Thoughts On The State Of Theological Science And Education In Our Country -- By: Society of Clergymen

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 001:4 (Nov 1844)
Article: Thoughts On The State Of Theological Science And Education In Our Country
Author: Society of Clergymen

Thoughts On The State Of Theological Science And Education In Our Country

Society of Clergymen.

A careful and repeated perusal of the Theological Encyclopaedia and Methodology, published in the preceding numbers of the Bibliotheca Sacra, has drawn our attention with fresh interest to the state of theological science and education in this country; and we may be pardoned, perhaps, if we now endeavor to present a summary view of the prevailing excellences and defects of our theological systems and training. It is often asked by German divines, “Why have not the Americans some theological science? Have they no taste for any study save that of the laws of steam and of political government?” We need not be surprised that such a question is asked, especially by the Germans; so widely different is the state of theological science with us, from its state with them. Still, they insinuate quite too grave a charge against us in such a query. We have a theological science. The distinguished professor of Logic at Edinburgh has remarked, that in several respects our writers in divinity have surpassed those of England and Scotland. It is certain, too, that our theological works have exerted no little influence on the British mind; and that such men as Andrew Fuller and Robert Hall, have confessed themselves to be largely indebted to American divines. When one reflects that our national existence is but of yesterday, and that our political relations have absorbed a great share of our attention, he cannot but wonder that we have made so rapid progress in the study of divine truth. Under all

our disadvantages, we have won for ourselves an honorable distinction, in this great department of human knowledge. We have a theological science marked by some excellent characteristics, and marred, also, we will not deny, by some obvious defects. It will not be deemed ostentations, we trust, if we endeavor to delineate some of these excellences, nor will it be thought invidious, if we dilate somewhat upon the imperfections of our theological course.

It appears to us that our theology is eminently practical in its character. It is a proverb with many of our theologians, that the theological system, which is best fitted to be preached, is on that account most entitled to be believed. Hence our bodies of divinity are living, animated; the soul of them is still eloquent. Many of them are in the form of sermons, just as they were preached for practical usefulness. Our theological writers deal little in mere theories. They care little for what is coldly abstract, or for what is simply fanciful and imaginative. Their predominant aim is rather at direct and immediate good. They fasten upon something that is tangible. They dw...

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