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THEOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL
CONSCIOUSNESS



THEOLOGY AND THE
SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS



A STUDY OF THE RELATIONS OF THE
SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS TO THEOLOGY



BY

HENRY CHURCHILL KING

PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY
IN OBERLIN COLLEGE



SECOND EDITION



HODDER & STOUGHTON

NEW YORK
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



COPYRIGHT, 1902
Bv THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

Set up and electrotypcd September. 190*

Reprinted February. 19045
July, 1907 ; August, 1910 ; April, 1912.



LIBRARY

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
fr, SANTA BARBARA



tf)t Sgcmftero of t&e
Summer ^cljool of



OF THE YEAR 1901

IN RECOGNITION OF THEIR INTEREST IN THE LECTURES
THAT FORMED THE BASIS OF THIS BOOK



PREFACE

THERE is no attempt in this book to pre-
sent a complete system of theology, though
much of such a system is passed in review,
but only to study a special phase of theo-
logical thinking. The precise theme of
the book is the relations of the social con-
sciousness to theology. This is the subject
upon which the writer was asked to lecture
at the Harvard Summer School of Theology
of 1901 ; and the book has grown out of
the lectures there given. In preparing the
book for the press, however, the lecture
form has been entirely abandoned, and con-
siderable material added.

The importance of the theme seems to
justify a somewhat thorough -going treat-
ment. If one believes at all in the presence
of God in history and the Christian can
have no doubt here he must be profoundly

(vii)



Vlll PREFACE



interested in such a phenomenon as the
steady growth of the social consciousness.
Hardly any inner characteristic of our time
has a stronger historical justification than
that consciousness ; and it has carried the
reason and conscience of the men of this
generation in rare degree. Having its own
comparatively independent development, and
yet making an ethical demand that is thor-
oughly Christian, it furnishes an almost
ideal standpoint from which to review our
theological statements, and, at the same time,
a valuable test of their really Christian
quality.

In attempting, then, a careful study of
the relations of the social consciousness to
theology, this book aims, first, definitely to
get at the real meaning of the social con-
sciousness as the theologian must view it,
and so to bring clearly into mind the un-
conscious assumptions of the social con-
sciousness itself; and then to trace out the
influence of the social consciousness upon
the conception of religion, and upon theo-



PREFACE IX

logical doctrine. The larger portion of
the book is naturally given to the influence
upon theological doctrine ; and to make the
discussion here as pointed as possible, the
different elements of the social conscious-
ness are considered separately.

It should be noted, however, that the ques-
tion raised is not the historical one, How, as
a matter of fact, has the social consciousness
modified the conception of religion or the
statement of theological doctrine ? but the
theoretical one, How should the social con-
sciousness naturally affect religion and doc-
trine? In this sense, the result might be
called, in President Hyde's phrase, a "social
theology"; but, as I believe that the social
consciousness is at bottom only a true sense
of the fully personal, I prefer myself to think
of the present book as only carrying out in
more detail the contention of my Reconstruc-
tion in Theology that theology should aim at
a restatement of doctrine in strictly personal
terms. So conceived, in spite of its casual
origin, this book follows very naturally upon



PREFACE



the previous book. Some of the same topics
necessarily recur here ; and references to
the Reconstruction have been freely made, in
order to avoid all unnecessary repetition.

That this social sense of the fully personal
has finally a real and definite contribution
to make to theology, I cannot doubt. I
can only hope that the present discussion
may be found at least suggestive, particularly
in the analysis of the social consciousness,
and in the treatment of mysticism and of
the ethical in religion, as well as in the con-
sideration of the special influence of the
elements of the social consciousness upon
the restatement of doctrine. Of the doc-
trinal applications, the application to the
problem of redemption may be considered,
perhaps, of most significance.

HENRY CHURCHILL KING.
OBBRLIN COLLEGE, June, 1902.



CONTENTS



THE THEME



THE REAL MEANING OF THE SOCIAL CON-
SCIOUSNESS FOR THEOLOGY

INTRODUCTION
THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE THEOLOGIAN 5

CHAPTER I

THE DEFINITION OF THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS 9

I. The Sense of the Like-Mindedness of Men 9

II. The Sense of the Mutual Influence of Men u

1. Contributing Lines of Thought "

2. The Threefold Form of the Conviction 13

HI. The Sense of the Value and Sacredness of the Person . 16

IV. The Sense of Obligation 18

V. The Sense of Love 2

CHAPTER II

THE INADEQUACY OF THE ANALOGY OF THE ORGANISM AS AN

EXPRESSION OF THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS 23

I. The Value of the Analogy 23

(xi)



Xll CONTENTS

PACK

II. The Inevitable Inadequacy of the Analogy 24

1. It Comes from the Sub -personal World 24

2. Access to Reality, Only Through Ourselves .... 24

3. Mistaken Passion for Construing Everything ... 25
III. The Analogy Tested by the Definition of the Social

Consciousness 27

CHAPTER III

THE NECESSITY OF THE FACTS OF WHICH THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUS-
NESS is THE REFLECTION, IF IDEAL INTERESTS ARE TO

BE SUPREME 29

I. The Question 29

II. Otherwise, No Moral World at all 30

1. The Prerequisites of a Moral World 30

(1) A Sphere of Law 30

(2) Ethical Freedom 30*

(3) Some Power of Accomplishment 31

(4) Members One of Another 32

2. The Ideal World Requires, thus, the Facts of the

Social Consciousness 32

CHAPTER IV

THE ULTIMATE EXPLANATION AND GROUND OF THE SOCIAL

CONSCIOUSNESS 35

I. How can it be, Metaphysically, that we do Influence

One Another? 35

1. Not Due to the Physical Fact of Race -Connection . 36

2. We are not to Over - Emphasize the Principle of

Heredity 37

3. Not Due to a Mystical Solidarity 39

4. Grounded in the Immanence of God 40



CONTENTS Xlll

PACK

II. What is Required for the Final Positive Justification of

the Social Consciousness, as Ethical ? . . . . 44

1. Must be Grounded in the Supporting Will of God . 44

2. God's Sharing in our Life 48

3. The Consequent Transfiguration of the Social Con-

sciousness 49

THE INFLUENCE OF THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS
UPON THE CONCEPTION OF RELIGION

INTRODUCTION 53

CHAPTER V

THE OPPOSITION OF THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS TO THE FALSELY

MYSTICAL 55

I. What is the Falsely Mystical? 55

1. Nash's Definition 55

2. Herrmann's Definition 56

II. The Objections of the Social Consciousness to the Falsely

Mystical 57

1. Unethical 58

2. Does not Give a Really Personal God 58

3. Belittles the Personal in Man 59

4. Leaves the Historically, Concretely Christian .... 62

CHAPTER VI

THE EMPHASIS OF THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS UPON THE PER-
SONAL RELATION IN RELIGION, AND so UPON THE

TRULY MYSTICAL 66

I. The Social Consciousness Tends Positively to Emphasize

the Personal Relation in Religion 66

i. Emphasizes Everywhere the Personal 66



XIV CONTENTS

PACK

2. Requires the Laws of a Deepening Friendship in

Religion 67

3. Requires the Ideal Conditions of the Richest Life

in Religion 68

II. The Social Consciousness thus Keeps the Truly Mystical. 70
i. The Justifiable and Unjustifiable Elements in Mysti-
cism 71

(1) Emotion, the Test 71

(2) Subjective Tendency 72

(3) Underestimating the Historical 72

(4) Tendency toward Vagueness 73

(5) Tendency toward Pantheism 73

(6) Tendency to Extravagant Symbolism .... 76

3. The Protest in Favor of the Whole Man 78

3. The Self-Controlled Recognition of Emotion ... 82

CHAPTER VII

THR THOROUGH ETHICIZING OF RELIGION 86

I. The Pressure of the Problem 86

II. The Statement of the Problem 87

III. The Answer 89

1. Involved in Relation to Christ 89

2. The Divine Will Felt in the Ethical Command . . 90

3. Involved in the Nature of God's Gifts 91

4. Communion with God, Through Harmony with His

Ethical Will 92

5. The Vision of God for the Pure in Heart .... 92

6. Sharing the Life of God 93

7. Christ, as Satisfying Our Highest Claims on Life . . 94

8. The Vision of the Riches of the Life of Christ,

Ethically Conditioned 96

9. The Moral Law, as a Revelation of the Love of God 98



CONTENTS XV
CHAPTER VIII

PACK

THE EMPHASIS OF THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS UPON THE HIS-
TORICALLY CHRISTIAN 102

I. The Social Consciousness Needs Historical Justification . 102

II. Christianity's Response to this Need 103



THE INFLUENCE OF THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS
UPON THEOLOGICAL DOCTRINE

CHAPTER IX

GENERAL RESULTS 105

I. The Conception of Theology in Personal Terms ... 106
II. The Fatherhood of God, as the Determining Principle

in Theology 109

III. Christ's Own Social Emphases in

IV. The Reflection in Theology of the Changes in the Con-

ception of Religion 113

CHAPTER X

THE INFLUENCE OF THE DEEPENING SENSE OF THE LIKE-MIND

EDNESS OF MEN UPON THEOLOGY 115

I. No Prime Favorites with God 116

II. The Great Universal Qualities and Interests, the Most

Valuable 117

III. Essential Likeness Under very Diverse Forms 121

IV. As Applied to the Question of Immortality 124

V. Consequent Larger Sympathy with Men, Faith in Men,

and Hope for Men 127

VI. Judgment According to Light, and the Moral Reality of

the Future Life 132



xvi CONTENTS

CHAPTER XI

THE INFLUENCE OF THE DEEPENING SENSE OF THE MUTUAL IN-
FLUENCE OF MEN UPON THEOLOGY 136

I. The Real Unity of the Race 136

II. Deepening the Sense of Sin 139

III. Mutual Influence for Good in the Attainment of Char-

acter 145

1. Application to the Problem of Redemption .... 147

2. The Consequent Ethical and Spiritual Meaning of

Substitution and Propitiation 150

IV. Mutual Influence for Good in our Personal Relation to

God 160

1. In Coming into the Kingdom 160

2. In Fellowship within the Kingdom 162

3. In Intercessory Prayer 164

V. Mutual Influence for Good in Confessions of Faith . . 167

1. Complete Uniformity of Belief and Statement Im-

possible 169

2. Complete Uniformity of Belief and Statement Un-

desirable 171

VI. The Consequent Importance of the Doctrine of the

Church 177



CHAPTER XII

THE INFLUENCE OF THE DEEPENING SENSE OF THE VALUE AND

SACREDNESS OF THE PERSON UPON THEOLOGY 179

I. The Recognition of the Personal in Man 180

1. Man's Personal Separateness from God 180

2. Emphasis upon Man's Moral Initiative 181

3. Man, a Child of God 183



CONTENTS XV11

PAGE

II. The Recognition of the Personal in Christ 184

1. Christ, a Personal Revelation of God 184

2. Emphasizing the Moral and Spiritual in Asserting

the Supremacy of Christ 185

3. The Moral and Spiritual Grounds of the Supremacy

of Christ 188

(1) The Greatest in the Greatest Sphere .... 188

(2) The Sinless and Impenitent One 192

(3) Consciously Rises to the Highest Ideal . . . 194

(4) Realizes the Character of God 195

(5) Consciously Able to Redeem All Men . . . 196

(6) Complete Normality under this Transcen-

dent God - Consciousness and Sense of

Mission 197

(7) The Only Person Who can call out Absolute

Trust 198

(8) The One, in Whom God Certainly Finds Us . 199

(9) The Ideal Realized 200

4. Christ's Double Uniqueness 201

5. The Increasing Sense of Our Kinship with Christ,

and of His Reality 205

III. The Recognition of the Personal in God . , 207

1. The Steady Carrying Through of the Completely

Personal in the Conception of God. Guarding

the Conception 208

2. God is Always the Completely Personal God . . . 212

(1) Consequent Relation of God to "Eternal

Truths" 212

(2) Eternal Creation 214

(3) The Unity and Unchangeableness of God . . 216

(4) The Limitations of the Conception of Im-

manence 217



XV111 CONTENTS

PAGE

3. Deepening the Thought of the Fatherhood of God . 218

(1) History, no Mere Natural Process 218

(2) God, the Great Servant 219

(3) No Divine Arbitrariness 220

(4) The Passibility of God 221

4. As to the Doctrine of a Social Trinity 222

5. Preeminent Reverence for Personality, Characterizing

all God's Relations with Men 226

(1) Reflected in Christ 226

(2) In Creation 230

(3) In Providence 232

(4) In Our Personal Religious Life 233

(5) In the Judgment 237

(6) In the Future Life 240



THEOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL
CONSCIOUSNESS



INTRODUCTION

THE THEME

No theologian can be excused to-day from
a careful study of the relations of theology
and the social consciousness. Whether this
study becomes a formal investigation or not,
the social consciousness is so deep and signifi-
cant a phenomenon in the ethical life of our
time, that it cannot be ignored by the theo-
logian who means to bring his message to
men really home. This book is written in
the conviction that, while men are thus
moved as never before by a deep sense of
mutual influence and obligation, they have
also as deep and genuine an interest as ever
in the really greatest questions of religion
and theology. Interests so significant and so
akin cannot long remain isolated in the mind.
They are certain soon profoundly to influence

A (0



2 THEOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS

each other. And this mutual influence of
theology and the social consciousness form
the theme of this book.

Two questions are naturally involved in
this theme. First: Has theology given
any help, or has it any help to give, to the
social consciousness? the question of the
first division of the book. Second : Has the
social consciousness made any contribution,
or has it any contribution to make, to theol-
ogy? the question of the second and third
divisions. That is to say: On the one hand,
Have the great facts which theology studies
any help to give to the man who faces the
problem of social progress of the steady
elevation of the race? On the other hand,
Has the great fact of the immensely quick-
ened social consciousness of our time, with
all that it means, any help to give to the
theologian in his attempt to bring the great
Christian truths really home to men, to make
them more real, more rational, more vital?

Or again : On the one hand, do theological
doctrines the most adequate statements we
can make of the great Christian truths best
explain and best ground the social conscious-
ness, so as best to bring our entire thought
in this sphere of the social into unity? Is



THE THEMB 3

the Christian truth so great that it not only
includes all that is true in this new social-
consciousness is fully able to take it up into
itself and to make it feel at home there but
also, so great that it alone can give the social
consciousness its fullest meaning, alone enable
it to understand itself, and alone furnish it
adequate motive and power? Is the social
consciousness, in truth, only a disguised state-
ment of Christian convictions, and does it
really require the Christian religion and its
thoughtful expression to complete itself?
Must the social consciousness say, when it
comes to full self-knowledge, I am myself
an unmeaning and unjustified by-product, if
there is not a God in the full Christian sense ?
and, so saying, confirm again the great Chris-
tian truths? This is the question of the first
division.

On the other hand, since the task of any
given theologian is necessarily temporary, and
since any marked modification of the con-
sciousness of men will inevitably demand
some restatement of theological doctrine, the
question here becomes To what changed
points of view in religion and theology, to
what restatements of doctrine, and so to what
truer appreciation of Christian truth, does



4 THEOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS

the new social consciousness naturally lead ?
How do the affirmations of the social con-
sciousness, as the outcome of a careful, in-
ductive study of the social evolution of the
race, affect our theological statements? This
is the question of the second and third divi-
sions of the book.

Our discussion must of course assume and
build on the conclusions of sociology, and
of New Testament theology, especially the
conclusions concerning the social teaching
of Jesus.



THE REAL MEANING OF THE SOCIAL
CONSCIOUSNESS FOR THEOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE THEOLOGIAN

FIRST, then, what is the real meaning of
the social consciousness, as the theologian
must view it? The answer to this question
involves a preliminary one: What is the
point of view of the theologian in any in-
vestigation? One can only give his own
answer.

First of all, the theologian, as such, is an
interpreter, not a tracer of causal connections.
He builds everywhere upon the scientific in-
vestigator, and takes from him the statement
of facts and processes. With these he has
primarily nothing to do. With reference to
the social consciousness, therefore, he does
not attempt to do over again the work of
the sociologist; he asks only, What does the
social consciousness, in the light of the whole

(5)



6 THEOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS

of life and thought, mean; not, How did it
come about?

The theologian, too, is a believer in the
supremacy of spiritual interests; this is his cen-
tral contention. He affirms strenuously, with
the scientific worker, the place and value of
the mechanical ; but he is certain that the
mechanical can understand itself even, only
as it is seen to be simple means, and thus
clearly subordinate in significance. His prob-
lem is, therefore, everywhere, that of ideal
interpretation, not of mechanical explanation.
But, while he has nothing to do with the
scientific tracing of immediate causal con-
nections, he recognizes causality itself as re-
quiring an ultimate explanation, that cannot
be mechanically given. The theologian must
be in this, then, an ideal interpreter, and an
inquirer after the ultimate cause.

The theologian assumes, moreover, the
legitimacy and value of the fact of religion',
for theology is simply the thoughtful, com-
prehensive, and unified expression of what
religion means to us. The meaning of the
social consciousness to the theologian in-
volves, therefore, at once the question of its
relation to religious conviction.

The point of view of the Christian theo-



THE VIEW OF THE THEOLOGIAN 7

logian involves, besides, the reality of the
personal God in personal relation to persons.
Theology is in earnest in its thought of God,
and knows that God is everywhere to be
taken into account; that, if there is a God
at all, he is not to be exiled into some cor-
ner of his universe, but is intimately con-
cerned in all, is at the very heart of all ; and
that, therefore, it is not a matter of merely
curious interest or of subsidiary inquiry,
whether we are to look at our questions
with God in mind.

Finally, the Christian theologian tries every-
where to make his point of view the point
of view of Christ. The theology, upon which
he ultimately stakes his all, is Christ's theol-
ogy. He knows that there is much con-
cerning which he cannot refuse to think,
but upon which Christ has not expressed
himself either explicitly or by clear infer-
ence ; but in all this unavoidable supple-
mentary thinking he aims to be absolutely
loyal to the spirit of Christ.

From this point of view of the Christian
theologian, now, what does the social con-
sciousness mean? The answer may be given
under four heads: (i) the definition of the
social consciousness ; (2) the inadequacy of



8 THEOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS

the analogy of the organism, as an expression
of the social consciousness ; (3) the necessity
of the facts, of which the social conscious-
ness is the reflection, if ideal interests are
to be supreme ; (4) the ultimate explanation
and ground of the social consciousness.

These four topics form the subjects of
the four chapters of the first division of our
inquiry.



CHAPTER I
THE DEFINITION OF THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS

THE simplest and probably the most accu-
rate single expression we can give to the
social consciousness, is to say that it is a
growing sense of the real brotherhood of
men. But five elements seem plainly in-
volved in this, and may be profitably sepa-
rated in our thought, if that is to be clear
and definite: a deepening sense (i) of the
likeness or like-mindedness of men, (2) of
their mutual influence, (3) of the value and
sacredness of the person, (4) of mutual obli-
gation, and (5) of love.

I. THE SENSE OF THE LIKE-MINDEDNESS OF MEN 1

If a society is "a group of like-minded
individuals," if the "all -essential" requisites
for cooperation are "like-mindedness and
consciousness of kind," as Giddings tells us,
then certainly a prime element in the social
consciousness is likeness and the sense of

1 Cf . Giddings, Elements of Sociology, pp. 6, 10, 65, 66, 77.
(9)



IO THEOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS

it a growing sense of the mental and moral
resemblance and " potential resemblance "
of all men, and of all classes of men, though
not equality of powers.

"Equality of need" among men, too, 1 to
which sociology comes as one of its surest
conclusions, implies a common capacity, even
if in varying degrees, to enter into the most
fundamental interests of life, and so points
unmistakably to the essential likeness of men
in the most important things.

So, too, sociology's unquestioning asser-
tion that both smaller and larger groups of
men constantly tend toward unity, assumes
potential resemblance.

And the uniform experience and prescrip-
tion of social workers, that really knowing
"how the other half lives" brings increasing
sympathy, also affirm the fundamental like-
ness of men. Every painstaking investigation
of a social question comes out at some point
or other with a fresh discovery of a pre-
viously hidden, underlying resemblance be-
tween classes of men.

From the careful, inductive study of social
evolution, too, the men of our day see, as no
other generation has seen, that the great force

1 Cf. Giddings, Op. cit., p. 324.



DEFINITION OF SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS II

always and everywhere at work in that evo-
lution has been likeness and the conscious-
ness of it.

For all these reasons, this generation be-
lieves, as men never believed before, in the
essential like-mindedness of men; and this
deepening sense of the like-mindedness of
men is certainly one element in the modern
social consciousness.

II. THE SENSE OF THE MUTUAL INFLUENCE OF MEN

A second element in the social conscious-
ness, and, perhaps, that which has most of
all characterized it through the larger period
of its growth, is the strong sense of the
mutual influence of men that we are all
"members one of another."

i. Contributing Lines of Thought. It is
worth seeing how firmly planted the idea
is. Several lines of thought have united to
induce men to emphasize perhaps even to
over -emphasize this way of thinking of
society. The influence of natural science,
in the first place, has been inevitably in this
direction. Its root idea of the universality
of law forces upon one the thought of a
world which is a coherent whole, a unity with



12, THEOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS

universal forces in it, in which every part is
inextricably connected with every other. So,
too, the acceptance of the theory of evo-
lution has led science to regard the whole
history of the physical universe as an organic
growth.

Psychology, also, with its present-day em-
phasis, in Baldwin and Royce, upon the con-
stant presence and fundamental character of
imitation, and its insistence upon the still
more fundamental impulsiveness of conscious-
ness which Dewey believes underlies imi-
tation, 1 is really proclaiming exactly this ele-
ment of the social consciousness. And the
whole assertion by the later psychology of
the unity of man mind and body, and of
the complex intertwining of all the functions
of the mind, is in closest harmony with a
similar view of society.

Philosophy, too, is exerting all along a
half-unconscious pressure toward the thought
of the organic unity of society. That phil-
osophy may exist at all, it must start from
the assumption of a universe, a real unity of
truth, and its problem is to find a discerned
unity. It knows no unrelated being, and,
consequently, whether it theoretically accepts

l See Tht Neiu World, Sept., 1898, p. 516.



DEFINITION OF SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS 13


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