Polemics is that department of theology which is concerned with the history of controversies maintained within or by the Christian Church, and with the conducting of such controversies in defense of doctrines held to be essential to Christian truth or in support of distinctive denominational tenets. It is, however, a question whether polemics belongs to the special departments of dogmatics, ethics, or practical theology, or whether it constitutes an independent branch of study. Christianity has had, from the first, to battle with scientific weapons against Jews, heathens, heretics, and sehismatics, so that a rich and varied controversial literature was early developed in all branches of theology; though the means and the methods have varied according to the nature of the subject under discussion and the persons engaged.
Theoretically there is no distinct department of theological polemics; but practically there is a very real need of an independent branch of this nature. Theological polemics, therefore, scientifically combats erroneous conceptions and mistaken attitudes toward Christianity in its various phases, with the aim of defending the position of the communion to which the controversialist belongs. As the ancient Church had to fight against the classes of opponents already named, so modern polemics must defend the spirit of Christianity against nonChristian philosophies, sectarianism, indifferentism, and separatism. The problem next arises as to what place is occupied by polemics in the general field of theology. Schleiermacher divided theology into "philosophical," "historical," and "practical," and subdivided "philosophical theology" into " polemics " and " apologetics," apologetics being directed outwardly, and polemics inwardly. This division, however, is unsatisfactory. In the first place, polemics is applied dogmatics, for the polemic starts with certain dogmatic presuppositions. Again, it is applied symbolics, since dogmatic conceptions develop best in the orderly growth of a communion fully conscious of its distinctive organization. Theologically, therefore, polemics finds a place after dogmatics and apologetics. If, in addition to questions of doctrine, it takes into consideration the conduct of life, it becomes related to ethics, and may extend to organization and law, as well as to liturgics, missions, science, and art. The limits of the subject depend upon practical circumstances, the needs of the period, and the disposition of the controversialist.
False doctrines were combated by the apostles, and the Church Fathers followed along the same lines, so that polemic literature has existed since the time of Justin Martyr (q.v.) though his work "Against all Heresies " has been lost. Extant polemic literature begins with the "Against Heresies" of Irenaeus (q.v.). The 110
and philosophical freethinkers was dogmatic in character from Agobard of Lyons to Savonarola's Triumphus crucis. Then came, in the sixteenth century, the controversy between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The writings of the Jesuits especially were polemic. Alfonso de Castro wrote Adversus omnes hæreses libri quatuordecim (Paris, 1534), being followed by Franciscus Coster's Enchiridion controversiarum (Cologne, 1585) and Gregorius de Valentia's De rebus fidei hoc tempore controversis (1591). The chief work here, however, was the Disputatianes de eontroversiis Christianæ fedei (3 vols., Rome, 1581-91) of Bellarmine (q.v.), who was followed by Martin Becan (d. 1624) with his Manuale controversiarum hujus temporis (Mainz, 1623). Jesuit polemics against Protestantism have continued without intermission, one of the most noteworthy works of this character in recent years being the Il Protestantesimo a la regola di fede (3 vols., Rome, 1853) of G. Perrone (q.v.). More popular circles had already been reached by Bossuet' Exposition de la doctrine de l'église catholique sur les mati&egave;res de controverse (Paris, 1671).
The Protestants, in their turn, were no less active polemically from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. Here special mention may be made of Martin Chemnitz, Examen concilii Tridentini (Frankfort, 1565); Konrad Schlüsselburg, Hæreticorum catalogus (1597-99); Nicolaus Hunnius (d..1643), Diaskepsis de fundamentali dissensu doctrinæ Lutheranæ et Calvinianæ (Wittenberg, 1616); Abraham Calovius, Synopsis controversiarum (1685); and Johann Georg Walch, Einleitung in die polemische Gottesgelehrtheit (Jena, 1752). Interest in polemics ceased with Friedrich Samuel Bock's Lehrbuch für die neueste Polemik (1782). In the Reformed wing mention should be made of Rudolf Hospinian, Concordia discors (Zurich, 1607); Daniel Chanier, Panstratia catholica (4 vols., Geneva, 1626) ; Johann Hoornbeck, Summa controversiarum, (Utrecht, 1653); Francesco Turretini, Institutio theologise elenchticæ (Geneva, 1681-85); and various writings of Friedrich Spanheim, the elder and the younger (qq.v.).
Polemics entered upon a new phase with Schleiermacher, whose classification of polemics among the branches of theology has already been described. He was followed by Karl Heinrich Sack, with his Christliche Polemik (Hamburg, 1838), who defined polemics as that branch of the ology which detects and refutes errors that endanger Christian faith and the purity of the Christian Church; and by Johann Peter Lange, whose Christliche Dogmalik (3 parts, Heidelberg, 1849-52) calls polemics and irenics "applied dogmatics." Theoretically, since the middle of the nineteenth century, polemics has not been regarded as a distinct department of theology. Practically, however, a new era in polemics was begun by the sharp critiques of Protestantism by Roman Catholic scholars of recent times. This movement was inaugurated by Johann Adam Möhler's Symbolik (Mainz, 1832), essentially a polemic against Protestantism from an idealistic Roman Catholic point of view; and this work was followed by the great historical polemic of Johann Joseph Ignaz von Dölinger, Die Reformation, ihre innere Entwickelung und ihre Wirkungen /I> (3 vols., Regensburg, 1846-18). The ultramontane spirit there displayed was equally manifest in Johannes Janssen's Geschichte des deutschen Volkes seit dem Ausgang des Mittelalters (8 vols., Freiburg, 1877-94; Eng. transl., Hist. of the German People, 12 vols., St. Louis, 1896-1907), and Heinrich Suso Denifle's Luther und Luthertum in der ersten Entwickelung (2 vols., Mainz, 1904-10). The Protestants replied vigorously to these attacks with Ferdinand Christian Baur's Gegensatz des Katholicismus and Protestantwmus nach den Prinzipien and Hauptdogmen der beiden Lehrbegrife (Tübingen, 1834), Carl Immanuel Nitzsch's Protestantische Beantwortung der Symbolik Dr. Möhlers (Hamburg, 1835), and a number of other works. While the books just mentioned are necessarily limited in scope, a thoroughgoing, though purely negative, discussion of the chief points of difference between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism was supplied by Karl August von Hare's Handbuch der protestantischen Polemik gegen die romisch-katholische Kirche (Leipsic, 1862, 7th ed., 1900, Eng. transl., London, 1906) which discusses the Church (clergy and papacy), salvation (faith, works, sacraments), and accessories (ritual, art, science, literature, politics, nationality). Paul Tschackert followed this with his Evangelische Polemik gegen die römische Kirche (Gotha, 1885; 2d ed., 1888), which not only criticizes the Roman Catholic system in detail, but also affords a substitute for each point criticized by presenting the Protestant teaching on the tenet in question. Finally, mention should be made of the anti-Roman Catholic propaganda carried on by the Schriften des Vereins fur Reformationsgeschichte (Halle, 1883 sqq.) and by the Evangelischer Bund zur Wahrung der deutsch-protestantischen Interessen (founded in 1886).
In Great Britain and America polemics has taken a different course from that which it assumed on the continent. Several causes have contributed to this. Theological encyclopedia has been far less exact in its divisions, and and where polemics has not been recognized as a separate discipline, it has been in corporated into the body of theological construction. There has, moreover, been but little interest in the history of this branch of theological discussion. Again, toleration has been a marked feature of English and American religious thought (cf. Milton, Areopagitica; and Jeremy Taylor, Liberty of Prophesying, which unfortunately he did not exemplify later). Still further, the edge of the controversial spirit has been dulled by the practical nature of the Anglo-Saxon mind, the disposition to compromise, the lack of thoroughgoing intellectual consistency, together with a rationalizing tendency which has tempered criticism of the positions of others. Polemics has appeared quite as often in apologetics as in doctrinal discussions. Only a few of the historical occasions of polemics and names of the chief persons involved are here indicated. (1) The deistic controversy (1648-1775; see DEISM), in which among the pamphleteers and
BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. B. Crooks and J. F. Hurst, Theological Encyclopaedia and Methodology, pp. 437 eqq., New York, 1894; P. Schaff. Theological Propædeutic, pp. 411-412, ib. 1904; J. B. Röhm, Protestantiaehe Polemik, Hildesheim, 1882; W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, i. 15, New York, 1891; S. J. Hunter, Outline of Dogmatic Theology, 6, 84, ib. 1894; A. Cave, Introduction to Theology, pp. 521 sqq., Edinburgh, 1896 L. Emery, Introduction a l'étude de la theolopie protestante, pp. 182-183, Paris, 1904; and the literature under THEOLOGY AS A SCIENCE.
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