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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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not only a doctrine for that day, to be afterwards
abandoned. Even now, I do not think that we have
any other better formula to put in its place. Rightly
guarded — guarded as the ancients guarded it, with

106 Ancient and Modern Christologies

due discrimination as to the use of the word
Person — I do not think tliat we can improve upon
it. And then, for me, it has the immense advantage
of Hnking the centuries together, of forming a bond
of union between the early centuries and our own.
If the RitschHan thinks that I have too much to say
about the early centuries, that I do not distinguish
sufficiently between the twentieth and the fourth or
fifth, perhaps I should ask him to consider whether
after all the men of the fourth and fifth centuries,
the leaders of the Church in those days, were not
really contending for that principle which he values,
the principle of God in Christ. And I would ask
him whether that is not a justification that is still
valid. It may be said perhaps that the doctrine of
the Trinity is not verifiable on the ground of
religious experience in the same sense in which
(e. g.) the principle of God in Christ is verifiable.
I might reply that it is at least remotely verifiable
as a safeguard to that principle. But I would go
further, and I would say, that the doctrine of the
Trinity was built up in the first instance on a basis
of experience. It was a certain way of describing
the ultimate details, the theological details, involved
in a given set of experiences. All theology is after
all only a way of describing in connected and
systematic terms groups of experiences that are
in the last resort religious, and that apart from the
religious experience which underlies them would be
of no value.

IV. Two Types of Christology 107

On some such lines as these I beUeve that
I could come to terms with the Ritschlians. By
which I mean that, if I were to say that I saw what
they meant and respected their motives, I believe
they would be willing to return the compliment and
to say that they saw what I meant and respected my
motives. Ideal truth would probably include us all.
In any case I should agree w ith Dr. Du Bose that the
Gospel can be broken up into parts, and that each of
the parts so far as it goes is a Gospel. * I hold,' he
says, ' that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so true and so
living in every part that he who truly possesses and
truly uses any broken fragment of it may find in
that fragment something — ^just so much — of gospel
for his soul and of salvation for his life* {The Gospel
in the Gospels, p. 4). Certainly that applies to the
Ritschlian fragment as well as to others.

But the Ritschlians themselves do not always
go the right way to work to make converts or to
conciliate opponents. I have in my mind a par-
ticular book which may be considered to be among
the classics of the party, Prof. Wilhelm Herrmann's
Communion with God} I doubt if any other book
produced by it has a wider reputation. And a
great deal may be forgiven to Prof. Herrmann. He
so evidently has the root of the matter, and so
evidently knows in his own person what communion

^ Curiously enough, the English translation of this book
gives the author's name as Willibald; but this appears to be
a mistake.

108 Ancient and Modern Christologies

with God really means. But just on this ground
one is the more surprised that the book should be
so disfigured by perpetual polemics. Fortunately
for myself, I only possess the English translation
made from the second edition, from which we are
told that a good deal of this element has been
removed. I hardly like to guess what the first
edition must have been. The author has two
bugbears against which he is continually tilting:
orthodox dogma is one, and Roman Catholicism is
the other. All his piety goes out towards Luther.
We can see that it is a real pleasure to him when-
ever he can find Luther in the right; and he does
produce many excellent sayings, which really tend to
warm our hearts towards the man. But he is not
less bent on putting the other things I have named
in the wrong. To insist on putting the best con-
struction on your side, and the worst construc-
tion on your neighbour's is not the way to ingratiate
yourself with a reader who has any wish to be
impartial. There are, no doubt, extenuating circum-
stances: the book was written a good many years
ago (in 1886), when the position was different from
what it is now. The *Kulturkampf' was still fresh
in men's minds, and the awakening that has since
come over the Church of Rome, and especially over
Roman Catholic scholarship, was still in the future.
The more generous spirits in Germany look upon
their old antagonists with different eyes. But there
is still not a little to be done. With us, half — or

IV. T'wo Types of Christology 109

perhaps a third — of the thinking classes in the
nation have been converted, but a good deal of the
old fanaticism still sui'vives. However, things are
moving in the right direction, and the next genera-
tion will see a marked change. The time is, I hope,
not far distant when Roman and Anglican and Free
Churchman and Lutheran will only emulate each
other in good works and in the search for deeper
truth side by side.

Besides the two opponents that I have mentioned.
Prof. Herrmann has yet a third in Mysticism.
Here he touches a point that is important for our
more immediate subject. But I must reserve the
discussion of this for the next lecture.



At the end of the last lecture we were left with
two distinct types of Christology confronting each
other. They might be described in many different
ways. I have called one the ' fuller t}^e ' and the
other the 'reduced type.' The first is really the
present-day expression of traditional Christianity.
The other might be considered to be, in different
degrees according to the form it took, a product of

Most English or British or Anglo-American teach-
ing in what are sometimes called the orthodox bodies
conforms more or less to the first type. The other
is represented mainly in Continental Protestantism.
By this I do not mean that this particular type of
Christology and Continental Protestantism are at
all co-extensive; but only that in certain character-
istic and influential circles — influential especially
from the point of view of theological teaching in the
Universities — that type of Christology has a certain

Towards the close of the lecture I took upon me
to express the hope that we in England, notwith-
standing our own preferences, would not undervalue
this other teaching. I hoped that we should look

8 113

114 Ancient and Modern Christologies

at its positive side, which is very real ; and I hoped
that we should niake full allowance for its context,
or for the habits of thought that go with it, which in
some ways differ considerably from our own.

From this latter point of view — from the point
of view, that is, of an improved mutual understand-
ing between the various bodies concerned— I
should attach considerable importance to a book
recently published by Dr. James Denney of Glasgow.
Dr. Denney's name will be well known to many
here as Professor in the United Free Church College,
Glasgow, and as one of the ablest and most influen-
tial of Scottish Presbyterian theologians at the
present time. He is strictly and strongly on the
conservative side on most of the questions of theology
and criticism which he discusses. I imagine that
I should not be wrong if I were to describe his
position as before all things Biblical. The historical
and traditional element in opinion has not the
same interest for him that it has for most Anglicans,
though he is by no means opposed to tradition
as such. At the same time he has an intelligent
knowledge of modern criticism, and takes full
account of critical views, while his own attitude
is usually on the defensive. Perhaps the book by
which he would be best known is one on The Death
of Christy which is now in its sixth edition, and which
is nearer to the standpoint of the late Dr. Dale than
any of those lately published on the same subject.
The work of his to which I have just referred has

V. Comparison of the Two Types 115

for its full title Jesus and the Gospel: Christianity
justified in the Mind of Christ (Hodder & Stoughton,
1908) : it is an energetic defence of the full deity of
our Lord as implied in the New Testament gene-
rally, and as required by the Synoptic Gospels (stud-
ied in the sense of a moderate criticism) as much as
by the writings of St. Paul and St. John. Dr. Den-
ney has, however, this in common with the Ritsch-
lian School, that he looks throughout especially at
the religious value of the doctrine involved. He has
evidently, for his own part, no wish to challenge the
theology of the Creeds; but he puts Christian experi-
ence and Christian life before metaphysical formulae,
and would be prepared to reduce these within the
limits necessary to sustain Christian practice. He is
not in favour of subscription to theological creeds,
but he goes so far as to suggest that the essence of the
Christian faith might be expressed in brief terms:
*I believe in God through Jesus Christ His only
Son, our Lord and Saviour' (p. 398). Dr. Denney
himself would take each term of this confession in
a pregnant sense. For instance, the title *Lord'
would include a reference to the Resurrection as
being properly applied to Christ exalted and

^ With Dr. Denney's book may be mentioned, as similar to it
in character, though not quite its equal in strength, the sober
and well equipped work of the Rev. C. F. Nolloth, The Person
of Our Lord and Recent Thought (London, 1908), and an able
book from the other side of the Atlantic, The Lord of Glory,
by Prof. B. B. Wai-field of Princeton (London, 1907).

116 Ancient and Modern Christologies

I am afraid we are still a long way from having
before us for our consideration the conditions of
the complete reunion of Christendom. But no harm
is done by such very tentative anticipations of the
time when that great question may be more directly
raised. And I cannot help pointing out how far
such a formula as that suggested would go towards
supplying a meeting-ground between the two Chris-
tologies of which I have been speaking. The mere
contemplation of such a meeting-ground, wholly
apart from any question of practical politics, would
be of no slight value.

There is another light in which the Ritschlian
watchword of ' God in Christ,' with the whole body
of positive teaching of which it forms as it were the
apex and summary, may be of use, and even great
use, to us for whom that teaching as a whole would
be inadequate. We may take it as an 'irreducible
minimum ' of what Christianity means for us. In all
those questions that are connected with or arise out
of intercourse with others it is helpful to have an
irreducible minimum before one's mind.

And there is yet another way in which Ritschlian
teaching may be useful to us. Our minds are full of
beliefs which in the aggregate form our conception
of Christianity. But these beliefs are not all in an
equal degree verifiable; some are more verifiable,
and others less. Now I think it may be said that
Ritschlianism, and the allied forms of opinion, while

V. Comparison of the Two Types 117

they are no doubt eclectic, do as a matter of fact
bring together those parts and aspects of Christianity
which are most verifiable. And it cannot but be
a real advantage for us, however much further our
own beliefs may extend, yet to have that which
is most verifiable in them collected and brought
together in a compact body.

And there is an additional advantage for us in
England. If we set ourselves deliberately to look
at Ritschlianism and its allies in this light, viz., as
embracing the most verifiable portions of our own
beliefs, we shall approach these external forms of
teaching in a more sympathetic and friendly spirit,
and with a higher expectation of deriving benefit
from them for ourselves. My own conviction — and
I may say, experience — is that they are capable of
being of the greatest benefit to us.

There is a body of literature in Germany that
cannot be easily matched in this country. At the
head of it would be a comprehensive work like
Wernle's Einfuhrung in das theologische Studium
(Tiibingen, 1908), and it would include many books,
large and small, by Bousset, Jiilicher, yon Soden,
Johannes Weiss, and Harnack, whose famous lec-
tures on Das Wesen des Christentums (1900) set an
example in one class, as his recent critical studies,
from Lukas der Arzt (1906) onwards, have done in
another. In these writings there is, on the one
hand a workmanlike completeness of scholarship,
and on the other hand a warmth and freshness of

118 Ancient and Modern Christologies

treatment in close touch with reality, to which we
find it hard to attain. There are indeed just at this
moment encouraging signs among us, especially in
our younger scholars, of the combination of these
qualities ; but, if we take the literary output of the
last ten years, we are as much behindhand as the
Germans have been conspicuously ahead of us.

What I wish to suggest is that, if we approach
this literature, not as competing with or directed
aggressively against our own beliefs but rather as
co-operating with us in the presentment of the most
verifiable portion of those beliefs, we shall make it
available for our own purposes and enjoy its admir-
able qualities with less of the reserve that is due
to the feeling of friction and antagonism.

Having now, as I hope, done something to miti-
gate the opposition between the two types of thought
between which we have more or less to make
a choice — for they are really two types of thought,
which, while they culminate in Christology, are by
no means confined to it, but spread out over a wide
surface — I can with a clearer conscience go on to
state the other side, or in other words to set forth
the differences which separate the more contracted
position from our own.

In regard to Christology, the first and most
obvious difference is the difference of method, the
much broader basis on which the higher Christology
(if I may so describe it) rests. On the other side the

V. Comparison of the Two Types 119

tendency has been more and more to withdraw
within the Hnes of the Synoptic Gospels, and even
within them to restrict the standpoint to the oldest
documents that are critically ascertainable. The
endeavour has been to elicit from these as much as
can be discovered of the self-consciousness of Christ,
and to take that as the whole and sole criterion of
any constructive doctrine as to His Person. Both
sides would agree that the appeal must be made to
this. No doctrine can hold good that can be proved
to be inconsistent with what is revealed to us of the
consciousness of Christ; our estimate of His Person
cannot go beyond His own. But we must not be
too ready to assume that we possess anything like
a complete knowledge of what that estimate was.
If we had been in possession of an autograph docu-
ment by our Lord Himself, setting down in plain
terms His own account of His relation to the Father,
that of course w^ould have been final and we should
have needed nothing else. But the materials that
we have in the Synoptic Gospels, or in the docu-
ments so far as they can be reconstructed which
underlie those Gospels, come very far short of this.
It is doubtless our duty to make the most we can of
these materials, to collect all the hints and indica-
tions which they supply. But after all they are
hints and side allusions, rather than anything in
the way of direct statement ; and we must use them
as such. That means that our data are very partial,
and we must not treat them as though they were

120 Ancient and Modern Christologies

complete. The arguments which critics draw from
the extant data are very largely arguments from
silence; and such arguments must in this case be
specially precarious. It is an old story that the eye
sees and the ear hears what they bring with them,
the power of seeing and hearing. We are really
dependent not only on such fragments of narrative
and discourse as time and chance have left to us,
but we are also dependent on the limits to the
intelligence and insight of those who originally
set down those fragments in writing. The more
we realize what are the conditions under which
this part of our knowledge comes to us, the more
we shall feel how inadequate it is to erect a solid
edifice upon, and the more we shall be driven to
utilize any further evidence that has survived.

As a matter of fact, besides the Synoptic Gospels,
we have all the rest of the New Testament. And
the difference between the two positions I have
been describing is that one does, and the other does
not, make a substantial use of this further evidence.
It is true that critical writers from time to time
speak of the impression which Jesus Christ made
upon His contemporaries as an element in the
estimate which must be formed of Him. But our
complaint is that on one ground or another they
explain this away, or at least do not give it the
weight that it deserves. It is really the case that,
broadly speaking, all the rest of the New Testament,
with more or less of emphasis according to circum-

V. Coinparison of the Tivo Types " 121

stances, deokoyd rav XptcrTov, treats of Christ as
God; and the Church Universal has done the same
from the time of the Apostles until now. I do not
think that the weight of that evidence can rightly be
explained away. It (or rather the Biblical part of it)
is set out at length impressively by Dr. Denney
in the book of which I have spoken.

No doubt these other New Testament writers,
beginning with St. Paul, express this common belief
of theirs in categories of the time; and those
categories are no longer as living as they were.
But apart from any such temporary expression, we
can see that there was a very great force at work,
and I find it difficult to think that the language
used to describe it overshot the mark.

I do not wish to invoke writers like St. Paul and
St. John merely as authorities who are not to be
questioned. I am content to take them as witnesses
to the effect upon their own minds and upon those
around them. And I doubt if this effect can be
understood without introducing factors that would
be called mystical.

St. Paul uses language that is extremely strong.
He was evidently conscious of a great transformation
that had taken place in himself. He refers this
transformation to the exalted Christ or the Spirit
of Christ. He felt an immense change from his old
self to his new self (Gal. ii. 20); and he does not
seem to have any doubt that this change was
produced in him by spiritual action from without.

122 Ancient and Modern Christologies

He also assumes that a like change could be operated
in others. He uses a remarkable metaphor: in Gal.
iv. 19 he speaks of Christ being formed as an
embryo within the soul. He (St. Paul) has himself
set the processes in motion which are to have this
extraordinary result; but he does not himself do
more than set them in motion. Clearly he is pro-
jecting his own experience into the consciousness
of others. He assumes that the effect wrought
within himself will be repeated in them; and the
strangely vivid metaphor that he uses seems alone
adequate to his purpose.

It might be thought that we were pressing a
metaphor too hard if these two passages of St. Paul's
had stood alone. But in the writings of St. Paul
himself they are very far from standing alone;
they are only salient expressions of an experience to
which he is constantly referring. In fact, the whole
of the eighth chapter of Romans may be taken as
an exposition of this experience. There is nothing
more fundamental in the Pauline psychology. And
then, with a little variation of phrase, a like expe-
rience and a like psychology are implied in the
writings that bear the name of St. John. This is
one of the most remarkable points of contact
between the Gospel and the Revelation. Thus we
read in the Gospel (xiv. 23), 'If a man love me, he
will keep my words; and my Father will love him,
and we will come unto him, and make our abode
with him'; and in Rev. iii. 20, 'Behold, I stand at

V. Comparison of the Tivo Types 123

the door and knock : if any man hear my voice and
open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup
with him, and he with me.' And the metaphor of
indwelling or abiding is a well-known connecting
link between the Gospel and the First Epistle. In
the New Testament language of this kind is strongly
established and deeply ingrained; and the New
Testament has in this respect furnished a model
which the experience of Christians has followed all
down the centuries. Many of the examples have
left a deep mark on devotional literature. One of
the most important recent books is a searching
examination of a case of this kind — The Mystical
Element of Religion as studied in Saint Catherine of
Genoa and her Friends, by Baron Friedrich von
Hiigel (London, 1908).

Now I am aware that a higher and a lower inter-
pretation may be put upon these experiences. But
I am more and more inclined to think that the
lower interpretation is an instance of the mistaken
attempt to unduly narrow and restrict both the
aspirations of the human soul and the modes of di-
vine response in w hich they find their satisfaction.

There are many ways in which the question of
what I have called comprehensively 'Mysticism'
comes in. ' .

We have, I think, most of us the feeling that
there is something inclusive in the life and mission
of our Lord; we cannot in His case lay stress on
*the single life,' 'the single soul,' as we can in our

124 Ancient and Modern Christologies

own. We feel sure that it was no accident that the
title which he habitually chose for Himself, ' Son of
Man,' meant strictly in the usage of the time * Man,'
i. e. man collectively or in the abstract. There are
places in the Gospels where we could almost sub-
stitute Humanity for the Son of Man; as conspic-
uously in that well-known passage, 'The sabbath
was made for man, and not man for the sabbath : so
that the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath'
(St. Mark ii. 28). I do not indeed go with those
critics who think that in this passage, and in others
like it, as originally spoken our Lord meant man
collectively or in the abstract without reference to
Himself. I believe that He meant Humanity as
gathered up in Himself. I take it that such a
passage as this is an intimation of the kind of out-
look with which the title was used. Antecedently
we might have inferred that it must have associa-
tions of this kind. I have said elsewhere that I have
little doubt that our Lord made what in one of
ourselves we should call a profound study of all the
places in the Old Testament where this phrase * son
of man' occurs. I agree with most scholars at the
present time that the most direct line of suggestion
came to our Lord, ultimately at least, from Dan. vii.
13. But the choice of the title and its personal
application were one thing, and the meaning read
into it was another. One of the most prominent
passages which helped to determine that meaning
was Ps. viii. 4, * What is man that thou art mindful

V. Compariso7i of the Two Types 125

of him ? And the son of man that thou visitest him ? '
The original subject of the psalm was Man in the
sense of Mankind or Humanity. But the significan t
way in which the psalm is discussed and applied in
Heb. ii. 6-9 shows how easy it was to pass from
Man in the abstract to the one representative Man.
And there is much in the Gospels to show how
conscious our Lord was of His own representative
character; notably the great passage (which is
beyond the reach of invention and in close harmony
with other language of Jesus, though too many
critics have cast doubt upon it) Matt. xxv. 31-46,
'Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my
brethren,' &c.

Another important set of passages would be those
in which St. Paul speaks of the First and Second
Adam (Rom. v. 12-19; 1 Cor. xv. 20-22, 45-49). In
all these places the exact nature of the representa-
tion or inclusion is left open; and it is interesting
and instructive to compare the interpretations which
recent writers have given of them. Some are
especially noteworthy.

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