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science and philosophy in fact from any part in the
formation or determination of religious Faith. This is
partly the result of a very inexcusable confusion of termin-
ology. Just as the Ritschlians extend the province of will,
to cover feeling and even unconscious instinct, so they limit
reason by regarding it as the faculty which merely observes
and reflects on the causes of things. This is psychologically
incorrect, and theologically disastrous. The creative Reason\
as we learn from St. Paul and St. John, is the immanent j
cause and end of things. Without Reason the Will is blind,
deaf and dumb. And the supreme exercise of the human
consciousness, which is to energise in concert with thi?
creative Power, assuredly contains an intellectual element
I shall show in my next lecture that we need by no means
despair of reaching solid ground by means of the intellect.

Ritschlian theology is generally as orthodox as it can
persuade itself to be, and much more so, in words at least,
than its principles warrant it in being. 2 When set free
from dogmatic presuppositions, the school of thought
which we are now considering tends sometimes to the
metaphysical (or rather epistemological) theory called
pragmatism, which we have already discussed so far as
seemed necessary for our purpose ; and sometimes to a
purely moralistic conception of religion. On the whole,

1 If, however, any friends of Ritschl wish to remind me that their master
has also said the exact opposite, I admit it. In the first edition of his great
work (Rechtfertigung und Versohnung, p. 192) he says : ' The acceptance of
the idea of God is no practical faith, but an act of theoretic knowledge.'
In the third edition (p. 214) this disappears, and we read : 'The acceptance
of the idea of God is practical faith, and not an act of theoretic knowledge.'
The second opinion is more in harmony with the dominant ideas of his
system, which, however, is riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies.

2 This is especially true of Herrmann, whose inconsistency is sharply
rebuked by Pfleiderer, Philosophy of Religion, vol. ii. pp. 202, 203.



158 FAITH [CH.

this theory of Faith appears in the most favourable light
when it is made to support nothing except a system of
ethics. The ultimate authority, on which the whole
structure rests, is then the ' categorical imperative ' of Kant,
the autonomous conscience. 1 The will is king the will
to obey conscience, to do right and make the right triumph.
As a theory of Faith, it has seized one side of the truth ;
for the fundamental religious instinct does develop, on one
very important side, into an imperious desire to shape
our surroundings. The religious equivalent of the prag-
matist's ' conation which determines truth ' is the thirst for
God which bears witness that it is caused by God. Desire
does not determine truth, but truth does determine desire,
and makes itself known through and as desire. But as in
former chapters, we find here too that one-sidedness is
fatal. I am certain that one of the great causes of what are
called ' difficulties ' in the way of Faith is the assumption
that the universe was designed simply and solely as a
school of moral discipline and probation for human beings.
It appears to me that this is a survival of a pre-scientific
view of the universe. It was tenable when geocentric
theories prevailed ; it is not tenable now. Our planet,
and our species, have no such exclusive importance. And
as for the exclusively moral character attributed to the
Deity, do we really admire a character which is exclusively
moral ? Do we feel much respect for one who is blind to
all sense of beauty and willingly ignorant of all facts that
cannot at once be converted into moral obligations ? Is

1 Note the following definition of Faith by the Ritschlian Herrmann :
' Religious Faith in God is, rightly understood, just the medium by which the
universal demand of the moral law becomes individualised for the individual
man in his particular place in the world's life, so as to enable him to recognise
its absoluteness on the ground of his self-certainty, and the ideal drawn in it
as his own personal end.' Thus God vanishes in the moral order of the world
and religion in morality. This however, was not Ritschl's own position : he
distinguishes between religion and morals, and compares Christianity to an
elliptical figure revolving round those two foci. But this part of his system
one of his many illogical concessions seems to me of very little interest
or importance.



ix.] FAITH AS AN ACT OF WILL 159

it really a worthy or a possible conception of God, that He
is interested only in conduct, and is destitute of anything
corresponding to what in us are called intellectual and
aesthetic interests ? If we wish to believe in such a Deity,
we are certainly wise to construct a world for ourselves
out of our wishes and sentiments, for the real world will
contradict our belief at every turn.

The limitations of exclusive moralism are very apparent.
It is an irrational type, since it has no standard except
the moral consciousness. It will not even ask why things
are right or wrong ; and so it often confounds things in-
different with things morally wrong, and erects senseless
puritanical tabus. It rejects happiness and beauty as
objects, and lays a coarse and heavy hand on the beauti-
ful things of the world. It is apt to be hard and
unsympathetic, and does not escape a sort of sour
worldliness.

Matthew Arnold calls this type the Hebraic, as opposed
to the Hellenic, which represents the intellectual and
artistic ideals of life. He accuses his fellow-countrymen
of following the Hebrew ideal too exclusively, and neglect-
ing the Hellenic. Santayana, in speaking of the typically
Protestant civilisation, brings a similar indictment in
clever satirical form. ' Protestantism is convinced
the importance of success and prosperity ; it abominates
what is disreputable ; contemplation seems to it idleness,
solitude selfishness, and poverty a sort of dishonourable
punishment. It is constrained and punctilious in righteous-
ness ; it regards a married and industrious life as typically
godly, and there is a sacredness to it, as of a vacant
Sabbath, in the unoccupied higher spaces which such an
existence leaves for the soul. It lacks the notes of dis-
illusion, humility, and speculative detachment. Its bene-
volence is optimistic and aims at raising men to a conven-
tional well-being ; it thus misses the inner appeal of
Christianity, which begins by renunciation and looks to



160 FAITH [CH.

spiritual freedom and peace. ... It is a part of Protes-
tantism to be austere, energetic, unwearied in some laborious
task. The end and profit are not so much regarded as the
mere habit of self-control and practical devotion and
steadiness. The point is to accomplish something, no
matter what ; so that Protestants show on this ground
some respect even for an artist when he has once achieved
success.' 1

Such are some of the fruits of making Faith exclusively
an act of the will, or moral sense. In my next lecture I
shall show how the prevailing distrust of theoretical con-
structions has given birth to a peculiar kind of empiricism
hi religion, which has produced rather startling develop-
ments hi the Romai- Church.

i Santayana, Reason in Religion, p. lift,




FAITH BASED ON PRACTICAL NEEDS 161



.



CHAPTER X

FAITH BASED ON PRACTICAL NEEDS MODERNISM



THE rulers of the Roman Church have always fully recog-
nised the great influence of Faith upon conduct, and have
paid careful attention to the formation of beliefs. The
whole educational method of Romanism assumes quite
frankly that it is desirable to prejudice the minds of the
young in favour of certain beliefs, and that it is justifiable
to use almost any means to strengthen and confirm them.
The mind of the child, under Catholicism, is moulded into
a particular shape almost from his cradle ; even in the ele-
mentary school-room he is not allowed to breathe a non-
Catholic atmosphere ; and in mature life he is forbidden to
question, even in thought, what his Church has taught him.
In many cases this system is as successful in producing
the type of character desired as Sandow's gymnastic
course is in producing a muscular frame. The Catholic
lives and dies in an untroubled assurance that he has
possession of the truth ; he performs a number of actions,
some morally estimable, others morally indifferent, some
perhaps morally flagitious, in obedience to his directors,
and abstains from others. Like a hothouse flower, he
blooms luxuriantly when carefully shielded from the
rude winds of free thought and free discussion.

Catholicism is best regarded as an art of holiness. The
theory and method of the system are those of all artistic
training. The disciplr wishes to acquire certain aptitudes
in this case, a certain kind of character and he puts
himself under the care of trained experts who tell him how

L



162 FAITH [OH.

the desired result is to be attained. The young painter
does not enquire whether the relation between his pig-
ments and the object which he is trying to copy is ' real '
or ' apparent ' ; he is content if he can produce the effect
of a tree or river upon his canvas. A sham relic or miracle
is as good as a real one in stimulating emotion, if it is
believed in. And the promised results do follow. The
Catholic discipline does produce peace of mind and self-
control ; it economises energy by prohibiting experiments ;
it counteracts the effect of individual weakness, and
utilises one line at least of racial experience.

The merits and defects of this system have been already
considered under the head of Authority. Here we have
only to note its pragmatic character in all that falls outside
religious truth. It is so much more important to avoid
sin than to have correct opinions on scientific matters,
that error and even imposture will often be encouraged
in the interest of belief and conduct.

And yet Catholicism can never acquiesce in the subjec-
tivism and anti-intellectualism of the philosophy which we
have just been discussing. Catholic theology is built on a
foundation of Greek philosophy, and is intimately connected
with the transcendental realism of Plato and Plotinus,
modified but not contradicted by the study of Aristotle.
The Roman Church has anathematised the Kantian doc-
trine which confines our knowledge to phenomena; it asserts
that the being and attributes of God may be proved intel-
lectually. The active intervention of God in human affairs
is rescued from the clutches of the mechanical sciences,
not by scepticism about the objective existence of the phe-
nomenal world, but by belief in the supernatural. Belief in
miracle, not only certain miracles in the past, guaranteed
by authority, but in miracle as a part of the constitution of
the world, is an essential part of Catholicism. The Catholic
view of the world is a modified realism, within which it
is possible to distinguish two ' orders,' the natural and the



x.] FAITH BASED ON PRACTICAL NEEDS 163

supernatural, interacting on the same plane. The Church
has left to its philosophers great latitude in attempting to
determine the relations of the time-process to eternity,
and has never shrunk from crude pictorial images in its
exoteric teaching. But it has consistently refused either
to accept idealism, hi the post-Kantian sense, or to abandon
the supernaturalism which forms the connecting link
between God and nature.

Modern science has inflicted a grievous wound upon this
system by its denial of the miraculous. The nature of the
quarrel between science and Catholic orthodoxy, on this
head, is often misunderstood. Apologists are pleased
when they find that wonderful cases of c mind-cure '
can be substantiated. But this line of defence can only
prove that a few alleged miracles are not miraculous, not
that any miracles are true or possible. What is necessary
for Catholicism is to prove the intercalation of the genuinely
supernatural with the natural, and this would be a refuta-
tion of the uniformity of natural law, the working hypothe-
sis of all the sciences. The scientific habit of mind, with
its exacting rule of testimony, has become so general
that belief in miracles grows harder every year. There are
still a good many people who are unable or unwilling to
separate Wahrheit and Dichtung, truth of fact from imagina-
tive representation ; but their number dwindles, and those
who retain the old beliefs on aesthetic grounds are less
earnest defenders of the faith than the genuinely super-
stitious ; their religion is little more than a mode of refined
enjoyment. This blow has fallen with the greatest
severity on the ecclesiastical machinery. The sacerdotal
and sacramental system of the Catholic Church is based on
supernatural mechanism on divine interventions in the
physical world conditioned by human agency. If these
interventions do not take place, almost all tha makes
Catholicism attractive to the laity and lucrative to the
hierarchy has vanished.



164 FAITH [CH.

It was only to be expected that intelligent priests in
the Roman Church, who understand the gravity of the
situation, should endeavour to find a sounder basis for
Catholic truth than this discredited theory of supernatural
interventions. We have seen that there is much in the
Catholic view of life which is in sympathy with prag-
matism, and that the sceptical Nominalists of the Middle
Ages came very near to this theory of knowledge. Accord-
ingly, it was inevitable that the suggestion should be
made that the traditional realism of Catholic apologetics
should be abandoned ; and that by reducing the external
world to a mere system of instruments, arranged by the
human mind for its own purposes, relief might be found
for distressed faith. On this hypothesis, there is no sacred-
ness or inviolability in natural laws, in and for themselves.
They are approximately true, as diagrams of everchanging
phenomena, fixed, for purposes of observation, in a series
of discontinuous pictures, like the successive scenes of a
cinematograph. But even if the theoretical abstractions
of the intellect corresponded accurately to concrete fact,
which is not the case, what is the understanding but the
tool and instrument of the will ? We want to know
only in order that we may act and live. These static
laws, of which we have made such bug-bears, are of very
subordinate importance. The real world is the world of
will and feeling, the world of action ; and if religious
truths the dogmas of the Church are found to belong
to this sphere, and not to the inferior order of existential
fact, that is only what we should expect and desire to hear
about them.

The philosophical defence of the Modernist position has
been conducted mainly by Frenchmen, among whom Le
Roy l and Laberthormiere 2 may be named. As Catholics,



1 Dogme et Critique.

* Le Rfalisine Chretien et Vldfalisme Grec; Essais de philosophic religieuse.



x.] FAITH BASED ON PRACTICAL NEEDS 165

these writers are anxious not to be classed as Kantians,
since the name of Kant is obnoxious to the Roman Church ;
and in truth they do not define their philosophical position
very clearly. In Laberthonniere it takes the form of a
revolt against c Greek idealism,' which, he considers, was
occupied with things, while Christianity is occupied with
life. The Greek asked, What are things ? The Christian
asks, Whence came I, and whither go I ? The Greeks were
insatiable in their desire to see and know ; and in conse-
quence Greek morality is only an aspect of metaphysics.
For the Greek, evil is ignorance ; good is truth, and truth
is the adequate representation of things. To think is
everything, because thought is sight par excellence. So
came into existence the Greek philosophy of concepts.
Plato and Aristotle are agreed in the service which they
demand of their ' Ideas.' It is by them that they find the
one in the multiple, and the stable in the mobile. These
ideas are not our ideas but eternal essences, the determina-
tions of which we receive without putting anything into
them ourselves. Thus Greek philosophy is an intellec-
tualism or rationalism. It begins with the desire to think
and see, and so it ends with a world of ideas. To enter
into the unchanging intelligible world is salvation. Thought
is the beginning, middle, and end of life.

The fact of individuality, says Laberthonniere, always
embarrassed the Greek thinkers. The individual was
something which ought not to exist. They longed to wipe
out all dividing lines. Theirs was a c static ' ideal, good
only to contemplate. But an ideal which can be thus
contemplated is necessarily an impoverished view of reality,
because it is like a photograph of something which is always
in motion. It gives us a picture of movement stiffened
into unnatural immobility ; we contemplate a picture,
which can only give us some aspects, and perhaps not the
most significant, of the living, changing reality. Greek
philosophy provides us neither with a science of origins



166 FAITH [CH.

nor a science of ends. It attaches itself to forms only.
Hence follows a sovereign indifference to the accidents of
life and the events of history ; for whoever can think, can
always contemplate ' the ideas ' in their unchanging har-
mony and beauty. This indifference, which antiquity
praised, is the enemy of charity and of progress.

After this indictment of the great Greek thinkers, our
Modernist proceeds to contrast with ' Greek idealism '
the genius of Christianity. Christianity is preoccupied
with life, not with things. It is not a system of ideas,
fixed and unchanging, above the changing reality of the
world, but it is constituted by events occupying a place
in the time-series. It is itself a history, and the history
is itself a doctrine, a concrete doctrine. The Bible
explains the facts of history by stating them in their
' dynamic ' relations e.g. investing the figure of Jesus
of Nazareth with the attributes proper to the founder
of a great Church, such as He actually did found, though
without intending it. The inspired historian ' looked
higher ' than literal fact ; he narrates history in the light
of his knowledge of the whole drama, of which he is only
giving us the first act. Christ is not simply an object of
historic certitude ; he is also an object of Faith. And it is
the latter aspect which is of practical importance.

At this point the Modernists divide ; it is impossible to
attribute to them as a body any one doctrine about the
historical side of Christianity. They desire, for the most
part, that criticism rather than philosophy should be
regarded as the starting-point of the movement. The
authors of The Programme of Modernism (p. 16) say : * So
far from our philosophy dictating our critical method, it is
the critical method that has of its own accord forced us to
a very tentative and uncertain formulation of various
philosophical conclusions.' But, in point of fact, some
members of the school are primarily philosophical theo-
logians, while others are primarily critics. And it is the



x.] FAIfH BASED ON PRACTICAL NEEDS 167

specialists in Biblical criticism who are the most radical
members of the school. 1

Laberthonniere sounds an uncertain note 2 on the value
of the historical facts narrated in the Gospels. But there
is no hesitation or obscurity about M. Loisy's attitude.
The Gospels, he says, are like the Pentateuch, a patchwork
of history and legend. Even the Synoptics contradict
each other. In Mark the life of Jesus follows a progressive
development. The first to infer his Messiahship is Simon
Peter at Csesarea Philippi ; and Jesus Himself first declares
it openly in His trial before the Sanhedrim. In Matthew
and Luke, on the contrary, Jesus is presented to the public
as the Son of God from the beginning of His ministry ;
He comes forward at once as the supreme Lawgiver, the
Judge, the anointed of God. The Fourth Gospel goes
further still. His heavenly origin, His priority to the
world, His co-operation in the work of creation and
salvation, are ideas which are foreign to the other Gospels,
but which the author of the Fourth Gospel has set forth in
his Prologue, and in part put into the mouth of John the
Baptist. The difference between the Christ of the Synoptic
Gospels and the Christ of John may be summed up by
saying that * the Christ of the Synoptics is historical, but
not God ; the Johannine Christ is divine, but not his-
torical.'

Even Mark, M. Loisy thinks, probably only incorporates
an eyewitness document. The Gospel which bears his
name was issued, probably about fifteen years later than
the destruction of Jerusalem, by a non-Palestinian Chris-
tian, who lived perhaps at Rome. The Gospel of Matthew
was written by a non-Palestinian Jew who lived in Asia
Minor or Syria, about the beginning of the second century.
He writes in the interest of Catholic ecclesiasticism, and
may well have been a presbyter or bishop who wished to

1 Cf. my article on ' Modernism ' in the Quarterly Review foi April 1909.
* Compare p. 50 and p. 60 of his Realism* Chretien.



168 FAITH [CH.

advocate the monarchic episcopate. The chapters about
the birth of Christ seem not to have the slightest historical
foundation. The story of the Virgin Birth turns on a mis-
understood text of Isaiah. Of this part of the Gospel
Loisy says, ' Rien n'est plus arbitraire comme exegese, ni
plus faible comme narration fictive.' The Third Gospel,
he proceeds, was probably written in the last decade of the
first century ; but the first edition, which traced the descent
of Christ through Joseph from David, has been tampered
with in the interests of the later idea of a Virgin Birth.
As for the Fourth Gospel, it is enough to say that the author
had nothing to do with the son of Zebedee, and that he is
in no sense a biographer of Christ, but the first and greatest
of the Christian mystics.

We have then, according to M. Loisy, only very corrupt
sources for a biography of Christ. And the only chance
of reconstructing the actual events lies in forming a mental
picture of the Galilean Prophet, and rejecting all that fails
to correspond to it. This picture, for M. Loisy, is that of
an enthusiastic peasant, ' of limited intelligence,' who came
to fancy Himself the Messiah, and met His death in a fool-
hardy and pathetic attempt to proclaim a theocracy at
Jerusalem. Any statements in the Gospels which contra-
dict this theory are summarily rejected in the name of
what the Germans call Wirklichkeitssinn. The guillotine
falls upon them and there is an end of it. The Resurrection
is of course dismissed as unworthy of discussion. The
corpse of Jesus was thrown, with those of the two brigands,
into * quelque fosse commune,' and ' the conditions of burial
were such that after a few days it would have been im-
possible to recognise the remains of the Saviour, if any one
had thought of looking for them.' 1 The disciples, however,
had been too profoundly stirred by hope to accept defeat.
They hardly realised that their Master was dead ; they had
fled to their homes before the last scene ; and besides, thay
1 Loisj, Let fivangiles Synoptiques, chap. vii.



x.] FAITH BASED ON PKACTICAL NEEDS 169

were fellow-countrymen of those who thought it quite
possible that Jesus was John the Baptist come to life
again. What more natural than that Peter should see his
Master one day while fishing on the lake ? ' The impulse
once given, the belief grew by the very need which it had
to strengthen itself.' Christ soon appeared also to ' the
eleven.' So their faith brought them back to Jerusalem,
and the Christian Church was born.

' The supernatural life of Christ in the faithful and in
the Church has been clothed in a historical form, which
has given birth to what we might somewhat loosely call
the Christ of legend.' ' Such a criticism does away with
the possibility of finding in Christ's teaching even the
embryonic form of the Church's later theological teaching.' l
The Christ whom the Church worships is the product of
Christian Faith and love. He is a purely ideal figure ; and
it betrays a total absence of the historical sense, and a
total inability to distinguish between things so essentially
different as Faith and fact, to seek for His likeness in the
Prophet of Nazareth.

This new apologetic is likely to take away the breath of
the ordinary Christian believer. The Modernist professes
himself ready to admit not only all that a sane and im-


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