By Edgar Young Mullins
I. TWOFOLD AIM aim of this treatise is twofold: first, to set forth the 
contents of the Christian religion; and, secondly, to set 
forth the doctrines of the religion which arise out of it 
and which are necessary to explain its meaning. 
The aim implies a necessary connection between religion and 
theology. Theology has often been defined as the science which 
treats of God. This definition is based on the derivation of the 
word from the Greek words meaning God (Theos) and reason 
(logos). But Christian theology is something more than the 
science which treats of God. It also includes in its field of in 
vestigation man s relations to God. The reason for this wider 
definition of Christian theology becomes clear when we con 
sider the nature of Christianity. The Christian religion is not 
a theory or speculation about God. It is more than deductions 
from objective facts concerning his nature and attributes. These 
are not altogether excluded from Christian theology, but they 
are not its foundations nor the chief elements of its content. 
Primarily religion is man s relations to the divine Being. It 
involves fellowship and obedience on man s part, and self-revela 
tion on God s part. It is a form of experience and of life. It 
is an order of facts. Theology is the systematic and scientific 
explanation of this order of facts. Sometimes the term theology 
is used in a narrower sense, meaning the doctrine of God as 
distinguished from the doctrine of man, or the doctrine of sin, 
or the doctrine of salvation, or other particular doctrines. This, 
however, is not in conflict with what has just been said as to the 
general use of the word. It has come to mean the whole range 
of doctrines regarding God in his relations to man. 
This meaning appears in the use of the term in the various 
departments of theology. When we speak of the theology of 
the Old Testament we mean the systematic exposition of the 
truths about God and his revelations to man arising out of the 
life and experience of God s people in the Old Testament history. 
New Testament theology means the corresponding truths given 
in the life and religion of the actors and writers of the New 
Testament. The Pauline or Johannine theology means the truths 
found in the writings of Paul or John. In general, biblical theology 
is the scientific exposition of the theology of the Bible 
unmixed with speculative or other elements drawn from physical 
nature or the human reason. But in every instance mentioned, 
theology covers all the relations between God and man. It is 
not limited to the doctrine of the divine nature or attributes. 
Systematic theology is the orderly and harmonious presentation 
of the truths of theology with a view to unity and completeness. 
Reason may supply certain elements in such presentation which 
would be inappropriate in a rigidly biblical method of treatment. 
Historical theology traces the stages in the development of 
doctrines through the Christian centuries, with a view to show 
ing their inner connections from age to age. 
Another method of dealing with the doctrines of the Christian 
religion is that which gives prominence to Christian experience. 
It is the method adopted in this work. 
In principle the experiential way of dealing with Christian 
doctrine has been employed in every vital and living system 
which has been produced since New Testament times. But in 
most cases it has been implicit rather than explicit. Christian 
experience has been tacitly assumed. It is the principle which 
animates all the biblical writers of both the Old and New Testa 
ments. It is the source of power in the writings of an Augus 
tine, a Clement, a Schleiermacher. All theology must be vitalized 
by experience before it can become a real force for the regenera 
tion of men. 
But when we speak of making experience explicit in expounding the 
doctrines of Christianity, we are by no means adopting 
that as the sole criterion of truth. He would be a very unwise 
man who should attempt to deduce all Christian doctrine from 
his own subjective experience. As we shall soon see, Chris 
tianity is a historical religion. Jesus Christ is its sole founder 
and supreme authority as the revealer of God. The Scriptures 
are our only source of authoritative information about Christ 
and his earthly career. These are fundamental to any correct 
understanding of our religion. 
When, therefore, we speak of making Christian experience 
explicit as a principle in theological statement, we are simply 
seeking to understand Christianity first of all as a religion. We 
certainly cannot know the meaning of the religion until we know 
what the religion is. There are ways of handling Christian doc 
trine which lead away from the truth. A theologian may adopt 
some abstract logical or philosophical principle and construct a 
system having but slight connection with the New Testament. To 
avoid this error the best recourse is the religion of the New 
Testament itself. 
It will be noted, then, that the clear recognition in doctrinal 
discussion of the experience of Christians does not render the 
ology less biblical, or less systematic, or less historical. The 
Bible is the greatest of all books of religious experience. The 
theology of its great writers is all, in a sense, the expression of 
their experience under the guidance of God s Holy Spirit. Paul s 
conversion was a formative influence in all his doctrinal teachings. 
Again, our treatment is none the less systematic because it is 
experiential. We may be more cautious in drawing logical 
and philosophic inferences from doctrines revealed and known 
in experience. But this does not at all hinder a systematic ar 
rangement and exposition of doctrine. 
So also while the limits of space and method of treatment for 
bid any general review of the history of doctrine, the entire treat 
ment of theology here represented implies the historical back 
ground and the whole course of doctrinal development through 
the Christian centuries. 
We may now sum up in a general way the factors which 
must be taken into account if we are to understand the Christian 
religion and the doctrinal teachings which arise out of it. 
First of all, we must recognize Jesus Christ as the historical 
revelation of God to men. What he is in himself, and what 
he means for our faith, are truths which must await development 
at a later stage of this book. But Christianity is bound up indis- 
solubly with the facts of the historical Jesus. 
Secondly, we must assign to their proper place the Scriptures 
of the New Testament as the indispensable source of our knowl 
edge of the historical Jesus and his work for our salvation. 
In the third place, we must recognize the place and work of 
the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men. He continues the work of 
Christ. It is through him that we are led to accept Christ. It 
is in and through him that the meaning of the Christian facts is 
brought home to us. 
Fourthly, we must seek to define and understand the spiritual 
experiences of Christians as subject to the operation of God s 
Spirit revealing Christ to them. The history of doctrine will aid 
in this, but we must make also a direct study of experience itself. 
Now it is in the combination and union of all these factors, 
and not in any one or two of them taken by themselves, that we 
find what we seek when we undertake a systematic study of 
the Christian religion and its theology. We may specify some 
of the advantages of this method of study in the following 
statements : 
i. It enables us to avoid a false intellectualism in theology. It 
keeps theology properly anchored to facts and their meaning. 
It requires little discernment to see that systematic theologies 
which are chiefly concerned with the logical or philosophical 
relations between truths in a unified order, may easily overlook 
vital interests of the spiritual life. The Scriptures rarely present 
truth in this way. They never present it apart from the vital 
needs of the soul. The sense of proportion in the emphasis upon 
truth may be easily lost in our admiration for the harmony and 
beauty of a systematic arrangement. A single doctrine or con 
ception, such as the sovereignty of God, or election, or human 
freedom, may be given a dominating position and all other truths 
modified to make them conform. Theological controversy may 
lead to one-sided systems. Thus Calvinism and Arminianism 
have sometimes taken on extreme forms and have led to un 
fortunate results. Other issues, more common in modern times, 
produce the same reactions to extreme forms of statement. 
Now when the interests of life and experience are made explicit,
 many errors of this kind are avoided. So also a restraint 
is felt thus which prevents too great license in speculative and 
metaphysical deductions from biblical truth. We cannot have 
theology without metaphysics, but our metaphysics should arise 
out of the data supplied by the Scriptures and understood 
through our living experience of God in Christ. 
2. The method also affords the necessary fact basis for the 
scientific presentation of the truths of Christian theology. The 
finest thing in the modern scientific spirit is its demand for 
facts and its painstaking and conscientious interpretation of 
facts. The desire to know reality as it is in itself and not as 
we wish it to be, combined with the patient effort to express 
exactly its meaning, is of the essence of the scientific spirit. Now 
this motive and aim are most welcome to those who would study 
the Christian religion and who would express its meaning in 
a system of theology. 
It is clear, upon reflection, that all the factors named are essen 
tial to such a thoroughgoing study of the Christian religion. 
If we study the historical Jesus apart from the other factors 
mentioned, we never get beyond a problem of history. If we 
devote ourselves solely to the study of the Scriptures by means 
of the most approved critical and scientific methods, we never 
rise above the issues involved in literary and historical criticism, 
or at best in questions of exegesis. In neither case do we rise 
to the level of religion itself. Again, if we grow weary of 
historical and exegetical study and devote ourselves to the work 
of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, to the exclusion of the other 
factors, we do indeed come to the study of religion. But under 
these conditions it is not and cannot be the Christian religion 
in its fulness and power. We cannot dispense with Christ, and 
we are indissolubly bound to the Scriptures in any attempt to 
understand that religious experience we call Christian. 
Two fundamental questions arise at the outset in any adequate 
study of the Christian religion. One relates to Jesus Christ. 
Who is Jesus, and what is he to men? The other relates to 
our experience of God s redeeming power in the soul. What is 
the relation of Jesus Christ to that experience? Those questions 
inevitably lead back to the question of the New Testament, the 
historical source o-f our information about Christ. They also 
lead back to the work of God s Spirit in our hearts. Hence we 
conclude that all four of the factors named are essential to a 
scientific study of the Christian religion. 
In the light of these statements we see how defective are some 
efforts which are called scientific, to express the meaning of Chris 
tianity. Numerous attempts have been made to set forth " the 
essence of Christianity." It is not our purpose here to dwell 
upon these at length. But usually they are efforts to extract 
from the Gospel records some small remainder of what is held 
to be the religion of the New Testament by Christians generally, 
and cast away the other elements as worthless. Of course it is 
always open to any one to raise the question whether the original 
gospel has been perverted. But too often efforts of this kind 
fail to take account of all the elements in the problem. Chris 
tianity cannot be reduced to a simple problem of historical 
criticism. The facts involved have a much wider range. Again, 
Christianity cannot be construed under the guidance of some 
previously formed world-view or philosophy of the universe. We 
must begin with the facts in their totality and reckon with them. 
This is simply another way of saying that we must adopt the 
scientific method of dealing with the question. 
3. Again, the method gives the best apologetic foundation for 
a system of theology. The term apologetics is perhaps not the 
most appropriate one for designating the scientific defense of the 
Christian religion against attack. But it has come into general 
use for this purpose and is well enough understood. Apologetics 
is, of course, a distinct department of theology, and calls for 
discussion of some problems which cannot be treated in sys 
tematic theology. And yet the latter requires a sound apologetic 
foundation in order to maintain itself among other sciences. 
The method adopted in this work affords the strongest apologetic 
foundation for theology because it emphasizes the facts of history 
and of experience. A comparison with some of the older apolo 
getic defenses will show this. We name a few of these: 
(1) The proof of God s existence from the phenomena of 
the universe has long been a favorite method. It possesses, no 
doubt, elements of great strength. But along with these there 
are elements of weakness. Logical deduction from physical 
phenomena lends itself to many theories of the universe. Each 
of them claims to be most in accord with the facts. There results 
always an unstable equilibrium of theories. None of them satis 
fies fully. Immanuel Kant held that we cannot know what is 
behind phenomena. We can only know reality in its manifesta 
tions. And so long as we are limited to deductive reasoning 
from data objective to the mind itself there is much truth in 
his view. That which arises is a high degree of probability 
rather than knowledge in the strict sense, when we reason 
deductively to prove God s existence. But for the Christian who 
recognizes the reality and meaning of his experience of God in 
Christ a new kind of knowledge of God arises. The " proofs " 
are transferred from the world without to the world within. 
Thus direct knowledge of God arises. 
(2) Again, the proof of Christianity from miracles has always 
been questioned by many of the devotees of physical science. 
Christians have rightly replied that the objections were not well 
founded. But here again the proof resides in the realm of a 
remote history. Debate continues indefinitely because preference 
or preconception determines the view adopted. It is most prob 
able that Christians themselves are not convinced entirely by 
the logical demonstration based on the reliability of the New 
Testament witnesses. Unconsciously they have been influenced 
by their own experience of a supernatural power working in 
them and redeeming them. It is easy to believe the New Testa 
ment miracles if the same power is known as a personal and 
vital experience. If then we make clear and explicit what that 
experience is, and combine it with the witness of the well-sup 
ported historical records, we have a much more powerful argu 
ment from miracles. 
(3) The deity of Christ has been employed as a means of 
establishing the truth of Christianity. A powerful argument is 
constructed from the witness of Jesus to himself, from the im 
pression Ke made on others, from his resurrection, from his place 
and power in Christian history, and in other ways. But when 
to these considerations we add the facts as to Christ s redeeming 
power in men, we have greatly increased the strength of the 
appeal to his divinity. 
The above will suffice to show the nature of the apologetic 
foundation which is laid for theology when the redemptive ex 
perience of God in Christ is made explicit and clear as an essen 
tial factor in the interpretation of Christianity. This does not 
by any means imply that we are henceforth done with history 
or logical proofs, or any of the ordinary processes by which 
the mind works out its conclusions. It only implies that from 
the center of a well-founded history, as interpreted in the light of 
a divinely inwrought experience, we may properly estimate the 
value of all the proofs. The Christian religion as a power in the 
soul, redeeming and transforming it, is its own best evidence. 
4. The method adopted has a further advantage in that it 
enables us to show the reality, the autonomy, and freedom of 
the Christian religion. These are great demands which the 
modern world makes upon religion. A scientific age has given 
rise to a passionate demand for the real in the study of all 
subjects. Make-believes and shams of all kinds are subject 
to the most rigid scrutiny and criticism. Nothing can long 
remain secure which cannot endure the fierce heat and light o 
ruthless investigation. The religion of Christ welcomes this. 
It is the glory of Christ that he made the spiritual universe 
real to men. He brought God home to their souls. Those who 
know God in Christ find in him the supreme reality. 
The religion of Christ is autonomous. This means that it has 
its resources in itself. The Christian has the guidance of God s 
Spirit when in humility he seeks it. He acquires a relation to 
and knowledge of the Bible which is for him most convincing 
and conclusive. He has the witness in himself. His faith per 
forms for him a service, secures for him a power, brings to him 
a blessedness and a peace which he finds in no other way. The 
conflict between flesh and spirit, between the visible and invisible, 
between the temporal and eternal order, is reconciled and over 
come in Christ. He does not value other forms of human activity 
less than he did before, but rather more. But he sees that religion 
is the supreme value of life, the supreme function of the soul. 
In it all else, art, science, education, philosophy, are transformed 
into new forms of development and of ministry. But he also 
sees that they all find their completion and fulfilment in religion 
The religion of Christ is free. It is not subject to the rule of 
any form of human culture alien to itself. It is in conflict with 
no legitimate activity of man. Each great department of life 
has its special method, its great underlying principle. Physical 
science works with the principle of causality. Philosophy em 
ploys that of rationality. Religion deals with personality. God 
and man in relations of mutual love and service are the great 
realities with which it deals. There is no conflict between any 
of these, as we shall see. It arises only when one of these 
spheres undertakes to rule the other. 
As autonomous and free, and as dealing with the greatest of 
all realities, the Christian religion in every age of the world comes 
to redeem men. They accept it under the conditions of their 
own age, confronted by their own difficulties and problems. 
Hence arises the need for restating its doctrines in terms of the 
living experience of each generation. Human creeds are valuable 
as such expressions. But they do not serve all the ends of doc 
trine. We must ever return to the Scriptures for new inspira 
tion. We must ever ask anew the questions as to Christ and 
his relations to the needs of each generation. He does not change. 
His religion is the same in all ages. But our difficulties and 
problems are shaped anew by the forms of life which ever change 
about us. Hence we must revitalize our faith by deepening 
our communion with God and witnessing to his power in us. 
5. The experiential method of dealing with Christian truth 
helps in defining the nature of the authority of the Bible. The 
Bible, against tradition and against the authority of the papal 
system, was one of the watchwords of the Reformation. Protes 
tantism has from the beginning made the Bible the authoritative 
source of the knowledge of the gospel of Christ. Opponents 
have urged objections to the biblical authority on various grounds. 
It has been objected that the Bible is not infallible and hence 
cannot be an authority. The existence of textual errors, scientific, 
or historical deviations from exact truth, discrepancies of various 
kinds, proves that the Bible cannot be accepted as an infallible 
guide in religion, so it was argued. Christian apologists used to 
expend great energy and pains in answering all of these charges. 
Finally they came to see that the objector demanded more than 
faith required. We are not bound to prove in a way which com 
pels assent that the Bible is the supreme authority for Christian 
faith. Such proof would not produce faith at all. It could 
only produce intellectual assent. The Christian s acceptance of 
the Bible arises in another way. It comes to him in " demon 
stration of the Spirit and of power." It is the life in him which 
answers to the life the Scriptures reveal which convinces him. 
So that the Bible is not for him an authority on all subjects, but 
in religion it is final and authoritative. At this stage the objector 
took a further step and urged that no authority which is external 
to the soul can be accepted. Truth must be assimilated and 
understood, not imposed by authority of any kind, whether pope 
or church or Bible. The Christian then framed his reply on 
the basis of his own inner experience. He urged that the very 
essence of the redemption he knows in Christ is inwardly as 
similated truth and actual knowledge of the great spiritual real 
ities. He proceeded to define and expound the truth thus in 
wardly known and assimilated. But then the objector gave the 
argument another turn entirely. He charged that the alleged 
knowledge of the Christian was merely inward and subjective. 
It was lacking in objective reality, and hence was unreliable. 
Of course these objections contradict each other. We shall see 
them recurring in other connections in the following pages. 
Now the Christian rises above and overcomes both forms of 
the objection by insisting that it is in the union and combination 
of the objective source and the subjective experience that cer 
tainty and assurance are. found. He is no less interested in 
objective reality than his opponent. He is no less interested 
in inward assimilation of truth. But he finds both in the religion 
of Christ. He finds Jesus Christ to be for him the supreme 
revelation of God s redeeming grace. He finds the Scriptures 
the authoritative source of his knowledge of that revelation. 
And then he finds in his own soul that working of God s grace 
which enables him to know Christ and to understand the Scrip 
tures. Thus the objective and subjective elements find a unity 
and harmony which is entirely satisfying. 
Now if the opposite method is pursued and either the Bible 
or experience is taken alone, no such finality is .possible. If 
the Bible is considered in an intellectual way merely, apart from 
the experience of God s redeeming grace in Christ, then again 
we have a recurrence of the old debate on grounds of history 
and criticism. Theories are then framed according to mental 
prepossessions, and unity of view is impossible. Again, if ex 
perience is taken apart from the history, the old charge of sub 
jectivism at once recurs. Hence for the Christian there is no 
finally convincing and satisfying view except in the combination 
of the two elements. For the opponent of the Christian view 
this also makes the strongest appeal. There is an inward reality 
which corresponds to objective facts of history. God s approach 
to man in and through Christ finds its reaction in man s response. 
Faith completes the union, and the life of God flows into the 
life of man and transforms it. 
In order to prepare the way for our treatment of the Christian 
religion and its theology, we consider some of the modern ways 
of dealing with the facts of religion and especially those of the 
Christian religion. 
i. We consider first the view of Comte and the position of 
the Positive Philosophy. Comte held that religion is a form of 
superstition. Man is impressed by the powers and mysteries of 
nature. On account of his ignorance of natural laws he imagines 
a God or gods to account for them. This is the period of the 
childhood of the race. But gradually the reason works over 
the problems of existence. Metaphysical theories for explaining 
the universe arise, and man imagines he has found truth. But 
these metaphysical speculations are nothing more than the return 
of the old gods which were previously believed in. They are 
the shadows of the gods which are cast as the gods pass away. 
Finally men learn the truth. There are no gods. Metaphysics 
is an illusion. No truth comes through speculation. The only 
truth is that which arises out of the facts of matter, force, and 
motion. The most advanced races will therefore drop both 
religion and metaphysics out of consideration and devote them 
selves to the study of physical science. Of course under this 
view all forms of religious experience are regarded as purely 
emotional and subjective. There is no valid objective ground 
for them which can be found. 
There is no need to reply to this theory at length here. All 
that follows in this volume is the Christian reply. But briefly 
the following may be said. The view does not explain religion ; 
it merely explains it away. Religion is a universal fact. It 
calls for careful consideration which the theory does not give. 
The view is contrary to the nature of man as a spiritual being. 
Physical facts and laws do not satisfy the soul. Man craves 
the infinite. The craving is a part of his spiritual constitution. 
The theory ignores also the nature of personality and its sig 
nificance. Man is himself as real as nature. What does per 
sonality mean in the interpretation of the universe ? Comte gives 
no adequate reply. The view ignores history and experience. 
Men do not and cannot dispense with religion. The theory thus 
ignores half the facts known to us in the interest of the other 
half. It builds a philosophy on one aspect of being, the physical. 
It is abstract and unsatisfying in the highest degree. 
2. Another view closely related to the above regards religion 
as a useful device or function which men have adopted to aid 
them in their struggle for existence. Religious psychology shows 
how fundamental faith in some form is for men generally. It 
is useful. They invent a God or gods to answer their needs. 
There is real value in religion. It makes men strong to endure 
and to struggle for victory. But the gods they believe in have no 
objective reality. Religion then is simply a " value " which men 
" conserve." But the time may come when these values will give 
place to higher values. Reason will take the place of faith. 
The religious value will thus be gathered up in a rational value. 
Thus religion will pass because men can do without it. 
It will be seen that this view is just a slightly improved form 
of the view of Comte. All the objections to the latter hold 
against it. It is false in its estimate of man, of religion, and 
of the facts of history and experience. It attempts to show that 
the only valid satisfactions of the soul are those of the pure 
reason. Psychology shows clearly that man is a being with other 
needs and satisfactions. There is no such thing as pure reason, 
or reason apart from feeling and will and conscience. Man s 
nature has more than one dimension. God has set eternity in the 
heart. We are restless till we rest in God. 
3. A third view is that of Mysticism. There is a real object 
for the soul in its outreaching for the infinite. We come in 
contact with it in our religious yearnings and strivings. But 
this is all we can say about it beyond the fact that the feelings 
are stirred by our contact with it. We cannot say it is a personal 
being. Personality implies limitation, it is urged. Thought 
cannot frame a definition of God because the infinite One rises 
above thought. It is enough if we can find it and rest in it. 
Some adopt this view to avoid a clash with science or other 
forms of human thought. By avoiding assertions it avoids con 
troversy. Others adopt it because for them religion is exclusively 
a matter of feeling. Thought does not enter into it. The view 
has had advocates throughout history. But it cannot answer all 
the ends of religion. It severs religion from ethics and the 
practical life of man because it gives no definite view of God and 
his requirements. It tends to inaction because it finds no purpose 
or plan of God to be carried out by men. The vagueness and 
indefiniteness of its conception of God impresses upon it a pan 
theistic stamp. It cannot avoid the evils of pantheism. In the 
end all pantheistic systems cancel the significance of ethics, of 
truth, of personality, of immortality, and of the eternal king 
dom of God. Mysticism in this form cannot escape those evils. 
Mysticism in the sense of communion with the infinite is an 
essential element in Christian experience. But Christianity asserts 
at many points where mysticism denies. 
4. A fourth view estimates the forms of Christian experience 
as judgments of value. It is based on a theory of knowledge 
which denies that we can know things in themselves. We know 
phenomena. We do not know what is behind phenomena. We 
know Christ in salvation. He has for us the value of God. 
But we do not know what he is in his essential nature. So also 
other forms of religious experience are estimates or judgments 
of value regarding God and the spiritual universe. The view 
asserts that we do not need to know things save as they relate 
to us. Their worth to us is the only interest we have in them. 
The view is valuable in its emphasis upon experience. In 
religion it is our personal interest and our personal relation to 
God which give vitality and power. Religion is not a speculation 
or theory about God. It is the experience of God. It is God 
known to us through communion and fellowship. Ritschl, who 
developed the idea of the value- judgment in religion, helped 
to emphasize the need of reality and power in the Christian life. 
But he went too far in his denials. 
Here again the denials were intended as a means of avoiding 
conflict with physical science. It was an effort to escape from 
the old controversies about the person of Christ, the personality 
of God and related subjects. But the effort did not succeed. 
The old issue returned. The human mind will not rest content 
in negations about ultimate realities. The view failed to do 
justice to the Christian conception of revelation. It did not 
recognize the divine side of the religious relationship in a de 
gree which Christianity requires. In religion God speaks as 
well as man. Jesus Christ is God s revelation to us in word 
and in deed. What Christ works in us is the best evidence of 
what he is in himself. 
5. A watchword which has become common in modern times 
is based on the underestimate of doctrinal teaching and insists 
upon " religion without theology." " Give us the facts," it in 
sists, " never mind about theories." As we may have flowers 
without botanies, so we may have religion without theology. 
And so with some there is an effort to avoid theological state 
ments except in the smallest possible degree. Sometimes this is 
a protest against a mere barren orthodoxy of belief and against 
the passion for fruitless theological controversy. As such it is 
sometimes justified. But it often arises from the motive we have 
mentioned, the desire to avoid conflict with other forms of 
Now there are a number of strong reasons why it is impos 
sible to dispense with theology and at the same time keep our 
religion. It is not denied that in the earliest stages of religious 
experience there may be little reflection upon it and a bare 
minimum of doctrinal belief. Some Christians seem never to 
advance beyond the childhood of faith in their reflective thought 
about religion. But for all advanced Christian experience there 
must be doctrinal beliefs to express its meaning. The necessity 
for theology arises from the following considerations: 
(1) First, theology is necessary as a means of expressing the 
meaning of religion because of the nature of man. If man were 
feeling alone, we might dispense with doctrinal teaching. But 
our nature includes reason as well as feeling. It is impossible 
to draw a sharp line between the emotional, or moral, or volitional 
part of our nature on the one side, and our reason on the other. 
We are constituted with a knowing capacity, and it must be 
satisfied along with the other elements. 
(2) The nature of all human experience shows the same truth. 
It is only by an abstract process of thought that we can sepa 
rate the " fact " of religion from the " theory." The word 
" theory " is simply another word for " meaning." The so-called 
theory of religion is simply its meaning. And for an intelligent, 
thoughtful being, nothing can become a fact for the conscious 
ness apart from some meaning connected with the fact. It is 
not a fact for consciousness except as a greater or less degree of 
meaning attends it. In a state of infancy or unconsciousness, 
facts may exist which have no meaning for us. But the further 
we are removed from these two states, the greater the necessity 
for meaning in all the facts of our conscious lives. Religion 
especially, which goes deepest into our consciousness, awakens a 
craving for the meaning. The doctrines of theology are the 
answer to that craving. 
(3) Theology is necessary, therefore, if we would define our 
religion. We are not obliged to exhaust the meaning of religion 
in our definitions of it. The objects and experiences involved are 
beyond our capacity for knowing in some of their aspects. But 
we may apprehend what we cannot comprehend. We may know 
in part if we may not know altogether. 
(4) Theology is necessary in order to defend religion against 
attack. The Christian may decide that he will abandon thought 
about religion. He will simply enjoy it. But very soon the 
antichristian thinker advances a theory of the world which would 
completely set aside the Christian religion. This has been true 
throughout history. The effort to ignore the meaning of re 
ligion expressed in the form of doctrine is always rudely dis 
turbed by some new assault upon the faith. At once the necessity 
arises for clear doctrinal statements to meet objections. We must 
define religion in order to defend it. 
(5) Again, theology is necessary to religion in order to propa 
gate it. Christianity is a missionary religion. It is aggressive 
and conquering in motive and aim. But no possible success can 
attend the propagation of a Christianity without doctrine. Ex 
perience breeds truth. Then truth is employed to produce ex 
perience. Experience then imparts a new appreciation of truth. 
But always if we would successfully propagate the Christian 
religion, we must have a Christian theology. 
6. Again, the study of religion and theology is sometimes 
merged in the study of their history. Historical theology is held 
up by way of contrast with systematic or dogmatic theology. 
The history of religion and the history of doctrine are sufficient 
for our needs, it is held. 
In regard to this method and point of view we may admit 
at once the very great value of the historical study of any great 
subject. The tendency to go back to beginnings and discover 
origins and causes is a very valuable one. To trace the varia 
tions and reactions of any movement through history is necessary 
to a comprehensive understanding. So long, therefore, as the 
historical study of theology is valued for its true worth, it is to 
be strongly commended. Such study, however, becomes a serious 
error when it is made a substitute for something else having a 
different motive and end. The objective and detached study of 
the history of religion or the history of theology is valuable from 
the point of view of critical research. The scholar and inves 
tigator who is this and nothing more finds it a field of fascinat 
ing interest. But if the scholar and investigator is also a Chris 
tian man, with a profound interest in religion and its spread over 
the earth, the historical study of theology is invariably qualified 
by a new motive and interest. For him scientific research is a 
means to a higher end. He wishes to discover the truth con 
tained in the history that it may be employed as a means of 
advancing the kingdom of God. Otherwise the study of his 
tory is like watching the changing combinations of color in a 
kaleidoscope, or the variations in the appearance of an evening 
cloud. For the earnest Christian man, and especially for the 
preacher of the gospel, the merely objective study of theology 
as a historical movement apart from the deeper interest in truth 
itself, may become a hindrance rather than a help to efficiency. It 
is a fundamental fact of psychology made clear by all Christian 
history, that efficiency in propagating Christianity is based on 
intense conviction of the truths it contains. The preacher and 
teacher of the gospel cannot remain neutral to its content of 
truth and at the same time retain power in his efforts to lead 
others to accept it. This does not mean willingness to believe 
what is false. He passionately desires truth because of its 
supreme value for man s religious life. 
We have already observed, and there will be frequent occasion 
to recur to the fact in the pages which follow, that the Christian 
religion has to do with two great groups of facts: the facts of 
experience and the facts of the historical revelation of God 
through Christ. The place of the Scriptures we consider at a 
later stage of the discussion. Here it is important to consider 
the general relations between these two groups of facts. What 
do we mean by Christian experience? The answer to this ques 
tion will lead to the idea of the Christian revelation. The two 
are closely related. Neither can be fully understood apart from 
the other. 
By the Christian experience we mean the totality of the ex 
perience which becomes ours through our fellowship with God 
in Christ. Reference is not made simply to conversion, much 
less to any particular type of conversion. The Christian experi- 
ence, of course, includes its beginning. But it also includes all 
that follows. Regeneration and its results are all included. 
Christian experience includes also all that properly belongs to 
the experience in the community of Christians. It includes the 
life of all Christians, of the past as well as of the present. It is 
not the experience of any individual alone, or any particular type. 
It does include certain essential elements of experience, but these 
appear in endless variations among Christian men. Again, the 
Christian experience bears a definite relation to events outside the 
Christian s personal spiritual life. It is definitely related, in other 
words, to the providence of God. It is an experience which can 
grasp intelligently its place and meaning in a life lived under 
conditions of time and space and in human society. Finally, it 
is an experience which is capable of being defined in relation to 
all other forms of human experience and of human culture. 
While the experience of redemption through Jesus Christ is 
unique and exceptional among the earthly experiences of men, 
it is not unrelated to the others. Indeed, it is in part because 
it can be so clearly defined in relation to the natural life of man 
and to his various ideals and struggles, that for the Christian it 
brings such assurance and power. In its relations to science, to 
art, to ethics, to philosophy, and to the whole range of human 
interests and pursuits, the Christian experience is capable of 
clear and convincing exposition. It is the unifying bond of all 
human experience. All things become new under the light which 
shines from the heart of the Christian experience itself. All 
this will appear in various ways in the pages which follow. 
Here once more we meet the ever-recurring objection that the 
experience of the Christian is subjective, the imaginings of his 
own heart rather than a great reality. The objection assumes 
that a subjective experience cannot be true; that God cannot 
make himself known to the Christian. No such assumption 
is justifiable. It is a question of fact, not of unfounded assump 
tion. And as we have previously stated, the question of fact 
is not merely a question of our subjective experience. It is 
also a question of the historic revelation of God in Christ. 
Theology has often considered the question of the " ante 
cedent probability " of a revelation to mankind. Various argu 
ments were advanced to establish such a probability. But the 
question and answer gain in clearness if it is asked whether 
religion is ever to be completed, or is to remain always a one 
sided affair. Religion is communion between God and man. 
It is a reciprocal relationship. Does God ever speak? Is he 
forever dumb ? Is religion merely a soliloquy on man s part? 
Now the Christian revelation is God s answer to these ques 
tions. He has spoken to men in his Son. He is still speaking 
to them. There are three phases of that revelation which we 
must recognize if it is to become effective for our salvation. 
These will all receive more extended treatment subsequently. 
But meantime they need to be presented in outline. 
1. The historic revelation in Jesus Christ. In that revela 
tion we have the great central fact of the Christian religion out 
side of our consciousness entirely. He came to earth committed 
to a definite vocation. His consciousness clearly reflected the 
sense of divine approval at every stage of his ministry. He 
announced to men that he came to reveal God and to lead sinful 
men to God. He died and rose again. His death was an atone 
ment for human sin. The gift of the Holy Spirit was his means 
for continuing his redemptive activity. 
2. The result of the inworking of Christ in human souls was 
deliverance from sin and guilt and moral and spiritual trans 
formation. A new movement in human history came as a result 
of his inworking spiritually in the hearts of men. 
3. There were definite spiritual conditions to which men were 
required to conform in order to know the divine redeeming grace 
and power. Repentance and faith sum up the spiritual attitude 
involved. Thus the revelation of God in Christ possesses all the 
elements which are required to establish its truth. It is known 
as objective fact. It is then known in its results in subjective ex 
perience. It is known in the latter sense through clearly defined 
and well-understood spiritual conditions. These conditions are 
definitely related to objective facts. It is protected against 
mere subjectivism by its objective ground in history. It is 
protected against the uncertainties of merely critical and literary 
processes by its results in our own experience. Professor Haer- 
ing sums up the work of Jesus in the following language : 1 " Jesus 
is the personal self -revelation of God ... of the God who in 
his kingdom unites sinners with himself and with each other in 
the eternal fellowship of his love, judging sin, pardoning guilt, 
renewing the will, vanquishing death. Jesus is the personal self- 
revelation of this God, since he evokes such trust as the actively 
real presence of the invisible God in the actual world, in which 
there is otherwise no real assured confidence in this God. He 
is the ground of faith, i. e., of trust. This is the truth to which 
the faith of the New Testament testifies in the most varied 
forms. What is most important, it records the impression which 
Jesus himself produced, and which he always contrives to pro 
duce, as the ages pass." 
The point which calls for emphasis here is that the basis 
on which the Christian doctrine of revelation rests is a basis 
of fact in all its aspects. History and experience combine to 
establish it upon irrefutable grounds. It is not necessary at 
this stage to consider the various means adopted to set aside 
this revelation and its fundamental significance for men. Broadly 
speaking, all these efforts have resorted to untenable methods 
of dealing with the question. So long as strictly critical and 
strictly scientific principles are allowed to control, the outcome 
is as we have indicated. It is only when a priori presuppositions 
or illegitimate assumptions are adopted that it is possible to 
arrive at any other result. It may be urged, for example, that 
all the elements of the Gospel records, except those which leave 
a simply human Jesus, are to be rejected. But this cannot be 
done on critical grounds. For criticism warrants no such con 
clusion. Or it may be urged that the early disciples were in 
fluenced by the ethnic religions about them to introduce many 
false elements into the Gospels. But this, as a mere supposi 
tion, does not convince. And labored efforts to connect the New 
1 T. Haering, " The Christian Faith," Vol. I, pp. 208, 209. 
Testament with such influences have failed up to the present. 
Or again, objectors may insist upon the " Christ principle " as 
distinguished from Jesus the personal revelation of the eternal 
God. But this also is the result of a purely arbitrary handling 
of the Gospel material, based on a particular type of philosophic 
opinion. Once more in the interest of a general theory of evo 
lutionism as the key to the meaning of the world, it may be 
insisted that no individual man can ever possess absolute and 
final significance for the human race. But here again it is a 
philosophic presupposition which yields the conclusion, not regard 
for the facts themselves. In a word, every other view except 
that which recognizes in Jesus God s revelation to men for their 
salvation, leaves out some part of the facts. They omit essen 
tial elements of the history, such as Christ s own claims, or the 
effects he produced upon his disciples, or the work he has wrought 
in and through men in the past and present. Philosophical specu 
lation may set aside Christ, but science and criticism fail to do so. 
We have then, in the Christian religion, a self -revelation of 
God in the domain of human history. Along with this the revela 
tion is made real and vital for men in the realm of personal ex 
perience. If now we ask the question, why the self-revelation of 
God took this form, and keep in mind the needs and require 
ments of religion itself, a satisfactory answer is not far to seek. 
i. In the first place, a human personality is the only adequate 
medium for the self-revelation of a personal God. Only person 
ality can fully reveal and express the meaning of personality. 
Of course there are many intimations and suggestions of per 
sonality to be found in the physical universe. But those are not 
sufficient in themselves to express all the wealth of meaning in the 
nature of the infinite personal God. The moral qualities of God 
especially call for a personal, moral life in order that they may 
be clearly and fully expressed. The lower stages of nature, as 
we shall afterward show, give rise to the expectation of a personal 
being as the crown of nature. And if God is to make himself 
fully known to men who, in the exercise of their freedom, came 
under the dominion of sin, it is most natural to expect that he 
would disclose himself to such personal beings in the form of 
a personal life. 
2. Again, the personal and historical revelation of God was 
necessary to complete and establish firmly the inward revela 
tion through his Spirit. In other words, it was necessary to save 
religion from the uncertainties and perils of subjectivism. So 
long as religion was without an objective ground, it was always 
exposed to the danger that it would fail to attain the stability 
and definiteness required by the religious life itself. Man must 
really know God if the idea and power of God are to bear their 
highest moral fruits in human life. 
3. A third reason for such a self-revelation of God is that 
the deed of love and of righteousness is a far more powerful 
revelation of these qualities in God than the simple declaration 
of them could ever be. The Scriptures declare that God is love. 
They show also that he is righteousness. It is clear, therefore, 
that if God is such a being in his essential nature, a mere declara 
tion of the fact would not constitute a real demonstration of 
it. To become love and righteousness in action would be the 
only adequate revelation of the fact of love and righteousness in 
God s essential nature. The incarnation and atonement of God in 
Christ thus become the only adequate means for a self-disclosure 
on his part which would do justice to the claim. 
4. In the fourth place, such a revelation was required in order 
to the production of the necessary results in the moral and 
spiritual nature of man. This point becomes clear when we con 
sider the insufficiency of any other form of revelation for the 
end in view. Miracles and outward wonders alone would not 
meet the need. They were employed for a time in order to 
awaken in men a sense of God s presence. But they were always 
employed for moral and personal ends. In themselves, however, 
they were never an adequate means of creating in men the full 
religious response to God. A man might indeed be convinced of 
God s presence and activity in an intellectual way by wonders and 
signs, and remain untouched in the depths of his moral nature. 
But this is not the chief end of the gospel. That end is not 
understood until we perceive that in his self-revelation in Christ 
God s intention was to produce the " response of moral qualities 
in man to moral qualities in God." His end was to produce sons 
of God worthy in all respects of their Father in heaven. To 
accomplish this he gave his own Son, who revealed the inner 
nature of God as righteous love and became the medium through 
whom the power of God could reach personal beings and repro 
duce the same qualities in them. Thus the idea and the ideal 
of religion was fulfilled; God spoke to man, and man spoke to 
God; the divine love awakened human love. For the first time 
man understood clearly and fully the moral nature of God. 
Another matter which needs consideration in this introductory 
chapter is the relation of theology to truth. In presenting a con 
nected system of theological doctrines, as we have seen, the aim 
is to set forth the meaning of religion. Christian theology is 
simply the interpretation of the Christian religion. But in this 
pursuit are we dealing with truth? Is theology in any proper 
sense a science? Enough has been said on the preceding pages 
to indicate very clearly the direction our answer will take. We 
declare without hesitation that in the Christian religion and in 
the theology which expresses its meaning, we are dealing with 
a form of real knowledge. In another connection we shall give 
a definition of knowledge and develop the contents of knowledge 
in Christian experience. Here it is sufficient to indicate in general 
terms the reasons for holding that Christian theology is a form of 
i. The Scriptures, with great uniformity, represent religion 
as a form of real knowledge. Jesus declared that " this is life 
eternal, that they should know thee, the only true God, and him 
whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ" (John 17 : 3). In 
fact, it is a fundamental teaching in all the Gospels and Epistles 
that in the experience men have of the grace of God in Christ, 
there is real knowledge and real truth. This will appear in many 
ways as we proceed. 
2. Again, in Christian experience, we are dealing with the 
greatest of all realities, the spiritual universe, even with God 
himself. Religion is not an idea simply. It is not a philosophy 
primarily. It is a living experience of a very definite kind. In 
this respect it is like every other sphere of experience. It can 
be reduced to intelligible and systematic expression for the intel 
lect. Hence it is properly a field in which a scientific expression 
of meaning is possible. 
3. As a science, theology is closely related to many other fields 
of scientific research. All the social sciences differ from exact 
science in certain respects; but they are none the less sciences 
on that account. In them we do not find truth which can be set 
forth in the same exact formuke as with those which are found 
in the realm of physical research. But this is due not to the 
absence of reality and of truth about it. It is due rather to the 
nature of the reality with which we deal. Truth in religion 
owes its scientific character not to its mathematical quality, but 
to its use as a means of systematically expressing the meaning 
of the uniformities which prevail in the religious realm. 
4. The denial that truth and knowledge are found in religion 
is based upon a narrow and untenable conception of knowledge. 
Physical science has tended to narrow the idea of truth to proposi 
tions which can be proved in exact mathematical terms. But this 
narrowing of the conception is due to a confusion of truth itself 
with a particular form for expressing it. There are many ways 
of expressing the meaning of reality. The claim to truth cannot 
be based upon any one way to the exclusion of others. The test 
of the claim to truth is the test as to the reality with which it 
deals, at least this is the primary and fundamental test. Spiritual 
realities will not yield the same formulae for expressing their 
meaning as those found in the sphere of physics. But they are 
none the less real and may find interpretation in terms of truth. 
5. The truth of the Christian religion takes the form which 
religion requires, and makes the broadest and strongest appeal to 
our love of truth. As to the form, religion does not need nor 
require mathematical demonstration. Such demonstration does 
not and cannot produce faith. It cannot serve as a test for the 
reality of the contents of faith. Indeed, if it were substituted 
for faith, it would destroy its chief element of value. It follows, 
therefore, that such demonstration cannot destroy faith. 
The kind of truth which is required by and found in the 
life of the religious man, is that which defines the relations of 
free moral beings to God and to each other. The relations of 
persons, not of physical forces, are in question. Not physical but 
free causation is in action in this sphere. The truths which ex 
press the relations of God to man are as comprehensive as life 
itself. Growth, development, progressive attainment of the moral 
and spiritual ideal, are the conditions which determine the forms 
of statement for the truths of religion. 
Again, the appeal of the truths of religion is of the strongest 
kind. It is an intellectual appeal in the narrower sense of the 
word. The reason is satisfied because the truths of the Christian 
religion may be presented in a coherent system which has unity 
and self -consistency. The moral nature is satisfied because the 
result is the triumph of the moral nature over sin and self and 
the world. All the higher personal life is satisfied because in 
the Christian experience human personality comes to its own. 
Self-realization, a consciousness of having found the meaning 
of life and destiny, is bound up in the Christian experience. 
In all these and other ways truth comes home to the nature of 
man in Christian experience. 
We have been giving a preliminary survey and discussion of 
certain fundamental principles which will reappear from time to 
time in the pages which follow. They will be treated in the 
connections which arise in the course of the systematic develop- 
ment of the truths of the Christian religion. There are several 
other topics which call for brief consideration before we close 
our preliminary survey. They are as follows: The Sources of 
Christian Theology; the Material and Formal Principles of The 
ology ; the Order and Arrangement of Doctrines ; and the Quali 
fications for the Study of Theology. 
i. First, as to the sources of theology, our statement has been 
anticipated in our previous exposition. The source of Christian 
theology is the Christian religion. By the Christian religion we 
mean all the factors which enter into that religion, historical, 
literary, and spiritual. Fundamentally and most important of 
all, Jesus Christ, his life and teaching and atoning death and 
resurrection, is the source of the Christian religion. The Holy 
Spirit as the gift of Christ to men, the leader and guide in the 
inspired record of Christ s life and work, the ever-present guide 
to Christians in all ages, is necessary to us if we are to under 
stand Christ and his religion. The Scriptures of the Old and of 
the New Testament are indispensable to Christian theology be 
cause they are a product, and at the same time a source of the 
Christian religion. Through them alone do we understand the 
great causes which operated to produce the Christian religion 
and make it a power on earth. Our own experience of the re 
deeming grace of God in Christ is necessary to a full understand 
ing of Christian theology. Apart from that religious experience, 
theology is an intellectual movement, but lacks the vital elements 
required by the very nature of the Christian religion. Experi 
ence would ever go astray without the ever-present corrective in 
fluence of the Scriptures, and the authority of the Scriptures 
would never become for us a vital and transforming reality apart 
from the working of God s redeeming grace in us. 
The above are the primary sources of the knowledge of the 
Christian religion which is expressed in Christian theology. The 
ology does not reject such truth as comes through nature, 
through history and psychology, or from any other source. But 
it plants itself firmly on the Christian facts and develops its doc 
trinal views in the first instance from these facts. 
2. The meaning of theology has often been expressed in terms 
of its material and its formal principles. By material principle is 
meant its vital and essential content; by formal principle is 
meant the form or medium through which the meaning is appre 
hended. We may say then that as here presented, the material 
principle of theology is man s fellowship with God as mediated 
through Jesus Christ. The formal principle is the Scriptures 
spiritually interpreted. Other ways of expressing these principles 
have been adopted. Justification by faith was regarded as the 
material principle of the Reformation. This of course touches 
the heart of the spiritual life and the essential content of Chris 
tianity. But as a statement of its inward meaning it is not dis 
tinctive enough. It is an Old Testament principle gathered up 
into the New Testament religion. But it does not specifically 
recognize Jesus Christ as the chief agent in the New Testament 
revelation. Christ s personal relations to our faith is a neces 
sary element in any statement designed to express the central 
meaning of the gospel. The same objection holds to the kingdom 
of God as a means of expressing that central meaning. It lacks 
the specific reference to Jesus Christ. But when we speak of 
fellowship with God as mediated through Christ, we express the 
vital truth contained in both the other statements. Justification 
by faith is a justification conditioned on faith in him. The king 
dom of God is a kingdom in which he is King. Fellowship with 
God as mediated through Jesus Christ is a phrase comprehensive 
enough to cover all the essential elements. It implies justification 
by faith. It implies and necessitates the reign of God in his 
eternal kingdom. It carries the thought of a progressive moral 
attainment, in which the Christian character is gradually trans 
formed into the image of Christ. It involves the social aspects 
of the gospel according to which the relations of Christians to 
each other are determined by the common fellowship they have 
with Christ. 
The formal principle of Christian theology is the Scriptures 
spiritually interpreted. This has particular reference to the 
New Testament. But the Old Testament is not excluded. It is 
the preliminary revelation. The expression " spiritually inter 
preted " is employed to distinguish the method of a living the 
ology from that of a merely critical or exegetical study of the 
Scriptures. If theology in the correct use of the term is an in 
terpretation of the divine life in the soul, we are bound to express 
the relations between the life and the theology in defining the 
method of arriving at the truth. The pipe which conveys the 
water from the reservoir cannot be understood unless we keep 
in mind its relation to the water which it conveys. Biblical study 
and interpretation have often been a mere empty pipe with no 
relation to the true uses in the life of the soul. 
3. Our next topic is the order and arrangement of doctrine. 
Sometimes theologies proceed upon the assumption that natural 
properly precedes revealed theology in a doctrinal treatise. Usu 
ally the arguments for God s existence drawn from man and nature 
are set forth in the first division. But the plan involves a double 
method of dealing with the material of theology which may be 
confusing. These arguments, while possessing great force, do 
not yield a strictly Christian conception of God. And they may 
leave the impression that the Christian belief in God is based on 
them as its chief foundation. Our own plan is to defer considera 
tion of these proofs until the proof from the inner life of the 
Christian has been set forth. This is, for the Christian himself, 
the most convincing and satisfactory of proofs. And a great part 
of the force of the proofs from man and nature, even when they 
are given at the outset, is derived from the facts of Christian 
experience which are tacitly assumed. We prefer, therefore, to 
unify the doctrinal system by bringing all the elements of doctrine 
into relation with the central reality, the redemptive grace of God 
as manifested first in Jesus Christ himself, and secondly as mani 
fested in the souls of believers. 
Again, some treatises of theology in recent times have left 
the doctrine of the Trinity to be treated at the end of the 
doctrinal system. This is done upon the supposition that the 
truth regarding the Trinity lies out on the borderland of knowl 
edge. It is a sort of remnant left over after the main things have 
been set forth. This method, however, overlooks the vital rela 
tions of the Trinity to experience itself. God is revealed as 
Father, Son, and Spirit very early in the regenerate life, as will 
appear. The practical uses and value of the doctrine of the 
Trinity are very great. It is true that we need to practise due 
reserve in the effort to give metaphysical definitions of the Trinity, 
just as the New Testament does. But the doctrine itself needs 
to be recognized, if not at the beginning, at least comparatively 
early in the doctrinal development. The order adopted in our 
treatment, then, differs from that of the older method in placing 
the consideration of the general proofs of God s existence after 
the exposition of the fundamental truths of Christian experience. 
It differs from the sequence of doctrine as found in some more 
recent treatises in placing the discussion of the doctrine of God 
and of the Trinity earlier. This conforms to the requirements 
of experience and its relation to doctrine. 
The point at which the doctrine of the Scripture is expounded 
accords with its nature as a spiritual authority as distinguished 
from one that is merely legal or ecclesiastical. The New Testa 
ment Scriptures were produced to set forth the meaning of the 
revelation through Christ and the salvation which he brings. Its 
authority is not due to decrees of early church councils. Its 
power and fundamental importance for Christians are not based 
upon external authority. They are due to its divine and self- 
evidencing content. It is for us the Book of Life, since it dis 
closes to us the sources of our spiritual life and the great his 
torical and divine causes which produced it. On this account 
it is best understood by those in whom the life itself has become 
a reality. It will be noted also that in the use of the Scrip 
tures to establish the truth of doctrines the method of biblical 
theology is pursued. Where space does not forbid we trace the 
Scripture teaching in its historical unfolding. This is not always 
possible or necessary. But it is usually done in the treatment 
of the more fundamental doctrines. It has an advantage over 
the selection of proof-texts at random from the earlier and later 
stages of the Old and New Testament revelation. It serves 
to indicate the divinely guided process by which God made known 
the truth to his people. 
We have devoted an extended section to the relations between 
Christian and other forms of knowledge. The aim in view is to 
make clear and distinct for the student the reality of the knowl 
edge which accompanies our salvation in Christ, its independence 
and value for man s religious life, and its harmony with all other 
forms of human knowledge. We consider this aim as vitally 
important for Christian theology. There has been almost end 
less confusion in the minds of men at this point. There is a con 
stant tendency to stifle man s religious life, or reduce it to a 
bare minimum of emotion, or of ethics, in the interest of some 
alien principle which, in its proper application, requires no such 
reduction. The provinces of the great kingdom of the human 
spirit ought to live side by side in peace. It is only when one 
province rises in revolt and seeks to reign supreme that con 
fusion and strife arise. One of the chief advantages of consider 
ing doctrine as expressing the meaning of the divine life in the 
soul, is that it enables us to make clear for the intellect the place 
of religious truth in the great universe of truth. And in doing 
this we avoid any real conflict with science or other forms of 
human culture. We discover thus also how all other intellectual 
pursuits really end in the fundamental necessity for religion in 
order to provide for the full development of man s spiritual life. 
The following is a brief preview of the order in which the 
material of this treatise is presented : 
In Chapter II we give a definition of knowledge, with special 
reference to religion, and indicate the sources of our religious 
knowledge. This leads directly to Jesus Christ, the supreme 
revelation of God to men. 
In Chapter III we present a preliminary study of Christian 
experience itself. Certain objections are pointed out, and the 
nature of the Christian knowledge and the Christian certainty is 
indicated. This leads naturally to the consideration of Christian 
in relation to other forms of knowledge. Chapter IV is devoted 
to this subject. 
In Chapter V the record of the Christian revelation, as given 
in the Scriptures, is presented ; and in Chapter VI the Person of 
Jesus Christ, who is himself the revelation of which the Scriptures 
are the record. 
In Chapter VII we consider the question of the deity of Jesus 
Christ, and consider various phases of the modern discussion of 
his Person. This is followed in Chapter VIII by a consideration 
of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, which, along with the doctrine 
of Christ s Person, occupies a central place in the Christian system. 
In Chapter IX we consider the doctrine of God. This order is 
adopted because it is only after the Christian knows God in re 
demptive experience through Christ that he is in a position to 
understand God the Father whom Jesus Christ revealed. 
In the three succeeding chapters, X, XI, and XII, the doc 
trines of Creation, Providence, and Sin are presented. In Chap 
ter XIII the saving work of Christ is presented, and in Chapter 
XIV the doctrine of Election, or God s initiative in salvation; in 
Chapter XV, the Beginnings, and in Chapter XVI, the Continu 
ance of the Christian Life, and in Chapter XVII, the doctrine 
of Last Things. It will be noted that throughout the volume 
the fundamental aim has been maintained, viz., to present Chris 
tian doctrine as the necessary outcome and expression of the 
Christian religion. The experiential element in Christian knowl 
edge and Christian certainty has been recognized at all points. 
4. There are many qualities of mind which may be mentioned 
as assisting one who becomes a student of theology. But all these 
qualities are dependent upon one fundamental attitude of the 
mind and heart. The highest qualification for the study of 
theology is the religious attitude. In religion a man approaches 
God in a certain way. Through his communion with God certain 
experiences arise. Particularly is this true of the Christian re 
ligion. If one is to understand Christian theology, therefore, it 
is essential that the attitude required by the Christian religion 
be maintained. Theology is the interpretation of the religion, as 
we have seen. The interpretation is impossible apart from the 
reality itself. We conclude, then, that religion is the fundamental 
qualification for the study of theology. In the light of this 
general truth we may note the qualifications which come from 
scholarship and general culture, from particular intellectual at 
tainments, and from moral and spiritual qualities. 
(1) All forms of scholarship and general culture aid in theo 
logical study when they are employed in the interest of man s re 
ligious life. Theology is, like philosophy, a very comprehensive 
study. There is scarcely any branch of learning which may not 
be made tributary to it. Especially is this true of every form of 
scholarship pertaining to the Bible, such as knowledge of the 
original languages, skill in exegesis and other departments of 
biblical science. So also is a knowledge of general science and 
philosophy valuable to the student of theology. The difficulty 
and the danger in using all the general results of scholarly re 
search in the study of theology is that some other interest or ideal 
will displace that which is peculiar to Christian theology, the 
religious interest and ideal. The religious life must be seen in 
its totality of manifestation and in its true inner meaning and 
value. If a student s chief interest is something else besides re 
ligion, there is danger that religion be smothered or crucified. 
Much of the so-called " objective and disinterested " study of 
religion and theology is of this kind. In bringing scientific 
methods to the study of religion and theology, the first thing 
to remember is that religion is necessarily personal and subjective 
to the student who hopes to penetrate to its true inward meaning. 
Otherwise we never get below the surface of religion, and never 
obtain the true material for the construction of theology. 
(2) So also intellectual endowments of all kinds are valu 
able in the study of theology. The ability to think clearly and 
patiently, the desire for accuracy and thoroughness, the desire 
for unity and coherency of view, are very admirable qualities in 
the theologian. Especially is the quality which is usually called 
intuition helpful in this realm. The word simply means mental 
and spiritual insight, the feeling for truth based on broad intel 
lectual sympathies. It is thus distinguished from the logical 
process of deducing conclusions from premises. No man can ever 
hope to attain great proficiency in theology who is unwilling or 
incapable in the matter of patient and sustained effort. But the 
rewards of such effort are abundant and of the highest value. 
(3) The moral and spiritual qualities are the most fundamental 
in theological study. We name some of these. A sense of de 
pendence upon God and the guidance of his Spirit is necessary. 
The more the student penetrates into the great mysteries of 
religion, the more he is impressed with this sense of need for 
divine help in understanding them and expressing their meaning. 
Docility or tractableness, coupled with humility and openness 
of mind, is a fundamental requirement. The desire to know 
the truth and a submissive will go with the true theologian. 
Obedience is indeed in a true sense an " organ of knowledge," 
although, of course, not the sole organ. Pride of opinion must 
be laid aside if one is to come into living fellowship with God 
in Christ. Jesus upon one occasion thanked God that he had 
hid the truths of the gospel from the " wise and understanding " 
and revealed them unto babes" (Matt. II : 25). This great 
truth is slowly coming to recognition in modern psychology and 
theories of knowledge. There are great realms of reality, great 
tides of life and power which flow into man from God upon 
condition of a docile and receptive attitude on man s part. In 
other words, faith is the bond of union between man and God, 
which brings not only new life and new power, but new knowl 
edge. Theology is the systematic expression and arrangement of 
that knowledge. 
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