schemes of modern speculation in their relations to religion in general and Christianity in particular.)
SECOND Division.—Historical Apologetics.—(This Division on historic grounds and the historic method, as the FIRST was on rational grounds.
The appeal is to certified Fact).
The proof on historical grounds of the Divine Origin and Authority of the Christian Faith.
Book A.—The Supernatural in History in general. Idea and Need of a Specific Revelation to solve the problems, left by what has gone before, of man as a moral being. Revelation and Inspiration.
Book B.—The Special Forms of the Supernatural in History. Especially—
1. In Prophecy—the Supernatural in Word.
2. In Miracle—the Supernatural in Act.
Place of Miracles in Evidences.
Truth proves Miracles, and converse.
Miracle and Natural Law.
Book C.—The Bible in History.
Its Inspiration, Unity, and Authority as a
Record. Its Testimony. BookD.—Christ in History. The Supernatural in the Highest Personal Form and Authority. The Center of Testimony: the Source of the new Spiritual Life.
Book E.—The Church in History: its perpetual witness to the Truth; its world-wide Power; its beneficent Working.
Third Division.—Philosophical Apologetics.—(Contents already sufficiently noted.) Book A.—Philosophy of Religion. Book B.—Philosophy of History. Book C.—Philosophy of Christianity.
In sum: The general object is to give the full proof that Christianity is from God for man; to defend the system and its record against philosophical speculation and criticism; to appropriate all truth found elsewhere; and to carry the war into the enemy's camp, by showing that Christianity is, as far as we know, the best and final system.
§ 3. What is the place of Apologetics in the Encyclopedia of Theology?
This is a thoroughly German question.*
Schleiermacher, Sack, and others assign it to the First or Philosophic .part; Hagenbach, to Dogmatics; others, to Practical Theology, inasmuch as it leads to defense.
It is best to regard it as historico-philosophical Dogmatics. It is the whole contents and substance of the Christian faith, arrayed for defense and for (defensive) assault.
Each part of doctrine must have a rational side or relation, historical evidence, and an attitude of defense.
Hence, Apologetics is to be put, most conveniently, though not strictly, under Dogmatics.
There are special difficulties to be met under each head. Apologetics surveys the combined defense and assault of the whole, while details are treated under the subordinate divisions as these are unfolded.
*See Appendix II., Recent German Works on Apologetics.