« Prev II. The Antithesis in the Religious… Next »



There is no self-conscious human existence from which the God-consciousness is entirely absent, yet 175there is no human existence in which this religious feeling constitutes the whole of experience. The sensuous consciousness and the God-consciousness are always combined in some relation to each other. In one case they are so related as to produce an experience of pain, in the other so as to produce pleasure. The former is the pre-Christian state. In it religious feeling has not attained an ascendancy in the activities of life; the God-consciousness is not extinct, but repressed, not entirely wanting, but dominated by sensuous experience. In relation to the God-consciousness our condition is that of dissatisfaction or pain.

In the Christian religion, as teleological in character, all experience is judged by its relation to the activities of life. Accordingly, when the Christian looks back to his former state, just described, he regards the repression of the God-consciousness in himself ^s proceeding from his own act and not from an external source; from his present point of view religious feeling in him was subjected to sensuous experience by his own act of alienation from God; that is, he is conscious of it as sin.

But now in relation to the God-consciousness his experience is one of enjoyment, pleasure, satisfaction. The God-consciousness has now come to its rightful position of supremacy in the activities of life, and sensuous experiences are subjected to it. He has entered into communion with God. And this turning to God it is impossible for him to refer to his own activity, for alienation from God is his own original 176 act, and if the turning to God were to be referred to the same, then the repression of the religious feeling would be only occasional, and the consciousness of the need of redemption would be only contingent. But it is a fact of Christian experience that the dominancy of the God-consciousness is ascribed to a source outside of one’s self, it is a redemption; and this redemption is viewed as an arrangement by the will of God, so that faith in it is a harmony with God’s will. Communion with God is the effect of a communication proceeding from Jesus Christ. He is Redeemer in that the control of the activities of life by the God-consciousness is referred to his act. There is no universal God-consciousness without a reference to Christ, nor a relation to Christ which is not referred to the God-consciousness. This is what is meant by the Christian consciousness of Grace--communion with God dependent on a communication from the Redeemer.

Consequently, redemption involves the consciousness of sin and the consciousness of grace. These two essential elements of Christian experience are to be understood only in relation to one another. This antithesis in experience never disappears though it is true that the former element, by means of the latter, continually diminishes. As in the pre-Christian state the God-consciousness was not extinct but subjected to sensuous control, so now in the state of grace the consciousness of sin is not extinct but is steadily diminished as the energies of life become increasingly 177pervaded by the religious consciousness. Doctrines which are specifically Christian must be drawn from the Christian religious consciousness, from the inner experience of Christians. Dogmatics has to do only with this Christian view of sin and grace and does not attempt to construe them in a cosmological, historical, or speculative way. With sin as a world-element, or with conditions antecedent to the appearing of sin or subsequent to its disappearance, or with sin as a metaphysical principle our discipline has nothing to do, because these lie outside the sphere of the religious self-consciousness. Our doctrine of sin must be of sin in relation to grace, and our doctrine of the world, of men, and of God in relation to sin, must be determined by the Christian consciousness of the relation between sin and grace (§§ 62-64).

The framework in which the doctrines of sin and grace are to be exhibited will be the same as in Part I, and for a similar reason.

« Prev II. The Antithesis in the Religious… Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection