On God and Man.
The material in the following chapters was barrowed from different sources. It was reviewed, corrected and supplemented by Bishop Alexander (Mileant).
I. The Existence of God.
A. Place of the Doctrine of God. B. Scripture Proof for the Existence of God. C. Denial of the existence of God in its various forms. D. The So-called Rational Proofs for the Existence of God.
II. The Knowability of God.
A. God Incomprehensible but yet Knowabie. B. Denial of the Knowability of God. C. Self-revelation the Prerequisite of all Knowledge of God.
III. Relation of the Being and Attributes of God.
A. The Being of God. B. The Possibility of Knowing the Being of God. C. The Being of God Revealed in His Attributes.
IV. The Names of God.
A. The Names of God in General. B. The Old Testament Names and their Meaning. C. The New Testament Names and their Interpretation.
V. The Attributes of God in General.
A. Evaluation of the Terms Used. B. Method of determining the attributes of God. C. Suggested Divisions of the Attributes.
VI. The Incommunicable Attributes.
A. The Self-Existence of God. B. The Immutability of God. C. The Infinity of God. D. The Unity of God.
VII. The Communicable Attributes (God as a Personal Spirit).
The Spirituality of God. B. Intellectual Attributes. C. Moral Attributes. D. Attributes of Sovereignty.
I. The Origin of Man.
A. The Doctrine of Man in Dogmatics. B. Scriptural Account of Origin of Man. C. The Evolutionary Theory of the Origin of Man. D. The Origin of Man and the Unity of the Roce.
II. The Constitutional Nature of Man.
A. The Constituent Elements of Human Nature. B. The Origin of the Soul in the Individual. From the Holy Fathers
III. Man as the Image of God.
A. Historical Views of the Image of God in Man. B. Scriptural Data Respecting the Image of God in Man. C. More on Man as the Image of God. D. The Original Condition of Man as the Image of God. From the Holy Fathers:
IV. Man in the Covenant of Works. Man in the State of Sin.
The Origin of Sin. A. Historical Views Respecting the Origin of Sin. C. The Nature of the First Sin or the Fall of Man. D. The First Sin or the Fall as Occasioned by Temptation. E. The Evolutionary Explanation of the Origin of Sin. F. The Results of the First Sin.
II. The Essential Character of Sin.
A. Philosophic Theories Respecting the Nature of Evil. B. The Scriptural Idea of Sin. C. The Pelagian View of Sin. D. The Roman Catholic View of Sin.
III. The Transmission of Sin.
A. Historical Review. B. The Universality of Sin. C. The Connection of Adamís Sin with that of the Race.
IV. Sin in the Life of the Human Race.
A. Original Sin. B. Actual Sin. From the Holy Fathers
V. The Punishment of Sin.
A. Natural and positive penalties. B. Nature and Purpose of Punishments. C. The actual penalty of sin. From the Holy Fathers:
From First to Second Adam
Rom. 5:12-21 Adam and Christ.
I. The Existence of God.
A. Place of the Doctrine of God.
WORKS on systematic theology generally begin with the doctrine of God. The prevailing opinion has always recognized this as the most logical procedure and still points in the same direction. In many instances even they whose fundamental principles would seem to require another arrangement, continue the traditional practice. There are good reasons for starting with the doctrine of God, if we proceed on the assumption that theology is the systematized knowledge of God, of whom, through whom, and unto whom, are all things. Instead of being surprised that Dogmatics should begin with the doctrine of God, we might well expect it to be a study of God throughout in all its ramifications, from the beginning to the end. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what it is intended to be, though only the first locus deals with God directly, while the succeeding ones treat of Him more indirectly. We start the study of theology with two presuppositions, namely (1) that God exists, and (2) that He has revealed Himself in His divine Word. And for that reason it is not impossible for us to start with the study of God. We can turn to His revelation, in order to learn what He has revealed concerning Himself and concerning His relation to His creatures.
The religious consciousness of man was substituted for the Word of God as the source of theology. Faith in Scripture as an authoritative revelation of God was discredited, and human insight based on manís own emotional or rational apprehension became the standard of religious thought. Religion gradually took the place of God as the object of theology. Man ceased to recognize the knowledge of God as something that was given in Scripture, and began to pride himself on being a seeker after God. In course of time it became rather common to speak of manís discovering God, as if man ever discovered Him; and every discovery that was made in the process was dignified with the name of "revelation." God came in at the end of a syllogism, or as the last link in a chain of reasoning, or as the cap-stone of a structure of human thought. Under such circumstances it was but natural that some should regard it as incongruous to begin Dogmatics with the study of God. It is rather surprising that so many, in spite of their subjectivism, continued the traditional arrangement.
B. Scripture Proof for the Existence of God.
For us the existence of God is the great presupposition of theology. There is no sense in speaking of the knowledge of God, unless it may be assumed that God exists. The presupposition of Christian theology is of a very definite type. The assumption is not merely that there is something, some idea or ideal, some power or purposeful tendency, to which the name of God may be applied, but that there is a self-existent, self-conscious, personal Being, which is the origin of all things, and which transcends the entire creation, but is at the same time immanent in every part of it. The question may be raised, whether this is a reasonable assumption, and this question may be answered in the affirmative. This does not mean, however, that the existence of God is capable of a logical demonstration that leaves no room whatever for doubt; but it does mean that, while the truth of Godís existence is accepted by faith, this faith is based on reliable information. Some argue that any attempt to prove Godís existence is either useless or unsuccessful. It is useless if the searcher believes that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. And it is unsuccessful if it is an attempt to force a person who does not have this pistis (faith) by means of argumentation to an acknowledgment in a logical sense.
The Christian accepts the truth of the existence of God by faith. But this faith is not a blind faith, but a faith that is based on evidence, and the evidence is found primarily in Scripture as the inspired Word of God, and secondarily in Godís revelation in nature. Scripture proof-on this point does not come to us in the form of an explicit declaration, and much less in the form of a logical argument. In that sense the Bible does not prove the existence of God. The closest it comes to a declaration is perhaps in Heb. 11:6 . . . "for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek after Him." It presupposes the existence of God in its very opening statement, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Not only does it describe God as the Creator of all things, but also as the Upholder of all His creatures, and as the Ruler of the destinies of individuals and nations. It testifies to the fact that God works all things according to the counsel of His will, and reveals the gradual realization of His great purpose of redemption. The preparation for this work, especially in the choice and guidance of the old covenant people of Israel, is clearly seen in the Old Testament, and the initial culmination of it in the Person and work of Christ stands out with great clarity on the pages of the New Testament. God is seen on almost every page of Holy Writ as He reveals Himself in words and actions. This revelation of God is the basis of our faith in the existence of God, and makes this an entirely reasonable faith. It should be remarked, however, that it is only by faith that we accept the revelation of God, and that we obtain a real insight into its contents. Jesus said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself," John 7:17. It is this intensive knowledge, resulting from intimate communion with God, which Hosea has in mind when he says, "And let us know, let us follow on to know the Lord," Hos. 6:3. The unbeliever has no real understanding of the Word of God. The words of Paul are very much to the point in this connection: "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this age (world) ? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For, seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was Godís good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe," I Cor. 1:20-21.
C. Denial of the existence of God in its various forms.
Missionaries often testify to the fact that the idea of God is practically universal in the human race. It is found even among the most uncivilized nations and tribes of the world. This does not mean, however, that there are no individuals who deny the existence of God altogether, nor even that there is not a goodly number in Christian lands who deny the existence of God as He is revealed in Scripture, a self-existent and self-conscious Person of infinite perfections, who works all things according to a pre-determined plan. It is the latter denial that we have in mind particularly here. This may and has assumed various forms in the course of history.
1. Absolute denial of the existence of God. As stated above, there is strong evidence for the universal presence of the idea of God in the human mind, even among tribes which are uncivilized and have not felt the impact of special revelation. In view of this fact some go so far as to deny that there are people who deny the existence of God, real atheists; but this denial is contradicted by the facts. It is customary to distinguish two kinds, namely, practical and theoretical atheists. The former are simply godless persons, who in their practical life do not reckon with God, but live as if there were no God. The latter are, as a rule, of a more intellectual kind, and base their denial on a process of reasoning. They seek to prove by what seem to them conclusive rational arguments, that there is no God. In view of the semen religionis implanted in every man by his creation in the image of God, it is safe to assume that no one is born an atheist. In the last analysis atheism results from the perverted moral state of man and from his desire to escape from God. It is deliberately blind to and suppresses the most fundamental instinct of man, the deepest needs of the soul, the highest aspirations of the human spirit, and the longings of a heart that gropes after some higher Being. This practical or intellectual suppression of the operation of the semen religionis often involves prolonged and painful struggles.
There can be no doubt about the existence of practical atheists, since both Scripture and experience testify to it. Psalm 10:4b declares of the wicked, "All his thoughts are, There is no God." According to Ps. 14:1 "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." And Paul reminds the Ephesians that they were formerly "without God in the world," Eph. 2:12. Experience also testifies abundantly to their presence in the world. They are not necessarily notoriously wicked in the eyes of men, but may belong to the so-called "decent men of the world," though respectably indifferent to spiritual things. Such people are often quite conscious of the fact that they are out of harmony with God, dread to think of meeting Him, and try to forget about Him. They seem to take a secret delight in parading their atheism when they have smooth sailing, but have been known to get down on their knees for prayer when their life was suddenly endangered.
At the present time thousands of these practical atheists belong to the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism.
Theoretical atheists are of a different kind. They are usually of a more intellectual type and attempt to justify the assertion that there is no God by rational argumentation. Prof. Flint distinguishes three kinds of theoretical atheism, namely, (1) dogmatic atheism, which flatly denies that there is a Divine Being; (2) sceptical atheism, which doubts the ability of the human mind to determine, whether or not there is a God; and (3) critical atheism, which maintains that there is no valid proof for the existence of God. These often go hand in hand, but even the most modest of them really pronounces all belief in God a delusion. In this division, it will be noticed, agnosticism also appears as a sort of atheism, a classification which many agnostics resent. But it should be borne in mind that agnosticism respecting the existence of God, while allowing the possibility of His reality, leaves4 us without an object of worship and adoration just as much as dogmatic atheism does. However the real atheist is the dogmatic atheist, the man who makes the positive assertion that there is no God. Such an assertion may mean one of two things: either that he recognizes no god of any kind, sets up no idol for himself, or that he does not recognize the God of Scripture. Now there are very few atheists who do not in practical life fashion some sort of god for themselves. There is a far greater number who theoretically set aside any and every god; and there is a still greater number that has broken with the God of Scripture. Theoretical atheism is generally rooted in some scientific or philosophical theory. Materialistic Monism in its various forms and atheism usually go hand in hand. Absolute subjective Idealism may still leave us the idea of God, but denies that there is any corresponding reality. To the modern Humanist "God" simply means "the Spirit of humanity," "the Sense of wholeness," "the Racial Goal" and other abstractions of that kind. Other theories not only leave room for God, but also pretend to maintain His existence, but certainly exclude the God of theism, a supreme personal Being, Creator, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe, distinct from His creation, and yet everywhere present in it. Pantheism merges the natural and supernatural, the finite and infinite, into one substance. It often speaks of God as the hidden ground of the phenomenal world, but does not conceive of Him as personal, and therefore as endowed with intelligence and will. It boldly declares that all is God, and thus engages in what Brightman calls "the expansion of God," so that we get "too much of God," seeing that He also includes all the evil of the world. It excludes the God of Scripture, and in so far is clearly atheistic. Spinoza may be called "the God-intoxicated man," but his God is certainly not the God whom Christians worship and adore. Surely, there can be no doubt about the presence of theoretical atheists in the world. When David Hume expressed doubt as to the existence of a dogmatic atheist, Baron díHolbach replied, "My dear sir, you are at this moment sitting at table with seventeen such persons." They who are agnostic respecting the existence of God may differ somewhat from the dogmatic atheist, but they, as well as the latter, leave us without a God.
2. Present day false conceptions of God involving a denial of the true God. There are several false conceptions of God current in our day, which involve a denial of the theistic conception of God. A brief indication of the most important of these must suffice in this connection.
a. An immanent and impersonal God. Theism has always believed in a God who is both transcendent and immanent. Deism removed God from the world, and stressed His transcendence at the expense of His immanence. Under the influence of Pantheism, however, the pendulum swung in the other direction. It identified God and the world, and did not recognize a Divine Being, distinct from, and infinitely exalted above, His creation. Through Schleiermacher the tendency to make God continuous with the world gained a footing in theology. He completely ignores the transcendent God, and recognizes only a God that can be known by human experience and manifests Himself in Christian consciousness as Absolute Causality, to which a feeling of absolute dependence corresponds. The attributes we ascribe to God are in this view merely symbolical expressions of the various modes of this feeling of dependence, subjective ideas without any corresponding reality. His earlier and his later representations of God seem to differ somewhat, and interpreters of Schleiermacher differ as to the way in which his statements must be harmonized. Brunner would seem to be quite correct, however, when he says that with him the universe takes the place of God, though the latter name is used; and that he conceives of God both as identical with the universe and as the unity lying behind it. It often seems as if his distinction between God and the world is only an ideal one, namely, the distinction between the world as a unity and the world in its manifold manifestations. He frequently speaks of God as the "Universum" or the "Welt-All," and argues against the personality of God; though, inconsistently, also speaking as if we could have communion with Him in Christ. These views of Schleiermacher, making God continuous with the world, largely dominated the theology of the past century, and it is this view that Barth is combatting with his strong emphasis on God as "the Wholly Other."
b. A finite and personal God. The idea of a finite god or gods is not new, but as old as Polytheism and Henotheism. The idea fits in with Pluralism, but not with philosophical Monism or theological Monotheism. Theism has always regarded God as an absolute personal Being of infinite perfections. During the nineteenth century, when monistic philosophy was in the ascendant, it became rather common to identify the God of theology with the Absolute of philosophy. Toward the end of the century, however, the term "Absolute," as a designation of God, fell into disfavor, partly because of its agnostic and pantheistic implications, and partly as the result of the opposition to the idea of the "Absolute" in philosophy, and of the desire %o exclude all metaphysics from theology. Bradley regarded the God of the Christian religion as a part of the Absolute, and James pleaded for a conception of God that was more in harmony with human experience than the idea of an infinite God. He eliminates from God the metaphysical attributes of self-existence, infinity, and immutability, and makes the moral attributes supreme. God has an environment, exists in time, and works out a history just like ourselves. Because of the evil that is in the world, He must be thought of as limited in knowledge or power, or in both. The condition of the world makes it impossible to believe in a good God infinite in knowledge and power. The existence of a larger power which is friendly to man and with which he can commune meets all the practical needs and experiences of religion. James conceived of this power as personal, but was not willing to express himself as to whether he believed in one finite God or a number of them. Bergson added to this conception of James the idea of a struggling and growing God, constantly drawing upon his environment. Others who defended the idea of a finite God, though in different ways, are Hobhouse, Schiller, James Ward, Rashdall, and H. G. Wells.
c. God as the personification of a mere abstract idea. It has become quite the vogue in modern liberal theology to regard the name "God" as a mere symbol, standing for some cosmic process, some universal will or power, or some lofty and comprehensive ideal. The statement is repeatedly made that, if God once created man in His image, man is now returning the compliment by creating God in his (manís) image. It is said of Harry Elmer Barnes that he once said in one of his laboratory classes: "Gentlemen, we shall now proceed to create God." That was a very blunt expression of a rather common idea. Most of those who reject the theistic view of God still profess faith in God, but He is a God of their own imagination. The form which He assumes at any particular time depends, according to Shailer Mathews, on the thought patterns of that day. If in pre-war times the controlling pattern was that of an autocratic sovereign, demanding absolute obedience, now it is that of a democratic ruler eager to serve all his subjects. Since the days of Comte there has been a tendency to personify the social order of humanity as a whole and to worship this personification. The so-called Meliorists or Social Theologians reveal a tendency to identify God in some way with the social order. And the New Psychologists inform us that the idea of God is a projection of the human mind, which in its early stages is inclined to make images of its experiences and to clothe them with quasi-personality. Leuba is of the opinion that this illusion of God has served a useful purpose, but that the time is coming when the idea of God will be no more needed. A few definitions will serve to show the present day trend. "God is the immanent spirit of the community" (Royce). He is "that quality in human society which supports and enriches humanity in its spiritual quest" (Gerald Birney Smith). "God is the totality of relations constituting the whole social order of growing humanity" (E. S. Ames). "The word Ďgodí is a symbol to designate the universe in its "ideal forming capacity" (G. B. Foster). "God is our conception, born of social experience, of the personality-evolving and personally responsive elements of our cosmic environment with which we are organically related" (Shailer Mathews). It need hardly be said that the God so defined is not a personal God and does not answer to the deepest needs of the human heart.
D. The So-called Rational Proofs for the Existence of God.
In course of time certain rational arguments for the existence of God were developed, and found a foothold in theology especially through the influence of Wolff. Some of these were in essence already suggested by Plato and Aristotle, and others were added in modern times by students of the Philosophy of Religion. Only the most common of these arguments can be mentioned here.
1. The Ontological Argument. This has been presented in various forms by Anselm, Descartes, Samuel Clarke, and others. It has been stated in its most perfect form by Anselm. He argues that man has the idea of an absolutely perfect being; that existence is an attribute of perfection; and that therefore an absolutely perfect being must exist. But it is quite evident that we cannot conclude from abstract thought to real existence. The fact that we have an idea of God does not yet prove His objective existence. Moreover, this argument tacitly assumes, as already existing in the human mind, the very knowledge of Godís existence which it would derive from logical demonstration. Kant stressed the untenableness of this argument, but Hegel hailed it as the one great argument for the existence of God. Some modern Idealists suggested that it might better be cast into a somewhat different form, which Hocking called "the report of experience." By virtue of it we can say, "I have an idea of God, therefore I have an experience of God."
2. The Cosmological Argument. This has also appeared in several forms. In general it runs as follows: Every existing thing in the world must have an adequate cause; and if this is so, the universe must also have an adequate cause, that is a cause which is indefinitely great. However, the argument did not carry general conviction. Hume called the law of causation itself in question, and Kant pointed out that, if every existing thing has an adequate cause, this also applies to God, and that we are thus led to an endless chain. Moreover, the argument does not necessitate the assumption that the cosmos had a single cause, a personal and absolute cause, ó and therefore falls short of proving the existence of God. This difficulty led to a slightly different construction of the argument, as, for instance, by B. P. Bowne. The material universe appears as an interacting system, and therefore as a unit, consisting of several parts. Hence there must be a unitary Agent that mediates the interaction of the various parts or is the dynamic ground of their being.
3. The Teleological Argument. This is also a causal argument, and is really but an extension of the preceding one. It may be stated in the following form: The world everywhere reveals intelligence, order, harmony, and purpose, and thus implies the existence of an intelligent and purposeful being, adequate to the production of such a world. Kant regards this argument as the best of the three which were named, but claims that it does not prove the existence of God, nor of a Creator, but only of a great architect who fashioned the world. It is superior to the cosmological argument in that it makes explicit what is not stated in the latter, namely, that the world contains evidences of intelligence and purpose, and thus leads on to the existence of a conscious, and intelligent, and purposeful being. That this being was the Creator of the world does not necessarily follow. "The teleological evidence," says Wright, "merely indicates the probable existence of a Mind that is, at least in considerable measure, in control of the world process, ó enough to account for the amount of teleology apparent in it." Hegel treated this argument as a valid but subordinate one. The Social Theologians of our day reject it along with all the other arguments as so much rubbish, but the New Theists retain it.
4. The Moral Argument. Just as the other arguments, this too assumed different forms. Kant took his startingpoint in the categorical imperative, and from it inferred the existence of someone who, as lawgiver and judge, has the absolute right to command man. In his estimation this argument is far superior to any of the others. It is the one on which he mainly relies in his attempt to prove the existence of God. This may be one of the reasons why it is more generally recognized than any other, though it is not always cast into the same form. Some argue from the disparity often observed between the moral conduct of men and the prosperity which they enjoy in the present life, and feel that this calls for an adjustment in the future which, in turn, requires a righteous arbiter. Modern theology also uses it extensively, especially in the form that manís recognition of a Highest Good and his quest for a moral ideal demand and necessitate the existence of a God to give reality to that ideal. While this argument does point to the existence of a holy and just being, it does not compel belief in a God, a Creator, or a being of infinite perfections.
5. The Historical or Ethnological Argument. In the main this takes the following form: Among all the peoples and tribes of the earth there is a sense of the divine, which reveals itself in an external cultus. Since the phenomenon is universal, it must belong to the very nature of man. And if the nature of man naturally leads to religious worship, this can only find its explanation in a higher Being who has constituted man a religious being. In answer to this argument, however, it may be said that this universal phenomenon may have originated in an error or misunderstanding of one of the early progenitors of the human race, and that the religious cultus referred to appears strongest among primitive races, and disappears in the measure in which they become civilized.
In evaluating these rational arguments it should be pointed out first of all that believers do not need them. Their conviction respecting the existence of God does not depend on them, but on a believing acceptance of Godís self-revelation in Scripture. If many in our day are willing to stake their faith in the existence of God on such rational arguments, it is to a great extent due to the fact that they refuse to accept the testimony of the Word of God. Moreover, in using these arguments in an attempt to convince unbelievers, it will be well to bear in mind that none of them can be said to carry absolute conviction. No one did more to discredit them than Kant. Since his day many philosophers and theologians have discarded them as utterly worthless, but to-day they are once more gaining favor and their number is increasing. And the fact that in our day so many find in them rather satisfying indications of the existence of God, would seem to indicate that they are not entirely devoid of value. They have some value for believers themselves, but should be called testimonia rather than arguments. They are important as interpretations of Godís general revelation and as exhibiting the reasonableness of belief in a divine Being. Moreover, they can render some service in meeting the adversary. While they do not prove the existence of God beyond the possibility of doubt, so as to compel assent, they can be so construed as to establish a strong probability and thereby silence many unbelievers.
Questions for further study. Why is modern theology inclined to give the study of man rather than the study of God precedence in theology? Does the Bible prove the existence of God or does it not? If it does, how does it prove it? What accounts for the general sensus divinitatis in man? Are there nations or tribes that are entirely devoid of it? Can the position be maintained that there are no atheists? Should present day Humanists be classed as atheists? What objections are there to the identification of God with the Absolute of philosophy? Does a finite God meet the needs of the Christian life? Is the doctrine of a finite God limited to Pragmatists? Why is a personified idea of God a poor substitute for the living God? What was Kantís criticism on the arguments of speculative reason for the existence of God? How should we judge of this criticism?
Literature: Bavinck, Geref. Dogm. II, pp. 52-74; Kuyper, Diet. Dogm. De Deo I, pp. 77-123; Hodge, Syst. Theol. I, pp. 202-243; Shedd. Dogm. Theol. I, pp. 221-248; Dabney, Syst. and Polem. Theol., pp. 5-26; Macintosh, Theol. as an Empirical Science, pp. 90-99; Knudson, The Doctrine of God, pp. 203-241; Beattie, Apologetics, pp. 250-444; Brightman, The Problem of God, pp. 139-165; Wright, A Studentís Phil of Rel, pp. 339-390; Edward, The Philosophy of Rel, pp. 218-305; Beckwith, The Idea of God, pp. 64-115; Thomson, The Christian Idea of God, pp. 160-189; Robinson, The God of the Liberal Christian, pp. 114-149; Galloway, The Phil, of Rel, pp. 381-394.
II. The Knowability of God.
A. God Incomprehensible but yet Knowabie.
The Christian Church confesses on the one hand that God is the Incomprehensible One, but also on the other hand, that He can be known and that knowledge of Him is an absolute requisite unto salvation. It recognizes the force of Zopharís question, "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?" Job 11:7. And it feels that it has no answer to the question of Isaiah, "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?" Isa. 40:18. But at the same time it is also mindful of Jesusí statement, "And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee, the only true God, and Him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ," John 17:3. It rejoices in the fact that "the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ." I John 5:20. The two ideas reflected in these passages were always held side by side in the Christian Church. The early Church Fathers spoke of the invisible God as an unbegotten, nameless, eternal, incomprehensible, unchangeable Being. They had advanced very little beyond the old Greek idea that the Divine Being is absolute attributeless existence. At the same time they also confessed that God revealed Himself in the Logos, and can therefore be known unto salvation. In the fourth century Eunomius, an Arian, argued from the simplicity of God, that there is nothing in God that is not perfectly known and comprehended by the human intellect, but his view was rejected by all the recognized leaders of the Church. The Scholastics distinguished between the quid and the qualis of God, and maintained that we do not know what God is in His essential Being, but can know something of His nature, of what He is to us, as He reveals Himself in His divine attributes. The same general ideas were expressed by the Reformers, though they did not agree with the Scholastics as to the possibility of acquiring real knowledge of God, by unaided human reason, from general revelation. Luther speaks repeatedly of God as the Deus Absconditus (hidden God), in distinction from Him as the Deus Revelatus (revealed God). In some passages he even speaks of the revealed God as still a hidden God in view of the fact that we cannot fully know Him even through His special revelation. To Calvin, God in the depths of His being is past finding out. "His essence," he says, "is incomprehensible; so that His divinity wholly escapes all human senses." The Reformers do not deny that man can learn something of the nature of God from His creation, but maintain that he can acquire true knowledge of Him only from special revelation, under the illuminating influence of the Holy Spirit. Under the influence of the pantheizing theology of immanence, inspired by Hegel and Schleiermacher, a change came about. The transcendence of God is soft-pedaled, ignored, or explicitly denied. God is brought down to the level of the world, is made continuous with it, and is therefore regarded as less incomprehensible, though still shrouded in mystery. Special revelation in the sense of a direct communication of God to man is denied. Sufficient knowledge of God can be obtained without it, since man can discover God for himself in the depths of his own being, in the material universe, and above all in Jesus Christ, since these are all but outward manifestations of the immanent God. It is over against this trend in theology that Barth now raises his voice and points out that God is not to be found in nature, in history, or in human experience of any kind, but only in the special revelation that has reached us in the Bible. In his strong statements respecting the hidden God he uses the language of Luther rather than of Calvin.
Reformed theology holds that God can be known, but that it is impossible for man to have a knowledge of Him that is exhaustive and perfect in every way. To have such a knowledge of God would be equivalent to comprehending Him, and this is entirely out of the question: "Finitum non possit capere infinitum." Furthermore, man cannot give a definition of God in the proper sense of the word, but only a partial description. A logical definition is impossible, because God cannot be subsumed under some higher genus. At the same time it is maintained that man can obtain a knowledge of God that is perfectly adequate for the realization of the divine purpose in the life of man. However, true knowledge of God can be acquired only from the divine self-revelation, and only by the man who accepts this with childlike faith. Religion necessarily presupposes such a knowledge. It is the most sacred relation between man and his God, a relation in which man is conscious of the absolute greatness and majesty of God as the supreme Being, and of his own utter insignificance and subjection to the High and Holy One. And if this is true, it follows that religion presupposes the knowledge of God in man. If man were left absolutely in the dark respecting the being of God, it would be impossible for him to assume a religious attitude. There could be no reverence, no piety, no fear of God, no worshipful service.
B. Denial of the Knowability of God.
The possibility of knowing God has been denied on various grounds. This denial is generally based on the supposed limits of the human faculty of cognition, though it has been presented in several different forms. The fundamental position is that the human mind is incapable of knowing anything of that which lies beyond and behind natural phenomena, and is therefore necessarily ignorant of supersensible and divine things. Huxley was the first to apply to those who assume this position, himself included, the name "agnostics." They are entirely in line with the sceptics of former centuries and of Greek philosophy. As a rule agnostics do not like to be branded as atheists, since they do not deny absolutely that there is a God, but declare that they do not know whether He exists or not, and even if He exists, are not certain that they have any true knowledge of Him, and in many cases even deny that they can have any real knowledge of Him.
Hume has been called the father of modern agnosticism. He did not deny the existence of God, but asserted that we have no true knowledge of His attributes. All our ideas of Him are, and can only be, anthropomorphic. We cannot be sure that there is any reality corresponding to the attributes we ascribe to Him. His agnosticism resulted from the general principle that all knowledge is based on experience. It was especially Kant, however, who stimulated agnostic thought by his searching inquiry into the limits of the human understanding and reason. He affirmed that the theoretical reason knows only phenomena and is necessarily ignorant of that which underlies these phenomena, ó the thing in itself. From this it followed, of course, that it is impossible for us to have any theoretical knowledge of God. But Lotze already pointed out that phenomena, whether physical or mental, are always connected with some substance lying back of them, and that in knowing the phenomena we also know the underlying substance, of which they are manifestations. The Scotch philosopher, Sir William Hamilton, while not in entire agreement with Kant, yet shared the intellectual agnosticism of the latter. He asserts that the human mind knows only that which is conditioned and exists in various relations, and that, since the Absolute and Infinite is entirely unrelated, that is exists in no relations, we can obtain no knowledge of it. But while he denies that the Infinite can be known by us, he does not deny its existence. Says he, "Through faith we apprehend what is beyond our knowledge." His views were shared in substance by Mansel, and were popularized by him. To him also it seemed utterly impossible to conceive of an infinite Being, though he also professed faith in its existence. The reasoning of these two men did not carry conviction, since it was felt that the Absolute or Infinite does not necessarily exist outside of all relations, but can enter into various relations; and that the fact that we know things only in their relations does not mean that the knowledge so acquired is merely a relative or unreal knowledge.
Comte, the father of Positivism, was also agnostic in religion. According to him man can know nothing but physical phenomena and their laws. His senses are the sources of all true thinking, and he can know nothing except the phenomena which they apprehend and the relations in which these stand to each other. Mental phenomena can be reduced to material phenomena, and in science man cannot get beyond these. Even the phenomena of immediate consciousness are excluded, and further, everything that lies behind the phenomena. Theological speculation represents thought in its infancy. No positive affirmation can be made respecting the existence of God, and therefore both theism and atheism stand condemned. In later life Comte felt the need of some religion and introduced the so-called "religion of Humanity." Even more than Comte, Herbert Spencer is recognized as the great exponent of modern scientific agnosticism. He was influenced very much by Hamiltonís doctrine of the relativity of knowledge and by Manselís conception of the Absolute, and in the light of these worked out his doctrine of the Unknowable, which was his designation of whatever may be absolute, first or ultimate in the order of the universe, including, God. He proceeds on the assumption that there is some reality lying back of phenomena, but maintains that all reflection on it lands us in contradictions. This ultimate reality is utterly inscrutable. While we must accept the existence of some ultimate Power, either personal or impersonal, we can form no conception of it. Inconsistently he devotes a great part of his First Principles to the development of the positive content of the Unknowable, as if it were well known indeed. Other agnostics, who were influenced by him, are such men as Huxley, Fiske, and Clifford. We meet with agnosticism also repeatedly in modern Humanism. Harry Elmer Barnes says: "To the writer it seems quite obvious that the agnostic position is the only one which can be supported by any scientifically-minded and critically-inclined person in the present state of knowledge."
Besides the forms indicated in the preceding the agnostic argument has assumed several others, of which the following are some of the most important.
(1) Man knows only by analogy. We know only that which bears some analogy to our own nature or experience: "Similia similibus percipiuntur." But while it is true that we learn a great deal by analogy, we also learn by contrast. In many cases the differences are the very things that arrest our attention. The Scholastics spoke of the via negationis by which they in thought eliminated from God the imperfections of the creature. Moreover, we should not forget that man is made in the image of God, and that there are important analogies between the divine nature and the nature of man. (2) Man really knows only what he can grasp in its entirety. Briefly stated the position is that man cannot comprehend God, who is infinite, cannot have an exhaustive knowledge of Him, and therefore cannot know Him. But this position proceeds on the unwarranted assumption that partial knowledge cannot be real knowledge, an assumption which would really invalidate all our knowledge, since it always falls far short of completeness. Our knowledge of God, though not exhaustive, may yet be very real and perfectly adequate for our present needs. (3) All predicates of God are negative and therefore furnish no real knowledge. Hamilton says that the Absolute and the Infinite can only be conceived as a negation of the thinkable; which really means that we can have no conception of them at all. But though it is true that much of what we predicate to God is negative in form, this does not mean that it may not at the same time convey some positive idea. The aseity of God includes the positive idea of his self-existence and self-sufficiency. Moreover, such ideas as love, spirituality, and holiness, are positive. (4) All our knowledge is relative to the knowing subject. It is said that we know the objects of knowledge, not as they are objectively, but only as they are related to our senses and faculties. In the process of knowledge we distort and colour them. In a sense it is perfectly true that all our knowledge is subjectively conditioned, but the import of the assertion under consideration seems to be that, because we know things only through the mediation of our senses and faculties, we do not know them as they are. But this is not true; in so far as we have any real knowledge of things, that knowledge corresponds to the objective reality. The laws of perception and thought are not arbitrary, but correspond to the nature of things. Without such correspondence, not only the knowledge of God, but nil true knowledge would be utterly impossible.
Some are inclined to look upon the position of Barth as a species of agnosticism. Zerbe says that practical agnosticism dominates Barthís thinking and renders him a victim of the Kantian unknowableness of the Thing-in-Itself, and quotes him as follows: "Romans is a revelation of the unknown God; God comes to man, not man to God. Even after the revelation man cannot know God, for He is always the unknown God. In manifesting Himself to us He is farther than ever before. (Rbr. p. 53)." At the same time he finds Barthís agnosticism, like that of Herbert Spencer, inconsistent. Says he: "It was said of Spencer that he knew a great deal about the ĎUnknowableí; so of Barth, one wonders how he came to know so much of the ĎUnknown Godí." Dickie in a similar vein: "In speaking of a transcendent God, Barth seems sometimes to be speaking of a God of Whom we can never know anything."3 He finds, however, that in this respect too there has been a change of emphasis in Barth. While it is perfectly clear that Barth does not mean to be an agnostic, inot be denied that some of his statements can readily be interpreted as having an agnostic flavor. He strongly stresses the fact that God is the hidden God, who cannot be known from nature, history, or experience, but only by His self-revelation in Christ, when it meets with the response of faith. But even in this revelation God appears only as the hidden God. God reveals Himself the hidden God, and through His revelation makes us more conscious distance which separates Him from man than we ever were before. This can easily be interpreted to mean that we learn by revelation merely that God cannot be known, so that after all we are face to face with an unknown God. But in view of all that Barth has written this is clearly not what he wants to say. His assertion, that in the light of revelation we see God as the hidden God, does not exclude the idea that by revelation we also acquire a great deal of useful of God as He enters into relations with His people. When He says that even in His revelation God still remains for us the unknown God, he really, the incomprehensible God. The revealing God is God in action. By His revelation we learn to know Him in His operations, but acquire no real knowlinner being. The following passage in The Doctrine of the Word of God, is rather illuminating: "On this freedom (freedom of God) reivability of God, the inadequacy of all knowledge of the revealed he three-in-oneness of God is revealed to us only in Godís operations. Therefore the three-in-oneness of God is also inconceivable to us. Hence, too, the inadequacy of all our knowledge of the three-in-oneness. The conceivability with which it has appeared to us, primarily in Scripture, secondarily in the Church doctrine of the Trinity, is a creaturely conceivability. To the conceivability in which God exists for Himself it is not only relative: it is absolutely separate from it. Only upon the free grace of revelation does it depend that the former conceivability, in its absolute separation from its object, is yet not without truth. In this sense the three-in-oneness of God, as we know it from the operation of God, is truth."
C. Self-revelation the Prerequisite of all Knowledge of God.
1. God communicates Knowledge of Himself to Man. Kuyper calls attention to the fact that theology as the knowledge of God differs in an important point from all other knowledge. In the study of all other sciences man places himself above the object of his investigation and actively elicits from it his knowledge by whatever method may seem most appropriate, but in theology he does not stand above but rather under the object of his knowledge. In other words, man can know God only in so far as the latter actively makes Himself known. God is first of all the subject communicating knowledge to man, and can only become an object of study for man in so far as the latter appropriates and reflects on the knowledge conveyed to him by revelation. Without revelation man would never have been able to acquire any knowledge of God. And even after God has revealed Himself objectivelv, it is not human reason that discovers God, but it is God who discloses Himself to the eye of faith. However, by the application of sanctified human reason to the study of Godís Word man can. under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, gain an ever-increasing knowledge of God. Barth also stresses the fact that man can know God only when God comes to him in an act of revelation. He asserts that there is no way from man to God, but only from God to man, and says repeatedly that God is always the subject, and never an object. Revelation is always something purely subjective, and can never turn into something objective like the written Word of Scripture, and as such become an object of study. It is given once for all in Jesus Christ, and in Christ comes to men in the existential moment of their lives. While there are elements of truth in what Barth says, his construction of the doctrine of revelation is foreign to Reformed theology.
The position must be maintained, however, that theology would be utterly impossible without a self-revelation of God. And when we speak of revelation, we use the term in the strict sense of the word. It is not something in which God is passive, a mere "becoming manifest," but something in which He is actively making Himself known. It is not, as many moderns would have it, a deepened spiritual insight which leads to an ever-increasing discovery of God on the part of man: but a supernatural act of self-communication, a purposeful act on the part of the Living God. There is nothing surprising in the fact that God can be known only if, and in so far as, He reveals Himself. In a measure this is also true of man. Even after Psychology has made a rather exhaustive study of man, Alexis Carrell is still able to write a very convincing book on Man the Unknown. "For who among men," says Paul, "knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of Goif" I Cor. 2:11. The Holy Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God, and reveals them unto man. God has made Himself known. Alongside of the archetypal knowledge of God, found in God Himself, there is also an ectypal knowledge of Him, given to man by revelation. The latter is related to the former as a copy is to the original, and therefore does not possess the same measure of clearness and perfection. All our knowledge of God is derived from His self-revelation in nature and in Scripture. Consequently, our knowledge of God is on the one hand ectypal and analogical, but on the other hand also true and accurate, since it is a copy of the archetypal knowledge which God has of Himself.
2. Innate and Acquired Knowledge of God (cognitio insita and acquista). A distinction is usually made between innate and acquired knowledge of God. This is not a strictly logical distinction, because in the last analysis all human knowledge is acquired. The doctrine of innate ideas is philosophical rather than theological. The seeds of it are already found in Platoís doctrine of ideas, while it occurs in Ciceroís De Natura Deorum in a more developed form. In modern philosophy it was taught first of all by Descartes, who regarded the idea of God as innate. He did not deem it necessary to consider this as innate in the sense that it was consciously present in the human mind from the start, but only in the sense that man has a natural tendency to form the idea when the mind reaches maturity. The doctrine finally assumed the form that there are certain ideas, of which the idea of God is the most prominent, which are inborn and are therefore present in human consciousness from birth. It was in this form that Locke rightly attacked the doctrine of innate ideas, though he went to another extreme in his philosophical empiricistn. Reformed theology also rejected the doctrine in that particular form. And while some of its representatives retained the name "innate ideas," but gave it another connotation, others preferred to speak of a cognitio Dei insita (ingrafted or implanted knowledge of God). On the one hand this cognitio Dei insita does not consist in any ideas or formed notions which are present in man at the time of his birth; but on the other hand it is more than a mere capacity which enables man to know God. It denotes a knowledge that necessarily results from the constitution of the human mind, that is inborn only in the sense that it is acquired spontaneously, under the influence of the semen religionis implanted in man by his creation in the image of God, and that is not acquired by the laborious process of reasoning and argumentation. It is a knowledge which man, constituted as he is, acquires of necessity, and as such is distinguished from all knowledge that is conditioned by the will of man. Acquired knowledge, on the other hand, is obtained by the study of Godís revelation. It does not arise spontaneously in the human mind, but results from the conscious and sustained pursuit of knowledge. It can be acquired only by the wearisome process of perception and reflection, reasoning and argumentation. Under the influence of the Hegelian Idealism and of the modern view of evolution the innate knowledge of God has been over-emphasized; Barth on the other hand denies the existence of any such knowledge.
3. General and Special Revelation. The Bible testifies to a twofold revelation of God: a revelation in nature round about us, in human consciousness, and in the providential government of the world; and a revelation embodied in the Bible as the Word of God. It testifies to the former in such passages as the following: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmanent showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge," Ps. 19:1-2. "And yet He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness," Acts 14:17. "Because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity," Rom. 1:19-20. Of the latter it gives abundant evidence in both the Old and the New Testament. "Yet Jehovah testified unto Israel, and unto Judah, by every prophet, and every seer, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets," I Kings 17:13. "He hath made known His ways unto Moses, His doings unto the children of Israel," Ps. 103:7. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him," John 1:18. "God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken to us in His Son," Heb. 1:1,2.
On the basis of these scriptural data it became customary to speak of natural and supernatural revelation. The distinction thus applied to the idea of revelation is primarily a distinction based on the manner in which it is communicated to man; but in the course of history it has also been based in part on the nature of its subject-matter. The mode of revelation is natural when it is communicated through nature, that is, through the visible creation with its ordinary laws and powers. It is supernatural when it is communicated to man in a higher, supernatural manner, as when God speaks to him, either directly, or through super-naturally endowed messengers. The substance of revelation was regarded as natural, if it could be acquired by human reason from the study of nature; and was considered to be supernatural when it could not be known from nature, nor by unaided human reason. Hence it became quite common in the Middle Ages to contrast reason and revelation. In Protestant theology natural revelation was often called a revelatio realis, and supernatural revelation a revelatio verbalis, because the former is embodied in things, and the latter in words. In course of time, however, the distinction between natural and supernatural revelation was found to be rather ambiguous, since all revelation is supernatural in origin and, as a revelation of God, also in content. Ewald in his work on Revelation: its Nature and Record speaks of the revelation in nature as immediate revelation, and of the revelation in Scripture, which he regards as the only one deserving the name "revelation" in the fullest sense, as mediate revelation. A more common distinction, however, which gradually gained currency, is that of general and special revelation. Dr. Warfield distinguishes the two as follows: "The one is addressed generally to all intelligent creatures, and is therefore accessible to all men; the other is addressed to a special class of sinners, to whom God would make known His salvation. The one has in view to meet and supply the natural need of creatures for knowledge of their God; the other to rescue broken and deformed sinners from their sin and its consequences." General revelation is rooted in creation, is addressed to man as man, and more particularly to human reason, and finds its purpose in the realization of the end of his creation, to know God and thus enjoy communion with Him. Special revelation is rooted in the redemptive plan of God, is addressed to man as sinner, can be properly understood and appropriated only by faith, and serves the purpose of securing the end for which man was created in spite of the disturbance wrought by sin. In view of the eternal plan of redemption it should be said that this special revelation did not come in as an after-thought, but was in the mind of God from the very beginning.
There was considerable difference of opinion respecting the relation of these two to each other. According to Scholasticism natural revelation provided the necessary data for the construction of a scientific natural theology by human reason. But while it enabled man to attain to a scientific knowledge of God as the ultimate cause of all things, it did not provide for the knowledge of the mysteries, such as the Trinity, the incarnation, and redemption. This knowledge is supplied by special revelation. It is a knowledge that is not rationally demonstrable but must be accepted by faith. Some of the earlier Scholastics were guided by the slogan "Credo ut intelligam," and, after accepting the truths of special revelation by faith, considered it necessary to raise faith to understanding by a rational demonstration of those truths, or at least to prove their rationality. Others, however, considered this impossible, except in so far as special revelation contained truths which also formed a part of natural revelation. In his opinion the mysteries, which formed the real contents of supernatural revelation, did not admit of any logical demonstration. He held, however, that there could be no conflict between the truths of natural and those of supernatural revelation. If there appears to be a conflict, there is something wrong with oneís philosophy. The fact remains, however, that he recognized, besides the structure reared by faith on the basis of supernatural revelation, a system of scientific theology on the foundation of natural revelation. In the former one assents to something because it is revealed, in the latter because it is perceived as true in the light of natural reason. The logical demonstration, which is out of the question in the one, is the natural method of proof in the other.
The Reformers rejected the dualism of the Scholastics and aimed at a synthesis of Godís twofold revelation. They did not believe in the ability of human reason to construct a scientific system of theology on the basis of natural revelation pure and simple. Their view of the matter may be represented as follows: As a result of the entrance of sin into the world, the handwriting of God in nature is greatly obscured, and is in some of the most important matters rather dim and illegible. Moreover, man is stricken with spiritual blindness, and is thus deprived of the ability to read aright what God had originally plainly written in the works of creation. In order to remedy the matter and to prevent the frustration of His purpose, God did two things. In His supernatural revelation He republished the truths of natural revelation, cleared them of misconception, interpreted them with a view to the present needs of man, and thus incorporated them in His supernatural revelation of redemption. And in addition to that He provided a cure for the spiritual blindness of man in the work of regeneration and sanctification, including spiritual illumination, and thus enabled man once more to obtain true knowledge of God, the knowledge that carries with it the assurance of eternal life.
When the chill winds of Rationalism swept over Europe, natural revelation was exalted at the expense of supernatural revelation. Man became intoxicated with a sense of his own ability and goodness, refused to listen and submit to the voice of authority that spoke to him in Scripture, and reposed complete trust in the ability of human reason to lead him out of the labyrinth of ignorance and error into the clear atmosphere of true knowledge. Some who maintained that natural revelation was quite sufficient to teach men all necessary truths, still admitted that they might learn them sooner with the aid of supernatural revelation. Others denied that the authority of supernatural revelation was complete, until its contents had been demonstrated by reason. And finally Deism in some of its forms denied, not only the necessity, but also the possibility and reality of supernatural revelation. In Schleiermacher the emphasis shifts from the objective to the subjective, from revelation to religion, and that without any distinction between natural and revealed religion. The term "revelation" is still retained, but is reserved as a designation of the deeper spiritual insight of man, an insight which does not come to him, however, without his own diligent search. What is called revelation from one point of view, may be called human discovery from another. This view has become quite characteristic of modern theology. Says Knudson: "But this distinction between natural and revealed theology has now largely fallen into disuse. The present tendency is to draw no sharp line of distinction between revelation and the natural reason, but to look upon the highest insights of reason as themselves divine revelations. In any case there is no fixed body of revealed truth, accepted on authority, that stands opposed to the truths of reason. All truth to-day rests on its power of appeal to the human mind."
It is this view of revelation that is denounced in the strongest terms by Barth. He is particularly interested in the subject of revelation, and wants to lead the Church back from the subjective to the objective, from religion to revelation. In the former he sees primarily manís efforts to find God, and in the latter "Godís search for man" in Jesus Christ. Barth does not recognize any revelation in nature. Revelation never exists on any horizontal line, but always comes down perpendicularly from above. Revelation is always God in action, God speaking, bringing something entirely new to man, something of which he could have no previous knowledge, and which becomes a real revelation only for him who accepts the object of revelation by a God-given faith. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God, and only he who knows Jesus Christ knows anything about revelation at all. Revelation is an act of grace, by which man becomes conscious of his sinful condition, but also of Godís free, unmerited, and forgiving condescension in Jesus Christ. Barth even calls it the reconciliation. Since God is always sovereign and free in His revelation, it can never assume a factually present, objective form with definite limitations, to which man can turn at any time for instruction. Hence it is a mistake to regard the Bible as Godís revelation in any other than a secondary sense. It is a witness to, and a token of, Godísí revelation. The same may be said, though in a subordinate sense, of the preaching of the gospel. But through whatever mediation the word of God may come to man in the existential moment of his life, it is always recognized by man as a word directly spoken to him, and coming perpendicularly from above. This recognition is effected by a special operation of the Holy Spirit, by what may be called an individual testimonium Spiritus Sancti. The revelation of God was given once for all in Jesus Christ: not in His historical appearance, but in the superhistorical in which the powers of the eternal world become evident, such as His incarnation and His death and resurrection. And if His revelation is also continuous ó as it is ó, it is such only in the sense that God continues to speak to individual sinners, in the existential moment of their lives, through the revelation in Christ, mediated by the Bible and by preaching. Thus we are left with mere flashes of revelation coming to individuals, of which only those individuals have absolute assurance; and fallible witnesses to, or tokens of, the revelation in Jesus Christ, ó a rather precarious foundation for theology. It is no wonder that Barth is in doubt as to the possibility of constructing a doctrine of God. Mankind is not in possession of any infallible revelation of God, and of His unique revelation in Christ and its extension in the special revelations that come to certain men it has knowledge only through the testimony of fallible witnesses.
Questions for further study: In what sense can we speak of the hidden or unknown God in spite of the fact that He has revealed Himself? How did the Scholastics and the Reformers differ on this point? What is the position of modern theology? Why is revelation essential to religion? How does agnosticism differ theoretically from atheism? Is the one more favorable to religion than the other? How did Kant promote agnosticism? What was Sir William Hamiltonís doctrine of the relativity of knowledge? What form did agnosticism take in Positivism? What other forms did it take? Why do some speak of Barth as an agnostic? How should this charge be met? Is "revelation" an active or a passive concept? Is theology possible without revelation? If not, why not? Can the doctrine of innate ideas be defended? What is meant by "cognitio Dei insita?" How do natural and supernatural revelation differ? Is the distinction between general and special revelation an exact parallel of the preceding one? What different views were held as to the relation between the two? How does revelation differ from human discovery? Does Barth believe in general revelation? How does he conceive of special revelation?
Literature: Bavinck, Geref. Dogm. II, pp. 1:74; Kuyper, Diet. Dogm., De Deo I, pp. 1-76; Hodge, Syst. Theol. I, pp. 191-240; 335-365; Shedd, Dogm. Theol. I, pp. 195-220; Thornwell, Collected Works I, pp. 74-142; Dorner, System of Chr. Doct., I, pp. 79-159; Adeney, The Christian Conception of God, pp. 19-57; Steenstra, The Being of God as Unity and Trinity, pp. 1-25; Hendry, God the Creator; Gilson, Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages; Baillie and Martin, Revelation (a Symposium of Aulen, Barth, Bulgakoff, DíArcy, Eliot, Horton, and Temple; Warfield, Revelation and Inspiration, pp. 3-48; Orr, Revelation and Inspiration, pp.1-66; Camfield, Revelation and the Holy Spirit, pp. 11-127; Dickie, Revelation and Response, Warfield, Calvin and Calvinism (Calvinís Doctrine of the Knowledge of God).
III. Relation of the Being and Attributes of God.
Some dogmaticians devote a separate chapter or chapters to the Being of God, before taking up the discussion of His attributes. This is done, for instance, in the works of Mastricht, Ebrard, Kuyper, and Shedd. Others prefer to consider the Being of God in connection with His attributes in view of the fact that it is in these that He has revealed Himself. This is the more common method, which is followed in the Synopsis Purioris Theologiae, and in the works of Turretin, a Marck, Brakel, Bavinck, Hodge, and Honig. This difference of treatment is not indicative of any serious fundamental disagreement between them. They are all agreed that the attributes are not mere names to which no reality corresponds, nor separate parts of a composite God, but essential qualities in which the Being of God is revealed and with which it can be identified. The only difference would seem to be that some seek to distinguish between the Being and the attributes of God more than others do.
A. The Being of God.
It is quite evident that the Being of God does not admit of any scientific definition. In order to give a logical definition of God, we would have to begin by going in search of some higher concept, under which God could be co-ordinated with other concepts; and would then have to point out the characteristics that would be applicable to God only. Such a genetic-synthetic definition cannot be given of God, since God is not one of several species of gods, which can be subsumed under a single genus. At most only an analytical-descriptive definition is possible. This merely names the characteristics of a person or thing, but leaves the essential being unexplained. And even such a definition cannot be complete but only partial, because it is impossible to give an exhaustive positive (as opposed to negative) description of God. It would consist in an enumeration of all the known attributes of God, and these are to a great extent negative in character.
The Bible never operates with an abstract concept of God, but always describes Him as the Living God, who enters into various relations with His creatures, relations which are indicative of several different attributes. In Kuyperís Dictaten Dogmatiek we are told that God, personified as Wisdom, speaks of His essence in Prov. 8:14, when He ascribes to Himself tushiyyach, a Hebrew word rendered "wezen" in the Holland translation. But this rendering is very doubtful, and the English rendering "counsel" deserves preference. It has also been pointed out that the Bible speaks of the nature of God in II Pet. 1:4, but this can hardly refer to the essential Being of God, for we are not made partakers of the divine essence. An indication of the very essence of God has been found in the name Jehovah, as interpreted by God Himself, "I am that I am." On the basis of this passage the essence of God was found in being itself, abstract being. And this has been interpreted to mean self-existence or self-contained permanence or absolute independence. Another passage is repeatedly quoted as containing an indication of the essence of God, and as the closest approach to a definition that is found in the Bible, namely, John 4:24, "God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." This statement of Christ is clearly indicative of the spirituality of God. The two ideas derived from these passages occur repeatedly in theology as designations of the very Being of God. On the whole it may be said that Scripture does not exalt one attribute of God at the expense of the others, but represents them as existing in perfect harmony in the Divine Being. It may be true that now one, and then another attribute is stressed, but Scripture clearly intends to give due emphasis to every one of them. The Being of God is characterized by a depth, a fullness, a variety, and a glory far beyond our comprehension, and the Bible represents it as a glorious harmonious whole, without any inherent contradictions. And this fullness of life finds expression in no other way than in the perfections of God.
Some of the early Church Fathers were clearly under the influence of Greek philosophy in their doctrine of God and did not advance "beyond the mere abstract conception that the Divine Being is absolute attribute-less Existence." For some time theologians were rather generally inclined to emphasize the transcendence of God, and to assume the impossibility of any adequate knowledge or definition of the divine essence. During the trinitarian controversy the distinction between the one essence and the three persons in the Godhead was strongly emphasized, but the essence was generally felt to be beyond human comprehension. Gregory of Nazianze, however, ventures to say: "So far as we can discern, ho on and ho theos are somehow more than other terms the names of the (divine) essence, and of these ho on is the preferable." He regards this as a description of absolute being. Augustineís conception of the essence of God was closely akin to that of Gregory. In the Middle Ages too there was a tendency, either to deny that man has any knowledge of the essence of God, or to reduce such knowledge to a minimum. In some cases one attribute was singled out as most expressive of the essence of God. Thus some spoke of His aseity or self-existence, and Duns Scotus, of His infinity. It became quite common also to speak of God as actus purus in view of His simplicity. The Reformers and their successors also spoke of the essence of God as incomprehensible, but they did not exclude all knowledge of it, though Luther used very strong language on this point. They stressed the unity, simplicity, and spirituality of God. The words of the Belgic Confession are quite characteristic: "We all believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only simple and spiritual Being, which we call God." Later on philosophers and theologians found the essence of God in abstract being, in universal substance, in pure thought, in absolute causality, in love, in personality, and in majestic holiness or the numinous.
B. The Possibility of Knowing the Being of God.
From the preceding it already appears that the question as to the possibility of knowing God in His essential Being engaged the best minds of the Church from the earliest centuries. And the consensus of opinion in the early Church, during the Middle Ages, and at the time of the Reformation, was that God in His inmost Being is the Incomprehensible One. And in some cases the language used is So strong that it seemingly allows of no knowledge of the Being of God whatsoever. At the same time they who use it, at least in some cases, seem to have considerable knowledge of the Being of God. Misunderstanding can easily result from a failure to understand the exact question under consideration, and from neglecting to discriminate between "knowing" and "comprehending." The Scholastics spoke of three questions to which all the speculations respecting the Divine Being could be reduced, namely: An sit Deus? Quid sit Deus? and Qualis sit Deus? The first question concerns the existence of God, the second, His nature or essence, and the third, His attributes. In this paragraph it is particularly the second question that calls for attention. The question then is, What is God? What is the nature of His inner constitution? What makes Him to be what He is? In order to answer that question adequately, we would have to be able to comprehend God and to offer a satisfactory explanation of His Divine Being, and this is utterly impossible. The finite cannot comprehend the Infinite. The question of Zophar, "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?" (Job 11:7) has the force of a strong negative. And if we consider the second question entirely apart from the third, our negative answer becomes even more inclusive. Apart from the revelation of God in His attributes, we have no knowledge of the Being of God whatsoever. But in so far as God reveals Himself in His attributes, we also have some knowledge of His Divine Being, though even so our knowledge is subject to human limitations.
Some theologians use very strong expressions respecting our inability to know something of the Being or essence of God. On the one hand he distinguishes between the Deus absconditus (hidden God) and the Deus revelatus (revealed God); but on the other hand he also asserts that in knowing the Deus revelatus, we only know Him in his hiddenness. By this he means that even in His revelation God has not manifested Himself entirely as He is essentially, but as to His essence still remains shrouded in impenetrable darkness. We know God only in so far as He enters into relations with us. Calvin too speaks of the Divine essence as incomprehensible. He holds that God in the depths of His Being is past finding out. Speaking of the knowledge of the quid and of the qualis of God, he says that it is rather useless to speculate about the former, while our practical interest lies in the latter. Says he: "They are merely toying with frigid speculations whose mind is set on the question of what God is (quid sit Deus), when what it really concerns us to know is rather what kind of a person He is (qualis sit) and what is appropriate to His nature." While he feels that God cannot be known to perfection, he does not deny that we can know something of His Being or nature. But this knowledge cannot be obtained by a priori methods, but only in an a posteriori manner through the attributes, which he regards as real determinations of the nature of God. They convey to us at least some knowledge of what God is, but especially of what He is in relation to us. In dealing with our knowledge of the Being of God we must certainly avoid the position of Cousin, rather rare in the history of philosophy, that God even in the depths of His Being is not at all incomprehensible but essentially intelligible; but we must also steer clear of the agnosticism of Hamilton and Mansel, according to which we can have no knowledge whatsoever of the Being of God. We cannot comprehend God, cannot have an absolute and exhaustive knowledge of Him, but we can undoubtedly have a relative or partial knowledge of the Divine Being. It is perfectly true that this knowledge of God is possible only, because He has placed Himself in certain relations to His moral creatures and has revealed Himself to them, and that even this knowledge is humanly conditioned; but it is nevertheless real and true knowledge, and is at least a partial knowledge of the absolute nature of God. There is a difference between an absolute knowledge, and a relative or partial knowledge of an absolute being. It will not do at all to say that man knows only the relations in which God stands to His creatures. It would not even be possible to have a proper conception of these relations without knowing something of both God and man. To say that we can know nothing of the Being of God, but can know only relations, is equivalent to saying that we cannot know Him at all and cannot make Him the object of our religion. Dr. Orr says: "We may not know God in the depths of His absolute being. But we can at least know Him in so far as He reveals Himself in His relation to us. The question, therefore, is not as to the possibility of a knowledge of God in the unfathomableness of His being, but is: Can we know God as He enters into relations with the world and with ourselves? God has entered into relations with us in His revelations of Himself, and supremely in Jesus Christ; and we Christians humbly claim that through this Self-revelation we do know God to be the true God, and have real acquaintance with His character and will. Neither is it correct to say that this knowledge which we have of God is only a relative knowledge. It is in part a knowledge of the absolute nature of God as well." The last statements are probably intended to ward off the idea that all our knowledge of God is merely relative to the human mind, so that we have no assurance that it corresponds with the reality as it exists in God.
C. The Being of God Revealed in His Attributes.
From the simplicity of God it follows that God and His attributes are one. The attributes cannot be considered as so many parts that enter into the composition of God, for God is not, like men, composed of different parts. Neither can they be regarded as something added to the Being of God, though the name, derived from ad and tribuere, might seem to point in that direction, for no addition was ever made to the Being of God, who is eternally perfect. It is commonly said in theology that Godís attributes are God Himself, as He has revealed Himself to us. The Scholastics stressed the fact that God is, all that He has. He has life, light, wisdom, love, righteousness, and it may be said on the basis of Scripture that He is life, light, wisdom, love, and righteousness. It was further asserted by the Scholastics that the whole essence of God is identical with each one of the attributes, so that Godís knowing is God, Godís willing is God, and so on. Some of them even went so far as to say that each attribute is identical with every other attribute, and that there are no logical distinctions in God. This is a very dangerous extreme. While it may be said that there is an interpenetration of the attributes in God, and that they form a harmonious whole, we are moving in the direction of Pantheism, when we rule out all distinctions in God, and say that His self-existence is His infinity, His knowing is His willing, His love is His righteousness, and vice versa. It was characteristic of the Nominalists that they obliterated all real distinctions in God. They were afraid that by assuming real distinctions in Him, corresponding to the attributes ascribed to God, they would endanger the unity and simplicity of God, and were therefore motivated by a laudable purpose. According to them the perfections of the Divine Being exist only in our thoughts, without any corresponding reality in the Divine Being. The Realists, on the other hand, asserted the reality of the divine perfections. They realized that the theory of the Nominalists, consistently carried out, would lead in the direction of a pantheistic denial of a personal God, and therefore considered it of the utmost importance to maintain the objective reality of the attributes in God. At the same time they sought to safeguard the unity and simplicity of God by maintaining that the whole essence is in each attribute: God is All in all, All in each. Thomas Aquinas had the same purpose in mind, when he asserted that the attributes do not reveal what God is in Himself, in the depths of His Being, but only what He is in relation to His creatures.
Naturally, we should guard against separating the divine essence and the divine attributes or perfections, and also against a false conception of the relation in which they stand to each other. The attributes are real determinations of the Divine Being or, in other words, qualities that inhere in the Being of God. Shedd speaks of them as "an analytical and closer description of the essence." In a sense they are identical, so that it can be said that Godís perfections are God Himself as He has revealed Himself to us. It is possible to go even farther and say with Shedd, "The whole essence is in each attribute, and the attribute in the essence." And because of the close relation in which the two stand to each other, it can be said that knowledge of the attributes carries with it knowledge of the Divine Essence. It would be a mistake to conceive of the essence of God as existing by itself and prior to the attributes, and of the attributes as additive and accidental characteristics of the Divine Being. They are essential qualities of God, which inhere in His very Being and are co-existent with it. These qualities cannot be altered without altering the essential Being of God. And since they are essential qualities, each one of them reveals to us some aspect of the Being of God.
Questions for further study: How can we distinguish between the being, the nature, and the essence of God? How do the philosophical views of the essential Being of God generally differ from the theological views? How about the tendency to find the essence of God in the absolute, in love, or in personality? What does Otto mean when he characterizes it as "the Holy" or "the Numinous"? Why is it impossible for man to comprehend God? Has sin in any way affected manís ability to know God? Is there any difference between Lutherís and Barthís conception of the "hidden God"? Does Calvin differ from them on this point? Did Luther share the Nominalist views of Occam, by whom he was influenced in other respects? How did the Reformers, in distinction from the Scholastics, consider the problem of the existence of God? Could we have any knowledge of God, if He were pure attributeless being? What erroneous views of the attributes should be avoided? What is the proper view?
Literature: Bavinck, Geref. Dogm. I, pp. 91-113,; Kuyper, Diet. Dogm., De Deo I, pp. 124-158; Hodge, Syst. Theol. I, pp. 335-374; Shedd, Dogm. Theol. I, pp. 152-194; Thorn-well, Collected Works, I, pp. 104-172; Dorner, Syst. of Chr. Doct. I, pp. 187-212; Orr, Chr. View of God and the World, pp. 75-93; Otten, Manual of the Hist, of Dogmas I, pp. 254-260; Clarke, The Chr. Doct. of God, pp. 56-70; Steenstra, The Being of God as Unity and Trinity, pp. 1-88; Thomson, The Christian Idea of God, pp. 117-159; Hendry, God the Creator (from the Barthian standpoint); Warfield, Calvin and Calvinism, pp. 131-185 (Calvinís Doctrine of God).
IV. The Names of God.
A. The Names of God in General.
While the Bible records several names of God, it also speaks of the name of God in the singular as, for instance in the following statements: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain," Ex. 20:7; "How excellent is thy name in all the earth," Ps. 8:1; "As is thy name, O God, so is thy praise," Ps. 48:10; "His name is great in Israel," Ps. 76:2; "The name of Jehovah is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe," Prov. 18:10. In such cases "the name" stands for the whole manifestation of God in His relation to His people, or simply for the person, so that it becomes synonymous with God. This usage is due to the fact that in oriental thought a name was never regarded as a mere vocable, but as an expression of the nature of the thing designated. To know the name of a person was to have power over him, and the names of the various gods were used in incantations to exercise power over them. In the most general sense of the word, then, the name of God is His self-revelation. It is a designation of Him, not as He exists in the depths of His divine Being, but as He reveals Himself especially in His relations to man. For us the one general name of God is split up into many names, expressive of the many-sided Being of God. It is only because God has revealed Himself in His name (nomen editum), that we can now designate Him by that name in various forms (nomina indita). The names of God are not of human invention, but of divine origin, though they are all borrowed from human language, and derived from human and earthly relations. They are anthropomorphic and mark a condescending approach of God to man.
The names of God constitute a difficulty for human thought. God is the Incomprehensible One, infinitely exalted above all that is temporal; but in His names He descends to all that is finite and becomes like unto man. On the one hand we cannot name Him, and on the other hand He has many names. How can this be explained? On what grounds are these names applied to the infinite and incomprehensible God? It should be borne in mind that they are not of manís invention, and do not testify to his insight into the very Being of God. They are given by God Himself with the assurance that they contain in a measure a revelation of the Divine Being. This was made possible by the fact that the world and all its relations is and was meant to be a revelation of God. Because the Incomprehensible One revealed Himself in His creatures, it is possible for man to name Him after the fashion of a creature. In order to make Himself known to man, God had to condescend to the level of man, to accommodate Himself to the limited and finite human consciousness, and to speak in human language. If the naming of God with anthropomorphic names involves a limitation of God, as some say, then this must be true to an even greater degree of the revelation of God in creation. Then the world does not reveal, but rather conceals, God; then man is not related to God, but simply forms an antithesis to Him; and then we are shut up to a hopeless agnosticism.
From what was said about the name of God in general it follows that we can include under the names of God not only the appellatives by which He is indicated as an independent personal Being and by which He is addressed, but also the attributes of God; and then not merely the attributes of the Divine Being in general, but also those that qualify the separate Persons of the Trinity. Dr. Bavinck bases his division of the names of God on that broad conception of them, and distinguishes between nomina propria (proper names), nomina essentialia (essential names, or attributes), and nomina personalia (personal names, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). In the present chapter we limit ourselves to the discussion of the first class.
B. The Old Testament Names and their Meaning.
1. ĎEl, ĎElohim, and ĎElyon. The most simple name by which God is designated in the Old Testament, is the name ĎEl, which is possibly derived from Ďul, either in the sense of being first, being lord, or in that of being strong and mighty. The name ĎElohim (sing. ĎEloah) is probably derived from the same root, or from Ďalah, to be smitten with fear; and therefore points to God as the strong and mighty One, or as the object of fear. The name seldom occurs in the singular, except in poetry. The plural is to be regarded as intensive, and therefore serves to indicate a fulness of power. The name ĎElyon is derived from Ďalah, to go up, to be elevated, and designates God as the high and exalted One, Gen. 14:19,20; Num. 24:16; Isa. 14:14. It is found especially in poetry. These names are not yet nomina propria in the strict sense of the word, for they are also used of idols, Ps. 95:3; 96:5, of men, Gen. 33:10; Ex. 7:1, and of rulers, Judg. 5:8; Ex. 21:6; 22:8-10; Ps. 82:1.
2. ĎAdonai. This name is related in meaning to the preceding ones. It is derived from either dun (din) or Ďadan, both of which mean to judge, to rule, and thus points to God as the almighty Ruler, to whom everything is subject, and to whom man is related as a servant. In earlier times it was the usual name by which the people of Israel addressed God. Later on it was largely supplanted by the name Jehovah (Yahweh). All the names so far mentioned describe God as the high and exalted One, the transcendent God. The following names point to the fact that this exalted Being condescended to enter into relations with His creatures.
3. Shaddai and ĎEl-Shaddai. The name Shaddai is derived from shadad, to be powerful, and points to God as possessing all power in heaven and on earth. Others, however, derive it from shad, lord. It differs in an important point from ĎElohim, the God of creation and nature, in that it contemplates God as subjecting all the powers of nature and making them subservient to the work of divine grace. While it stresses the greatness of God, it does not represent Him as an object of fear and terror, but as a source of blessing and comfort. It is the name with which God appeared unto Abraham, the father of the faithful, Ex. 6:2.
4. Yahweh and Yahweh Tsebhaoth. It is especially in the name Yahweh, which gradually supplanted earlier names, that God reveals Himself as the God of grace. It has always been regarded as the most sacred and the most distinctive name of God, the incommunicable name. The Jews had a superstitious dread of using it, since they read Lev. 24:16 as follows: "He that nameth the name of Yahweh shall surely be put to death." And therefore in reading the Scriptures they substituted for it either ĎAdonai or ĎElohim; and the Massoretes, while leaving the consonants intact, attached to them the vowels of one of these names, usually those of ĎAdonai. The real derivation of the name and its original pronunciation and meaning are more or less lost in obscurity. The Pentateuch connects the name with the Hebrew verb hayah, to be, Ex. 3:13,14. On the strength of that passage we may assume that the name is in all probability derived from an archaic form of that verb, namely, hawah. As far as the form is concerned, it may be regarded as a third person imperfect qal or hiphil. Most likely, however, it is the former. The meaning is explained in Ex. 3:14, which is rendered "I am that I am." or "I shall be what I shall be." Thus interpreted, the name points to the unchangeableness of God. Yet it is not so much the unchangeableness of His essential Being that is in view, as the unchangeableness of His relation to His people. The name contains the assurance that God will be for the people of Mosesí day what He was for their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It stresses the covenant faithfulness of God, is His proper name par excellence, Ex. 15:3; Ps. 83:19; Hos. 12:6; Isa. 42:8, and is therefore used of no one but Israelís God. The exclusive character of the name appears from the fact that it never occurs in the plural or with a suffix. Abbreviated forms of it, found especially in composite names, are Yah and Yahu.
The name Yahweh is often strengthened by the addition of tsebhaoth. Origen and Jerome regard this as an apposition, because Yahweh does not admit of a construct state. But this interpretation is not sufficiently warranted and hardly yields an intelligible sense. It is rather hard to determine to what the word tsebhaoth refers. There are especially three opinions:
a. The armies of Israel. But the correctness of this view may well be doubted. Most of the passages quoted to support this idea do not prove the point; only three of them contain a semblance of proof, namely, I Sam. 4:4; 17:45; II Sam. 6:2, while one of them, II Kings 19:31, is rather unfavorable to this view. While the plural tsebhaoth is used for the hosts of the people of Israel, the army is regularly indicated by the singular. This militates against the notion, inherent in this view, that in the name under consideration the term refers to the army of Israel. Moreover, it is clear that in the Prophets at least the name "Jehovah of hosts" does not refer to Jehovah as the God of war. And if the meaning of the name changed, what caused the change?
b. The stars. But in speaking of the host of heaven Scripture always uses the singular, and never the plural. Moreover, while the stars are called the host of heaven, they are never designated the host of God.
c. The angels. This interpretation deserves preference. The name Yahweh tsebhaoth is often found in connections in which angels are mentioned: I Sam. 4:4; II Sam. 6:2; Isa. 37:16; Hos. 12:4,5, Ps. 80:1,4 f.; Ps. 89; 6-8. The angels are repeatedly represented as a host that surrounds the throne of God, Gen. 28:12; 32:2; Jos. 5:14; I Kings 22:19; Ps. 68:17; 103:21; 148:2; Isa. 6:2. It is true that in this case also the singular is generally used, but this is no serious objection, since the Bible also indicates that there were several divisions of angels, Gen. 32:2; Deut. 33:2; Ps. 68:17. Moreover, this interpretation is in harmony with the meaning of the name, which has no martial flavor, but is expressive of the glory of God as King, Deut. 33:2; I Kings 22:19; Ps. 24:10; Isa. 6:3; 24:23; Zech. 14:16. Jehovah of hosts, then, is God as the King of glory, who is surrounded by angelic hosts, who rules heaven and earth in the interest of His people, and who receives glory from all His creatures.
C. The New Testament Names and their Interpretation.
1. Theos. The New Testament has the Greek equivalents of the Old Testament names. For ĎEl, ĎElohim, and ĎElyon it has Theos, which is the most common name applied to God. Like ĎElohim, it may by accommodation be used of heathen gods, though strictly speaking it expresses essential deity. ĎElyon is rendered Hupsistos Theos, Mark 5:7; Luke 1:32,35,75; Acts 7:48; 16:17; Heb. 7:1. The names Shaddai and ĎEl-Shaddai are rendered Pantokrator and Theos Pantokrator, II Cor. 6:18; Rev. 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7,14. More generally, however, Theos is found with a genitive of possession, such as mou, sou, hemon, humon, because in Christ God may be regarded as the God of all and of each one of His children. The national idea of the Old Testament has made place for the individual in religion.
2. Kyrios. The name Yahweh is explicated a few times by variations of a descriptive kind, such as "the Alpha and the Omega," "who is and who was and who is to come," "the beginning and the end," "the first and the last," Rev. 1:4,8,17; 2:8; 21:6; 22:13. For the rest, however the New Testament follows the Septuagint, which substituted ĎAdonai for it, and rendered this by Kurios, derived from kuros, power. This name does not have exactly the same connotation as Yahweh, but designates God as the Mighty One, the Lord, the Possessor, the Ruler who has legal power and authority. It is used not only of God, but also of Christ.
3. Pater. It is often said that the New Testament introduced a new name of God, namely, Pater (Father). But this is hardly correct. The name Father is used of the Godhead even in heathen religions. It is used repeatedly in the Old Testament to designate the relation of God to Israel, Deut. 32:6; Ps. 103:13; Isa. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:4,19; 31:9; Mai. 1:6; 2:10, while Israel is called the son of God, Ex. 4:22; Deut. 14:1; 32:19; Isa. 1:2; Jer. 31:20; Hos. 1:10; 11:1. In such cases the name is expressive of the special theocratic relation in which God stands to Israel. In the general sense of originator or creator it is used in the following New Testament passages: I Cor. 8:6; Eph. 3:15; Heb. 12:9; James 1:18. In all other places it serves to express either the special relation in which the first Person of the Trinity stands to Christ, as the Son of God either in a metaphysical or a mediatorial sense, or the ethical relation in which God stands to all believers as His spiritual children.
V. The Attributes of God in General.
A. Evaluation of the Terms Used.
The name "attributes" is not ideal, since it conveys the notion of adding or assigning something to one, and is therefore apt to create the impression that something is added to the divine Being. Undoubtedly the term "properties" is better, as pointing to something that is proper to God and to God only. Naturally, in so far as some of the attributes are communicable, the absolute character of the proprium is weakened, for to that extent some of the attributes are not proper to God in the absolute sense of the word. But even this term contains the suggestion of a distinction between the essence or nature of God and that which is proper to it. On the whole it is preferable to speak of the "perfections" or "virtues" of God, with the distinct understanding, however, that in this case the term "virtues" is not used in a purely ethical sense. By so doing we (a) follow the usage of the Bible, which uses the term arete, rendered virtues or excellencies, in I Pet. 2:9; and (b) avoid the suggestion that something is added to the Being of God. His virtues are not added to His Being, but His Being is the pleroma of His virtues and reveals itself in them. They may be defined as the perfections which are predicated of the Divine Being in Scripture, or are visibly exercised by Him in His works of creation, providence, and redemption. If we still continue to use the name "attributes," it is because it is commonly used and with the distinct understanding that the notion of something added to the Being of God must be rigidly excluded.
B. Method of determining the attributes of God.
The Scholastics in their attempt to construct a system of natural theology posited three ways in which to determine the attributes of God, which they designated as the via causalitatis, via negationis, and via eminentiae. By the way of causality we rise from the effects which we see in the world round about us to the idea of a first Cause, from the contemplation of creation, to the idea of an almighty Creator, and from the observation of the moral government of the world, to the idea of a powerful and wise Ruler. By way of negation we remove from our idea of God all the imperfections seen in His creatures, as inconsistent with the idea of a Perfect Being, and ascribe to Him the opposite perfection. In reliance on that principle we speak of God as independent, infinite, incorporeal, immense, immortal, and incomprehensible. And finally, by way of eminence we ascribe to God in the most eminent manner the relative perfections which we discover in man, according to the principle that what exists in an effect, pre-exists in its cause, and even in the most absolute sense in God as the most perfect Being. This method may appeal to some, because it proceeds from the known to the unknown, but is not the proper method of dogmatic theology. It takes its startingpoint in man, and concludes from what it finds in man to what is found in God. And in so far as it does this it makes man the measure of God. This is certainly not a theological method of procedure. Moreover, it bases its knowledge of God on human conclusions rather than on the self-revelation of God in His divine Word. And yet this is the only adequate source of the knowledge of God. While that method might be followed in a so-called natural theology, it does not fit in a theology of revelation.
The same may be said of the methods suggested by modern representatives of experimental theology. A typical example of this may be found in Macintoshís Theology as an Empirical Science. He also speaks of three methods of procedure. We may begin with our intuitions of the reality of God, those unreasoned certitudes which are firmly rooted in immediate experience. One of these is that the Object of our religious dependence is absolutely sufficient for our imperative needs. Especially may deductions be drawn from the life of Jesus and the "Christlike" everywhere. We may also take our starting point, not in manís certainties, but in his needs. The practically necessary postulate is that God is absolutely sufficient and absolutely dependable with reference to the religious needs of man. On that basis man can build up his doctrine of the attributes of God. And, finally, it is also possible to follow a more pragmatic method, which rests on the principle that we can learn to a certain extent what things and persons are, beyond what they are immediately perceived to be, by observing what they do. Macintosh finds it necessary to make use of all three methods.
Ritschl wants us to start with the idea that God is love, and would have us ask what is involved in this most characteristic thought of God. Since love is personal, it implies the personality of God, and thus affords us a principle for the interpretation of the world and of the life of man. The thought that God is love also carries with it the conviction that He can achieve His purpose of love, that is, that His will is supremely effective in the world. This yields the idea of an almighty Creator. And by virtue of this basic thought we also affirm Godís eternity, since, in controlling all things for the realization of His Kingdom, He sees the end from the beginning. In a somewhat similar vein Dr. W. A. Brown says: "We gain our knowledge of the attributes by analyzing the idea of God which we already won from the revelation in Christ; and we arrange them in such a way as to bring the distinctive features of that idea to clearest expression."
All these methods take their startingpoint in human experience rather than in the Word of God. They deliberately ignore the clear self-revelation of God in Scripture and exalt the idea of the human discovery of God. They who rely on such methods have an exaggerated idea of their own ability to find out God and to determine the nature of God inductively by approved "scientific methods." At the same time they close their eyes to the only avenue through which they might obtain real knowledge of God, that is, His special revelation, apparently oblivious of the fact that only the Spirit of God can search and reveal the deep things of God and reveal them unto us. Their very method compels them to drag God down to the level of man, to stress His immanence at the expense of His transcendence, and to make Him continuous with the world. And as the final result of their philosophy we have a God made in the image of man. James condemns all intellectualism in religion, and maintains that philosophy in the form of scholastic theology fails as completely to define Godís attributes in a scientific way as it does to establish Hisí existence. After an appeal to the book of Job he says: "Ratiocination is a relatively superficial and unreal path to the deity." He concludes his discussion with these significant words: "In all sincerity I think we must conclude that the attempt to demonstrate by purely intellectual processes the truth of the deliverances of direct religious experiences is absolutely hopeless." He has more confidence in the pragmatic method which seeks for a God that meets the practical needs of man. In his estimation it is sufficient to believe that "beyond each man and in a fashion continuous with him there exists a larger power which is friendly to him and to his ideals. All that the facts require is that the power should be other and larger than our conscious selves. Anything larger will do, if it only be large enough to trust for the next step. It need not be infinite, it need not be solitary. It might conceivably even be only a larger and more godlike self, of which the present self would then be the mutilated expression, and the universe might conceivably be a collection of such selves, of different degree and inclusiveness, with no absolute unity realized in it at all." Thus we are left with the idea of a finite God.
The only proper way to obtain perfectly reliable knowledge of the divine attributes is by the study of Godís self-revelation in Scripture. It is true that we can acquire some knowledge of the greatness and power, the wisdom and goodness of God through the study of nature, but for an adequate conception of even these attributes it will be necessary to turn to the Word of God. In the theology of revelation we seek to learn from the Word of God which are the attributes of the Divine Being. Man does not elicit knowledge from God as he does from other objects of study, but God conveys knowledge of Himself to man. a knowledge which man can only accept and appropriate. For the appropriation and understanding of this revealed knowledge it is, of course, of the greatest importance that man is created in the image of God, and therefore finds helpful analogies in his own life. In distinction from the a priori method of the Scholastics, who deduced the attributes from the idea of a perfect Being, this method may be called a posteriori, since it takes its startingpoint, not in an abstract perfect Being, but in the fulness of the divine self-revelation, and in the light of this seeks to know the Divine Being.
C. Suggested Divisions of the Attributes.
The question of the classification of the divine attributes has engaged the attention of theologians for a long time. Several classifications have been suggested, most of which distinguish two general classes. These classes are designated by different names and represent different points of view, but are substantially the same in the various classifications. The following are the most important of these:
1. Some speak of natural and moral attributes. The former, such as self-existence, simplicity, infinity, etc., belong to the constitutional nature of God, as distinguished from His will. The latter, as truth, goodness, mercy, justice, holiness, etc., qualify Him as a moral Being. The objection to this classification is that the so-called moral attributes are just as truly natural (i.e. original) in God as the others. Dabney prefers this division, but admits, in view of the objection raised, that the terms are not felicitous. He would rather speak of moral and non-moral attributes.
2. Others distinguish between absolute and relative attributes. The former belong to the essence of God as considered in itself, while the latter belong to the divine essence considered in relation to His creation. The one class includes such attributes as self-existence, immensity, eternity; and the other, such attributes as omnipresence and omniscience. This division seems to proceed on the assumption that we can have some knowledge of God as He is in Himself, entirely apart from the relations in which He stands to His creatures. But this is not so, and therefore, properly speaking, all the perfections of God are relative, indicating what He is in relation to the world. Strong evidently does not recognize the objection, and gives preference to this division.
3. Still others divide the divine perfections into immanent or intransitive and emanent or transitive attributes. Strong combines this division with the preceding one, when he speaks of absolute or immanent and relative or transitive attributes. The former are those which do not go forth and operate outside of the divine essence, but remain immanent, such as immensity, simplicity, eternity, etc.; and the latter are such as issue forth and produce effects external to God, as omnipotence, benevolence, justice, etc. But if some of the divine attributes are purely immanent, all knowledge of them would seem to be excluded. H. B. Smith remarks that every one of them must be both immanent and transeunt.
4. The most common distinction is that between incommunicable and communicable attributes. The former are those to which there is nothing analogous in the creature, as aseity, simplicity, immensity, etc.; the latter those to which the properties of the human spirit bear some analogy, as power, goodness, mercy, righteousness, etc. This distinction found no favor with the Lutherans, but has always been rather popular in Reformed circles, and is found in such representative works as those of the Leyden Professors, Mastricht and Turretin. It was felt from the very beginning, however, that the distinction was untenable without further qualification, since from one point of view every attribute may be called communicable. None of the divine perfections are communicable in the infinite perfection in which they exist in God, and at the same time there are faint traces in man even of the so-called incommunicable attributes of God.
Questions for further study: What objections are there to the use of the term attributes as applied to God? Do the same objections apply to the German "Eigenschaften" and the Holland "eigenschappen"? What name does Calvin use for them? What objection is there to the conception of the attributes as parts of God or as additions to the Divine Being? What faulty conceptions of the attributes were current in the Middle Ages? Did the Scholastics in their search for the attributes follow an a priori or an a posteriori, a deductive or an inductive method? Why is their method inherently foreign to the theology of revelation? What classifications of the attributes were suggested in addition to those mentioned in the text? Why is it virtually out of the question to give a faultless division? What division is suggested by the Westminster Catechism?
VI. The Incommunicable Attributes.
(God as the Absolute Being)
It has been quite common in theology to speak of God as the absolute Being. At the same time the term "absolute" is more characteristic of philosophy than it is of theology. In metaphysics the term "the Absolute" is a designation of the ultimate ground of all existence; and because the theist also speaks of God as the ultimate ground of all existence, it is sometimes thought that the Absolute of philosophy and the God of theism are one and the same. But that is not necessarily so. In fact the usual conception of the Absolute renders it impossible to equate it with the God of the Bible and of Christian theology. The term "Absolute" is derived from the Latin absolutus, a compound of ab (from) and solvere (to loosen), and thus means free as to condition, or free from limitation or restraint. This fundamental thought was worked out in various ways, so that the Absolute was regarded as that which is free from all conditions (the Unconditioned or Self-Existent), from all relations (the (Unrelated), from all imperfections (the Perfect), or free from all phenomenal differences or distinctions, such as matter and spirit, being and attributes, subject and object, appearance and reality (the Real, or Ultimate Reality).
The answer to the question, whether the Absolute of philosophy can be identified with the God of theology, depends on the conception one has of the Absolute. If Spinoza conceives of the Absolute as the one Self-subsistent Being of which all particular things are but transient modes, thus identifying God and the world, we cannot share his view of this Absolute as God. When Hegel views the Absolute as the unity of thought and being, as the totality of all things, which includes all relations, and in which all the discords of the present are resolved in perfect unity, we again find it impossible to follow him in regarding this Absolute as God. And when Bradley says that his Absolute is related to nothing, and that there cannot be any practical relation between it and the finite will, we agree with him that his Absolute cannot be the God of the Christian religion, for this God does enter into relations with finite creatures. Bradley cannot conceive of the God of religion as other than a finite God. But when the Absolute is defined as the First Cause of all existing things, or as the ultimate ground of all reality, or as the one self-existent Being, it can be considered as identical with the God of theology. He is the Infinite One, who does not exist in any necessary relations, because He is self-sufficient, but at the same time can freely enter into various relations with His creation as a whole and with His creatures. While the incommunicable attributes emphasize the absolute Being of God, the communicable attributes stress the fact that He enters into various relations with His creatures. In the present chapter the following perfections of God come into consideration.
A. The Self-Existence of God.
God is self-existent, that is, He has the ground of His existence in Himself. This idea is sometimes expressed by saying that He is causa sui (His own cause), but this expression is hardly accurate, since God is the uncaused, who exists by the necessity of His own Being, and therefore necessarily. Man, on the other hand, does not exist necessarily, and has the cause of his existence outside of himself. The idea of Godís self-existence was generally expressed by the term aseitas, meaning self-originated, but Reformed theologians quite generally substituted for it the word independentia (independence), as expressing, not merely that God is independent in His Being, but also that He is independent in everything else: in His virtues, decrees, works, and so on. It may be said that there is a faint trace of this perfection in the creature, but this can only mean that the creature, though absolutely dependent, yet has its own distinct existence. But, of course, this falls far short of being self-existent. This attribute of God is generally recognized, and is implied in heathen religions and in the Absolute of philosophy. When the Absolute is conceived of as the self-existent and as the ultimate ground of all things, which voluntarily enters into various relations with other beings, it can be identified with the God of theology. As the self-existent God, He is not only independent in Himself, but also causes everything to depend on Him. This self-existence of God finds expression in the name Tehovah. It is only as the self-existent and independent One that God can give the assurance that He will remain eternally the same in relation to His people. Additional indications of it are found in the assertion in John 5:26, "For as the Father hath life in Himself, even so gave He to the Son also to have life in Himself"; in the declaration that He is independent of all things and that all things exist only through Him, Ps. 94:8 fL; Isa. 40:18 ff.; Acts 7:25; and in statements implying that He is independent in His thought, Rom. 11:33,34, and in His will, Dan. 4:35; Rom. 9:19; Eph. 1:5; Rev. 4:11, in His power, Ps. 115:3, and in His counsel, Ps. 33:11.
B. The Immutability of God.
The Immutability of God is a necessary concomitant of His aseity. It is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises. In virtue of this attribute He is exalted above all becoming, and is free from all accession or diminution and from all growth or decay in His Being or perfections. His knowledge and plans, His moral principles and volitions remain forever the same. Even reason teaches us that no change is possible in God, since a change is either for better or for worse. But in God, as the absolute Perfection, improvement and deterioration are both equally impossible. This immutability of God is clearly taught in such passages of Scripture as Ex. 3:14; Ps. 102:26-28; Isa. 41:4; 48:12; Mai. 3:6; Rom. 1:23; Heb. 1:11,12; Jag. 1:17. At the same time there are many passages of Scripture which seem to ascribe change to God. Did not He who dwelleth in eternity pass on to the creation of the world, become incarnate in Christ, and in the Holy Spirit take up His abode in the Church? Is He not represented as revealing and hiding Himself, as coming and going, as repenting and changing His intention, and as dealing differently with man before and after conversion? Cf. Ex. 32:10-14; Jonah 3:10; Prov. 11:20; 12:22; Ps. 18:26-27. The objection here implied is based to a certain extent on misunderstanding. The divine immutability should not be understood as implying immobility, as if there were no movement in God. It is even customary in theology to speak of God as actus purus, a God who is always in action. The Bible teaches us that God enters into manifold relations with man and, as it were, lives their life with them. There is change round about Him, change in the relations of men to Him, but there is no change in His Being, His attributes, His purpose, His motives of action, or His promises. The purpose to create was eternal with Him, and there was no change in Him when this purpose was realized by a single eternal act of His will. The incarnation brought no change in the Being or perfections of God, nor in His purpose, for it was His eternal good pleasure to send the Son of His love into the world. And if Scripture speaks of His repenting, changing His intention, and altering His relation to sinners when they repent, we should remember that this is only an anthro-popathic way of speaking. In reality the change is not in God, but in man and in manís relations to God. It is important to maintain the immutability of God over against the Pelagian and Arminian doctrine that God is subject to change, not indeed in His Being, but in His knowledge and will, so that His decisions are to a great extent dependent on the actions of man; over against the pantheistic notion that God is an eternal becoming rather than an absolute Being, and that the unconscious Absolute is gradually developing into conscious personality in man; and over against the present tendency of some to speak of a finite, struggling, and gradually growing God.
C. The Infinity of God.
The infinity of God is that perfection of God by which He is free from all limitations. In ascribing it to God we deny that there are or can be any limitations to the divine Being or attributes. It implies that He is in no way limited by the universe, by this time-space world, or confined to the universe. It does not involve His identity with the slim-total of existing things, nor does it exclude the co-existence of derived and finite things, to which He bears relation. The infinity of God must be conceived as intensive rather than extensive, and should not be confused with boundless extension, as if God were spread out through the entire universe, one part being here and another there, for God has no body and therefore no extension. Neither should it be regarded as a merely negative concept, though it is perfectly true that we cannot form a positive idea of it.
It k a reality in God fully comprehended only by Him. We distinguish various aspects of Godís infinity.
1. His absolute perfection. This is the infinity of the Divine Being considered in itself. It should not be understood in a quantitative, but in a qualitative sense; it qualifies all the communicable attributes of God. Infinite power is not an absolute quantum, but an exhaustless potency of power; and infinite holiness is not a boundless quantum of holiness, but a holiness which is, qualitatively free from all limitation or defect. The same may be said of infinite knowledge and wisdom, and of infinite love and righteousness. Says Dr. Orr: "Perhaps we can say that infinity in God is ultimately: (a) internally and qualitatively, absence of all limitation and defect; (b) boundless potentiality." In this sense of the word the infinity of God is simply identical with the perfection of His Divine Being. Scripture proof for it is found in Job 11:7-10; Ps. 145:3; Matt. 5:48.
2. His eternity. The infinity of God in relation to time is called His eternity. The form in which the Bible represents Godís eternity is simply that of duration through endless ages, Ps. 90:2; 102:12; Eph. 3:21. We should remember, however, that in speaking as it does the Bible uses popular language, and not the language of philosophy. We generally think of Godís eternity in the same way, namely, as duration infinitely prolonged both backwards and forwards. But this is only a popular and symbolical way of representing that which in reality transcends time and differs from it essentially. Eternity in the strict sense of the word is abscribed to that which transcends all temporal limitations. That it applies to God in that sense is at least intimated in II Pet. 3:8. "Time," says Dr. Orr, "strictly has relation to the world of objects existing in succession. God fills time; is in every part of it; but His eternity still is not really this being in time. It is rather that to which time forms a contrast." Our existence is marked off by days and weeks and months and years; not so the existence of God. Our life is divided into a past, present and future, but there is no such division in the life of God. He is the eternal "I am." His eternity may be defined as that perfection of God whereby He is elevated above all temporal limits and all succession of moments, and possesses the whole of His existence in one indivisible present. The relation of eternity to time constitutes one of the most difficult problems in philosophy and theology, perhaps incapable of solution in our present condition.
3. His immensity. The infinity of God may also be viewed with reference to space, and is then called His immensity. It may be defined as that perfection of the Divine Being by which He transcends all spatial limitations, and yet is present in every point of space with His whole Being. It has a negative and a positive side, denying all limitations of space to the Divine Being, and asserting that God is above space and fills every part of it with His whole Being. The last words are added, in order to ward off the idea that God is diffused through space, so that one part of His Being is present in one place, and another part in some other place. We distinguish three modes of presence in space. Bodies are in space circumscriptively, because they are bounded by it; finite spirits are in space definitively, since they are not everywhere, but only in a certain definite place; and in distinction from both of these God is in space repletively, because He fills all space. He is not absent from any part of it, nor more present in one part than in another.
In a certain sense the terms "immensity" and "omnipresence," as applied to God, denote the same thing, and can therefore be regarded as synonymous. Yet there is a point of difference that should be carefully noted. "Immensity" points to the fact that God transcends all space and is not subject to its limitations, while "omnipresence" denotes that He nevertheless fills every part of space with His entire Being. The former emphasizes the transcendence, and the latter, the immanence of God. God is immanent in all His creatures, in His entire creation, but is in no way bounded by it. In connection with Godís relation to the world we must avoid, on the one hand, the error of Pantheism, so characteristic of a great deal of present day thinking, with its denial of the transcendence of God and its assumption that the Being of God is really the substance of all things; and, on the other hand, the Deistic conception that God is indeed present in creation per potentiam (with His power), but not per essentiam et naturam (with His very Being and nature), and acts upon the world from a distance. Though God is distinct from the world and may not be identified with it, He is yet present in every part of His creation, not only per potentiam, but also per essentiam. This does not mean, however, that He is equally present and present in the same sense in all His creatures. The nature of His indwelling is in harmony with that of His creatures. He does not dwell on earth as He does in heaven, in animals as He does in man, in the inorganic as He does in the organic creation, in the wicked as He does in the pious, nor in the Church as He does in Christ. There is an endless variety in the manner in which He is immanent in His creatures, and in the measure in which they reveal God to those who have eyes to see. The omnipresence of God is clearly revealed in Scripture. Heaven and earth cannot contain Him, I Kings 8:27; Isa. 66:1; Acts 7:48,49; and at the same time He fills both and is a God at hand, Ps. 139:7-10; Jer. 23:23,24; Acts 17:27,28.
D. The Unity of God.
A distinction is made between the unitas singularitatis and the unitas sim-plicitatis.
1. The unitas singularitatis. This attribute stresses both the oneness and the unicity of God, the fact that He is numerically one and that as such He is unique. It implies that there is but one Divine Being, that from the nature of the case there can be but one, and that all other beings exist of and through and unto Him. The Bible teaches us in several passages that there is but one true God. Solomon pleaded with God to maintain the cause of His people, "that all the peoples of the earth may know that Jehovah, He is God; there is none else," I Kings 8:60. And Paul writes to the Corinthians, "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we in Him," I Cor. 8:6. Similarly he writes to Timothy, "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," I Tim. 2:5. Other passages do not stress the numerical unity of God as much as they do His uniqueness. This is the case in the well known words of Deut. 6:4, "Hear, O Israel; Jehovah our God is one Jehovah." The Hebrew word echad, translated by "one" may also be rendered "an only," the equivalent of the German "einig" and the Dutch "eenig." And thjs would seem to be a better translation. Keil stresses that fact that this passage does not teach the numerical unity of God, but rather that Jehovah is the only God that is entitled to the name Jehovah. This is also the meaning of the term in Zech. 14:9. The same idea is beautifully expressed in the rhetorical question of Ex. 15:11, "Who is like unto thee, 0 Jehovah, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" This excludes all polytheistic conceptions of God.
2. The unitas simplicitatis. While the unity discussed in the preceding sets God apart from other beings, the perfection now under consideration is expressive of the inner and qualitative unity of the Divine Being. When we speak of the simplicity of God, we use the term to describe the state or quality of being simple, the condition of being free from division into parts, and therefore from compositeness. It means that God is not composite and is not susceptible of division in any sense of the word. This implies among other things that the three Persons in the Godhead are not so many parts of which the Divine essence is composed, that Godís essence and perfections are not distinct, and that the attributes are not superadded to His essence. Since the two are one, the Bible can speak of God as light and life, as righteousness and love, thus identifying Him with His perfections. The simplicity of God follows from some of His other perfections; from His Self-existence, which excludes the idea that something preceded Him, as in the case of compounds; and from His immutability, which could not be predicated of His nature, if it were made up of parts. This perfection was disputed during the Middle Ages, and was denied by Socinians and Arminians. Scripture does not explicitly assert it, but implies it where it speaks of God as righteousness, truth, wisdom, light, life, love, and so on, and thus indicates that each of these properties, because of their absolute perfection, is identical with His Being. In recent works on theology the simplicity of God is seldom mentioned. Many theologians positively deny it, either because it is regarded as a purely metaphysical abstraction, or because, in their estimation, it conflicts with the doctrine of the Trinity. Dabney believes that there is no composition in the substance of God, but denies that in Him substance and attributes are one and the same. He claims that God is no more simple in that respect than finite spirits.
Questions for Further Study. What different conceptions of the Absolute do we meet with in philosophy? Can the Absolute of philosophy always be identified with the God of theology? How does Bradley distinguish between the two? How is the finite God of James, Schiller, Ward, Wells and others, related to the Absolute? How do the incommunicable attributes of God link up with the Absolute? Does the immutability of God exclude all movement in God? In how far does it exclude changes of action and relations? Should the absolute perfection of God be regarded as an attribute? Why does the Bible represent Godís eternity as endless duration? Is it possible to harmonize the transcendence and the immanence of God? How is transcendence frequently interpreted in modern theology? What is implied in the simplicity of God?
Literature: Bavinck, Geref. Dogm. II, pp. 137-171; Kuyper, Diet. Dogm., Deo I, pp. 287-318; Hodge, Syst. Theol. I, pp. 380-393; Shedd, Dogm. Theol. I, pp. 338-353; Dabney, Syst. and Polem. Theol, pp. 151-154; Thornwell, Collected Works I, pp. 189-205; Strong, Syst. Theol., pp. 254-260, 275-279; Pieper, Christl. Dogm. I, pp. 536-543, 547-549; Knudson, The Doct. of God, pp. 242-284; Steenstra, God as Unity and Trinity, pp. 112-139; Charnock, Existence and Attributes of God. pp. 276-405.
VII. The Communicable Attributes
(God as a Personal Spirit).
If the attributes discussed in the previous chapter stressed the absolute Being of God, those that remain to be considered emphasize His personal nature. It is in the communicable attributes that God stands out as a conscious, intelligent, free, and moral Being, as a Being that is personal in the highest sense of the word. The question has long engaged the attention of philosophers, and is still a subject of debate, whether personal existence is consistent with the idea of absoluteness. The answer to that question depends to a great extent on the meaning one ascribes to the word "absolute." The word has been used in three different senses in philosophy, which may be denominated as the agnostic, the logical, and the causal sense. For the agnostic the Absolute is the unrelated, of which nothing can be known, since things are known only in their relations. And if nothing can be known of it, personality cannot be ascribed to it. Moreover, since personality is unthinkable apart from relations, it cannot be identified with an Absolute which is in its very essence the unrelated. In the logical Absolute the individual is subordinated to the universal, and the highest universal is ultimate reality. Such is the absolute substance of Spinoza, and the absolute spirit of Hegel. It may express itself in and through the finite, but nothing that is finite can express its essential nature. To ascribe personality to it would be to limit it to one mode of being, and would destroy its absoluteness. In fact, such an absolute or ultimate is a mere abstract and empty concept, that is barren of all content. The causal view of the Absolute represents it as the ultimate ground of all things. It is not dependent on anything outside of itself, but causes all things to depend on it. Moreover, it is not necessarily completely unrelated, but can enter into various relations with finite creatures. Such a conception of the Absolute is not inconsistent with the idea of personality. Moreover, we should bear in mind that in their argumentation philosophers were always operating with the idea of personality as it is realized in man, and lost sight of the fact that personality in God might be something infinitely more perfect. As a matter of fact, perfect personality is found only in God, and what we see in man is only a finite copy of the original. Still more, there is a tri-personality in God, of which no analogy is found in human beings.
Several natural proofs, quite similar to those adduced for the existence of God, have been urged to prove the personality of God. (1) Human personality demands a personal God for its explanation. Man is not a self-existent and eternal, but a finite being that has a beginning and an end. The cause assumed must be sufficient to account for the whole of the effect. Since man is a personal product, the power originating him must also be personal. Otherwise there is something in the effect which is superior to anything that is found in the cause; and this wpuld be quite impossible. (2) The world in general bears witness to the personality of God. In its whole fabric and constitution it reveals the clearest traces of an infinite intelligence, of the deepest, highest and tenderest emotions, and of a will that is all-powerful. Consequently, we are constrained to mount from the world to the worldís Maker as a Being of intelligence, sensibility, and will, that is, as a person. (3) The moral and religious nature of man also points to the personality of God. His moral nature imposes on him a sense of obligation to do that which is right, and this necessarily implies the existence of a supreme Lawgiver. Moreover, his religious nature constantly prompts him to seek personal communion with some higher Being; and all the elements and activities of religion demand a personal God as their object and final end. Even so-called pantheistic religions often testify unconsciously to belief in a personal God. The fact is that all such things as penitence, faith and obedience, fellowship and love, loyalty in service and sacrifice, trust in life and death, are meaningless unless they find their appropriate object in a personal God.
But while all these considerations are true and have some value as testimonia, they are not the proofs on which theology depends in its doctrine of the personality of God. It turns for proof to Godís Self-revelation in Scripture. The term "person" is not applied to God in the Bible, though there are words, such as the Hebrew panim and the Greek prosopon, that come very close to expressing the idea. At the same time Scripture testifies to the personality of God in more than one way. The presence of God, as described by Old and New Testament writers, is clearly a personal presence. And the anthropomorphic and anthropopathic representations of God in Scripture, while they must be interpreted so as not to militate against the pure spirituality and holiness of God, can hardly be justified, except on the assumption that the Being to whom they apply is a real person, with personal attributes, even though it be without human limitations. God is represented throughout as a personal God, with whom men can and may converse, whom they can trust, who sustains them in their trials, and fills their hearts with the joy of deliverance and victory. And, finally, the highest revelation of God to which the Bible testifies is a personal revelation. Jesus Christ reveals the Father in such a perfect way that He could say to Philip," He who hath seen me hath seen the Father," John 14:9. More detailed proofs will appear in the discussion of the communicable attributes.
A. The Spirituality of God.
The Bible does not give us a definition of God. The nearest approach to anything like it is found in the word of Christ to the Samaritan woman, "God is Spirit," John 4:24. This is at least a statement purporting to tell us in a single word what God is. The Lord does not merely sav that God is a spirit, but that He is Spirit. And because of this clear statement it is but fitting that we should discuss first of all the spirituality of God. By teaching the spirituality of God theology stresses the fact that God has a substantial Being all His own and distinct from the world, and that this substantial Being is immaterial, invisible, and without composition or extension. It includes the thought that all the essential qualities which belong to the perfect idea of Spirit are found in Him: that He is a self-conscious and self-determining Being. Since He is Spirit in the most absolute, and in the purest sense of the word, there is in Him no composition of parts. The idea of spirituality of necessity excludes the ascription of anything like corporeity to God, and thus condemns the fancies of some of the early Gnostics and medieval Mystics, and of all those sectarians of our own day who ascribe a body to God. It is true that the Bible speaks of the hands and feet, the eyes and ears, the mouth and nose of God, but in doing this it is speaking anthropomorphically or figuratively of Him who far transcends our human knowledge, and of whom we can only speak in a stammering fashion after the manner of men. By ascribing spirituality to God we also affirm that He has none of the properties belonging to matter, and that He cannot be discerned by the bodilv senses. Paul speaks of Him as "the King eternal, immortal, invisible" (I Tim. 1:17), and again as "the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal," I Tim. 6:15,16.
B. Intellectual Attributes.
God is represented in Scripture as Light, and therefore as perfect in His intellectual life. This category comprises two of the divine perfections, namely, the knowledge and the wisdom of God.
1. The Knowledge of God. The knowledge of God may be defined as that perfection of God whereby He, in an entirely unique manner, knows Himself and all things possible and actual in one eternal and most simple act. The Bible testifies to the knowledge of God abundantly, as, for instance, in I Sam. 2:3; Job 12:13; Ps. 94:9; 147:4; Isa. 29:15; 40:27,28. In connection with the knowledge of God several points call for consideration.
a. Its nature. The knowledge of God differs in some important points from that of men. It is archetypal, which means that He knows the universe as it exists in His own eternal idea previous to its existence as a finite reality in time and space; and that His knowledge is not, like ours, obtained from without. It is a knowledge that is characterized by absolute perfection. As such it is intuitive rather than demonstrative or discursive. It is innate and immediate, and does not result from observation or from a process of reasoning. Being perfect, it is also simultaneous and not successive, so that He sees things at once in their totality, and not piecemeal one after another. Furthermore, it is complete and fully conscious, while manís knowledge is always partial, frequently indistinct, and often fails to rise into the clear light of consciousness. A distinction is made between the necessary and free knowledge of God. The former is the knowledge which God has of Himself and of all things possible, a knowledge resting on the consciousness of His omnipotence. It is called necessary knowledge, because it is not determined by an action of the divine will. It is also known as the knowledge of simple intelligence, in view of the fact that it is purely an act of the divine intellect, without any concurrent action of the divine will. The free knowledge of God is the knowledge which He has of all things actual, that is, of things that existed in the past, that exist in the present, or that will exist in the future. It is founded on Godís infinite knowledge of His own all-comprehensive and unchangeable eternal purpose, and is called free knowledge, because it is determined by a concurrent act of the will. It is also called scientia visionis, knowledge of vision.
b. Its extent. The knowledge of God is not only perfect in kind, but also in its inclusiveness. It is called omniscience, because it is all-comprehensive. In order to promote a proper estimate of it, we may particularize as follows: God knows Himself and in Himself all things that come from Him (internal knowledge). He knows all things as they actually come to pass, past, present, and future, and knows them in their real relations. He knows the hidden essence of things, to which the knowledge of man cannot penetrate. He sees not as man sees^ who observes only the outward manifestations of life, but penetrates to the depths of the human heart. Moreover, He knows what is possible as well as what is actual; all things that might occur under certain circumstances are present to His mind. The omniscience of God is clearly taught in several passages of Scripture. He is perfect in knowledge, Job 37:16, looketh not on outward appearance but on the heart, I Sam. 16:7; I Chron. 28:9,17; Ps. 139:1-4; Jer. 17:10, observes the ways of men, Deut. 2:7; Job 23:10; 24:23; 31:4; Ps. 1:6; 119:168, knows the place of their habitation, Ps. 33:13, and the days of their life, Ps. 37:18. This doctrine of the knowledge of God must be maintained over against all pantheistic tendencies to represent God as the unconscious ground of the phenomenal world, and of those who, like Marcion, Socinus and all who believe in a finite God, ascribe to Him only a limited knowledge.
There is one question, however, that calls for special discussion. It concerns Godís foreknowledge of the free actions of men, and therefore of conditional events. We can understand how God can foreknow where necessity rules, but find it difficult to conceive of a previous knowledge of actions which man freely originates. The difficulty of this problem led some to deny the foreknowledge of free actions, and others to deny human freedom. It is perfectly evident that Scripture teaches the divine foreknowledge of contingent events, I Sam. 23:10-13; II Kings 13:19; Ps. 81:14,15; Isa. 42:9; 48:18; Jer. 2:2,3; 38:17-20; Ezek. 3:6; Matt. 11:21. Moreover, it does not leave us in doubt as to the freedom of man. It certainly does not permit the denial of either one of the terms of the problem. We are up against a problem here, which we cannot fully solve, though it is possible to make an approach to a solution. God has decreed all things, and has decreed them with their causes and conditions in the exact order in which they come to pass; and His foreknowledge of future things and also of contingent events rests on His decree. This solves the problem as far as the foreknowledge of God is concerned.
But now the question arises, Is the predetermination of things consistent with the free will of man? And the answer is that it certainly is not, if the freedom of the will be regarded as indifferentia (arbitrariness), but this is an unwarranted conception of the freedom of man. The will of man is not something altogether indeterminate, something hanging in the air that can be swung arbitrarily in either direction. It is rather something rooted in our very nature, connected with our deepest instincts and emotions, and determined by our intellectual considerations and by our very character. And if we conceive of our human freedom as lubentia rationalis (reasonable self-determination), then we have no sufficient warrant for saying that it is inconsistent with divine foreknowledge. Says Dr. Orr: "A solution of this problem there is, though our minds fail to grasp it. In part it probably lies, not in denying freedom, but in a revised conception of freedom. For freedom, after all, is not arbitrariness. There is in all rational action a why for acting ó a reason which decides action. The truly free man is not the uncertain, incalculable man, but the man who is reliable. In short, freedom has its laws ó spiritual laws ó and the omniscient Mind knows what these are. But an element of mystery, it must be acknowledged, still remains."
Some theologians suggested the so-called scientia media as a solution of the problem. The name is indicative of the fact that it occupies a middle ground between the necessary and the free knowledge of God. It differs from the former in that its object is not all possible things, but a special class of things actually future; and from the latter in that its ground is not the eternal purpose of God, but the free action of the creature as simply foreseen. It is called mediate, says Dabney, "because they suppose God arrives at it, not directly by knowing His own purpose to effect it, but indirectly by His infinite insight into the manner in which the contingent second cause will act, under given outward circumstances, foreseen or produced by God." But this is no solution of the problem at all. It is an attempt to reconcile two things which logically exclude each other, namely, freedom of action in the Pelagian sense and a certain foreknowledge of that action. Actions that are in no way determined by God, directly or indirectly, but are wholly dependent on the arbitrary will of man, can hardly be the object of divine foreknowledge. Moreover, it is objectionable, because it makes the divine knowledge dependent on the choice of man, virtually annuls the certainty of the knowledge of future events, and thus implicitly denies the omniscience of God. It is also contrary to such passages of Scripture as Acts 2:23; Rom. 9:16; Eph. 1:11; Phil. 2:13.
2. The Wisdom of God. The wisdom of God may be regarded as a particular aspect of His knowledge. It is quite evident that knowledge and wisdom are not the same, though they are closely related. They do not always accompany each other. An uneducated man may be superior to a scholar in wisdom. Knowledge is acquired by study, but wisdom results from an intuitive insight into things. The former is theoretical, while the latter is practical, making knowledge subservient to some specific purpose. Both are imperfect in man, but in God they are characterized by absolute perfection. Godís wisdom is His intelligence as manifested in the adaptation of means to ends. It points to the fact that He always strives for the best possible ends, and chooses the best means for the realization of His purposes. H. B. Smith defines the divine wisdom as "that attribute of God whereby He produces the best possible results with the best possible means." We may be a little more specific and call it that perfection of God whereby He applies His knowledge to the attainment of His ends in a way which glorifies Him most. It implies a final end to which all secondary ends are subordinate; and according to Scripture this final end is the glory of God, Rom. 11:33; 14:7,8; Eph. 1:11,12; Col. 1:16. Scripture refers to the wisdom of God in many passages, and even represents it as personified in Proverbs 8. This wisdom of God is seen particularly in creation, Ps. 19:1-7; 104:1-34; in providence, Ps. 33:10, 11; Rom. 8:28; and in redemption, Rom. 11:33; I Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:10.
3. The Veracity of God. Scripture uses several words to express the veracity of God: in the Old Testament Ďemeth, Ďamunah, and Ďamen, and in the New Testament alethes (aletheia), alethinos, and pistis. This already points to the fact that it includes several ideas, such as truth, truthfulness, and faithfulness. When God is called the truth, this is to be understood in its most comprehensive sense. He is the truth first of all in a metaphysical sense, that is, in Him the idea of the Godhead is perfectly realized; He is all that He as God should be, and as such is distinguished from all so-called gods, which are called vanity and lies, Ps. 96:5; 97:7; 115:4-8; Isa. 44:9,10. He is also the truth in an ethical sense, and as such reveals Himself as He really is, so that His revelation is absolutely reliable, Num. 23:19; Rom. 3:4; Heb. 6:18. Finally, He is also the truth in a logical sense, and in virtue of this He knows things as they really are, and has so constituted the mind of man that the latter can know, not merely the appearance, but also the reality, of things. Thus the truth of God is the foundation of all knowledge. It should be borne in mind, moreover, that these three are but different aspects of the truth, which is one in God. In view of the preceding we may define the veracity or truth of God as that perfection of His Being by virtue of which He fully answers to the idea of the Godhead, is perfectly reliable in His revelation, and sees things as they really are. It is because of this perfection that He is the source of all truth, not only in the sphere of morals and religion, but also in every field of scientific endeavor. Scripture is very emphatic in its references to God as the truth, Ex. 34:6; Num. 23:19; Deut. 32:4; Ps. 25:10; 31:6; Isa. 65:16; Jer. 10:8, 10, 11; John 14:6; 17:3; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18; I John 5:20-21. There is still another aspect of this divine perfection, and one that is always regarded as of the greatest importance. It is generally called His faithfulness, in virtue of which He is ever mindful of His" covenant and fulfils all the promises which He has made to His people. This faithfulness of God is of the utmost practical significance to the people of God. It is the ground of their confidence, the foundation of their hope, and the cause of their rejoicing. It saves them from the despair to which their own unfaithfulness might easily lead, gives them courage to carry on in spite of their failures, and fills their hearts with joyful anticipations, even when they are deeply conscious of the fact that they have forfeited all the blessings of God. Num. 23:19; Deut. 7:9; Ps. 89:33; Isa. 49:7; I Cor. 1:9; II Tim. 2:13; Heb. 6:17, 18; 10:23.
C. Moral Attributes.
The moral attributes of God are generally regarded as the most glorious of the divine perfections. Not that one attribute of God is in itself more perfect and glorious than another, but relatively to man the moral perfections of God shine with a splendor all their own. They are generally discussed under three heads: (1) the goodness of God; (2) the holiness of God; and (3) the righteousness of God.
1. The Goodness of God. This is generally treated as a generic conception, including several varieties, which are distinguished according to their objects. The goodness of God should not be confused with His kindness, which is a more restricted concept. We speak of something as good, when it answers in all parts to the ideal. Hence in our ascription of goodness to God the fundamental idea is that He is in every way all that He as God should be, and therefore answers perfectly to the ideal expressed in the word "God." He is good in the metaphysical sense of the word, absolute perfection and perfect bliss in Himself. It is in this sense that Jesus said to the young ruler: "None is good save one, even God," Mark 10:18. But since God is good in Himself, He is also good for His creatures, and may therefore be called the fons omnium bonorum. He is the fountain of all good, and is so represented in a variety of ways throughout the Bible. The poet sings: "For with thee is the fountain of life; in thy light shall we see light," Ps. 36:9. All the good things which the creatures enjoy in the present and expect in the future, flow to them out of this inexhaustible fountain. And not only that, but God is also the summum bonum, the highest good, for all His creatures, though in different degrees and according to the measure in which they answer to the purpose of their existence. In the present connection we naturally stress the ethical goodness of God and the different aspects of it, as these are determined by the nature of its objects.
a. The goodness of God towards His creatures in general. This may be defined as that perfection of God which prompts Him to deal bountifully and kindly with all His creatures. It is the affection which the Creator feels towards His sentient creatures as such. The Psalmist sings of it in the well known words: "Jehovah is good to all; and His tender mercies are over all His works.
. . . The eyes of all wait for thee; and thou givest them their food in due season. Thou openest thy hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing," Ps. 145:9,15,16. This benevolent interest of God is revealed in His care for the creatureís welfare, and is suited to the nature and the circumstances of the creature. It naturally varies in degree according to the capacity of the objects to receive it. And while it is not restricted to believers, they only manifest a proper appreciation of its blessings, desire to use them in the service of their God, and thus enjoy them in a richer and fuller measure. The Bible refers to this goodness of God in many passages, such as Ps. 36:6; 104:21; Matt. 5:45; 6:26; Luke 6:35; Acts 14:17.
b. The love of God. When the goodness of God is exercised towards His rational creatures, it assumes the higher character of love, and this love may again be distinguished according to the objects on which it terminates." In distinction from the goodness of God in general, it may be defined as that perfection of God by which He is eternally moved to self-communication. Since God is absolutely good in Himself, His love cannot find complete satisfaction in any object that falls short of absolute perfection. He loves His rational creatures for His own sake, or, to express it otherwise, He loves in them Himself, His virtues, His work, and His gifts. He does not even withdraw His love completely from the sinner in his present sinful state, though the latters sin is an abomination to Him, since He recognizes even in the sinner His image-bearer. John 3:16; Matt. 5:44,45. At the same time He loves believers with a special love, since He contemplates them as His spiritual children in Christ. It is to them that He communicates Himself in the fullest and richest sense, with all the fulness of His grace and mercy. John 16:27; Rom. 5:8; I John 3:1.
c. The grace of God. The significant word "grace" is a translation of the Hebrew chanan and of the Greek charis. According to Scripture it is manifested not only by God, but also by men, and then denotes the favor which one man shows another, Gen. 33:8,10,13; 39:4; 47:25; Ruth 2:2; I Sam. 1:18; 16:22. In such cases it is not necessarily implied that the favor is undeserved. In general it can be said, however, that grace is the free bestowal of kindness on one who has no claim to it. This is particularly the case where the grace referred to is the grace of God. His love to man is always unmerited, and when shown to sinners, is even forfeited. The Bible generally uses the word to denote the unmerited goodness or love of God to those who have forfeited it, and are by nature under a sentence of condemnation. The grace of God is the source of all spiritual blessings that are bestowed upon sinners. As such we read of it in Eph. 1:6,7; 2:7-9; Tit. 2:11; 3:4-7. While the Bible often speaks of the grace of God as saving grace, it also makes mention of it in a broader sense, as in Isa. 26:10; Jer. 16:13. The grace of God is of the greatest practical significance for sinful men. It was by grace that the way of redemption was opened for them, Rom. 3:24; II Cor. 8:9, and that the message of redemption went out into the world, Acts 14:3. By grace sinners receive the gift of God in Jesus Christ, Acts 18:27; Eph. 2:8. By grace they are justified, Rom. 3:24; 4:16; Tit. 3:7, they are enriched with spiritual blessings, John 1:16; II Cor. 8:9; II Thess. 2:16, and they finally inherit salvation, Eph. 2:8; Tit. 2:11. Seeing they have absolutely no merits of their own, they are altogether dependent on the grace of God in Christ. In modern theology, with its belief in the inherent goodness of man and his ability to help himself, the doctrine of salvation by grace has practically become a "lost chord," and even the word "grace" was emptied of all spiritual meaning and vanished from religious discourses. It was retained only in the sense of "graciousness," something that is quite external. Happily, there are some evidences of a renewed emphasis on sin, and of a newly awakened consciousness of the need of divine grace.
d. The mercy of God. Another important aspect of the goodness and love of God is His mercy or tender compassion. The Hebrew word most generally used for this is chesed. There is another word, however, which expresses a deep and tender compassion, namely, the word racham, which is beautifully rendered by "tender mercy" in our English Bible. The Septuagint and the New Testament employ the Greek word eleos to designate the mercy of God. If the grace of God contemplates man as guilty before God, and therefore in need of forgiveness, the mercy of God contemplates him as one who is bearing the consequences of sin, who is in a pitiable condition, and who therefore needs divine help. It may be defined as the goodness or love of God shown to those who are in misery or distress, irrespective of their deserts. In His mercy God reveals Himself as a compassionate God, who pities those who are in misery and is ever ready to relieve their distress. This mercy is bountiful, Deut. 5:10; Ps. 57:10; 86:5, and the poets of Israel delighted to sing of it as enduring forever, I Chron. 16:34; II Chron. 7:6; Ps. 136; Ezra 3:11. In the New Testament it is often mentioned alongside of the grace of God, especially in salutations, I Tim. 1:2; II Tim. 1:1; Titus 1:4. We are told repeatedly that it is shown to them that fear God, Ex. 20:2; Deut. 7:9; Ps. 86:5; Luke 1:50. This does not mean, however, that it is limited to them, though they enjoy it in a special measure. Godís tender mercies are over all His works, Ps. 145:9, and even those who do not fear Him share in them, Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11; Luke 6:35,36. The mercy of God may not be represented as opposed to His justice. It is exercised only in harmony with the strictest justice of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ. Other terms used for it in the Bible are "pity," "compassion," and "lovingkindness."
e. The longsuffering of God. The longsuffering of God is still another aspect of His great goodness or love. The Hebrew uses the expression Ďerek Ďaph, which means literally "long of face," and then also "slow to anger," while the Greek expresses the same idea by the word makrothumia. It is that aspect of the goodness or love of God in virtue of which He bears with the froward and evil in spite of their long continued disobedience. In the exercise of this attribute the sinner is contemplated as continuing in sin, notwithstanding the admonitions and warnings that come to him. It reveals itself in the postponement of the merited judgment. Scripture speaks of it in Ex. 34:6; Ps. 86:15; Rom. 2:4; 9:22; I Pet. 3:20; II Pet. 3:15. A synonymous term of a slightly different connotation is the word "forbearance."
2. The Holiness of God. The Hebrew word for "to be holy," quadash, is derived from the root qad, which means to cut or to separate. It is one of the most prominent religious words of the Old Testament, and is applied primarily to God. The same idea is conveyed by the New Testament words hagiazo and hagios. From this it already appears that it is not correct to think of holiness primarily as a moral or religious quality, as is generally done. Its fundamental idea is that of a position or relationship existing between God and some person or thing.
a. Its nature. The Scriptural idea of the holiness of God is twofold. In its original sense it denotes that He is absolutely distinct from all His creatures, and is exalted above them in infinite majesty. So understood, the holiness of God is one of His transcendental attributes, and is sometimes spoken of as His central and supreme perfection. It does not seem proper to speak of one attribute of God as being more central and fundamental than another; but if this were permissible, the Scriptural emphasis on the holiness of God would seem to justify its selection. It is quite evident, however, that holiness in this sense of the word is not really a moral attribute, which can be co-ordinated with the others, such as love, grace and mercy, but is rather something that is co-extensive with, and applicable to, everything that can be predicated of God. He is holy in everything that reveals Him, in His goodness and grace as well as in His justice and wrath. It may be called the "majesty-holiness" of God, and is referred to in such passages as Ex. 15:11; I Sam. 2:2; Isa. 57:15; Hos. 11:9. It is this holiness of God which Otto, in his important work on Das Heilige,1 regards as that which is most essential in God, and which he designates as "the numinous." He regards it as part of the non-rational in God, which cannot be thought of conceptually, and which includes such ideas as "absolute unapproachability" and "absolute overpoweringness" or "aweful majesty." It awakens in man a sense of absolute nothingness, a "creature-consciousness" or "creature-feeling," leading to absolute self-abasement.
But the holiness of God also has a specifically ethical aspect in Scripture, and it is with this aspect of it that we are more directly concerned in this connection. The ethical idea of the divine holiness may not be dissociated from the idea of Godís majesty-holiness. The former developed out of the latter. The fundamental idea of the ethical holiness of God is also that of separation, but in this case it is a separation from moral evil or sin. In virtue of His holiness God can have no communion with sin, Job 34:10; Hab. 1:13. Used in this sense, the word "holiness" points to Godís majestic purity, or ethical majesty. But the idea of ethical holiness is not merely negative (separation from sin); it also has a positive content, namely, that of moral excellence, or ethical perfection. If man reacts to Godís majestic-holiness with a feeling of utter insignificance and awe, his reaction to the ethical holiness reveals itself in a sense of impurity, a consciousness of sin, Isa. 6:5. Otto also recognizes this element in the holiness of God, though he stresses the other, and says of the response to it: "Mere awe, mere need of shelter from the Ďtremendumí, has here been elevated to the feeling that man in his Ďprofanenessí is not worthy to stand in the presence of the Holy One, and that his entire personal unworthiness might defile even holiness itself." This ethical holiness of God may be defined as that perfection of God, in virtue of which He eternally wills and maintains His own moral excellence, abhors sin, and demands purity in his moral creatures.
b. Its manifestation. The holiness of God is revealed in the moral law, implanted in manís heart, and speaking through the conscience, and more particularly in Godís special revelation. It stood out prominently in the law given to Israel. That law in all its aspects was calculated to impress upon Israel the idea of the holiness of God, and to urge upon the people the necessity of leading a holy life. This was the purpose served by such symbols and types as the holy nation, the holy land, the holy city, the holy place, and the holy priesthood. Moreover, it was revealed in the manner in which God rewarded the keeping of the law, and visited transgressors with dire punishments. The highest revelation of it was given in Jesus Christ, who is called "the Holy and Righteous One," Acts 3:14. He reflected in His life the perfect holiness of God. Finally, the holiness of God is also revealed in the Church as the body of Christ. It is a striking fact, to which attention is often called, that holiness is ascribed to God with far greater frequency in the Old Testament than in the New, though it is done occasionally in the New Testament, John 17:11; I Pet. 1:16; Rev. 4:8; 6:10. This is probably due to the fact that the New Testament appropriates the term more particularly to qualify the third Person of the Holy Trinity as the One whose special task it is, in the economy of redemption, to communicate holiness to His people.
3. The Righteousness of God. This attribute is closely related to the holiness of God. Shedd speaks of the justice of God as "a mode of His holiness"; and Strong calls it simply "transitive holiness." However, these terms apply only to what is generally called the relative, in distinction from the absolute, justice of God.
a. The fundamental idea of righteousness. The fundamental idea of righteousness is that of strict adherence to the law. Among men it presupposes that there is a law to which they must conform. It is sometimes said that we cannot speak of righteousness in God, because there is no law to which He is subject. But though there is no law above God, there is certainly a law in the very nature of God, and this is the highest possible standard, by which all other laws are judged. A distinction is generally made between the absolute and the relative justice of God. The former is that rectitude of the divine nature, in virtue of which God is infinitely righteous in Himself, while the latter is that perfection of God by which He maintains Himself over against every violation of His holiness, and shows in every respect that He is the Holy One. It is to this righteousness that the term "justice" more particularly applies. Justice mani fests itself especially in giving every man his due, in treating him according to his deserts. The inherent righteousness of God is naturally basic to the righteousness which He reveals in dealing with His creatures, but it is especially the latter, also called the justice of God, that calls for special consideration here. The Hebrew terms for "righteous" and "righteousness" are tsaddik, tsedhek, and tsedhakah, and the corresponding Greek terms, dikaios and dikaiosune, all of which contain the idea of conformity to a standard. This perfection is repeatedly ascribed to God in Scripture, Ezra 9:15; Neh. 9:8; Ps. 119:137; 145:17; Jer. 12:1; Lam. 1:18; Dan. 9:14; John 17:25; II Tim. 4:8; I John 2:29; 3:7; Rev. 16:5.
b. Distinctions applied to the justice of God. There is first of all a rectoral justice of God. This justice, as the very name implies, is the rectitude which God manifests as the Ruler of both the good and the evil. In virtue of it He has instituted a moral government in the world, and imposed a just law upon man, with promises of reward for the obedient, and threats of punishment for the transgressor. God stands out prominently in the Old Testament as the Lawgiver of Israel, Isa. 33:22, and of people in general, Jas. 4:12, and His laws are righteous laws, Deut. 4:8. The Bible refers to this rectoral work of God also in Ps. 99:4, and Rom. 1:32.
Closely connected with the rectoral is the distributive justice of God. This term usually serves to designate Godís rectitude in the execution of the law, and relates to the distribution of rewards and punishments, Isa. 3:10-11; Rom. 2:6; I Pet. 1:17. It is of two kinds: (1) Remunerative justice, which manifests itself in the distribution of rewards to both men and angels, Deut. 7:9-13; II Chron. 6:15; Ps. 58:11; Micah 7:20; Matt. 25:21,34; Rom. 2:7; Heb. 11:26. It is really an expression of the divine love, dealing out its bounties, not on the basis of strict merit, for the creature can establish no absolute merit before the Creator, but according to promise and agreement, Luke 17:10; I Cor. 4:7. Godís rewards are gracious and spring from a covenant relation which He has established. (2) Retributive justice, which relates to the infliction of penalties. It is an expression of the divine wrath. While in a sinless world there would be no place for its exercise, it necessarily holds a very prominent place in a world full of sin. On the whole the Bible stresses the reward of the righteous more than the punishment of the wicked; but even the latter is sufficiently prominent. Rom. 1:32; 2:9; 12:19; II Thess. 1:8, and many other passages. It should be noted that, while man does not merit the reward which he receives, he does merit the punishment which is meted out to him. Divine justice is originally and necessarily obliged to punish evil, but not to reward good, Luke 17:10; I Cor. 4:7; Job 41:11. Many deny the strict punitive justice of God and claim that God punishes the sinner to reform him, or to deter others from sin; but these positions are not tenable. The primary purpose of the punishment of sin is the maintenance of right and justice. Of course, it may incidentally serve, and may even, secondarily, be intended, to reform the sinner and to deter others from sin.
D. Attributes of Sovereignty.
The sovereignty of God is strongly emphasized in Scripture. He is represented as the Creator, and His will as the cause of all things. In virtue of His creative work heaven and earth and all that they contain belong to Him. He is clothed with absolute authority over the hosts of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. He upholds all things with His almighty power, and determines the ends which they are destined to serve. He rules as King in the most absolute sense of the word, and all things are dependent on Him and subservient to Him. There is a wealth of Scripture evidence for the sovereignty of God, but we limit our references here to a few of the most significant passages: Gen. 14:19; Ex. 18:11; Deut. 10:14,17; I Chron. 29:11-12; II Chron. 20:6; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 22:28; 47:2,3,7,8; Ps. 50:10-12; 95:3-5; 115:3; 135:5-6; 145:11-13; Jer.27:5; Luke 1:53; Acts 17:24-26; Rev. 19:6. Two attributes call for discussion under this head, namely (1) the sovereign will of God, and (2) the sovereign power of God.
a. The will of God in general. The Bible employs several words to denote the will of God, namely the Hebrew words chaphets, tsebhu and ratson and the Greek words boule and thelema. The importance of the divine will appears in many ways in Scripture. It is represented as the final cause of all things. Everything is derived from it; creation and preservation, Ps. 135:6; Jer. 18:6; Rev. 4:11, government, Prov. 21:1; Dan. 4:35, election and reprobation, Rom. 9:15,16; Eph. 1:11, the sufferings of Christ, Luke 22:42; Acts 2:23, regeneration, Jas. 1:18, sanctification, Phil. 2:13, the sufferings of believers, I Pet. 3:17, manís life and destiny, Acts 18:21; Rom. 15:32; Jas. 4:15, and even the smallest things of life, Matt. 10:29. Hence Christian theology has always recognized the will of God as the ultimate cause of all things, though philosophy has sometimes shown an inclination to seek a deeper cause in the very Being of the Absolute. However, the attempt to ground everything in the very Being of God generally results in Pantheism.
The word "will" as applied to God does not always have the same connotation in Scripture. It may denote (1) the whole moral nature of God, including such attributes as love, holiness, righteousness, etc.; (2) the faculty of self-determination, i.e. the power to determine self to a course of action or to form a plan; (3) the product of this activity, that is, the predetermined plan or purpose; (4) the power to execute this plan and to realize this purpose (the will in action or omnipotence); and (5) the rule of life laid down for rational creatures. It is primarily the will of God as the faculty of self-determination with which we are concerned at present. It may be defined as that perfection of His Being whereby He, in a most simple act, goes out towards Himself as the highest good (i.e. delights in Himself as such) and towards His creatures for His own nameís sake, and is thus the ground of their being and continued existence. With reference to the universe and all the creatures which it contains this naturally includes the idea of causation.
b. Distinctions applied to the will of God. Several distinctions have been applied to the will of God. Some of these found little favor in Reformed theology, such as the distinction between an antecedent and a consequent will of God, and that between an absolute and a conditional will. These distinctions were not only liable to misunderstanding, but were actually interpreted in objectionable ways. Others, however, were found useful, and were therefore more generally accepted. They may be stated as follows: (1) The decretive and the preceptive will of God. The former is that will of God by which He purposes or decrees whatever shall come to pass, whether He wills to accomplish it effectively (causatively), or to permit it to occur through the unrestrained agency of His rational creatures. The latter is the rule of life which God has laid down for His moral creatures, indicating the duties which He enjoins upon them. The former is always accomplished, while the latter is often disobeyed. (2) The will of eudokia and the will of eurestia. This division was made, not so much in connection with the purpose to do, as with respect to the pleasure in doing, or the desire to see something done. It corresponds with the preceding, however, in the fact that the will of eudokia, like that of the decree, comprises what shall certainly be accomplished, while the will of eurestia, like that of the precept, embraces simply what God is pleased to have His creatures do. The word eudohia should not mislead us to think that the will of eudohia has reference only to good, and not to evil, cf. Matt. 11:26. It is hardly correct to say that the element of complacency or delight is always present in it. (3) The will of the beneplacitum and the will of the signum. The former again denotes the will of God as embodied in His hidden counsel, until He makes it known by some revelation, or by the event itself. Any will that is so revealed becomes a signum. This distinction is meant to correspond to that between the decretive and the preceptive will of God, but can hardly be said to do this. The good pleasure of God also finds expression in His preceptive will; and the decretive will sometimes also comes to our knowledge by a signum. (4) The secret and the revealed will of God. This is the most common distinction. The former is the will of Godís decree, which is largely hidden in God, while the latter is the will of the precept, which is revealed in the law and in the gospel. The distinction is based on Deut. 29:29. The secret will of God is mentioned in Ps. 115:3; Dan. 4:17,25,32,35; Rom. 9:18,19; 11:33,34; Eph. 1:5,9,11; and His revealed will, in Matt. 7:21; 12:50; John 4:34; 7:17; Rom. 12:2. The latter is accessible to all and is not far from us, Deut. 30:14; Rom. 10:8. The secret will of God pertains to all things which He wills either to effect or to permit, an^ which are therefore absolutely fixed. The revealed will prescribes the duties of man, and represents the way in which he can enjoy the blessings of God.
c. The freedom of Godís will. The question is frequently debated whether God, in the exercise of His will, acts necessarily or freely. The answer to this question requires careful discrimination. Just as there is a scientia necessaria and a scientia libera, there is also a voluntas necessaria (necessary will) and a voluntas libera (free will) in God. God Himself is the object of the former. He necessarily wills Himself, His holy nature, and the personal distinctions in the Godhead. This means that He necessarily loves Himself and takes delight in the contemplation of His own perfections. Yet He is under no compulsion, but acts according to the law of His Being; and this, while necessary, is also the highest freedom. It is quite evident that the idea of causation is absent here, and that the thought of complacency or self-approval is in the foreground. Godís creatures, however, are the objects of His voluntas libera. God determines voluntarily what and whom He will create, and the times, places, and circumstances, of their lives. He marks out the path of all His rational creatures, determines their destiny, and uses them for His purposes. And though He endows them with freedom, yet His will controls their actions. The Bible speaks of this freedom of Godís will in the most absolute terms, Job 11:10; 33:13; Ps. 115:3; Prov. 21:1; Isa. 10:15; 29:16; 45:9; Matt. 20:15; Rom. 9:15-18,20,21; I Cor. 12:11; Rev. 4:11. The Church always defended this freedom, but also emphasized the fact that it may not be regarded as absolute indifference. Duns Scotus applied the idea of a will in no sense determined to God; but this idea of a blind will, acting with perfect indifference, was rejected by the Church. The freedom of God is not pure indifference, but rational self-determination. God has reasons for willing as He does, which induce Him to choose one end rather than another, and one set of means to accomplish one end in preference to others. There is in each case a prevailing motive, which makes the end chosen and the means selected the most pleasing to Him, though we may not be able to determine what this motive is. In general it may be said that God cannot will anything that is contrary to His nature, to His wisdom or love, to His righteousness or holiness. Dr. Bavinck points out that we can seldom discern why God willed one thing rather than another, and that it is not possible nor even permissible for us to look for some deeper ground of things than the will of God, because all such attempts result in seeking a ground for the creature in the very Being of God, in robbing it of its contingent character, and in making it necessary, eternal, divine.
d. Godís will in relation to sin. The doctrine of the will of God often gives rise to serious questions. Problems arise here which have never yet been solved and which are probably incapable of solution by man.
(1) It is said that if the decretive will of God also determined the entrance of sin into the world, God thereby becomes the author of sin and really wills something that is contrary to His moral perfections. Arminians, to escape the difficulty, make the will of God to permit sin dependent on His foreknowledge of the course which man would choose. Reformed theologians, while maintaining on the basis of such passages as Acts 2:23; 3:8; etc., that Godís decretive will also includes the sinful deeds of man, are always careful to point out that this must be conceived in such a way that God does not become the author of sin. They frankly admit that they cannot solve the difficulty, but at the same time make some valuable distinctions that prove helpful. Most of them insist on it that Godís will with respect to sin is simply a will to permit sin and not a will to effectuate it, as He does the moral good. This terminology is certainly permissible, provided it is understood correctly. It should be borne in mind that Godís will to permit sin carries certainty with it. Others call attention to the fact that, while the terms "will" or "to will" may include the idea of complacency or delight, they sometimes point to a simple determination of the will; and that therefore the will of God to permit sin need not imply that He takes delight or pleasure in sin.
(2) Again, it is said that the decretive and preceptive will of God are often contradictory. His decretive will includes many things which He forbids in His preceptive will, and excludes many things which He commands in His preceptive will, cf. Gen. 22; Ex. 4:21-23; II Kings 20:1-7; Acts 2:23. Yet it is of great importance to maintain both the decretive and the preceptive will, but with the definite understanding that, while they appear to us as distinct, they are yet fundamentally one in God. Though a perfectly satisfactory solution of the difficulty is out of the question for the present, it is possible to make some approaches to a solution. When we speak of the decretive and the preceptive will of God, we use the word "will" in two different senses. By the former God has determined what He will do or what shall come to pass; in the latter He reveals to us what we are in duty bound to do. At the same time we should remember that the moral law, the rule of our life, is also in a sense the embodiment of the will of God. It is an expression of His holy nature and of what this naturally requires of all moral creatures. Hence another remark must be added to the preceding. The decretive and preceptive will of God do not conflict in the sense that in the former He does, and according to the latter He does not, take pleasure in sin; nor in the sense that according to the former He does not, and according to the latter He does, will the salvation of every individual with a positive volition. Even according to the decretive will God takes no pleasure in sin; and even according to the preceptive will He does not will the salvation of every individual with a positive volition.
2. The sovereign power of God. The sovereignty of God finds expression, not only in the divine will, but also in the omnipotence of God or the power to execute His will. Power in God may be called the effective energy of His nature, or that perfection of His Being by which He is the absolute and highest causality. It is customary to distinguish between a potentia Dei absoluta (absolute power of God) and a potentia Dei ordinata (ordered power of God). However, Reformed theology rejects this distinction in the sense in which it was understood by the Scholastics, who claimed that God by virtue of His absolute power could effect contradictions, and could even sin and annihilate Himself. At the same time it adopts the distinction as expressing a real truth, though it does not always represent it in the same way. According to Hodge and Shedd absolute power is the divine efficiency, as exercised without the intervention of second causes; while ordinate power is the efficiency of God, as exercised by the ordered operation of second causes. The more general view is stated by Charnock as follows: "Absolute, is that power whereby God is able to do that which He will not do, but is possible to be done; ordinate, is that power whereby God doth that which He hath decreed to do, that is, which He hath ordained or appointed to be exercised; which are not distinct powers, but one and the same power. His ordinate power is a part of His absolute; for if He had not power to do everything that He could will, He might not have the power to do everything that He doth will." The potentia ordinata can be defined as that perfection of God whereby He, through the mere exercise of His will, can realize whatsoever is present in His will or counsel. The power of God in actual exercise limits itself to that which is comprehended in His eternal decree. But the actual exercise of Godís power does not represent its limits. God could do more than that, if He were so minded. In that sense we can speak of the potentia absoluta, or absolute power, of God. This position must be maintained over against those who, like Schleiermacher and Strauss, hold that Godís power is limited to that which He actually accomplishes. But in our assertion of the absolute power of God it is necessary to guard against misconceptions. The Bible teaches us on the one hand that the power of God extends beyond that which is actually realized, Gen. 18:14; Jer. 32:27; Zech. 8:6; Matt. 3:9; 26:53. We cannot say, therefore, that what God does not bring to realization, is not possible for Him. But on the other hand it also indicates that there are many things which God cannot do. He can neither lie, sin, change, nor deny Himself, Num. 23:19; I Sam. 15:29; II Tim. 2:13; Heb. 6:18; Jas. 1:13,17. There is no absolute power in Him that is divorced from His perfections, and in virtue of which He can do all kinds of things which are inherently contradictory. The idea of Godís omnipotence is expressed in the name ĎEl-Shaddai; and the Bible speaks of it in no uncertain terms, Job 9:12; Ps. 115:3; Jer. 32:17; Matt. 19:26; Luke 1:37; Rom. 1:20; Eph. 1:19. God manifests His power in creation, Rom. 4:17; Isa. 44:24; in the works of providence, Heb. 1:3, and in the redemption of sinners, I Cor. 1:24; Rom. 1:16.
Questions for further study. In what different senses can we speak of the foreknowledge of God? How do the Arminians conceive of this foreknowledge? What objections are there to the Jesuit idea of a scientia media? How must we judge of the modern emphasis on the love of God as the central and all-determining attribute of God? What is Ottoís conception of "the Holy" in God? What objection is there to the position that the punishments of God simply serve to reform the sinner, or to deter others from sin? What is the Socinian and the Grotian conception of retributive justice in God? Is it correct to say that God can do everything in virtue of His omnipotence?
Literature: Bavinck, Geref. Dogm. II, pp. 171-259; Kuyper, Diet. Dogm., De Deo I, pp. 355-417; Vos, Geref. Dogm. I, pp. 2-36; Hodge, Syst. Theol. I, pp. 393-441; Shedd, Dogm. Theol. I, pp. 359-392; Dabney, Syst. and Polem. Theol., pp. 154-174; Pope, Chr. Theol. 1, pp. 307-358; Watson, Theol. Inst. Part II, Chap. II; Wilmers, Handbook of the Chr. Religion, pp. 171-181; Harris, God, Creator and Lord of All, I, pp. 128-209; Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, Discourse III, VII-IX; Bates, On the Attributes; Clarke, The Christian Doctrine of God, pp. 56-115; Snowden, The Personality of God; Adeney, The Christian Conception of God, pp. 86-152; Macintosh, Theology as an Empirical Science, pp. 159-194; Strong, Syst. Theol., pp. 282-303.
I. The Origin of Man.
A. The Doctrine of Man in Dogmatics.
The transition from Theology to Anthropology, that is, from the study of God to the study of man, is a natural one. Man is not only the crown of creation, but also the object of Godís special care. And Godís revelation in Scripture is a revelation that is not only given to man, but also a revelation in which man is vitally concerned. It is not a revelation of God in the abstract, but a revelation of God in relation to His creatures, and particularly in relation to man. It is a record of Godís dealings with the human race, and especially a revelation of the redemption which God has prepared for, and for which He seeks to prepare, man. This accounts for the fact that man occupies a place of central importance in Scripture, and that the knowledge of man in relation to God is essential to its proper understanding.
We should not confuse the present subject of study with general Anthropology or the science of mankind, which includes all those sciences which have men as the object of study. These sciences concern themselves with the origin and history of mankind, with the physiological structure and the psychical characteristics of man in general and of the various races of mankind in particular, with their ethnological, linguistic, cultural and religious development, and so on. Theological Anthropology is concerned only with what the Bible says respecting man and the relation in which he stands and should stand to God. It recognizes Scripture only as its source, and reads the teachings of human experience in the light of Godís Word.
B. Scriptural Account of Origin of Man.
Scripture offers us a twofold account of the creation of man, the one in Gen. 1:26-27, and the other in Gen. 2:7,21-23. Higher criticism is of the opinion that the writer of Genesis pieced together two creation narratives, the first found in Gen. 1:1-2:3, and the second in Gen. 2:4-25; and that these two are independent and contradictory. We donít agree that in the second chapter we have a different account of creation, for the plain reason that it takes no account of the creation at large." In fact, the introductory words of the narrative beginning with Gen. 2:4, "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth, when they were created," seen in the light of the repeated use of the words "these are the generations" in the book of Genesis, point to the fact that we have something quite different here. The expression invariably points, not to the origin or beginning of those named, but to their family history. The first narrative contains the account of the creation of all things in the order in which it occurred, while the second groups things in their relation to man, without implying anything respecting the chronological order of manís appearance in the creative work of God, and clearly indicates that everything preceding it served to prepare a fit habitation for man as the king of creation. It shows us how man was situated in Godís creation, surrounded by the vegetable and animal world, and how he began his history. There are certain particulars in which the creation of man stands out in distinction from that of other living beings:
1. Manís creation was preceded by a solemn divine counsel. Before the inspired writer records the creation of man, he leads us back, as it were, into the council of God, acquainting us with the divine decree in the words, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," Gen. 1:26. The Church has generally interpreted the plural "us" on the basis of the trinitarian existence of God. Some scholars, however, regard it as a plural of majesty; others, as a plural of communication, in which God includes the angels with Himself; and still others, as a plural of self-exhortation. Of these three suggestions the first is very unlikely, since the plural of majesty originated at a much later date; the second is impossible, because it would imply that the angels were co-creators with God, and that man is also created in the image of the angels, which is an un-Scriptural idea; and the third is an entirely gratuitous assumption, for which no reason can be assigned. Why should such a self-exhortation be in the plural, except for the reason that there is a plurality in God.
2. The creation of man was in the strictest sense of the word an immediate act of God. Some of the expressions used in the narrative preceding that of the creation of man indicate mediate creation in some sense of the word. Notice the following expressions: "And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs, yielding seed, and fruit-trees bearing fruit after their kind" ó "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures" . . . and, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind"; and compare these with the simple statement, "And God created man." He did make use of pre-existent "material" in forming the body of man, but this was excluded in the creation of the soul.
3. In distinction from the lower creatures man was created after a divine type. With respect to fishes, birds, and beasts we read that God created them after their kind, that is, on a typical form of their own. Man, however, was not so created and much less after the type of an inferior creature. With respect to him God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." We shall see what this implies, when we discuss the original condition of man, and merely call attention to it here, in order to bring out the fact that in the narrative of creation the creation of man stands out as something distinctive.
4. The two different elements of human nature are clearly distinguished. In Gen. 2:7 a clear distinction is made between the origin of the body and that of the soul. The body was formed out of the dust of the ground; in the production of it God made use of pre-existing "material." In the creation of the soul, however, there was no fashioning of pre-existing materials, but the production of a new substance. The soul of man was a new production of God in the strict sense of the word. Jehovah "breathed into his (manís) nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." In these simple words the twofold nature of man is clearly asserted, and their teaching is corroborated by other passages of Scripture, such as, Eccl. 12:7; Matt. 10:28; Luke 8:55; II Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:22-24; Heb. 12:9. The two elements are the body and the breath or spirit of life breathed into it by God, and by the combination of the two man became "a living soul," which means in this connection simply "a living being."
5. Man is at once placed in an exalted position. Man is represented as standing at the apex of all the created orders. He is crowned as king of the lower creation, and is given dominion over all the inferior creatures. As such it was his duty and privilege to make all nature and all the created beings that were placed under his rule, subservient to his will and purpose, in order that he and his whole glorious dominion might magnify the almighty Creator and Lord of the universe, Gen. 1:28; Ps. 8:4-9.
C. The Evolutionary Theory of the Origin of Man.
Among the various theories that have been broached to explain the origin of man, the theory of evolution at present holds the field, and therefore deserves brief consideration.
1. Statement of the theory. The theory of evolution is not always stated in the same form. It is sometimes represented as if man is a direct descendant of one of the species of anthropoid apes now in existence, and then again, as if man and the higher apes have a common ancestry. But whatever difference of opinion there may be on this point, it is certain that, according to thorough-going naturalistic evolution, man descended from the lower animals, body and soul, by a perfectly natural process, controlled entirely by inherent forces. One of the leading principles of the theory is that of strict continuity between the animal world and man. It cannot allow for discontinuity anywhere along the line, for every break is fatal to the theory. Nothing that is absolutely new and unpredictable can appear in the process. What is now found in man must have been potentially present in the original germ out of which all things developed. And the whole process must be controlled from start to finish by inherent forces. Theistic evolution simply regards evolution as Godís method of working. It is sometimes represented in a form in which God is merely called in to bridge the gaps between the inorganic and the organic, and between the irrational and the rational, creation. But to the extent to which a special operation of God is assumed, gaps are admitted which evolution cannot bridge, and something new is called into being, the theory naturally ceases to be a pure theory of evolution. It is sometimes held that only the body of man is derived by a process of evolution from the lower animals, and that God endowed this body with a rational soul. This view meets with considerable favor.
D. The Origin of Man and the Unity of the Roce.
1. Scripture testimony to the unity of the race. Scripture teaches that the whole human race descended from a single pair. This is the obvious sense of the opening chapters of Genesis. God created Adam and Eve as the beginning of the human species, and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth. Moreover, the subsequent narrative in Genesis clearly shows that the following generations down to the time of the flood stood in unbroken genetic relation with the first pair, so that the human race constitutes not only a specific unity, a unity in the sense that all men share the same human nature, but also a genetic or genealogical unity. This is also taught by Paul in Acts 17:26, "And God made of one every nation of man to dwell on all the face of the earth." The same truth is basic to the organic unity of the human race in the first transgression, and of the provision for the salvation of the race in Christ, Rom. 5:12,19; I Cor. 15:21,22. This unity of the race is not to be understood realistically, as it is represented by Shedd, who says: "Human nature is a specific or general substance created in and with the first individuals of a human species, which is not yet individualized, but which by ordinary generation is subdivided into parts, and those parts are formed into distinct and separate individuals of the species. The one specific substance, by propagation, is metamorphosed into millions of individual substances, or persons. An individual is a fractional part of human nature separated from the common mass, and constituted a particular person, having all the essential properties of human nature."
2. The testimony of science to the unity of the race. Science in various ways confirms the testimony of Scripture as to the unity of the human race. Science presents several arguments in favor of the unity of the human race, such as:
II. The Constitutional Nature of Man.
A. The Constituent Elements of Human Nature.
1. The different views that were current in history: dichotomy and trichotomy. It is customary, especially in Christian circles, to conceive of man as consisting of two, and only two, distinct parts, namely, body and soul.
This view is technically called dichotomy. Alongside of it, however, another made its appearance, to the effect that human nature consists of three parts, body, soul, and spirit. It is designated by the term trichotomy. The tri-partite conception of man originated in Greek philosophy, which conceived of the relation of the body and the spirit of man to each other after the analogy of the mutual relation between the material universe and God. It was thought that, just as the latter could enter into communion with each other only by means of a third substance or an intermediate being, so the former could enter into mutual vital relationships only by means of a third or intermediate element, namely, the soul. The soul was regarded as, on the one hand, immaterial, and on the other, adapted to the body. In so far as it appropriated the nous or pneuma, it was regarded as immortal, but in so far as it was related to the body, as carnal and mortal. The most familiar but also the crudest form of trichotomy is that which takes the body for the material part of manís nature, the soul as the principle of animal life, and the spirit as the God-related rational and immortal element in man. The trichotomic conception of man was discredited by most of the Greek Fathers.
2. The teachings of Scripture as to the constituent elements of human nature. The prevailing representation of the nature of man in Scripture is clearly dichotomic. On the one hand the Bible teaches us to view the nature of man as a unity, and not as a duality, consisting of two different elements, each of which move along parallel lines but do not really unite to form a single organism. The idea of a mere parallelism between the two elements of human nature, found in Greek philosophy and also in the works of some later philosophers, is entirely foreign to Scripture. While recognizing the complex nature of man, it never represents this as resulting in a twofold subject in man. Every act of man is seen as an act of the whole man. It is not the soul but man that sins; it is not the body but man that dies; and it is not merely the soul, but man, body and soul, that is redeemed in Christ. This unity already finds expression in the classical passage of the Old Testament ó the first passage to indicate the complex nature of man ó namely, Gen. 2:7: "And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." The whole passage deals with man: "God formed man . . . and man became a living soul." This work of God should not be interpreted as a mechanical process, as if He first formed a body of clay and then put a soul into it. When God formed the body, He formed it so that by the breath of His Spirit man at once became a living soul. Job 33:4; 32:8. The word "soul" in this passage does not have the meaning which we usually ascribe to it ó a meaning rather foreign to the Old Testament ó but denotes an animated being, and is a description of man as a whole. The very same Hebrew term, nephesh chayyah (living soul or being) is also applied to the animals in Gen. 1:21,24,30. So this passage, while indicating that there are two elements in man, yet stresses the organic unity of man. And this is recognized throughout the Bible.
At the same time it also contains evidences of the dual composition of manís nature. We should be careful, however, not to expect the later distinction between the body as the material element, and the soul as the spiritual element, of human nature, in the Old Testament. This distinction came into use later on under the influence of Greek philosophy. The antithesis ó soul and body ó even in its New Testament sense, is not yet found in the Old Testament. In fact, the Hebrew has no word for the body as an organism. The Old Testament distinction of the two elements of human nature is of a different kind. The antithesis is clearly that of lower and higher, earthly and heavenly, animal and divine. It is not so much two elements, as two factors uniting in a single and harmonious result, ó Ďman became a living soul.í It is quite evident that this is the distinction in Gen. 2:7. Cf. also Job 27:3; 32:8; 33:4; Eccl. 12:7. A variety of words is used in the Old Testament to denote the lower element in man or parts of it, such as "flesh," "dust," "bones," "bowels," "kidneys," and also the metaphorical expression "house of clay," Job 4:19. And there are also several words to denote the higher element, such as "spirit," "soul," "heart," and "mind." As soon as we pass from the Old to the New Testament, we meet with the antithetic expressions that are most familiar to us, as "body and soul," "flesh and spirit." The corresponding Greek words were undoubtedly moulded by Greek philosophical thought, but passed through the Septuagint into the New Testament, and therefore retained their Old Testament force. At the same time the antithetic idea of the material and the immaterial is now also connected with them.
Trichotomists seek support in the fact that the Bible, as they see it, recognizes two constituent parts of human nature in addition to the lower or material element, namely, the soul (Heb., nephesh; Greek, psuche) and the spirit (Heb., ruach; Greek, pneuma). But the fact that these terms are used with great frequency in Scripture does not warrant the conclusion that they designate component parts rather than different aspects of human nature. A careful study of Scripture clearly shows that it uses the words interchangeably. Both terms denote the higher or spiritual element in man, but contemplate it from different points of view. It should be pointed out at once, however, that the Scriptural distinction of the two does not agree with that which is rather common in philosophy, that the soul is the spiritual element in man, as it is related to the animal world, while the spirit is that same element in its relation to the higher spiritual world and to God. The following facts militate against this philosophical distinction: Ruach-pneuma, as well as nephesh-psuche, is used of the brute creation, Eccl. 3:21; Rev. 16:3. The word psuche is even used with reference to Jehovah, Isa. 42:1; Jer. 9:9; Amos 6:8 (Heb.); Heb 10:38. The disembodied dead are called psuchai, Rev. 6:9;20:4. The highest exercises of religion are ascribed to the psuche, Mark 12:30; Luke 1:46; Heb. 6:18,19; Jas. 1:21. To lose the psuche is to lose all. It is perfectly evident that the Bible uses the two words interchangeably. Notice the parallelism in Luke 1:46,47: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." The Scriptural formula for man is in some passages "body and soul," Matt. 6:25; 10:28; and in others, "body and spirit," Eccl. 12:7; I Cor. 5:3,5. Death is sometimes described as the giving up of the soul, Gen. 35:18; I Kings 17:21; Acts 15:26; and then again as the giving up of the spirit, Ps. 31:5; Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59. Moreover both "soul" and "spirit" are used to designate the immaterial element of the dead, I Pet. 3:19; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 6:9; 20:4. The main Scriptural distinction is as follows: the word "spirit" designates the spiritual element in man as the principle of life and action which controls the body; while the word "soul" denominates the same element as the subject of action in man, and is therefore often used for the personal pronoun in the Old Testament, Ps. 10:1,2; 104:1; 146:1; Is. 42:1; cf. also Luke 12:19. In several instances it, more specifically, designates the inner life as the seat of the affections. All this is quite in harmony with Gen. 2:7, "And Jehovah God . . . breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Thus it may be said that man has spirit, but is soul. The Bible therefore points to two, and only two, constitutional elements in the nature of man, namely, body and spirit or soul. This Scriptural representation is also in harmony with the self-consciousness of man. While man is conscious of the fact that he consists of a material and a spiritual element, no one is conscious of possessing a soul in distinction from a spirit.
There are two passages, however, that seem to conflict with the usual dichotomic representation of Scripture, namely, I Thess. 5:23, "And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"; and Heb. 4:12, "For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart." But it should be noted that: (a) It is a sound rule in exegesis that exceptional statements should be interpreted in the light of the analogia Scrip-lura, the usual representation of Scripture. In view of this fact some of the defenders of trichotomy admit that these passages do not necessarily prove their point, (b) The mere mention of spirit and soul alongside of each other does not prove that, according to Scripture, they are two distinct substances, any more than Matt. 22:37 proves that Jesus regarded heart and soul and mind as three distinct substances, (c) In I Thess. 5:23 the apostle simply desires to strengthen the statement, "And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly," by an epexigetical statement, in which the different aspects of manís existence are summed up, and in which he feels perfectly free to mention soul and spirit alongside of each other, because the Bible distinguishes between the two. He cannot very well have thought of them as two different substances here, because he speaks elsewhere of man as consisting of two parts, Rom. 8:10; I Cor. 5:5; 7:34; II Cor. 7:1; Eph. 2:3; Col. 2:5. (d) Heb. 4:12 should not be taken to mean that the word of God, penetrating to the inner man, makes a separation between his soul and his spirit, which would naturally imply that these two are different substances; but simply as declaring that it brings about a separation in both between the thoughts and intents of the heart.
3. The relation of body and soul to each other. The exact relation of body and soul to each other has been represented in various ways, but remains to a great extent a mystery. The following are the most important theories relating to this point:
a. Monistic. There are theories which proceed on the assumption that body and soul are of the same primitive substance. According to Materialism this primitive substance is matter, and spirit is a product of matter. And according to absolute Idealism and Spiritualism the primitive substance is spirit, and this becomes objective to itself in what is called matter. Matter is a product of the spirit. The objection to this monistic view is that things so different as body and soul cannot be deduced the one from the other.
b. Dualistic. Some theories proceed on the assumption that there is an essential duality of matter and spirit, and present their mutual relations in various ways: (1) Occasionalism. According to this theory, suggested by Cartesius, matter and spirit each works, according to laws peculiar to itself, and these laws are so different that there is no possibility of joint action. What appears to be such can only be accounted for on the principle that, on the occasion of the action of the one, God by His direct agency produces a corresponding action in the other. (2) Parallelism, Leibnitz proposed the theory of pre-established harmony. This also rests on the assumption that there is no direct interaction between the material and the spiritual, but does not assume that God produces apparently joint actions by continual interference. Instead it holds that God made the body and the soul so that the one perfectly corresponds to the other. When a motion takes place in the body, there is a corresponding movement in the soul, according to a law of pre-established harmony. (3) Realistic Dualism. The simple facts to which we must always return, and which are embodied in the theory of realistic dualism, are the following: body and soul are distinct substances, which do interact, though their mode of interaction escapes human scrutiny and remains a mystery for us. The union between the two may be called a union of life: the two are organically related, the soul acting on the body and the body on the soul. Some of the actions of the body are dependent on the conscious operation of the soul, while others are not. The operations of the soul are connected with the body as its instrument in the present life; but from the continued conscious existence and activity of the soul after death it appears that it can also work without the body. This view is certainly in harmony with the representations of Scripture on this point.
B. The Origin of the Soul in the Individual.
1. Historical views respecting the origin of the soul. Greek philosophy devoted considerable attention to the problem of the human soul and did not fail to make its influence felt in Christian theology. The nature, the origin, and the continued existence of the soul, were all subjects of discussion. Plato believed in the pre-existence and transmigration of the soul. In the early Church the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul was practically limited to the Alexandrian school. Origen was the chief representative of this view and combined it with the notion of a pre-temporal fall. Two other views at once made their appearance and proved to be far more popular in Christian circles. The theory of creationism holds that God creates a new soul at the birth of every individual. It was the popular theory of some Fathers of the Church, and also found some advocates in the West. Jerome and Hilary of Pictavium were its most prominent representatives. In the Western Church the theory of Traducianism gradually gained ground. According to this view the soul as well as the body of man originates by propagation. It is usually wedded to the realistic theory that human nature was created in its entirety by God and is ever-increasingly individualized as the human race multiplies. Tertullian was the first to state this theory of Traducianism and under his influence. It seemed to fit in best with the doctrine of the transmission of sin that was current in those circles. Leo the Great called it the teaching of the catholic faith.
2. Pre-existentianism. Some speculative theologians, among whom Origen, Scotus Erigena, and Julius Mueller are the most important, advocated the theory that the souls of men existed in a previous state, and that certain occurrences in that former state account for the condition in which those souls are now found. Origen looks upon manís present material existence, with all its inequalities and irregularities, physical and moral, as a punishment for sins committed in a previous existence. Scotus Erigena also holds that sin made its entrance into the world of humanity in the pre-temporal state, and that therefore man begins his career on earth as a sinner.
This theory is open to several objections, (a) It is absolutely devoid of both Scriptural and philosophical grounds, and is, at least in some of its forms, based on the dualism of matter and spirit as taught in heathen philosophy, making it a punishment for the soul to be connected with the body, (b) It really makes the body something accidental. The soul was without the body at first, and received this later on. Man was complete without the body. This virtually wipes out the distinction between man and the angels, (c) It destroys the unity of the human race, for it assumes that all individual souls existed long before they entered the present life. They do not constitute a race, (d) It finds no support in the consciousness of man. Man has absolutely no consciousness of such a previous existence; nor does he feel that the body is a prison or a place of punishment for the soul. In fact, he dreads the separation of body and soul as something that is unnatural.
3. Traducianism. According to Traducianism the souls of men are propagated along with the bodies by generation, and are therefore transmitted to the children by the parents. In the early Church Tertullian, Rufinus, Apollinarus, and Gregory of Nyssa were Traducianists.
a. Arguments in favor of Traducianism. Several arguments are adduced in favor of this theory. (1) It is said to be favored by the Scriptural representation (a) that God but once breathed into manís nostrils the breath of life, and then left it to man to propagate the species, Gen. 1:28; 2:7; (b) that the creation of Eveís soul was included in that of Adam, since she is said to be "of the man" (I Cor. 11:8), and nothing is said about the creation of her soul, Gen. 2:23; (c) that God ceased from the work of creation after He had made man, Gen. 2:2; and (d) that descendants are said to be in the loins of their fathers, Gen. 46:26; Heb. 7:9,10. Cf. also such passages as John 3:6: 1:13; Rom. 1:3; Acts 17:26. (2) It is supported by the analogy of vegetable and animal life, in which the increase in numbers is secured, not by a continually increasing number of immediate creations, but by the natural derivation of new individuals from a parent stock. But cf. Ps. 104:30. (3) It also seeks support in the inheritance of mental peculiarities and family traits, which are so often just as noticeable as physical resemblances, and which cannot be accounted for by education or example, since they are in evidence even when parents do not live to bring up their children. (4) Finally, it seems to offer the best basis for the explanation of the inheritance of moral and spiritual depravity, which is a matter of the soul rather than of the body. It is quite common to combine with Traducianism the realistic theory to account for original sin.
4. Creationism. This view is to the effect that each individual soul is to be regarded as an immediate creation of God, owing its origin to a direct creative act, of which the time cannot be precisely determined. The soul is supposed to be created pure, but united with a depraved body. This need not necessarily mean that the soul is created first in separation from the body, and then polluted by being brought in contact with the body, which would seem to assume that sin is something physical. It may simply mean that the soul, though called into being by a creative act of God, yet is pre-formed in the psychical life of the foetus, that is, in the life of the parents, and thus acquires its life not above and outside of, but under and in, that complex of sin by which humanity as a whole is burdened.
a. Arguments in favor of Creationism. The original account of creation points to a marked distinction between the creation of the body and that of the soul. The one is taken from the earth, while the other comes directly from God. This distinction is kept up throughout the Bible, where body and soul are not only represented as different substances, but also as having different origins, Eccl. 12:7; Isa 42:5; Zech. 12:1; Heb. 12:9. Cf. Num. 16:22. Of the passage in Hebrews even Delitzsch, though a Traducianist, says, "There can hardly be a more classical proof text for creationism." (2) It is clearly far more consistent with the nature of the human soul than Traducianism. The immaterial and spiritual, and therefore indivisible nature of the soul of man, generally admitted by all Christians, is clearly recognized by Creationism. The traducian theory on the other hand, posits a derivation of essence.
b. Objections to Creationism. Creationism is open to the following objections: (1) The most serious objection is stated by Strong in the following words: "This theory, if it allows that the soul is originally possessed of depraved tendencies, makes God the direct author of moral evil; if it holds the soul to have been created pure, it makes God the author of moral evil, by teaching that He put this pure soul into a body which will inevitably corrupt it." This is undoubtedly a serious difficulty, and is generally regarded as the decisive argument against Creationism. It regards the earthly father as begetting only the body of his child, ó certainly not the most important part of the child, ó and therefore does not account for the re-appearance of the mental and moral traits of the parents in the children. Moreover, by taking this position it ascribes to the beast nobler powers of propagation than to man, for the beast multiplies itself after its kind. The last consideration is one of no great importance. And as far as mental and moral similarities of parents and children are concerned, it need not necessarily be assumed that these can be accounted for only on the basis of heredity. Our knowledge of the soul is still too deficient to speak with absolute assurance on this point. It is not in harmony with Godís present relationship to the world and His manner of working in it, since it teaches a direct creative activity of God, and thus ignores the fact that God now works through secondary causes and ceased from His creative work.
5. Concluding remarks.
Caution required in speaking on the subject. It must be admitted that the arguments on both sides are rather well balanced. The Bible makes no direct statement respecting the origin of the soul of man, except in the case of Adam. The few Scriptural passages that are adduced as favoring the one theory or the other, can hardly be called conclusive on either side. And because we have no clear teaching of Scripture on the point in question, it is necessary to speak with caution on the subject. We ought not to be wise above that which is written. Several theologians are of the opinion that there is an element of truth in both of these theories, which must be recognized. Dorner even suggests the idea that each one of the three theories discussed represents one aspect of the whole truth: "Traducianism, generic consciousness; Pre-existentianism, self-consciousness or the interest of the personality as a separate eternal divine thought; Creationism, God-consciousness."
From the Holy Fathers:
The Breath of God Mixes with Dust. Gregory of Nazianzus: The soul is the breath of God, a substance of heaven mixed with the lowest earth, a light entombed in a cave, yet wholly divine and unquenchable. ... He spoke, and taking some of the newly minted earth his immortal hands made an image into which he imparted some of his own life. He sent his spirit, a beam from the invisible divinity. Dogmatic Hymns 7.
How Adam Became a Living Soul. Chrysostom: It was pleasing to God's love of humanity to make this thing created out of earth a participant of the rational nature of the soul, through which this living creature was manifest as excellent and perfect. "And he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," that is, the inbreathing communicated to the one created out of earth the power of life, and thus the nature of the soul was formed. Therefore Moses added "And man became a living soul"; that which was created out of dust, having received the inbreathing, the breath of life, "became a living soul." What does "a living soul" mean? An active soul, which has the members of the body as the implements of its activities, submissive to its will. Homilies on Genesis 12.15.
Origin of the Soul. Tertullian: The soul has its origin in the breath of God and did not come from matter. We base that statement on the clear assertion of divine revelation, which declares that "God breathed the breath of life into the face of man, and man became a living soul." On the Soul 3.4.
God Unites the Human Soul to the Body by His Breath. Augustine: Scripture says, "And he breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living soul." If up to this point there was only the body, we should understand that the soul was at this point joined to the body. Perhaps the soul had been already made but was still as if in the mouth of God, that is, in his truth and wisdom. But it did not depart from there as if separated by places, when it was breathed forth. For God is not contained by place but is present everywhere. Two Books on Genesis Against the Manicheans 2.8.10.
Nature of the Soul. Ambrose: Therefore the soul is not blood, because blood is of the flesh; nor is the soul a harmony, because harmony of this sort is also of the flesh; neither is the soul air, because blown breath is one thing and the soul something else. The soul is not fire, nor is the soul actuality, but the soul is living, for Adam "became a living soul," since the soul rules and gives life to the body, which is without life or feeling. Isaac, or the Soul 2.4.
Flesh Fashioned, Soul Created. Gregory of Nyssa: God made the inner person; he molded the outer. "Molding" is suitable for clay, but "making" is [fitting] for an image. So on the one hand, he "molded" flesh, but on the other, he "made" the soul. On the Origin of Man.
The Greatness and Lowliness of Humanity. Gregory of Nyssa: "God took of the dust of the earth and fashioned man." In this world I have discovered the two affirmations that man is nothing and that man is great. If you consider nature alone, he is nothing and has no value; but if you regard the honor with which he has been treated, man is something great. On the Origin of Man.
The Unity of Body and Soul. Gregory of Nyssa: Others, on the contrary, marking the order of the making of man as stated by Moses, say that the soul is second to the body in order of time, since God first took dust from the earth and formed man, and then animated the being thus formed by his breath. By this argument they prove that the flesh is more noble than the soul, that which was previously formed [more noble] than that which was afterward infused into it.... Nor again are we in our doctrine to begin by making up man like a clay figure and to say that the soul came into being for the sake of this, for surely in that case the intellectual nature would be shown to be less precious than the clay figure. But as man is one, the being consisting of soul and body, we are to suppose that the beginning of his existence is one, common to both aspects, so that he should not be found to be antecedent and posterior to himself, as if the bodily element were first in point of time and the other were a later addition. On the Creation of Man 28.1-29.1.
God Places a Share of His Grace in the Soul. Basil the Great: "And he breathed into his nostrils," that is to say, he placed in man some share of his own grace, in order that he might recognize likeness through likeness. Nevertheless, being in such great honor because he was created in the image of the Creator, he is honored above the heavens, above the sun, above the choirs of stars. For which of the heavenly bodies was said to be an image of the most high God? Exegetic Homilies on the Psalms 19.8.
Formed of Dust by God's Own Hands. Theodoret of Cyr: When we hear Moses' writings describe how God took dust from the earth with his hands in order to make man, we try to understand what such language might mean. It means this: the whole of God had a special interest in the creation of the human nature. The great prophet proclaims this very thing, since everything else in creation was made by spoken command. Man, however, was made by God's "hands." ... Just like an embryo is planted in the mother's womb and develops from the material which has surrounded it from the beginning, so also God wanted to take the material for the human body from the earth. Thus, clay became flesh and blood, and skin, and nerves, and veins, and arteries, and the brain, and bone marrow and supporting bones, and so on. Compendium of Heretical Myths.
The Soul did not Pre-exist. John of Damascus: From the earth he formed his body and by his own inbreathing gave him a rational and understanding soul, which we say is the divine image.. .. The body and the soul were formed at the same time ó not one before and the other afterward, as the ravings of Origen would have it. On the Orthodox Faith 2.12.
III. Man as the Image of God.
A. Historical Views of the Image of God in Man.
According to Scripture man was created in the image of God, and is therefore God-related. Traces of this truth are found even in Gentile literature. Paul pointed out to the Athenians that some of their own poets have spoken of man as the offspring of God, Acts 17:28. The early Church Fathers were quite agreed that the image of God in man consisted primarily in manís rational and moral characteristics, and in his capacity for holiness; but some were inclined to include also bodily traits. Irenaeus and Tertullian drew a distinction between the "image" and the "likeness" of God, finding the former in bodily traits, and the latter in the spiritual nature of man. Clement of Alexandria and Origen, however, rejected the idea of any bodily analogy, and held that the word "image" denoted the characteristics of man as man, and the word "likeness," qualities which are not essential to man, but may be cultivated or lost. This view is also found in Athanasius, Hilary, Ambrose, Augustine, and John of Damascus. According to Pelagius and his followers the image consisted merely in this, that man was endowed with reason, so that he could know God; with free will, so that he was able to choose and do the good; and with the necessary power to rule the lower creation.
The distinction already made by some of the early Church Fathers between the image and the likeness of God, was continued by the Scholastics, though it was not always expressed in the same way. The former was conceived of as including the intellectual powers of reason and freedom, and the latter as consisting of original righteousness. To this was added another point of distinction, namely, that between the image of God as a natural gift to man, something belonging to the very nature of man as man, and the likeness of God, or original righteousness, as a supernatural gift, which served as a check on the lower nature of man. There was a difference of opinion as to whether man was endowed with this original righteousness at once at creation, or received it later on as a reward for a temporary obedience. It was this original righteousness that enabled man to merit eternal life. The Reformers rejected the distinction between the image and the likeness, and considered original righteousness as included in the image of God, and as belonging to the very nature of man in its original condition. There was a difference of opinion, however, between Luther and Calvin. The former did not seek the image of God in any of the natural endowments of man, such as his rational and moral powers, but exclusively in original righteousness, and therefore regarded it as entirely lost by sin. Calvin, on the other hand, expresses himself as follows, after stating that the image of God extends to everything in which the nature of man surpasses that of all other species of animals: "Accordingly, by this term (Ďimage of Godí) is denoted the integrity with which Adam was endued when his intellect was clear, his affections subordinated to reason, all his senses duly regulated, and when he truly ascribed all his excellence to the admirable gifts of his Maker. And though the primary seat of the divine image was in the mind and the heart, or in the soul and its powers, there was no part even of the body in which some rays of glory did not shine." It included both natural endowments and those spiritual qualities designated as original righteousness, that is, true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. The whole image was vitiated by sin, but only those spiritual qualities were completely lost. The Socinians and some of the earlier Arminians taught that the image of God consisted only in manís dominion over the lower creation. Schleier-macher rejected the idea of an original state of integrity and of original righteousness as a necessary doctrine. Since, as he sees it, moral perfection or righteousness and holiness can only be the result of development, he regards it as a contradiction in terms to speak of man as being created in a state of righteousness and holiness. Hence the image of God in man can only be a certain receptivity for the divine, a capacity to answer to the divine ideal, and to grow into God-likeness.
B. Scriptural Data Respecting the Image of God in Man.
Scriptural teachings respecting the image of God in man warrant the following statements:
1. The words "image" and "likeness" are used synonymously and interchangeably, and therefore do not refer to two different things. In Gen. 1:26 both words are used, but in the twenty-seventh verse only the first. This is evidently considered sufficient to express the whole idea. In Gen. 5:1 only the word "likeness" occurs, but in the third verse of that chapter both terms are again found. Gen. 9:6 contains only the word "image" as a complete expression of the idea. Turning to the New Testament, we find "image" and "glory" used in I Cor. 11:7, "image" alone in Col. 3:10, and "likeness" only in Jas. 3:9. Evidently the two are used interchangeably in Scripture. This naturally implies that man was created also in the likeness of God, and that this likeness was not something with which he was endowed later on. The usual opinion is that the word "likeness" was added to "image" to express the idea that the image was most like, a perfect image. The idea is that by creation that which was archetypal in God became ectypal in man. God was the original of which man was made a copy. This means, of course, that man not only bears the image of God, but is His very image. This is clearly stated in I Cor. 11:7, but does not mean that he cannot also be said to bear the image of God, cf. I Cor. 15:49.
Some have considered the change of prepositions in Gen. 1:27, "in our image, after our likeness," as significant. Bohl even based on it the idea that we are created in the image as a sphere, but this is entirely unwarranted. While the first meaning of the Hebrew preposition be (rendered "in" here) is undoubtedly "in," it can also have the same meaning as the preposition le (rendered "after"), and evidently has that meaning here. Notice that we are said to be renewed "after the image" of God in Col. 3:10; and also that the prepositions used in Gen. 1:26 are reversed in Gen. 5:3.
2. The image of God in which man was created includes what is generally called "original righteousness." We are told that God made man "very good," Gen. 1:31, and "upright," Eccl. 7:29. The New Testament indicates very specifically the nature of manís original condition where it speaks of man as being renewed in Christ, that is, as being brought back to a former condition. The condition to which he is restored in Christ is clearly not one of neutrality, neither good nor bad, in which the will is in a state of perfect equilibrium, but one of true knowledge, Col. 3:10, righteousness and holiness, Eph. 4:24. These three elements constitute the original righteousness, which was lost by sin, but is regained in Christ. It may be called the moral image of God, or the image of God in the more restricted sense of the word. Manís creation in this moral image implies that the original condition of man was one of holiness, and not only a state of innocence.
3. But the image of God is not to be restricted to the original righteousness, and holiness which mostly was lost by sin, but also includes elements which belong to the natural constitution of man. They are elements which belong to man as man, such as intellectual power, natural affections, moral freedom, the thirst for God and immortality. As created in the image of God man has a rational and moral nature, which he did not lose by sin and which he could not lose without ceasing to be man. This part of the image of God has indeed been vitiated by sin, but still remains in man even after his fall in sin. Notice that man even after the fall, irrespective of his spiritual condition, is still represented as the image of God, Gen. 9;6; I Cor. 11:7; Jas. 3:9. The crime of murder owes its enormity to the fact that it is an attack on the image of God. In view of these passages of Scripture it is unwarranted to say that man has completely lost the image of God.
4. Another element usually included in the image of God is that of spirituality. God is Spirit, and it is but natural to expect that this element of spirituality also finds expression in man as the image of God. And that this is so is already indicated in the narrative of manís creation. God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul," Gen. 2:7. The "breath of life" is the principle of his life, and the "living soul" is the very being of man. The soul is united with and adapted to a body, but can, if need be, also exist without the body. In view of this we can speak of man as a spiritual being, and as also in that respect the image of God. In this connection the question may be raised, whether the body of man also constitutes a part of the image. And it would seem that this question should be answered in the affirmative. The Bible says that man ó not merely the soul of man ó was created in the image of God, and man, the "living soul," is not complete without the body. This topic becomes more clear in light of the Incarnation of the Son of God which was to take place in the later times. God made Adam in the appearance the He intended to have after His incarnation.
5. Still another element of the image of God is immortality. The Bible says that God only hath immortality, I Tim. 6:16, and this would seem to exclude the idea of human immortality. But it is perfectly evident from Scripture that man is also immortal in some sense of the word. The meaning is that God alone hath immortality as an essential quality, has it in and of Himself, while manís immortality is an endowment, is derived from God. Man was created immortal, not merely in the sense that his soul was endowed with an endless existence, but also in the sense that he did not carry within himself the seeds of death. Death was threatened as a punishment for sin, Gen. 2:17, and that this included bodily or physical death is evident from Gen. 3:19. Paul tells us that sin brought death into the world, Rom. 5:12; I Cor. 15:20,21; and that death must be regarded as the wages of sin, Rom. 6:23.
6. There is considerable difference of opinion as to whether manís dominion over the lower creation also formed a part of the image of God. This is not surprising in view of the fact that Scripture does not express itself explicitly on this point. Some regard the dominion in question simply as an office conferred on man, and not as a part of the image. But notice that God mentions manís creation in the divine image and his dominion over the lower creation in a single breath, Gen. 1:26. It is indicative of the glory and honour with which man is crowned, Ps. 8:5,6.
C. More on Man as the Image of God.
The Roman Catholic hold that God at creation endowed man with certain natural gifts, such as the spirituality of the soul, the freedom of the will, and the immortality of the body. Spirituality, freedom, and immortality, are natural endowments, and as such constitute the natural image of God. Moreover, God "attempered" (adjusted) the natural powers of man to one another, placing the lower in due subordination to the higher. The harmony thus established is called justitia ó natural righteousness. But even so there remained in man a natural tendency of the lower appetites and passions to rebel against the authority of the higher powers of reason and conscience. This tendency, called concupiscence, is not itself sin, but becomes sin when it is consented to by the will and passes into voluntary action. In order to enable man to hold his lower nature in check, God added to the dona naturalia certain dona super-naturalia. These included the donum superadditum of original righteousness (the supernatural likeness to God), which was added as a foreign gift to the original constitution of man, either immediately at the time of creation, or at some later point as a reward for the proper use of the natural powers. These supernatural gifts, including the donum superadditum of original righteousness, were lost by sin, but their loss did not disrupt the essential nature of man.
Other views of the image of God. According to the Socinians and some of the earlier Arminians the image of God consists in manís dominion over the lower creation, and in this only. Anabaptists maintained that the first man, as a finite and earthly creature, was not yet the image of God, but could become this only by regeneration. Pelagians, most of the Arminians, and Rationalists all, with little variation, find the image of God only in the free personality of man, in his rational character, his ethico-religious disposition, and his destiny to live in communion with God.
D. The Original Condition of Man as the Image of God.
There is a very close connection between the image of God and the original state of man, and therefore the two are generally considered together. Once again we shall have to distinguish between different historical views as to the original condition of man.
1. Protestants teach that man was created in a state of relative perfection, a state of righteousness and holiness. This does not mean that he had already reached the highest state of excellence of which he was susceptible. It is generally assumed that he was destined to reach a higher degree of perfection in the way of obedience. He was, something like a child, perfect in parts, but not yet in degree. His condition was a preliminary and temporary one, which would either lead on to greater perfection and glory or terminate in a fall. He was by nature endowed with that original righteousness which is the crowning glory of the image of God, and consequently lived in a state of positive holiness. The loss of that righteousness meant the loss of something that belonged to the very nature of man in its ideal state. Man could lose it and still remain man, but he could not lose it and remain man in the ideal sense of the word. In other words, its loss would really mean a deterioration and impairment of human nature. Moreover, man was created to become immortal (not by his nature but by eating of the fruits of the Tree of Life). This applies not only to the soul, but to the whole person of man; and therefore does not merely mean that the soul was destined to have a continued existence. Neither does it mean that man was raised above the possibility of becoming a prey to death; this can only be affirmed of the angels. It does mean, however, that man, as he was created by God, did not bear within him the seeds of death. Though the possibility of his becoming a victim of death was not excluded, he was not liable to death as long as he did not sin and ate of the fruits of the Tree of Life. It should be borne in mind that manís original immortality was not something purely negative and physical, but was something positive and spiritual as well. It meant life in communion with God and the enjoyment of the favor of the Most High. This is the fundamental conception of life in Scripture, just as spiritual death is primarily separation from God. The loss of this spiritual life would spell death, and would also result in physical death.
2. Roman Catholics naturally have a somewhat different view of the original condition of man. According to them original righteousness did not belong to the nature of man in its integrity, but was something supernaturally added. In virtue of his creation man was simply endowed with all the natural powers and faculties of human nature as such, and by the justitia naturalis these powers were nicely adjusted to each other. He was without sin and lived in a state of perfect innocency. In the very nature of things, however, there was a natural tendency of the lower appetites and passions to rebel against the higher powers of reason and conscience. This tendency, called concupiscence, was not itself sin, but could easily become the occasion and fuel for sin. (But cf. Rom. 7:8; Col. 3:5; I Thess. 4:5, Auth. Ver.). Man, then, as he was originally constituted, was by nature without positive holiness, but also without sin, though burdened with a tendency which might easily result in sin. But now God added to the natural constitution of man the supernatural gift of original righteousness, by which he was enabled to keep the lower propensities and desires in due subjection. When man fell, he lost that original righteousness, but the original constitution of human nature remained intact. The natural man is now exactly where Adam was before he was endowed with original righteousness, though with a somewhat stronger bias towards evil.
3. Rationalizing views. Pelagians, Socinians, Arminians, Rationalists, and Evolutionists, all discount the idea of a primitive state of holiness altogether. The first four are agreed that man was created in a state of innocence, of moral and religious neutrality, but was endowed with a free will, so that he could turn in either direction. Evolutionists assert that man began his career in a state of barbarism, in which he was but slightly removed from the brute. Rationalists of all kinds believe that a concreated righteousness and holiness is a contradiction in terms. Man determines his character by his own free choice; and holiness can only result from a victorious struggle against evil. From the nature of the case, therefore, Adam could not have been created in a state of holiness. Moreover, Pelagians, Socinians, and Rationalists hold that man was created mortal. Death did not result from the entrance of sin into the world, but was simply the natural termination of human nature as it was constituted. Adam would have died in virtue of the original constitution of his nature.
Questions for further study: What is the precise distinction which Delitzsch makes between the soul and the spirit in man? How does Heard make use of the tripartite conception of man in the interpretation of original sin, conversion, and sanctification? What accounts for the fact that Lutherans are prevailingly Traducianists, and Reformed prevailingly Creationists? How about the objection that Creationism virtually destroys the unity of the human race? What objections are there against realism with its assumption of the numerical unity of human nature? What criticism would you offer on Dornerís view, that the theories of Pre-existentianism, Traducianism, and Creationism, are simply three different aspects of the whole truth respecting the origin of the soul? How do Roman Catholics generally distinguish between the "image" and the "likeness" of God? Do they believe that man lost his justitia or natural righteousness by the fall or not? How do those Lutherans who restrict the image of God to manís original righteousness explain Gen. 9:6 and Jas. 3:9?
Literature. Bavinck, Geref. Dogm., II, pp. 566-635; Kuyper, Diet. Dogm., De Creaturis C. pp. 3-131; Vos, Geref. Dogm. II, pp. 1-21; Hodge, Syst. Theol. II, pp. 42-116; Dabney, Syst. and Polem. Theol., pp. 292-302; Shedd, Dogm. Theol. II, pp. 4-114; Litton, Introd. to Dogm. Theol., pp. 107-122; Dorner, Syst, of Chr. Doct. II, pp. 68-96; Schmidt, Doct. Theol. of the Ev. Luth. Church, pp. 225-238; Martensen, Chr. Dogm., pp. 136-143; Pieper, Chr. Dogm. I, pp. 617-630; Valentine, Chr. Theol. I, pp. 383-415; Pope, Chr. Theol. I, pp. 421-436; Raymond, Syst. Theol. II, pp. 7-49; Wilmers, Handbook of the Chr. ReL, pp. 219-233; Orr, Godís Image in Man, pp. 3-193; A. Kuyper, Jr., Het Beeld Gods, pp. 8-143; Talma, De Anthropologie van Calvijn, pp. 29-68; Heard, The Tri-partite Nature of Man; Dickson, St. Paulís Use of the Terms Flesh and Spirit, chaps. V-XI; Delitzsch, Syst. of Bihl. Psych., pp. 103-144; Laidlaw, The Bibl. Doct. of Man, pp. 49-108; H. W. Robinson, The Chr. Doct. of Man, pp. 4-150.
From the Holy Fathers:
Human Dignity Honored by This Deliberation. Chrysostom: To begin, it is worthwhile to ask why God did not say, when the heavens were created, "Let us make the heavens" but instead, "Let there be a heaven. ... Let there be light," and similarly for each other aspect of creation. "Let us make" suggests deliberation, collaboration and conference with another person. So what is it whose pending creation is granted so great an honor? It is humanity, the greatest and most marvelous of living beings, and the creation most worthy of honor before God... There is here this deliberation, collaboration and communion not because God needs advice ó God forbid saying such a thing! ó but so that the very impact of the language of our creation would show us honor. Sermons on Genesis 2.1.
Ascent from Lower to Higher. Gregory of Nyssa: If, therefore, Scripture tells us that man was made last, after every animate thing, the lawgiver is doing nothing else than declaring to us the doctrine of the soul, considering that what is perfect comes last, according to a certain necessary sequence in the order of things.... Thus we may suppose that nature makes an ascent as it were by steps ó I mean the various properties of life ó from the lower to the perfect form. On the Creation of Man 8.7.
The Creation of Humanity. Gregory of Nyssa: Scripture informs us that the Deity proceeded by a sort of graduated and ordered advance to the creation of man. After the foundations of the universe were laid, as the history records, man did not appear on the earth at once, but the creation of the brutes preceded him, and the plants preceded them. Thereby Scripture shows that the vital forces blended with the world of matter according to a gradation; first it infused itself into insensate nature; and in continuation of this advanced into the sentient world; and then ascended to intelligent and rational beings.... The creation of man is related as coming last, as of one who took up into himself every single form of life, both that of plants and that which is seen in brutes. His nourishment and growth he derives from vegetable life; for even in vegetables such processes are to be seen when aliment is being drawn in by their roots and given off in fruit and leaves. His sentient organization he derives from the brute creation. But his faculty of thought and reason is incommunicable, and a peculiar gift in our nature.... It is not possible for this reasoning faculty to exist in the life of the body without existing by means of sensations, and since sensation is already found subsisting in the brute creation, necessarily, as it were, by reason of this one condition, our soul has touch with the other things which are knit up with it; and these are all those phenomena within us that we call "passions." On the Soul and the Resurrection.4
Christ the Image. Clement of Alexandria: For "the image of God" is his Word (and the divine Word, the light who is the archetype of light, is a genuine son of Mind [the Father]); and an image of the Word is the true man, that is, the mind in man, who on this account is said to have been created "in the image" of God and "in his likeness," because through his understanding heart he is made like the divine Word or Reason [Logos], and so rational [logikos]. Exhortation to the Greeks 10.
According to Our Image. Marius Victorinus: Moses says what was said by God: "Let us make man according to our image and likeness." God says that. He says "let us make" to a co-operator, necessarily to Christ. And he says "according to the image." Therefore man is not the image of God, but he is "according to the image." For Jesus alone is the image of God, but man is "according to the image," that is, image of the image. But he says "according to our image." Therefore both Father and Son are one image. Against Arius 1A.20.
Image Freely Received. Diadochus of Photice: All men are made in God's image; but to be in his likeness is granted only to those who through great love have brought their own freedom into subjection to God. For only when we do not belong to ourselves do we become like him who through love has reconciled us to himself. No one achieves this unless he persuades his soul not to be distracted by the false glitter of this life. On Spiritual Perfection 4.
In Our Image. Augustine: For why the "our," if the Son is the image of the Father alone? But it is on account of the imperfect likeness, as we have said, that man is spoken of as "after our image," and so "our," that man might be an image of the Trinity. This image is not equal to the Trinity, as the Son is to the Father, but approaching it, as is said, by a certain likeness; as in things distinct there can be closeness, not however in this case as if a spatial closeness but by imitation. On the Trinity 7.6.12.
Augustine: For God said, "Let us make man in our image and likeness": a little later, however, it is said "And God made man in the image of God." It would certainly not be correct to say "our," because the number is plural, if man were made in the image of one person, whether Father, Son or Holy Spirit. But because he is made in the image of the Trinity, consequently it was said "in our image." Again, lest we choose to believe in three gods in the Trinity, since the same Trinity is one God, he said, "And God made man in his image," as if he were to say "in his [own triune] image." On the Trinity 12.6.6.
Who Speaks of "Our"? Fulgentius of Ruspe: Therefore let us hold that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are by nature one God; neither is the Father the one who is the Son, nor the Son the one who is the Father, nor the Holy Spirit the one who is the Father or the Son. For the essence, that which the Greeks call the ousia, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is one, in which essence the Father is not one thing and the Son a second thing and the Holy Spirit still a third thing, although in person the Father is different, the Son is different, and the Holy Spirit is different. All of this is demonstrated for us in the strongest fashion at the very beginning of the Holy Scriptures, when God says, "Let us make human beings in our image and likeness." When, using the singular number, he says "image," he shows that the nature is one, in whose image the human being was made. But when he says "our" in the plural, he shows that the very same God in whose image the human being was made is not one in person. For if in that one essence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit there were one person, "to our image" would not have been spoken but "in my image." Nor would he have said "let us make" but "I shall make." If in reality in those three persons three substances were to be understood or believed, "to our image" would not have been said; rather, "to our images"; for there could not be one image of three unequal natures. But while the human being is said to be made according to the one image of the one God, the divinity of the Holy Trinity in one essence is announced. Then and shortly thereafter, in place of what he had said above, "Let us make human beings in our image and likeness," Scripture thus told of the making of the human being by saying, "And God created humankind in his image; in the image of God he created them." To Peter on the Faith 5.
The Invisible Father Through the Visible Word. Irenaeus: In previous times man, it is true, was said to have been made according to the image of God, but he was not revealed as such. For the Word according to whose image man was made was still invisible. Therefore also man easily lost the likeness. But when the Word of God was made flesh, he confirmed both image and likeness. For on the one hand he truly showed the image by becoming what his image was. On the other hand he firmly established the likeness by the co-assimilation of man to the invisible Father through the visible Word. Against Heresies 5.16.2.
Image Spiritually Interpreted. John Cassian: Placing him in the midst of all the brothers, he inquired as to how the Catholic Churches throughout the East interpreted what is said in Genesis; "Let us make man according to our image and likeness." Then he explained that the image and likeness of God was treated by all the heads of the Churches not according to the lowly sound of the letter but in a spiritual way, and he proved this with a long discourse and many examples from Scripture, showing that nothing of this sort could be the case with that immeasurable and incomprehensible and invisible majesty ó that it could be circumscribed in a human form and likeness, that indeed a nature that was incorporeal and uncomposed and simple could be apprehended by the eye or seized by the mind. Conference 10.3.2-3.
Spatial and Visual Metaphors Perceived by the Power of the Mind. Ambrose: But let us define more accurately the meaning of the phrase "to the image of God." Is it true that the flesh is made "to the image of God"? In that case, is there earth in God, since flesh is of earth? Is God corporeal, that is to say, weak and subject like the flesh to the passions? Perhaps the head may seem to you to be made in the likeness of God because it stands aloft, or the eyes because they observe or the ears because they hear? As to the question of height, are we to consider ourselves to be tall just because we tower a little over the earth? Are we not ashamed to be thought of as like to God merely because we are taller than serpents or other creeping creatures or even than deer, sheep or wolves? In that respect, how much taller are elephants and camels in comparison with us! Sight is important to us in order to enable us to behold the things of the world and to have knowledge of what is not reported by any person but is grasped by our sense of sight. How significant, in fact, is this power of sight! Because of it we may be said to have the likeness of God, who sees all, observes all, comprehends our hidden emotions and searches into the secrets of our hearts! Am I not ashamed to admit that it is not in my power to see parts of my body? What is in front of me I can see, but I am unable to see what is behind me. I have no view of my neck or of the back of my head, and I cannot see my loins. In like manner, what avail is our sense of hearing if we cannot either see or hear what is only a short distance away? If walls should intervene, both sight and hearing are impeded. Furthermore, our bodies are fixed and enclosed in a narrow space, whereas all wild animals have a wider range and are also swifter than men. The flesh, therefore, cannot be made to the image of God. This is true, however, of our souls, which are free to wander far and wide in acts of reflection and of counsel. Our souls are able to envisage and reflect on all things. We who are now in Italy have in mind what seems to pertain to affairs in the East or in the West. We seem to have dealings with men who dwell in Persia. We envision those who have their homes in Africa, if there happen to be acquaintances of ours who enjoy the hospitality of that land. We accompany these people on their departure and draw near to them in their voyage abroad. We are one with them in their absence. Those who are separated far from us engage us in conversation. We arouse the dead even to mutual interchange of thoughts and embrace them as if they were still living. We even go to the point of conferring on these people the usages and customs of our daily life. That, therefore, is made to the image of God that is perceived not by the power of the body but by that of the mind. It is that power that beholds the absent and embraces in its vision countries beyond the horizon. Its vision crosses boundaries and gazes intently on what is hidden. In one moment the utmost bounds of the world and its remote secret places are under its ken. God is attained, and Christ is approached. There is a descent into hell, and aloft in the sky there is an ascent into heaven. Hear, then, what Scripture says: "But our citizenship is in heaven." Is not that, therefore, in which God is ever-present made to the likeness of God? Listen to what the apostle says in that regard: "We all, therefore, with faces unveiled, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of God, are being transformed into his very image from glory to glory, as through the Spirit of the Lord." Hexaemeron 6.8.44-45.
The Image Given, the Likeness to be Freely Chosen. Gregory of Nyssa: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." We possess the one by creation; we acquire the other by free will. In the first structure it is given us to be born in the image of God; by free will there is formed in us the being in the likeness of God... ."Let us make man in our image": Let him possess by creation what is in the image, but let him also become according to the likeness. God has given the power for this. If he had created you also in the likeness, where would your privilege be? Why have you been crowned? And if the Creator had given you everything, how would the kingdom of heaven have opened for you? But it is proper that one part is given you, while the other has been left incomplete: this is so that you might complete it yourself and might be worthy of the reward which comes from God. On the Origin of Man.
The Human Body a Physical Epitome of the Trinity. Potamius of Lisbon: In order that the unity itself of the threefold majesty and imprint should encounter our understanding, the invisible majesty itself states so: "Let us make man in our image and according to our likeness." Look! He has demonstrated what we believe. God has engraved his image on the face of the human and has said "in our image." The knowledge of Father and Son is impressed upon the face of man; and the very features of his face, by means of the clay by which we are formed, revealed in the human original model how the Father and the Son were, so that man could admire God in man. Letter on the Substance 356-64.
Humankind as Flesh and Spirit. Gregory of Nazianzus: This was to show that he could call into being not only a nature akin to himself but also one altogether alien to him. For akin to Deity are those natures which are intellectual and only to be comprehended by mind; but all of which sense can take cognizance are utterly alien to it, and of these the furthest removed from it are all those which are entirely destitute of soul and power of motion.
Mind, then, and sense ó thus distinguished from each other ó had remained within their own boundaries and bore in themselves the magnificence of the Creator-Word, silent praisers and thrilling heralds of his mighty work. Not yet was there any mingling of both, nor any mixture of these opposites, tokens of a greater wisdom and generosity in the creation of natures; nor as yet were the whole riches of goodness made known. Now the Creator-Word, determining to exhibit this and to produce a single living being out of both (the invisible and the visible creation, I mean) fashions man; and taking a body from already existing matter, and placing in it a breath taken from himself (which the Word knew to be an intelligent soul and the image of God), as a sort of second world great in littleness, he placed him on the earth ó a new angel, a mingled worshiper initiated fully into the visible creation but only partially into the intellectual; king of all on earth but subject to the King above; earthly and heavenly; temporal and yet immortal; visible and yet intellectual; halfway between greatness and lowliness; in one person combining spirit and flesh. Spirit because of the favor bestowed on him, flesh on account of the height to which he had been raised; the one that he might continue to live and glorify his benefactor, the other that he might suffer and by suffering be put in remembrance, and be corrected if he became proud in his greatness; a living creature, trained here and then moved elsewhere; and to complete the mystery, made godly by its inclination to God. Second Oration on Easter 6-7.
The Image of God is a Comprehensive Phrase. Gregory of Nyssa: God creates man for no other reason than that God is good; and being such, and having this as his reason for entering upon the creation of our nature, he would not exhibit the power of this goodness in an imperfect form, giving our nature some one of the things at his disposal and grudging it a share in another: but the perfect form of goodness is here to be seen by his both bringing man into being from nothing and fully supplying him with all good gifts.
But since the list of individual good gifts is a long one, it is out of the question to apprehend it numerically. The language of Scripture therefore expresses it concisely by a comprehensive phrase, in saying that man was made "in the image of God," for this is the same as to say that he made human nature participant in all good; for if the Deity is the fullness of good, and this is his image, then the image finds its resemblance to the archetype in being filled with all good. On the Creation of Man 16.10.
Definition of the Image. Gregory of Nyssa: Let us add that [man's] creation in the image of the nature that governs all demonstrates precisely that he has from the beginning a royal nature. Following common usage, painters of portraits of princes, as well as representing their features, express their royal dignity by garments of purple, and before this image one is accustomed to say "the king." Thus human nature, created to rule the world because of his resemblance to the universal King, has been made like a living image that participates in the archetype by dignity and by name. He is not clothed in purple, scepter and diadem, for these do not signify his dignity (the archetype himself does not possess them). But in place of purple, he is clothed with virtue, the most royal of garments. Instead of a scepter, he is endowed with blessed immortality. Instead of a royal diadem, he bears the crown of justice, in such a way that everything about him manifests royal dignity, by his exact likeness to the beauty of the archetype. On the Creation of Man 4.
Image and Likeness. John of Damascus: Since this is so, God created man out of visible and invisible nature with his own hands according to the image and likeness, forming the body from the earth and through his own breathing upon it giving it a rational and intellectual soul, which we call the divine image. That which is "according to the image" is manifest in the intellect and free will. That which is "according to the likeness" is manifest in such likeness in virtue as is possible. Orthodox Faith 2.12.
Image of Command. Chrysostom: Some others base themselves on our arguments by asserting that God possesses an image in common with us, but they do not understand correctly what has been said. We did not speak about an image of being but about an image of command, as we will explain below. In fact, as a proof that divinity has no human form, listen to Paul's words: "But for a man it is not right to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man." This is why ó he says ó "she must wear a veil on her head." And in truth, in this passage he has called "image" this absence of difference of form with regard to God, and man is called image of God because God also possesses this figure: in their opinion, therefore, it should not be said that man only is the image of God but the woman as well. For man and woman have in common a single figure, character and resemblance. Why then is man called image of God, while the woman is not? Because Paul does not mean the image appearing in the form but the image concerning the command, which was given to man, not woman. Man in fact is subject to no creature, while woman is subject to man, according to God's words: "Your movement will be toward your husband, and he will rule you." This is why man is the image of God. He has no creature over him, and there is nobody over God: he rules on everything. Woman, on the other hand, is the glory of man, because she is subject to man. Sermons on Genesis 2.
IV. Man in the Covenant of Works.
The discussion of the original state of man, the status integritatis, would not he complete without considering the mutual relationship between God and man, and especially the origin and nature of the religious life of man. That life was rooted in a covenant, just as the Christian life is to-day, and that covenant is variously known as the covenant of nature, the covenant of life, the Edenic covenant, and the covenant of works. The first name, which was rather common at first, was gradually abandoned, since it was apt to give the impression that this covenant was simply a part of the natural relationship in which man stood to God. The second and third names are not sufficiently specific, since both of them might also be applied to the covenant of grace, which is certainly a covenant of life, and also originated in Eden, Gen. 3:15. Consequently the name "Covenant of Works" deserves preference.
Man in the State of Sin.
The Origin of Sin.
THE PROBLEM of the origin of the evil that is in the world has always been considered as one of the profoundest problems of philosophy and theology. It is a problem that naturally forces itself upon the attention of man, since the power of evil is both great and universal, is an ever present blight on life in all its manifestations, and is a matter of daily experience in the life of every man. Philosophers were constrained to face the problem and to seek an answer to the question as to the origin of all the evil, and particularly of the moral evil, that is in the world. To some it seemed to be so much a part of life itself that they sought the solution for it in the natural constitution of things. Others, however, were convinced that it had a voluntary origin, that is, that it originated in the free choice of man, either in the present or in some previous existence. These are much closer to the truth as it is revealed in the Word of God.
A. Historical Views Respecting the Origin of Sin.
The earliest Church Fathers do not speak very definitely on the origin of sin, though the idea that it originated in the voluntary transgression and fall of Adam in paradise is already found in the writings of Irenaeus. This soon became the prevailing view in the Church, especially in opposition to Gnosticism, which regarded evil as inherent in matter, and as such the product of the Demiurge. The contact of the human soul with matter at once rendered it sinful. This theory naturally robbed sin of its voluntary and ethical character. Origen sought to maintain this by his theory of pre-existentianism. According to him the souls of men sinned voluntarily in a previous existence, and therefore all enter the world in a sinful condition. This Platonic view was burdened with too many difficulties to meet with wide acceptance. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, however, it was advocated by Mueller and Rueckert, and by such philosophers as Lessing, Schelling, and J. H. Fichte. In general the Greek Church Fathers of the third and fourth centuries showed an inclination to discount the connection between the sin of Adam and those of his descendants, while the Latin Church Fathers taught that the present sinful condition of man finds its explanation in the first transgression of Adam in paradise.
The heresy of Pelagianistn denied that there was any vital connection between the two. Those of the Western Church reached their culmination in Augustinianism which stressed that we are polluted in Adam. Semi-Pelagianism admitted the Adamic connection, but held that it accounted only for the pollution of sin. During the Middle Ages the connection was generally recognized. It was sometimes interpreted in an Augustinian, but more often in a Semi-Pelagian manner. The Reformers shared the views of Augustine, and the Socinians those of Pelagius, while the Arminians moved in the direction of Semi-Pelagianism. Under the influence of Rationalism and evolutionary philosophy the doctrine of the fall of man and its fatal effects on the human race was gradually discarded. The idea of sin was replaced by that of evil, and this evil was explained in various ways. Kant regarded it as something belonging to the supersensible sphere, which he could not explain. For Leibnitz it was due to the necessary limitations of the universe. Schleiermacher found its origin in the sensuous nature of man, and Ritschl, in human ignorance, while the evolutionist ascribes it to the opposition of the lower propensities to a gradually developing moral consciousness. Barth speaks of the origin of sin as the mystery of predestination. Sin originated in the fall, but the fall was not a historical event; it belongs to superhistory (Urgeschichte). Adam was indeed the first sinner, but his disobedience cannot be regarded as the cause of the sin of the world. The sin of man is in some manner bound up with his creatureliness. The story of paradise simply conveys to man the cheering information that he need not necessarily be a sinner.
B. Scriptural Data Respecting the Origin of Sin.
In Scripture the moral evil that is in the world stands out clearly as sin, that is, as trangression of the law of God. Man ever appears in it as a transgressor by nature, and the question naturally arises, How did he acquire that nature? What does the Bible reveal on that point?
1. God cannot be regarded as its author. Godís eternal decree certainly rendered the entrance of sin into the world certain, but this may not be interpreted so as to make God the cause of sin in the sense of being its responsible author. This idea is clearly excluded by Scripture. "Far be it from God, that He should do wickedness, and from the Almighty, that He should commit iniquity," Job 34:10. He is the holy God, Isa. 6:3, and there is absolutely no unrighteousness in Him, Deut. 32:4; Ps. 92:16. He cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempteth no man, Jas. 1:13. When He created man, He created Him good and in His image. He positively hates sin, Deut. 25:16; Ps. 5:4; 11:5; Zech. 8:17; Luke 16:15, and made provision in Christ for manís deliverance from sin. In the light of all this it would be blasphemous to speak of God as the author of sin. And for that reason all those deterministic views which represent sin as a necessity inherent in the very nature of things should be rejected. They by implication make God the author of sin, and are contrary, not only to Scripture, but also to the voice of conscience, which testifies to the responsibility of man.
2. Sin originated in the angelic world. The Bible teaches us that in the attempt to trace the origin of sin, we must even go back of the fall of man as described in Gen. 3, and fix the attention on something that happened in the angelic world. God created a host of angels, and they were all good as they came forth from the hand of their Maker, Gen. 1:31. But a fall occurred in the angelic world, in which legions of angels fell away from God. The exact time of this fall is not designated, but in John 8:44 Jesus speaks of the devil as a murderer from the beginning (kat arches), and John says in I John 3:8, that he sins from the beginning. The prevailing opinion is that this katf arches means from the beginning of the history of man. Very little is said about the sin that caused the fall of the angels. From Paulís warning to Timothy, that no novice should be appointed as bishop, "lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil," I Tim. 3:6, we may in all probability conclude that it was the sin of pride, of aspiring to be like God in power and authority. And this idea would seem to find corroboration in Jude 6, where it is said that the fallen angels "kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation." They were not satisfied with their lot, with the government and power entrusted to them. If the desire to be like God was their peculiar temptation, this would also explain why they tempted man on that particular point.
3. The origin of sin in the human race. With respect to the origin of sin in the history of mankind, the Bible teaches that it began with the transgression of Adam in paradise, and therefore with a perfectly voluntary act on the part of man. The tempter came from the spirit world with the suggestion that man, by placing himself in opposition to God, might become like God. Adam yielded to the temptation and committed the first sin by eating of the forbidden fruit. But the matter did not stop there, for by that first sin Adam became the bond-servant of sin. That sin carried permanent pollution with it, and a pollution which, because of the solidarity of the human race, would affect not only Adam but all his descendants as well. As a result of the fall the father of the race could only pass on a depraved human nature to his offspring. From that unholy source sin flows on as an impure stream to all the generations of men, polluting everyone and everything with which it comes in contact. It is exactly this state of things that made the question of Job so pertinent, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." Job 14:4. But even this is not all. Adam sinned as the father of the human race. It is primarily in that sense that Adamís sin is the sin of all. That is what Paul teaches us in Rom. 5:12: "Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned." The last words can only mean that they all sinned in Adam, and sinned in such a way as to make them unclean and not fit to inherit eternal life. Apostol Paul says: "So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life. For as through the one manís disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous," Rom. 5:18,19.
C. The Nature of the First Sin or the Fall of Man.
1. Its formal character. It may be said that, from a purely formal point of view, manís first sin consisted in his eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We do not know what kind of tree this was. It may have been a date or a fig tree, or any other kind of fruit tree. There was nothing injurious in the fruit of the tree as such. Eating of it was not per se sinful, for it was not a transgression of the moral law. This means that it would not have been sinful, if God had not said, "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat." There is no unanimous opinion as to the reason why the tree was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A rather common view is that the tree was so called, because the eating of it would impart a practical knowledge of good and evil; but this is hardly in keeping with the Scriptural representation that man by eating it would become like God in knowing good and evil, for God does not commit evil, and therefore has no practical knowledge of it. It is far more likely that the tree was so called, because it was destined to reveal (a) whether manís future state would be good or evil; and (b) whether man would allow God to determine for him what was good and evil, or would undertake to determine this for himself. But whatever explanation may be given of the name, the command given by God not to eat of the fruit of the tree simply served the purpose of testing the obedience of man. It was a test of pure obedience, since God did not in any way seek to justify or to explain the prohibition. Adam had to show his willingness to submit his will to the will of his God with implicit obedience.
2. Its essential and material character. The first sin of man was a typical sin, that is, a sin in which the real essence of sin clearly reveals itself. The essence of that sin lay in the fact that Adam placed himself in opposition to God, that he refused to subject his will to the will of God, to have God determine the course of his life; and that he actively attempted to take the matter out of Godís hand, and to determine the future for himself. Man, who had absolutely no claim on God, and who could only establish a claim by meeting the condition of the covenant of works, cut loose from God and acted as if he possesed certain rights as over against God. The idea that the command of God was really an infringement on the rights of man seems to have been present already in the mind of Eve when, in answer to the question of Satan, she added the words, "Neither shall ye touch it," Gen. 3:3. She evidently wanted to stress the fact that the command had been rather unreasonable. Starting from the pre-supposition that he had certain rights as over against God, man allowed the new center, which he found in himself, to operate against his Maker. This explains his desire to be like God and his doubt of the good intention of God in giving the command. Naturally different elements can be distinguished in his first sin. In the intellect it revealed itself as unbelief and pride, in the will, as the desire to be like God, and in the affections, as an unholy satisfaction in eating of the forbidden fruit.
D. The First Sin or the Fall as Occasioned by Temptation.
1. The procedure of the tempter. The fall of man was occasioned by the temptation of the serpent, who sowed in manís mind the seeds of distrust and unbelief. Though it was undoubtedly the intention of the tempter to cause Adam, the head of the covenant, to fall, yet he addressed himself to Eve, probably because (a) she was not the head of the covenant and therefore would not have the same sense of responsibility; (b) she had not received the command of God directly but only indirectly, and would consequently be more susceptible to argumentation and doubt; and (c) she would undoubtedly prove to be the most effective agent in reaching the heart of Adam. The course followed by the tempter is quite clear. In the first place he sows the seeds of doubt by calling the good intention of God in question and suggesting that His command was really an infringement of manís liberty and rights. When he notices from the response of Eve that the seed has taken root, he adds the seeds of unbelief and pride, denying that transgression will result in death, and clearly intimating that the command was prompted by the selfish purpose of keeping man in subjection. He asserts that by eating from the tree man would become like God. The high expectations thus engendered induced Eve to look intently at the tree, and the longer she looked, the better the fruit seemed to her. Finally, desire got the upper hand, and she ate and also gave unto her husband, and he ate.
2. Interpretation of the temptation. Frequent attempts have been made and are still being made to explain away the historical character of the fall. Some regard the whole narrative in Gen. 3 as an allegory, representing manís self-depravation and gradual change in a figurative way. Barth and Brunner regard the narrative of manís original state and of the fall as a myth. Creation and the fall both belong, not to history, but to super-history (Urge-schichte), and therefore both are equally incomprehensible. The story in Genesis merely teaches us that, though man is now unable to do any good and is subject to the law of death, this is not necessarily so. It is possible for a man to be free from sin and death by a life in communion with God. Such is the life portrayed for us in the story of paradise, and it prefigures the life that will be granted to us in Him of whom Adam was but a type, namely, Christ. But it is not the kind of life that man now lives or ever has lived from the beginning of history. Paradise is there where God is Lord, and man and all other creatures are His willing subjects. The paradise of the past lies beyond the pale of human history. Says Barth: "When the history of man began; when manís time had its beginning; when time and history commenced where man has the first and the last word, paradise had disappeared." Brunner speaks in a similar vein when he says: "Just as in respect of the Creation we ask in vain: How, where and when has this taken place, so also is it with the Fall. The Creation and the Fall both lie behind the historical visible reality."
Others who do not deny the historical character of the narrative in Genesis, maintain that the serpent at least should not be regarded as a literal animal, but merely as a name or a symbol for covetousness, for sexual desire, for erring reason, or for Satan. Still others assert that, to say the least, the speaking of the serpent should be understood figuratively. But all these and similar interpretations are untenable in the light of Scripture. The passages preceding and following Gen. 3:1-7 are evidently intended as a plain historical narrative. That they were so understood by the Biblical authors, can be proved by many cross-references, such as Job 31:33; Eccl. 7:29; Isa. 43:27; Hos. 6:7; Rom. 5:12,18,19; I Cor. 5:21; II Cor. 11:3; I Tim. 2:14, and therefore we have no right to hold that these verses, which form an integral part of the narrative, should be interpreted figuratively. Moreover, the serpent is certainly counted among the animals in Gen. 3:1, and it would not yield good sense to substitute for "serpent" the word "Satan." The punishment in Gen. 3:14-15 presupposes a literal serpent, and Paul conceives of the serpent in no other way, II Cor. 11:3. And while it may be possible to conceive of the serpent as saying something in a figurative sense by means of cunning actions, it does not seem possible to think of him as carrying on the conversation recorded in Gen. 3 in that way. The whole transaction, including the speaking of the serpent, undoubtedly finds its explanation in the operation of some superhuman power, which is not mentioned in Gen. 3. Scripture clearly intimates that the serpent was but the instrument of Satan, and that Satan was the real tempter, who was working in and through the serpent, just as at a later time he worked in men and swine, John 8:44; Rom. 16:20; II Cor. 11:3; Rev. 12:9. The serpent was a fit instrument for Satan, for he is the personification of sin, and the serpent symbolizes sin (a) in its cunning and deceptive nature, and (b) in its poisonous sting by which it kills man.
3. The fall by temptation and manís salvability. It has been suggested that the fact that manís fall was occasioned by temptation from without, may be one of the reasons why man is salvable, in distinction from the fallen angels, who were not subject to external temptation, but fell by the promptings of their own inner nature. Nothing certain can be said on this point, however. But whatever the significance of the temptation in that respect may be, it certainly does not suffice to explain how a holy being like Adam could fall in sin. It is impossible for us to say how temptation could find a point of contact in a holy person. And it is still more difficult to explain the origin of sin in the angelic world.
E. The Evolutionary Explanation of the Origin of Sin.
Naturally, a consistent theory of evolution cannot admit the doctrine of the fall, and a number of liberal theologians have rejected it as incompatible with the theory of evolution. It is true, there are some rather conservative theologians, such as Denney, Gore, and Orr, who accept, though with reservations, the evolutionary account of the origin of man, and feel that it leaves room for the doctrine of the fall in some sense of the word. But it is significant that they all conceive of the story of the fall as a mythical or allegorical representation of an ethical experience or of some actual moral catastrophe at the beginning of history which resulted in suffering and death. This means that they do not accept the narrative of the fall as a real historical account of what occurred in the garden of Eden. Tennant in his Hulsean Lectures on The Origin and Propagation of Sin gave a rather detailed and interesting account of the origin of sin from the evolutionary point of view. He realizes that man could not very well derive sin from his animal ancestors, since these had no sin. This means that the impulses, propensities, desires, and qualities which man inherited from the brute cannot themselves be called sin. In his estimation these constitute only the material of sin, and do not become actual sins until the moral consciousness awakens in man, and they are left in control in determining the actions of man, contrary to the voice of conscience, and to ethical sanctions. He holds that in the course of his development man gradually became an ethical being with an indeterminate will, without explaining how such a will is possible where the law of evolution prevails, and regards this will as the only cause of sin. He defines sin "as an activity of the will expressed in thought, word, or deed contrary to the individuals conscience, to his notion of what is good and right, his knowledge of the moral law and the will of God." As the human race develops, the ethical standards become more exacting and the heinousness of sin increases. A sinful environment adds to the difficulty of refraining from sin. This view of Tennant leaves no room for the fall of man in the generally accepted sense of the word. As a matter of fact, Tennant explicitly repudiates the doctrine of the fall, which is recognized in all the great historical confessions of the Church. Says W. H. Johnson: "Tennants critics" are agreed that his theory leaves no room for that cry of the contrite heart which not only confesses to separate acts of sin, but declares: ĎI was shapen in iniquity; there is a law of death in my members.í"
F. The Results of the First Sin.
The first transgression of man had the following results:
1. The immediate concomitant of the first sin, and therefore hardly a result of it in the strict sense of the word, was the total depravity of human nature. The contagion of his sin at once spread through the entire man, leaving no part of his nature untouched, but vitiating every power and faculty of body and soul. This utter corruption of man is clearly taught in Scripture, Gen. 6:5; Ps. 14:3; Rom. 7:18. Total depravity here does not mean that human nature was at once as thoroughly depraved as it could possibly become. In the will this depravity manifested itself as spiritual inability.
2. Immediately connected with the preceding was the loss of communion with God through the Holy Spirit. This is but the reverse side of the utter corruption mentioned in the preceding paragraph. The two can be combined in the single statement that man lost the image of God in the sense of original righteousness. He broke away from the real source of life and blessedness, and the result was a condition of spiritual death, Eph. 2:1,5,12; 4:18.
3. This change in the actual condition of man also reflected itself in his consciousness. There was, first of all, a consciousness of pollution, revealing itself in the sense of shame, and in the effort of our first parents to cover their nakedness. And in the second place there was a consciousness of guilt, which found expression in an accusing conscience and in the fear of God which it inspired.
4. Not only spiritual death, but physical death as well resulted from the first sin of man ó because after the sin Adam lost access to the Tree of Life. From a state of posse non mori he descended to a state of non posse non mori. Having sinned, he was doomed to return to the dust from which he was taken, Gen. 3:19. Paul tells us that by one man death entered the world and passed on to all men, Rom. 5:12, and that the wages of sin is death, Rom. 6:23.
5. This change also resulted in a necessary change of residence. Man was driven from paradise, because it represented the place of communion with God, and was a symbol of the fuller life and greater blessedness in store for man, if he continued steadfast. He was barred from the tree of life, because it was the symbol of the life promised in the covenant of works.
Questions for further study. What different theories are there as to the origin of sin? What Scriptural proof is there that sin originated in the angelic world? Can the allegorical interpretation of the narrative of the fall be maintained in the light of Scripture? Is there any place for the fall in the theory of evolution? Did God will the fall of man or did He merely permit it? Does our Reformed doctrine make God the author of sin? What objections are there to the notion that the souls of men sinned in a previous existence? Was God justified in making the spiritual state of mankind in general contingent on the obedience or non-obedience of the first man? What do Barth and Brunner mean when they speak of the fall of man as super-historical? Why is it that the doctrine of the covenant of works finds so little acceptance outside of Reformed circles? What accounts for the widespread neglect of this doctrine in our day? Why is it important to maintain this doctrine?
Literature: Bavinck, Geref. Dogm. Ill, pp. 605-624: III, pp. 1-60; Kuyper, Diet. Dogm., De Foedere, pp. 23-117; De Peccato, pp. 17-26; Vos, Geref. Dogm,. II, pp. 32-54; Hodge, Syst. Theol., pp. 117-129; Dabney, Syst. and Polem TheoL, pp. 332-339; Alexander, Syst. of Bibl. Theol. I, pp. 183-196; 216-232; Schmid, Doct. Theol. of the Ev. Luth. Ch., pp. 239-242; Valentine, Chr. Theol. I, pp. 416-420; Litton, lntrod. to Dogm. Theol, pp. 133-136; Pope, Chr. Theol, II, pp. 3-28; II, p. 108; Raymond, Svst. Theol II, up. 50-63; 99;111; Macintosh, Theol as an Empirical Science, pp. 216-229; McPherson, Chr. Dogm., pp. 220-242; Orr, Godís Image in Man; pp. 197-240: Candlish, The Bibl. Doct. of Sin, pp. 82-89; Talma, De Anthro-pologie van Calvijn, pp. 69-91; Kuyper, Uit het Woord, De Leer der Verbonden, pp. 3-221; Tennant, The Origin and Propagation of Sin; ibid, The Concept of Sin.
II. The Essential Character of Sin.
Sin is one of the saddest but also one of the most common phenomena of human life. It is a part of the common experience of mankind, and therefore forces itself upon the attention of all those who do not deliberately close their eyes to the realities of human life. Some may for a time dream of the essential goodness of man and speak indulgently of those separate words and actions that do not measure up to the ethical standards of good society as mere foibles and weaknesses, for which man is not responsible, and which readily yield to corrective measures; but as time goes on, and all measures of external reform fail, and the suppression of one evil merely serves to release another, such persons are inevitably disillusioned. They become conscious of the fact that they have merely been fighting the symptoms of some deep-seated malady, and that they are confronted, not merely with the problem of sins, that is, of separate sinful deeds, but with the much greater and deeper problem of sin. of an evil that is inherent in human nature. This is exactly what we are beginning to witness at the present time. Many Modernists at present do not hesitate to say that the doctrine of Rousseau respecting the inherent goodness of man has proved to be one of the most pernicious teachings of the Enlightenment, and now call for a greater measure of realism in the recognition of sin Thus Walter Horton, who pleads for a realistic theology and believes that this calls for the acceptance of some Marxian principles, says: "I believe that orthodox Christianity represents a profound insight into the whole human predicament. I believe that the basic human difficulty is that perversion of the will, that betrayal of divine trust, which is called sin; and I believe that sin is in a sense a racial disease, transmissible from generation to generation. In affirming these things the Christian Fathers and the Protestant Reformers spoke as realists, and could have assembled masses of empirical evidence to support their views." In view of the fact that sin is real and that no man can get away from it in this present life, it is no wonder that philosophers as well as theologians undertook to grapple with the problem of sin, though in philosophy it is known as the problem of evil rather than as the problem of sin. We shall briefly consider some of the most important philosophical theories of evil before we state the Scriptural doctrine of sin.
A. Philosophic Theories Respecting the Nature of Evil.
1. The dualistic theory. This is one of the views that were current in Greek philosophy. In the form of Gnosticism it found entrance into the early Church. It assumes the existence of an eternal principle of evil, and holds that in man the spirit represents the principle of good, and the body, that of evil. It is objectionable for several reasons: (a) The position is philosophically untenable, that there is something outside of God that is eternal and independent of His will, (b) This theory robs sin of its ethical character by making it something purely physical and independent of the human will, and thereby really destroys the idea of sin. (c) It also does away with the responsibility of man by representing sin as a physical necessity. The only escape from sin lies in deliverance from the body.
2. The theory that sin is merely privation. According to Leibnitz the present world is the best possible one. The existence of sin in it must be considered as unavoidable. It cannot be referred to the agency of God, and therefore must be regarded as a simple negation or privation, for which no efficient cause is needed. The limitations of the creature render it unavoidable. This theory makes sin a necessary evil, since creatures are necessarily limited, and sin is an unavoidable consequence of this limitation. Its attempt to avoid making God the author of sin is not successful, for even if sin is a mere negation requiring no efficient cause, God is nevertheless the author of the limitation from which it results. Moreover, it tends to obliterate the distinction between moral and physical evil, since it represents sin as little more than a misfortune which has befallen man. Consequently, it has a tendency to blunt manís sense of the evil or pollution of sin, to destroy the sense of guilt, and to abrogate manís moral responsibility.
3. The theory that sin is an illusion. For Spinoza, as for Leibnitz, sin is simply a defect, a limitation of which man is conscious; but while Leibnitz regards the notion of evil, arising from this limitation, as necessary, Spinoza holds that the resulting consciousness of sin is simply due to the inadequacy of manís knowledge, which fails to see everything sub specie aeternitatis, that is, in unity with the eternal and infinite essence of God. If manís knowledge were adequate, so that he saw everything in God, he would have no conception of sin; it would simply be non-existent for him. But this theory, representing sin as something purely negative, does not account for its terrible positive results, to which the universal experience of mankind testifies in the most convincing manner. Consistently carried through, it abrogates all ethical distinctions, and reduces such concepts as "moral character" and "moral conduct" to meaningless phrases. In fact, it reduces the whole life of man to an illusion: his knowledge, his experience, the testimony of conscience, and so on, for all his knowledge is inadequate. Moreover, it goes contrary to the experience of mankind, that the greatest intellects are often the greatest sinners, Satan being the greatest of all.
4. The theory that sin is a want of God-consciousness, due to manís sensuous nature. This is the view of Schleiermacher. According to him manís consciousness of sin is dependent on his God-consciousness. When the sense of God awakens in man, he is at once conscious of the opposition of his lower nature to it. This opposition follows from the very constitution of his being, from his sensuous nature, from the soulís connection with a physical organism. It is therefore an inherent imperfection, but one which man feels as sin and guilt. Yet this does not make God the author of sin, since man wrongly conceives of this imperfection as sin. Sin has no objective existence, but exists only in manís consciousness. But this theory makes man constitutionally evil. The evil was present in man even in his original state, when the God-consciousness was not sufficiently strong to control the sensuous nature of man. It is in flagrant opposition to Scripture, when it holds that man wrongly adjudges this evil to be sin, and thus makes sin and guilt purely subjective. And though Schleiermacher wishes to avoid this conclusion, it does make God the responsible author of sin, for He is the creator of manís sensuous nature. It also rests upon an incomplete induction of facts, since it fails to take account of the fact that many of the most hateful sins of man do not pertain to his physical but to his spiritual nature, such as avarice, envy, pride, malice, and others. Moreover, it leads to the most absurd conclusions as, for instance, that asceticism, by weakening the sensuous nature, necessarily weakens the power of sin; that man becomes less sinful as his senses fail with age; that death is the only redeemer; and that disembodied spirits, including the devil himself, have no sin.
5. The theory of sin as want of trust in God and opposition to His Kingdom, due to ignorance. Like Schleiermacher, Ritschl too stresses the fact that sin is understood only from the standpoint of the Christian consciousness. They who are outside of the pale of the Christian religion, and they who are still strangers to the experience of redemption, have no knowledge of it. Under the influence of the redemptive work of God man becomes conscious of his lack of trust in God and of his opposition to the Kingdom of God, which is the highest good. Sin is not determined by manís attitude to the law of God, but by his relation to the purpose of God, to establish the Kingdom. Man imputes his failure to make the purpose of God his own to himself as guilt, but God regards it merely as ignorance, and because it is ignorance, it is pardonable. This view of Ritschl reminds us by way of contrast of the Greek dictum that knowledge is virtue. It fails completely to do justice to the Scriptural position that sin is above all transgression of the law of God, and therefore renders man guilty in the sight of God and worthy of condemnation. Moreover, the idea that sin is ignorance goes contrary to the voice of Christian experience. The man who is burdened with the sense of sin certainly does not feel that way about it. He is grateful, too, that not only the sins which he committed in ignorance are pardonable, but all the others as well, with the single exception of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
6. The theory that sin is selfishness. This position is taken among others by Mueller and A. H. Strong. Some who take this position conceive of selfishness merely as the opposite of altruism or benevolence; others understand by it the choice of self rather than God as the supreme object of love. Now this theory, especially when it conceives of selfishness as a putting of self in the place of God, is by far the best of the theories named. Yet it can hardly be called satisfactory. Though all selfishness is sin, and there is an element of selfishness in all sin, it cannot be said that selfishness is the essence of sin. Sin can be properly defined only with reference to the law of God, a reference that is completely lacking in the definition under consideration. Moreover, there is a great deal of sin in which selfishness is not at all the governing principle. When a poverty-stricken father sees his wife and children pine away for lack of food, and in his desperate desire to help them finally resorts to theft, this can hardly be called pure selfishness. It may even be that the thought of self was entirely absent. Enmity to God, hardness of heart, impenitence, and unbelief, are all heinous sins, but cannot simply be qualified as selfishness. And certainly the view that all virtue is disinterestedness or benevolence, which seems to be a necessary corollary of the theory under consideration, at least in one of its forms, does not hold. An act does not cease to be virtuous, when its performance meets and satisfies some demand of our nature. Moreover, justice, fidelity, humility, forbearance, patience, and other virtues may be cultivated or practiced, not as forms of benevolence, but as virtues inherently excellent, not merely as promoting the happiness of others, but for what they are in themselves.
7. The theory that sin consists in the opposition of the lower propensities of human nature to a gradually developing moral conSCIOUSNESS. This view was developed, as we pointed out in the preceding, by Tennant in his Hulsean Lectures. It is the doctrine of sin constructed according to the theory of evolution. Natural impulses and inherited qualities, derived from the brute, form the material of sin, but do not actually become sin until they are indulged in contrary to the gradually awakening moral sense of mankind. The theories of McDowall and Fiske move along similar lines. The theory as presented by Tennant halts somewhat between the Scriptural view of man and that presented by the theory of evolution, inclining now to the one and anon to the other side. It assumes that man had a free will even before the awakening of his moral consciousness, so that he was able to choose when he was placed before a moral ideal; but does not explain how we can conceive of a free and indeterminate will in a process of evolution. It limits sin to those transgressions of the moral law, which are committed with a clear consciousness of a moral ideal and are therefore condemned by conscience as evil. As a matter of fact, it is merely the old Pelagian view of sin grafted into the theory of evolution, and is therefore open to all the objections with which Pelagianism is burdened.
The radical defect in all these theories is that they seek to define sin without taking into consideration that sin is essentially a breaking away from God, opposition to God, and transgression of the law of God. Sin should always be defined in terms of manís relation to God and to His will as expressed in the moral law.
B. The Scriptural Idea of Sin.
In giving the Scriptural idea of sin it is necessary to call attention to several particulars.
1. Sin is a specific kind of evil. At the present time we hear a great deal about evil, and comparatively little about sin; and this is rather misleading. Not all evil is sin. Sin should not be confused with physical evil, with that which is injurious or calamitous. It is possible to speak not only of sin but also of sickness as an evil, but then the word "evil" is used in two totally different senses. Above the physical lies the ethical sphere, in which the contrast between moral good and evil applies, and it is only in this sphere that we can speak of sin. And even in this sphere it is not desirable to substitute the word "evil" for "sin" without any further qualification, for the latter is more specific than the former. Sin is a moral evil. Most of the names that are used in Scripture to designate sin point to its moral character. Chattath directs attention to it as an action that misses the mark and consists in a deviation from the right way. ĎAvel and Ďavon indicate that it is a want of integrity and rectitude, a departure from the appointed path. Pesha refers to it as a revolt or a refusal of subjection to rightful authority, a positive transgression of the law, and a breaking of the covenant. And resha points to it as a wicked and guilty departure from the law. Furthermore, it is designated as guilt by Ďasham, as unfaithfulness and treason, by maíal, as vanity, by Ďavert, and as perversion or distortion of nature (crookedness) by Ďavah. The corresponding New Testament words, such as hamartia, adikia, parahasis, paraptoma, anomia, paranomia, and others, point to the same ideas. In view of the use of these words, and of the way in which the Bible usually speaks of sin, there can be no doubt about its ethical character. It is not a calamity that came upon man unawares, poisoned his life, and ruined his happiness, but an evil course which man has deliberately chosen to follow and which carries untold misery with it. Fundamentally, it is not something passive, such as a weakness, a fault, or an imperfection, for which we cannot be held responsible, but an active opposition to God, and a positive transgression of His law, which constitutes guilt. Sin is the result of a free but evil choice of man. This is the plain teaching of the Word of God, Gen. 3:1-6; Isa. 48:8; Rom. 1:18-32; I John 3:4. The application of the philosophy of evolution to the study of the Old Testament led some scholars to the conviction that the ethical idea of sin was not developed until the time of the prophets, but this view is not borne out by the way in which the earliest books of the Bible speak of sin.
2. Sin has an absolute character. In the ethical sphere the contrast between good and evil is absolute. There is no neutral condition between the two. While there are undoubtedly degrees in both, there are no gradations between the good and the evil. The transition from the one to the other is not of a quantitative, but of a qualitative character. A moral being that is good does not become evil by simply diminishing his goodness, but only by a radical qualitative change, by turning to sin. Sin is not a lesser degree of goodness, but a positive evil. This is plainly taught in the Bible. He who does not love God is thereby characterized as evil. Scripture knows of no position of neutrality. It urges the wicked to turn to righteousness, and sometimes speaks of the righteous as falling into evil; but it does not contain a single indication that either the one or the other ever lands in a neutral position. Man is either on the right side or on the wrong side, Matt. 10:32,33; 12:30; Luke 11:23; Jas. 2:10.
3. Sin always has relation to God and His will. The older dogmaticians realized that it was impossible to have a correct conception of sin without contemplating it in relation to God and His will, and therefore emphasized this aspect and usually spoke of sin as "lack of conformity to the law of God." This is undoubtedly a correct formal definition of sin. But the question arises, Just what is the material content of the law? What does it demand? If this question is answered, it will be possible to determine what sin is in a material sense. Now there is no doubt about it that the great central demand of the law is love to God. And if from the material point of view moral goodness consists in love to God, then moral evil must consist in the opposite. It is separation from God, opposition to God, hatred of God, and this manifests itself in constant transgression of the law of God in thought, word, and deed. The following passages clearly show that Scripture contemplates sin in relation to God and His law, either as written on the tablets of the heart, or as given by Moses, Rom. 1:32; 2:12-14; 4:15; Jas. 2:9; I John 3:4.
4. Sin includes both guilt (for personal sins and passions) and pollution of the human nature. Guilt is the state of deserving condemnation or of being liable to punishment for the personal violation of a law or a moral requirement (not for the sins of others). It expresses the relation which sin bears to justice or to the penalty of the law. But even so the word has a twofold meaning. It may denote an inherent quality of the sinner, namely, his demerit, ill-desert, or guiltiness, which renders him worthy of punishment. Dabney speaks of this as "potential guilt." It is inseparable from sin, is never found in one who is not personally a sinner, and is permanent, so that once established, it cannot be removed by pardon. But it may also denote the obligation to satisfy justice, to pay the penalty of sin, "actual guilt," as Dabney calls it. It is not inherent in man, but is the penal enactment of the lawgiver, who fixes the penalty of the guilt. By pollution we understand the inherent corruption to which every sinner is subject. This is a reality in the life of every individual. It is not conceivable without guilt, though guilt as included in a penal relationship, is conceivable without immediate pollution. Yet it is always followed by pollution. Every one who is guilty in Adam is, as a result, also born with a corrupt nature. The pollution of sin is clearly taught in such passages as Job 14:4; Jer. 17:9; Matt. 7:15-20; Rom. 8:5-8; Eph. 4:17-19.
5. Sin has its seat in the heart. Sin does not reside in any one faculty of the soul, but in the heart, which in Scriptural psychology is the central organ of the soul, out of which are the issues of life. And from this center its influence and operations spread to the intellect, the will, the affections, in short, to the entire man, including his body. In his sinful state the whole man is the object of Godís displeasure. There is a sense in which it can be said that sin originated in the will of man, but then the will does not designate some actual volition as much as it does the volitional nature of man. There was a tendency of the heart underlying the actual volition when sin entered the world. This view is in perfect harmony with the representations of Scripture in such passages as the following: Prov. 4:23; Jer. 17:9; Matt. 15:19,20; Luke 6:45; Heb. 3:12.
6. Sin does not consist exclusively in overt acts. Sin does not consist only in overt acts, but also in sinful habits, tendencies, passions and in a sinful condition of the soul. These three are related to one another as follows: The sinful state is the basis of the sinful habits, and these manifest themselves in sinful deeds. There is also truth, however, in the contention that repeated sinful deeds lead to the establishment of sinful habits. The sinful acts and dispositions of man must be referred to and find their explanation in a corrupt nature. The passages referred to in the preceding paragraph substantiate this view, for they prove that the state or condition of man is thoroughly sinful. And if the question should still be raised, whether the thoughts and affections of the natural man, called "flesh" in Scripture, should be regarded as constituting sin, it might be answered by pointing to such passages as the following: Matt. 5:22,28; Rom. 7:7; Gal. 5:17,24, and others. In conclusion it may be said that sin may be defined as lack of conformity to the moral law of God, either in act, disposition, or state.
C. The Pelagian View of Sin.
The Pelagian view of sin is quite different from that presented above. The only point of similarity lies in this that the Pelagian also considers sin in relation to the law of God, and regards it as a transgression of the law. But in all other particulars his conception differs widely from the Scriptural and Augus-tinian view.
1. Statement of the Pelagian view. Pelagius takes his startingpoint in the natural ability of man. His fundamental proposition is: God has commanded man to do that which is good; hence the latter must have the ability to do it. This means that man has a free will in the absolute sense of the word, so that it is possible for him to decide for or against that which is good, and also to do the good as well as the evil. The decision is not dependent on any moral character in man, for the will is entirely indeterminate. Whether a man will do good or evil simply depends on his free and independent will. From this it follows, of course, that there is no such thing as a moral development of the individual. Good and evil are located in the separate actions of man. From this fundamental position the doctrinal teaching of Pelagius respecting sin naturally follows. Sin consists only in the separate acts of the will. There is no such thing as a sinful nature, neither are there sinful dispositions. Sin is always a deliberate choice of evil by a will which is perfectly free, and can just as well choose and follow the good. But if this is so, then the conclusion inevitably follows that Adam was not created in a state of positive holiness, but in a state of moral equilibrium. His condition was one of moral neutrality. He was neither good nor bad, and therefore had no moral character; but he chose the course of evil, and thus became sinful. Inasmuch as sin consists only in separate acts of the will, the idea of its propagation by procreation is absurd. A sinful nature, if such a thing should exist, might be passed on from father to son, but sinful acts cannot be so propagated. This is in the nature of the case an impossibility. Adam was the first sinner, but his sin was in no sense passed on to his descendants. There is no such thing as original sin. Children are born in a state of neutrality, beginning exactly where Adam began, except that they are handicapped by the evil examples which they see round about them. Their future course must be determined by their own free choice. The universality of sin is admitted, because all experience testifies to it. It is due to imitation and to the habit of sinning that is gradually formed. Strictly speaking, there are, on the Pelagian standpoint, no sinners, but only separate sinful acts. This makes a religious conception of the history of the race utterly impossible.
2. Objections to the Pelagian view. There are several weighty objections to the Pelagian view of sin, of which the following are the most important:
a. The fundamental position that man is held responsible by God only for what he is able to do, is absolutely contrary to the testimony of conscience and to the Word of God. It is an undeniable fact that, as a man increases in sin, his ability to do good decreases. He becomes in an ever greater measure the slave of sin. According to the theory under consideration this would also involve a lessening of his responsibility. But this is equivalent to saying that sin itself gradually redeems its victims by relieving them of their responsibility. The more sinful a man, the less responsible he is. Against this position conscience registers a loud protest. Paul does not say that the hardened sinners, which he describes in Rom. 1:18-32 were virtually without responsibility, but regards them as worthy of death. Jesus said of the wicked Jews who gloried in their freedom, but manifested their extreme wickedness by seeking to kill Him, that they were bond-servants of sin, did not understand His speech, because they could not hear His word, and would die in their sins, John 8:21-22,34-43. Though slaves of sin, they were yet responsible.
b. To deny that man has by nature a moral character, is simply bringing him down to the level of the animal. According to this view everything in the life of man that is not a conscious choice of the will, is deprived of all moral quality. But the consciousness of men in general testifies to the fact that the contrast between good and evil also applies to manís tendencies, desires, moods, and affections, and that these also have a moral character. In Pelagianistn sin and virtue are reduced to superficial appendages of man, in no way connected with his inner life. That the estimate of Scripture is quite different appears from the following passages: Jer. 17:9; Ps. 51:6,10; Matt. 15:19; Jas. 4:1,2.
c. A choice of the will that is in no way determined by manís character, is not only psychologically unthinkable, but also ethically worthless. If a good deed of man simply happens to fall out as it does, and no reason can be given why it did not turn out to be the opposite, in other words, if the deed is not an expression of manís character, it lacks all moral value. It is only as an exponent of character that a deed has the moral value that is ascribed to it.
d. The Pelagian theory can give no satisfactory account of the universality of sin. The bad example of parents and grandparents offers no real explanation. The mere abstract possibility of manís sinning, even when strengthened by the evil example, does not explain how it came to pass that all men actually sinned. How can it be accounted for that the will invariably turned in the direction of sin, and never in the opposite direction? It is far more natural to think of a general disposition to sin.
D. The Roman Catholic View of Sin.
Though the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent are somewhat ambigious in the doctrine of sin, the prevailing Roman Catholic view of sin may be expressed as follows: Real sin always consists in a conscious act of the will. It is true that the dispositions and habits that are not in accord with the will of God, are of a sinful character; yet they cannot be called sins in the strict sense of the word. The indwelling concupiscence, which lies back of sin, gained the upper hand in man in paradise, and thus precipitated the loss of the donum superadditum of original righteousness, cannot be regarded as sin, but only as the fomes or fuel of sin. The sinfulness of Adamís descendants is primarily only a negative condition, consisting in the absence of something that ought to be present, that is, of original righteousness, which is not essential to human nature. Something essential is wanting only if, as some hold, the justitia naturalis was also lost.
The objections to this view are perfectly evident from what was said in connection with the Pelagian theory. A bare reminder of them would seem to be quite sufficient. In so far as it holds that real sin consists only in a deliberate choice of the will and in overt acts, the objections raised against Pelagianism are pertinent. The idea that original righteousness was supernaturally added to manís natural constitution, and that its loss did not detract from human nature, is an un-Scriptural idea, as was pointed out in our discussion of the image of God in man. According to the Bible concupiscence is sin, real sin, and the root of many sinful actions. This was brought out when the Biblical view of sin was considered.
Questions for further study. Has philosophy succeeded in explaining the origin of sin? Does Scripture bear out the view that sin originally had no ethical quality? What objection is there to the view that sin is mere privation? Must we conceive of sin as a substance? With whose name is this view associated? Does this sin exist apart from the sinner? How can we prove that sin must always be judged by the law of God? Did Paul favor the old Greek dualism, when he spoke of "the body of sin" and used the term "flesh" to denote manís sinful nature? Is the present tendency to speak of Ďevilí rather than of Ďsiní commendable? What is meant by the social interpretation of sin? Does this recognize sin for what it is fundamentally?
Literature: Bavinck, Geref. Dogm. Ill, pp. 121-158; Kuyper, Diet. Dogm., De Peccato, pp. 27-35; Hodge, Syst. Theol. II, pp. 130-192; Vos, Geref. Dogm, II, pp. 21-32; Dabney, Syst. and Polem. Theol, pp. 306-317; McPherson, Chr. Dogm., pp. 257-264; Pope, Chr. Theol. II, pp. 29-42; Orchard, Modern Theories of Sin; Moxon, The Doctrine of Sin; Alexander, Syst. ofBibl. Theol. I. pp. 232-265; Brown, Chr. Theol. in Outline, pp. 261-282; Clarke, An Outline of Chr. Theol. pp. 227-239; Orr, Godís Image in Man, pp. 197-246; Mackintosh, Christianity and Sin, cf. Index; Candlish, The Bibl. Doct. of Sin. pp. 31-44; Talma, De Anthropologie van Calvijn, pp. 92-117; Tennant, The Concept of Sin.
III. The Transmission of Sin.
Scripture and experience both teach us that sin is universal, and according to the Bible the explanation for this universality lies in the fall of Adam. These two points, the universality of sin, and the connection of Adamís sin with that of mankind in general, now call for consideration. While there has been rather general agreement as to the universality of sin, there have been different representations of the connection between the sin of Adam and that of his descendants.
A. Historical Review.
1. The writings of the Apologists contain nothing definite respecting original sin, while those of Irenaeus and Tertullian clearly teach that our sinful condition is the result of Adamís fall. But the doctrine of the direct imputation of Adamís sin to his descendants is foreign even to them. Tertullian had a realistic conception of mankind. The whole human race was potentially and numerically present in Adam, and therefore sinned when he sinned and became corrupt when he became corrupt. Human nature as a whole sinned in Adam, and therefore every individualization of that nature is also sinful. Origen, who was profoundly influenced by Greek philosophy, had a different view of the matter, and scarcely recognized any connection between the sin of Adam and that of his descendants. He found the explanation of the sinfulness of the human race primarily in the personal sin of each soul in a pre-temporal state, though he also mentions some mystery of generation. Augustine shared the realistic conception of Tertullian. Though he also spoke of "imputation," he did not yet have in mind the direct or immediate imputation of the guilt of Adam to his posterity. His doctrine of original sin is not entirely clear. This may be due to the fact that he hesitated to choose between Traducianism and Creationism. While he stresses the fact that all men were seminally present in Adam and actually sinned in him, he also comes very close to the idea that they sinned in Adam as their representative. However, his main emphasis was on the transmission of the corruption of sin. Sin is passed on by propagation, and this propagation of Adamís sin is at the same time a punishment for his sin. Wiggers states the idea very briefly in these words: "The corruption of human nature, in the whole race, was punishment of the transgression of the first man, in whom all men already existed." Augustineís great opponent, Pelagius, denied such a connection between the sin of Adam and those of his posterity. As he saw it, the propagation of sin by generation involved the Traducianist theory of the origin of the soul, which he regarded as a heretical error; and the imputation of Adamís sin to anyone but himself would be in conflict with the divine rectitude.
The Pelagian view was rejected by the Church, and the Scholastics in general thought along the lines indicated by Augustine, the emphasis all the while being on the transmission of the pollution of Adamís sin rather than on that of his guilt. Hugo St. Victor and Peter the Lombard held that actual concupiscence stains the semen in the act of procreation, and that this stain in some way defiles the soul on its union with the body. Anselm, Alexander of Hales, and Bona-ventura stressed the realistic conception of the connection between Adam and his posterity. The whole human race was seminally present in Adam, and therefore also sinned in him. His disobedience was the disobedience of the entire human race. At the same time generation was regarded as the sine qua non of the transmission of the sinful nature. In Bonaventura and others after him the distinction between original guilt and original pollution was more clearly expressed. The fundamental idea was, that the guilt of Adamís sin is imputed to all his descendants. Adam suffered the loss of original righteousness, and thereby incurred the divine displeasure. As a result all his descendants are deprived of original righteousness, and as such the objects of divine wrath. Moreover, the pollution of Adamís sin is in some way passed on to his posterity, but the manner of this transmission was a matter of dispute among the Scholastics. Since they were not Traducianists, and therefore could not say that the soul, which is after all the real seat of evil, was passed on from father to son by generation, they felt that something more had to be said to explain the transmission of inherent evil. Some said that it is passed on through the body, which in turn contaminates the soul as soon as it comes in contact with it. Others, sensing the danger of this explanation sought it in the mere fact that every man is now born in the state in which Adam was before he was endowed with original righteousness, and thus subject to the struggle between the unchecked flesh and the spirit.
2. After the Reformation. While the Reformers did not agree with the Scholastics as to the nature of original sin, their view of its transmission did not contain any new elements. The ideas of Adam as the representative of the human race, and of the "immediate" imputation of his guilt to his descendants are not yet clearly expressed in their works. According to Luther we are accounted guilty by God because of the indwelling sin inherited from Adam. Calvin speaks in a somewhat similar vein. He holds that, since Adam was not only the progenitor but the root of the human race, all his descendants are born with a corrupt nature; and that both the guilt of Adamís sin and their own inborn corruption are imputed to them as sin. The development of the federal theology brought the idea of Adam as the representative of the human race to the foreground, and led to a clearer distinction between the transmission of the guilt and of the pollution of Adamís sin. Without denying that our native corruption also constitutes guilt in the sight of God, federal theology stressed the fact that there is an "immediate" imputation of Adamís guilt to those whom he represented as the head of the covenant.
Socinians and Arminians both rejected the idea of the imputation of Adamís sin to his descendants. Placeus, of the school of Saumur, advocated the idea of "mediate" imputation. Denying all immediate imputation, he held that because we inherit a sinful nature from Adam, we are deserving of being treated as if we had committed the original offense. This was something new in Reformed theology, and Rivet had no difficulty in proving this by collecting a long line of testimonies. A debate ensued in which "immediate" and "mediate" imputation were represented as mutually exclusive doctrines; and in which it was made to appear as if the real question was, whether man is guilty in the sight of God solely on account of Adamís sin, imputed to him, or solely on account of his own inherent sin. The former was not the doctrine of the Reformed Churches, and the latter was not taught in them before the time of Placeus. The teachings of the latter found their way into New England theology, and became especially characteristic of the New School (New Haven) theology. In modern liberal theology the doctrine of the transmission of sin from Adam to his posterity is entirely discredited. It prefers to seek the explanation of the evil that is in the world in an animal inheritance, which is not itself sinful. Strange to say, even Barth and Brunner, though violently opposed to liberal theology, do not regard the universal sinfulness of the human race as the result of Adamís sin. Historically, the latter occupies a unique place merely as the first sinner.
B. The Universality of Sin.
Few will be inclined to deny the presence of evil in the human heart, however much they may differ as to the nature of this evil and as to the way in which it originated. Even Pelagians and Socinians are ready to admit that sin is universal. This is a fact that forces itself upon the attention of every one.
1. The history of religions and of philosophy testify to it. The history of religions testifies to the universality of sin. The question of Job, "How shall a man be just with God?" is a question that was asked not merely in the realm of special revelation, but also outside of it in the Gentile world. The heathen religions testify to a universal consciousness of sin and of the need of reconciliation with a Supreme Being. There is a general feeling that the gods are offended and must be propitiated in some way. There is a universal voice of conscience, testifying to the fact that man falls short of the ideal and stands condemned in the sight of some higher Power. Altars reeking with the blood of sacrifices, often the sacrifices of dear children, repeated confessions of wrongdoing, and prayers for deliverance from evil, ó all point to the consciousness of sin. Missionaries find this wherever they go. The history of philosophy is indicative of the same fact. Early Greek philosophers were already wrestling with the problem of moral evil, and since their day no philosopher of name was able to ignore it. They were all constrained to admit the universality of it, and that in spite of the fact they were not able to explain the phenomenon. There was, it is true, a superficial optimism in the eighteenth century, which dreamt of the inherent goodness of man, but in its stupidity flew in the face of the facts and was sharply rebuked by Kant. Many liberal theologians were induced to believe and to preach this inherent goodness of man as gospel truth, but to-day many of them qualify it as one of the most pernicious errors of the past. Surely, the facts of life do not warrant such optimism.
2. The Bible clearly teaches it. There are direct statements of Scripture that point to the universal sinfulness of man, such as I Kings 8:46; Ps. 143:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:1-12,19,20,23; Gal. 3:22; Jas. 3:2; I John 1:8,10. Several passages of Scripture teach that sin is the heritage of man from the time of his birth, and is therefore present in human nature so early that it cannot possibly be considered as the result of imitation, Ps. 51:5; Job 14:4; John 3:6. In Ephesians 2:3 Paul says of the Ephesians that they "were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." In this passage the term "by nature" points to something inborn and original, as distinguished from what is subsequently acquired. Sin, then, is something original, in which all men participate, and which makes them guilty before God. Moreover, according to Scripture, death is visited even upon those who have never exercised a personal and conscious choice, Rom. 5:12-14. This passage implies that sin exists in the case of infants prior to moral consciousness. Since infants die, and therefore the effect of sin is present in their case, it is but natural to assume that the cause is also present. Finally, Scripture also teaches that all men are under condemnation and therefore need the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Children are never made an exception to this rule, cf. the preceding passages and also John 3:3,5; I John 5:12. This is not contradicted by those passages which ascribe a certain righteousness to man, such as, Matt. 9:12,13; Acts 10:35; Rom. 2:14; Phil. 3:6; I Cor. 1:30, for this may be either civil righteousness, ceremonial or covenant righteousness, the righteousness of the law, or the righteousness which is in Christ Jesus.
C. The Connection of Adamís Sin with that of the Race.
1. The denial of this connection. Some deny the causal connection of the sin of Adam with the sinfulness of the human race either wholly or in part.
a. Pelagians and Socinians deny absolutely that there is any necessary connection between our sin and the sin of Adam. The first sin was Adamís sin only and does not concern his posterity in any way. The most they will admit is that the evil example of Adam led to imitation.
b. Semi-Pelagians and the earlier Arminians teach that man inherited a natural inability from Adam, but is not responsible for this inability, so that no guilt attaches to it, and it may even be said that God is somewhat under obligation to provide a cure for it. The Wesleyan Arminians admit that this inborn corruption also involves guilt.
c. The New School (New Haven) theory teaches that man is born with an inherent tendency to sin, in virtue of which his moral preference is invariably wrong; but that this tendency cannot itself be called sin, since sin always consists exclusively in conscious and intentional transgression of the law.
d. The Theology of crisis stresses the solidarity of sin in the human race, but denies that sin originated in an act of Adam in paradise. The fall belongs to pre- or super-history, and is already a thing of the past when the historical Adam appears upon the scene. It is the secret of Godís predestination. The story of the fall is a myth. Adam appears as the type of Christ in so far as it can be seen in him that life without sin is possible in communion with God. Says Brunner: "In Adam all have sinned ó that is the Biblical statement; but how? The Bible does not tell us that. The doctrine of original sin is read into it."
2. Different theories to explain the connection.
a. The realistic theory. The earliest method of explaining the connection between the sin of Adam and the guilt and pollution of all his descendants was the realistic theory. This theory is to the effect that human nature constitutes, not only generically but numerically as well, a single unit. Adam possessed the whole human nature, and in him it corrupted itself by its own voluntary apostatizing act in Adam. Individual men are not separate substances, but manifestations of the same general substance; they are numerically one. This universal human nature became corrupt and guilty in Adam, and consequently every individualization of it in the descendants of Adam is also corrupt and guilty from the very beginning of its existence. This means that all men actually sinned in Adam before the individualization of human nature began. This theory was accepted by some of the early Church Fathers and by some of the Scholastics, and was defended in more recent times by Dr. Shedd.
b. The doctrine of the covenant of works. This implies that Adam stood in a twofold relationship to his descendants, namely, that of the natural head of all mankind, and that of the representative head of the entire human race in the covenant of works. (1) The natural relationship. In his natural relationship Adam was the father of all mankind. As he was created by God he was subject to change, and had no rightful claim to an unchangeable state. He was in duty bound to obey God, and this obedience did not entitle him to any reward. On the other hand, if he sinned, he would become subject to corruption and to punishment, but the sin would be only his own, and could not be placed to the account of his descendants. Dabney holds that, according to the law that like begets like, his corruption would have passed on to his descendants. But however this may be ó and it is rather useless to speculate about it ó they certainly could not have been held responsible for this corruption. They could not have been considered guilty in Adam merely in virtue of the natural relationship in which Adam stood to the race. The usual Reformed representation is a different one. (2) The covenant relationship. To the natural relationship in which Adam stood to his descendants God graciously added a covenant relationship containing several positive elements: (a) An element of representation. God ordained that in this covenant Adam should not stand for himself only, but as the representative of all his descendants. Consequently, he was the head of the race not only in a parental, but also in a federal sense, (b) An element of probation. While apart from this covenant Adam and his descendants would have been in a continual state of trial, with a constant danger of sinning, the covenant guaranteed that persistent perseverance for a fixed period of time would be rewarded with the establishment of man in a permanent state of holiness and bliss, (c) An element of reward or punishment. According to the terms of the covenant Adam would obtain a rightful claim to eternal life, if he fulfilled the conditions of the covenant. And not only he, but all his descendants as well would have shared in this blessing. In its normal operation, therefore, the covenant arrangement would have been of incalculable benefit for mankind. But there was a possibility that man would disobey, thereby reversing the operation of the covenant, and in that case the results would naturally be correspondingly disastrous. Transgression of the covenant commandment would result in death. Adam chose the course of disobedience, corrupted himself by sin, became guilty in the sight of God, and as such subject to the sentence of death. And because he was the federal representative of the race, his disobedience affected all his descendants. In His righteous judgment God imputes the guilt of the first sin, committed by the head of the covenant, to all those that are federally related to him. And as a result they are born in a depraved and sinful condition as well, and this inherent corruption also involves guilt. This doctrine explains why only the first sin of Adam, and not his following sins nor the sins of our other forefathers, is imputed to us, and also safeguards the sinlessness of Jesus, for He was not a human person and therefore not in the covenant of works.
c. The theory of mediate imputation. This theory denies that the guilt of Adamís sin is directly imputed to his descendants, and represents the matter as follows: Adamís descendants derive their innate corruption from him by a process of natural generation, and only on the basis of that inherent depravity. They are not personally guilty, but corruption of their nature makes them unfit to be in Heaven. They are not born corrupt because they are guilty in Adam, but they are considered guilty because they are corrupt. Their condition is not based on their legal status, but their legal status on their condition. This theory, first advocated by Placeus, was adopted by the younger Vitringa and Venema, by several New England theologians, and by some of the New School theologians in the Presbyterian Church.
IV. Sin in the Life of the Human Race.
A. Original Sin.
The sinful state and condition in which men are born is designated in theology by the name peccatum originate, which is literally translated in the English "original sin." This term is better than the Holland name "erfzonde," since the latter, strictly speaking, does not cover all that belongs to original sin. It is not a proper designation of original guilt, for this is not inherited but imputed to us. This sin is called "original sin," (1) because it is derived from the original root of the human race; (2) because it is present in the life of every individual from the time of his birth, and therefore cannot be regarded as the result of imitation; and (3) because it is the inward root of all the actual sins that defile the life of man. We should guard against the mistake of thinking that the term in any way implies that the sin designated by it belongs to the original constitution of human nature, which would imply that God created man as a sinner.
1. Historical review. According to the Greek Fathers there is a physical corruption in the human race, which is derived from Adam, but this is not sin and does not involve guilt. The freedom of the will was not affected directly by the fall, but is affected only indirectly by the inherited moral corruption.
In the Latin Church a different tendency appeared especially in Tertullian, according to whom the propagation of the soul involves the propagation of sin. He regarded original sin as a hereditary sinful taint or corruption, which did not exclude the presence of some good in man. Ambrose advanced beyond Tertullian by regarding original sin as a state and by distinguishing between the inborn corruption and the resulting guilt of man. The free will of man was weakened by the fall. It is especially in Augustine that the doctrine of original sin comes to fuller development. According to him the nature of man, both physical and moral, is totally corrupted by Adamís sin, so that he cannot do otherwise than sin. This inherited corruption or original sin is a moral punishment for the sin of Adam. It is such a quality of the nature of man, that in his natural state, he can and will do evil only. He has lost the material freedom of the will, and it is especially in this respect that original sin constitutes a punishment. In virtue of this sin man is already under condemnation. It is not merely corruption, but also guilt. Semi-Pelagianism reacted against the absoluteness of the Augustinian view. It admitted that the whole human race is involved in the fall of Adam, that human nature is tainted with hereditary sin, and that all men are by nature inclined to evil and not able, apart from the grace of God, to complete any good work; but denied the total depravity of man, the guilt of original sin, and the loss of the freedom of the will. This became the prevalent view during the Middle Ages, though there were some prominent Scholastics who were on the whole Augustinian in their conception of original sin. Anselmís view of original sin was altogether in harmony with that of Augustine. It represents original sin as consisting of the guilt of nature (the nature of the entire human race), contracted by a single act of Adam, and the resulting inherent corruption of human nature, handed down to posterity and manifesting itself in a tendency to sin. This sin also involves the loss of the power of self-determination in the direction of holiness (material freedom of the will), and renders man a slave of sin. The prevailing opinion among the Scholastics was that original sin is not something positive, but rather the absence of something that ought to be present, particularly the privation of original righteousness, though some would add a positive element, namely, an inclination to evil.
Speaking generally, the Reformers were in agreement with Augustine, though Calvin differed from him especially on two points, by stressing the fact that original sin is not something purely negative, and is not limited to the sensuous nature of man. At the time of the Reformation the Socinians followed the Pelagians in the denial of original sin, and in the seventeenth century the Arminians broke with the Reformed faith, and accepted the Semi-Pelagian view of original sin. Since that time various shades of opinion were advocated in the Protestant Churches both in Europe and in America.
In his polemic with the Manichaeans, Augustine not merely denied that sin was a substance, but also asserted that it was merely a privation. He called it a privatio boni. But original sin is not merely negative; it is also an inherent positive disposition toward sin. This original pollution may be considered from more than one point of view, namely, as total depravity and as total inability.
Depravity. In view of its pervasive character, inherited pollution is called total depravity. This phrase is often misunderstood, and therefore calls for careful discrimination. Negatively, it does not imply: (1) that every man is as thoroughly depraved as he can possibly become; (2 that the sinner has no innate knowledge of the will of God, nor a conscience that discriminates between good and evil; (3) that sinful man does not often admire virtuous character and actions in others, or is incapable of disinterested affections and actions in his relations with his fellow-men; nor (4) that every unregenerate man will, in virtue of his inherent sinfulness, indulge in every form of sin; it often happens that one form excludes the other. Positively, it does indicate:
(1) that the inherent corruption extends to every part of manís nature, to all the faculties and powers of both soul and body; and (2) that there is no spiritual good, that is, good in relation to God, in the sinner at all, but only perversion. This depravity is denied by Pelagians, Socinians, and seventeenth century Arminians, but is clearly taught in Scripture, John 5:42; Rom. 7:18,23; 8:7; Eph. 4:18; II Tim. 3:2-4; Tit. 1:15; Heb. 3:12.
d. Inability. With respect to its effect on manís spiritual powers, it is called total inability. Here, again, it is necessary to distinguish. By ascribing total inability to the natural man we do not mean to say that it is impossible for him to do good in any sense of the word. Reformed theologians generally say that he is still able to perform: (1) natural good; (2) civil good or civil righteousness; and (3) externally religious good. It is admitted that even the unrenewed possess some virtue, revealing itself in the relations of social life, in many acts and sentiments that deserve the sincere approval and gratitude of their fellow-men, and that even meet with the approval of God to a certain extent. At the same time it is maintained that these same actions and feelings, when considered in relation to God, are radically defective. Their fatal defect is that they are not prompted by love to God, or by any regard for the will of God as requiring them. When we speak of manís corruption as total inability, we mean two things: (1) that the unrenewed sinner cannot do any act, however insignificant, which fundamentally meets with Godís approval and answers to the demands of Godís holy law; and (2) that he cannot change his fundamental preference for sin and self to love for God, nor even make an approach to such a change. In a word, he is unable to do any spiritual good. There is abundant Scriptural support for this doctrine: John 1:13; 3:5; 6:44; 8:34; 15:4,5; Rom. 7:18,24; 8:7,8; I Cor. 2:14; II Cor. 3:5; Eph. 2:1,8-10; Heb. 11:6. Pelagians, however, believe in the plenary ability of man, denying that his moral faculties were impaired by sin. Arminians speak of a gracious ability, because they believe that God imparts His common grace to all men, which enables them to turn to God and believe. The New School theologians ascribe to man natural as distinguished from moral ability, a distinction borrowed from Edwardsí great work On the Will. The import of their teaching is that man in his fallen state is still in possession of all the natural faculties that are required for doing spiritual good (intellect, will, etc.), but lacks moral ability, that is, the ability to give proper direction to those faculties, a direction well-pleasing to God. The distinction under consideration is advanced, in order to stress the fact that man is wilfully sinful, and this may well be emphasized. But the New School theologians assert that man would be able to do spiritual good if he only wanted to do it. This means that the "natural ability" of which they speak, is after all an jability to do real spiritual good. On the whole it may be said that the distinction between natural and moral ability is not a desirable one, for: (1) it has no warrant in Scripture, which teaches consistently that man is not able to do what is required of him; (2) it is essentially ambiguous and misleading: the possession of the requisite faculties to do spiritual good does not yet constitute an ability to do it; (3) "natural" is not a proper antithesis of "moral," for a thing may be both at the same time; and the inability of man is also natural in an important sense, that is, as being incident to his nature in its present state as naturally propagated; and (4) the language does not accurately express the important distinction intended; what is meant is that it is moral, and not either physical or constitutional; that it has its ground, not in the want of any faculty, but in the corrupt moral state of the faculties, and of the disposition of the heart.
3. Original sin and human freedom. In connection with the doctrine of the inability of man the question naturally arises, whether original sin then also involves the partial loss of freedom, or of what is generally called the liberum arbitrium, the free will. This question should be answered with discrimination for, put in this general way, it may be answered both negatively and positively. In a certain sense man has not, and in another sense he has, lost his liberty. There is a certain liberty that is the inalienable possession of a free agent, namely, the liberty to choose as he pleases, in full accord with the prevailing dispositions and tendencies of his soul. Man did not lose any of the constitutional faculties necessary to constitute him a responsible moral agent. He still has reason, conscience, and the freedom of choice. He has ability to acquire knowledge, and to feel and recognize moral distinctions and obligations; and his affections, tendencies, and actions are spontaneous, so that he chooses and refuses as he sees fit. Moreover, he has the ability to appreciate and do many things that are good and amiable, benevolent and just, in the relations he sustains to his fellow-beings. But man did lose his material freedom, that is, the rational power to determine his course in the direction of the highest good, in harmony with the original moral constitution of his nature. Man has by nature a bias for evil. He is not able to apprehend and love spiritual excellence, to seek and do spiritual things, the things of God that pertain to salvation. This position, which is Augustinian and Calvinistic, is flatly contradicted by Pelagianism and Socinianism, and in part also by Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. Modern liberalism, which is essentially Pelagian, naturally finds the doctrine, that man has lost the ability to determine his life in the direction of real righteousness and holiness, highly offensive, and glories in the ability of man to choose and do what is right and good. On the other hand the dialectical theology (Barthianism) strongly reasserts the utter inability of man to make even the slightest move in a Godward direction. The sinner is a slave of sin and cannot possibly turn in the opposite direction.
4. The Theology of Crisis and original sin. It may be well at this point to define briefly the position of the Theology of Crisis or of Barthianism with respect to the doctrine of original sin. Walter Lowrie correctly says: "Barth has much to say about the Fall ó but nothing about Ďoriginal sin.í
That man is fallen we can plainly see; but the Fall is not an event we can point to in history, it belongs decidedly to pre-history, Urgeschichte, in a metaphysical sense." Brunner has something to say about it in his recent work on Man in Revolt. He does not accept the doctrine of original sin in the traditional and ecclesiastical sense of the word. The first sin of Adam was not and could not be placed to the account of all his descendants; nor did this sin result in a sinful state, which is passed on to his posterity, and which is now the fruitful root of all actual sin. "Sin is never a state, but it is always an act. Even being a sinner is not a state but an act, because it is being a person." In Brunnerís estimation the traditional view has an undesirable element of determinism in it, and does not sufficiently safeguard the responsibility of man. But his rejection of the doctrine of original sin does not mean that he sees no truth in it at all. It rightly stresses the solidarity of sin in the human race, and the transmission "of the spiritual nature, of the Ďcharacter,í from parents to children." However, he seeks the explanation of the universality of sin in something else than in "original sin." The man whom God created was not simply some one man, but a responsible person created in and for community with others. The isolated individual is but an abstraction. "In the Creation we are an individualized, articulated unity, one body with many members." If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. He goes on to say: "If that is our origin, then our opposition to this origin cannot be an experience, an act, of the individual as an individual.. .. Certainly each individual is a sinner as an individual; but he is at the same time the whole in its united solidarity, the body, actual humanity as a whole." There was therefore solidarity in sinning; the human race fell away from God; but it belongs to the very nature of sin that we deny this solidarity in sin. The result of this initial sin is that man is now a sinner; but the fact that man is now a sinner should not be regarded as the cause of his individual sinful actions. Such a causal connection cannot be admitted, for every sin which man commits is a fresh decision against God. The statement that man is a sinner does not mean that he is in a state or condition of sin, but that he is actually engaged in rebellion against God. As Adam we turned away from God, and "he who commits this apostasy can do no other than repeat it continually, not because it has become a habit, but because this is the distinctive character of this act." Man cannot reverse the course, but continues to sin right along. The Bible never speaks of sin except as the act of turning away from God. "But in the very concept of Ďbeing a sinnerí this act is conceived as one which determines manís whole existence."
5. Objections to the doctrine of total depravity and total inability.
a. It is inconsistent with moral obligation. The most obvious and the most plausible objection to the doctrine of total depravity and total inability, is that it is inconsistent with moral obligation. It is said that a man cannot be held justly responsible for anything for which he has not the required ability. But the general implication of this principle is a fallacy. It may hold in cases of disability resulting from a limitation which God has imposed on manís nature; but it certainly does not apply in the sphere of morals and religion, as already pointed out in the preceding. We should not forget that the inability under consideration is self-imposed, has a moral origin, and is not due to any limitation which God has put upon manís being. Man is unable as a result of the perverted choice made in Adam.
b. It removes all motives for exertion. A second objection is that this doctrine removes all motives for exertion and destroys all rational grounds for the use of the means of grace. If we know that we cannot accomplish a given end, why should we use the means recommended for its accomplishment?
c. It encourages delay in conversion. It is also asserted that this doctrine encourages delay in conversion. If a man believes that he cannot change his heart, cannot repent and believe the gospel, he will feel that he can only passively abide the time when it will please God to change the direction of his life. Now there may be, and experience teaches that there are, some who actually adopt that attitude; but as a rule the effect of the doctrine under consideration will be quite different. If sinners, to whom sin has grown very dear, were conscious of the power to change their lives at will, they would be tempted to defer it to the last moment. But if one is conscious of the fact that a very desirable thing is beyond the compass of his own powers, he will instinctively seek help outside of himself. The sinner who feels that way about salvation, will seek help with the great Physician of the soul, and thus acknowledge his own disability.
B. Actual Sin.
Roman Catholics and Arminians minimized the idea of original sin, and then developed doctrines, such as those of the washing away of original sin (though not only that) by baptism, and of sufficient grace, by which its seriousness is greatly obscured. The emphasis is clearly altogether on actual sins. Pelagians, Socinians, modern liberal theologians, and ó strange as it may seem ó also the Theology of Crisis, recognize only actual sins. It must be said, however, that this theology does speak of sin in the singular as well as in the plural, that is, it does recognize a solidarity in sin, which some of the others have not recognized.
1. The relation between original and actual sin. The former originated in a free act of Adam as the representative of the human race, a transgression of the law of God and a corruption of human nature, which rendered him liable to the punishment of God. In the sight of God his sin was the sin of all his descendants, so that they are born as sinners, that is in a state of polluted condition. Original sin is both a state and an inherent quality of pollution in man. Every man is unworthy of eternal life, because he born with a depraved and corrupt nature. And this inner corruption is the unholy fountain of all actual sins. When we speak of actual sin or peccatum actuate, we use the word "actual" or "actuale" in a comprehensive sense. The term "actual sins" does not merely denote those external actions which are accomplished by means of the body, but all those conscious thoughts and volitions which spring from original sin. They are the individual sins of act in distinction from manís inherited nature and inclination. Original sin is one, actual sin is manifold. Actual sin may be interior, such as a particular conscious doubt or evil design in the mind, or a particular conscious lust or desire in the heart; but they may also be exterior, such as deceit, theft, adultery, murder, and so on. While the existence of original sin has met with widespread denial, the presence of actual sin in the life of man is generally admitted. This does not mean, however, that people have always had an equally profound consciousness of sin. We hear a great deal nowadays about the "loss of the sense of sin," though Modernists hasten to assure us that, while we have lost the sense of sin, we have gained the sense of sins, in the plural, that is, of definite actual sins. But there is no doubt about it that people have to an alarming extent lost the sense of the heinousness of sin, as committed against a holy God, and have largely thought of it merely as an infringement on the rights of oneís fellow-men. They fail to see that sin is a fatal power in their lives which ever and anon incites their rebellious spirits, which makes them guilty before God, and which brings them under a sentence of condemnation. It is one of the merits of the Theology of Crisis that it is calling attention once more to the seriousness of sin as a revolt against God, as a revolutionary attempt to be like God.
2. Classification of actual sins. It is quite impossible to give a unified and comprehensive classification of actual sins. They vary in kind and degree, and can be differentiated from more than one point of view. Roman Catholics make a well-known distinction between venial and mortal sins, but admit that it is extremely difficult and dangerous to decide whether a sin is mortal or venial. They were led to this distinction by the statement of Paul in Gal. 5:21 that they "who do such things (as he has enumerated) shall not inherit the kingdom of God." One commits a mortal sin when one wilfully violates the law of God in a matter which one believes or knows to be important. It renders the sinner liable to eternal punishment. And one commits a venial sin when one transgresses the law of God in a matter that is not of grave importance, or when the transgression is not altogether voluntary. Such a sin is forgiven more easily, and even without confession. Forgiveness for mortal sins can be obtained only by the sacrament of penance. The distinction is not a Scriptural one, for according to Scripture every sin is essentially anomia (unrighteousness), and merits eternal punishment. Moreover, it has a deleterious effect in practical life, since it engenders a feeling of uncertainty, sometimes a feeling of morbid fear on the one hand, or of unwarranted carelessness on the other. The Bible does distinguish different kinds of sins, especially in connection with the different degrees of guilt attaching to them. The Old Testament makes an important distinction between sins committed presumptuously (with a high hand), and sins committed unwittingly, that is, as the result of ignorance, weakness, or error, Num. 15:29-31. The former could not be atoned by sacrifice and were punished with great severity, while the latter could be so atoned and were judged with far greater leniency. The fundamental principle embodied in this distinction still applies. Sins committed on purpose, with full consciousness of the evil involved, and with deliberation, are greater and more culpable than sins resulting from ignorance, from an erroneous conception of things, or from weakness of character. Nevertheless the latter are also real sins and make one guilty in the sight of God, Gal. 6:1; Eph. 4:18; I Tim 1:13; 5:24. The New Testament further clearly teaches us that the degree of sin is to a great extent determined by the degree of light possessed. The heathen are guilty indeed, but they who have Godís revelation and enjoy the privileges of the gospel ministry are far more guilty, Matt. 10:15; Luke 12:47,48; 23:34; John 19:11; Acts 17:30; Rom. 1:32; 2:12; I Tim. 1:13,15,16.
3. The unpardonable sin. Several passages of Scripture speak of a sin that cannot be forgiven, after which a change of heart is impossible, and for which it is not necessary to pray. It is generally known as the sin or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The Saviour speaks of it explicitly in Matt. 12:31,32 and parallel passages; and it is generally thought that Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26,27, and John 5:16 also refer to this sin.
a. There has been quite a variety of opinions respecting the nature of the unpardonable sin. (1) Jerome and Chrysostom thought of it as a sin that could be committed only during Christís sojourn on earth, and held that it was committed by those who were convinced in their hearts that Christ performed His miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, but in spite of their conviction refused to recognize these miracles as such and ascribed them to the operation of Satan.
b. The name "sin against the Holy Spirit" is too general, for there are also sins against the Holy Spirit that are pardonable, Eph. 4:30. The Bible speaks more specifically of a "speaking against the Holy Spirit," Matt. 12:32; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10. It is evidently a sin committed during the present life, which makes conversion and pardon impossible. The sin consists in the conscious, malicious, and wilful rejection and slandering, against evidence and conviction, of the testimony of the Holy Spirit respecting the grace of God in Christ, attributing it out of hatred and enmity to the prince of darkness. It presupposes, objectively, a revelation of the grace of God in Christ, and a powerful operation of the Holy Spirit; and, subjectively, an illumination and intellectual conviction so strong and powerful as to make an honest denial of the truth impossible. And then the sin itself consists, not in doubting the truth, nor in a simple denial of it, but in a contradiction of it that goes contrary to the conviction of the mind, to the illumination of the conscience, and even to the verdict of the heart. In committing that sin man wilfully, maliciously, and intentionally attributes what is clearly recognized as the work of God to the influence and operation of Satan. It is nothing less than a decided slandering of the Holy Spirit, an audacious declaration that the Holy Spirit is the spirit of the abyss, that the truth is the lie, and that Christ is Satan. It is not so much a sin against the person of the Holy Spirit as a sin against His official work in revealing, both objectively and subjectively, the grace and glory of God in Christ. The root of this sin is the conscious and deliberate hatred of God and of all that is recognized as divine. It is unpardonable, not because its guilt transcends the merits of Christ, or because the sinner is beyond the renewing power of the Holy Spirit, but because there are also in the world of sin certain laws and ordinances, established by God and maintained by Him. And the law in the case of this particular sin is, that it excludes all repentance, sears the conscience, hardens the sinner, and thus renders the sin unpardonable. In those who have committed this sin we may therefore expect to find a pronounced hatred to God, a defiant attitude to Him and all that is divine, delight in ridiculing and slandering that which is holy, and absolute unconcern respecting the welfare of their soul and the future life. In view of the fact that this sin is not followed by repentance, we may be reasonably sure that they who fear that they have committed it and worry about this, and who desire the prayers of others for them, have not committed it.
c. Remarks on the passages in the Epistles that speak of it. Except in the Gospels, this sin is not mentioned by name in the Bible. Thus the question arises, whether the passages in Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26,27,29, and I John 5:16 also refer to it. Now it is quite evident that they all speak of an unpardonable sin; and because Jesus says in Matt. 12:31, "Therefore I say unto you, Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven," thereby indicating that there is but one unpardonable sin, it is but reasonable to think that these passages refer to the same sin. It should be noted, however, that Heb. 6 speaks of a specific form of this sin, such as could only occur in the apostolic age, when the Spirit revealed itself in extraordinary gifts and powers. The fact that this was not borne in mind, often led to the erroneous opinion that this passage, with its unusually strong expressions, referred to such as were actually regenerated by the Spirit of God. But Heb. 6:4-6, while speaking of experiences that transcend those of the ordinary temporal faith, yet do not necessarily testify to the presence of regenerating grace in the heart.
Questions for further study. What objections are raised to the idea of the federal headship of Adam? What Scriptural ground is there for the imputation of Adamís sin to his descendants? Was Placeus theory of mediate imputation in any way connected with Amyraldus view of universal atonement? What objection does Dabney raise to the doctrine of immediate imputation? Is the doctrine of inherited evil the same as the doctrine of original sin, and if not, how do they differ? How do Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, and Arminians differ in their view of original sin? How does the doctrine of original sin affect the doctrine of infant salvation? Does the Bible teach that one can be lost purely as the result of orginal sin? What is the connection between the doctrine of original sin and that of baptismal regeneration? What becomes of the doctrine of original sin in modern liberal theology? How do you account for the denial of original sin in Barthian theology? Can you name some additional classes of actual sins?
Literature: Bavinck, Geref. Dogm. Ill, pp. 61-120; Kuyper, Diet. Dogm., De Peccato, pp. 36-50, 119-144; Vos, Geref. Dogm. II, pp. 31-76; Hodge, Syst. TheoL II, pp. 192-308; McPherson, Chr. Dogma, pp. 242-256; Dabney,Syst. and Polem. TheoL, pp. 321-351; Litton, Intro, to Dogm. TheoL, pp. 136-174; Schmid, Doct. TheoL of the Ev. Luth. Ch., pp. 242-276; Valentine, Chr. TheoL I, pp. 420-476; Pope, Chr. TheoL II, pp. 47-86; Raymond, Syst. TheoL II, pp. 64-172; Wilmers, Handbook of the Chr. Religion, pp. 235-238; Mackintosh, Christianity and Sin, cf. Index; Girardeau,77ze Will in its Theological Relations; Wiggers, Augus-tinism and Pelagianism; Candlish, The Bibl. Doct. of Sin, pp. 90-128; Brunner, Man in Revolt, pp. 114-166.
From the Holy Fathers:
Disobedience Prior to Eating. Chrysostom: It wasn't the eating from the tree that opened their eyes: they could see even before eating. Instead the eating from this tree was the symptom of their disobedience and the breaking of the command given by God; and through their guilt they consequently divested themselves of the glory surrounding them, rendering themselves unworthy of such wonderful esteem. Hence Scripture takes up the point in its customary way with the words, "They both ate. Their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked." Because of the fall they were stripped of grace from above, and they felt the sense of their obvious nakedness so that through the shame that overcame them they might know precisely what peril they had been led into by breaking the Lord's command. Homilies on Genesis 16.14.
The Law Cannot be Considered the Cause of the Fall. Chrysostom: I know that some at this point might accuse the Lawgiver and assert that the law is the cause of the fall. We absolutely must oppose that argument. We must plainly argue and demonstrate that God gave the law not because he hated humanity or wanted to mark our nature with shame but because he loved us and cared for us. In order that you learn that the law was given as a means to help, listen to the words of Isaiah: "He gave the law in our support." One who pursues hatred does not give help. Again the prophet declares, "Your word is the lamp guiding my steps and the light for my paths." But one who pursues hatred does not dispel the darkness with his lamp, nor does he provide light to one who is wandering. Solomon says, "The command of the law is the lamp, the light, the life, the reproach and the rule." So the law is not only a help, not only a lamp but also light and life. Therefore these things are not for those who pursue hatred, not for those who will to be lost, but for those who hold out and lift up their hand. Homilies on Genesis 8.
Why Did God Allow Adam to be Tempted? Augustine: If someone asks, therefore, why God allowed man to be tempted when he foreknew that man would yield to the tempter, I cannot sound the depths of divine wisdom, and I confess that the solution is far beyond my powers. There may be a hidden reason, made known only to those who are better and holier than I, not because of their merits but simply by the grace of God. But insofar as God gives me the ability to understand or allows me to speak, I do not think that a man would deserve great praise if he had been able to live a good life for the simple reason that nobody tempted him to live a bad one. For by nature he would have it in his power to will not to yield to the tempter, with the help of him, of course, "who resists the proud and gives his grace to the humble." Why, then, would God not allow a man to be tempted, although he foreknew he would yield? For the man would do the deed by his own free will and thus incur guilt, and he would have to undergo punishment according to God's justice to be restored to right order. Thus God would make known his will to a proud soul for the instruction of the saints in ages to come. For wisely he uses even bad wills of souls when they perversely abuse their nature, which is good. On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis 11.4 6.
After the Sin the Eyes of Sense Are Opened. Origen: The eyes of sense were then opened, which they had done well to keep shut, that they might not be distracted and hindered from seeing with the eyes of the mind. It was those eyes of the mind which in consequence of sin, as I imagine, were then closed. To that time they had enjoyed the delight of beholding God and his paradise. This twofold kind of vision in us was familiar to our Savior, who said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who see not might see and that those who see might be made blind" ó meaning by "the eyes that see not" the eyes of the mind, which are enlightened by his teaching; and "the eyes that see," meaning the eyes of sense, which his words render blind. Against Celsus 7.39.
Adam and Eve See the Evil into Which They Have Fallen. Augustine: It was not in order to see outward things that "their eyes were opened," because they could see such things already. It was in order that they might see the difference between the good they had lost and the evil into which they had fallen. That is why the tree is called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They had been forbidden to touch it because if they did it would bring on the experience of this distinction. It takes the experience of the pains of sickness to open our eyes to the pleasantness of health. City of God 14.17.
Their Soul Loses Its Mastery over the Body. Augustine: As soon as our first parents had disobeyed God's commandment, they were immediately deprived of divine grace and were ashamed of their nakedness. They covered themselves with fig leaves, which perhaps were the first thing noticed by the troubled pair. The parts covered remained unchanged except that previously they occasioned no shame. They felt for the first time a movement of disobedience in their flesh, as though the punishment were meant to fit the crime of their own disobedience to God. The fact is that the soul, which had taken perverse delight in its own liberty and disdained the service of God, was now deprived of its original mastery over the body. Because it had deliberately deserted the Lord who was over it, it no longer bent to its will the servant below it, being unable to hold the flesh completely in subjection as would always have been the case, if only the soul had remained subject to God. From this moment on, then, the flesh began to lust against the spirit. With this rebellion we are born, just as we are doomed to die and because of the first sin to bear, in our members and vitiated nature, either the battle with or defeat by the flesh. City of God 13.13.
Symbolism of the Fig Leaves. Augustine: Then they saw that they were naked by perverted eyes. Their original simplicity, signified by the term nakedness, now seemed to be something to be ashamed of. And so that they might no longer be simple, they made aprons for themselves from the leaves of the fig tree, as if to cover their private parts, that is, to cover their simplicity, of which that cunning pride was ashamed. The leaves of the fig tree signify a certain itching, if this is correctly said in the case of incorporeal things, which the mind suffers in wondrous ways from the desire and pleasure of lying. As a result those who love to joke are even called "salty" in Latin. For in jokes pretense plays a primary role. Two Books on Genesis Against the Manichaeans 2.15.23.
The Tendency Toward Sin. Bede: Since our first parents, shamed by guilt for their transgression, made aprons for themselves from fig leaves, the fig tree can fittingly designate the tendency toward sin. Sin appears wrongfully to be filled with sweetness for the human race. Homilies on the Gospels 1.I7.
Their Clothing. Irenaeus: Now "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The understanding of transgression leads to penitence, and God extends his kindness to those who repent. For [Adam] showed his repentance in making a girdle, covering himself with fig leaves, when there were many other trees that would have irritated his body less. He, however, in awe of God, made a clothing that matched his disobedience.... And he would no doubt have kept this clothing forever, if God in his mercy had not clothed them with tunics of skin instead of fig leaves. Against Heresies 3.23.5.
V. The Punishment of Sin.
Sin is a very serious matter, and is taken seriously by God, though men often make light of it. It is not only a transgression of the law of God, but an attack on the great Lawgiver Himself, a revolt against God. It is an infringement on the inviolable righteousness of God, which is the very foundation of His throne (Ps. 97:2), and an affront to the spotless holiness of God, which requires of us that we be holy in all manner of living (I Pet. 1:16). In view of this it is but natural that God should visit sin with punishment. In a word of fundamental significance He says: "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me," Ex. 20:5. The Bible abundantly testifies to the fact that God punishes sin both in this life and in the life to come.
A. Natural and positive penalties.
A rather common distinction applied to the punishments for sin, is that between natural and positive penalties. There are punishments which are the natural results of sin, and which men cannot escape, because they are the natural and necessary consequences of sin. Man is not saved from them by repentance and forgiveness. In some cases they may be mitigated and even checked by the means which God has placed at our disposal, but in other cases they remain and serve as a constant reminder of past transgressions. The slothful man comes to poverty, the drunkard brings ruin upon himself and his family, the fornicator contracts a loathsome and incurable disease, and the criminal is burdened with shame and even when leaving the prison walls finds it extremely hard to make a new start in life. The Bible speaks of such punishments in Job 4:8; Ps. 9:15; 94:23; Prov. 5:22; 23:21; 24:14; 31:3. But there are also positive punishments, and these are punishments in the more ordinary and legal sense of the word. They presuppose not merely the natural laws of life, but a positive law of the great Lawgiver with added sanctions. They are not penalties which naturally result from the nature of the transgression, but penalties which are attached to the transgressions by divine enactments. They are superimposed by the divine law, which is of absolute authority. It is to this type of punishment that the Bible usually refers. This is particularly evident in the Old Testament. God gave Israel a detailed code of laws for the regulation of its civil, moral, and religious life, and clearly stipulated the punishment to be meted out in the case of each transgression, cf. Ex. 20-23. And though many of the civil and religious regulations of this law were, in the form in which they were couched, intended for Israel only, the fundamental principles which they embody also apply in the New Testament dispensation. In a Biblical conception of the penalty of sin we shall have to take into account both the natural and necessary outcome of wilful opposition to God and the penalty legally affixed and adjusted to the offense by God. Now there are some Unitarians, Universal-ists, and Modernists who deny the existence of any punishment of sin, except such consequences as naturally result from the sinful action. Punishment is not the execution of a sentence pronounced by the divine Being on the merits of the case, but simply the operation of a general law. This position is taken by J. F. Clarke, Thayer, Williamson, and Washington Gladden. The latter says: "The old theology made this penalty (penalty of sin) to consist in suffering inflicted upon the sinner by a judicial process in the future life . . . The penalty of sin, as the new theology teaches, consists in the natural consequences of sin. . . . The penalty of sin is sin. Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." The idea is not new; it was present to the mind of Dante, for in his famous poem the torments of hell symbolize the consequences of sin; and Schelling had it in mind, when he spoke of the history of the world as the judgment of the world. It is abundantly evident from Scripture, however, that this is an entirely un-Biblical view. The Bible speaks of penalties, which are in no sense the natural result or consequences of the sin committed, for instance in Ex. 32:33; Lev. 26:21; Num. 15:31; I Chron. 10:13; Ps. 11:6; 75:8; Isa. 1:24,28; Matt. 3:10; 24:51. All these passages speak of a punishment of sin by a direct act of God. Moreover, according to the view under consideration there is really no reward or punishment; virtue and vice both naturally include their various issues. Furthermore, on that standpoint there is no good reason for considering suffering as punishment, for it denies guilt, and it is exactly guilt that constitutes suffering a punishment. Then, too, it is in many cases not the guilty that receives the severest punishment, but the innocent as, for instance, the dependents of a drunkard or a debauchee. And, finally, on this view, heaven and hell are not places of future punishment, but states of mind or conditions in which men find themselves here and now. Washington Gladden expresses this very explicitly.
B. Nature and Purpose of Punishments.
The word "punishment" is derived from the Latin poena, meaning punishment, expiation, or pain. It denotes pain or suffering inflicted because of some misdeed. More specifically, it may be defined as that pain or loss which is directly or indirectly inflicted by the Lawgiver, in vindication of His justice outraged by the violation of the law. It originates in the righteousness or punitive justice of God, by which He maintains Himself as the Holy One and necessarily demands holiness and righteousness in all His rational creatures. Punishment is the penalty that is naturally and necessarily due from the sinner because of his sin; it is, in fact, a debt that is due to the essential justice of God. The punishments of sin are of two different kinds. There is a punishment that is the necessary concomitant of sin, for in the nature of the case sin causes separation between God and man, carries with it guilt and pollution, and fills the heart with fear and shame. But there is also a kind of punishment that is superimposed on man from without by the supreme Lawgiver, such as all kinds of calamities in this life and the punishment of hell in the future.
Now the question arises as to the object or the purpose of the punishment of sin. And on this point there is considerable difference of opinion. We should not regard the punishment of sin as a matter of vengeance and as inflicted with the desire to harm one who has previously done harm. The following are the three most important views respecting the purpose of punishment.
1. To vindicate divine righteousness or justice. Turretin says: "If there be such an attribute as justice belonging to God, then sin must have its due, which is punishment." The law requires that sin be punished because of its inherent demerit, irrespective of all further considerations. This principle applies in the administration of both human and divine laws. Justice requires the punishment of the transgressor. Bac|c of the law stands God, and therefore it may also be said that punishment aims at the vindication of the righteousness and holiness of the great Lawgiver. The holiness of God necessarily reacts against sin, and this reaction manifests itself in the punishment of sin. This principle is fundamental to all those passages of Scripture that speak of God as a righteous Judge, who renders unto every man according to his deserts. "He is the rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He," Deut. 32:4. "Far be it from God, that He should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that He should commit iniquity. For the work of a man shall He render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways," Job. 34:10,11. "Thou renderest to every man according to his work," Ps. 62:12. "Righteous art thou, 0 Lord, and upright are thy judgments," Ps. 119:37. "I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth," Jer. 9:24. "And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgest according to every manís work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear," I Pet. 1:17. The vindication of the righteousness and holiness of God, and of that just law which is the very expression of His being, is certainly the primary purpose of the punishment of sin. There are two other views, however, which erroneously put something else in the foreground.
2. To reform the sinner. The idea is very much in the foreground at the present time that there is no punitive justice in God which inexorably calls for the punishment of the sinner, and that God is not angry with the sinner but loves him, and only inflicts hardships upon him, in order to reclaim him and to bring him back to his Fatherís home. This is an un-Scriptural view, which obliterates the distinction between punishment and chastisement. The penalty of sin does not proceed from the love and mercy of the Lawgiver, but from His justice. If reformation follows the infliction of punishment, this is not due to the penalty as such, but is the fruit of some gracious operation of God by which He turns that which is in itself an evil for the sinner into something that is beneficial. The distinction between chastisement and punishment must be maintained. The Bible teaches us on the one hand that God loves and chastens His people, Job 5:17; Ps. 6:1; Ps. 94:12; 118:18; Prov. 3:11; Isa. 26:16; Heb. 12:5-8; Rev. 3:19; and on the other hand, that He hates and punishes evil-doers, Ps. 5:5; 7:11; Nah. 1:2; Rom. 1:18; 2:5,6; 11 Thess. 1:6; Heb. 10:26,27. Moreover, a punishment must be recognized as just, that is, as according to justice, in order to be reformatory. According to this theory a sinner who has already reformed could no more be punished; nor could one beyond the possibility of reformation, so that there could be no punishment for Satan; the death penalty would have to be abolished, and eternal punishment would have no reason for existence.
3. To deter men from sin. Another theory rather prevalent in our day is that the sinner must be punished for the protection of society, by deterring others from the commission of similar offenses. There can be no doubt about it that this end is often secured in the family, in the state, and in the moral government of the world, but this is an incidental result which God graciously effects by the infliction of the penalty. It certainly cannot be the ground for the infliction of the penalty. There is no justice whatever in punishing an individual simply for the good of society. As a matter of fact the sinner is always punished for his sin, and incidentally this may be for the good of society. And here again it may be said that no punishment will have a deterring effect, if it is not just and right in itself. Punishment has a good effect only when it is evident that the person on whom it is afflicted really deserves punishment. If this theory were true, a criminal might at once be set free, if it were not for the possibility that others might be deterred from sin by his punishment. Moreover, a man might rightly commit a crime, if he were only willing to bear the penalty. According to this view punishment is in no sense grounded in the past, but is wholly prospective. But on that supposition it is very hard to explain how it invariably causes the repentant sinner to look back and to confess with contrite heart the sins of the past, as we notice in such passages as the following: Gen. 42:21; Num. 21:7; I Sam. 15:24,25; II Sam. 12:13; 24:10; Ezra 9:6,10, 13; Neh. 9:33-35; Job 7:21; Ps. 51:1-4; Jer. 3:25. These examples might easily be multiplied. In opposition to both of the theories considered it must be maintained that the punishment of sin is wholly retrospective in its primary aim, though the infliction of the penalty may have beneficial consequences both for the individual and for society.
C. The actual penalty of sin.
The penalty with which God threatened man in paradise was the penalty of death. The death here intended is not the death of the body, but the death of man as a whole, death in the Scriptural sense of the word. The Bible does not know the distinction, so common among us, between a physical, a spiritual, and an eternal death; it has a synthetic view of death and regards it as separation from God. The penalty was also actually executed on the day that man sinned, though the full execution of it was temporarily stayed by the grace of God. In a rather un-Scriptural way some carry their distinction into the Bible, and maintain that physical death should not be regarded as the penalty of sin, but rather as the natural result of the physical constitution of man. But the Bible knows of no such exception. It acquaints us with the threatened penalty, which is death in the comprehensive sense of the word, and it informs us that death entered the world through sin (Rom. 5:12), and that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). The penalty of sin certainly includes physical death, but it includes much more than that. Making the distinction to which we have grown accustomed, we may say that it includes the following:
1. Spiritual death. There is a profound truth in the saying of Augustine that sin is also the punishment of sin. This means that the sinful state and condition in which man is born by nature form part of the penalty of sin. They are, it is true, the immediate consequences of sin, but they are also a part of the threatened penalty. Sin separates man from God, and that means death, for it is only in communion with the living God that man can truly live. In the state of death, which resulted from the entrance of sin into the world, we are burdened with the guilt of sin, a guilt that can only be removed by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. We are therefore under obligation to bear the sufferings that result from transgression of the law. The natural man carries the sense of the liability to punishment with him wherever he goes. Conscience is a constant reminder of his guilt, and the fear of punishment often fills the heart. Spiritual death means not only guilt, but also polution. Sin is always a corrupting influence in life, and this is a part of our death. We are by nature not only unrighteous in the sight of God, but also unholy. And this unholiness manifests itself in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds. It is always active within us like a poisoned fountain polluting the streams of life. And if it were not for the restraining influence of the common grace of God, it would render social life entirely impossible.
2. The sufferings of life. The sufferings of life, which are the result of the entrance of sin into the world, are also included in the penalty of sin. Sin brought disturbance in the entire life of man. His physical life fell a prey to weaknesses and diseases, which result in discomforts and often in agonizing pains; and his mental life became subject to distressing disturbances, which often rob him of the joy of life, disqualify him for his daily task, and sometimes entirely destroy his mental equilibrium. His very soul has become a battle-field of conflicting thoughts, passions, and desires. The will refuses to follow the judgment of the intellect, and the passions run riot without the control of an intelligent will. The true harmony of life is destroyed, and makes way for the curse of the divided life. Man is in a state of dissolution, which often carries with it the most poignant sufferings. And not only that, but with and on account of man the whole creation was made subject to vanity and to the bondage of corruption. The evolutionists especially have taught us to look upon nature as "red in tooth and claw." Destructive forces are often released in earthquakes, cyclones, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and floods, which bring untold misery on mankind. Now there are many, especially in our day, who do not see the hand of God in all this, and do not regard these calamities as a part of the penalty of sin. And yet that is exactly what they are in a general sense. However, it will not be safe to particularize, and to interpret them as special punishments for some grievous sins committed by those who live in the stricken areas. Neither will it be wise to ridicule the idea of such a causal connection as existed in the case of the Cities of the Plain (Sodom and Gomorrah), which were destroyed by fire from heaven. We should always bear in mind that there is a collective responsibility, and that there are always sufficient reasons why God should visit cities, districts or nations with dire calamities. It is rather a wonder that He does not more often visit them in His wrath and in His sore displeasure. It is always well to bear in mind what Jesus once said to the Jews who brought to Him the report of a calamity which had befallen certain Galileans, and evidently intimated that these Galileans must have been very sinful: "Think ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they have suffered these things? I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them, think ye that they were offenders above all the men that dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Luke 13:2-5.
3. Physical death. The separation of body and soul is also a part of the penalty of sin. That the Lord had this in mind also in the threatened penalty is quite evident from the explication of it in the words, "dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return," Gen. 3:19. It also appears from the whole argument of Paul in Rom. 5:12-21 and in I Cor. 15:12-23. The position of the Church has always been that death in the full sense of the word, including physical death, is not only the consequence but the penalty of sin. The wages of sin is death. Pelagianism denied this connection, but the North African General Synod of Carthage (418) pronounced an anathema against any man who says "that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he sinned or not he would have died, not as the wages of sin, but through the necessity of nature." Socinians and Rationalists continued the Pelagian error, and in even more recent times it was reproduced in the systems of those Kantian, Hegelian, or Ritschlian theologians who virtually make sin a necessary moment in manís moral and spiritual development. Their views found support in present day natural science, which regards physical death as a natural phenomenon of the human organism. Manís physical constitution is such that he necessarily dies. But this view does not commend itself in view of the fact that manís physical organism is renewed every seven years, and that comparatively few people die in old age and from complete exhaustion. By far the greater number of them die as the result of sickness and accidents. It is also contrary to the fact that man does not feel that death is something natural, but fears it as an unnatural separation of that which belongs together.
4. Eternal death. This may be regarded as the culmination and completion of spiritual death. The restraints of the present fall away, and the corruption of sin has its perfect work. The full weight of the wrath of God descends on the condemned. Their separation from God, the source of life and joy, is complete, and this means death in the most awful sense of the word. Their outward condition is made to correspond with the inward state of their evil souls. There are pangs of conscience and physical pain. And the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever. Rev. 14:11. The further discussion of this subject belongs to eschatology.
Questions for further study. Why do many modern liberals deny all positive pun ishments for sin? Is the position at all tenable that the punishments of sin consist exclusivel in the natural consequences of sin? What objections do you have to this position? How dt you account for the widespread aversion to the idea that the punishment of sin is 9 vindication of the law and of the righteousness of God? Do the punishments of sin also serve as deterrents, and as means of reformation? What is the Biblical conception of death: Can you prove from Scripture that it includes physical death? Is the doctrine of eternal death consistent with the idea that the punishment of sin serves merely as a means of reformation, or as a deterrent?
Literature: Bavinck, Geref. Dogm. Ill, pp. 158-198; Kuyper, Diet. Dogm., De Peccato, pp. 93-112; Strong, Syst. Theol., pp. 652-660; Raymond, Syst. TheoL II, pp. 175-184; Shedd, Doctrine of Endless Punishment; Washington Gladden, Present Day Theology, Chaps. IV and V; Kennedy, St. Paulís Conceptions of the Last Things, pp. 103-157; Dorner, Syst. of Chr. Doct. Ill, pp. 114-132.
From the Holy Fathers:
Crysostom: See the Lord's goodness, how much mildness he employs despite such a terrible fall. "I will greatly aggravate the pain of your labor." My intention had been, he is saying, for you to have a life free of trouble and distress, rid of all pain and grief, filled with every pleasure and with no sense of bodily needs despite your bodily condition. But since you misused such indulgence, and the abundance of good things led you into such ingratitude, accordingly I impose this curb on you to prevent your further running riot, and I sentence you to painful labor. "I will greatly aggravate the pain of your labor; in pain you will bear children."
I will ensure, he is saying, that the generation of children, a reason for great satisfaction, for you will begin with pain so that each time without fail you will personally have a reminder, through the distress and the pain of each birth, of the magnitude of this sin of disobedience. ... In the beginning I created you equal in esteem to your husband, and my intention was that in everything you would share with him as an equal, and as I entrusted control of everything to your husband, so did I to you; but you abused your equality of status. Hence I subject you to your husband. Homilies on Genesis 17.30-31,36.
Symbolic Meaning of the Punishment Imposed on Eve. Augustine: There is no question about the punishment of the woman. For she clearly has her pains and sighs multiplied in the woes of this life. Although her bearing her children in pain is fulfilled in this visible woman, our consideration should nevertheless be recalled to that more hidden woman. For even in animals the females bear offspring with pain, and this is in their case the condition of mortality rather than the punishment of sin. Hence, it is possible that this be the condition of mortal bodies even in the females of humans. But this is the great punishment: they have come to the present bodily mortality from their former immortality. Still there is a great mystery in this sentence, because there is no restraint from carnal desire, which does not have pain in the beginning, until habit has been bent toward improvement. When this has come about, it is as though a child is born, that is, the good habit disposes our intentions toward the good deed. In order that this habit might be born, there was a painful struggle with bad habit. Scripture adds after the birth, "You will turn to your man, and he will rule over you." ... What can this mean except that when that part of the soul held by carnal joys has, in willing to conquer a bad habit, suffered difficulty and pain and in this way brought forth a good habit, it now more carefully and diligently obeys reason as its husband? And taught by its pains, it turns to reason and willingly obeys its commands lest it again decline to some harmful habit. Two Books on Genesis Against the Manichaeans 2..19.29.
Marriage Devised for the Preservation of Humanity. John of Damascus: Virginity was practiced in paradise. Indeed, sacred Scripture says that "they were naked, to wit, Adam and Eve, and were not ashamed." However, once they had fallen, they knew that they were naked, and being ashamed they sewed together aprons for themselves. After the fall, when Adam heard "Dust thou art, and unto dust you shall return," and death entered into the world through transgression, then Adam knew his wife, who conceived and brought forth. And so to keep the race from dwindling and being destroyed by death, marriage was devised, so that by the begetting of children the race of men might be preserved. Orthodox Faith 4.24.
Procreation Would Have Taken Place in Paradise. Augustine: Why, therefore, may we not assume that the first couple before they sinned could have given a command to their genital organs for the purpose of procreation as they did to the other members that the soul is accustomed to move to perform various tasks without any trouble and without any craving for pleasure? For the almighty Creator, worthy of praise beyond all words, who is great even in the least of his works, has given to the bees the power of reproducing their young just as they produce wax and honey. Why, then, should it seem beyond belief that he made the bodies of the first human beings in such a way that, if they had not sinned and had not immediately thereupon contracted a disease that would bring death, they would move the members by which offspring are generated in the same way that one commands his feet when he walks, so that conception would take place without disordered passions and birth without pain? But as it is, by disobeying God's command they deserved to experience in their members, where death now reigned, the movement of a law at war with the law of the mind. This is a movement that marriage regulates and continence controls and constrains, so that where punishment has followed sin, there correction may follow punishment. On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis 9.10.18.
Adam's Responsibility for Eve Defaulted. Chrysostom: After all, you are head of your wife, and she has been created for your sake; but you have inverted the proper order: not only have you failed to keep her on the straight and narrow but you have been dragged down with her, and whereas the rest of the body should follow the head, the contrary has in fact occurred, the head following the rest of the body, turning things upside down. Homilies on Genesis 17.18.
Spiritual Aspect of the Punishment Imposed on the Man. Augustine: What shall we say about the judgment pronounced against the man? Are we perhaps to think that the rich, for whom the necessities of life come easily and who do not labor on the earth, have escaped this punishment? It says, "The earth will be cursed for you in all your works, and you shall eat from it in sadness and groaning all the days of your life. It will bring forth thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the grain of your field. In the sweat of your brow you will eat your bread until you return to the earth from which you were taken, for you are earth, and you will return to the earth." It is certainly clear that no one escapes this sentence. For anyone born in this life has difficulty in discovering the truth because of the corruptible body. For as Solomon says, "The body that is corrupted weighs down the soul, and the earthly habitation presses down the mind that thinks many thoughts." These are the labors and sorrows that man has from the earth. The thorns and thistles are the prickings of torturous questions or thoughts concerned with providing for this life. Two Books on Genesis Against the Manichaeans 2.20.30.
The Physical Aspect of the Punishment of Man. Chrysostom: Since man had shown great disobedience, God cast him forth from his life in paradise. God curbed man's spirit for the future, so that he might not leap farther away. He condemned him to a life of toil and labor, speaking to him in some such fashion as this: "The ease and security that were yours in abundance led you to this great disobedience. They made you forget my commandments. You had nothing to do. That led you to think thoughts too haughty for your own nature.... Therefore, I condemn you to toil and labor, so that while tilling the earth, you may never forget your disobedience and the vileness of your nature." Baptismal Instruction 2.4-5.
Symbolism of the Thorns. Tertullian: To what kind of a crown, I ask you, did Christ Jesus submit for the salvation of both sexes? He who is the head of man and the glory of woman and the husband of the Church ó what kind of crown? It was made from thorns and thistles. They stood as a symbol of the sins that the soil of the flesh brought forth for us but that the power of the cross removed, blunting every sting of death since the head of the Lord bore its pain. And beside the symbol, we are reminded also of the scornful abuse, the degradation and the vileness of his cruel tormentors. On the Crown 14.3.
Meaning of the Curses. Chrysostom: Behold the reminders of the curse: thorns it will bring forth, he says, and thistles so as to give rise to great labor and discomfort, and I will ensure you pass the whole time with pain so that this experience may prove a brake on your getting ideas above your station, and you may instead have a thought to your own makeup and never again bear to be deceived in these matters.
"You are to eat of the grass of the field. In the sweat of your brow may you eat your-bread." See how after his disobedience everything is imposed on him in an opposite way to his former life style: My intention in bringing you into the world, he is saying, was that you should live your life without pain or toil, difficulty or sweat, and that you should be in a state of enjoyment and prosperity, and not be subject to the needs of the body but be free from all such and have the good fortune to experience complete freedom. Since, however, such indulgence was of no benefit to you, accordingly I curse the ground so that it will not in future yield its harvest as before without tilling and ploughing. Instead I invest you with great labor, toil and difficulty, and with unremitting pain and despair, and I am ensuring that everything you do is achieved only by sweat so that under pressure from these you may have continual guidance in keeping to limits and recognizing your own makeup. Homilies on Genesis 17.40-41.
Purpose of the Creature. Pseudo-Macarius: Adam was created pure by God for his service. All these creatures were given to him to serve him. He was destined to be the lord and king of all creatures. But when the evil word came to him and conversed with him, he first received it through an external hearing. Then it penetrated into his heart and took charge of his whole being. When he was thus captured, creation, which ministered and served him, was captured with him. Fifty Spiritual Homilies 11.5.13
"To Dust You Shall Return"
Mixing Love with Punishment. Theodoret of Cyr: Because the devil was envious and the woman was gullible, humankind was immediately cast out of paradise. It was made to walk the very earth from which Adam had just been created, inheriting sweat, toil and hard labor. Along with Adam, the earth and all living things that followed were subjected to evil, being restrained like a horse that is bridled. For since Adam did not use good judgment during the age of paradise ó an age which was free from sorrow and pain ó he was joined to adversity. Through his suffering he might then get rid of the disease which had come upon him in the midst of paradise.
By punishing us with death, the lawgiver cut off the spread of sin. And yet through that very punishment he also demonstrated his love for us. He bound sin and death together when he gave the law, placing the sinner under punishment of death. And yet he ordered things in such a way that the punishment might in itself serve the goal of salvation. For death brings about separation from this life and brings evil works to an end. It sets us free from labor, sweat and pain, and ends the suffering of the body. Thus the Judge mixes his love for us with punishment. On the Incarnation of the Lord 6.1.
God Does Not Impose Death on Adam and Eve. Ambrose: Still another problem arises. "From what source did death come to Adam? Was it from the nature of a tree of this sort or actually from God?" If we ascribe this to the nature of the tree, then the fruit of this tree seems to be superior to the vivifying power of the breath of God, since its fruit would have drawn into death's toils him on whom the divine breath had bestowed life. If we maintain that God is the responsible cause of death, then we can be held to accuse him of inconsistency. We seem to accuse him of being so devoid of beneficence as to be unwilling to pardon when he had the power to do so or of being powerless if he was unable to forgive. Let us see, therefore, how this question can be resolved. The solution, unless I am mistaken, lies in the fact that since disobedience was the cause of death, for that very reason not God but man himself was the agent of his own death. If, for example, a physician were to prescribe to a patient what he thought should be avoided, and if the patient felt that these prohibitions were unnecessary, the physician is not responsible for the patient's death. Surely in that case the patient is guilty of causing his own death. Hence God as a good physician forbade Adam to eat what would be injurious to him. Paradise 7.35.
Human Flesh Does Not Perish Completely. Origen: Our flesh indeed is considered by the uneducated and by unbelievers to perish so completely after death that nothing whatever of its substance is left. We, however, who believe in its resurrection, know that death only causes a change in it and that its substance certainly persists and is restored to life again at a definite time by the will of its Creator and once more undergoes a transformation. What was at first flesh, "from the earth, a man of dust," and was then dissolved through death and again made dust and ashes ó for "dust you are," it is written, "and unto dust shall you return" ó is raised again from the earth. Afterwards, as the merits of the indwelling soul shall demand, the person advances to the glory of a spiritual body. On First Principles 3.6.5.
Christ Resurrects That Which Had Gone into Dust. Origen: Scripture says, "A consecrated linen tunic will be put on." Think of flax thread that comes from the earth. Imagine that the flax thread becomes a sanctified linen tunic that Christ, the true high priest, puts on when he takes up the nature of an earthly body. Remember that it is said about the body that "it is earth and it will go into the earth." Therefore, my Lord and Savior, wanting to resurrect that which had gone into the earth, took an earthly body that he might carry it raised up from earth to heaven. And the assertion in the law that the high priest is clothed "with a linen tunic" contains this mystery. But that it added "consecrated" must not be heard as superfluous. For the "tunic" that was the flesh of Christ was "consecrated," for it was not conceived from the seed of man but begotten of the Holy Spirit. Homilies on Leviticus 9.2.3.
From First to Second Adam
Rom. 5:12-21 Adam and Christ.
Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned ó sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one Who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous. Law came in, to increase the trespass', but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Overview: Eve sinned before Adam, but she is not culpable in the way that Adam is because Adam is the head of the human race. The result is that we all have inherited a state of sinfulness from which there is no escape. Even Pelagius denied that there were any truly righteous people left in the world after the fall of Adam. Mortality is the natural consequence of sin, which affects even the smallest children. The existence of sin before the coming of the law was recognized by all the Fathers, but it caused them some difficulty in interpretation. Was there a natural law working in the conscience which would have condemned men long before the law of Moses was given? And what about children and others who were incapable of the sort of reflection that conscience demands? Were they excused from the consequences of sin? These questions were disputed.
Paul's personification of death as a tyrannical ruler struck a chord with the Fathers, who had plenty of experience of both. The Latin text of this verse and some Greek manuscripts had been corrupted by the deletion of the word not. This gave Ambrosiaster the opportunity to use his considerable skills of textual criticism, and it is a pity that he came up with the wrong answer. Augustine saw clearly that the text must refer to all sinners, whether or not they imitated Adam's sin. Adam's sin led to the destruction of the entire human race. Christ's free gift of the grace of salvation is greater than Adam's sin. How then can it be that not all are saved? The answer is that Christ's gift is qualitatively greater than Adam's sin, in that it not only restores what people have lost but also gives them an inheritance in heaven that far surpasses that of Adam in Eden. This salvation cannot be universal, however, because that would deny human free will and be untrue to our experience. In Adam only one sin was condemned, but in Christ many sins have been forgiven ó another sign that Christ is greater than Adam. Adam's sin brought death, but Christ's forgiveness brings eternal life. Christ's gift to us is far greater than Adam's, but it does not automatically extend to everyone as Adam's did.
There are two spiritual kingdoms in the world. In the first of these, sin is in control. In the second, the grace of God has overcome sin and given those who belong to it the promise of eternal life. The law shed light on sin and therefore increased it by making it more obvious. Grace abounded all the more because it did not merely forgive us our sins but gave us new life as well. Sin is an act of disobedience, which Christ put right by his perfect obedience. Many Fathers found it difficult to accept any concept of what we would call inherited guilt. To most of them disobedience was a personal act, repeated in each individual but not directly inherited from Adam in a way that would make us responsible for his disobedience.
5:12 Death Spread to All People.
From One Man to All Humanity. Origen: Perhaps someone will object that the woman sinned before the man and even that the serpent sinned before her... and elsewhere the apostle says: Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived. ... How is it then that sin seems to have come in through one man rather than through one woman? ... Here the apostle sticks to the order of nature, and thus when he speaks about sin, because of which death has passed to all men, he attributes the line of human descent, which has succumbed to this death because of sin, not to the woman but to the man. For the descent is not reckoned from the woman but from the man, as the apostle says elsewhere: For man was not made from woman but woman from man.
In this context the word world is to be understood either as the place in which people live or as the earthly and corporeal life in which death has its location. It is to this world, that is, to this earthly life, that the saints say that they are crucified and dead.
The death which entered through sin is without doubt that death of which the prophet speaks when he says: The soul which sins shall surely die. One might rightly say that our bodily death is a shadow of this death. For whenever a soul dies, the body is obliged to follow suit, like a shadow. Now if someone objects that the Savior did not sin, nor did his soul die because of sin, yet nevertheless his body suffered death, we would answer that the Savior, although he did not himself sin, nevertheless by the assumption of human flesh is said to have become sin. As a result, although he owed his death to nothing else, nor was he bound to anything outside himself, yet for our salvation he voluntarily took on this shadow as part of his incarnation. As he himself said: I have power to lay my soul down, and I have power to take it again....
The apostle stated most categorically that the death of sin has passed to all men because all have sinned.... Therefore even if you say that Abel was righteous, still he cannot be excused, for all have sinned, including him. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
Death Spread. Eusebius of Caesarea: Since the apostle said: By man death entered into the world, it was surely essential that the victory over death should be achieved by man as well, and the body of death be shown to be the body of life, and the reign of sin that before ruled in the mortal body be destroyed so that it should no longer serve sin but righteousness. Proof of the Gospel. 7.1
How Can God Call Me Back Except He Find Me in Adam? Ambrose: Although through one man's sin death has passed to all men, him whom we do not refuse to acknowledge as the father of the human race we cannot refuse to acknowledge as also the author of death.... In Adam I fell, in Adam I was cast out of paradise, in Adam I died. How shall God call me back, except he find me in Adam? For just as in Adam I am guilty of sin and owe a debt to death, so in Christ I am justified.
On the Death of His Brother Satyrus. 2.6
Whether Through Woman or Man. Ambrosiaster: Paul said that all have sinned in Adam even though in fact it was Eve who sinned because he was not referring to the particular but to the universal. For it is clear that all have sinned in Adam as though in a lump. For, being corrupted by sin himself, all those whom he fathered were born under sin. For that reason we are all sinners, because we all descend from him. He lost God's blessing because he transgressed and was made unworthy to eat of the tree of life. For that reason he had to die. Death is the separation of body and soul. There is another death as well, called the second death, which takes place in Gehenna. We do not suffer this death as a result of Adam's sin, but his fall makes it possible for us to get it by our own sins. Good men were protected from this, as they were only in hell, but they were still not free, because they could not ascend to heaven. They were still bound by the sentence meted out in Adam, the seal of which was broken by the death of Christ. The sentence passed on Adam was that the human body would decompose on earth, but the soul would be bound by the chains of hell until it was released. Commentary on Paul's Epistles.
Chrysostom: Paul inquires as to how death came into the world and why it prevailed. It came in and prevailed through the sin of one man and continued because all have sinned. Thus once Adam fell, even those who had not eaten of the tree became mortal because of him. Homilies on Romans. 10
Infants Set Free from Sin's Guilt by Baptism. Augustine: As infants cannot help being descended from Adam, so they cannot help being touched by the same sin, unless they are set free from its guilt by the baptism of Christ. Letters. 157.
All Incur Penalty. Cyril of Alexandria: Death entered into the first man, and into the beginnings of our race, because of sin, and very soon it had corrupted the entire race. In addition to this, the serpent who invented sin, after he had conquered Adam because of the latter's unfaithfulness, opened up a way for himself to enter the mind of man: They are corrupt... there is none that does good. Therefore, having turned away from the face of the most holy God, and because the mind of man willingly inclined towards evil from its adolescence, we lived an absurd life, and death the conqueror devoured us accordingly.... For since we have all copied Adam's transgression and thus have all sinned, we have incurred a penalty equal to his. Yet the world was not without hope, for in the end sin was destroyed, Satan was defeated and death itself was abolished. Explanation of the Letter to the Romans.
Each One Sentenced. Theodoret of Cyr: St. Paul says that when Adam sinned he became mortal because of it and passed both on to his descendants. Thus death came to all men, in that all sinned. But each person receives the sentence of death not because of the sin of his first ancestor but because of his own sin. Interpretation of the Letter to the Romans.
All Inherit His Nature. Gennadius of Constantinople: Everyone in the following of Adam has died, because they have all inherited their nature from him. But some have died because they themselves have sinned, while others have died only because of Adam's condemnation ó for example, children. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
All Have Sinned in Imitation. Oecumenius: So that no one can accuse God of injustice, in that we all die because of the fall of Adam, Paul adds: and so all have sinned. Adam is the origin and the cause of the fact that we have all sinned in imitation of him. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
5:13 Sin Preceded the Law.
In What Sense Was Sin Before the Law? Ambrosiaster: Before the law was given, men thought that they could sin with impunity before God but not before other men. For the natural law, of which they were well aware, had not completely lost its force, so that they knew not to do to others what they did not want to suffer themselves. For sin was certainly not unknown among men at that time.
How is it then that sin was not imputed, when there was no law? Was it all right to sin, if the law was absent? There had always been a natural law, and it was not unknown, but at that time it was thought to be the only law, and it did not make men guilty before God. For it was not then known that God would judge the human race, and for that reason sin was not imputed, almost as if it did not exist in God's sight and that God did not care about it. But when the law was given through Moses, it became clear that God did care about human affairs and that in the future wrongdoers would not escape without punishment, as they had done up to then. Commentary on Paul's Epistles.
Before the Law of Moses, Not of Nature. Diodore: Sin was in the world before the law of Moses came, and it was counted, though not according to that law. Rather it was counted according to the law of nature, by which we have learned to distinguish good and evil. This was the law of which Paul spoke above. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
Law Did Not Stop Sin but Made It More Discernible. Theodore of Mopsuestia: The coming of the law did not remove sin. On the contrary, even though the law was observed and kept by men, sin continued to increase and the law could do nothing to stop it.... So far was the law from being the cure for sin that Paul even says that there would not have been sin at all had there been no law! By "law" Paul means the discernment which comes by both the natural law and the law of Moses. For without this discernment, nobody would be able to call sin by its name, since there would be no way of knowing the difference between good and evil. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
Sin Not Counted Where There is No Law. Augustine: Paul said this in opposition to those who thought that sin could be taken away through the law. He says that sins were made apparent by the law, not abolished. He says not that there was no sin but only that it was not counted. Once the law was given, sin was not taken away, but it began to be counted. Augustine on Romans. 27-28.
The Natural Law. [Pseudo-]Constantius: Before the law refers to the law of Moses, inferring that sin is not counted where there is no law. This time, however, Paul means the natural law, because of which Cain transgressed and after him those who transgressed the natural law. The Holy Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.
Sin Strengthened by Law. Cyril of Alexandria: The law of Moses was the power constraining the weakness of sinners. It proved to be not the answer to sin but rather a provocation to wrath. For it was necessary for transgressors to undergo the punishments prescribed by the law, and wherever there was transgression, there was also sin. So if sin brought death in its wake, it may undoubtedly be said that death, having been born of sin, was strengthened by this very thing. But when sin was taken away death was also weakened, and it disappeared along with its parent. Therefore there was death in the world until the coming of the law. For as long as the law was valid, the crime of transgression could be laid against those who had fallen, but once the law was removed, the accusation of transgression disappeared as well. Therefore when the guilt ceased, death also came to an end. Explanation of the Letter to the Romans.
Before the Law Came to an End. Theodoret of Cyr: Paul is not, as some think, accusing those who lived before the law but rather everyone together. When he says before the law he does not mean before the law began but before the law came to an end, because as long as the law was in control, sin retained its force. Interpretation of the Letter to the Romans.
Sin Counted Under the Law of Nature. Oecumenius: When Paul uses the word sin here he is thinking primarily of the transgression of the law of Moses and its commandments, e.g., circumcision, sabbath observance, the food laws, etc. Nevertheless, sin in general already existed in human nature, and it was counted. By this I mean things like murder, robbery, child abuse and so on.... For there was a law of nature which covered things like that. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
5:l4 Death Reigned from Adam to Moses.
Death as Robber. Irenaeus: But the law given by Moses ... really took away death's kingdom, showing that death was not a king but a robber, and it revealed death as a murderer. Against Heresies. 3.18.7.
Adam the Type of the Son. Irenaeus: Paul called Adam the type of the one who was to come because the Word, the maker of all things, had formed beforehand for himself the future dispensation of the human race, in union with the Son of God. God predestined that the first man should be of an animal nature with this in view, that he might be saved in the spiritual nature. For since the Word had preexistence as a saving being, it was necessary that what might be saved should also be called into existence, in order that the being who saves should not exist in vain. Against Heresies. 3.23.3.
The Usurper Reigned. Origen: It seems to me that Paul's description of death and its power may be compared to the entry of a tyrant who wants to usurp the authority of the legitimate ruler and after seizing the entrance to the kingdom by the treachery of the gatekeeper then tries to get public opinion on his side. To a great extent he succeeds in this and can therefore claim that the kingdom belongs to him. It was during the rule of this tyrant that Moses, a leader chosen by the legitimate ruler, was sent to the occupied peoples in order to revoke the laws of the civil administration and teach them to follow the laws of the true king.... This leader did all he could to deliver at least some people from the control of sin and death, and in the end he managed to form a nation composed of those who chose to associate with him. At the command of the king, he instituted sacrifices which were to be offered with a certain solemnity, as was only fitting, and by which their sins would be forgiven. And so at last a part of the human race began to be set free from the rule of sin and death....
Many manuscripts read that death reigned over even those whose sin was not like that of Adam. If this reading is correct, then it may be said that it refers to that death which has kept souls in hell, and we would understand that even the saints have passed away because of this law of death, even though they were not subject to the law of sin. Therefore it may be said that Christ descended into hell not only in order to show that he could not be held by death but also that he might liberate those who found themselves there not because of the sin of transgression but merely because of their mortal condition....
What did Paul mean when he said that Adam was a type of the one who was to come? Was he speaking of some future man who had not yet come when he was writing, or was he thinking about Christ, who would have been in the future from Adam's point of view but was already in the past when Paul was writing? I do not know how Adam can be regarded as a type of Christ, unless it is by contrast.... I think it is better to say that Paul understood Adam as a type of Christ's second coming. Thus just as death has taken control of this age because of the one Adam, and the entire human race has been subjected to mortality, so in the coming age life will reign through Christ, and the entire human race will be blessed with immortality. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
Adam's Eating Not Copied. Cyril of Jerusalem: Paul's meaning is that, although Moses was a righteous and admirable man, the death sentence promulgated upon Adam reached him as well, and also those who came after, even though neither he nor they copied the sin of Adam in disobediently eating of the tree. The Catechetical Lectures. 15.31.
Greek and Latin Manuscript Differences. Ambrosiaster: Although sin was not imputed before the law of Moses was given, death nevertheless reigned in the supremacy of its own seizure of power, knowing those who were bound to it. Therefore death reigned in the security of its dominion both over those who for a time escaped punishment and over those who suffered punishment for their evil deeds. Death claimed everyone as its own, because whoever sins is the servant of sin. Imagining they would get away with it, people sinned all the more and were more prone to wrongdoing because the world abetted it as if it were legal. Because of all this Satan rejoiced, knowing that he was secure in his possession of man, who because of Adam's sin had been abandoned by God. Thus it was that death reigned.
Some Greek manuscripts say that death reigned even in those who had not sinned in the way that Adam had. If this is true, it is because Satan's jealousy was such that death, that is, dissolution, held sway over even those who did not sin.... Here there is a textual difference between the Latin version and some of the Greek manuscripts. The Latin says that death reigned over those whose sins were like the sin of Adam, but some Greek manuscripts say that death reigned even over those whose sins were not like Adam's. Which of the two readings is the correct one?
What has happened is that somebody who could not win his argument altered the words of the text in order to make them say what he wanted them to say, so that not argument but textual authority would determine the issue. However, it is known that there were Latin-speakers who translated ancient Greek manuscripts which preserved an uncorrupted version from earlier times. But once these problems were raised by heretics and schismatics who were upsetting the harmony of the Church, many things were altered so that the biblical text might conform to what people wanted. Thus even the Greeks have different readings in their manuscripts. I consider the correct reading to be the one which reason, history and authority all retain. For the reading of the modern Latin manuscripts is also found in Tertullian, Victorinus and Cyprian. Thus it was in Judea that the destruction of the kingdom of death began, since God was made known in Judea. But now death is being destroyed daily in every nation, since many who once were sons of the devil have become sons of God. Therefore, death did not reign in everyone but only in those who sinned in the same way that Adam had sinned.
Adam was the type of the one who was to come, because even then God had secretly decided to redeem Adam's sin through the one Christ, as it says in John's Apocalypse: The Lamb of God which was slain before the foundation of the world. Commentary on Paul's Epistles.
The Fall Applies to All. Acacius of Caesarea: Paul said this in order to contradict those who thought that the Genesis story of the fall applied to nobody but Adam himself. For here he says that all have sinned, even if not exactly in the same way as Adam, and that the Genesis account applies to all men. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
In What Sense Was Adam the Type of Christ? Diodore: Adam was a type of Christ not with respect to his sin or his righteousness ó in this respect the two men were opposites ó but with respect to the effects of what he did. For just as Adam's sin spread to all men, so Christ's life also spread to all men. Adam was also a type of Christ in another respect. For just as he was the head of Eve, in that he was her husband, so also Christ, being its bridegroom, is the head of the Church. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
Falling from and Returning to Paradise. Jerome: In the transgression of Adam we have all through sin been cast out of paradise. The apostle teaches that even in us who were to come later Adam had fallen. In Christ therefore, in the heavenly Adam, we believe that we who through the sin of the first Adam have fallen from paradise now through the righteousness of the second Adam are to return to paradise. Homilies on the Psalms. 66.
Crux of the Typology. Chrysostom: Adam is a type of Christ in that just as those who descended from him inherited death, even though they had not eaten of the fruit of the tree. So also those who are descended from Christ inherit his righteousness, even though they did not produce it themselves. Homilies on Romans. 10.
Death the Punishment for All Sin. Theodore of Mopsuestia: Death came to all men not because they committed the same sin as Adam but because they sinned.... Death is not just the punishment for one particular sin; it is the punishment for every sin. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
A Type in Reverse. Augustine: This can be understood in two ways: either in the likeness of Adam's transgression, death reigned, or (as surely it must be read) Death reigned over even those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam's transgression but sinned before the law was given. Thus those who received the law may be understood to have sinned in the likeness of Adam's transgression, because Adam also sinned after having received a law to obey.... Adam is the type of the one who was to come but in reverse, for as death came through Adam, so life came through our Lord. Augustine on Romans. 29.
Christ's Good Greater Than Adam's Harm. Augustine: Adam is the type of Christ but in reverse, because the good done by Christ to the regenerated is greater than the harm done by Adam to his descendants. Letters. 157.
We Sin Like Adam, Even If in a Different Way. [Pseudo-]Constantius: Paul wants to show that, although death reigned over everyone before the coming of Christ, it was not able to reign without sin. It reigns over even children, who are not bound by the commandment as Adam was. Paul shows that they sin by their natural condition, because of the weakness of the flesh which was not able to keep the law of God. They did not sin in the likeness of the transgression of Adam, because they sinned against the natural law and not against the commandment as Adam did. How can they be said to be bound when they did not sin in the way Adam did, unless this is meant to show that they were unable to keep the law because of the weakness of their flesh? For it is shown that death reigned over even children, who did not sin as Adam did but did other evil things. They are like Adam in that they sinned, even if they did so in a different way. Adam was the type of the one who was to come, viz., Christ. For just as Adam was the first to transgress the commandment of God and thereby to give an example to everyone who wanted to follow suit, so also Christ, by fulfilling the will of God, is an example to those who wish to imitate him. The Holy Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.
Theodoret of Cyr: Death reigned over even those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam's sin. For even if they did not break the same commandment, they did other things which were wrong. Interpretation of the Letter to the Romans.
Alternative Readings. Pelagius: This may mean that as long as there was no one who distinguished between the righteous and the unrighteous, death imagined that it was Lord over all. Or else it may mean that death reigned not only over those who, like Adam, broke a commandment ó like the sons of Noah who were ordered not to eat the life in the blood or the sons of Abraham, on whom circumcision was imposed ó but over those who, lacking the commandment, showed contempt for the law of nature. Adam was a type of Christ either because he was made by God without sexual intercourse, just as Christ was born of a virgin by the aid of the Holy Spirit, or he was an antithetical type, that is, as Adam was the source of sin so Christ is the source of righteousness. Pelagius's Commentary on Romans.
5:15 God's Grace Abounded for Many.
The Typology Circumscribed. Origen: It makes no difference that Paul said [in verse 12] that sin [corruption, A.M.] spread to all, whereas here he says that the grace and gift of God have abounded for many. In Paul's usage, all and many are almost synonymous.... Yet Paul refrains from saying that all will benefit from the free grace of God, because if men had the assurance that they would be saved, they would not fear God and turn away from evil.
[In this verse] Paul starts to explain how Adam may be regarded as a type of Christ. Any close similarity between them is obviously absurd, which is why he insists that the free gift is not like the trespass.... The judgment on Adam was that through his one sin condemnation came to all men. But in sharp contrast to this, through Christ justification is given to all for the many sins in which the entire human race is bound up. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
Many and All Distinguished. Diodore: At first sight it may seem that this verse contradicts what Paul said [in verse 12] above, for there he spoke of death having come to all humanity, whereas here he says only that many have died. In fact there is no contradiction, because death, although it came upon all because we have all sinned, came only to test and to try everyone. Death does not destroy all sinners automatically but only those who persist in their sins. By saying that many died Paul shows merely that many turned out to be unrepentant in their sins. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
The Gift Unlike the Trespass. Ambrosiaster: Paul said that Adam was a type of Christ, but in order to assure us that they were not alike in substance, he says that the gift is not like the trespass. The only similarity between them is that just as one man sinned, so one man put things right.
If by the trespass of one man many have died by imitating his transgression, how much more has the grace of God and his gift abounded in those who flee to him for refuge! For there are more who have received grace than who have died because of Adam's trespass. From this it is clear that Paul was not talking about ordinary death, which is common to us all, since everybody dies but not everybody receives grace. Death does not reign in everyone. It only reigns in those who have died because of the sin of Adam, who have sinned by a transgression like his. Paul is talking only about these when he says that although many have died because of Adam's sin, many more have received grace.... For both to those who sinned in a way similar to Adam and to those who did not sin in that way but who were nevertheless confined to hell because of God's judgment on Adam's sin, the grace of God has abounded by the descent of the Savior to hell, granting pardon to all and leading them up to heaven in triumph. Commentary on Paul's Epistles.
Whether One Man Should be Punished for What Another Does. Chrysostom: What Paul is saying here seems to be something like this. If sin, and the sin of a single man moreover, had such a big effect, how is it that grace, and that the grace of God ó not of the Father only but also of the Son ó would not have an even greater effects. That one man should be punished on account of another does not seem reasonable, but that one man should be saved on account of another is both more suitable and more reasonable. So if it is true that the former happened, much more should the latter have happened as well! Homilies on Romans. 10.
The Gift Excels. Augustine: The gift excels in two ways: first, because grace abounds much more in that it bestows eternal life even though death reigns in the temporal sphere because of the death of Adam, and second, because by the condemnation of one sin the death of many came about through Adam, whereas by the forgiveness of many sins through our Lord Jesus Christ grace has been given for eternal life. Augustine on Romans. 29.
A Common and Natural Death. [Pseudo-] Constantius: Here Paul clearly teaches that he is not speaking generally of everyone when he says: Many died through one man's trespass, because it is not just sinners but the righteous too who die a common and natural death. The Holy Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.
Misreading the Analogy. Pelagius: The gift is not like the trespass, because one must not give equal value to the type as to the original. Righteousness had more power to bring to life than sin had to put to death. Adam killed only himself and his descendants, whereas Christ freed both those who were then in the body and also succeeding generations. Those who oppose the idea of the transmission of sin try to attack it as follows: If Adam's sin harmed even those who were not sinners, then Christ's righteousness must help even those who are not believers. For Paul says that people are saved through Christ in the same way or to an even-greater degree than they had previously perished through Adam. Secondly, they say: If baptism washes away that ancient sin, those who are born of two baptized parents should not have that sin, for they could not have passed on to their children what they did not possess themselves. Besides, if the soul does not exist by transmission, but only the flesh, then only the flesh carries the transmission of sin and it alone deserves punishment. Declaring it to be unjust that a soul which is born today, not from the lump of Adam, bears so ancient a sin belonging to another, these people say that on no account should it be accepted that God, who forgives a man his own sins, imputes to him the sins of someone else. Pelagius's Commentary on Romans.
One Man. Theodoret of Cyr: Paul calls Jesus a man in this passage in order to underline the parallel with Adam, for just as death came through one man, so the cure for death came through one man as well. Interpretation of the Letter to the Romans.
Why the Obedience is Greater Than the Disobedience. Oecumenius: Christ's obedience was greater than Adam's disobedience in the following sense. Death, which originated with the sin of Adam, had our cooperation in the sins which we all committed, and so it was able to gain control over us. For if men had remained free of all wrongdoing, death would not have been in control. But the grace of Christ has come to us all without our cooperation and shows that the grace of the resurrection is such that not only believers, who glory in their faith, will be resurrected, but also unbelievers, both Jews and Greeks. Something which works in us against our will is therefore obviously greater than something which works in us with our cooperation. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
5:16 God's Gift Brings Justification.
Christ Transformed Many Sins into Righteousness. Diodore: Paul wants to say that it was because of Adam's sin, although it was only one, that God condemned many, on account of the fact that they copied Adam. But the grace of the Lord was measured not according to that one sin but according to the many sins which all had committed. Thus Christ transformed many sins into righteousness. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
Ambrosiaster: There is an obvious difference between the fact that those who have sinned in imitation of Adam's transgression have been condemned and the fact that the grace of God in Christ has justified men not from one trespass but from many sins, giving them forgiveness of sins. Commentary on Paul's Epistles.
The Greater Good of the Free Gift. Chrysostom: The free gift is much greater than the judgment.... For it was not just Adam's sin which was done away with by the free gift but all other sins as well. And it was not just that sin was done away with justification was given, too. So Christ did not merely do the same amount of good that Adam did of harm, but far more and greater good. Homilies on Romans. 10.
The One Great Difference Between Gift and Trespass. Theodore of Mopsuestia: There is one great difference between Adam's sin and God's gift in Christ. Adam's sin brought punishment on all those who came after him, and so they died. But the free gift is different. For not only did it take effect in the case of those who came afterward; it also took away the sins of those who had gone before. It is therefore much greater, because where sin harmed those who came after, grace rescued not only those who came after but those who had transgressed before as well. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
The Effect of the Gift. Pelagius: The effect of the gift is greater than that of the sin. From the sin of one righteous man came the judgment of death. Adam never came across all the righteousness which he destroyed, but Christ discharged the sins of many by his grace. Adam was only the model for sin, but Christ both forgave sins freely and gave an example of righteousness. Pelagius's Commentary on Romans.
5:17 Abundant Grace Reigns.
Where Death Reigned, Abundant Grace Reigns. Origen: Not only will death cease to reign in those who receive the abundance of grace, but two additional benefits will be given to them. First, Christ will reign in them by his life, and second, they will reign along with Christ.
It must be noted that Paul speaks of the abundance of grace, because it is not possible for someone who has received only one grace, i.e., who has pleased God in only one thing, to enter the kingdom of heaven.... Grace is multiplied and abounds if our conversation is always seasoned with salt and our work is done with the grace of humility and simplicity, and if all that we do is done to the glory of God. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
How Much More Will Grace Reign. Ambrosiaster: Paul says that death reigned, not that it is now reigning. Those who understand the limits of the law ó what the future judgment of God will be ó have been delivered from its control. Death reigned, because without the revelation of the law there was no fear of God on earth. But the higher meaning is that, since death reigned from Adam to Moses over those who sinned according to the transgression of Adam, how much more will grace reign by the abundance of God's gift of life through the one Jesus Christ. For if death reigned, why should grace not reign even more, since it has justified far more people than the number over whom death reigned? Commentary on Paul's Epistles.
No Trace of Death. Chrysostom: Paul speaks of an abundance of grace to show that what we have received is not just a medicine sufficient to heal the wound of sin, but also health and beauty and honor, and glory and dignity far transcending our natural state. Each of these in itself would have been enough to do away with death, but when they are all put together in one there is not a trace of death left, nor can any shadow of it be seen, so entirely has it been done away with. Homilies on Romans. 10.
Grace Received in Part, Awaiting Fullness. Theodore of Mopsuestia: Paul shows just how superior grace is to sin, because while death, which came into the world by the sin of Adam, held full sway, the enjoyment of the gift of grace through Christ has been given to us, through which we shall be raised from the dead and in righteousness cease to sin. But we have not yet received it fully; it does not yet hold full sway. We are still waiting for the life to come, even though we now enjoy it in part. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
Augustine: Much more will those reign pertains to eternal life; those who receive the abundance of grace pertains to the forgiveness of many sins. Augustine on Romans. 29.
Pelagius: Righteousness is given through baptism and is not gained by merit. Pelagius's Commentary on Romans.
5:18 Christ's Righteousness Leads to Acquittal.
One Man's Trespass. Acacius of Caesarea: Paul does not mean by this that because one man sinned everybody else had to pay the price for it even though they had not committed the sin, for that would be unjust. Rather he says that from its beginning in Adam humanity derived both its existence and its sinfulness. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
Obedience Overcame Disobedience. Diodore: What was Adam's sin? Disobedience. What was Christ's righteousness? Obedience, by which he obeyed the Father in his incarnation and in his suffering for mankind, as the apostle says: Being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on across. Thus obedience overcame disobedience and the worse was condemned by the better. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
No Universal Acquittal. Ambrosiaster: Some people think that because the condemnation was universal, the acquittal will also be universal. But this is not so, because not everyone believes. Commentary on Paul's Epistles.
No Rebirth Without Spiritual Grace. Augustine: No one is born without the intervention of carnal concupiscence, which is inherited from the first man, who is Adam, and no one is reborn without the intervention of spiritual grace, which is given by the second man, who is Christ. Letters. 187.31.
Whether All Are Punished When Not All Are Justified. [Pseudo-] Constantius: How is it possible for God to condemn all men by the sin of the one Adam when not all men are justified by the righteousness of Christ? But when Paul says all he is not speaking generally but means only a large number of each kind. In other words, everyone who is justified is justified in Christ, just as everyone who is condemned is condemned in Adam, and nobody beyond that will be punished. The Holy Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.
Pelagius: Death reigned, but so also grace reigned through justification. Pelagius's Commentary on Romans.
Contracting the Disease of Sin. Cyril of Alexandria: What has Adam's guilt got to do with us? Why are we held responsible for his sin when we were not even born when he committed it? Did not God say: The parents will not die for the children, nor the children for the parents, but the soul which has sinned, it shall die. How then shall we defend this doctrine? The soul, I say, which has sinned, it shall die. We have become sinners because of Adam's disobedience in the following manner. ... After he fell into sin and surrendered to corruption, impure lusts invaded the nature of his flesh, and at the same time the evil law of our members was born. For our nature contracted the disease of sin because of the disobedience of one man, that is, Adam, and thus many became sinners. This was not because they sinned along with Adam, because they did not then exist, but because they had the same nature as Adam, which fell under the law of sin. Thus, just as human nature acquired the weakness of corruption in Adam because of disobedience, and evil desires invaded it, so the same nature was later set free by Christ, who was obedient to God the Father and did not commit sin. Explanation of the Letter to the Romans.
5:19 Righteousness Through Christ's Obedience.
Why Many, Not All. Origen: Why does Paul say that many were made sinners and not that all were when it is clear that all have sinned, as he has just said himself? It is one thing to sin and another to be a sinner. A sinner is someone who, as a result of much sinning, has got into the habit and, I would dare say, the enjoyment of it. In the same way, a righteous person is not someone who has done one or two acts of righteousness but rather someone who has become accustomed to acting righteously and has righteousness in him by habit. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
The Benefits of Mortality. Chrysostom: How does it follow that from Adam's disobedience someone else would become a sinner? For surely, if this were so, such a sinner would not deserve punishment, since his sins would not be his own fault. What then does the word sinners mean here? To me it seems to mean liable to punishment and condemned to death. Why was this done? Paul does not say, because it was not necessary to his argument.... But if you want to know what I think, I would say this: Far from being harmed or condemned, if we think straight, we shall see that we have benefited by becoming mortal, first because it is not an immortal body in which we sin, and second because we have countless reasons for living a religious life. For to be moderate, temperate, subdued and separated from wickedness is what death, by its presence and the fact that we expect it to come, persuades us to do. But following on these or even before these, mortality has brought many other blessings besides. For it has made possible the crown of martyrdom. ... In fact, neither death nor the devil himself can do anything to harm us. Immortality is waiting for us, and after being chastened for a little while we shall enjoy the blessings to come without fear. This present life is a kind of school, where we are under instruction by means of disease, suffering, temptations and poverty, as well as other apparent evils, in order to be made fit to receive the blessings of the world to come. Homilies on Romans. 10.
Righteousness is for Many, Resurrection for All. Severian: Notice that when Paul talks about sin and righteousness he uses the word many, for not everyone sinned before the coming of the law, nor has everyone who has received grace been justified ó for many are called, but few are chosen. But when he talks about the death and resurrection of the body, he uses the word all. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
By One Man's Obedience. [Pseudo-] Constantius: In this Adam was a type of Christ, because just as by his disobedience death entered the world, so life and resurrection came by the obedience of Christ. The Holy Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.
Whether Some Did Not Sin. Theodoret of Cyr: Note that Paul says many and not all, for we find some among the ancients who did not sin, e.g., Abel, Enoch, Melchizedek, the patriarchs and those who succeeded in keeping the law. On the other hand, after the coming of grace, there were many who continued to embrace an unrighteous and wicked life. Interpretation of the Letter to the Romans.
5:20 Sin Increased, Grace Abounded More.
The Inclination to Excess. Origen: What Paul means here is that after the natural law had already been established ó the law which he calls the law of the mind, which assents to the law of God ó another law arose, the law of our members, which promotes the lusts of the flesh and leads men captive, inclining them to desire and excesses, so that sin may abound in them....
Grace abounded all the more, because not only does it absolve us from the sins which we have already committed, it protects us against sinning in the future. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
Ambrose: When evil had appeared and innocence had been destroyed, there was no one to do good, not even one. The Lord came to restore grace to nature, in fact to give it increase, that where sin abounded, grace might more abound. Letters to Bishops. 25.
The Harm of Knowing What I Cannot Avoid. Ambrose: Sin abounded by the law because through the law came knowledge of sin, and it became harmful for me to know what through my weakness I could not avoid. It is good to know beforehand what one is to avoid, but if I cannot avoid something, it is harmful to have known about it. Thus was the law changed to its opposite, yet it became useful to me by the very increase of sin, for I was humbled. Letters to Laymen. 83.
The Law Increased the Trespass. Diodore: Paul does not mean that the law increased the incidence of sin but rather that once it was given it uncovered sin and showed that it was more widespread than people had thought. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
Whether the Law Should Never Have Been Given. Ambrosiaster: An objector might say: If the law merely served to increase sin, it should never have been given. If there was less sin before the law came, there was no need of the law. Obviously the law was necessary to show that sins, which many thought they could get away with, actually counted before God and so that people might know what they ought to avoid.
How could the law have increased sin, when it warns people not to sin?.. The law began to show an abundance of sins, and the more it forbade them the more people committed them. That is why it is said that the law was given so that sin might increase....
In order to nullify the pride of Satan, who rejoiced in his victory over man, the just and merciful God decreed that his Son would come to forgive every sin, so that there would be more happiness from the gift of grace than there had been sorrow from the coming of sin.... Therefore grace abounded more than sin. Commentary on Paul's Epistles.
Grace Abounded More. Chrysostom; The law was not given in order for sin to abound, for it was given in order to diminish and destroy the offense. But it resulted in the opposite happening, not because of the nature of the law but because of the weakness of those who received it....
Grace abounded much more, because it gave us not only remission from punishment but forgiveness from sin as well, and in addition, new life. Homilies on Romans. 10.
Desire Grew Through the Prohibition. Augustine: By this Paul has clearly indicated that the Jews did not know by what dispensation the law had been given. It was not given in order to bring life, for grace brings life through faith, but the law was given to show with what great and tight chains those who thought they could fulfill all righteousness in their own strength were bound. So sin abounded, both because desire grew more ardent in the light of the prohibition and because the crime of trespass affected those who sinned against the law. Whoever considers the second of the four states of man will understand this. Augustine on Romans. 30.
Why Law Came In. [Pseudo-] Constantius: Here Paul is referring to the law of Moses. For the Hebrews had the natural law, and they received the written law, which is why Paul says that it entered in. For they received the law for greater reward, but when by their negligence they failed to keep it, they fell into greater sin. The Holy Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.
The Medicine of Christ. Cyril of Alexandria: The law entered in so that the many-sided nature of the fall of those who were under the law might be made clear. Nobody could ever be made righteous because of the weakness of human nature. Rather, everyone condemned themselves by their own crimes of transgression. Tire law came as the revealer of our common weakness, so that the human race would appear even more clearly to need the aid of the medicine of Christ. Explanation of the Letter to the Romans.
A Light to the Nations. Theodoret of Cyr: Paul says that the law came in because he wants to show that God did not leave earlier generations destitute of his providence. But he also gave the law to the Jews, so that by their zeal and dedication to godliness they could act as a light to the other nations. Interpretation of the Letter to the Romans.
5:21 Grace Reigns to Eternal Life.
Two Kingdoms. Origen: Paul shows that there are two kingdoms in man. In one of these, sin has taken control and leads to death. In the other, grace reigns through righteousness and leads to life. For it is grace which expels and ejects sin from its kingdom, i.e., from our members. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
Ambrosiaster: Sin reigned when it saw that it was driving sinners into death, in which it rejoiced, in much the same way as grace will reign in those who obey God. Commentary on Paul's Epistles.
No Longer Receptive to Sin. Theodore of Mopsuestia: Paul says that just as sin once ruled us even against our will, because we were so used to it, so now our zeal for God reigns and will reign in us forever. Since we have been made worthy of eternal life through the resurrection and live in true and certain righteousness, we shall no longer be receptive to sin. Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.
[Pseudo-] Constantius: Paul said this because the one who is forgiven more will love more. The Holy Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.