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.
these revelations sacred books and in attributing to them divine authority.  It has been largely wrong in the manner in which it construed their authority.  It has been wholly wrong in imagining that the documents themselves were the revelation.  They are merely the record of a personal communion with the transcendent.  It was Lessing who first cast these fertile ideas into the soil of modern thought.  They were never heartily taken up by Kant.  One can think, however, with what enthusiasm men recurred to them after their postulates had been verified and the idea of God, of man and of the world which they implied, had been confirmed by Fichte and Schelling.

In the philosophical movement, the outline of which we have suggested, what one may call the nidus of a new faith in Scripture had been prepared.  The quality had been forecast which the Scripture must be found to possess, if it were to retain its character as document of revelation.  In those very same years the great movement of biblical criticism was gathering force which, in the course of the nineteenth century, was to prove by stringent literary and historical methods, what qualities the documents which we know as Scripture do possess.  It was to prove in the most objective fashion that the Scripture does not possess those qualities which men had long assigned to it.  It was to prove that, as a matter of fact, the literature does possess the qualities which the philosophic forecast, above hinted, required.  It was thus actually to restore the Bible to an age in which many reasonable men had lost their faith in it.  It was to give a genetic reconstruction of the literature and show the progress of the history which the Scripture enshrines.  After a contest in which the very foundations of faith seemed to be removed, it was to afford a basis for a belief in Scripture and revelation as positive and secure as any which men ever enjoyed, with the advantage that it is a foundation upon which the modern man can and does securely build.  The synchronism of the two endeavours is remarkable.  The convergence upon one point, of studies starting, so to say, from opposite poles and having no apparent interest in common, is instructive.  It is an illustration of that which Comte said, that all the great intellectual movements of a given time are but the manifestation of a common impulse, which pervades and possesses the minds of the men of that time.

The attempt to rationalise the narrative of Scripture was no new one.  It grew in intensity in the early years of the nineteenth century.  The conflict which was presently precipitated concerned primarily the Gospels.  It was natural that it should do so.  These contain the most important Scripture narrative, that of the life of Jesus.  Strauss had in good faith turned his attention to the Gospels, precisely because he felt their central importance.  His generation was to learn that they presented also the greatest difficulties.  The old rationalistic

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