The History of Doctrines -- By: Henry B. Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 004:15 (Aug 1847)
Article: The History of Doctrines
Author: Henry B. Smith

The History of Doctrines

Rev. Henry B. Smith

Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte von Dr. K R. Hagenbach, Prof, der Theol. in Basel Erster Theil Bis auf Johannes Damascenus. Zweiten Theiles erste Hälfte. Von Johannes Damascenus bis auf die Reformation. Zweiten Theiles zwezte Halfte. Von der Reformation bis auf unsere Zeit. Leipzig : 1840-41.

Compendium of the History of Doctrines. By K. R. Hagenbaeh. Translated by Carl W. Buch. Vol I. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. [Clark’s Foreign Theological Library, Vol. III.] 1846.

Lehrbuch der christlichen Dogmengeschichte, von Dr. F. Ch. Bauer, ordentl. Professor der evangelischen Theologie an der Universität Tubingen. Stuttgart, 1847.

No book is at present more needed in our theological literature than a good history of doctrines. Dr. Murdock’s translation

of Münscher’s compendium is the only work to which our students have had access, and that is too meagre to satisfy the wants of a zealous inquirer, and is too far behind the present state of historical research in Germany to be of any decisive authority. It is remarkable, that while the English as a people are averse to speculation, and much more at home in history and in facts, they have been far less earnest, of later years, in investigating the records of the past, than have their more speculative and imaginative German neighbors. Especially is this the case in respect to the doctrinal history of Christianity, which is almost unknown, even by name, to the English literature, but which has been prosecuted with the greatest ardor and research in Germany.1

Such a work would be of the greatest advantage to our theological literature in several ways. It would tend to relieve the too abstract character of many of our theological speculations. It would serve to make more clear to our minds the exact position of a particular doctrine in the whole scheme of Christianity; and thus keep us from laying an inordinate stress upon a truth which is of inferior moment. It would be one of the most effectual means of dissipating a too fond reverence for the past; and also of increasing our love to those abiding truths which we should find running through the whole course of the history of Christ’s church, and determining its fortunes. Neither Tractarianism nor Socinianism would be possible to a mind that thoroughly understood the course of Christian doctrine. It would serve to make us tolerant of incidental errors, and firm in our belief of essential truth. It would deliver us both from a morbid fear and a morbid love of new theories. We should not be so apt to imagine that Chr...

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