Revelation THE NEW SCHAFF-HERZOQ 8
ious content communicated thereby can no longer be entertained, or the unvarying consciousness of dependence continues to hold the ground, remaining fundamentally awry with respect to all individual or historical supplementing. The concept of revelation is consumed by the naked idea of causation. The reason is that the phenomena dealt with are taken from the observation of things in general without respect to the peculiarity of personal life; except that it is impossible to banish reflex imagery from consciousness, although this receives treatment only in accordance with the nature of those phenomena. The main matter is not altered by substituting for the differentiation of the class in varieties the series of necessary development, i.e., for things coexistent things in succession. The resultant ever remains the exercise of the unvarying basis in religious consciousness. If this is as a matter of fact once conceded, its practical elaboration or " revelation," just as readily on an atheistic as a pantheistic hypothesis, is of itself understood.
In this way, the idea of revelation has become a mere adjunct to that of religion, and with doubtful advantage; for it serves partly to make prominent
the nativity of religion in every indiq. Theory vidual, and partly to describe in aBased on vacillating manner the religion's recip-
This has taken place in the name of the Bible, on the part of the later Biblicists, and on the ground that religion exists only in historical positivism (Ritschl). History is the department of those facts which pertain to acting persons, their practical conduct, and its effects. Here the setting of aims or ends is a matter of fact. Room is afforded for the transactions of God apart from his universal activity according to lavr. It may find play in events, in the formal complexity of things, or in the appointment of particular persons. Such transaction invades effectively the whole; for the receptive mind it is at the same time presentation. It is to be called revelation by manifestation. In reaction to the self-analyzing intellectualistic conception, revelation by divine act merely has ob-. tained acceptance (Hofmann). The question then occurs, What raises a fact or group of facts in their revealing value above doubt? Two answers are possible: the one points to the unity of universal design; the other to the admission that the revealing fact may not be satisfactorily deduced from historical conditions. These considerations may mutually support or may oppose each other. Both result in recognizing in Jesus Christ the focus of historical revelation. That is to say, they will admit, as real revelation, only history determined through him. Another path leads to this point. If the personal lite be held in view, its ethical quality looms up as important, and so also, in connection with the Bible, the fact of human sin. It throws light upon the necessity of a special revelation, pro. ductive of the view that it is to be regarded as one phase of the redemptive activity of God (Krauss). As redemption appears to generalizing thought in the aspect of a particular form of revelation, so here
this appears as an instrumental effort of divine activity for the conquest of evil wrought by sin. Its unique position within the comprehensive divine activity becomes self-evident as well as characteristic. However forcefully this special activity of God in the manifestation of Christ is set forth, it yet falls subject, so far as it is presentative, to the conceptual appropriation of man. Then the old question reappears-whence comes the warrant for the corresponding conception and a reliable transmission, if even this presentation constitutes an indispensable part of the redeeming act. Further, how is certainty to be gained that God is acting and making revelation in any other way than in his universal world-activity? Does not special history dissolve on every hand into the stream of human evolution in conformity with law? Within this, the merely negative marks of an undeducible content of the fact or uniqueness of the personal manifestation of Christ will not submit to proof. The transcendence above nature and the revelation value of the fact has become questionable. Here the most recent critical movement has applied the fruits of oriental study to the Old Testament.
The Bible places the word foremost among the instruments of revelation. Word and act are not exclusive in simple meaning or in human life. Word is not without act; it may be a most
8. The forceful act, but wordless act is never Doctrine revelation. Revelation has not to do of the Word with an all-working power that mustof God. be provided with the word by the con templation of its impression on man who has fallen under its influence; but it knows the speaking God. God avails himself of human thought and speech to make himself known and his speech intelligible, so far as knowledge of him is requisite for sinners to overcome by it sin and death. How much, according to the Biblical mode of thought, the divine act, for the sake of continu ing disclosure, is in need of the opening of the mind to conceive and of the understanding to ex plain, is shown in that the incarnate Word attains only to effective revelation by the aid of the Para clete. As indispensable as this instructive disclo sing activity may be, so positive is this effected Word of revelation; it is not merely the inade quate expression of what is, according to its nature, ineffable. Without hesitation this intuition so obtained is regarded even to its very form of state ment as that designed and imparted by God con cerning himself and his will (I Cor. ii. 9-10). The operation of God by his Spirit upon men is not lim ited to the generation of his Word; for it is the comprehensive challenge, which calls forth the re lation to him in all phenomenal forms: but the formation of words belongs to it essentially. Such influence of the Holy Spirit restricts itself not to impulse and feeling; it makes requisition upon all the forms of thought. The indwelling Spirit is not thought of as a power operating externally upon the conscious activities which mediate through the senses. The characteristic figure within the hori zon of this circle is not the genius who founds sects, but the prophet prepared for martyrdom; the mes senger of the word which laid a task upon him.