Dorner’s History Of The Doctrine Of The Person Of Christ -- By: Henry B. Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 006:21 (Feb 1849)
Article: Dorner’s History Of The Doctrine Of The Person Of Christ
Author: Henry B. Smith


Dorner’s History Of The Doctrine Of The Person Of Christ

Henry B. Smith

This work of Dr. Dorner is one of the ripest products of German scholarship in the department of doctrinal history. The way in which it has grown up to its present form is an illustration of the historical thoroughness and philosophical method of that scholarship, as well as of the conflicts to which the orthodox faith is exposed in Germany,

and the mode in which it repels its assailants and maintains its integrity.

Two articles in the “Tübinger Zeitschrift” for the years 1835 and 1836 formed the basip of the present work. These were written with such command over the subject-matter, and were, besides, so adapted to the controversy about fundamental facts and doctrines of Christianity, which was then at its height in Germany, that they at once attracted the highest attention and admiration. Some extracts from the preface to these articles may serve to give an idea of the spirit of the circumstances in which they were composed. Beginning with the motto: Descendit deus, ut assurgamus, the author proceeds: “In the long conflict between Christianity and reason, it is a matter of congratulation that that point is gradually coming to be universally and distinctly understood, which is of the very first importance, if the controversy is ever to be decided. All the energies of the two conflicting parties are collecting themselves more and more around the Person of Christ, as the central point where the matter must be determined; and this is a great advance towards an adjustment of the hard strife; for when the question is rightly put, the answer is already half found. It is also easy to see, that in this case everything depends upon the question, whether there need have been, and really has existed, such a Christ as we find in the sense, if not always in the words, of the church — that is, a being in whom the personal and perfect union of divinity and humanity is truly consummated and historically made manifest. For if we suppose, on the one hand, that philosophy could incontrovertibly prove that the person of Christ in this sense is a self-contradicting notion, and therefore an impossibility, there would then no longer be any conflict between Christian theology and philosophy. With the overthrow of this doctrine, Christian theology and the Christian church would cease to have an existence in any legitimate sense of the word Christian; as with the capitulation of the metropolis the whole land falls to the enemy. There would then be peace between the parties. And, on the other hand, if, as some maintain, the idea of a Christ who is both human and divine can be proved on philosophical grounds to be rational and necessary, then, too, it is equall...

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