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Religion

종교 탐방

II. THE CHURCH AND ITS HISTORY

 

3. Christian doctrine

1) THE MEANING OF DOGMA

i) Importance to Christian doctrine and later implications.

Christian doctrine has often taken a specific form called "dogma." Although the term originally referred to "that which is regarded as good," the early Christians employed it to mean a teaching that came from divine revelation and was authoritatively defined as true by the church. The collection of such teachings is also referred to as dogma. Taken together, these teachings were seen to be vital for the salvation of Christians. To deviate from any of the dogmas was considered dangerous to salvation and to the life of the church.

Whereas in some periods, including early Christian times and whenever Christianity was dominant in the culture, those in authority and most of the faithful thought of dogma in positive terms, it has often suffered criticism in modern times. The concept seems to militate against the freedom of inquiry by which moderns seek truth, and it can be easily transformed into an instrument of state in officially Christian societies, where deviations can be punished as treason. In addition, to some Christians, the great German scholar Adolf von Harnack among them, dogma appeared to be a corruption of the essentially simple faith of Jesus and the early Christians. It was seen as an intrusion of Greek philosophy, an "acute Hellenization" that obscured the Christian truth it had set out to guard.

Without question, some Hellenization did take place, and dogma was often misused. Yet it is difficult to picture a rapidly growing body such as the early church existing permanently without efforts to provide authoritative definitions of the ideas its leadership regarded as true and for which they would be responsible. Therefore, any attempt to discern the meaning of Christian faith through the ages necessarily involves an understanding of the reasons for the existence of dogma and a comprehension of what the main dogmatic teachings in the various times and places of the church's life have been.

The early Christian definitions of dogma drew on Greek thought in general and, in some cases, on Neoplatonic philosophy in particular. Out of this borrowing of categories not derived from the Bible came basic, indeed crucial, definitions concerning both the Trinity and Christology. Historians, particularly in the modern West, have appraised and criticized these applications of Greek thought.

The Eastern Orthodox Church, however, views the formation of dogma not as a purely human process (which would have to be judged a falsification of divine truths) but as a divine-human process in which the Holy Spirit, proceeding from God, and the human spirit, proceeding from history, participate. According to this view, the origin of revelation in God means that the truths of dogma are divine, eternal, and immutable.

Dogma has varying positions in the different churches. Whereas in Protestant churches doctrines and creeds generally are associated primarily with theology and preaching, in the Eastern Orthodox Church dogma is directly related to the liturgical life of the church. The confessions of faith of the Orthodox Church are not to be understood as abstract formulations of a pure doctrine but as hymns of worship incorporated appropriately in the liturgy.

In contrast to the rather definitive dogmatic development in the Roman Catholic Church and Reformation Christianity, a much greater freedom in the interpretation of dogma is guaranteed in the Eastern Church. Even the formulation of a dogma by an ecumenical council in Eastern Orthodoxy does not have a binding legal character until it is received within the total ecumenical church consciousness. (see also Index: Protestantism)

ii) Orientation of the Western churches.

From their inception, the Western churches have viewed the fundamental relationship between God and humanity primarily in judicial terms. Characteristically, the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans depicted the experience of salvation as justification. To be justified means to receive the verdict "just" or "righteous," whether from a judge--the law court was the source of the Pauline theological image--or from God, as witnessed to in the Christian scheme of salvation. The Roman Church was strongly Jewish-Christian in character and combined this character without difficulties with the basic orientation of the Roman view of religion--i.e., the relationship between God and humanity was primarily a judicial one. The legal character of Roman religion was expressed in the fact that the efficacy of the state cult ceremonies was dependent upon the strictest observation of a wide variety of regulations. Later developments of Roman Catholic Christianity depended largely upon the basis of this legal thinking. In Rome the specifically Western sacrament of penance developed in the context of legal terminology and was dominated by the idea of justification.

In the judicial foundation of the sacrament of penance (in which an offender might regain a right relationship with the church through the performance of certain works), later possibilities of corruption are built in (e.g., the indulgence, or remission of temporal punishment upon the granting of absolution by a priest and, perhaps, the payment of a fee or performance of certain works). The indulgence resulted from a fusion of Roman and German legal thought.

Just as judicial notions dominated divine-human personal relationships, so they helped shape questions of authority. Thus the Western notions of both church and priesthood acquired a legal cast. The church understands itself as a spiritual-judicial institution, founded by Christ but perpetuated by structures that often resemble those in human government. The priest is the legitimate bearer of this legal order. In the sphere of this kind of legal thinking the papacy and the doctrine of papal primacy developed. The idea of a jurisdictional primacy played a prominent role in the formation of the doctrine of the papacy. Kingly authority passed over to the priestly, the emperor's crown to the episcopal tiara. At the high point of this development, Pope Boniface VIII in 1302 proclaimed himself the highest ruler of the world, to whom Christ has committed both swords, the spiritual and the temporal. This judicial idea is also reflected in the individual priest's consciousness of his office. Ordination by the bishop confers upon the priest a legal authority to administer the sacraments and to exercise the power of the keys. In consciousness of this legal process the priest absolves the sinner from his sins in confession with the words: "I absolve you."

On the basis of this legal consciousness the Western church also developed its own canon law. Canon law in the West penetrated, indeed dominated, the societal sphere of life much more strongly than it did in the Orthodox Church (see below Canon law ).

Judicial thinking was similarly significant in the theology of the West. Whereas the East never assigned a decisive significance to the justification doctrine of the Apostle Paul, in the West the theologian Tertullian introduced a series of fundamental juridical concepts into theology (e.g., persona--a legal person). For Augustine, the doctrine of justification was the foundation of his view of the relationship of humans to God as well as of his view of sin, guilt, and grace. For Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109, the existing, valid judicial relationship between God and humans had to be the basic presupposition of all theological thinking. Anselm believed that he could cogently derive--even for unbelievers--the truth of Christian faith and the necessity of the incarnation of God from the idea of satisfaction (i.e., that one could make satisfaction for a crime against another).

Western monasticism also received its special imprint from judicial thought. Sanctification is believed to be accomplished by practicing good works and, particularly, surplus works or "works of supererogation"--i.e., those that the saint performs over and above those necessary for the satisfaction of his own sins. Alexander of Hales (c. 1170/85-1245), an English theologian and philosopher, advanced the doctrine that out of the works of satisfaction of Christ, the saints, and the martyrs, the church has collected a "treasury of good works," which the pope properly has at his disposal.

This judicial thinking is even extended to the eschatological expectation and the view of the last things, for many of the biblical notions about God acting out of love in the final dealings with humans tend to be challenged or obscured by overpowering pictures of divine righteousness. At the end of the world stands the radical separation of humanity into the redeemed, who enter eternal blessedness, and the damned, who are delivered over to eternal punishment. According to the Roman Catholic view, sinners improve their prospects by acceptance of an interim state, in which they can ameliorate their positions in respect to God before the Last Judgment by making amends for their sins. Through indulgences, masses for the dead, and other acts, the church expanded its spiritual-judicial authority even to this realm of the departed souls of purgatory (the state of existence after death in which temporal punishment is meted out). Although the doctrine of purgatory remains among the official teachings of contemporary Roman Catholicism, it has been downplayed in much popular expression and belief. The pictures of God acting beneficently toward sinners have progressively challenged the medieval and early modern accent on God acting punitively. (see also Index: Eastern Orthodoxy)

iii) Orientation of the Eastern churches.

In the New Testament, ideas later regarded as mystical are associated with the writings and experiences of Paul and in the Gospel and Letters associated with the name John. The Orthodox churches have encouraged a piety that elevates these mystical themes and makes them prominent. In these Eastern settings justification is less frequently considered. Instead, the idea that humans are to partake in the nature of the Godhead--to be holy, reborn, newly created, resurrected, and transfigured--comes to the fore. Indeed, not only humanity but also the whole of creation partakes of this potentially transforming character. Orthodox mystical piety thus has a bearing on the entire cosmos. The central concept is not the righteousness but the love of God. Thus, a different overall development of religious perception took place in the East, especially noticeable in the conception and development of the sacrament of penance. Since, in the East, the idea of educating the Christian to a life of sanctification is decisive, the juridical conception of penance never gained wide acceptance, and neither the doctrine nor the practice of indulgences was developed in the Eastern Church.

Also, the Eastern Church did not claim power to intervene in the realm of the dead, to loosen or to bind. Eastern Christianity is familiar only with intercession for the dead, because the bond of the faithful who are joined together into the body of Christ is not extinguished even with death.

The legal idea is, however, present in the Eastern Church's view of the ecclesiastical office, especially in its conception of the episcopal office and apostolic succession. But the Eastern view is embedded in the conception of the church as the mystical body of Christ and of the Holy Spirit as the stream of life of the church. The bishops of the Eastern Orthodox Church have always remained primarily bishops (and not also temporal rulers) of their church and have always preserved the spiritual character of their office--even at the times when the churches were under Islamic rule and the bishops were assigned the function of ethnarchs (official quasi-political representatives of the Christian portions of the population). The conception that the Orthodox priest has of the essence of his priesthood is, then, not determined through a judicial idea, and in the Orthodox sacrament of penance the formula of absolution has the form not of a declaration but of a prayer for divine forgiveness.

Judicial features are also absent from the Eastern Church's conception of human sanctification and, thereby, of the task of monasticism. In Eastern monasticism, a doctrine of good works or of the treasury of the church was never able to arise. Saints were venerated as spiritually gifted personalities who realized in this earthly life the angelic life of the heavenly church.

In Orthodox theology the schema of justification has scarcely played a role. Its chief motif is the incarnation of God and the idea that humans partake of aspects of deity. Though the term must be used cautiously, to avoid idolatry of the created human, it is not entirely inappropriate to speak of the "deification" of the human. Thus, the emphasis of Christian proclamation lay upon rebirth, the new creation of the human being, the process of transformation into a new creature, resurrection with Christ, and the ascension of humans to God, along with other changes properly called transfigurations. Only the penetration of Reformation ideas in the 16th and 17th centuries compelled Orthodox theologians to take a position on the doctrine of justification.

In Roman thought sin is a violation of the legal relationship fixed by God between himself and man. Sin for the Eastern Church, however, is viewed as a narrowing of possibilities, or a contraction of essence, a sickness or infection of the original being of the image of God. Accordingly, redemption is not primarily the restoration of a judicial relationship disturbed by sin but rather a renewal of being, transfiguration of being, completion of being, and deification.

Thus, the idea of love is dominant in Eastern piety. Characteristic of this is a catechetical sermon by John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople, about Christ's parable of the workers in the vineyard as told in Matthew, chapter 20. Still read at Easter in the 20th century from all pulpits of the Orthodox Church, the sermon is a song of triumph about the victory of the boundless love of God:

You who have fasted and you who have not fasted, rejoice today! The table is laden, enjoy it everyone! The calf is fattened, may no one leave hungry! Everyone partake of the banquet of faith! Everyone partake of the riches of goodness! May no one complain of poverty, for the common Kingdom has appeared.

The conception of the Last Judgment in the Eastern Church did not develop according to the strictly juridical interpretation that was customary in the West. On the contrary, trust in grace and in the "love of man" by the divine Logos, as well as supplication for divine compassion, are dominant. Hence, the Orthodox Church understood only with difficulty the theological concern of the Western Reformation. It comprehended the Western Reformation only to the extent that it concurred with the latter in its rejection of certain Roman Catholic doctrines and practices--e.g., the doctrine of papal primacy and the demand of priestly celibacy. The central argument about justification was reflected upon by only a few Orthodox theologians educated in the West, such as Cyril Lucaris, and in general the Eastern Church has withstood efforts to graft justification onto Orthodoxy.

2) GOD THE FATHER

On the basis of their religious experiences, the mystics of Christianity of all eras have concurred in the belief that one can make no assertions about God, because God is beyond all concepts and images. Inasmuch as human beings are gifted with reason, however, the religious experience of transcendence demands historical clarification. Thus, in Christian theology two tendencies stand in constant tension with each other. On the one hand, there is the tendency to systematize the idea of God as far as possible. On the other, there is the tendency to eliminate the accumulated collection of current conceptions of God and to return to the understanding of the utter transcendence of God. Theologians, by and large, have had to acknowledge the limits of human reason and language to address the "character" of God, who is beyond normal human experience but who impinges on it. But because of the divine-human contact, it became necessary and possible for them to make some assertions about the experience, the disclosure, and the character of God.

All great epochs of the history of Christianity are defined by new forms of the experience of God and of Christ. Rudolf Otto, a 20th-century German theologian, attempted to describe to some extent the basic ways of experiencing the transcendence of the "holy." He called these the experience of the "numinous" (the spiritual dimension), the utterly ineffable, the holy, and the overwhelming. The "holy" is manifested in a double form: as the mysterium tremendum ("mystery that repels"), in which the dreadful, fearful, and overwhelming aspect of the numinous appears, and as the mysterium fascinosum ("mystery that attracts"), by which humans are irresistibly drawn to the glory, beauty, adorable quality, and the blessing, redeeming, and salvation-bringing power of transcendence. All of these features are present in the Christian concepts of God as explicated in the ever new experiences of the charismatic leaders. (see also Index: sacred and profane)

i) Characteristic features of the Christian concept of God.

Within the Christian perception and experience of God, definite characteristic features stand out: (1) the personality of God, (2) God as the Creator, (3) God as the Lord of history, and (4) God as Judge. (1) God, as person, is the "I am who I am" designated in Exodus 3:14. The personal consciousness of human beings awakens in the encounter with God understood as a person: "The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Exodus 33:11). (2) God is also viewed as the Creator of heaven and Earth. The believer thus maintains, on the one hand, acknowledgement of divine omnipotence as the creative power of God, which also operates in the preservation of the world, and, on the other hand, trusts in the world, which--despite all its contradictions--is understood as one world created by God according to definite laws and principles and according to an inner plan. The decisive aspect of creation, however, is that God fashioned humans according to the divine image and made the creation subject to them. This special position of humans in the creation, which makes them coworkers of God in the preservation and consummation of the creation, brings a decisively new characteristic into the understanding of God. (3) This new characteristic is God as the Lord of history, which is the main feature of the Old Testament understanding of God: God selects a special people and contracts a special covenant with them. Through the Law the divine agent binds this "people of God" in a special way. God sets before them a definite goal of salvation--the establishment of a divine dominion--and through the prophets admonishes the people by proclamations of salvation and calamity whenever they are unfaithful to the covenant and promise. (4) This God of history also is the God of judgment. The genuinely Israelite belief that the disclosure of God comes through the history of divinely-led people leads, with an inner logic, to the proclamation of God as the Lord of world history and as the Judge of the world. (see also Index: creation myth, history, philosophy of, chosen people)

ii) The specific concept of God as Father.

What is decisively new in the Christian, New Testament faith in God lies in the fact that this faith is so closely bound up with the person, teaching, and work of Jesus Christ that it is difficult to draw boundaries between theology (doctrines of God) and Christology (doctrines of Christ). Jesus himself embraced the God of the Hebrew patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), but he also understood himself as the fulfiller of the promise of the Messiah-Son of man, who is the bringer of the Kingdom of God. The religious experience that forms the basis of the messianic self-understanding of Jesus is the recognition that the Messiah-Son of man is the Son of God. (see also Index: Son of man)

The special relationship of Jesus to God is expressed through his designation of God as Father. In prayers Jesus used the Aramaic word abba (father) for God, which is otherwise unusual in religious discourse in Judaism; it was usually employed by children for their earthly father, similar to "daddy" in English. This father-son relationship became a prototype for the relationship of Christians to God. Appeal to the sonship of God played a crucial role in the development of Jesus' messianic self-understanding. According to the account of Jesus' baptism, Jesus understood his sonship when a voice from heaven said: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." In the Gospel According to John, this sonship constitutes the basis for the self-consciousness of Jesus: "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).

iii) The belief in the oneness of the Father and the Son.

Faith in the Son also brought about a oneness with the Father. The Son became the mediator of the glory of the Father to those who believe in him. In Jesus' high priestly prayer (in John, chapter 17) he says: "The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one." In the Lord's Prayer Jesus taught his disciples to address God as "our Father."

The Father-God of Jesus after Jesus' death and Resurrection becomes--for his disciples--the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., 2 Corinthians 1:3), who revealed his love through the sacrifice of his Son who was sent into the world. Faithful Christians can thus become the children of God, as noted in Revelation 21:7: "I will be his God and he shall be my son." For Christians, therefore, faith in God is not a doctrine to be detached from the person of Jesus Christ.

Medieval theologians often spoke of a "Beatific Vision," a blessed vision of God. They did so on the basis of their own mystical experience that constituted the fulfillment of salvation in the Kingdom of God, which the Son will deliver to the Father.

In the history of Christian mysticism, this visionary experience of the transpersonal "Godhead" behind the personal "God" (as in the works of the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart)--also called an experience of the "trans-deity," the "divine ground," "groundlessness," the "abyss," and the divine "nothingness"--constantly breaks through and is renewed. Occasionally, this experience of transpersonal divine transcendence has directed itself against the development of a piety that has banalized the personal idea of God so much so that the glory and holiness of God has been trivialized. The attempt of the 20th-century theologian Paul Tillich to reduce the Christian idea of God to the impersonal concept of "the Ground of Being," or "Being Itself," pointed toward an understanding of the pre-personal depths of the transcendence of Godhood. (see also Index: Christianity)

Nevertheless, in the Christian understanding of Christ as being one with the Father, there is a constant possibility that faith in God will be absorbed in a "monochristism"--i.e., that the figure of the Son in the life of faith will overshadow the figure of the Father and thus cause it to disappear and that the figure of the Creator and Sustainer of the world will recede behind the figure of the Redeemer. The history of Christian piety and of Christian theology has constantly moved in this field of tension. Thus, the primacy of Christology and of the doctrine of justification in Reformation theology led to a depreciation of the creation doctrine and a Christian cosmology. This depreciation accelerated the estrangement between theology and the sciences during the period of the Enlightenment. This was subsequently distorted into a form of materialism. On the other hand, some 20th-century dialectical theologians, among them Karl Barth, in opposing materialism and humanism sometimes evoked a monochristic character that strongly accented the centrality of Christ at the expense of some cultural ties.

iv) The revelatory character of God.

The God of the Bible is the God who presses toward revelation. The creation of the world is viewed as an expression of God's will toward self-revelation, for even the pagans "knew God." In Paul's so-called Areopagus speech in Athens, he said of God: "Yet he is not far from each one of us, for 'in him we live and move and have our being,' " in allusion to the words of the pagan writer Aratus: "For we are indeed his offspring" (Acts 17:27-28). This was the beginning of a knowledge of God that has manifested itself under the catchphrase of the "natural revelation" of God or God's revelation in the "book of nature." It has survived as one strand of theory throughout much of Christian history.

The self-revelation of God presupposes, however, a basic biblical understanding of the existing relationship between God and human beings. It cannot be separated from the view that God created humans according to the divine image and that in Jesus Christ, who "reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature" (Hebrews 1:3), the heavenly man has appeared among humans as the "last Adam." The inner connection between the "natural" and the biblical revelation takes place through the view of Christ as the divine Logos become human.

Hellenistic thinkers had already been attracted by the emphasis in later Judaism on monotheism and transcendence. This tendency was sketched out earlier in Plato and later Stoicism, but it came to its mature development in Neoplatonism in the 3rd century AD. In the 1st century Philo of Alexandria had interpreted the Old Testament concept of God in terms of the Logos idea of Hellenistic philosophy, but this Hellenization led to a characteristic tension that was to dominate the entire further history of Christian piety, as well as the Western history of ideas. The Greeks traced the idea of God to a "first cause" that stood behind all other causes and effects. Theologians under their influence used this understanding to contribute to a doctrine of God as "first cause" in Christian theology.

v) God as Creator, Sustainer, and Judge.

The biblical understanding of God, however, was based upon the idea of the freedom of the Creator, Sustainer, and Judge vis-à-vis the world. This idea also included the concept that God could suspend the natural order or break the causal chain through miracles. This led to two specific problems that theology, inspired by Greek philosophy, set for itself: (1) the attempt to prove the existence of God, and (2) the attempt to justify God in view of both the apparent shortcomings of the creation and the existence of evil in history (i.e., the problem of theodicy). Both attempts have occupied the intellectual efforts of Western theology and have inspired the highest of intellectual achievements. These attempts, however, often presumed that human reason could capture and define the transcendent. Even by the speculative theologians' definition such an effort was inherently impossible to conclude. Although such theologians creatively addressed the issue, it was often simple Christian piety that served to guard the notion of transcendence, while concentrating on the historical revelation of God in the more accessible instrument of God's self-disclosure in Jesus Christ. (see also Index: evil, problem of)

Efforts to explain the ways of God to humans, particularly in respect to the problem of the existence of evil, are called theodicy. This form of justification of God has addressed profound human impulses and has relied upon strenuous exercises of human reason, but it has also led to no finally satisfying conclusions. The problem, which was already posed by Augustine and treated in detail by Thomas Aquinas, became of pressing importance in the European Thirty Years' War (1618-48) and its aftermath. At that time Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who did more than anyone to develop the concept of theodicy, endeavoured to defend the Christian notion of God against the obvious atheistic consequences that were evoked by the critical thinkers of his time. This was because of the behaviour of the Christian churches, which were engaged in a war of mutual extermination. The result of such theological efforts, however, was either to declare God himself as the originator of evil, to excuse evil as a consequence of divine "permission," or instead--as with Hegel--to understand world history as the justification of God ("the true theodicy, the justification of God in history"). These answers satisfied neither the Christian experience of faith nor thoughtful reflection. Literature is full of examples in which writers influenced by the Christian tradition react against such justifications. One example can be found in the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky's treatment of the suffering of children in The Brothers Karamazov.

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant set the terms for much modern reflection on God's existence when he challenged the grounds of most previous efforts to prove it. Kant contended that it was finally impossible for the human intellect to achieve insights into the realm of the transcendent. Even as he was arguing this, modern science was shifting from grounds that presumed the nature of God and God's universe to autonomous views of nature that were grounded only in experiment, skepticism, and research. During the 19th century, philosophers in Kantian and scientific traditions despaired of the attempt to prove the existence of God.

During the same period some Western intellectuals turned against the very idea of God. One strand of Hegelian thinkers, typified by the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, attempted to unmask the idea of religion as illusion. To Feuerbach, faith was an ideology designed to help humans delude themselves. The idea of dialectical materialism, in which the concept of "spirit" was dropped by thinkers such as Karl Marx, developed in this tradition. It also characterized religion as "bad faith" or "the opiate of the people," designed to seduce them from efforts to build a good society through the hope of rewards in a life to come.

At the same time, at first chiefly in Britain, scientific thinkers in the tradition of Charles Darwin hypothesized that evolutionary processes denied all biblical concepts of divine creation. Some dialectical materialists incorporated Darwinian theories in a frontal attack on the Christian worldview. Some Christians contended that this was a perversion of evolution, since certain Christian teachings on divine creation, such as creatio continua ("continuing creation"), were both biblical and compatible with evolutionary theory. At the turn of the 20th century, some thinkers in both Britain and the United States optimistically reworked their doctrine of God in congruence with evolutionary thought. (see also Index: Darwinism)

vi) Modern views of God.

If 18th- and 19th-century rationalism and scientific attacks on the idea of God were often called "the first Enlightenment" or "the first illumination," in the 20th century a set of trends appeared that represented, to a broader public, a "second illumination." This included a rescue of the idea of God, even if it was not always compatible with previous Christian interpretations. Notable scientists of the 20th century, such as Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Max Born, and others, have on occasion, and against the testimony of the majority of their colleagues, allowed for an idea of God or religion in their concepts of life, the universe, and human beings. (see also Index: science)

Corresponding to recognition of the idea of God by some leading scientific thinkers, there has been a new surge of experience of God noticeable in the different revival movements in the churches of Asia and Africa, as well as in America and Eurasia--in the midst of people either de-Christianized or attached to a purely conventional "cultural Christianity."

When the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche prophesied what he called "the death of God," many Christian thinkers agreed that a certain set of culturally conditioned and dogmatic concepts of God were inaccessible, implausible, and dying out. Some of these apologists argued that such a "death of God" was salutary, because it made room for a "God beyond the gods" of argument, or a "greater God." The French Jesuit thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin for a time attracted a large following as he set out to graft the theory of evolution onto "greater God" proclamations.

Certainly new understandings of physics, astronomy, and cosmology made it more difficult to defend pictures of God based upon notions of a small and young universe. The public grasped the change as it received images of a small Earth transmitted from space by Soviet and U.S. astronauts. Yet space exploration also inspired the imagination and led Christian thinkers who had positive views of science to use the occasion to enlarge the understanding of God and relate it to the Christian system.

vii) The view that God is not solitary.

The leaders of an 18th-century movement called Deism saw God as impersonal and unempathic--a principle of order and agent of responsibility not personal or addressable as the Christian God had been. Deism contributed to some intellectualizations of the idea of God, approaches that had sometimes appeared in the more sterile forms of medieval Scholasticism. God appeared to have been withdrawn from creation, which was pictured as a world machine; this God, at best, observed its running but never interfered.

According to the original Christian understanding of God of the early church, the Middle Ages, and the Reformers, God neither is solitary nor wishes to be alone. Instead, God is encircled with a boundless realm of angels, created in the divine image. They surround God in freely expressed love and devotion. They appear in a graduated, individuated hierarchy. These ranks of angels offer God their praise, and they appear active in the universe as messengers and executors of the divine will. From the beginning God appears as the ruler and centre in this divinely fashioned realm, and the first created of this realm are the angels. The church of the angels is the upper church; the earthly church joins with them in the "cherubic hymn," the Trisagion ("Holy, Holy, Holy"), at the epiphany of the Lord and the angelic choirs surrounding him in the Eucharist. The earthly church is thus viewed as a participant--co-liturgist--in the angelic liturgy. Because the angels are created as free spiritual beings in accordance with the image of God, the first fall takes place in their midst--the first misuse of freedom was in the rebellion of the highest prince of the angels, Lucifer ("Light-bearer"), against God.

According to the view of the Fathers of the early church, teachers of the Middle Ages, and the Reformers, humans are only the second-created. The creation of human beings serves to refill the Kingdom of God with new spiritual creatures who are capable of offering to God the free love that the rebellious angels have refused to continue. In the realm of the first-created creatures, there already commences the problem of evil, which appears immediately in the freedom or misuse of freedom.

viii) Satan and the origin of evil.

In the Old and New Testaments, Satan (the devil) appears as the representative of evil. The philosophy and theology of the Enlightenment endeavoured to push the figure of the devil out of Christian consciousness as being a product of the mythological fantasy of the Middle Ages. It is precisely in this figure, however, that some aspects of the ways God deals with evil are especially evident. The devil first appears as an independent figure alongside God in the course of the Old Testament history of religion. In the Old Testament evil is still brought into a direct relationship with God; even evil, insofar as it has power and life, is effected by God: "I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe, I am the Lord, who do all these things" (Isaiah 45:7). (see also Index: good and evil)

Satan gives expression to the demonic side of the divine wrath. In the Book of Job he appears as the partner of God, who on behalf of God puts the righteous one to the test. Only in postbiblical Judaism does the devil become the adversary of God, the prince of angels, who, created by God and placed at the head of the angelic hosts, entices some of the angels into revolt against God. In punishment for his rebellion he is cast from heaven together with his mutinous entourage, which were transformed into demons. As ruler over the fallen angels he henceforth continues the struggle against the Kingdom of God in three ways: he seeks to seduce man into sin; he tries to disrupt God's plan for salvation; and he appears before God as slanderer and accuser of the saints, so as to reduce the number of those chosen for the Kingdom of God. (see also Index: Job, The Book of)

Thus, Satan has a threefold function: he is a creature of God, who has his being and essence from God; he is the partner of God in the drama of the history of salvation; and he is the rival of God, who fights against God's plan of salvation. Through the influence of the dualistic thinking of Zoroastrian religion during the Babylonian Exile (586-538 BC) in Persia, Satan took on features of a countergod in late Judaism. In the writings of the Qumran sects (who preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls), Belial, the "angel of darkness" and the "spirit of wickedness," appears as the adversary of the "prince of luminaries" and the "spirit of truth." The conclusion of the history of salvation is the eschatological battle of the prince of luminaries against Belial, which ends with judgment upon him, his angels, and people subject to him and ushers in the cessation of "worry, groaning, and wickedness" and the beginning of the rule of "truth."

In the New Testament the features of an anti-godly power are clearly prominent in the figures of the devil, Satan, Belial, and Beelzebub--the "enemy." He is the accuser, the evil one, the tempter, the old snake, the great dragon, the prince of this world, and the god of this world, who seeks to hinder the establishment of God's dominion through the life and suffering of Jesus Christ. Satan offers to give to Christ the riches of this world if Christ will acknowledge him as supreme lord. Thus, he is the real antagonist of the Messiah-Son of man, Christ, who is sent by God into the world to destroy the works of Satan.

He is lacking, however, the possibility of incarnation: he is left to rob others in order to procure for himself the appearance of personality and corporeality. As opposed to philanthropia, the love of man of Christ, who presents himself as an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of mankind out of love for it, Satan appears among early church teachers, such as Basil of Caesarea in the 4th century, as the misanthropos, the hater of humanity; vis-à-vis the bringer of heavenly beauty, he is the hater of beauty, the misokalos. With Gnosticism, dualistic features also penetrated the Christian sphere of intuitive vision. In the Letter of Barnabas (early 2nd century) Satan appeared as "the Black One"; according to the 2nd-century apologist Athenagoras he is "the one entrusted with the administration of matter and its forms of appearance," "the spirit hovering above matter." Under the influence of Gnosticism and Manichaeism (a syncretistic religion founded by Mani, a 3rd-century Persian prophet), there also followed--based on their dualistic aspects--the demonization of the entire realm of the sexual. This appears as the special temptational sphere of the devil; in sexual activity, the role of the instrument of diabolic enticement devolves upon woman. Manichaeistic and Gnostic tendencies remained as a permanent undercurrent in the church and determined, to a great extent, the understanding of sin and redemption. Satan remained the prototype of sin as the rebel who does not come to terms with fulfilling his godlikeness in love to his original image and Creator but instead desires equality with God and places love of self over love of God. (see also Index: sexuality)

Among the Fathers of the early church, the idea of Satan as the antagonist of Christ led to a mythical interpretation of the incarnation and disguise in the "form of a servant." Through this disguise the Son of God makes his heavenly origin unrecognizable to Satan. In some graphic, and almost comic, medieval depictions Christ appears as the "bait" cast before Satan, after which Satan grasps because he believes Christ to be an ordinary human being subject to his power. In the Middle Ages a further feature was added: the understanding of the devil as the "ape of God," who attempts to imitate God through spurious, malicious creations that he interpolates for, or opposes to, the divine creations.

In church history, the eras of the awakening of a new consciousness of sin are identical with those of a newly awakened sense for the presence of "evil"--as was the case with Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley. In the Christian historical consciousness the figure of Satan plays an important role, not least of all through the influence of the Revelation to John. The history of salvation is understood as the history of a continuous struggle between God and the demonic antagonist, who with constantly new means tries to thwart God's plan of salvation. The idea of the "stratagems of Satan," as developed by a 16th-century fortress engineer, Giacomo Aconcio, had its roots here: the history of the world is a constant attempt of Satan to disrupt the salvation events of God through ever new counter-events. This altercation constitutes the religious background of the drama of world history. Characteristic here is the impetus of acceleration already indicated in Revelation: blow and counterblow in the struggle taking place between God and Satan follow in ever shorter intervals; for the devil "knows that his time is short" (Revelation 12:12), and his power in heaven has already been laid low. On Earth the possibility of his efficacy is likewise limited by the return of the Lord. Hence, his attacks upon the elect of the Kingdom so increase in the last times that God is moved to curtail the days of the final affliction, for "if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved" (Matthew 24:22). Many of these features are retained in the philosophy of religion of German Idealism as well as in Russian philosophy of religion. According to the 20th-century Russian philosopher Nikolay Berdyayev, like the Germans Friedrich Schelling and Franz von Baader before him, the devil has no true personality and no genuine reality and, instead, is filled with an insatiable "hunger for reality," which he can attain by stealing reality from the people of whom he takes possession. Since the Enlightenment, Christian theologians who found the mythical pictures of Satan to be irrelevant, distorting, or confusing in Christian thought and experience have set out to demythologize this figure. Apologists such as the British literary figure C.S. Lewis and the Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov, however, have written cautionary words. They conceive that it would represent the devil's most cunning attempt at self-camouflage to be demythologized and that camouflage would be a certain new proof of his existence.

Christianity

3) GOD THE SON

Dogmatic teachings about the figure of Jesus Christ go back to the spontaneous faith experiences of the original church. The faithful of the early church experienced and recognized the incarnate and resurrected Son of God in the person of Jesus. The disciples' testimony served as confirmation for them that Jesus really is the exalted Lord and Son of God, who sits at the right hand of the Father and will return in glory to consummate the Kingdom.

i) Different interpretations of the person of Jesus.

From the beginning of the church different interpretations of the person of Jesus have existed alongside one another. The Gospel According to Mark, for example, understands Jesus as the man upon whom the Holy Spirit descends at the baptism in the Jordan and who is declared the Son of God through the voice of God from the clouds. Two schools of thought developed--one associated with Antioch in Syria and the other with Alexandria in Egypt. Attempts at Christology that derive from the theological school of Antioch have followed one line of interpretation: they proceed from the humanity of Jesus and view his divinity in his consciousness of God, founded in the divine mission that was imposed upon him by God through the infusion of the Holy Spirit.

Another view was adopted by the catechetical school of Alexandrian theology. This view is expressed by the Gospel According to John, which regards the figure of Jesus Christ as the divine Logos become flesh. Here, the divinity of the person of Jesus is understood not as the endowment of the man Jesus with a divine power but rather as the result of the descent of the divine Logos--a preexistent heavenly being--into the world: the Logos taking on a human body of flesh so as to be realized in history. Thus it was that the struggle to understand the figures of Jesus Christ created a rivalry between the theologies of Antioch and Alexandria. Both schools had a wide sphere of influence, not only among the contemporary clergy but also in monasticism and among the laity. Characteristically, Nestorianism (a heresy founded in the 5th century), with its strong emphasis upon the human aspects of Jesus Christ, arose from the Antiochene school, whereas Monophysitism (a heresy founded in the 5th century), with its one-sided stress upon the divine nature of Christ, emerged from the Alexandrian school of theology.

ii) The Christological controversies.

New intermediate solutions for resolving the Christological problem constantly were proposed between the two extreme positions of Antioch and Alexandria. As in the area of the doctrine of the Trinity, the general development of Christology has been characterized by a plurality of views and formulations. Also, the creeds of the major churches have by no means agreed with each other word for word. After Constantine, the great ecumenical synods occupied themselves essentially with the task of creating uniform formulations binding upon the entire imperial church.

Even the Christological formulas, however, do not claim to offer a rational, conceptual clarification; instead, they emphasize clearly three contentions in the mystery of the sonship of God. These are: first, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is completely God, that in reality "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" in him (Colossians 2:9); second, that he is completely human; and third, that these two "natures" do not exist beside one another in an unconnected way but, rather, are joined in him in a personal unity. Once again, the Neoplatonic metaphysics of substance offered the categories so as to settle conceptually these various theological concerns. Thus, the idea of the unity of essence (homoousia) of the divine Logos with God the Father assured the complete divinity of Jesus Christ, and the mystery of the person of Jesus Christ could be grasped in a complex but decisive formula: two natures in one person. The concept of person, taken from Roman law, served to join the fully divine and fully human natures of Christ into an individual unity. Christology is not the product of abstract, logical operations but instead originates in the liturgical and charismatic sphere wherein Christians engage in prayer, meditation, and asceticism. Not being derived primarily from abstract teaching, it rather changes within the liturgy in new forms and in countless hymns of worship--as in the words of the Easter liturgy:

The king of the heavens appeared on earth out of kindness to man and it was with men that he associated. For he took his flesh from a pure virgin and he came forth from her, in that he accepted it. One is the Son, two-fold in essence, but not in person. Therefore in announcing him as in truth perfect God and perfect man, we confess Christ our God.

Christianity

iii) Messianic views.

Faith in Jesus Christ is related in the closest way to faith in the Kingdom of God, the coming of which he proclaimed and introduced. Christian eschatological expectations, for their part, were joined with the messianic promises, which underwent a decisive transformation and differentiation in late Judaism, especially in the two centuries just before the appearance of Jesus. Two basic types can be distinguished as influencing the messianic self-understanding of Jesus as well as the faith of his disciples.

The old Jewish view of the fulfillment of the history of salvation was guided by the idea that at the end of the history of the Jewish people the Messiah will come from the house of David and establish the Kingdom of God--an earthly kingdom in which the Anointed of the Lord will gather the tribes of the chosen people and from Jerusalem will establish a world kingdom of peace. Accordingly, the expectation of the Kingdom had an explicitly inner-worldly character. The expectation of an earthly Messiah as the founder of a Jewish kingdom became the strongest impulse for political revolutions, primarily against Hellenistic and Roman dominion. The period preceding the appearance of Jesus was filled with continuous new messianic uprisings in which new messianic personalities appeared and claimed for themselves and their struggles for liberation the miraculous powers of the Kingdom of God. Especially in Galilee, guerrilla groups were formed in which hope for a better future blazed all the more fiercely, because the present was so unpromising. Jesus disappointed the political expectations of these popular circles; he did not let himself be made a political Messiah. Conversely, it was his opponents who used the political misinterpretation of his person to destroy him. Jesus was condemned and executed by the responsible Roman authorities as a Jewish rioter who rebelled against Roman sovereignty. The inscription on the cross, "Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews," cited the motif of political insurrection of a Jewish messianic king against the Roman government as the official reason for his condemnation and execution.

Alongside this political type of messianic expectation there was a second form of eschatological expectation. Its supporters were the pious groups in the country, the Essenes and the Qumran community on the Dead Sea. Their yearning was directed not toward an earthly Messiah but toward a heavenly anointed one, who would bring not an earthly but a heavenly kingdom. Fulfillment lay not in the old world but in the future, coming world, for which the main thing was to prepare oneself through repentance. These pious ones wanted to know nothing of sword and struggle, uprising and rebellion. They believed that the wondrous power of God alone would create the new time. The birth of a new eon would be preceded by intense messianic woes and a frightful judgment upon the godless, the pagan peoples, and Satan with his demonic powers. The Messiah would come not as an earthly king from the house of David but as a heavenly figure, as the Son of God, a heavenly being of the ages, who would descend into the world of the Evil One and there gather his own to lead them back into the realm of light. He would take up dominion of the world and, after overcoming all earthly and supernatural demonic powers, lay the entire cosmos at the feet of God.

A second new feature, anticipation of the Resurrection, was coupled with this transcending of the old expectation. According to the old Jewish eschatological expectation, the beneficiaries of the divine development of the world would be only the members of the last generation of humanity who were fortunate enough to experience the arrival of the Messiah upon Earth; all earlier generations would be consumed with the longing for fulfillment but would die without experiencing it. Ancient Judaism knew no hope of resurrection. In connection with the transcending of the expectation of the Kingdom of God, however, even anticipations of resurrection voiced earlier by Zoroastrianism were achieved: the Kingdom of God was to include within itself in the state of resurrection all the faithful of every generation of humanity. Even the faithful of the earlier generations would find in resurrection the realization of their faith. In the new eon the Messiah-Son of man would rule over the resurrected faithful of all times and all peoples. A characteristic breaking free of the eschatological expectation was thereby presented. It no longer referred exclusively to the Jews alone; with its transcendence a universalistic feature entered into it.

Jesus--in contrast to John the Baptist (a preacher of repentance who pointed to the coming bringer of the Kingdom)--knew himself to be the one who brought fulfillment of the Kingdom itself, because the wondrous powers of the Kingdom of God were already at work in him. He proclaimed the glad news that the long promised Kingdom was already dawning, that the consummation was here. This is what was new: the promised Kingdom, supra-worldly, of the future, the coming new eon, already reached redeemingly into the this-worldly from its beyond-ness, as a charismatic reality that brought people together in a new community.

Jesus did not simply transfer to himself the promise of heavenly Son of man, as it was articulated in the apocryphal First Book of Enoch. Instead, he gave this expectation of the Son of man an entirely new interpretation. Pious Jewish circles, such as the Enoch community and other pietist groups, expected in the coming Son of man a figure of light from on high, a heavenly conquering hero, with all the marks of divine power and glory. Jesus, however, linked expectations of the Son of man with the figure of the suffering servant of God (as in Isaiah, chapter 53). He would return in glory as the consummator of the Kingdom. This self-understanding of Jesus was compatible with Christologies derived from the concept of the divine Logos.

iv) The doctrine of the Virgin Mary and holy Wisdom.

The dogma of the Virgin Mary as the "mother of God" and "bearer of God" is connected in the closest way with the dogma of the incarnation of the divine Logos. The theoretical formation of doctrine did not bring the cult of the mother of God along in its train; instead, the doctrine only reflected the unusually great role that the veneration of the mother of God already had taken on at an early date in the liturgy and in the church piety of Orthodox faithful.

The expansion of the veneration of the Virgin Mary as the bearer of God (Theotokos) and the formation of the corresponding dogma is one of the most astonishing occurrences in the history of the early church. The New Testament offers only scanty points of departure for this development. Mary completely recedes behind the figure of Jesus Christ, who stands in the centre of all four Gospels. From the Gospels themselves it can be recognized that Jesus' development into the preacher of the Kingdom of God took place in sharp opposition to his family, who were so little convinced of his mission that they held him to be insane (Mark 3:21). Accordingly, all the Gospels stress the fact that Jesus separated himself from his family. Even the Gospel According to John still preserved traces of Jesus' tense relationship with his mother. Mary appears twice without being called by name the mother of Jesus; and Jesus himself regularly withholds from her the designation of mother. The saying, "Woman, what have you to do with me?" (John 2:4), is indeed the strongest expression of a conscious distancing.

Nevertheless, with the conception of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, a tendency developed early in the church to grant to the mother of the Son of God a special place within the church. This development was sketched quite hesitantly in the New Testament. Only the prehistories in Matthew and Luke mention the virgin birth, which, however, cannot be simply coordinated or reconciled with the statements of the preceding genealogical tables. On these scanty presuppositions the later cult of the mother of God was developed. The view of the virgin birth entered into the creed of all Christianity and became one of the strongest religious impulses in the development of the dogma, liturgy, and ecclesiastical piety of the early church.

Veneration of the mother of God received its impetus when the Christian Church became the imperial church under Constantine and the pagan masses came under Christian influences and became members of the church. The peoples of the Mediterranean area and the Middle East could not make themselves conversant with the absolute power of God the Father and with the strict patriarchalism of the Jewish idea of God, which the original Christian message had taken over. Their piety and religious consciousness had been formed for millennia through the cult of the "great mother" goddess and the "divine virgin," a development that led all the way from the old popular religions of Babylonia and Assyria to the mystery cults of the late Hellenistic period. Despite the unfavourable presuppositions in the tradition of the Gospels, cultic veneration of the divine virgin and mother found within the Christian Church a new possibility of expression in the worship of Mary as the virgin mother of God, in whom was achieved the mysterious union of the divine Logos with human nature. The spontaneous impulse of popular piety, which pushed in this direction, moved far in advance of the practice and doctrine of the church. In Egypt, Mary was, at an early point, already worshiped under the title of Theotokos--an expression that Origen used in the 3rd century. The Council of Ephesus (431) raised this designation to a dogmatic standard. To the latter, the second Council of Constantinople (553) added the title "eternal Virgin." In the prayers and hymns of the Orthodox Church the name of the mother of God is invoked as often as is the name of Christ and the Holy Trinity. (see also Index: Great Mother of the Gods)

The doctrine of the heavenly Wisdom (Sophia) represents an Eastern Church particularity. In late Judaism, speculations about the heavenly Wisdom--a heavenly figure beside God that presents itself to humanity as mediator in the work of creation as well as mediator of the knowledge of God--abounded. In Roman Catholic doctrine, Mary, the mother of God, was identified with the figure of the divine Wisdom. To borrow a term used in Christology to describe Jesus as being of the same substance (hypostasis) as the Father, Mary was seen as possessing a divine hypostasis.

This process of treating Mary and the heavenly Wisdom alike did not take place in the realm of the Eastern Orthodox Church. For all its veneration of the mother of God, the Eastern Orthodox Church never forgot that the root of this veneration lay in the incarnation of the divine Logos that took place through her. Accordingly, in the tradition of Orthodox theology, a specific doctrine of the heavenly Wisdom, Sophianism, is found alongside the doctrine of the mother of God. This distinction between the mother of God and the heavenly Sophia in 20th-century Russian philosophy of religion (in the works of Vladimir Solovyov, Pavel Florensky, W.N. Iljin, and Sergey Bulgakov) developed a special Sophianism. Sophianism did, however, evoke the opposition of Orthodox academic theology. The numerous great churches of Hagia Sophia, foremost among them the cathedral by that name in Constantinople (Istanbul), are consecrated to this figure of the heavenly Wisdom.

4) GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT

i) Contradictory aspects of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit of God becomes one of the most elusive and difficult themes in Christian theology, because it refers to one of the three Persons in the Godhead but does not evoke concrete images the way "Father" or "Creator" and "Son" or "Redeemer" do. Reference to the Holy Spirit includes the true creative element in the life of the church. It works in an apparently contradictory sense: by virtue of its authority, the Holy Spirit establishes law and breaks law, it institutes order and breaks order, it founds tradition and breaks tradition. It is the conservative as well as the revolutionary principle in church history. It guarantees the continuity of the church and yet it interrupts this continuity ever again through new creations. Both sides of this activity stand in a characteristic relationship of tension to one another.

The essence of the expression of the Holy Spirit is free spontaneity. The Spirit blows like the wind, "where it wills," but where it blows it establishes a firm norm by virtue of its divine authority. The spirit of prophecy and the spirit of knowledge (gnosis) are not subject to the will of the prophet and the enlightened one; revelation of the Spirit in the prophetic word or in the word of knowledge becomes Holy Scripture, which as "divinely breathed" "cannot be broken" and lays claim to a lasting validity for the church.

The Spirit, which is expressed in the various officeholders of the church, likewise founds the authority of ecclesiastical offices. The laying on of hands, as a sign of the transference of the Holy Spirit from one person to another, is a characteristic ritual that visibly represents and guarantees the continuity of the working of the Spirit in the officeholders chosen by the Apostles; it becomes the sacramental sign of the succession of the full power of spiritual authority of bishops and priests. The Holy Spirit also creates the sacraments and guarantees the constancy of their action in the church. All the expressions of church life--doctrine, office, polity, sacraments, power to loosen and to bind, and prayer--are understood as endowed by the Spirit.

The same Holy Spirit, however, also comes forth as the revolutionizing, freshly creating principle in church history. All the decisive reformational movements in church history, which broke with old institutions, have appealed to the authority of the Holy Spirit. This is probably the main reason that in the history of church dogma the article of the Holy Spirit has been developed only hesitantly and incompletely in comparison with the Christological article. A characteristic view of the Holy Spirit is sketched out in the Gospel According to John: the outpouring of the Holy Spirit takes place only after the Ascension of Christ; it is the beginning of a new time of salvation, in which the Holy Spirit is sent as the Paraclete (Counsellor) to the church remaining behind in this world. The ecstatic phenomena, which are prominent in the church at Pentecost, are understood as fulfillment of this promise. With this event (Pentecost) the church entered into the period of the Holy Spirit. After a process of institutionalization in the church, opposition against it--through appeal to the Holy Spirit--became noticeable for the first time in Montanism, in the mid-2nd century. Montanus, a Phrygian prophet and charismatic leader, understood himself and the prophetic movement sustained by him as the fulfillment of the promise of the coming of the Paraclete. In the 13th century a spiritualistic countermovement against the feudalized institutional church gained attention anew in Joachim of Fiore, who understood the history of salvation in terms of a continuing self-realization of the divine Trinity in the three times of salvation: (1) the time of the Father, (2) the time of the Son, and (3) the time of the Holy Spirit. He promised the speedy beginning of the period of the Holy Spirit, in which the institutional papal church, with its sacraments and its revelation hardened in the letter of scripture, would be replaced by a community of charismatic figures, filled with the Spirit, and by the time of "spiritual knowledge." This promise became the spiritual stimulus of a series of revolutionary movements within the medieval church--e.g., the reform movement of the radical Franciscan spirituals and the Hussite reform movement led by Jan Hus in 15th-century Bohemia. Their effects extend to a 16th-century radical reformer, Thomas Müntzer, who substantiated his revolution against the princes and clerical hierarchs with a new outpouring of the Spirit. Quakerism represents the most radical mode of rejection--carried out in the name of the freedom of the Holy Spirit--of all institutional forms, which are regarded as shackles and prisons of the Holy Spirit. In the 20th century a revival of charismatic forms of Christianity, called Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement, centred on the recovery of the experience of the Holy Spirit and necessitated some fresh theological inquiry about the subject.

ii) Conflict between order and charismatic freedom.

As the fundamentally uncontrollable principle of life in the church, the Holy Spirit considerably upset Christian congregations from the very outset. Paul struggled to restrict the anarchist elements, which are connected with the appearance of free charismata (spiritual phenomena), and, over against these, to achieve a firm order in the church. Paul at times attempted to control and even repress charismatic activities, which he seemed to regard as irrational or prerational and thus potentially disruptive of fellowship. Among these were glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, a form of unrepressed speech. Paul preferred rational discourse in sermons. He also felt that spontaneity threatened the focus of worship. This tendency led to an emphasis on ecclesiastical offices with their limited authority vis-à-vis the uncontrolled appearance of free charismatic figures.

The conflict between church leadership resident in the locality and the appearance of free charismatic figures in the form of itinerant preachers forms the main motif of the oldest efforts for a church order. This difficulty became evident in the Didache, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (early 2nd century). The authority of the Holy Spirit, in whose name the free charismatic figures speak, does not allow its instructions and prophecies to be criticized in terms of contents; its evaluation had to be made dependent upon purely ethical qualifications. This tension ended, in practical terms, with the exclusion of the free charismatic figures from the leadership of the church. The charismatic continuation of the revelation, in the form of new scriptures of revelation, was also checked. In the long historical process during which the Christian biblical canon took shape, Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria, in his 39th Easter letter (367), selected the number of writings--of apostolic origin--that he considered "canonical." Revelation in the form of Holy Scriptures binding for the Christian faith was thereby considered definitively concluded. The canon, henceforth fixed, can no longer be changed, abridged, or supplemented.

In a similar way, individual charismatic offices become institutionalized. A lower degree of consecration--a first stage for priestly ordination--still holds for the exorcist, the ritual figure who drives the devil from the possessed or those who are to be baptized. The teacher (didaskalos) also becomes institutionalized. In the Roman Church, only ordained priests are permitted to be church teachers--in contrast to the Eastern Orthodox Church, which until the 20th century did not require ecclesiastical ordination of a professor of theology. (see also Index: exorcism )

The article about the Holy Spirit in the church creeds reflects little of these struggles. It suppresses the revolutionary principle of the Holy Spirit. Neither the so-called Apostles' Creed nor the Nicene Creed goes beyond establishment of faith in the Holy Spirit and its participation in the incarnation. In the Nicene Creed it is further emphasized that the Holy Spirit is the life-creating power--i.e., the power both of creation and of rebirth--and that the Spirit has already spoken in the prophets.

The emergence of Trinitarian speculations in early church theology led to great difficulties in the article about the "person" of the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit tended to be present more as power than as person, though there was distinctive personal representation in the form of the dove at Jesus' baptism. But it was difficult to incorporate this graphic or symbolic representation into dogmatic theology. Nevertheless, with Athanasius the idea of the complete essence (homoousia) of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son was achieved. This was in opposition to all earlier attempts to subordinate the Holy Spirit to the Son and to the Father and to interpret the Spirit--similarly to anti-Trinitarian Christology--as a prince of the angels. According to Athanasius, the Holy Spirit alone guarantees the complete redemption of humanity: "through participation in the Holy Spirit we partake of the divine nature." In his work De Trinitate, Augustine undertook to render the essence of the Trinity understandable in terms of the Trinitarian structure of the human person: the Holy Spirit appears as the Spirit of love, which joins Father and Son and draws people into this communion of love. In Eastern Church theological thought, however, the Holy Spirit and the Son both proceed from the Father. In the West, the divine Trinity is determined more by the idea of the inner Trinitarian life in God; thus, the notion was carried through that the Holy Spirit goes forth from the Father and from the Son. Despite all the efforts of speculative theology, a graphic conception of the person of the Holy Spirit was not developed even later in the consciousness of the church.

iii) The operations of the Holy Spirit.

For the Christian faith, the Holy Spirit is clearly recognizable in charismatic figures (the saints), in whom the gifts of grace (charismata) of the Holy Spirit are expressed in different forms: reformers and other charismatic figures. The prophet, for instance, belongs to these charismatic types. The history of the church knows a continuous series of prophetic types, which reaches from New Testament prophets, such as Agabus (in Acts 11:28), through the 12th-century monk Bernard of Clairvaux to such Reformers as Luther and Calvin. Christoph Kotter and Nicolaus Drabicius--prophets of the Thirty Years' War period--were highly praised by the 17th-century Moravian bishop John Amos Comenius. Other prophets have existed in Pietism, Puritanism, and the Anglo-Saxon Free churches.

Prophetic women are especially numerous. In church history they begin with Anna (in Luke 2:36) and the prophetic daughters of the apostle Philip. Others are: Hildegard von Bingen, St. Bridget of Sweden, Joan of Arc, and the prophetic women of the Reformation period. In the modern world numbers of pioneers in the "holiness" and Pentecostal traditions were women, and women's gifts of prophecy have sometimes been cherished among Pentecostalists when they were overlooked or disdained by much of the rest of Christianity.

A further type of charismatic person is the healer, who functioned in the early church as an exorcist but who also emerged as a charismatic type in healing personalities of more recent church history (e.g., Vincent de Paul in the 17th century). Equally significant is the curer-of-souls type, who exercises the gift of "distinguishing between spirits" in daily association with people. This gift is found especially emphasized among many of the great saints of all times. In the 19th century it particularly stands out in Johann Christoph Blumhardt, in Protestantism, and in Jean-Baptiste Vianney, the curé of Ars, in Roman Catholicism.

The charismatic wanderer type, who leads a roving life in imitation of Jesus Christ, who "has nowhere to lay his head," was molded through the ideal of "ascetic homelessness." The latter drove Scots-Irish monks, for example, not only through all of Europe but also to the remotest islands of the northern seas and as far as Iceland and Newfoundland. This ideal is still alive today in the Eastern Orthodox Church in the form of the strannik ("wanderer"). The "holy fool" type conceals a radical Christianity under the mask of foolishness and holds the truth of the gospel, in the disguise of folly, before the eyes of highly placed personalities: the worldly and the princes of the church who do not brook unmasked truth. This type, which frequently appeared in the Byzantine Church, has been represented especially in Western Christianity by Philip Neri, the founder of the religious order known as the Oratorians, in the 16th century.

The charismatic teacher (didaskalos), on the other hand, still appears. Filled with the spirit of intelligence or knowledge of the Holy Spirit, he carries out his teaching office, which does not necessarily need to be attached to an academic position. Many Free Church and ecclesiastical reform movements owe their genesis to such spirit-filled teachers, who are often decried as anomalous. The deacon likewise is originally the holder of a charismatic office of selfless service. Christian service, or diakonia, was not confined to Christian offices. Some of the energies that once went into it are now found in social service outside the church. Many of the agents of such service were originally or still may be inspired by Christian norms and examples in the care of the sick and the socially outcast or overlooked. Alongside such men as the Pietist August Hermann Francke, the Methodist John Wesley, Johann Wichern (the founder of the Inner Mission in Germany), and Friederich von Bodelschwingh (the founder of charitable institutions), important women have appeared as bearers of this charisma (e.g., the English nurse Florence Nightingale and the Salvation Army leader Catherine Booth).

The Holy Spirit that "blows where it wills" has often been recognized as the impulse behind an enlargement of roles for women in the church. However limited these have been, they enlarged upon those that Christians inherited from Judaism. Partitions had screened women in a special left-hand section of the synagogue. While the pace of innovation was irregular, in the ecstatic worship services of the Christian congregations women tended to participate in speaking in tongues, hymns, prayer calls, or even prophecies. Evidently, this innovation in the face of the strict synagogal custom was held admissible on the basis of the authority of the Holy Spirit: "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Inasmuch as the appearance of charismatic women upset traditional concepts, however, Paul, acting on any number of personal and social motivations, reverted to the synagogal principle and inhibited the speaking role of women: "the women should keep silence in the churches." (1 Corinthians 14:34).

Because expressions of free charisma were increasingly suppressed in the institutional churches, the emergence of Pentecostal movements outside the institutional churches and partly in open opposition to them arose. This movement led to the founding of various Pentecostal Free churches at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th; today, it is represented through numerous independent Pentecostal groups, such as the Church of God and the Assemblies of God. At first scorned by the established churches and devalued as "demonic," the Pentecostal movement has grown to a world movement with strong missionary activity not only in Africa and South America but also in the European countries. In the United States, a strong influence of the Pentecostal movement--which has returned high esteem to the proto-Christian charismata of speaking in tongues, healing, and exorcism--is noticeable in the older churches as well, even in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican. This has occurred especially in liturgy and church music but also in preaching style and the return to faith healing. (see also Index: Pentecostalism)

5) THE HOLY TRINITY

i) The basis for the doctrine of the Trinity.

The central Christian affirmations about God are condensed and focused in the classic doctrine of the Trinity, which has its ultimate foundation in the special religious experience of the Christians in the first communities. This basis of experience is older than the doctrine of the Trinity. It consisted of the fact that God came to meet Christians in a threefold figure: (1) as Creator, Lord of the history of salvation, Father, and Judge, as revealed in the Old Testament; (2) as the Lord who, in the figure of Jesus Christ, lived among human beings and was present in their midst as the "Resurrected One"; and (3) as the Holy Spirit, whom they experienced as the power of the new life, the miraculous potency of the Kingdom of God. The question as to how to reconcile the encounter with God in this threefold figure with faith in the oneness of God, which was the Jews' and Christians' characteristic mark of distinction from paganism, agitated the piety of ancient Christendom in the deepest way. In the course of history, it also provided the strongest impetus for a speculative theology, which inspired Western metaphysics for many centuries. In the first two centuries of the Christian Era, however, a series of different answers to this question stood in juxtaposition. At first none of the Christian theologians had considered them speculatively.

The diversity in interpretation of the Trinity was conditioned especially through the understanding of the figure of Jesus Christ. According to the theology of the Gospel According to John, the divinity of Jesus Christ constituted the departure point for understanding his person and efficacy. The Gospel According to Mark, however, did not proceed from a theology of incarnation but instead understood the baptism of Jesus Christ as the adoption of the man Jesus Christ into the Sonship of God, accomplished through the descent of the Holy Spirit. The situation became further aggravated by the conceptions of the special personal character of the manifestation of God developed by way of the historical figure of Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit was viewed not as a personal figure but rather as a power and appeared graphically only in the form of the dove and thus receded, to a large extent, in the Trinitarian speculation.

ii) Introduction of Neoplatonic themes.

In the Johannine literature in the Bible there appeared the first traces of the concept of Christ as the Logos, the "word" or "principle" that issues from eternity. Under the influence of subsequent Neoplatonic philosophy, this tradition became central in speculative theology. There was interest in the relationship of the "oneness" of God to the "triplicity" of divine manifestations. This question was answered through the Neoplatonic metaphysics of being. The transcendent God, who is beyond all being, all rationality, and all conceptuality, is divested of divine transcendence. In a first act of becoming self-conscious the Logos recognizes itself as the divine mind (Greek: nous), or divine world reason, which was characterized by the Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus as the "Son" who goes forth from the Father. The next step by which the transcendent God becomes self-conscious consists in the appearance in the divine nous of the divine world, the idea of the world in its individual forms as the content of the divine consciousness. In Neoplatonic philosophy both the nous and the idea of the world are designated the hypostases of the transcendent God. Christian theology took the Neoplatonic metaphysics of substance as well as its doctrine of hypostases as the departure point for interpreting the relationship of the "Father" to the "Son" in terms of the Neoplatonic hypostases doctrine. This process stands in direct relationship with a speculative interpretation of Christology in connection with Neoplatonic Logos speculation. (see also Index: Son of God)

The assumption of the Neoplatonic hypostases doctrine meant from the beginning a certain evaluation of the relationships of the three divine figures to one another, because for Neoplatonism the process of hypostatization is at the same time a process that includes a diminishing of being. Thus, in flowing forth from the transcendent source, the divine being is progressively weakened with the distance from the transcendent origin. Diminution of being, on these terms, is brought about through approach to matter, which for its part is understood in Neoplatonism as nonbeing. In transferring the Neoplatonic hypostases doctrine to the Christian interpretation of the Trinity there existed the danger that the different manifestations of God--as known by the Christian experience of faith: Father, Son, Holy Spirit--would be transformed into a hierarchy of gods graduated among themselves and thus into a polytheism. Though this danger was consciously avoided and, proceeding from a Logos Christology, the complete sameness of essence of the three manifestations of God was emphasized, there arose the danger of a relapse into a triplicity of equally ranked gods, which would displace the idea of the oneness of God.

iii) Attempts to define the Trinity.

By the 3rd century it was already apparent that all attempts to systematize the mystery of the divine Trinity with the theories of Neoplatonic hypostases metaphysics were unsatisfying and led to a constant series of new conflicts. The high point, upon which the basic difficulties underwent their most forceful theological and ecclesiastically political actualization, was the so-called Arian controversy. Arius belonged to the Antiochene school of theology, which placed strong emphasis upon the historicity of the man Jesus Christ. In his theological interpretation of the idea of God, Arius was interested in maintaining a formal understanding of the oneness of God. In defense of the oneness of God, he was obliged to dispute the sameness of essence of the Son and the Holy Spirit with God the Father, as stressed by the theologians of the Neoplatonically influenced Alexandrian school. From the outset, the controversy between both parties took place upon the common basis of the Neoplatonic concept of substance, which was foreign to the New Testament itself. It is no wonder that the continuation of the dispute on the basis of the metaphysics of substance likewise led to concepts that have no foundation in the New Testament--such as the question of the sameness of essence (homoousia) or similarity of essence (homoiousia) of the divine persons. (see also Index: Arianism)

The basic concern of Arius was and remained disputing the oneness of essence of the Son and the Holy Spirit with God the Father, in order to preserve the oneness of God. The Son, thus, became a "second God, under God the Father"--i.e., he is God only in a figurative sense, for he belongs on the side of the creatures, even if at their highest summit. Here Arius joined an older tradition of Christology, which had already played a role in Rome in the early 2nd century--namely, the so-called angel-Christology. The descent of the Son to Earth was understood as the descent to Earth of the highest prince of the angels, who became man in Jesus Christ; he is to some extent identified with the angel prince Michael. In the old angel-Christology the concern is already expressed to preserve the oneness of God, the inviolable distinguishing mark of the Jewish and Christian faiths over against all paganism. The Son is not himself God, but as the highest of the created spiritual beings he is moved as close as possible to God. Arius joined this tradition with the same aim--i.e., defending the idea of the oneness of the Christian concept of God against all reproaches that Christianity introduces a new, more sublime form of polytheism.

This attempt to save the oneness of God led, however, to an awkward consequence. For Jesus Christ, as the divine Logos become human, moves thereby to the side of the creatures--i.e., to the side of the created world that needs redemption. How, then, should such a Christ, himself a part of the creation, be able to achieve the redemption of the world? On the whole, the Christian Church rejected, as an unhappy attack upon the reality of redemption, such a formal attempt at saving the oneness of God as was undertaken by Arius.

The main speaker for church orthodoxy was Athanasius of Alexandria, for whom the point of departure was not a philosophical-speculative principle but rather the reality of redemption, the certainty of salvation. The redemption of humanity from sin and death is only then guaranteed if Christ is total God and total human being, if the complete essence of God penetrates human nature right into the deepest layer of its carnal corporeality. Only if God in the full meaning of divine essence became human in Jesus Christ is deification of man in terms of overcoming sin and death guaranteed as the resurrection of the flesh.

Augustine, of decisive importance for the Western development of the Trinitarian doctrine in theology and metaphysics, coupled the doctrine of the Trinity with anthropology. Proceeding from the idea that humans are created by God according to the divine image, he attempted to explain the mystery of the Trinity by uncovering traces of the Trinity in the human personality. He went from analysis of the Trinitarian structure of the simple act of cognition to ascertainment of the Trinitarian structure both of human self-consciousness and of the act of religious contemplation in which people recognize themselves as the image of God.

A second model of Trinitarian doctrine--suspected of heresy from the outset--which had effects not only in theology but also in the social metaphysics of the West as well, emanated from Joachim of Fiore. He understood the course of the history of salvation as the successive realization of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in three consecutive periods of salvation. This interpretation of the Trinity became effective as a "theology of revolution," inasmuch as it was regarded as the theological justification of the endeavour to accelerate the arrival of the third state of the Holy Spirit through revolutionary initiative.

The final dogmatic formulation of the Trinitarian doctrine in the so-called Athanasian Creed (c. 500), una substantia--tres personae ("one substance--three persons"), reached back to the formulation of Tertullian. In practical terms it meant a compromise in that it held fast to both basic ideas of Christian revelation--the oneness of God and divine self-revelation in the figures of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--without rationalizing the mystery itself. In the final analysis the point of view thereby remained definitive that the fundamental assumptions of the reality of salvation and redemption are to be retained and not sacrificed to the concern of a rational monotheism.

Characteristically, in all periods of the later history of Christendom in which a rationalistic philosophy was achieved and the history of salvation aspect of the Trinitarian question receded, anti-Trinitarian currents returned. Many, to some extent, consciously rejoined ties with Arius: the humanist Enlightenment of the 16th century and the so-called anti-Trinitarians of the Italian Renaissance. A direct connection exists between anti-Trinitarianism and 18th-century research into the life of Jesus. The oldest life of Jesus researchers in the 18th century, such as Hermann Reimarus and Karl Bahrdt, who portrayed Jesus as the agent of a secret enlightenment order that had set itself the goal of spreading the religion of reason in the world, were at the same time anti-Trinitarians and pioneers of the radical rationalistic criticism of dogma. The Kantian critique of the proofs of God contributed further to a devaluation of Trinitarian doctrine. In the philosophy of German Idealism, Hegel, in the framework of his attempt to raise Christian dogma into the sphere of the conceptual, took the Christian Trinitarian doctrine as the basis for his system of philosophy and, above all, for his interpretation of history as the absolute spirit's becoming self-conscious. In more recent theology, at least in the accusations of some of its critics, the school of dialectical theology in Europe and the United States tended to reduce the doctrine of the Trinity and supplant it with a monochristism. (see also Index: Unitarianism)

In a brief but well-publicized episode in the mid-1960s in the United States, a number of celebrated Protestant theologians engaged in cultural criticism observed or announced "the death of God." The theology of the death of God downplayed any notion of divine transcendence and invested its whole claim to be Christian in its accent on Jesus of Nazareth. Christian dogma was reinterpreted and reduced to norms of human sociality and freedom. Before long, however, the majority of theologians confronted this small school with the demands of classic Christian dogma, which insisted on confronting divine transcendence in any assertions about Jesus Christ.

The transcendence of God has been rediscovered by science and sociology; theology in the closing decades of the 20th century endeavoured to overcome the purely anthropological interpretation of religion and once more to discover anew its transcendent ground. Theology has consequently been confronted with the problem of Trinity in a new form, which, in view of the Christian experience of God as an experience of the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, cannot be eliminated. 

   

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