Rothe On Dogmatics, Revelation, And Scripture -- By: John P. Lacroix

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 035:138 (Apr 1878)
Article: Rothe On Dogmatics, Revelation, And Scripture
Author: John P. Lacroix


Rothe On Dogmatics, Revelation, And Scripture1

John P. Lacroix

The following is a condensed presentation of the chief points in Rothe’s work, Zur Dogmatik. This work was first published as three essays in the Studien und Kritiken. It was then thoroughly revised and annotated by the author, and issued in a volume, in 1862. In the preparation of this summary of the work I have aimed at strict fidelity to the author. But I have also aimed at the greatest practicable clearness to English readers. Hence my paper is not a translation, but rather a reproduction. I do not make the author responsible for a single sentence of the paper, nor even for its imagery. He is responsible simply for its sentiments, its positions.

The work Zur Dogmatik is among Rothe’s latest and most serious utterances; and yet it is the very work which, in some points, will most antagonize the prepossessions of the average English theologian. The only apology the author makes for his positions is his thorough conviction of being on the road to the truth. His book undertakes a difficult task — it undertakes to hold fast to the essential truth in Christianity, and yet to tear off from it the swaddling bands

of certain traditional associations which, as the author thinks, can no longer stand the test of modern thought. The unrivalled eminence of Dr. Rothe, both as a theologian and as a devout and spotless disciple of Christ, certainly entitle his views to the most candid consideration. In this thought I give the following synopsis to the English-reading public.

I. Dogmatics

Dogmatists are of two classes — those who obtain their theological principles from dogmatics itself, and those who, obtaining their principles elsewhere, construct the science of dogmatics by these principles. I am of this second class.

But what is dogmatics? Evidently it is the science of dogmas. Before there were dogmas there was no thought of dogmatics. And the reason that dogmatics ever was thought of was the actual existence of dogmas, and the consequent felt need of constructing them into a science.

What, now, is a dogma? All admit that it is a something that has its roots in religion, and, consequently, that it can be understood only in the light of religion?

What, then, is religion? Religion is primarily of subjective quality; it is piety. Objective religion is secondary and derived. Of course, a revelation is presupposed by subjective religion. For it is only through a divine impingement upon the soul from without that our human consciousness becomes a God-consci...

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