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.

Furthermore, this notion of an inherent necessity and an irresistible tendency to progress is a chimera.  The progress of mankind is a task.  It is something to which the worthy human spirit is called upon to make contribution.  The unworthy never hear the call.  Progress is not a natural necessity.  It is an ethical obligation.  It is a task which has been fulfilled by previous generations in varying degrees of perfectness.  It will be participated in by succeeding generations with varying degrees of wisdom and success.  But as to there being anything autonomous about it, this is sheer hallucination, myth-making again, on the part of those who boast that they despise the myth, miracle-mongering on the part of those who have abjured the miracle, nonsense on the part of those who boast that they alone are sane.  There is no ultimate source of civilisation but the individual, as there is also no issue of civilisation but in individuals.  Men, characters, personalities, are the makers of it.  Men are the product which is made.  The higher stages and achievements of the life of society have come to pass always and only upon condition that single personalities have recognised the problem, seen their individual duty and known how to inspire others with enthusiasm.  Periods of decline are always those in which this personal element cannot make itself felt.  Democracies and periods of the intensity of emphasis upon the social movement, tend directly to the depression and suppression of personality.[7] Such reflexions will have served their purpose if they give us some clear sense of what we have to understand as the effect of the social movement on religion.  They may give also some forecast of the effect of real religion on the social movement.  For religion is the relation of God and personality.  It can be social only in the sense that society, in all its normal relations, is the sphere within which that relation of God and personality is to be wrought out.

[Footnote 7:  Siebeck, Religionsphilosophie, 1893, s. 407.]

CHAPTER VI

THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES:  ACTION AND REACTION

In those aspects of our subject with which we have thus far dealt, leadership has been largely with the Germans.  Effort was indeed made in the chapter on the sciences to illustrate the progress of thought by reference to British writers.  In this department the original and creative contribution of British authors was great.  There were, however, also in the earlier portion of the nineteenth century movements of religious thought in Great Britain and America related to some of those which we have previously considered.  Moreover, one of the most influential movements of English religious thought, the so-called Oxford Movement, with the Anglo-Catholic revival which it introduced, was of a reactionary tendency.  It has seemed, therefore, feasible to append to this chapter that which we must briefly say concerning the

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