Imágenes de páginas

The judgment of Christ's Divinity at which we thus arrive is, it is true, a " Werturteil," or a judgment of value, to use the well-known Ritschlian phrase; that is, it affirms a truth that expresses the sense of His religious worth to us. It does not follow from this, as some say, that it is a merely subjective judgment, or that it does not state that which is true of Christ in Himself. All religious judgments, Ritschl holds, are "Werturteile." "We can know God and what is Divine," to use his words (p. 376), "only through the apprehension of His value for the satisfaction of our nature." "The 'Werturteil,'" as one of his disciples says, "declares whether the thing is for us of importance or is indifferent, whether it affects us with pleasure or the reverse. Applied to religion, it means that what we can know of God is to be gathered from the effects of His working upon us." There is no contrast between the thing as it is in itself and the thing as apprehended by us; the " Werturteil" is contrasted merely with a theoretic judgment, which necessarily excludes the personal factor. "He who does not understand this through sheer intellectual prejudice," says Ritschl's son and biographer, "might with as good ground say that Ritschl denies the existence of God and teaches atheism, as that he denies the reality of the Godhead of Christ in the full sense of the word" {Leben, p. 212).

The Godhead of Christ is thus the confession of the religious estimate of its Founder by His believing Church. It is the outgrowth of their experience of Christ. On the one hand, He is " Lord," a term by which His people confess His sovereignty over all, His dominion over the world, a confession that has its root in the experience of His present activity in saving them from sin and overmastering the hindrances to their well-being. And, on the other hand, He is the Revealer to them of the grace and truth of God. The disciples recognising what the Exalted Christ was to them, viz. the Revealer of the loving God and their personal Lord, expressed their convictions of what He was by calling Him Lord, and speaking of Him as Divine; " for an authority," says Ritschl, " that either excludes all other standards or subordinates them to itself, and that commands in an exhaustive way all the trust of the soul that is due to God, has the value of Godhead" (p. 383).

But this knowledge of Christ, derived from experience, must be authenticated by the history of Christ: "If the Divinity of Christ, or His Sovereignty over the world in the form of the Exalted One, is to be apprehended as necessary knowledge, or as a part of the Christian religious view of the world, it must be borne witness to by the operation of Christ upon us. But every operation of Christ upon us must have its standard (by which we judge its claim to be an effect of Christ) in the historical Form of His Life. Accordingly, the Divinity or the Sovereignty of Christ must be discoverable in definite features of His historic life as attributes of His temporal existence. For what Christ is in His Eternal Life, and what He, as Exalted, effects on our experience, would be utterly unthinkable if we did not see it exemplified first in His historical existence in time. If the conception of His present Sovereignty cannot be filled up with definite characteristics derived from His working in His Historic form of Being, it is either a worthless scheme of thought, or an occasion for every possible sort of fanaticism. On the other hand, holding fast the conviction that Christ now rules over the Church of the Kingdom of God, and is working towards the object of gradually bringing the world under the Divine rule, we must then be able to recognise this Sovereignty over the world as a prominent characteristic of the historical life of Christ" (pp. 383, 384).

Accordingly, the real interest is transferred to the historical Christ, which is the exclusive ground of, and the one norm for all representations we may form of Christ's extra-historic Being and Activity. We may not attribute to Christ Exalted any feature of material importance which cannot be shown to hold first of His historic life and to be part of the picture given to us in the Gospels. The historical Christ is the source of our Christological affirmations. And, accordingly, Ritschl takes us to the Gospels, and emphasises the study of the Christ of history and the features of His personal life. Christ comes before us, there, in the capacity of the Founder of the Kingdom of God. It was the task of His life and teaching and activity to establish the Kingdom, and this He does, on the one hand, by revealing the love of God to men. This is one aspect of His Divinity as a historical Person-—-He is one with God in His love, His will, His mind. And the other is, His Sovereignty over the world; for God is Sovereign, and Christ attests His claim to this Divine position by His power over the world. This power was evinced in His independence and spiritual mastery of the world, and His superiority to all the hindrances it presented to the prosecution of His mission, as well as in His patience under the suffering it inflicted upon Him—for in bearing its evil and the bitter consequences of falling under its displeasure, Christ conquered it, broke its power. It is not in any private display of power of a material, palpable sort, either in His historical life in the world or in His supernatural life in His Exalted State, that the Sovereign Might of Christ is displayed, but in the sphere of His spiritual life, through the victory of good over evil, by His patience and meekness under wrong, and the unflinching fidelity with which He bore the sufferings to which He was exposed (pp. 428—43 6).1

According to the suggestions of the N. T., then, the elements in the historical appearing of Christ that are comprehended in the attribute of His Godhead are His Grace and Truth in the execution of the calling of His Life, and the superiority of His spiritual self-determination to the particularistic and natural motives that the world offered (p. 436).

The Divinity thus predicated of Christ is purely ethical. There is no contrast between the human and the Divine natures, as in the orthodox doctrine. For Christ as man is not apprehended as in possession of an abstract human nature, but as the individual man Jesus, who was faithful to His special vocation, and by His perfect love and patience

1 There is a fine passage in the Ep. to Diognetus in the spirit of Ritschl's Christology, in which the author shows that man may imitate God even in respect of His Lordship, inasmuch as the latter consists not in using force to inferiors, but in one taking upon him the burden of others (chap. x.)

furnished the self-manifestation of God {Leben, p. 216). This identification of God, whose nature is love, with man in the one Person, while a paradox to reason, is religious truth and the intuition of faith.

It follows also that the Divinity predicated of Christ is transferable to His people, and is thus predicable of His Church in so far as it is viewed as the sphere of His continued influence. The Church is the organ by which God manifests Himself and exercises sovereignty over the world; it exhibits the operation of Him who in the historical Form of His Being revealed God and exercised dominion over the world. "It is included," says Ritschl, "in the full idea of the Godhead of Christ, that His Grace and Truth and world-subduing Patience should reach their proper effect in the existence of a Church of the Kingdom of God that should be invested in the same attributes. For one must combine together in idea Him who exercises Divine lordship, and is, to use Lutheran language, my Lord, and those who experience this sovereignty in themselves. The Church, the Kingdom of God, must be viewed in this light, since its members, acting from the motive of universal love of man, and wielding a power over the world that renders them independent of it, thereby manifest the effect upon them of the peculiar working of Christ.1 Hence we explain the fact that the idea of the Divinity of Christ, or the application of the Old Testament name of God to Him, first proceeded from the Church. Christ was not in the position to designate Himself so. Accordingly, we can form a right theological judgment regarding this attri

1 Ritschl is careful to define the power that he ascribes to the Sovereignty of Christ. It is not a fact of sense-experience. "The phenomena in which many seek the proper proof of the power of Christianity, political influence, legal authority of persons and Church institutions, are suspiciously like a falsification of Christ's purpose, and there is needed a very strong faith in the Invisible, in order, under the the confusions and atrocities as well as pitiful things in Church history, to keep in view the growing might of Christ over the world " (pp. 433,434). Then he explains that the Power over the world which he attributes to Christ's people falls within the sphere of the spiritual life, as in the case of the Master.

bute only when we think of Christ as Efficient Head of the Church of the Kingdom of God. For it is not till we thus combine Christ and His Church that we recognise that He is in His order unique" (dass er in Seiner Art der Einzige ist) (pp. 437, 438).

The further question with which ecclesiastical Christology busies itself, How the Person of Christ comes to have such a value for the religious life of man? is, according to Ritschl, " no proper object of theological inquiry, because the problem lies outside of inquiry of every kind. What the Church tradition offers us in this connection is in itself obscure, and not fitted on that account to explain anything. Christ is given to us as the Bearer of the perfected Revelation, that we may believe on Him. But the union between Him and God the Father admits of no explanation of a scientific sort. And as a theologian, anyone may know that useless inquiry after such explanation only leads to the obscuring of the recognition of Christ as the perfected Revelation of God" (p. 426).

The general idea of the Christology here sketched is shared by all who acknowledge Ritschl as their master. All are agreed as to the importance of the principle that the historical life of Jesus, and the experience of His continued activity in the Church which accepts Him as its Founder, are the sources of true Christology, and that the religious estimate of Him that is drawn from these sources is final for the faith. His Divinity is a judgment of His religious value. The confession of it is an expression of the experience of salvation that we owe to His person. The words of Gottschick, one of the earliest of Ritschl's disciples, have the genuine Ritschlian ring: "If the faith in the Godhead of Christ is really religious faith, and no speculation of the understanding; if it expresses the fact that Christ, as we have experience of Him, calls forth our absolute reverence, our full thankfulness, our unreserved surrender to love, that He secures us in the blessed and eternal life that is the specific gift of Godhead,—then His Godhead, being the correlate of this experience and personal surrender, must be recognised by us in those very

« AnteriorContinuar »