BLTC Press Titles


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The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle


Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


Dogmatic Theology: Introduction to dogmatic theology

by Francis Joseph Hall

Excerpt:

The reputation of these divines for consistency and catholic orthodoxy has suffered in consequence, often at the expense of justice. Careful study will justify the contention that the great divines of the seventeenth

century, for instance, were usually sound, even in those matters in which they were most powerfully dominated by controversial animus. Moreover, it may not be denied that Anglicans have enriched catholic theology in various departments.1

Yet the fact remains that no great work of systematic doctrine has yet been produced on Anglican lines, although some excellent manuals have appeared of late. The present writer has already published a brief series of Theological Outlines. It is for others to judge of their value. When this dearth of systematic treatises in Anglican literature is contrasted with the abundance of such works in Latin and in the literature of dissent, the need of works like that here undertaken seems very acute.

II. The Importance of Theology

§ 3. Theology treats of truths which must take the first rank in the circle of things knowable by mankind. As we shall try to show in this chapter, it is the queen of sciences. It is both intrinsically and practically of the greatest value to all, whether considered as a part of liberal education, or in relation to the various departments of human life. But its accurate mastery is especially and vitally necessary for those who are ordained to minister in things pertaining to God.

1 The English Church has reason to honour the memory of such theologians as Hooker, Andrewes, Pearson, Thorndike, Cosin, Bull, Hammond, Beveridge, Waterland, Horsley, Palmer, Newman, Pusey, A. P. Forbes, Archdeacon Wilberforce, Mozley, Liddon, R. C. Moberly and others, whose writings can never become wholly antequated. For a longer list of writers and their more important works, see chap. x. § 21.

§ 4. Liberal education has to do not only with the development of man's intellectual capacity, but also with the cultivation of his higher and religious nature. It includes likewise the attainment of scientific, or systematically ordered, knowledge, such as will make possible a reasonable and just consideration of all the manifold phenomena and problems of human life. Such culture, and such knowledge, requires the inclusion of theology, at least its general rudiments, in a complete curriculum. Man's religious nature cannot be developed rightly and fully apart from the knowledge of God, for religion consists in practical relations with Him. And a survey of the phenomena and problems of life that fails to give adequate attention to those facts and principles which are most fundamental, and which help us to interpret all else, cannot be described as adequate or befitting a man of truly liberal education. One might as well expect to be an intelligent astronomer without mastering the Newtonian law of gravitation, as to be a successful interpreter of nature in general without studying to some extent the science of God. In a very restricted sense it is true that one need not take God into account in the study of particular departments of natural effects and their immediate or secondary causes.1 But this ceases to be true, even restrictedly, so soon as we undertake to co-ordinate all

1 Laplace's remark that he had no need of the theistic hypothesis in his work is well known.

our knowledge in relation to its ultimate principle of unity and interpretation. Many men are debarred from acquiring a liberal education, but those who seek such education need to acquire some mastery of theology. A university which leaves theological science out of its ordinary curriculum is misnamed.1

§ 5. No Christian believer in any event can consistently undervalue theology. It is an accepted truth among Christians that eternal life consists in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ. That is, the life which we begin on earth, and are to continue forever, has for its central peculiarity an intimacy with God, a companionship as of friends.2 Such life involves personal acquaintance with God, and knowledge of our relations to Him, whether past, present, or future. It is only by means of such knowledge that we can learn to love God and enjoy Him forever, whatever else of divine grace, discipline, and spiritual culture may also be necessary. No doubt many souls have come to know God and to love Him without scientific theological study. But it remains true that our knowledge of God is enriched, protected, and often corrected, by such study. The point of view which leads one to disparage scientific theology in this connection involves the disparagement of every science whatsoever. Men can and do "get on" in daily life without studying the natural sciences. But no thought


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