W. (William) Sanday.

Christology and personality : containing: I. Christologies ancient and modern, II. Personality in Christ and in ourselves / by William Sanday online

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for the most part, though not entirely, accept
both. Perhaps the most striking representation
of this latter point of view comes from Professor
Percy Gardner: —

Up to a certain point the statements of Mr.
Roberts seem to me not only true but incontrover-
tible. The picture drawn in the Synoptic Gospels is
of one who partook in every way of human nature,
and was bounded by human limitations. . . .But
we have next to turn to another range of facts, facts
of history and facts of experience, which are as
undeniable, and have as good a right to demand
explanation, as those on which so far we have
dwelt. And they are from the historic point of view
even better attested .... The Pauline writings
amply prove that in his time a most remarkable
movement was taking place in the spirits of men. . . .
We can best judge of it from its working in the
mind and heart of St. Paul, though no doubt he
was but one among many who felt the same
enthusiasm. . . . He was also the progenitor of
a long line of Christian saints and heroes who
have lived in the faith of Christ, and carried on in
the world the propaganda begun by Paul. They
have lived in conscious relation with a divine power.

VIII. The Present Position 199

they have been members of a great spiritual com-
munion, and they have all declared that this life
had its source not in themselves, but in the divine
spring of power and light which from age to age in-
spires the Christian Church, and makes it capable of
redeeming the world from sense and sin. Now, the
first range of phenomena of which I have spoken
is summed up in the word Jesus : the second range
of phenomena is summed up in the word Christ.
The existence of the Church has from the first
depended on the possibility of bringing the two
sets of facts into relation one with another. The
Church is the church of Jesus-Christ: and a lover
of paradox might say that it is built upon a hyphen
(pp. 45-50).

That is certainly to put a fine point upon it: the
Christian faith 'built upon a hyphen'! Of course
the meaning is that the two significant halves of
that significant Name must not be separated but
combined. What proof have we of this ? —

What we want to know is what basis in fact and
reality there is for the hyphen of which I have
spoken. Is there a historic connection to be traced
between the life of Jesus on earth and the life of
Christ in the Church ? It appears to me that such
connection cannot be proved to a sceptic, for the
historic data are insufficient, and may be interpreted
in various ways. We cannot prove the spiritual
resurrection as we can prove the assassination of
Julius Caesar or the beheading of Charles I. It
must be accepted as an article of faith, not as the
result of intellectual research.

It is in the nature of all faith — not Christian
faith alone, but of faith in our fellow-men and in

200 Ancient and Modern Christologies

the divine government of the world — that though it
has a basis of fact and experience, it strains beyond
fact and experience into the realm of the ideal. . . .
The real question which lies before modern Chris-
tians is not whether a continuity of spiritual power
can be rigorously proved to run from the human
life of Jesus on into the life of the Christian Church,
but rather whether such a view can be reasonably
held, whether it is in contradiction with the ascer-
tained results of historic investigation. If not, then
it is a suflScient basis for a reasonable faith, if
faith is called for by Christian experience, and the
demands of the higher life.

Any person who should maintain that history
disproves such continuity of life would be a most
arrogant dogmatist. We know more, much more,
in regard to our psychical conditions and spiritual
surroundings than did our fathers. But yet our
knowledge is strictly limited. It certainly behoves
us, in dealing with such subjects as inspiration,
divine action in history, the nature of the world of
spirits to which we belong as members, to speak
with extreme caution. Above all things, to make
dogmatic denials where evidence is defective, is
certainly not the part either of a wise man or of
a really scientific man.

It is a fatal aberration to make the human life of
Jesus as recorded in the Gospels in any way unreal :
we must be content to see in them the memorials
of a human life, but without sin, and governed by
a unity of will with the divine purposes which makes
it quite unique. Yet we in no way transgress the
canons of reason and of history if we connect that
life with the outpouring of a fresh tide of spiritual
life upon the world, which took form in the per-
petuation of the spirit and the obedience of
Jesus in the inspiration of the Christian Church.

VIII. The Present Position 201

He who came to the earth as Jesus has dwelt there
to our days as Christ. The Christian consciousness
of our day is one with the consciousness which has
set apart the followers of Christ from the world
since the day when the Apostles first realised that
though their blaster was hidden from sight he was
with them until the end of the world.

And when contemporary Christians claim that
they, like St. Paul, have learned to live in com-
munion with, and in dependence upon, the heavenly
Christ, we are compelled to take the claim seriously
(pp. 54-56).

Professor Gardner writes with great caution and
moderation ; but he also writes with welcome open-
mindedness and a wide recognition of the range of
spiritual possibilities. After all, he is only interpret-
ing the experience of Christians as thousands and
tens of thousands have interpreted it for themselves.
And this interpretation goes back without a break
to the first generation of all. Let us listen to
Canon Scott Holland : —

For them, and for him [St. Luke and his readers],
there was no hint of variance or of conflict be-
tween the Eternal Christ who offered the sacrifice
to God and the Jesus of Nazareth who was done to
death by wicked men. On the contrary, it was
faith in the Christ that lent its breathless significance
to every tiny detail in the facts of the human tragedy.
Because they believed in Him as Christ, the Son of
God, therefore they found a priceless value in the
narration of each accident that befell the Son of Man.

Now, it is this fusion of the double interests that
constitutes our riddle. . . . Do we feel as if the two
conceptions are in hopeless collision, as Mr. Roberts,

202 Ancient and Modern Christologies

in his article, vehemently argues ? Then that only
shows how far we must be from understanding the
mind of those who wrote and read our Synoptic
Gospels. To stop short in this apparent collision is,
simply, to confess that we can find no answer to the
riddle that we are set to solve. For the riddle is —
Why did those who wrote those Gospels not feel the
collision which afflicts us ? They passed smoothly
from one conception to the other. They looked for
the Christ in the Jesus, and found what they looked
for (p. 128 f.).

So Canon Scott Holland ; and another very instruc-
tive discussion of the subject, which I am specially
glad to see, is by Prof. B. W. Bacon of Yale (pp.
218-224). This is too long to quote, where so much
has been quoted already; but it is an exposition of —

the essentially dual aspect of the Christian faith,
which began as a gospel preached by Jesus in
Galilee to publicans and sinners; but which
experienced a new birth in the resurrection as
a gospel about Jesus proclaimed to every crea-
ture .... The Church has followed Peter in a more
or less vacillating and illogical, but practically
salutary, attempt to occupy both poles of doctrine,
that which centres in the earthly Jesus, and that
which centres in the heavenly Christ.

I am not sure that I quite understand what Prof.
Bacon means by the epithets 'vacillating and
illogical.' I should have thought that the testimony
of the Church was solid, so far as it went — that it
did consistently claim 'to occupy both poles of
doctrine.' I should have thought that, at least for

VIII. The Present Position 203

many centuries, the only substantial limitation to
this was that some minds are naturally averse to
everything that can be called 'mystical', and that
the Church included specimens of this type, as well
as of its opposite.

I am glad to think that there is room for both
types, far removed as they are from each other.
I must not ignore the fact that there is an alter-
native view to that for which I have just been citing
witnesses. Dr. Schmiedel has a page of important
comment which ought not to be overlooked, and
which expresses his views with his usual uncom-
promising precision : —

If we now say * Jesus is my life,' we are not
referring to the historical Jesus, as including
characteristics which to us are unacceptable, but
we are referring to an ideal for which the historical
Jesus has supplied only the essential features. That
this kind of attachment to Jesus should cease, in
order to satisfy the demands of veracity, is surely
not the wish of Roberts. In such an event, religion
would certainly lose something which is essential to
its nature. Religion always unfolds itself with the
greatest vitality in the intercourse of a person with
a person. For that reason it thinks of God as a
Person with whom communion can be held, and
greatly prefers to commune with a Person who at
the same time comes nearer to the soul in the guise
of humanity. In discussion with theologians, the
truth must be most deeply emphasised that it is
impossible to hold a real communion with Jesus as a
man of the past; what appears to be such a communion
consists entirely in self -identification with the mental

204 Ancient and Modern Christologies

attitude of Jesus, and in producing in oneself thoughts
which are believed to be called into being by Jesus in
a kind of conversation. Such a proceeding, however,
is richly fraught with blessing to the soul, even
though it involves intellectual error. And naturally
it leads to a lofty reverence such as is rendered
to no other hero, however great, to no other bene-
factor of mankind, however eminent. To all these
we look up with awe, with a feeling of littleness
in comparison with them, with heartfelt gratitude
for what we have received from them, and with the
consciousness of still being by them helped forward
on the path of victory. But towards none of them
do men stand in relations of such intimate spiritual
communion as towards Jesus, because the region in
which they feel he is helping them is more central
than in the case of the rest; and because from none
else as from him do they receive so deep an impres-
sion that he has a heart of love for every human
being who approaches him — thanks to his image as
depicted in the gospels (p. 78).

I have italicized a passage which is evidently very
deliberate, and which deserves close attention. It
may be described as the minimum construction
that can be put upon the facts to which it refers.
Dr. Schmiedel is, of all the writers that I know, the
most austerely rational ; and in this passage he has
taken pains to ward off from himself the least suspi-
cion of Mysticism. That being so, it is interesting to
note how he goes on to rescue as much as possible
of the sentiment of Christian devotion.

This is, as I have already remarked, characteristic
of his essay all through. I must allow myself to

VIII. The Present Position 205

quote one or two more passages, which will enable
us, I think, to do still more justice to this really
remarkable position. I will again take the liberty
of emphasizing points which seem to me especially
noticeable :—

The further we go back into the beginnings of
Christianity, the more must we recognise that the
effort to rank Jesus on an equality with God was a
noble effort, and a natural expression of the value
which was attached to the Christian religion. The
blessings which it brought were received, it is true,
from God; but they were received through Christ,
and thus gratitude and veneration were also directed
towards him. Paul makes him, in the first stage,
an instrument in the hand of God (Rom. iii. 25, viii.
32); and yet Paul cannot avoid ascribing grace
to Christ himself (2 Cor. viii. 9). It is a very serious
question whether tee to-day should possess Christianity
at all if Jesus had not becninterpretedas a divine being.
In any case, this presentation of Christ, which
corresponded to heathen modes of conceiving the
gods and the sons of gods, has greatly contril)uted
to the diffusion of Christianity. Thus it was in its
own time a source of many blessings, and for that
very reason if for no other we ought to be ready to
pass a just estimate on the unfavourable after-results
which it is producing to-day (p. 65).

In the essential matter of genuine piety what has
come down to us from the religion of Jesus has
proved itself to be of infinite value. His funda-
mental principles have actually permeated the world
like leaven, and are permeating it more and more;
and so far, no prospect exists that anything better
will be able to displace them (p. 75).

On Prof. Schmiedel's premisses we could not wish

206 Ancient and Modern Christologies

for anything more clear-sighted or more just. But
is there no reaction from the admissions made in the
text back upon the premisses ? Can the universe
really be explained on such narrowly restricted lines ?
Are we to think of history as a tissue of self-decep-
tion? Are we to suppose that the natural and
necessary forms of human thought at one period
melt into mere mirage at another ? Are the spiritual
influences which seem so powerful and so deep merely
cases of the human soul talking to itself, or talking in
its sleep? The proper answer to Prof. Schmiedel
surely is: —

There are more things in heaven and earth,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

It is the philosophy that needs to be altered and
enlarged, and not the world that is to be cut down
to the measure of the philosophy.

Far more congenial is the essay of Prof. Henry
Jones. The assumptions of Prof. Schmiedel seem
to be very like those of eighteenth-century Deism.
Prof. Jones, on the other hand, starts by assuming
that 'such conceptions as those of the divinity of
man and the immanence of God are becoming
commonplaces of religious thought' (p. 92). He
follows out the consequences of this assumption in
a way that is perhaps onesided, but that at least
within its limits has more affinity to the teaching of
the Bible and historical Christianity. The warmth
of the language with which Prof. Jones works out

VIII. The Present Positicm 207

the implications of the doctrine of the Fatherhood
of God reminds us forcibly of more than one New
Testament passage: 'For whom he foreknew, he
also foreordained to be conformed to the image of
his Son, that he might be the firstborn among
many brethren' (Rom. viii. 29); 'For it became
him, for whom are all things, and through whom
are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to
make the author of their salvation perfect through
sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they
that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause
he is not ashamed to call them brethren' (Heb. ii.
10, 11). The chief point of difference is that the
Biblical writers emphasized the ' leadership ' no less
than the 'brotherhood'.^ And Prof. Jones does not
ignore this; he says: —

I can well believe that [Jesus] felt that he stood
alone in his mission; and that the revelation had
come to him with a fulness and power with which
it came to no other, I do not doubt: but if it could

^ Cf . an excellent criticism in Journ. of Theol. Studies for
January, 1910, p. 304; the writer is criticizing an objection
brought against certain teaching of Dr. Denney's: '"It is the
exclusiveness of his relation to God which is at stake. Does
Jesus alone stand in a true filial relation to God.?" In his
[Prof. Jones'] argument to the contrary it is a small matter
that he seems to misunderstand Dr. Denney: but he seems
also consistently to overlook certain commonplaces of Chris-
tian theology, as that in a very real sense God is recognized as
the Father of all men, that the very possibility of "adoption"
rests upon an original relation of "likeness"; that it is pre-
cisely where the loss incurred through practical denial of
sonship has been most deeply felt that its reassertion on the

208 Ancient and Modern Christologies

come in another way — and has it never come in any
other way ? — I do not beHeve that he would have con-
cerned himself about the manner of its coming (p.94).

I would not say myself that the revelation made
by our Lord Jesus Christ was never made in any
other way. Neither would I exactly deny what is
asserted in the first two sentences of another elo-
quent passage : —

Jesus did not come in order to reveal his singu-
larity or his isolation ; nor, indeed, to reveal himself
at all. The purpose of his coming was to show to
men, not only with what love they were loved by
himself, but with what love they were loved by
God. 'I have declared unto them thy name, and
will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast
loved me may be in them, and I in them.' It was
this truth which Jesus taught; it was this that he
presented in the living pattern of his life, that he
ratified and exemplified by his consciousness of his

ground of fellowship with Jesus has been most triumphant.
Curiously enough, Professor Jones does not (unless it is in a
single parenthetical remark) raise the point which seems to be
crucial, viz., that historically it has been through Jesus that
men have discovered that they and the divine are "on one
side," and that they have usually begun by discovering that
ethically they were on the opposite side. The distinction be-
tween sonship real but not realized and sonship brought into
unclouded consciousness is of vital importance for this dis-
cussion. It surely turns the edge of this criticism of Dr. Den-
ney. For as long as men have not realized their sonship the
divine must offer itself to their consciousness as "confronting
them". And therein lies the simple explanation of the fact on
which Dr. Denney lays stress, that "Jesus is set on the side of
reality which we call divine". The truth is that this article,
like some others in the volume, seeks to insert the critical
knife where no joint is to be found.'

VIII. The Present Positimi 209

own Sonship, established and sealed by his death;
and it was this truth thus lived which gave to Jesus
of Nazareth the place and the power which are all
his own in the history of mankind (p. 93).

The Incarnate, as the Incarnate, *did not come
in order to reveal His singularity or His isolation.'
What there was in Him of singularity and isolation
was revealed incidentally in the course of His mis-
sion; and the Church was not wrong in drawing
out this and in building upon it. It is just once
more a question of the 'hyphen'.

I see the diflBculty. But I venture to hope that
the view suggested, or the facts to which attention
has been called, in these lectures may go some way
to explain it. I have insisted upon the complete
reality of our Lord's Manhood. I can even borrow the
language of Prof. Schmiedel, and say with him: —

It is not for an instant doubtful that Jesus must
be considered as man in the full sense of the term,
and that anything divine may be sought in him only
under the condition that his humanity is not put in
question (p. 60).

The Church itself has asserted this, from Chalcedon
onwards. And it does but, I think, make the whole
position clearer to affirm, with Dr. Weston, that
the consciousness of our Lord, in His incarnate
state, was a genuinely and thoroughly human con-
sciousness. But that does not contradict or exclude
the presence beneath it of Deity one in kind with
that of God who rules the universe. It did not


210 Ancient and Modern Christologies

prevent our Lord from being aware of the presence
of Deity within Him; neither did it prevent this
knowledge, especially towards the end of His earthly
career, from surging up as it were within Him, and
carrying with it a sense of boundless possibilities
when the limitations of the flesh were removed
and the Divine Spirit, instead of being 'cabin'd,
crib'd, confin'd,' went forth again conquering and to
conquer : —

Christianity, then, found its originating impulse
outside the limits of the Gospel story. Its faith
was focussed on a spot beyond death. It existed to
declare a fact which had its seat in Heaven. The
fact upon which it built was expressed for it under
the terms of Christ's exaltation to the right Hand
of God. It is from that high Throne that He dis-
charges this Power, the Holy Spirit, which men
could see and hear. Without that Power there was
no Gospel. For without that Power there could be
no deliverance for man out of his moral impotence.
The manifestation and confession of this impotence
had been the sole supreme result of the preaching
of the Baptist. Man could do nothing until he was
baptized by the Fire of the Spirit. Until the Fire
fell upon him and transfigured him, he was still
arrested where the Baptist left him. And nothing
that Jesus said or did, while He moved about among
men doing good, set free the energising Fire.
Pentecost is the actual birthday of the Christian
religion (Canon Scott Holland, p. 122).

This is really to take history as it is, to give it its
full value, and not to begin to explain away the
facts as soon as we have got them. If it is true —

VIII . The Present Position 211

as it certainly is — that 'the Spirit Himself beareth
witness with our spirit that we are children of God',
the converse is no less true that our spirits bear
witness to the working of the Divine Spirit. If we
are 'sons', the sonship within us reflects and illus-
trates the Sonship of Him who is pre-eminently the

The mistake made in the past has been to think
of the Human and the Divine too much in contrast
and opposition to each other, to think that we must
needs weaken or restrict — or, if we may say so,
dilute — our conception of the one in order to make
room for the other. On the contrary, our real duty
and our real policy is to emphasize fearlessly both
sides at once: our Lord Jesus Christ is at one and
the same time truly human and truly Divine. And
the analogy of our own nature, as I have tried to
work it out in the last two lectures, shows us, I
believe, more clearly than anything else how this
can be.

212 Ancient and Modern C hristologies


If I am not mistaken, the signs of the times are
thickening which point to the urgency of such an
inquiry as that which I have been undertaking and,
I hope I may add, the helpfulness of the particular
solution that has been suggested. As the last of the
preceding lectures were being delivered there came
into my hands a book by the Rev. J. M. Thomp-
son entitled Jesus according to St. Mark, which
has been somewhat adversely criticized and which
I am aware has caused some disquietude. It is
indeed a symptom of the extent to which modern
problems and modern methods have taken hold of
the minds of our younger scholars ; and I cannot be
surprised if to those who are not quite familiar with
these problems and methods the effect should be at
first sight disturbing. At least one review that
I have seen is calculated to give a wrong idea both
of the book and of its author. Mr. Thompson is
a thoroughly believing and reverent writer; but he
feels, as others of us feel, that if Christianity is to
be restated in such a way as to carry conviction
to the modern world it must be by methods that
are strictly scientific and that do not involve any

Postscript 213

assumptions. He feels that it is necessary to begin
at the very beginning and work upwards step by
step. This is what he has done. He has taken
the oldest narrative Gospel, St. Mark, and he has
sought to recover from it the first simple impression
which it would give apart from all later comment
and interpretation. The sum of this impression is
given as follows : —

This, then, is the first conclusion towards which
I am led by the evidence of the second Gospel —
that Jesus is a single person, who as a whole lives
a human life, and as a ivhole can be worshipped as
divine. There is no possible or desirable division
between what is human in him and what is divine.
The human in him is divine. When he is most
truly man, then he is most truly God (pp. 277 f.).

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