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II. In relation to the blessing of salvation man is receptive and passive. He receives it in this world in the hope of his faith, and enjoys it in the other as a transcendently glorious gift of grace. God alone can grant it, and no human effort can deserve it. As we have already noticed, this religious blessing of salvation is wholly different from moral goodness; for moral goodness cannot be presented, but must be gained by our own actions. On the other hand, Christianity as a religion cannot take up a neutral attitude to moral goodness, but must rather embrace the loftiest morality. That was also the universal conviction of the Greek Church and its theologians. The problem which thus arose was solved without noteworthy vacillations, and in the sense of the theology of the apologists and Origen. It was assumed that freedom in the moral sphere corresponded to receptivity in the domain of religion and the blessings of salvation conferred by it; and that God attached the grant of the religious blessing of salvation to the achievement of a perfectly moral life, whose law, though not new, had first found expression in the Christian religion as something perfect and capable of being easily recognised. The scheme of nature and grace current in the West since Augustine, was not entirely unknown in the East, so far as words were concerned.373373It occurs, e.g., in the Homilies of Macarius. If elsewhere he speaks of χάρις, it is as a rule the substantial grace imparted in the sacraments (baptism) that is meant. The beginning of Cyril’s first Catechism is very instructive: Καινῆς διαθήκης μαθηταὶ καὶ Χριστοῦ μυστηρίων κοινωνοί, νῦν μὲν τῇ κλήσει, μετ᾽ ὀλίγον δὲ καὶ τῇ χάριτι, καρδίαν ἑαυτοῖς ποιήσατε καινὴν καὶ πνεῦμα καινόν, ἵνα εὐφροσύνης ὑπόθεσις γένησθε τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. 173But the latter already found “grace” in “nature”, i.e., in the inalienable natural disposition to freedom, and, on the other hand, conceived “grace” to be the communication of a higher nature. Hence the above scheme was not adapted to express Greek thought. Christianity was rather, on the one hand, the perfect law of goodness, and, on the other, a promise and sure pledge of immortality.374374See Cyril, Catech. 4, c. 2: Ὁ τῆς θεοσεβείας τρόπος ἐκ δύο τούτων συνέστηκε, δογμάτων εὐσεβῶν καὶ πράξεων ἀγαθῶν. Καὶ οὔτε τὰ δόγματα χωρὶς ἔργων ἀγαθῶν εὐπρόσδεκτα τῷ Θεῷ, οὔτε τὰ μή μετ᾽ εὐσεβῶν δογμάτων ἔργα τελούμενα προσδέχεται ὁ Θεός . . . μέγιστον τοίνυν κτῆμά ἐστι τὸ τῶν δογμάτων μάθηημα. It was therefore holy living and correct faith. The convictions that God himself is the good; that he is the creator of the inalienable reason and freedom of man; that the perfect morality of man represents the only form of his similarity to God attainable in the sphere of the temporal and created; that the supreme law of goodness, hitherto obscured, has been once more revealed to men in the Christian religion, and that in the most impressive way imaginable—by the deity in a human form; finally, that the religious blessing of salvation procured by Christ contains the strongest motive to practise morality,375375Cyril begins his 18th Catechism with the words “The root of every good action is the hope of the resurrection. For the expectation of obtaining a corresponding reward is a spur to incite the soul to practise good works.” The way to morality is made easy by removal of the fear of death. while it also includes mysterious forces which promote it: these convictions, according to the conception of Greek theologians, bound religion and morality together as closely as possible, and, since only the good man could receive salvation, guaranteed the character of Christianity as the moral religion. The monk Sophronius (seventh century) says in his Christmas Sermon: “Therefore the Son of God assumed human poverty, that he might make us gods by grace; and the divine father David sings in his psalms . . . I said, ye are gods and all sons of the highest. God is in us; let us become gods by divine 174transformations and imitations” (Διὰ τοῦτο ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀνθρωπίνην πτωχείαν ἐνδύεται ἴνα θεοὺς ἡμᾶς ἀπεργάσηται χάριτι. καὶ ταῦτα μελῳδῶν ὁ θεοπάτωρ Δαβίδ . . . . Ἐγὼ εἶπα· Θεοί ἐστε καὶ υἱοὶ ὑψίστου πάντες. Θεὸς ἐν ἡμῖν· θεωθῶμεν θείαις μεταβολαῖς καὶ μιμήσεσιν).376376Ed. Usener, l. c. Once more we have to compare Cyril of Jerusalem. After he has limited the “creed” to the ten sections of the Symbol he continues: μετὰ δὲ τὴν γνῶσιν τῆς σεμνῆς καὶ ἐνδόξου ταύτης καὶ παναγίας πίστεως καὶ σεαυτὸν γνῶθι λοιπὸν ὅστις εἶ. Accordingly, faith is that given from without, divine. Moral self-knowledge and self-discipline are independent of it. In the last phrase the Greek fundamental thought is put into a classic form. Only we must not take “μεταβολαῖς” and “μιμήσεσιν” to be equivalent. The former signifies the actual process, the latter its condition and form; not the sufficient reason, as is proved by “χάριτι.”377377The Greek Fathers speak not infrequently of the new birth in connection with N. T. passages and it is to be admitted that some succeed in reproducing the thought satisfactorily, but only—so far as I know—when they adhere closely to the sacred texts. At all events we must not let ourselves be misled by the mere title. This is shown most clearly by the closing chapters of Gregory of Nyssa’s Orat. catechet. (ch. 33 sq.). By regeneration Gregory understands the mysterious birth in us of the divine nature, which is implanted by baptism. As the natural man is born of moist seed, so the new undying man is born of water at the invocation of the Holy Trinity. The new immortal nature is thus begun in germ by baptism and is nourished by the Eucharist. That this conception has nothing in common with the new birth of the New Test., since it has a physical process in view, needs no proof. According to Cyril, regeneration only takes place after man has voluntarily left the service of sin (see Catech. I., ch. 2). There is, however, a form of morality which does not appear to be merely subordinate to religious faith and hope, but which anticipates the future blessings, or puts man into the condition of being able to receive them immediately. This is negative morality, or asceticism. It corresponds in a true sense to the characteristic of the religious gift of salvation; it is also therefore no longer a mere adjunct to the latter, but it is the adequate and essential disposition for the reception of salvation. But in so far as ecstasy, intuition, and the power of working miracles can be combined with it, it forms the anticipation of the future state. The ultimate rule of this conception of Christianity may accordingly be compressed, perhaps, into the saying: “Dost thou desire the supreme good, incorruption (ἀφθαρσία), then divest thyself of all that is perishable.” Side by side with this we have the more general rule “Dost thou 175desire the supreme good, then first be good and nourish the new nature implanted in thee in Baptism by the Eucharist and the other mysterious gifts.” The extent to which all this was connected with Christ is shown by the saying of Clemens Alex. (Protrept. I. 7)—a saying which retained its force in after times: “Appearing as a teacher he taught the good life, in order that afterwards as God he might grant everlasting life” (τὸ εὖ ζῆν ἐδίδαξεν ἐπιφανεὶς ὡς διδάσκαλος, ἵνα τὸ ἀεὶ ζῆν ὕστερον ὡς Θεὸς χορηγήσῃ).
This whole conception of the importance of morality needed, however, no doctrinal and specific description, any more than the nature of morality and the principles of natural theology in general. All that was already settled in its fundamental lines; man knew it by his own reason; it formed the self-evident presupposition of the doctrine of redemption. The very freedom used by the Church Fathers in dealing with details shows that here they were treating matters generally recognised and only called in question by Manichæans, Fatalists, etc., and that it was therefore unnecessary to have recourse to revelation. In describing the dogma of the Greek Fathers, therefore, we have to consider their views of the nature of salvation,378378The fundamental conception of the nature of the blessing secured by salvation is yet not wholly unknown to rational theology, since the latter supposed, though with some uncertainty, that it could perceive a divine element in the original constitution of men (see, e.g., Gregory of Nyssa). Even for the doctrine of the Trinity recourse was had here and there to reason and the philosophers. But we must go still farther. If the doctrine of redemption has been characterised above as mystical, this does not exclude the fact that faith confers redemption in so far as it confers a knowledge which in and by itself includes liberation. As long as men dealt independently with dogma, this conception was by no means wanting; indeed it was really the hidden mystery in dogma which was clearly expressed by Clement and Origen, but only dimly shadowed by later teachers. From this point, however, faith and ethics were intimately combined; for ethics was also intellectual. No later writer has stated and known the thought so clearly expressed by Clement of Alex. (Strom. IV. 23, 149): Διόπερ ὁ Δημόκριτο εὖ λέγει “ὡς ἡ φύσις τε καὶ διδαχὴ παραπλήσιον ἐστι” . . . καὶ γὰρ ἡ διδαχὴ μεταρρυθμιζει τὸν ἄνθρωπον, μεταρρυθμίζουσα δὲ φυσιοποιεῖ καὶ διήνεγκεν οὐδὲν ἢ φύσει πλασθῆναι τοιόνδε ἢ χρόνῳ καὶ μαθήσει μετατυπωθῆναι· ἄμφω δὲ ὁ κύριος παρέσχηται, τὸ μὲν κατὰ τὴν δημιουργίαν, τὸ δὲ κατὰ ἐκ τῆς διαθήκης ἀνάκτισιν τε καὶ ἀνανέωσιν. The whole matter gradually became really mystical, i.e., indescribable and inconceivable in every sense in the Fathers; the intellectual phase and intention almost disappeared. Conversely, the reality of the blessing in salvation was thought of from the beginning as something supernatural, surprising, and bestowed from without. of God as 176the Good and the Giver of salvation, of the state and duties of man, etc., on the one hand, as a kind of a priori presuppositions of the doctrine of redemption; but, on the other, as individual conceptions, framed partly from contemporary philosophy, and partly from the Bible. They certainly have a right to a place in a description of the complete view taken by the ancient Church of Christianity; but as certainly they cannot be called dogmas; for dogmas are as essentially different from self-evident presuppositions as from fluctuating conceptions. Our only reason for discussing them in the history of dogma is that we may guard dogma from misunderstanding and correctly mark off the space due to it.379379One might be disposed to assume that the dogmatic of the ancient Church also contained articuli puri et mixti, but this designation would be misleading. In the opinion of the Fathers, the gospel must have made everything, clear; conversely, there is hardly anything in the dogmatics which able philosophers had not foreshadowed. The realisation was the mystery. Socrates says (H. E. III. 16): Πολλοὶ τῶν παρ᾽ Ἕλλησι φιλοσοφησάντων οὐ μακρὰν τοῦ γνῶναι τὸν Θεὸν ἐγένοντο, καὶ γὰρ καὶ πρὸς τοὺς ἀπρονοησίαν εἰσάγοντας, οἵτε Ἐπικουρίους, ἢ ἄλλως ἐριστικούς, μετὰ τῆς λογικῆς ἐπιστήμης γενναίως ἀπήντησαν, τὴν ἀμαθίαν αὐτῶν ἀνατρέποντες, καὶ διὰ τούτων τῶν λόγων χρειώδεις μὲν τοῖς τὴν εὐσέβειαν ἀγαπῶσι κατέστησαν· οὐ μὴν τῆς κεφαλῆς τοῦ λόγου ἐκράτησαν, τοῦ μὴ γνῶναι τὸ ἀποκρυπτόμενον ἀπὸ τῶν γενεῶν καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων κατὰ Χριστὸν μυστήριον· Socrates had already in view violent opponents of the intrusion of Ἐλληνικὴ παιδεία into theology; but the dispute so passionately conducted never really weakened the confidence placed in natural theology. The actual position is correctly described in Eusebius’ phrase (H. E. IV. 7, 14): ἡ καθ᾽ ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ θείοις τε καὶ φιλοσόφοις δόγμασι διδασκαλία. The Greek conception of Christianity has, like an ellipse, two centres: the doctrine of liberty, which embraces the whole of rational theology, Stoic and Platonic, and the doctrine of the actual redemption, which is supranatural. Supranatural as it was it admitted a relationship to natural theology, just as, conversely, freedom was regarded as a gift of divine grace. We find, indeed, that the two centres were first brought into the greatest possible proximity by the negative morality. Therefore from this point also the achievements of positive morality necessarily appear as a minimum to which the shadow of essential imperfection always clings.
It follows from the above exposition that the doctrines of God, the world, and man—with freedom and sin, are to be prefixed, as presuppositions and conceptions, to dogma, i.e., the doctrines of the godman, while they are only to be discussed in so far as 177such discussion is required for the comprehension of dogma. But this does not complete the list of our tasks; the whole presentment of dogma must be prefaced by a chapter treating of the sources of our knowledge and our authorities, i.e., Scripture, tradition, and the Church. So also we must at the close examine the mysterious application of redemption—the mysteries—and all that is connected with it.The following arrangement of our material, in which a systematic exposition forms the basis of the historical, because the foundations of our view have not changed since the time of Origen, will thus be appropriate.
Ch. III. Of the sources of knowledge and the authorities, or of Scripture, tradition, and the Church.
A. The Presuppositions of the Doctrine of Redemption, or Natural Theology.
Ch. IV. The presuppositions and conceptions of God the Creator as bestower of salvation.
Ch. V. The presuppositions and conceptions of man as recipient of salvation.
B. The Doctrine of Redemption in the Person of the God-man in its Historical Development.
Ch. VI. The doctrine of the necessity and realisation of redemption through the incarnation of the Son of God.
Appendix. The ideas of redemption from the devil and atonement through the work of the God-man.
Ch. VII. The doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Son of God with God himself.
Appendix. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity.
Ch. VIII. The doctrine of the perfect similarity of constitution between the incarnate Son of God and humanity.
Ch. IX. Continuation. The doctrine of the personal unity of the divine and human nature in the incarnate Son of God.
C. The Foretaste of Redemption.
Ch. X. The mysteries and the like.
Ch. XI. Conclusion. Sketch of the history of the genesis of the orthodox system.178
Supplement 1.—The Greek conception of Christianity appears undoubtedly to be exceedingly compact and clear, as long as we do not look too deeply into the heart of it. The freeing of dogmatics of all matters which do not fall within the scope of the doctrine of redemption is very remarkable. But these advantages are purchased, first, by abandoning any attempt to establish an inner unity between the supreme notions of “moral good” and “blessedness” (imperishableness); secondly, by the depreciation of positive morality in favour of asceticism; thirdly, by completely caricaturing the historical Christ. But the knowledge of the Christian faith possessed by the Fathers up to the middle of the fifth century was still far from being in the desolate state in which theology makes no resolute attempt to deduce the consequences of a doctrine, while it does not venture to abandon it, but contents itself with perceiving “a profound element of truth” in any or every theologoumenon brought to it by tradition. The idea of the Greek Fathers, to which everything was subordinate, that Christianity is the religion which delivers from perishableness and death, was derived from the ancient Catholic Church. It presents itself as a specific limitation of primitive Christian hopes under the influence of views held by the ancients. It is possible to express it in a grand and awe-inspiring form, and this the Greek Fathers understood. Further, where misery, mortality, and finitude are felt to be the heaviest burdens laid upon men, the supreme good can be nothing but endless, blessed rest. In so far as the Greek Fathers perceived and firmly believed in this gift being conferred by the Christian religion, while they connected its bestowal with Jesus Christ, they assigned to Christianity the highest conceivable significance, and to its founder the highest conceivable dignity, within their range of vision. But the mood which looked on Christianity from this point of view and regarded it as consolatory, was that of the fall and ruin of the ancient world, which no longer possessed the power to turn earnestly to an energetic life. Without premising this the dogmatic developments are not intelligible. But we cannot retain the formulas of the Greek faith without self-deception, if we change or refuse to admit the validity of its premises. But if we are ready 179honestly to retain them, then let us clearly understand to what Orthodoxy and Monophysitism came in the East. After they had piled one monstrosity on the top of the other, they were—to use a strong figure of Goethe’s—almost choked in chewing the cud of moral and religious absurdities. Originally their doctrine was good for nothing in the world but for dying; afterwards they became deadly sick on this very doctrine.
Supplement 2.—If the conception of the supreme good may be regarded as a revised version, made by Greek philosophy, of the ancient Christian hopes of the future, yet this philosophy always rejected the idea of the incarnation of God, and therefore could not, in its definition of the supreme good, attain the certainty which was given in the Christian conception. In the fourth and fifth centuries, however, there were even Christian theologians—Synesius, for example—who would not admit the incarnation of God without revision, and yet held by the thought of deification; who accordingly approached, not rationalistic, but rather pantheistic views. At any rate, faith in the incarnation of God, along with the idea of creation, formed the dividing line between Greek philosophy and the dogmatics of the Church. “For what,” says Athanasius, de incarn. 41, “is absurd or ridiculous in our teaching, except merely our saying that the Logos was made manifest in a human body?” (τί γὰρ ἄτοπον, ἢ τί χλεύης παρ᾽ ἡμῖν ἄξιον, ἢ πάντως ὅτι τὸν λόγον ἐν σώματι πεφανερῶσθαι λέγομεν;).380380Compare Gregory Nyss., Orat. catech. 5: Τὸ μὲν εἶναι λόγον Θεοῦ καὶ πνεῦμα διὰ τε τῶν κοινῶν ἐννοιῶν ὁ Ἕλλην καὶ διὰ τῶν γραφικῶν ὁ Ἰουδαῖος ἴσως οὐκ ἀντιλέξει, τὴν δὲ κατὰ τὸν ἄνθρωπον οἰκονομίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγου κατὰ τὸ ἴσον ἑκάτερος αὐτῶν ἀποδοκιμάσει ὡς ἀπίθανόν τε καὶ ἀπρεπῆ περὶ Θεοῦ λέγεσθαι. On the other hand, the Christian says (Cyril, Catech. 4, ch. 9): “If the incarnation was a dream, then salvation is also a dream.” (Εἰ φάντασμα ἦν ἡ ἐνανθρώπησις, φάντασμα καὶ ἡ σωτηρία). That is the confession which in the Greek Church was the equivalent of 1 Cor. XV. 17 f.
Supplement 3.—In order to learn the classical form of Greek piety, the strongest root of dogma, it is necessary to study the literature of asceticism. For it seldom comes clearly to light in the dogmatic, apologetic, and polemical works, with the exception of the writings of Athanasius, and in the homiletic 180literature, apart from Chrysostom, it is always greatly disguised by rhetoric. But a distinction must be made even in ascetic literature. The descriptions of the piety of monkish heroes lose themselves as a rule in extravagance and eccentricity, and are not typical because the writers set out to prove the already supramundane character of those heroes. We have especially to examine numerous writings on “the resurrection,” “virginity,” “perfection,” and similar subjects, and also the practical homilies. We obtain perhaps the clearest and truest impression of the piety of the Greek Church from reading the biography of sister Macrina, by Gregory of Nyssa (Oehler, Biblioth. d. KVV. I. 1, 1858, p. 172 ff.). The dying prayer put in her lips (p. 213 f.) is given here because it expresses inimitably the hopes and consolation of Greek Christianity, yet without omitting the characteristic warmth of feeling which belonged to its very essence.
“Her prayer was such that one could not doubt that she was with God, and heard his voice. She said: Thou, Lord, hast for us destroyed the fear of death. Thou hast made the end of this earthly life the beginning of the true life. Thou makest our bodies rest for a time in sleep, and dost awaken them again with the last trumpet. Thou givest our clay, which Thou didst fashion with Thy hands, to the earth to keep it, and Thou takest again what Thou didst give, and dost transform into imperishableness and beauty that which was mortal and unseemly. Thou hast snatched us from the curse and sin, having Thyself become both for us. Thou hast crushed the heads of the dragon, which had grasped man with its jaw in the abyss of disobedience. Thou hast paved the way of the resurrection for us, having shattered the gate of Hades, and destroyed him who had the power of death. Thou has given those who fear Thee the image of Thy holy cross for a sign for the destruction of the adversary and the safety of our life. Eternal God, to Whom I was dedicated from the womb, Whom my soul has loved with all its power, to Whom I have consecrated my flesh and my soul from my youth and till now! Place Thou an angel of light by my side to lead me to the place of quickening where is the source of rest in the bosom of the Holy Fathers. 181Oh Thou who didst break the flaming sword, and didst restore to Paradise the man crucified with Thee who begged Thy mercy. Remember me, too, in Thy kingdom, because I also am crucified with Thee, piercing my flesh with nails from fear of Thee, and fainting in dread of Thy judgments! May the awful abyss not divide me from Thine elect, nor the calumniator block my way; may my sin not be found before Thine eyes, if I, having failed through the weakness of our nature, should have sinned in word, or deed, or thought! Thou who hast power on earth to forgive sins, grant me forgiveness, that I may be quickened, and when I put off my body may I be found by Thee without stain in my soul, so that my soul, spotless and blameless, may be received into Thy hands like a sacrifice before Thy presence.”
Supplement 4.—For centuries after the great work of Theognostus, which we only know very imperfectly, no complete system of scientific theology was written in the East. The idea of a system was in itself a philosophical one, and for its execution all that was in existence were examples whose authority was already shaken. Platonism only contributed to form a heterodox system. Aristotelianism with its formal logic, which triumphed over all difficulties, first succeeded in creating an orthodox system. Systematic works, in the period up to Johannes Damascenus, fall into the following lists.
(1) On the incarnation of the Logos—or Son of God. In these works the central question of Greek dogma is discussed. The title varies, or is more precise, according to the standpoint of each: “On the two natures”, “On not confounding the natures”, etc. Under this head come also the polemical, dogmatic tractates—against Arius, Marcellus, Eunomius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, etc.—as well as dogmatic monographs—on the Holy Ghost, the Trinity, etc. We have to notice finally the Expositiones veritatis at the close of the writings against the heretics, like those found, after the precedent of Hippolytus, in, e.g., Epiphanius and Theodoret.
(2) Exposition of Christian doctrines in catechetical form. Here Cyril’s catechisms are especially important.381381The plan of Cyril’s catechisms is very instructive. First, there is in the preface an inquiry as to the aim and nature of the instruction. It begins with the words Ἤδη μακαριότητος ὀσαὴ πρὸς ὑμᾶς. Compare also ch. VI: Βλέπε μοι πηλίκην σοι ἀξίαν ὁ Ἰησοῠς χαρίζεται . . . μὴ νομίσῃς ὅτι μικρὸν πρᾶγμα λαμβάνεις· ἄνθρωπος ὢν οἰκτρός, Θεοῦ λαμβάνεις προσηγορίαν . . . τοῦτο προβλέπων ὁ Ψαλμῳδὸς ἔλεγεν ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐπειδὴ μέλλουσιν ἄνθρωποι Θεοῦ προσηγορίαν λαμβάνειν· Ἐγὼ εἶπα, θεοί ἐστε καὶ υἱοὶ ὑψίστου πάντες, c. 12: ἐάν σε κατηχούμενος ἐξετάσῃ, τι εἰρήκασιν οἱ διδάσκοντες, μηδὲν λέγε τῷ ἔξω· μυστήριον γάρ σοι παραδίδομεν καὶ ἐλπίδα μέλλοντος αἰῶνος· τήρησον τὸ μυστήριον τῷ μισθαποδότῃ. Then follow three Catechisms which impart information concerning sin, baptism, and penitence in general, and are meant to awaken the right disposition. In the fourth a sketch is given of the system of faith according to the Symbol. Ten systems are distinguished, whose numbering, however, can no longer be established with certainty. The exposition contained in Catechisms 5-18 do not agree with the sketch, seeing that to the latter is appended a didactic section on the soul, the body, food, and clothing, a section which is wanting in the exposition; the latter rather in the last catechism deals with the Church, which is not mentioned in the sketch. The whole is concluded by five catechisms which explain the secret rites of the mysteries to the baptised. The decalogue of the faith by Gregory contains, in the first commandment, the doctrine of the Trinity; in the second, the creation out of nothing and the providence of God; in the third, the origin of evil from freedom, not from an evil matter or God; in the fourth, the doctrine of the incarnation and constitution of the Redeemer; in the fifth, the crucifixion and burial; in the sixth, the resurrection and ascension; in the seventh, the return of Christ in glory to act as judge; in the eight and ninth, the general resurrection and retributive judgment; the tenth runs: Δέκατον ἐργάζου τὸ ἀγαθὸν ἐπὶ τούτῳ τῷ θεμελίῳ τῶν δογμάτων, ἐπειδὴ πίστις χωρὶς ἔργων νεκρά, ὡς ἔργα δίχα πίστεως. The catechism 182was always bound by the Symbol, but the Symbol necessitated the treatment of the main points of Jesus’ history as points of doctrine, and the expiscation of their exact value for faith. Thus dogma gained an important supplement from the exposition of the Symbol. The decalogue of the creed by Gregory of Nazianzus also falls to be mentioned here. In the great catechism of Gregory of Nyssa catechetic treatment is combined with apologetic. Instructions how to pursue theological science came from the Antiochene school and thence penetrated into the West—Junilius—where Augustine had already written his work De doctrina Christiana. So far as I know, the older Byzantine Church possessed no such instructions.
(3) Apologetic works in reference to heathens and Jews. In these, natural theology—the monotheistic faith and doctrine of freedom—is unfolded, and the Christian view of history, as well as the proof of its antiquity, presented in opposition to polytheism and ceremonial religions; so in several works by Eusebius, Apollinaris, Cyril of Alexandria, etc.183
(4) Monographs on the work of the six days, on the human soul, the body, the immortality of the soul, etc. In these, also, natural theology is developed and the scientific cosmology and psychology in the oldest sources of the Bible stated.
(5) Monographs on virginity, monachism, perfection, the virtues, the resurrection. Here the ultimate and supreme practical interests of piety and faith find expression.
(6) Monographs on the mysteries, cultus and priesthood. These are not numerous in the earlier period—yet instruction in the sacraments and their ritual was regularly attached to the training in the Symbol; see the Catechisms of Cyril which form a guide to the mysteries Their number, however, increased from the sixth century.
Copious, often intentionally elaborated, dogmatic material, finally, is also contained in scientific commentaries on the Biblical books and in the Homilies.
The right use for the history of dogma of these different kinds of sources is an art of method for which rules can hardly be given. The rhetorical, exegetical, philosophical, and strictly dogmatic expositions must be recognised as such and distinguished. At the same time we have to remember that this was an age of rhetoric which did not shrink from artifices and untruths of every kind. Jerome admits that in the works of the most celebrated Fathers one must always distinguish between what they wrote argumentatively (διαλεκτικῶς), and what they set down as truth. Basilius also (Ep. 210) was at once prepared to explain a. heterodox passage in Gregory Thaumaturgus, by supposing that he had been speaking not dogmatically (δογματικῶς), but for the sake of argument (ἀγωνιστικῶς). So also Athanasius excuses Origen on the ground that he wrote much for the sake of practice and investigation (De decretis synod. Nic.27, cf. ad Serap. IV. 9); and while completely defending the Christology of Dionysius Alex., he remarks that the latter in many details spoke from policy (κατ᾽ οἰκονομίαν). The same stock excuse was seized upon by the Fathers at Sardica in the case of Marcellus. According to this, how often must the great writers of the fourth and fifth centuries themselves have written for the sake of argument (ἀγωνιστικῶς)! Moreover, Gregory of Nazianzus speaks 184of a necessary and salutary οἰκονομηθῆναι τὴν ἀλήθειαν, i.e., of the politic and prudent disguise and the gradual communication of the truth; and he appeals in support of this to God himself who only revealed the truth at the fitting time, οἰκονομικῶς (Orat. 41. 6, Ep. 26). Cyrus declares, in the monothelite controversy, that one must assume κατ᾽ οἰκονομίαν a not altogether correct dogma, in order to attain something of importance.
Some, however, went much farther in this matter. As they did not hold themselves bound to stick to the truth in dealing with an opponent, and thus had forgotten the command of the gospel, so they went on in theology to impute untruthfulness to the Apostles, citing the dispute between Paul and Peter, and to Christ (he concealed his omniscience, etc.). They even charged God with falsehood in dealing with his enemy, the devil, as is proved by the views held by Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and most of the later Fathers, of redemption from the power of the devil. But if God himself deceived his enemy by stratagem (pia fraus), then so also might men. Under such circumstances it cannot be wondered at that forgeries were the order of the day. And this was the case. We read even in the second century of numerous falsifications and interpolations made under their very eyes on the works of still living authors. Think of the grievances of the Church Fathers against the Gnostics, and the complaints of Dionysius of Corinth and Irenæus. But what did these often naïve and subjectively innocent falsifications signify compared with that spirit of lying which was powerfully at work even in official compositions in the third and fourth centuries? Read Rufinus’ De adulterat. libr. Origenis, and weigh Rufinus’ principles in translating the works of Origen. And the same spirit prevailed in the Church in the fifth and sixth centuries; see a collection of the means employed to deceive in my altchrist. Litt.-Gesch. I., p. xlii ff. In these centuries no one continued to put any trust in a documentary authority, a record of proceedings, or protocol. The letters by Bishops of this period throng with complaints of forgeries; the defeated party at a Synod almost regularly raises the charge that the acts of Synod are falsified; Cyril and the great letter-writers complain that their letters are circulated in a corrupt form; the 185epistles of dead Fathers—e.g., that of Athanasius to Epictetus—were falsified, and foreign matter was inserted into them; the followers of Apollinaris and Monophysites, e.g., systematically corrupted the tradition. See the investigations of Caspari and Dräseke. Conversely, the simplest method of defending an ancient Church Father who was cited by the opposition, or on whose orthodoxy suspicion was cast, was to say that the hereties had corrected his works to suit themselves and had sown weeds among his wheat. The official literature of the Nestorian and Monophysite controversy is a swamp of mendacity and knavery, above which only a few spots rise on which it is possible to find a firm footing. Gregory I. (Ep. VI. 14) at once recalls in a given case the forging of the acts of the Ephesian Synod. What was not published as Nicene in later times, and to some extent very soon! Much indeed was even then dismissed as mendacity and deceit, much has been laid bare by the scholars of the seventeenth century. But if one considers the verdicts, anxieties, and assertions of suspicion of contemporaries of those conflicts, he cannot avoid the fear that present-day historians are still much too confiding in dealing with this whole literature. The uncertainties which remain in the study precisely of the most important alterations of the history of dogma, and of the Church of the Byzantine period, necessarily awaken the suspicion that we are almost throughout more or less helpless in face of the systematically corrupted tradition. All the same I would not recommend so bold a handling of the sources as that formerly practised by the Jesuits, and to-day by Vincenzi (Ketzertaufstreit, Acten des 5 Concils, Honoriusfrage).
Supplement 5.—The form assumed by the substance of the faith in the Greek Church shows very clearly the characteristic point of view. First, namely, it was conceived—though, so far as I know, seldom—as law; indeed Gregory of Nazianzus sketched a decalogue of faith. This form must not be misunderstood. The faith appears as law only in so far as its contents constitute a revealed ordinance of God to which man has to submit; we must not let it suggest to us a parallel to the moral law. Secondly, however, the creed is regarded in its formulas as a mystery to be kept secret. Men were initiated into the faith 186as they were initiated into the sacred rites.382382See the investigations into the so-called Arcan-Disciplin, by Rothe, Th. Harnack, Bonwetsch, and Von Zezschwitz. Secrecy was, according to ancient ideas, the necessary nimbus of all consecration. The conceptions of the creed as law and as mystery have this in common, that in them the content of the faith appears as something strictly objective, something given from without.383383Constantine delighted in applying the name “law” to the whole of the Christian religion. This is western (nostra lex = nostra religio); it is rare in the East. On the other hand, the whole Bible was not infrequently “the law” in the one Church as well as in the other. But in so far as the authority of any formula whatever conflicts with original Christianity as much as this secrecy, the dependence of the Greek Church on the practice of the ancient mysteries and schools of philosophy is here manifest.
Supplement 6.—Ideas of the realisation of the supreme good in the world beyond had to attach themselves to the phrases of the creed known in the Symbols, and were not permitted to disregard the numerous and diversified statements of Holy Scripture. The motley and manifold conceptions which resulted were owing to harmonising with primitive Christian eschatology on the one hand, and Origen’s doctrine of the consummation on the other, subject to due regard for the sacred writings. Origen’s doctrine was more and more regarded as heretical from the end of the fourth century, while previously recognised theologians, like Gregory of Nyssa, had reproduced it in all its main points. Its rejection marks the first decisive victory of traditionalism—itself indeed impregnated with speculation—over spiritualising speculation. In the fifth century, there were counted as heretical, (1) the doctrine of apokatastasis (universalism) and the possibility of redemption for the devil;384384Gregory of Nyssa still defended it, appealing to 1 Cor. XV. 28; see the second half of his writing περὶ ψυχῆς καὶ ἀναστάσεως, and Orat. catech. 8, 35. So also—for a time—Jerome and the older Antiochenes; even in the fifth century it had numerous defenders in both East and West. It was definitively condemned with the condemnation of Origen under Justinian. See under, ch. XI. (2) the doctrine of the complete annihilation of evil; (3) the conception of the penalties of hell as tortures of conscience; (4) the spiritualising version of the resuscitation of the body; and (5) the idea of 187the continued creation of new worlds. On the other hand, the doctrines of Christ’s reign on earth for a thousand years, and the double resurrection, etc., were in the East in part shelved, in part absolutely characterised as Jewish heresies.385385The last important theological representative of Chiliasm in the East was Apollinaris of Laodicea; see Epiph. H. 77, ch. 37, Jerome de vir. inl. 18. Jerome labours to prove (Ep.129) that the terra promissionis was not Palestine, but a heavenly place. The Apocalypse was, as a rule, not included in the Canon in the East (in older times). With this state of matters is contrasted very strongly the fact that in the lower ranks of priests, monks, and laity apocalypses continued to be eagerly read, and new ones were ever being produced on the basis of the old. The return of Christ, which was still described as imminent, though for many theologians it had lost its essential significance, the judgment of the world, the resurrection of the body,386386The doctrine of the resurrection of man in spirit and body still always formed a main point in Apologetic evidences, and was, as formerly, proved from the omnipotence of God, from various analogical inferences, and from the essential importance of the body for human personality. The Cappadocians and some later Greek theologians still held, though in a much weakened form, to the spiritualistic version of the doctrine attempted by Origen. But, following Methodius, Epiphanius (H. 64, ch. 12 ff.) especially insisted that there was the most perfect identity between the resurrection body and our material body, and this faith, enforced in the West by Jerome, soon established itself as alone orthodox. There now arose many problems concerning the limbs and members of the future body, and even Augustine seriously considered these. He experimented on the flesh of a peacock, and confirmed his faith in the resurrection by the discovery of its preservation from decay. the eternal misery (θάνατος ἐν ἀθανασίᾳ—undying death) of the wicked, were maintained, and even the conception of a transfiguration of heaven and this earth was not everywhere rejected. Retained accordingly were only those points enumerated in the symbols, and therefore no longer to be passed over. To these were added the expectation of Antichrist, which, however, only emerged, as a rule, during exceptional distress, as in the times of Arian emperors, Julian, barbarous nations, Mohammed, etc., and by no means now belonged to the solid substance of theological eschatology; (yet see Cyril, Catech. 15, ch. 11 f., the pseudo-hippolytan work περὶ συντελείας, and the late apocalypses of from the fourth to the seventh century). Blessedness was regarded as a state of freedom from suffering, of the perfect knowledge, and the intuitive and entrancing enjoyment, of God. Yet the majority recognised different degrees and stages of 188blessedness, a conception in which we perceive the moralist encroach upon the ground of religion,387387The assumption of various degrees of blessedness (and damnation) must have been almost universal; for the divergent opinion of Jovinian was felt to be heretical; see Jerome adv. Jovin. I. 3, II. 18-34. Still it excited more real interest in the West than in the East (Augustine, De civitate, XXII., ch. 30). As regards the idea of future existence, some Fathers supposed that men would positively become angels, others that they would be like the angels. since it put a high value on special earthly achievements, such as asceticism and martyrdom. As regards the blessed dead, it was supposed in wide circles that their souls waited in Hades, a subterranean place, for the return of Christ;388388The different conceptions as to the relations of Hades, Hell, Paradise, the bosom of Abraham, etc., do not come in here. According to Gregory of Nyssa, Hades is not to be held a place, but an invisible and incorporeal state of the life of the soul. there Christ had also preached the gospel to the good who had died before him.389389This old theologoumenon (see Vol. I., p. 203) occurs in western and eastern theologians. Those who would have become Christians if they had lived later, i.e., after Christ’s appearance, were redeemed. The phrase descendit ad inferna came into the Symbols from the fourth century. We find it in the West first, in the Symbol of Aquileia, in the East in the formula of the fourth Synod at Sirmium (359 εἰς τὰ καταχθόνια κατελθόντα). It is at least questionable whether it was already in the Jerusalemite Symbol at the same date. Compare Hahn, Bibliothek d. Symbole, 2 Aufl. §§ 24, 27, 34, 36, 37, 39-41, 43, 45, 46-60, 93, 94, 96, 108; Caspari, Ueber das Jerus. Taufbekenntniss in Cyrillus’ Katechesen, with an excursus: Hat das Jerus. Taufbekenntniss den descensus ad inferos enthalten, in the norweg. Theol. Ztschr. Vol. I. Not a few Fathers of the fourth century maintained, following Origen, that the souls of the pious at once enter Paradise, or come to Christ,390390With this it could be and, as a rule, was understood that their felicity up to the last judgment was only preliminary. Two interests met here: those of a spiritualising religion and of primitive Christian eschatology; see Vol. I., p. 129 f. The latter required that blessedness should be attached to the return of Christ and the last judgment; the former demanded that it should be complete as soon as the believing soul had parted from the mortal body. Therefore, in spite of Jerome’s polemic against Vigilantius and Augustine’s against Pelagius, no fixed Church doctrine could be arrived at here, however much piety desired an absolute decision. See for details Petavius and Schwane D. Gesch. d. patrist Zeit, p. 749 ff. and this opinion gained ground more and more. It was universal in regard to saints and martyrs. Besides, the conceptions of the intermediate state, like everything else in this connection, were altogether vague, since Greek theologians were only interested 189ultimately in the hope of deification.391391Clement and Origen had assumed a purgatory in the shape of a cleansing fire (see Vol. II., p. 377, n. 5); the Greek Fathers, however, have, so far as I know, dropped the idea, with the exception of Gregory of Nyssa (περὶ ψυχῆς καὶ ἀναστάσεως, Oehler, Vol. I., p. 98 f.). From Origen and Gregory the conception passed to Ambrose who established it in the West, after the way had been prepared for it by Tertullian. The Scriptural proof was 1 Cor. III. 13 f.; compare Augustine De civitate dei, XXI. 23 sq. Enchir. 68 sq. (ignis purgatorius). In the West, on the contrary, the entire primitive Christian eschatology was upheld pretty nearly intact during the fourth century, and even the idea of Nero returning as Antichrist had numerous supporters. The reason of this lies in the fact that Neoplatonic speculation, and speculation generally, obtained at first no footing here, and the specific import of Christianity at the same time was still always expressed in the dramatically conceived eschatology. But the distinction between West and East goes at this point much deeper. Strongly eschatological as was the aim of the whole dogmatics of the East, it cannot be overlooked that the heart of the matter—the thought of the judgement—had been torn away from the eschatology since Origen. This thought which expresses the fearful responsibility of every soul to the God of holiness, and without which the forgiveness of sins must remain an enigma and an empty word, dominated the gospel, and determined ancient Christianity. But “scientific” theology had shelved it.392392It still lived in the popular views of Christianity held by the Orientals. The name is not wanting in Origen’s system, but the thing had disappeared. In spite of all the emphasis laid on freedom, nothing exists but a cosmic process, in which the many issues from the one, in order to return into the one. In such a scheme the Judgment has been deprived of its meaning. In subsequent times apokatastasis—universalism—was indeed condemned in the East, and Origen’s system was rejected; but any one who studies closely Greek Byzantine dogmatics will see how profound was the attachment to this most important point in Origenism and Neoplatonism. The problems to which the creed gave birth in the fourth to the seventh century, and which men laboured to solve, discountenance any effective reference to the judgment. Again and again we have deification as a hyperphysical and therefore physical 190process, but dogmatics tell us little of the tenet that it is appointed unto man to die and after that the judgment. For this reason also the strict connection with morality was lost, and therefore in some regions even Islam was a deliverer. It was different in the West. What has been named the “Chiliasm” of the West, possessed its essential significance in the prospect of the judgment. If we compare West and East in the Middle Ages—the theologians, not the laity—no impression is stronger than that the former knew the fear of the judge to which the latter had become indifferent. It was the restless element in the life of faith of the West; it sustained the thought of forgiveness of sins; it accordingly made the reformation of Catholicism possible. And any reformation, if it should ever take place in the Greek Church, will begin by restoring the conviction of the responsibility of every individual soul, emphasising the judgment, and thus gaining the fixed point from which to cast down the walls of dogmatics.
Literature.—Hermann, Gregorii Nysseni sententiæ de salute adipiscenda, 1875. H. Schultz, Die Lehre von der Gottheit Christi, 1881. Kattenbusch, Kritische Studien der Symbolik, in the Studien und Kritiken, 1878, p. 94 ff. Ritschl, Die Christl. Lehre v. d. Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung, 2 Ed., Vol. I., pp. 3-21. Kattenbusch, Konfessionskunde I., p. 296 ff. On Monachism, especially in Russia, see Frank, Russ. Kirche, p. 190 ff.
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