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Christ in Christian Thought

Christ in Christian Thought

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Excerpt from Christ in Christian Thought: Notes on the Development of the Doctrine of Christ's Person

The following chapters, like those contained in the author's former volume, Notes on the Life and Teaching of Jesus appeared originally as monthly instalments of "Study Notes" in the pages of The British Friend, of which he was Editor. The demand for the former volume gives ground for hoping that a good many thoughtful enquirers may welcome this further study of the beliefs in regard to the Person of Christ which were arrived at by early and later Christians. The issue of the book has been delayed for some years, owing to war conditions. In the author's view, the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, and the further doctrine of the Trinity which it was found to involve, are not truths supernaturally communicated to men, concerning matters that transcend human experience; but are in the true sense of the term theories: that is, ideas reached in the legitimate endeavour to explain and rationalise facts of actual experience, outward and inward. These doctrines were the work of human reason, more or less enlightened by the Spirit of God, reflecting on the facts of what Jesus was and what He had done for the inner lives of men. They were, therefore, in the first instance, the expression not of abstract but of concrete truth. But, when Christianity spread among the Gentiles, the Greek intellect, which loved abstractions, largely lost the basis of vivid experience in which the process had begun; and this is why to us the Christian speculation of the creed-building ages seems so often an arid waste. The greatest service which the modern Critical method has rendered to theology is that it has helped to restore the outlines of the concrete Personality of Jesus, and with it the wonder and the awe which led His followers to question who and what He was. And any Christology that is to satisfy the modern mind will necessarily have to make terms with Science, both physical and historical.

Such are the dominant thoughts that have guided these studies.

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