RATIONALISM AND SUPERNATURALISM.
III. Critical Review.
(§ 1). Origin of the Antithesis. Rationalism connotes in philosophy the tendency of thought that lays special stress, not on the matter of experience, but on the products of the human reason, whether these consist of innate ideas or a priori concepts. The opposite principle is empiricism, which makes knowledge simply the reproduction of observed facts in their unity. In theology the term rationalism was first applied to criticism of church doctrine as practised by the Socinians and later by the deists. The real point of its application, however, is the stricter, scholastic form of the theological enlightenment which was assumed in Germany in dependence upon the Wolffian and Kantian philosophies. Rationalism unites itself organically with a universal movement of emancipation from ecclesiastical authority, partly in progress beforehand, and partly contemporaneous, in France and England, but assuming its characteristic type from certain philosophical schools and the German formative environment as a whole. Rationalism in theology has in common with rationalism in philosophy the effort to derive the essential in religious knowledge from reason as an original source, instead of regarding it as something received from some other source. This is in the face of a traditional Protestant theology which maintained that God's revelation was absolutely given and that the employment of reason in dealing with it was instrumental and not critical or normative. Human reason was to engage itself with, and apply the accepted good, without addition or subtraction; but was not entitled to subject it to independent proof, to a resultant reduction, or other essential alteration. For in such case, exactly those elements of church belief would be most affected which were not included in universal thought, but rested wholly on divine revelation. In concentrating the defense of the system of church doctrine necessarily upon certain elements of religious truth held to be supernatural and superrational, there resulted for the opponents of the rationalistic criticism the name of supernaturalists. The first mention of the term that may be traced is in Sokratischen Unterhaltungen über das Aelteste und Neueste aus der christlichen Welt (1789).
(§ 2). Limitation. The antithesis between the two involves the source, mediation, and appropriation of the knowledge of Christian truth. Supernaturalism bases Christianity upon an im- mediate and positive revelation of God. This consists of doctrines to be proclaimed for human salvation which are unattainable by reason of itself; they must be authenticated by miracles and prophecies, and handed down by divinely originated Scriptures. This revelation demands an unconditional recognition of its authority. Rationalism, on the contrary, is convinced that man is pointed also, in satisfying his longing for God, to the use of the reason, which, if rightly employed, affords the knowledge of God in his omnipotent creation, merciful preservation, and just dispensation of reward and punishment. For man's moral nature and happiness no direct divine instruction beyond this is desirable. Miracles and prophecies are not conclusive; for moderate rationalism may exercise a certain measure of indulgence toward what is offered by church tradition, or may even appropriate the same, if this is possible in accordance with its own criteria; but strict rationalism acknowledges no religious knowledge except what is begotten of reason. The question is one of authority: supernaturalism adheres to revelation, rationalism to reason, to determine the content and limit of religious truth. A point in common, however, is the intellectualistic conception of the content of religion. Supernaturalism however does not sound the entire Biblical and Reformation depth and fulness of Christian faith, for instead of unfolding the equation, as given in faith, of the person, free or bound, to the vital movement of revelation, out of the nature of the case, it labors under the burden of establishing the plausibility of an authoritative doctrine. While rationalism represents a one-sided yet clear and simple principle, supernaturalism scarcely escapes the contradiction of submitting its content as teachable doctrine and yet withholding it from the test of reason. Kant pointed out that rationalism and supernaturalism are not mutually exclusive. After his view, a rationalist may be one who holds only a natural religion as morally necessary; a supernaturalist, one who holds belief in a supernatural divine revelation for a universal religion to be necessary. A critical rationalism does not involve necessarily the denial of the reality of all supernatural revelation; such should rather be termed naturalism. Rationalism as such does not dispute the truth and value of revelation per se, but only its claim to absolute authority; while supernaturalism does not contest the competence of the reason absolutely in matters of the religious life, only its right of preestablishing religious truth from itself. While at both extremes, the contradiction was held to be irreconcilable, yet this was more the result of an emphasis of feeling than intellectual discrimination of difference. In order to save its foothold in the Church rationalism knew how to compromise with the assumption of a special revelation accessible to reason, while supernaturalism made far-reaching concessions. Combined types were frequent and were even held to offer the only solution. To deduce the issue of the antithesis as necessary from Protestantism is superfluous, since neither the proof of rationalism nor the method of defense on the part of supernaturalism had then taken definite shape; although it is true that Protestantism consents to, and continually requires proof of, the traditional state of doctrine, without, however, being separable from a historical revelation of redemption.
(§ 3). Two Periods. Before proceeding to outline the history of the movement, it is well to define the limits of the periods of rationalism. While most Protestants place the beginning at the middle of the eighteenth century, G. Frank dates its principle from the birth of the critical philosophy, designating the corresponding movement before Kant as neology. Doubtless Kant, by his theory of knowledge and his moral and religious doctrine, gave the movement of the controversy a new turn and impetus; but it may be questioned whether the difference from the previous efforts of the same kind is sufficient to warrant the distinction of the latter by another term. A common possession of German theology was the method of demonstration of Wolff replacing the traditional ideas with the rational thoughts of universe, God, and man, and the optimistically colored cosmic theory of Leibnitz; and although not concentrated into definite schools as after the time of Kant, yet it was less discursive and unsystematic than Deism (q.v.) This appearance at the middle of the eighteenth century may be taken as the beginning. The second period inaugurated by Kant may be called the critical one in the sense of a closer definition of his position and a sharper accentuation of the question as to the authority of revelation or the autonomy of reason. This period may be characterized as practico-moral, anti-metaphysical, and anti-eudemonistic. The idealistic philosophy of Hegel and his followers is genuinely rationalistic; yet, in comparison with earlier forms it may be included only in a very qualified sense. Hence, there stand forth the two periods indicated, and the movement may be said to have terminated when a more vital view of religion and a more unbiased historical sense crowded the former situation of the problem from scientific theology. From the nature of the antagonism the periods of supernaturalism are the same.
I. Leibnitz-Wolffian: (§ 1). Elements of Promotion. Rationalism comprehends in its origin and extension various theological, philosophical, ecclesiastical, and social movements. An important condition of its forthcoming was (1) the decreasing vitality of orthodox theological scholasticism. Even recourse to the authority of Scripture could not stay the decadence, for the discrepancy between dogma and Scripture became more and more apparent. Then came (2) Pietism with its inward devoutness. To be sure, being non-critical, it domiciled itself in the accepted dogma; yet its indirect effects resulted in the rebound from the fruitlessness of speculation and the preparation of a tremendous subjective groundswell. To release this required only a shattering of the external authority. This was done by (3) the philosophy of Christian Wolff (q.v.). It found no contradiction between reason and revelation. Their spheres are so contiguous that the line of separation is all but effaced. Reason also leads to an absolute being and is capable of a series of intelligible recognitions of it that claim the advantage of being demonstrable. A rational theology arises, which indeed does not comprehend all the knowledge of the divine, but is of greater apologetic serviceableness by virtue of its intellectual derivation. The content of revelation transcends but does not contradict reason. The supernatural afforded by revelation is fundamentally akin to that of reason, and together they form an unbroken series. While the sacrifice of the doctrine of sinful corruption might arouse suspicion among the Pietists (as the school at Halle); on the other hand, by virtue of its demonstrative method, and by integrating theology with intellectual interests as a whole, it won popularity elsewhere, notably after 1730. The movement enthroned the rational element in thought and stimulated confidence in thinking for oneself and in the conviction that the Enlightenment (q.v.) offered the solution of progress. This (4) was reinforced by the influence of the deistic literature of England and France (see DEISM). This was translated and the deistic arguments against the neces- sity of a special revelation, against the exclusive truth of Christianity, and against the inspiration and credibility of the Bible, gained wide acceptance. (In Germany, moreover, the acceptance of the teachings of Leibnitz and Wolff obstructed a more comprehensive influence of the thought of Spinoza.) A German deistic literature also arose. H. S. Reimarus (q.v.; see WOLFENBUETTEL FRAGMENTS) in Schutzschrift für die vernünftigen Verehrer Gottes, a work brought out posthumously by Lessing, opposes, critically, to a revealed, a natural religion. He deems it unthinkable that God reserved his knowledge for the small Jewish people and for a Christianity forming only a minority of the human race. He opposes the account of miracle with the advanced knowledge of nature; and the ethical views of individual Old-Testament narrators, with the requirements of an enlightened morality; and he calls for the renunciation of supernatural revelation in order to rescue more securely natural religion and ethics. A final factor in promoting rationalism (5) was the changed intellectual spirit and literary taste; not so much in respect of the natural sciences as of the development of a doctrine of State and law, away from theocratic notions, basing the civilization of human society upon natural interests and reasonable objects, and demanding, with reference to religion, a broad toleration. This development would affect also the concept of the Church; it would strip away the garb of a divine ordinance, and put in its place either subordination to the general ideal of the State, or voluntary human association.
(§ 2). Biblical Form. The real history of pre-Kantian rationalism is usually opened with J. S. Semler (q.v.). Trained in Pietism and in the philosophy of Wolff, he demanded critical analysis with tradition; moved dogma into the light of historical elucidation, and measured it by the standard of its moral utility, and specially championed a liberal independence of piety from dogmatic fetters. However, he served rather to sound the key-note than to offer the program. J. A. Ernesti (q.v.), conservative in dogmatics and Wolffian supernaturalist in his view of revelation, demanded a grammatical exegesis to the exclusion of all matter foreign to the text. Real rationalism reached its climax in the third generation of this school in K. A. G. Keil (q.v.) and others. More considerate to orthodoxy is J. D. Michaelis (q.v., 3), who employed his inclination to rationalistic interpretation only where no direct dogmatic interest was at stake. The triumphantly advancing historical treatment of Scripture crystallized itself by the formation of the literary method in Biblical introduction (J. G. Eichhorn; q.v.) and in New-Testament textual criticism (J. J. Griesbach; q.v.). Their most significant fruit was the founding of Biblical theology which not only transformed the Scriptural proof of dogma but sought to create a secure foundation for the efforts put forth for the Biblical reduction of dogma. Its beginnings (A. F. Buesching; G. T. Zachariae; q.v.) assume the character of a censorship of church doctrine; the originator of its scientific program, J. P. Gabler (q.v.; De justo discrimine theologc biblic et dogmatic, 1787), and his followers belong to rationalism. With W. M. L. de Wette (q.v.) Biblical theology first enters upon a more historical method. In the field of dogmatics, it was not so easy to break away from tradition shielded within symbols.
(§ 3). Dogmatic and Eudemonistic. A transition method arose characterized by a moderation of the boldest extravagances and by proposing a simple mode of teaching as an alternative for the traditional. Important for the history of dogmatics is J. F. Töllner (q.v.) thoroughly Wolffian in system, but exercising a keen criticism on the single point of Christ's obedience. J. F. Gruner (d. 1778) carried this criticism to a farther extent; recognized in all Christian dogma perverting Platonic and Aristotelian influences; and committed himself to the progress of theology, historical-grammatical interpretation, and the ample use of the reason. A further step in the adaptation of dogmatic material to the rationalizing process was the substitution by theologians of the principle of happiness for the supernatural plan of redemption (eudemonism). As soon as men were convinced that religious knowledge was to a great extent accessible to the reason and that rational knowledge was only unessentially complemented by revelation, the next step was to determine the result upon human life. But by reason was understood not so much an ideal principle as the usual sound common sense, which has its function in the promotion of human happiness. Eudemonism became the material principle in dogmatics, corresponding to the formal principle of rationalism. The preacher no longer sought to prompt the people to a higher idealism, but complacently descended to the discussion of practical interests, such as the benefit of vaccination, of stall-feeding, or how to obtain a quiet sleep; although it is to be said that there was no lack of celebrated pulpit speakers. The corresponding pedagogical theory is philanthropy which aims to advance human happiness along the line of natural development. This was frequently combined with theological, rationalism in the persons of its representatives.
(§ 4). Effect upon Religion. A transcript of the average rationalistic dogmatics of the period is not out of place. Religion was essentially a matter of the reason. Its essence was to guide a man to a reasonable and therefore moral, happy life. Revelation was a supernatural form of instruction which missed its object when it retained mysteries. It must prove itself an expansion of natural knowledge, subject to the criteria of reason. To some, Christianity was the embodiment of reasonable religion, of course in its Biblical simplicity, not in its dogmatic form. Yet this was subject to further reduction, mostly on the principle of expelling individual, local, or temporal admixtures, or on the assumption of the theory that the writer was accommodating his production to the limited intelligence of .his contemporaries. Others held the theory of the potential perfectibility of Christianity (Semler, W. A. Teller, Lessing). This position exhibited a greater measure of historical appreciation than the average rationalism. It thought to derive the picture of Christianity from the sources, employing the representation of the religion of reason as the critical norm. The Old Testament was considered within its time and environment and the Jewish religion was the main source of the elements of the New Testament, which were taken to be less in accordance with reason. The doctrine of Scriptural inspiration was reduced by accepting only the historical material or limiting its function to the place of an auxiliary of the divine Spirit. Miracles were explained by natural causes, by the aid of thunder and lightning, or assuming for the men involved in the miracles knowledge of physics, chemistry, or even pyrotechnics. The principle of parsimony as to miracles offered by J. D. Michaelis gained wide acceptance. Original sin was specially attacked; its guilt was denied, and it was presumed to be merely a limitation of nature (Töllner), a physical corruption to be illustrated, for instance, by the eating of a poisonous fruit (Michaelis). To man was ascribed a capacity to fulfil his moral duties, and all that was left to grace was the function of supporting and acknowledging human virtue. Pre- destination was indignantly repudiated or identified with justification (E. J. Danovius; q.v.). In Christology the doctrine of the two natures was replaced by the assumption of an extraordinary inspiration, on the part of conservatives (C. W. F. Walch; q.v.); rationalists as such maintained a more or less unconditioned moral preeminence of Jesus. On the doctrine of the atonement Ernesti considered the threefold office of Christ a dissection of the simple Biblical view. Töllner disputed the active obedience. Conservative dogmaticians rested on an Arminian theory, while radicals rejected all thought of satisfaction and forgiveness as impossible. The salvation of heathen who work righteousness was conceded. On the doctrine of justification the view of Trent was approximated; on the sacraments, that of the Reformed. In eschatology, only the ideas of immortality and retribution remained.
(§ 5). Defense against Rationalism. The defense against rationalism for this period was not concentrated, and sums itself up (1) in such advocates of traditional orthodoxy as the unconditional authority for the Church as J. B. Carpzov (q.v.) and C. F Sartorius (d. 1785); (2) the supernaturalists of the Wolffian school reconstructed dogma by the use of concessions of this school to revelation, of whom were Jacob Carpov (d. 1768) and S. J. Baumgarten (q.v.); but this compromise position could not long be maintained successfully; (3) the supernaturalism founded by J. A. Bengel (q.v.) sprang from a piety more in keeping with Scripture than the symbolic form of doctrine and bore a scholarly impress; yet his school opposed critical investigation of the Scriptures, and their certainty of the systematic unity of the Biblical body of thought led to the rejection of philosophical admixture. Foremost among these, C. A. Crusius (q.v.) opposed the Leibnitz-Wolffian determinism, optimism, and spiritualism, and unfolded in his "prophetic theology" an integral plan for the history of the divine kingdom. There was (4) a group of apologists who defended the challenged points of Christian religion and philosophy against deism after the fashion of the English anti-deistic apologetic (Gottfried Less, J. G. Rosenmueller; qq.v). C. Bonnet advanced a defense of miracles as preordained modifications of the laws of nature. A noteworthy support was found by these theological efforts of a counterrationalism in the tendency of the literature of the time toward increased spiritual depth. Already Lessing suffered just acknowledgment to pass upon the intellectual effort in church doctrine, confronted the profundity of the doctrine of the Trinity with a speculative interest; and for the civilization of the human race he provided a scheme in which also historical revelation may find an estimable valuation. Justus Moeser (d. 1794) defended positive religion against the abstractions of the representatives of the Enlightenment and philosophers, especially J. J. Rousseau (q.v.). J. G. Herder (q.v.) imparted to a wide circle the impression of the poetical beauty, power, and rich suggestive depth of Scripture..
II. Kantian: (§ 1). Kant's Critique. Kant's critical philosophy recasts the antithesis of rationalism and supernaturalism and invests it with new relationships. The authorities upon which both the criticism and the apology of dogma had relied were overthrown. Natural theology in the meaning of Wolff and the popular philosophy disappears. Before the throne of the pure theoretic reason dogmatic theism and dogmatic atheism are alike dismissed. The idea of God survives as a mere ideal or problematical concept. The moral law alone lifts man above the world of phenomena to the dignity of a rational autonomous being, conscious also of the intelligible order of his environment. In moral conduct rational concepts become practical; freedom is the necessary presupposition of self-determination; immortality is postulated for the perfect attainment of the moral ideal; and the idea of God, for the unity of the phenomenal and ethical worlds. Religion can be based on morality alone. The converse would be fatal to both; it would rob the moral of its autonomy, and religion of its content and purity. Positive religion is, however, not the offspring of pure ethics. Bound up with historical phenomena, it set in motion certain moral basic ideas. It is therefore fitting to develop the historical religion into the pure religion of reason. The religion founded by Christ approximates the religion of reason as closely as is possible for an ecclesiastical faith. Stripped of their historical envelopment the doctrines of sin, satisfaction, regeneration, righteousness, afford ideas fit for every ethical faith. Revelation may thus be said to have pointed out to reason the course which it is compelled to pursue by its own inner laws. If this, however, be granted, revelation loses its further importance. Miracles may be dispensed with, since the religion of reason requires no authentication that addresses the senses. Its historical mediators make room for the ideal truth which they hitherto witnessed, which every man may now find in himself. Revealed religion is materially identical with natural, i.e., pure moral religion. Ecclesiastical faith can serve only as the vehicle of pure religion (moral) and it follows that Scripture must be explained in the light of the latter, no matter how forced this has been.
(§ 2). Effect upon Theology. By this revolution the previous course of rational theology stood fundamentally condemned: its optimism was accused of being shallow; its eudemonism was declared unmoral; and its ratiocination was rejected as presumptuous. The net result, however, is a new rational directive force. A moral interpretation is forced upon Scripture; the historical is considered inconsequent; and revelation is discarded after fulfilling its service. The essential substance of Christianity is to undergo a change. Redemption must give place to an ideal philosophy leaning upon the moral law. The order from grace is transposed. A new and more subtle rationalism could thus follow in Kant's footsteps turning the thought of rational freedom which had a just ground against cosmic law, against religion itself. An interesting commentary on Kant's religious doctrine may be found in the earliest work of J. G. Fichte (q.v.), "Critique of all Revelation" (1792), which represents moral conduct alone as unconditionally necessary, while religion is conditionally necessary only where the moral law falls short of determining, for its own sake, the human will. Revealed religion is then justified only when the efficacy of the moral law is so impeded that it requires sensible supernatural acts to restore it to power, in that it reinforces the authority of the moral law by the authority of God. Such a revelation can not be regarded as impossible, since the natural order is subordinate to the moral.
(§ 3). Differentation. Kant's statements on the relation of Christianity to the religion of reason lent themselves to the support of two opposite views: that historic Christianity has brought into reality the pure religion of reason; or, that the pure religion of reason makes all revelation dispensable. These gave rise to two theological tendencies, both capable of being unified with Kant's critical deductions, inasmuch as he neither unconditionally affirmed nor denied the claims of Christianity to revelation. The one allowed the character of Christianity as revelation to stand, but employed the principle of the reason for its justification and critical simplification; the other took reason as the unconditional critical norm and the adequate source of religious truth as well. The first may be termed critical supernaturalism, while the second beginning with critical rationalism gradually passes over into dogmatic rationalism. The critical supernaturalists, a small group, preferred to accept the synoptic teachings of Jesus as the picture of real Christianity. Foremost of these was J. H. Tieftrunk (q.v.) who interpreted Christian revelation according to moral postulates without, however, resolving it into mere moral truths. Especially does he aim to preserve the position of redemption as presupposed to Christian ethics. By representing the moral ideal in his person, Christ makes possible the realization of the final purpose of the world and he is the foundation of grace without which a happy observance of the moral law is impossible (cf. A. Ritschl). Akin to this K. L. Nitzsch (q.v.) professed the supernatural form of Christianity, treating its content, however, ethically, not in accordance with the empirical but the pure reason. Along the other tendency, critical rationalism first undertook the criticism of traditional religious truth. In the spirit of Lessing and Semler, it sought to ascertain the simple original forms as appearing in the example and proclamation of Jesus. But the other view pushed more and more to the front, that reason was the productive source of religious truth. Thereby natural revelation, which was still retained, was made a mere name for a content of knowledge at all times accessible to the human reason. The chief representative of critical rationalism was H. P. K. Henke (q.v.) who essayed to combat superstition in its threefold form of Christolatry, bibliolatry, and onomatolatry (or dependence on an antiquated terminology and form of doctrine). For him Christian dogmatics had been too discursive in Messianic doctrine, impertinent suppositions of the New-Testament writers, and Platonic representations. In fact only a simple matter is involved; to bring Christ's example and teaching into effect. The proof of the divine origin of this doctrine asserts itself by its correspondence with the principles of reason and by the experience of its inherent truth and excellence. Thus critical simplification serves the necessary course of all religious revelation, to lead revealed religion gradually over into the rational. A similar point of view of starting out with religious faith from the practical reason is taken by J. C. R. Eckermann (d. 1837), with, however, a solicitous concern for "popular religion." He doubts if this can dispense with divinely sent bearers of revelation. In the person of Christ he would admit a mystery, namely, his union with God, never quite to be established.
(§ 4). Post-Kantian Dogmatic Rationalism. Completely dogmatic is the rationalism of J. A. L. Wegscheider (q.v.), who maintained that the progress of history, the knowledge of nature, and philosophy had overtaken supernaturalism. Reason can admit only a natural revelation, such as is manifest in the ordinary course of the world and its action upon human knowledge. He would insist strenuously upon the distinction of rationalism and naturalism, inasmuch as the latter denied all revelation, even the natural. Belief in a supernatural revelation concerns an age of inferior civilization, when, without premonition of the real range of the human intellect, the spontaneous perceptions of truth were misapprehended as divinely wrought. Later such belief proved itself useful in a political and moral way. From this, however, the absolute necessity for such a revelation does not follow. Reason in this sense is evidently not the critical organ in the sense of Kant, who finds the open way to religion only through the moral law; it is thoroughly dogmatic. Beside the moral argument for the existence of God are set up the cosmological, physico-theological, and even the ontological arguments. Moral debility takes the place of radical sin. Christ is the herald of reason and the wholly inspired prototype of man. A labored effort is made to shelter a compromised notion of the concept of forgiveness. Others reject this as morally impossible and not to be represented in the Church (J. F. C. Loeffler; d. 1816). This type of rationalism degenerated to the common or popular type. Its classical memorial is J. F. Roehr's (q.v.) Briefe über den Rationalismus (1813) in which he argues Christianity as the universal religion on the basis of its self-evidence and reasonableness for common human sense and excludes Christology from the religious system.
(§ 5). Post-Kantian Biblical Rationalism. More harsh than in dogmatics appeared the forced and unhistorical rationalistic interpretation of Christianity in exegesis. To the necessity imposed by Kant upon interpretation, of finding the fixed a priori moral truths in Scripture, was now added the object of bringing it into harmony with a clarified view of nature. Thus the narratives of miracle were brought into the light of natural occurrences, for which in addition to the already available means of electricity also magnetic powers were pressed into service. The didactic content was submitted to the accommodation hypothesis. With the assumption that Jesus and his apostles, to facilitate their access, conformed to Jewish representations and the general opinions of the day, it was presumed to distinguish between kernel and husk ad libitum. This was, in fact, nothing else than attributing one's own theory of revelation, as the introducing medium of the truth of pure reason, to the supposed consciousness of the bearers of revelation themselves. Old-Testament exegetes of this order were K. D. Ilgen (d. 1834), W. F. Hufnagel (d. 1830), and H. F. W. Gesenius (q.v.); and in the New Testament, H. E. G. Paulus (q.v.). The influence of this exegesis upon the Evangelical view of history shows itself best in the Leben Jesu of D. F. Strauss (q.v.). Pauline theology had to undergo ethical correction in order to convert faith into fidelity to conviction and justification into spiritual integrity (Paulus). Individual rationalists began to employ mythical explanations (Wegscheider; J, P. Gabler; q.v.). In this second period also rationalism was popularized from pulpit and books of instruction.
(§ 6). Reactionary Supernaturalism. While rationalism prevailed in theological faculties and in learned literature, there were practical religious spirits that devoted themselves to the culture of a strict Biblical Christianity; and there was no total lack of intellectual efforts to defend Biblical revelation and its supernatural character. Such a revelation was accepted by the critical supernaturalism relating itself to Kant; only, however, dependent upon subsequent verification in accordance with reason. Standing out more boldly was a Biblical supernaturalism in league with the Bengel school, advancing the authority of revelation. It proposed to establish the credibility of Scripture as a formal defense for its positive religious content. The result was a mixture of rational and authoritative judgments, whereas in proceeding to the verification of the content of religious truth only the latter would prevail. The best-known representative of this tendency was G. C. Storr (d. 1805), founder of the older Tübingen School (q.v.). In his Theologi Christian (1807) historical proof is advanced for the first time that there are reliable accounts of Jesus in the New Testament. But Jesus himself authenticated his teaching by the claim of divine origin, and he vouched for this by his moral character and miracles. Upon his disciples he conferred the continuation of the office of teaching and promised them the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Paul has the same rank by his own witness and that of other apostles. Consequently, the New-Testament writings possess divine authority. As the New Testament witnesses to the content and canonical estimation of the Old, the entire Bible must be regarded as a book of divine authority, whose requirements are commands of God, and its precepts and accounts are true. After the leap from the human trustworthiness of Biblical authors to the divine truthfulness of the content of Scripture has been made, dogmatic theology is transformed into Biblical, in which dogmatic interests ever voice themselves. In increasing measure, to the formal supernaturalism of this school is yoked a practical moralism adapted from Kant (E. G. Bengel; d. 1826). A less centralized group was formed by the representatives of supernaturalism outside of the Swabian group. F. V. Reinhard (q.v.) discovered in loyalty to Scripture an escape from philosophical skepticism, though his uncertain dogmatics and his vague ethics formed an unwilling tribute to the Zeitgeist. A clarion call for the rallying of supernaturalism was made by Claus Harms (q.v.) in his ninety-five theses at the third centennial anniversary of the Reformation (1817). August Hahn (q.v.) in his De rationalismi . . . vera indole (1827) called attention to the unreserved naturalistic character of rationalism, whose devotees he read out of the Church. The only form of this period that attained to permanency was the Biblical supernaturalism. This is readily understood in part when it is remembered that there was no philosophical system upon which a theology, passing beyond Kant's moral theory, could venture as upon a foundation. The religious philosophy of F. H. Jacobi (d. 1819) indeed assured the right of religious conviction beside rational cosmic perception, but in basing itself upon an immediate divine revelation through a rational feeling it offered no more room for objective historical revelation than Kant's moral idealism itself.
(§ 7). Compromise and Overthrow. Soon after the beginning of the nineteenth century attempts were made to harmonize the antithesis of rationalism and supernaturalism, which resulted in the mixed forms of supernatural rationalism and rational supernaturalism, depending upon the change of emphasis. According to K. G. Bretschneider (q.v.) the former is a historical authentication of the pure religion of reason, and therefore concedes to revelation no influence upon the religious content; and the latter concedes to revelation a supplementation of rational knowledge, in so far as this is non-contradictory. These compounds in name merely serve as a sign of the dissolution of the antithesis. The progress of theology did not advance from these compromises. The problem was shifted to other ground as soon as it became apparent that the intellectualistic formulation of religion and consequently of revelation was irrelevant. Rationalists and their opponents alike had taken for granted that religion originates from the acceptance of a certain sum of prescriptions and doctrines, and under this presupposition, it was a simple alternative whether this body of dogma or theology was natural or revealed. With the collapse of such a foundation, the controversy built thereon, if not entirely void, must at least assume another form. If religion, however, was a peculiar function of the personal life of the spirit essentially different from metaphysics and ethics, then the way was open to see revelation in a freer, more immediate, and personal character. With F. Schleiermacher's (q.v.) Reden (1799) a new view-point was entered which wielded a more comprehensive influence with the appearance of his Der christliche Glaube (1821). With the functions of cognition and practical activity there coordinated itself the realization in feeling of the immediate union of man and God. The revelation on which this union subsisted was not required to be in the form of final doctrine whether natural or supernatural in origin. Guided by the inwardly experienced attracting power of the divine, it was able to appropriate from reality immediately immanent, or accessible by way of history. Thus, the doctrinaire point of view held by rationalism and supernaturalism in common was overthrown. This departure was accelerated by the simultaneous appearance of Romanticism which took in hand the cause of the immediate and original and shunned mere rational analysis as a limitation. It is doubtful, however, if Schleiermacher's theory of religion would singlehanded have produced a basic reform in theological method had it not been paralleled by another reaction, which he represented only in part, namely, the awakening of the historical sense, bringing to light the treasures of the past, and throwing into a more modest balance the materials of the present. The more dogmatic rationalism had lately come into being, and the more emphatically it asserted the momentary perception of knowledge for the reason the more precarious became its insight into the historical contingency of its rational materials that from now on rose to the surface. As for dogmatic supernaturalism, historical research tore away the shield of formal Scriptural authority, compelling it to seek revelation in the course of history, and to recognize its criteria not in outer authenticity, but in its vital intrinsic operation. A final factor to overshadow rationalism in its vague and speculative methods was the development of post-Kantian ideal philosophy with its larger standards of thought and more comprehensive problems (see IDEALISM, II.). Individual combats that mark its steps of decline must be taken as mere episodes. Rationalism was expelled from thought by an altered tendency of the intellectual and spiritual life; and with it, for want of a point of resistance, departed supernaturalism in the historic sense.
III. Critical Review: Turning from the historical to the elementary antithesis between the authoritative and critical conceptions of Christianity, it may be admitted that this has always existed fundamentally in varying forms and continues till now. To Hegel and his speculative school their antagonists opposed the historical. In turn followed the critical method subjecting the accredited facts of historical revelation to the canon of its principles of critical investigation and depriving it of its supernatural form. The more the critical, rational view applied the principle of historical analogy, recognizing that as true and essential which recurs in all religions, the more apologetics was forced upon the rallying-ground of emphasizing the uniqueness and incomparableness of Christianity and to base its absoluteness thereon. However, this further development is not expressible in the terms of the former antithesis. The category of reason as the immanent standard has been replaced by that of the necessary and universal conformity to law; and that of the supernatural, by emphasis upon the newness and originality of the content of life as manifest in history and incorporate in personality. And it is clearly understood that in these not historical investigation as such but faith realizes the divine revelation. As to their comparative value, it may be said that the authoritative and the critical, rational elements in Christian faith are always inseparably united. Faith is conscious of being determined by a creative, authoritative power, and can not come to a positive affirmation of its right and truth without critical proof of its content. Hence, a comparison of this content with the materials of the actual spiritual life--that is, a rational digestion--is always requisite. The one-sided advance of either will always call forth a reaction from the other. Unauthorized and barren is the pretense of either to be the whole truth and thus to prevent the vital synthesis of both elements agreeable to faith. The historical course of evolution has made this clear. Whenever dogmatic rationalism arrogated to itself a monopoly of truth, without need of revelation, it became sterile for theological regeneration. Likewise, whenever supernaturalism denied to reason the examination of its content and proclaimed the historical proof of authority as sufficient, it lost contact with vital religious thinking, because it could no longer show how revealed truth may become personal conviction. Rationalism has pushed the inner unity of revelation with the practical moral states of human soul-life into a clearer light. Especially did the Kantian form not only recognize with an honest enthusiasm the moral magnitude of Jesus and his Gospel, but it brought them to the light of understanding in memorable characters. Supernaturalism, however, gave witness, against the naked intelligibility and superficial self-complacency of the age, to the renewing and liberating power of the historically determined Christian revelation, and preserved the use of its sources.
IV. Supplemental: (§ 1). Deistic Rationalism. The foundation of rationalism in English thought was laid in the scientific spirit introduced by Bacon and Newton, in philosophy by the Cambridge Platonists (q.v.) by reference to immutable and eternal truth, in theology by Samuel Clarke (q.v.) in his ontological demonstration of the being and attributes of God. As a distinctive phenomenon, however, rationalism began with the deistic movement (see DEISM), and was introduced by Lord Herbert of Cherbury (d. 1648) who was satisfied with a religion embracing the existence of God, to be worshiped by virtue and piety, moral sanction operating both here and hereafter, and with the expiation of sin by penitence. Redemptive is thus ignored in favor of natural religion as universally valid. Thomas Hobbes (q.v.) maintained a dual attitude, allowing to the State sovereign authority over its subjects in matters of traditional religious opinion, which after all may be only superstition, yet reserving an esoteric right of private judgment for the enlightened thinker. John Locke (q.v.) was, however, the philosopher through whom came definite emancipation for rational inquiry. Whereas Robert Boyle and Pascal (qq.v.) had differently estimated the claims of reason and faith, Locke adjusted the conflict by subjecting faith to reason. Faith might accept a supernatural revelation, yet reason must judge both the credentials and the contents of the same (Essay concerning Human Understanding, "Reason and Faith "). Rationalism was thus well established as a method of ascertaining truth, a result to which Locke by his essential idealism and his theory of knowledge had made an important contribution. Besides, reason had thrown off the yoke of Roman Catholic authority. The principle of the Reformation was bearing fruit in subjective certainty based on the right of private judgment. Toleration, even if only partial, had opened the door to wider liberty of utterance, in which one discovers the effect of Milton's great plea in Areopagitica, Chillingworth's Religion of Protestants, Jeremy Taylor's Liberty of Prophecying, and Locke's Letters on Toleration. Profound governmental changes had compelled men to find rational ground for their political convictions. Literary and historical criticism of the Bible was establishing positions contrary to traditional beliefs. Calvinists and Arminians were arrayed against each other, ostensibly sheltering themselves behind Scriptural proofs, but really fortifying their tenets with philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. John Toland (q.v.) in his Christianity not Mysterious recognized no revelation which is not wholly luminous to the human intelligence. Anthony Collins (q.v.) in his Discourse of Free Thinking advocated the untrammeled use of the understanding in all religious questions; and he (A Discourse on the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion) and Thomas Woolston (q.v.; Discourses on the Miracles of our Saviour) respectively eliminate the two chief credentials of revelation-prophecy and miracle. Matthew Tindal (q.v.) in Christianity as Old as the Creation reduces revelation to reason, its content the law or light of nature or natural religion as practised by all peoples, additions to which, such as are presupposed in supernatural revelation, would be either superfluous, unintelligible, or false. Shaftesbury (d. 1713; Characteristics) and Thomas Chubb (q.v.; Posthumous Tracts) carried on a sharp polemic against the morality of the New Testament, and Thomas Morgan (q.v.; The Moral Philosopher) against that of the Old Testament.
(§ 2). Anti-Deistic Discussions. The deistic writers called out a series of replies in defense of the traditional beliefs of the Church. Charles Leslie (q.v.; Short and Easy Method with the Deists) laid down four tests to prove the truth of Christianity. Richard Bentley (q.v.), the sharpest critic of the time, pulverized Tindal's claims to scholarship in the Scriptures and in the classics (Remarks by Phileleutherus Lipsiensis). John Norris (d. 1711; Account of Reason and Truth in Relation to the Mysteries of Christianity, London, 1697) found a basis for revelation in the scholastic distinction between things above and contrary to the reason. Peter Brown (d. 1735; Procedure, Extent and Limits of Human Understanding, and Things Supernatural and Divine Conceived by Analogy with Things Natural and Human) maintained the utter disparity between human and divine goodness-a position carried still farther by William Law (q.v.; Works, vol. ii., "The Case of Reason"), that revelation is to be received not from human judgment of its excellence but because God has declared it to be such; reason is thus our capacity to be instructed. John Conybeare (q.v.; A Defence of Revealed Religion) held that there may be distinctions in the divine nature and qualities of divine action of which one can be sure only by revelation, which is not from a human but from a divine source. Daniel Waterland (q.v.; Scripture Vindicated), the most learned writer in defense of the supernatural, in reply to aspersions upon the morality of the Old-Testament actions, whether those of God or of his servants, contended that the sole question is not what we a priori think should have been done, but only what was actually done, which carries its sufficient vindication. William Warburton (q.v.; The Divine Legation of Moses) held that the absence of belief in a future life among the Hebrews, contrary to all other nations and to rational expectation, is accounted for on the ground that God substitutes immediate providential rewards and punishments to the chosen people in the present life-a proof of miraculous intervention. This group of writers must be supplemented by Bishop Butler (q.v.; The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature). Although Butler's work is a reply to Tindal and brought the deistic movement to an end, yet its method is essentially rationalistic, save where he betrays a thoroughgoing distrust of the reason. With the deists he accepts the doctrine of God, a providential order, and a future life of rewards and punishments grounded in reason, and, on the basis of probability, derived from reason and experience, establishes a prejudice favorable to Christianity as a supernatural religion confirmed by external evidences. The argument is purely rational in form, with little reliance on facts drawn from the redemptive order. The discussions of Hume (q.v.; Essay on Miracles, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, and Natural History of Religion) were directed equally against the traditional belief, on the one hand, and, on the other, against the deistic positions. In his argument concerning miracles, ignoring the piecemeal method of Woolston, he attacks the trustworthiness of all testimony which would validate so-called exceptions to universal experience or violations of the natural order. On the question of theism, he recognizes no ultimate cause which surpasses the actual effects experienced in the world; all effects must be matched by equal causes. There is no permanent essential necessity for the existence of a Supreme Being; the ground of the natural world may be in itself. The perfect cause which is required to adjust the inequalities of the present can not be inferred from the existing imperfect conditions. Finally, the natural history of religion discloses the illusory character alike of its beginning and of its ultimate conclusions.
(§ 3). Prophetic and Evangelical Defense. The numerous replies to the attack on prophecy limited prophecy to prediction, treated the Old-Testament passages in relation to those of the New as if the writers described the future with equal facility and detail as the past, and in an arbitrary, uncritical, unhistorical manner found the facts and truths of the New Testament in the Old (cf. E. Chandler, A Defence of Christianity; T. Newton, Dissertations on Prophecy). The attack on miracles was met by the assumption that miracles are not impossible, and that testimony for them comes from reliable witnesses who suffered in behalf of their reports (cf. T. Sherlock, Trial of the Witnesses, London, 1729; N. Lardner, Vindication of Three . . . Miracles, ib. 1729; W. Paley, Evidences of Christianity, ib. 1794). In addition to the representatives of supernatural revelation already mentioned are two other movements-Evangelicalism and Wesleyism. The former as represented by Henry Venn and William Romaine (qq. v.), the latter by the Wesleys and Whitefield (qq.v.), are not a scholastic but a religious phenomenon, depending upon belief in the inspiration, inerrancy, and literal interpretation of the Scriptures, the fall and total corruption of man in sin, and the immediate consciousness of a renewed life originated by the Spirit of God.
In America during this period the chief advocate of supernaturalism as against rationalism was Jonathan Edwards (q.v.). His essay on The Freedom of the Will and his dissertation on Original Sin were a reply to treatises on original sin by John Taylor and by D. Whitby (qq.v.) written from the Arminian point of view, in which, by a use of the Scriptures which prevailed among opponents of rationalism in Great Britain, God is proved to be the efficient cause of all human action.
(§ 4). Entrance of Scientific Method. The course of rationalism for the next fifty years or until about 1830 shows less reliance upon individual names than upon a general movement registered in several directions. Authority whether ecclesiastical or civil in respect of religious beliefs was fast losing its hold, so that everywhere freedom of inquiry became less subject to restraint. The right of the individual consciousness was gradually gaining recognition. The age of experience, of observation, and verification had arrived wherein the slow method of induction was substituted for the "high priori road." In particular, attention is directed to two features affecting positions supposed to rest, one on the Scriptures, the other on philosophy. The beginnings of Hebrew history were subjected to the same criteria as Wolff and Niebuhr had applied to Greek and Roman history. The chief representatives here are Bishop Thirlwall, Thomas Arnold, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Dean Milman (qq.v.). The points on which interest centered were the story of creation, the fall and original sin, miraculous accounts as the burning bush and the sun and moon standing still, the divine authority of the judges, the integrity and authenticity of the Synoptic Gospels, in a word, many of the questions which have since become commonplaces in literary and historical criticism. The impetus to these inquiries was quickened by German scholars like Eichhorn, Michaelis, and Schleiermacher (qq.v.). In philosophical directions the tendencies were either atheistic or social as represented by Bentham, pantheistic or spiritual as represented by Coleridge, agnostic or ethical as represented by James Mill. The empiricism of Locke and Hume, the idealism of Kant, and the individualistic and socialistic teachings of the French Encyclopedists together with the matter-of-fact temper of the English mind were the main forces at work. The Evangelical movement had grown to large proportions; at the close of the eighteenth century it included about five hundred clergy, its chief representative being William Wilberforce (q.v.; Practical View, London, 1797).
(§ 5). Developments 1830-60. In the following period of about thirty years, or until about 1860, appeared a remarkable group of writers, partly theological, partly scientific and literary, by whom the rational temper of English thought was still further refined. Among those of theological significance were John Frederick Denison Maurice, Charles Kingsley, Frederick William Robertson of Brighton, and Benjamin Jowett (qq.v.). Positions already assumed are advanced to yet farther stages. Questions were raised all along the line: Old- and New-Testament criticism, miracles, natural religion, sin, the nature and character of Jesus, atonement, eternal life and eternal death. Other contemporary writings were symptoms of the new spirit, as, e.g., Robert Chambers, Vestiges of the Creation; F. W. Newman, Phases of Faith; R. W. Gregg, The Creed of Christendom; Harriet Martineau, Eastern Life; also Essays and Reviews (q.v.) by several writers. The significance of this movement is understood only when set on the background of religious thought to which it was a protest. The Evangelical party continued the traditions of piety and reliance upon the supernatural which had marked their predecessors. On the inspiration and integrity of the Scriptures, the fall of man and original sin, regeneration, expiation for sin through the death of Christ, miracles both as prophecy and as works of power, and eternal punishment, they were generally agreed, and were vigorous advocates of the same against all rationalistic tenets. In common with the Tractarian party, until the withdrawal of John Henry Newman (q.v.) to the Roman Catholic Church in 1845, they defended the authority of the ancient symbols and church authority in general, and they subordinated reason to faith. Among the representatives of the Evangelicals were Henry Rogers and Isaac Taylor (qq.v.). The Tractarian movement went still farther in its antagonism to rationalism, defending baptismal regeneration, the real presence, exclusive prerogatives of the priesthood derived from the apostles, and authority centering in the Scriptures communicated to the Church. The chief advocates of these positions were Cardinal Newman, Richard Hurrell Froude, Edward Bouverie Pusey, and John Keble (qq.v.). In America the revolt of reason against traditional, authoritative supernaturalism found in Theodore Parker (q.v.) its most learned and outspoken advocate, and in the Unitarian churches its freest opportunity (see UNITARIANS). It was also fostered by Horace Bushnell (q.v.) in the Christian nurture of children as against the prevailing evangelistic methods of conversion, and in the growing emancipation of thought in portions of the Congregational and Presbyterian churches. No new lines of defense of supernaturalism appeared.
(§ 6). Since 1860. Since about 1860 all the rational tendencies previously active have rapidly advanced, accelerated by two new, pervasive, and radically transforming interests-Evolution and Comparative Religion (qq.v.), to which may be added the idealistic philosophy and the new psychology, and the vast extension of the scientific spirit resulting in naturalism. Rationalism has in many instances issued in atheism (cf. A. W. Benn, History of Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century, London, 1906), in others in agnosticism (cf. H. Spencer, First Principles, ib. 1884; T. Huxley, Science and Culture, ib. 1881), and in yet others, where it has not relieved Christianity of all its supernatural elements, thus reducing it to pure theism, it has set it in a wider natural order and interpreted that order no longer as simply mechanical but also as teleological. Perhaps it has influenced apologetics more profoundly than any other branch of theological inquiry, whether the point of view be conservative or liberal (see APOLOGETICS). The traditional dualism of natural and supernatural is indeed in some quarters still maintained; where, however, the divine immanence is seriously held, the line between the natural and the supernatural is disappearing, and the supernatural is the natural viewed from its causal ground or its teleological import. Thus the supernatural is reinstated not as anomalous and shrouded in mystery, but as ultimate source and final end of the rational order (see POLEMICS and THEOLOGY, the end).
C. A. BECKWITH.