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the Arians everything hinged on the point of proclaiming
Christ as God, " Theology " in this sense became almost
synonymous with the Deity of Christ. Thus Gregory of
Nyssa speaks of a Kripvcraeiv ro /jLvar/jptov r?}? OeoXoyim, with
his eye on John i. 1, which thus means to say, " to announce
the mystery of the Deity of Christ." This Theologia was
then placed over against oUovofjiia as the appellation for
his human nature. Thus in Theodoret, Comm. in Heh. iv.
14, p. 414: we ought to know riva /xev Ti]<; OeoXoyca';, riva 8e
rri<; oltcovofMta<; ovofjiara, i.e. what names belong to his divine,
and what to his human, nature. In connection with this,
" Theology " was also used in the sense of the " mystery of
the Trinity." The knowledge of God, which as such was
the characteristic of Christianity, was contained just in this
trinitarian mystery. Thus Athanasius, de Definitionilms^
Tom. II., p. 44 : 'EttI t?)? deoXoyia'? fxiav (pvcriv o/jboXo'yovfxev
tt)? ayia^ TpmSo9, Tp€i<; B' vTroardaeL'i, i.e. " Of the mystery of
the Divine Being we confess that in the Holy Trinity there
is only one nature, but a threefold hypostasis." Photius,
JEpist. XXXIV., p. 95, wcnrep eirl rrj^ OeoXoyia^ to rpeh 6/xoXo-

Chap. I] § 56. THE NAME 235

r^elv ova-i'a^ iroXvdeov^ i.e. even as it is Polytheistic to confess
three substances in the mystery of the Trinity. Theophy-
hxct, Comm. in Math., c. xxviii., p. 185, eliroiv on Sel ^airrL-
l^eLv ek TO ovo/xa ri'^'i Tpid8o<; rrjV deoXoyiav r^jxlv irapeSwKev, i.e.
by the command to baptize in the name of the Trinity,
Christ has revealed to us the mystery of the Divine Being.
And in like sense Gregory Nazianzen uses the word when
in Oration I., p. 16, he writes, rpca eari irepl d€o\oyia<i appco-
o-TT^/xara, i.e. there are three weaknesses with reference to
the interpretation of the Divine mystery.

Thus the development of the term Theology is not doubt-
ful. First the word was adopted from the pagan usage
to indicate a speaking of the things that pertain to the
gods or God, whether materially, as declarations of divine
affairs, or simply formally, as a speaking with dignity and
with a certain unction. In the conflict about the divine
nature of Christ the still living Grecian language-conscious-
ness began to use the term OeoXoyelv actively in the sense
of calling one God, and thereby OeoXoyia obtained gradually
the significance of the confession of the Deity of Christ.
Since the Christological conflict speedily assumed a Trini-
tarian character, and the confession of the Trinity hinged
upon the acknowledgment of the Deity of Christ, Theology
began gradually to be interpreted in the sense of the mystery
of the Divine Essence as Trinitarian. And finally, by Theol-
ogy there began to be understood that which is revealed to
us concerning this mystery, since to this extent only we can
deal with this mystery. At the point of history when the
supremacy of the Church was transferred from the East to
the West, and the living word OeoXoyia was lost in the dead
barbarism Theologia, this Latin term was understood to mean
the revealed knowledge of the mystery of the Threefold
Being of God, and by no means a prosecution of Theological
departments of study.

§ 57. Theological Modality of the Conception of Theology
Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theol. I. 9, i., art. 7) already
protested against the abuse of making the nature of Theology


to consist, not in the knowledge of God, but in the knowl-
edge of an entirely different object of investigation; and
thus against those who assigned, not God, but "another
subject for this science, for example, either things and
signs, or the works of redemption, or else the whole Christ,
that is, both head and members"; for, says he, "all these
are treated in this science, hut according to their order tvith
respect to Crod''' ("aliter assignaverunt huius scientiae suh-
jectum^ sc. velres, et signa, vel opera reparationis, vel totum
Christum, id est, caput et membra," . . . "de omnibus istis
tractatur in istascientia, sed secundum ordinem ad Deum ").^
So far as this protest directs itself against the soteriological
or Christological interpretation of the science of Theologj-,
it is equally pertinent to almost all definitions which in the
course of this century have been given of the conception of
Theology. What he says, on the other hand, of Theology
as a study of the Signa et Mes, refers in part to Peter
Lombard's Sententiae, but principally to Augustine, who,
in his Libri IV. de doctrina Christiatia, had followed the
division into Signa et Ees, — a division which Thomas does
not reject, but which in his view does not define the "sub-
ject of Theology," or what we would call the object of

The important interest defended by Thomas in this pro-
test, a protest to which all earlier Reformed theologians have
lent their influence, lies in the requirement that the concep-

j ., ' f y. ^ Scieutiae suhjectum here stands for what we would call Scientiae objec-

Ci. Ctfi'^'^ ^ turn. This confusion between the grammatical and the logical antithesis of

^if^iKxfij'^f ^" subject and object is to be laid to Aristotle's credit, who took rb vTroKeifj-epov,

fc.L V' »^«- J-P- the subject, also for to wepl ov 6 \6yos ytverai. Compare Prantl, Ge-

^ ' ' srhichte der Locjik im Abendland, Leipzig, 18G7, III. 208 : "An unzahligen

Stellen treffen wir fortan (since Duns Scotus, tloOS, who first placed them

over against each other as termini), bis in das 18th Jahrhundert (d. h. bis

Alex. Baumgarten) diesen gebrauch der Worte 'subjective' und 'objective,'

welcher zu dem jetzigen sich genau umgekehrt verhiilt : namlich damals hiess

snbjectiviim. dasjenige, was sich auf das Subject der Urtheille, also auf die

concreten Gegenstande des Denkens, bezieht ; hingegen objective jenes, was

im blossen objicere, i.e. im Vorstelligmachen, liegt und hiemit auf Ilechnung

des Vorstellenden fallt. "

See also Rudolph Encken, Die Gi'nndhcgriffe der Gegenwart, Leipzig,
1893 : Subjectiv-Objectiv, pp. 2.5 ff. ; and Trendelenburg, Elementa Logices
ArisiotcUciae, ed. VIII., pp. 54, .55.


tion of TJieology must not only be construed abstractly logi-
cally, but also theologically. Augustine already tried to do
this, though he rarely used the word Theology to indicate
the conception intended by us. What in the Western
Church also was called Theology, he called Doctrina de Deo
or Christian Doctrine; and however strange it may seem,
by the word Theology Augustine understands the pagan
rather than the Christian conceptions of the Divine. This
appears prominently in his De Civitate Dei, in which
he (Lib. VI., c. 5 sq., ed. Bened. Bass. Ven., 1797,
pp. 179-255) discusses the system of Varro, as though
there were three kinds of Theology: mythology (theologia
fabulosa}, which lived in tradition and in the theatre ;
natural theology (theologia naturalis), which is found
in the writings of the philosophers; and State religion
(theologia civilis), which was maintained by official public
worship. And it is noteworthy that while continually
quoting this threefold description of Theology, Augustine
nowhere places theologia Christiana, or vera, over against
it, but always speaks of Doctrina Christiana. Once onl}^
in caput 8 (p. 203), does he take theologia in its general
sense, but still not to express doctrina Christiana, but that
after which the doctrina Christiana seeks. In refuting the
physiological representations of the philosophers he says :
"But all these things, they say, have certain physical,
i.e. natural, interpretations, showing their natural mean-
ing; as though in this disputation we were seeking ph3^sics
and not theology, which is the account, not of nature, but
of God." From this we see, that by " Theology " Augustine
did not understand the study of our science, nor that sci-
ence itself; by him this was called doctrina; but much more
the knowledge of God, as the aim of theological study.

Thus with Augustine already this deeper conception of
Theology bore a decidedly theological character. This is
seen in his Lihri IV. de doctrina Christiana, where he goes
back to God, as Himself the Wisdom (Sapientia), and calls
Christ, as the Word of God (Verbum Dei), the first way to
God ( [)rima ad Deum via), and then by the side of the


intellectual method of attaining the knowledge of God, he
also emphasizes the way of contemplation (via contempla-
tionis) and the seeing of God. Thomas Aquinas also
occupies this point of view in the main, and in his footsteps
also Calvin. Thomas' chief work bears, indeed, the title of
Summa theologica., but in his introduction he sj'steraatically
treats of the sacra doctrina, which really is not Theology
itself, but circa theologiam versatur. Only rarely does the
word theologia occur with him, as, for instance, when in P.
i. i. Qu. art. 7, ed. Neap., 1762, I., p. 12'\ he says: "But in
this science discourse is chiefly made about God, for it is
called Theology, as being discourse about God" ("Sed in hac
scientia fit sermo principaliter de Deo; dicitur enim theo-
logia, quasi sermo de Deo'''). Here, however, he gives us
least of all a definition, but derives an argument from the
etymology of the word to maintain " God " (6 ^eo?) as the
object of the 'sacred doctrine.' The real conception which
he attaches to Theology is therefore much more clearly seen
from what he says concerning faith, hope and love as the
three virtutes theologicae (see I., secundae, qu. 62, art. i.
sq.). Let it be noted also that he did not write as the
title of his work : Summa theologme, but Summa theologica.
De Moor, in his Comm. in Marck., Tom. I., p. 9, quotes
these words of Thomas: "Theology is taught by God,
teaches of God, and leads to God" ("Theologia a Deo
docetur, Deum docet et ad Deum ducit ") ; since, however,
he does not name the place where he found this citation, it
is not to be verified. In like manner Calvin does not give
to his dogmatics the title of Epitome Theologiae, but of
Institutio religionis Christianae, and translates the word
theologia, which he almost everywhere avoids, by notitia Dei
(cf. Lib. I., c. i., § i. sg.). The indexes are not trustwortliy
Yvrith reference to this. The index to Thomas as well as
to Calvin's Institutes gives a meaning to the word Theology
in which the word Theology itself was used neither by Thomas
nor by Calvin.

This distinction, now, which maintained itself for a
lono- time between theological science as sacred learning


or instruction (^sacra doctrina, institutio), etc., and The-
ology itself as knowledge of God (notitia Dei), was not
trivial; but tended to interpret the conception of Theology
theologically/, as this theological conception is more precisely
analyzed into the theologia archetypa and ectypa. And this
must be maintained. The field of knowledge disclosed
to us in Theology cannot logically be coordinated with
the other fields that are investigated by our understanding.
As soon as this is done, Theology is already robbed of its
peculiar character, and cannot be interpreted except as a
part of metaphysics, or as a science whose object of investi-
gation is the empirical phenomenon of religion, or, more
precisely, the Christian religion. If, on the other hand,
Theology is a knowledge which, instead of dealing with
created things, illumines our minds with respect to the
Creator, and the "origin and end of all things," it follows
that this knowledge must be of a different nature, and must
come to us in another way. The iiormae tha,t are valid for
our knowledge elsewhere have no use here; the way of
knowledge must here be another one, and the character itself
of this knowledge must differ from all other science. As
within the boundaries of the finite you must follow a differ-
ent way to knowledge for the spiritual than for the natural
sciences, the way to the knowledge of that which transcends
the finite and lies beyond its boundary cannot coincide with
the Erkenntnisstheorie of the finite. Hence we have no war-
rant for making a logical division and saying : Science inves-
tigates nature, man, and God, and the science which does the
latter is Theology, simply because the coordination of nature,
God and man is false. He who views these three as co-
ordinates, starts out logically from the denial of God as God.
This was entirely correctly perceived by the Greek Fathers,
and in the steps of Augustine by the Western Fathers, in
consequence of which, even though without sufficient clear-
ness of insight, they refused to place Theology in line with
the other -logics or -nomies, and demanded a theological
interpretation of the conception of Theology. The force of
this theological interpretation was still felt in the second


half of the eighteenth centiiiy, whenever the dogmatici de-
scribed Dogmatics not as a subdivision of Theology or as
one of the departments of theological study, but as the
theologia propria, to which exegesis, church history, church
polity, etc., were added as auxiliary studies. They had
already lost the conception of Theology to such an extent
that, although not theoretically, they practically applied the
name of Theology to the human study which was devoted to
this revealed knowledge of God; but from their limitation of
this name to Dogmatics it was evident that they took this to
be the study that leads to the right understanding of the real
knowledge of God. They were not concerned about all kinds
of learning, but about God Himself, and that alone which
could bring us a closer knowledge of that God could claim in
the more precise sense the name of Theology. It is indeed
true, as is shown by the history of Encyclopedia, that the En-
cyclopedists gradually began to understand bj' Theology the
complex of the several departments of theological study;
but no one will contend that in doing this they contributed
to an organic interpretation of the conception of Theology.
Of Schleiermacher only it can reallj^ be said that, seeing the
unskilfulness of the earlier Encyclopedists, he seriously
tried to bring Theology, not as a knowledge of God, but
taken as a theological science, to a unity of interpretation.
It is too bad that he went to work at this so unhistorically;
that he paid almost no attention to the development of the
conception of Theolog}^ in former ages: and still more is
it a pity that, mistaken in the idea of the object, he could
not attain to an organic interpretation, and advanced no
further than to explain it as an aggregate, united by the
tendency of these several studies to aid in preparation
for the sacred office. By this he cut off the theological
understanding from the conception of Theology; and they
who have come after him have no doubt superseded his
aggregate by an organic conception, and his exceedingly
limited object by a broader object, but have not removed
the breach between what Theology was originally and what
lias since been understood by it. The rule continued to be


derived exclusively from Logica by which to define the con-
ception of Theology, and thus it was impossible to regain
the theological conception of this science. This does by no
means imply that repristination of the former conception
would suffice. The very contrary will appear from our
further exposition. All we intend to say, is that here also
no progress is possible, unless we continue our work along
the line of those threads that were spun for us in the past.

And in looking back upon this past we find that in the
conception of Theology a characteristic theological modality
exhibits itself almost constantly; b}^ which we mean that
the peculiar character of Theology has exerted an influence
also upon the forming of this conception. How far this
influence extended can only be shown in the following sec-
tions ; but in order to place the significance of those sections
in the desired light, it was specially necessary to refer to
this point.

§ 58. The Idea of Theology

He who is called to the fifth story of a large building,
and finds an elevator, which without any effort on his part
brings him in a moment where he wants to be, will not
climb the hundred or more steps on foot. Applied to our
knowledge, this implies that common, slow investigation,
with its inductions and deductions, is merely the stairs with
its hundred steps by which we climb the heights of knowl-
edge, while the attainment of knowledge is ever the aim in
view. From which it follows that if that same height of
knowledge can be reached b}^ a shorter or less laborious
way, the former stairs become worthless. This is true hori-
zontally as well as vertically. Since now there are railways
to all the corners of Europe, no one travels any longer by
stage-coach. Thougli tliere may be a peculiar pleasure
attached to that slow rate of progress, or rather to creeping
along the Avay of knowledge, it is, nevertheless, somewhat
morbid to abandon for the sake of this lower pleasure tlie
much higher delight of the knowledge of the truth. Lessing's
proverb has led us astray on this point, and therefore the brief

242 § 58. THE IDEA OF THEOLOGY [Div. Ill

indication of the only ti'ue point of view was necessary. What
surprises still await us of locomotion by electricit}^ or through
the air are not easily foretold ; but this is certain, that every
more rapid communication antiquates the less rapid. This
compels us in Theology, also, to distinguish between the
conception and the idea of Theology. The conception is
bound to the way of knowledge which we travel. The
idea^ on the other hand, views the end, independently of the
question of the way by which this end shall be reached.
This was the distinction in view in the formerly generally
current division of Theology into a theologia unionis, vis-
ionis and stadii. This supplied three conceptions, which
found their unity in the idea of Theology. The theologia
unionis was that highest knowledge of God, which Christ
possessed in His human nature, by virtue of the union of tlus
nature with the Divine nature. The theologia visionis, also
called patriae, was the appellation of the knowledge of God
which once the elect will obtain in the state of heavenly
blessedness. And the theologia stadii, also called studii, or
viatorum, expressed that knowledge of God which is acquired
here upon earth by those who are known of the Lord.
That which was common to them all, and which united
these three conceptions, was the general idea of the knoivl-
edge of God. The aim of Theology, therefore, did not lie
in the theological investigation, neither in all sorts of
studies and learning, but exclusively in knowing God. All
study and learning served only as scaffolds for erecting the
palace of our knowledge ; but as soon as the building was
finished that scaffolding lost all its meaning, even became a
hindrance, and had to be cleared away. And this was more
clearly perceived in olden times, than by most theologians
after Schleiermacher. The idea of Theology can be none
other than the knowledge of Crod, and all activity impelled
by Theology must in the last instance be bent upon the
knoivledge of God. This is not said in a metaphorical, but
in a very exact sense. And this must be maintained as
the idea of Theology, when you come to consider also
the science of Theology, as it is studied and taught by the

Chap. I] §58. THE IDEA OF THEOLOGY 243

Theological faculty. By a cM erent notion of the idea, and by
lowering your ideal, you degrade theological science itself.
According to its idea, Theology does not at first demon-
strate that there is a God ; but it springs out of the over-
whelming impression which, as the only absolutely existing
One, God Himself makes upon the human consciousness, and
finds its motive in the admiration which of itself powerfully
quickens the thirst to know God. Though Theology may
be permitted to seek after proofs for the existence of God,
by which it may open the eyes of those half-blind, it can-
not itself start out from doubt, nor can it spend itself in the
investigation of religious phenomena, or in the speculative
development of the idea of the absolute. It may do all this
when it is convenient and as a dialectic auxiliary, but all
this is only secondary ; at most, a temporary bridge, by
which itself to reach the other side or bring others there,
but its purpose, wading the mountain stream, remains to
come to the mountain itself, and in the sweat of its brow to
climb the mountain path, until at length the highest peak is
reached, the top itself, where the panorama, the knowledge
of God, unveils itself. Only when thus interpreted does
Theology regain its necessary character, and otherwise it
lapses into an accidental dilettantism. Thus only it regains
its value, and, apart from every conception of utility or
eudemonistic purpose, it recovers an absolute significance
in itself. Thus in its very idea it advances beyond the
boundary of our present existence, and extends itself into
the eternal and the infinite.

The older Theologians derived this more accurate insight
into the nature of Theology and this necessary distinction be-
tween the idea and the several conceptions of the one Theology
from the Holy Scriptures. In the Scriptures " the knowledge
of God " is clearly stated as the forma of " eternal life," and
of that knowledge of God several degrees are indicated.
The distinction is evident at once between the knowledge
of God disclosed to man before he sinned, and that modihed
knowledge of God given to the sinner. There was a knowl-
edge of God for Him who said : " Neither doth any know

244 §58. THE IDEA OF THEOLOGY [Div. Ill

the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son
willeth to reveal him"; and a knowledge of God for those
who could not attain this save by that Son. And finally in
the Scriptures a very significant distinction is made between
the knowledge of God of those who have been "enlightened"
and of those who still "walk in darkness"; between the
knowledge of God, already obtained here by those who have
been enlightened, and that which shall sometime be their por-
tion in the realm of glory. Hence a rich difference 6i form
was found in the Scriptures, but still the same idea was com-
mon to all these forms, which idea was and is : to know Q-od,
and to know Him as men. For in the Scriptures a knowledge
of God in the world of angels is also spoken of, which is not
entirely lost even in fallen angels, so that " the devils also
believe that there is one God " ; but since this knowledge
assumes another subject, we need not here take it into ac-
count. This treatise deals exclusively with human Theol-
ogy (Theologia Tiumana)., and for the sake of clearness we
leave the other distinctions alone, in order now to study
the distinction between our knowledge of God here and in
heaven (Theologia stadii and patriae).

The classical proof-text for this is 1 Cor. xiii. 8-13, where
the holy apostle definitely declares, that the gnosis which we
now have " shall be done away," since now it is only a know-
ing "in part"; that in this matter of our knowledge of
God there is a "perfect" contrasted to that which is now "in
part " ; that when that which is " perfect " is come, a seeing
of "face to face" shall come into being ; and that this seeing
shall be a "knowing even as also I have been known."
Elsewhere also, in Matt. v. 8, in 1 John iii. 2, in Psalm xvii.
15, etc., a knowledge of God is mentioned, which shall con-
sist in a seeing of God; but for brevity's sake we confine
ourselves to the utterance in 1 Cor. xiii. Two things are
here included. First, a sharp dividing-line is drawn between
the knowledge of God which is acquired on earth, and that
other knowledge of God which is in prospect on the other
side of the grave. But secondly, the relation is indicated
which is sustained between these two forms of knowledge.

Chap. I] § 58. THE IDEA OF THEOLOGY 245

Knowledge does not disappear in order to make room for
sio-lit. It is not a knowing here and a seeing of God
there. No, it is a knowing both here and there ; but with
this difference, that here it is " in part " and there it shall
be "perfect." The seeing, on tlie other hand, is, here as
well as there, the means by which to obtain that knowl-
edge ; here a seeing " through a glass darkly," there a

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