Summary and Commentary from Frank Cross
George Cross, The Theology of Schleiermacher
CHAPTER I: EXPLANATION OF DOGMATICS (§§2-19)
Dogmatics is a theological discipline. Its sole use is to serve the interest of the Christian church. This consideration determines for us its peculiar task. Since it presupposes the Christian church, a right apprehension of the church in general and of the character of the Christian church in particular becomes its basis and the touchstone of all that claims a place in it. This being the case, we are not obliged, for example, to derive a doctrine of God, of man, and of last things from universal principles of reason, because these principles have no more relation to the Christian church than to any other form of association among men; but there are three auxiliary sciences whose aid we do need as an introduction to dogmatics: first, ethics, because the idea of the church pertains to this realm, since it denotes a fellowship or association which originates and continues only through free human activities. Second, philosophy of religion, because in defining the term church it is necessary to distinguish the essential and permanent elements, subsisting in religious communions through all the stages of their development, from the individual historical forms in which their common principle may temporarily be embodied, so as to exhibit those elements as constituting the entire manifestation of religion in human nature. (Compare the philosophy of law as an analogous critical discipline.) Third, apologetics, attaching itself to the philosophy of religion in order to describe the peculiar essence of Christianity and its relations to other religious communions. Availing itself of propositions borrowed from these sciences, dogmatics then proceeds to its own peculiar task, though it is to be remembered that the value of the dogmatic does not depend on the correctness of the processes or conclusions adopted in all or any of these three auxiliary sciences (§2).
I. THE CHURCH (Ethics)
An ecclesiastical communion is to be distinguished from all other associations of men, such as the family, the state, the school, in that it is based upon piety, religion (Froemmigkeit). Religion is an immediate, or original, experience of the self-consciousness in the form of feeling. It is immediate, in that it is not derived from any other experience or exercise of the mind, but is inseparable from self-consciousness; and it is feeling, in that it is subjective experience and not objective idea, and in this respect it is identical with the self-consciousness, (a) Religion is not an act of knowledge nor the result of a process of knowing. If it were the former, its source would lie in human activity. If it were the latter, its content would be doctrine, dependent upon prior processes of the intellect, and subject to all the uncertainties which pertain to scientific investigation. The measure of knowledge would be the measure of piety; religion would be a mere acquirement or possession and no essential element of human nature, (b) Neither does religion consist in action. This would make it identical with morality. But actions which are bad in moral content as well as those which are good, proceed from religion. The only respect in which an action partakes of a religious character is in the motive which prompts it, and this, in the last analysis, is feeling. This conclusion is confirmed by the universal admission that there are states of feeling such as regret, contrition, assurance, joy in God, which are in themselves of a pious (or religious) nature apart from all expected results in knowledge or action. To make religion consist in the end attained would be to identify it with successful results, (c) Nor, again, is religion a condition compounded of knowledge, action, and feeling, for of such a fourth state of consciousness we are not aware in experience. While feeling is connected with both knowledge and action, it is not dependent upon them for its religious character, but imparts this to them.
Religion, then, as consisting in feeling, denotes a state of our being, and hence in religion man is not primarily active but receptive. It must be so, for though in all consciousness there is a double element, namely, the self-consciousness, or ego, and a determination of the self-consciousness, or experience, it is impossible that the latter should be produced by the former; because the ego is ever self-identical, but experience is variable. Nor could we ever have a separate consciousness of the ever-identical self, because such a consciousness would be destitute of all determinateness or of quality; and consequently consciousness of self is dependent upon experience. But this is just to say that all consciousness, our objective self-consciousness included, is dependent upon a prior influence exerted upon our receptivity. We are compelled therefore to seek the common source of our being and experience in an Other.
Now, as we actually find ourselves in this world, we experience a double relation, a relation of freedom and a relation of dependence, expressing respectively spontaneity and receptivity in the same subject. As a part of that divided and articulated whole which we call the world we stand toward it in a position of reciprocal activity. We affect it and are affected by it. And therefore our feeling in relation to the world is of relative freedom and relative dependence. But yet, while it is impossible for us to have, as a part of the world, a feeling of absolute freedom toward it, we do have in and with the world, even in the experience of freedom toward it, a feeling of absolute dependence; and since we have no self-consciousness independently of our place in the world-whole, the consciousness of absolute dependence for ourselves involves the absolute dependence of the whole world, The ground of our being and of the being of the world is in a source beyond our being and the being of the world. This feeling of absolute dependence is religion. In religion we feel ourselves absolutely dependent upon God. This feeling, as has been already pointed out, is immediate. That is to say, in religion we find ourselves in immediate relation with God.
But though the term God is here used, it is not to be understood that religion avails itself of any idea of God previously obtained by information or theophany. For such an idea of God would be intellectual and sensuous and would spring from a source outside the religious experience, and therefore no place can be assigned to it in a body of Christian doctrine. In saying we are in immediate relation with God, the latter term is used only to designate the Whence of our spontaneous and receptive life, of which we be come aware in our feeling of absolute dependence. This Whence, co-posited in our consciousness, is the truly original meaning of the term God. We do not indeed reason from this feeling to the objective existence of God, but God is immediately given in the feeling of absolute dependence. Feeling, self-consciousness, properly interpreted, involves the God-consciousness. We do not hereby dispute a supposed original knowledge of the existence of God obtained in some other way, but we only assert that with such knowledge we have nothing to do in Christian doctrine.
This feeling of absolute dependence constitutes the highest of the three stages of human consciousness: the first, the animalistic, prevailing in infancy and dreams, in which the antithesis of subject and object has not yet arisen because the mental functions are in a confused condition; the second, the sensuous, in which the antithesis is distinct; the third, the religious consciousness, in which the antithesis between self and not-self disappears and all is comprehended as identical with the subject. There is no other condition of consciousness parallel to this absolute feeling, for in all knowledge and action the antithesis of subject and object remains. But this highest stage never occurs in separation from the second. For being entirely simple (unvarying), self-identical in nature, and present in all activities, it could never possess the clearness and definiteness necessary to experience; and also, if it constituted by itself at any time the whole of our experience (which is the same as saying that thought and action might be unconnected with self-consciousness), the coherency of our being would be destroyed. It could not arise in the animalistic stage, because self-consciousness has not then arisen. But when the human soul breaks loose from the confusedness of that lower stage and recognizes the antitheses which present themselves in experience; and yet along with its sense of partial freedom and partial dependence recognizes also its absolute dependence, so that every potency of the sensuous consciousness is related to that higher consciousness, then we have the self-consciousness at the point of perfection. The more fully every element of the determinate self -consciousness is shot through with the feeling of absolute dependence, the more fully religious the man is. The second and third stages always coexist. In other words, the feeling of absolute dependence is always conjoined with sensuous experiences, and the degree of a man's piety depends upon the extent to which his sensuous experience is pervaded by the pious feeling. Or, to state it again differently, the measure of piety is the extent to which a man feels himself absolutely dependent, even in the midst of his relations to objects toward which he is relatively free, and the extent to which he can unite them all with him as absolutely dependent. Of course the ideal life, the blessedness of finite beings, would consist in an evenness of condition in which the religious feeling maintains itself in unbroken perfection, but in actual life sensuous experience introduces influences favorable and unfavorable to the feeling of absolute dependence, producing joy or grief, elevation or repression of the religious life, so that in consequence it comes to be expressed in a series, more or less interrupted, of pious impulses, instead of being constant and unvarying.
This feeling of absolute dependence, the God-consciousness, being the highest stage of the immediate self-consciousness, is an essential element of human nature. (The absence of this feeling in the case of any man or association of men could not prove that it is only contingently related to human nature, unless it could be shown that it is of no higher worth than sensuous feeling, or that there are other feelings be sides of equal value with it.) Now, every essential element of human nature forms a basis of communion. For, on the one hand, the race-consciousness within us produces an impulse to overstep the boundaries of our own personality and combine with others, and therein it finds its satisfaction; and, on the other hand, this impulse to communicate to others our inner experience is rendered possible of fulfilment by the constant connection of the religious feeling with sensuous experience (above noted). Word, act, tone, facial expression become channels for communicating to others and (through the race-consciousness) of stimulating in them our own experience. The issue is, the formation of an association or communion based upon that experience and composed of those who are capable of appropriating it. Thus religion produces religious communions. These will vary in character, on the one hand, according to likeness or unlikeness of disposition in different people (that is to say, according to the region of the self-consciousness with which the God-consciousness can most easily be united), and, on the other hand, according to the external circum stances (e.g., household or territorial relations) which shape their lives. Thus the religious feeling produces, in connection with these relative mutual attractions and repulsions, churches varying in character according to the influences just described. And as individuals or families vary in respect to the power of communicating the religious impulse, one being related to it actively, and another, or others, rather receptively, so arises priesthood.
NOTE.--If the religious nature is essentially social and expresses itself in the formation of churches, then it is confusing to speak of "natural religion"; because there is no natural church in existence in which the elements of such "natural religion" may be sought. It were better to speak of the religious disposition or religiosity (§§3-6).
II. DISTINCTIONS AMONG RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN GENERAL (Philosophy of Religion)
The idea of history presupposes development. In the political sphere the human race exhibits development in the progress of society through unions and amalgamations to the tribe and the nation; in art and science from rudeness to culture; similarly in respect to religion. From its original home in the household it spreads out into widely extended religious communions. But religious progress is not necessarily parallel with the other forms. For while certain species of religion are incompatible with a low form of civilization or culture, yet the development of piety to the highest perfection is possible while other spiritual functions remain far behind. Nor does it follow that, because two communities or peoples have passed through the same number of stages of religious development, their religion will be of the same character. Religions differ in kind as well as in their stage of development, as may be seen in the case of widely separated communities on the lowest stage. These distinctions have not received much attention in the past because the critical study of the history of religion has had regard to the individual rather than to the community.
This twofold distinction--kinds and stages--will serve to indicate the relation of Christianity to other communions or modes of faith. The admission that Christianity may occupy a stage of development similar to that of other religions is not prejudicial to its pre-eminence or finality, but it is incompatible with the view that Christianity stands related to other religions as the true to the false. Were other religions mere errors or absolutely false, how could Christianity contain so much in common with them and how could any man make the transition to it from the others? For error never exists in and for itself; it is a perversion of the truth and can be understood only through its connection with the truth. (See Rom. 1:21 ff.; Acts 17:27-30.)
The lowest stage of religious development is occupied by idolatry or fetichism, from which monolatry is not generically distinct. In this, worship is paid to a god whose interest and influence are confined to a limited sphere, because the worshipers are at that stage of mental development in which the sense of totality has not yet been awakened. The addition of several idols or fetiches is contingent on the discovery of the incapacity of the first to meet all needs but in no wise indicates higher religious aspiration. The religious subject has not yet passed beyond that confused animalistic condition in which the distinction between the higher and the lower consciousness has not appeared; and accordingly the feeling of absolute dependence is reflected from an individual object sensuously apprehended.
The union of several objects of worship in such a way that a plurality of idols represents one essence inhering in a manifold, introduces the next stage, when idolatry passes over into polytheism proper. Here the local relations of the different deities entirely recede and the gods form an articulated, coherent, manifold exhausting the whole sphere of deity. This corresponds to a sense for plurality, multiplicity, of being, in which a One-All is presupposed and sought for. The self-consciousness is now able to make the clear distinction between subject and object--the religious feeling is accordingly reflected from various affections of the sensuous self-consciousness, so that it is impossible as yet to refer the feeling of absolute dependence to a unity rising above all sensuous apprehension. Polytheism is an intermediate stage partaking of the nature of the other two.
As the conception of the inherence of this plurality of beings in one Being rises more and more into consciousness and the higher self -consciousness be comes fully distinguished from the lower sensuous consciousness, monotheism appears. It is based on the unity of a Supreme. The self-consciousness has now been extended so as to take in the whole world of which we are a part; the world is apprehended as a unity; the religious feeling is capable of connection with every sensuous affection; hence the feeling of absolute dependence can be referred to the Supreme Being. This is the highest stage of religious development.
So soon as religion has in some place been developed up to the stage of faith in one God, it can be foreseen that all mankind is destined to attain to it; for this faith contains within itself the impulse to unlimited expansion and the power to appeal to the receptivity of all men. From this two conclusions follow: it is impossible to conceive the original condition of mankind as mere brutality, and it is impossible for any man to pass from a higher to a lower stage of religion. There is also no historical instance of either case.
On this highest stage history shows only three great communions: the Jewish, the Christian, and the Mohammedan--the first in process of extinction, the other two struggling for the mastery of the human race. Judaism, by its limitation of Jehovah's love to the stock of Abraham, is akin to fetichism. This appeared in that tendency to idol-worship which was not eradicated till after the exile. Mohammedanism betrays by its passionate character and the strongly sensuous content of its religious ideas its affinity to polytheism. Christianity has neither of these defects; from it there can be no relapse to either of the others.
NOTE.--Since pantheism has never appeared as the confession of a historical religious communion, it does not come into consideration here, except with reference to the question whether a pantheism which has arisen from speculative thought be compatible with religion, supposing, of course, that the so-called pantheism is not a disguised negation of theism. If, in pantheism, God denotes the unity of the world, the question may be answered in the affirmative, since God and the world would then be distinguished, at least as to function. A man who reckons himself one with the world may at the same time feel himself, with this all, dependent on that which is the unity thereto.
These three communions in the monotheistic stage represent three kinds or species, because their development is on different lines. The fundamental, as contrasted with a merely empirical, distinction between them is not to be found in a different quality of the feeling of absolute dependence (which is absolutely simple and therefore admits of no modifications), but in the different ways in which the religious feeling stands related to the sensuous experiences with which it must be united in order to constitute a moment of experience, an activity of life. Considering now the whole of life as made up of action and passion in their reciprocal operation, the relation of these to each other as means and end gives two general types of piety. When passion is a means to action, when it becomes only the occasion of some activity, springing from the God-consciousness, i.e., where the union of the God-consciousness with the receptive experiences which we receive from contact with the world becomes a means of promoting personal activity in the kingdom of God, the type of piety is teleological. Here it is the dominant attitude to an ethical task that constitutes the ground type of the religious state of mind. When action is a means to passion, i.e., when the union of the God-consciousness with active states of the individual becomes a means to the harmonious effect of contact with the world upon our receptive (i.e., feeling) nature, the type of piety is aesthetic. In teleological types of religion the sensuous is subordinated to the ethical; in the aesthetic types the ethical is subordinated to the sensuous. The former tends to the expansion, the latter to the contraction, of our self-consciousness. Christian and Hellenic piety are, respectively, the best examples of these.
Confining our attention now to those religions which represent the highest stage we discover the grand distinction between the three monotheistic religions. In Christianity everything is comprehended under the conception of the kingdom of God; in it all joy and pain and all impulses springing from passive conditions partake of a religious character only in so far as they promote activity in this kingdom. In Juda ism, although the expectation of divine punishments and rewards indicates on one side the prominence of the sensuous element, yet the prevailing form of its God-consciousness is that of a Governing Will and hence passive states are ultimately subordinate to the active. But Mohammedanism is fatalistic and subjects the ethical to the natural in that it seeks as its end, even in its activities, the ease which results from a favorable relation to the divine decrees. Hence, while Christianity is wholly teleological and Judaism less perfectly so, Mohammedanism is unmistakably of the aesthetic type.
Every religious community is a unit in two respects. (Compare the twofold distinction of stages and kinds, as above.) Externally, it possesses historical continuity from a definite point of beginning; internally, it puts its own characteristic stamp upon everything it possesses, even if other communions possess the same in some form. Thus as Mohammedanism arose with the Prophet, and Judaism with Moses, so Christianity began with Christ and possesses unbroken continuity to the present. Also the whole inward character of each is peculiarly its own. Christianity is not an offshoot of Judaism or a supplement to it. The sphere of religious experience in the case of these two religions is fundamentally different. In the case of the Christian religion faith in Christ must modify all pious feelings, must impart a new character to all the previously existent religious impulses, even to the God-consciousness in all the relations in which it is already present. Else Christ would be only an individual object capable of making certain impressions upon us, but no proper object of faith.
NOTE.--Positive and revealed religion: "Natural religion," like "natural right," can only denote that which by a process of mental abstraction is seen to comprehend the elements common to all cases, and, like "natural right," has never been and never can be the basis of a communion. Such natural religion would not be so much religion as doctrine. If "positive" is taken to refer to the individualizing of this common possession, for example in Judaism in the form of commandment, in Christianity in the form of doctrine; then it can be shown that either commandment or doctrine has actual, acknowledged validity only within a definite communion, and must therefore rest ultimately upon the original religious fact (e.g., in Christianity, the person of Christ) which gave rise to this religious communion. The term "positive" must refer properly to the sum-total of pious life-energies within a communion which as a coherent historical phenomenon has issued from this original fact.
Though the terms "revealed" and "revelation" have been subjected to much confusion of thought, it may be said that they always imply the fact of a divine communication and announcement which gave rise to a union of individuals. Only, this original fact constitutive of a basis of communion cannot be regarded as operative on man regarded merely as a knowing being, for in that case the revelation would be originally and essentially doctrine. But no super natural energy is necessary to the production of a combination of sentences which can be understood from their connection with one another. Doctrines therefore can be considered of supernatural origin only as parts of a larger whole, as descriptions of the life-energies of a thinking Being who, as a personal existence, works in an original way upon our self-consciousness by his advent into our sphere of life and by the total impression of his person. This is the original fact upon which the Christian communion is founded. Revelation is only to be assumed where not a single activity but a whole Existence is deter mined by such a divine communication, and what is then announced of such, that is to be considered as revealed. There is revelation, therefore, in all religious communions. None can claim that its own possession of divine communication is full and perfect truth and all others are false, because an announcement of God, if it is to be operative upon us, cannot be of him as he is in himself, but only of him in his relation to us. All original formations of piety, however imperfect they may be, rest upon revelation (§§7-10).
III. THE PECULIAR NATURE OF CHRISTIANITY (Apologetics)
It is the first duty of the apologist to discover and define the peculiar essence of that faith which he defends. The difficulty of doing this is very great in the case of Christianity because the Christian communion is split up into so many relatively separate communions. The apologist has to indicate not only the essence of Christianity in general but also that of the particular communion to which he adheres. This difficulty is accentuated by the variant forms of single doctrines, the diverse attitudes with which they are approached, and the many controversies which await settlement--to say nothing of the present wretched state of the science of apologetics. On this account we must content ourselves at present with the rather meager assumptions which follow.
All Christians are agreed on two points: (1) in referring the origin of their communion to Jesus of Nazareth; (2) in the description of his work as redemption, though the term is not used by all, nor always occurs in the same sense. Its implications are two: passively, a transition out of a bad state into a better; actively, deliverance supplied by another. Restoration to a higher state preceding the bad is not necessarily involved in it. Since, in the Christian religion, piety is of a teleological character, this bad state is to be viewed as one in which the higher self-consciousness, the God-consciousness, is so repressed that it is difficult to unite it with the determinate sensuous experiences of life. We may call it godlessness or god-forgetfulness--not a condition in which there is an entire loss of God-consciousness, for the lack of something lying entirely outside the nature could not be felt as a want, but a state in which the religious feeling is under bondage. The two states are not thus absolutely antithetical; the opposition is one of degree. In the bad state the sensuous consciousness dominates the God-consciousness; by redemption the relation is reversed.
The penances and purifications found in all religious communions are expressions of a universal consciousness of this need of redemption, but Christianity is distinct from all other religions by regarding all its religious impulses as dependent upon the redemption effected by Jesus of Nazareth, and also in that this redemption is considered as perfected and complete. The degree in which these two elements are felt by different Christians of course varies, but neither is ever entirely wanting. Other religions express the need of redemption; Christianity presents its actualization; in others the redemption is derivative and dependent on doctrines or forms; in Christianity redemption is the central point and rests on the person of its Founder. The communication and extension of his redemptive activity is the matter of supreme concern. In this relation between the members of the Christian communion and its founder lies the pre eminent distinction of Christianity. In Judaism, for example, and in Mohammedanism, the person of the founder bears no necessary relation to the communion; another might have founded it as well; he himself stood in need of the deliverance he brought. In these respects Christ stands distinct from all others. From this two conclusions follow: (1) Christianity is essentially different from all other religions and cannot be a mere perfecting of that which lay potentially in them; (2) Christianity can never progress beyond Christ.
Christianity stands in a special historical connection with Judaism, for Christ was of the Jewish race, and indeed it seems that a universal Redeemer could not have arisen except from a monotheistic people. But its relation to Judaism and heathenism were much more alike than is commonly held. For in the time of Christ Judaism had become permeated with many non-Jewish elements and many of the messianic promises had been given up or misunderstood; while, on the other hand, both Greeks and Romans had monotheistic leanings and expectations similar to the Jewish messianic hope. The demands which Christianity made on both were such that the cost of becoming a Christian was nearly equal in the two cases. But the leap from heathenism to Christianity seemed greater than from Judaism because monotheism already was universal among the Jews, whereas heathens had to receive it directly from Christianity without passing through Judaism. Christianity was no transformation of Juda ism or a renewing propagation of it. Christ is no more a development of Judaism than of heathen philosophy, for the self-consciousness underlying Christianity is different. Christianity is indeed a fulfilment of Old Testament promises, not, however, in regard to the self-consciousness of those to whom the promises came, but in regard to the divine counsel. It cannot be admitted that there is an identity between Christianity and either the earlier or the later Judaism, nor that Judaism without the introduction of a new element could develop by a natural progression into Christianity, nor again that Christ himself lay in this progression in such a way that the life of new communion did not begin with him.
The appearing of the Redeemer was not a something absolutely supernatural. While Christ cannot be considered as a product of the circumstances and spiritual environment in which he appeared, yet he was conditioned by them. His appearance must have been in accordance with the laws of human nature in its higher meaning. That is, the advent of such a life as his may be regarded as the work of a power of development inherent in human nature from the first, and externalizing itself in certain men at certain points of time, and thence spreading out, according to laws divinely ordered but, perhaps, concealed from us. Hence the appearance from time to time of religious geniuses prior to Christ. But these earlier revelations are worthy of the name only because they are destined to lose themselves in him who is to give gradually a higher life to the entire race. The incarnation in this sense is something natural. Since Christ was a man, in human nature there must be, in the original purpose of God, the capacity for the implanting of the divine in it. That is, the implanting of the divine in human nature is an eternal act. Otherwise the incarnation in Jesus would be an arbitrary act of God.
Neither was the appearing of the Redeemer some thing absolutely super-rational. If the life-energies of Christ by which he wrought the redemption could be explained from the common reason dwelling in all men, then any other could work the redemption as well as he. That the super-rational is to be posited in the Redeemer and in the redeemed, and consequently in the whole range of the operations of Christianity, has been acknowledged almost universally by its confessors. Yet the redemption is dependent upon reason in that the state of the heart which Christ conveys to men in it could not be bestowed upon an irrational soul. If there were a total separation between the work of the Holy Spirit and the highest elevation of human reason, a consciousness of the need of redemption could never rise and never be satisfied.
NOTE.--The doctrinal presentation of redemption is an entirely rational procedure, and doctrines are not to be divided into rational and super-rational, but they are all to constitute together a unitary system. In one reference all Christian doctrines are above reason in the inner experience to which they refer hence a proper appreciation of Christian doctrine cannot result from a purely scientific process. But in another reference all Christian doctrines are rational, in that all doctrinal constructions must follow the same laws of thought as propositions dealing with other matters. A distinction between rational theology and a theology which is above reason is inadmissible.
Entrance into the Christian communion is solely, therefore, through faith in Christ as Redeemer. The expression "faith in Christ" like "faith in God" means the reference of our religious condition as effect to Christ as cause. Like the feeling of absolute dependence, it is an inner certainty which accompanies a condition of the higher self-consciousness. That condition is one of freedom from the need of redemption and it begets in the subject an effort to draw others into the same inner experience, an effort to extend the communion of faith by an exposition of the religious life in which Christ's own activity is present. That is to say, the representation of Christ in the Christian communion of faith is Christ's own self-presentation. The Christian message is, thus, at bottom, a testimony to an inner experience which is referred to the activity of Christ himself, because in that presentation of his historical career and his character which the testimony involves, the impression made on the minds of those who believe is the same as Christ himself made on his contemporaries. Thus faith and the participation in the Christian communion from which proceeds the testimony which awakens faith are inseparable. This faith is a certainty, equal to that which accompanies objective perception, that in the Christian communion founded by Christ the religious feeling is in the position of control, that through the operation of Christ on men the feeling of absolute dependence is established in their consciousness and dominates their experience in the world. Such certainty is not to be confounded with objective certainty based on demonstration. All so-called demonstrations of the need of redemption and of Christ's ability to effect it, whether by reference to miracles, prophetic promises, or other "evidences," presuppose the very thing they seek to prove. Faith does not result from such demonstrations, but it is the outcome, on the one hand, of an awakening to a more perfect self-consciousness and, on the other hand, of the reception of the total impression of his person (§§11-14).
IV. THE RELATION OF DOGMATICS TO CHRISTIAN PIETY
Like all other modifications of the self-consciousness, pious excitations have a tendency toward external expression, as in look, movement, tone, gesture. This is the source of systems of sacred signs and symbolic actions. It is inevitable that in the higher stages of mental development there should be an attempt to apprehend religious experiences in the form of idea and to retain them in the forms of thought. The connection and combination of these ideas in such a manner as to express the religious consciousness in a definite way and thus to give range to its circulation constitutes a religious doctrine, a declaration of faith. Christianity throughout the whole course of its progress from the Redeemer's personal teaching to the present has been characterized by this method of propagation, that is, it has been spread abroad by preaching. Every statement of Christian doctrine is a part of the preaching, for it aims at communicating the inner certainty of blessedness bestowed by the Redeemer. The form of the preaching is threefold--poetical, oratorical, and didactic. The last is of special importance when the other two forms of utterance fall into apparent contradictions because of their abundant use of figures. In those communions, particularly, which possess a high degree of culture and scientific knowledge, there is a felt necessity of connecting religious knowledge organically with the whole body of knowledge; there is a need of dogmatics.
Dogmatics, then, arises primarily out of the demands of the religious consciousness. As to subject-matter, it is a description of subjective states of mind and it claims no validity beyond that of the inner certainty which is the Christian's possession. It is a necessary expression of the Christian consciousness, for it appears in obedience to the impulse of religion universally to exhibit itself and, in the case of Christianity particularly, to the impulse to extend the redeeming activity of Christ. On its own account the Christian communion requires a clear expression of its own peculiar possession; without such a description of the common faith piety in its membership could not reach the highest development nor could it be propagated effectively in the world.
Tributary to the religious interest there is also a scientific interest to be satisfied. The human mind craves for unity, coherence, system, and the religious consciousness itself must remain unsatisfied until it has perceived the relation which faith bears to the other activities of the mind. A truly dogmatical statement must serve both of these interests, and its ecclesiastical worth is determined by its perfect correspondence with both. The same interests involve the combination of single dogmatical utterances into an interrelated and integrated whole, so that every potency of the religious consciousness in its full range may find an adequate expression.
Dogmatics stands in a derivative relation to the Christian religious experience and not the reverse. As to its content it is not made up of a series or system of propositions unfolded from some objective truth obtained by a speculative process, nor is it a combination of doctrines supernaturally revealed; because in neither of these cases would Christian dogmatics stand in any necessary relation to Christian piety, nor would it possess any necessary validity for the Christian communion. Besides, since in both its origin would lie in a source external to the Christian consciousness as such, dogmatics would be dependent for its substance upon the products of philosophy and historical criticism and be subject to all the changes and uncertainties which pertain to these sciences. A dogmatic which consisted of such supposedly objective truths could not minister to religious needs.
Christian piety expresses itself in the world in a multiplicity of ways, varying with the conditions of human progress in various places and ages. Its nature will, accordingly, be understood with growing perfection, as its expression in the many forms of Christian activity becomes ever more complete. Thus while dogmatics may gather its statement of doctrines from all this ever-varying and ever-growing material, it must itself ever remain incomplete, ever capable of fuller and more accurate expression, and ever in need of new scientific treatment. Dogmatic theology may be defined as "the science of the combination of the doctrines which are valid in a Christian church-communion at a given time." From this, three conclusions may be drawn: (1) No statement of doctrines can be final but Christian dogmatics must be ever progressive; (2) Yet there is a standard for the testing of dogmatical expression the fundamental Christian self-consciousness; (3) The teacher of dogmatics must be in personal possession of the definite Christian consciousness pervading a Christian Church-communion (§§15-19).
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