The Relations And Consequent Mutual Duties Between The Philosopher And The Theologian -- By: Edward Hitchcock

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 010:37 (Jan 1853)
Article: The Relations And Consequent Mutual Duties Between The Philosopher And The Theologian
Author: Edward Hitchcock

The Relations And Consequent Mutual Duties Between The Philosopher And The Theologian

Edward Hitchcock

The history of the manner in which philosophy has been treated by theologians, and theology by philosophers, is very instructive and suggestive. Some of the former have taken philosophy into a close and most cordial embrace, and allowed it to modify, and even form a part of the foundation of their whole system of doctrines; and, as you looked at the stately pile, you could not be certain whether the human or the divine had most to do in its erection.

Another class have been as jealous of philosophy, as if its touch were infectious, and its infection death; and it would seem as if they took special pains to make their professedly biblical system of truth look as distorted and angular as possible, lest they should be suspected of having used the moulding and the dressing tool of reason, to give it form and symmetry.

On the other hand, the tendency among philosophers has been to rank theology below the other sciences. Some of them have maintained that the two departments are quite independent of each other, and that the question of agreement between them, is one with which they are not concerned. Their business is to discover the truths of science, and to leave theology to take care of itself. Others admit the desirableness of a reconciliation, but are quite jealous of any claims, on the part of revelation, to superior authority.

But though thus diverse and conflicting have been the views of theologians and philosophers, respecting their mutual relations and duties, yet the history of the connection or opposition between theological and philosophical systems, has constituted no small part of the annals of the church. And from that history we learn two things: first, that there is an important connection, and consequently there are important duties between the theologian and the philosopher; and secondly, that these relations and duties have been, and still are, sadly misunderstood or neglected. No code of principles, defining those relations and duties, has yet been elaborated; and hence these classes have often treated each other like the partisans

in a border warfare; and prejudice and illiberality have been the impelling forces, rather than Christianity or philosophy.

In this paper I propose to discuss the relations between the theologian and the philosopher; or to state the subject more specifically, I shall attempt to enucleate and examine the principles which should regulate the intercourse and feelings of these two classes of society.

I employ the term philosophy in its broadest signification, embracing all s...

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