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

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feel that I could dismiss the attempt to express
either the person or the work of Christ in the terms
of an idea. Along with the tendency to move
further away from Hegel at the present time, there
is also a tendency here and there among us to some-
thing of the nature of a return to him. It is in
such a region as this that philosophy and theology

90 Ancient and Modern Christologies

most tend to meet; and if some student of philo-
sophy should feel disposed to experiment in this
direction, I should be sorry to dissuade him.

We have so far traced the development of modern
Christology down to Ritschl. He may be regarded
as inaugurating the latest phase in the history of the
subject, the phase of which the watchword would
be, neither Idea nor Principle but Person. There
is a great deal that is very wholesome in the move-
ment out of which this development has sprung.
It arose from and has been sustained by a great
desire to look at the reality of things, to put aside
conventions and to get into close and living contact
with things as they really are. It came to be seeh
that — whether or not it has some partial justifica-
tion — in any case as a complete philosophy of
religion Hegelianism was too purely intellectual.
It did not correspond to the true nature of religion,
in which the emotions and the will are involved
quite as much as the intellect. Along with the
reaction in this sense against Hegelianism, there
was also something of a reaction against the body
of doctrine inherited from the Ancient Church. It
was felt that this too was just as predominantly
intellectual, and therefore also a departure from the
true ideal of religion. A good deal of dissatisfaction
was felt with the old metaphysics in the forms of
which Christological doctrine had clothed itself.
The doctrine of the Two Natures in particular, as

IV. Two Types of Christology 91

embodied in the writings of St. Leo and partly
sanctioned at Chalcedon, was sharply criticized.
There was also not a little tendency to revolt
against the later idea of a human nature which had
not a proper personality of its own but which took
its personality from the divine nature. It seemed
to promise a great simplification all round when
Ritschl proposed to discard metaphysics altogether,
and to take his stand on what he called 'judgements
of value,' i. e. judgements constructed with a view,
not to their absolute truth or falsehood, but to their
bearing upon practical life.

It must not be thought that dissatisfaction with
some of the ancient formulae was confined to the
Germans or to quarters hostile to orthodoxy. Dr.
Westcott writes decidetily enough in his Commentary
on the Epistle to the Hebrews (p. 66): 'It is un-
scriptural, though the practice is supported by
strong patristic authority, to regard the Lord during
His historic life, as acting now by His human and
now by His divine nature only. The two natures
were inseparably combined in the unity of His
person.' It is true that this note is criticized in
The Church Quarterly Review for Jan. 1899, p. 345.
But on the other hand it is endorsed by Bp. Gore
(Dissertations, p. 166), who, after illustrating the
tendency to regard the divine and human natures
in our Lord as simply placed side by side, and to
speak of Him as acting now in the one and now in
the other, expressly dissociates himself from this

92 Ancient and Modem Christologies

mode of speaking. He himself prints the sentence
in which he does this in itaUcs. ' This is a point on
which — it must be emphatically said — accurate exe-
gesis renders impossible to us the phraseology of the
Fathers exactly as it stands.' Dr. Gore has a care-
ful note (p. 163) on the difference in degree of
authority between the actual decision of a Council
and a writing (like Leo's Tome) approved by a
Council. The latter may well be regarded as
illustrative rather than dogmatically defining. It
would certainly be wrong to press all the incidental
expressions used in this sense. Or we might put it
in this way: the language of St. Leo was very in-
telligible and very natural for the purpose for which
it was used, and there was a broad sense in which
it was not really wrong; but it must not be taken
as laying down a formula unalterably for all time.

Dr. Moberly is another writer whose language
diverges somewhat from that of Pope Leo. For
instance, he writes thus : —

The phrase ' God and man ' is of course perfectly
true. But it is easy to lay undue emphasis on the
'and.' And when this is done — as it is done every
day — the truth is better expressed by varying the
phrase. 'He is not two, but one, Christ.' He is,
then, not so much God and man, as God in, and
through, and as, man. He is one indivisible
personality throughout. In His human life on
earth, as Incarnate, He is not sometimes, but con-
sistently, always, in every act and every detail.
Human. The Incarnate never leaves His Incarna-

IV. Two Types of Christology 93

tion. God, as Man, is always, in all things, God as
man. . . . There are not two existences either of, or
within, the Incarnate, side by side with one another.
If it is all Divine, it is all human too. We are to
study the Divine in and through the human. By
looking for the Divine side by side with the human,
instead of discerning the Divine within the human,
we miss the significance of them both {Atonement and
Personality, pp. 96 f.).

Dr. Du Bose is no less explicit. * Jesus Christ
Himself,' he says, 'is not God in some acts and
man in others, but equally God and equally man in
every act of His Human life.'' I hope to make a
suggestion on this head before I have done.

It is not perhaps necessary to place ancient
language and modern language in opposition to
each other on another aspect of the doctrine of the
Two Natures — the question as to the centre of
personality in our Lord. Dr. Moberly writes: —

Christ is, in fact, a Divine Person : but a Divine
Person not merely wearing manhood as a robe,
or playing upon it as an instrument; but really
expressing Himself in terms of Humanity. . . .There
was in Him no impersonal Humanity (which is
impossible) ; but a human nature and character
which were personal because they were now the
method and condition of His own Personality:
Himself become Human, and thinking, speaking,
acting, and suffering, as man (op. cit. p. 94).

This is in strict agreement (although the idea of
' The Gospel according to St. Paul, p. 37.

94 Ancient and Modern Christologies

an ' impersonal humanity' is pronounced impossible)
with Leontius of Byzantium, John of Damascus, and
the Council of 553. And yet, when Dr. Du Bose
comes to touch upon the same point he seems to feel
himself compelled to assume a double personality,
a divine personality and a human personality, which
he regards as a difficulty that is perhaps insoluble.*
It is a little remarkable that he should do this and
that Dr. Moberly apparently should not, because
both hold the same view of personality. We seem
to understand why Dr. Moberly should not find a
difficulty in one personality doing duty for two
natures, because for him the consummation of
human personality is to be sought in its inter-
penetration by divine. Dr. Du Bose agrees in this,
and yet he seems compelled to postulate a double
personality. On such a view no question need be
raised as to the perfedus Deus and perjectus homo of

* 'Yet, assuming, as we must, that our Lord's temptations
were to their utmost limit our own temptations and not those
of one other than ourselves, are we not involved in the diffi-
culty of a double personality in our one Lord; a divine per-
sonality in which He is the very Word of God Himself uttered
or expressed in humanity, God self -fulfilled and self-fulfilling
in the nature and under the conditions of us all; and on the
other hand, too, a human personality which alone can be the
real and perfect expression of God humanly self-realized and
manifested ? . . . The time may come when we shall better
state to ourselves this paradox or seeming contradiction, and
better too perhaps adapt and fit ourselves to its acceptance; it
can never come when we shall be able either to solve it or to
reject it' (op. cit. p. 300).

IV. Two Types of Christology 95

the Quicumqiie; the rock ahead is Unus omnino,
non conjusione suhstantiae sed un itate personae. Dr.
Moberly escapes this; but the difficulty in his case
would be as to the perfectus homo. And I am afraid
that this difficulty attaches to the whole patristic
position. I do not mean to leave the dilemma in
this state; but the solution which I hope to suggest
must be deferred for the present.

These are examples of the strain put upon the
modern mind when it tries to follow out problems
of this kind to their last issues. The least we can
do is to recognize the utter relativity of our own
language. It is not only subject to limitations and
conditions that we can see, but to much more that
we cannot see. And we can well understand when
(e. g.) Dr. Bigg pronounces that 'the later Councils
were too inquisitive, and attempted to solve prob-
lems which need not be set and cannot be
answered. Even of the third and fourth Councils
this may be said. They went beyond their author-
ities into regions where we may hardly venture to
intrude, and therefore they both led to permanent
national schisms' (The Spirit of Christ in Common
Life, p. 144). It was a m.ore sweeping movement
of the sane kind when Ritschl tried to banish
metaphysics altogether. Even philosophy is at-
tempting much the same thing in the case of
Pragmatism. I doubt if these more extreme
measures can ultimately succeed, because the mind
of man is irresistibly impelled towards a theory of

96 Ancient and Modern Christologies

things, and even a negative theory is still a theory.
But in any case we have learnt caution; we have
learnt to speak with far greater reserve than we
did. And if we regard Ritschl as expressing a
tendency rather than a rigid and absolute position,
as a tendency it is wholesome enough in its way.

On this particular subject of Christology I believe
that the tendency represented by Ritschl and his
followers is wholesome. It is a good thing that our
attention should be drawn to the Person of Christ,
and that it should be kept fully in view in any
construction of Christological doctrine. So much
I should be willing to grant. But I should decline
to affirm either that the introduction of metaphysics
had never been justified in the past or would never
be possible in the future. The human mind will
not permanently renounce the attempt to find a
theory of the universe which shall include all being,
even the highest.

We may in any case take the Ritschlian stand-
point as characterizing the present stage of inquiry.
Even where the Ritschlian or the Pragmatist theories
are not held, there is a widespread tendency to
look for moral and religious values rather than
for metaphysical definition. The immediate object
before us must be to discriminate more closely
between the different views that are capable of
being held on this general platform.

The longer I study the course of contemporary

IV. Two Types of Christology 97

thought, and especially contemporary Christian
thought, in relation to religion, the more distinctly
does it seem to crystallize in two main types. I
will call the one *full Christianity,' and the other
'reduced Christianity'; and each of these, as it
seems to me, has a Christology of its own. No
doubt there are many intermediate shades and
degrees; and yet I should be inclined to say that
even these shades and degrees distinctly trend in
the one direction or the other; there is a tendency
to gravitate towards one or other of the two main
types, and it is not difficult to say which, even in
cases where the prevailing tendency is subject to
not a little qualification.

I must try to describe these types as objectively
as I can. I have no doubt which of the two I lean
towards myself; but I can feel at the same time
the attraction of the other. Indeed I am perhaps
conscious of a certain call to offer to mediate
between them — at least so far as to help to bring
about a mutual understanding. If two sides so
clearly understand each other as to know what the
other is aiming at and what it is not aiming at, if
prejudices and mistakes and misrepresentations are
cleared away as far as possible, then at least the
first step is taken towards mutual respect.

There is the more reason for an effort to mediate
in this case, because the difference between the

98 Ancient and Modern Christologies

two types presents itself to a rough and general
view as almost international. When I speak of 're-
duced Christianity,' I have before my mind more
especially the kind of view that I believe to be
dominant in liberal religious circles in Germany.
When I speak of the 'fuller Christianity,' I am
thinking of the type that still prevails in religious
circles, even on the whole in liberal religious circles,
in this country. I do not for a moment deny, either
that there are in Germany many other religious
circles besides those which I have described as
liberal, or that in this country there are not many
scattered types of Liberalism. It is difficult to
speak of that which is unexpressed ; but I have the
feeling that there is amongst us a great amount of
diffused but silent Liberalism which would corre-
spond more nearly to the German type than to our
own. I will go so far as to say that I should be
glad to think that it did conform to this type.
I say so because I think that I am conscious of its
excellences; and I would a great deal sooner that
it conformed to this type than to other inferior types,
and still more so than that it should escape beyond
the bounds of what can be called Christian at all.

This type that I have called 'reduced Christian-
ity ' has one immense advantage. It aims at being,
and I believe that it is, strictly scientific. In saying
that I do not mean to admit that the other type,
which I shall call my own, is unscientific, in the

IV. Two Types of Christology 99

sense of being contrary to, or excluded by, science.
But, whereas there is in this case a large fringe of
debatable ground where the question may be raised
whether particular views are consistent with science
or not, in the other case it seems to me to be a
reasonable claim that the whole of the ground
maintained has the positive support of science, and
that as against opposing negative views a sound
scientific method will be found favourable rather
than otherwise. The German position (if I may
call it so for short) seems to me like a compact
fortress, small but well found in every respect, with
arms and ammunition of the latest pattern and
capable of offering a prolonged resistance to any
attack that can be brought against it.

If the only purpose of the Christian faith were
self-defence, I too should acquiesce in such a posi-
tion. We must not be backward to recognize its
advantages or the virtues that go along with it. It
is impossible not to admire the scrupulous care
with which the scientific ideal is kept in view, and
the steady refusal to go beyond it. I must only
qualify this admission. I must only speak with
some reserve on the subject of the science. That
of course may from time to time be open to question ;
the best of principles are apt to fail in the applica-
tion. Allowing for defects of this kind, we must
still ungrudgingly recognize the excellence of the
intention. That is the strong point: the strength
of the scientific interest, and the logical persistence


100 Ancient and Modern Christologies

with which it is followed out, no matter what the

And yet, even so, the spirit that I am describing
seems to me to come some way short of the ideal.
It is science pursued with a certain lack of balance.
It is too apt to ignore considerations that ought not
to be ignored.

Why is it that in so many quarters 'orthodoxy'
has come to be a term of reproach ? It ought not to
be so in the nature of things. And again, why is
tradition and everything that can be called * tradi-
tional ' looked upon so much askance ? That is not
the right attitude, however inveterate it may have
become. It is really a reaction from one extreme
to another. Many virtues went to the original
opposition to orthodoxy and tradition. It arose, on
its better side, out of an impulse of sincerity, the
warm pursuit of freshness and freedom. But the
proverbial risks lay near at hand. One generation
persecutes, and the next erects monuments to the
persecuted. An orthodoxy of fashion succeeded to
the older orthodoxy, which had at least a nobler
sanction ; the shibboleths of opposition were applied
— at least have often been applied as rigorously as
those of faith. And the total result has been a want
of sympathy and a want of justice in the study of the
past, a perverted view of history, a series of discord-
ant notes where there should rather be harmony.

I shall have occasion shortly to illustrate what
I mean. It is not that side of things on which

IV. Two Types of Christology 101

I desire to insist at present. I am speaking of two
typical conceptions of Christianity, which have as
their correlatives two typical Christologies. And
I do not wish the antithesis to seem greater than it
is. It is almost sure to do so, if each side is not
judged in complete connexion with its context;
I mean, if we look only at results, and not at the
conditions which have led to the results. I have
called one a 'reduced Christianity' and the other
a 'full Christianity'; I might call the one a
'minimum Christianity' and the other a 'maxi-
mum Christianity,' meaning by that of course a
relative, and not an absolute minimum or maximum.
But you will see how at once the whole situation
is altered if we regard the opposing types as (from
the point of view of those whom they represent)
deliberatelv 'minimum' and * maximum.' When
I say this, I do not mean that the two sides con-
sciously and of set purpose aim respectively at
a minimum and a maximum, but rather that the
whole bent of their antecedents and character
impels them in the direction of minimum and
maximum. The important point is that in any
comparative extimate of the two types allowance
has to be made opposite ways. Those who hold the
form of Christianity which I have called 'reduced'
practically isolate themselves here in the twentieth
century and ask. What verifiable facts can we lay
down.^ What demonstrable propositions can we
commit ourselves to as modern men ? The others

102 Ancient and Modern Christologies

do not feel that they can isolate themselves in this
way from their predecessors in time or from the
corporate teaching of the body to which they
belong. They are conscious of an organic con-
nexion or solidarity with the Church of the past,
and they desire to maintain this connexion. They
are not individualists, and they do not wish to be.
They have a respect for science, and they are
prepared to put their opinions to the test of science;
but in certain cases where the continuity of old and
new is involved they are content with lower degrees
of proof if higher are not to be had.

I hope this is not an unfair description of the two
leading types of opinion of which I have been
speaking. If I call the one German and the other
English, I do so mainly for convenience and with
the full knowledge that the labels are accurate only
in the roughest and most general way. I have (as
I said) the impression that the type which I have
called German has spread considerably beneath the
surface and is spreading among ourselves. And
at the present time and during the last two or three
years there has been a rather vigorous reaction in
Germany on lines parallel to though not identical
with those which prevail among ourselves. I refer
to the movement which goes by the name of
' Modern Positive,' with Reinhold Seeberg of Berlin
at its head and with no lack of energetic supporters.
The other attitude is, however, still on the whole
dominant in the Universities.

IV. Ttvo Types of Christology 103

I have dwelt at some length and in some detail
on this survey of the situation for a reason which
will be understood as soon as I come to speak more
directly on the subject of Christology. It is in the
Christology that the difference between the two
types culminates. Christology is the strongest
dividing line between the Modern Positive school
in German theology and the Liberal. It is also the
strongest dividing line between German Liberalism
and ourselves. And yet I am anxious that the
difference should not be exaggerated. Stated baldly
and without regard to the contexts in each case, the
gulf will seem impassable. Ritschl put the doctrine
of the Godhead of Christ in the forefront : not all,
but by far the greater part, of his followers, and all
the more pronounced Liberals who are independent
of them, would deliberately put it on one side.
I say ' put it on one side ' ; and I think that is the
most accurate expression I can use. The Ritschlians
generally would say, when they were questioned,
that there was a sense in which the doctrine was
true. But they do not like to affirm it for fear of
being misunderstood. It is the scrupulous scien-
tific conscience that comes into play. Most English-
men, I believe, in the like position would affirm it.
I have little doubt that, if I held the Ritschlian
premisses — as a matter of fact I do not hold them,
but if I did — I should affirm it myself. You see, the
difference is this: I should be anxious to keep in
agreement so far as I possibly could with the Church

104 Ancient and Modern Christologies

Universal. In order to maintain that agreement,
I should be willing to strain so far — if it were really
a question of straining, and I do not think it is — ^my
conscience on the side of science. The Ritschlian,
the German, takes the opposite line to this. He is
very sensitive on the subject of science, and he is
comparatively indifferent to the Church Universal.
And therefore, sooner than incur to himself or to
others the slightest suspicion of yielding anything
on the side of science, he will shelve the whole
question, or (if he is pressed) will even deny what
upon the same premisses I should be prepared to

That, I think, is how the matter stands. And now,
you will naturally wish to know precisely how far the
Ritschlian — I have in view expecially the Ritschlian
— is prepared to go with us. The formula on which
he insists, and will insist as much as we please, is
contained in those words of St. Paul's, ' God was in
Christ, reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor. v.
19). His assent to this is whole-hearted. By * God '
he means the Almighty who rules the universe.
The life of Christ upon earth was a manifestation of
true Godhead. The inference might be safely drawn
that the character which He manifested on earth was
the character of God. If we had been left entirely
to ourselves, we might not have known, we should
never have been quite sure, that God was really
Love, that love was the ultimate motive with which
He made and sustains the world. But not only so;

IV. Tivo Tiji^es of Christology 105

to find Christ or be found of Christ, is to find God
or be found of God ; to be in touch with Christ is to
be in touch with God, and to feel His presence in
the soul.

That is the religious nucleus of Ritschlianism, in
regard to which, as I said just now, it is quite
whole-hearted. And I confess that to me this
profession of faith, brief and guarded as it is, is of
immense value. I am not sure that it is not really
the essence of everything. We can all go together
so far. And, while we are in the way together,
I am not disposed to count up too carefully the
other items that are dropped. I really think that
in regard to these other items I at least could come
to an understanding. I know that I mustn't take
myself too much as a standard; I only throw out
this as a possible point of view. But, for instance,
I believe that if a Ritschlian were questioned he
would admit that such a doctrine as that of the
Trinity had a relative and historical justification; it
was a natural and appropriate form for the doctrine
to take; it was a form that the men of the early
centuries could understand so far as it was capable
of being understood. It safeguarded for them, as
nothing else could, that one fundamental tenet of
'God in Christ.' I should add myself that it was

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