The Difficulties Of The Concept Of God -- By: George T. Ladd

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 034:136 (Oct 1877)
Article: The Difficulties Of The Concept Of God
Author: George T. Ladd


The Difficulties Of The Concept Of God

Rev. George T. Ladd

A theme at once so promising and so transcendently lofty as this, demands of him who ventures to write his thoughts underneath it, an immediate disclaimer of undue pretensions. The author of this Article lays no claim to the discovery of any metaphysical secrets. He knows of no new instrument, like the intellectual intuition of Schelling or the dialectic development of Hegel, by which to view, as they are in themselves, the mysteries of the Divine Being. He is of opinion that the ancient organon of knowledge, the human soul, is trustworthy. He does not even venture to promise any wholly new light upon any of the questions with which he is to deal, much less the complete solution of any of them.

It cannot, however, fail to appear to any careful observer of the course of current thought, that questions which concern the reality and nature of the Personal Absolute, whom faith calls God, are the leading theologic questions of the day. Theology is called in question, not so much as to the validity of its special dogmas, as to its right to existence at all. The “stream of tendency,” the “One not ourselves,” coming from Greek thought, and the personal I Am, the One revealed in ourselves, coming from the Hebrew heart, have met each

other in the world’s highway. Are the two one? and is that one the One everlasting and true, the absolute and infinite God? To answer these inquiries the thinkers of the age are taxing the resources of thought. The true, permanent answer does not depend upon the decision of investigators; it will be given vitally in the experience of the individual, in the history of the race. But the answer, so far as the investigators can furnish one, must consist in more thoroughly analytic criticism of the facts and laws of nature, history, and consciousness.

What each investigator especially needs is a point of view from which to conduct the criticism of difficulties. From such a favorable point of view we should be able to distinguish between real, insuperable difficulties, and alleged but removable ones; also to see in some measure wherein and why the real, insuperable difficulties are such.

In the January number of this Quarterly there appeared an Article upon “the Origin of the Concept of God.” The view then expressed may be summed up in two or three sentences: “This concept is the resultant of God’s revelation of himself to the human soul”; “It is a centre upon which converge many lines, not only of argument, but also of intuition, feeling, and purpose”; “The organon for receiving the divine self-revelation is the entire soul of man.” I do...

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