Theological And Literary Intelligence -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 013:50 (Apr 1856)
Article: Theological And Literary Intelligence
Author: Anonymous

Theological And Literary Intelligence


The work which has attracted by far the most attention among the recent theological publications of Germany, is that by Chevalier Bunsen, on the “Signs of the Times;” the appearance of which was announced in the last Number of the Bib. Sacra, and which has since been through three editions. The book owes its significance partly to the distinguished position of the author, and partly to the fact that it discusses with the utmost freedom, and from a somewhat novel point of view, questions which have, of late, assumed a good deal of importance; or, to speak more precisely, it is an earnest and vigorous attack upon the so-called New Lutheran party, or the party of ecclesiastical and political reaction.

On returning to his native land, after a residence of fourteen years in England, Bunsen was impressed with the revolution both in religious and political opinion which, during his absence, had taken place; and, after pon-

dering the phenomenon for a while, in the seclusion of his charming villa on the Neekar, he gives the results of his meditations to the public, in the form of Letters to a friend. He regards as the two most striking “Signs of the Times,” the development of the principle of the associated effort of individual churches, especially as shown in the missionary operations of Independent and Baptist churches; and, in contrast with this, the increased prelatical spirit, manifested among the English Puseyites and the German Lutherans. These are taken to be the evidences of increased desire, on the part of the people, for individual freedom of belief, and an increased zeal for its suppression on the part of the priesthood.

In proof of this spirit of prelatical aggression, Bunsen passes, in rapid review, some of the recent instances of religious persecution: the case of the Madiai and of Ceccheti in Italy, and of Borczynski at Prague. The general conclusion drawn is, that Protestantism has never fully developed itself, save in connection with civil liberty; and that this latter has ever been advanced by the Calvinistic churches, but never by the Lutheran. It should be remarked that here Bunsen has reached the same conclusion, though in a wholly different spirit, with Prof. Leo, of Halle, who upbraids Calvin with being the author of all the political commotions since his time. Civil freedom, says Bunsen, has never shown itself vital, save as resting on self-government in the lower spheres of common life; and this is only possible with spiritual liberty. The great ceremonies in commemoration of St. Boniface, which occurred while he was writing, give occasion for some strictures upon the character of the so-called Apostle of the Germans. Bunsen ma...

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