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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spired men, but the perfect revelation must be
made by one who is God as well as man. It is
true that the necessity is not a priori; but when it is
given to us as a fact, we can see that it is reasonable.
Sin has caused a breach between man and God, and
it is the work of the Sinless to heal this breach.
This called for a new act of creation. The Divine
Logos, which is the appropriate organ of this media-
tion, takes to Itself human nature. There is no
double personality; but there is development in
the penetration of the human by the Divine. It is
characteristic of Dorner to insist on this develop-
ment; and he rather breaks away from his patristic
authorities by making the complete union of the
two natures come at the end of the process rather
than at the beginning.

It is also characteristic of Dorner to lay stress on
the single personal Head and Representative of
humanity; and his critics point out that this is by
no means required either by his philosophical or by
his religious premisses. It is not required by the
conception of the relation of the Infinite to the

///. Modern Christologies 71

finite; and God may as well be thought of in direct
relation to many souls as to one.

Under the head of 'mediating theology' would
fall the theory commonly known by the name of
Kenosis or 'self-emptying' of the Divine Nature of
Christ. This theory began really in Germany about
the time of which we have been speaking, the
middle of the last century. It was adopted rather
freely by continental theologians; but just as it
seemed to have run its course and to be dying out
there, it was taken up and vigorously pressed in
this country, where it has indeed had a fuller and
more eventful history than any other form of
Christological doctrine.

This rough outline of the history I must try to fill
in with somewhat more detail.

The theory took its rise among a group of theo-
logians who were predominantly orthodox and
desired to be orthodox, but who found themselves
in need of some reasoned explanation of certain
phenomena in the Life of our Lord on earth,
especially those which appeared to imply a restric-
tion or limitation of His divinity, such as His own
explicit statement as to the limit to His divine
knowledge (Mark xiii. 32) and St. Luke's de-
scription of His advance ' in wisdom and stature and
in favour with God and men' (Luke ii. 52). All
the examples of this kind were brought under the
general head of the language used by St. Paul in the

72 Ancient and Modern Christologies

famous passage Phil. ii. 5-8, and summed up in the
word kenosis or * self-emptying,' formed from the
principal verb in the sentence (eVeVwo-ei/ kavTov).

Both in patristic and in more modern times
there had been occasional suggestions pointing in
the direction of some such theory, though it no
doubt ran counter to the main tenor of Christian
thought. It was first definitely put forward as
a theory by Thomasius (Gottfried Thomasius, 1802-
75, Professor at Erlangen). His main work,
Christi Person und Werh, was first published in
1853-61 in three parts. In order to remove the
objection that his theory involved change in the
Godhead, Thomasius drew a distinction between
the essential and immanent (or inherent) attributes
of God, which include His moral attributes, and
such 'relative attributes '—attributes arising out of
His relation to the universe — as omnipotence, omni-
science, omnipresence. Some writers speak of these
as 'physical attributes' (e.g. Fairbairn, Christ in
Modern Theology, pp. 476, 477). The writer whose
statements on the subject of the Kenosis are most
sweeping and unguarded isGess (Wolfgang Friedrich
Gess, 1819-91), the first edition of whose Lehre von
der Person Christi was contemporary with the work
of Thomasius (1856), and who maintained his views
in the later form of the book (1870-87). Another
continental theologian who is better known in
England, Frederic Godet (1812-1900), Professor at
Neuchatel, a thoughtful and devout rather than an

///. Modern Chi'istologies 73

exact and methodical writer, also took up an extreme
position similar to that of Gess.

Certainly there is a sense in which the Incarna-
tion involved a kenosis. The great act of divine
condescension could not but carry with it a putting
off at least of the external circumstances of majesty
and glory. Phil. ii. 7 is not the only New Testa-
ment passage which refers to this. Other conspi-
cuous places are 2 Cor. viii. 9 ('Though He was
rich, yet for your sakes He became poor'), John
xvii. 5 ('Now, O Father, glorify Thou me with
Thine own self with the glory which I had with
Thee before the world was'). But the general ob-
jection to building a formal theory on such founda-
tions is that they are not really qualified to sustain
it. The most expressive passages are largely inci-
dental and metaphorical. It is a mistake to seek to
harden them into dogma. Really the tendency of
recent years has been all the other way, not so
much to multiply definitions and distinctions as to
reduce them, not to complicate doctrine but rather
to simplify it as much-as possible. I believe that this
is distinctly the more wholesome tendency of the two.

So far as I can see, the formal theory of Kenosis
rests upon an altogether insufficient basis, both
biblical and historical. The best criticism with
which I am acquainted is that by Loofs, s. v.
* Kenosis' in the new edition of Herzog (1901). But
the subject is one to the discussion of which this
country has made some contributions of value.

74 Ancient and Modern Christologies

I am afraid it is, or at least has been, one of our
characteristics that, before we really grapple with
a subject, especially a difficult subject, we are apt
to need the stimulus of controversy. If that is so,
there is, on the other hand, this to be said for our
controversies, that usually something worth having
is struck out in the course of them. Controversy
is as a rule our chief way of securing thoroughness
of treatment. When a prolonged controversy has
passed over a subject, that subject is held in the
national consciousness — not only in the conscious-
ness of scholars but in a certain degree in that of
the general public as well — in a much more solid,
digested, and clarified form than it would have been
otherwise. We are not at all a people of system:
knowledge with us is much more like a country in
process of reclamation, in which certain tracts are
far more thoroughly broken up and tilled than
others, just because the ploughs and harrows of
controversy have passed over them.

Such has been the case with this doctrine of the
Kenosis. The impulse to the discussion of the
Kenotic Theory which has taken place in this
country, with special activity during the decade
1889-99, came in the first instance from the side
of Biblical Criticism. The protagonist at first was
Dr. Gore (now Bishop of Birmingham). In his Lux
Mundi (1889) essay which made so much stir, on
' The Holy Spirit and Inspiration,' he was compelled
to refer to the question as to the knowledge of our

///. Modern Christologies 75

Lord as Man in its bearing on such points as (e.g.)
the authorship of Ps. ex ; and the subject was taken
up again in his Bampton Lectures for 1891 and yet
again in the Disseiiaiions mi Subjects connected with
the Incarnation (1895). It happened that Dr. Rash-
dall in a sermon preached in the same year (1889)
appealed to the same doctrine for the same purpose,
though not committing himself to any particular
kenotic theory. Similarly, Bp. Moorhouse of Man-
chester in his Teaching of Christ (1891), Dr. Fairbairn,
Christ in Modern Theology (1893), Dr. A. J. INIason,
The Conditions of our Lord's Life onEarth (1896) , Dr.
Ottley, Doctrine of the Incarnation (1896.) All these
writers may be ranged on the same side as insisting
to a greater or less degree on the Kenosis. On the
other hand a steady opposition was maintained all
through the period by The Church Quarterly Review
in articles dated respectively October 1891, January
and October 1896, July and October 1897, January
1899. To the same effect was a weighty charge by
Bp. Stubbs of Oxford delivered in 1893 ; an elaborate
work by the Rev. H. C. Powell, The Pri7iciple of the
Incarnation (1896); Dr. Gifford, The Incarnation:
a Study of Philippians ii. 5-11 (1897); a survey of
the whole subject by Dr. F. J. Hall of Chicago, The
Kenotic Theory (1898); and a number of incidental
allusions in writings by Dr. W. Bright, e.g. The
Incarnatimi as a Motive Power (2nd edition, 1891),
Morality in Doctrine (1892), Waymarks in Church
History (1894). A great deal of this literature was

76 Ancient and Modern Christologies

of real value. Dr. Bright was our foremost patristic
scholar — one of the greatest that the Church of
England has ever possessed, and all his utterances
on the subject were marked not only by com-
manding knowledge but by great precision and
carefulness of language. Dr. Gifford's little book
was confined to the discussion of a single passage, but
was quite a model in its kind, i.e. in its treatment
of the data supplied by N. T. Exegesis, and is likely
to remain the highest authority possible so far as it
goes. Mr. Powell's work was most thorough and
exhaustive in its way; it was only rather a mis-
fortune that it mixed up much excellent learning
with rather disputable philosophy. I should also like
to add to the list of books mentioned from the penul-
timate decade a single book from the last decade.
Canon (now Bishop) F. Weston's The One Christ
(1907). I am proud to claim Dr. Weston as an old
pupil of my own, and his book, written in the
isolation of Zanzibar, shows great freshness and
originality. It treats the subject from the point
of view of high dogmatics; and I shall have
occasion to refer to it again, when I come to offer
something constructive in relation to Christological

The most thoroughgoing and the boldest in lan-
guage of those who lay stress on the Kenosis is
Dr. Gore. His position generally seems to be
similar to that of Thomasius; and he does not
hesitate to speak of the * abandonment,' 'real aban-

///. Modern Christologies 77

donment,' or 'surrender' of some of the divine
attributes, where a writer Hke Dr. Bright would
speak of voluntary self-restraint in their exercise.
I do not think that I shall be far wrong if I were
to describe the general effect of the controversy as
a lesson of caution in the use of language and in the
drawing of dogmatic inferences. Bp. Gore deserves
full credit for the directness and boldness with
which he grasped a difficult problem; and I for
one believe that both he and Dr. Rashdall were
justified in refusing to prejudge questions of criti-
cism on the ground of an abstract doctrine as to
our Lord's Person. Nor should I question their
right to base this refusal on a doctrine of Kenosis,
if they prefer to call it by that name; in other
words, to bring it under the head of the conditions
assumed by our Lord in His Incarnation. But it
seems to me that of the two practically simul-
taneous utterances. Dr. Rashdall's was the more
judicious in keeping to general terms and declining
to press them into the mould of a particular theory.
I should like, if I may, to take the opportunity of
expressing a hope that Dr. Rashdall's volume, Doc-
trine and Development, may not be forgotten, as occa-
sional volumes of sermons of that kind are apt to be.
I believe it to be specially fitted to place in the
hands of a layman who desired to see Christian
doctrine restated in a fresh, independent, and un-
technical way. And, although I should perhaps
go further on some points myself, it would be

78 Ancient and Modern Christologies

ungrateful not to recognize the amount of clear
and positive teaching which the book contains.

What I have just been saying about the Kenotic
Theory has been of the nature of a digression which
will detract somewhat from the symmetry and pro-
portion of the treatment of my main subject. It
seemed impossible to break off without bringing it
down to the present time; and the English contro-
versy comes in as rather an excrescence upon the
direct history of the development of Christological
doctrine. We branched off at the appearance of
Thomasius's book in the middle of the fifties, when
the Hegelian philosophy was still in the ascendant.
It was not much later that that philosophy began to
decline, especially in the influence which it had
upon theology, and a new set of forces began to
make themselves powerfully felt. These are asso-
ciated with the name of Albrecht Ritschl (1822-
89) and his school. Ritschl had already in 1857
brought out the second edition of his Entstehung der
altkatholischen Kirche, the epoch-making work
which not only marked his complete breach with
the Tubingen School but more than anything else
really gave the death-blow to that school and its
theories. Much, no doubt, was contributed by the
cumulative work of the great Cambridge trio; but
that was later in date, and it did not come with
quite the concentrated and nervous originality of
this single early work of Ritschl's. The Cambridge

///. Modern Christologies 79

influence was rather that of a different type and
direction of scholarship; that of Ritschl seemed
due to the mental thews and sinews of a single
scholar outgrowing his own surroundings.

Ritschl himself began as a follower of Baur and
of Tubingen ; but to understand his place in history
we have to go further back and to a collateral line
of development. Tiibingen was the theological
application of Hegelianism; the more distinctive
features in the theology of Ritschl are rather in the
line of descent from Schleiermacher (Friedrich D. E.
Schleiermacher, 17G8-1834). Philosophically, I sup-
pose that Ritschl drew not a little of his inspiration
from Kant (17!24-1804); but his conception of
religion came more from Schleiermacher. It is to
Schleiermacher that we must really trace the eman-
cipation of theology from that dominant intellectual-
ism which culminated in Hegel. Schleiermacher
saw that religion was by no means a matter only of
the pure intellect, as the Rationalists as well as the
Idealists made it. He saw that it was not only
a doctrine but a life, and a life even more than
a doctrine; the emotions and the will had an even
larger part in it than the intellect. Schleiermacher
thus takes his start, not from dogma, not from
metaphysical theory, but from religious experience.
This is the great revolution, in which later theology
has so largely followed him. At the same time it
was not to be expected that so great a change should
reach its final expression all at once. Schleiermacher

80 Ancient and Modern Christologies

gathered up in his own person a large part of the
best culture of his time. He was open to influences
from many quarters; and he built up his system
with the discursive play of a many-sided genius. It
was but natural that there should linger on in it
some features derived from the past. For instance,
he makes much use of the conception of the rela-
tion of the finite to the infinite, and makes religion
arise out of the feeling of utter dependence. The
consciousness of God includes with him a sense of
the order of nature. Accordingly, he rejects the
idea of miracle as a breach in that order, and gener-
ally reduces the miraculous element in the Life of
Christ. Christ is for him the embodiment of thcv
' Urbild ' or Ideal of Humanity. This ideal is to be /
judged, not by the empirical standard of the extent t(X
which it has been actually reproduced in the Church,
but rather by its boundless possibilities of reproduc-
tion. Christ is the organ for the indwelling of God
in humanity; He communicates that indwelling \
from Himself to the race, not (as it would seem)/
supernaturally, but in the same kind of way in
which one man influences another. Measured byK
the distance which separates Him from the average
of mankind. His appearance on earth is a miracle;
but it is better regarded as the meeting-point of
God's creative act and the evolution of Man.
Schleiermacher would restate Christian doctrine
in some such terms as these.*

* Kirn in Hauck-Herzog, BE.^, xvii. 605.

///. Modern Christologies 81

Speaking for myself, I should be inclined to
describe this as rather an effort towards the expres-
sion of a truth than the successful expression of it.
I cannot see in Schleierraacher's view more than
a stage on the road. He is still too much infected
by the philosophies around him; there is still too
much of the 'idea,' and not yet enough of that
direct analysis of religious experience to which he
had himself called attention.

Schleiermacher leaves upon us the impression of a
keen and quick intelligence, cultivated and receptive
on many sides, containing in itself the seeds of
many distinct movements and full of suggestiveness
for the future, but with its visible products not
quite completely fused and harmonized. Compared
with this the mind of Ritschl seems slowly moving
and heavily moving; but it impresses us by sheer
weight of brain power, by its independence, and by
the closely knit structure of the thought. He is
plastic, but not with the plasticity which adapts
itself to the varied configuration of the data; the
leading quality with him is rather a masterful
strength and tenacity of purpose, which bends even
unpromising materials to its will.

Ritschl made his system culminate in the God-
head of Christ, though his correspondence ' shows
that even in the act of doing so he was aware that
he would not conciliate his opponents either on the
right hand or on the left. He used the phrase, and it

^ Alhrecht Ritschls Leben, ii. 149.

82 Ancient a7id Modern Christologies

was natural to him to use it, but its content was
not quite the same as that which it bore in the
doctrine of the Church. At the same time he was
accused of unworthy accommodation. He did not
deserve this charge, because he really meant to
convey much that the Church does, but he ap-
proached it differently, and he places his positive
teaching in a different setting. Ritschl was a
Biblicist; and he works out his ideas in the form
of Biblical exegesis; but when his texts do not
suit him, he overrides them.* He treats Luther
even more eclectically than the Bible, content
if he can find support from some passages, though
he has to confess that there is different teaching
in others. His method is to ignore or minimize
everything of the nature of metaphysics, and to
assert and build upon all that is concerned with the
moral and practical side of religion. Ritschl will
not separate the Person of Christ from His Work;
it is rather in the work that we are to seek for the
expression of the Person. The following summary
is given by his son O. Ritschl.

Ritschl's whole doctrine of the Godhead of Christ-
amounts to this, that in Christ as Man God Himself ^
may be known as He is (in seinem Wesen). The ^
Manhood of Christ is here no longer opposed to His
Godhead, as in the formula of His Two Natures. For
Christ as Man is not regarded as possessing human
nature in the abstract, but altogether in the concrete

*■ There is a rather conspicuous example of this in Rechtf. u.
Vers.\ iii. 80.

///. Modern Christologies 83

as the individual Man Jesus, who has faithfully
fulfilled His special and peculiar mission in perfect
love and perfect patience. And in the whole of this
hfe's achievement of His Christian faith at the same
time recognizes Him as the self-revelation of God
(Leben^ ii. 216).

We may see sufficiently from this how Ritschl's
doctrine differs from the traditional. At the same
time Ritschl is thoroughly in earnest in the stress
which he lays on Christ as revealing the Father.
The two favourite texts which he applies in this
connexion are John i. 14 ('We saw his glory . . . full
of grace and truth'), and Matt. xi. 27-9 ('All
things have been delivered unto me of my Father. . .
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am
meek and lowly in heart'). 'All things have been
delivered unto me of my Father' marks the victory
over the world; and the meekness and lowliness
are shown especially in the patient self-surrender of
the Cross.

In his exposition of the doctrine Ritschl makes
use of the ordinary categories of Prophet, Priest, and
King. But I do not know that there is anything in
his treatment of these that would differentiate him
much from any other writer.






We have traced a certain progress in the theo-
logizing of the last century, so far as it centres in
the doctrine of the Person of Christ, which for the
sake of clearness we connected with the three
landmarks described in those expressive German
phrases, the Christus-Idee, Christus-Prinzip, and
Christus-Person — as we might say, the doctrine of
Christ considered as an idea, considered as an active
principle, and considered as the influence of a
person : that is, supposing that I am right in taking
'Prinzip' as compared with 'Idee' to mean just an
operative idea, an idea expressed or realized in act.
In this case the two terms would go closely together,
and the second would be only a more complete form
of the first; as a matter of fact the use of it did come
later in order of time, and may be regarded as just
an improvement in expression. The three land-
marks of which I have spoken would represent one
short step and one longer step; for many purposes
the first two might be bracketed together.

The Christus-Idee or doctrine of Christ considered
as an idea may (as we have seen) be specially
identified with Hegel. And no doubt recent years
have seen rather a reaction against Hegel. I should


88 Ancient and Modern Chridologies

not be at all surprised if many of my hearers dis-
missed from their minds at once the notion that
Christ could be described in terms of an idea as
simply the explaining away of substantial Christian
truth as a mere abstraction. I should myself at
one time have done so. But there is really more
in it than this. Hegelianism in the hands of its
best representatives, in the hands of those who are
not only Hegelians in philosophy but are also steeped
in the language and thought of the New Testament,
has shown great powers of adaptation and approxi-
mation to New Testament ideas. I have already
quoted one admirable passage from the late Pro-
fessor T. H. Green which seemed to me — with one
or two slight modifications, not at all affecting its"
essence — to express as well as we could wish the
real teaching of the New Testament. And I must
give myself the pleasure of quoting another passage
for the double purpose, both of confirming this
impression and also of putting before you thoughts,
concisely and aptly stated, which I believe it will
be useful and helpful to bear in mind. The follow-
ing, I venture to think, is not only good Hegelian
theology but also good Biblical theology as well;
and it anticipates a great deal of more recent teach-
ing to which I shall have to come back presently.

A death unto life, a life out of death, must, then,
be in some way the essence of the divine nature —
must be an act which, though exhibited once for all
in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, was

IV. Two Types of Chi-istology 89

yet eternal — the act of God Himself. For that
very reason, however, it was one perpetually re-
enacted, and to be re-enacted, by man. If Christ
died for all, all died in Him; all were buried in
His grave to be all made alive in His resurrection.
It is so far as the Second Man, which is from
Heaven, and whose act is God's, thus lives and dies
in us, that He becomes to us a wisdom of God, which
is righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. In
other words. He constitutes in us a new intellectual
consciousness, which transforms the will, and is the
source of a new moral life {The Witness of God, p. 8;
Works, iii. 233).

Once again it is difficult for me to bring myself
to stop; Professor Green was a most attractive expo-
nent of ideas of this kind. And I would ask you
to observe that not the slightest exception can be
taken to such a statement as that which I have
just read from the point of view of the strictest
orthodoxy. If exception were taken to it, it would
be far more likely to come from what I may call
the dominant school in Germany, of which I shall
soon be speaking, and perhaps from some quarters
among ourselves.

With such writing before my mind, I should not

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