Christ And Philosophy -- By: Gabriel Campbell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 067:266 (Apr 1910)
Article: Christ And Philosophy
Author: Gabriel Campbell

Christ And Philosophy1

Prof. Gabriel Campbell

The indefiniteness of the recognition of Christ in the field of Philosophy2 has been remarkable. This should not be estimated as a critical disparagement of Christ’s teaching. Counter tendencies have been more or less prejudicial. On the one hand the representatives of Christianity, anxious to show the logic of their position, have made theology at once systematic and dogmatic, the exacting nature of the discussions involving, of course, while yet overpassing, genuine philosophy. On the other hand the tendency to be exact was matched by the development of freedom, unrestricted freedom, of mysticism which was rather imaginative than rational, losing its import as philosophic in the clouds of creative supposition. Mysticism has led to the depreciation of Religion as mere matter of feeling, as having to do with non-realities. “Confusion worse confounded.” The fiction of the critic may surpass the fiction of the devotee.

Here then we have had two opposite developments, both tending to bring reproach. Is truth thereby dethroned? Have we not rather a higher truth, a union in the opposites? Does not the resulting contention arouse us to search more earnestly?

Surely to the scholarly vision there is evident a basal rationality in religious life, may we not say a veritable

Philosophy Of Religion?

Notwithstanding the zeal, even superstition, which would insist, ‘Hands off, religious truth is too sacred for profane babbling,’ gradually the claims of reason have been asserted, indeed have been established, the human unit becoming conscious of itself as a religious entity. Here unmistakably we reach the highest stage of man’s progression. The clarifying of consciousness, the rationalizing of divine impulses, — does there not lie herein the crowning achievement, the consummation, of our modern progress? Of course, in all time there has been a rational increment, although devotion’s zeal has tended to outrun intelligence. Yet, even among the Greeks the reasoned development was subordinate, subconscious. Their inspirations were poetic, artistic, indefinitely philosophical. During the following centuries the indefinite becomes definite, as we have seen hyperdefinite — indeed even in the field of philosophy, when so-called Dogmatism prevails in Germany.

This environing predicament aroused the critical mind of Immanuel Kant. He leaves us his epoch-making work, “Religion within the Limits of Pure Reason.” Following the inspiration of Kant’s achievement came Fichte, Germany’s most renow...

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