Remarks On The Idea Of Religion; With Special Reference To Psychological Questions -- By: William A. Stearns

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 009:34 (Apr 1852)
Article: Remarks On The Idea Of Religion; With Special Reference To Psychological Questions
Author: William A. Stearns


Remarks On The Idea Of Religion;
With Special Reference To Psychological Questions

Rev. William A. Stearns

[This Article is from the last number of the Studien und Kritiken for 1851. In giving it an English dress, considerable condensation has been attempted and a few passages altogether omitted, as unimportant to the subject. By the preparation of this treatise for the press, an endorsement of all its thoughts and shadings of thought is not intended; it is presented to the readers of the Bibliotheca simply as an able discussion of a most important question, and as showing the present tendencies of the German mind in its sounder theological

circles. On the subject of the active and passive will, and on the relations and forces of the church as a Divine organism, its completion is Lutheran; but the position that religion is a life supernaturally and divinely imparted, and that the appropriate sphere for the workings of this life is in and through an organized kingdom of God, no evangelical theologian of whatever school will deny.]

Is religion a certainty of the understanding, of the feelings, or of the will? Is there a single side of the soul’s life into which, as an element of the same, it can be inserted? What is the relation of religion to other manifestations of this life? And how from the idea of religion, can all those circumstances, activities, ordinances, etc. which are necessarily connected with it, be developed? On such and such-like questions, numerous inquiries respecting the nature of religion have latterly turned. Especially from the time that rationalism and super-naturalism began to desert the theological field, two views have stood forth in opposition to each other, that of Schleiermacher, which explains religion as something belonging to the feelings, and that of Hegel, which maintains it to be a kind of knowing. The contest between the two need not be considered as yet completely settled. Both systems have always a number of valiant champions on the plain, and the efforts to transfer the scientific strife to another domain, though in some respects important, have been attended with no durable result. The doctrine of Schleiermacher, especially, demands the concession, first, that on the psychological ground which forms the basis of its idea of religion, a dogmatic system has been erected, which may be considered the fullest scientific apprehension of Christianity, contemplated from the position of the evangelical creed, yet given, and second, that its fundamental thoughts more than those of any other system since Kant, have penetrated into the common views of Christian life. A notion of religion which resolves the whole system of dogmatics into statements resp...

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