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LECTURE 2 NOTE A.—P. 41.

THE CENTRAL PLACE OF CHRIST IN HIS RELIGION.

The unique and central place of Christ in His religion, different from that of other founders of religion, is attested by writers of the most varied standpoints.

Hegel says: “If we regard Christ in the same light as Socrates, we regard him as a mere man, like the Mahometans, who consider Christ to have been an ambassador from God, as all great men may generally be called ambassadors or messengers of God. If we say no more of Christ than that He was a teacher of mankind, and a martyr for truth, we express ourselves neither from the Christian point of view, nor from that of true religion.”—Phil. d. Rel. ii. p. 287.

Schelling says, in his Phil. d. Offenbarung: “The principal content of Christianity is, first, Christ Himself; not what He said, but what He is, and did. Christianity is not, in the first place, a doctrine; it is a thing, something objective; and time doctrine can never be anything but the expression of the thing.”—Quoted by Pfleiderer, Religionsphilosophie, ii. p. 16 (Eng. trans.).

Darner bears witness to the valuable service of Schelling and Hegel in overcoming the older rationalism, and introducing a profounder treatment of the Christological questions.—Doctrine of the Person of Christ, v. pp. 100, 138 (Eng. trans.).

De Wette says: “The personality of Jesus, His life and death, and faith in Him, constitute the centre of Christianity. The spirit of religion became personal in Him, and, proceeding from Him, exerted an influence upon the world, which stood in need of a new religious life, in order to regenerate it.”—Vorles. über die Religion, p. 444 (quoted by Hagenbach).

Pfleiderer thus sums up the views of Vatke, a post-Hegelian: “All the streams of the world’s history issue in the kingdom of God, which is the will of God in its concrete development to a moral commonwealth. Providence here acts as an actual spirit through all persons and deeds, through which the idea of the good becomes more real, especially through the creative world-historical persons, among whom Christ occupies a unique position as the centre-point of history, as the Revealer and the Reality of the archetypal idea, as 390the love of God grown personal.”—Religionsphilosophie, ii. p. 268 (Eng. trans.).

On the views of Biedermann and Lipsius, see the Christliche Dogmatik of the former, ii. pp. 580–600 (“the central dogma of the Christian principle”), and the Lehrb. d. Dogmatik of the latter, pp. 535–538. “In its dogmatic utterances on the Person and work of Christ,” Lipsius says, “the Church expresses the consciousness that its existence has its historical foundation in the Person of Jesus, not merely in the sense which would be suitable to all other religions having personal founders, but in the sense that the Person of Christ is the archetypal representation of the Christian idea, and therefore the authoritative pattern for all time to come; and that His work forms the permanently sufficient, therefore the creative, basis for the constantly progressing realisation of that idea in the common and individual life of Christians.”—Dog. p. 537.

Ritschl says: “The Person of the Founder of Christianity is the key to the Christian ‘Weltanschauung,’ and the standard f or the self-judgment and moral striving of Christians.”—Recht. u. Ver. iii. p. 193 (3rd ed.). Cf. the comparison with Moses, Zoroaster, Mahomet, and Buddha, in pp. 364, 365.

Kaftan emphatically says: “In the question of the Godhead of Jesus Christ, the discussion turns, not on one proposition among others which a Christian recognises and confesses, but upon the central point of the entire Christian confession of faith.”—Brauchen wir ein neues Dogma? p. 52.

Hartmann, too, in his Krisis des Christenthums, treats this doctrine as the central matter, and discusses it in his first section under the heading, “The Christian Central Dogma and its inevitable Dissolution.” Cf. Preface to 3rd ed. of his Selbstzersetzung d. Christenthums.

It is needless to adduce instances from writers of a more orthodox tendency.

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