The Christian Doctrine Of God -- By: E. V. Gerhart

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 037:148 (Oct 1880)
Article: The Christian Doctrine Of God
Author: E. V. Gerhart

The Christian Doctrine Of God

E. V. Gerhart

The doctrine of God held and taught by the Christian church is a doctrine peculiar to the Christian religion. It differs from the notion and idea respecting the being and character of the Divine prevailing in every other religion, whether Pagan, Mohammedan, or Jewish. But this difference is relative only, not absolute. When contemplated in the light of Christology we may discern some elements of truth in the mythological conceptions found in the sacred books of every nation. These elements of truth the Christian revelation recognizes and reasserts. Great as is the difference, there is yet no impassable gulf between the natural intuition of the Divine Being and that positive belief concerning God which revelation teaches. Revelation, on the contrary, presupposes the validity of natural intuition, assuming and acknowledging it as the starting-point in the universal human consciousness of a better faith and sounder knowledge. Yet for this reason the difference is neither incidental nor unimportant. Indeed, the elements which the Christian faith has in common with any pagan notion of God, are so few that a superficial comparison might pronounce Christian theism and pagan myths utterly contradictory.

As there is such broad difference between the Christian idea and every non-Christian conception of God, and as at the same time every non-Christian conception is in some important particulars identical with the Christian idea, the theology of the Christian church has always been exposed to the danger of being controlled by one of two false tendencies. Emphasizing mainly the broad difference between Christianity and world-religions, and repelled by the monstrous errors

taught by pagan myths and pagan philosophy, theology has at times overlooked the profound truths latent in mythology, and ignored the vantage ground which these truths native to the universal consciousness of mankind afford for the vindication of the superiority and glory of the Christian idea. Developed exclusively from the Christian consciousness, and studied only under the tuition of Holy Scripture, the doctrine of God thus enunciated is indeed true, and must ever commend itself as superior to every pagan conception; yet, when theology fails to make due account of the vital connection between divine revelation and the truths of natural religion, the accepted doctrine becomes more or less external and arbitrary. It is falsely related to the universal consciousness. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ appears as a being whose character is foreign, rather than congenial, to the religious sympathies of our race; and the native intuition of God is predisposed rather to assail than to support the Christian doc...

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