Reader's Guide to Schleiermacher's Christian Faith

Summary and Commentary from Frank Cross

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George Cross, The Theology of Schleiermacher



Section I. The State of the Christian so Far as He Is Conscious of Divine Grace (91-112)


In the doctrine of Christ we may take our starting-point either from his person or from his activity. These are inseparable and each finds in the other its full expression. It is in respect of his work that we treat him as Redeemer; we set him over against all other men in such a way that their conscious blessed relation to God is ascribed solely to him as the author of it and not in any degree to themselves or others. But this is to ascribe an exclusive and absolute dignity to his person. Or, if we regard him as the one in whom the creation of human nature is perfected, we then ascribe to him a quality which is not the product of his environment, or which he owes to the developed insight of those who so regard him, but which, on the contrary, is itself the secret of their personal development. But this is to assign an absolute and exclusive value to his activity. Thus his person and his work correspond in value. We are not to conceive of a dignity of his person which is not fully exhibited in his activity, nor of an exhibition of activity which has its spring in any degree outside of himself. However, in deference to current ecclesiastical formulae, we may treat of his person and of his work separately. Our method will be to exhibit these, first, as related to the individual, and then, as related to the church, which must be the perfect revelation of the worth of the Redeemer, just as the universe is a perfect revelation of the attributes of God.

1. The Person of Christ

The Christian communion as a union of men produced through participation in a common religious life, as a union moreover into which all other religious associations are destined to pass, finds that life entirely in Christ, and owes the exercise of all its activities to him as their source. Accordingly the worth of the Redeemer must be so conceived as to account for this effect. This religious energy, i.e., the power of the God-consciousness, must have existed in him in a perfect archetypal form and must have determined the character of all the activities of his life, none of them being destitute of it or possessing it imperfectly, and thus the communion-forming activity of Christ is manifested, not in special acts, but in the entire course of his career. Since it is in the Christian communion the activity of Christ is exercised, that communion must be a perfect embodiment of the energy resident in him.

If it be objected that in the Christian communion the religious condition is never absolutely perfect, but is ever in need of development, and that, therefore, it is not necessary to attribute to the Redeemer such an archetypal character, but only such a character as served for the prefiguration of the end which the communion ever strives to attain; and hence that such ascriptions of dignity to Christ are only the hyperbole of believers, we reply: If this were the case, with the widening of the personal self-consciousness to a race-consciousness, i.e., so as to include the whole race, there must arise a hope and expectation of some time surpassing Christ, at least in the case of the noblest of its members; but as a matter of fact such a hope never has arisen and never could arise without destroying that very communion whose development is sup posed to produce the hope; and further, if this absolutely perfect religious energy did not exist in Christ, it would be impossible to account for the possession of such an archetype by the Christian communion. It can have arisen within the religious consciousness in no other way than through the exhibition of it in a historical, personal life.

If it be further objected that the imperfect human conditions, the unperfected state of language, of science, etc., in which Christ's life was lived, rendered the appearing of such an archetype impossible and that he must constitute only a link, though an important one, in that gradual, continuous religious evolution which can be traced from early Jewish life, we may reply; At that rate Christ would be only a more or less original and revolutionary reformer of Jewish law and such a new communion as has actually arisen would be impossible; and further, since in such a case his life could only have been the product of that general sinful life of which men universally partake, the experience of redemption through him could never have occurred and the claim of Christianity finally to draw all other religions to itself and to develop out of itself ever-increasing perfection and blessedness could never have arisen.

The only possible explanation of the appearing of Christ in the sphere of human life is that it was a miraculous manifestation; his personal spiritual life sprang by a creative divine act from the universal fountain of spiritual life, so that the idea of man, as the subject of the God-consciousness found in him historically an absolute realization. Or to state it differently: From his birth onward, along with the gradual unfolding of his natural powers, the God-consciousness possessed absolute control over the energies of his being. On the one hand, this makes it impossible that there should ever have arisen within him the slightest trace of a sin-consciousness or an inner moral conflict or uncertainty. On the other hand, his physical and mental equipment must have been conditioned by the age and the environment, otherwise we must attribute to him an empirical omniscience and omnipotence which would be fatal to the historical character of his life. Hence the appearing of Christ in the world was both absolutely miraculous and perfectly natural.

The Redeemer, then, possessed sameness of nature with all other men. His freedom from sin does not annul his perfect identity with the race, since, as we have seen, sin does not pertain to the essence (Wesen) of man, but is rather a destruction of his nature, as is implied in the very consciousness of sin as guilt. Yet his activity, or the peculiar personal worth which conditioned it, is not thereby compromised or made attributable to other men. Faith in Christ implies that he held such a relation to the human race as none other could have, i.e., owing to the absolute power of the God-consciousness in him, his person was archetypal, which is the same as to say that God was present in him as a person.

We cannot speak with truth of the presence of God in any individual thing or in man but only of his presence in the world. Not in any individual thing, for this would imply division in God. Not in man, for neither man's activity nor his rational thought in its attempts to present a pure and true conception of God, is free from sensuousness. Consequently we are not able to sec in unconscious nature or conscious rational life a revelation of God unless we have first seen it in Christ, in whom the God-consciousness was present as his own personal being and innermost self. And since it is only through him that the God-consciousness comes to possess others, and since, further, it is only in reference to man that the world can be said to contain a revelation of God, we can say that all revelation of God in man and in the world is mediated through Christ.

But if, on the other hand, he shared in common with us the whole process of natural human development, yet without being involved in human sin, the beginning of his life must be regarded as an original act of human nature, i.e., an act of human nature as not affected by sin. And thence onward to the completion of his life there must have been such a filling of his nature with the God-consciousness as completely exhausted human receptivity. Therefore we may regard the beginning of Christ's life as the perfected creation of human nature. As the creation of the first Adam constituted the self-propagating physical nature of man, so the appearing of the second Adam constituted for the same human nature its new self-propagating spiritual life. Both rest on one indivisible, eternal, divine decree, and they form in the higher sense one and the same (though beyond the grasp of our thought) coherent unitary Nature.

Proceeding from this standpoint, the current doctrinal formulae, which in large measure have arisen from speculative, apologetic, and polemic interests, may be subjected to critical treatment and restatement.

1. "In Jesus Christ the divine nature and human nature were united in one person." The aim of those passages in the historic creeds which so describe the Redeemer is doubtless to inculcate the possibility of a communion between him and us in the new common life which he originated, and at the same time to express the being of God in him; from which follows that in our relation to him unlimited veneration for him and brotherly fellowship with him are combined. But the terms of the creedal statement are open to criticism: First, the name Jesus Christ is used to designate not only the subject of the union of the two natures but also the divine nature of the Redeemer before its union with the human; so that the union appears no longer as a moment (potency) constituting the person Jesus Christ, but rather as the act of this person himself. Whereas, in the New Testament the name Jesus Christ is used only of the subject of this union. Second, the use of the term nature in reference to both the divine and the human is confusing. Besides, the terms God and nature represent opposite conceptions in our thought. Nature properly denotes the sum of finite existences, the manifold phenomenal world in contrast with the unconditional and the absolutely simple. We cannot use the term natural properly of God. The creeds betray here the play of heathen ideas. Third, the creedal statement implies a relation between nature and person opposed to general usage. For while usage allows the ascription of the same nature to several individuals or persons, here one person has two entirely different natures. Now person properly denotes a life-unity and nature the general content of his modes of action, or the law of the interaction of the conditions of life within a definite realm. But how can there be a unity of life with a duality of natures, especially since one has a large sphere and the other a small? Between them the self-identical ego is lost. It is impossible for the mind to construe the figure of such a person. The outcome is either the melting of the two natures into a third, which is neither divine nor human, for the sake of maintaining the unity of the person; or the separation of the natures at the cost of neglecting the person; or the subordination of one nature to the other. The history of the subject exhibits all these results. Fourth, the question whether Christ had two wills is inevitably raised. If he had only the human will, then the divine nature is abbreviated, or if only the divine, then the human nature is abbreviated. But if he had two wills, the unity of the person would be unreal; and, further, since understanding and will cannot be conceived as independent, the question of the duality of the under standing is involved. Fifth, the formula quoted does not harmonize with the same creedal statement of the doctrine of the Trinity which abandons the unity of person for the sake of unity of "essence." And when we ask how the divine "nature" in Christ relates itself to the divine "essence," no answer is possible.

It is evident that the creedal statement carries us far away from the religious interest into hair-splitting and speculation. Its practical use in the church is small indeed. There is here offered as a substitute for it the following: The Redeemer is like all men in the possession of the same human nature, but distinguished from all men through the absolute power of the God-consciousness which constituted a personal existence of God in him. In him the human was the perfect organ for the reception and presentation of the divine. All that was human in him came forth from the divine. In this sense may be justified the statement: In the Redeemer God became man.

2. "In the uniting of the divine nature with the human, the divine alone was active or self-communicative and the human only passive or receptive, but during the continuance of the union every activity was common to both." The object in making special mention of a beginning of Christ's existence was to exclude the idea of a something subsequently added to him--which would be an injury to faith in his person. But since we are not immediately affected by the beginning of his existence the formula involves a work of supererogation. Further, the beginning and the continuance of Christ's existence constitute a unity. The beginning of his personal existence is the beginning of his activity and every moment (potency) in his activity, so far as it can be regarded apart, is at the same time a new becoming of his peculiar personality.

The idea that the divine nature took up the human into the unity of its person is objectionable, not only because of the impropriety of the expression, "divine nature," but particularly because it makes the personality of Christ entirely independent of the personality of the second person of the Trinity, with which it is nevertheless regarded as identical. The view is not distinct from Sabellianism, and it is unfair to all those views which approach Sabellianism to connect this formula with the doctrine of three persons in one essence. Historically a knowledge of the doctrine of the Trinity had no connection with that original impression of the personality of Christ which produced the first disciples faith or with their apprehension of him in thought. Moreover, since human nature can become a person only in the same sense in which persons exist in the Trinity, then the three persons in the divine essence must be, like human persons, separate self-existences, or else the human personality of Christ becomes unreal. The Docetism of the formula also appears in the putting of the human into a passive condition in the beginning of Christ's personal existence, which is yet not the case with the beginning of any other personal existence. But if he was a perfect human person, the formation of this person must have been an act of human nature. The contradictions inherent in this formula have given rise to the scholastic doctrine of the impersonality of the human nature of Christ previous to its union with the divine, and the doctrine of the supernatural generation of Christ. The former, while aimed at refuting the view of those who held that the Word was united with Christ after he had become a human personality, is guilty of making the human in Christ less perfect than it is in us. The latter is entangled in the difficulties arising from the varying representations in the New Testament Scriptures and falls back upon a doctrine of the Scriptures. Its dogmatic value could be only in relation to the question of hereditary sin and the implanting of the divine in human nature. Christ's freedom from the universal state of sin would not be secured by the exclusion of the male from the act of procreation; it would also necessitate absolute purity in all the woman's progenitors, and so annul the universal sinfulness. The doctrine is connected with asceticism.

That part of the creedal statement .which draws a distinction between the divine activity in the act of union and the subsequent divine activities treats divine activity as temporal and so brings God into the sphere of antithesis. All that is meant to be gained in the above statement and in the doctrine that the union was personal is secured by our statement that the person of Christ was the product of an original divine creative act the separate momenta of which appeared in his human development. In Christ the creation of humanity was perfected.

3. "Christ was distinct from all other men through his essential sinlessness and his absolute perfection." By essential is to be understood that which has its ground in the inner character of his personality, namely, the conjunction of the divine and the human in his person. Inasmuch as liability to temptation and error seems to be hereby denied, it is difficult to construe the statement in relation to his feelings and thoughts without annulling his sameness of nature with us. With this doctrine the idea of the natural immortality of Christ is connected; it is not, however, embodied in any of the symbols of the faith or grounded in any biblical passage, but it rests upon the opinion that death is the penalty of sin. But, in accordance with the view of evil already presented, we can accept this idea no farther than to say that for Christ death was no evil. His immortality is given him in his resurrection. Natural inability to die denies natural capacity to suffer. If this doctrine is meant to conserve the view of Christ's death as proceeding from his own free will, it necessitates a miracle on Christ's part so as to make himself mortal in order to be killed, and so virtually makes him a suicide. The predicate of absolute perfection adds nothing which may not be referred to the union of the divine with human nature. We may say only this, that just as the Redeemer could appear first only at a certain time and only from a certain people; so also the divine activity would not have laid hold on human nature to constitute a human personality by any such act as could involve in any way a malformation. In regard to his body all that can be posited is that it must have been a suitable organ of that union of the divine and the human.

The events of Christ's resurrection and ascension, as well as the promise of his return to judgment, are to be excluded from forming a part of the doctrine of his person, because they do not come into direct relation to faith in him nor could such visible events have any connection with his elevation to spiritual lordship or with his redeeming power; but they depend upon a doctrine of the records. Therefore they cannot be an expression of the religious consciousness of redemption or represented as constitutive of his redeeming activity. Christ's promised continual presence and his continuous influence upon his disciples are not mediated by these events, for their faith in him was prior to any expectation of such occurrences; so also with many Christians since. The ascension served only contingently for the accomplishment of the seating at God's right hand, and this, again, is only an expression of the peculiar and incomparable worth of Christ; and the promise of the return served in like manner for the satisfaction of the longing to be united with Christ. But the important point is: Faith in Jesus has not arisen from particular statements about Christ or acts of his, but from the total impression of his person; from which follows only this, that no individual events appear which could prevent that faith (93-99).

2. The Work of Christ

It has been pointed out that the dignity of the person of Christ and the value of his work are religiously equivalents. The worth of his person consists in the absolute power of the God-consciousness in him, as an original possession. However, it possesses that worth for us, not as a mere object of our contemplation, but because this consciousness is self-communicating, and so passes to us. The expression and impartation of this God-consciousness is rendered possible by the original perfection of man and of the world. His work, then, is summed up in his self-communication, and it may be regarded either from the point of view of the Redeemer's activity, or from that of the experience (reception) of it by the redeemed. The latter will be dealt with in the section which treats of the manner in which communion with the Redeemer is expressed in the soul of the individual. The former will be treated here.

A. The possession by Christ of the God-consciousness to the degree that it had absolute control of all his energies involves his sinless perfection and blessedness. By the impartation of that God-consciousness to men, they obtain a communion with him in that perfection and blessedness. That is to say, they obtain redemption and reconciliation.

1) Redemption.--The personal consciousness of the individual is a consciousness of sin and imperfection, and all his activities bear that stamp; but when through our relation to Christ we have a participation in his consciousness, sin is regarded by us, just as it was by him in his sympathy with us, not as constituting our fundamental character, but as an alien element to be overcome. Thus Christ has taken us up into a participation in his activity which constitutes the state of grace, and henceforward all our activities are to be regarded as his activity in us. Or, to state it conversely, the advancement of our higher life is the act of the Redeemer, now become our personal act. This expresses the Christian consciousness- of grace. The impartation of his God-consciousness to us is an act of self-revelation, and our conscious need and acceptance thereof is effected in us by his working upon us. Now, if the personality of the Redeemer is owing to an original creative act of God, so that we may say that God was personally present in him and that all his activities proceeded from the being of God in him, then the penetration of our nature by the activity of the Redeemer must likewise constitute the being of Christ in us and form us into a new personality (cf. Gal. 2:20; Rom. 8:10; John 17:23; II Cor. 13:6; Rom. 6:2, 6, 11; I Pet. 2:24; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:22, 24). Thenceforth all impressions upon us are received differently, our personal self-consciousness is new, the man is a new man. And though the new man may still be conscious of imperfection and sin, these no longer pertain to his inner personality, which has become one with Christ; but they pertain to the outer relations of his being, so that he counts them alien and opposed to his nature.

And further, since the divine creation had reference, not to individuals as such, but to a world and only to individuals as related, constituent parts of the whole, then the activity of the Redeemer must be world-forming, and its object human nature universally, and not individuals as such. Thus the whole act of Christ in redemption consists in the implanting of the governing God-consciousness, in the propagation of the creative divine activity, as a new principle of life, in the whole of human nature, and all the energies of human nature become the organs for the propagation of the God-consciousness in those who come into spiritual contact with the communion in which that consciousness is operating, i.e., with the new organism which Christ has formed for himself. The calling of Christ is his work of bringing individuals to an acceptance of this new life- fellowship with himself through the activity of the communion in which it now dwells; and his animating activity refers to his relation to the common life as the cause of its continuance in the church and in the individual. This mystical apprehension of redemption stands mid-way between two other modes of representing the Redeemer's work, which may be designated as the magical, and the empirical The first is that which attributes to Christ a redeeming activity independently of the founding of the Christian communion as the means of its propagation--some say, through the medium of the written word, others say, without it; and the second attributes all to his example and doctrine, and thus renders his personal appearing in the world unnecessary. But the proof of the superiority of our view is found only in experience.

2) Reconciliation.--If God was in Christ in such a way that the God-consciousness was his whole personal consciousness, perfect blessedness as well as sin less perfection is involved; that is to say, nothing in the world, in human existence, or in his own experience, became an evil to him through repressing or limiting that inner life, but rather a means for its exercise. Therefore his self-revelation to men as an act of self-communication brings them into the communion of that blessedness. Thus his reconciling work comes to expression as the result of his redemption. Hence, for the believer as for Christ, evil is excluded. Pain, sickness, sorrow, death are no longer evils to him; they do not limit his religious life, but serve rather for its guidance and progress. Through the possession of a common life with Christ the connection between sin and evil ceases for him. The old man has ceased to be. Sin is forgiven, punishment is ended. This is the common consciousness of all believers.

As in redemption, so in reconciliation, this mystical apprehension stands in contrast to the prevailing magi cal and empirical views, the former annulling the naturalness of Christ's continuous efficacy, and the latter its supernatural beginning and distinctive peculiarity. For the former makes the communication of Christ's blessedness independent of our reception into a life-communion with him, by making the forgiveness of sins an external and arbitrary result of Christ's sufferings, and blessedness a reward externally and arbitrarily conferred on account of these sufferings. On this supposition there would be no more assurance of blessedness within the Christian communion than without it. The latter, by making our blessedness dependent upon our wavering development in religious life, fails to establish a constant assurance in the heart and places Christ in the same relation to us as it places other men.

While our view of redemption and reconciliation does not accord to the sufferings of Christ themselves a primary relation to our salvation, this is justifiable on the ground that the opposite view would exclude a perfect acceptance into life-fellowship with Christ prior to his death. His sufferings constitute an element of the second rank, immediately in relation to reconciliation and only mediately in relation to redemption. As concerns redemption: the perfection of Christ's saving activity could be manifested only in case it yielded to no opposition, not even to that involving his death. This perfection does not He in his sufferings but in his submission to them. But when leaving out of sight the founding of the new communion, the climax of his career is isolated from the rest of his life and his submission to sufferings for the sake of those sufferings themselves is looked upon as the sum of his redemptive activity, we have a magical view, a caricature of the doctrine of redemption. As concerns reconciliation: reception into the fellowship of Christ's blessedness depends on a longing for it on the part of those who, conscious of their unblest state, have received an impression of the blessedness of Christ. The blessedness of Christ could perfectly appear only as it proved itself superior to the fulness of sufferings, and so much the more as these sufferings resulted from the opposition of sin. Here the Redeemer's sympathy for the unblest enters on its highest phase. On this side, then, it is not his submission to sufferings but the sufferings themselves which become the highest sanction of faith in his blessedness. But surely that view is a caricature which, entirely overlooking the necessity for immovable blessedness in Christ and isolating a single element in his activity (and that too sometimes, his physical sufferings) as the ground of salvation, posits the reconciling power of his sufferings directly in this, that he freely gave up his own blessedness and actually, even if only temporarily, became unblest.

Our view, on the contrary, keeps in mind that salvation for men is found in their reception into a life-fellowship with Christ; that such is nothing else than a continuation of that creative divine act whose manifestation in time began in the constitution of the person of Christ; that every intensive exaltation of this new life in its relation to the disappearance of the collective life of sin is itself a continuation of that divine activity, and that in this new life is attained the original destiny of humanity, beyond which for a nature like ours there is nothing to be conceived or to strive for.

B. The common division of Christ's activity into the prophetic, the priestly, and the kingly is not arbitrary, but corresponds to the three factors operating in the development of the theocracy among the Jews. It was therefore a natural form of early Christian teaching in which a comparison with Judaism necessarily appeared, and in which there was ascribed to Christ a relation to God and men that exhausted the sphere of the divine economy of salvation.

1) The prophetic activity of Christ, as of the Jewish prophets, appeared in doctrine, prophecy, and miracle. The source of his doctrine was the pure original revelation of God in him, and, so far as the inner production of his thought is concerned, it was independent of the Jewish law. The essential content of it was his self-presentation, the setting forth in discourse of the creative God-consciousness as it stamped itself on his mental faculties so as to bring men into communion with himself. It may be divided into three inseparable portions: (1) the doctrine of his person which again on its outer side is (2) the doctrine of his calling or of the impartation of eternal life in the Kingdom of God, and on its inner side is (3) the doctrine of his own relation to God as the Father to be revealed through him. His doctrine is therefore summed up in the presentation of his person as the original revelation of God. The sufficiency and inexhaustibleness of this renders Christ the climax and end of all prophecy.

His prophecies, as did the Jewish (we refer not to special and hypothetical predictions but to their broad universal character), referred to the consummation of the Kingdom of God. Since this is given in himself, all prediction is completed and ended in him. We are speaking not of isolated predictions, but of the one all-embracing prediction of the historical unfolding of the revelation of God in himself, involving, of course, a foretelling of the downfall of the temporary, and, at the time, opposing, Jewish theocracy. Apostolic predictions are to be received as an exposition or an echo of Christ. All supposed predictions or anticipations of future events falling outside this field are to be subjected to natural psychic research.

His miracles at the time of their performance possessed value for those who beheld in them an exhibition of his person, but in themselves no longer possess validity for our consciousness because of our separation from these occurrences in time and space. They are subjects for scientific investigation and pass beyond the range of dogmatics. In place of them we have today the knowledge of the quality, range, and continuance of the spiritual workings of Christ. For us all miracles are comprehended and therefore ended in the one great spiritual miracle of his appearing. The miracles pertained to his prophetic office because they were a setting forth of the being of God in him.

2) The high-priestly office of Christ is not so suitable a description of his work because of the many contrasts between him and the Jewish high priest. As self-presentative, his priestly work is prophetic; and as supplying his people's needs, his intercession is a kingly office. Yet the prophetic and priestly offices may be distinguished thus: In his prophetic work Christ's self-presentation regards men as in antithesis to himself, and aims at making them receptive of union with him, which union is ever incomplete; his high-priestly work accepts our union with him as consummated in that, by a life-communion with him by which we participate in his perfection, his pure will to fulfil God's will is actively present in us, if not in performance, at least as motive. Though our manifestation of this oneness with him is ever incomplete, it is acknowledged by God as absolute and eternal, and is so posited in our faith. Accordingly it may be said that he represents us as the principle of our new life, that his righteousness is reckoned to us, and that we become objects of the divine good pleasure--not in any external sense, but as one with him in inner life. But we cannot ascribe to him a fulfilment of the law for us nor a fulfilment of God's will in our behalf in any other sense.

Turning now to what is commonly designated as the passive obedience of Christ in contrast with his active obedience, which has just been discussed (though we must remember that these are merely distinctions of convenience), we may describe it as follows: Christ suffered for our sins, not as punishment, but by his coming into contact with human sin and misery. But for him nothing, not even death, was evil, and hence could be no punishment for sin. Similarly also for the redeemed; because the consciousness of guilt is removed by our union with him, the connection between evil and our sins, i.e., punishment, ceases for us. Herein, then, we see the redemptive value of Christ's sufferings: In his suffering unto death there is manifested to us an absolutely self-denying love, and thus is presented in perfect clearness the manner in which God was in Christ to reconcile the world to himself. In his sufferings perfect holiness and perfect blessedness stand before us. Just as the active obedience of Christ has its high-priestly worth pre-eminently in this, that God sees us in Christ as associates in his obedience; so the high-priestly worth of his passive obedience consists pre-eminently in this, that we see God in Christ and Christ as the most immediate participant in the eternal love which sent and equipped him.

From this point of view we may correct two prevailing misinterpretations of his death. The first is the almost antiquated so-called "wounds-theology," which thinks to find the worth of Christ's sufferings in an emotional contemplation of them in detail. But this doctrine of salvation by contemplation annuls Christ's activity and destroys his priesthood. The second of these misinterpretations is that view which understands the doctrine that Christ's death removes our punishment, in the sense that he bore in his death as the sum of all evils that measure of punishment demanded by the sins of the human race and thereby satisfied the divine righteousness. But apart from the implication that the divine nature must have participated in the sufferings of Christ, the doctrine of vicarious satisfaction wrongly makes God the arbitrary author of Christ's sufferings, removes punishment from its natural connection with the morally bad, and so ignores the unity of nature. So far as Christ's work is satisfying--i.e., in that through the one entire act of his life, he became the eternally inexhaustible source of all life that is spiritual and blessed--in that respect it is not vicarious; because we are still under the necessity of exhibiting that same activity of life in communion with him. And in the respect in which he is our representative--i.e., in his feeling the sinfulness of others badness just in that respect he did not offer satisfaction, because those not yet in communion with him must feel their own unblessedness before they can enter into his communion, and because they will afterward share his sympathy for others. But he is our satisfying representative in that he presents human nature in perfection by the manifestation of his archetypal worth in his redemptive activity, so that God regards in him the totality of believers and sees in his free devotion to death such a perfection of redeeming power as is sufficient to bring the whole race within his communion.

Finally, Christ's intercession refers, not to single petitions for individual men, but to his relation to the totality of the redeemed in such a way that in our prayers to God his co-operation appears in the purified and perfect God-consciousness of the Christian communion. In this sense it is only through him that our prayers are well-pleasing to God and efficacious.

Thus Christ is the climax of all priesthood, because he exhausts its significance, and he is the end of all priesthood because he is the perfect mediator between God and the human race for all time. At the same time, his priesthood has passed over to the communion of believers in that his whole redeeming activity is exhibited in them. They stand toward the rest of humanity in a similar relation to that of the Jewish priesthood toward the people. This annuls all special priesthood and the meritoriousness of all individual actions or sufferings.

3) The kingly office of Christ relates to his living union with believers in a communion; it refers not to a special relation to individuals but only to them as members of his community. Since the communion arises out of the impartation of his consciousness, he is the continuous and inexhaustible source of supply for all its needs; the kingdom of God begins, subsists, and is perfected in his person. He is the animating principle of that communion, the power that draws men into it, the source of all legislation in it, and hence absolutely and exclusively lord over it. His personal consciousness produces the laws of its life, and these are accordingly eternal; all legislation proceeding from another source is alien to his kingdom.

The question may be propounded: How does this kingdom stand related to the universal divine government? This question proceeds on theoretical grounds and produces only a theoretical difficulty. Faith is directed to Christ simply as source of grace and of the spiritual power and glory which flow from it, and when anything is said of his possession of a power over the natural world, as if he shared the lordship over it with God (which is contradicted by his prayers to God), this leads us beyond the sphere of faith. In the sphere in which Christ's power is exercised it is of course infinite, but that sphere is the communion founded by him, and therefore he has power over the world only in the sense that through the communion of believers--by their presentation of his person in word and deed--his redeeming activity is exerted upon men in drawing them to himself.

Accordingly also Christ is the climax and end of all spiritual kingship. All other sorts of spiritual authority, as that of the teacher over his scholars, the exemplar over his imitators, the legislator over his subjects, are only partial and belong to a lower and subordinate grade. In this respect he stands contrasted with all other founders of religions. All other kinds of kingship end in his because they are only an imitation of his. This involves a separation of his kingdom from all political and civil powers, which effectuate their decrees through the use of material force. Christianity is neither a political religion nor a religious state or theocracy. By the purely spiritual authority of his God-consciousness he puts an end to both. The farther his reign is extended and established the more clearly will church and state be separated and therefore the more harmoniously will they co-exist.

NOTE.--Christ's humiliation and exaltation: These expressions must be excluded from a doctrinal statement of Christ's person and work, since the conditions so designated have no bearing on his person in itself or his work in itself, or the relation of his person to his work. The supposition of an earlier condition of Christ's which was higher than his earthly, or of a later higher condition, is inconsistent with the unity of his person and militates against faith in his person as he was manifested on earth. It implies also impossible changes in the divine nature, as that to the absolutely extreme and eternal, and, there fore, self-identical, a humiliation may be ascribed; or self-contradictory conceptions of the relations of the divine and human in him, as that the attributes of one or another are alternately subject to limitation or quiescence. It is contradicted by Christ's own statements concerning his own relations to the Father while on earth, which do not regard his sitting at God's right hand as an exaltation (cf. John 1:51; 4:34; 5:17, 20 ff.; 6:57; 8:29; 10:30, 36). The idea has arisen from Phil. 2:6-9, a rhetorical passage of an ascetical character, which has been interpreted didactically. The whole doctrine destroys the unity of Christ's person and the reality of his earthly life, and is fatal to faith in his redemption (100-105).

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