An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant.
Christianity from its very earliest stages and in all phases of its life.  Of any given rite, opinion or institution, of the many which have passed for almost two millenniums unchallenged under the Christian name, men about us are now asking:  But how much of it is Christian?  In what measure have we to think of it as derived from some other source, and representing the accommodation and assimilation of Christianity to its environment in process of its work?  What is Christianity?  Not unnaturally the ancient Church looked with satisfaction upon the great change which passed over Christianity when Constantine suddenly made that which had been the faith of a despised and persecuted sect, the religion of the world.  The Fathers can have thought thus only because their minds rested upon that which was outward and spectacular.  Not unnaturally the metamorphosis in the inward nature of Christianity which had taken place a century and a quarter earlier was hidden from their eyes.  In truth, by that earlier and subtler transformation Christianity had passed permanently beyond the stage in which it had been preponderantly a moral and spiritual enthusiasm, with its centre and authority in the person of Jesus.  It became a system and an institution, with a canon of New Testament Scripture, a monarchical organisation and a rule of faith which was formulated in the Apostles’ Creed.

To Baur the truth as to the conflict of Paul with the Judaisers had meant much.  He thought, therefore, with reference to the rise of priesthood and ritual among the Christians, to the emphasis on Scripture in the fashion of the scribes, to the insistence upon rules and dogmas after the manner of the Pharisees, that they were but the evidence of the decline and defeat of Paul’s free spirit and of the resurgence of Judaism in Christianity.  He sought to explain the rise of the episcopal organisation by the example of the synagogue.  Ritschl in his Entstehung der alt-catholischen Kirche, 1857, had seen that Baur’s theory could not be true.  Christianity did not fall back into Judaism.  It went forward to embrace the Hellenic and Roman world.  The institutions, dogmas, practices of that which, after A.D. 200, may with propriety be called the Catholic Church, are the fruit of that embrace.  There was here a falling off from primitive and spiritual Christianity.  But it was not a falling back into Judaism.  There were priests and scribes and Pharisees with other names elsewhere.  The phenomenon of the waning of the original enthusiasm of a period of religious revelation has been a frequent one.  Christianity on a grand scale illustrated this phenomenon anew.  Harnack has elaborated this thesis with unexampled brilliancy and power.  He has supported it with a learning in which he has no rival and with a religious interest which not even hostile critics would deny.  The phrase, ‘the Hellenisation of Christianity,’ might almost be taken as the motto of the work to which he owes his fame.

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An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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