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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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This, for instance, is Dr. Denney's comment on
Rom. V. 12 ff.:—

This is the conception which lends itself most
readily to what are usually called 'mystical' inter-
pretations of Christ's life and work. What is most
important in it is the truth which it embodies of the
kinship of Christ with all mankind, and the pro-
gressive verification of that truth which comes witli
the universal preaching of the gospel. Paul was



126 Ancient and Modem Christologies

convinced of the representative character of Christ
and of all His acts; the death that He died for all
has somehow the significance that the death of
all would itself have; in His resurrection we
see the firstfruits of a new race which shall wear
the image of the heavenly man. It may indeed
be said that any man is kin to all humanity, but
not any man is kin in such a sense that men of
all races can find their centre and rally ing-point in
Him. The progress of Christian missions is the
demonstration in point of fact that Christ is the
second Adam, and while His true humanity is
asserted in this, as it is taken for granted every-
where in the New Testament, it leaves Him still in
a place which is His alone. When Paul thinks of
Christ as the second Adam, he does not reduce Him
to the level of common humanity, as if He were only
one more in the mass; on the contrary, the mass is
conceived as absorbed and summed up in Him. It
is not a way of denying, it is one way more of
asserting. His peculiar place (Jesus and the Gospel,
p. 34 f.).

That is not mysticism, but it shows the approach
made towards mysticism by a mind to which it is
not naturally congenial.

Not less striking — indeed in any case very help-
ful — is Dr. Edwin A. Abbott's paraphrastic expan-
sion of the passage in Heb. ii, in his recent book The
Message of the Son of MaTi' (London, 1909), p. 83: —

Such a 'chief-and-leader' of the sons of man, not
ashamed to call them brethren, might carry his
fellow-soldiers with him in a way impossible for any
angel. Placing himself at their head, he might
make them feel that they are his limbs, his body.



V. Comparison of the Two Types 127

Or he might be said to draw his followers into
himself, or to breathe his spirit into them. What-
ever metaphor we may choose to express the deed,
the doer makes them one with himself. Then,
being himself Son of God, and one with God, such
a son of man draws the other sons of man into unity
with his Father and their Father in heaven. Such
appears to be the argument of the writer of the
Epistle to the Hebrews. And it seems to be in
conformity with Christ's doctrine and with our own
experience of the links between human beings. It
is expressed in the Fourth Gospel by the words
* I ascend unto my Father and your Father,' that is
to say, 'unto miy Father, whom, through me, you
have been led to recognise as your Father.'

Observe the subtle and skilful way in which the
meaning of leadership is so drawn out to the utter-
most as virtually to amount to union. This is done
by the help of a variety of metaphors, all of which
are Biblical. But I am not quite sure whether or
not Dr. Abbott intends to commit himself absolutely
to the doctrine that is commonly called 'mystical
union.'

The two writers about whom there can be no
doubt whatever in this respect are Dr. Moberly and
Dr. Du Bose. There are one or two passages in
Dr. Moberly's Atonement and Personality that have
become almost classical on this subject (see especially
pp. 86-91, 254 f., 281-286). I must allow myself
one or two short extracts from these pages, to
show how absolute is the union assumed between
humanity and Christ, and how absolutely the key to



128 Ancient and Modern Christologies

that union is sought in the indwelUng of the Holy
Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ and of God.

To think of [Christ] merely in the light of the
ordinary possibilities of others, to think of the
significance, or power, of His humanity as limited
to His sole individual self-hood, is incompatible
with the very existence and meaning of the Church.
He alone was not generically but inclusively man
[i. e. He is not to be classed among men, but in
some sense embraces or includes them]. . . . That
complete indwelling and possessing of even one
other, which the yearnings of man towards man
imperfectly approach, is only possible, in any fulness
of the words, to that Spirit of Man which is the
Spirit of God: to the Spirit of God, become, through
Incarnation, the Spirit of Man. No mere man
indwells, in spirit, in, or as, the spirit of another.
Whatever near approach there may be seen to be
towards this, is really mediated through the Spirit
of Christ. ... As it is, the very essence of the
Christian religion is the indwelling of the Spirit of
Christ. ... If there is one corollary from the Deity
of Christ, which, more than another, we may defy
any man to eradicate from New Testament theology,
without shivering the whole into fragments, it is
the truth of the recapitulation and inclusion of
the Church, which is, ideally at least, as wide as
humanity, in Christ (pp. 87-91).

And again: —

For the reality of our own relation to the atone-
ment, which is its consummation in respect of each
one of us, everything unreservedly turns upon the
reality of our identification, in spirit, with the Spirit
of Jesus Christ. In proportion to our essential
distinctness, and remoteness from Him, is our



V. Comparison of the Two Types 129

distinctness, and remoteness, from the consumma-
tion of Atonement. . . . Even if, in a sense, we may
consent to speak of vicarious venitence; yet it is not
exactly vicarious. He indeed consummated peni-
tence in Himself, before the eyes, and before the
hearts, of men who w^ere not penitent themselves.
But He did so, not in the sense that they were not
to repent, or that His penitence was a substitute for
theirs. He did so, not as a substitute, not even as
a delegated representative, but as that inclusive total
of true Humanity \ of which they are potentially, and
were to learn to become, a part. ... It is not by
becoming like Him that men will approach towards
incorporation with Him : but by result of incorpora-
tion with Him, received in faith as a gift, and in
faith adored, and used, that they will become like
Him. It is by the imparted gift, itself far more
than natural, of literal membership in Him; by the
indwelling presence, the gradually disciplining and
dominating influence, of His spirit — which is His
very Self within, and as, the inmost breath of our
most secret being ; that the power of His atoning life
and death, which is the power of divinely victorious
holiness, can grow to be the very deepest reality of
ourselves. ... It is the Spirit of Christ which con-
stitutes the Pentecostal Church. The Church means
nothing but this. It is the perpetuity of the Pre-
sence, it is the living Temple, of God Incarnate —
no longer in the midst of, but within, men (pp.
283-285).

In my last book. The Life of Christ in Recent
Research (Oxford, 1907), I ventured to reprint
a review in which I had pointed out that on the
subject before us the teaching of Dr. Du Bose

^ These italics are mine, all the others are in the original.
9



130 Ancient and Modern Christologies

entirely coincides with that of the Oxford Professor.
I made the mistake of saying (op. cit. p. 310) that
Dr. Du Bose, in speaking of the * universal humanity
of Christ' (which is his equivalent for Dr. Moberly's
* inclusive humanity'), implied rather than expressed
the explanation of it by reference to the Holy Spirit.
It happened that I had before me at the time only
the second volume of Dr. Du Bose's trilogy, The
Gospel according to St. Paul (New York and London,
1907) ; and I believe it is true that in this volume
the reference to the Holy Spirit is understood and
not expressed. But in the earlier volume, The
Gospel in the Gospels (1906), the point had been
abundantly anticipated. I ought just to illustrate
this : —

That Spirit was His own without measure, not
only to have but to impart. Of His fulness we all
received, and grace for grace. Through that eternal
Spirit He offered up Himself without spot to God,
and the selfsame Spirit in us is the inspiration and
the power of all love and service and sacrifice. The
Spirit was the distinctive promise of God in the
Gospel ... If the objective fact of Christianity
culminated on Easter, Pentecost was marked by
a subjective revolution in relation and in response to
that fact that was quite its complement and most
effectually its completion . . . The Word, as I have
frequently said, is the principle and medium of
objective revelation. The Spirit is that of subjective
apprehension, comprehension, and appropriation.
Deep answereth unto deep. The deep of God with-
out us and above us is inaudible save as it is
answered by the deep of God within us. There is



V. Comparison of the Two Types 131

no gospel or salvation for us which does not come
by the Word through the Spirit (op. cit. pp. 242-
246).

And a little later: —

All the reality in the universe can be no Gospel
to us so long as it remains objective, or until it
enters into the living relation with ourselves . . .What
is necessary within ourselves to give effect to all
that is true without us is a corresponding response,
or a response of correspondence, on our part. That
correspondence is, I repeat, not a fact of natural
relationship, but an act of spiritual communication
or self-impartation. When the Spirit bears witness
with our spirit, that we are sons of God, it is not
only God who communicates the gracious fact, but
it is God who awakens the humble and grateful
response, and puts it into our heart to say, Abba,
Father. ... It was in this eternal Spirit that the
whole creation in humanity offered itself without
spot to God in the person of Jesus Christ; and in
that consummate act fulfilled His relation to it
through realizing its own relation with Him. It is
through this eternal Spirit, which is God's and
Christ's and ours, that we pass from ourselves into
Christ and through Christ into God (pp. 286, 287).

It would be impossible to have a more direct,
comprehensive, and emphatic assertion of the doc-
trine that we call Mysticism, than that which is
found in these two writers. There was a time
when I should have very much hesitated to give
any kind of endorsement to this teaching myself.
But now it seems to me to be after all nothing
more than a Christian application of the belief for



132 Ancient and Modern Christologws

which philosophy prepares us in the Divine Im-
manence. The doctrine is strictly BibHcal; indeed
it gives the deepest and fullest meaning possible
to Biblical language. It is no less thoroughly in
accord with the main lines of ancient orthodoxy.
It might perhaps be supposed by any one not theo-
logically instructed that difficulties might be raised
in connexion with the doctrine of the Trinity; but
that is not the case: the theory is perfectly con-
sistent with that doctrine accurately stated. From
various quarters of late warnings have come that
the popular view of the doctrine verges dangerously
upon Tritheism. It is this tendency which has
given to the doctrine an appearance of rigidity
which does not really belong to it. I should rather
expect opposition in this country from writers like
Dr. Denney, and from the German theologians,
most of whom are averse to mystical solutions.

If, however, there is truth in the doctrine of
Divine Immanence — if, that is, there is implanted
in us a seed, that is capable of indefinite expansion,
of the truly divine — then we have put in our
hands an analogy which may go some way to
explain other difficulties of the Incarnation. The
presence of this divine element, whatever it is — the
Christian would say, the working of the Holy Spirit
even in its highest degree — is seen to be no wise
incompatible with the fullest humanity; it operates
deep down at the roots of being, and leaves the
external expression in speech and action, not less



V. Comparison of the Two Types 133

thoroughly and completely, but only more perfectly
human.

The full recognition of this fact will determine
the shape of that constructive attempt at a modern
Christology that I hope, if all 's well, to offer next
term. I shall aim at doing justice to both sides of
the problem; I believe that, when we come to the
point, it will be seen to be not only possible but
natural to do justice to both sides of it — to assert at
one and the same time the full humanity of our
Lord without detriment to His deity, and the real
deity without detriment to the humanity.

Events move fast. Only within the last few days
I have been reading the supplement to The Hibhert
Journal discussing the question Jesus or Christ?
which might be taken as a summary description of
those two types of Christology of which we have
been speaking. I hope to return to this in more
detail next term. My first impression is that the
volume carries us distinctly a step forward. We
see in it a great variety of minds approaching the
subject in a great variety of ways. There is of
course not a little negation mixed with what is
positive. And yet, if I am not mistaken, the total
outcome seems to me both helpful and hopeful. It
seems to me that we can put the negations into
their proper place, and at the same time plant
our feet upon our own ground more firmly than
before.



VI

PRESUPPOSITIONS OF A MODERN
CHRISTOLOGY



VI

PRESUPPOSITIONS OF A MODERN CHRISTOLOGY

In recent years considerable attention has been
paid to a department of Psychology which in pre-
vious times was hardly recognized as coming within
the range of Psychology at all. Sir W. Hamilton
defined Psychology as ' the Science conversant about
the phaenomena or modifications, or States of the
Mind, or Conscious Subject, or Soul or Spirit, or Self
or Ego.'^ It will be observed here that the phrase
' Conscious Subject' has slipped in — and wecannotbe
surprised that it should do so, as the conscious states
of the mind were the first that presented themselves
for analysis and it might naturally seem as though
Psychology were confined to these. That, however,
is not really the case ; and it is more and more coming
to be seen that the unconscious and semi-conscious
states are also of great importance and deserve all the
study that can be given to them. Prof. W. James
uses more unqualified language than I have ventured
to do, and writes as though the inclusion of these
states were a discovery made at a comparatively
recent and definite date. He says (Varieties of
Religious Experience, 1902, p. 233): —

I cannot but think that the most important step

^ Metaph. I. viii. 129; see Murray, New Eng. Diet. s.v.
'Psychology.'
137



138 Ancient and Modern Christologies

forward that has occurred in psychology since I have
been a student of that science is the discovery, iBrst
made in 1886, that, in certain subjects at least, there
is not only the consciousness of the ordinary field,
with its usual centre and margin, but an addition
thereto in the shape of a set of memories, thoughts,
and feelings which are extra-marginal and outside of
the primary consciousness altogether, but yet must
be classed as conscious^ facts of some sort, able to
reveal their presence by unmistakable signs. I call
this the most important step forward, because, unlike
the other advances which psychology has made,
this discovery has revealed to us an entirely unsus-
pected peculiarity in the constitution of human
nature. No other step forward which psychology
has made can proffer any such claim as this.

For us in England the recognition of this wider
field of psychology is chiefly associated with the
late F. W. H. Myers and the Society of Psychical
Research ; and indeed I am not sure that the precise
date given by Prof. James is not really referable to
the same source. For a number of years the con-
ception of which I am speaking, if it was not
confined to, had its principal focus in the more or
less private transactions of the Psychical Society.
It was employed especially in the discussion of the
particular class of phenomena to which the Society
devoted itself. Prof. James himself gave it a wider
application and introduced it before a wider public,

^ The use of this word does not seem to be quite consistent —
it certainly includes facts some of which would be described
as sub- or unconscious; the phrase corresponds to the 'more
comprehensive consciousness ' of the next quotation.



VI. Presuppositions of a Modern Christology 139

especially in his Gifford Lectures published in 1902.
In the next year followed the posthumous publica-
tion of an elaborate work in two volumes by Mr.
Myers under the title Human Personality and its
Survival of Bodily Death. The author had died on
January 17, 1901; but his book was practically
complete, and set forth his ideas in full, with a
special nomenclature of his own. An abridged
edition was published in 1907.

Mr. Myers possessed a literary gift of a high order,
and it is worth while to quote in his own words
a few of the sentences which express the way in
which the subject presented itself to him and in
which he presents it.

The * conscious-Self ' of each of us, as we call it —
the empirical, the supraliminal Self, as I should
prefer to say, — does not comprise the whole of the
consciousness or of the faculty within us. There
exists a more comprehensive consciousness, a pro-
founder faculty, which for the most part remains
potential only so far as regards the life of earth, but
from which the consciousness and the faculty of
earth-life are mere selections, and which reasserts
itself in its plenitude after the liberating change of
death. . . . The idea of a threshold (limen, Schwelle)
of consciousness — of a level above which sensation
or thought must rise before it can enter into our
conscious life — is a simple and familiar one. The
word subliminal, — meaning ' beneath the threshold '
— has already been used to define those sensations
which are too feeble to be individually recognized.
I propose to extend the meaning of the term, so as
to make it cover all that takes place beneath the



140 Ancient and Modern Christologies

ordinary threshold, or say, if preferred, outside the
ordinary margin of consciousness; — not only those
faint stimulations whose very faintness keeps them
submerged, but much else which psychology as yet
scarcely recognizes; sensations, thoughts, emotions,
which may be strong, definite, and independent, but
which, by the original constitution of our being,
seldom emerge into that supraliTninal current of
consciousness which we habitually identify with
ourselves. ... I find it permissible and convenient to
speak of subliminal Selves, or more briefly of a
subliminal Self. I do not indeed by using this term
assume that there are two correlative and parallel
selves existing always within each of us. Rather
I mean by the subliminal Self that part of the Self
which is commonly subliminal ; and I conceive that
there may be — not only co-operations between these
quasi-independent trains of thought — but also up-
heavals and alternations of personality of many
kinds, so that what was once below the surface may
for a time, or permanently, rise above it. And I
conceive also that no Self of which we can here
have cognizance is in reality more than a fragment
of a larger Self — revealed in a fashion at once
shifting and limited through an organism not so
framed as to afford it full manifestation (Human
Personality, 1907, pp. 13-15).

This is an interesting statement of the theory by
its real author. For us, from our present point of
view, the main drawback is that it was conceived
from the first for a particular limited purpose and
that the whole form which it assumes was guided by
that purpose. Mr. Myers had constantly before his
mind a certain set of phenomena, which it was his
chief interest to digest, correlate, and, so far as



['/. Presuppositions of a Modern Christology 141

possible, explain. The limitation was perfectly
natural and legitimate, and 1 can only be glad that
such an examination of phenomena that are often
simply despised and ignored should have been
undertaken. But for the purpose at present before
us these phenomena must be regarded as for the
most part abnormal, or at least peripheral rather
than central.

I am myself inclined to believe that the question
of what we may follow his example of calling
subliminal consciousness and subliminal activities is
destined to be of much importance and (I would
even hope) of much value in the future of theology
as w ell as of psychology. It ought, however, to be
worked out on the ground of psychology first by the
disinterested methods of psychological science, and
then on the foundation thus laid the theologian
may build. As yet, so far as I can gather, a great
deal remains to be done.

My attention was caught by a book on The
Subconscious (London, Boston, and New^York, 1906)
by Professor Joseph Jastrow of the University of
Wisconsin, and I hoped that this might produce
something. So it does to some extent, but I found
the outcome disappointing. There is a certain air
of alertness and intelligence about the book; but
the style is painful. It seems to consist almost
wholly of metaphor, and the metaphors crowd in
one on the top of another, while there is a general
lack of scientific precision (want of exact references



142 Ancient and Modern Christologies

and the like). The book that has been to me most
really helpful is Prof. William James's Varieties of
Religious Experience (London, 1902).

It should be noted that the terms I have just used
cover much the same ground as the older term * un-
conscious cerebration/ which appears to have been
coined by Dr. W. B. Carpenter about the year 1853 ^
to express that unconscious action of the brain which
produces the same kind of results as conscious
thought. It is just the deepest and the most far-
reaching mental activities that appear to do their
work in this way. I can well believe that there have
been many anticipations of the train of thought that
I am about to follow at different times in the past;
but its more direct antecedents in my own case are
those of which I have spoken.

Besides the upper region of consciousness there is
a lower region into which the conscious mind cannot
enter. It cannot enter, and yet it possesses a
strange magnetic power by which the contents of
the lower region are as it were drawn upwards and
brought within the range of its cognition. This
lower region is a storehouse of experiences of the
most varied kinds, in fact of all the experiences
that make up human life. It is filled with images
left by the senses — not only with the images of
sights and sounds, but with those left by the other
more restricted senses of touch and taste and smell.

See New Eng. Diet. s.v. 'Cerebration.'



VI. Presuppositions of a Modern Christology 143

Not only is the lower region of which I speak filled
with these to an extent that seems incredible — it
seems incredible that room can anywhere be found
within this little organism of ours for the endless
multitude of sensible impressions — but, in addition
to these and intermingled with them, there are the
more complex experiences of past thought and past
emotion. In some form or other they must be
there, and from this inner cornucopia one never
knows what will come forth — whether it will be
weighty memories of the greater shocks of life, its
deepest tragedies and its highest joys, or whether
it will be things the most trivial and insignificant.
And — most wonderful of all — these impressions,
experiences, inferences, principles, which so crowd
and jostle each other down below, are not so many
passive and disconnected items (like dried peas in a
bottle) but they are endowed with an active power
of combining and recombining, of modifying and
being modified, so that when they come up to the
surface again it is often in quite different shapes
from those in which they sank beneath it.

All these things are latent. The door of that
treasure-house, w^hich is also a workshop, is locked,
so far as the conscious personality is concerned.
For it there is no 'harrowing of hell,' no triumphant
descent into the nether world, followed by a release
and return of captives on any large scale. The door
is locked against any such violent irruption. And


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Online LibraryW. (William) SandayChristology and personality : containing: I. Christologies ancient and modern, II. Personality in Christ and in ourselves / by William Sanday → online text (page 8 of 18)