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'philosophy. Why not with the monarchical episcopate, with Roman law, with the Papacy itself? provided that these 'things are not made part and parcel of it.' Its history is a history of such combinations-of positions exchanged, of standpoints successively gained and abandoned. Hence its twofold note: unity in diversity. Neither can be overlooked; the significance of neither can be overestimated. The parable of the leaven illustrates their union: the leaven enters into the meal, at once transformed and transforming; it seems to have lost its identity, but it leavens the whole lump.
It cannot be said that this position has been thoroughly acclimatised among us. The English mind is practical; and having the defects of its qualities-suspicious of ideas. It holds to facts; forgetting that what we call a fact is often an imperfect generalisation of experience, and that it is in ideas that the truth of things resides. No German theologian expects to find the Confession of Augsburg in the New Testament: we shall not, if we are wise, attempt to discover in it the Westminster Confession, the Thirty-nine Articles, or even the Catholic Creeds. Such an attempt issues necessarily in confusion and misunderstanding: these symbols have a history and a justification; but they belong to a later period than that of the New Testament and must be defended on other than Scriptural grounds. To recognise this is to recognise that the history of Christian beliefs and institutions has to be rewritten. The sources, which bristle with problems, must be tested and criticised; a new perspective and orientation must take the place of the old. If this perplex and depress us, the perplexity and depression are but for a time. The attestation of religion is not to be found in its so-called 'Evidences,' but in the spirit; for 'only spirit recognises spirit.' † When the insecure structure of symbolism, dogmatic and institutional, breaks down, we are thrown back upon the eternal verities. They are strong enough to sustain us: the theologian had reason who bade his pupils have faith in criticism-and in God.
To his criticism as such, the critic's religious standpoint is indifferent: but it is not an impertinent curiosity which leads us to ask how the religious problem is worked out by those who have analysed its terms. In the 'Wesen
'des Christentums '-noticed in this Review in July 1903— Harnack defines his attitude to the central question. He conceives religion as a fact of spiritual experience: a relation between God and the soul, realised in various forms and in greater or less measure, but in itself unchangeably the same. The book is one of the most memorable of our generation: it cleared the air. For centuries religion had been associated by believer and unbeliever alike with a mass of propositions-historical, scientific, psychological, political, &c.—some true, some uncertain, some demonstrably false, but all essentially non-religious. Hence confusion of thought and obscuring of issues. Religion was made to stand or fall with alien and heterogeneous subject matter the authenticity of this or that text, the occurrence of this or that event, the correctness of this or that inference: a writer of religious fiction represents not Christianity only but the whole spiritual and moral sense of mankind as shattered by the successful forgery of a contemporary document recording the removal of the body of Jesus by the disciples from the grave. The Catholic is suspicious of inquiries into the origin of the Papacy; the Anglican of questions as to the rise of the monarchical episcopate; the Protestant of the history of the Canon of Scripture. Such fears are at once idle and unworthy. The discussions by which they have been aroused are inevitable; but they belong to the varying and historical setting of Christianity, not to its eternal substance. Not till this is recognised will religion dwell at ease in her tents.
The addresses and essays contained in these two volumes extend over a period of some twenty years, and embrace such subjects as—
Legend as a source of history.
The Confessions of St. Augustine.
The idea and history of monasticism.
The significance of Luther in the history of knowledge. The Apostles' Creed.
Christianity and history.
The present condition of Protestantism.
The present state of research in early Church history.
What we have to learn and what not to learn from the
Church of Rome.
Ritschl and his school, &c.
# 'When it was Dark.'
They do not contain, as did the Wesen,' an explicit statement of the writer's religious standpoint, but they illustrate it indirectly from various sides, and, in some respects, more fully than the earlier book.
The Gospel-by which is meant the personal teaching of Christ-has passed through four great transformations, (a) from its original shape into Catholicism; (b) from Catholicism into the compact structure of Mediævalism; (c) from this in the sixteenth century into Protestantism; and finally (d) in our own time into a larger and more spiritual atmosphere, a standpoint rather than a creed, representing the temper of Christ in many respects more nearly than did the ecclesiasticism of the intermediate periods. The second and third of these transformations are the more important for political history; the first and fourth incomparably the more vital for religion and thought. In none was there an abrupt break with the past; the new issued from and was conditioned by the old, the process falling easily enough into the categories of the Hegelian dialectic. The history as a whole indicates two conclusions: (1) that the lines on which mankind is advancing are not those of ecclesiastical or dogmatic Christianity; (2) that the Gospel is independent of these lines, that it is passing beyond and will survive them. It is the merit of Professor Harnack to have illustrated these theses with the learning of a theologian and the earnestness of a religious teacher; the union of these qualities gives him his distinctive position and strength.
The opposition between the Gospel and later ecclesiastical Christianity lies deeper than the surface text of Scripture, the appeal to which has so frequently and so vehemently been urged as decisive. That this is so is shown by the fact that after centuries of controversy of this kind the points at issue have not passed beyond controversy, the passages by which they are established or refuted being still, as of old, tossed to and fro by contending theologians in sterile and unending sport. The explanation is that the question is one not of authorities but of standpoint. And history is decisive of standpoint; the standpoint of a particular time or place is historically discerned. If, for example, the medieval conception of the Papacy as directly and immediately instituted by Christ is rejected, it is not on account of this or that interpretation of Matthew xvi. 18, 19,
but because it is seen that, given the circumstances of speaker and period, such an institution is unthinkable; if the belief in the inspiration of Scripture has become attenuated, the result is due not to any new exegesis of such passages as II. Timothy iii. 16, II. Peter i. 21 &c., but to an increased knowledge of the influences and conditions under which the inspired books came into existence and the canon assumed its present form. The appeal to tradition is, in the main, an appeal to ignorance.
'What did the Middle Ages know of early Christian history, of the history of Christ, of that of the Apostolic age, of the persecutions, of the origin of Catholicism or of the Papacy, of the revolution that took place under Constantine, of the rise of the State, or Empire, Church? It is no exaggeration to say, less than nothing. On the one hand, the memories of the past were dim and uncertain; on the other, a monstrous and unchecked growth of legend, crushing everything but itself out of existence, overran the soil. . . . It was taken for granted that in the time of St. Peter and the early Roman bishops everything in Rome and in the Church was as it is now. This assumption, which lay like a winding sheet over history, was the inevitable result of the legend formation referred to; and it established itself in an incredibly short space of time. Since then the past of the Church has been regarded as a reflection of her present.'
Assumptions are suspect: but the opposite assumption, that nothing in the past of Christianity was as it is in the present, would be nearer the truth.
The key to the Gospel standpoint is twofold: the attitude of Christ towards contemporary Jewish religion; and the belief in the Parousia. With neither of these is this projection of the present into the past compatible; it is not only that the thing was not so, but that by no possibility could it have been so. It is inconceivable that the denunciation of the old and the construction of a new law should have proceeded from one and the same teacher: this were selfcontradiction; a building again of what had been destroyed. It was the legal temper as such, not this or that particular law, which was foreign to the Gospel. Here Paul read the Master rightly; the antithesis was between law and grace. Again, the belief in the Parousia was inconsistent with any but the simplest and most temporary organisation, with anything like provision for the future of the Church. There was, and could be, no future; the Lord was at hand. Such was the teaching of the Synoptic Christ; such was the belief
Reden und Aufsätze, i. 5, 8.
of the Christian community. There was no ground for institutionalism: the ground was cut away.
It was impossible, however, that Christianity should remain in this amorphous stage. After the destruction of Jerusalem Judaism ceased to be a serious antagonist: the Pauline polemic against legalism, never perhaps wholly intelligible or acceptable to the average Christian, fell into the background; the key to its meaning was lost. The belief in the Parousia broke down under the test of experience; no community could permanently maintain an attitude of expectation towards a miracle which did not occur. The numerical increase of believers made organisation and external observance necessary. The charismata, the distinctive note of the first age, declined: the question was not whether a process of fixing or externalisation was to set in, but what shape it was to take. This was decided by the circumstances of the time and place; the Græco-Roman world of the Empire. The translation of Christianity from a spirit to an institution began on Jewish soil. When Jerusalem met Galilee the air lost its freshness; the freedom of the hills, the spaciousness of their horizons was gone. But we must go beyond Judaism to account for the completeness of the transformation. Christianity was a world, not a local, problem; it became a world, not a local, Church. Baur and his followers were the first to emphasise the need of going below the surface of the history. The highest praise has been awarded when we confess that the main problem, the rise of Catholicism, was first rightly defined by this school as problem. . . and that, following the only true method, it discovered at once the clearest and surest point with which all inquiry must begin-Paul and Paulinism. Since its rise science has become richer in historical points of view. Catholicism, we see, was the result not only of the varying relations between Jewish and Gentile Christianity, but of the contact of the Gospel with ancient civilisation. The ancient world built up the Catholic Church on the foundation of the Gospel; but in so doing it built itself bankrupt.' This saying of Richard Rothe, observes Harnack, is the egg of Columbus. What a store of historical knowledge is packed into it! Only if it be 'carefully applied in all branches of Church history will this history be really understood.' † The determinative principles
Matthew x. 23, xvi. 28.
+ Reden und Aufsätze, ii. 220-230.