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§ 4. Christian Theology.

As science, concerned with the facts of nature, has its several departments, as Mathematics, Chemistry, Astronomy, etc., so Theology 32having the facts of Scripture for its subject, has its distinct and natural departments. First —

Theology Proper,

Which includes all the Bible teaches of the being and attributes of God; of the threefold personality of the Godhead, or, that the Father, Son, and Spirit are distinct persons, the same in substance and equal in power and glory; the relation of God to the world, or, his decrees and his works of Creation and Providence. Second, —


Which includes the origin and nature of man; his original state and probation; his fall; the nature of sin; the effect of Adam’s first sin upon himself and upon his posterity. Third, —


Including the purpose or plan of God in reference to the salvation of man; the person and work of the Redeemer; the application of the redemption of Christ to the people of God, in their regeneration, justification, and sanctification; and the means of grace. Fourth, —


That is, the doctrines which concern the state of the soul after death; the resurrection; the second advent of Christ; the general judgment and end of the world; heaven and hell. And fifth, —


The idea, or nature of the Church; its attributes; its prerogatives; its organization.

It is the suggestive remark of Kliefoth in his “Dogmengeschichte,” that to the Greek mind and to the Greek Church, was assigned the task of elaborating the doctrine of the Bible concerning God, i.e., the doctrines of the Trinity and Person of Christ; to the Latin Church the doctrines concerning man; that is, of sin and grace; to the German Church, Soteriology, or the doctrine of justification. Ecclesiology, he says, is reserved for the future, as the doctrine concerning the Church has not been settled by œcumenical authority as have been the doctrines of Theology and Anthropology, and that of justification at least for the Protestant world.

The above classification. although convenient and generally received, 33is far from being exhaustive. It leaves out of view the law (or at least subordinates it unduly), or rule of moral duty. This is a department in itself; and under the title of Moral Theology, is sometimes, as in the Latin Church, regarded as the most important. Among Protestants it is often regarded as a mere department of Philosophy.

It has been assumed that Theology has to do with the facts or truths of the Bible; in other words, that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only infallible rule of faith and practice. This, however, is not a conceded point. Same claim for Reason a paramount, or, at least a coordinate authority in matters of religion. Others assume an internal supernatural light to which they attribute paramount, or coordinate authority. Others rely on the authority of an infallible church. With Protestants, the Bible is the only infallible source of knowledge of divine things. It is necessary, therefore, before entering on our work, briefly to examine these several systems, namely, Rationalism, Mysticism, and Romanism.

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