More Resources on Soteriology: The Biblical Doctrine of Salvation

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Article I


Studies in Perfectionism, vol. 1, Benjamin B. Warfield

The historical source from which the main streams of Perfectionist doctrine that have invaded modern Protestantism take their origin, is the teaching of John Wesley. But John Wesley did not first introduce Perfectionism into Protestantism, nor can all the Perfectionist tendencies which have shown themselves in Protestantism since his day be traced to him. Such tendencies appear constantly along the courses of two fundamental streams of thought. Wherever Mysticism intrudes, it carries a tendency to Perfectionism with it. On Mystical ground—as, for example, among the Quakers—a Perfectionism has been developed to which that taught by Wesley shows such similarity, even in details and modes of expression, that a mistaken attempt has been made to discover an immediate genetic connection between them. Wherever again men lapse into an essentially Pelagian mode of thinking concerning the endowments of human nature and the conditions of human action, a Perfectionism similar to that taught by Pelagius himself tends to repeat itself. That is to say, history verifies the correlation of Perfectionism and Libertarianism, and wherever Libertarianism rules the thoughts of men, Perfectionism persistently makes its appearance. It is to this stream of influence that Wesleyan Perfectionism owes its own origin. Its roots are set historically in the Semi-Pelagian Perfectionism of the Dutch Remonstrants, although its rise was not unaffected by influences of a very similar character and ultimate source which came to it through the channels of Anglo-Catholicism. Its particular differentiation is determined by the supernaturalization which it shares with the whole body of modifications introduced by Wesley into his fundamental Arminianism, from which Wesleyanism, in distinction from the underlying Remonstrantism, has acquired its Evangelical character.

The Perfectionist teaching of Ritschl presents a highly individual example of a Pelagianizing Perfectionism quite independent of all either Mystical or Wesleyan influences. Mysticism, with all its works, Ritschl heartily hated; Wesleyanism he, with equal cordiality, despised. But he was a Libertarian of the Kantian variety; and, going here beyond Kant—who would allow the existence of a “radical evil” in men—he would not hear of any such thing as a native bias to sin. On the contrary, every man, according to him, comes into the world with a bias to good, and with the formation of his developed moral character in his own hands. No doubt he conceived that, in the circumstances in which man lives, the moral character which every man forms for himself is inevitably an evil one. Human society therefore, in point of fact, constitutes with Ritschl too, in its phenomenal existence, a “mass of corruption”; and reacts as such on each individual as he enters it, infecting him by a sort of “social inheritance” with its evil. No actual individual thus escapes a bias to evil. But this bias to evil, as it is the product of his own free activity, is capable of being counteracted by the same power which created it. All that is needed is the formation, under a sufficiently strong inducement, of a dominating motive in the opposite direction. Acting freely under such an inducement, the individual is capable at all times (except possibly when finally hardened) of reversing his activities, revolutionizing his character, and thus, in conjunction with others similarly moved (under the influence of whom, indeed, it is that he acts) building up, in opposition to the kingdom of sin, a Kingdom of God, in which he may be “perfect.”

For “substance of doctrine,” this is just the ordinary Libertarian Perfectionism. But Ritschl is nothing if not original; and the peculiarities of his general system of teaching give to his Libertarian Perfectionism a specific form which presents many points of interest.

Already in his doctrine of the will Ritschl goes his own way. We have spoken of him as a Libertarian of the Kantian variety. But he does not follow Kant without dissidence. In his view of the mechanism of willing, he was as clear a determinist as Kant himself. He speaks without hesitation of “determinants” of the will and enumerates them not only as “purposes” and “intentions” but also as “dispositions,” and “impulses” which he does not scruple to call “coercive” (nöthigend).2 His son and biographer does not hesitate to use the strongest language in describing the quality of his determinism, outlining it in such crisp sentences as these:3 “In the particular act of the will there is always included a necessitation (Nöthigung) by the motive. In case of conflict the determination follows the stronger motive. So far, every action (Handlung) is necessary (nothwendig).” Despite this clear determinism, however, Ritschl, like Kant, asserts also that the will has power to determine itself, and actually does determine itself, not only apart from but in opposition to its “determinants.” It is precisely in this power that, in his view, the distinction of the human spirit consists, by which it is separated from mere nature.4 It is the primary element therefore in that Selbstgefühl of which he talks so much, and by which he means not abstract self-consciousness but concrete self-esteem—our sense of our value as a self. “In this self-consciousness, and the estimate we place on self in the exalted moments of our moral willing,” he tells us,5 “we experience the might of our self-determination to the good, regardless of every obstacle whether internal or external.” When this almighty self-determination impinges on those coercive determinants, one would think something would be likely to happen.

Kant sought to escape the contradiction obvious here by removing this undetermined “freedom” into the “intelligible and non-empirical” region. Ritschl will have nothing to do with this evasion. He boldly declares “freedom” to be as much a matter of experience as the determination athwart of which it runs. “Freedom,” he says,6 “is not merely an idea, in accordance with which we pass judgment on our conduct, though this conduct be according to experience not free but necessitated in every act; but freedom is itself experience.” Kant’s doctrine, he affirms, is “theoretically unsatisfactory,” because “it leaves unresolved the contradiction between the subjective claim to freedom, and the objective matter of fact of the causal nexus of action.” Each action is no doubt motived, and is the necessary issue of its motive, and this naturally creates an impression that “freedom” is an illusion. “Yet in varying measures those actions are free, whose motive is a conception of a universal end, which calls a halt to the impulse which is active at the moment.” It is in this formation of a universal end, acting thus as a controlling power over our impulses and inclinations, that Ritschl sees “freedom.” Kant’s doctrine now, he further affirms, “left no possibility open of action’s directing itself according to the law produced by freedom,” and thus was not only “theoretically unsatisfactory” but “practically useless.” It proclaimed a universal empirical determinism. In opposition to this Ritschl asserts an experienced power of the will “to direct itself to the universal moral ultimate end.”

It must be admitted that he merely asserts this power. How, under the determination of ingrained, if not innate, sinful dispositions it can possess it, is left in complete obscurity. It may be allowed that if the will, acting under the sway of sinful dispositions, is nevertheless capable of directing itself “at will” to “the all-embracing end of the Kingdom of heaven” which includes in itself the motive of universal love, and develops out of itself the system of dispositions which involve the moral law—why, then, these dispositions thus formed might act as motives to action, just as the sinful dispositions already holding the field do, and in conflict with them might conceivably overcome them, or might blend with them, as exciting causes, of varying goodness or badness, of action. But how the sinful will can direct itself to its contrary as an end, despite the existing impulses to evil action “determining it at every step,” and form these new dispositions which are to lay a restraining hand on those old dispositions, remains a mystery. It looks as if we were asked to believe that the will, which is at every step determined by dispositions, has in this instance first to create the dispositions by which it is determined, in opposition to the dispositions by which it is at every step determined. This appears to leave something to be desired as an explanation of how a possibility is “left open of action’s guiding itself by the law produced by freedom.” We do not wonder that Otto Pfleiderer speaks contemptuously of Ritschl’s “abstract rationalistic notion of the moral will,” and laughs at his representation of the human spirit “brooding as an abstract, natureless freedom over the chaos of the natural feelings and appetites—with reference to which, to be sure, it remains incomprehensible how it manages to rule over and to order them.”7

Though all explanation of the possibility of the exercise of such an “independent power” of the will fails, however, the assertion of its reality is persistent. It is to Ritschl the condition of responsibility and the essence of the dignity of spiritual existence. Arguing against the doctrine of “original sin,”8 he declares that all ascription to ourselves of responsibility for evil—whether with respect to acts or to habits, or to propensity—depends on our recognition in our several actions of the proof-mark of “the independence of the will.” This, now, he asserts, forbids looking on “the individual action as the dependent accident of a necessary power of inborn propensity.” The scope of this is to assert that we cannot hold ourselves responsible for an inborn disposition which is evil, or for anything that issues from it. We are responsible only for acts of “independent” willing: not then for what we are but only for what we do; or for what we are only so far as it is the result of what we do. And by these acts of “independent willing” for which and for the results of which alone we are responsible, he means very expressly empirical acts of independent willing alone. Kant, he tells us, supposed man to be afflicted with “radical evil”: if we make such an assumption, we cannot ascribe responsibility to ourselves for it “except on the presupposition that it is the result of the empirical determination of the will.” “For,” he adds, giving the reason, “it can be derived neither from the natural origin of every man, nor from a so-called ‘intelligible act of freedom’ ”—coupling thus Paul and Kant in a common condemnation. So far does Ritschl press this assertion of the “independence” of the will, that, applying it to God, he denies that God’s will is the expression of His nature rather than, say, of His “free” purpose. To say that God wills the good because it is good—seeing that He is good in His own nature—is, he argues, to say that “God as will is subject to this righteousness as to a necessity of nature.”9 “The will,” he affirms,10 “to which its direction is given by the presupposed substantive righteousness, is not the self-determination which is becoming to God.” We could scarcely have a stronger declaration that a will determined by dispositions is no will; that the only will worthy of the name determines itself. It would be unworthy of God to act otherwise than “freely” in this sense. We wonder what has become of Ritschl’s psychological determinism.

We wonder also whence we are to obtain assurance of the existence of this power of “free” willing. If not from consciousness, then surely from nowhere. But Ritschl discredits the witness of consciousness in the matter. He admits that, although the particular impulses operate coercively (nöthigend), that does not prevent this, their coercive operation “assuming in the soul the form of conscious self-determination.” He is forced therefore to allow that “conscious self-determination cannot alone be the exhaustive expression of freedom.”11 What is there to supplement it? Ritschl seems to suggest nothing but the assumed requirement of such “freedom” of action as he describes in order to ground responsibility, and the dignity which it confers on spirit as distinguished from “nature,” the sphere of necessary causation. Whether on these grounds or others, however, he asserts its existence; and that with such vigor that, as we have seen, he pushes his psychological determinism in the mechanism of willing completely out of sight, and stands forth as fully fledged a Libertarian as Kant, or even as Pelagius himself.

We have already had occasion to note that Ritschl joins in a common condemnation Paul’s doctrine of original sin and Kant’s doctrine of radical evil. He will not have men come into the world with any entail of sin from any source. But he is not satisfied with Pelagius’ idea of a will poised in indifference. “We cannot at all conceive,” he says,12 “of a will without definite direction to an end.” As then he will not have men come into the world with a bias to evil, he is compelled to teach that they have a bias to good. This he does quite explicitly. All attempts to educate children, he says,13 “rest on the presupposition that there exists in them a general, yet still indefinite, inclination to good”—although he adds that this inclination is without the guidance of comprehensive insight into the good and has not yet been tested in the particular relationships of life. “This,” he says, making his meaning quite unmistakable, “is the reverse of the inclination of the will of the child to evil and of its necessitating power, which is maintained in the doctrine of original sin.”

By this proclamation of the original goodness of children, Ritschl escapes, however, some only, not all, of his difficulties. Among his reasons for rejecting the doctrine of original sin is this one—that it assumes that there is a will previous to its individual acts.14 Is not the same assumption involved in the doctrine of original goodness? If we are to escape this assumption it would seem that we must revert to Pelagius’ absurdity of an abstract will with no determination at all; and how little can be made of that we have only to watch F. A. B. Nitzsch struggling with it to learn.15 Then, there are the facts to be faced. Do infants, in point of fact, come into the world good? “Assuredly,” remarks Pfleiderer,16 “our experience with children” gives us no justification for such an affirmation: “unless we are very blind parents indeed, we discover in them, from their tenderest years onward, that self-will which is in very fact the root and kernel of all evil.” This remark, which is part of a powerful defence of the reality of original sin in the narrow sense of a native impulse to evil, has made a little amusing history, which may not be without its instructive side. Henri Schoen17 repeats it with an added French vivacity. Ritschl, says he, has replaced the profound truth “of the innate egoism of the infant with the natural tendency to the good.” “Such a theory,” he adds, “does great honor to the children which Ritschl has seen grow up around him; we need to confess that those we have known do not confirm it.” Constantin von Kügelgen18 feels it necessary to go out of his way—for he himself agrees with the substance of it—to “brand Schoen’s remark, which is more witty than scientific, that such a theory does great honor to Ritschl’s children, as of a tone not suitable to a learned investigation.” That is as it may be; but we learn meanwhile, somewhat to our surprise, that nobody seems willing to take up with Ritschl’s doctrine of the goodness of infancy. Pfleiderer, Nitzsch, Schoen, von Kügelgen, Wendland,19 men of very varied theological attitudes, all with one voice repel it. We say we learn this with some surprise, for the goodness of childhood has not only long held the place of a fundamental dogma among the sentimentalists, but has invaded the formal teaching of more than one type of religious thought.20

The greatest difficulty with which Ritschl, with his doctrine of the native goodness of man, finds himself confronted arises from the fact of man’s universal sinfulness. For Ritschl fully recognizes the universality of sin and is concerned only to assert that it is the product, in every several individual, of his own voluntary action. He is constrained to admit, of course,21 that as sin enters his life thus only by his own volition, a sinless life-development is a possibility for everyone. But this possibility is actually realized, he asserts, by no one. This is certainly a most remarkable fact for Ritschl to be compelled to recognize. We should on his ground have a priori expected it to be realized by most. Pfleiderer indeed declares,22 justly enough, that “Ritschl has not … shown how any selfish determinations of the will at all can be explained, if there exists in the child by nature only an indefinite impulse towards good.” But Ritschl asserts, as we have seen, the possession by every spiritual being of a power of quite arbitrary willing, in the teeth of any actual inclination. And there is no reason why he should not appeal to it here. Appeal to the possession of this power, however, while it may be thought to justify the assertion of the possibility, can scarcely be considered to justify the assertion of the inevitableness, of its exercise for sinning. It is not enough to account for all men without exception sinning to say that they are all able to sin. We need some account of their using their ability without exception in this particular direction. It is the duty of providing this account which is imposed on Ritschl by his teaching that all men come into the world with a bias to good and yet all men without exception sin.

The strength of Ritschl’s assertion that the universality of sin is only an empirical fact, does not vacate, and is not treated by him as vacating, this duty. If he declares that “it is only by summarizing all experiences that we attain the conviction of the universal sway of sin,”23 he yet represents this universal sway of sin as something which could have been forecast not only as “possible,” but even as “probable,”24 and indeed as “apparently inevitable,”25 “under the given conditions of the development of the human will.” These are most astonishing representations, and seem to throw into grave doubt the primary declaration that every man comes into the world not only without impulse to evil, but with an impulse to good. The justification which is offered for them turns on further representations with regard, on the one hand, to the condition of man when he enters the world, and, on the other, to the conditions into which he enters in the world. To put it broadly, man enters the world preëminently a willing being, and, though inclined to good, too immature to be able to guide his willing wisely. And the world which he enters meets him in his immaturity with manifold temptations. The consequence is that he sins. He sins, of course, voluntarily: sin finds a necessitating (nöthigend) ground neither in the divine world-order, nor in man’s endowment of freedom. But, so far as we can see, says Ritschl, he sins inevitably; certainly sin extends over the whole human race alike as a mode of action and a habitual propensity.26

The particular form which Ritschl gives this general doctrine calls for some remark. In the “Instruction in the Christian Religion,”27 he explains that the factors which bring the universality of sin about, are “the fact that the impulse (Trieb) to the unrestrained (schrankenlos) use of freedom, with which every man comes into the world, meets with the manifold enticements to selfishness which arise out of the sins of society.” Thus it comes about, says Ritschl, that some degree of selfishness takes form in every one “even before the clearness of common self-consciousness is awakened in him.” It has very naturally been pointed out28 that the condition in which man is here represented as coming into the world is scarcely consistent with that which Ritschl ascribes to him when he represents him as endowed with an impulse (Trieb) to good. An impulse (Trieb) to good and an impulse (Trieb) to the unrestricted (schrankenlos) use of freedom are not only not the same thing; they are not even capable of conciliation. He whose action is ruled by an impulse to an unlimited use of freedom is so little the same as he whose action is ruled by an impulse to the good, that he must rather be pronounced to be without moral character altogether. Clearly, when so described, man is conceived as coming into the world merely a willing machine; will has absorbed all other faculties. And it throws a lurid light on Ritschl’s real conception of the will, when we observe him, despite his expressed doctrine of psychological determinism, representing every man as beginning life as mere will, operating in a boundless manner. It sounds very well, no doubt, to hear of that high power of the spirit by which in moments of moral exaltation it can set itself to a good end, and by the sheer force of its moral energy break through the trammels of impulses and habits of evil and do the right. It has a different sound when we hear that this boasted spiritual endowment is merely our natural mode of action, without moral quality; and that all ethical development consists in curbing and shackling it in its vagrant activities. Certainly if this be the condition in which man comes into the world, he is in no sense the architect of his own fortunes. He is the helpless creature of his environment, which constitutes the mould into which, will he, nill he, he runs.

This is, in point of fact, what Ritschl’s teaching comes to. According to him the universality of sin is due to the reaction of the uninformed will to the temptations of social life. In the intercourse of life man, under the temptations acting on his immaturity, becomes sinful before he knows any better. It is the temptations of human society which play here the determining rôle, and Ritschl does not scruple to say that in the environment into which man is thrust he cannot avoid sinning. Sin is “inevitable,” he says, though he does not affirm this dogmatically: sin, says he,29 is “an apparently inevitable product of the human will under the given conditions of its development.” A. E. Garvie30 seizes upon the “apparently” here with a view to breaking the force of the statement. Wrongly: it is inserted, no doubt, in order to soften the admission, but it softens it only to the ear. Dealing with the matter of original sin from the purely empirical standpoint, Ritschl declares that we observe sin to be in point of fact universal, and that this its universality, so far as he can tell, is inevitable. Its inevitableness, he further affirms, is due to the conditions under which the human will develops. These conditions he sums up in the comprehensive term “the kingdom of sin,” which is his name for human society as organized in its sinful development. This kingdom of sin, he says, extends over the whole human race and binds all men together in the incalculable interplay of sinful action.31 The conception is with him an important one, and he develops it with great fulness, and paints in very black colors the baleful influences derived from one another and from the mass, which interact on the individuals, in this evil organism. It is nevertheless just human society under the dominion of sin that he means. Into this evil social environment every man is thrust at birth, and by it he is, in his immaturity, moulded to its own nature. No wonder he becomes at once, with his impulse to unlimited use of his freedom, sinful. It is just a matter of “social inheritance,” which Ritschl substitutes for the idea of natural inheritance. In the old antithesis of nature and nurture, he takes the alternative of nurture; in the old antithesis of heredity and environment, he takes the alternative of environment. His formula for universal sin is just universal freedom plus universal temptation, with the decisive emphasis on the temptation. So decisive indeed is the emphasis on the temptation that the suggestion is even let fall that no resistance is made to it at all. Every man, we are told, is at birth “put into connection with evil, against which his natural will does not contend” at all.32

One of the reasons why we recoil from this explanation of human sinfulness is that it suffers from the ugly logical disease called by the appropriately ugly name of hysteronproteron. This malignant “kingdom of sin,” whence came it? It is itself the creation of human sin. How can it, then, be the creator of human sin? Unless men had sinned before there was any kingdom of sin to infect them with its corruption, there never would have been any kingdom of sin. The kingdom of sin is simply the congregatio peccatorum, and sinners must exist before they can congregate. They bring sin into the congregation, not take it out of it. And that means in the end that the cause of sin must be found in something in the sinner rather than in something in his environment. We shall have to urge, then, still, that the formula of universal freedom plus universal temptation is not adequate to account for universal sin. Freedom plus temptation may be a good average receipt for sinning: that it may be made infallible, something more is needed. That all men are able to sin offers no sufficient account of the use of this ability by them all without exception, under the solicitation of temptation, for sinning. The invariability of the result demands something else than ability to sin in them to account for it. Ritschl, of course, could not fail to recognize so obvious a demand. He meets it by teaching that men come into the world not merely endowed with a freedom of which they have the impulse to make an unlimited use, but terribly handicapped by ignorance of the good—that good to which they have a natural inclination and to which they no doubt would therefore turn if they only knew it. “Ignorance,” writes Ritschl,33 “as experience with children teaches us, is a very important factor in the origination and development of sin. Children, when they enter into the common spirit and life, are not equipped with a knowledge of the good, or of the moral law whether as a whole or in its details.… Rather must they learn the value of the good only in particulars and in the special relations in which they live, since they are quite incapable of comprehending the universal good.… But most precisely in the case of children, the will enters into activity with the clear expectation of an unlimited effectiveness on surrounding objects and relations. In these circumstances, ignorance is the essential condition of the conflict of the will with the order of society as the rule of the good; it is also the condition of the will’s setting itself in revolt against this order.” … We perceive that from Ritschl’s standpoint it is ignorance which is the true fomes peccati. Men do not become sinners fundamentally because they are free, though they are incredibly free; nor because they are tempted, though they are overwhelmingly tempted; but because they are ignorant.

Otto Ritschl repels the representation that all sin is to Ritschl mere ignorance.34 Ritschl teaches, only, he says, that God regards pardonable sin as ignorance.35 Whether there actually exists any such thing as unpardonable sin, however, Ritschl leaves an open question: he can conceive of, but will not affirm, its existence. It is not becoming in us to suppose of any of our fellow men that they have passed in their sin beyond the possibility of salvation. Some may have done so, but “whether there are such, and who they are, lies equally outside of our practical judgment and our theoretical knowledge.”36 We must therefore act on the supposition that all actual sin is in the judgment of God just ignorance.37 Sin thus not only has its origin in ignorance, but always retains its quality as ignorance,38 until—if it ever does so—having become invincible ignorance, it becomes also unpardonable. But though Ritschl seems thus to minimize the ethical evil of sin and the idea of its guilt evaporates in his hands, he yet deals seriously with its moral effects. He paints the moral condition of the kingdom of sin—sin in the mass, as it manifests itself in humanity at large—in sufficiently black colors. With respect to the individual, the sinful act by no means ends with itself;39 it reacts on the will which produces it and creates a sinful propensity.40 Thus the man who came into the world with a bias to good, acquires by his sinning a bias to evil. Ritschl explains41 that, although sin is “no original law of the human will,” it yet—“fixing itself as the resultant of particular cravings and inclinations—becomes in the individual man the principle of the will’s regulation.” He therefore proceeds to speak of sin as “a personal bias (Hang) in the life of every individual,” and is only concerned to assert that it originates as such not from our generation from a sinning ancestor, but, “so far as our observation reaches”—a rather unexpected reassertion of his empirical standpoint here—“in sinful desire and action, which, as such, finds its sufficient ground in the self-determination of the individual will.”

There is such a thing then as a “law of sin” in the will, a law of sin which is nothing less than “an ungodly and selfish propensity”; and this propensity has taken possession of the “whole human race.”42 It is the result of “the necessary (nothwendig) reaction of every act of the will on the bent (Richtung) of the faculty of volition (Willenskraft)”; our actions being evil we could not fail through our “unrestrained repetition of selfish decisions of will” to produce “an ungodly and selfish bias.” This bias may not be so strong as that which is postulated in the doctrine of “original sin”; but it is equally real, and by means of his doctrine of the kingdom of sin, with its involved interaction of sinners, consciously and unconsciously, upon one another, Ritschl labors to show that it is very strong indeed, and may conceivably become, in extreme instances, so strong that all power to the contrary is lost and man becomes in consequence incapable of salvation, since salvation in his view is the effect of free action.43 Whether such men actually exist, as we have already noted, Ritschl declines to decide; but by declining to decide the question of fact he allows that in theory they may very well exist. And this carries with it the recognition of the possibility of sin, acting as a bias, becoming so strong as to exclude all power to the contrary. It is not altogether easy to comprehend how Ritschl, with his descriptions of the depth of the evil which pervades the kingdom of sin, preserves any individual from the full strength of this bias to evil. It must be that, after all, he thinks of sin lightly.

The same ground which we have just run over on the basis of the discussion in “Justification and Reconciliation” is traversed by Ritschl again in the “Instruction in the Christian Religion”44 and naturally to the same effect. “Sins,” we are told here, are fundamentally “evil volitions”; but it is added, “also the corresponding intentions, habitual inclinations and dispositions.” None of these come into the world with us; they are all self-formed. We come into the world sinless and pick up sin in the process of living. It is a social fact; and from all that appears we would not become sinners, if we could be born and reared in a sinless society. That, however, is the case with none of us. Even he who is “born of Christian parents into the community of Christ” is “at the same time put into connection with evil, against which his natural will as such does not contend.” This is a statement which sets us furiously to thinking. We wish to know why we do not contend against the evil of the world—if we are born with a bias to good. And we wish very much to know why, if it is our environment which moulds us, the good environment in the “community of Christ” does not protect us from the bad environment of the kingdom of sin—especially if our native impulse is to good. Ritschl, however, closes his eyes to these things, and tells us flatly that “in every one some degree of self-seeking takes form, even before the clearness of common self-consciousness is awakened in him.” Thus all men, without exception, become sinners, and this means not only that they share in sinful practices, but that they are infected with a sinful bias, which conditions their whole activity. “Even the single sinful act does not by any means come to an end with the act, but continues to work as a disordering or perversion of moral freedom.”45 And no one has committed only a single sinful act; and to the multitude of his acts is added the baleful power of the community’s sin. For “united sin, the opposite to the Kingdom of God, rests upon all as a power, which at least limits the freedom of the individual to good.” From our own sinning, reinforced by the influence of the sinful community, there thus arises a condition of will which suggests the description of an inability to good. Ritschl himself phrases it thus: “This limitation of the freedom [of the individual] by his own sin and by connection with the common condition of the world is, taken strictly, a lack of freedom to good.”46 He will not allow, however, that this “lack of freedom to good” amounts to “the absolute inability to good which the Reformers” taught: though he is able to speak of sin “dominating” the individual. A. E. Garvie is therefore so far wrong when he writes47 that Ritschl, by his denial of original sin, “does not minimise the extent or the potence of sin, but seeks to explain it by an acquired tendency instead of an inherited bias.” It may seem to us that his limitation of the “potence” of sin is illogical; it does so seem to us; but he does so far limit it as to refuse to admit that it ever in fact (he allows it in theory) wholly destroys the power to will the good.

Certainly it very greatly behooved Ritschl, at the cost of whatever inconsequence, to preserve to sinful men as large an ability to good as possible. For, in his rigorous anti-supernaturalism, he has nothing to appeal to for their salvation from sin except their own wills. In the Augustinian system—which gave law to the Reformation—the depths of sin are matched by the heights of grace: by the recreation of the Holy Spirit men dead in sin are raised into newness of life. Johannes Wendland strangely fancies that he is urging a valid criticism against the Reformation doctrine of sin when he asks,48 “Is the moral freedom of man really completely lost?” and answers, “Then there would be no possibility of deliverance; for there would be then nothing for deliverance to take hold of.” The Reformation doctrine not only entails but strenuously asserts that there is nothing in sinful man on which deliverance can “take hold,” and that he is therefore incapable of deliverance save by the recreation of his dead soul by the almighty power of the Holy Spirit. But Ritschl knows no soul to be recreated; and knows no Holy Spirit to recreate it; and in his anti-mystical zeal knows no immediate Divine action of any kind on the human will. What the human will itself in its own unaided powers cannot do for its own recovery from sin, cannot in his view be done at all.

It is Ritschl’s teaching that the soul subsists only in its functions. “We know nothing,” he says,49 “of an in-itself of the soul”; and he explains his meaning by the addition of the words—“of a life of the spirit enclosed in itself, over or behind the functions in which it is active, living and present to itself as a particular entity (Werthgrösse).” This is not a mere obiter dictum but a deliberately announced doctrine, valued precisely because it excludes all talk of “mysticism” in the relations of God to man. Pfleiderer50 charitably supposes that “when he blew this trumpet blast against all ‘mysticism,’ ” Ritschl could scarcely have realized the radical character of the pronouncement he was making; and then draws out its consequences. It makes the unity of the soul an illusion, dissolved into the multiplicity of its functions. And it renders the hope of immortality a delusion. How can there be talk of the immortality of the soul on the basis of a doctrine which allows for the existence of no soul? What is there to hold these functions together when the body decays?51 Garvie brings together what is the gist of these criticisms, in one comprehensive sentence. Ritschl, says he,52 “in his denial of the metaphysical existence of the soul, and his restriction of personal life to the spiritual activities,” “implicitly contradicts the unity and identity of the ‘self,’ the possibility of character, the certainty of immortality.” In Ritschl’s teaching, says Garvie again,53 sweeping a circle with a wider radius, “God is, so to speak, lost in His kingdom, Christ in His vocation, the soul in its activities.”

How Ritschl applies this doctrine of the non-substantiality of the soul, may be observed as well as elsewhere, in a very characteristic passage in which his immediate object is to defend his doctrine of the “Godhead” of Christ from the reproach that it ascribes divinity only to His will and not to His nature.54 Ritschl replies that there is no such distinction: the will is the nature. When we speak of a person’s character, we mean nothing except the state of his will. A good character is a particular state of the will—this state of the will, to wit, the bending of the will to a good and unselfish end with sufficient decision to restrain and govern the natural impulses, which work, presumably, for immoral or at least unmoral ends. When the will forms and pursues a good and unselfish end so as to subordinate and subject the natural impulses to it—then the person is of good character. Whence, now, the will obtains the ability thus to subordinate and subject the natural impulses to itself, or rather to a good and unselfish end formed by itself, we are not told. That there are such impulses requiring thus to be reduced to subjection is itself a notable fact. Ritschl speaks of them as “the predispositions (Anlagen) of the soul.” He tells us that they “correspond in some way to our bodily equipment”; and further that they are “given to us”; and still further that they are “designated as our nature (Naturell).” But now he somewhat strangely adds that it is the allotted task of the created spirit to transform these “predispositions of the soul” into its “obedient instruments.” We speak of this statement as strange, for surely the whole drift of these remarks suggests that we are here contemplating “the created spirit” as such, that is, as it comes into existence, and not only after it has formed for itself a character, and that an evil character. And as it comes into existence, it is in Ritschl’s teaching good, and inclines to good—to become evil only by the action of this very will which we are here told has as its task to obtain the mastery over these dispositions in order that thus a good character may be framed. Let that, however, pass. What Ritschl is teaching here primarily is that our character at any given moment is just the state of our will in that particular stage of the prosecution of this task. In proportion as we have the mastery over our predispositions and are governing them in the interests of a good end—we are good. Who or what, however, is this “we”—“the created spirit”—who thus dominates over the predispositions of the soul? Do not these “predispositions (Anlagen) of the soul” really constitute all the “we” that exists? Must we not have another “we,” with another equipment of dispositions, before we can form a purpose antagonistic to it and dominate it in its interests? We are lost in wonder as to what it is that forms this purpose and dominates the predispositions which are “given” to us, and which are properly called our “nature.” So little can Ritschl get along without a soul that he cannot conduct his discussion a single step without presupposing it.

It will have been already observed that it is not the soul of man alone which is dissolved in the acid of Ritschl’s non-substantial metaphysics.55 The being of God is dissolved in it also. As a matter of course Ritschl knows nothing of a Trinity in the Godhead. And where there is no Trinity, there can be no preexistent Divine Christ, and no personal Holy Spirit. A. E. Garvie, who always gives Ritschl the benefit of a benevolent interpretation, whenever a benevolent interpretation can by any means be made possible, is compelled to allow that with Ritschl “the doctrine of the Trinity does not find any recognition whatever.”56 And Gustav Ecke, whose attitude toward Ritschl is as benevolent as Garvie’s, is equally compelled to aver that we find as little recognition in him of a personal Holy Spirit. “According to Ritschl,” he expounds,57 “by the Holy Spirit there cannot at all be understood a kind of ‘irresistible natural force’ which traverses the regular course of knowledge and the normal exercise of the will.… When Paul makes use of the conception, he designates by it the knowledge of God as Father common to Christian believers and the knowledge of His Son as our Lord; and further the power of right conduct and self-sanctification or the formation of moral character. If the whole ethical praxis is thus deduced from the Holy Spirit, what this means is that the knowledge of God as our Father motives the disposition out of which righteousness and sanctification are produced.”58 The particular passage of Ritschl’s59 which Ecke makes use of here is a fair representative of his customary mode of speech on the subject. He is never weary of asserting that the Holy Spirit is no “stuff” and is not to be conceived in its action after the analogy of a “natural force,” producing effects by its own power. And he as repeatedly explains that it is, in its real nature, just the “knowledge” which is common to the Christian community, and under the influence of which as a motive, the individual Christian sanctifies himself—as is particularly clearly declared in the passage expounded by Ecke. In it we are told that what Paul calls the Holy Spirit is the “power, common to Christians, of righteous conduct and of self-sanctification or moral character-formation, which finds its motive in that complete knowledge of God.”60

In another typical passage61 it is emphatically denied not only that the Holy Spirit is to be conceived as a “stuff”—which is Ritschl’s way of saying a substantial entity—but equally that He is to be thought of as the “Divine means” (göttliche Mittel) of the regeneration of the individual. The state of regeneration or the new life may be placed in close relation to the Holy Spirit, says he; but that “is not to be understood in the sense that each individual is changed by the specific power of God after the fashion of a natural force, but that he is set in motion towards patience and humility as well as to moral activity in the service of the Kingdom of God by the trust in God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which is common to all Christians.” Here it is explicitly denied that it is the Holy Spirit which works that change by which we become Christians and our own trust in God is invoked in His stead. As to the Holy Spirit itself, what is meant by it is “in reference to God Himself,” just “the knowledge which God has of Himself”; and with reference to the Christian community the common “knowledge of God and His counsel towards men in the world,” which is the possession of the Christian community, and which, so far as it is true knowledge, of course “corresponds with God’s knowledge of Himself.” This last fact, namely, that the knowledge which the Christian community has of God corresponds with the knowledge that God has of Himself, is the justification of the common name given to the two knowledges—the “Holy Spirit.”62 The Holy Spirit in the meantime is defined baldly as just a “knowledge”: a knowledge of God, no doubt, but just a knowledge of God. This knowledge may exist in God as subject; or in the Christian community as subject. The individual member of the community, so far as he shares in this knowledge, is affected by it in his feelings and in his acts: it becomes to him a source in him of specific emotions and activities. This is what is meant by “having the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is just the spirit of the community conceived as an influence, swaying the individual; that and nothing more.63

Commenting on the passage which has just been engaging our attention,64 Garvie65 seizes hold of this sentence: “As the power of the exhaustive knowledge of God common to Christian believers, the Holy Spirit is, however, at the same time the motive of the life of all Christians, which as such is necessarily directed to the common end of the Kingdom of God.” On the ground of this sentence he represents Ritschl as teaching that “the Spirit is in the Christian community not only as knowledge, but also as the motive of action”; and that he explains to mean that “the will as well as the mind of God is in the community.” This is quite unjustified. What Ritschl says is that “the Holy Spirit” is the motive of the life of Christians “as the power of the common exhaustive knowledge of God belonging to the believers in Christ.” There is no such thing as a “Holy Spirit” conceived as will, according to Ritschl: in his view the “Holy Spirit” is only a knowledge. And it is, in any case, “knowledge” alone which can act as a “motive”; that is a thing will cannot do. Ritschl makes his meaning particularly clear in the summary paragraph in which he brings the discussion in this place to a close. Nothing objective, he says,66 can be taught about justification and regeneration except this—“that it” (these two things are so one with Ritschl that he uses a singular pronoun and verb) “takes place within the community of believers in accordance with the propagation of the Gospel and the specific onworking of the personal peculiarity of Christ in the community.” These are its productive causes—the proclamation of the Gospel and especially the impression made by the unique personality of Christ. How these causes work the result Ritschl now proceeds to tell us: it takes place, he says, “seeing that there is awakened in the individual faith in Christ, as trust in God the Father of all, and a sense of union rooted in the Holy Spirit—by which the entire world-view and self-judgment in the continuance of the sense of guilt for sin are dominated.” That is to say the proclamation of the gospel and the impression made on men by the personality of Christ bring about their justification and regeneration, briefly, by awakening faith in them.67

Of course this is not to eliminate all “mystery” from the process: it is only to eliminate all that is supernatural. The words in which Ritschl says this have, it is true, been now and then gravely misunderstood—as, for example, by Garvie.68 “How this state is brought about,” Ritschl remarks, “eludes all observation, like the development of the individual spiritual life in general.” He does not mean by this to suggest that there is, or may be, something more at work here than is merely human—something more than knowledge acting as motive. He means only that the manner of working by which this knowledge produces faith, and faith justification and regeneration is, like all other operations of the human spirit, as he expressly says, something which withdraws itself from observation. Accordingly Otto Ritschl, expounding his father’s doctrine of the origin of faith, declares69 that what he emphasizes is that all faith, whether the one becoming a Christian is aware of the connection or not, is called out by impulses which proceed from the Christian community as the vehicle of the Christian proclamation. “How these influences work in individual cases” he continues, “ ‘eludes all observation precisely like the development of the individual spiritual life in general’ ”—quoting our present passage. Thus it appears that this famous sentence does not, in the view of Ritschl’s son, any more than in its own apparent bearing, refer obscurely to the possibility of some direct action of the Holy Spirit taking place in the origin of faith; but only to the operation of influences coming out of the community as “bearer of the word.” It is this that seems to Ritschl mysterious.

It ought perhaps to be added that although Garvie argues here that Ritschl means to posit an operation of God as will on the soul in regeneration, he nevertheless proceeds at once70 to rebuke him precisely because he does not do this, but seeks all the causes of the transformation wrought in what we call regeneration in the subject of it. Garvie himself does not believe that “in the spiritual sphere” causes produce their effects unmodified by the intrusion of free will; a mode of statement which can mean only that he supposes that God the Holy Spirit, operating as will, produces the effects He aims at, in the spiritual sphere, only by the permission of the will on which He operates. “There is a new factor,” he says, “personal freedom, which either coöperates with or opposes itself to the operative cause, and thus decisively modifies the effect”—a remarkable assertion when we reflect that the “other factor” under consideration is Almighty God, and note that what is asserted is that the human will not only modifies but “decisively modifies” the effect which Almighty God attempts to produce. Nevertheless Garvie against Ritschl’s account of the matter argues that “we are not giving a complete account of even spiritual facts, if, because of the importance of this new factor, we recognize only the effects, and refuse to inquire into the causes.” “Yet this,” he says, “is Ritschl’s method.” Surely this is to acknowledge that in his account of “regeneration” Ritschl indicates no “transcendent” cause of the effects observed; and that, in the circumstances, means that he explains the effects wholly within the sphere of human action. The phrase is now let fall71 that in his further remarks Ritschl has no intention of “abandon[ing] this method of exclusive attention to the human activity in the spiritual life”; and the companion phrases occur,72 that Ritschl “appear[s], at least, to deny the indwelling and inworking of the Spirit,” and “in his language at least, fails to recognize the Presence and Power of God’s Spirit in the individual Christian experience.” Surely this is to say that so far as Ritschl has expressed himself he allows for no divine factor in the Christian life. We have nothing to go on, after all, except what he tells us. And surely he must be presumed to mean what he says.

This negative representation, however, instructive as it is in itself, yet falls unhappily short of the truth of the matter. Ritschl not only fails to mention a divine factor in regeneration; he definitely excludes it. R. A. Lipsius speaks not a bit too strongly, despite Ecke’s protest,73 when he declares74 that “the whole course of the Christian life is explained” by Ritschl “ ‘psychologically,’ that is, empirically, without the entrance of a supernatural factor.” Fr. Luther expounds the matter more fully: “There is no question in the Ritschlian theology …,” says he,75 “of a new creation through the Holy Spirit. The Ritschlian system has no place for a Triune personal God, and knows nothing of a salvation resting on the saving operation of this Triune God. Everything in it derives ultimately from human action. Everything is effectuated by a self-activity of a humanity associated in an ethical kingdom and abiding in the condition of nature.76 Everything here is nature, nothing grace, everything man-work, or as the Scriptures call it, ‘law-work,’ nothing the work of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, really and creatively delivering us.” There is nothing on which Ritschl more insists than on what he calls the freedom of faith, by which is meant what we might rather speak of as its absolute arbitrariness. “Faith begins,” says he,77 “in harmony with the law of freedom”—and therefore its coming, he at once adds, is incapable of being predicted or foreseen. It comes, in other words, so far independently of conditions that it cannot be inferred from them. “The change of heart which is to be brought about by God’s love towards sinners,” he says again,78 “must be conceived under the form of freedom of the will”—and then he immediately adds that it cannot take place therefore “when sin, regarded as enmity against God, has reached that degree of self-determination at which the will has deliberately chosen evil as its end.” That is to say, man is salvable only when he is in a position to save himself. So zealous is he for this absolutely arbitrary action of the will that he even tells us79 that “there is in no case either a mechanical or a logical necessity laid upon individuals to join themselves in faith to the existing Christian community.” The language is exaggerated for effect in both members of the sentence. In excluding what he calls a “mechanical necessity” of believing, Ritschl means really to exclude the recreative operation of the Spirit, of which he always speaks in this depreciatory language.80 In excluding what he calls “a logical necessity,” he may appear to be setting aside only such an inducement to believing as will leave open no rational way of escape from it; but he is actually shutting out all really determining inducements whatever. Hermann Weiss is therefore quite right when he says81 that with Ritschl “faith is and remains so exclusively the act of freedom of the subject that the dependence of the Christian on God and Christ becomes a purely external one or an imaginary one.”

We may indeed challenge the possibility—even on Ritschl’s postulates—of such an arbitrary act of faith as, he asserts, takes place. For Ritschl himself, as we have seen, represents the will of sinful man as biased to evil; as so strongly biased to evil, in itself and in its conditioning in the kingdom of sin, as would lead us to suppose it incapable of the act of faith attributed to it. Ritschl himself describes the condition in which man finds himself as one of “unresolved guilt,” “separation from God,” “slavery to the world”—against which combination, he says,82 we “cannot assert ourselves with our own abilities (Mitteln) since it is from it that we receive all the motives to our action and effort.” This certainly appears to attribute to sinful man an inability to good. But we are bound to bear in mind that Ritschl constantly asserts that this inability is not absolute; and that it finally emerges that what is left to man by it is not broken fragments of ability to good but a power of willing which can be called nothing less than plenary. Freedom in this sense is the prerogative of a man as personal spirit.

Ritschl nevertheless recognizes the duty and undertakes the task of making it intelligible how sinful man performs the act which is attributed to him. Naturally a number of modes of expression are employed. What is said reduces ultimately, however, to an appeal to the impression made on him by the personality of Christ and the influence exerted upon him by the Christian community, “the kingdom of God”; and as the former operates only through the latter, in the last analysis his appeal is solely to the influences brought to bear on sinful man in the Kingdom of God. Here too, then, as in the matter of the origin of sin in the individual Ritschl’s recourse is to “social inheritance.” As there man, coming into the world with a bias to good, becomes sinful through association with those who were sinners before him; so here men living in sin and with a bias to evil become righteous through the influence of those who were righteous before them. A difficulty no doubt faces us arising from this very parallel. We have seen that, according to Ritschl, every man comes into the world inclined to good, but, even though he may be born into the Christian community, this inclination to good is invariably and “apparently inevitably” overcome by the evil influences to which he is subjected in human companionship, that is to say, in the kingdom of sin. We can scarcely avoid inferring that the influences of evil in the kingdom of sin are stronger than those to good in the Kingdom of God. And that renders it difficult to understand how men inclined to evil and long immersed in the kingdom of sin, affected deeply by its influences, and more or less hardened in sinning, can be supposed to be able to turn at once to good on entering the Kingdom of God. The solution of the difficulty lies of course in the relative unimportance in Ritschl’s scheme of thought of inducements in this or the other direction, as compared with the ineradicable power of the will to turn itself in any direction whatever. No doubt thus the whole machinery which Ritschl has created—of a kingdom of sin to account for the universal sin of man, of a Kingdom of God to account for the recovery of sinful man—is made nugatory. But the robustness of his Libertarianism is thrown up into a correspondingly high light. How entirely he depends on the will to work the change by which one becomes a Christian, is luridly exhibited by the temptation to which he yields to pronounce children, and the members of backward races, incapable of making it. Christianity is only for the well-developed. Children cannot attain to it: “faith in Christ can be expected only at a riper age.”83 And Christian missions to people in a low stage of culture are at least of doubtful utility. Such peoples can be expected to embrace Christianity only when they have become more capable of entering into its ends.84 These suggestions fall in with the great part which immaturity plays in Ritschl’s idea of the origin of sin; and they are strong attestations, as they are inevitable corollaries, of the decisive part played in his doctrine by his Libertarianism.

But although the significance of “the community” is thus depressed beneath that of “the will,” in Ritschl’s scheme, it is not given an intrinsically unimportant rôle. It is through it that the whole “inducement to action” comes to the will. And therefore in this sense the character of the action taken can be attributed to it. Ritschl can even say85 that the “new birth” or “new begetting by God,” or “the admission into the relation of sonship to God,” which “in its essence coincides with justification as well as with the bestowal of the Holy Spirit”—“all this is again the same with admission into the community.” Thus he reduces the entire list of expressions apparently declaring a divine introduction of the sinner into the new life to mere figures of speech for the eminently human act of entrance into the Christian community; it is the influence of his new environment upon him which alone comes into consideration.86 Where comprehensiveness of statement is sought, it is apt to take some such form as the following. We obtain “forgiveness or justification, reconciliation and adoption into Divine Sonship”—all of which are one—we read,87 “only as members of the religious community (Gemeinde) of Christ, as the result of the incalculable and mysterious interaction between our own freedom and the determining influences of the community (Gemeinschaft)—which (the community) however, is possible, in its nature, only through Christ’s unique life-course in its well-known double aspect, and its continuous operation through all ages.” Here all that enters into the Christian condition is represented as attained by us through our own wills acting under influences brought to bear on us through the Christian community. It is added no doubt that this community itself is a creation of Christ and the influences it exerts are transmitted from Him. But this does not introduce a new influence operative on the sinner—the influence of Christ—distinct from that of the community. In representing the community as the vehicle of the influence of Christ it interposes the community between Christ and the sinner, and reduces the influence of Christ from an immediate to a mediate one, from a possibly supernatural to a natural one. This is not an accidental, it is the calculated, result of Ritschl’s theorizing. He has nothing more at heart than to remove man from all direct contact with God.

It is therefore with unjustified charity in the concessive portion of his statement, that Hermann Weiss says,88 “It is true, Ritschl wishes to avoid making the awaking of faith depend only on instruction or tradition—but really he is unable to find any other way.” Precisely what Ritschl wishes to do is to separate man effectually from all direct relation to God, and in order to do this he subordinates his relation even to Christ to his relation to the community through which alone (never directly and immediately) does the individual have any relation to the revelation of God in Christ and His reconciling work. The result is naturally that throughout all Ritschl’s discussions—which vainly represent themselves as seeking a way between the Scylla of Romish and the Charybdis of Rationalistic conceptions—there looms (as Weiss does not fail to point out)89 a background of essentially deistic thinking and the actual life of the believer is left by God wholly to himself. This is but one aspect of Ritschl’s extreme anti-mystical preconceptions, the effects of which are briefly outlined by Henri Schoen90 in such statements as these: “Ritschl does not speak of a direct relation of the divine Spirit with the individual”; “The relation of man and God ‘ought not to be regarded as immediate; that would be to declare them imaginary (eingebildet)’ ”;91 “Let it suffice us that God acts in the bosom of His Church by the Gospel and by the remembrance of Jesus.”92

Jesus Christ does not live in His Church. It is only His Gospel—the memory of Him—which lives in it and works the conversion of men. Johannes Wendland complains that “Ritschl has never more exactly defined what the community can give the individual, viz., only historical information.”93 The complaint is not well-founded. Ritschl makes it superabundantly plain that it is only “knowledge” which works through the community on the individual, though he magnifies, no doubt, the effects of this “knowledge.” This is the account to give of his reduction of the Holy Spirit just to “knowledge”; and he looks to this “knowledge” to carry the sinner safely out of his own sin into newness of life—to this “knowledge” as the only thing needed to direct the will in its “free” action to which it is at all times competent. It is curious and not a little instructive to observe how widely such a representation, fatally defective as it is, commends itself. Theodor Haering, for example,94 accounts it a special service done by Ritschl that he gives us an answer to “the question, in what way we arrive at faith in Christ.” Ritschl says—through the impression made on us by Christ of being a Revelation of God; by which there is awakened in us at the same time faith in Him and in God. Orthodoxy, says Haering, is helpless here. “To point to the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit, however justifiable this may be, is in the present connexion really an evasion of the question, not an answer.” Thus he sets “the Word and Spirit,” by the conjunction of which alone, “orthodoxy” teaches, is faith wrought, in antagonism to one another, as if Ritschl had the one and “orthodoxy” the other—a very significant revelation of his conception both of “orthodoxy” and of Ritschlian teaching.

Alfred E. Garvie’s reasoning95 moves on much the same lines as Haering’s. Criticizing the critics of Ritschl’s antagonism to all “mystical elements” in Christianity, he writes: “If there is an immediate communion with Christ, or a direct action of the Spirit, unconditioned by the historical revelation, why contend so earnestly for the defence of the New Testament, why preach the gospel in all the world, why maintain the Church and its means of grace? If Christ needs no mediation, and the Spirit uses no agency, why all this effort and testimony? The truth is, that Ritschl and his school are contending for what is recognized practically in all the Christian Churches, the dependence of Christianity on the historical revelation of God in Christ, as recorded in the New Testament.” No, that is but half the truth. The whole truth is that Ritschl in contending for “the dependence of Christianity on the historical revelation of God in Christ” is not neglecting merely, but denying, the dependence of vital Christianity on the immediate operations of the Spirit of God in the heart. The appreciation of “the permanent value and universal significance of the historical revelation” which Ritschl may show (so far as he shows it) must not be permitted to obscure his depreciation—his denial—of the indispensableness of the direct operations of the Spirit of God on the heart, without which even this historical revelation could have no saving effect. Garvie is pleased to play a little96 with the expressions “direct,” “immediate,” as applied to the “action of the Spirit in the soul.” They are not new expressions which James Orr invented: they are the vehicles through which Christians through all ages have given expression to their fundamental faith that (as a very early Christian put it) the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, and cannot know them because they are Spiritually judged. This fundamental Christian confession cannot be vacated by the remarkable suggestion that no part is left for the historical revelation to play, no place remains for the preaching of the Gospel, if there be allowed a direct action of the Spirit “unconditioned” by it. This turns things on their heads. What the New Testament teaches is rather that the saving effect of the historical revelation, of the Gospel, is conditioned by the direct action of the Spirit—a truth which, of course, Garvie has no intention of really denying.97

It is important that we should make clear to ourselves the completeness of Ritschl’s anti-supernaturalism. It is not uncommon to make an exception to its completeness in favor of what is called the revelation of God in Christ, to which the impulse to the Christian life is traced, and the asserted supernatural character of which may therefore be supposed to give a supernatural character to the whole process of salvation. According to Hermann Weiss, for example,98 Ritschl’s system is saved from falling into “a complete Pelagianism,” and the Christian faith becoming in his hands simply “a no doubt respectable but entirely insufficient trust in God in the search after virtue and consciousness of freedom,” only by this circumstance—that he “would recognize a foundation for these dispositions exclusively in a peculiar possession of the Christian community, and would refer this community as Christ’s establishment to God’s positive revelation or arrangement.” “Herein,” says Weiss, “lies the supernatural side of the system.” In saying this, however, Weiss fully recognizes that the supernaturalism recognized is pushed back into the distant past, and, as God is not allowed to act directly on the individual, becomes somewhat illusive. P. Graue,99 while occupying the same general standpoint with Weiss, is still less satisfied with the character of the supernaturalism which he recognizes in Ritschl and feels sure that it is logically insecure. Ritschl, says he, “has left standing the external revelation-fact which lies before us in the existence of Christ. That is the lure which he has thrown out to supernaturalism. From that on, the whole religious life runs on empirically-psychologically. That is his last century Rationalism. But the two do not get on together. This Rationalism swallows up that supernaturalism. How can an exception be made of Christ when in the religious life everything proceeds purely empirically? Already, now, He has for the Ritschlians (scientifically!) only the value of deity; already, now, it is at bottom nothing but the subjective conception of the love of God which Christ gives us; already, now, we can in this Christology speak logically neither of a deity, nor of a divinity, but only—pardon the aesthetically obnoxious term—of a God-for-us-ity of Christ. What prevents our turning away from that too? Our seeing in Christ’s God-the-Father only a subjective reflection of His own loving nature, of His own moral beauty? What prevents our remaining wholly on the earth and making Him to whom the Ritschlian school still ascribes the value of deity, put up with the value of a good moral character? Our rationalizing the Son of God into the son of man? The true logic of the Ritschlian notion of revelation is a denial of all revelation.”100

What Graue presents here as the inevitable drift of Ritschl’s teaching about Christ is really rather the gist of his teaching. Accordingly J. Wendland,101 after surveying the grounds on which Ritschl bases his ascription of the predicate of deity to Christ, very properly declares that they do not in reality suggest that predicate. We may well understand, he says, that out of a feeling of piety for the past, unwillingness to break with the historical tradition and the custom of the Church, Ritschl should wish to retain such a title for Christ. But we can scarcely justify him in doing so, when what he means by it is nothing more than pure god-imaging (gottebenbildlich) humanity. “Particularly unhappy,” he continues, “is Ritschl’s defence of himself against his opponents who charged him with making Christ in the end nothing but a mere man. Ritschl rejoined (p. 397), ‘By mere man (if I should ever use the expression) I should mean a man as a natural being (Naturgrösse), with the exclusion of all characteristics of spiritual and moral personality.’ It follows from this that the deity of Christ is to be grounded in the characteristics of spiritual and moral personality. These, however, are not at all divine but human things.” Whatever we may think of the applicability of Wendland’s closing criticism, it is certainly true that Ritschl’s defence of himself is in its entirety mere evasion and amounts in substance to a confession of judgment. “We, for our part,” writes Leonhard Stählin justly,102 “are unable to discover anything in his Christology that raises it above the level of simple Rationalism. And the appending of the title of deity to the picture of Christ which he has drawn, is a pagan procedure for which no justification whatever is offered.”

Those who insist that Ritschl teaches the proper deity of Christ103 appear to forget that Ritschl himself declined to make any such affirmation. We do not know how “the person of Christ came into being,” he says,104 or “became what it presents itself for our ethical and religious estimation”; that “is no subject of theological investigation”—it is a problem “which transcends every kind of investigation.” Only, we must not combine Him with God His Father; that explains nothing scientifically.105 Let us content ourselves with knowing that He is that being “whose whole vocational activity forms the material of the complete revelation of God present in Him, or in whom the word of God is a human person.” That is to say, what Jesus Christ is, is just the man in whom this complete revelation of God is embodied. There is no question of a preëxistence of Christ here, as indeed there could not be with Ritschl’s view, whether of God or of Christ. Ritschl, it is true, employs the term “eternal” with reference to Him with great freedom.106 He stands, we are told, in an eternal relation with God: He is the eternal object of the love of God; even the phrase “the eternal Godhead of the Son” is not shunned. But the employment of these phrases is accompanied with explanations which rob them of what might have otherwise seemed their natural meaning. Only God, he tells us, “does not become, but eternally is what He is”: only He is “of Himself.” As for Christ—even theological tradition denies to Him self-existence and (in the predication of eternal generation to Him) ascribes Him to “the category of becoming in distinction from being.” So far as this, says Ritschl, we may go with the traditional theology, when we speak of the deity of Christ. So far as this—that Christ is a dependent being who had His origin in time. But we can go with it no further. What Ritschl is doing is giving a new sense to the term “eternal deity,” as ascribed to Christ; a new sense which would necessarily be misunderstood were it not clearly explained. It has meaning only, Ritschl says, with reference to God, not to us. “The eternal Godhead of the Son of God, in the transcription (Umschreibung) of it which has been given, becomes completely intelligible only as object of the divine knowledge and will, that is for God Himself.” What is meant is that “Christ exists for God eternally as the same that He is manifested to us in temporal limitation.” That is to say, He has always, just as He existed on earth, been the object of the divine prevision and predestination. Naturally, only of the divine. Ritschl somewhat unnecessarily adds: “But only for God; for as preëxistent Christ is for us hidden.” We, not being eternal like God, can know things only under the conditions of time and space. God knows from eternity all things in one all-embracing knowledge. The mode of this knowledge is inscrutable; its objects are in a true sense real—that is to say in the eternal, timeless knowledge of God. Christ, therefore, as existing from eternity in this knowledge, has had an eternal preëxistence, in the sense of which it is more customary to speak as a merely ideal preëxistence. Of course the same could equally well be said of everything else. For anything that exists has eternally preëxisted in the divine knowledge and will. At bottom Ritschl is expounding in this passage not a doctrine of Christ’s preëxistence but the doctrine of God’s eternal foreknowledge and decree. This of course has not escaped notice. “Real premundane existence is thus ascribed,” writes Leonhard Stählin,107 “not to Christ, but merely to the divine will as directed to the establishment of the kingdom of God through Christ. As thus defined, however, the divine will is the volition of something that has yet to exist, something therefore which does not yet exist.” “Ritschl,” writes Henri Schoen similarly,108 “teaches the ideal preëxistence of Christ, and Christ is for him the historical person of Jesus. But as, at bottom, a historical person preëxists really or does not preëxist at all, as there is no middle term, Jesus does not preëxist at all. What preëxists is solely the divine intention, the mercy of God. Accordingly, when Ritschl speaks to us of an ideal preëxistence of Jesus, that is only a new expression for the omniscience of God.”

It is something that Ritschl thus relates Christ directly to the divine activities of foreknowledge and foreordination. It does not appear that he relates Him with similar directness to any other divine activities. How He came into being, how He came to be what He was—the bearer of the complete revelation of God, the vehicle of the complete will of God, and therefore the founder of the Kingdom of God—Ritschl warns us it is useless, even noxious, to enquire.109 “How it was possible for such a man to come into existence,” Stählin expounds,110 “is a question which Ritschl declines to answer. ‘So far as one desires to be a Christian, one must recognize as a fact—a given fact, a datum—this relation of Christ to God, declared by Himself and proved even unto death, as also by His resurrection from the dead.111 We must refrain entirely from attempts to get behind this datum—to explain how it came to pass in detail, how it acquired an empirical existence. Attempts of this kind are purposeless, because they are resultless; and being resultless, it is injurious to make them.’ ”112 That Ritschl was careful to leave such questions in what Orr calls “convenient vagueness”113 is full of significance. The plain fact is that his theology had no means at its disposal for solving them.114 With his exclusion of all direct commerce of God with the human spirit—all “mystical fantasies”—he has rendered all revelation in the proper sense of the word impossible, and with it all immediate divine guidance. On this ground Christ cannot be a God-taught man; He must be explained merely as a religious genius. C. von Kügelgen, it is true, declares115 it is unjust to represent it as Ritschl’s view, as Lemme does, “that in Christ too the idea of the moral world-view arose in the same way as in us all—as a consequence of a moral wish or of meditation.” Did not Ritschl, he demands, represent Jesus as “actually experiencing a religious relation to God, theretofore non-existent, and undertaking to introduce His disciples into the same world-view and world-estimate?” The premise and conclusion here certainly do not hang together. That Ritschl represents Christ as the discoverer of a new relation to God and as able to transmit it to a following, says nothing as to his view of how Jesus acquired this new conception of the relation of man to God. And the passage in Ritschl to which von Kügelgen appeals116 also says nothing of it.

This passage says, to be sure, more to the honor of Christ than von Kügelgen extracts from it. It says that Christ is something more to the community which He established than its founder and lawgiver—than “the transitory occasion of His disciples’ religion and the legislator for their conduct, who would be a matter of indifference to them, as soon as His law had been learned.” Ritschl magnifies the abiding influence of Jesus’ person on His followers, the example which it is to them, the inspiration which it brings them. “The task,” he says,” of the real development of the spiritual personality, cannot be conceived rightly or fully apart from the contemplation of the prototype of this human destiny. What therefore we recognize in the historically unique portraiture (Lebensbild) of Christ as the particular value of his existence (Daseins), gains through the peculiarity of this phenomenon, and through its norm-giving bearing on our religious and ethical destiny, the value of a permanent rule, since we at the same time establish that it is only through the arousing and directing power of this person that we are in a position to enter into His relation to God and to the world.”117 These remarks very greatly exalt Christ—in His functions. In this exaltation of His functions, He is separated from other men: He is the originator, they at best the imitators; He is the producer, they at best the reproducers—who apart from His inspiration can do nothing. This is not a small difference, though it be but a difference of degree: a difference of but degree all the more that it is hinted that in reproducing what He has produced we may reproduce it fully. This exaltation of Christ in His functions is even carried so far that it is connected with the predicate of Godhead—though unfortunately these high functions on which this Godhead is based are treated rather as forming its content than supplying its evidence. Nowhere do we get beyond their limit, and therefore nowhere do we get beyond a great man—say the supremely great man, who has found God and found Him completely, and by the power of His unique spiritual energy stamps His own religious image on the hearts of men.

It is necessary to revert for a moment to the hint in Ritschl’s discussion to which we have just called attention in passing, that Christ’s followers may become altogether like Him. Is Christianity adequately described, we may ask, as “the religion of Jesus,” or is its essence to be sought rather in “faith in Christ”? Is Jesus merely our Example, or is He also our Savior? These two antitheses are not quite identical, and we may be advanced in our understanding of Ritschl’s teaching by discriminating between them. Ritschl does not wish to teach that Jesus is only our Example. He vigorously assaults the “advocates of the religion of Jesus,” who seek to “exhaust the significance of Jesus in the scheme of individual imitation.” They overlook, he declares, the fact that Jesus withdraws Himself from imitation “by setting Himself over against His disciples as the author of forgiveness of sins.”118 Ritschl is seeking, formally at least, to preserve to Jesus some shreds of His function as Savior. We use this depreciatory language because it appears that he ascribes saving functions to Jesus only so far as there proceeds from His person an influence which incites His followers to action and gives direction to their action.119 After all, therefore, he conceives of Jesus only as our Example, except so far as he throws the emphasis on His example, less as pattern than as inspiration. Jesus affects us, according to him, only through the impression which the contemplation of Him makes on us—the influence which He exerts upon us; and our Christianity consists in the end, therefore, only in our repeating in our own persons what is found first in Him—unless we prefer to split hairs with Theodor Haering120 and carefully explain that it is not a question of our individual imitation of Jesus but only of experiencing in ourselves after the fashion of a copy (nachbildlich) the childship to God which Jesus promises after the fashion of an original (urbildlich). It remains true that the Christianity of the Christian consists, according to Ritschl, in his presenting in his own life-experience the “piety” which Jesus lived out in His own person. Beyond doubt, he explains, Jesus experienced and testified to His disciples a religious relation to God which had had no exemplification before Him, and made it His task to lead His disciples into this same conception of the world and judgment of self. “This religious determination of the members of Christ’s community is prefigured in the person of the Founder and is grounded on it as the abiding power to all imitation of Him.”121 In point of fact Ritschl therefore brings us back, for the essence of Christianity, to the repetition in His followers of just those simple elements of piety which are given originally in Jesus. His Christianity is just “the religion of Jesus.” And the whole purpose of his main treatise would not be misleadingly described as an attempt to show that those conceptions pronounced by Lagarde122 “apostolical, not evangelical” are really “evangelical” as well as “apostolical,” because “rightly understood” they mean nothing more than following Jesus in thinking of God as mere love, who has no intention of punishing sin, and therefore living no longer in distrust of Him, but in trusting acceptance of His end as our end. Like Jesus, and under the impulse received from him (through the community), we are to live in faith, humility, patience, thankfulness, and the practice of love in the Kingdom of God. Doing so, we shall be divine as He, doing so, was divine. This is to Ritschl the entirety of Christianity: and this is at bottom just a doctrine of “imitation” of the “religion of Jesus.”

It is mere paradox to speak of Ritschl as teaching a supernatural Christianity. “Although he lays little stress on specific miracles,” writes William Adams Brown,123 “Christianity is to Ritschl in a true sense a supernatural religion, for which no adequate preparation or explanation can be found in pre-christian history.” The qualification “in a true sense” really tells the story; its function in the sentence is to guard against its being understood to say that Ritschl’s Christianity is a supernatural one in the ordinary sense of that term. The reason assigned for the supernaturalness of Ritschl’s Christianity is, moreover, ineffective. Ritschl, to be sure, teaches that Christianity came into the world as something new; and we may for our own part believe that, properly considered, that involves its supernaturalness. But there is no reason to suppose that was Ritschl’s opinion: on the contrary, he takes great pains to prevent its attribution to him—and he gives us a Christianity which, despite its sudden advent into the world, is through and through, in its substance, modes of working, and accessories alike, purely natural. It certainly is a meiosis to say that he “lays little stress on specific miracles.” He does not allow the occurrence of any such thing as a “miracle.” “Miracle” with him, as Orr justly tells us,124 “is the religious name for an event which awakens in us a powerful impression of the help of God, but is not to be held as interfering with the scientific doctrine of the unbroken connection of nature.”

Even more paradoxical than Brown’s is Gustav Ecke’s representation.125 According to him Ritschl not only has no intention of excluding the supernatural factor from the course of the development of the Christian life, but actually so suggests it as to compel us to perceive in it his genuine point of view. It is allowed that he is not altogether consistent in the matter. He only sometimes speaks as if he recognized a direct supernatural activity underlying the Christian life, providing indeed its producing cause; recognized it but declined to assert it or to expound it, because, above all else that he recognized about it, is this—that, though it is to be acknowledged, it is a hidden mystery of which nothing whatever can be said, a kind of Ding an sich behind the phenomena of the spiritual life. At other times, it is admitted, he speaks as if there is nothing of the sort to be recognized and the Christian life is to be explained solely out of the natural powers of man’s own spirit. Ecke now declares that, led by considerations of a general character, he is of the opinion that Ritschl is himself only when he speaks in the former fashion. He apparently forgets that even to speak in this former fashion is already to withdraw oneself wholly from the supernaturalism of the Christian life. It is already to treat this supernaturalism, which is only conventionally allowed, as negligible; to take up an agnostic attitude over against it, which, like all agnostic attitudes, is only an indirect way of denying it. It already betrays a rationalistic conception of the processes of the Christian life as ruling the mind, and thus points to the rationalistic mode of treatment which lies by its side as representing the fundamental point of view of the author.

It is true that, after expressing, at least, a complete “agnosticism” with reference to the working of the Holy Spirit on the human spirit, and asserting the consequent necessity of confining ourselves in expounding them to a mere description of the phenomena themselves, Ritschl is able to write such a sentence as this: “In these statements the Holy Spirit is not denied, but recognized and understood.”126 And it is true that after reasserting this “agnostic” attitude in its extremest form, going so far as to declare that “nothing further can be objectively taught” about the justification and regeneration of the individual than that they follow on his acceptance of the gospel as presented to him in the Christian community, he feels justified in striking back waspishly at his critics in the assertion that he too recognizes that there are “mysteries” in the Christian life but that it is his habit when he comes across a mystery to be silent about precisely it.127 Such declarations, however, do not point, as Ecke appears to suppose, to a fundamental supernaturalism of conception on Ritschl’s part, which represents the real Ritschl; but have precisely the contrary meaning. Ritschl is able to neglect whatever supernatural elements in the Christian life he may be thought here and there to suggest that he dimly perceives, and to develop the whole story of its rise and progress without their aid. And even when his language, taken literally, may seem most clearly to carry a supernaturalistic meaning, we cannot fail to know that it is not intended to convey it. This is true for example of the instances which have just been adduced. It is certain that when Ritschl speaks of “mysteries in the religious life” he is thinking of nothing supernatural, but only of the wonders of the natural operations of the human spirit. And it is certain that when he speaks of “recognizing and understanding” the Holy Spirit, he is not thinking of any supernatural Being—a Divine Person who acts as a Power on the persons of believers—but only of the “common spirit” of the Christian community, which in the form of a common knowledge affects the activities of the individual. Facts like these throw a lurid light on the survival in Ritschl’s expositions of expressions which might otherwise be thought capable of bearing a supernaturalistic interpretation.

What these expressions indicate is not that Ritschl was of a divided mind, and spoke now in a naturalistic, now in a supernaturalistic, sense without ever being able to find a point of equilibrium. Still less do they mean that, though working out his system on naturalistic postulates, he remained at bottom a supernaturalist, and that his fundamental supernaturalism occasionally forces itself to the surface. What they mean is simply that Ritschl, though working out a purely naturalistic system, worked it out in the face of, and with a view to commending it to, a supernaturalistically minded community. He therefore clothes his naturalistic system with the terms of supernaturalism, or, to be more precise, of conservative evangelicalism. He himself thought of this procedure as a reminting of the old coin; it is not strange that the evangelical public itself looked upon it as rather counterfeiting it. In point of fact he everywhere employs the old nomenclature of a supernaturalistic theology in order to express—with whatever twisting and straining—his new naturalistic conceptions. The method cannot be said to be a happy one. Henri Schoen, who deals with it gently, points out that Ritschl borrowed, or may have borrowed, it from Hofmann, who, he thinks, in other matters also exerted a certain influence on Ritschl’s development. Hofmann, says he,128 not only compelled the Bible to teach his theology, “but inaugurated a procedure which became that of the Göttingen theologian. Persuaded that his contemporaries would accept his theory more easily if it was clothed in an orthodox form, he preserved the traditional terms, redemption, expiation, satisfaction, only giving them a new sense. He did not wish, at any price, to cast off ‘the uniform of his army,’ that is to say, that of the orthodox party. His object, as he liked to repeat, was ‘to teach old truths in a new form.’ It is possible, with equal right, to reverse the formula, and say that he taught new truths, while employing old expressions. Ritschl expressed indignation at this procedure;129 he imitated it more than once.” He found, in effect,130 “in the writings of Hofmann a valuable lesson in prudence; he could learn from them that, in order to get a truth accepted he must avoid shocking the religious feeling of his contemporaries, and that it is often useful to present new ideas under an old form, that is to say, by preserving the expressions to which pious men are accustomed. The method is dangerous; beyond question, very dangerous: we do not hesitate to repel it when the sense of truth is in danger of being blunted by it.…”

It cannot be denied that Ritschl deliberately adopted this method of commending his naturalistic theology to a suspicious public; or that he pressed his employment of it to an incredible extreme. It would no doubt be a mistake, however, to attribute to him a calculated intention to deceive. He obviously took pleasure in his employment of the consecrated forms of speech and no doubt persuaded himself with more or less success that he had a right to them. We have to reckon here with the peculiarities of his personality, with the special type of his piety, with the sources of his theological system.

Johannes Wendland, in an illuminating page or two, makes us aware131 of the close connection of Ritschl’s theological attitude and development with his strong and proud, angular, and self-assertive character. Hating above all things what he regarded as sentimentality and pious “gush,” seeing religion rather in “doing” than in “feeling,” and priding himself on his “practical” Christianity, he conceived it to be his mission to bring this type of Christianity to its rights as over against the tendency to emotionalism which he marked with disgust in the professionally religious. With this natural temperament, his mind turned with predilection to that ethicizing form of Christian teaching which for more than a century had been regnant in a large section of German thought, and which we know by the general name of Rationalism.132 “In point of fact,” says Leonhard Stählin justly,133 “his system of theology is an attempt to revive in new form the antiquated principles of rationalism, and to establish them on a new basis by means of a theory of cognition suggested by Kant and Lotze, and with the help of elements drawn from Schleiermacher.… It is simply a reconstructed theology of the so-called faith of reason or rational faith (Vernunftglaube), and differs from other attempts of the same kind, not so much in substance as in form and method.… Matters are not altered by simply laying stress on the historical revelation through Christ, as long as Christ has no other significance than that of having first realized that which forms the content of natural religion.” It is not, however, in this philosophic-theological inheritance that his theology found its starting point, although he ostentatiously presents his epistemology as its determining factor. Neither does it take its starting-point from his historical or exegetical investigations, although he ostentatiously lays extended historical and exegetical investigations at its base. His philosophical, historical, and exegetical results are all already dominated by his point of view, which has its roots in his religious peculiarity and the ideal of piety which he cherished and sought to illustrate in his person.

This type of piety he endeavored to impress on the Church as the substance of what it is to be a Christian. It was in its interest that he worked out his theology, and it was in its interests that he turned and twisted the teaching of the Scriptures and of the great Reformers alike, in the determination to wrest from their unwilling lips support for it. Nothing could exceed the eclecticism of his procedure, except it be its violence. He takes from Scripture and Reformers alike what suits his purpose, without the least regard to its logical connection, and then fits it without mercy into his scheme. He himself naïvely betrays how he deals with the Reformers, for example, when he drops the remark:134 “The reformatory ideas are more concealed than revealed in the theological books of Luther and Melancthon themselves.” Neglecting their real teachings he gathered out from their writings such chance remarks as could be made to fit in with his own view of things, and built up from them a new Reformation doctrine which he presented as the only true one. Thus he gave the world a new Naturalism, decked out in phrases borrowed from the Scriptures and Reformers, but as like their system of thought as black is to white, and called it the true doctrine of the Bible and Reformers. This strange procedure has, under his influence, been systematized and men now tell us gravely that the essence of any movement consists of that in it which we can look upon as lasting truth—which, being interpreted, means that in it which we find conformable to our own predilections.135 In Ritschl’s own hands it was rather the result of his overbearing temper, which imposed itself upon the materials of his thought and bent them to his service. So far as this, or something like this, is the true account of the matter, it is not necessary to attribute to him any direct purpose to deceive. The result was the same.



Article II


Studies in Perfectionism, vol. 1, Benjamin B. Warfield

It lies in the very nature of a naturalistic system that it should lay all its stress on the activities of the Christian life. There is nothing else on which it could lay its stress. What man himself does, the influences by which he is brought to do it, and the issue of his activities—this is the circle of topics in which what, by a strange transmutation of meaning, is still called Theology, moves. Ritschl continues to employ the terms reconciliation, justification, forgiveness, adoption, regeneration, sanctification; but they one and all denote in his hands human, not divine, acts; and his whole discussion is devoted to the elaboration of the influences under which man is brought to the performance of them, their nature, and their effects.

According to Ritschl all the influences under which man is brought to the performance of these acts are gathered up, as in their focus, in the person of Jesus Christ; or rather in the great discovery which Christ made of the real relation in which man stands to God, the effective transmission of which to His followers constituted the one object of His life.2 This great discovery is comprehended in the one declaration that God is love and nothing but love, and therefore man has nothing to fear from Him. We do not rest under the Divine condemnation; the Divine wrath does not hang over us; God intends us nothing but good; God will do us nothing but good. This is what Jesus would have us understand and act upon; and this it is by which, if we understand and act upon it, we become Christians with all that that involves. Of course what we are assured of here is that sin has no significance in the sight of God; and what we are exhorted is to treat it as without significance. Bringing us to this attitude to sin and God is the reconciling work of Jesus; our assumption of this attitude is our justification. For when we assume this attitude our distrust of God, the product of our feeling of guilt, passes away; we take our place happily by God’s side; and, assured that He means us only good, we make His end our end and work with Him for its attainment.

We are obviously entangled here in a perfect network of illusions.

There is no such thing as sin. What we call sin is merely ignorance. Our feeling of guilt is therefore an illusion.3 It is really not a sense of ill-desert for sins committed so much as a mere anticipation of the displeasure of God. We are not oppressed by the consciousness that we have done wrong; we are depressed by anxiety lest we shall receive harm. It is less regret than fear which gives it its form. This fear, however, is wholly misplaced. God feels no displeasure towards us and has no intention whatever of punishing our sin. He never has had. He experiences no movement of indignation against us; His whole emotional reaction towards us is love. Our sense of forgiveness is therefore also an illusion. There is nothing to forgive; and God has never been ill-disposed toward us. “If there is no truth in the consciousness of sin, as guilt causing alienation from God,” writes Pfleiderer in an illuminating page,4 “neither can there be any truth in the consciousness of the annulment of guilt and alienation from God or in the forgiveness of sins. A guilt which does not exist except in man’s illusory notion cannot be forgiven; a relation which has never really been interrupted cannot be restored, cannot be reconciled. The conclusion necessarily follows from the estimate of sin as an ignorance which is not deserving of wrath and does not interrupt our relation to God, that the consciousness of reconciliation or of a change from an interrupted to a peaceable relation is an illusion. There cannot occur here a change in the actual relation between man and God; the change lies only in man’s conception of his relation to God so far as he is relieved from his former illusionary notion of this relation or is enlightened as to the absolute erroneousness of his sense of guilt and fear of the angry God.”

In a word, Ritschl’s whole doctrine of sin, guilt, forgiveness, reconciliation moves, not in the realm of realities, but in that of the subjective consciousness. Man feels himself under the Divine condemnation. He is wrong. All he needs is to be assured that he is wrong, and all is well. That is in effect Ritschl’s doctrine of justification. Continuing his searching criticism Pfleiderer points out5 that Ritschl can assign no ground for justification and that the reason is that nothing has really happened in justification. “There is no such essential difference for God between sinners and righteous that the one stands in an entirely different relation to Him from the other.” “In point of fact,” says he, “the key to Ritschl’s doctrine of justification lies here: there is no need for a ground for the justification of the sinner simply because the sinner has never been the object of God’s disfavor, but his sin has been esteemed by God only as the stage of his ignorance. Justification is therefore really nothing but the historical notification, brought about by Jesus, that God is only love and as such is not angry with sinners, and that they may therefore lay aside their fear and distrust of Him. It is no doubt assumed along with this, that those who, as members of the communion of Christ, hear this proclamation and profit by it, will be led by it to adopt the end of God in His Kingdom. How, however, if this assumption be too optimistic? How if it should rather be found that the proclamation of the God whose forgiveness of sins is not accorded on distinct conditions, but whom rather sin does not in the least offend, is understood and utilized by the mass of the members of the community as meaning that they need not make too much of their sin and can exercise their freedom over the world in joyous mastery of the world and enjoyment of the world, undeterred by old-fashioned scruples of conscience? Of course the Ritschlian theologians have no such meaning and purpose. But the danger of a practical consequence of this sort lies so uncommonly close in this theology that it certainly needs to be earnestly considered.”

There can be no sort of question that Ritschl makes the sense which the sinner has of resting under the displeasure of God, the sense which the believer has of having been forgiven by God, illusions. “All reflections about God’s wrath and pity, His long-suffering and patience, His severity and mercy,” he says,6 “are based on the religious adjustment of our individual situation with God in the form of time.” A. E. Garvie7 rightly expounds this to mean, that “subjective changes in our own spiritual state, which is conditioned by the lapse of time, are explained by us as due to objective changes in God’s relation to us, although God is not Himself subject to the condition of time.” But this is not all that it means. Ritschl is really employing the idea of the eternity of God to ground the denial of the presence in Him of any such emotion as wrath or any such quality as vindicatory justice, it being a maxim with him that wrath and love cannot co-exist in the same mind. However indispensable the judgments which he enumerates “may be in the context of our religious experiences,” therefore, he immediately adds, “they are out of all relation to the theological determination of the whole under the viewpoint of eternity.… Under the theological point of view, therefore, the wrath of God and His curse on sinners yet to be reconciled, finds no validity.” God’s actual attitude to us is, and therefore His eternal attitude has always been, just that of pure love. He feels no anger towards us, and has never felt any, and it is absurd therefore to speak of reconciling Him to us, and even more absurd to speak of reconciling His love and anger in Himself. It is true that under his own sense of guilt a sinner may imagine that God is angry with him, and, under this obsession, may even look upon the evils which befall him in the course of his life, as so many punitive inflictions. But all this is illusion. “Here,” says Garvie rightly,8 “we are concerned with a subjective representation, not an objective reality.” There being no such thing as “the wrath of God revealed from heaven against every doer of iniquity,” it is our sense of guilt only, not the fact of the case, which leads us to interpret the evils of life as punitive. Paul is wrong when he connects death, for example, with sin.9 The only evil which is a real consequence of sin, is that estrangement from God which results from our sense of guilt. This experience of estrangement from God—the result of our sense of guilt—is therefore in a true sense the only “punishment” of sin.10 “The unremoved sense of guilt is not a penal state along with others, but this is the thing itself to which all external penal evils are related only as accompanying circumstances.”11 Thus the whole of the evil of sin is swallowed up into the sense of guilt, which itself is—not the subjective reflection of an objective separation from God wrought by sin itself—but a subjective illusion as to the attitude of God towards sin, creating the feeling of a separation from God which has no existence except in our own imagination.

This being true, reconciliation naturally is to Ritschl, as Friedrich Nippold phrases it,12 “at bottom, nothing but a change of mind, though no doubt this change of mind is made possible only by the knowledge and appreciation of the divine will of love declared by Christ.” And all that happens in justification—which is only a synonym of reconciliation—is, as Garvie points out,13 “the restoration of the sinner to communion with God,” or, otherwise expressed, “the removal of the separation of the sinner from God,” though to be perfectly accurate we must take the nouns “restoration,” “removal,” not actively, but passively. The separation here spoken of is expressed, or we would better say, consists, in a “sense of guilt”; it is therefore, this “sense of guilt” which is removed. “This, however,” remarks Garvie now, “would be no benefit, but an injury, unless with the sense of guilt there is also taken away the guilt, which is a real contradiction by man of God, and of his own moral destiny. As this contradiction is real, else man’s sense of guilt were an illusion, so the removal is real, else man’s feeling of forgiveness were a deception.” This reasoning is formally sound; but as the results it ostensibly reaches are the precise contradictions of Ritschl’s actual teachings, it serves only to show how completely the conceptions of sin and its removal drop out of Ritschl’s teaching. Man’s sense of guilt does appear in Ritschl’s system as an illusion and his feeling of forgiveness does appear in it as deceptive. The guilt and forgiveness which these illusory feelings fallaciously presuppose share, of course, in their illusoriness. Ritschl knows nothing of either guilt or its removal, in the proper sense of the word guilt, in which it includes along with subjective ill-desert, also obnoxiousness to punishment.14 The “sense of guilt” is represented by Ritschl as really just distrust of God, and there is no ground for distrusting God. God does not really forgive our sins; He merely takes no account of them—His whole reaction towards us being love. He loves us continuously, with a love unconditioned by the intrusion of wrath. He experiences no change of attitude toward us, or of action toward us. We simply come to know that this is His attitude toward us; and our distrust of Him, the product of our unjustified sense of guilt, passes away. It passes away precisely because it has no ground in reality. We feel forgiven but we are not forgiven; we have merely learned that God is not “separated” from us—we have only been “separated” from Him.

What we receive through Christ according to Ritschl would be somewhat more accurately expressed therefore if we spoke of it as not forgiveness but the assurance of forgiveness.15 Our sins are already forgiven, that is to say, overlooked: what we obtain through Christ is only knowledge of this fact.16 We remain guilty of these sins, of course, in the sense in which Ritschl speaks of “moral guiltiness”—that is to say, we remain subjectively ill-deserving,—and we do not lose consciousness of this guilt. It would be contrary to God’s truth to pronounce us no longer guilty, and our own conscience witnesses to us that we are guilty.17 Our sense of guilt may even be intensified.18 Only we are made to feel that all this makes no difference in God’s treatment of us, and so we are encouraged no longer to hold aloof from God in distrust of His purpose towards us. What “forgiveness removes is not the sense of guilt for past sins, but only its effect in separating from God, or the distrust of God which attaches to it.”19 It “merely makes inoperative that effect of guilt and the consciousness of guilt, which would appear in the abolition of the moral communion between God and man, in their separation or mutual alienation.”20 “When God forgives or pardons sins,” Ritschl now immediately continues, “He brings His will into operation in the direction of not permitting the contradiction—expressed in guilt—in which sinners stand to Him, to hinder that fellowship of men with Him which He intends on higher grounds.” Forgiveness of sins thus means for Ritschl that, on God’s part, God, having ends of His own to serve, will not permit man’s sin to stand in the way of fellowship with Him; and on man’s part, man, being assured of this, lays aside his distrust of God, the natural result of his sense of guilt (“that mistrust which as an affection of the consciousness of guilt naturally separates the offender from the offended one,”) and commits himself in full trust to God’s providential care. To put the matter bluntly, God proposes on His part to take man just as He finds him; and man agrees on his part, that being done, no longer to distrust and hold aloof from God, but to trust himself to His keeping. Having no longer to look for evil from God, according to his desert, he will accept the good, which, despite his unworthiness of it, God (for ends of His own) is willing to give him. This is really Ritschl’s doctrine of justification; and obviously, it is a profoundly immoral doctrine. It amounts at bottom simply to an understanding between man and God that by-gones shall be by-gones, and no questions will be asked.

Even C. von Kügelgen21 allows that Ritschl deals too lightly with the forgiveness of sins. “That, not indeed the idea of sin, but the idea of the forgiveness of sin, is (of course unintentionally) attenuated by Ritschl on teleological grounds, seem to us easily shown. Frank says,22 accordingly with justice, that according to Ritschl God forgives sin ‘on higher grounds,’ because the establishment of the Kingdom of God is His self-end, and forgiveness of sins is needed for that. Thus forgiveness of sins becomes for Ritschl at bottom a means to an end …” These remarks do not, however, go to the root of the matter. What is difficult to credit is not that God has a high end in view in forgiving sins and that it is this high end which determines His action—any doctrine of forgiveness must come in the end to that; but that this forgiveness is grounded solely in this high end. Not only is God’s ultimate motive in forgiving sin made to be His desire to establish a Kingdom of God; but His sole proximate justification in forgiving sins is supplied by this one motive. His forgiveness of sins is made thus a purely arbitrary act, performed for no other reason and with no other justification, than that He needs forgiven sinners for ends of His own. This, we say, is a profoundly immoral doctrine; it represents God as treating sin as no sin, which is as much as to say, failing to react to moral evil, perceived as such, as every moral being, by virtue of his very nature as a moral being, must react to it—with abhorrence and indignation. Nevertheless, as we have already seen, this representation falls in with Ritschl’s actual teaching with respect to God, to whom he denies any other attribute than love and from whom he withholds specifically the attribute of vindicatory justice. It is also alone consonant with his teaching with regard to the work of Christ, to which he will not permit to be ascribed any expiatory or sin-bearing character. If he was to teach any forgiveness of sins at all, Ritschl was shut up to representing it as done by God in that purely arbitrary way in which alone, he tells us, it would be becoming for God’s will to act.

An attempt is made to mitigate the immorality of the transaction, as it concerns man, by representing it as the reception by man of “eternal life” or “blessedness,” and the source of great encouragement to him to undertake good works. Assured of acceptance with God, despite his sins, he, in trust in God’s providence, rises, as a spiritual being, above the world, makes God’s self-end his end, and, as a fellow-worker with God, labors for the building up of the Kingdom of God in the world. Having been given a new chance, he takes it. We have already seen Pfleiderer, with justified cynicism, questioning whether the proclamation of totally ungrounded forgiveness, open unconditionally to all, would naturally have this happy effect. With a similar implication Frank reminds us in this connection of Claus Harms’s comment that in the sixteenth century the forgiveness of sins cost at least money; now, it seems, we are to have it for nothing at all—we are just to take it for ourselves.23 Certainly to represent forgiveness of sins as costing absolutely nothing—either to God or to us—will scarcely gird our loins to avoid at all costs such negligible foibles. In any event, however, we are given here but a poor substitute for the Holy Spirit, making His people holy by His creative action on and in them. Yet this is what Ritschl offers us instead of that. Readers of Ritschl are struck by nothing more strongly than by his embarrassment in dealing with the topic of sanctification. With his passionate repulsion of all “mysticism”—that is, of all immediate working of God upon man—he has no instrument of sanctification but the human will, acting “freely” under the inducement of motives.24 Man must sanctify himself. With his equally determined representation of justification as purely a change of relation—it would be better said, of attitude—to God, he repels all implication of sanctification in justification, however that implication may be conceived. Sanctification is an independent work of man, taking place in a different sphere of operation. The most that he can allow when swayed by this point of view, is that it is so far furthered by justification that the new attitude to God assumed in justification predisposes man to make God’s self-end his own end, and enheartens him in its prosecution. Justification may be thus, he says, the fundamental condition of the Christian life,25 apart from which the new life would not be undertaken or vigorously prosecuted.26 But it is not the direct means of sanctification nor is sanctification its direct end. Such a representation would be to institute a “wholly apocryphal” connection between the two.27

The dualism between the religious and the ethical aspects of the Christian life thus brought to expression, runs through the whole of Ritschl’s exposition of the Christian life and is never quite resolved. It is embodied in the famous comparison in which he pictures Christianity, not as “a circle described from a single center, but an ellipse which is determined by two foci”;28 and it determines the form of his definition of Christianity, which is modified from Schleiermacher’s precisely in its interests. “Christianity,” says he,29 “is the monotheistic, completely spiritual and ethical religion which, on the ground of the redeeming and Kingdom-founding life of its Originator, consists in the freedom of childship to God, includes in itself the motive to conduct out of love, aims at the moral organization of humanity, and grounds blessedness in childship to God as well as in the Kingdom of God.” He is thinking here obviously in terms of religion and ethics set in a parallel relation to one another, with no vivid sense, at least, of their integration into a single notion. He is determined that Christianity shall not be to him “either merely a doctrine of redemption, or merely a system of morality.” He insists that it is both; and in order that it may be both he continually emphasizes the two as two. He says,30 it is true, that “dogmatics must be worked out, not purely from the idea of redemption; nor ethics purely from the idea of the Kingdom of God.… Each must be kept under the constitutive influence of both ideas.” “Effectuation by God” supplies the form of the one; “personal self-activity” of the other. Neither can do without the other; they interact on each other. But their unity continually escapes his grasp. In the end, no doubt, the two are integrated under the scheme of means and end. Redemption is in order to the Kingdom of God; the ethical activities of the Kingdom of God manifest childship to God. But this mode of representation is reached with difficulty and is not consistently maintained.

Means are of course always subordinate to their end. As redemption through Jesus has the Kingdom of God for its end, that means accordingly that religion is in order to morality, or, to use a parallel mode of expression employed by Ritschl, “religious dependence” is in order to “moral freedom.” And that means in turn that Ritschl’s system (conceiving of religion and ethics as it actually does) is at bottom less a system of theology than a system of ethics; and it is the idea of “moral freedom,” which gives its form to ethics, that dominates his thought. He does indeed remind us31 that Christianity is in the first instance a religion, and only in its specific character among religions, the ethical religion by way of eminence. Therefore, he argues, “the religious functions—trust in God, humility, patience, thanksgiving and prayer to God—in which according to Luther’s teaching, the believer takes his position against the world—have precedence of the series of moral functions in which we devote ourselves directly to man.” But this avails nothing; for in Ritschl’s view, these “religious” functions are at most only a parallel product of man’s free action, in the religious sphere, to his independent morality; and in reality only a means of his moral activity, supplying the “mood” in which alone it can be, or can be successfully, prosecuted. It is his naturalism which is determining his conceptions here. He is not talking of what God works in man in and through justification; but of how the new attitude which man assumes in what he calls justification affects him in his relations God-ward and man-ward. What he presents as the religious results arising out of justification are therefore merely the motives to moral action which spring from his change of attitude. The vacillation, in which Ritschl now presents the religious aspects of the Christian life as merely the means to the moral, and now keeps the two apart as independent parallel phenomena of it,32 may possibly be, Henri Schoen suspects,33 if not exactly due to, yet facilitated by, a double inheritance. There is Schleiermacher, after whom it was difficult to present a purely ethical theory of redemption. But there is also Kant. And if, in spite of Schleiermacher, the ethical element dominates in Ritschl’s doctrine, “that is because, consciously or unconsciously, he remains more under the influence of Kant than of Schleiermacher. It is because he feared above everything to see the mystical element predominate over the will to do good, which appeared to him to be the essential factor of all religion.”

We perceive that Ritschl’s conception of the Christian life amounts briefly to just this: free ethical life inspired by a sense of well-pleasingness to God. Justification is viewed as the assumption of a new attitude of trust towards God and entrance, in this trust, into participation in God’s aim to found an ethical Kingdom; and this Kingdom of God is viewed as the society of those animated by this motive and sharing in this endeavor. Justification thus prepares for the ethical effort; the Kingdom of God is its sphere. This free ethical life under this inspiration constitutes now Christian perfection, in Ritschl’s nomenclature; that is to say, it is all that it is necessary to have in order to be a Christian—it makes us perfectly Christian though it may not make us perfect Christians.34 Ritschl, however, is not content to leave his conception of the essence of Christianity, or Christian perfection, in this simple brevity of statement. He analyzes it, and he elaborates it. He divides, first of all, between those elements of it which are, in his view, the direct and immediate effects of justification, and those elements of it which proceed from justification only indirectly and mediately, namely, through the mediation of the former. The former are, as we have seen, the religious, the latter the ethical elements; and we note here again that the Christian life is conceived as essentially conduct to which its religious aspect serves as means. The religious elements—Ritschl calls them religious functions—are enumerated as we have seen, as faith in the divine providence, humility, patience, prayer. They form, in their necessary unity,35 the temper of mind or mood of the Christian, the temper of mind or mood by virtue of which he is a Christian, and because of which he becomes a worker along with God in the moralization of the world, through love.

There is nothing arbitrary in this construction. It is merely the expression in terms of the Christian life of the fundamental contents of Ritschl’s doctrine of justification. He identifies justification with the forgiveness of sins, which is, positively expressed, entrance into fellowship with God. This entrance into fellowship with God involves, however, deliverance from the sense of guilt so far as the sense of guilt produces mistrust of God and separation from Him. It is necessarily accompanied therefore with peace of heart and joy. Ritschl calls this experience indifferently “blessedness” and “eternal life.” And this naturally carries with it on the positive side a trust in God, which takes the place of the mistrust from which deliverance has been had. In this trust we not only accept God’s providence as well for us and for the world, but are impelled to adopt God’s end as our end, and to work along with Him to its accomplishment. This is all of the very essence of the experience of justification as a fact. And it is not a very complicated conception, but on the contrary, at once very simple and quite unitary. It would not be doing serious injustice to it if we said brusquely that it is comprehended in the idea of putting ourselves by the side of God and accepting His end as our end. We put ourselves by the side of God when we not only acquiesce in the course of things which He has in His providence established for His world, but recognize it as the best course of things and best for us. This carries with it what Ritschl calls “dominion over the world,” that is, superiority to its changes and chances and the subordination of it to our spiritual life. It carries with it also humility and patience and thanksgiving to God: these are the tones of mind which acquiescence in, acceptance of, and rejoicing in God’s providence bring with them. Putting ourselves by the side of God in this attitude of mind, we naturally make His end our own and live for the purposes for which He has created and is now governing the world. This double attitude of believers, religious and ethical, constitutes their specific quality as believers: this is what Christianity is. In other words, this double attitude constitutes the perfection of Christians, which accordingly Ritschl defines in one of his briefer statements as consisting in “humility, faith in, and submission to God’s Providence, appeal and thanksgiving to God in prayer, and fidelity in the moral vocation which is useful to the community.”36 Or again:37 “Faith in the Fatherly providence of God, which maintains a right feeling with God through humility, and with the world through patience, and which expresses and confirms itself through prayer”—to which is to be added, on the ethical side, the faithful pursuit of our vocation.

Bearing such a relation to his doctrine of justification, Ritschl’s doctrine of Christian perfection obviously embodies the essence of his religious teaching, in which his whole system culminates and into which it flows out as its issue. He himself so regarded it. He speaks of it38 as “the practically religious proceeds (Ertrag) of his theology, as also the result (Ergebnis) of the doctrine of reconciliation.” In it is depicted what in his view Christianity actually is, the tangible, palpable, concrete Christianity of reality. Whatever else may be theory, this is the fact, the whole fact, of Christianity. He did not easily win to its full apprehension. We are given to understand that it was only at the end of his long toil in the composition of his chief treatise, that he reached perfect clearness in his understanding and statement of at least the details. In January, 1874, while the great book was in process of going through the press, he was called upon to deliver a lecture for the benefit of the Göttingen Woman’s Club.39 He chose the subject of Christian Perfection and, drawing out of the fulness of his thought what was the result of long years of labor, he found that “certain ideas which form the web of the great book, became to … [him] for the first time, completely clear.”40 He at once set himself to adjusting the text of his book to his new lucidity of insight, so that in it as well as in the lecture of 1874 we have his complete thought on the subject. Ritschl does not mean, of course, to say that the general conception which only thus late reached its final form was new to him. He tells us on the contrary that its fundamental elements had been for years in his mind.41 For long, however, he had employed them only in his Theological Ethics and it was apparently not until 1873 that he discovered that they had as important a place in Dogmatics as in Ethics.42 Perhaps it may be not without its significance that the special element of his doctrine which he himself looked upon as embodying its real significance was thus carried over from his ethical to his dogmatic system. Once carried over into the dogmatic system, it was made the most of. It is not merely the issue of the system; it pervades it. We do not have to wait to see it expounded, in its substance at least, until we read the end of the dogmatic volume, where the Christian life comes up for formal treatment. Its fundamental elements are already—as is natural since they are merely the effects of justification—presented in the discussion of the subjective side of justification.43 They are even more fully presented—as again is natural—as the opposite over against which the conception of sin is adjusted.44 They are suggested again—as again is natural, since He is the pattern of His people—when the character of Christ comes up for discussion.45 Ritschl did not make little of his doctrine of Christian perfection, or thrust it into a corner.

Ritschl is very eager, as elsewhere, so especially here, to attach to himself the teaching of the Reformers. Nowhere else does he do so with less right. He adduces especially a passage from the Augsburg Confession, which, he intimates, can with a little interchange of what he represents as equivalent statements, be made to teach about Christian perfection precisely what he teaches.46 The Confession is very much concerned to repel the elevation of the monastic life in contrast with that of ordinary citizens into a “state of perfection.” No, it says, “the good and perfect kind of life is the kind of life which has the mandate of God,” not that which has been invented by man without any commandment from God. The perfection which the Gospel teaches does not consist in a pretence of poverty and humility and celibacy, but in the fear of God and faith. It is—and this is the passage adduced by Ritschl—47 “to fear God sincerely and again to conceive great faith, and to be assured for Christ’s sake that we have a placated God; to ask from God, and confidently to expect, help in all our undertakings, according to our calling; meanwhile diligently to do good works outwardly and to attend to our calling.” “In these things,” it is added with emphasis, “there is true perfection and the true worship of God; it is not in celibacy, or mendicancy, or dirty clothing.” Here, says Ritschl,48 there is asserted just what he teaches—“not merely … that faith in God’s fatherly providence and prayer are the expression of our consciousness of reconciliation, but also that these functions, together with humility and the moral activity proper to one’s vocation, are the expressions of Christian perfection.” It may repay us to observe just how far this amazing assertion is justified, and precisely where the two statements part company.

This at least the Confessional statement obviously has in common with Ritschl’s—it is speaking, as he ostensibly is, merely of the perfectio partium; of what is necessary to be a true Christian; of what enters into the idea of Christianity as essential constituent elements; of Christianismus totus as it itself expresses it: not of the perfect embodiment of this perfect and entire Christianity in the individual. It is in these things alone, it says, that the perfection of Christianity is to be found; we are not to seek it elsewhere. But it is not said that these things are embodied in any given life in their perfect manifestation (the perfectio graduum). On the contrary the Reformers very explicitly assert that they are not.49 Another thing in which the Confessional statement resembles Ritschl’s is that in enumerating the characteristics of true Christianity it includes both religious and ethical elements and places them merely side by side. Christianity embraces, it says, both a religious attitude and ethical activities—and it adds nothing as to the relation of the two to each other. For all that is said here, that relation might be one of mere adjacency. This, Ritschl would have us believe, is the characteristic attitude of the Reformers.50 In this, however, he is wrong and he has himself incidentally adduced some of the evidence that he is wrong.51 The whole nature of the relation of religion to morality in the Christian system—or to speak more narrowly of the relation of justification to sanctification—may have required some time to be brought out into clear light, and may even yet in wide circles be imperfectly apprehended. But the necessary connection of the two has never been doubted in evangelical circles, and Ritschl’s tendency to conceive of them in separation is only one of the results of his lapse from the evangelical position. The simple collocation of the two in the passage adduced from the Augsburg Confession means nothing more than that Melanchthon at the moment was not concerned with a closer definition of their relation. In a third matter the similarity of the passage adduced from the Augsburg Confession and Ritschl’s doctrine of Christian perfection is more striking and more significant. This lies in the prominence given in the definition of Christianity on the ethical side to the great Protestant conception of vocation.52 It is the most satisfying and the most fruitful element in Ritschl’s treatment of the Christian life that he organizes its ethical side around the idea of vocation, although, of course, the conception itself cannot, in the presence of his antisupernaturalistic point of view, come fully to its rights.53 It is a matter of course that the idea appears even in the brief allusion to the moral life of Christians in the Confession. It was a living influence in all the thought of the Reformers regarding conduct.

So soon however as we rise from the ethical to the religious aspect of the Christian life all similarity of the description of it given in the Augsburg Confession to Ritschl’s conception of it completely vanishes. According to the Confession the Christian life receives its form from three fundamental reactions. These are sincere fear of God, assurance of His reconciliation through Christ, and confidence that He will answer the prayers of His people. Ritschl allows no place in the Christian life for any one of the three, and thus sets himself in diametrical opposition to the Confession’s conception of the substance of Christianity. As in his system God is love and nothing but love, there is no propriety in speaking in it of a “fear,” of a “serious fear,” of God; phraseology which conveys, no doubt, particularly the ideas of awe, reverence, veneration, but from which the sentiment of dread—we still speak of God as a “Dread Being”—cannot be eliminated.54 It is precisely every idea which can be expressed by “dread” that Ritschl discards from his conception of God. Consequently in adjusting the Confessional statement to his own view, Ritschl passes lightly over the phrase “serious fear of God,” rendering it—not of course in essence wrongly—“reverence (Ehrfurcht) for God,” and combining it—quite unwarrantably—with part of the next clause—“trust in God”—“into,” he says,55 “humility.” A “placated God” (Deus placatus) is of course equally abhorrent to him as a “dread God,” and for the same reason. A God who is all love needs no placating: He has no wrath toward sinners; and the whole of “salvation” consists in the discovery of this fact by the sinner. Christ has not appeased God, and the essence of His work consists, indeed, in persuading men that God needs no appeasing. Ritschl therefore simply sums up the entire declaration, the key declaration in the Confession, in the idea of “trust,” and considers it, in combination with the “fear of God,” as we have already noted, to be absorbed in the one notion of “humility.” As little as a “placated God” does Ritschl believe in a prayer-answering God. In his watchful zeal against all “mysticism,” he will not permit God to act directly on the human heart, and his conception of God’s relation to the universe is rather deistic than theistic. There is no way then for God to answer prayer, and prayer is reduced accordingly to the forms of adoration and especially thanksgiving—although, it seems, that Ritschl, quite inconsistently, does not venture to reject petition altogether.56 Accordingly he again divides the Confessional statement and gravely bids us “to substitute for ‘the expectation of God’s help and contempt of death and the world’ ”—the latter phrase being derived from a passage of Luther’s which he couples with the Confession—“faith in and resignation to God’s providence”; to which he adds as a new item “invocation of and thanks to God in prayer.” “Faith in and resignation to God’s providence” are, however, not in the least the same thing as “petitioning from God and certainly expecting aid.” The personal relation is gone altogether, and with it the postulation of personal action ad rem.57

The difference between the Confessional and Ritschl’s conception of the Christian life, thus, is polar. In the one we have a life instinct with the sense of God in His majesty, passed in His presence as the ever present and active ruler of the universe, who is nevertheless accessible to us in our weakness, to whom therefore as to a personal supporter and helper we can go in every time of need, with full expectation of aid, because, though we are sinners, He has been reconciled to us in the blood of Jesus Christ; a life therefore suffused with the hope, the confidence, the joy which comes from the consciousness of pardoned sin. In the other we have a life of submission—no doubt humble, patient, even grateful, or even joyful submission—to the course of things, in the belief that it is a good God that has ordained this course of things and that it must therefore be working for good. The former conception is the Christian conception. The latter—must we not call it merely pagan?

It is desirable to go somewhat more into the details of Ritschl’s doctrine. Ritschl represents the sole direct effect, as it is the single proper end, of justification to be what he calls “eternal life,”58 a conception which he empties of both its eschatological59 and its ethical content, and thinks of in terms of pure “blessedness.” Its quality is given to this blessedness by the experience of what Ritschl calls “dominion” (Herrschaft) over the world, or, in other words, the sense of superiority to the changes and chances of the world which is proper to a spiritual being—or just “freedom.” “The positive aim of forgiveness or justification or reconciliation,” says Ritschl,60 is “that freedom of believers in communion with God which consists in dominion over the world, and is to be regarded as eternal life.” And von Kügelgen expounds the meaning of his master thus:61 “Eternal life, in the sense of Christianity, is the Christian independence … which in harmony with God’s providence subjects all things to itself, so that they become the means to blessedness, even though, from the external point of view, they run athwart it.” This “lordship over the world,” which is identical with “eternal life,” and “blessedness,” we see, is identical also with what Ritschl calls “faith in God’s providence.” We are told accordingly 62 that “the aim of reconciliation with God in the Christian sense” is “lordship over the world,” and then again63 that “in general, the form in which religious lordship over the world is exercised is faith in God’s providence.” The aim of reconciliation “which does not differ in substance from justification or regeneration” is then, in this intensely this-world religion, “faith in God’s providence.” Thus, “faith in God’s providence” becomes the substance of the Christian life, the thing that makes it a really Christian life. The other elements entering into Ritschl’s conception of the Christian life which are subsequently mentioned—humility, patience, thankfulness—are merely qualifications of mode, not additional constituents, of the Christian life, as thus defined. Now, we are told64 that this “faith in Divine providence” is “normally a tone of feeling.” That is to say reconciliation, justification, regeneration, have as their aim, and issue into, a purely subjective change, that and that only. We need not, because of them, find ourselves in any objectively different situation from that occupied before; we in point of fact, do not. There has come about a change only in our “tone of feeling.”

Let us endeavor to make clear to ourselves precisely what this means. When it is said that Ritschl uses the phrase “eternal life” not in an eschatological sense, but of a “tone of feeling” acquired in this life, it is of course not meant merely that he teaches that the Christian does not wait until death to receive the blessings obtained through Christ, but enters into them at once on believing. What is meant is that Ritschl conceives “eternal life” after a fashion which adjusts it entirely to this life; it is in its essence in his view an attitude towards the actual course of this world. If there is anything beyond, it does not appear. “Salvation” with him, if we can speak of “salvation” with reference to his theories, is an entirely “this-world salvation.” “Saving faith” is a phrase as little consonant with Ritschl’s system as “salvation,” and the relation of faith to justification gives him a great deal of trouble. He wishes to speak in the terms of Reformation doctrine, but he does not find it easy to determine whether faith should be represented as antecedent to justification—its condition, he would say—or as consequent on it; the best he can do is to call it its “concomitant.” In point of fact, faith in his system is the substance of justification. All that justification is, is the passage from distrust to trust: this is not the way justification is obtained—this is itself justification. Justification thus is identified with faith; and the faith with which it is identified is not faith in Christ our Redeemer, nor even faith in a redeeming God, but just faith in the divine providence. The sinner having been persuaded that he can safely draw near to God despite his guilt, lays aside his distrust and draws near to God in trust. He is sure now that God, admitting him despite his guilt into fellowship with Him, will deal well with him. That is to say, he commits himself to God as Father and trusts to His fatherly love that all things will work for good to him. This is nothing more than faith in God’s providence. And this faith in God’s providence is declared to be itself justification, reconciliation, adoption, eternal life, all of which are synonyms.

This being so, it is astonishing to learn, as we quickly learn, that by the providence of God Ritschl has not at all in mind what that phrase would naturally suggest to the average Christian, the ever present watchful care of God; but just the established course of things, conceived of as the general ordinance of God. The world is governed by law; and God is not to be expected to interfere in any way with the working of that law, which He himself has made the governing power of the world. To trust in the providence of God, as Leonhard Stählin points out,65 does not mean then confidence that God will “really intervene in the course of nature at individual junctures for the benefit of believers,” but confidence that the actually existent order of things is not accidental, but has been ordained by God, who is our Father; and acquiescence in it as such. The established course of events is not modified by special divine action to adjust it to our needs, but we adjust ourselves to it, because, knowing it to be ordained of God, we know its ordering is for the best. “It is our duty … to see in the existing order of things the result and sway of divine providence,” and to accept it in humble and patient thankfulness. There is no providence which “extends” one “whit further than the order of things as it actually exists.” “Faith in the fatherly providence of God,” therefore “resolves itself, on this view of the matter, into an assured confidence that reason is immanent in the actually existent order of things, and that accordingly nature is a means subordinate to spirit.” No change takes place in the course of events in our behalf; the only change that takes place takes place in us. When we lay aside our distrust of God and trust in His providence, we merely assume a different attitude towards the course of events. The same things happen to us which would have happened had we not made this change of attitude towards God. But what we looked upon as against us, we now look upon as for us: what we looked upon at best as but the grinding out of blind law, at worst as the caprice of a malevolent deity, we now look upon as the expression of the will of a Father. After all is said, however, what is meant when Ritschl speaks of trusting in divine providence is nothing more than that it is the mark of the Christian that he trusts in law: he acquires a new attitude toward the actual course of things and humbly, patiently, and thankfully accepts his lot in life.

Garvie, it is true, registers a somewhat sharp dissent. “When Ritschl speaks of God’s Providence,” he declares,66 “he means what he says. He does not believe in an inevitable course of nature, independent of a Personal Will, which does not do its worst with us, because we make the best we can of it. He does not give a stern fact, submission to fate, a sweet name, faith in God’s Providence, by a ‘poetic license,’ ”—and so on. This passionate language, however, is quite futile, and only betrays the confusion in its author’s mind. Of course Ritschl is not supposed to be teaching a doctrine of “fate.” He looks upon the course of things as having been determined by a Personal Will, and represents therefore this course of things as expressing a personal choice, the choice of a person whom he declares to be love and nothing but love. But he does not allow that this course of things is ever modified (no matter when the modification has been determined upon) for the individual’s benefit, according to his emerging needs. It has been once for all established for the benefit of the Kingdom of God and we, for our part, are to look on it as our Father’s will and understand that it is working as a whole for our good. Our trust in divine providence does not mean with Ritschl then, that we are sure that God adjusts the course of events to meet our varying individual needs. But it does mean the assurance that our loving Father has ordered the established course of things for the best, and it does mean that we, now become one with Him, have learned that that is true, and therefore accept every event as it befalls us as from His hands. This amounts to saying, when taken at its height, that we see the hand of God in all that comes to pass, the hand of our Father in everything that befalls us—whether in itself good or grievous: that in a word we look through nature in all its happenings to nature’s God, even though we may see Him only far off. When taken thus at its height, faith in divine providence is no small religious achievement. It is the fundamental religious attitude towards the world: and it must enter into every worthy conception of the Christian life. It is nevertheless, as here expressed, being deistic in its tendency, a fatally inadequate conception of the nature of divine providence, and it certainly, however taken, can never be accepted as Ritschl represents it as a complete account of the essence of Christianity. “Faith in the fatherly providence of God,” says Ritschl,67 “which maintains a right feeling with God through humility, and with the world through patience, and which expresses and confirms itself through prayer, is, in general, the content of the religious life which grows out of reconciliation with God, through Christ.” That is to reduce Christianity to a merely natural religion.

From the point of view here brought to expression, Ritschl is obviously right in speaking of Christianity as consisting in a “tone of feeling.” And it is natural that we should wish to ascertain somewhat closely the particular feeling which it is. We think first of all of the feeling of submission, and there does not lack phraseology in Ritschl’s discussions which justifies this. But it quickly becomes evident that he does not think of the Christian’s attitude towards the course of things, conceived of as the providential appointment of God, as one of bare, negative submission. It is an attitude of positive acquiescence, acceptance, adoption: the Christian makes God’s appointment his own. No doubt his attitude toward the course of events conceived as God’s appointment is characterized by humility with reference to God and patience with reference to the course of events itself, but it is characterized also by thankfulness. And Ritschl pours into the notion not only satisfaction, but joy. The tone of feeling which he makes Christianity consist in is distinctly an optimistic one. In the discussion which he devotes to this matter,68 indeed, he goes far toward making it indistinguishable from the instinctive optimism of exuberant vitality, the care-free temper of the man of action prosecuting his work in the world. We are told, for example, that we have this faith in divine providence not on empirical grounds—observation does not produce it and would not confirm it69—but as a conviction drawn by each man from the complex of his own experiences. And yet not as a reasoned conclusion based on an analysis of our experiences; but as an instinctive conviction. It has no necessary conceptional content; it is normally a “tone of feeling” which is the expression of our “spiritual energy.”70 It may, no doubt, develop into clear ideas and judgments; but only if the conflicts so far inhibit action as to compel mental analysis of our struggling spiritual energy. It is, normally, just our feeling of well-being and of courage in the face of our circumstances. It may easily, therefore, be confused with the mere natural courage of man in facing the evils of life.71 It is specifically different from this, however, because it is not merely courage in facing the evils of life but acceptance or rather adoption of the whole course of things, including the evils, into our own scheme of life, because it is God’s will. That is to say, it is not merely self-assertion, but confidence in providence. And that is an attitude, says Ritschl, which is peculiarly Christian. It is an attitude not to be found in any who have not derived it from Christ. It was precisely this, in fact—identical as it is with the assertion that God is love—in which Christ’s discovery consisted.72 Thus Ritschl, having abased Christianity to a merely natural religion, by reducing it in its essence to “trust in the divine providence,” seeks to restore it again to its uniqueness as the only “revealed” religion by declaring “trust in the divine providence” to be solely the product of the “revelation” in Christ. This does not in any way affect the poverty of his conception of Christianity. It merely recalls us sharply to the realization of the extreme destitution of the religions men have made for themselves.73

It is, now, this general point of view or “tone of feeling” (Gesinnung) which constitutes, on the religious side, what Ritschl calls Christian Perfection. He who is of this way of thinking and feeling is a Christian, and is all that he need be, from the religious point of view, in order to be all that a Christian is. But in accordance with Ritschl’s dualistic conception of Christianity, there is an ethical side to Christianity also. And the ethical is so related to the religious element in Christianity that the ethical task cannot be undertaken or accomplished save under the impulse derived from the religious attitude. It constitutes, nevertheless, as the end to which the religious attitude is the means, the real substance of the Christian life, which is as much as to say the precise thing in which Christian perfection consists. How the two elements are related in the whole made up of their union, is made quite clear in an excellent summary statement of Johannes Wendland’s, in the opening page of his description of Ritschl’s type of piety. “With him,” says he,74 “all religion originates in man’s estimate of himself as something more than a fragment of dead nature. Christianity is to him the perfected religion because man is qualified by it to become a spiritual personality, a whole in his kind. It delivers man from violent oscillations of mood between pleasure and displeasure. In the certainty that all things work for good to those who take them from the hand of God, the Christian knows how to prevail over even the evils of life in trust in God, humility, and patience. Conscientious work in his calling, whether it be a spiritual one, or one of manual labor, of low esteem among men, is for man at once the best remedy against distress, and also the way to secure that perfection which is obtainable for the Christian. Thus the personal life of the individual takes its place in the general life-purpose of the whole, which consists in erecting the Kingdom of God in the world. Man coöperates in building up God’s Kingdom in every true vocational work in his appointed place. For the Kingdom of God is advanced not only by domestic and foreign missions, but marriage, family, civil society, national state are fellowships in which it is to be realized. It is through righteous conduct and neighborly love that the Kingdom of God is established.” Let us see now, in more detail, how Ritschl presents Christianity on its ethical side and how he relates the idea of Christian perfection to it.

The ethical task of the Christian, he teaches, is determined fundamentally by his adoption of God’s self-end as his own. God’s self-end is the Kingdom of God.75 This conception is not to be confounded with that of the Church. The Church is the people of God organized for the particular purpose of worship.76 The Kingdom of God is the people of God conceived in the totality of their ethical activities, under the impulse of love.77 The breadth of the conception enables Ritschl to subsume under it every activity of man viewed in its ethical aspect. He utilizes here, as has already been intimated, however, the Reformation conception of vocation, and thus is able to present the primary ethical task of the Christian under the rubric of faithfulness in his vocation.78 He that is faithful in his vocation has performed his whole ethical duty in the Kingdom of God, and, being thus a whole in himself, is perfect. No doubt we may think of many other moral acts which, in the abstract, we might lay upon him as duties. But, lying outside the circle of duties belonging to him in the faithful discharge of his vocation, they do not enter into the whole which it behooves him to be in his own kind; and his failure to perform them therefore cannot be imputed to him as fault. No man can be more than one kind of a man; or if by reason of strength he may embrace in his task more than one vocation, or if, as needs must be, a penumbra of secondary duties may gather around the governing vocation which is his special task, nevertheless the center about which the whole circle of his duties revolves remains his vocation, and it is faithfulness to this vocation and to whatever is inseparably connected with it that determines his ethical character.

We perceive that the chief concern which Ritschl shows in developing his doctrine of vocation is to utilize it so to limit the range of duty as to make it possible for the Christian man to be ethically as well as religiously perfect. The motive on which he acts here is derived from the consideration which he advances with confidence to the effect that hope of attainment supplies the only adequate spur to endeavor. “If in any activity,” says he,79 “we know ourselves beforehand unconditionally condemned to imperfection, then impulse to it is paralysed. The possibility of perfection must be held in prospect if we are to use diligence in any department of activity.” On this ground, sufficiently dubious in itself—though not on this ground alone—he repels the evangelical doctrine that even in the state of grace we must always be mindful of the imperfection of our moral conduct, so that we may never be tempted to depend for our salvation on our own works, which never meet the demands of the law, but only on Christ received by faith alone. It is a contradiction, he says,80 in any case, to tell us in one breath that we are to look away from our works to Christ because they are too imperfect to put any dependence on, and in the next that despite this their imperfection we are to depend on them as proof that we are under the action of grace. The ultimate conclusion to which he would drive us is that the Christian man’s works are not subject to the judgment of the law. Before following him to this conclusion, however, we wish to point out briefly the fallacy of the reasoning from which it is drawn and the consequences of the rejection which it involves of the evangelical doctrine of the Christian’s unbroken sense of imperfection. The justification of this digression lies in the importance of the matter for the understanding of Ritschl’s point of view. There is involved in it in one way or another, indeed, a very large part of his system; and, we may add, also the fundamental error of every form of Perfectionism.

Robert Mackintosh81 observes that one of the leading motives of Ritschl in his dogmatic volume is his “desire to find a remedy for the Protestant perplexity regarding the assurance of salvation.” And then he posits the dilemma which we have just cited from Ritschl, in somewhat different words. “Is it logical,” he asks, “to bid us discover defects in all our works in order that we may rest upon God’s grace, and yet to insist that we must have good works to submit lest we be moral impostors?” Why “perplexity” should be caused by such a question is inexplicable. The answer is simple. Certainly it is logical—provided salvation be a process. To find salvation in progress is as sound evidence of salvation as to find it completed—provided salvation be a supernatural work. The writers of the New Testament and the Reformers and their evangelical successors, agree in these two things—that salvation is a process and that it is a divine work. They recommend us therefore to recognize it as always here incomplete; to discover imperfection in all our works. And they recommend us equally to perceive in its discovery in us, in any stage of incompleteness whatever, the incontrovertible evidence that we are in God’s hands. There can be no assurance derived from any other source than evidence that we are in God’s hands; and that assurance is as firm and as vivid when the evidence is derived from the discovery that God is working, as it could be were it derived from the discovery that He had already worked, our salvation.

We are not dealing here, however, with merely an apex logicus. We are dealing with the very essence of Protestantism. The progressive character of salvation lies at the very heart of Protestantism’s heart, because (among other things) the Protestant doctrine of justification and its effects takes to a considerable extent its form from it. A large part of the religious value of the Protestant doctrine of justification, in its distinction from sanctification, is lost, if sanctification be not a process, the completion of which occupies the whole of life; if, that is, the injunction, “Work out your own salvation,” does not apply to the whole of the Christian’s walk on earth, but ought to be addressed to men only at some particular stage of their Christian experience—say, only at its beginning. For a large part of the religious value of this distinction turns on this—that the Christian’s hope of salvation (his assurance) does not depend on the stage of sanctification to which he has already attained. Sanctification being a process, and a process which reaches its completion only when this life is over, the discovery of sin remaining in him at any point of his earthly life is no proof that the Christian may not nevertheless be in Christ. In proportion as it is made the Christian’s duty not so much to work out his salvation continuously but to enjoy it at once in its completeness, the believer, conscious of sin, loses his confidence that he is a believer at all. If this attainment of complete salvation is made coincident with justification, all sense of continued sinfulness is a clear disproof of present salvation. The matter is only mitigated, not changed, by separating the attainment of complete sanctification in time from justification. Salvation involving taking this second step, the continued sense of sinfulness becomes evidence of failure of such portentousness as to shatter our peace and assurance. If it belongs to the Christian to be without sin, and to be without sense of sin—in this sense of the statement—then the fact of experience that we are not without sin and not without the sense of sin is pretty clear proof that we are not Christians. It is not a matter of little importance, then, that we should settle it with ourselves whether the characteristic of the Christian walk in the world is constant advance towards sinlessness, or complete present enjoyment of sinlessness. If the latter, then, gloss it as we will, no one is entitled to think of himself as a Christian, no one is justified in regarding himself as saved, unless he is in the possession of complete sinlessness. In that case the whole religious gain of the Reformation doctrine of justification in distinction from sanctification is lost, and we are thrown back again into the despairing task of determining our religious state and our future hope on the ground of our own merits.

It is no accident, therefore, that the Reformers presented the Christian life as a life of continuous dissatisfaction with self and of continuous looking afresh to Christ as the ground of all our hope. The effort of Ritschl to present the Christian life rather as a life of complete satisfaction with self tends not only altogether to undermine the entire evangelical system, but to strike a direct blow at that peace and joy of the Christian which it is his professed object to secure. For the Christian’s peace and joy are not and cannot be grounded in himself, but in Christ alone. He rejoices in the sufficiency of Christ’s saving work for him; his exultation is in a salvation made his despite his unworthiness of it. This joy obtains its peculiarity precisely from the coëxistence of dissatisfaction with self and satisfaction with Christ. The dissatisfaction with self does not mar it; it enhances it rather—because the more dissatisfaction we feel with ourselves the more the greatness of Christ’s salvation is manifest to us, and the more our delight in it waxes. Transfer the ground of our satisfaction from Christ to ourselves, and all satisfaction becomes at once impossible—except for the shallow souls who can find satisfaction in their own hearts and in the works which proceed from them. We have returned to medieval work-salvation: the very essence of Luther’s revolt turned on his inability to find satisfaction in self. We are not preaching, and Luther did not preach, a lugubrious Christianity, which is always and only preoccupied with shortcomings and failures. Of course the Christian delights in his salvation. Of course he has no impulse to depreciate what he has already received. Of course his joy is unbounded, and his peace supreme. But this only because—and only on the condition that he understands that—he has not yet “attained”; that what he has received is but the earnest of what is to come; that what he has already done or is now doing is not the ground, and what he already is is not the extent, of his hope. It belongs to the very essence of Christianity that we have not “attained”; and that is the same as saying that sanctification is in progress and there is more to come. The Christian who has stopped growing is dead; or to put it better, the Christian does not stop growing because he is not dead. Luther rightly says the Christian is not made but is in the making.

Precisely what Ritschl emphasizes, nevertheless, is that the satisfaction of the Christian has its ground in himself.82 We gather, however, that it does not take much to satisfy a Christian: a very imperfect perfection is perfection enough to make him perfect. We have observed how Ritschl sets his main contention in direct contradiction to the evangelical doctrine of the continuous dissatisfaction of the Christian with his attainments during this life. He does not admit, however, that he is also in conflict with Scripture. In this matter at least, he contends, the Reformers were at odds with the Scriptures. The exegetical justification of this contention he seeks to supply in a passage in the closing pages of the second volume of his main work which has become famous and which has exerted a greater influence than any other portion of his discussion of the perfection of the Christian.83 In this passage Ritschl declares that the relation in which the Reformers place the believer’s supposed consciousness of continued imperfection to justification was wholly unknown to Paul. Paul, of course, knew that Christians sinned; his epistles are full of the proofs of it. But he did not at all bring these sins into relation with justification. Moreover he had a very healthful sense of his own faithfulness in his vocational activity, and asserts it against all gainsayers. Nor was his self-satisfaction official alone. We cannot do otherwise than infer, Ritschl sums up,84 that “alongside of the conviction of justification through faith, a consciousness of personal moral perfection, especially of perfect faithfulness in our vocation, is possible, which is disturbed by no twinges of conscience.…” Paul accordingly arrogates to himself in this matter nothing which he does not accord to others. He distinctly presupposes that Christians as such possess not indeed a multiplicity of good works but a connected life-work which may properly be called good. Only John85 among the New Testament writers strikes a different note; and the note he strikes is not fundamentally different. He teaches, it is true, that believers continue to sin and need to have continued recourse to the Forgiver of sins (1 John 1:8, 9). But it does not follow that even in his teaching the self-consciousness of the Christian is to receive from this its dominant tone. Rather in this teaching also this is determined by the possibility of moral perfection. “From the pessimism with which Luther emphasized the constant imperfection and worthlessness of the moral activity of Christians, John is far removed. The sinful was to him still always only the exception in the Christian life, not the rule and an inevitable destiny.”86 As a conspectus of New Testament teaching, this representation is, of course, absurd. Nevertheless, Paul Wernle (after certain forerunners) took it up and elaborated it in his maiden book,87 thereby opening a controversy which threshed out such questions as whether we may speak of “Paul the ‘miserable sinner,’ ” and whether Paul knew anything of “the daily forgiveness of sins.” That, however, is another story.88

We may suppose that Ritschl could not have been led to such a representation of New Testament teaching save as a result of his low view of sin as in essence just ignorance. This made it possible for him to imagine that Paul, for example, never reflected on the relation of the abounding sin which he saw in the Christian communities to the justification of these sinners, and cherished in himself a consciousness of moral perfection in conjunction with the very poignant sense of personal unworthiness to which he gives expression. Some such representation was, however, forced on him by the most fundamental elements of his system of thought, if he was to preserve for his teaching any semblance of connection with the New Testament. There is his contention, for instance, that it is impossible for God “to love” and “to hate” the same person at the same time, which lies at the very root of his whole system. He had made use of it in framing and developing his remarkable doctrine of the “wrath of God.” Because God loves sinners and out of that love has chosen sinners to become sharers in His Kingdom and objects of His “redemption,” it is impossible, he says,89 to speak of the “wrath” of God with reference to sinners as such. God’s wrath is turned against those sinners alone who show themselves irreconcilably enemies of His Kingdom and despisers of His love, that is to say, the finally impenitent—if there be any finally impenitent. It does not burn against sinners as such, since all are sinners, and in that case none could be the objects of His “redemptive” love; it is a purely eschatological notion. Holding firmly to this irreducible either-or—that there can be no love of God present where His wrath is in any measure active, and no wrath of God where His love is in any measure active—Ritschl could not allow that the reconciled sinner could justly suffer under a continuous sense of guilt. No clouds could be admitted to obscure the Father’s countenance. The reconciled believer must not only bask in an unbroken but in an unsullied sense of the divine love. The Reformation doctrine that the Christian life is a continuous repentance, that the believer is conscious of continual shortcomings which, he knows, deserve the wrath of God, and is continually receiving unmerited forgiveness, was not merely repugnant, but impossible to him. He was compelled to develop a conception of the Christian life which inferred perfection. There could be no room in it, we do not say merely for distrust, fear, despondency, but for contrition, repentance, self-abasement. The very essence of the Christian life is for him necessarily freedom from these things. Precisely what “reconciliation” is to him is the discovery that God takes no account of sin in us. Not that we are freed from sin. But that it makes no difference whether we sin or not: God closes His eyes to our sin. This is of course an antinomian attitude. All perfectionist doctrines run into antinomianism. It is intrinsic in Ritschl’s low view of sin. What is at the moment important for us to note is that it enables us to understand that Ritschl is not willing to have the perfection which he proclaims for Christians measured by the standard of the moral law. Whatever the Christian may actually do, he is no “sinner,” and his conscience must not accuse him.

In order to sustain himself in this lamentable position Ritschl develops an unhappy argument designed to show that the moral law is in any event incapable of fulfilment. Not incapable of fulfilment by sinners only, but intrinsically and of its very nature incapable of fulfilment.90 This because it is in effect infinite in its demands: it claims the will simultaneously for illimitable requirements spread out through space, and the series of claims made by each of these requirements extends inimitably through time. The finite being is capable, however, of only one act at a time. And since it is impossible for him to do at once everything that falls under the category of the good, he is under no obligation to do it. What he is required to do, in point of fact, is not to fulfil the moral law in its abstract completeness, but to make of his life a moral whole, rounding it out in dutiful conduct in accordance with its intrinsic requirements as such a whole. It is the conception of vocation to which Ritschl appeals here to supply the limitation of duty by which it may be rendered capable of performance. “Everyone,” says he,91 “is moral in his behavior when he fulfils the universal law in his special vocation or in that combination of vocations which he is able to unite in his conduct of life.” Thus, we are told, “there is excluded every moral necessity to good actions on ends which do not fit in with the individual’s vocation,” and the “apparent obligation is invalidated that we have to act morally at every moment of time in all possible directions.”92 The situation, however, he perceives not to be relieved in this manner. The spatial infinity is cleared away, indeed, but the temporal remains. We are moving now in one, narrow path, but there is no end to it. “Even when the fulfilment of the moral law is confined to one’s own calling and what is analogous thereto, the series of good actions which are incumbent is still illimitable in time.”93 Relief can be found only in discarding all responsibility whatever to “statutory law”; that is, to externally imposed law. We “find the proximate norm which specifies for every one the morally necessary conduct in our moral vocation” itself, and thus vindicate the “autonomy of moral conduct.”94 We are under no law but such as is evolved out of our moral disposition in the course of our activities themselves: and we evolve this law, of course, only as it is needed and fulfil it as it is made. Thus, executing the particular judgments of duty as we form them, we preserve steadily, it seems, our perfection. “Under these circumstances,” says Ritschl,95 “and in this form the individual produces the moral law out of his freedom, or”—that is, in other words—“lives in the law of freedom.” We are therefore under no other law but “the law of freedom,” and “the universal statutory law” has no authority over us. Emancipated from all externally imposed law, we are a law to ourselves, and we recognize no other law as having dominion over us.

It can occasion no surprise, of course, that Ritschl, with his Kantian inheritance, should proclaim this doctrine of “autonomous morality.” Our interest is only in the particular form he gives it, and the use to which he puts it in expounding his views of Christian perfection. The assertion of the doctrine itself pervades the discussions of the dogmatic volume of his chief work.96 We turn for example to its very closing sentences;97 there all its chief elements are given crisp expression, precisely as we have drawn them out above from an earlier page. Christian perfection, he says, consists (together with the “religious functions”) just in “freedom of action.” In this freedom of action, the Christian, seeking the final end of the Kingdom of God, imposes on himself—“gives himself”—a “law.” He gives himself this law “by the production (Erzeugung) of principles and judgments of duty.” Thus the law which he follows, and by following which he manifests himself as what he ought to be, is his own product, developed, as means to its accomplishment, out of the aim (Endzweck) which he is pursuing. Not only is no “statutory law” (statutarisches Gesetz) imposed on him from without, but no immanent law is written on his heart by the finger of God.98 He evolves his own rules of life—his governing principles and his determinations of duty—out of himself, solely under the guidance of the end he is seeking. In the absolute freedom of his will he chooses his own end; and that end determines his rules of living for him. These are the elements of Ritschl’s ethics. God is concerned in them only so far as that He provides, through the “revelation” made by Christ, the end to which, freely adopted by them, the efforts of Christian men are freely directed—His own self-end, the “Kingdom of God.” The “moral law”—we are availing ourselves here of Fr. Luther’s exposition99—“is deduced by the men who appropriate this end out of themselves; it is a subjective product of the human moral will. It is the law which man in moral freedom gives himself so soon as he has established the advancement of the ‘Kingdom of God’ for himself as the self-end of his life-practice. He takes this advancement of the Kingdom of God as self-end to himself, however, so far as he has become conscious that thus his personal self-end—which he has already set before himself—is furthered. This self-end is the attainment of that moral, spiritual freedom which maintains itself triumphantly over against all hindrances from the world of nature. In ‘carrying through’ this ‘his self-end over against the world’ consists ‘the blessedness of the person.’ The Christian is therefore with reference to the establishment of the moral law dependent on God only in the one respect that the end of the ‘Kingdom of God,’ morally determining his life, is revealed to him by God through Christ. Otherwise he is morally ‘autonomous.’ ”

With this doctrine of autonomous morality Ritschl certainly seems to have found a basis on which he can pronounce Christian men really perfect. If we create our own moral law and create it in accordance both with our special ends in our particular vocations, and with our particular situation at each moment,100 there seems no reason why, measured by that standard, we should not be and remain “perfect.” Ritschl felicitates himself especially that with this understanding of the matter, the moral life of the individual becomes “a whole.” If duty is limited by the demands of our vocation (together with whatever else is associated with it), and determined by ourselves under our conceptions of those demands, no doubt a certain unity is acquired by our lives which gives them the aspect of “wholes in their kinds.” It is not so easy to assure ourselves that the kinds of which they are wholes are good kinds. Ritschl apparently would say that this is secured by the fact that all the vocations pursued by Christian men are pursued in subordination to the one great end of the Kingdom of God, God’s self-end communicated to us by Christ and made ours by the new attitude which we have taken to God in our justification. Meanwhile he exhibits a certain uneasiness here. The limitation of duty to the requirements of our vocations no doubt reduces the multiplicity of good works in which conduct manifests itself to an inwardly limited unity; that is, to a “whole.” “But,” he adds,101 “the whole that is so conceived is not yet perceived to be a thing which is also externally limited,” and here he reverts to a figure of speech before employed by him: “Even if the spatial unlimitedness of good works as measured by the universal statutory law be set aside, yet the temporal series of actions in our moral vocation appears to be endless.” Men’s consciences, it seems, are not easy in the facile solution of the question of their moral obligation which Ritschl offers them: they are not so sure that they have no duties which do not lie in the direct line of the prosecution of their callings, and none in this line which they have not yet recognized.

There seems no particular reason why Ritschl should permit himself to be disturbed by such pricks of conscience. To conscience, which to him is only “something picked up in the course of living,”102 surely no normative authority can be ascribed. He feels bound, however, to seek to quiet its qualms. He admits that his perfect men are disturbed by a sense of shortcoming and guilt. He suggests however that this may be only the result of an undesirable “self-torturing self-scrutiny,” which threatens, he complains, to “throw back the discussion on to the lines of the idea of good works from which we are trying to escape”—that is, the idea that we are really under moral obligation to do everything that is good. Conscience, the implication appears to be, ought to be kept under better control. And he has suggestions to offer in the way at least of soothing us under its assaults. We shall, no doubt, omit many actions even in the discharge of our calling which we might have performed, and we may impute their omission to ourselves as guilt and thus bring ourselves under an impression of perpetual imperfection. But consider! May we not find later that “the relaxation which we have allowed ourselves to take has served to increase our activity in our calling”? This seems to mean that we ought to have no scruples in omitting duties if it furthers us in our calling; a sentinel, for example, we suppose, is right to sleep on his post if it refreshes him for fighting on the morrow! Moreover—can we say that all omission of useful actions that are possible is wrong? Must we not confine the condemning judgment to the omission of actions which are morally necessary? Above all, Ritschl continues in an exposition which has fallen into the commendation of a purely negative morality—must we not remember that in order to be the “whole” which constitutes Christian perfection we need not be a very big “whole”? It is not necessary in order to be “perfect” that we shall be the biggest “whole” we can be. We may well content ourselves with being a moderatesized “whole.” If we are a perfect little “whole” we need not bother over the fact that we might have been a bigger whole had we striven harder. The point is not the quantity but the quality. “True, a whole, too, must be a quantum.… But a whole does not require as one of its conditions a quantitative extension ad infinitum.… He who in the moral fulfilment of his vocation is more indefatigable than his neighbor, merely makes the whole possibly greater, while he also possibly imperils its existence.”103 The moral seems to be that we perhaps would do well not to try to be too good; economy in goodness may be a good thing; we may overreach ourselves and by excess of goodness become bad.

We shall make no attempt to conceal our conviction that Ritschl’s effort to show that we may be “perfect,” by limiting ever more and more the sphere of our moral activities—though it has the element of truth in it that our moral duty is conditioned by our vocation—is not only ineffective but immoral. At the moment, we are more concerned to point out, however, that the attempt itself, and the manner in which it is worked out, combine to make it superabundantly plain that Ritschl’s purpose is to represent a real moral perfection as attainable by Christians; or in other words that Ritschl teaches, in the proper sense of the words, a perfectionist doctrine. His method of showing that perfection is attainable is, to be sure, to show that we can be perfect without being all that term strictly connotes. This general method of vindicating the attainability of perfection, however, he shares with all perfectionist teaching. His special mode of giving a color of perfection to manifest imperfection is all that is his own. He has the courage of his convictions here too, and separates himself from the modes adopted by others, with some decision. In particular he plumes himself greatly that he is not as other men are in the matter of the relaxation of the law—limiting ability by obligation and confining sin to deliberate transgression of known law. Of course the typical examples of the reprobated teaching are supplied by the relaxed and relaxing teaching of the Illumination, which, says Ritschl,104 “trifled away the Christian problem of reconciliation … by referring men’s obligation towards God’s law to the relative criterion of their internal and external situation.” He adduces Töllner to whom nothing was sin but sins of “set purpose,” and who taught at once that obedience to the strict law of righteousness is impossible and that in the administration of God, therefore, no absolute standard of moral perfection is applied but every man is judged according to his ability. But Ritschl does not confine his condemnation of such conceptions to them as found in the teachers of the Illumination. They are found in orthodox writers too, he says, and wherever found are offensive. They are found, too, he says,105 in the Methodist doctrine of perfection, which also he represents as a mere evasion—“casuistry” is his word—teaching as it does that “not every transgression of the law is sin,” and that “it is possible not to sin even when actually doing wrong to others.” We perceive that Ritschl holds strongly that every transgression of moral law is sin and that there can be no perfection where the whole moral law is not kept. His mode of escape is to deny the validity of all “statutory law.” There is no such thing as a universal moral law imposing duty in all its items on all men alike. Each man secretes for himself his own moral law, and in order to be perfect must fulfil only it in all its requirements.

We must confess that we do not see that, on the basis of this general doctrine, Ritschl can escape sharing the reproach of his fellow perfectionists—that they relax the law of God and confine sin to transgression of known law. To explain that not the entire moral law in all its range—in space and in time, he would say—applies as prescription of duty to the individual, but only those moral obligations which arise into consciousness in the process of the faithful prosecution of his vocation, is rather expressly to place himself in the same category with them. For surely this is to make “the internal and external situation” of the individual the criterion of his duty, and to confine sin in him to the deliberate transgression of moral requirements clearly known to him. There is eliminated from his obligation the whole body of duties which the moral law, considered in its entirety, prescribes outside the special consciousness of duty developed by him in the faithful prosecution of his particular vocation. That this general moral law is a reality and constitutes the general standard of duty can hardly be denied even on the ground of a doctrine of autonomous morality. We surely are not expected to believe that each individual develops in the prosecution of his special calling not so much the section of the moral law applicable to him, but a so-called moral law, peculiarly his own, unrelated to, perhaps contradictory of, those evolved by others. These sections of the moral law, developed by individuals, must therefore in combination constitute a general moral law, the whole of which is authoritative, though it is known only in part to each individual. If this be not admitted, then there is no such thing as morality. What we call morality has become only what in each individual’s case he has discovered by experience to be the most useful “trick of the trade” for him. Ritschl, then, has no advantage in the matter in question over his fellows, and his doctrine of perfection is perceived to be only another attempt to quiet the human conscience in its condemnation of the imperfections of our lives, by persuading it that its duty does not extend beyond our actual performance; and to betray it into finding satisfaction in our imperfection as if it were, in our “internal and external situation,” really perfection.

It does not appear that Ritschl’s doctrine of Christian perfection has reproduced itself as a whole very extensively. Its influence can be traced, however, in many quarters. We have already called attention to the controversy aroused by Paul Wernle’s book on “The Christian and Sin in Paul,” which took its start from Ritschl’s exposition of Paul’s doctrine of sin in Christians. In the wake of this controversy, it has become the fashion among a certain school of “liberal” writers to represent Paul as teaching a doctrine of perfection for Christians. David Somerville cannot be classed with these writers; but his description of Paul’s relation to sin in his “St. Paul’s Conception of Christ,” 1897,106 has derived much from Ritschl’s. In H. H. Wendt’s “Die christliche Lehre von der menschlichen Vollkommenheit untersucht,” 1882, the whole circle of Ritschl’s characteristic ideas reappears, transposed into a lower key. But not only is the entire thought and expression simplified, but the asperities and exaggerations of Ritschl’s doctrines are eliminated. What is left is merely the reasonable assertion that man attains in Christianity and in Christianity alone his human perfection, a perfection manifested in its completeness in Christ Himself and in His followers principally and qualitatively here, but not hereafter quantitatively. Strangely enough Paul Lobstein takes from Ritschl’s treatment of Christian perfection the mould into which he pours his exposition of Calvin’s doctrine of “the goal of the new life,” in the last chapter of his “Die Ethik Calvins,” 1877. Perhaps no more striking manifestation of a disciple’s zeal could be afforded. “It is Ritschl’s service,” he says,107 in explanation of his remarkable procedure, “to have investigated the idea of Christian perfection in a true Evangelical-reformed spirit, and introduced it into Christian ethics.”

Ritschl’s commentators naturally often express a favorable opinion of his doctrine of perfection, either as a whole or more frequently in one or another of its elements. The element in it which seems most commonly to attract favorable notice is, as it is natural it should be, the emphasis given to the notion of vocation. Garvie says shortly:108 “This conception of Ritschl’s is a very valuable one, and deserves our grateful recognition.” When he comes to reproduce, however, what Ritschl’s doctrine of Christian perfection is, he rather overdoes an element in it, which is already in Ritschl quite sufficiently exaggerated. “It does not mean,” says Garvie, “infallibility of judgment, sinlessness of life, moral completeness; but it does mean that in his relation to God man is conscious of his own worth as a child of God, of his own claims on the grace of God, of his own independence of nature and society.” The note of “humility” which is at least formally present in Ritschl’s exposition is not heard here. Mozley expresses himself with even more enthusiasm of admiration than Garvie. Ritschl’s handling of the subject, he says,109 “is strikingly illuminating and of real help to piety.” He particularly commends the use which Ritschl makes of the idea of vocation. This doctrine, says he, “that a man should try to be faithful to his particular vocation, and make his life a whole in its own order, and that therein lies Christian perfection, is exceedingly valuable, since it banishes the hopeless sense of imperfection, of inability even to approach the goal of effort, which must result if any one compares himself with the universal moral law, and sees perfection in conformity thereto.” The lesser task is no doubt the easier: but we should be sorry to suppose that fact abolishes the greater.

An earlier English expositor110—we understand it to be Archibald Duff, Jr.—throws the emphasis of his agreement upon another point. What Ritschl seeks to describe, he says, using phraseology of his own, is “what the atonement effects, what are the results of it in men,” or otherwise expressed, “what a man is who has been reconciled to God through Jesus.” The answer given is that such a man is “perfect.” “If,” he now adds, “there be men on whom God now looks with full pleasure (for what else does ‘reconciled’ mean?), if there be men whom God thus regards as perfect, let us know what are the characteristics of such men.” Evangelical Christians, however, are not accustomed to suppose, that the fact that God looks on “reconciled” men “with full pleasure” infers their perfection. They think of Christ, and suppose that the satisfaction of God is with Him as Redeemer, rather than with them, the redeemed. They would by no means agree, therefore, that the faith of the soul “that God and it are reconciled is faith that at that moment God is satisfied with its being what it is.” They suppose on the contrary, that God is so little satisfied with what the soul is that He does not intend to leave it in that condition. God cannot be satisfied with any soul in which any depravity whatever remains, nor can that soul—on the hypothesis that it is a “reconciled” soul—be satisfied with itself. The truth is that this feeling of “satisfaction,” the characteristic tone of mind which Ritschl demands for the believer, a demand which Duff is here echoing from him, is so far from being the mark of the Christian’s life that it would be the signature of his death. Ritschl complains that unless the possibility of attaining perfection be held before Christians all impulse to effort dies in them. He forgets that dissatisfaction with their present condition supplies a much more powerful spur to effort. No doubt the Christian must be animated by hope of improvement if he is to strive with energy to advance in his course. But why this hope should take the specific form of conviction that the supreme goal of this improvement is within his easy reach at any time, if only he will take it, it is difficult to see. And should he once reach out and take it—surely that motive to exertion would at once be lost. He would then be “satisfied” and would have no motive for further effort. It is a much more powerful incitement to effort that he should know the evil of the case in which he is, the difficulty of the task which lies before him, the always increasing reward of the journey as it goes forward, and the supreme greatness of the final attainment.

We should not pass on without a further word or two suggested by the assumption which underlies Duff’s remarks, that to be reconciled with God is to be perfect. There is a sense in which this is Ritschl’s doctrine. But this is not the sense in which it is Duff’s doctrine. And it is not the sense in which it is the doctrine of many of Ritschl’s critics. We have had occasion to point out that in the interests of the “perfection” of his Christians Ritschl was ready to limit the law to which they are responsible, and in that regard cannot escape the charge of “relaxing the law.” But his zeal nevertheless was precisely for morality—though a limited “autonomous morality”; and he never dreamed that morality could be had merely by believing, without being conquered, without effort. It is even true, as we have seen, and as Heinrich Münchmeyer, for example, is at pains clearly to point out,111 that the Christianity of the Christian consists according to Ritschl precisely in his morality, and that whatever religion he is allowed to have is subsidiary and ancillary to his morality.

We find ourselves accordingly in substantial agreement with Münchmeyer when he writes thus:112 “It is now clearer what the real state of the case is with Ritschl. Man is to supplement himself by God, with God’s help to attain his destination by dominating as spirit the world and its influences upon him; and to labor as member of the human society at its God-appointed destiny. The first he attains through appropriation of reconciliation, the second through appropriation of the divine world-end which is directed to the Kingdom of God. It follows that for Ritschl communion with God is only a means to an end, to the end that man shall attain his destiny, which, however, does not coincide with the Kingdom of God but is only purposed, that is to say, conditioned by it. I cannot comprehend why Ritschl does not, according to his presuppositions, set forth as the destination of man, to labor, in spiritual freedom from the world, on the moral organization of humanity in the Kingdom of God—which destination he attains through the relation in which he places himself to God. In that case, the task of Christianity would of course be merely a moral one. But in any case it is not in Ritschl of a religious kind, but a rational and an ethical one, and the character of Christianity as religion is only so far preserved by him that humanity attains its rational and moral destination in dependence on God. This dependence on God would remain preserved, however, even had Ritschl more logically posited only the moral aim for Christianity. I say again, it is simply a self-deception when it is supposed that Ritschl teaches a religious and a moral destination of Christianity; in reality there is question with him only of a rational and moral destination, which however certainly cannot be set in parallelism. In reality there can be only a moral destination of Christianity according to Ritschl.”

This criticism is just. Ritschl’s system is a one-sided ethical system and in principle reduces Christianity to a morality. But that affords no reason why it should be met by an equally one-sided construction of Christianity as a purely religious system. This is, however, what is done by Münchmeyer in fellowship with many others, zealous for “faith” as constituting the whole substance of Christianity. Man’s destination, he declares, is uniquely “communion with God,” though he is forced to add that men have always felt that it was precisely sin which separated them from God, and have accordingly sought after atonement for sin. “When according to this,” he asks,113 “is man perfect?” And he answers: “When he has found his God in faith, when in faith he knows Him as his Father and himself as His child. Then his heart has peace, he desires no more. That is what the Augsburg Confession means when it places Christian perfection in ‘serious fear of God and again the conceiving of great faith and confidence for Christ’s sake that we have a reconciled God.’ For only by the way of repentance do we come to faith in the grace of God. He who has been brought to this faith—‘I have a reconciled God’—he is perfect. And the more he grows and waxes strong in this faith, the more joyful will his heart be. Joy, however, as Ritschl says, (and in this I agree with him) is the feeling of perfection. And thus it is fully explained why Paul and the Reformers and our theologians place reconciliation so completely in the center; for by it alone is the communion with God which constitutes our perfection, made possible.” According to this representation perfection consists entirely in our religious relation; produced directly by reconciliation it is just the reconciled state; and it is realized subjectively in the soul-attitude we call faith. To be “in faith” (im Glauben) is to be ipso facto “perfect.” Good works are only the natural activities of one in communion with God. They have no other significance. When we sin, that is a proof that our faith has failed; and that drives us back to faith. “So soon as the Christian has found in faith His God’s heart again, he is perfect.” The perfection of the Christian, in a word, consists solely in a relation.

In their conceptions of the nature of Christian perfection, considered in itself, Ritschl and his followers and those of his critics represented by Münchmeyer obviously are looking, each at one side only of the same shield. Each holds, each denies, half the truth. What is lacking in Münchmeyer’s construction is that he has in view only the guilt of sin. It is sin, says he, which separates us from God: when we are relieved from sin we are at one with God and rejoice in communion with Him. He is thinking only of the guilt of sin: what of its pollution? The Reformers did not make that mistake. They knew that the blessedness of the Christian consists not only in abiding in the presence of God but also in partaking of His holiness. They remembered that without holiness no one shall see the Lord. They did not oppose communion with God and holiness to each other: they understood that these are inseparable from each other. Ritschl is not wholly wrong in making morality the end of Christianity: John Wesley is undeniably right when he says that holiness is the substance of salvation. Ritschl was right when he emphasized the moral nature of Christianity as a religion, and saw it advancing to a Kingdom of Righteousness. He rightly wished to relate his so-called religious aspect of Christianity to his so-called ethical aspect; and he was not wholly wrong in looking at this relation under the rubric of means and end. He was wrong, of course, in exalting the moral aspect of Christianity into practically its totality; in reducing the religious aspect from the primary place it occupies in the New Testament to almost a mere name. In his hatred of supernaturalism, he gives us no God to flee to, and no God to visit us. His total discarding of what he calls “mysticism” is really the total discarding of vital religion. His whole labor impresses the reader as a sustained effort to work out a religious system without real religion; or, with respect to our present subject, to make out an issue of justification into sanctification without any real justification to issue into sanctification and without any real sanctification for justification to issue into. The peculiarities of Ritschl’s dualistic conception of Christianity and his treatment of the matters which fall under the relations of justification and sanctification arise from his determination to have only a self-moralization instead of a sanctification for believers. His antisupernaturalism rules everywhere and here, too, as in his system at large, we have only a camouflaged Rationalism. Nevertheless, it is a good witness which he bears when he testifies that there is no perfection which is not ethical. And this is the witness of the Augsburg Confession also. For Münchmeyer quotes only a part of its declaration. He omits the concern shown in it for “all our undertakings according to our vocation.” And he omits the inclusion in its definition of Christian perfection itself of these words: “meanwhile diligently doing good works and serving our vocation.” It is “in these things” as well as in the others “that true perfection and the true worship of God consist.” There is no perfection whether partium or graduum without them in their due relations: without them no man is a Christian and no man, of course, therefore, can without them be called “perfect.”114



Article I


It belongs to the very essence of the type of Christianity propagated by the Reformation that the believer should feel himself continuously unworthy of the grace by which he lives. At the center of this type of Christianity lies the contrast of sin and grace; and about this center everything else revolves. This is in large part the meaning of the emphasis put in this type of Christianity on justification by faith. It is its conviction that there is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only “when we believe.” It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place, or that can take a place along with Him. We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace. Though blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, we are still in ourselves just “miserable sinners”: “miserable sinners” saved by grace to be sure, but “miserable sinners” still, deserving in ourselves nothing but everlasting wrath. That is the attitude which the Reformers took, and that is the attitude which the Protestant world has learned from the Reformers to take, toward the relation of believers to Christ.

There is emphasized in this attitude the believer’s continued sinfulness in fact and in act; and his continued sense of his sinfulness. And this carries with it recognition of the necessity of unbroken penitence throughout life. The Christian is conceived fundamentally in other words as a penitent sinner.3 But that is not all that is to be said: it is not even the main thing that must be said. It is therefore gravely inadequate to describe the spirit of “miserable-sinner Christianity” as “the spirit of continuous but not unhopeful penitence.” It is not merely that this is too negative a description, and that we must at least say, “the spirit of continuous though hopeful penitence.” It is a wholly uncomprehending description, and misplaces the emphasis altogether. The spirit of this Christianity is a spirit of penitent indeed, but overmastering exultation. The attitude of the “miserable sinner” is not only not one of despair; it is not even one of depression; and not even one of hesitation or doubt; hope is too weak a word to apply to it. It is an attitude of exultant joy. Only this joy has its ground not in ourselves but in our Savior. We are sinners and we know ourselves to be sinners, lost and helpless in ourselves. But we are saved sinners; and it is our salvation which gives the tone to our life, a tone of joy which swells in exact proportion to the sense we have of our ill-desert; for it is he to whom much is forgiven who loves much, and who, loving, rejoices much. Adolf Harnack declares that this mood was brought into Christianity by Augustine. Before Augustine the characteristic frame of mind of Christians was the racking unrest of alternating hopes and fears. Augustine, the first of the Evangelicals, created a new piety of assured rest in God our Savior, and the psychological form of this new piety was, as Harnack phrases it,4 “solaced contrition,”—affliction, for sin, yes, the deepest and most poignant remorse for sin, but not unrelieved remorse, but appeased remorse. There is no other joy on earth like that of appeased remorse: it is not only in heaven but on earth also that the joy over one sinner that repents surpasses that over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance.

The type of piety brought in by Augustine was pushed out of sight by the emphasis on human graces which marked the Middle Ages. Luther brought it back. His own experience fixed ineradicably in his heart the conviction that he was a “miserable sinner,” deserving of death, and alive only through the inexplicable grace of God. What we call his conversion was his discovery of this bitter-sweet fact. He had tried to think highly of himself. He found that he could not do so. But he found also that he could not possibly think too highly of Christ. And so it became his joy to be a “miserable sinner,” resting solely on the grace of Christ; and to preach the gospel of the “miserable sinner” to the world. This is the very hinge on which his Reformation turns, and of course, Luther gave expression to it endlessly in those documents in which his Reformation-work has been preserved to us.

He is never weary of setting the two aspects in which the “miserable sinner” may be viewed side by side. “These things,” he says, in one place,5 “are diametrically opposed—that the Christian is righteous and loved of God, yet is at the same time a sinner. For God cannot deny His nature, that is, cannot but hate sin and sinners, and this He does necessarily, for otherwise He would be unjust and would love sin. How then are these two contradictories both true: I am sinful and deserve the divine wrath and hatred; and the Father loves me? Nothing at all brings it about except Christ the Mediator. The Father, He says, loves you, not because you are worthy of love, but because you have loved Me and believed that I came forth from Him. Thus the Christian remains in pure humility, deeply sensible of his sin, and acknowledging himself, on its account, to be deserving of God’s wrath and judgment and eternal death.… He remains also at the same time in pure and holy pride, in which he turns to Christ and arouses himself through Him against this sense of wrath and the divine judgment, and believes not only that the remainders of sin are not imputed to him, but also that he is loved by the Father, not on his own account but on account of Christ the Beloved.”

“A Christian,” says Luther again,6 “is at the same time a sinner and a saint; he is at once bad and good. For in our own person we are in sin, and in our own name we are sinners. But Christ brings us another name in which there is forgiveness of sin, so that for His sake our sin is forgiven and done away. Both then are true. There are sins … and yet there are no sins. The reason is that for Christ’s sake, God will not see them. They exist for my eyes; I see them, and feel them, too. But Christ is there who bids me preach that I am to repent … and then believe in the forgiveness of sin in His name.… Where such faith is, therefore, God no longer sees sin. For thou standest there for God not in thy name but in Christ’s name; thou dost adorn thyself with grace and righteousness although in thine own eyes and in thine own person, thou art a miserable sinner (armer Sünder).… Let not that, however, scare you to death.… Speak, rather, thus: Ah, Lord, I am a miserable sinner (armer Sünder), but I shall not remain such; for Thou hast commanded that forgiveness of sins be preached in Thy name.… Thus our Lord Jesus Christ alone is the garment of grace that is put upon us, that God our Father may not look upon us as sinners but receive us as righteous, holy, godly children, and give us eternal life.”

“We, however, teach,” he says again,7 “that we are to learn to know and regard Him, as Him who sits there for the poor, stupid conscience, if so be that we believe on Him, not as a judge … but as a gracious, kind, comforting mediator between my frightened conscience and God; and says to me—You are a sinner, and are afraid that the devil will drag you by the law before the judgment seat; come then and hold fast to me, and fear no wrath. Why? Because I sit here for the very purpose that if you believe in me, I can come between you and God so that no wrath or evil can touch you. For if wrath and punishment go over you, they must first go over me, and that is not possible.… Therefore we are all through faith altogether blissful and safe, so that we shall abide uncondemned, not for the sake of our own purity and holiness, but for Christ’s sake, because, through such faith, we hold on to Him as our Mercy-seat, assured that in and with Him no wrath can remain, but pure love, indulgence, forgiveness.”

Embedded in the Protestant formularies, both doctrinal and devotional, this “miserable-sinner” conception of the Christian life has moulded the piety of all the Protestant generations. Throughout the Protestant world believers confess themselves to be, still as believers, wrath-deserving sinners; and that not merely with reference to their inborn sinful nature as yet incompletely eradicated, but with reference also to their total life-manifestation which their incompletely eradicated sinful nature flows into and vitiates. Their continued sinning, indeed, is already confessed whenever they repeat the Lord’s Prayer, since, among the very few petitions included in it, is the very emphatic one: “Forgive us our trespasses.”8 Naturally therefore, the expositions of this prayer, designed for the instruction of the several Churches in their attitude toward God, are the special depository of pointed reminders to believers of their continual sinning. Luther, for example, incorporates a very full and searching exposition of “the Fifth Petition” into his Large Catechism, in which he affirms that “we sin daily in words and deeds, by commission and omission,” and warns us that “no one is to think that so long as he lives here below he can bring it about that he does not need such forgiveness”; that, in fact, “unless God forgives without cessation, we are lost.”9 It is by his Short Catechism of 1529, however, that Luther has kept his hand most permanently on the instruction of the Churches. In it he teaches the catechumen to say that “God richly forgives me and all believers every day, all our sins,” “for we sin much every day and deserve nothing but punishment.”10 In the instructions for the confessional coming from the hand of Luther which were soon incorporated into this Short Catechism, the believing penitent accordingly is told to say “I, miserable sinner (armer Sünder), confess myself before God guilty of all manner of sins.…”11 The hold which this teaching has taken of the devotional expressions of the Lutheran Churches may be illustrated by the presence in the new Agenda of the National Prussian Church of a Confession of Sin for the whole congregation which runs thus: “We confess … that we were conceived and born in sin; and, full of ignorance and heedlessness of Thy divine word and will, always prone to all wickedness and slack to all good, we transgress Thy divine commandments unceasingly in thoughts, words and deeds.”12 Naturally it retains its place in the forms of service adopted for “the three bodies” of American Lutherans. In the German form13 the Confession of Sin takes this shape: “I, poor sinful man, confess to God, the Almighty, my Creator and Redeemer, that I not only have sinned in thoughts, words and deeds, but also was conceived and born in sin, and so all my nature and being is deserving of punishment and condemnation before His righteousness. Therefore I flee to His gratuitous mercy and seek and beseech His grace. Lord, be merciful to me, miserable sinner (armen Sünder).” The English form is to the same effect.14

It is the same in the Reformed Churches as in the Lutheran: catechisms and liturgies alike embody the confession of the continued sinfulness of the Christian, and his continued dependence on the forgiving grace of Christ. In Calvin’s Catechism the catechumen is made to declare that there is no man living so righteous that he does not need to make request for the forgiveness of his sins, that Christ has therefore prescribed a prayer for forgiveness of sins for the whole Church, and that he who would exempt himself from it “refuseth to bee of the companie of Christes flocke: and in very deed the scriptures doe plainlie testifie, that the most perfect man that is, if he would alleadge one point to justifie him selfe thereby before God, should bee found faultie in a thousand.” “It is meete therefore,” it concludes, “that everie man have a recourse continually unto Gods mercie.”15 When expounding at an earlier point16 the clause in the Creed, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins,” it is said that God “doeth freely forgive all the sinnes of them which beleeve in him,” the comprehensiveness of the language is intended to include in the declaration sins committed after as well as before the inception of faith. And therefore, when good works come to be treated of,17 it is said that they are “not worthy of themselves to be accepted,” “because there is mixed some filth through the infirmity of the flesh, whereby they are defiled.” They are accepted by God therefore “onely because it pleaseth God of his goodnesse to love us freely, and so to cover and forget our faultes.”

The teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism is to the same effect. We increase our guilt daily, we are told;18 our whole Christian life is occupied with a conflict against sin and the devil;19 and our best works in this life are imperfect and defiled with sin.20 To the question whether those that have been converted can keep God’s law perfectly, it is answered explicitly, “No, but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience, yet so that with earnest purpose they begin to live, not only according to some but according to all the commandments of God.”21 As in Calvin’s Catechism, the most comprehensive language is employed, however, in expounding the clause of the Creed on the forgiveness of sins. “I believe, that God for the Satisfaction of Christ,” we read, “hath quite put out of his Remembrance all my Sins, and even that Corruption also, wherewith I must strive all my Life long.”22 And naturally the exposition of “the Fifth Petition” of the Lord’s Prayer23 is the occasion for repeating that we are “miserable sinners” (arme Sünder) burdened not merely with the evil which always still clings to us, but also with numerous transgressions.

Perhaps this series of truths never received crisper statement, however, than at the hands of John Craig in his larger Catechism (1581), on the basis whether of the article of the Creed or of the petition of the Prayer.24 “Why is remission of sinnes put here? Because it is proper to the Church and members of the same. Wherefore is it proper to the Church only? Because in the Church onely is the spirit of faith and repentance.… How oft are our sinnes forgiuen vs? Continually euen unto our liues end. What need is there of this? Because sinne is neuer thoroughlie abolished here.” “What seeke we in this fift petition? Remission of our sinnes, or spirituall debts.… Should euery man pray thus continually? Yes, for all flesh is subiect to sinne. But sometimes men doe good thinges? Yet they sin in the best thinge they doe.”

The Calvinistic liturgies naturally also reflect this universal Reformed doctrine. The Confession of Sins contained in the liturgy which was published by Calvin in 1542 and which passed into the use of all the French-speaking Reformed Churches, has been universally admired. Its beauty, says E. Lacheret, has been proclaimed with one voice; Christian sentiment finds in it one of its purest and strongest expressions: “brief, sober, solemn, it expresses in a grave style and penetrating tone, the grief of the penitent soul, its appeal to the divine mercy, its desire for a new and holy life.”25 Its opening prayer in the form in which it has been long used in the English-speaking French Protestant Church of Charleston, S. C., runs thus:26 “O Lord God! Eternal and Almighty Father! we confess before thy Divine Majesty that we are miserable sinners,27 born in corruption and iniquity,28 prone to evil, and of ourselves incapable of any good.29 We acknowledge that we transgress in various ways30 thy holy commandments, so that we draw down on ourselves, through thy righteous judgment, condemnation and death.”

The brief Catechism of the Church of England, although very plainly presuming the continuous sinning of Christians, naturally contains nothing explicit on the subject. Whatever may be lacking in it is abundantly made up, however, in the Articles and Prayers. The Articles not only affirm that “the infection of nature” derived by every man from Adam “doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated” and has in them “the nature of sin” (ix.); but also that he can do no good works which can endure the severity of God’s judgment (xii.), and very explicitly that all men, except Christ alone, “although baptized and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (xv.). They are therefore to be condemned, we are told, “which say they can no more sin as long as they live here” (xvi.). With respect to the Prayers we have only to bear in mind the Exhortation, General Confession, and Absolution with which both the Morning and Evening Services begin; or indeed only the Litany, in which specifically God’s people abase themselves before Him as “miserable sinners” and beseech His forgiveness and holy keeping. The enumeration in the General Confession of the modes of sinning of which the petitioners are guilty is exceedingly comprehensive, and yet is keyed wholly to the experience of believers. In the exhortation in response to which their confession is made, they are addressed as “dearly beloved brethren,” and God is designated as their “heavenly Father,” from whose “infinite goodness and mercy” they are receiving and are further to look for all things requisite for the welfare of both body and soul. Yet they are represented as guilty of “manifold sins and wickedness,” and are led by the minister in this Confession: “Almighty and most merciful Father: We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us.” Their only refuge is in the Lord; and the cry is therefore at once appended:—“But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults. Restore thou them that are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord.” That is the very spirit of the “miserable sinner,” as is also the closing petition of the prayer: “And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake; That we may hereafter lead a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of Thy holy Name. Amen.” The note which sounds here is precisely the same as that which rings out in the Easter Litany of the Moravian Church: “We miserable sinners (armen Sünder) pray that Thou wouldest hear us, dear Lord and God!”31

It has not always been easy through the Protestant ages to maintain in its purity this high attitude of combined shame of self and confidence in the mercy of God in Christ. But even in the worst of times it has not been left without witnesses. There is Zinzendorf, for example.32 It was in an evil day of abounding Rationalism that he rediscovered for himself and for his followers a “miserable-sinner Christianity.” He gave the term as recovered by him for daily use in his brotherhood a particular coloring of his own; sentimentalized it, if we may so say; and especially made it vivid by means of a very specialized analogy. The terms “sin,” “sinner,” are used in German, with a less prevailing religious reference than in English, in the general sense of “offence,” “culprit”; and it happens to have come about that in the popular German speech the customary designation of the condemned criminal awaiting the gallows is precisely “the miserable sinner.”33 The implication is that all the resources of such an one have been exhausted: he stands stripped, destitute, desperate before his doom. Seizing upon this accident of usage, Zinzendorf bids the Christian see in the condemned criminal the image of himself: in this thoroughly specialized sense also the Christian is a “miserable sinner.” Not indeed the merely condemned criminal. He is in Christ, and for what he is in Christ is this condemned criminal snatched from the gallows by the mere clemency of one on whom he has no claim. He is therefore distinctively the pardoned criminal; and therefore his immediate preoccupation is less with the guilt from which he has escaped than with the deliverance which he has received. “The most solid distinction between an honest disciple of the no doubt still lingering old teachers who were known as Pietists, Spenerites, Halleites and a ‘Brother …’ is this: the former commonly has his misery always before his eyes and glances only for his necessary comforting to the wounds of Christ,—the latter has always before his eyes the finished reconciliation and Jesus’ blood and only for his necessary humbling casts an occasional glance on his misery.”

Zinzendorf pushes his simile into details and insists on the application of them all. Having J. K. Dippel’s rationalizing doctrine of the Atonement in mind, he declares that the deliverance of the believer from the punishment due to his sin is accomplished in no other way than that of the thief from the gallows—not through future good behavior, but out of pure mercy. And like the thief, he owes not only his escape from the immediately impending gallows but whatever further existence is accorded to him, continuously to the mere favor of his deliverer. Thus through every moment of his life the believer is absolutely dependent on the grace of Christ, and when life is over he still has nothing to plead but Christ’s blood and righteousness. Very complete expression is given to this conception in the noble hymn, “Christ’s Blood and Righteousness,” some of the pungency of which is lost in John Wesley’s translation of it, excellent as that translation is in transmitting the general sense. The blood of Christ, says Zinzendorf here, is his sole comfort and hope, on which alone he builds in life or in death: yea, even though by God’s grace he should attain to a life of unbroken faithfulness in His service, and should keep himself clean from all sin whatever up to the grave itself—he should still, when he came to stand before the Lord, have no thought of “goodness” and “godliness,” but would say only, “Here comes a sinner who depends on the great Ransom alone.” The poignancy of that declaration is inadequately expressed by Wesley’s

“When from the dust of death I rise,

To claim my mansion in the skies,

Even then this shall be all my plea,

Jesus hath lived and died for me.”

It must not be imagined because of its hypothetical supposition in this hymn, that Zinzendorf allowed the possibility of the believer’s actually living free from sin “up to the grave.” Sanctification with him was most decisively held to be a process which reaches its end only when we are freed from the limitations of sense; and his rejection of all perfectionist notions is so decisive as almost to seem harsh. “Should any one say,” he says, “he was in sensu perfectissimo done with sin, and had hoc respectu no longer to strive, he would be a fanatic or arrogant fool.”34 He is particularly decisive in his rejection of the Quietistic view of sanctification. That, says he, carries with it an ideal of the Christian life, with its passivity, apathy, freedom from trepidation, which can find no example in Christ. No, the believer strives against sin all his life, and is never without failings; and from his well-grounded fear of sinning arises a powerful, ever present motive to watchfulness and effort. He has nothing to depend on but Christ, and Christ is enough; but that does not relieve him from the duty of cleansing his life from sin, but rather girds his loins for the struggle. The necessity for the continuance of the struggle means, of course, the continuance of sin to struggle against. As one of Zinzendorf’s critics puts it:35 “To feel himself a ‘miserable sinner’ never has the meaning with him of desisting from the moral task or of attributing less value to it than to religious experience. On the other side it is equally excluded that this doctrine amounts to a new form of self-torturing after a pietistic fashion. For it is precisely against the self-torturing of that narrow-hearted, unfruitful practice of penitence,36 rich in illusions and disillusions, of the dominant pietism, that Zinzendorf’s system is emphatically directed. It is not his meaning that a Christian man should be of a sour countenance, and hang his head; he hates the dejected and grumbling piety which comes to nothing except the repetition of its dirges. He requires and exemplifies a joyous Christianity.” “Miserable-sinner Christianity” is equally removed from self-asserting and self-tormenting Christianity, which is as much as to say from Rationalism and Pietism. It is Christ-trusting Christianity, and casts its orbit around that center. And when we say Christ-trusting Christianity, it must be intended not merely negatively but positively. The “miserable-sinner Christian” not merely finds absolutely nothing but Christ in which to repose any trust, but he actually trusts—trusts, with all that that means—in Christ.

In those same bad days of the eighteenth century “miserable-sinner Christianity” was rediscovered also for themselves by the English Evangelicals. We may take Thomas Adam as an example. His like-minded biographer, James Stillingfleet, tells us37 how, having been awakened to the fact that he was preaching essentially a work-religion, he was at last led to the truth, not without some reading of Luther, it is true, but particularly by the prayerful study of the Epistle to the Romans. “He was,” writes his biographer, “rejoiced exceedingly; found peace and comfort spring up in his mind; his conscience was purged from guilt through the atoning blood of Christ, and his heart set at liberty to run the way of God’s commandments without fear, in a spirit of filial love and holy delight; and from that hour he began to preach salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone, to man by nature and practice lost, and condemned under the law, and, as his own expression is, Always a sinner.” In this italicized phrase, Adam had in mind of course our sinful nature, a very profound sense of the evil of which coloured all his thought. In one of those piercing declarations which his biographers gathered out of his diaries and published under the title of “Private Thoughts on Religion,”38 Adam tells us how he thought of indwelling sin. “Sin,” says he, “is still here, deep in the centre of my heart, and twisted about every fibre of it.”39 But he knew very well that sin could not be in the heart and not in the life. “When have I not sinned?” he asks,40 and answers, “The reason is evident, I carry myself about with me.” Accordingly he says:41 “When we have done all we ever shall do, the very best state we ever shall arrive at, will be so far from meriting a reward, that it will need a pardon.” Again, “If I was to live to the world’s end, and do all the good that man can do, I must still cry ‘mercy!’ ”42—which is very much what Zinzendorf said in his hymn. So far from balking at the confession of daily sins, he adds to that the confession of universal sinning. “I know, with infallible certainty,” he says,43 “that I have sinned ever since I could discern between good and evil; in thought, word, and deed; in every period, condition, and relation of life; every day against every commandment.” “God may say to every self-righteous man,” he says again,44 “as he did in the cause of Sodom, ‘show me ten, yea, one perfect good action, and for the sake of it I will not destroy.’ ”

There is no morbidity here and no easy acquiescence in this inevitable sinning. “Lord, forgive my sins, and suffer me to keep them—is this the meaning of my prayers?” he asks.45 And his answer is:46 “I had rather be cast into the burning fiery furnace, or the lion’s den, than suffer sin to lie quietly in my heart.” He knows that justification and sanctification belong together. “Christ never comes into the soul unattended,” he says;47 “he brings the Holy Spirit with him, and the Spirit his train of gifts and graces.” “Christ comes with a blessing in each hand,” he says again;48 “forgiveness in one, and holiness in the other, and never gives either to any who will not take both.” But he adds at once: “Christ’s forgiveness of all sins is complete at once, because less would not do us good; his holiness is dispensed by degrees, and to none wholly in this life, lest we should slight his forgiveness.” “Whenever I die,” he says therefore,49 “I die a sinner; but by the grace of God, penitent, and, I trust, accepted in the beloved.” “It is the joy of my heart that I am freed from guilt,” he says again,50 “and the desire of my heart to be freed from sin.” For both alike are from God. “Justification by sanctification,” he says,51 “is man’s way to heaven, and it is odds but he will make a little serve the turn. Sanctification by justification is God’s, and he fills the soul with his own fulness.” “The Spirit does not only confer and increase ability, and so leave us to ourselves in the use of it,” he explains,52 “but every single act of spiritual life is the Spirit’s own act in us.” And again, even more plainly:53 “Sanctification is a gift; and the business of man is to desire, receive, and use it. But he can by no act or effort of his own produce it in himself. Grace can do every thing; nature nothing.” “I am resolved,” he therefore declares,54 “to receive my virtue from God as a gift, instead of presenting him with a spurious kind of my own.” He accordingly is “the greatest saint upon earth who feels his poverty most in the want of perfect holiness, and longs with the greatest earnestness for the time when he shall be put in full possession of it.”55

Thus in complete dependence on grace, and in never ceasing need of grace (take “grace” in its full sense of goodness to the undeserving) the saint goes onward in his earthly work, neither imagining that he does not need to be without sin because he has Christ nor that because he has Christ he is already without sin. The repudiation of both the perfectionist and the antinomian inference is made by Adam most pungently. The former in these crisp words:56 “The moment we think that we have no sin, we shall desert Christ.” That, because Christ came to save just sinners. The latter more at length:57 “It would be a great abuse of the doctrine of salvation by faith, and a state of dangerous security, to say, if it pleases God to advance me to a higher or the highest degree of holiness, I should have great cause of thankfulness, and it would be the very joy of my heart; but nevertheless I can do without it, as being safe in Christ.” We cannot set safety in Christ and holiness of life over against each other as contradictions, of which the one may be taken and the other left. They go together. “Every other faith,” we read,58 “but that which apprehends Christ as a purifier, as well as our atonement and righteousness, is false and hypocritical.” We are not left in our sins by Him; we are in process of being cleansed from our sins by Him; and our part is to work out with fear and trembling the salvation which He is working in us, always keeping our eyes on both our sin from which we need deliverance and the Lord who is delivering us. To keep our eyes fixed on both at once is no doubt difficult. “On earth it is the great exercise of faith,” says Adam,59 “and one of the hardest things in the world, to see sin and Christ at the same time, or to be penetrated with a lively sense of our desert, and absolute freedom from condemnation; but the more we know of both, the nearer approach we shall make to the state of heaven.” Sin and Christ; ill desert and no condemnation; we are sinners and saints all at once! That is the paradox of evangelicalism. The Antinomian and the Perfectionist would abolish the paradox—the one drowning the saint in the sinner, the other concealing the sinner in the saint. We must, says Adam, out of his evangelical consciousness, ever see both members of the paradox clearly and see them whole. And—solvitur ambulando. “It is a great paradox, but glorious truth of Christianity,” says he,60 “that a good conscience may consist with a consciousness of evil.” Though we can have no satisfaction in ourselves, we may have perfect satisfaction in Christ.

It is clear that “miserable-sinner Christianity” is a Christianity which thinks of pardon as holding the primary place in salvation. To it, sin is in the first instance offence against God, and salvation from sin is therefore in the first instance pardon, first not merely in time but in importance. In this Christianity, accordingly, the sinner turns to God first of all as the pardoning God; and that not as the God who pardons him once and then leaves him to himself, but as the God who steadily preserves the attitude toward him of a pardoning God. It is in this aspect that he thinks primarily of God and it is on the preservation on God’s part of this attitude towards him that all his hopes of salvation depend. This is because he looks to God and to God alone for his salvation; and that in every several step of salvation—since otherwise whatever else it might be, it would not be salvation. It is, of course, only from a God whose attitude to the sinner is that of a pardoning God, that saving operations can be hoped. No doubt, if those transactions which we class together as the processes of salvation are our own work, we may not have so extreme a need of a constantly pardoning God. But that is not the point of view of the “miserable-sinner Christian.” He understands that God alone can save, and he depends on God alone for salvation; for all of salvation in every step and stage of it. He is not merely the man then, who emphasizes justification as the fundamental saving operation; but also the man who emphasizes the supernaturalness of the whole saving process. It is all of God; and it is continuously from God throughout the whole process. The “miserable-sinner Christian” insists thus that salvation is accomplished not all at once, but in all the processes of a growth through an ever advancing forward movement. It occupies time; it has a beginning and middle and end. And just because it is thus progressive in its accomplishment, it is always incomplete—until the end. As Luther put it, Christians, here below, are not “made,” but “in the making.” Things in the making are in the hands of the Maker, are absolutely dependent on Him, and in their remanent imperfection require His continued pardon as well as need His continued forming. We cannot outgrow dependence on the pardoning grace of God, then, so long as the whole process of our forming is not completed; and we cannot feel satisfaction with ourselves of course until that process is fully accomplished. To speak of satisfaction in an incomplete work is a contradiction in terms. The “miserable-sinner Christian” accordingly, just as strongly emphasizes the progressiveness of the saving process and the consequent survival of sin and sinning throughout the whole of its as yet unfinished course, as he does justification as its foundation stone and its true supernaturalness throughout. These four articles go together and form the pillars on which the whole structure rests. It is a structure which is adapted to the needs of none but sinners, and which, perhaps, can have no very clear meaning to any but sinners. And this is in reality the sum of the whole matter: “miserable-sinner” Christianity is a Christianity distinctively for sinners. It is fitted to their apprehension as sinners, addressed to their acceptance as sinners, and meets their clamant needs as sinners. The very name which has been given it bears witness to it as such.

Naturally, therefore, to those who are not preoccupied with a sense of their sinfulness, “miserable-sinner Christianity” makes very little appeal. It would indeed be truer to say that it excites in them a positive distaste. It does not seem to them to have any particular fitness for their case, which they very naturally identify with the case of men in general. It appears to them to foster a morbid preoccupation with faults which are in part at least only fancied. It does scant justice, as they think, to the dignity of human nature, with its ethical endowments and capacities for self-improvement. It presents, as they view it, insufficient and ineffective motives for moral effort, and tends therefore to produce weak and dependent characters prone to acquiesce in an imperfect development, merely because they lack the vigor to go forward. Men turn away from it in proportion as they are inclined to put a high estimate on human nature as it manifests itself in the world, and especially upon its moral condition, its moral powers, its present and possible moral achievements. It is a gospel for sinners, and those who do not think of themselves as sinners find no attraction in it. It has accordingly been in every age the shining mark of attack for men of what we commonly speak of as the Rationalistic temper. It should not surprise us, therefore, that in our own age also it should have been made an object of assault by representatives of this general tendency of thought. And it is very natural that it was that arch-Rationalist, Albrecht Ritschl, who, a half century ago, drew it afresh into burning controversy.

On the basis of his Rationalistic construction of Christianity, Ritschl developed a doctrine of “Christian Perfection,” in which Christians are represented as working out religious and moral perfection for themselves, by the sheer strength of their own right arm, without any help whatever from God. He developed this doctrine in express antagonism to the Reformation conception of “the miserable sinner,” and he did not fail to stud his exposition of it with scornful references to that conception. It was, however, when writing-in a Biblical basis for his doctrine, in the closing pages of the exegetical volume of his great work on “Justification and Reconciliation,”61 that his polemic reached its climax. His leading purpose here is to deprive the Reformation doctrine of the support of Paul, to which it makes its chief appeal. In the teaching of the Reformers, he says, Christians are led to keep alive a sense of dissatisfaction with themselves, in order that they may the more constantly and earnestly look to Christ, and the more utterly rest on His righteousness. Paul, on the contrary, does nothing of the kind. He presents Paul’s teaching both in its negative and in its positive aspect. Negatively, says he, Paul knows nothing of any provision for the forgiveness of Christians’ sins; positively, he not only exhibits a very healthful satisfaction with his own moral condition, but betrays no tendency to think less well of other Christians than of himself. He did not keep his own sins constantly in mind—if he had any; and he does not teach his converts to keep their sins in mind—though his letters show us that he knew perfectly well that they had a good many. And he never connects the sins of Christians with their justification, after the manner of the Reformers; indeed, he had never reflected on the relation of the justification they had received to their subsequent sins. The justification was there; the sins were there—whenever they were there: Paul never in his thought brought the two into connection. Still less was he of a sad countenance because of these sins—whether his own or others’; on the contrary, possessed of a consciousness of well-doing in his work, not unbroken sorrow for his sins—of which he betrays not a trace—but satisfaction with his condition as a Christian and with his work as an apostle, is his mood. And Ritschl does not fail to generalize from Paul’s case, declaring that every man may and ought to have like Paul the consciousness of good work done—not precisely of a multiplicity of good works, but of a connected life-work that is good; and having that, he may account himself, in the Pauline sense, perfect. This work must of course be proved to be approved; but it may be proved and approved, and form a valid ground of complete satisfaction with ourselves. Satisfaction with our Christian attainments, not constant penitence for our sins—that is the Pauline conception of the Christian life.

As an account of Paul’s attitude toward the sins of Christians, this leaves much to be desired. It makes the impression that he is represented as being indifferent to them, although that accords very ill with the contents of his letters. It scarcely adequately represents the preoccupation of these letters with the sins of his converts and their strenuous dealing with them, to say simply that Paul “was of course acquainted with the fact” of the imperfection of his converts.62 He certainly does not treat the sins of his converts as negligible things. But if we ask, how it is possible that with these sins abounding about him and engaging his unceasing care, he should never have reflected on the relation of his great message of justification by faith to them, and indeed never suggests any relief for them whatever, we obtain no answer from Ritschl. There is, to be sure, a remark dropped63—in accordance with one of Ritschl’s own doctrinal notions—to the effect that Paul kept “the two points of view, of justification by faith and the bestowment of the divine Spirit on believers, unconfused.” But even if this could be pressed into a suggestion that Paul expected the sins of Christians to be eradicated by the Holy Spirit, their guilt would still be left unprovided for: and Paul would not be expected to, and does not, speak of them as if he were indifferent to their guilt. Perhaps there is a veiled hint that Christians are to expiate these sins in their own persons at the judgment day. But if so it is not worked out. We are left to the unresolved contradiction that Paul, whose message revolved around the deliverance of believers from their sins, yet looked upon the sins still committed by them as negligible.

And what shall we say of Paul’s alleged satisfaction with himself? Of course passages like Rom. 7:14 ff., Gal. 5:17, in which he probes the human heart, and even uncovers his own soul for us, are set aside. Even when that is done, however, we are far from a Paul who is satisfied with his attainments and indifferent to his shortcomings; though we do have a Paul who rejoices in his salvation. It is the indifference to sin, considered as guilt, inherent in Ritschl’s system of teaching, not Paul’s, which is really made the basis of judgment. Ritschl wishes to make Paul say in effect that Christians may neglect their sins: it is not their sins but their salvation with which they should be concerned. But Paul will not say that. The most that Ritschl can venture to maintain, with the utmost wrenching of the text, is that Paul does not direct his converts to any remedy for their continued sinning; and that from this we may infer that he did not think it required any remedy—despite his multiplied rebukes of their sins and agonizing warnings against them! And even this he cannot assert of John. John, he allows, does provide a remedy for the sins of Christians, a remedy that directs us to the faithfulness and righteousness of God, the cleansing effect of the sacrificing Christ, the intercession of Christ.64 John alone, therefore, says Ritschl, occupies the standpoint of the Reformers on this matter.65 Not quite even John; for though the hard facts of experience had compelled John to modify the optimistic judgment which Paul held concerning Christians, he remained, we are told, essentially of the optimistic party, and could by no means descend to the depths of the Reformers. “John also is far removed from the pessimism with which Luther emphasized the perpetual imperfection and worthlessness (Werthlosigkeit) of the moral activity of Christians. Sinning is for him still always the exception in the Christian life, not the rule and an inevitable fate.”66

Ritschl’s book was published in 1874. But the seed sown in it did not come to its fruitage for a quarter of a century. His representation of the attitude of the New Testament writers to the sins of Christians, did not fail of an immediate echo, of course, here and there. And it was no doubt silently moulding opinion in like-minded circles. It was not until the latter half of the last decade of the century, however, that wide interest was manifested in it. An essay or two appeared on the subject in 1896, and then, in 1897, attention was sharply attracted by an extended discussion of it in a book of unusual vigor both of thought and language written by a young man of twenty-five, just out of the University, Paul Wernle. Wernle came forward as an enthusiastic but independent pupil of Ritschl’s. “So far as I see,” he says,67 “Ritschl is the sole theologian who as yet has seriously interested himself in the question of how sin in the life of Christians was thought of and dealt with by the apostles.” The time had come, he thought, to go into the matter more thoroughly than Ritschl had been able to do. He devotes to it, therefore, this, his maiden book, in which he endeavors not merely to ground Ritschl’s conclusions, but also to give them sharper and more complete expression. The view that he asserts (no other term will meet the case) is that with Paul—it is with Paul alone that the book concerns itself—the Christian is as such altogether done with sins, and is a sinless man, who will appear as such in the rapidly approaching judgment day;68 and that the Reformation has so far departed from Pauline Christianity that it has transformed it from a religion of sinlessness into a religion of sinning.69

In attaching himself thus closely to Ritschl, and carrying out the suggestions made by Ritschl to their logical conclusions, Wernle perhaps somewhat neglects his chronologically closer predecessors. E. Grafe mildly rebukes him for this.70 “The ideas brought forward here and acutely grounded,” he says, “are, in great part, not altogether new, not so unheard of as the author appears to suppose. He himself recognizes with lively gratitude that A. Ritschl was the first to point energetically to the question under consideration. But other theologians also have already raised it, such as, for example, Schmiedel, Scholz, Karl, Holtzmann.” Wernle was not, however, unaware of the existence of these closer predecessors. He even mentions them.71 He writes, however, clearly, in independence of them, and those of them of any large significance in the development of the controversy antedated the publication of his book by so short an interval, that it is quite possible that it was well advanced to its completion before they became accessible to him. Two of them are of sufficient importance, nevertheless, to require that we shall give some account of them before proceeding to look into Wernle’s own book. We refer to W. A. Karl and H. Scholz.

W. A. Karl72 stands so far outside of the most direct line of development of the controversy that he does not derive immediately from Ritschl, and does not make it his primary object to validate Ritschl’s condemnatory judgment upon the Reformation doctrine of “the miserable sinner,” although he will permit as little standing-ground in the New Testament for this doctrine as Ritschl himself. Though he has thus climbed up some other way, however, he nevertheless takes his position at the head of the subsequent development, in so far as he was the first to proclaim Paul “the great idealist,” who, in his incurable doctrinairism, asserted the completed sinlessness of Christians in the face of all experience.73 His first object in his chief work—which he describes in the very military language of “obtaining the mastery of the Pauline soteriology from a new point of attack”—he tells us is to reach a unitary conception of Paul; and he seeks this, according to Wernle,74 who does not believe that Paul can be unified, “by identifying a series of heterogeneous ideas with one another.” “We can learn from this,” adds Wernle, “how Paul must probably have begun had he sought after a unitary system—nothing more.” This is far higher praise than we ourselves could give to Karl, who seems to us busied with imposing a system of teaching on Paul of which Paul could never have dreamed. In his work on John he proceeds to impose the system which he had already imposed on Paul, on 1 John also, with the object of showing that the same body of religious conceptions are present in a wider circle than that into which we enter in Paul’s letters.

The chief elements of this early Christian conception-world are the idea of a real indwelling of Christ, that is, of the Pneuma (in John also of God)75—for the expression of which the preposition “in” forms a short formula—along with the fixed conviction that this indwelling produces in us ethical perfection as well as recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus and also “parrhesistic ecstacy”; and not only guarantees but is identical with eternal life.76 What in this view New Testament Christianity consists in is just a mystical transformation, referred as its cause to the indwelling of the Pneuma-Christos, and manifesting itself in a new faith, belief in the Messiahship of Jesus; a new conduct, ethical perfection; and ecstatic phenomena. On all three of these characteristic manifestations of Christianity Karl lays the greatest stress. Our concernment is, however, only with the central one. The ethical perfection affirmed in it is asserted in its fulness. What John teaches, we are told, is that “all Christians are entirely sinless and therefore pure and righteous as Christ Himself, that is, perfect in love.”77 This perfection is expounded both in its relation to forgiveness of which it proves to be the condition, and in its relation to the indwelling of the Pneuma-Christ of which it is represented as the immediate and necessary effect. The whole matter is summed up in a single sentence thus:78 “If the Pneuma-Christ dwells in me, I am ethically renewed and thus ‘righteous’ in God’s eyes.” This “ethical renewal” which is conceived as instantaneous and complete, is the ground of our acceptance as righteous. “We can say briefly,” says Karl,79 “that the word ‘righteousness’ designates the ethical renewal according to its religious value, according to the value which it has before God.” Or more crisply still,80 “The ‘righteousness of God’ is ethical perfection.”

He deals with the matter from both the objective and the subjective point of sight. “The forgiveness of sins is accomplished,” says he,81 “with renewal of the whole man. How would God forgive me and leave me still in my sinful misery? How can I pardon my enemy and hold him incarcerated in his prison? Herein I perceive forgiveness, herein it manifests itself, completes itself, consists—that God sends me the Spirit, renews me ethically. Our life of salvation forms a unity like all that makes claim to the word life. It consists not first in forgiveness, then in a subsequent renewal; but in the renewal I experience also the forgiveness, and the result is full reconciliation with God.” Elsewhere,82 having declared roundly that “we feel that our previously committed sins are forgiven only as we are renewed,” he illustrates the deliverance by urging that no thief will believe his thefts are forgiven so long as he continues to steal: he must stop stealing before he can have a sense of forgiveness. No doubt men, both Protestants and Catholics, pretend that it is otherwise, and imagine themselves to enjoy forgiveness while they go on sinning. But this imaginary forgiveness—forgiveness to-day, to-morrow new sins—is frankly imaginary, and we all know it. “Therefore,83 it will not do to say, First pardon, then ethical renewal; first the feeling of the forgiveness of sins, then the purpose of renewal.” That is not what Paul says, and it is fundamentally wrong, as is very easily seen. For we cannot have forgiveness without repentance; and we cannot repent without experiencing sin as sin; and we cannot experience sin as sin without having in ourselves its contradictory with which to contrast it—the ethical ideal. This is apparently supposed to be equivalent to saying that we must be good before we can be forgiven. On the next page84 the sorites is thrown into this form: “This, then, is our meaning: Only he can receive forgiveness of sins, who is in a condition to be sensible of their forgiveness. Only he is sensible of it who knows his sin. Only he knows it who is in grace. Therefore it is not right to say, First forgiveness of sins, then renewal; for there is no forgiveness without renewal.” These statements will not be apprehended in their full meaning unless it is understood that the “renewal” spoken of is complete renewal, “ethical perfection,” and that the “forgiveness” spoken of is not supposed to accompany but to follow on it; forgiveness is received only after we are perfect. The process is accurately outlined as follows:85 “Through the indwelling of Christ we are ethically renewed, and we become an ethical new-creation. We fulfil the commandments of God. Naturally we enter then into a new relation with Him. First, His judgment on us, then naturally His treatment of us, is changed. He esteemed and treated us before as sinners, because that is what we were; He judges and treats us now as ‘righteous’ because we are now become righteous before Him, that is, we are what He wants us to be.”

The central Reformation doctrine is here replaced by its contradictory, and according to this teaching we should not receive forgiveness until we become glorified saints. Paul escapes this result in Karl’s exposition of him by representing Christians as becoming ethically perfect immediately on their baptism, and therefore recipients of forgiveness from the inception of their Christian life. “The Apostle,” says he,86 “presupposes and does not doubt that through baptism Christ dwells in Christians. All who are baptized are ‘in Christ.’ Thence comes their sinlessness.… A Christian can therefore never sin again.” “This indwelling of the Pneuma-Christos, however,” he says again,87 “means for us a complete ethical new-creation. ‘If any one is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away, behold all has become new’ (2 Cor. 5:17). It cannot be otherwise than that this renewal is a complete one. For Christ, as a unitary (geschlossene) personality, cannot dwell in us as something only partial. A personality, a unity, suffers no division. Either we have Him wholly or not at all. If we have Him dwelling in us completely, however, there dwells in us also His moral personality. He shares with us a kind of moral infallibility. A Christian can no longer sin.”

On this view all progress in Christian living is excluded; the Christian on baptism is all that he will ever be, at once. “The ethical gifts,” says Karl,88 “are not given in part, or in advancing development, but completely.” Taking the matter more broadly, he undertakes to show89 that no passages exist in Paul which suggest a development. “If Christ dwells in us at all,” he says,90 pressing his a priori argument, since He is an indivisible person, “He must be present in us without remainder.” The charismata, being wrought by the spirits, may indeed show themselves in different degrees, and if the moralization of Christians had similarly been committed to the spirits, it too might be progressive. But Paul denies the possibility of ethical development, precisely because it is the product of the indwelling Christ Himself—that it is “once for all settled by the once for all indwelling of the Pneuma-Christos—to which then the idea runs parallel that the ethical renewal, because necessary to salvation, must be always present in perfection.”91 For the Parousia hangs always trembling on the horizon, and the Christian must be always ready.

It is a sufficiently bizarre body of teaching which Karl attributes thus to Paul. And it stands in open contradiction to facts with which, as we all know, Paul was in the most observant contact. This does not deter Karl from attributing it to him. “We must of course ask,” he says,92 “whether these declarations”—the declarations concerning the sinlessness of Christians—“accord with the facts. We should think that, among the Christians of whom he could not deny that they had the Spirit, Paul would have made the experience that not all is gold that glitters, that even in Christians a notable remainder of actual sinning continued. The Corinthians, for example, might have opened his eyes in this matter. How did he adjust himself to the facts of open wickedness which he encountered? Paul never comprehended these facts. They were to him the riddle of all riddles. He stood before them with the toneless, ‘Know ye not?’ … These are desperate passages, these numerous ‘Or are ye ignorant?’ or ‘Know ye not?’ sections. In them the complete perplexity of this great idealist comes to expression.… It is precisely when he jolts against sins, that he argues that such sins are impossible to Christians. He reasons away theoretically what stands before his eyes as facts.” That is to say, that is what must be attributed to Paul on Karl’s theory of his teaching. Let us hear him, however, again:93 “We have seen that Paul’s theory does not agree with the facts. It exists merely as a particular notion of the metaphysical nature and mode of existence of the Risen One, and the nature of His indwelling. This idea cannot, however, be harmonized with the facts. That the indwelling of Christ on the ethical side does not coincide with ecstacy, that one can in other words be a good ecstatic and a very bad Christian—this fact Paul did not banish out of the world by denying it theoretically. Paul may possibly have been religiously, ethically, psychologically and physically of such a predisposition that the glory of the Lord expanded in him all at once like the flaring up of a great light (he himself uses this figure in 2 Cor. 4:6); it was not so with other men and it will not be so. In his splendid enthusiasm, unselfishness and devotion to the saving of souls, the Apostle makes on us, to be sure, the impression that the full moral greatness of Jesus had taken up its dwelling in him, so that Paul might have justly declared to his opponents that he could no longer do an unworthy act, because it was Christ who moved him; just as a great musical genius may assert of himself with our approval that it is impossible for him to write a single false harmony. But it was a mistake in Paul to assume the same ethical completeness in every Christian ecstatic. We are not bound by the mistake, because we no longer accept his metaphysical principles. Paul could not reason otherwise, because according to his assumption Christ dwells in us either altogether or not at all. We think more spiritually now of the Risen One than Paul did, and of His indwelling more as psychologically mediated. And so it is possible for us to speak of a progress in Christ’s indwelling.”

The circle of conceptions attributed by Karl to Paul stand in no more staring contradiction with the facts of life, not merely open to Paul’s observation and thrust violently on his attention, but copiously remarked upon in every one of his letters, than they do with his most explicit and most elaborated teaching. It would serve no good purpose to exhibit this in detail. It is obvious to every reader of Paul’s letters. And it is enough here simply to point to the two formative conceptions from which this whole system of teaching attributed to Paul derives, and each of which stands in diametrical contradiction to his most fundamental convictions. It is a desperate undertaking to attempt to interpret Paul as basing forgiveness on acquired character, that is, on works. It is precisely to the destruction of that notion in all of its forms that a large part of his life-work was devoted. It is equally unwarranted to attribute to him the idea that renewal is instantaneously complete. That, too, he explicitly negatives too often for citation. It is not Paul’s but Karl’s reasoning, that to have Christ at all we must have the whole Christ—which is true enough—and that having the whole Christ is already for Him so fully to have assimilated our nature to Himself that there remains no further development possible—which is so far from true that it is absurd. On these two principles hangs the entire system of teaching ascribed to Paul. There is no need to say anything further.

The main purpose of Hermann Scholz, in his winningly written essay “On the Doctrine of the ‘Miserable Sinner,’ ”94 is to justify Ritschl’s representation of the essential difference between the attitudes of Paul and the Refomers towards the actual Christian life. The Reformers, says Ritschl in effect, and Scholz after him, concentrate all their attention on the necessary sinning of Christians, and thus give to the Christian life the aspect of defeat and consequent endless penitence, and to Christians themselves the character of merely perpetual petitioners for pardon. Paul, on the other hand, say they, looks out rather on the constant conquest of sin by Christians, and sees the Christian life as an arena of high ethical exertions and ever increasing ethical advance; while Christians are to him therefore distinctively the morally strong. If the antithesis were as here stated, cadit quaestio: the Reformers have no case. But they have been deprived of their case by the removal from the statement of their position and of that of Paul alike, of all that each has in common with what is ascribed to the other. Thus an artificial antagonism has been produced, and, if you restore to each what has been omitted, the two melt into one another. The most that can be even plausibly contended is that the emphasis may be thrown by each of them on different elements in the general conception of the Christian life insisted on by both: the Reformers emphasizing rather the constant penitence which belongs to Christians, Paul the constant ethical advance which is achieved by them. Scholz knows this perfectly well; and accordingly, when he comes to contrast the two, with actual appeal to the records, finds some difficulty in making out clearly the contrast between them to which he is committed.

The essay opens with an account of the doctrine of “the miserable sinner” drawn largely from Zinzendorf.95 The definition put in the forefront96 very fairly describes it. “The idea of ‘the miserable sinner’ has from of old been in ecclesiastical use in order to declare the abiding imperfection of the Christian life and the impossibility of our delivering ourselves.” There is nothing apparent in that of slackness in moral effort or depression of spirits; only, what one would think a natural and necessary recognition of constant dependence on God and His grace. And Scholz is compelled to admit that in the case at least of Zinzendorf, who is used by him as its chief exemplar, the doctrine did not either inhibit ethical activity or cloud the natural joy of the Christian heart.97 Nevertheless he deprecates the mood which it fosters. It takes all the pleasure out of our work, he says. It destroys the spur to effort. It substitutes a habit of looking for forgiveness for our actions—and expecting it as a matter of course—for the better habit of anticipating ethical results from them. Who will keep the ideal before his eyes if he knows it to be unattainable and that meanwhile it is enough that he confesses himself a “miserable sinner”?98 Obviously Scholz has passed here beyond both his definition and his example; he is blackening the conception of “the miserable sinner” by ascribing to it traits not derivable from either.

This is even more clear, when, a little later, repudiating the doctrine in the name of Paul, he brings against it his most summarily expressed arraignment.99 “Accordingly the doctrine of ‘the miserable-sinner’ applied to the active moral life, whether as object of daily forgiveness, or as occasion for mistrust or indifference towards advance in sanctification, has no support in Paul. Of course Paul derives his Christian state exclusively from the good-pleasure of God.… He is never weary of emphasizing that in all the relations of our lives we are dependent on God’s grace.… He thus represents evangelical Christianity in the whole range of its practical religious motive, as the Reformers have summed it up in the doctrine of justification; and we need not say more on that. But the special reference to daily, active sinning is lacking. In this matter he is interpreted not out of himself, but by means of alien inferences. The preponderant attention given to the doctrine of justification has dulled men’s sense for the independent ethics of the Apostle; the necessary emphasizing of the natural inability of man has led to the assertion of an imperfection without measure and without end.” Of course again a “miserable-sinner” doctrine such as is here described should be repelled as Scholz repels it: a doctrine which throws such stress on justification that it has lost all sense for moral action; and which has turned our continued imperfections into a “precious doctrine” to be cherished, instead of a state of sin to be striven against. We are not to continue in sin; moral effort is always demanded; and the recognition of our continued imperfection must operate as the spur that at every moment drives us onward. In justice to Scholz it is to be borne in mind, however, that in his own environment there are some who do appear to submerge the moral demand in continued or repeated justification, thus finding the whole meaning of Christianity, formally at least, in justification; and who fancy themselves to be maintaining the Lutheran tradition in so doing.100 It is less in them, however, than in Scholz’s transcript of Paul’s teaching that the real “miserable-sinner” doctrine is to be found.

And when Scholz goes on to describe101 the state of mind which ruled in Paul’s day, “the miserable-sinner” finds his own very much reflected in it. “To the generation of that day, nothing was more alien than the passive knowledge of self and of sins, which makes a painful privilege or distressful business of the mournful contemplation of our perpetual imperfection, falls back therewith on the grace of God, and is just as sluggish in forming resolutions as in actual conduct. A high feeling of responsibility teaches us not to permit ourselves to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). With this earnestness in our sense of duty, the joyful character of Christian morality thoroughly accords. Everything is thrilling with stimulation—the range of the morally attainable expands—the final success is assured.” … That is just how the “miserable sinner” feels. Does not Scholz himself tell us so of Zinzendorf, his typical example? “That no abatement is suffered in the earnestness of sanctification and moral renewal, or in the comprehensive circle of duties included in them,” he says,102 “may be recognized all the more readily that Zinzendorf’s Christocentric ethics, elsewhere made known, is characterized by richness of conception, purity of ideas, and salutary emphasis on the effort after sanctification. To feel ourselves a ‘miserable sinner’ has never with him the meaning of renunciation of the ethical task, or even assignment to it of a lower value in comparison with religious experience. It is equally excluded on the other hand that this doctrine issues in a new form of self-torturing after the Pietistic fashion. It is precisely against the self-torturing of that narrow-hearted, unfruitful penitential practice of the dominant Pietism, rich in deceptions and self-deceptions, that Zinzendorf’s system is directed with emphasis. He does not wish that a Christian man should be of a sad countenance, with hanging head; he hates a dejected and discontented piety, which comes to nothing but the repetition of its lamentations. He demands and exhibits a joyful Christianity.”

Scholz’s zeal, it cannot fail to have been perceived, is burning for the ethical character of Christianity, which he wrongly conceives to be brought into jeopardy by the point of view of “the miserable sinner.” Following Ritschl he even places justification and sanctification in contrast with each other as contradictories, of which if one be taken the other must be left. Paul, says he,103 never refers sinning Christians to Christ for forgiveness, but always on the contrary to the Holy Spirit that they may be girded for the fight. The Christian life is thus to Scholz, in its very essence, a conflict; and as it is not a hopeless but an auspicious conflict, it is also a constant advance towards the good. He stands here on ground diametrically opposite to that occupied by Karl, who, we will remember, supposes the Christian from the very beginning perfect, just because recreated by the Holy Spirit. Scholz, on the contrary, teaches an ethically progressive Christianity, and indeed it is precisely for this that he is primarily solicitous, as it well became him to be on the ground of his Ritschlian moralism. “It presupposes a high estimate of the moral powers of the gospel,” says he,104 praising Paul, “when in general, he does not doubt a favorable issue of the process depicted, and in particular shuns employing the divine forgiveness as a means of soothing, to say nothing of as a motive for correction.” Paul, he says, only incidentally and in particular instances warns against over-confidence, but on the other hand “puts, fundamentally, in the first rank growth, advance, progress.” “Who will see in these heroic lines,” he cries,105 “the portrait of ‘the miserable sinner’ ”? No one, of course; but only because, in painting the figure of the strenuously advancing Christian, common to both “the miserable-sinner Christianity” and his own fervent moralism, he has sedulously obliterated the background upon which it is thrown up in the one, and worked in that which is appropriate only to the other. The divine forgiveness is not allowed to serve either for consolation for shortcomings still remaining or for encouragement for going onward. It is under the incitement of the gospel proclamation alone, which can act only “ethically,” that is to say in the way of bringing inducements to bear on a free spirit, that the Christian hews his way onward in the strength of his own right arm. It is not difficult to see which of these two points of view is Paul’s.

It is also easy to see that, although there is no room in Scholz’s system for such a perfectionism as Karl teaches, he cherishes nevertheless a very high estimate of human prowess and human achievements, and is eager (with the help of Paul) to set it over against what he conceives to be the depreciatory view of “the miserable sinner.” “Paul,” says he,106 after having drawn a picture of the shortcomings of Paul’s converts, “has no scruples in designating as saints or sanctified, as the beloved of God, as the body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Ghost, the building of God, a host of men who display these obvious deficiencies in their active moral life.” And then he adds: “To such an extent does reflection on God’s grace, which enters into the life of believers on the one side as justifying, on the other sanctifying, and forms something new in the core of their nature, preponderate with him, that the empirical failings of moral sinfulness do not come into comparison with it.” On the face of it, this statement is a recognition of the continued presence and activity of sin in Christians, and the exaltation of the power of grace—justifying, sanctifying, recreating—over it. The scope of it is merely to show by the titles which he gives them, the honor which Paul put on Christians as subjects of this grace, with a view, naturally, to withdrawing them from the depreciatory judgment supposed to be visited on them (but surely not as subjects of grace) by “miserable-sinner Christianity.”

This motive is more clearly manifested, however, in the description of Paul’s estimate of his own person. “It may be boldly maintained,” we read,107 “that Paul makes no express use of the predicate miserable sinner for his own person and in view of his daily life of sanctification. He would neither say with Luther, ‘for we daily sin much and deserve nothing but punishment’; nor would he with Zinzendorf rest his hope before God’s judgment ‘on the Ransom alone.’ What is to be read in 2 Tim. 4:7 is spoken entirely in this sense: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give me at that day. His good conscience is raised above all doubt, although with the proviso of humble deference to the final judgment of God (1 Cor. 4:4; 2 Cor. 1:12; 4:2; 6:3 ff.); he exhorts the brethren to walk in imitation of him (Phil. 3:17), and when he brings into consideration the effect of his vocational activity in his life, and the development of the inner man, he can only triumphantly declare: We all, with unveiled face, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18).” Shall we say that on this showing Paul, despite his constant protest, was saved by works, at least in part—not by “the Ransom alone”? Shall we say that according to it, again despite his protest, he had already attained and was already perfect; and, different in this from his converts whom he addresses in his letters, had already fought his fight through to a finish and no longer was ethically advancing? We can hardly say less than that according to it Paul felt no lack in himself, no dissatisfaction with his attainments, and saw nothing before him but ever rising stages of glory. And even that, although overdrawn and, as here put, misleading, might be allowed to pass without much remark, except for one thing—the omission of Christ.108 If we could look through it and see Christ behind it all; and look into it and see trustful dependence on Christ transfused through it all; we might perhaps recognize Paul in it. Otherwise not: for to him Christ was all in all and only in Christ did he have any ground, any goal, any hope, any strength. The ground of Paul’s satisfaction was not in himself but in Christ. And that is precisely what “miserable-sinner Christianity” means. It does not mean that our attainments in Christian living may not be great, or that we may not find a legitimate satisfaction in their greatness. It means, however, that it is only as we penetrate behind these attainments, no matter how great they may be, to their source in the Redeemer, that we find any solid ground for satisfaction. And if our attainments meanwhile fall in any degree short of perfection, the necessity of recourse to their guarantor in the Redeemer becomes in that degree more and more poignant. To Paul as to his followers there is no satisfaction to be had in the contemplation of ourselves, since our best attainments are imperfect, and since, because they are experienced as imperfect, they beget in us a divine dissatisfaction which spurs us onward. Here is the paradox of “the miserable-sinner Christianity”—dissatisfaction with self conjoined with satisfaction with Christ, in whom alone is the promise and potency of all our possible advance.

It was immediately on the heels of Karl’s and Scholz’s essays that Paul Wernle’s book109 appeared, written with such flare and fury as to compel the attention which they had not received. Wernle comes forward like Scholz as a follower of Ritschl,110 though he was too young to have been his personal pupil; and he makes it his real task to justify by a detailed study of Paul’s Epistles, or rather of as many of them as he will allow to Paul,111 Ritschl’s representation that the Reformation doctrine of “the miserable sinner” finds no support for itself whatever in Paul.112 The method he pursues is that bad one very common among Teutonic investigators, of coming to the subject of study with a hypothesis already in hand, and “verifying” that hypothesis by seeing how far it can be carried through. This method leads inevitably to much twisting and turning in the effort to make the unwilling texts fit into the assumed hypothesis: and no one surely could have given us more twisting and turning than Wernle does. The Paul with which he emerges is far more Karl’s Paul than Scholz’s: he is indeed substantially the same Paul with Karl’s. It is not easy, it is true, to obtain a perfectly unitary picture of him. He is not only presented as with the most brazen impudence asserting as fact what not only he but everybody concerned could not fail to know was not fact—as when he is said to have proclaimed all Christians, the Christians of Corinth and Galatia, for example—free from sin. He is represented also as contradicting himself flatly with the utmost ease and indifference—as when he is said to have taught that Christians are not liable to the judgment and yet to have threatened Christians sharply precisely with this judgment. He is even drawn as so developing from epistle to epistle as, in effect, to be a series of Pauls. He does not get to be really Paul in fact until the sixth chapter of Romans, and then by the third chapter of Colossians he has passed onward into still another Paul. These Pauls are all bound together, it is true, by two common traits which may be supposed to form the fundamental, as well as the abiding, elements of his character. He is always a missionary and always an enthusiast.113 But he only slowly becomes a moralist. Up to the sixth chapter of Romans he teaches no morality; there he teaches an immediately perfect morality; when we arrive at the third chapter of Colossians he is found teaching a progressive morality. Before the sixth chapter of Romans we have merely the missionary proclaiming justification by faith and leaving it at that; the quickly coming Parousia precludes all question of his converts’ sinning—there is not time for sinning; and so they are left to the warmth of their purely religious enthusiasm in view of the rapidly approaching end. In the sixth chapter of Romans the morals of the converts have been taken up among the miraculous gifts of the Spirit; they have been recreated in their baptism into newness of life; henceforth they cannot sin; they are perfect. Yet by the third chapter of Colossians this perfection has been found sufficiently imperfect to admit of further perfecting; the converts must go on if they are to attain perfection.

It is needless to say that Wernle feels little admiration for this Paul, who seems to be ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. If the main motive of his book is to deprive the Reformers of the support of Paul, this is not because in his own view the support of Paul is of large value. The argument against the Reformers is purely ad hominem. If orthodox Protestantism derives comfort from the supposition that it reproduces the teaching of Paul, it must forego that comfort. For himself, however, it would be difficult to determine which Wernle thinks less well of—orthodox Protestantism or Paul. He stands apart from both, and from his superior position of critic speaks biting words of each. Nothing startled his first readers more than the contemptuous tone which he uses towards Paul. The venerable Adolf Hilgenfeld sharply rebukes his “overbearing manner”—with perhaps some increase of the sharpness because of the manifestation of this overbearing manner also toward the Tübingen school.114 Otto Lorenz is full of indignation over what he calls Wernle’s “swaggering attitude” toward the Apostle.115 These are not men whom it was easy to shock with criticisms of Paul; both say things about him themselves which shock us. But they could not brook his reduction to a man of whom it could be said that he had no eye for the real, that he dealt in commonplace, high-sounding phrases of whose truth to fact he was indifferent, that when he did not wish to see a thing he did not see it, that he learned nothing from experience, did not in the least bother about the contradictions of fact, but acted steadily on the theory, “It ought to be, therefore it is.”

Wernle’s primary impulse was derived from what he conceived to be the unwholesome acquiescence of Protestant Christianity in sinning. What he sought in the first instance to do was to show that no warrant for this attitude was supplied by Paul from whom Protestantism felicitated itself that it derived its whole religious character. For Luther and his followers, he asserts,116 “the riches of God’s grace and of the merit of Christ are manifested precisely in the forgiveness of the ever new sins of the Christian.” “It is emphasized over and over again,” he says, “that the whole glory of the condition of Christians consists in this—that sin no longer condemns, that we can live in grace in spite of sin.” The implication is that on the Protestant view, what we receive in Christianity is really license to sin; continuous forgiveness of sins supersedes the necessity of cessation of sinning; and the question that is raised is “whether the moral state of the Christian possesses any importance.” It was not Paul who made Christianity into this kind of a “sin-religion.” It was Augustine who did this; he it was who first put sin and grace over against each other at the heart of Christianity, preoccupied man with the idea of sin, and presented the Christian religion as above everything else a source of consolation for men self-conscious in their sin. With Paul it was a very different story. To speak perfectly frankly Paul shows very little engagement with the subject of sin.117 In Romans alone among his epistles does he handle the topic theoretically at all. In the other letters even the terms “sin” or “to sin” are near to lacking. In I Corinthians, for instance, the noun “sin” occurs only in three passages in the fifteenth chapter and the verb “to sin” in seven passages scattered through the letter. And yet the congregation at Corinth certainly gave sufficient occasion for speaking of sin, if Paul was specially inclined to speak of it. In Romans sin is, no doubt, made the subject of discussion in chapters 1–3, 5b and 7b. But all these discussions concern the pre-Christian situation, while in Rom. 6 sin is just dismissed altogether from the Christian life, and that in the plainest of words. When Paul thinks of sin, in other words, he is not thinking of Christians; he is thinking of something which Christians put behind them on becoming Christians. Precisely what Christians are is the men who have ceased from sinning; the relation of the condition of sin and the condition of grace is a chronologically successive one. And so, Wernle formally announces as the result of his investigations just this:118 “That the Christian state has nothing further to do with sin; that the Christian is a sin-free man and shall appear as such before God at the rapidly approaching day of judgment.”

The religion of Christians, according to Paul, says Wernle, feeds purely on God and the future. “Forgiveness of sins, comfort for sin—that belongs to the past; the Pneumatic must be done with that.”119 He has secured his forgiveness once for all in the great experience of justification, by which his life has been cut in half. We have already seen Wernle declaring that “the condition of grace follows the condition of sin in chronological succession.”120 It is precisely here, he says, that Protestantism has deserted Paul; and he expounds the matter at length. “In Protestant orthodoxy,” says he,121 “the relation of the state of grace to the state of sin is no longer conceived as one of succession. The proof of universal sinfulness has for the Lutheran dogmatician the purpose of showing the indispensableness of righteousness by faith for every moment of the life (as is very clearly set forth by Troeltsch, Vernunft und Offenbarung bei Johann Gerhard und Melanchthon, pp. 133 ff., 137). We should be conscious of ourselves as sinners in every moment of our Christian life, that we may ever anew feel the need of forgiveness and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. From this point of view the contrast of the ‘now time’ [in Rom. 3:26] to the time of the ‘sins that are past’ is explained by the contrast of the Christian and pre-Christian eras, and the theme treated is why God, and how He, was gracious to the Jews already before Christ’s death. For the Christian on the other hand the time of sin altogether coincides with the time of forgiveness; for Christ’s death has made it possible for us to receive justification ever afresh, despite our perpetual sin.” Having thus described the Protestant view, he now contrasts with it Paul’s own. “It is impossible,” he says,122 “to exaggerate the divergence of this Protestant theory from Paul’s meaning. Where is there in the whole body of Paul’s letters a single passage in which Paul appeals to Christ’s death for the continuing sins of Christians? And which letter even in the smallest degree shows the Lutheran mood as to sin and grace? In all—in absolutely all—of them the fundamental idea is this—that sins are gone, that the Christian has them no longer, since he has become a Christian. The ‘now time’ is precisely the Messianic age; over against it the ‘sins that are past’ of Rom. 3:25 are the sins of Christians before their entrance into the community of the Kingdom of God (cf. 2 Pet. 1:9 and everywhere in the later literature). God has borne with them patiently and passed them by up to the forgiveness through Christ’s death; now, since those burdened with them have become believers in Christ, He has obliterated them. When we were still sinners, Christ died for us; now, since we have been justified by His blood, we are no longer sinners (Rom. 5 [8, 9]). The ‘now time’ begins historically, it is true, with Christ’s death and resurrection, but for every Christian it begins with his entrance into the community, with his justification. Then the sins that are past are washed away; up to then the man was a ‘sinner,’ now he is that no longer. Precisely from this it is clear that Paul, in Romans too, occupied the standpoint of the missionary, divided the world from the missionary’s experience of conversion, and distributed sin and grace respectively to the two halves of life. He did not reflect upon how the Christian receives forgiveness in the state of grace, since he made no such supposition as that the Christian needs forgiveness in the state of grace. In Protestant orthodoxy, on the other hand, the missionary problem has fallen away, and a problem derived from the congregational life has taken its place.”

It is not worth while to remark here on the violence done in this passage to Rom. 3:25, 26. There can be no real question that Paul is distinguishing there between the two dispensations, and makes no reference whatever to the pre- and post-justification experiences of the individual Christian. It is more important at the moment to point out the emphasis with which Wernle confines the effects of justification in Paul’s view to the sins committed before it has been received. If sins are committed afterwards, there is no remedy for them in justification. But he is emphatic in declaring that according to Paul, no sins are committed afterwards. The saving effect of justification continues only because Christians, having been completely saved by it once for all, need no further saving. This is how Wernle puts it:123 “The natural man, whether Jew or Gentile, so long as he operates with works, can only bring down God’s wrath on himself, and never finds of himself by his own activity the way to the divine salvation. In the sight of the infallible Judge, as the Scriptures reveal Him, who can stand before God? When it is a matter of salvation, man can only lift his eyes and grasp the hand that is held out to him—that is, believe. Here the missionary question has only become the occasion for the most profound apprehension of the religious problem. Had Paul carried this way of thinking through, his theology would have approached that of the Reformation, and especially Calvin’s (cf. the kindred idea in Institutes, III, 12) infinitely more closely; for how can a man who so judges himself before God ever cease to feel himself a sinner, who is in need of grace? But strange as it may appear to us, Paul confined this way of thinking to the state of the natural man, and banished it from the state of Christians. The Christian may boast (Rom. 5:2); he is the bondservant of God and of the righteousness (6:18, 22); is filled with the fruit of righteousness (Phil. 1:11). Thus Paul has remained to the end the missionary, who summons to the Kingdom of God. The Christian congregations are for him withdrawn from the world, the children of God who do righteousness. Man sins; the Christian is free from sin after his justification.”

According to this representation the entirety of salvation not only hangs with Paul on justification, but is accomplished in justification. But Wernle does not maintain this representation. The insistence that justification affects only the sins “that are past” in each individual case, made even in this very passage, renders its maintenance impossible. The life of the Christian may be consequent on his justification, but it is also subsequent to it; it may be lived out under the influence of justification, it is not—and it is one of Wernle’s most peremptory assertions that with Paul it is not—lived out under the continuous application of justification. Paul, according to him, looks upon justification as cutting the life into two unrelated halves. What it does is to give the Christian a new start. Its only effect is wholly with the past life. The future life—what of it? There must be something to be said of it. We find Wernle accordingly, on an earlier page,124 representing Protestantism as differing from Paul, precisely in its tendency to look upon justification as the entirety of salvation. Paul, it seems, had something to add to justification. “The missionary preaching of the prevenient grace of God which grants to every believer forgiveness for his previous sins, is what distinguishes Paul from the other apostles, is the peculiarly Pauline element of his theology. But this always remained with him missionary preaching; he did not revert to this side of his gospel with Christians. That great proclamation of faith and forgiveness stands with him at the beginning, and is far from being, as in Protestantism, the sum of his whole religion. Protestantism has thus—by applying this missionary preaching to the community and declaring it the whole of the gospel—passed far beyond Paul.” There could not be a more distinct assertion that justification constitutes only a part, perhaps only a small part, of Paul’s gospel, and concerns only the initial stage of the Christian life; it was supplemented for those who had experienced justification by an apparently copious and certainly weighty further teaching.

It is not at first apparent, however, what this further gospel for believers as distinguished from unbelievers is. It appears as if in Paul’s practice, or at least in his earlier practice, it amounted to nothing more than the preaching of the duty of a moral life and exhortations to those who sinned to repent and put away sin from them. By such a representation the effect of justification is made in the sharpest way possible to be merely the giving to men of a fresh start; and Paul is made, despite the protest of his whole life, to base salvation in the most express manner on faith and works combined, or rather on works alone wrought on the basis of a clean slate attained through faith. Wernle,125 while declaring that in point of fact Paul did proceed practically on precisely this ground—“separating justification and salvation in such a way that he bases them respectively on different conditions, the one on faith and the other on works”—yet finds himself in difficulties in attributing this dualism to him in theory, because of his “promising salvation to every believer without any supplement or any condition.” After all, then, Paul understood himself to promise a complete salvation to that faith by which justification is received; and this is sufficiently close to saying that all salvation was, in one way or another, implied in justification. His gospel was a unit, and it is to misunderstand him to divide it into unrelated or loosely related parts. “Therefore,” says Wernle himself,126 “Paul’s theory of justification and salvation, what he called his gospel, is unitary and clear. It is pure proclamation of faith; faith receives salvation as well as justification. It introduces into the community of salvation and guarantees salvation to those that are in it. It needs no supplementing by works; the simple invocation of the name of Jesus at the judgment is enough.” But then he adds: “But this theory, this gospel, is not the whole of what Paul taught. We meet with almost nothing of it in the letters to the Corinthians; the fear of God, sanctification, love are demanded by Paul from the believers. In 1 Cor. 10 he directly forbids them to imagine themselves sure of salvation. That the judgment proceeds according to works is also in Rom. 13:14 the simple assumption. This contradiction of theory and practice is insoluble.”

A consideration portion of Wernle’s inability to accredit to Paul a unitary conception of salvation, is due really to his own ingrained dualism, inherited from Ritschl, with regard to justification and ethical renewal. “It is Ritschl’s merit,” he says,127 “to have shown that justification has no causal relation to the moral life, that, rather, its consequences are peace with God and firm hope of acceptance at the last judgment, confidence in prayer and trust in God’s providence,”128—in other words religious, as distinguished from ethical. “The Christian, through justification, receives a right to all the benefits of the Messianic community, without any moral transformation being derived from it.” Clearly this is a profoundly immoral doctrine to attribute to Paul, without anything so far as we have yet seen, to balance it. The Apostle, we have been told, preaches justification by faith alone, and promises to all who exercise this faith salvation in its completeness; and this is defined to include all the benefits of the Messianic community; and yet no moral transformation is included, although moral transformation is prominent among the Messianic promises. Fortunately, the Apostle is not in the least guilty of the immorality charged against him. He not only preaches morality as we have already seen with the utmost vigor, and threatens with the terrors of the judgment all doers of iniquity. He provides for the moral life of his converts as an essential part of his gospel, and that with such fulness that Wernle represents him as providing for their necessary and complete sinlessness.

It is of course the sixth chapter of Romans which comes most pointedly into consideration here; but equally of course not the sixth chapter of Romans alone, or even first. Wernle is himself compelled to admit that in Gal. 5:24 what is taught in Rom. 6 is suggested, and that in 1 Cor. 6:11 it is something more than suggested. The latter passage he represents as129 the first in which Paul gives utterance to this line of thought. “He does not yet attempt,” he adds, “to make clear to himself how the sinlessness of Christians follows from the experience of baptism; he has as yet no theory of regeneration. He is merely sure that, through God’s grace in baptism, past and present stand in the sharpest contrast, and sin is already broken off.” “The Corinthians are to take note that the Christian life is no life at once in sin and grace, that after the once for all and unrepeatable experience of sanctification and justification, sin has simply come to an end.” We are astonished, says Wernle, to read such words addressed to the sinful Corinthians. The actual situation, however, could not affect Paul’s conviction “of the total separation of the Christian life and the world, and the radical significance of conversion, as he had experienced it in himself.” “There is already exhibited here that audacious but abstract idealism, which, in the framing of theories, looks on the contradiction of experience with indifference.”

As the sixth chapter of Romans itself is approached we are warned to remember the enthusiastic background and to interpret therefore from the eschatological standpoint. And then we have this remarkable passage.130 “From the other epistles we learned that the problem of the sin of Christians had no existence for Paul whatever because of the hoped-for nearness of the Parousia. This result is not invalidated but sustained by Rom. 6. The problem does no doubt emerge, but only to be simply repelled: ‘God forbid.’ And the reason is the same as before; we are already living in ‘the age to come,’ are snatched away from the old world. We are just as certainly risen as Christ is risen; bodily death will surely pass us by. Sin is no longer anything to us, since in the next instant we receive the new sinless body. We can no longer sin, because we are men of the future.” We have called this passage remarkable because it is a mass of open contradictions. The problem of sin among Christians is said to have no existence with Paul and to be raised here and argued. It is said that it is raised only to be repelled, and that it is argued to one solution out of a possible many. In point of fact, the passage is not concerned with our bodily death and resurrection and says nothing of the Parousia, whether near or distant; it is “as if alive from the dead” that we are to walk (verse 13). So far from sin being no concern of Christians, the passage is written because it is very much their concern. So far from its being impossible for Christians to sin because they are men of the future, the Apostle earnestly exhorts them not to sin, proves that it is grossly inconsistent in them to sin, and in the end promises them freedom from sin as an attainment of the future. From the very first verse of the sixth chapter of Romans two things subversive of Wernle’s whole point of view are perfectly plain. First, that Paul is speaking to a constituency among whom sinning has not automatically ceased on their believing. “Are we to continue in sin? “he asks of them; and that would not have been a serious question if it had been a matter of course that they had ceased from sinning and could no longer sin. Secondly, that the grace received by them at believing did not have exclusive reference to the sins that were past. Had that been the case it would have been meaningless to ask whether they were to continue in sin that this grace might abound. This question involves the understanding that sins committed in the Christian life share in the same grace by which the sins of the pre-Christian life have been cancelled. Paul is contemplating a situation in which not only is it conceived that sins may occur in the life of Christians, but it is understood that, occurring in it, they receive the same treatment as the sins that are past—make drafts on the same grace, and thus “cause that grace to abound.”

Wernle approaches the sixth chapter of Romans, then, with a bad case already in hand. We are afraid that we must say that he makes it worse by the way in which he deals with it. It is a typical and also a crucial instance of his mode of expounding Paul, and we shall therefore permit ourselves a considerable quotation from it.

“So far as this theory,” says he,131 speaking of the theory that the Christian on becoming a Christian becomes also automatically sinless, “is simply the expression of the personal enthusiasm of the Apostle, it still has for us something inspiring. He had experienced the radical change; for him conversion was a new creation and resurrection. And the feeling of being wholly free from the past, and of looking solely to the future—yes, even of already living in the future as a new man—was the living impetus of his great work. But the sixth chapter of Romans goes far beyond a mere confession-like expression of pure experience. It flatly asserts for every Christian what he, the Apostle, had himself experienced. After having had so many experiences of sin in the congregations, and in the midst of the very city in which the impossibility of a sin-free Christian life stared him daily in the face, he draws up, on the ground of a series of logical conclusions, the propositions which infer and maintain the sinlessness of Christians. After having as missionary steadily required nothing but faith, he here without more ado assumes that becoming a believer is also a break with sin, a moral renewal. What he had only suggested in Gal. 5:24—that Christians have crucified their flesh with its passions and lusts—he expands here with manifold repetitions. He even dilates into the hyperbole, that the body of sin of baptized people is done away (6:6), that they are no longer in the flesh (7:5). No doubt he has not failed to accompany his descriptions of the Christian life always with requirements that Christians are to be what they have become. ‘Reckon ye yourselves, therefore, to be dead to sin, but living for God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body. Present not your members as weapons of unrighteousness in the service of sin, but present yourselves to God’ (6:11–13, 19). What was first an experience receives the significance of an eternal obligation. It comes in the end to this—that the Christian ought not to give the dominion to sin, that he ought to refuse obedience to its lusts; but that is a subsequent supplement to the theory, which was required by observation of the congregations. The theory itself is framed like a law of nature, antecedently to all inquiry. Whether the Christian actually sins no longer—in Thessalonica, Corinth, Galatia, Rome—that gave Paul not a bit of concern. These conclusions which he draws are valid, because the presuppositions—the death of Christ, and so forth—are correct, not because experience is in their favour. As soon as this is overlooked, the whole passage loses its cogency. Paul raises the question whether the Christian still sins.132 To say merely that it is his duty to serve God, that sin ought not to reign any longer in him, would be no answer at all. Everything here points to the impossibility of sinning; this is declared in the propositions in the indicative. The answer that the Christian is free from sin is first given. Afterwards his duty is laid on him in the premises. This may no doubt seem to us very salutary but certainly it ought not to be necessary—if what is maintained first is true.

“In point of fact, however, the sixth chapter of Romans yields us nothing but proof that all his experiences in his congregations taught the Apostle nothing when he had it in hand to repel an objection that suggested itself against his theory. Here is pure hard doctrinairism, quite intelligible from the Apostle’s eschatological enthusiasm, but none the less doctrinairism. Paul does not wish to see the problem of sin in the life of Christians; therefore it has no existence. At bottom, despite this theory, he holds the ethical and the religious together only by an assertion. For that (moral) conversion always and everywhere coincides with becoming a believer, the Apostle has not shown and experience had already in his time refuted it. He could not do anything else, however, than tread this dangerous path of postulations, because he had left the proclamation of judgment out of his theory. If mere faith saves and all believers are exempt from the judgment, then the moral character of religion can be preserved only through the postulate that justification and regeneration coincide. It remains a postulate which experience seldom verifies; but the moral earnestness of faith is saved by it. Only by this theory could Paul meet effectively the valid objections against his gospel. If the believer is at the same time the regenerated, then all reproach of moral laxity falls away. Paul is not to blame for the difficulties and ambiguities which have thus been imposed on Christian dogmatics. For it was his fixed belief that the new world would come quickly and these questions be altogether abrogated. And this would also be the sole decisive reply to the objection of 6:1—the destruction of the world.

“The doctrine of the sin-free life of the Christian is the most striking difference of the Pauline theology from that of the Reformation. The Reformers derived from Rom. 6 the obligation to strive after sanctification, the explanation of the perpetual mortificatio carnis and resurrectio spiritus. But the possibility that the Christian can attain to moral perfection in this life, they denied outright; it has since been characteristic of sects and fanatics. There lay in this simply a historical necessity. It was out of fanaticism, that is to say, out of fixed belief in the nearness of the Parousia, that this doctrine was generated in Paul’s case too: apart from this it cannot maintain itself. The break with this postulate of sinlessness was an act of veracity. Since, however, the Reformers retained the Pauline formulas, they increased the confusion and called into existence that, in spite of all idealism, false theory of regeneration in which the question dare not be asked who is regenerate or when and where the regeneration has taken place. And since, following in the track of Paul, they have even more completely set aside the proclamation of the judgment, without having, in conversion, such a counterweight as Paul had in Rom. 6, they have crippled the moral power of the gospel and robbed themselves of the simplest of the practical motives. Thus they have at one and the same time advanced beyond Paul to the gospel of Jesus, and yet remained behind him. It is not to the sixth chapter of Romans alone that this applies, but it is very clearly in evidence there.”

It is after this absurd fashion that Wernle establishes his central contention—that Paul teaches that Christians as such are sinless, and thus stands at the opposite pole from the Reformation doctrine that Christians “sin much every day.” It is very clear from Wernle’s own presentation that Paul does not teach anything of the kind. To attribute it to him is to bring him into open conflict, not only, as Wernle allows, with all the facts of his observation—facts, be it noted, known to us only from his letters—but with all the facts of his letters as well. The Christians of Paul’s letters are not sinless but “sin much every day.” The individual instances of sins actually committed brought before us here and there in the letters, although a significant fact, do not constitute the main fact. The main fact is the pervasive concernment of the letters with the moral correction and advancement of Christians. The letters are compact of imperatives. We have had occasion to observe how Wernle attempts to meet the challenge of these imperatives in the sixth chapter of Romans. It is scarcely worth while, however, to endeavor to explain away one here and there. They crowd every epistle; and this general fact cannot be met by declaring133 that Paul did not know the difference between sein and sollen, so that to this man who understood how to use the imperative better than anybody else who ever lived, “the difference between the natural and the ethical, what we are and what we ought to be, was hidden.” After all is said, it remains true that exhortations like these imply imperfection, effort, growth; and these things accordingly appear as the characteristic of the Christian life as it is brought before us in Paul’s epistles. F. Winkler observes quite to the point:134 “We have no New Testament letter to which there are not adjoined ethical exhortations, which set sanctification before us in its progressive nature with the fundamental tendency of ‘Not that I have already attained or am already made perfect, but I press on after it’ (Phil. 3:12 ff.).” It is meaningless to attempt to explain away Phil. 3:12. The whole New Testament is an extended Phil. 3:12, and is based fundamentally on the presupposition that a holy life is an achievement and is attained by continuous effort, the goal of which lies ever in the future. Wernle is compelled by his thesis to contend that nevertheless Paul does not contemplate any growth in the Christian life. The Parousia was immediately impending, says he: there was no time for growth. The Christian must at all times be already grown, or the Parousia would catch him unready.

The Parousia thus appears as “in the higher sense the regulator of the Christian life.”135 “It is clear from this,” Wernle explains, “how wholly perverse it is to talk of a process, or a development, of the Christian life with Paul. He prescribes an incessant separation from the world, and renewal of the mind; he does not rest satisfied with conversion; nevertheless the conception of development can only by a misunderstanding be introduced into the Pauline ethics. The nearness of the Parousia leaves no place for it whatever; what it demands is precisely that we be ready when the Lord comes; it makes it difficult so much as to set before ourselves a high goal in the distance. Therefore the ethics of Rom. 12–13 passes no other judgment on sin than the rest of the letter. Because the idea of development is wholly absent, there is no place for it here; there is nothing here but the either—or. He who does evil incurs the wrath of God, and of His agent the earthly magistracy. The Christian who does evil has nothing else to expect than the heathen; there is no forgiveness which makes his position more endurable. The conclusion of chapter 13 falls in with this. He who still walks in darkness must perish when the ‘day’ appears. The Christian life is a life in the clear light of the coming day; it has nothing to hide, it needs no twilight. It is absolutely impossible to have part in Christ and still to do the pleasure of the flesh; that is, the Christian in sin has secured no place whatever in the Pauline ethics. By such a notion it would have lost its very core.” No sooner, however, has Wernle made this strong assertion that the Christian according to Paul is always “finished,” always all that he is to be, so that he may be ready for the Parousia, than he is compelled by passages like Col. 1:5, Phil. 3:20 f., Rom. 8:11 ff., to allow that the Parousia does not find him finished, but contributes something to his “glory.” So long as he lives here below he has “to contend with the remains of the old world in his body.”136 This seems to him to be in contradiction with Paul’s general teaching, and he takes refuge as always in the manifest inconsistency between Paul’s teaching as he expounds it and the matter of fact which is always seeking recognition at his hands: “It remains always a mere assertion that the Christian has broken once for all with sin; experience is always compelling corrections, exhortations and threats.”

It is not, however, merely by exhortations and threats that Paul deals with the sinning Christians into contact with whom his experience brought him. He tells us of individual cases of sinning Christians with whom he dealt by discipline. They occur from the earliest epistles (2 Thess. 3:12 ff.) on, and in no case is the sin dealt with, even when of the grossest nature (1 Cor. 5:5), treated, as Wernle would have us believe Paul must needs look upon it even at its lightest, as destroying the Christian character. In Gal. 6:1 ff. this practice of discipline is generalized and made a standing Christian duty toward erring brethren, a manifest proof that it was supposed that Christian brethren might err and need to be corrected, as indeed is directly asserted. Wernle’s dealing with this passage is very instructive.137 He begins by declaring that only the lighter sins are contemplated here: an assertion borne out neither by the term employed, nor by the context: surely the nature of the faults intended is intimated in 5:19 ff. He then goes on to say that it is presupposed that at the moment of sinning, even in the case of light faults, the Christian loses the Spirit—an assertion again wholly without warrant from either the text or the context, or rather in complete disaccord with both. The term rendered “restore him” in our English version means just “correct him,” “set him right.” And the presupposition of the context is that, in the perpetual conflict between the flesh and the Spirit (5:17), any Christian may, at any time, be overtaken by a fault. Wernle is merely, in the interests of his theory that a Christian cannot sin, representing every Christian that sins as no longer a Christian; and that involves, of course, a repeated passage back and forth from Christianity to the world and back again to Christianity, in the case of one who sins from time to time and is “corrected.” Accordingly Wernle writes: “Thus the Christian life falls into a perpetual uncertainty, an eternal falling and rising again; it falls apart into separate pieces which are divided by periods of sin. And this cannot possibly be otherwise in an ethical theory based on the Spirit. This sharp division between sinner and pneumatic draws constantly after it a pulverization of the conception of life, and leaves it dependent on each moment whether the Christian is a sinner or a pneumatic.” The bald assumption which lies at the bottom of such a deliverance—responsible for much of Wernle’s false construction of Paul’s teaching—is that queer doctrine argued by Karl, merely assumed by Wernle, that one must be all a sinner or else all a pneumatic; that there can be no intermediation between them: in other words that the Spirit works His effects always instantaneously complete and never through progressive stages. There is not only no warrant for this, but it is contradicted on every page of Paul’s letters. Then Wernle remarks that Paul speaks in this passage no single word of “grace,” or “forgiveness”—any more than in the letters to the Corinthians: “setting right”—that is what is suitable for the sinner. The remark is true enough. The sinning Christian needs only to be set right—because the forgiveness is presupposed; the Christian is living under a dispensation of forgiveness.

That Paul teaches that Christians are living under a dispensation of forgiveness is, to be sure, precisely what Wernle is most strenuously denying. Justification, according to his most insistent contention, has to do in Paul only with past sins, not future ones; there are no “future sins”—for Christians do not, cannot sin. What Paul says, however, is quite unamenable to such an interpretation. He does not say, “There is therefore now no sinning for those in Christ Jesus.” He says, “There is therefore no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus”; and on the face of it this means not that those in Christ Jesus have received forgiveness for their past sins and must look out for themselves hereafter; but that those in Christ Jesus live in an atmosphere of perpetual forgiveness. Wernle, of course, cannot allow that. “The Reformers repeated this sentence often,” says he;138 “but always understood it wrongly. They interpreted it as teaching that the Christian is freed from the condemnation of the law even though he should sin, because forgiveness becomes his daily portion through his faith in the vicarious suffering of Christ: in all their sorrow for sin this clause gave them their surest consolation. Paul, however, grounds freedom from condemnation on this—that the Christian is freed from the law of sin and death by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus; that therefore the demand of the law is fulfilled in the pneumatic man. The Christian is no longer condemned because he no longer sins up to the Parousia, because he is a pneumatic man. Nowhere perhaps does the difference between the two theories come so clearly to expression as in this verse. For the Reformers, everything turns on this—that the Christian in spite of his sin, can be a joyful child of God; for Paul, that he is delivered from his sin and makes his entrance into his future life. It is always the intensified eschatological expectation which separates Paul from the Reformers.” It ought to be enough to point out that there is no apparent eschatological reference in Rom. 8:1, beyond that which is involved in the very notion of salvation. And it certainly ought to be enough to point out that in this passage least of all can Paul be supposed to be teaching the perfection of Christians. What, at bottom, Wernle makes Paul do here is to suspend the salvation of Christians on themselves—there is to be no condemnation only if they cease from sinning and maintain their sinlessness up to the Parousia. And certainly it is a desperate expedient to make Paul a patron of a work-salvation, whether apart from or in conjunction with faith.

As the passage is treated by Wernle, however, as a kind of crucial one, it may not be amiss to scrutinize its language a little more closely. Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus,” and is therefore drawing an inference from the immediately preceding statement. That preceding statement is, “Accordingly then the same I with the mind serve the law of God, with the flesh, however, the law of sin.” That is to say, when Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation,” he is inferring that there is no condemnation from his divided mind—not from his wholly sinless state. This clause also, however, opens with an illative particle, which carries us back to the “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Thanks be to God, (it is) through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And that is the cry wrung from Paul by his analysis of his divided mind. Paul then certainly means to represent the “no condemnation” as his in spite of remaining sin and sinning. When now in the second verse of the eighth chapter he supports his assertion that there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus by declaring that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed us from the law of sin and death,” he is repeating in substance what he had said in the last clause of 7:25, with a clearer indication of the reason of the effect produced. The reason why his divided mind results in an assurance that there is no condemnation is that its division is not between equal claimants, but that one is wholly preponderant—and the preponderant one is “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” His mind is divided only because the Spirit of Christ Jesus has invaded it, and by invading it has freed it from the control of sin. The term employed for “freed” is not the term for “cleansed,” but the term for “emancipated”: it has slavery, not impurity, for its background. It is bondage to sin which is affirmed to be broken; not cleansing from sin which is affirmed to be effected. This Spirit of Christ, breaking our bondage to sin, we are told, has come to us as the result of a substitutive atonement wrought by Christ in our behalf (8:3); and it is explicitly declared that this atonement, condemning sin in the flesh, was “in order to the fulfilling in us of the righteousness of the law”—of “what the law has laid down as its rightful demand: the singular comprehend [ing the] … collective (moral) claims of right as a unity”—as H. A. W. Meyer puts it. Thus Paul teaches that our “no condemnation” in spite of our continuing sins is no ministering to evil, but has our fulfilment of the law as its necessary sequence: in other words that our justification not only covers our future as well as our past sins, but has a causal relation to our sanctification. Clearly it is the Reformers, not Wernle, who have understood Paul.

The publication of Wernle’s book made something like a sensation. The subject of “the sins of Christians” was brought by it, as Hans Windisch puts it,139 into “the foreground of theological discussion.” The opinions expressed upon the subject were very varied. Many of the same general way of thinking—adherents, as Windisch would put it, of “the critical-scientific theology,” or, as Fr. Winkler more distinguishingly describes them,140 of the “history of religion wing of the modern theology”—rallied to Wernle and indeed formed a party among whom it rapidly became something like a tradition that Paul teaches in one way or another the sinlessness of Christians. Naturally, however, adverse critics were much the more numerous. Paul Feine puts it strongly when he says:141 “This hypothesis called out almost universal contradiction, which did not remain without influence upon Wernle himself.” Whether under the influence of this adverse criticism or not, Wernle did find himself ultimately unable to maintain the positions he had so violently asserted.

Already on the appearance of his “Beginnings of our Religion,”142 the old contentions by which he had startled the world had dropped out of sight. He has a chapter here on “the piety of the community and the piety of Paul himself”; and while the general portrait of Paul which he draws in it is not wholly dissimilar to his former mode of conceiving him, yet there is no repetition of the earlier book’s fantastic description of him as a man sinless in his own eyes and attributing a like sinlessness to his converts—asserting it of them, rather, with the fanaticism of a doctrinaire theorist although the actual facts staring him in the face shrieked against his creed. Perhaps the nearest that he comes here to repeating those old assertions is when, in discussing the contrast between sin and grace (on which he says Paul was the first to ground piety), he declares that with Paul “sin and grace” were thought of as successive, not contemporaneous. That is one of his old contentions and may be intended here in the old meaning; but it is not developed here. Elsewhere he tells us in the old spirit, that, Paul throwing the emphasis on grace and being fundamentally a man of feeling, the danger of his point of view was ethical sloth. This, however, says Wernle now, the Apostle struggled against with all his might, and then instances the sixth chapter of Romans in proof. The sixth chapter of Romans appears here, then, as an effort on Paul’s part to ethicize his congregation, and not, as in the former book, primarily as evidence that, being in his view by necessity of their new birth holy, they needed no ethicizing. In other words, the imperative reading of this chapter has taken the place of the indicative reading of it insisted on in the former book.

The changes thus indicated are not small, and they were to go further. In a few years it came about that Hans Windisch143 did for Wernle what Wernle had done for Ritschl—took his rapid sketch, and extended, elaborated, deepened it. If Wernle’s book is to Ritschl’s paragraph or two, what, say, our good right arm is to our little finger, Windisch’s treatise is to Wernle’s book what the whole body is to the arm. Wernle undertook to show that to Paul (the Paul of his special selection of epistles) the Christian is a sin-free man, and he paints his Paul with a very broad brush. Windisch undertakes to demonstrate the same proposition for the whole New Testament, and not content with the New Testament pushes his inquiry back to Ezekiel and forward to Origen, and examines the whole ground through a microscope. Wernle, looking apparently on Windisch’s at once brilliant and labored treatise, not as the triumphant demonstration but as the reductio ad absurdum of his own thesis, out of which it grew, took occasion from its publication to sing his mea culpa. Paul to him is still fundamentally the missionary, but he is no longer supposed to have thought Christians sinless: “Missionaries who imagine that Christians no longer sin, are sinless men in their actual nature,” he now writes,144 “are not known to history, have never been known to history. Accordingly, the apparently contradictory theory must be corrected by the practice out of which it came, and from which it is framed. A purer man of practice than Paul, there never was; everything with him is an ‘ought’ and finds its place under a life-purpose. And thus the whole theory of sinlessness so far as it is found in him expresses nothing more than the energy of his requirements, and the radicalness of his faith that his God will fashion something stable out of the weak, wavering, sinking, hundred-times falling Christians. There is optimism here, of course, not only an optimism of the backward, but of the forward view, not isolated from experience, but deeply apprehending the sad experience and pushing forward to the goal.” He still thinks that Paul believes it possible for Christians to become sinless, because he took such expressions as “new creature,” “newborn children,” “second birth,” seriously. Possible, but by no manner of means necessary; all of Paul’s apparent indicatives are nothing at bottom but strengthened imperatives; when he speaks in the sixth of Romans of an inability to sin—that is but the strongest possible way of saying that it is very improper to sin. He still thinks Paul was no teacher of “miserable-sinner Christianity”; his object was not to comfort men in their sins but to deliver them from them, and “he believed in the final purification of his communities for the day of judgment and in the salvation of all who had been called and elected even though many would need to pass through hard judgments.” Paul’s belief in election, he says, had its roots in his radical experience of God and possession of God, which allowed no place for a God who does His work only half way. Lapses into sin, light or serious, are not excluded by this mighty faith in election and grace; but grace abounds above sin and will ultimately have its way. Those that sin Paul does not comfort by pointing them to grace; that was forbidden by his whole tendency as a missionary. He warns them of the divine judgment and calls them to repentance. They will be punished according to their sins and saved as by fire.

As we read this retractation we are almost tempted to think that Wernle has joined the company of the prophets. The ball which he had set to rolling had to roll very far, however, before it came to rest at this point.


“Miserable-sinner Christianity” in the Hands of the Rationalists

Article II


Studies in Perfectionism, vol. 1, Benjamin B. Warfield

Twelve years intervened between Wernle’s assault on “miserable-sinner Christianity” and his retractation, and it is necessary to give some account of the course of the debate through these years. We have already intimated that one of the effects of the publication of Wernle’s book was to uncover a tendency and to create a party. A tendency was uncovered among adherents of the history-of-religion school to represent Paul as claiming for himself or asserting of all Christians either express sinlessness or something very like it, and this tendency rapidly hardened into a party-contention. Men like E. Grafe, H. J. Holtzmann, Paul Schmiedel, E. Teichmann, A. Jülicher, in reviewing Wernle’s book, were quick to express complete or partial agreement with its general position.2 Carl Clemen was perhaps the first, however, to associate himself with it in an independent discussion.

Before the end of the year Clemen had published the Biblical part of his “Christian Doctrine of Sin”—the only part ever published—and he naturally included in it a section on “the dissemination of sin.”3 It had been the Biblical doctrine from the prophets down, he says, that sin is universal among men. But the possibility of overcoming it was always recognized for the future, and indeed was assumed for the past by the Priest Code and the Chronicler, and asserted for the present by Paul4—and he might have added also by the other writers of the New Testament since he interprets most of the post-Pauline writers in this sense (Eph. 1:4; 4:24; 5:1; 1 Pet. 1:15; Jas. 1:4; 1 John 3:6, 9).5 Paul, he asserts,6 not only sets himself up as a model and boasts of his work, but “expressly ascribes perfection to himself”—for which assertion Clemen has, however, no better proof than is afforded by the merely general, and perfectly natural, assertions of 1 Thess. 2:10; 1 Cor. 4:3 f. 2 Cor. 6:3 f. Paul, morever, “nowhere speaks of sins committed by him after his conversion, and nowhere refers to them the sufferings which he so often recalls, as he must have done on his … presuppositions, had he been conscious of any guilt whatever.”7 Apparent confessions of imperfections are only apparent—1 Cor. 15:9; 2 Cor. 5:2 ff.; Rom. 8:22 f. Gal. 2:20.

As for Rom. 7—of course the presents are presents; we must not make the Apostle a comedian dramatizing a distant past: but it was written in a bad hour, when the Apostle was in a gloomy mood—and therefore when he came to write the eighth chapter afterwards, he wrote in on the margin, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” words which have crept since into the text. “Looked at as a whole,” therefore, Rom. 7 means—what the moderns make it mean; and “in any case it has nothing to say against the freedom of Paul as a Christian in general from any consciousness of sin.”8 As to Phil. 3:12 ff. it is not to be denied that the efforts to empty it of its confession of imperfection have been imperfectly successful, but “neither is it to be forgotten that we have to do here precisely with the last of Paul’s letters to congregations, and that we find in it elsewhere also a different estimate of the Christian life from Paul’s earlier one; from it therefore we can draw no conclusions for the earlier period.”9 This comment seems to convey an admission that Paul does not always teach his own sinlessness or that of his converts. In his later epistles, at any rate, he has lost the assurance which is attributed to him on the basis of his earlier ones.10

With reference to his converts, it is argued that in presenting himself—and indeed Christ—as their model, Paul recognizes their ability to become like him—and Christ. There are passages, also, it is asserted, in which it is “expressly declared that the Christian no longer sins.”11 Here the stress is laid on 1 Cor. 6:11, Rom. 5:6, 8, and especially of course, on Rom. 6:1 ff.; but also on Gal. 3:27; 5:24, and finally Col. 2:11. “In any case,” the conclusion runs,12 “the transformation which has taken place in Christians through baptism is designated here again by so strong an expression, that it appears impossible to reduce it to a reversal merely of the relative strength of good and evil, to a removal of sin from the center to the periphery, to a certain inner separation from sin—as Lütgert13 has again of late sought to do.” “I admit,” Clemen adds, “that this explanation”—that is, Lütgert’s—“is valid in the case of some passages …; in the most of them, however, Paul speaks so clearly of the overcoming of sin through conversion, that all limitation appears to be excluded.” Of course he should have added, “except the limitation of time”—but it is characteristic of this whole school of writers simply to assume that what is done in the matter of cleansing of Christians is done without any expenditure of time whatever, all at once, completely.

Clemen, then, does not press Paul’s doctrine of the sinlessness of Christians quite to such extremities as Wernle, and he draws back altogether when it comes to Wernle’s estimate of the Apostle himself. So far from an “abstract idealist,” “doctrinaire fanatic,” who flagrantly contradicts in his teaching both the facts and himself, Paul was, says Clemen, a “sober realist,” who kept his eye and hand precisely on the facts.14 There is one thing, however, he says, which Wernle has missed in estimating Paul’s dealing with sin in the churches: when Paul charges his converts with sinning, it was only certain special sins which he ascribes to them, and otherwise he praises them (1 Thess. 4:9 f.; 1 Cor. 11:2, 17). There is no explanation of this, says Clemen,15 except that they had really conquered sin in general, but had not yet learned to look upon certain particular vices as sins. And here he draws an arrow from Scholz’s quiver. Scholz very strikingly pictures the difficulties which the newly converted heathen must have had in comprehending the Christian standard of morality. “When we wonder at the open transgressions of the ten commandments of which we hear so often in the Pauline epistles,” he says, “it should not be forgotten how new and unaccustomed many of the ethical requirements were for Christians of heathen origin; how many hindrances to the purer moral understanding must have arisen out of the instincts of the past. A just critic should allow that from such a start a good advance could be recognized in spite of all wavering, falling, holding back. This is precisely what Paul did.” Certainly nothing truer could be said. But to say this, as Clemen does through Scholz’s lips, is certainly not to say that Paul looked upon his converts as having already attained the goal. And Clemen himself has to admit16 that in his later epistles at least Paul—perhaps disheartened by the delay of the Parousia—thought of his converts as only beginners. Their new moral life was not yet manifest, but still “hidden” with Christ in God (Col. 2:3); the good work was only begun in them (Phil. 1:6); Paul himself was only beginning to know the power—it was a moral power—of Christ’s resurrection (Phil. 3:10). The goal of blamelessness still stood before them.

What Clemen teaches here, he repeats in the main in his “Paul, His Life and Works,”17 though not without modifications, the most notable of which is the apparent abandonment of the distinction between Paul’s earlier and later teaching. Justification, he teaches here, has reference, it is true, only to past sins, but does not on that account fail of some effect upon the future. Sins committed after we believe, we must ourselves bear the punishment of: therefore believers are sick and die—sometimes suddenly and untimely. But since they are justified, they need not commit these sins; justification brings with it the possibility of sanctification. Now, being justified, we can satisfy the claims of God on us, however high they may be. “We can walk in a new, holy life, because we know that our old man is crucified, therefore has paid its penalty; we can fulfill the law, after sin has been judged in the flesh.”18 The consciousness of this was very strong in Paul and he expected it to be present in others in the measure in which “he saw in the Christian in principle the new man, who actually did not sin any more at all.”19 “There was a time when we were weak and sinful, but now we are washed and sanctified, or figuratively expressed, are unleavened, so that there is no longer anything condemnable in us.” This is the reason why Paul could speak of the forgiveness of sins as something past; believers have no present sins to be forgiven. Christ’s intercession, however, no doubt remains, and will according to Paul’s expectation be operative at the last judgment.

There is another side of the matter, however, which must not be overlooked. Although we have become new creatures in Christ, yet this life is still hidden in God. Paul considered himself not yet perfect, and did not need to be taught by experience that others were even less so. We cannot even pray as we ought and need the grace of God always. If in spite of this Paul still looked upon himself and others as without sin, the explanation is doubtless to be found in part in this—“that he did not consider every departure from the highest ideal as sin.”20 It is found further in his expectation of an early end for all things. But what chiefly comes into consideration is that “Paul and the others had with their conversion really broken with sin, so that they feel now bound to the service of righteousness rather than of sin.” If they were overtaken by a fault there was the hope that they would be recovered from it, and therefore could still stand unblamable at the Parousia and receive God’s praise.

All this is once more said over again with the added clearness suitable to its more popular destination, in Clemen’s little handbook which he calls “The Development of the Christian Religion within the New Testament,” published in 1908.21 Here too he begins by pointing out that, according to Paul, “the death of Christ blots out only our former sins (Rom. 3:25) … and the judgment at the end of the day proceeds on the ground of works.” No doubt even then grace will rule, but consider 2 Cor. 5:10. When Paul says in Rom. 8:3 that God has judged sin in the flesh in order that the righteousness demanded by the law may be fulfiled in us, that proves that reconciliation so little supplants sanctification that it for the first time renders it possible. What is meant in Rom. 6:7 is primarily that each one’s own death has an expiatory value; as it is spoken, however, of us who have not died, it means that we are absolved from sin by the death of Jesus, and that carries with it the further idea that we are no longer to serve sin—provided that we carry with us the mediating thought, that we are brought by the forgiveness of sins into a condition in which we need not serve sin. “So long as we still had to bear our guilt, we had always to say in our battle against sin that it was of no avail how much we attained, since the old guilt always remained; now that it is done away, however, now that we have been assured of the grace and love of God, we can for the first time take up the battle against sin, and actually begin a new life.”22

It is important to pause here to note that the only effect of forgiveness looking to sanctification which Clemen here supposes Paul to intimate, is our enheartening for the conflict with sin. There is nothing intimated as to any interior effect of the death of Christ in the way of purifying our hearts. We are to sanctify ourselves under the inspiration of our liberation from guilt. The importance of making this clear arises from its connection with what immediately succeeds. For Clemen proceeds at once thus: “Yes, Paul assumes of his congregations that this has already happened with them, that they have died to sin (verse 2). Christ died for us, he says (Rom. 5:6), when we were still weak or sinners—now therefore we are no longer that: ye were slaves of sin, now however ye have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching which ye received (6:17); ye have washed and sanctified yourselves (1 Cor. 7:11) or, figuratively expressed, ye are unleavened (5:7). And now we understand why Paul, as already said, always relates reconciliation to the past sins, and speaks of forgiveness as something past (Col. 3:13); the Christian ought actually not to sin any more at all.” In this connection the deliverance from sin spoken of in this passage as already received by Christians can scarcely refer to anything more than deliverance from the guilt of sin. Their deliverance from sinning remains their own affair, wrought by their own efforts as a matter of duty under the inspiration of their forgiveness.

The sinlessness of Christians as such has become then only their duty to be sinless. And yet, just after thus explaining that all of a Christian’s freedom from sin is the result of a battle against it, in obedience to the exhortations of the gospel, Clemen proceeds, just as if it was otherwise, to ask: But did not Paul have to fight against sin? Is not 1 Cor. 9:27 there? And Rom. 7? Or if Rom. 7 was written in a gloomy hour, is not Phil. 3:12 there? And is not Paul always exhorting his readers to lay aside their sin? One thing is notable, he says: Paul has nowhere brought the death of Jesus into connection with their later sins, although he does speak once (Rom. 8:34) of Jesus appearing before God for us. Which merely reminds us again that a Christian, having once been relieved of the burden of his guilt, is then left to take care of his own subsequent sins for himself. Then Clemen closes the discussion by telling us that we must observe three things,23 if we would understand Paul’s position. The first of them is that “conversion was at that time actually the beginning of a new life; he who attached himself to the Christian community had actually (at least in principle) broken with his past.” The second of them is that under the influence of his vivid expectation of the rapidly approaching end, “Paul could think that the change which had taken place in these newly converted men would protect them altogether from new sins.” And the third of them, which he says is the main one, is that Paul was filled with “youthful faith in the divine power of the gospel, and knew nothing of the senile conception of Christianity as ‘comforted sorrow for sin’ (getrösteten Sündenelends).” He hoped that his congregations would stand unblamable at the coming of Christ. That is to say, Paul in his youthful fervor of faith was optimistic.

It seems apparent that in the ten years of his development covered by these three books, the doctrine of the sinless Christian lost its point in Clemen’s thinking. He has abated nothing, however, of his hatred of “miserable-sinner Christianity.” “The senile conception of Christianity, as ‘comforted sorrow for sin,’ ” is a tolerably biting characterization to make of the type of Christianity which presumably he identified with the doctrine of the Reformers. The excuse may justly be offered, no doubt, that if he does identify a Christianity which could be so described with the doctrine of the Reformers he has fallen into a mistake very prevalent in the circles in which he moved. And it is to be remembered in his favor that the intemperance of his language is apparently the result of a zeal which reflects a robust sense of the duty of moral effort. If “miserable-sinner Christianity” represents a tendency to acquiesce in sin and to substitute constantly repeated forgiveness of sins passively accepted as inevitable, for a manly battle against all sin and a steady advance upward toward conquest—why, then, it fairly deserves Clemen’s characterization. Clemen has, however, tripped here over that facile “either—or” which catches the feet of so many of his fellows. We do not have to choose between the alternatives of a Christianity of mere ethical effort and a Christianity of passive submission to unopposed sinning. There is something much better than either, between.

The defence of the Reformers against Wernle’s strictures was undertaken by a fellow Ritschlian, Johannes Gottschick, in an effective article printed in one of the later numbers of the Journal for Theology and Church for 1897.24 The thesis of the article is that the difference, amounting to contrariety, which Wernle has attempted to establish between the Reformers and Paul, in their attitudes to the Christian life, is purely imaginary; the Reformers must be recognized as the continuators of Paulinism. The main contention of Wernle, says Gottschick, is to the effect that “by maintaining the continuation of sinning in Christians, the Reformation has obliterated Paul’s sharp separation between the state of sin and the state of grace, and—a thing of which Paul knew nothing—has led the Christian who has to judge himself to be a sinner to maintain his confidence in God by means of reflection on forgiveness in Christ; and thus justification becomes to it no longer a single but an ever-repeated act.”25 Behind this representation, however, lie two questions of fact with reference to Paul’s teaching, simple enough to make it easy to obtain answers to them: (1) Does the sinner remain a sinner after justification? (2) Is the Christian’s confidence in God based on his assurance of the forgiveness of his sins in Christ?

To the first of these questions Gottschick’s answer is given in the following passage:26 “The question is how far the change which is given for Paul with faith and the reception of the Spirit reaches. According to Wernle, it produces complete freedom from sin, and this is to the Apostle characteristic for the nature of the Christian; Paul, it is said, knows no process, no development of the Christian life, but assumes that the ideal, that which Christians ought to be, they already are, and that the Spirit and the Christian state are lost with every sin, even the lighter ones. The assertion that Paul takes the ideal for the real and knows no development of the Christian life is, however, the manifest reverse of the actual state of the case. In all his letters the advancement, the growth, the strengthening of the Christian life is an object of the Apostle’s exhortation and prayers.” Citing then 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:10; Phil. 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:58; 1 Thess. 3:13; 2 Thess. 2:17; 3:3; 1 Cor. 4:16; 1 Thess. 1:10; 2 Thess. 1:3; 2 Cor. 10:10; Col. 1:10, 11; 1 Cor. 15:58, Gottschick adds: “These passages already show that for Paul the Christian life is more than the actualization or even merely authentication of a condition; it is advance and development in both the extensive and intensive reference.” Wernle, then, he continues, “has not shown that the Christian is a sinless pneumatic. He admits himself that the Apostle, in his practice, expects the recurrence of sin in the Christian life; but he contends that in theory he ignores or even denies it. For this he appeals to 1 Cor. 3:4 and Gal. 6:1, passages which are to prove that to the Apostle the Christian loses the Spirit with every sin. But 1 Cor. 3:1–4 does not say that the Corinthians … have lost what they possessed or have ceased to be what they were; but that they have not yet attained that stage in life in Christ, in which they should long have stood. Although according to 3:16 the Temple of the Spirit, they are nevertheless not yet ‘pneumatics.’ To say that Paul at 3:16 has already ‘forgotten’ what he said in 3:4 is nothing but a bad evasion. In Gal. 6:1, too, the pneumatics who are to restore those that stumble—who are regarded as Christian brothers, just as the dissembling Peter and Barnabas are in 2:13 ff.—can be only a particular class of Christians, and in that case were perhaps distinguished by charismata and on that account called to such service.… The Christian life cannot be any longer a life of bold service of sin, and need not be any longer a life of weak slavery to sin of a will wishing the good. The possibility of individual transgressions lies, nevertheless, according to Gal. 6:1, near to everyone. What has changed is the habitus, the total disposition (Gesamtcharakter).” “And now the denial of sin in the Christian life in Rom. 6:1 ff.! As if what is discussed there were whether in the course of the Christian life, which for Paul is self-evidently directed to a moral end, sin can occur—and not rather whether faith in grace and emancipation from the law are a license or even an incitement to perseverance in sin. And what Paul deduces here is not the impossibility of individual sins, but impulse and power for a life for God and righteousness in contrast with a former service of sin.” On Wernle’s representation that Paul’s passage from the indicative to the imperative in dealing with the relations of Christians to sin—leaping, without any mediation and without noticing it, from the ethics of miracle to the ethics of will—Gottschick remarks:27 “What appears contradictory to Wernle, is, so far as I see, only that a break with sin in principle can coexist with the necessity of admonition to contend against it, and further, that a consciousness of a nature-like propulsion can coexist with that of a spontaneous effort to obligated ends.”

The question raised by Wernle, Why does not the Apostle, in dealing with the sin of Christians, comfort them with reminders of the forgiveness which lies for them in Christ as the Reformers do? would be most directly answered, no doubt, by challenging the fact which is assumed in it. It would be enough to point to a declaration like Rom. 8:1, which, especially in its context, before and after, cannot possibly be made to refer only to the past sins of Christians, and which very eminently is of the nature of a comforting declaration. Gottschick is not prepared, however, to make just this rejoinder.28 He prefers therefore to urge an argument e concessis, to the effect—that the forgiving grace of God is certainly everywhere presupposed in Paul.29 Unrepentant sinners are of course dealt with by efforts to awaken their obtuse consciences and to bring them to repentance. “Even the strictest Protestant would have ventured on no other course.” But, in any event, even according to Wernle himself, “faith, baptism, justification, in Paul’s sense, ground a religious relation to God with the reversion of salvation.” And if justification renders salvation certain, it is absurd to speak of it as absolution only from the sins that are past; it must exercise dominion over the whole life, and, if sins be committed in that life, absolve from them also. “The formula that the preaching of faith, that is, the doctrine of justification, has merely missionary significance, is conversion-theology, is therefore simply untrue, so far as it has the meaning that justification brings something only for entrance into the Christian state and the community, but not for the continuation of the Christian life in the community.”30 Wernle has himself contradicted this representation when he points out that justification guarantees salvation at the judgment-day and assures the enjoyment of future benefits, that it transfers us into the state of the “righteous” and looks therefore not merely backward to the sins that are past but forward to the heritage of the just. And Paul contradicts it no less, in passages like Rom. 5:1–11, 8:31–39, in which he expounds the significance which being justified has for the believer, bringing to him triumphant confidence in God, which raises him above the trials and perils of life and assures him of salvation. According to this representation, the faith that justifies must of course remain as the motive-power of the whole life. “Faith, in Paul’s sense, which supports itself on the love of God in Christ and longs for and confidently awaits life in the Kingdom of holiness and love, includes inalienably the earnest direction of the will to the moral goal.”31 Justification, however, as Paul conceives it, does not act merely as a powerful incitement to right living; it is also necessarily a constant absolvement for the sins of life. On Wernle’s own representation, which allows that the faith that justifies grounds in Paul’s view a religious relation with God which involves in it the reversion of salvation, it must have been included in Paul’s view that the relation with God was destroyed by every sin, great or small. “Were,32 however, that the case, all analogy suggests that simple amendment would not be thought enough, but special transactions would be required for atonement. It is only the moralism of the Enlightenment which has allayed the uneasy conscience with mere amendment. There is no trace of anything like this in Paul. Wernle himself, indeed, declares that ‘Paul never, it seems, raised the question how the Christian obtains forgiveness when he sins’ (p. 69). The presupposition for such an attitude can only be that he and his congregations did not feel such sins as abrogating childship to God. And that finds an excellent explanation precisely from the significance which justification (or its synonyms) has to him for the Christian life—that it does not mean only non-reckoning of past sins, but transference into the positive and perpetual condition of the children of God and heirs of His Kingdom, yes, into the already present enjoyment of its benefits. The objectivity of the electing and calling grace of God, in connection with the assurance of already enjoying a foretaste of a future benefit, accompanying to him the expression of the relatively great transformation, imparted such strength and confidence in God and hope in the coming salvation, that it did not waver because of individual defeats in the struggle. And the Apostle’s own judgment was not different: he only over and over again inculcated the condition which must be fulfilled, if this hope was not to deceive and this security was to be no fleshly one,—aspiration after what is above, and—the special form which this condition took over against intruding sin,—sincere and earnest repentance. Paul then does not speak of forgiveness as a continuously repeated necessary factor of the Christian life only because justification includes it once for all.”

The direct contradiction in which Wernle places Paul and the Reformers in their judgments upon the Christian life—representing the one as looking upon Christians, as such, as sinless and the other as thinking of them, to put it at its height, as “all sin”—has no foundation in fact. The “optimism” ascribed to Paul by Wernle, Gottschick declares, transforms him into a “psychological monstrosity,” at once “the incomparable spiritual adviser and the doctrinaire incapable of learning from experience.”33 His letters teach us that he saw things as they were and realized fully all the shortcomings of his Christians. Of course he estimated also at its true value the radical break with sin which they had made, the power they had acquired in their conversion to turn away from the old evil life and to fight their way toward the goal of Christian perfection. And this new life which had come to Christians was as little neglected by Luther as by Paul. Nothing would have shocked Luther more than any suggestion that Christians have obtained nothing by believing, except an ultimate salvation. Sinners they are, who sin daily and need daily forgiveness. But they are not as the sinners of the Gentiles; with them “sin is not as it was before, because its head has been bruised by remission of sin.”34 “They are not made but in the making,”35 but they are in the making; and that means that they are partly made. By both Paul and Luther Christians were well understood to be in the process of salvation; but this very fact that they were and were seen to be in the process of salvation opened the way to the possibility of a difference in emphasis. How shall the Christian, by nature a sinner, but now regenerated by the Spirit and justified by faith and becoming more and more conformed to the image of God’s Son, be characterized? From the remaining sinfulness of his nature? Or from his new creation and his now waxing holiness? Insistence on his character as “miserable sinner,” may be exaggerated into denial or neglect of the transformation which has taken place in him. Insistence on his character as new creature may be exaggerated into assertion of a perfection already attained. It would not do Wernle serious injustice to say that in his view something like these opposite exaggerations was precisely what took place respectively in Paul and Luther. Gottschick denies that any such exaggeration took place in the case of either. But he is prepared to admit that a real difference exists between Paul and Luther, arising from their throwing their emphasis respectively in the direction of these two opposite exaggerations.36 He is prepared to go indeed further than this, and to attribute to them a far-reaching difference in their definitions of sin. They both have the same state of things before their eyes, he says,37 a will energetically directed to the good, which, however, is still only advancing to perfection, and still has to contend with the temptations and antagonisms of sin continuing to work in the periphery of the personal life, and thus is often betrayed into manifest transgressions. “But they pass very different judgments upon it.” “This is explained,” he now goes on to say, “by their applying a different standard of judgment. Paul characterized as sin in the complex of the Christian life only notorious lapses into sins of sensuality and selfishness; but on the other hand he did not so regard lagging in the attainment of extensive and intensive perfection, in trust in God, in love, in the sanctification of the whole life, which stood for him as the goal of his Christians, nor yet the struggle with the enticements and oppositions of the flesh which made themselves felt. Luther on the other hand, with inflexible sternness pled, in opposition to the scholastic theology, for the standpoint that every falling-short precisely of this Pauline ideal of perfection—to cover which he extended the Decalogue—is condemnable sin.… Precisely the fact that the Christian life is a striving towards a goal is to him a proof of the continuance of sinfulness in the regenerate.”

If this be true, then the Reformation has greatly refined and deepened the Pauline conception of sin. The purpose which Gottschick has in view in affirming its truth is to account for what he conceives (with Wernle) to be the greater preoccupation of the Reformation theology with sin. It has enlarged the conception of sin, he says, and, having enlarged the conception of sin, it has felt the condemnation of sin and the need of forgiveness, if not more strongly, yet more extensively than Paul. Here we have no doubt a difference with Paul, he intimates, but not a contradiction. This is the way he puts it:38 “That Luther perpetually felt disquieted religiously by the continued conflict with the flesh and by the delay in attaining the ideal of perfection, or let us say of the Christian character, and had need of a counterpoise against this disquiet, is therefore the new thing, as compared with Paul, which remains. That, however, he found the counterpoise in justification for Christ’s sake, is not an extension of the meaning given to it by Paul, beyond the beginning of the Christian life to its whole course. In Paul, too, it extends over the whole course of the Christian life; objectively as the basis of the relation of childship to God or of the right to the inheritance of eternal life; and subjectively in the humility with which the moral deliverance leads back to God and in the confidence with which protection from all inimical powers, the fatherly guidance of God, and perfecting from God are expected. It is much rather a logical application (folgerichtige Anwendung) of the fundamental religious conception which Paul has formulated in his doctrine of justification, to the changed judgment (required by the changed circumstances) on the state of things, that is to say, on the Christian life, fundamentally renewed, it is true, but still striving and growing. It is not in this as if Luther in the forgiveness of the sins of the Christian thought of a continuously repeated forgiveness of individual sins; he was just as conscious as Paul of the unity and completeness of the state of grace, given objectively with justification, or the individual promise of grace, subjectively with faith. Forgiveness, or justification, and also the absolution given in the sacrament of penance, is not with him a dispensation for a quantum of sins, but the reception of the whole person into the divine favor, the transference of it into the unitary and permanent state of grace. And it is the task of faith to raise itself, in the assurance of this, above the disquiet produced by the painful sense of continued sinfulness and by serious sins, recognized and repented of. It is on the one side included in this that it is not necessary, in the accompanying mood of humble trust in God’s grace, to reflect scrupulously on daily sins; and on the other side it is not excluded that the application to particular cases of the justification which governs the whole life—since it is not a logical but an emotional one—will often enough be brought about as the restoration of a shaken or renewed consciousness of God’s grace.”

Among the writers on the ethics of the New Testament during this period, Hermann Jacoby39 claims our attention at this point because of the completeness with which he associates himself with Gottschick, and that especially in the dubious views of Paul’s conception of sin which we have just seen Gottschick enunciating. He was preceded by F. Mühlau,40 whose revulsion from Wernle’s whole representation was much stronger, and followed after a few years by A. Juncker,41 writing from a modern point of view but protesting against the representation of Paul which sets his “theory” and “practice” in contradictory antagonism, and (following A. Seeberg here) maintaining on somewhat doubtful grounds the use of the Lord’s Prayer by Paul and his consequent regular praying for forgiveness of sins. Jacoby, without expressly intimating any exceptions, represents himself as coinciding in Gottschick’s results, and having in view for himself only to “supplement” them.42 His presentation of their common views, however, is so clear and pointed that it will repay us to give them independent attention.

He begins his exposition of Paul’s conception of the Christian’s relation to sin with two affirmations.43 The first of them is that “Paul characterizes the path of the Christian’s life as a path of victory.” “For a true Christian,” he affirms, “there can be no such thing as a life in the service of sin; a dominion of sin, a ‘reign,’ ‘rule’ of it, is excluded (Rom. 6:12, 13).” In Paul’s view it is the other side of the Christian’s “double life” that is to be emphasized; the Christian belongs to what he is to become, not to what he is leaving behind him. This is Jacoby’s protest against what he conceives to be the “miserable-sinner” conception of the Christian life. It is the seamy side of the Christian life which is the subject of his own second affirmation. There is such a thing as sinful concupiscence, and it has its allurements: and we are not without a painful sense that there is something in us in sympathy with it. But, and this is the second affirmation, Paul did not range this “under the category of sin,” “no consciousness of guilt grew out of the conflict for him.” “He did not regard even this condition, bound up with a victorious conflict, though it contradicts the moral ideal, as sin. Falling short of the moral ideal and sinning are by no means the same thing to him. The idea of sin has for him a narrower compass.” This is Jacoby’s act of adherence to Gottschick’s representation as to Paul’s undeveloped conception of sin, and he proceeds at once to transcribe approvingly a page of Gottschick’s discussion, and then to repeat and enforce its essential elements in his own language.

“No one,” he says,44 “has appreciated like Paul the conflict against the flesh in its entire greatness, in its complete difficulty. He sees the old man in his dreadful form, all the sinful lusts which move in him; he demands with uncompromising decision the putting off of this old man (Col. 3:5–9); but the experience of these allurements is not to him sin, but suffering, an almost unendurable suffering. Out of this feeling of suffering he exclaims, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me out of the body of this death (Rom. 7:24). A cry of pain out of a past continuing into the present. For though he is removed from the service of sin under the dominion of the law, the condition of suffering, which is connected with the conflict against sin, abides with him. And how far Paul knows himself to be from the goal! He has not yet reached it, he has not yet attained perfection, but with straining strength he hastens toward it. He judges the life of salvation which has been built up in the community, as only a beginning (Phil. 1:6). And it is not without anxiety that Paul looks on the path of conflict, which he must still traverse—on the temptations that he must endure (Phil. 3:10–14). He has no doubt moreover that on this path ‘transgressions’ can occur. No Christian is certain that a temptation may not overcome him; that he may not permit himself to be betrayed by the flesh into a fault (Gal. 6:1). That declaration of the Apostle’s is very important for the understanding of his view of the continuing of sin in Christians. Faults which may be thought of as sins of inadvertance can occur even in a normal Christian life, and in this sense Paul will have adopted the publican’s prayer and the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. In this consciousness of the danger of temptation, of entanglement with lusts of the flesh, he requires from everyone who will partake of the Lord’s Supper that he prove himself (1 Cor. 11:28, 31), and therefore assumes that a Christian will always find himself at his best. Paul was certainly not an enthusiast; the traits of an enthusiast are wrongly attributed to him by Wernle. But in spite of all that, it is true that Paul looked on the course of life of the Christian as a course of victory, sin as a slain foe, and the fundamental tone of his confession forms not the Kyrie eleison but the Hallelujah. Thus it ought to be in the case of every true Christian. But Paul also knows that reversions to the stage of the old man take place in the Christian life; not mere ‘transgressions,’ but ‘sins’ in the full sense of the word. To him, however, this is neither a necessary thing, nor a thing to be universally presupposed of Christians. It nevertheless does actually happen. In that case, however, the Christian state is imperiled, shaken, and must be reëstablished in the same way in which it was first begun—in the way of ‘repentance,’ of the ‘godly sorrow’ which saves (2 Cor. 7:9–11).”

According to this representation the Christian is conceived rather as capable of sinning, liable to sin, than as actually a sinner by nature and through the manifestations of that nature also an inevitable sinner in fact. Original sin is reduced to an incitement of sin, a temptation to sinning which may be successfully resisted. Even sins of inadvertence, although liable to occur in all lives, apparently need not occur in any. Sins “in the full sense of the word,” we gather, are rare in truly Christian circles; and when they occur are looked upon almost as having destroyed the Christian life itself. No Christian has as yet attained his goal: he is in the making and not made. But an impression is conveyed that the goal set before Christians is in the technical sense of the words very much a “counsel of perfection.” Certainly the ideal which Paul held before himself and his converts stretched far above anything he could, on Jacoby’s representation, call mere cessation of sinning; and he is almost given the appearance of busying himself not with delivering himself and them from sin but with elevating himself and them into something like supermen—into a region stretching beyond what can be easily spoken of as human. The element of truth in this representation should not blind us to the serious error of it. It is the result of minimizing the amount of sinfulness still clinging to and manifesting itself in the Christian life—original sin, actual sinning—until little room seems to be left for that continued ethical development on which nevertheless Jacoby vigorously insists.

Paul, says Jacoby,45 when expounding Paul’s teaching on the developing life of the Christian, looks on the path over which the Christian advances from a two-fold point of view. “It is on the one hand to him the path of effort, of personal exertion, of his own achievement. The Apostle considers himself a combatant, who strains every nerve to win the imperishable crown, who practises self-denial to reach the goal (1 Cor. 9:24–27). He knows that he has not yet scaled the height of perfection (Vollendung), that he does not yet stand at the goal; but he expends his whole energy upon the effort to win it; dissatisfied (nicht befriedigt) with the moral stage to which he has attained, he aspires to a higher (Phil. 3:12–14). Thus the moral life appears to him a perpetual struggle, which reaches no end within the limits of earthly existence.” There was another point of view, however, from which he looked on it. “But he looks at the same moral life,” continues Jacoby, “as a development which takes place with inner necessity, like an organic process, which, once begun, if it is not arrested by some accident, reaches the ends by which it is determined by means of the action of the forces operative in it. The Christian who sows to the Spirit, that is, lets the Holy Spirit work on him, follows His incitement … reaps of the Spirit eternal life (Gal. 6:8).” Because he places himself in the service of God, a moral quality “forms in him which fashions itself into ‘holiness,’ and has as its ultimate result eternal life, without this quality ceasing to be a gift of God’s grace; for it is the grace of God which introduces this ethical power, carries it on, and brings it to its conclusion (Rom. 6:22, 23).” The main point here is clearly and firmly stated: the Christian life is from the ethical point of view a process, advancing continually to the as yet unattained goal; and this process has a twofold aspect, according as it is viewed from the human side, as effort, or from the divine side, as re-creation; that is, according as we think of the exhortation “Work out your own salvation,” or of the encouragement “For it is God that worketh in you.”

Jacoby now proceeds46 by adducing the great passages 2 Cor. 3:18, 4:16, and warning us at the same time that, in Paul’s view, “this constantly advancing procession of glory, which is grounded in childship to God, does not prevent Christians longing for a condition in which the full enjoyment of childship to God shall be possessed by them.” “At present,” he explains, “their childship to God is attested to them in the purely spiritual sphere, but their sensuous being is a mode of existence which in the burden of the afflictions which fall on them, in the temptations which are connected with it, contradicts the mode of existence which, according to their spiritual nature, they possess as children of God. They therefore long after the redemption of the body, after the resolution of the disharmony between the spiritual and bodily phases of their life, after the harmony in which they shall experience the complete realization of childhood to God (Rom. 8:23, 30).” In comparison with this future condition, Paul, says Jacoby, speaks of our present blessedness as a “hidden” possession: we are pressing on towards things as yet unseen and only in the beyond shall we attain our end. “Thus the consciousness of Christians is filled with contrasting feelings and exertions. On the one side they are placed in the visible world in which they are to maintain themselves in faithfulness in their calling, in obedience to the ordinances approved by God, in sanctification of life—in a world, over against which they are nevertheless inwardly alien. On the other side they belong to a heavenly world, the powers of which are communicated only to believers, of which we can become aware, on which we lay hold, only by faith.” Only when Christ appears out of that “hiddenness” in which He now works, will the inner life of Christians find an outer manifestation corresponding to Him. “To this crisis of their condition they are ripening by inner development, by constant growth, which is conditioned by the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10).”

This essentially true account of Paul’s doctrine of the Christian life in the world presents the Christian life as in its very essence a preparation for the life to come, and as therefore in every respect now incomplete. Paul teaches not a this-world but a next-world Christianity. Everything is begun here; nothing completed. It is of the very essence of his teaching, therefore, that we are not here perfect, that, in our ethical development as well as in every other, we are only in the making. Additional point is given to this by the striking paragraph of Jacoby’s discussion in which he raises our eyes from the individual to the Christian community and from the Christian community to the world—which is, after all said, God’s world. The consummation of the ethical life, he tells us,47 is not related by Paul to the individual Christian alone but to the whole Christian community. It too is in a process of God-wrought growth; it too is to be the body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Ghost. But the gaze of the Apostle is not directed to Christ’s community, he now adds, as to a holy island in an unbelieving world; but to the entirety of humanity, which is to be taken up into the Kingdom of Christ. Thus, at the end of the road, every enemy shall be seen to be conquered (1 Cor. 15:26, 28), and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:11).

Something like what Jacoby does for Paul is done for John by A. Titius from his more vigorously Ritschlian standpoint.48 If, according to John, eternal life is already had here and now, it is nevertheless not here and now enjoyed in its completeness. Christianity is with John too a next-world religion: the Christian is in this life in the Way, not at the Goal (cf. the designation of Christianity as the Way in Acts 24:14; 19:9, 23). And the difference concerns every relation of life, not least the relation of Christians to sin. The world they live in is an evil world, and they are liable to temptation. “They are moreover in need of perennial (dauernd) cleansing (John 15:2; 1 John 3:3) and emancipation from the power of sin (John 8:32); they must ever confess that they have sinned (1 John 1:8–10) and are therefore condemned by their hearts (1 John 3:19, 20) and need forgiveness (1 John 1:9; 2:1, 2).” Paul no doubt presupposes “the perpetual necessity of forgiveness of sin.” But John does more than that. He emphasizes it. “It is emphatically asserted that forgiveness of sins belongs to the permanent life-conditions of the community, because the notion that we do not have sin and therefore do not need forgiveness rests in self-deception and is excluded by God’s Word (1 John 1:8, 10; 2:1b, 12). With this it accords that the Risen One imparts to His own the right to dispose of the forgiveness of sins; this presupposes the state of forgiveness of sins as a personal possession of the community (John 20:23). But also the particular conditions, under which the individual appropriation of forgiveness of sins stands, are discussed …”49 Nevertheless, says Titius, with all this, there is a difference between John—and Paul too, who, had he dealt with these matters as fully as John does, could scarcely have treated them differently—and Luther. It is a difference only of degree, it is true—of the degree in which the consciousness of sin gives its character to the Christian consciousness; but there is none the less a difference. With John—“perpetual incompleteness and sin are undoubtedly recognized, but it does not make the consciousness of a relative Christian perfection impossible; this appears rather as normal. Thus at 1 John 2:1 the sin of the Christian is thought of as exceptional; and in 1 John 3:22, John 15:7, 8, 16, the joy of prayer is conditioned by the consciousness of fulfilling God’s commandment and of doing what is pleasing to Him.”50 We do not see, however, how Luther can be interpreted as greatly differing from this: he too supposed the Christian to be a Christian—one who had broken with sin in principle, and though in perpetual need of forgiveness, yet also in the perpetual joy of salvation.

In dealing with the portions of the New Testament not connected by him with the names of Paul and John, Titius speaks of the emergence in them of a new problem—the problem of the relation of the justification or the forgiveness of sins obtained in baptism to the sins of Christians.51 Paul, says he, had scarcely related his doctrine of justification to the continuing sin of Christians. The Apocalypse, Acts, Pastoral Epistles—for he denies these to Paul—give no certain guidance. But, fortunately, there is the Epistle to the Hebrews. It speaks here plainly, and speaks strongly, “relating the forgiveness of sins obtained by Christ to the whole life of Christians.” “On the ground of the divine will, the sanctification of Christians follows from the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all; they are and remain holy (perfect tense, 10:10). By a single act He has sanctified the people of God (13:12; 10:29; cf. 10:14), so that now all of them are holy (3:1; 6:10; 13:24). The application to individuals is accomplished by the sprinkling of their hearts with the blood of Christ, and the washing of their bodies with pure water, that is, in baptism (10:22). The fundamental ideas of the author place beyond doubt that he considered, not that the forgiveness at baptism required supplementing, but that the forgiveness then once for all given conveyed a permanent (compare the perfect, ‘having been sprinkled’) relation to God not capable of destruction by sin (within certain limits). This follows already from Christ’s offering taking the place of the entire Old Testament expiatory system. What distinguishes the New from the Old Covenant is that God will no longer remember sins and transgressions (13:12; 10:17). From that, Hebrews draws the conclusion that where such forgiveness is present, the sin-offering no longer is made (10:18). Therefore the single sin-offering of Christ expresses God’s permanent readiness to forgive, not a once for all forgiveness, but a permanent relation of forgiveness, arranged once for all in baptism …” “It is manifest,” Titius concludes after presenting much further evidence,52 “that here for the first time, the fundamental Pauline idea of justification has received a form, in which it is capable of satisfying the changed need, the need of assurance of permanent forgiveness for sin.” We gather that on this view the Reformation might derive its specific quality if not from Paul, yet at least from the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

It is when treating Paul’s teaching, however, that Titius formally enters into the controversy as to the sins of Christians.53 His mode of dealing with it has close affinities with that of Jacoby. He draws back a little, indeed, from Gottschick’s and Jacoby’s representation that Paul’s idea of sinning was a somewhat narrow one. He is willing to allow, it is true, that Paul did not think of every failure of the Christian to correspond with the highest ideal, as sin. But he is quick to warn against attributing to the Apostle the low moral standard which does not look upon the inner contradiction of the flesh as sin, and to insist upon the comprehensive breadth of his recognition of the sinful. It cannot reasonably be denied, he says,54 that Paul considered every movement of the sensuous desire which runs athwart the divine requirements—and the divine requirements coalesce with him with the “ideal”—to be sinful. The love of our neighbor is not a mere ideal of perfection with him, but a binding requirement of the law, breach of which falls under the curse. Every action which is not accompanied with the religious assurance that it is permissible, or rather is pleasing to God, is branded by him as sin—which certainly shows an exceptional delicacy of moral judgment. Add the sharp contrasts which he draws between Spirit and flesh, light and darkness, righteousness and sin; and observe that, according to him, it is not given to men to stand neutral between these forces, but each one must take one side or the other—surely that has not the appearance of looking only on the grosser failings and faults as sin. In a word, while we need not attribute to Paul “a scrupulous and nervous anxiety of sin-consciousness,” we cannot deny to him a clear and accurate and comprehensive sense of sin, as sin. We are not to suppose that he thought highly of the moral life of Christians because he thought lightly of the evil of sin. That way of answering the question raised by Wernle of whether Paul considered Christians sinners is barred.

The question no doubt would already be answered if we could follow Mühlau in considering Rom. 7:14–25 a transcript of the Christian consciousness. Rejecting that interpretation of this passage does not leave us, however, in doubt as to Paul’s attitude towards the Christian life. The Apostle does not look upon the salvation which has become the possession of Christians, although it is in its innermost nature really divine salvation, as, as yet the final salvation, but as incomplete, so that the position of Christians in the world is one not yet worthy of the children of God.55 Sin and the Spirit can dwell together in the human soul—not the dominion of sin and the dominion of the Spirit, but sin and the Spirit. Neither in the seventh chapter of Romans nor anywhere else does Paul know the notion that the dominion of the Spirit is empirically compatible with the dominion of sin; nowhere does he recognize the alternation of the victorious advance of the Spirit and a retrograde moral movement, as the permanent rule of the Christian life. “But it is not less wrong, it seems to me,” continues Titius,56 “when the theory is ascribed to the Apostle—a thing which A. Ritschl did not do—that the Christian does not sin.” Von Soden, Mühlau, Gottschick have brought forward much material to the contrary, but something more may be said. In saying it there is to be emphasized first of all that “not only particular observations, but precisely the whole theory of the Apostle, prove that he considered the life of Christians as sinful.” That is already clear from the fact that the present state of Christians has as its characteristic the presence in them of the two opposing factors, the flesh and the Spirit. “It is, however, self-evident that the morality of conflict and strife is not the highest, but that the measure of effort required marks at the same time the measure of power which sin still possesses even in the believer. To attribute to the Apostle the notion that the Christian does not sin, means therefore, to attribute to him that he considers the inner opposition of the flesh as not sin, that is, that he operates with too low a moral standard. If, however, his norm of righteousness consists in perfect love of God and men, then every impulse repugnant to it, even though it be overcome, is sin (Rom. 7:7); there is, however, no lack in the Christian life also of such impulses proceeding from the flesh (Gal. 5:17; Col. 3:5); and there can be no lack of them because these lusts are the movements of our flesh (Eph. 2:3) inseparable from our mortal body (Rom. 6:12). If then the moral norm is not externalized after a fashion wholly incompatible with Rom. 7:7 and with the whole inner conception of the Apostle, the fundamental fact of the existence of ‘flesh’ and ‘Spirit’ in the Christian life already brings with it the sinfulness of the life.”57 This is far from the only evidence of the fact which Titius produces, but it may serve as a sample of his reasoning. As to Paul himself, it is true that it is not easy to turn up passages in which he ascribes present sins to himself; and he speaks too of Christians, from the point of view of the Spirit which dwells in them, as sinning rather through inadvertence and through weakness than by determinate purpose. They are Christians; and sin is represented by him as an ever more and more disappearing element in the Christian life, and he presupposes a really progressive approach to the ideal of perfection (e.g. Phil. 3:12 ff.). But sin always forms a limitation to the complete blessedness of the Christian. “And it is only in the resurrection, as the context of Phil. 3:10–14 shows, that the goal of sinless perfection beckons.”58

The discussion aroused by Wernle’s book was thus obviously moving, from the first, even within the limits of the Ritschlian school, towards the decisive refutation of his central contention—that, according to Paul, Christians do not sin—and the consequent isolation of it as the peculiar property of those extremists who had come now to be known as the history-of-religion school. The impression is even received that, had it not been for their feeling of loyalty to their master, “the regular Ritschlians,” if we may so speak of them, might have reached in the process of the discussion an unexceptionable understanding of Paul’s view of the Christian life, as the as yet uncompleted product of the combined operation of the forgiving and renewing grace of God; and along with that a recognition of the substantial faithfulness of the reproduction of Paul’s view in the teaching of the Reformation. Their approximation to such an understanding is at times so close that their assertions of divergences from it strike the reader almost as mere eccentricities. But the main elements of what Ritschl had taught, they continue to repeat up to the end, in one form or another, although, to speak the whole truth, often with more or less complete evacuation of Ritschl’s meaning, while yet always making a show of deference to his authority. We have reference here especially to the assertion that Paul does not relate justification to the sins of Christians, and indeed does not regard these sins as very serious, certainly not as serious enough to qualify their sense of their own ethical worth; and that on the other hand, the Reformers so focused attention on the perpetual sinning of Christians as to submerge all sense of or indeed effort after ethical growth in a constant search for forgiveness, so that the entirety of Christian experience was summed up for them in the sense of repeated forgiveness. The debate, of course, did not lie wholly in the hands of the Ritschlians, although they were perhaps the most active parties to it: and it must be confessed that too many of those who entered it with a view to defending the Reformation doctrine, taught, instead, a doctrine which seems to have become traditional in the Lutheran churches as the Reformation doctrine, but which, if conceived as such, would go far towards justifying the Ritschlian strictures upon the teaching of the Reformers.

An example is supplied even by the very carefully guarded discussion of Ernst Cremer.59 It is Cremer’s fundamental postulate that “forgiveness of sins” is “the whole of Christianity, full salvation.”60 And “because the forgiveness of sins is God’s whole salvation, perfect salvation, the faith which apprehends it in Christ is perfection.”61 “It becomes intelligible now why faith in Christ is perfection; it is because God’s forgiveness of sins is God’s whole salvation, in which God’s saving will comes to its goal; believers are perfect because Christ’s saving work is perfect.”62 “By the designation of the believer as perfect, it is emphasized that we have in Christ in the forgiveness of sins all that we need from God.”63 The terms perfection, perfect, are, of course, used in these declarations in a non-moral sense. We read:64 “The idea that under Christian perfection the final result of the so-called process of sanctification is to be understood has no point of attachment in the New Testament.” Again: “The perfection of the Christian is nowhere represented as … the goal that is to be attained by him”; “it is not a particular stage of the Christian life.”

If this be so, naturally the question becomes very pressing, In what relation does the moral life stand to this experience of forgiveness through faith? Cremer raises the question in the first instance in this form:65 “If the Christian has his perfection in faith in Christ, and that, just because he has in Him forgiveness of sins—if forgiveness of sins is the whole of salvation—in what interest can then the moral requirement be made seriously effective?” In reply he tells us that “the moral relation cannot be so separated from the religious, from faith, that a faith would be conceivable which does not at the same time postulate and bring with it a moral relation”: “faith in Christ is not possible without our attitude to the world being decisively influenced.” It is absurd to talk of going to Christ for forgiveness of sin without a realization of the evil that sin is, and a renunciation of it. The one is involved in the other. That is all true enough, but it leaves us only greatly desiring to be free from sin, without telling how our deliverance from it may be accomplished. We are carried a step further, however, when we are told that66 “the salvation present in Christ is of such a nature that it cannot be accepted in faith except with such a transformation.” But we will let Cremer himself expound why and how this is so: “Even the minimum of religious understanding is lacking when forgiveness of sins becomes suspected of being a dispensation from the moral requirement. It is a favorite notion—especially where moral perfection, or at least completeness, ‘sanctification,’ is demanded with emphasis—that on deliverance from the guilt of sin, deliverance from its power follows as a second divine gift and human task.… The power of sin cannot be more strongly experienced than when sin is experienced as guilt. Precisely in the sense of guilt does sin exercise its enslaving dominion, and when the sense of guilt is lacking sin is not felt as an enslaving power and therefore the power of sin is broken when guilt is removed. Forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit are therefore one divine act; God forgives sins when (indem) He gives the Spirit; the forgiveness of sins is in itself the establishment of communion with God; a forgiveness which was not the establishment of communion with God, gift of the Spirit, would be no forgiveness. Because, however, forgiveness is the gift of the Spirit, essentially the entirety of salvation is to be recognized in it. In one divine act the power of sin is, therefore, broken along with the removal of its guilt; in faith in the forgiveness of sins morality is inseparably bound to religion and morality proceeds inseparably out of religion. The establishment of the relation to God is the removal of the relation to sin; in the instant in which the man is bound to God, he is no longer bound to sin; the forgiveness of sins means that the one power replaces the other; if sin has power over men, so also has God, who takes man into fellowship with Himself; power which becomes active in the same instant in which man yields himself to Him. In turning to God, the relation to sin is immediately broken; compare the exposition of Paul in Rom. 6” … and so forth.

The scope of this exposition is to the effect that forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit as a sanctifying power, are received by the same act of faith. And that is the burden of Cremer’s doctrine of the Christian life. “No doubt when faith is preached,” he says again,67 “sanctification … is preached; for faith which delivers from sin is extinguished if it does not avouch its possession.… The preaching of forgiveness and it alone is itself the preaching of sanctification.” All this is true, and is important, and as far as it goes is well put. What is lacking in it is any real explanation of how the moral life proceeds out of forgiveness, how justification necessarily carries with it sanctification. We are told that the two go together and must go together: we are told that the same faith receives both: we are told that the new relation to God involved in faith brings renewal with it, with inevitable certainty. But we are not shown how the two are immediately connected inwardly. They find their union apparently in their common relation to faith, or in their common source in a reconciled God, but not at all in an immediate relation to each other. And therefore Cremer’s insistence that the “forgiveness of sins” is “the whole of Christianity, full salvation” remains unjustified, and provokes contradiction, as, despite his asseverations of the inseparable connection—involution, if you will—of moral renewal with it, leaving the ethical side of the Christian life inadequately recognized.

The tendency which seems to be guardedly suggested by Cremer comes to its full expression in an interesting article by Karl Schmidt published in the New Church Journal in 1905.68 If we read him aright, sanctification with Schmidt consists really in a constantly repeated, or renewed justification; so that it might be said with the fullest meaning that in justification the entirety of sanctification is included. His apparent meaning is not merely that justifying faith brings sanctification also with it, which would be true; but that it brings complete sanctification—perfection—with it all at once. Thus every justified man is perfect; and, the extremes meeting, Schmidt and Wernle might seem to clasp hands. But Schmidt explains that he means this only “in principle”—a phrase very caviare to the whole Ritschlian circle. The justified man is sanctified only in beginnings, which will however certainly complete themselves in the end—provided of course that he stays justified. For he may sin; but if he sins that is because his faith has failed; and, faith failing, so does his justification. The only remedy in this condition is to refresh, renew, regain faith. Faith may, no doubt, fail not only measurably but entirely; and then we have fallen wholly out of grace. In every man without exception, however, it fails measurably over and over again. The life of the Christian is conceived thus as a continuous series of failures and renewals of faith—that is to say, of justification, and also of sanctification. This gives to it the aspect of alternations of complete sinfulness and complete sanctification; and in these alternations the Christian life is lived out. In this construction certainly the necessity of moral effort has dropped out of sight, and no place seems to be left for moral growth. Whatever morality the Christian has, comes to him without effort; and his life-history is marked, not by increasing firmness of moral purpose and strength of moral energy, to say nothing of compass of moral attainments, but only by the aimless and endless systole and diastole of his ethical vicissitudes.

If the discussions of Cremer and Schmidt take a somewhat wide range, and touch on the specific controversy about “miserable-sinner Christianity” only somewhat incidentally, the two dissertations of the Pomeranian pastor, Max Meyer, have no other reason for their existence than that controversy affords them, and make it their sole aim to test the exegetical basis and to review the conclusions of Wernle and his coadjutors. The first of these dissertations, which bears the title of “The Christian’s Sin according to Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians and Romans,”69 confines itself strictly to the testimony of these Epistles to Paul’s attitude to the sins of Christians in general. The special question of what rôle sin plays in the life of the Apostle himself is reserved for the second dissertation, which is entitled, “The Apostle Paul as Miserable Sinner.”70 The two together thus cover the ground, and seek by an independent examination of the sources to reach a well-founded judgment on Paul’s attitude towards sin in the life of Christians. The three things in the Christian life, as reflected to us from the pages of the Epistles to the Corinthians and Romans, on which Meyer lays stress, are its principial break with sin, its continued involvement with sin, and its progressive conquest of sin. “The Christian life,” says he, therefore, is “at once both a being and a becoming, a possessing and an acquiring, an enjoying and a longing, a jubilation and a groaning.”71 The principial break with sin which has taken place is not undervalued. It is even said that “if sinning once belonged to the nature of man, it has become for the Christian henceforth unnatural.”72 But neither is it obscured that the break with sin is as yet only principial. “The new creature is nevertheless only one in principle, because one in the making.”73 “The new life is an inner, a central life, that does not yet dominate in its birth the periphery of the old life.… The Christian life needs therefore development in the periphery and is accordingly thought of by Paul as a process of completing and unfolding.”74 In expounding the sixth chapter of Romans, Meyer insists that it deals not with an instantaneous transaction merely but with a continuous activity. The question to which it is an answer is, Shall we continue in sin? The thing deprecated is that we may live in sin. The thing approved is that we should walk in newness of life. The passage of the discussion from the indicative to the imperative presents therefore no difficulty. “The new life is thus laid upon the baptized person as his continuous task.… And herein it is plainly declared that Paul looked upon the new life of the Christian as an uninterrupted process, proceeding on the ground of a single inner fact.”75

The Christian life is therefore not merely a gift but also a task, not merely Gabe, but Aufgabe. “What has come into existence as a once for all determinate experience at the entrance into the Christian state, is to pervade the whole Christian life as a perpetual task.”76 The whole Christian life: there is even a hint that the Parousia itself will not find the task completed. At least, when in commenting on 1 Cor. 1:8 Meyer declares, “That, then, the moral development of the Christian has its crown in sinlessness at the day of the Parousia, the Apostle has not taught,”77 he does not make it clear that he has that passage only in mind. On the contrary, there is some appearance that he intends the declaration, though occasioned by the exposition of this particular passage, to have general validity. The remark is directed against Gottschick’s assertion78 that the only difference between Paul and Luther in the matter of the Christian’s growth reduces to this: “that Paul hopes for the presence of perfection at the judgment day, while Luther, who understands perfection in the absolute sense, holds it to be unattainable …” There underlies this assertion Gottschick’s notion that Paul does not treat anything as sin among Christians except gross vices, while Luther has attained to a deeper and more refined sense of what is sinful. This notion is undoubtedly wrong. But Meyer is as certainly wrong when he seeks to remove the difference asserted to exist between Luther and Paul with reference to the state of Christians at the Parousia, by denying that Paul expected Christians to be perfect “in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Such an expectation, he says, “is already excluded by 1 Cor. 6, where Paul has recognized sin as an inevitable evil, under which the Christian community suffers.” The reference here appears to be wrong, but it is the general assertion founded on it which interests us. According to it, it is Paul’s doctrine that sin is an unfailing evil from which Christians suffer: it is a thing that stays by them always, from which they will never be free. If, when they stand before the Judge at the last day they are “unreprovable,” that is only, now Meyer continues, because they stand there in Christ Jesus and God is faithful and will fulfil the promise of their call. This remark is just, and it is no doubt a just exposition of 1 Cor. 1:8. But it does not follow that Paul does not teach that the conformation of Christians to their Lord, however slowly it may have proceeded, will be completed at the last day. This he teaches elsewhere with great clearness (e.g. 1 Thess. 3:13; 5:23), and it is a part of his general system, the absence of which would throw it into confusion.79

We have laid some stress on Meyer’s representation that in Paul’s teaching sin is “an inevitable evil” (unausbleibliches Übel) in the Christian life, because he also represents that, according to Paul, sinlessness is possible to Christians. Possible, not actual; but though not actual, yet possible. Before that great experience which we call conversion, a man is under the necessity of sinning: after it, “the Christian need sin no more.”80 “The possibility of not permitting sin to occur, is, of course, present for the pneumatic.”81 Expounding Rom. 6:12, Meyer says: “The ‘obeying the lusts’ need no longer occur in the Christian life. The Apostle does not mean by this, however, ‘that the Christian leads a life no longer accessible to any sin’ (Holtzmann). The non posse non peccare has no doubt ceased for the Christian, but it has not therefore already come with him to the non posse peccare, but at most to the posse non peccare.”82 We would gladly lay hold of the qualification “at most” as exhibiting at least a certain hesitation in Meyer’s mind: but we fear he will not permit us to do so. He means to assert sinlessness to be possible to Christians, although illustrated by no single example. Or rather, as we shall soon find that we have to say, by only a single example. For Meyer finds a single example in Paul himself. Were it not for this one exception we should have to say that a possibility which is never actualized is no possibility—there must be something to render it impossible if in such a multitude of instances it is never actualized. In the presence of this one exception we can only say that the possibility must be a very slight one which in so many instances has been actualized only once. Meyer’s zeal in the matter is an ethical one, and is grounded in his doctrine of the will and its function in the Christian life. What has happened to the Christian at conversion is, in his view, that his will has been freed from bondage to sin, and his destiny placed in his own hands. He may sin, if he chooses; and he need not sin unless he chooses. He may sin fatally if he chooses; or he may refrain from all sinning whatever if he chooses. He stands before the two ways and can walk as he will. If he has the posse non peccare, he has equally the posse peccare—the non posse peccare and the non posse non peccare would be equally derogatory to his manhood; for has not the Spirit made him free? Accordingly we are told that “it is not unthinkable for Paul that even the Christians should live after the flesh,”83 and that “the eventual turning of the Christian in malam partem is not at all excluded.”84 Of course it is not unthinkable either that the Christian should live after the Spirit; that is his quality. And of course he may conceivably live wholly after the Spirit. But here we are called up again, for in the very act of drawing the parallel out in detail Meyer interposes:85 “Therefore this conflict cannot possibly find its conclusion within the sphere of this life. And the Apostle has not taught that Christians stand at the end of their Christian development sinless. ‘Grace’ remains for them always the last word. The sinlessness of the Christian lies therefore on the other side of the earthly existence.” And yet Paul was sinless! The one thing, meanwhile, of which Meyer is most sure, is that what the Spirit does is just to make us formally free; and that He is therefore not to be thought of as an “overmastering power” which acts like a “natural force of a higher order,” so that “life in the Spirit is to proceed infallibly with the necessity of nature.” The language here is, of course, exaggerated. It is chosen with a view to repelling the representations of Karl and Wernle. But, the exaggeration having been eliminated, there is an element of Paul’s teaching of the first importance, recognized at this point by Karl and Wernle, which Meyer has not allowed for.

When Meyer comes to deal formally with the question, why Paul had nothing explicit to say to the Corinthians of the forgiveness of their sins, committed since conversion, he is more successful on the destructive than on the constructive side. He has no difficulty in showing that there is no exegetical ground for the assertion that Paul connects the forgiveness of sins so closely with baptism as to treat the merits of Christ as available only for pre-baptismal sins.86 And he has as little difficulty in showing that the attempts to interpret Paul as reckoning as sins only the gross vices into which he could count on his Christians not falling, do not bear the test of either the exegesis of Paul’s words or of the recorded facts. He is quite within the warrant of his evidence when he declares that, so far from not requiring his Christians to realize his high ideal in their lives, Paul strenuously demanded its realization by them as their obligatory task, and reckoned it sin in them when their life in the smallest respect failed to correspond with it.87 When it comes, however, to adducing definite texts in which the forgiveness of the current sins of Christians is declared, Meyer does not appear to have made his selection with particular success. He is led therefore to suggest that Paul made only a sparing use of express references to the consolation of forgiveness, no doubt for a pedagogic reason—these raw young Christians were less in need of consolation for sins grieved over than of correction for sins indulged in. In the end he falls back, very wisely, on the general consideration that “the forgiveness of sins,” that is to say that forgiveness of sins which is justification, “has with Paul the value of a permanent possession,” so that the question, which it is asserted Paul never raised, how the Christian when he sins receives forgiveness, obtains this as its proper answer: In the same way that he received forgiveness on becoming a Christian.88 He has no difficulty, of course, in showing,89 that justification in the Epistle to the Romans is treated as introducting once for all into grace, and, as H. Cremer puts it, looks both forward and backward in the great context of salvation, binding together past, present, and future into one. “God’s justifying judgment” (explains Cremer more fully),90 “is a continuous, permanent one … to which, therefore, even the pardoned sinner can only daily appeal afresh, for daily new and yet abiding forgiveness of his sin and guilt.” It admits of no doubt that, according to Paul, justification is salvation and therefore dominates with the effects of salvation all the subsequent life of the Christian. And now, having reached this point, Meyer turns the argument around91 and urges that this alone proves that Paul looked upon Christians as still sinning. For why should he lay such weight on the continuous importance for the Christian life of precisely justification, unless there were continuous sinning for which this justification is needed?

This argument from justification to the universal sinfulness of Christians admits of greater elaboration than is given it in this place, and receives it in the second of Meyer’s dissertations. The very essence of this doctrine is that men have no righteousness of their own, but only that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God on faith (Phil. 3:9). That this means not only that our sole dependence is on the righteousness of God received when we believed, but also that we continue through life so far in the same condition as when we believed, that we never have any righteousness of our own on which we can depend, is clear from the eschatological reference in Phil. 3:9–11. It was not once only that Paul and his Christians had “no confidence in the flesh”; they never had or could have confidence in the flesh, and least of all when it was a matter of entering into participation of Christ’s resurrection. It has its significance that precisely in this passage Paul proceeds to declare himself not a consummator but only a viator. He has not attained, but is pressing on. The life that is lived here below is lived not by sight but by faith. Accordingly he characterizes it in Gal. 2:20 as a life in the flesh, lived in faith, faith in his Redeemer. The question, no doubt, arises whether the phrase “in the flesh” in this passage implies sin. H. A. W. Meyer says it does not: “The context does not convey any reference to the ethical character of the ‘flesh’ (as sedes peccati).” Max Meyer says it does; and on the whole we think him right.92 “Already,” he writes,93 “that ‘flesh’ and ‘Spirit’ are associated” in the passage “as two inimical powers, which stand in diametrical contradiction with each other … proves that the Apostle did not consider himself sinless.… The ‘flesh’ with him too is still sedes et fomes peccati, and is active in the ‘lusts’ … And that Paul has even here thought of the sin inhering in his ‘flesh’ in which he knows himself involved, in spite of his most intimate unio mystica with Christ, we learn from this—that he, so long as he lives ‘in the flesh,’ knows himself permanently united by faith to Him who loved him and gave Himself for him. It is Jesus’ love for sinners on which he stays himself in his life of faith.… According to this passage Paul not only felt the need of comfort and new forgiveness but actually always afresh appropriated in faith the forgiveness of sins in Christ.” Meyer, then, adduces Col. 1:14, Eph. 1:7, “we have forgiveness of sins,” and calling attention to the present tense, declares that these passages show that Paul knew, for his own person also, “a remissio quotidiana.” G. Hollmann94 simply scouts this use of these passages, and certainly it does bear some appearance of overstraining them. But at least the passages show that the forgiveness of sins was a blessing enjoyed, alike by Paul and his Christians, as a continuous possession, and that this forgiveness must be taken sufficiently inclusively to embrace all the sins that existed for him and them. If we cannot quite say that the passages prove that they were continuously sinning, we must at least say that they do prove that the grace of forgiveness was looked upon by them as the fundamental blessing on which they rested their whole lives long.

Meyer himself, it is to be observed, does not look upon these passages as proving that Paul and his Christians thought of themselves as continually sinning. They prove only, in his view, that Paul and his Christians thought of themselves as continually sinful. He argues strongly, as we have seen, that all others than Paul were continually sinning. But he singles Paul out as the one man who has ever lived who has realized the possibility that belongs to all Christians, of not actually sinning—a judgment which seems rather ungenerous to John and Peter and James and the rest. Paul, says he,95 “is the greatest, next to Him who can be compared to none other.” “He not only preached to his Christians, but he lived out before them, how far the Christian can advance in the battle for sanctification.” If this is to be taken as meaning what it says, Paul is presented to us as illustrating the utmost moral possibility of humanity; we may just as well look upon his person as read his precepts, if we wish to learn the full duty of the Christian in the sanctification of his life. He is more completely our example than Christ Himself, because Christ went beyond—Paul only to the extreme limits of—our possibilities. There are attainments in Christ’s life in which we cannot follow Him; there are no attainments possible to us whose model we do not find in Paul. It is needless to say that Paul does not present himself to us as such a universal example, when he calls on his readers to be imitators of him as he was of Christ Jesus; and it is equally needless to say that he is not brought before us in his epistles as such a universal example. Such overstraining of Paul’s language is not necessary that we may do justice to his greatness, or to the really divine element in his life and in his work. Meyer is quite right when he insists on the unity of his consciousness and refuses to separate Paul the man from Paul the apostle,96 and to pass differing moral judgments on the two. Paul was as a man what he was as apostle: the apostleship was the sphere in which this man functioned. And after all said, Paul’s apostleship was not self-sought, and was not prosecuted in his own strength. He was called by God to it, and sustained by God in it, in a definitely supernatural manner. It is not surprising that he was conscious of having done the work of the apostleship faithfully. He praises his work as well done; the praise he gives it is of course less praise of himself than of the God who strengthened him: but even so, his self-praise does not involve a claim of personal perfection even in his work. In 1 Cor. 15:9 he puts himself in point of fitness for his office below all the other apostles—though he was under no illusions as to the shortcomings of some of them; and if he asserts that he has labored more abundantly than all, he ascribes that to the pure grace of God. In Eph. 3:8 he describes himself as less than the least of all the saints, without any obvious reference to his pre-Christian life—and he knew the saints. When he calls himself in 1 Tim. 1:15 (if the adduction be allowed) the chief of sinners, it is not so certain that the reference is solely to his pre-Christian sins. It is not a boastful sense of his own strength, but a humble dependence on God’s grace, which after all forms the basis of Paul’s self-consciousness, and, as Meyer very properly remarks,97 “if it is the triumph of the divine power in him which rules the Apostle’s whole self-consciousness, then, his boasting, in which his self-consciousness finds its strongest expression, becomes intelligible; and the appearance of Paul’s making himself guilty of the sin of proud exaltation, vanishes.”

Meyer is no more insistent that Paul was free from actual sinning—that is his concession to his opponents in the “miserable-sinner” controversy—than he is that he remained always sinful in his “flesh,” which is his concession to Paul’s own teaching. He argues elaborately98 that although Paul always felt the impulse to sin and longed to be free from it, yet he never fell into sins of act. He bore therefore in the battle with sin the physiognomy of conquerer, and step by step drove it ever from the field. But Meyer is very strenuous in asserting the unbroken presence in Paul of this sinful “flesh.” As he puts his conclusion formally:99 “So far as the material at our disposal tells us, it must pass as an axiom that Paul in his Christian life knew sin very well, but had no acquaintance with sin in our ordinary sense. We can speak then, with reference to Paul, only of a peccatum habituale, not here ever of a peccatum actuale. Apart from the … possibilities of sins of inadvertence, weakness and ignorance, it was ‘concupiscence’ which with Paul was the constitutive characteristic of what was especially signified to him by ‘sin.’ On its account the Apostle has to prosecute with reference to himself continually, that ‘discerning’ of 1 Cor. 11:31, ‘cleansing’ of 2 Cor. 7:1. This ‘concupiscence’ was the constant occasion why Paul ‘over and over again cried out with yearning for his deliverence from his sinful flesh.’ ” A position like this is scarcely more intelligible in itself than it is defensible from the records. So sharp a separation as is made between the underlying sinful nature and the body of sinful acts seems untenable. There is no sinful nature which is not active; and the activities within and the activities without are scarcely capable of such sharp division. So certainly as the operari follows the esse, so certain is it that as long as the peccatum habituale exists the peccatum actuale occurs. So far from saying that the peccatum habituale may lie in the background and show itself in no act, we must rather say that as long as it lies in the background it must of necessity show itself in every act. Its existence in Paul makes him in the fullest sense of the word a “miserable sinner,” incapable of not sinning, because incapable of being in his acts anything but himself. Of course, if all that is meant is that Paul did not commit murder or adultery, did not steal and rob, then that is true. But we should not forget the probing touch of the Sermon on the Mount, which is Paul’s touch too, as Meyer fully understands—witness his decisive repulsion of the attempts of Gottschick and Jacoby to attribute to Paul a coarser standard. And Meyer should not forget either, by the way, that according to him, Paul prayed, “Forgive us our trespasses.” And it might even be worth while to remember the sharp saying of Samuel Rutherford about “the world’s negative holiness—no adulterer, no murderer, no thief, no cozener”—which, he says, “maketh men believe they are already glorified saints.” It is not necessary to do those things in order to be a “miserable sinner”; nor does the absence of such things from the life constitute us sinless.

We have just seen Meyer attributing to Paul knowledge and use of the Lord’s Prayer, and we have seen formerly the same thing done by Juncker. It was inevitable that sooner or later some one would enter the controversy about the sins of Christians from this angle. This was at length done by G. Bindemann in a book entitled “The Prayer for Daily Forgiveness of Sins in Jesus’ Proclamation of Salvation and in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul,”100 published in 1902. It cannot be said that this new mode of approach brought much gain for the particular debate in progress. It was already generally allowed that Jesus did not contemplate sinless followers, so that in the first part of his discussion Bindemann can give us only a systematic arrangement of generally accepted facts. In the second part, he manages to review all the main topics which the debate had thrown into prominence, but he does this outside of his specific subject. He is compelled to allow that there is the slenderest direct ground for attributing to Paul knowledge and use of the Lord’s Prayer, and indeed he bases his own conclusion that it was known to Paul ultimately on general considerations, rather than on specific references to it. He can even write:101 “No express references to the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are found, and it may seem that the whole spirit of that prayer is alien to the Apostle: not petition, but thanksgiving becomes the Christian. It has even been possible to maintain that the Lord’s directions as to prayer as they are presented in the Lord’s Prayer are altogether unknown to the Apostle.102 And in fact, for one to whom it is not from the outset on other grounds a historical impossibility that Paul should have had no knowledge of this important piece of tradition of Jesus, such knowledge is not to be indisputably proved from the epistles of Paul.”

Already from this passage we perceive that the question with reference to Paul’s prayers takes a wider range than merely his knowledge and use of the Lord’s Prayer. In his references to prayer, we are told in this same context, the prayer of petition in general falls notably into the background in comparison with the prayer of thanksgiving, and petitions for forgiveness remain unmentioned even when the prayer of petition is spoken of. “Here Paul nowhere mentions, no matter how much occasion there was for it, the prayer for forgiveness; he neither bears witness to it for himself, nor does he recommend it to others with unmistakable clearness. This could be expected; since he is writing to congregations in which open sins, serious faults, lay publicly in sight. Even his intercessions for his congregations, the contents of which he incidentally communicates, do not enable us to determine that he prays for the forgiveness of their guilt. He prays for the growth of faith, the increase of knowledge, that they may receive in greater fulness the gifts which they already have.” At a later point in the discussion this same line of remark is resumed. We read:103 “Petition also, then, does not fail in Paul’s own prayer-life. But in all the intimations concerning the content of his prayers all reference to prayers for the forgiveness of sins is lacking. We might repeatedly expect an exhortation to the congregation not to forget the prayer for forgiveness; most naturally, say, at the end of Galatians or Corinthians; but precisely here there is lacking even that general requirement of prayer, such as is found in I Thessalonians, Romans, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians. Other passages seem to show directly that the daily prayer for forgiveness, such as is recommended in the Lord’s Prayer, does not at least take a prominent place in the Apostle’s circle of ideas. In Col. 3:13, cf. Eph. 4:32, the readers are required to forgive one another when they have suffered injury the one from the other. But as the motive for such a willingness to forgive, there is no indication that only under this condition will their prayer for forgiveness of their own sins be heard of God—though that would be sufficiently naturally suggested by Matt. 6:12, 14 f., Mark 11:25, 26, Luke 11:4. Only the fact in their own past is recalled, that their sins have been forgiven to his readers, the fact of washing away their sins which occurred in baptism.”

Having thus sharpened the problem to the utmost Bindemann makes it his task to show in detail that despite the fact that mention of the prayer for forgiveness falls into the background in Paul’s letters, Paul’s whole system of teaching supposes and demands it. In that system the guilt of sin takes the most prominent place and on every page of his writings it is preëminently the guilt of sinning which is presupposed. He will not even permit it to be said that, justification being presupposed, it is, with reference to the Christian life, the power of sin which takes the place in the foreground. Having pointed out that, according to Paul, wherever the “flesh” is, there is sin, that therefore all Christians still sin, and, still sinning, are still in need of forgiveness, he continues:104 “According to all this, it should be admitted that the prayer for the forgiveness of sins takes a place in the piety of Paul of similar importance to that which it takes in Jesus’ proclamation of salvation.”

Nevertheless (he proceeds to reason) precisely the significance which the contrast of “flesh” and “Spirit” with Christians possesses in the theology of Paul seems to many to lead to something different. There is an appearance as if, for the Apostle, in the estimate of sin in the Christian life, the idea of its power may stand in the foreground, while the idea of the guilt produced by it in God’s sight retires into the background. Attention has accordingly been called to the fact that Paul never speaks of the importance for Christians of the forgiveness of sins obtained by Christ. Justification, forgiveness of sins, appear rather, it is said, as a possession, which believers have from the beginning on. On the other hand, it is said, the demand that Christians shall withstand the power of sin in the power of the Spirit is constantly repeated. In the description of the Christian life, interest in emancipation from the power of sin predominates with the Apostle. Here, therefore, the Apostle’s teaching concerning the Spirit, which contains the really new and fruitful ideas of the Apostle, obtains the upper hand, while the juridical circle of ideas, which embraces the doctrine of justification, of faith, and so forth, seems confined wholly to the fact, lying in the past, of entrance into the Christian life. The Epistle to the Romans is, it is said, the proof of this; whereas the first five chapters are wholly dominated by the doctrine of justification, in the succeeding three which describe the life of the Christian, it is only the walk in the Spirit that is discussed. Thus the recession of prayers for forgiveness is explained, so it is said, by the concentration of the Apostle’s interest on emancipation from the power of sin, whereas emancipation from its guilt, by the fundamental forgiveness of sins, which occurs once for all, is guaranteed once for all.

To this plausible representation Bindemann replies that not only does it fail to apprehend the close relations in which Paul’s doctrines of justification and of the gift of the Spirit stand to one another; but it attributes to the Apostle a separation between the power and the guilt of sin, which would have been impossible to him. It would have been impossible to the Apostle to think of the power of sin, without at the same time thinking of its guilt. “It was far too serious an estimation of sin, which came to the Apostle out of his faith in God’s forgiveness of sin on the ground of Christ’s death, for the consciousness of guilt not necessarily to awaken with new sharpness along with the thought of Christ’s act, on the occurrence of every sin that was committed in the Christian life.” “Therefore,” Bindemann says in conclusion,105 “it is for Paul, too, wholly self-evident, that the Christian, considering his sin, necessarily needs the forgiveness of its guilt, and the assurance that this new sin also is forgiven and his communion with God is no longer disturbed.” By such lines of thought as this, Bindemann supposes that he has shown that the preaching of Paul contains all the presuppositions which require of Christians prayer for forgiveness and manifests the sameness of the faith of Paul with that of Jesus. On this ground he thinks he may assert that Paul knew the Lord’s Prayer and used it in the same sense in which Jesus gave it. “It can no longer seem strange that Paul never elsewhere”—than in the one passage in which he supposes it referred to—“mentions it, and does not oftener require it. We may hold it to be accident, if the few occasional writings which have come down to us from Paul do not give us clearer information in the matter.”106

Ludwig Ihmels’ excellent conference address on “The Daily Forgiveness of Sins”107 occupies much the same standpoint with Bindemann’s book. It itself sums up the result of its discussion in these words:108 “We live by daily forgiveness and we praise God’s mercy that we may live by it.” But it adds at once: “To be sure, that we are sinners is no part of the gospel, and what we praise God’s mercy for is not that we never have as yet overcome sin.” That the address is preoccupied with this apologetical aspect of the question is due in part to the gibing tone of the assailants of the doctrine presented in it, and in part, no doubt, also to the circumstances that it was spoken to a company of pastors, and has as its object to advise them in their dealings with somewhat formal penitents. It is more concerned therefore to avoid appearing to give license to sinning among the indifferent, as something natural to the Christian life, which it would be useless to strive against, than it is to encourage the despairing with the assurance that their sins, though many, may and will be forgiven them.

The address opens by representing opponents as saying, “Must we sin, then, in order to be orthodox?”109 Why preach the persistence of sinning among Christians and the permanent continuance of their imperfection? The answer is, in the first instance, says Ihmels, because it is true. It is also true, of course, that it is only half the truth, and the other half must be insisted on, too. And the other half is that “wherever personal Christianity exists there necessarily is also a radical break with sin.”110 The Christian is not to be expected simply to accept his lot and adjust himself to his continued sinning as to something that has to be endured.111 And certainly he is not to be exhorted, as some sectaries exhort him, to look on all our sinning as in such a sense already forgiven as that we need have no concern about it. That is not the attitude of the New Testament writers to the sins of Christians. Nor is it the attitude of the Reformers. The Reformation doctrine of “miserable sinners “is a doctrine of penitent sinners. It has no application to the indifferent or the secure. It offers itself only to those who, broken-hearted in repentance, look to Jesus alone as their compassionate Savior, and it tells them that for them too Jesus alone is enough. It does not tell them that they are not sinners; that would not be true, and they know it is not true; no one knows himself a sinner like a penitent sinner. It tells them that they are saved sinners—and that is the most glorious thing it could tell them.

Advising his company of pastors directly as to how the public proclamation of the perpetual forgiveness of sins is to be made, Ihmels speaks as follows:112 “This is the gospel—that God for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who gave Himself for our sins and rose again for our justification, will still have communion with sinners. As proclamation of the daily forgiveness of sins, this gospel takes the form that God will not be prevented from fostering this communion by the continuing imperfection of the Christian state. The gospel, now, belongs, however, only to the sincere. Hence it follows that consolatory preaching of the possibility and actuality of continuous forgiveness, must be accompanied—of course not in the pastoral care of the anxious, but in the general public preaching—with a plain warning against all consciously cherished sin. Consciously cherished sin makes communion with God objectively and subjectively impossible—there can be no doubt of that. Then, however, the proclamation must carefully avoid all appearance of intending to treat the Christian’s continuing sin itself as a part of the gospel. It cannot, in other words, seek to quiet the Christian, lamenting over his sin, with the consolation that it cannot be otherwise, and also that it makes little difference.”

It will have already been observed that the specialty of Ihmels’ treatment of the general subject lies in the emphasis he throws on the duty of overcoming our sins. The forgiveness of our sins is in the interests of our overcoming them, not of our acquiescing in them. In this the whole essence of the gospel lies for him. “The whole Christian life,” he says,113 “in the sense of the Reformation is nothing but an unfolding of the communion with God and the blessedness grounded in forgiveness of sin. Therefore a forgiveness of sins, no matter how truly, as the warranty of communion with God, it may mean the whole salvation, would nevertheless be but a self-contradiction if it did not also deliver the Christian actually from sin.” And what is true of the great central act of forgiveness, is true for him also of all the repeated acts of our daily forgiveness. They are in order to our constant advance in overcoming our sins. We are still imperfect; but it is perfection to which we are destined and it is through God’s grace, manifested, among other things, in the forgiveness of the sins into which we fall on our way thither, that we are advanced toward it. This is the way Ihmels expresses himself on these matters:114 “It may be said that among all assertions which are made about sanctification, there is none which is more lacking in Scriptual basis than that view according to which the divine act of justification needs to be supplemented by a later divine act of sanctification. On the other hand the Holy Scriptures certainly know of a growth in faith, which means at the same time a growth in the whole Christian life, and they know also of such Christians as they call in a special sense perfect. But let the Biblical notion of perfection be defined as exactly as it may, there are at any rate three things about which there can be no doubt. First, nothing is meant by it beyond the homely Christian state itself, accessible to all: it is rather a matter simply of perfection in this state. Secondly, the application of this conception to the individual Christian is always intended only in a relative sense. Lastly, this judgment has, moreover, nothing to do with absolute sinlessness.”

Perhaps there underlies Ihmels’ treatment of the Christian’s advance in ethical attainment a somewhat inadequate conception of the mode of the supernatural re-creation of which it is the human manifestation. Like many of his fellows he is very much afraid of ascribing an operation to God analogous, as he would say, to the action of a natural force;115 and is jealous above all things for “purely voluntary” action on man’s part—as if the voluntariness of the human action was in any way curtailed by the underlying recreating or even “leading” action of God. When he comes to describe in detail, however, the process of the Christian’s advance, the words in which he does so are at least capable of a thoroughly unexceptionable meaning. The main points in his description are that the Christian’s life is a battle against remanent sin, but a battle fought under the initiation of God and with the promise of victory. “According to experience,” he adds,116 “this victory is not in this life a definitive one; the expectation of the complete overcoming of the flesh we connect with the complete deliverance from the obduracy of the world of sin and of death, and our immediate transference under the influence of God from face to face.”

Much the same note as is struck by Ihmels is struck by Johannes Haussleiter in another conference address—on “The Christian’s Consciousness of Sins”117—delivered in 1904. This address is indeed more intimate in tone than Ihmels’, because it deals not with pastoral duty but with personal religion. Having spoken of our vivid memory of past sins, Haussleiter asks whether the change that took place in us “when we believed” has broken off all relation to the “lusts of the flesh” which formerly brought us into sin. “Were that true,” he says, “the memory of the past would not be so living, so present—we might say so timeless—as it actually is. The Apostle Paul says, ‘the flesh lusts against the Spirit, the Spirit, however, lusts against the flesh’ (Gal. 5:17). The assertion applies to us, to Christians. We may be preserved now from many actual sins, if we let ourselves be led by the Spirit of God. But so long as we are involved in this body of death the old man does not cease to stir or to move. We have every reason to take heed to these movements and to combat them. When the Apostle gives the exhortation, ‘Walk in the Spirit,’ he does not add the conclusion, ‘And then you will have nothing more to do with the lusts of the flesh,’ but ‘And then you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.’ There is no longer need to fall into the gross works of the flesh and there should be no falling into them. But the impulse and the provocation to do so remain in our sinful nature, and therefore the necessity of conflict and of watchfulness abides. And therefore there abides the petition: ‘Forgive us our trespasses.’ ”

Having next deepened our sense of the sinfulness of our misdeeds by showing how they are all specifically sins against God, Haussleiter proceeds: “There stands a declaration in the First Epistle to Timothy which has seemed to many strange. Paul writes here (1 Tim. 1:15), that Christ has come into the world to save sinners, and adds: ‘Among whom I am a chief one.’ Has he not miswritten? Ought he not to have written, ‘Among whom I was a chief one?’ He is certainly already washed, sanctified, justified; he is a servant of Jesus Christ, and His ambassador to the Gentiles. He has labored more than the others. But that is not his merit, but the merit of grace. Through God’s grace he is what he is. But just because he lives continuously by grace, the knowledge of his sin is ever before him. They condition one another. Because Paul cannot live without the Savior of sinners, he reckons himself permanently among sinners, not among sinners who wish to remain sinners and are far from God, but among those who have experienced overpowering grace but who also know that they need grace daily. Paul knows himself and his Savior. The Holy Spirit has opened his eyes.” “The Christian knows,” we read again, “that he is burdened with much more guilt than he himself perceives—guilt of unrecognized results of earlier sins, still greater guilt of sins of omission in the region of charity. The Christian joins in the prayer of the Psalmist, ‘Who can mark how often he fails? Cleanse me from secret faults’ (Ps. 19:13). Should he be willing consciously to increase the burden of guilt lightly? The Christian stands in daily conflict with sins of temperament, with sins of weakness and sins of habit. The grace of God has enough here to bear, to cleanse, to wash away. It were a sacrilege to draw on it deliberately by conscious transgression. God keep us, us Christians, from security! The consciousness of sin, in the earnest sense in which we have described it, is a means of protection.”

We have moved into a totally new atmosphere when we turn to Otto Pfleiderer. A lingering relic of the old Tübingen school, an eager forerunner of the new history-of-religion school, he had no more in common with the Ritschlians by whom and with whom the controversy had in the main been carried on, than with their “miserable-sinner” opponents. We shall have to go back to W. A. Karl at the very beginning of the controversy to find anything with which we can compare him, and it goes without saying that Pfleiderer owes nothing to Karl, and that the parallel between the two has its very narrow limits. He takes his start as is his wont from general ethnic conceptions and endeavors to interpret Paul from them, placing in this interest at the foundation of Paul’s thought the universal animism of heathen mythology. The book in which Pfleiderer’s views on the matter which concern us are given expression, is the second edition of his “Primitive Christianity, its Writings and Teachings.”118 The first edition of this work was published late in 1887. The second edition, “thoroughly revised and much enlarged,” appeared in 1902;119 and among the changes introduced into it were included the whole animistic background which Pfleiderer now wrote into Paul’s doctrine of the Spirit, and especially the completed elaboration of that mystical conception which he had always attributed to Paul’s notion of the relation of the Christian to Christ,120 and on the basis of which he now represents Paul as inconsistent with his fundamental thought in recognizing sin as possible and actual in the Christian life.121

It will be observed that Pfleiderer is entirely willing to allow that Paul holds a supernaturalistic view of the Christian life. He assigns his supernaturalism, however, to an animistic inheritance. This animistic inheritance, nevertheless, has been modified by Paul in two directions. With him all the spirits had coalesced into one Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. And this Spirit operated in the Christian not occasionally only but continuously, and in particular became the productive cause of his whole ethical life. There is a recognition here of Paul’s doctrine of the “leading of the Spirit,” disparaged no doubt by its connection with animism, but nevertheless admitted in its fundamental elements. Now, Pfleiderer remarks that such a doctrine brings with it certain practical difficulties. “When the Christian life is referred back to a spiritual being of supernatural power, coming into man from without,” he argues,122 “the ethical self-determination of the human ego threatens to be suppressed, and the transformation seems to be effected in the inevitable fashion of a process of nature, in which, along with human freedom, guilt and sin would be excluded.” That is to say, if we are in the hands of a supernatural power all our own activities must be supposed to be superseded and there must be attributed to the Spirit alone our entire, not merely re-creation, but life-manifestation.

Pfleiderer says that Paul, “in his ideal picture of the spiritual life under grace (Rom. 6 and 8),” does seem to make an approach to these “inferences.” “But,” he adds, Paul “is practical enough to recognize fully the continuance of sin even in Christians [and] … attributes this to a principle of sin in the flesh which brings the ego into captivity. Over against the abstract ideal of the spiritual man who cannot sin, he sets directly the equally abstract caricature of the carnal man who can do nothing but sin (Rom. 7:14 ff.).” Here we have, he says, “two abstractions which are doubtless meant as the opposite sides of the same condition.” They are nevertheless, in Pfleiderer’s opinion123 “in fact mutually exclusive, and … in their opposition, split the unity of the personal life in a dualistic fashion.” He thinks the “difficulty is solved,” however, if, following “modern psychology,” we interpret Paul in terms of “psychic conditions, motives, directions of the will, which, as they are developed out of the unity of human nature, are always held together by the unity of the personal consciousness in such a way that they form its proper content, the manifold factors of its life-activity.”

As this is precisely what Paul means and says, without prejudice to his supernaturalism, we can but wonder why a self-contradiction should be thrust upon him only that it may be immediately resolved. The contradiction is resolved, however, in Pfleiderer’s view only for himself, not for Paul, and in his further exposition of Paul’s teaching as to the Christian life it is pressed to its extremity. “A lofty idealism,” we are told,124 “appears in this description of the Christian life. The Christian is no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit; he has crucified the flesh with its lusts; the world is crucified to him and he to the world; he is risen with Christ, lives in the Spirit, possesses the Spirit of Christ. Christ himself lives in him instead of his former ego; he is a new creation; his life is hid with Christ in God; he has become a spiritual man; he is like Christ. That over such a being sin can no longer hold sway is self-evident; that is what makes it so difficult to grasp the fact that nevertheless in the actual Christian life sin is still present. The Christian, as Paul describes his character, ought properly no longer to be able to sin, since the divine Spirit is the ruling ego in him, and the sinful flesh is conquered, abolished. Yet Paul is far from drawing this obvious inference from his doctrine of the Spirit. On the contrary, all his epistles testify with what prudence and care he estimates the actual ethical condition of his churches, censures their weaknesses and sins, and exhorts them to lay aside all evil and contend unremittingly against sin. Spirit and flesh stand in constant strife with one another, and the victory of the Spirit does not come to pass by itself with the unfailing certainty of the laws of nature, but depends on whether the Christian endeavours to walk according to the standard set up by the Spirit, and mortify the deeds of the body, or allows sin again to have dominion over him.”

Pfleiderer supposes here that according to Paul the flesh may defeat the Spirit—that neither justification nor the spirit of sonship secure “unconditionally” the ultimate salvation of the Christian, but that he stands or falls at the last judgment according to his works—which is certainly not Paul’s teaching. But he closes the paragraph with a direct declaration that Paul did not, in any case, ignore the sins of Christians, but deals with them at large and in detail. He then proceeds to declare that there is a contradiction, in Paul’s presentation of the Christian life, between his doctrine of it as Spirit-led and his doctrine of it as the scene of ethical effort. We are accustomed, he says, to correct or to soften this contradiction by calling in the notion of development, process, progressive advance. This is, however, declares Pfleiderer, inconsistent with the supernaturalism of the one aspect of it. “How,” he asks, “in relation to this overmastering divine being, is there room for the free self-determination of the human will?”125 But the distinction which Pfleiderer draws here—between divine control and human function—is not Paul’s. Paul’s preoccupation is with “the flesh” and “the Spirit”—the old instinct to evil, and the new power (certainly divine) to good. What Pfleiderer is asking is, how the creature can resist the creator. His whole preoccupation is with freedom. “Is not the new man, on this assumption,” he asks, “at bottom a will-less slave of the holy spiritual being in his heart, as the old man was a slave of the demonic sinful being in his flesh (Rom. 6:16 f.)? Is he the active and responsible subject of sanctification, or is he only the passive object for the possession of which the two hostile powers, the holy spiritual, and the fleshy sinful, contend (Gal. 5:17)?” Why take either horn of this dilemma, with its exclusive either—or? Neither represents Paul, who instead of Pfleiderer’s, Either God or man, says with great clearness, Both (Phil. 2:12, 13).

It is not without its interest to observe Pfleiderer applying Rom. 7:14 ff. to the Christian as a description by Paul of one side of the Christian’s condition.126 On an earlier page,127 to which he here refers us, he declares of Rom. 7:25 that it is a “confession which is by no means to be referred to the past of the apostle before his conversion, but pictures a present and continuous condition.” He adds, however, “but, of course, only as regards the ‘natural man,’ which continues to exist even in Christians alongside of the supernatural ‘pneuma,’ and is here portrayed by Paul with the same one-sided abstraction with which he elsewhere portrays the new spiritual life of Christians.” “Only,” says he, “from a combination of the two one-sided pictures—the dark picture in chapter 7 and the bright picture in chapter 8—can we gather Paul’s complete view of the actual concrete Christian life (cf. Gal. 5:17).” With this background of the dualism of Paul’s representation behind him, Pfleiderer can now go on to declare that in Rom. 8. Paul represents believers as set free by the Spirit from all sin, meaning “not merely the removal of the guilt of sin, but also the overcoming of the power of sin.” Only—it all depends on our coöperation and after all it is only an abstract picture of one side of the matter, the other side of which we have already read in chapter 7.

This is not untying the knot; it is not even cutting it; it is leaving it as tightly tied as it was before. The debate could not end in such ambiguities. We find it accordingly returning at once, for better, for worse, to the round assertions of Wernle. Only so was there hope of rescuing these assertions from their impending disintegration. Whether this rescue could in any case be accomplished we may learn by observing Windisch’s valiant attempt to accomplish it.



Article III


Studies in Perfectionism, vol. 1, Benjamin B. Warfield

The assault on the Reformation conception of the Christian life could not end on so ambiguous a note as that struck by Pfleiderer. On the contrary, what may very properly be spoken of as the last word said in furtherance of it, was the most direct that had been said since Wernle’s own, and in many respects the most forceful and telling of all. We are referring, of course, to Hans Windisch’s at once brilliant and ponderous volume on “Baptism and Sin in the Oldest Christianity up to Origen,”2 which was published in 1908. We have already pointed out the relation of the book to Wernle’s published twelve years before. It came into the controversy which Wernle had provoked, very distinctly at the end, when the debate was languishing, and indeed, from the point of view of Wernle’s contentions, when the battle was lost. It had much the appearance accordingly of a last vigorous attack, seeking to wring a victory out of defeat. And assuredly little was left unsaid by Windisch that could be said to rescue and save a lost cause.

What Windisch undertakes to do, to speak now of the formal contents of his volume, is to take up Wernle’s proposition that to Paul Christians are in their actual nature sinless men, to justify it by a really thorough exegetical survey of the Pauline material, and then to place it in its historical connections both narrow and broad. For this purpose he traces the related conceptions with the same thoroughness through the rest of the New Testament books, and then extends the view backwards to Ezekiel and forward to Origen. He discovers preparations for the theory of the sinlessness of Christians, attributed to Paul, in the prophets’ demand for repentance, in the Jewish dogma of the sinless man of the end-time, and in the sacramental rite of cleansing baptism. He follows what he thinks of as survivals of the Pauline conception through the early Patristic writings, pausing at Origen only because he discovers in him the complete dissolution of the theory of baptismal cleansing and the recognition of the natural necessity of sin, even for Christians. It is naturally, however, upon the New Testament text itself that he expends his chief effort, and he discusses this with a minuteness of detail, a fulness of exegetical comment, and a richness of illustrative remark which make the volume in effect a commentary on the entire New Testament from the point of view of its witness to the relation of the Christian life to sin. This detailed discussion of the New Testament text is of course the strength of the book; but, since its task is approached from a point of view really alien to the New Testament, it is also its weakness. Many concessions require to be made, many acts of exegetical violence are committed, much special pleading is indulged in, and it still remains necessary to declare the New Testament writers constantly inconsistent with themselves. Under whatever form it may be put forward, it is very clear that this is not really exposition. It rapidly becomes obvious to the reader that the New Testament passages which are discussed cannot be strung on the thread with which they are approached, and the most thorough of all attempts to show that to the New Testament writings the Christian is a sinless man becomes, by the very attempt to be thorough, its most thorough refutation. It becomes ever more and more plain that the text is intractable to this theory of its meaning.

We are not surprised, therefore, to observe that Wernle, reviewing the book under the spur of a wholesome sense of his own partial responsibility for its vagaries, throws into primary emphasis the notable lack of plain, human common sense which, despite all its diligence and acuteness, deforms its exegesis; and the general deficiency in it of a feeling for reality. “During the reading of great parts of the book,” he says, “we live in the labyrinth of a bewitched world, while the simple reality of life lies without.”3 In other words, Windisch has not shown us the plain three-dimensioned world which the New Testament reflects; he has attempted to work out a new two-dimensioned or four-dimensioned world, and to impose that on the New Testament writers as their own. Naturally everything in their world, under this treatment, takes on an artificial aspect. “What kind of a Paul is this that is depicted,” cries Wernle,4 “a Paul for whom in the Epistles to the Corinthians the occurrence of sin in Christianity ‘obviously’ and ‘again’ ‘makes theoretical difficulties,’ who over against the same Corinthians ‘artifically creates the problem of the sinful Christian,’ who at 1 Cor. 10:1 ff. ‘deals plainly with the problem of sin after baptism,’ who gives to his Galatians as sinful Christians an injunction to the sinless life and sets before them the essence of the Christian as sinlessness, whose whole point of view is dominated by an ideal portrait of the Christian according to which the disappearance of sin characteristically accompanies becoming a Christian? I find this Paul, despite all the pre-Christian elucidations which Windisch adduces, a total psychological enigma; and not only he but all the primitive Christians in the mass must have been visionaries and dreamers if the author’s closing result be right—that Christians are in their real nature sinless men. No day perhaps passed for them in which intelligence of faults, failings, aberrations, did not smite their eyes or ears from near and far; and yet, for example, it was so difficult for the preacher of Second Clement, because of his rigoristic theory of baptism, to make a demand for repentance, that he must writhe about sadly before he can give to Christians the exhortation to penitence demanded by the actual state of things. And why so? Because first of all for all those Christians a theory of sinfulness was firmly established, and it was only with the presupposition of this theory that they could approach empirical reality.”

In summing up at the end of his volume the results of his investigations, Windisch formulates them crisply in the words which we have just seen Wernle quoting from him. They all are comprehended, he says, in this, that he has established it as the doctrine of the primitive Church, that “Christians are in their real nature sinless men.”5 He then proceeds to develop a rationale of this doctrine, founded on the circumstance that Christianity is a historically grounded redemptive religion, in which the two matters of the first interest are the nature of the Redeemer and the nature of the redeemed. As the Redeemer is by nature without sin, so must His redeemed become sinless men. It is the burden of prophecy that all sin must be put away in order that the salvation of the Lord may come. It is the expectation which informs all apocalypses, that God will make His people sinless. Christianity comes as the fulfilment of prophecy and the realization of all the hopes founded on it, whether given expression in apocalypses or elsewhere. In it the longed for Messiah actually comes, and He brings with Him all that God’s people had been taught to look for in Him; and that very especially in the special form of those expectations which sees just in sin the enemy He is to overcome. As the Messiah must be Himself without sin, so must He, in every sense of the word, save His people from their sins.

Of course all this is in substance true. But it does not follow that from this point of view Christians must be sinless; that, as Windisch expresses it, “sinless men have been on the earth ever since the sinless Messiah was sent by God”—because “the fulfilment of the hope and the realization of the requirement in the circles of the Christians have their historical starting point in the person of the Messiah Jesus.”6 The essence of the matter is contained in the simple remark that all that is here adduced leaves it still an open question how and when Christ’s salvation of His people from their sins is to be supposed to reach its completion. He came into the world, let us say, to save sinners; to save them from their sins; from the guilt of their sins, from the pollution of them, from their power, from the commission of them—from all that they are, and from all that they bring with them in the way of effects or consequences. But it does not follow that this whole body of results must be supposed—or will naturally be supposed—to be brought about at once—“on faith.” There is death, for instance; it is a consequence of sin (Rom. 5:12). There may have been some in Paul’s churches who fancied that they were to be relieved from the necessity of dying (1 Thess. 4:13 ff.). Paul does not encourage the notion. He points rather to the resurrection, and to the coming of Christ, events which were to take place in the future—how far in the future he says he does not know, but quite obviously well in the future. It is impossible to imagine that this Paul, nevertheless, supposed that the whole process of salvation was instantaneously completed when the act of faith was exercised. Rather, he constantly refers its completion, and that very especially in its ethical aspects, to this same coming of the Lord (1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 5:23). It is that future event—perhaps far future event—then, which forms the term of the salvation of Christians; and as their salvation is precisely salvation from sin it is only at the arrival of that event that they realize to the full the “salvation from sin” which they receive from Christ Jesus.

This fundamental historical fact enables us to place our finger on Windisch’s central error in his interpretation of the New Testament writers with reference to the nature of the Christian life. He misses the significance of the inter-adventual period. Paul calls it “the day of salvation,” which means not merely the day in which salvation is freely offered to men, but also, in the light of a passage like 1 Cor. 15:25 f., the day during which the saving work is perfected in men and in the world. Windisch necessarily misses this constitutive fact in Paul’s teaching because he ascribes to the New Testament writers, Paul included, an expectation of the coming of the Lord as immediately impending. That is not, however, their view. Paul, for example, teaches with great fervor and consistency a doctrine of a prolonged period of development under the government of the exalted Jesus, through which the world advances to a glorious consummation. It is in this period of world-development that he sees his Christians living. They form its core and leaven, and he of course attributes to them individually a similar development, reaching its completion in the same great consummation. Not when He was on earth merely, but now also while He is in heaven, according to Paul’s view, Jesus is actively our Savior. He is still while in heaven “saving His people from their sins”; and that not in the mass merely, but also with reference to the individual. His work of saving the individual therefore as truly as that of saving the world is given the character of a process; and the end of this process for the one as for the other is to be reached only at the Parousia. That the sanctification of the Christian is a process, belongs thus to the very substance of Paul’s doctrine of salvation, and his repeated allusions to it in his writings cannot be explained away.

It is not, however, on the progressive character of the Christian’s salvation from sin, itself, that this new interpretation of Paul impinges with most deadly effect, but on—what is implicated in it—the continuous dependence of the progressively saved sinner on the living activities of the saving Christ. We are made to feel this very sharply when Windisch comes to tell us how the teaching of the Reformation differs from that of his new Paul.7 The difference, as stated, turns, of course, on a difference in their views of the application of justification. According to Paul, we are told, we receive in justification forgiveness of our past sins only, while with Luther the forgiveness received in it is extended to all the sins we may commit through life. This mode of statement, however, only touches the surface of the matter. Underneath it lies a conception which throws the Christian back on his own resources and withdraws from him all recourse to, as it denies of him all need of, the continued saving activities of Christ our Mediator. The real dividing question comes, therefore, to be seen to be whether the Christian is always dependent on Christ and always looks to Him as His one complete Savior. According to the new intepretation of Paul, Christ earns for us only the first grace; after that we must earn eternal life for ourselves by our own work and merit. This means of course that his own works are a Christian’s sole dependence. It is only, we are told, those out of Christ who have no works on which to depend, and who therefore are exhorted not to depend on their own works. Paul “in his rejection of our own works is thinking apparently only of the works of our earlier life”; while the Reformation expressly excludes present and future works also. All that we receive in Christ is thus for Paul exhausted in that “first grace”; after that we are left to our own resources. This is as much as to say that all that Christ has done for us is to start us on our way; we have to walk in the way for ourselves. We must not forget that, according to this new reading of Paul, he represents Christ as giving us a magnificent start. He not only in that “first grace” gives us forgiveness of sins but takes them away; so that all we have to do is to keep ourselves as He leaves us. It is not, to be sure, overly clear precisely what is meant by His taking away our sins; in the passage at present before us, Windisch apparently assumes that it means the cleansing of our corrupt nature—which is also what from the logical point of view it should mean. At all events it is here that the difference between this new reading of Paul and the Reformation teaching comes to its head. Windisch fixes on a phrase in the “Formula Concordiae” to give it pointed expression. We are told there that “we are and remain sinners” because of our corrupted nature, and therefore depend entirely on Christ. “This ‘and remain sinners,’ ” says Windisch, “admirably indicates the application of the doctrine of justification which goes beyond Paul.” According to Paul, we do not “remain” sinners, and accordingly do not any longer need Christ. We have got all that Christ can give us; henceforth it is our own concern. Clearly we have two different religions contrasted here. We gain by the new interpretation of Paul a more immediate perfection in our lives. We lose by it Christ out of our lives.

It would be wrong not to pause to observe that this new interpretation of Paul is really a modernization of Paul, in the theological sense of that word. One may suspect that it has its real source largely in the imputation to Paul by its authors, in more or less fulness, of their own conceptions of what the Christian life actually is. It is at all events a great step towards the modernization of Paul to relieve him of all implication in the ascription of a present saving activity to Christ. Really “modern” men do not think, of course, of allowing to even the acts of the historical Jesus any expiatory character, any “forgiveness-procuring” value. But it is a wide step toward their mode of thinking to eliminate all activities of Christ except those of the historical Jesus. When it is said that Paul knows nothing of continued saving activities by Christ after His death—that what He did while on earth serves, according to Paul, to bring about that repentance and faith which secures forgiveness and delivers from sin, and after that, it is our own concern—the exalted Christ is made as much “hidden” to Paul as He is to Ritschl, and all communion with Him is as completely eliminated from Paul’s thought as it is from Herrmann’s. The resultant conception of the Christian life itself, therefore, attributed to Paul is also thoroughly “modern.” Man is thrown back on his own ethical activities, which are made the decisive thing in his standing or falling. All that he really obtains from Christ is a new start; the slate is washed clean for him. No doubt it is in the inspiration of this new start that he goes forward. But in the end all depends on what he has himself written on the cleansed slate. Paul is in other words thought of as teaching a “moralistic” doctrine of salvation of quite modern aspect. He is made a very respectable follower of Ritschl—or something worse.

It is this understanding of the teaching of Paul, and with him of John,8 and indeed mutatis mutandis, of the whole New Testament, and of early Christianity in general, that Windisch sets before us at the end of his volume as the result of his investigations. It is questionable, however, whether the detailed report of these investigations, very richly set out in the volume itself, sustains this result. Windisch is himself very prompt to admit that we cannot speak with any propriety of it as the only Biblical doctrine. Indeed, from his point of view there is no such thing as “a Biblical doctrine”; many different notions concerning the Christian life may be found in the Bible. To give point to this assertion, he adds illustratively:9 “Yes, even ‘miserable-sinnerism’ is represented in the Bible. Jesus, for example, along with the Methodistic notion of repentance which He employs, along with His strict requirement of cleansing, recognises the continuance of sinning, and assures His disciples like any Lutheran Christian of the abiding favor of God.” It may tend to console “miserable-sinner Christians” to know that it is admitted that Jesus is on their side. And this is not all. For Windisch is compelled to admit also that Paul himself is not able to preserve unbrokenly an attitude toward Christians which sees in them those sinless men whom he is said to proclaim them. In point of fact, it is explained,10 the relations of Christians to sin are spoken of by Paul from three different points of view. “The Messiah-man, cleansed by God, is delivered from all sin and temptation. The normal and ideal Christian has separated himself from sin, is conscious of no new sin, and yet must, under the faithful guidance of God, be on his guard against sinful temptation. Finally the unestablished, imperfect Christian still occasionally commits sin, and even is still entangled in serious faults; he is still unconverted, has not yet yielded himself to the control of the Spirit, has lost the feeling of being with Christ and with His Spirit; if he is not to be destroyed he must at length repent and let the Spirit come into action, he must repent afresh and yield to Christ and to the Spirit.” Needless to say the Apostle gives no hint of the existence of any such three classes of Christians. These are only three different ways in which, according to Windisch, Paul is found actually dealing from time to time with Christians. If so, we can only say that he dealt with them very inconsistently—implying sometimes that Christians are glorified saints, sinless and sin-proof; sometimes that they are indeed without sin but only through their own strenuous efforts and always liable to sin; and sometimes that they are sin-stained creatures who must bestir themselves lest they perish. Windisch, however, very remarkably as it seems to us, draws the conclusion from the situation thus depicted that Christians are, according to Paul, sinless beings. “In every case,” he says, “all—what has happened and what ought to happen—tends to this: that the Christian is a sinless man.” “By this ideal,” he now continues, “all the Apostle’s expectations are permeated. Only in two passages (1 Cor. 4 and 5) does Paul give expression to the view that God will pardon also the Christian who has remained a sinner; these, however, deal with disgraceful exceptions.” He says two passages, apparently, only by a slip of the pen. There is nothing in the fourth chapter of First Corinthians to satisfy the allusion, and it is clear that his mind is on merely the opening verses of the fifth chapter. Therefore he continues: “In this single passage Paul gives expression to a conception which presents an individual Christian as a ‘miserable sinner’ who is not able to fulfil his life-task. We may add to this, no doubt, certain oft-recurring exhortations, which at least indirectly ‘reckon with the sin of the Christian’—exhortations to return no more evil for evil (1 Thess. 5:15; Rom. 12:17), to forgive one another as God has forgiven us (Col. 3:13; Eph. 4:32).” This is a most inadequate adduction of the relevant material; but even so, it is enough to show that Paul does not prevailingly deal with Christians as if they were sinless, but assumes on the contrary that sin ever lies at their door. Windisch, however, comments as follows: “Our expositions have shown that in none of these declarations can the proposition find support for itself that Paul sees in sin the constant attendant of the Christian.” It is doubtless true that exhortations not to sin imply immediately only a constant liability to sin, not a constant sinning. The distinction is, however, a rather narrow one; and one wonders whether a constant liability to sin which was never illustrated by actual sinning would naturally call out such constant exhortations against sinning.

And one wonders also whether Windisch wishes to convey the impression that in his exhortations to growth in the Christian life Paul invariably confines himself to the positive side of this growth, or the putting on of graces, and never exhorts Christians to the negative aspect of it, or the putting off of vices—always, in other words, urges the putting on of the new man, never the putting off of the old man. Obviously the implication of exhortations to put away vices may be not merely that we are liable to these vices, but that we are afflicted with them. Paul’s epistles fairly swarm with such exhortations. The fact is too patent to require illustration, and it is not denied by Windisch. He founds on it indeed his representation that Paul has two inconsistent theories of cleansing from sin, the mystic and the parenetic; and in expounding this representation he actually allows that the parenetic theory implies the continuance of sinfulness in Christians.11 “The parenesis of conversion,” he says, “goes back to the phrases, ‘that ye may walk in newness in life,’ and ‘that ye may no longer serve sin’; only, according to its intrinsic peculiarity, it presupposes subsistent sinfulness or temptability”; it is only this second theory, he says again, which “reckons with the temptability of the Christian, and in it there is even to be assumed as we have seen, an actual sin of the Christian.” This admission falls short, no doubt, of allowing that Paul presupposes “continual sinning” in Christians, although that too is the real implication of Paul’s continual parenesis. It must be allowed also that in dealing with the several parenetic passages Windisch does his best to transform the imperatives into indicatives. It is in its failure to enter into what may be called the prevailing parenetic tone of Paul’s epistles, indeed, that Wernle finds the fundamental fault of Windisch’s book. It would be truer to the real state of the case, he intimates,12 if instead of turning the imperatives into indicatives, the indicatives were read as nothing but strengthened imperatives. “The inability to sin in Rom. 6,” he adds illustratively, “is the strongest imperative which Paul has at his disposal, and very properly passes therefore in the end into the impropriety of sinning.… In 1 Cor. 6:11, Gal. 5:24, this imperative in the form of retrospect is very evident.” The idea meant to be conveyed is that Paul always writes with moral impression in view and has as his end the ethical advancement of his readers. Even his indicative statements have this as their end, and to that extent have an imperative concealed in their affirmations.

The fundamental parenesis which Windisch has to face in his endeavor to turn the exhortations rather into declarations, is of course that of the sixth chapter of Romans. He opens his exposition of this passage13 with the remark that Paul repels the suggestion that Christians are to continue in sin—and that is the same as asserting that they are no longer to sin—and supports it by declaring that sin has become an impossibility to the pardoned man. This representation can be allowed only provided that the “impossibility” asserted be understood as a logical one. That is to say, what Paul asserts is that it is grossly inconsistent for the converted man to sin; he ought not to sin with an oughtness which should be compulsory for his whole conduct. If, however, it were a sheer impossibility in the strict sense of that word for Christians to sin Paul should have spared himself his useless argument. That he has not thus spared himself proves that sinning was not only not impossible for the converted man, but was not unexampled among converted men, or even unusual. Paul is laboring here to deter his readers from sinning: and that is the way we deal with men who still sin, not with those who have ceased sinning altogether. Windisch allows that the life, the new life, is presented in some sense as a task; but he insists with reference to the newness of life itself, that it is a sheer gift, and that the power that it brings is not an “ought” but a “can.” This is of course so far true: but the point at issue is not the newness of life itself but the walk in this newness of life; and that is, as he is himself ready to allow, a task. He dismisses the idea, it is true, that this task includes the overcoming of hindrances; there is no conflict, no effort, no advance in the walk to which Christians are exhorted. “As little as in the case of Christ is the new walk conceived as a conflict or advance.” “It is a walk on an open and level road.” What is true in such statements is only that these things are not expressly notified in the words themselves, but are left to the general implication. But they are very expressly included in the general implication. The future tenses, as it is natural they should, greatly disturb Windisch. But his troubles come to their climax only when he reaches the “believe” of verse 8 and the “reckon” of verse 11. “The determination of the sense of the ‘reckon,’ ” he says,14 “is not easy and not certain.” “I might say,” he adds, “that it is the subjective conception of an objective fact, arising from the ‘apprehension of Christ’ and of mystical connection with Him. To gather from it an element of pure subjectivity and of uncertainty of the objective, seems to me illegitimate. Paul would no doubt have applied ‘reckon’ to the possibility of mysteriously worked circumstances.” Very possibly. But he could not easily apply it to objective conditions directly known in an experience already in full enjoyment. The thing that cannot be balked is that Paul’s readers had to consider themselves dead to sin and living to God. It was not to them a matter of complete present enjoyment but of faith. And then, at this point of the discussion, Windisch has to brace himself to meet as best he may the full force of the parenesis.

The memory of his struggle with the sixth chapter of Romans Windisch carries over with him to Col. 3:5, another parenesis which gives him some trouble. Paul is dealing in the opening verses of this chapter, he tells us,15 with the positive side of the Christians’ transformation. They have been raised with Christ; and, having been raised, says Paul, their life is now hidden with Christ in God. “The glorified nature,” Windisch explains, “is already present but invisible, hidden still in God’s protection. It is only the revelation, not the new-creation of the ‘life’ that still holds back.” The influence of the Jewish hopes of cleansing and glorification on Paul’s thought, Windisch suggests, is visible here. “Like the apocalyptist Baruch, Paul sees cleansing and glorification together as one process.” He certainly sees them together—and one result of that is that he postpones the accomplishment of the one as of the other to the manifestation of Christ our life; in the meantime it is true of both these things that they are “not yet manifest.” This means naturally that as we are not free from weakness in this transition period, so we are not free from sin. Windisch, however, says: “A reference to the sinful habitus of the Christian is altogether lacking”; it is only asceticism that is in question, and that is spoken of with contempt. Why, however, we need to ask, does Paul throw such contempt on this asceticism? Precisely because it is useless for the purposes of moral cleansing! These practices, says he (2:23), “are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.” That is the reason why he pronounces them useless to his Christians. What he conceives Christians to be in need of, therefore, is something that will aid them in their battle against “the indulgence of the flesh.” Is not that to relate the matter to “the sinful habitus”? And is it not to say that the Christian life on earth is a process of conquering sin in its manifestations in that life—“the indulgence of the flesh”? Positively, no doubt, this process may find expression in seeking the things that are above, in contrast with the things of earth (3:1, 2). But it has a negative side too. Precisely because we have died with Christ and our life is hidden with Him in God, to be manifested in all its fulness in due season, we must bestir ourselves in the meanwhile to be prepared for its revelation. “Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth,” says the Apostle (3:5 ff.). “Therefore!” That is a very significant “therefore,” and one very unaccountable to Windisch. “The very first word ‘mortify,’ ” he says, “shows clearly that a completely new train of thought is begun.” But Paul says “therefore.” “What we have to inquire,” Windisch says, “is whether possibly there is not attempted here a connection between heterogeneous conceptions.” But Paul says “therefore”; and “therefore” does not connect “heterogeneous conceptions.” Well, says Windisch,16 it is at least not a process of cleansing which is intimated here: look at the aorists—“mortify,” “put away,” verses 5, 8. It is an abrupt passage from sin to holiness which the Apostle has in mind. But neither will this plea serve him. The “aorist of the strong imperative” is too familiar a usage to be overlooked.17 Of course Paul wished decisive acts of moral amendment from his Christians, and that is the reason he uses these strong aorists. But there is no implication that the end in view could be accomplished at once. And the main point is that such an exhortation was not superfluous for Christians. Windisch seeks to meet this, desperately we should suppose, by suggesting that Paul was so accustomed to the use of a catechism for neophytes that he writes down mechanically from it these exhortations, though, of course, he had no knowledge of his readers being guilty of any such sins. In other words, his exhortations here are purely conventional. If so, we need to ask why it was that he was led to transcribe just such and such sections of the catechism for neophytes when writing to Christians. Must we not suppose that he used the sections of the catechism which in general were suitable to the case in hand? We do not seem by this road to escape the implication that precisely these exhortations were appropriate for Christians as Christians.

A similar means of escape to that which he makes use of here Windisch essays again, when commenting on Rom. 13:1, where Paul requires Christians to be good citizens and warns them that rulers are of divine appointment and that we must subject ourselves to them for conscience’s sake and not merely from fear of punishment. It certainly seems to be implied here that it was conceivable that Christians, if they did not take heed to themselves, might transgress the law of the State and in doing so sin against God. This appearance Windisch does not deny. “Here,” says he,18 “the Apostle seems clearly to say that now and again sin may bring even Christians into conflict with the State.” “But,” he adds, “this is not so. It is not Paul the counselor of the community of believers in the Messiah who is speaking here, but the Hellenistic instructor of mankind. The Thou is man, not the Christian. The possibility that a ‘Christian’ should need to be punished by the State for an offence, he did not seriously entertain; he did not intend to apply the civil law to the sin of the ‘Christian.’ What he wishes to make obvious to the Roman Christians is the humanitarian conception of the State, in and of itself. They are to observe in the ordinances of the State the same divine discipline to which they have subjected themselves.” As Paul here forgot he was a Christian leader addressing Christians and spoke as a heathen philosopher preaching good citizenship, so, only a few verses further on he forgets himself again and speaks to his Christian readers in the forms in which he was accustomed to address his heathen audiences in his missionary preaching. The passage is Rom. 13:11–14, and Windisch finds it impossible to deny that Paul speaks in it to his readers as if they were still living in sin.19 He speaks to them, he says, as if they were still unconverted people. He exhorts them in terms—“make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof”—which imply that they were still capable of sinning, or, rather we should say, were still constantly sinning: “continue not to make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.” The Christians are simply required to put away their vices, and the vices that are enumerated are real vices. This, precisely on the ground that they are Christians, that they had long been Christians, and that it was high time for them “to show up better” as Christians. This certainly does not look as if Christians were to Paul as such sinless men. No, as Windisch complains, he treats them as if they had always up to the moment of his addressing them, lived like heathen. But Windisch grasps at the straw, that he requires of them an immediate and final break with their old sin: “Not a realizing now to be begun and gradually to be accomplished is required, but an immediate passage from sin to sinlessness.” Even that straw, however, does not sustain him. He is at his wits’ end. “The words,” says he, “strike on us as very surprising. That a totally changed conception of the Christian State lies here, is felt by everybody. We have found the ideal carriage of the community strongly emphasized, never actual sin, but only the possibility of sin, brought into consideration, a process of renewal already brought in substantiated. Now the Christians are suddenly required to discontinue their vicious life, and yet such vices are alluded to as could confidently be supposed to have been overcome. How is this change in conception to be explained?” Windisch sees but one way. Paul was a missionary, and had acquired certain modes of speech in his missionary addresses. And here, as he was writing to the Roman Christians—“the spirit of the missionary came over him, and instead of the Christians who needed only further helpful instruction, he sees a body of lost sinners before him whom he now has to snatch with one grasp out of their sinfulness.”

There is another characteristic of the passage which gives Windisch some trouble. That is the interchange of the first and second persons in it. Windisch is unwilling to allow any significance to this interchange. “Because it is the missionary that is speaking,” he says,20 “I do not think that the ‘we’ is to be referred to his self-consciousness. It is a pure style-form. It gives place at once to ‘you.’ Since he abandons the first person precisely with ‘put ye on,’ it is clear that he cannot have included himself in the ‘we.’ ” For support in this somewhat remarkable opinion he apparently appeals to A. Jülicher’s comment on the passage. At least, to the sentence which expresses his opinion that the “we” is not to be referred to Paul’s self-consciousness, he appends a note which says, “compare Jülicher,” with a reference to Jülicher’s comment. We do not find anything in that comment, however, which can lend support to Windisch’s representation.21 What we find, on the contrary, is a remark to the effect that Paul does include himself in the exhortations of verses 12b and 13, and that that fact precludes our using verses 11, 14 to prove that there was no trace of spiritual life in the Roman church at all. This would be in any case an overstrained use of these verses; but the fact that Paul includes himself in verses 12b and 13 and does not in 11, 14, does at least show that he did not feel it possible to associate himself with the Roman Christians in what he has to say of them in verses 11 and 14, or at least in verse 14—for the “you” in verse 11 may be only the direct address appropriate to the opening of the exhortation. The strength of the language employed is, no doubt, throughout, as Jülicher suggests, due to a desire to move the consciences of the Roman Christians strongly. The particular items in the enumeration of vices in verse 13 are chosen accordingly to meet their case, actual or possible. In associating himself with his readers in these middle clauses of the passage the Apostle—the more forcibly that it is purely without calculation—intimates that it is not true of bad Christians alone, but it is a universal Christian characteristic, that they must be constantly turning away from sin and reaching upwards. As Jülicher puts it: “That the awakening from sleep and the putting on of Christ must be daily repeated, with ever greater result, was to him no mystery.” It is impossible therefore to escape from the implications of the passage that Christians are not sinless but sinful men, in process of making their way through the night to that day which is presented as the goal of their endeavour.

A similar instance of Paul’s associating himself with his readers in an exhortation to moral improvement is found in 2 Cor. 7:1b: “Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Windisch deals with this passage very much as he deals with Rom. 13:11 ff. It is clearly a piece of missionary preaching which Paul more or less inadvertently delivers to his Christians. He is not thinking of any “gradual amendment,” but is calling on sinful Christians to lay aside once for all, in one comprehensive act, all sin, and “to let the ideal of a truly holy walk become reality in their empirical life.”22 It is only misplaced exegetical ingenuity which would “infer from the use of the first person that the Apostle includes himself in the exhortation.” “The ‘we’ is a friendly style form.” Meanwhile, it remains inexplicable that if Christians are as such sinless men Paul could address these Christians in this fashion. The Christians whom he addresses he distinguishes at length and in the most pungent way, in the immediately preceding context, from the heathen; and exhorts them to hold themselves aloof from heathen modes of thinking and standards of conduct. He cannot possibly be reverting here to a “missionary” mode of speech more suitable to heathen than to Christians. There is no reason whatever for representing the cleansing to which Paul exhorts here as a thing which is expected to be, or that can be, accomplished suddenly, in a single stroke. The employment of “the strong aorist”—“let us cleanse ourselves”—only shows that the Apostle is exhorting his readers to undertake the task he is urging them to at once, vigorously and with decisive effect; while the present participle which follows it—“while we are bringing holiness to perfection”—shows that the task is accomplished only through a process,—is, as H. A. W. Meyer expresses it, “the continual moral endeavour and work of the Christian purifying himself.” And finally it is beyond question that the Apostle includes himself in what thus is marked out as the common task of all Christians. No one forms an exception, at any stage of his Christian life, to the need of purifying himself from defilement of one sort or another, affecting the flesh or the spirit, and so continuing the perfecting of his holiness in the fear of God. And therefore, when exhorting the Corinthians to this activity of, not keeping ourselves pure, but of making ourselves pure, the Apostle, as Meyer puts it, with true moral feeling of the universality of this need, places himself, the mature Christian, on an equality with them, the immature. The Christian life is conceived here as a continuous process of active advancement in, negatively, purification and, positively, sanctification.

A very striking passage of the same general order meets us in 1 Cor. 11:17 ff. In the midst of Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians for irreverent conduct in connection with the Lord’s Supper, two verses (vss. 31, 32) suddenly occur in which the second person gives way to the first: “But if we discerned ourselves we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” The effect of this change of persons is, of course, to give the assertion contained in these verses a greater generality. “You,” “you,” “you,” the Apostle had been saying, and after these verses returns to saying: here he says “we”—not setting the two pronouns in contrast with one another (which would require that they be expressed) but broadening the one into the other. But why should he broaden his statement in just these two verses? H. A. W. Meyer (and Heinrici after him) says: “The use of the first person gives to the sentence the gentler form of a general statement, not referring merely to the state of things at Corinth, but of universal application.” That is true of course; but it does not fully answer the question. There is no obvious reason why just this remark should be singled out for gentler statement. It is not intrinsically the severest remark in the context, which therefore called particularly for softening. The plain fact is that, in his rebuke to the Corinthians, the Apostle introduces this general mode of speech here because what he has to say here no longer applies to the Corinthians only, but is true of all Christians, himself included. Only the Corinthians had been guilty of the specific faults mentioned in the surrounding context. But all Christians are sinners; they all require to “discern themselves”; they all fail, more or less, in that wholesome duty; thus failing, they are all chastened by the Lord, in order that they may escape condemnation for their sins. This is the picture which Paul draws for us here of the Christian life. A. Titius is quite right, then, when he says23 that Paul “in 1 Cor. 11:31 f. expressly reckons himself in the number of those who are judged and disciplined by the Lord, because they have foreborne their own proving—” although he is at once contradicted by C. Clemen24 and subsequently by Windisch.25 Windisch does not say here, however, as in former cases which we have noted, that Paul’s “we” is simply a trick of style and means nothing. He endeavours to discover how Paul may be supposed to associate himself with the Corinthians, without the implication that he too needed to be brought to give proper attention to his sinning by chastening from the Lord. The theory which he broaches is in brief this—sufferings were sent to others to bring them to a recognition of their sins and to separation of themselves from them; they were sent to Paul to suppress temptation to sin in him. In associating himself with the Corinthians by his “we,” “Paul therefore did not intend to recognize that he too was punished by God because of his sins; he has nevertheless used a ‘we,’ because he too in another sense reckoned himself among the ‘disciplined.’ ”26 This is rather a weird theory—which has no ground in the text, and indeed has nothing to recommend it except that it avoids recognizing that Paul confesses himself a sinner, who is dealt with by God as a sinner. It labors meanwhile under the disadvantage that in its effort to relieve Paul from the sins which he confesses, it involves him in a sin which he does not confess; and indeed scarcely avoids involving God Himself in sin. For is it not a sin to profess to be at one with others in a matter in which you are really radically different from them? And is it not a sin to inflict punishment where punishment is in no way deserved?

It is quite clear that Paul conceives of Christians as not yet freed from sinning. Windisch struggles hard not to admit it, although of course he struggles in vain. How hard he struggles may be revealed to us by his comment on 2 Cor. 12:21. There is probably no passage in the New Testament which throws into a more lurid light the sins of which Christians may possibly be guilty. Paul, speaking to his readers with affection and addressing them as “beloved,” expresses a fear lest, when he comes to them, he may find the evils which he has rebuked among them still existing, and many of the sinners whom he has reproved still unrepentant. He describes those whom he has in mind as “those who have formerly sinned,” meaning those whose sinning had fallen under his rebuke on a previous occasion—as it seems without effect. Windisch27 adopts the notion, however, that by “those who have formerly sinned” Paul means those who have sinned before their conversion (as if Paul could have imagined that there were any who had not sinned before their conversion), and seizes upon the words to ground a representation that Paul means to say that these sinning Christians were not Christians at all. “I may paraphrase the words,” he says, “thus—they continue their heathenish sins steadily, and have not even yet repented.” Paul, it seems, “looked upon such Christians as have still after baptism committed whether serious or lighter sins, as if they had not yet been converted at all: sinning Christians are to him unconverted people.” The fact that they sin proves that they have not yet been converted—because Christians do not sin. It is part of Windisch’s theory, however, to emphasize the “not yet.” They are not quite the same as heathen after all: they have been baptized, and by their baptism they have both been made capable of repentance and been obligated to repent. But they have not done so; and until they have done so, they are not Christians; and that is the reason they can still sin. That is the theory, he says, that Paul went upon. But experience compelled Paul to modify it. It was only too plain that Christians did sin. He could not think otherwise, however, than that if a real Christian sinned he would be hopelessly lost: there remained no place of repentance for him. And so Paul, out of the gentleness of his heart, represents the Christians who sin as not yet having completed the process of becoming Christians by repentance, and so as still capable of salvation. This reasoning is so incredible that we transcribe the very words in which it is presented: “The ‘not yet,’ however, is to be emphasized. It is precisely because of it that baptized people also are able to repent. When Paul describes sin as a Christian’s sin, it sounds as if he were giving the sinner up for lost: the fornicator severs himself from Christ. If he intends to maintain the salvation of the sinning Christian, he changes his point of view; then the Christian has not yet entered into relation with Christ. Radically framed conceptions dominate his thought; but because within the limits of these radically framed forms a change of point of view is possible, he is able to do justice to reality. There is nothing problematical to him about the repentance of one long baptized.” This certainly is beautifully simple. Paul describes Christians as sinning and repenting. Windisch says that in Paul’s view Christians do not sin, or if they manage to sin, cannot repent. Hence, says he, when Paul speaks of a Christian sinning, and calls on him to repent, he really means he is no Christian. And thus, he says, Paul keeps in touch with reality. We observe meanwhile simply in passing that it is precisely the “spiritual” Christians whom in Gal. 6:1 Paul speaks of as liable to fall into sin; and perhaps we may be allowed to add that in 1 Tim. 5:20 not only Christians as such but even the elders among Christians are contemplated as able to sin.

It is only Paul, not Windisch, who is deceived by this mental legerdemain. And thus, as we have already seen, Windisch is compelled, after all is said, to pronounce Paul self-contradictory in his modes of thinking of Christians in their relation to sin. He does not pretend to think this contradiction a merely surface one. “Paul,” he tells us,28 “following different influences arising from experience and observation, brings together really incompatible things. From the mysteriously wrought cleansing, from the mystical life with Christ, which has made men insusceptible and apathetic to the allurements of sin, there exists no passable road for logical and psychological thinking to the obligation to refuse obedience to sinful lusts. No doubt even the theory of cleansing and renewal permits an outlook on the further life of man. But the way in which the walk of the cleansed person is described shows that no subsequent conversion can be added. The new walk is not given the task to overcome old oppositions; the new man has only to tread the road which God has opened for him and in which God leads him. Thus Paul, in Romans, sets the theory of baptism and the requirements of conversion immediately together, and when he, in the later letters, unites them, an insoluble contradiction arises, because he is trying to think incongruities together.” And yet he suggests that Paul’s entertainment of two such contradictory conceptions together is psychologically explicable from the circumstance that in the rite of baptism a place was found for exhortation to the neophyte to carry out in life his character as a baptized person. “This element of human activity suggested by the theory of baptism may offer a certain mediation between the two disparate modes of conception. It means that the instruction and exhortation may be tendered also to the cleansed man. Presenting himself to empirical man, Paul falls involuntarily into the tone of the preacher of repentance.”29 Windisch does not remark on the equal inconsistency of the conjunction of the two conceptions in question in the baptismal ritual or even on the extreme inadvertence of Paul in forming his fundamental teachings.

In another passage30 he discusses somewhat more seriously the possibility of conciliating the two theories—the mystic and the parenetic, as he calls them. The prevailing exegesis, he points out, maintains their organic unity. The God-wrought change is spoken of as a transference of the life-center, or, more frequently and more weakeningly, as a change in principle. And there is attached to it the task which is set for man. This is actually to realize in the empirical being, gradually pushing on to the outermost periphery, what God has effected in principle and in the center; or actually and really to become what we already are in principle. This conception, now, Windisch pronounces not un-Pauline if only the notion that the empirical cleansing proceeds gradually be eliminated. It becomes in this form in fact, he says, one of the theories of cleansing which he has himself brought to view as Paul’s, consisting in an organic combination of the doctrine of justification and the requirement of conversion: “faith signifies an inner transformation of the spirit of man, which capacitates and impels him to put away sin by a radical break in his empirical life too.” On the other hand, he continues, the mystical theory of cleansing can find no place in this mode of conceiving things. In it, deliverance from sin and the establishment of life appear as embraced in one particular definitive total process—that is to say, as effected in their completeness all at once. “The notions of dying and death are characteristic of this conception: they designate for the Christian experiences of the past and declare the impossibility of sinning in his new nature.” The rejection here of the current understanding of the entire body of Paul’s teaching as to the application of salvation, as forming an organic unity, declaring a salvation with the creative activity of God at its basis and human activities working out into manifestation what God works at the center, is, it will be observed, solely in the interest of the theory that what Windisch calls the mystical conception involves the complete transformation of human nature instantaneously. That is, however, by no means the case. Paul’s insistence on the radicalness of the change wrought by God’s saving power in sinners, by no means carries with it the implication that the whole change is completed in the twinkling of an eye. On the contrary, the implication is always that it consumes time in its completion and engages in its processes the activities of men. It turns out that Windisch is not altogether unwilling to allow this. At the end of the paragraph he says that after all a certain conjunction between the two theories is possible, a line of connection may be laid down. And this line of connection proves to be precisely this: that “the mystical theory of cleansing too can speak of an activity of the man, of the man awakened to new life.” “Only,” he adds, reaching now the center of his contention, “this activity is exempted from the task of overcoming sin.” Apparently then the concession amounts only to this: that in re-creating man God does not destroy him; he is still living and acting; but living and acting now as a sinless man, whereas before he lived and acted as a sinful man. He has no battle to fight, no struggle to undergo; as we are elsewhere told, the path opened up before him is a straight and smooth one.

That Paul does not so represent the Christian life, Windisch knows just as well as anybody. That is precisely the inconsistency of Paul which he is at the moment engaged in asserting. For side by side with the mystical theory of cleansing stands Paul’s parenetic theory, and this presupposes “the continuous sinfulness or temptability” of Christians. “Thus there are two mutually exclusive theories which Paul opposes to the misuse of his gospel of grace; the one explains that the Christian by God’s power has obtained a sinless nature—the other that through the reception of grace he is obligated and capacitated to a sinless walk. Paul sums up what he has to say as to the relations of the Christians to sin thus—they are broken off through God’s power or through the energy of the man’s conversion. The first mode of conception describes the Christian throughout as a man suffused with heavenly powers, detached from the natural conditions of life. Only the second theory reckons with the temptability of the Christian; in it, as we have seen, even actual sin is assumed in the Christian.”31 In this contradiction he is forced to leave Paul. He does indeed add, most unexpectedly: “Our statements would require a decisive correction, if the exposition of the seventh chapter of Romans—no longer it is true the prevailing one—which finds set forth in the conflicts portrayed in it experiences of the renewed Paul, of the renewed ego, had to be recognized as right. Then it would be convincingly proved that the Apostle ‘is even inherently sinful,’ yes, that he recognizes himself as a ‘poor, miserable sinner.’ ”32 It is not in the seventh chapter of Romans alone, however, as we have already had occasion abundantly to observe, that Paul recognizes himself as well as all other Christians as sinful. Windisch has been telling us indeed that one of the two theories of cleansing which Paul employs in his teaching on the subject implies not only the temptability but the continued sinning of Christians. If, however, the matter is to be hung on the seventh chapter of Romans we are content: it seems to us quite certain that we have in these pungent verses a revelation of the inner life of the Christian striving against sin.33

We certainly are conscious of no revulsion when Windisch lays stress on the greatness of the change which Paul felt himself to have experienced when he became a Christian. Neither is the language in which he describes it in itself altogether intolerable.34 We can put a benevolent sense on such phrases as that Paul was “filled with Messianic enthusiasm,” or even that he conceived himself “already a man of the Messianic era, transformed by the Messiah by means of a personal revelation, a new creature, with his selfish body dead, his sinful-lusting flesh suppressed, his sin removed.” “Christ is here, the new age has come, the man of the new age is here”—that not unfairly expresses Paul’s conviction. He did suppose that a supernaturally wrought transformation had taken place in him, and in all Christians. And this transformation was expressed in his life by (among other things) a sense of cleansing, purification. He, his Christians, were no longer of the earth earthy; their citizenship was in heaven; and they were sharers in the heavenly character—which is without sin. We cannot emphasize too strongly this experience. It is the strength of Windisch’s presentation that he emphasizes it—although he emphasizes it as an “experience” rather than a fact. He tells us what Paul thought of himself in his “enthusiasm,” rather than what Christ had done for Paul in His almighty grace. That is the weakness of his presentation, and beyond that this further weakness—which perhaps is, in part at least, a result of the former—that he allows no time for the accomplishment of the great change, no process for its perfecting, no beginning and middle and end to it; but insists that because it means a radical breach with sin, therefore from its very inception no trace of sin can be admitted to exist. As a result he is compelled to admit that this high conception could not be sustained by Paul; that contact with life brought him disillusionment, or we must rather say, failure—for it was a matter which concerned not abstract opinion with him but a self-judgment which in the face of experience he could not maintain. Immediately after describing in glowing language how Paul in his enthusiasm felt himself without sin, Windisch is forced to add:35 “It is true that, cast into the old course of things, he was not able to maintain literally his enthusiastic conception. He had to say of himself, that sin in him was not slain but put to flight. He could represent his life to his enemies and to those whom he wished to win for Christ as a blameless walk according to God’s working. But to his friends he revealed the secret that the maintenance of it on its high plane cost him uninterrupted struggle.” Is not this a little seventh chapter of Romans of Windisch’s own? Surely this is not the Paul who knows himself a man of the new age with his selfish body dead, his sin-tempting flesh suppressed, his sin taken away. But Windisch still has some fragments to save. The sin in him is not dead as he fondly thought; he needs steadily to fight it to keep it down—(that is the seventh chapter of Romans): but he keeps it down. “But that he has failed, that he fails and sins, incidentally and daily, he has never conceded.” He had, says Windisch, plenty of occasions to confess his sins if he had any to confess; and other teachers—Philo, James, Clement, Clement of Alexandria, Origen—confess that they are “miserable sinners.” Why not Paul? It might be enough to answer that Paul was not writing a confession but letters—letters dealing not with his own conduct but with that of his readers; and that he constantly includes himself with them when speaking of their liability to sin. It may be better to say simply, There is the seventh chapter of Romans—and Windisch’s own little seventh chapter of Romans which we have just had occasion to observe. It seems to be very much a matter of standard. Probably no one thinks Paul was a “common sinner,” or supposes that he means to represent all Christians as “common sinners.” But if “sin is not dead in him,” then he was still a sinner; and sin, being alive in him, affected all his activities, none of which was what it would have been had there been no sin in him—and so he was not only “an incidental and daily sinner” but a perpetual sinner; and we are not surprised to hear on his lips the “miserable sinner’s” cry—O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?

According to Paul, says Windisch,36 Christianity rests on two foundation-stones: “justified by faith, and led by the Spirit; or without guilt because believing, and without sin because pneumatic.” His purpose is to emphasize the latter of the two, because, in his view, the Reformation has thrust it aside and elevated justification into a position of such dominance that it may be thought of as the whole of Christianity.37 And in emphasizing the latter of the two he wishes it to be taken strictly as he has expressed it, and justice to be done to its coördination with justification. Christianity consists in these two things, not in one without the other. At an earlier point38 he had, therefore, very properly repelled an idea advanced by Wernle and Munzinger to the effect that Paul’s missionary preaching was of a purely religious character and took no account of ethics. We may learn the contrary, he says, even from his use of the single word “sanctification.” For “ ‘sanctification’ is the process by which the sinful man becomes a pure personal being, perfect according to the divine model,”—citing 1 Thess. 4:7, 2 Thess. 2:13 in illustration. Men, he continues, having received in faith the salvation to which God called them, were “by a divine act at the same time separated from the impurity which had formed their nature hitherto; there was given to them in the Holy Spirit the power to pursue a holy life removed from all immorality.” “This moral transformation,” he now goes on to say,39 “is accordingly conceived as an act of God and as a task which is appointed to the believer, as the total task of his life.” This statement, which is not far from Paul’s actual teaching as to the Christian’s sanctification, and which seems quite simple in itself, Windisch finds to contain a whole nest of antinomies. These he undertakes to “explain,” not in the sense of resolving them, but of seeking an origin for each separately in Paul’s inheritance—as if Paul’s mind were a mere receptacle into which things were dropped to remain related to one another only by mechanical contiguity. The main matter on which we wish to lay stress now, however, is the strength of the assertion that Christianity consists no less in sanctification than in justification—a statement quite true in itself—and the use to which it is put in order to discredit the Reformation doctrine of justification.

In the section in which the teaching of Paul as a whole is summed up, his doctrine of justification is presented in the first instance in its relation to the sins of Christians.40 “The doctrine of the gracious justification of the sinful man”—the discussion begins in purely general terms, but with Paul in view—“seems to push aside the question of the sin of the Christian as a matter of course, as raising no problem. The sinful man stands here on earth exposed on account of his sin to condemnation in the rapidly approaching judgment, but over against him stands the gracious God who does not impute to him his enormous guilt. This judgment is assured and sealed to him. Past and present are taken together; the view goes into the future which will bring salvation and glory because God forgives sin. In principle there lies at the bottom of this doctrinal conception the idea that the sin of the Christian will be forgiven as a matter of course.” Then the discussion turns pointedly to Paul: “Paul also has so formulated it that the sinning Christian could draw from it daily comfort and assurance; we have forgiveness in Christ and stand under grace; Christ appears for us against every accusation.” “But,” it goes on to say, adducing the contrary part—“but only once has Paul made the general assertion that Christ’s intercession and God’s justifying judgment cover every sin.” We interrupt the quotation to note in passing that it is admitted, then, that Paul has made the assertion once. And now Windisch continues: “Never does he in an individual instance point the sinning Christian to the forgiveness that will never be denied him. For the most part he presents the doctrine of justification in the form in which it describes the condition of entrance into the Christian community, in which it grounds the forgiveness of the enormous guilt that has accumulated in the past.” “Accordingly,” he continues, “Paul attaches directly to it the two other theories which have for their object the passing away of sin out of the empirical life of the Christian, the real sinlessness of the normal Christian.” “Paul never says, Be of good comfort despite your sins, because they will be forgiven you. Because they are forgiven he demands now conversion too. And now there arises a schism of thought from the necessary orienting of the requirement of conversion to the expectation of judgment. Alongside the proclamation of grace, that believers will be saved from the judgment, there enters this requirement to leave off sinning because they will be judged. It is, now, the motiving of this requirement of cleansing which makes the sin of Christians a problem. Paul plainly declares that sin compromises salvation—the individual sin which is committed after conversion, after baptism.” There are four ways, Windisch now tells us, in which Paul knows how to adjust to one another the two ideas that all a Christian’s sins are forgiven and that sin is something abnormal, unsuitable in his life, which must disappear. What he looked upon as normal was that the Christian should commit no sins; then he would have nothing to answer for at the judgment. If he did commit sins he might renew his repentance and so wipe them off his slate; or he might expiate them in suffering. In either case he could still stand in the judgment. “Only one mode of conception reckons with the idea that a Christian remains a ‘sinner,’ or that his act of repentance has failed: the condemning judgment is not spared the sinful Christian. It is grace that nevertheless saves him.”41 “Thus,” Windisch now adds, “the theory of conversion adjoined to the doctrine of grace is able to maintain the sinless character of the normal Christian, and nevertheless at the same time to reckon with the sin of the Christian.”

Surely the two propositions that Christians are as such sinless men and that only that one of four classes of Christians which manages to maintain sinlessness may be called normal Christians—are not identical. So soon as we allow, as must be allowed, that the Christian proclamation includes provision for sins committed after justification, whatever that provision is, we allow that the Christian man is not as such sinless. To say that at least the “normal” Christian is sinless, is a distinct misuse of the word “normal.” Not only are Christians not presented in the Pauline epistles as, as a rule, sinless, but they are presented as never sinless. The sinless Christian does not meet us on Paul’s pages: there, all Christians live not by works, but by grace. What is true is that Paul presents Christians as in principle sinless: that is their fundamental character as Christians—although it is not yet realized by them in fact; they are all “in the making, not made.” They are not seeking to obtain salvation by being good, but striving to work their salvation received by faith out into the goodness which constitutes its substance. It will scarcely have escaped notice that, after all has been said, Windisch is not able to avoid admitting that, according to Paul, justification covers the sins of Christians also. When he attempts to set over against each other the justifying decree on the one hand and Christians’ liability for their sins at the judgment day on the other, he is not able to keep them from fitting into each other as parts of one unitary conception. It is very striking to observe him, on coming to describe his fourth class of Christians—those who come up to the judgment day still burdened with their sins—compelled to say that they bear their punishment, it is true, but still are “saved by grace.” When commenting on Rom. 8:33—“who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” and the rest—Windisch admits that it is implied that occasion for laying a charge against God’s elect could be found, and that in, not their pre-Christian, but their Christian life. Their safety depends, not on the falseness of the charge supposed to be made against them, but on God’s decree of justification and the saving work of Christ, which was not confined to a single past act but embraced in it also a continued intercession. “Here then,” he says,42 “for once the relation to the whole life of the Christian which is intrinsic in the doctrine of justification is brought to expression.” Why he should say “for once” is not easily discerned. It is just as clearly implied in Rom. 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus,” as we have had occasion to point out at an earlier point. It is just as clearly implied also in Rom. 5:9 ff. and Phil. 3:9, although Windisch labors to escape the implication in both instances. Undoubtedly in Rom. 5:9 ff. Paul grounds the future “salvation” of Christians as exclusively on Christ as their past justification; and argues from the one to the other a fortiori—their justification carries with it their “salvation” by necessary implication. Similarly in Phil. 3:9 Paul represents himself as trusting utterly at the last day in the righteousness of God received by faith, in sharp contrast with any righteousness of his own whatever. Passages like these leave no room for attributing to Paul a conception of justification which confined its effect to sins committed before it had taken place; and as little a conception of the final judgment which supposed it to proceed solely on the basis of works done after justification.43 After all said, it is the fact of justification which according to Paul is the ruling fact in the Christian life and the Christian destiny.

It will scarcely have escaped observation that Windisch is apt to give expression to the difference between Paul’s doctrine of justification and that of the Reformers in sharp negative propositions. In a passage which we have only recently had before us,44 he says for instance: “Only once has Paul made the general assertion that Christ’s intercession and God’s forgiving judgment cover every sin.” And again: “Never does he in an individual instance point the sinning Christian to the forgiveness which will never be denied him.” Similarly we read elsewhere:45 “Paul himself never unambiguously declared that the forgiveness which the Christians experience passes over also to their new sins; he only acted on this principle.” And again:46 The attempt “to comfort the aroused conscience of the sinning Christians meets us only once in Paul.” It will no doubt have been noticed that each of these statements is carefully qualified, and that nevertheless they are scarcely perfectly consistent with one another. The two pairs in which we have arranged them are so related indeed that the universal statement in each is provided with an exception in the other. The net result of the four declarations is thus that it is allowed that Paul does all the things which seem to be denied of him—even though he has done them each but once. We have here, then, not even an argument from silence, but only an argument from relative silence: which at the most might suggest that Paul and Luther threw the emphasis somewhat differently in applying their common doctrine of justification. The real import of the matter is that Windisch is aiming all the time at the one thing he most dislikes in Luther’s teaching—that Christians sin daily and daily need and receive forgiveness. At this, accordingly, he directly launches his most sharply framed negative assertions. “The daily forgiving of his sins to the daily sinner,” he says,47 is “a gracious benefit which is never mentioned in Paul, and which, when it is mentioned is never related to the fundamental religious position of the Christian”—a sentence which is so prudently guarded that it seems not to wait for a companion sentence to contradict it. Again:48 “Confessions of sins—” like Luther’s when he says “we sin much every day”—“do not meet us in Paul and John (in this generality).” Should however, all that is said in these and similar assertions be granted, what do they amount to? Nothing beyond the very natural fact that in the few and brief occasional letters which have come down to us from Paul, much is left unsaid, or is only briefly and perhaps only allusively said, that nevertheless belongs to the essence of his doctrine, and in other circumstances and on the call of other needs among his readers would have been said with the same fulness and vigor that he has used in developing the aspects of his doctrine which he was called to emphasize. Paul has given us no systematic treatise; what he wrote he wrote in reference to the needs of the situations he required to face. It is enough that he has given us the doctrine of justification. We should not demand that he shall have developed systematically every element in it and given a place in his epistles to each of its possible applications in precise proportion to its systematic importance.

The difference between Paul’s position as apostle to the Gentiles and Luther’s as reformer of the Western Church, carried with it necessarily a difference in the particular application of their common doctrine on which each necessarily dwells. In the very nature of the case it was the “former sins” of his readers which most concerned Paul—as they most concerned them; equally in the very nature of the case it was the present sins of their constituents that most concerned the Reformers—as they did their constituents. To erect this inevitable difference of interest in the varied aspects of the application of the doctrine, into a fundamental doctrinal difference is preposterous. It is as absurd to suppose that because Paul was absorbed in the forgiveness of past sins, he was ignorant of the forgiveness of present sins in God’s justifying grace—or even ready to deny it—as it would be to suppose that because Luther was eager to comfort Christians, agonizing over their sins, by assuring them that they were forgiven them in Christ, he was careless as to the forgiveness of sins which say, a converted Jew might have committed before conversion, or ready even to deny that they were capable of forgiveness. It is Wernle, however, who in a few remarkable—and very extreme—sentences, written for another purpose, teaches us how Luther’s situation in the midst of the long established Christian community, of necessity affected the particular direction which his interest took as he dealt with the great topics of sin and salvation. “We have never been sinners, entering only now by a conversion into the condition of regeneration,” says he;49 “we know absolutely nothing of sin outside the Church. The problem of the Christian life, as the Reformation framed it, and as Ritschl has stated it afresh, is this: how can the Christian be in spite of his sin, a joyful child of God?” Something like this was, we say, necessarily the form in which the problem of the Christian life presented itself more pointedly to the Reformers. As necessarily it presented itself to Paul most pointedly in the form of how the Christian could be a joyful child of God in spite of his past. In meeting the needs of their differing situations Paul and Luther inevitably dwelt most constantly on different aspects of their common doctrine. That is the whole story.

Along with Paul it is John to whom Windisch makes his principal appeal to prove that to the New Testament writers Christians are men who do not sin. “Paul and John,” says he,50 “are the typical and irrefutable witnesses for the dogma that the Christian is cleansed.” And he is eager to have it understood that they are independent witnesses. That they are united in testifying “that the Christian and sin are forever separated from each other,”51 shows how firmly the idea was grounded in reality; and also, no doubt, how completely the pre-Christian conceptions on the subject were taken over into Christianity and made a part of its teaching and its life. We have seen how he has fared in his attempts to interpret Paul in this sense. His success is no greater with John, by which is meant in this connection mainly the First Epistle of John. He already finds himself in great trouble with 1 John 1:5 to 2:3. Contradictory statements seem to him to be set here side by side. John represents Christians as enjoying, as such, complete actual sinlessness. And he represents them as still sinning. Windisch deals with this embarrassing situation in the following fashion. Even those declarations which assert that Christians still sin, he says,52 “do not presuppose that we sin on and on, and consider ourselves only to be in a gradual process of suppression of our sinful nature (Art). They rather have in view a chief act, in which we confess the sins which we have committed (perfect tense) and receive now the forgiveness of sins and at the same time cleansing from every wickedness.” This, however, is not at all what John says. He has not a “chief act” of confession in mind, but continuous acts of confession as sin after sin emerges;53 and this confession is not brought into immediate connection with the perfect “we have sinned,” as Windisch’s representation seems to imply, so much as with the continuous present, “if we say we have no sin,” where “sin” must mean “act of sin,” standing as it does between two connected plurals. Nor can the perfect “we have sinned” in this context bear the sense which Windisch seeks to put upon it. When he continues: “ ‘Cleanses us from all iniquity’ must, like the preceding analogous phrase, be expounded as an actual cleansing of the man, which gives his life a new character,” he is assuming the least likely sense of the word “cleansing.”54 Even on this view of its meaning, however, John is speaking not of a cleansing wrought all at once, but of an energy of cleansing resident in the blood of Christ and applied progressively up to the completion of the process. John in this passage is assuring his readers that their sinning cannot separate them from Christ—provided that their sinning be dealt with as it should be dealt with, fought against and brought to Christ, and not covered up with lying denials. He says his whole mind in the first verse of the second chapter: “I am writing these things to you that ye sin not, and if any man sin”—not “has sinned,” as Windisch tendentially renders55—“we have an advocate with the Father.” John obviously understood himself therefore to be writing parenetically, and to have it as his end to deter his readers from sinning, and to give them comfort when nevertheless they fell into sin. He is, in other words, just a “miserable-sinner Christian.” And this Windisch himself is constrained by the next clause—“for our sins, but not for ours only”—to admit. “The declaration that Christ makes propitiation for our sins,” he says,56 “generally formulated as in Col. 1:14 and Eph. 1:7, is now here for the first time expressly applied to the sins of the Christian. The general formula might include this application; that it was not unknown to Paul might be inferred from the eighth chapter of Romans. But he never spoke it out clearly and it cannot have been current with him. It is John the Pastor who first makes use of it.” Having formulated this comprehensive admission, however, Windisch endeavors to save some fragments. “But even he,” that is, John, he adds,57 “does not entertain the idea of a continuous operation of the propitiatory death of Jesus, which has for its presupposition consciousness of many daily sins. He is thinking only of the occasional sinning of one and another. The fundamental characteristic of the empirical Christian life lies in the ‘that ye sin not.’ Sin is an exceptional occurrence in the Christian life.” This is certainly to make an illegitimate use of the aorist, “that ye sin not.” Of course it means that John’s purpose is to deter his readers from committing acts of sin. To infer that he means at the same time that there were long intervals between these acts of sin is desperate reasoning. John says, “If we say we have no sin”—and we have seen this means acts of sin—“we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Are we to suppose that he spoke these words with the reservation—“except of course during those very long intervals between sins which make our life itself a sinless one?” Or when he said, “If we say we have not sinned we make Him a liar and His word is not in us,” are we to suppose that it was with the reservation—“this of course has no reference to the general tenor of our lives and refers only to the very rare slips of which we may have been guilty”? The tone of the passage as a whole is not that Christians are sinless men who may possibly, however, be overtaken in a rare fault; but that Christians are sinful men, seeking and obtaining in Christ purification from their sins and striving day by day to be more and more delivered from them. This, of course, does not mean that sinning is according to John the characteristic mark of the Christian. Not sinning is his characteristic mark. It was as not sinning that the Christian stood out in contrast with other men. It means only that “not sinning,” when understood in its height and depth, is a great achievement and—we shall quote Luther’s words again—“Christians are not made but in the making.”

That Christians can sin and do sin, as John understood the matter, is made abundantly clear again from 1 John 5:16–18, where intercessory prayer in his behalf is made the duty of every Christian who “sees his brother sinning.…” The passage closes, it is true, with the declaration that “everyone who has been begotten of God sins not,” and the easiest thing to say of the two statements is that they contradict each other. This is what Windisch does say. The ideal and the ideal-contradicting reality stand here side by side. John believed Christians could not sin; John saw Christians sinning. So, at the end of his letter we find him “giving an injunction for the treatment of sinning Christians which passes into a conspicuous confession of the sinlessness of the God-begotten.”58 That John is misunderstood when he is made thus flatly to contradict himself, not only within the limits of three verses, but in the general drift of his whole letter, is certain. And the present tense in the declaration, “No one that is begotten of God sins,” appears to open the way to understanding it of the general life-manifestation rather than of a particular act. What John means in that case is not that he who has been begotten of God never commits a sin, but that not sinning is the characteristic of his life. We may say, if we choose, that ideally, in principle, he that has been begotten of God does not sin. It is probably best to say simply that this is what it is to be one who has been begotten of God—not to sin; and Christians who have been begotten of God are therefore in process of becoming sinless. That they are not yet sinless does not prove that they have not been begotten of God, but that they have not yet reached their goal.

It is naturally to 1 John 3:9, however, that Windisch makes his chief appeal: “No one that has been begotten of God doeth sin; because His seed abideth in him, and he cannot sin because it is of God that he has been begotten.” “The most categorical assertion of the Christian conception of sinlessness in the whole New Testament,” we read,59 “is found in this passage. Like the wise man of the Stoa, like the miraculously blessed man of the Apocalypses, the Christian cannot sin. It is also clear that the individual sin is dismissed to the region of impossibility.” That this is an overstatement is plain at once from the circumstances that here too as in v. 18 the verbs are in the present tense, and may not here any more than there be made to express individual acts rather than general characteristics of life. Windisch, however, appeals to the idea of “begotten of God.” This must express, he rightly says, a creative act of God. “The inability to sin is therefore more than a moral, psychological, intelligible impossibility. That in the God-begotten the ethical energy could relax or occasionally intermit; that there should remain in him another nature which could come occasionally to fresh outbreak; that godly motives could mix with human-sinful impulses; that sinful acts could always be done by a Christian, without affecting the nature of his personality—all this is simply incapable of being harmonized with the conception of the begetting by God which is presented here. So also is the distinction between principial, ideal, incompatibility and empirical coexistence inadmissible. What is begotten of God is the whole man; of him it is said that he does not commit a sin, that he cannot sin. He possesses ‘actual sinlessness’ not alone in his ‘groundwork and basis.’ It is with the God-begotten which John describes here precisely as with the Messianic man of the Apocalypse of Enoch.” The whole force of this very effective statement is dependent on the thoroughly unjustified assumption that it must be at once in all their fulness that all the characteristics which belong to a God-begotten man are manifested in one who is begotten of God. On this mode of reasoning we should have to contend that every man must be born an adult. The grounds on which development is denied to the child of God and the element of time is eliminated from his perfecting, are not stated. Once allow, however, that he that is begotten of God requires time for the realization of all that is included in that great designation, and that not merely in his empirical life but also in his very being—and the overpressure of the conception of which Windisch is guilty becomes apparent. “Of principial cleansing,” he writes,60 “of a gradual execution of the task of cleansing, there is no question with John. All the ingenious distinctions which have been made in order to apply John’s words to the present experience of the Christian, are without justification. John sums up the whole essence of the matter and all his several declarations when he declares that he that is begotten of God does not commit sin and cannot sin.” It would seem only fair to John to remember that these phrases “does not commit sin,” “cannot sin” do not perfectly convey the implications of his present tenses, and that he wrote 1 John 1:5–2:2 as well as 3:9 and 5:18.

Windisch having himself indicated Paul and John as the two sources of his theory of the New Testament doctrine of the Christian life, we need not follow him in his discussion of the remaining books. We note only one or two points of special interest in passing. The Epistle of James has a certain importance as supplying what is in his view “the first Christian confession of sin”—meaning by that the first declaration of the constant sinning of Christians. His reference is to James 3:2, “for in many things we all stumble,” or “for we all stumble much,” as Windisch appears to prefer to render it.61 The commentators seem inclined to take the “all” comprehensively, as including all Christians. That is Windisch’s view also; and he comments on the statement thus:62 “What is most important is the open, comprehensive confession of sin, in which the teacher includes himself. He had already called attention to the ease with which a man could fall into sin because of the multitude of the commandments. Now he substantiates the fact that all of us without exception are great sinners.” And not only does James thus declare all Christians great sinners—just like the “miserable-sinner” teachers of the Reformation—but he currently treats and addresses them as such. “Cleanse your hearts, ye sinners” (4:8), is the way he exhorts his fellow Christians. “He declares,” comments Windisch,63 “that the Christians must cleanse themselves, because they are ‘sinners.’ This express designation has not been met with by us hitherto; it appears for the first time in the teacher who also is the first to give expression to his own consciousness of sin.” There would seem to be little left in James’ “miserable-sinnerdom” to be desired, especially when we observe that he actually did what Windisch forbade us to conceive possible in the case of John. “Of his own will begat He us,” says James (1:18), and Windisch comments thus:64 “He knows how to extol an act of God, by which the Christian has become a new perfect creature. The perception that this begetting has not yet with those addressed penetrated into their external life, determines him to adopt the promotion of cleansing.” It might be supposed that I Peter would be given a place alongside of James as testifying to the universal sinfulness of Christians. It appears to assume throughout that its readers constitute a body of “sinning saints” who require continual spurring on to moral effort; and at 4:8 it seems to imply that they, one and all, commit a “multitude of sins” which it would be well to “cover” with love. Windisch65 does not doubt that it is the Christian body who are expected to “have fervent love to one another,” or who are reminded, in order to give force to this exhortation, that “love covers a multitude of sins.” But he has a way of escape here. He says that “the multitude of sins” were all accumulated before their conversion—which seems inadequate in the presence of the present tenses.

The novelty which Windisch finds in the Epistle to the Hebrews (6:4–8; 10:26–31) and with it, in the Second Epistle of Peter (2:20 ff.), is the denial of the possibility of a “second repentance”; or, to express it in language of later origin, of the pardonableness of post-baptismal sins. Paul, says he,66 never put the possibility of a new repentance in doubt; James expressly exhorts sinning Christians to come to repentance. In Hebrews on the other hand, “he who after baptism commits a serious sin or falls wholly away cannot repent afresh and receive forgiveness.”67 With II Peter, “sinning Christians are worse than never converted sinners,” and “baptism is unrepeatable.”68 There are passages in both epistles which make this interpretation of their teaching difficult, or let us rather say frankly, impossible. In Hebrews there is the all-prevailing sacrifice of Christ which atones for all sins (9:7 ff.). In II Peter there is the express declaration that the Parousia is postponed, in longsuffering specifically towards Christians, because the Lord wishes to bring all of them to repentance (3:9). Windisch has his way of eluding both obstacles; but we need not pause to discuss the matter here. The point of chief interest to us at the moment is that it is only in Hebrews and II Peter that he discovers such an estimate of sin in Christians that it de-Christianizes them, once and for all. In all other writers of the New Testament he himself perceives that the way is at least open for recognizing sinning Christians as still Christians. In point of fact there is no single one of them—not even the authors of Hebrews and II Peter—who does not on every page recognize sinning Christians as Christians; or rather who does not, in fact, so speak as to make it very clear that they know no other kind. That Christians have broken radically with sin; that they ought to cease from sinning absolutely; that they must give account of their sins; this they all teach. That Christians are without sin—there is none of them who teaches.

We have treated the publication of Windisch’s book as bringing the “miserable-sinner Christianity” controversy to a close. But this, of course, does not mean that the general points of view urged by the protagonists of the assault on “miserable-sinner Christianity,” and especially their reading of Paul’s doctrine of the relation of the Christian to sin, ceased to be held and advocated. These things had come, however, by this time, to be recognized as merely the particular opinions of a special school of critical students and had lost their interest for the general religious public, except so far as that public was interested in the history of contemporary criticism. We need further, therefore, merely cursorily illustrate the continued expression of these opinions in the later years of the first and early years of the second decade of this century, with a view only to realizing the extent and significance of their persistence.

When Wernle in 1897 published his book on “The Christian and Sin in Paul,” he expressed in its preface his indebtedness for his understanding of the Pauline theology to two of his Göttingen teachers. The terms in which he did this seem to imply that he felt no great divergence between the views he was about to publish and theirs. In point of fact, at any rate, both of the Professors in question—Johannes Weiss69 and Wilhelm Bousset—have expressed in their own writings views very similar to his. This is particularly true of Bousset, who is found in the end chiding Wernle for playing the part of a deserter from the party.70 “Really,” he tells us in this connection,71 “it is seriously Paul’s opinion that the Christian can no longer sin. All the passages to the contrary which have been adduced have little weight”—referring especially to Rom. 8:31 ff., Gal. 2:20, Phil. 3:12. Salvation is a supernatural fact to Paul: the “newness of life” in which Christians walk is nothing of their own manufacture—it is like the sunshine and the spring breezes to them; and walking in it is just basking in it. In an earlier book—“Kyrios Christos”—of which that from which we have been quoting is a defence, we are told with rather more prudence that “Paul had a sense of sin in his life as an exceptional condition”—although it must be admitted that the general description of Paul and his teaching which is given hardly prepares us for the prudence of this statement.72 Essentially the same representations occur also in the article on “Paul” in Schiele and Zscharnack’s encyclopædia. “Occasionally,” we there read,73 “Paul incidentally recalls that even in the life of the regenerated man, sin is still present; but he looks at that, at the least, as an exception, a little shadow in the strong light (Gal. 2:19 f.).… The conception of the Christian life as an eternal conflict in which man scarcely advances at all, or as daily renewed conviction of the corruption of our nature and reception of the comfort of forgiveness of sins, was alien to him. The Christianity of Paul can be understood only as the Christianity of conversion. He knows himself to have been converted in a particular hour: his life now, the present in its contrast with the past, appears to him in clear, brilliant light. And he gave himself to the new life with all the heroism of which he was capable, body and soul. He could actually say of himself that he was conscious of no fault (1 Cor. 4:4). It is more difficult to understand how he could maintain this mood also with reference to his churches, whose shadows he saw only too clearly, and strongly rebuked. This mood with him rests, however, not only on experience, but more on an audacious dogma—the destruction of the old and the new birth of the new world must accompany the death and resurrection of Christ.”

Somewhat similarly to Bousset, G. P. Wetter, a Swedish author, having the sixth chapter of Romans particularly in mind, writes as follows:74 “If we are delivered from the sphere of sin, if we are dead to it—then we have nothing more to do with it. Instead of sin, ‘grace,’ ‘righteousness,’ ‘life,’ are now the life-element in which we move, whose air we breathe. The Apostle sees everything absolutely; the one contradicts the other. The Christian cannot sin. The fact that in the actual life of the Christian sin obviously occurs, cannot destroy this, his faith (cf. Rom. 6:14). Paul can believe so firmly in this new reality, because it is to him not man who produces the new thing, but God. So often as we direct our glance to men, nothing is as it should be. Paul, however, looks to God, and therefore he never doubts.” A. Deissmann would apparently like to say much the same, but cannot quite do it. He too has the sixth chapter of Romans in mind. “As a new creature,” says he,75 “Paul the Christian is also free from sin (Rom. 6:1–14). He has been loosed from sin, but is he also sinless, incapable of sinning? In theory certainly St. Paul might subscribe to the statement that the Christian does not sin (cf. Rom. 6:2, 6, 11). But the awful experiences of practice would give him cause to doubt. Paul the shepherd of souls retained a sober judgment; freedom from sin is not conceived of as something mechanical and magical. Side by side with all his moral exhortations to Christians to battle against sin there are confessions of Paul the Christian himself, especially in his letter to the Romans (particularly Rom. 7), witnessing that even the new-created feels at times the old deep sense of sin. But in Christ the grace of God is daily vouchsafed to him anew, and daily he experiences anew the renovating creative power of that grace.” It is essentially the same note that is struck by W. Wrede. Paul, says he,76 says we are dead, are dead to sin, and the like, and yet every one of his exhortations implies that we are not at all dead to sin. Is there a contradiction here? Or does Paul’s language merely anticipate what is to come? Perhaps it is best to say that what he says is true at bottom, but the external realization of this inner truth as yet lags. This much is certainly true: “the whole Pauline conception of salvation is characterized by suspense.” This too is only a half-truth. But there is this valuable half of the truth expressed in it, that is much too frequently forgotten: Paul’s religion was a next-world religion, and he never dreamed that he was experiencing here and now all that had been prepared by Christ for him. He had the Holy Spirit already: but he himself says that what he had already in Him was only the first fruits.

Perhaps we may look upon the statements in Weinel’s “Biblical Theology of the New Testament”77 as representing as fairly as possible the present state of opinion in the school which he represents, on the attitude of the New Testament writers to the sins of Christians. And if so, we may place by its side two other works on the theology of the New Testament,78 published at about the same time and representing other points of view. From the three together we may cherish a good hope of deriving a well-rounded conception of the condition in which the question at issue has been left on the dying away of the active controversy.

It is of no significance that Weinel agrees79 that our Lord did not expect His disciples to be without sin but taught them to pray, Forgive us our trespasses. That is allowed on all hands. It is more notable that his representations of Paul’s teaching80 also seem to yield the case, although not without reserve. “We have seen,” he says,81 “that according to our view of Paul too, a man’s morality is the fruit of the Spirit. Nevertheless, Paul did not hold Christians to be sinless; reality was too great a contradiction to that. He knew of the conflict of the flesh with the Holy Spirit even in Christians (Gal. 5:17 ff.), although these very words of his show that he holds precisely this conflict to be surmounted: ‘Ye are not under the law.’ Neither did he give repentance a place merely at the beginning of the Christian life, but thought of it as the sole and indeed the divinely appointed sorrow which should continue in it, 2 Cor. 7:9 f. It was, however, certainly his opinion that sin has no rôle to play in the Christian life; and he built on that, that the good grows in it like the fruit on the tree.” This seems to be as much as to say that Paul recognized perfectly that Christians remained sinners, but that the Spirit was supreme in them and would bring all things right in the end. For Paul was of “the fixed conviction” that no Christian can be lost. Indeed, he sometimes spoke as a universalist (Rom. 11:32). For Christians he is, however, absolutely sure. When, at the end of the volume, Weinel comes to speak of the teaching of the latter portions of the New Testament,82 he strikes a different note. The high attitude of Paul was no doubt long maintained—and here this is described as if it included a conviction that Christians “commit no sin, or if they commit sin, they are punished, but still are saved, though ‘as by fire.’ ” But by and by a change came, which brought a problem with it. Apparently this was because sins increased, and that, serious sins. Peccadilloes might be passed by; they were forgiven by God and man. But what must be said of apostasy, for instance? The Epistle to the Hebrews declares that no repentance will avail. In many writings, no doubt, the problem is not raised—as in Ephesians, Colossians, I Peter. In others the strictness is relaxed somewhat—as in the Apocalypse, where one more repentance is allowed. But the problem was now raised, and passed on into the later Church to give much trouble as the problem of post-baptismal sins.

When Holtzmann published the first edition of his “Textbook of New Testament Theology” (1897) he already knew W. A. Karl’s “Contributions,” and cites approvingly its representation of Paul’s theory of non-sinning Christians. It does not follow, of course, that he derived his idea from Karl. He appears to have been prepared to welcome it, when announced; and although he does not seem to have worked out the idea in detail prior to the publication of Karl’s book, he is to be credited with independent invention of it. He speaks at any rate here in his own voice, and expounds83 Paul as teaching “with heaven-storming idealism” that “with the passage out of the sphere of the law into the sphere of grace the dominion of sin has reached its end (Rom. 6:14). The believer actually ceases to sin. But here too the bad reality does not correspond to the goodness of the theory. Sin works as a latent power so long as man lives at once in the Spirit (Rom. 8:9) and in the flesh (Gal. 2:20).… Care is therefore always to be taken that the flesh does not rise and make itself felt (Gal. 5:16). Believers have, it is true, crucified the flesh once for all (Gal. 5:24): they must, however, always slay its members afresh (Col. 3:5) and through the Spirit destroy the works of the flesh (Rom. 8:13).” The scope of this statement, it will be seen, is that according to Paul, while Christians, being under the control of the Spirit, are infallibly saved and from the first are freed from sinning, yet, having still the flesh, they are continually impelled to sin and are forced to fight their way onward in ethical effort. In the second edition of his book, published in 1911, Holtzmann has retained this passage substantially unchanged.84 A good many alterations in its language are made, and that for the purpose not merely of qualifying but also of strengthening the expression; many illustrations and supporting notes are added; but the statement remains in its contents the same. For Holtzmann at least, therefore, the state of the case in this controversy was not so different after the battle had been fought from what it was before. Paul is still thought of as defying reality—the reality about him and the reality in his own breast—and teaching that Christians are sinless; and the evidence which Holtzmann presents for his views does not differ in character from that which we have already seen in other like-minded writers. His judgments on the teaching of other New Testament writers than Paul follow also closely those prevalent in his school. For example, James knows nothing of Pauline sinlessness: Hebrews teaches that only sins of weakness and ignorance are pardonable in the baptized. It is Holtzmann’s testimony, therefore, that the contentions of his school have suffered nothing through the controversy, but have come out of it unaffected.

Paul Feine views the matter from a very different angle, but, although far removed in both method and judgment from Weinel and Holtzmann, is yet in his own way not untouched by the modern spirit. He looks upon the contentions of Wernle and Windisch with their congeners as being definitely wrong.85 He is very emphatic that, in Paul’s view, the Christian, though a renewed man and animated by an active principle of righteousness and life, is nevertheless still a sinner. “For Paul as for Luther,” he says,86 “this righteousness of the Christian is neither a complete nor a meritorious one, but the effect of new divine powers in the man.… So long as man is ‘in the flesh,’ he is for Paul not yet freed from sin.” “Even though Paul conceived the righteousness of life in the Christian, in communion with Christ, and in the power of the Spirit, as one that is already beginning and in part also being realized,” he says again,87 yet he is “far too sober-minded to look on Christians to whom the ‘flesh’ remains, as freed from sin. Therefore the justified also need forgiveness of sins.” There was indeed a tendency “in the old Church” to hold that free and full forgiveness was provided by Christ for pre-Christian sins, but not for conscious and serious sins after our reception into the Christian community. We may possibly see a trace of this in James (5:20); it appears clearly in Hebrews (6:4 ff., 10:26 f.); and something analogous to it in 1 John 5:16. There is no trace of such a notion in Paul. He does not formally treat the question, it is true, but there is no difficulty in perceiving how he thought. To him justification is not merely an initiatory act, exhausting its effects on the sins that are past. He relates it to the eternal counsel of God and the efficiency of Christ’s work of reconciliation. In it is given therefore God’s definitive judgment on man. Even sin in Christians cannot compromise it; it remains in force despite all vacillations of the life, for God’s faithfulness does not fail and He does not repent Him of His judgments. “Though Paul does not assert that justification includes also daily forgiveness of sins, yet at bottom that is his meaning.”88 The passages which are adduced in proof are the Epistle to the Galatians at large (especially 3 and 5:4 f.), and Rom. 8:33 f., Col. 1:14, Eph. 1:7 with an emphasis on the present tenses. In Rom. 8:33 f., for example, Feine remarks that the present participles “who justifieth,” “who condemneth,” as is shown also by the concluding clause “who now intercedeth for us,” deal with the Christian present. “The Christian feels that he is continually subject to condemnation, that he is surrounded by inimical powers, which seek to snatch him out of the hands of God and Christ. But God’s decree of justification is always valid for him and Christ equally continually appears for him when he needs help.”89 If this conception, however, is thus left only as an indispensable presupposition of Paul’s it is clearly spoken out by John, who tells us plainly (1 John 2:1 f.) that when the Christian sins he has Jesus Christ the righteous as his advocate with the Father.90 The Christian here is conceived as still sinning, and living still under the continually applied atoning power of the propitiating blood of Christ. “The walk in full Christian knowledge postulated therefore for John as truly as for Paul the confession of our sinfulness and the necessity of purification through Christ’s blood.”91 Passages like 3:6, 9, 5:18 present an ideal. “The complete ideal is shown by the Apostle—the Christian as he ought to be already here, as he will be when his abiding in God experiences no longer any intermission, and we have become God’s children in the full sense. But the Christians who maintain that already here they are freed from sin, are pointed by the Apostle to still fuller moral knowledge than they possess, and to the redemption from continued sin also which is given us in this life.… We have no new Pentecost to expect. There is only one Pentecost. But the Holy Spirit who was then given to the Christian community as the power of Christ and the power of God, will abide forever in the community of Jesus (John 14:16), as earnest of the power of the heavenly life. He points us to a future perfecting even in the conditions of our moral life.”92

The very slight effect which all this long-continued and vigorously conducted discussion of the New Testament, and especially the Pauline, conception of the relation of Christians to sin, has had on English-speaking writers is very noticeable and perhaps significant. There have been echoes of course, but little more than echoes. Orello Cone entered the discussion at its very beginning, quite in the sense of Wernle, and with verbal allusions to Holtzmann which may indicate one of the sources of his inspiration. “For his own part,” he says,93 Paul “expresses no consciousness of sin from the time of his conversion, and no sense of the daily need of a petition for the divine forgiveness implied in the Lord’s prayer. With the ‘old things’ that are passed, the old sinful life, he has broken forever, and leaves them behind.…” What he thus held of himself, he held of others. “He regarded his fellow-believers from the point of view of his own consciousness of ‘life’ in the Spirit, so far at least as his theory of their religious state was concerned.…” “Such expressions,” Cone now goes on to comment, “lend support to the supposition that Paul’s missionary preaching was religious rather than ethical, that its emphasis was placed on the mystic effects of baptism, ‘on sanctification,’ and on ‘justification’ (1 Cor. 6:11). His expectation of the immediate coming of Christ to receive the ‘justified’ believers into the kingdom may have disturbed his perspective of the course of moral struggle which actually lay before his churches. Hence the ethical-religious paradoxes.” “The fact that doctrinally Paul made no provision for the sins of believers shows that he took little account of sin as a condition from which those could need to be delivered who had once been ‘justified.’ The atonement is not applied to them. Faith saves once only, and he who through it has become a ‘new creation’ is not conceived as again needing this salvation. Paul can hardly have thought that any one of his believers would be finally rejected when Christ should come.” “This ‘heaven-storming idealism’ was not shaken by the apostle’s experience of the moral delinquencies of his converts, which he did not fail to reprove with due energy.” It is a defective apprehension of Paul’s doctrine of the Spirit as the Spirit of holiness, and of the Christian’s progressive sanctification by Him, which has led Cone into so bizarre a representation of Paul’s conception of the relation of the Christian to sin.

Kirsopp Lake, entering the discussion, with his essay on “The Early Christian Treatment of Sin after Baptism,” late enough to have Windisch behind him, takes up the most extreme ground possible as if it were a mere matter of course.94 According to him, the whole body of the first teachers of the Church were agreed that sinning after baptism—which is the same as after believing—is unpardonable, and it was only later, when hard experience had taught them that Christians did sin after baptism, that remedies for such sins came to be suggested. The essay opens with a fundamental assertion. “The most primitive form of Christian doctrine,” we read, “held that Christians, as such, were free from sin. They had been born again into a state of sinlessness, and it was their duty to see that they never relapsed again into the dangerous state which they had left; if they should fail in this duty, it was questionable whether they had any further chance of salvation.” According to Hebrews, we are told, wilfully sinning Christians are hopelessly lost. We are also told that “the same point of view was that of St. Paul, but in his Epistles the question is not a matter of controversy, and it is only implied or mentioned in passing.” The evidence adduced, however, concerns only the sinlessness of Christians, not the hopeless state of Christians who sin—which is the point which was raised. And the same is true of I John which is next appealed to. The latter part of the essay is concerned with the remedies proposed for sinning Christians. First rebaptism was proposed; it is polemically alluded to in Hebrews and Ephesians. Next came prayer for venial sins (1 John 5:16 f.) and recourse to the advocacy of Christ (2:1). Then Hermas suggests penance. And possibly we may add from John 13:1–20, footwashing.

The most extraordinary excursion of an English-speaking writer into this circle of ideas, which has met our eye, however, is contained in the remarkable Kerr Lectures for 1914–1915 by W. Morgan.95 These lectures are written distinctly from the viewpoint of the history-of-religion school, and the material which concerns us is practically a transcript of the representations of the German writers. The question of Paul’s attitude towards the sins of Christians is raised in the form of, What provision does he make for post-baptismal sins? The answer is to the effect that he makes no provision for them. “The message of forgiveness in Paul’s gospel stands at the beginning, and has no reference to lapses in the Christian life. For post-baptismal sins no provision is made. The believer, if he would obtain salvation, must cleanse himself from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1).”96 Paul does not shut his eyes to the fact of sin in Christians. “What we do miss, however, is a clear recognition of forgiveness as a daily need of the Christian life.”97 It is everywhere assumed “that the standing given by the justifying verdict is something permanent,” but Paul “has no thought of connecting it with post-baptismal sins.” Morgan finds the account of this in two circumstances—the radicalness of the change wrought by renewal, and the small place taken in Paul’s consciousness by guilt. “The sense of guilt and of pardon were not the dominant notes in Paul’s conversion,” and “they can hardly be said to be heard at all in his life as a Christian.”98 He never confesses wrong-doing; he shows no sense of need of daily forgiveness; he never prays or teaches others to pray, Forgive us our trespasses. Precisely what Paul teaches is this:99 “From the death and resurrection with Christ the believer comes forth a new creature. So radical is the change as described by the Apostle that one might infer that the very possibility of sin has been removed. But such an issue he certainly does not contemplate. What, however, he does teach is that the old compulsion to sin has passed and the way been opened for a sinless development.… His expectation is that in normal cases the Christian will advance day by day in the knowledge of Christ, practice keeping step with knowledge, until at last he apprehends that for which also he was apprehended and Christ is formed within him. That a Christian should deliberately sin appears to him not merely as an anomaly but as an enigma.… The contrast presented by the grey reality to this optimistic expectation cost the Apostle many a sad hour. That Christians could sin and sin badly was all too palpable a fact. The fact does not lead him to modify his view of regeneration, but it forces him to descend from the high plane of the supernatural to the humbler region of the categorical imperative. Your flesh has been crucified with Christ, he again and again insists, therefore mortify its lusts; ye have received the Spirit, walk in it. By the stress of facts he is compelled to supplement his ethic of miracle with an ethic of will. The two stand side by side unrelated.” They certainly stand side by side, but why say “unrelated”? Paul certainly relates them, as, for example, in Phil. 2:12, 13. And why, in the interest of that spurious geneticism which is the bane of much recent criticism, represent the ethic of will as rising subsequently in time to the ethic of miracle? It is there, as soon as we know Paul at all (1 Thess. 2:12, 4:1 ff., 5:14 ff.).100

It seems scarcely necessary to pursue this review of the ever-repeated enunciation of the same opinions farther. And if we glance over the whole course of the discussion and endeavor to estimate its results, we are surprised by their meagerness. We have already suggested that they are practically summed up in providing the most radical school of criticism with an additional tenet in their historical creed. The members of that school now characteristically affirm that, in the view of Paul, Christians are sinless men—although they one and all agree that Christians, in point of fact, are nothing of the sort. The notion was only one of Paul’s fanaticisms, thoroughly intelligible in him, no doubt, his antecedents and experiences being considered, but nevertheless symptomatic only of his enthusiastic temperament. On the other side no doubt the discussion has been useful in recalling adherents of the doctrine of the Reformation as to sin in the Christian life, from any tendency into which individuals may have fallen here and there to lose their sense of the greatness of the deliverance which has come to them in Christ in the profundity of their sense of the greatness of their sinfulness. The influence of Pietistic conceptions, emanating from more than one source, has been very wide-spread; and wherever they have penetrated they have tended to bring with them an inclination to give expression to the recognition of the intrinsic justice of the divine judgment on our sinfulness, by a treatment of the self in accordance with it. Hair shirts and flagellations are not popular in Protestant circles; but a mood and demeanor adapted to a deep sense of the iniquity and loathsomeness of our sins may be thought to serve much the same purpose. The jibe has not been wholly without justification that many have only enough Christianity to make them miserable. There is some evidence that the discussion of the relation of Christians to sin which we have been viewing has operated here and there to quicken in the minds of adherents of the Reformation doctrine the realization that Christianity makes men happy, not unhappy, that it brings them not sin but forgiveness of sin. In sequence to the discussion at any rate there has here and there shown itself among adherents of the Reformation doctrine a desire to dwell rather on the blessings which Christianity brings than on the evils from which it delivers, rather on the glories into which it ushers the believer than the burdens from which it relieves him.

We adduce only a couple of examples of quite differing antecedents.

P. Gennrich, in the opening pages of his “Regeneration and Sanctification with reference to the Present Currents of Religious Life,”101 draws a very vivid picture of the sense of new-creaturehood which filled the consciousness of the apostles—of “the joyful avowal of the actual experience of life by everyone who had experienced, in faith in Christ, the marvellously glorious and blessed effects that proceed from life-communion with the Lord.” “How movingly,” he cries, “the tone of personal experience strikes upon our ear in such confessions! What the prophets of the old covenant anticipated for the people in the time of salvation, and proclaimed in God-wrought confidence in the might and mercy of their God—that God would Himself prepare for Himself a people in whom He should be well-pleased, would establish a new covenant in which sin should be forgiven and iniquity taken away, and would create in them a new spirit—that, now, might in truth and reality be experienced in themselves by all who were lifted by Christ into communion with the Father, who for Christ’s sake granted them the children’s right, and by Christ’s Spirit created in them the sense of childship. And the experience was so transcendently great, the transformation of the whole inner and outer life-condition, which a Christian experienced who had come to faith and received baptism, was so immense, that an expression could scarcely be found which was able to compass the whole great fulness of what he had experienced and to bring himself and others quickly and impressively to the consciousness of it. This condition of new life into which the Christian knew himself to be transformed, was experienced by him as a wholly new life-state, conceivable by no human wisdom, attainable by no human art or power; as a new creative effect of the Almighty God in Christ through His Holy Spirit, who brought His almighty Becoming into the life-development of the individual even as He has brought it into the world by sending His Son; and so has worked a regeneration of humanity in Christ. In one word—it was the unanimous consciousness of the apostolic and first Christians that they were new creatures of God, born of Him to new life, born again: that they were now first elevated to the stage of life on which life really deserves the name of life, because it is personal life in the full sense of the word, filled with a fully satisfying content, and supported by indestructible powers, eternal life.” There is much in Gennrich’s personal modes of thought which is not in accord with either Paul or Luther. But speaking out of his own point of view, it is very evident that he is here straining all the resources of language in the effort to give an expression, which he can hope to be something like adequate, to the greatness of the new life brought into the world by Christianity. This is the way, he says, the apostles, who did not teach the sinlessness of Christians, thought of what Christians were. This is the way Christians, taught by the apostles what their inheritance is, feel.

The second example which we shall adduce is drawn from a very different circle, and speaks to us out of a firmly grounded and historically trained Reformed consciousness. Herman Bavinck, quoting the contention of Ritschl and his successors in this discussion, to the effect that the writers of the New Testament were accustomed to speak of their salvation in accents of glorification, proceeds:102 “There is a truth in this contention which should not be denied. The Scriptures can scarcely find words enough to describe the glory of the people of God. In the Old Testament they call Israel a priestly kingdom, elected of God, the object of His love, His portion and heritage, His son and servant perfected in beauty by the majesty of God; and in the New Testament believers are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, born of God and His children, His elect nation and royal priesthood, partakers of His divine nature, anointed with the Holy Spirit, made by Christ kings and priests, incapable of sinning, and so forth. He who rejects the teaching of the Scriptures about sin and grace can see nothing but exaggeration in all this; such a radical change as takes place in regeneration and sanctification seems to him neither necessary nor conceivable. But the Scriptures are of a different mind; they give a high place to the Church, call it by the most beautiful names and ascribe to it a holiness and glory which make it like to God. The glorification of the Church which takes its beginning with regeneration is, however, equally with justification an object of faith.” It is needless to say that this recognition of the glories brought to the individual and the Church by the gospel does not in these hands in the least affect the sense of sin and ill-desert, necessary to sinners, against which as against a foil it is rather thrown up. The point which it is adduced to illustrate is merely that the fulness of this recognition of the glories of salvation—or at least the care that is taken to give it full expression—may in these instances be in part the effect of the discussion which has been in progress on the relation of Christians to sin. So far as this, advantage has been reaped from that discussion.

If now, abstracting ourselves from these individual effects of the discussion, we inquire after the real function served by this assault upon the Reformation doctrine in the great complex of the religious movements of the time, we can only say that it has operated for the support and advancement of the current perfectionist parties working in the Churches. Looked at from the point of view of the general religious movements of the time it is, indeed, in effect an attempt to supply to the contentions of these perfectionist parties a scientific exegetical basis; and it goes without saying that it is the most elaborate attempt of the kind which has ever been made. Those engaged in this attempt, of course, care nothing whatever for the current perfectionist parties in the service of which they have nevertheless expended their learning and labor. There is probably no type of current religious thought and feeling for which they have less sympathy. And they care no more for the teaching of the New Testament than they do for the perfectionist parties. Bousset, in the very act of declaring that, among modern religious tempers, that embodied in Methodistic Christianity comes nearest to the Christianity of Paul, remarks that nevertheless to modern men it is abhorrent and the Lutheran is more acceptable—whatever he may mean here by the Lutheran.103 These scholars have performed their service for the perfectionists while pursuing a very different purpose of their own. But in pursuing their own purpose they have been conscious all the time of possessing in the perfectionist parties allies to whose support they could appeal. There is involved in this a judgment as to the significance of the perfectionist movement in the history of Protestant thought, a judgment which is not left to the reader to divine but is openly spoken out. The purpose with which the debate has been undertaken and carried on has been to assault the Reformation doctrine of “the miserable sinner,” intensely distasteful to these men of high ethical aspirations and attainments. They saw in the perfectionist movements similar revolts against the Reformation doctrine of the Christian life and the process of salvation, and they therefore claimed in their promoters fellow workers in a common cause. They have no sense of community with them whatever in their notions of what the Christian life is, in its sources, processes, attainments, issues: but they are at one with them in their common effort to break down the Reformation doctrine and have been glad to help them in their battle, by presenting them with Paul and the rest, as their patrons—if they attached any value to that gift. And meanwhile they have derived this benefit from them in return—that they could point to them as independent witnesses to the essential correctness of their interpretation of the New Testament.

The points of connection between the two are too significant to have been neglected by either the outside observer or the inside worker. We find them therefore cursorily intimated from the very beginning of the controversy. From the one side Fr. Luther104 already remarks of Ritschl’s mode of arguing on the matter and his exegetical procedure, that they “coincide with those of Methodistic Smithism”; and later it becomes a regular custom to mark this conjunction.105 From the other side we find the writers of the perfectionist movements quoted by the assailants of the Reformation doctrine with a respect which is certainly notable and perhaps at times excessive. It is difficult to believe that, except as moved by a sense of party interest, Carl Clemen could have felt greatly indebted to Andrew Murray for aid in the formation of his views of Paul’s attitude toward sin in his own life.106 And it is impossible to believe that Hans Windisch felt the contributions of F. Paul to scientific religious thought very valuable.107 The ground of the sudden interest of these ultra-“scientific” investigators in the exegetical and theological opinions of such purely “practical” writers, is that they wish to exploit the movements which these writers represent as aids in their own assault on the Reformation doctrine of sin and grace. It is for this purpose, for example, that Windisch introduces quite an elaborate account of these movements in the closing pages of his volume.108 “There are now to be noted,” says he, “some very interesting movements within the history of the Churches of the Reformation since the eighteenth century, that may perhaps be considered reactions against the Lutheran Christianity which no doubt strives against sin, but above everything consoles the pious for their sins—the person of Luther is here left out of account.” These movements are named as English Methodism and above all in our day the so-called Sanctification Movement. The language in which they are introduced is very carefully guarded, but what is meant is simply that in these two movements, Methodism and what we know as the Higher Life Movement, with its continuations, we have “reactions” from the Reformation doctrine of the “miserable sinner.” And accordingly we are told clearly a page or two later, where the problem of sin in the Christian life is spoken of,109 that “Methodism and the Sanctification Movement present therefore a reaction from the solution of Christian miserable-sinnerism which is fostered in Lutheran circles.” This representation is true. The perfectionist teaching of these several movements whether in its crasser or in its more guarded forms, is a revolt against the Reformation doctrine not only of the continued imperfection of the Christian in this life where he enjoys only the first fruits of salvation, but of sin and grace in general, which constitutes the pivot on which the whole system of Reformation teaching turns. And we may count it among the most beneficient results of the discussion of the Biblical teaching on the sins of Christians which we have been reviewing, if we can learn from it this fact; and with it this other fact, that the appeal of these movements to the Scripture in behalf of their teaching has, in the most elaborate effort which has yet been made to validate it, completely failed. The most striking thing about the long continued attempt which has been made to prove that to Paul the Christian is a sinless man is the clearness with which it has come out that Paul knows nothing of a sinless man in this life.



Studies in Perfectionism, vol. 1, Benjamin B. Warfield

A great religious movement has been going on in Germany during the last half-century, to which the attention of the outside world has been far too little directed.2 It is commonly spoken of as “The Fellowship Movement”; and the complex of phenomena which have resulted from its activities is summed up briefly as “Fellowship Christianity.”3 Paul Drews, in a few words of detailed description, written a decade ago, brings it rather clearly before us in its external manifestations. He says:—4

“The so-called ‘Fellowship Movement,’ which has existed now about a generation, is a religious lay-movement, and that of a power and extension such as the Evangelical Church has not seen since the Reformation. There is no German-Evangelical National church into which it has not penetrated. It has thrust its plow-share even into the hard soil of the Mecklenburg Church, which is not so easy to break up.… Its adherents are gathered by the Fellowship from the circles of the so-called ‘humble people’:5 artisans, craftsmen, tradesmen, railway and postal employees, waiters, servant-girls, here and there (as for example in Hesse) even peasants, and also teachers. Added to these there are—as will not surprise those who are acquainted with Church History—the nobility and that the high nobility. The academically educated and the industrial workers alone are wanting. Of course not altogether; but they form exceptions in these ranks, and do not affect the character of the whole.… The Fellowship is extraordinarily thoroughly and compactly organized. The particular local Fellowships are united in Provincial associations, at the head of which stand ‘Councils of Brothers’ (Brüderräte). Over these associations there stands the ‘German Association for Evangelical Fellowship-work and Evangelization.’6 There exist, however, Fellowship-circles which have not connected themselves with this central Association. The individual associations not seldom possess their own assembly-houses which are sometimes so constructed that strangers attending the meetings can find lodging or entertainment in them. The associations employ also their own professional-workers,7 Bible-missionaries, colporteurs, … and pay them.… The professional-workers who lead the meetings have either received no special training or have attended one of the educational institutions which are supported by the ‘Fellowship’ and in its spirit. Older instances are the Chrischona (near Basel) and Johanneum (first at Bonn, now at Barmen) institutions; latterly there have been founded the Alliance Bible-School in Berlin (founded in 1905) and Pastor Jellinghaus’ Bible-school Seminary at Lichtenrade, near Berlin. The Institutional foundations are in general extraordinarily developed. The Institutions serve the ends partly of foreign, partly of domestic missions. We find hospitals, inebriate-cures, orphan-asylums, rescue-homes, sister- (that is, deaconess-) houses and the like. They have pensions and hotels of their own, carried on in the spirit of Fellowship Christianity, and, as it seems, with good results. Regular annual conferences (at Gnadau, Blankenburg in Thuringia, Frankfurt on the Main, and elsewhere) draw thousands of visitors. There is added a well-supported press serving, in part general, in part local needs (e.g. the Allianzblatt, Auf der Warte, Sabbathklänge, Philadelphia, Die Wacht, Das Reich Christi and others). Bookstores of their own distribute literature which is read in their circles, among which there are many translations from the English, of course exclusively of an edifying character. The net proceeds are devoted to ‘the Kingdom of God,’ that is to say to the labors and pursuits of the Fellowship Movement. Surveying all this—this strong organization, this reaching out on all sides—we receive an impression of the power and extension of this movement. It is of special importance that property, land, buildings, are held. Fixed possessions always give strength, guaranty of permanence; are the back-bone of existence. If our National Churches should suddenly disappear from the map, the world, to its astonishment, would become all at once aware that behind the protecting walls and beneath the protecting roof of our National Churches, a new lay-church of a kind of its own has grown up which is well able to depend on its own walls and to defy the storms of the times.”8

What we are looking upon in the Fellowship Movement is the formation within the National Churches of Germany, but not of them, of a great German free church. We speak of it as a church, because it is a church in everything but the name; organized under a strong and effective government, equipped with all the instrumentalities required for the prosecution of the work of a church, and zealously prosecuting every variety of Christian labor throughout the whole land. Nevertheless, it vigorously asserts and jealously maintains its right of existence within the National Church, or rather within the several National Churches of the Empire. All the members of the several constituent Fellowships are members of the National Churches of their several localities, fulfilling all their duties and claiming all their rights as such. They pay all their dues as members of the National Churches; they are baptized, confirmed, married, buried by the pastors of the National Churches; they are in general faithful attendants on the stated services of the National Churches—they are careful not to hold any of their own special meetings during the hours of the regular Sunday morning services—and they are ordinarily among the most earnest supporters of all the religious activities of the National Churches. The several Fellowships are organized as associations of members of the National Churches and hold their property under laws which give them this right as such. The adherents of the Fellowship Movement, in a word, wish to be understood to be just members of the National Churches who have organized themselves into an Association for prosecuting, under the laws of their country, ends of their own—just as other members of the National Churches organize themselves under the laws of the land for prosecuting ends of their own, it may be a banking business or the manufacture of potash. Only, the particular end which their Fellowship has in view is the prosecution of specifically religious work; and the particular religious work which they have undertaken to prosecute is just the whole work which is proper to a church. In other words, precisely what the Fellowship Movement has undertaken to do is to create a new church within the old National Churches, a veritable ecclesia in ecclesia, or to put it sharply from its own point of view, a true and living Church of God within the dead and dry shell, the necessarily dead and dry shell, of the National Churches of the several German states.

What the Fellowship Movement is in its essence, therefore, is a revolt from the very idea of a state church, and an attempt to create a free church within the protecting sheath of the National Churches of Germany. Martin Schian very properly sums up its relation to the existing churches, accordingly, in the formula: “External continuance in the National Church; internal rejection of State-churchism.”9 The internal rejection of state-churchism is complete.10 To the adherents of this movement it seems unendurable that the Kingdom of God, which, its Founder declared, is not of this world, should be under the dominion of the secular state, and should be exploited in its interests. The very constitutive principle of a national church is abhorrent to them—that the church should include in its ample embrace the whole body of the people as such, that every citizen of the state by virtue of that fact should be a member of the church, with a right to all its ordinances and participating in all its privileges. They are reproached, therefore, with having no understanding of the value of a truly national church, of the service it can render and must render to the community, of the blessing that is in it for the social organism. And when they declare that the church is an affair of religion and its organific principle must be religion and nothing but religion, they are twitted with the impossibility of running a sharp line of demarcation between the religious and the irreligious. Just because religion is a matter of the inner life, the line that divides the two classes is an invisible one, and there can be no external separation of the one from the other; nay, “the line of division between God and the world runs through every Christian’s own soul.” How can the “real believers,” “the truly converted,” be distinguished that they may be united in a veritable congregatio sanctorum? Undeterred by such criticisms the Fellowship people have gone straight on organizing themselves into their ecclesia in ecclesia, on the sole principle of their “decisive Christianity,” and, doing so, have become a great religious power in the land.

They draw their justification for doing so partly from the peremptory demands of their Christian life, partly from the precepts and example of the heroes of the faith.11 They appeal to Bengel, Spener, Luther himself. In his “German Mass,” Luther has laid on the consciences of his followers precisely the course which they are now pursuing. He had had his experiences and was under no illusions as to the religious condition of the people at large. He would have the gospel preached to them all, of course; but he would not have “those Christians who are serious in their profession” content themselves with so sadly mixed a fellowship. “Let those who earnestly wish to be Christians and confess the gospel with hand and lips,” he said, “enroll themselves by name and gather together by themselves somewhere or other in a house, to pray, read, baptize, receive the Sacraments and to perform other Christian duties.”12 Even were such sanction lacking, however, some such procedure were inevitable. Companionship is a human need, and birds of a feather naturally flock together. Certainly men who have in common the ineffable experience of redemption through the blood of Christ are drawn inevitably together by the irresistible force of mutual sympathy and love. They belong together and cannot keep apart. We may press, without any fear whatever of going beyond the mark, every possible implication of Paul’s great declaration that what God “acquired with His own blood” was nothing less than a “church.” There is imperious church-building power in the blood of Christ, experienced as redemption. Even the fine words of Robert Kübel13 seem weak here—that “a converted man has an imperative need of communion with his fellows, that is with people who have passed through or are passing through a similar inner moral and religious process, a communion with brethren and sisters who sustain, cherish, protect, guard, encourage and gladden him.” The converted man has not only the need of such communion; he is driven by the Spirit into seeking and finding it. We cannot think then the movement towards a Fellowship Christianity other than both natural and necessary, nor can we fail to greet it as a manifestation of life and health in the Christianity of Germany. Accustomed as we are to churches organized on the principle of personal confession of faith, it presents to our observation nothing which seems strange except its anomalous relation to the National Churches, the nearest analogy to which in our Anglo-Saxon experience is probably the position of the early Wesleyan Societies in the Church of England.14 Theodor Jellinghaus, having in mind our British and American Churches organized on the basis of “a public confession of faith and of participation in the redemption of Christ,” explains the situation very simply: “In a state church,” says he,15 “in which all through birth, baptism, and confirmation are already fully legitimated members, subject to all the dues, such a practice is of course impossible. But … it is possible that within the congregation circles should be formed who know that for positive (entschiedenes) Christianity a public confession of personal acceptance of the grace of Christ is necessary, and who seek to put this knowledge into practice.” That, in one word, is the sufficient justification of Fellowship Christianity in principle.

The justification of the Fellowship Movement which is now so widely spread over Germany, with its definite historical origin and the distinctive character impressed upon it by this historical origin, is naturally not so easily managed. This movement had a very special historical origin by which a peculiar character has been given it which gravely modifies the welcome we would naturally accord it as a highly successful effort to draw together the decidedly Christian elements in the German churches, in order that, the coals being brought into contact, the fire may burn. The story is already partly told when we say simply that it is the German parallel to what we know as “the Keswick Movement” in English-speaking lands. That it may be completely told, it needs to be added that it has not been able to maintain in its development the moderation which has characterized the Keswick Movement: that it has been torn with factions, invaded by fads, and now and again shaken by outbreaks of fanatical extravagances. Like the Keswick Movement, it derives its origin from impulses received directly from Robert Pearsall Smith in “the whirlwind campaign” which he carried on in 1874–1875 in the interest of what we know as “the Higher Christian Life.” The Fellowship Movement has therefore from the beginning been also a Holiness Movement, or, as they call it in Germany, a “Sanctification Movement”;16 and a Holiness Movement which has run on the lines of the teaching of Pearsall Smith. The platform on which was set up its great representative Conference—“the Gnadau Conference,” founded in 1888 and remaining until to-day the center of its public life—embraced just these two principles: (1) “Stronger emphasis on the doctrine of Sanctification”; (2) “Coöperation of the laity in fellowship-work and evangelization.”17 What the Fellowship Movement has been chiefly interested in, in other words, is just these two things—“holiness immediately through faith,” and lay-activity in the whole sphere of Christian work, here distributed into its two divisions of the work of the Fellowship, which includes broadly the fostering of the Christian life among professed Christians, and evangelization. When C. F. Arnold wishes to sum up in a few words the sources of its success, he naturally, therefore, phrases it thus:18 “Much zeal, much labor, much money have been expended on the Fellowship Movement. What makes it strong is, formally, the voluntarist principle and the activity of the laity; materially, the idea of sanctification by faith as a complement to justification by faith.”

Naturally, Pearsall Smith did not create this movement out of nothing. He had material to work upon. And the material he worked upon was provided by the Pietistic Fellowships which go back ultimately to the ecclesiolæ in ecclesia established by Spener in Frankfurt, with the purpose of introducing new life into the congregations. These Fellowships, working in more or less complete independence of their national church-organizations, had in some places, as for example in Württemberg and Minden-Ravensberg, maintained an unbroken existence from the period of Pietistic ascendency. Some of them, especially in the South and Southwest, had preserved, moreover, their peculiar Pietistic character; others were more “confessional”; while others still, especially on the lower Rhine and in the valley of the Wupper, already exhibited tendencies which we associate with the Plymouth Brethren.19 They had experienced a revival of religious activity in the twenties and thirties, but this had now died out. Quickened into new life by the impulse received from Pearsall Smith, they supplied the mold into which the movement inaugurated by him ran. This was their contribution to the movement. They gave it its formal character, as Arnold would put it: they determined that it should be a Fellowship Movement. Its material character was impressed upon it by Pearsall Smith in the very same act by which he called it into existence. Under the impulse received from him the sense of unity of spirit among the decided Pietists was greatly strengthened, a zeal for evangelization was awakened in them, and a new doctrine of sanctification was imprinted upon them—the doctrine of immediate sanctification through faith alone.20

Of course it was no accident that it was precisely on the Pietistic circles that Pearsall Smith’s propaganda took effect; nor did the whole effect wrought by it proceed from his own personal impulse. There was an inner affinity between the ends of the Pietistic circles and those that Pearsall Smith had in view, which laid those circles peculiarly open to his appeal. It was the cultivation of internal piety to which they addressed themselves; they had associated themselves in Fellowships for no other purpose than the quickening and deepening of the spiritual life of men already believers. It was precisely to this, their own chosen task, that Pearsall Smith summoned them, only pointing out to them what he conceived to be a better way and promising them, walking in it, higher achievements. He did not address himself to unbelievers, seeking to bring them to Christ, but to believers, calling them to a fuller salvation than they had hitherto enjoyed, or rather, to an immediate “full salvation.” The element of evangelization which entered into the movement from the first, but was, naturally in the circumstances, only gradually given full validity, was contributed to it neither by the Fellowships21 nor by Pearsall Smith.22 It came from without; but it came after a fashion which made it a preparation for Smith’s propaganda and contributed very largely to its success. Smith’s remarkable agitation in the interest of “the Higher Life” in 1874–1875 in England was embroidered on the surface, so to speak, of Moody and Sankey’s great revival movement, and owed not a little of its immense effect to the waves of religious awakening set in motion by this greater and stronger movement. Those waves were already breaking on the German strand when Smith arrived there in the spring of 1875 with his message of sanctification at once by faith alone, and it was as borne upon them that his mission there was accomplished.23 The somewhat odd result followed that he inaugurated a great evangelization movement without really intending to do so: he had it in mind only to bring those already Christians to the full enjoyment of their salvation. In another respect, also, the effect of his propaganda failed to correspond precisely with his intention. He came proclaiming himself even ostentatiously the member of no church, the servant of all; and desiring to bring the blessing he felt himself charged with the duty of communicating, to Christians of all names and connections alike.24 The movement which resulted from his impulse has been rigidly confined to adherents of the National Churches and jealously keeps itself “within the Church.” The Methodists, for example, who were at first inclined to claim him as their own25—as they had considerable color of right to do—have been effectually repelled and have learned to speak of the movement which has grown out of his propaganda with complete aloofness, and even a certain contempt.26 If, however, in view of these circumstances, we are tempted to doubt whether Smith contributed to the movement anything more than his doctrine of immediate sanctification by faith, we should correct ourselves at once by recalling the main fact, that he contributed the movement itself. Precisely what he did was to launch in the German churches a great “Higher Life” movement. It belongs to the accidents of the situation that this Higher Life movement took form as a great Fellowship movement, only one of the features of which was its Higher Life teaching—a teaching which has, after a half-century of saddening experience, happily been permitted, it appears, to fall into the background.

There are few more dramatic pages in the history of modern Christianity than those which record the story of the prodigious agitation in the interest of “the Higher Life” conducted by Pearsall Smith in 1874–1875. The remarkable series of English meetings ran up with the most striking effect first to a preliminary and then to a final climax in the two great “international conventions,” at Oxford in the first week of September, 1874, and at Brighton in the first week of June, 1875. Their permanent English monument is what we know as “the Keswick Movement.” But Smith’s ambition extended far beyond the conquest of England, as the “international character” which he gave to his principal meetings testifies.27 He mis-calculated here as little as elsewhere. The Continental guests whom he invited to Oxford and Brighton carried the agitation promptly over the narrow seas. There had been no more acceptable speaker at Oxford and Brighton than Theodore Monod, whose American training and experience qualified him to address an English-speaking audience with ease and force; and on his return to France, he diligently exercised his office of evangelist, to which he had been lately ordained, by holding meetings in the interest of the new doctrine of immediate sanctification by faith at Paris, Nîmes, Montmeyran, Montauban, Marseilles, and elsewhere.28 Lion Cachet29 became the apostle of the movement for the Low Countries, though Holland manifested little of the desired sympathy with it. Theodor Jellinghaus carried the good news from the Oxford meeting back to Germany, and a year or so later Gustav Warneck added to the favorable impression already made by his moving letters on the Brighton Conference.30 “The hymns used at Oxford were translated into German and French, and also the books on the Life of Faith. In Paris the monthly periodical, La Liberateur,31 and another in Basle, Des Christen Glaubensweg, were at once commenced, and devoted specially, like the Christian’s Pathway of Power [Smith’s own journal], to teaching the privileges of consecration and the life of trust.”32

In the midst of this diligently conducted general campaign, Smith himself appeared in Germany, and that with an even more dramatic effect and with even more astonishing results than he had achieved in England. He was not fetched over by his followers to clinch their initial successes and advance further the cause for which they had already opened the way.33 He was invited to Berlin by men of the highest authority, through the intervention of Court Preacher Baur,34 and he held his meetings there so far under imperial sanction that the Emperor placed the old Garrison Church at his disposal. He was in Berlin but a few days (from March 31 to April 5, 1875), in Germany at large less than two months. He could speak no German, and addressed his audiences, therefore, only through an interpreter. And yet he roused something like enthusiasm, and left behind him a movement stamped with his spiritual physiognomy which has not yet spent its strength. Johannes Jüngst sums up the astonishing facts for us in a few straightforward words:35

“His appearance filled the hall of the Clubhouse (Vereinshaus) as it never was filled before. Hundreds were turned away for lack of room. He spoke to the ministers; he spoke to the laity. Then he visited other cities, where his appearance was desired, and held similar meetings, especially at Basel, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Elberfeld-Barmen. There scarcely ever streamed such masses of people to religious meetings in Germany as to his. Even the somewhat disturbing circumstance that he speaks nothing but English and makes use of an interpreter seemed to act rather as an attraction than repellently.”

And Hermann Benser draws for us this vignette, that we may look intimately into Smith’s mode of working in Germany:36

“At the hour of the evening service on the first day of April of the year 1875 a singular man stood in the pulpit of the Garrison Church in Berlin, Robert Pearsall Smith. He was preaching.—But his manner of speaking was wholly different from what men were accustomed to hear. He spoke urgently as if he wished to clutch his hearers and obtain a decision from them at once, in an instant. By his side in the pulpit there stood or sat men who interrupted the discourse with prayers and songs. Suddenly Smith cried out in the Assembly, ‘Rejoice, rejoice at once!’ On Sunday, the fourth of April, he gave voice to the enthusiastic aspiration: ‘My brethren, I expect this evening great things from the Lord.’ He longed for the return of the Apostolic age. As the disciples of Jesus had been baptized with the Holy Spirit ten days after the Ascension, so he looked for the Baptism of the Spirit on the tenth day. In the meetings everyone who felt inwardly moved to it, led in prayer. Even women were permitted to do so, since they were all brothers and sisters with equal rights before the Lord.—Had the golden Apostolic age of spiritual power and brotherly love returned in Smith? Many entertained this hope. This makes it intelligible that a court-preacher gave Smith his welcome at the first meeting, and many pastors spoke enraptured words as if under the compulsion of a mighty Spirit. Only a few stood aloof in doubt and warned against desertion of the firm ground of Reformation doctrine.”

Smith’s departure did not allay the excitement which had been awakened. Jüngst describes what was going on under his eyes:37

“The number of Sanctification meetings in Germany increases from week to week. We cannot describe all of even the greater ones, and mention only those in Bern under Inspector Raypard of the Chrischona, in Strassburg under Pastor Haas, in Geneva, Freiburg, Basel.… How great the movement already is we see not only from the publication by the ecclesiastical journals of extra sheets on the phenomenon, but from the establishment by the friends of the movement of a special journal for advancing the work—Des Christen Glaubensweg (Basel, Spittler)38—which is already at hand in the second impression.”

All Germany seemed to be aroused, and Smith had done what he set out to do. He went to Germany under the determination to conquer it to the Higher Life doctrine which he had made it his life-work to propagate; and he had set forces at work which seemed to him to bear in them the promise and potency of victory. The spirit in which he went to Germany is made clear to us in an incident the memory of which Jüngst has preserved for us:39

“Before Smith went to Germany he was again for a while in America. There he visited the leading personalities of the Albrechtbrethren in Cleveland and described to them especially the progress of the movement in Germany (Christl. Botschafter, 1875, No. 7). He told them of his purpose to go to Berlin before Easter on the invitation of important ministers and laymen, and said, among other things, ‘If the Lord will give the people of Berlin into my hand, as he did at Oxford’—but corrected himself at once: ‘But in the business of my God I no longer know any if—the Lord does it according to His word.’ The Botschafter adds: ‘He believes and doubts not. With remarkable quietness but equally decisively and confidently he speaks of the success still to be secured.’ ”

The state of mind in which he returned from Germany is startlingly revealed by his sudden cry one day on the platform at Brighton, “All Europe is at my feet!” The excitement which he had aroused in Germany he himself evidently shared.

Fortunately the movement inaugurated in this atmosphere of excitement fell at once into good hands. Men of combined zeal and moderation, of wide experience and trained discretion, like Theodor Christlieb, Jasper von Oertzen, Theodor Jellinghaus, took charge of it. The American Methodist evangelist Fritz von Schlümbach was employed by Christlieb in pushing the work of evangelization in northern and eastern Germany, and then by Adolf Stöcker in the slums of Berlin. The organization of the movement was soon taken diligently in hand. The “German Evangelization Association” was formed in 1884. The Gnadau Conference was established in 1888, and out of it came in 1890 the “German Committee for Evangelical Fellowship-work,” enlarged in its scope in 1894 into “The German Committee for Evangelical Fellowship-work and Evangelization,” and transformed for legal reasons in 1901 into “The German Philadelphia Association.” Under the leadership first of von Oertzen, then of Pückler, then of Michielis, thirty years passed by in fruitful development.40 A sister alliance had in the meanwhile grown up by its side (from 1886)—of extremer tendencies and more deeply stained with Darbyite conceptions—holding its great conference at Blankenburg in Thuringia.41 Between it and Gnadau varying relations obtained from year to year. The formation of a third union was attempted in 1901–1902 by Dr. Lepsius, the brilliant son of the distinguished Egyptologist, when rebuked by the Blankenburg Alliance, of which he was a member, for some foolish dealings with the Old Testament text; but that soon became only an annual convention of positive theologians. Meanwhile the Gnadau organization flourished. Very diverse elements were embraced in its constituency; from the soft Pietism of the South and Southwest to the harsh fanaticism which ruled the temper of North and East. Occasions for friction were frequent. Nevertheless, in the absorption of the Association in the pressing tasks of its extension and organization, the peace was fairly well kept until the end of the century. With the opening of the twentieth century, however, a period of turmoil and inward conflict set in which has shaken the movement to its foundations and out of which it has found its way only as through blood.

The susceptibility of the Fellowship Movement to the worst of the evils which have torn it has been due to the circumstances of its origin and the general character then impressed upon it. It was the product of an impulse received from without, a prolongation into Germany of a movement originating in conditions prevalent in America after the Civil War, and reaching Germany as the extension to the Continent of a very extravagant English upheaval. A character both foreign—it itself would doubtless prefer that we should say international—and enthusiastic, in the worser sense of that term, was imprinted upon it by that circumstance from which it has never escaped, unless indeed it has at the end escaped from it after experiences the most humiliating. It has always been conscious of standing in close connection with the religious forces operating in Anglo-Saxon Christendom, and has steadily sought to reproduce them in the conditions of German life. Priding itself upon this connection and seeking constantly to commend its teachings and methods on the ground that they were teachings and methods which had already approved themselves in England and America, it has had no just ground to complain of the reproach of “Engländerei” and “Methodismus”42 which it has had to bear. Under the broad term “Methodistical” there has been included a multitude of sins, the worst to be said of which is that the Fellowship Movement has really been guilty of them all. For unfortunately it has shown itself particularly sensitive to the repeated waves of religious excitement which have swept over Anglo-Saxon Christendom and has reproduced them with at least equal extravagance. There is scarcely any fanatical tendency which has troubled Anglo-Saxon Christendom during the last half-century of which the German Fellowships have not been the prey.

The movement from its very inception was a Higher Life movement. It was as such that Pearsall Smith launched it: and it has made its assault as such on the German Churches, seeking with constant zeal to transform their type of doctrine to this model. Fortunately the molding of the doctrinal teaching of the Fellowships fell from the first into moderate hands. Theodor Jellinghaus became their acknowledged theologian, and he gave to the Higher Life doctrine as discreet a statement as, possibly, it has ever received or is capable of receiving while remaining a Higher Life doctrine. But the seeds of a more consequent Perfectionism were always lying just under the surface ready to spring up and bear their unhappy harvest in any favorable season. Pearsall Smith had himself sown them. Did he not tell the people at Brighton that W. E. Boardman had “never broken the Sabbath of his soul” through thirty years, and did he not permit an aged minister by his side to assert roundly that he had lived for thirty-five years as purely as Jesus?43 The seeds of a consequent Perfectionism are sown, indeed, wherever the Higher Life doctrine is preached, and must produce their harvest whenever the artificial restraints of the Higher Life discreetness are relaxed. The harvest was reaped in the Fellowship Movement at the opening of the twentieth century, when “Pastor” Paul, one of the leaders of the more extravagant elements of it, came out on the platform of the Gnadau Conference itself with a full-orbed assertion of his complete holiness.44

The Fellowship had never constituted a homogeneous body. There had always been extravagant elements embraced in the movement. In particular the vagaries of Plymouth Brethrenism were rife in large sections of it. Not only has the great Blankenburg-Alliance Conference been from the first deeply imbued with this tendency, but also large sections of the constituency of the Gnadau Conference itself. The chiliasm which is prevalent through the whole movement takes in these circles an extreme form, and a fanatical temper is engendered by it which seems capable of everything except sobriety. Smith himself spoke of the possibility of the restoration of the spiritual gifts of the Apostolic age; even Jellinghaus was not free from this delusion; it was from the beginning an element in the movement. The Fellowships had not recovered from the turmoil roused by the outbreak of consequent Perfectionism when they received a staggering blow from the importation in the spring of 1905 of the Welsh Revival with more than the Welsh excesses. That was as nothing, however, to what befell them in the summer of 1907, when the so-called Pentecost Movement—the Los Angeles Revival45—shook them with its full force. “Pastor” Paul of course was found in the thick of it. He “spoke with tongues” more than all others; he even sang “in tongues”—translating favorite hymns into the supernatural speech; nay, he even subjected “the tongues” to philological analysis and framed a sort of syllabary of them.46

The humiliating performances at the “Pentecost” meetings did at least this service—they provoked a reaction. The reaction was slow in coming: it was not until 1910—after three years of these disgraceful proceedings—that the Gnadau people found strength and courage to repudiate them. There had been polemicizing all along; but the polemics were weak and ineffectual because conducted from a standpoint not essentially different from that of the fanatics: the whole Fellowship Movement was possessed by the convictions and hopes of which the excesses of the Pentecost Movement were only the legitimate expression. Time was required for the revolution of conception which could alone bring a remedy. It was a blessing that time enough was taken for the revolution to become radical. Hermann Benser gives us a very fair account of what happened. With an unnecessary but not unintelligible intrusion of German self-consciousness, confusing the just with the German and the bizarre with the English, he tells us that it had always been the desire of the men of the Gnadau Conference to keep their “Philadelphia Movement” truly German and not to permit it to become English—when he ought to have said that they wished it to remain soberly Christian and not to become (or remain) fanatically visionary. “But,” he continues,47

“they did not immediately recognize the perils of the revivals and above all of the Pentecost Movement. For there burned in their hearts too a longing for the charismata of the Apostolic age, and the anticipation that God would perhaps grant them now to men. Only when the devastating effects of the Pentecost Movement—the extravagance of individuals and the disruption of the Fellowship circles—became palpable, did the men of Gnadau obtain clearness and power to separate themselves sharply from this kind of thing. At the Gnadau Conference at Wernigerode of this year (1910) the directory of the ‘German Association for Fellowship-work and Evangelization’ unanimously repelled the Pentecost Movement. It was even declared that it was inconsistent with standing in the Association to have any fellowship in work with the Pentecost brethren. This declaration is a courageous act of great importance for the sound development of Fellowship Christianity. For it certainly has not been an easy thing for these men to renounce brethren with whom they have stood in close relations of love and esteem. But it became their conscientious duty to place walking in the fear of the Lord and building up the congregations in peace above consideration for these brethren.”

By this action of the Gnadau Conference of 1910 the Pentecost Movement was not suppressed. It continued to exist; but now as a distinct movement of its own, standing apart from the general Fellowship Movement and forming a separate sect of fanatical character.48 But the importance to the Gnadau Movement itself of its act of excision was not overestimated by Benser, writing immediately after the event. In it, it apparently meant definitively to turn its back not only on the Pentecost Movement and its horrible excesses, but on all in its own history which, as it now saw, led up to such things and was distinguished from them only in degree. In effect this was to cease to be distinctively a Higher Life movement and to place itself on the basis of Reformation Christianity. Its action of 1910 was followed up on January 24, 1911, by a renewed action of the directory, confirming it and even sharpening its terms: and joining with it at the same time an authoritative rejection of “Pastor” Paul’s crass Perfectionism, which had already met with the disapproval of the leaders of the conference when he had aired it at the meeting of 1904. This crass Perfectionism had now become only an element in the system of fanaticism which was being exploited by the Pentecost Movement. The singling of it out for special condemnation in 1911 has significance, therefore, only for the direction in which the minds of the Gnadau brethren were moving. The two things were already conjoined in some most significant remarks by Elias Schrenck on the Gnadau platform of 1910. “The children of God of today,” he said, “do not have to expect a Pentecost; we have the Holy Spirit.”

“Signs and wonders are not in and of themselves a proof of the Pentecost endowment; only such fruits of the Spirit as, according to Gal. 5:22, manifest themselves in the daily life and especially in our sufferings are evidence of the holy life of the Spirit.… The doctrines of the ‘pure heart,’ of sinlessness, have come to us from America and England, and have obscured the Biblical doctrines of sin and of justification by faith alone, in the case of many. We have need to abase ourselves deeply before the Lord because of the errors of our teaching heretofore, for which we all bear the guilt. We must cease to offer salvation to our people in three distinct stages, (1) Forgiveness of sins, (2) Sanctification, (3) the Baptism of the Spirit.”

—this being the form in which the developed perfectionist doctrine of “Pastor” Paul and his coadjutors was presented.49 “This trichotomy is thoroughly un-Biblical, and, praise God, also thoroughly un-German.” There is a healthy movement of repentance manifested here, and it did not cease until, as we have already hinted, the whole Higher Life element in the teaching of the Fellowship Movement apparently was recanted—a recantation in which Jellinghaus himself, who had devoted his life to its propagation, took part.50 To this element in the story we must return, however, more fully later. What it is important at the moment to make plain is only that at this point in its development the Fellowship Movement has apparently made a complete volte face. So clear is this that Theodor Sippell, writing in 1914,51 is inclined to look at its whole history theretofore as only its “chaotic beginnings,” from which no safe conclusions can be drawn as to its future. “It cannot be denied,” he says, “that a provisional stopping-point has been reached in the internal development of this movement. The new-Darbyism and fanatical currents which have exerted temporarily a prodigious influence have led in the Pentecost Movement to such deplorable aberrations, that by far the greater number of the German Fellowships have renounced them with disgust.” Horrified by the realization thus forced upon them of what they have been in principle involved in, they are raising the cry with ever greater earnestness, says Sippell, that “only a return to Luther and the heritage of the Reformation can save the German Fellowship Movement from internal and external collapse.”

It will no doubt be interesting to look a little more in detail at the perfectionist teaching of “Pastor” Paul, that we may observe somewhat more closely the end-point of the development of the Higher Life doctrine of the Fellowships. The discreet Perfectionism of Pearsall Smith, and of Jellinghaus, who followed even Smith at a little distance, of course could not achieve stability. In the nature of the case it passed necessarily by its own intrinsic logic into consequent Perfectionism whenever it met with a temper accustomed not to count costs but to reason straight onward without reserves. We are not surprised to find from a hint dropped here and there, therefore, that consequent Perfectionism was early present in Fellowship circles. On one occasion, for example, Jellinghaus, speaking of the fortunes, in Germany, of the Higher Life Movement, to the propagation of which he had given his life, feels constrained to interject a warning against what he looks upon as a danger threatening it. “Unfortunately,” he says,52—he is writing in 1898—

“false anti-natural asceticism has been showing itself for a few years back in certain very small circles, and in others an un-Biblical exaggeration of language about sanctification, connected with a distressing censoriousness.… After having for twenty-three years taught and defended the Biblically circumspect Salvationist doctrine of sanctification, along with my beloved friend and brother Otto Stockmayer in Switzerland, for long as its only literary advocate in Germany, I can do no less than warn in the most earnest and serious way against exaggerated expressions concerning the stage of sanctification attained, which afterwards cannot be confirmed and ratified by an actually sanctified life.”

We do not know that “Pastor” Paul was in Jellinghaus’ mind when he wrote these words. But he was just the sort of man of whom what Jellinghaus says would be true,53 and we are told that he had been speaking freely in this sense for some time before he dramatically cast the matter into the arena of public debate among the Fellowship people by his astonishing utterances in 1904.54

The essential elements of the doctrine which Paul proclaimed in these utterances do not differ from those of the ordinary Wesleyan doctrine. Like the Wesleyans, he separated sharply between sanctification and justification, and, like them, he taught an immediate sanctification on faith, an immediate sanctification by which our sinful nature itself is eradicated.55 According to his own account he ventured one day just to take Jesus Christ for his sanctification, and he at once received it—in its fulness. This is the way he describes his experience in his journal—Heiligung—for April, 1904:56

“All my previous conceptions were all at once cast into ruins by it; for immediately on this faith in my new Adam, I saw and felt myself delivered from every propensity (Hang) to sin. Day and night passed; days and nights passed; and it was and remained in me all new. All kinds of trials constantly came upon me, but I lived in blessed newness of life. It was with me as if none of these things concerned me. What always happened to me was that I lived by the two words and the truth enclosed in them, ‘Jesus only’ (Jesus wird). The Savior became to me in a much deeper way than ever before ‘actual’ and ‘present.’ The closeness of the Father filled my horizon; and all this has remained since that time uninterruptedly my salvation. No defilement, whether through thoughts, or through ebullition of temperament, has taken place with me since then; no disturbing thing has come either by night or day between the Lord and me. I live in the blessed fact that Jesus is my new Adam from whom I expect and may expect everything. O what blessedness lies in that! I was already happy in my Jesus. Now my happiness is boundless.”57

The theme upon which Paul addressed the Gnadau Conference at its meeting at the ensuing Whitsuntide was the appropriate one of “Our Task in the Kingdom of Christ is Faith.” What he meant by this was to assert that faith and faith alone is our whole part in salvation: Christ does all the rest. We have only to believe; nothing else is asked of us. And we receive whatever we have faith for: according to our faith it is done unto us. Testimony to the power of faith is always grateful to Christians. The energy with which Paul testified to the power of faith met of course, as it always does, with a hearty response. But when he illustrated his meaning by declaring that from those who entrust themselves to Jesus for full redemption He takes away at once all indwelling sin, the sinful nature itself; the greater part, led by Director Dietrich, Inspector Haarbeck, and the President of the Conference, drew back. In his testimony to his personal experience he abated nothing of what he had already declared in his journal. He had taken Jesus at His word. Like other believers, he had received from Him through faith the forgiveness of sins; he had day by day been cleansed in the measure in which he had trusted; at last, because he had now trusted for this, he had been delivered from sin itself—all its allurements and impulses were gone and the promise of Rom. 6:6 had been fulfilled to him, and from that hour, now some years back, he had seen nothing of his old Adam—to which Inspector Haarbeck somewhat dryly rejoined that it would perhaps be more to the purpose to inquire whether other people had seen nothing of him!58 All this Paul testified had been wrought by simple faith. He had not sought to sanctify himself, but merely to let himself be sanctified. He had turned wholly from himself and only believed that the Lord had delivered him wholly and from all. At once his Ego and his old man had fallen entirely away, and sin now no longer dwells in him.59

It will be seen that Paul leaves nothing unsaid which would make the completeness of his deliverance from sin clear.60 He argues that if God’s seed is in the sanctified, if they are made by the Spirit partakers in the divine nature, then they no longer have the nature of sin, they are in this supereminent sense freed from sin. It cannot be said, indeed, he explains, that sin no longer exists for them; for, though it no longer exists in them, it exists about them. They are, then, subject to temptation; but this temptation does not arise from within them but is due solely to solicitations from without.61 If a regenerate man had to carry his inherited evil nature about with him he would not be really free; he would be impelled to sin by his sinful nature. And if sin remains entrenched in the nature-ground of the saints up to the grave, then it is not Christ but death who is the complete deliverer; and if sin is wholly destroyed in us only at the resurrection—that is, at Christ’s second coming—then, in spite of Rev. 19:7, 1 Thess. 5:23, and Eph. 5:27, the soul must meet its bridegroom still in sin.62

Nevertheless, in defending his doctrine, Paul exhibits the usual chariness in the employment of the term “sinlessness”63 to describe it. He wishes to distinguish between the negative idea of freedom from sin and the positive idea of incapacity to sin, and to affirm only the former. He thinks it enough to say that we do not have our freedom from indwelling sin from ourselves, but only from Christ. The regenerate man has all that he has only because he abides in Jesus and Jesus abides in him; the ground of his freedom from sin is in Jesus and not in himself—it is all of grace and not of nature or of merit.64 We could talk of “sinlessness,” he says, only if we were by virtue of our own nature free from indwelling sin—as Christ was, and as Adam was before the fall. It cannot be said that this rejection of the term “sinlessness” or the explanation by which it is justified, makes a good impression. The amount of it seems to be that Paul wishes to leave open the possibility of his wholly sanctified Christians sinning again, and, in order to do so, plays fast and loose with the eradication of their sinful natures. If their sinful natures are eradicated they no longer have them, and if they no longer have them—how do they differ radically from Adam before the fall? It would be possible, of course, to say that the eradication of their sinful natures does not infuse into them holy natures; they have lost the propensity to sin, but have not gained a propensity to good. But that does not seem to be Paul’s meaning: he claims for himself apparently a holy nature: the eradication of his sinful nature is not conceived in this sense wholly negatively—it is equivalent to the infusion of a holy nature, even Christ Himself. Gennrich, therefore, very properly remarks,65 that “if by the not-sinning [the negative idea] of the regenerate man there is meant that he has no further connection with sin, because sinning is for him something contrary to his nature [as regenerate], and is therefore no longer conceivable in his case—why, then, precisely what is affirmed of him is sinlessness [in the positive sense].” What Paul has really arrived at, he goes on to say, is just the Wesleyan doctrine of Perfection, which is repudiated by the Sanctification Movement; and, indeed, Paul himself allows66 that for him, as for Wesley, the real point is, negatively, purification from all indwelling sin and, positively, complete living to God (perfect love). Nor does Paul escape his difficulties by transferring the ground of our freedom from sin from ourselves to Christ. This is to confuse the cause with the effect. Our Freedom from sin, says Paul, follows on faith and depends on abiding in Christ. Let it be granted. What follows on faith and depends on abiding in Christ is our own personal freedom from sin, from indwelling sin—the eradication of the sinful nature. It is easy to understand that Paul should wish to validate even here the familiar “moment by moment deliverance” which he had learned from the Higher Life preachers. But Gennrich very properly asks, Can he? If our sinful nature has been eradicated, it is no longer there. And the reasoning becomes irresistible: “If it belongs to the nature of the regenerate no more to sin, because he is freed even from the last remnant of original sin—why, then, as Heinatsch rightly remarks, there is no need for the regenerate to have progressive purification through Christ’s blood in ever renewed surrender to Him, the ‘moment by moment deliverance.’ He needs at the most a preservation in this condition, attained once for all by complete purification, to fall out of which would be possible only by a fall as radical and fundamental as that of the first Adam.”67 We do not say that the “moment by moment deliverance,” dependent on a “moment by moment surrender,” is tenable even for the Perfectionism of mere conduct which alone the Higher Life people wish to validate. For how is a lapse in faith possible to one whose sinlessness in act is guaranteed by the Christ who has become the source of all his life-activities? But it becomes doubly absurd when the Perfectionism of conduct has become a Perfectionism of nature. The plain fact is that we cannot suspend a supernatural salvation on natural activities, whether our salvation is wrought in us all at once in its completeness or in a long process ripening to the end—if it is wrought by Christ, it cannot be dependent on our “moment by moment” faith, but our “moment by moment” faith must be dependent on it. We cannot teach both a supernatural and a natural salvation.

As was natural, a large part of the debate called out by “Pastor” Paul’s consequent Perfectionism connects itself with its relation to the inconsequent Perfectionism of mere conduct, which was the official doctrine of the Fellowship Movement. It was contended on the one side, as for example by Heinatsch,68 that it is an illegitimate extension of the idea embodied in the old Sanctification Movement. On Paul’s part, on the other hand, it was vigorously asserted that it is only the old Sanctification Movement made explicit in its necessary contents. In this debate we must pronounce Paul right. Gennrich is quite correct when he declares69 that “in point of fact the doctrines of deliverance from indwelling sin and of the baptism of the Spirit,” as taught by “Pastor” Paul, “are the logical extension of the official doctrine of sanctification of the Fellowship Movement—as the advocates of them rightly contended at the Gnadau Conference.… In them, for the first time, Jellinghaus’ two requirements—deeper sanctification, greater gifts of grace—are really met for believers thirsting after the sensible actuality of salvation.” These words remind us, however, that the debate was not left to run its course on the simple issue of consequent or inconsequent Perfectionism. The question of the “gifts of grace” was soon complicated with it—provided for, as we have already had occasion to note incidentally, by a third stage in the saving process as conceived by Paul—the “baptism of the Spirit,” as the culminating step following on complete justification and complete sanctification. The Pentecost Movement broke over Germany in 1907. “Pastor” Paul, who was already addressing the Gnadau Conference in 1902 on Faith Healing, became at once one of its most active promoters. The upas tree was now in full fruit. It is not strange that men began to examine with new anxiety into its rooting. We have already seen the issue. At the Gnadau Conference of 1910 the Pentecost Movement was definitely repelled and all association with it was forbidden to the constituency of the Gnadau Conference. With it much of the consequent Perfectionism which had been troubling the Fellowships since 1904 was excluded. But the officials in their formal action of January 24, 1911, went a step further, and conjoined a definite condemnation of consequent Perfectionism with their condemnation of the Pentecost Movement—declaring formally against “the doctrine that by faith in Christ the abolition of the sinful nature is secured or that the believer can attain a condition on earth in which he no longer needs justifying grace.”70

The end was, however, not even yet reached. Could the fruit be discarded and the root remain in honor? It had become ever increasingly plain to ever increasing numbers that the “clean heart” of the consequent Perfectionists could not be separated from the “clean life” of the Sanctification Movement, and the one rejected and the other kept. Among others it had become plain to Jellinghaus himself, who had now for a whole generation been the trusted, almost the official, expounder of the doctrine of the “clean life” for the Fellowship circles. Perhaps we may say that this change of heart had long been preparing for him. He had felt himself reborn to a new life through the blessing which he had received at the great Oxford Meeting in 1875, and had given himself at once to the enthusiastic advocacy of the “Salvationist System” which was preached by Pearsall Smith. Already in 1880 he published his bulky book—“The Complete, Present Salvation through Christ”71—which became at once the standard Dogmatics of the Fellowship Christianity. But he did not reproduce even in it Smith’s system without modification; and the modification was in the direction of mitigation. As edition followed edition—in 1886, 1890, 1898, 1903—he was found moving ever, slightly but steadily, in the direction of further mitigation. Now, however, came the deluge. At one stroke he demolished the work of his life and declared himself to have been running on a wrong scent.72 With deep pain he sees now in “the Keswick Movement,” so long advocated by him, the source of all the evils which had lately befallen Fellowship Christianity and feels himself, because of his advocacy of “the Keswick Movement,” personally sharer in the grave responsibility for these evils. A certain levity lies at the heart of “the Keswick Movement”; its zeal is to assure ourselves that we are actually and fully saved, rather than to give ourselves to the repentance which is due to our sins, to the working out of salvation with fear and trembling, to heavenly mindedness, and a life of prayer and a walk in love. It imagines that there can be faith without repentance and conquest of sin without moral struggle. The law, sin itself as evil desire in the regenerate, the determined fulfilment of the will of God in vital endeavor, are pushed into the background. It seeks, in a word, peace instead of righteousness, and the trail of a spiritual euthymia lies over it.73

But Jellinghaus did not spare himself: he even calls his book, which appeared in 1912, by the directly descriptive title of “Avowals about My Doctrinal Errors.”74 The book naturally created a sensation, but it did not at once compose the controversy. Many, of course, followed Jellinghaus’ guidance here too, as they had followed it heretofore; and the cry arose, “Back to the Reformation.” Among these were the chief leaders of the Gnadau Conference. Others, however, entered the lists to defend Jellinghaus against Jellinghaus, and only sought to work out from the standpoint of the Reformation a justification for the doctrine of full present sanctification by faith alone.75 What is most noticeable, what is most hopeful, in the debates is that there is a return on all hands to the Reformation. As the curtain of the Great War drops on Germany and shuts off from us further knowledge of the development of the Fellowship Movement, we are cheered to see the promise that, in its Gnadau branch at least, it may have definitely turned its back on its past as a distinctively Higher Life movement and grounded its future on the Reformation doctrine of salvation, a complete and full salvation, through faith alone. It will be a great thing for the future of German Fellowship Christianity if, in the welter of unwholesome tendencies, acting and reacting upon one another—the semi-rationalism of Eisenach, the Darbyite and Chiliastic extravagance of Blankenburg, the wild fanaticism of the Pentecost people—there shall be one center of healthy granulation at Gnadau.




Studies in Perfectionism, vol. 1, Benjamin B. Warfield

It was a very remarkable campaign which was conducted by Robert Pearsall Smith in Great Britain and Germany during the years 1873–1875 in the interests of what is known as “the Higher Christian Life.” It has left behind it two imposing monuments. One of them, the great “Keswick Movement,” is known wherever the English language is spoken. The other, a parallel movement in Germany, spoken of there as “Die Heiligungsbewegung,” the “Sanctification Movement,” deserves to be better known than it appears to be. It took a peculiar form, which was given it by the circumstance that it made its way primarily in, and always by means of, “the Fellowships” (Gemeinschaften) which had come down from the times of Pietistic ascendency, and were now given new life and set upon a career of rapid self-propagation, by the impulse received from Pearsall Smith. Thus the “Sanctification Movement” inaugurated by him became in its form a great “Fellowship Movement,” which has spread throughout Germany and has extended itself everywhere in a stable organization and numerous instruments of activity. The center of its public manifestation is the great Gnadau Conference.

One of the remarkable features of this “Sanctification Movement” has been that it took its color very largely from the teachings of one man. This man was Theodor Jellinghaus, who received his Higher Life doctrine from Smith and his colleagues at the great Oxford Union Meeting for the Promoting of Scriptural Holiness, in the early days of September, 1874, and who returned thence to Germany having before him his life-work of propagating it. In 1880 he published the work which became very much the doctrinal text book of the movement, under the title of “The Complete, Present Salvation through Christ.”2 Through this book, in its successive editions, and the Bible school which he founded for the training of workers for the movement, Jellinghaus was able to give to the movement its doctrinal character. This doctrinal character, while following in the main, and at first very closely, the teachings of Smith, did not exactly coincide with them in all its details, and departed more and more from them as time went on, though never fundamentally. This was clearly marked in the successive editions of the book. A particular quality of its own was thus acquired by the German Sanctification Movement, which differentiated it as a distinct species of Higher Life teaching, while it retained its generic character.

Its development on these lines proceeded with great and fruitful quietness throughout the last quarter of the nineteenth century. With the twentieth century, however, a period of turmoil set in. Fanatical tendencies showed themselves, with ever increasing violence. A consequent Perfectionism endeavored to substitute itself for the moderate Perfectionism of the Higher Life teachers, and especially of Jellinghaus, the most discreet of them all. The excesses of the Welsh Revival were imported into Germany. Worst of all, the Fellowship circles were invaded by the fanaticisms of the “Pentecost Movement”—the “Los Angeles Revival,” which brought ruin in their train. The ultimate result was an immense revulsion of feeling. The whole Higher Life system which had supported the doctrinal basis of the movement from its beginning was undermined and discredited. Jellinghaus himself, who had given his life to its propagation, published, in a remarkable book, his recantation of it.3 When the Great War lowered its curtain over the land and shut off observation of the course of religious events in it, it looked very much as if the Fellowship Movement had definitely ceased to be a Higher Life movement and had returned with happy decisiveness to the Reformation for its doctrinal basis.

Inclined as we thus are to look upon the Fellowship Movement as a thing of the past so far as it was distinctively a “sanctification movement,” that is to say, so far as it was a continuation of the Higher Life Movement conveyed to Europe in 1873–1875 by Robert Pearsall Smith, it becomes desirable as a matter of history that we should make an attempt to understand the precise character of its teaching as a “sanctification movement.” It has already been pointed out that this is practically the same thing as to undertake an exposition of the Higher Life teaching of Theodor Jellinghaus.4 He wrote a number of books;5 but it is particularly his massive volume on “The Complete, Present Salvation through Christ” which claims our attention here. We have already intimated that it advances a little from edition to edition in its departure from Pearsall Smith’s teachings. It will not be necessary for us, however, to trace this advance in detail. It is not Jellinghaus’ personal growth that we are interested in; we are seeking merely to obtain through him a clear conception of the type of Higher Life teaching prevalent in the Fellowship Movement in Germany for the forty years from 1875 to 1914. We shall, then, merely take the fourth edition of Jellinghaus’ work, published in 1898—about the middle point of our period—and observe by means of it how the matter was presented to the Fellowships near the end of the quiet development of the movement, and before the turmoil of the twentieth century set in. This is the way the adherents of the movement were being taught to think at the period of its most uninterrupted development. This is the way, in other words, in which the Fellowships connected with the Gnadau Conference have been accustomed to conceive their distinctive doctrine of full salvation through faith alone.6

Jellinghaus himself7 was, in the deepest stratum of his thinking, a good Lutheran. The characteristic Lutheran doctrine of the Word, as the vehicle of the saving operations of God, remained to the end the determining element of his conception of salvation.8 Under cover of it, he was able to teach a Pelagianizing doctrine of salvation; because, in his view, the supernatural operation conveyed in the Word brings to men only the possibility (posse), not also the actualization (actio), of that surrendering faith on which everything else is suspended. That is to say, what he teaches is that everyone who hears the Word finds himself in the exact condition in which, according to Pelagius, all are by nature; he has the posse for doing all that God requires of him, and the actio is his own responsibility.

With respect to the great doctrine of redemption his original Lutheranism had, however, early given way under the disintegrating influences of his times. Already in his student days at Erlangen the teaching of C. F. K. von Hofmann had taken from him the central doctrine of the penal satisfaction of Christ, without, however, conveying to him anything positive in its stead. His positive doctrine of redemption, acquired under influences emanating ultimately from J. A. W. Neander, followed the lines of the ordinary “mystical” doctrine characteristic of the so-called “mediating theology.”9 According to this doctrine it is not the merits of Christ which we receive through faith, but Christ Himself; and, receiving Christ Himself, we share, in organic union with Him, all His achievements. As the last Adam, the new organic Head of the race, He presents Himself a pure sacrifice to God,10 dying to sin and living to righteousness; and we who are in Him by faith die with Him to sin and live with Him to righteousness. It is possible so to attenuate this doctrine as to reduce its contents to nothing more than that, under the impression received from the religious life of Christ, we too live religiously, entering thus sympathetically into inner fellowship with Him in His death and His resurrection. Then we have Ritschlianism; and Gelshorn, for example, seems half inclined to claim Jellinghaus as, for substance of doctrine, of this party.11 That, however, although not without a show of plausibility, is to do him an injustice. It is quite clear that Jellinghaus thinks of Christ not merely as, by the movingness of His example, inducing men to imitate Him, but as releasing supernatural forces by which alone they can be assimilated to Him.

By this doctrine of redemption, it is plain, on the other hand, that a wide door was opened for the entrance of Pearsall Smith’s teaching of sanctification by faith alone. It would be more exact, indeed, to say that this was already implicitly Jellinghaus’ own doctrine. It only required to be explicitly stated, therefore, to command his assent. There were elements in Pearsall Smith’s teaching, no doubt, which should have given him pause; and it is instructive to observe that, though these elements were received at first with the rest, it was precisely they to which he sat loosely and which he gradually eliminated from his teaching—thus no doubt loosening the hold upon him of the whole of which they were organic parts and preparing the way for his final discarding of the entire system. We may instance, as a striking example, the doctrine, fundamental to Pearsall Smith’s system, as to Wesley’s before him, that justification and sanctification are two separable gifts of grace to be sought and obtained separately, and standing in no other relation to one another than that the former must precede the latter. Such a conception was utterly incongruous to Jellinghaus’ doctrine of redemption by organic union with Christ, instituted by a faith which receives Himself with all that that implies. It was accepted by him accordingly only to be gradually explained away, until in the end there was nothing left of it but a few encysted phrases bearing witness to a transcended phase of teaching.

From another point of view Jellinghaus was prepared to accord a welcome to the teaching of Pearsall Smith by his ten years of missionary experience in India. By it he was deeply imbued with the spirit of evangelization. The duty and profit of offering Jesus Christ to the sinner for immediate acceptance could not be doubtful to him. Nor could it be doubtful to him that this immediate acceptance of Christ brought with it enjoyment of all that is included in Christ’s redemption. It is not strange that, with his doctrine of redemption, he was ready to understand this as the immediate enjoyment in its completeness of all that is included in Christ’s redemption. The element of “suddenness” in Smith’s doctrine was no offense to him; it rather was an attraction and fell in with his own implicit thought.

We are only surprised therefore that he tells12 us that when “in the holiness-meetings at Oxford in September, 1874, there met him, in luminous clearness, out of the Bible, the truth that in the blood and death of Jesus not only forgiveness but also direct and immediate [the emphasis is his own] breaking of the power of sin, cleansing from sin, and uninterrupted victory over sin, are to be had on the surrender of faith,” it was a “new truth” to him. What ought to have been new to him—and what ought not to have seemed true to him even temporarily—was the representation that these two blessings were not obtained together through “the surrender of faith,” but successively by two surrenders of faith. It happens not rarely, however, that men hold to their fundamental conceptions through long periods without developing them into their implications; and, when these implications are presented to them from without, embrace them with an enthusiasm which is born not more of the convincingness of their presentation than of their reinforcement from the logical relation in which they stand to their own immanent thought. And it not rarely happens in such cases that the enthusiasm with which these conceptions are embraced, when externally presented to it, carries the mind over difficulties in the mode of their presentations, and betrays it into accepting them in forms not really in harmony with its immanent thought and incapable therefore of permanent entertainment by it.

That at any rate is what happened to Jellinghaus at Oxford. He heard asserted there in the most impressive way that we receive through faith in Jesus Christ with the same directness and immediacy as deliverance from the guilt of our sins, also deliverance from their power. He could not resist this assertion; it was a necessary implicate of his own fundamental conception of redemption. In his enthusiastic acceptance of it, he took the assertion, naturally, as it was made to him; and it was made to him in a form which implied not only a notion of the relation of sanctification to justification, but a view of the nature of justification itself which was out of harmony with his fundamental conception of redemption and which therefore could not be permanently held by him.

In his enthusiasm he went out and preached his new doctrine of sanctification as he had received it. That is to say, he preached a doctrine of justification and a doctrine of the relation of sanctification to justification, which, in conjunction with his fundamental doctrine of redemption, he could not really believe. This could not last. The inevitable adjustments soon began to set in. If we understand him correctly, he attributes the process of these adjustments to the period between 1883 and 1890, so that they received their record in the second (1886) and especially in the third (1890) and subsequent editions of his book, “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum.” He conceived himself in this process to be writing in beneath his new-found doctrine of sanctification an appropriate doctrine of redemption. He says:

“During the years 1883–1890 it became to me ever more certain that if we have to teach according to the Scriptures that the power of sin has been broken in the death of Christ, and life and the forces of sanctification have been obtained for the believer in the resurrection of Christ, then we have to conceive Christ’s atonement and redemption also as a deliverance from the guilt and power of sin, and as a restoration of eternal life, righteousness, sanctification and love through His resurrection. Not the doctrine of sanctification only, therefore, but also the doctrine of atonement and redemption through Christ’s blood and of justification and regeneration, are in need of a Biblical purification and renovation.”13

He misconceived, however, the direction of the process. What he was really doing was adjusting his new-found doctrine of sanctification to his fundamental conception of redemption. It was the latter, not the former, which really possessed his mind and formed the fixed point in the adjustments that were going on. What he really gives us in the later editions of his book is, therefore, the Higher Life doctrine launched by W. E. Boardman and the Smiths as modified to fit the requirements of the “mediating theology”—this Higher Life doctrine in the form which it takes when preached on the basis of the “mediating theology.” That is the real significance of Jellinghaus, and, under his guidance, of the German “Heiligungsbewegung” during the forty years from 1874 to 1914.

This being so, it cannot be thought in the least strange that Jellinghaus devotes a large part of his volume—at least half of it—to the vindication of the fundamental soteriological postulate of the “mediating theology,” that, as we enter by faith into vital union with Christ as the last Adam, the new organic Head of humanity, we become through this faith alone sharer in all that He has wrought, in His death and resurrection, as our complete Deliverer.14 He entitles this half of his book Justification through Christ Alone, to match the title which he gives the second half, Sanctification through Christ Alone. But this designation will be misleading to all who do not share his conception of the ordo salutis, based on the “mystical” idea of the nature of salvation prevalent in the “mediating theology.” In this ordo salutis there is no place for the “justification” of the theology of the Reformation; “justification,” too, becomes a purely subjective experience—the experience of forgiveness of sins as a result of vital union with the Christ who has transcended sin. It is only artificially separated, therefore, from sanctification; the two are in fact only parts of the same general experience, the experience of “participation in the Christ-life.”

The two parts of Jellinghaus’ book do not, therefore, in fact treat of what is commonly known as Justification and of Sanctification, or—to put it in language less open perhaps, in this atmosphere, to misapprehension—of deliverance from the guilt and deliverance from the power of sin. They treat of the experience of deliverance which the Christian has through faith in Christ, viewed, we might say, now from the point of sight of its inception, now from the point of sight of its completion, though that would be to speak far too strongly in terms of chronological sequence. Perhaps we would better say, viewed now from the point of sight of its general content, now from the point of sight of the completeness of the deliverance—in one of its aspects, singled out for special remark. What Jellinghaus actually attempts to do in the two parts of his book is to show, in the first part, that we receive by faith in Christ a complete deliverance, and, in the second part, that this complete deliverance includes in itself an immediately complete deliverance from the power of sin. The first part would have been more descriptively designated, therefore, had the title which its first chapter bears been given to it—The Complete Deliverer, or more explicitly, Complete Deliverance through Faith Alone. And the second part would have been more descriptively designated by some such title as this, Sanctification by Faith Alone an Immediately Complete Sanctification.

What Jellinghaus has undertaken in the first part of his book he has accomplished with complete success. He has triumphantly shown from the Scriptures that there is complete deliverance in Christ Jesus for all who look to Him for it in simple faith. That is the teaching of Scripture, and Jellinghaus brings it out with great fulness, energy, and convincingness. Of course, he writes from his own point of view, and adjusts the Scriptural proofs which he adduces, to meet particular ends as they emerge in the progress of his argument. It is his primary purpose, for example, to show, that in the complete deliverance which we receive by faith in Christ Jesus there is included deliverance from the power of sin as well as from its guilt. He is possessed by the odd notion that in the church doctrine of the penal satisfaction of Christ provision is made only for deliverance from guilt—justification in the Reformation sense, as he would conceive it—while the whole process of sanctification is left to be worked out by man himself under the impulse of gratitude for the forgiveness of his sins. He is zealous therefore to prove on the one hand that sanctification is a supernatural work, and on the other that it is inseparably connected with justification and is always present where justification is present. He frequently adduces the Scriptural proof of the completeness of this deliverance which we receive in Christ by faith, accordingly, with sharp application to such points as these, and always with particular emphasis on deliverance from the power of sin, and, naturally, in terms of the “mediating theology.”

This in no way affects the force of that proof for the main matter. But it brings with it some very interesting results with respect to the maintenance of his own special contentions. To illustrate by a single instance, he succeeds so perfectly in proving that sanctification and justification are inseparable—that in being justified by faith we obtain also sanctification—as to leave no room for the acquisition of sanctification by a second act of faith specifically directed to that end; and thus reduces himself to the necessity of distinguishing, not between justification and sanctification as separable benefits received by separate acts of faith, but between a first sanctification coming with justification and a second and complete sanctification obtained subsequently by a detached act of faith of its own—with the further effect of making complete sanctification not an “all at once” acquisition on simple faith, but a progressive attainment received in stages. This is the more pungent that, from his point of view as a “mediating theologian,” he is compelled to look upon sanctification, not as the necessary consequence of justification as in the Reformation doctrine, nor merely as the inseparable accompaniment of justification, but as identical with justification. If, when we enter into Christ by faith as the last Adam, the Head of which we are but members, we receive Him Himself, all of Him, all that He has and is, what remains to be obtained by a second act of faith as a “second blessing”?

Let us observe how Jellinghaus actually expresses himself on this fundamental matter:15

“The gospel becomes most simple and most intelligible when we, along with the Bible, present the whole saving-work of Christ as a deliverance, rescue, salvation for man held in sin and misery, and offer it to the simple acceptance of faith” (p. 52).

“It is a wholly one-sided quarter-gospel, when it is taught that Christ’s sacrificial work accomplished no more than that He blotted out guilt and earned an imputable merit, but says nothing of this—that in Jesus’ blood there are present and available for believers, hungry for righteousness and holiness, death-forces delivering from all evils, and resurrection-forces bringing all fruits of the Spirit that belong to the Kingdom of heaven” (p. 40).

“The believer seeks in Christ not only forgiveness of the guilt of sin, but also deliverance from its power and cleansing of the heart” (p. 258).

“What stands there [he is commenting on Rom. 6:3–5] is not at all that this baptism signifies only a duty of dying daily; but what it says is that all true believers are already baptized into Jesus’ death and are buried with Jesus according to the old man in this death, and therefore are free from the power of sin and uncleanliness” (p. 311).

“The Scriptures teach that forgiveness of sins, justification, the new life, cleansing and victory come of faith” (p. 259).

“Through this faith in Christ, Christ, and His righteousness, sanctification and life, which are external to us, comes into us, and becomes our possession. Yes, as soon as the man entrusts himself to Christ in faith, the Holy Spirit comes, in justification, into our heart and abides in our heart in order to testify that God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven our sins, and in order to glorify Christ in our heart, with His sanctifying death- and resurrection-power. Therefore together with justification there come also regeneration, cleansing, renovation, vivification, transference into the Kingdom of heaven, sanctification, the possession of eternal life (cf. 1 Cor. 6:11, ‘But ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified’)” (p. 263).

“For forgiveness of sins, justification, vivification, and sanctification fall at once together with faith” (p. 264).

“Regeneration, the new life, cleansing of heart and walk, and sanctification hang together [with justification] inwardly and inseparably (as Luther teaches clearly)” (p. 266).

“There exists therefore no justification and forgiveness of sins in Christ through faith without eternal life and regeneration in Christ; as Luther also says that where forgiveness of sins is there also is life and blessedness. He who really receives in faith forgiveness and justification in the blood, that is, in the death of the dead and risen Lord—he is also through the blood of Christ cleansed from sins and lives in Christ’s life (Gal. 2:16–21. Rom. 10:1–11, John 3:14–16)” (p. 255).

“If we look at our deliverance thus, it becomes clear to us that John can always speak of eternal life as the immediate result of faith in Christ, and it is also manifest how, to be justified, converted, regenerated, resurrected and sanctified hang inwardly together according to the New Testament—yes, are one and the same thing” (p. 43).

It is impossible therefore that there should be faith without works: “Faith and trust are inwardly connected with faithfulness and obedience.” He says expressly:

“There exists no Christian faith and trust without Christian faithfulness and obedience. So soon as I believe in Christ, I have come also to rueful apprehension of my disobedience theretofore. I trust in the Savior who was obedient up to death, that He will and can deliver me from the curse of the disobeyed commandment and from the slavery of sin, that is from disobedience. I believe, therefore, unto obedience. Everyone who believes in Christ, his Deliverer, yields himself to Christ, in order to die with Christ unto himself and his corrupt wilfulness, and to live in Jesus Christ and in obedient imitation of Him. Through the faith that is wrought by the Holy Spirit it always comes to obedience.… There is no faith in Christ which does not work an innermost fact and transformation, because it draws from the sanctifying life-powers of Jesus” (p. 153).

Jellinghaus undoubtedly intends that statements like these should be read as teaching that sanctification is by faith. So far are they, however, from teaching that sanctification comes from a special act of faith directed to the obtaining of it and it alone, that they rather explicitly connect sanctification with the fundamental act of faith by which we receive the forgiveness of our sins. He cannot leave the matter at that. We find him therefore very much preoccupied with the exact relation of faith to sanctification. In his discussions of this subject he sometimes speaks quite on the lines of the passages we have already quoted, and is intent only on making the supernaturalness of salvation clear. Approaching the matter from the standpoint of the “mediating theology” he often insists in this interest that sanctification is something which has been obtained for us by Christ, just like justification, objectively; which exists therefore objectively in Christ for us, and which is only to be taken over from Himself, as it were, as a whole. He objects therefore to distinguishing between justification and sanctification in such terms as “Christ for us” and “Christ in us”; it is just as proper to speak of “Christ for us” in connection with sanctification as in connection with justification, and of “Christ in us” in connection with justification as in connection with sanctification. He says:

“Where the Bible speaks of sanctification through faith it means that Christ Himself has wrought out for us our deliverance from the power of sin, and He Himself is continuously the mighty Deliverer and victorious Leader of believers. It is therefore a misleading representation of the doctrine of justification and sanctification when it is said with sharp distinction that ‘Christ for us’ is the justification and ‘Christ in us’ the sanctification of the Christian. ‘Christ for us’ is the sinner’s justification and forgiveness through faith; but in the moment in which the man, in the power of the Holy Spirit, trustingly surrenders himself to Christ as the Deliverer from sins, Christ becomes his possession and the life of Christ comes into his heart, so that he is not only justified but also regenerated and sanctified in Christ, so that therefore he is in Christ and Christ is in him.… Precisely so is ‘Christ for us,’ that is, what Christ has obtained for us by victory over the power of sin, death and the devil, or the living, risen Jesus and His holy blood, the sole foundation and power of our sanctification, on which we have to trust. Only because the Christian who thirsts after sanctification has outside himself, in Christ—the mighty Deliverer, present in the Word, who can continually wash and cleanse by His blood—a sanctifying power and a fulcrum which stands immovable, can he be confident in the midst of his changing feelings and sure of victory. Because he thus through the Holy Spirit surrenders himself in believing obedience to this full, present Deliverer and all His sanctifying powers, Christ Himself comes into his heart, and, as ‘Christ in us,’ becomes the heart’s innermost life …” (pp. 540 f.).

He objects much more strenuously, however, in the same interest of the supernaturalness of salvation, to every mode of representation that would see in the faith which procures it the ground or the substance of sanctification. If sanctification is to be by works, it would be better to say so frankly, than to say “by faith” (im Glauben) with the meaning that faith is the one work which obtains it.

“Because the truth—that Christ has already wrought out and made possible for us also our deliverance from the power of sin and our sanctification, and offers it now in Himself, as the full, present Deliverer—has been very little understood hitherto, great obscurity and uncertainty has reigned also with respect to the doctrine of sanctification by faith. Many teachers and textbooks, which teach with complete decision the forgiveness of sins through naked, simple faith alone, speak of sanctification as of a state which is gradually brought about by the virtue of our faith and our love and gratitude. Whereas, after the example of Luther, they repudiate with all decision, that faith as a sanctifying disposition (Gesinnung) justifies and discharges from the guilt of sin or even only makes us worthy to be received by Christ—they (as for example Thomasius) say without hesitation that after justification faith becomes our fundamental disposition (Grundgesinnung) and thus sanctifies. The Evangelical dogmatists speak with reference to sanctification not only of a vis receptiva (receptive power) but also of a vis operativa (self-effective power) of faith. Such a self-effective power, however, is not possessed by faith, whether in justification or in sanctification; all of its power comes from its object …, that is, from Christ” (pp. 538 f.).16

In this statement justifying and sanctifying faith are, no doubt, distinguished, but they are not separated. Jellinghaus’ real position in this matter is made somewhat clearer by a passage which occurs on page 545. He is there speaking of the one-sidedness of the Reformation doctrine, with its stress on justification by faith alone and its neglect of the twin truth as to sanctification. He adduces in illustration a form of statement which he represents as very widespread among both Lutheran and Reformed theologians, to the effect that “justification daily repeated is sanctification.” This form of statement certainly is objectionable. Justification is not, no matter how often repeated, sanctification, for the very good reason that justification directly affects only our standing while sanctification directly affects our state. In the course of the discussion, however, Jellinghaus substitutes for it the form of statement, “Justifying faith sanctifies,” which he appears to treat as its equivalent, though it very certainly is not that.

The point of interest for the moment is that in criticizing this latter statement, Jellinghaus declares it to be ambiguous. It may mean, he says, this: “Justifying faith is so excellent a quality and mental attribute in a man that it sanctifies the man.” He rightly says that in that sense it would be intolerable. It may also, however, happily mean this: “The same faith which lays hold of Christ for justification, lays hold of Him and experiences Him also for sanctification.” In that sense, says Jellinghaus, it is “unconditionally correct”; and that he means this in the sense, not that the same kind of faith, but that the same exercise of faith, both justifies and sanctifies, he makes plain by a qualification which he at once introduces. This is to this effect: “Only, it should not be understood by it, that faith lays hold of Jesus equally along with justification in full measure for actual sanctification.” Sanctification is obtained in the same act of faith by which justification is received—but not all the sanctification which is to be obtained. After this first sanctification there is a further sanctification accessible to us by a faith which is a purely sanctifying faith—a further sanctification which is in full measure.

Meanwhile the existence of any such thing as a purely sanctifying faith—and indeed the validity of the whole representation that sanctification, whether along with justification or alone, is received immediately by faith—hangs in the air. It is not until the book is three-quarters done17 that the needed chapter on The Scriptural Proof of Sanctification by Faith is inserted. The Epistle to the Galatians is taken up first and run through. Then Jellinghaus finds himself compelled to insert a subsection with this heading: “Forgiveness of sins through faith and sanctification through faith are in the New Testament mostly taught together.” That is to say, the New Testament does not (“mostly”) teach justification through faith and sanctification through faith, but justification and sanctification through faith. He writes:

“When we look more closely at the Epistle to the Galatians and the whole New Testament, we find that they do not make so sharp a conceptional distinction between justification and sanctification as we are now accustomed to make, and especially, that the words ‘righteous, righteousness, justify’ often include sanctification in themselves; and again in other passages the word ‘sanctify’ includes forgiveness of sins and justification” (p. 567).

He illustrates the first usage by the prophetic declaration, “The just shall live by his faith,” which he represents as including sanctification as well as justification, no doubt following W. E. Boardman’s interpretation of it. The second he illustrates by Heb. 10:10. Then he seeks a rationale of the custom he has thus announced:

“Precisely because the apostles teach that forgiveness of sins and sanctification both take place by faith apart from works of our own, they do not need to distinguish them so anxiously. So soon, on the other hand, as a forgiveness by faith in Christ alone and a sanctification by faith and works are taught, an exaggerated distinction is necessary, such as is made by many orthodox Lutheran and Reformed Church teachers, in order that the comfort of the forgiveness of sins may be left in its abiding certainty. With the doctrine of sanctification by faith, on the other hand, the doctrine of forgiveness of sins through faith is given and established almost of itself without hair-splitting distinctions” (pp. 567 f.).

He then refers us back to the first part of the volume, where, says he, “we have repeatedly shown that the apostles presented to sinners and taught a direct and immediate reconciliation with God through the surrender of faith to the justifying and purifying Deliverer. Repentant sinners are declared by them at once justified and holy, without waiting for the confirmation of their character in good works, so that forgiveness of sins rests in no way on sanctification, though it of course includes the foundation of all holiness, namely life-communion with Christ’s blood.” The whole drift of the chapter may be treated as summed up in the following words, which are more particularly a comment on the Epistle to the Colossians:

“As in the Epistle to the Ephesians, so also in that to the Colossians, it is taught that the believer, through the surrender of faith, has part in all that Jesus experienced, so that he has died with Christ, risen again, and has been transferred into the heavenly, the supramundane Kingdom of God. This is taught so crisply that it must be assumed that this doctrine and this conception of the Deliverer had already been proclaimed to them by Epaphras and the rest, since otherwise they would not have been able to understand it from this brief presentation. These fundamental truths were already the common property of the apostolic congregations in Asia …” (p. 571).

There is no evidence presented here that the New Testament represents sanctification as received immediately by faith. In point of fact there is no direct statement to that effect in the New Testament. It is to Jellinghaus’ credit that he does not adduce for it either Acts 15:9 or 26:18, which are often made to do duty in this sense.18 His strong conviction that sanctification is obtained directly and immediately by faith is a product not of his Scriptural studies, but of his “mediating theology.” According to that theology, when we receive Christ by faith we receive in Him all that He is to us at once; all the benefits which we receive in Him are conceived as received immediately and directly by the faith through which we are united with Him and become sharers in all that He is. Justification and sanctification, for example, are thought of as parallel products of faith. This is not, however, the New Testament representation. According to its teaching, sanctification is not related to faith directly and immediately, so that in believing in Jesus we receive both justification and sanctification as parallel products of our faith; or either the one or the other, according as our faith is directed to the one or the other. Sanctification is related directly not to faith but to justification; and as faith is the instrumental cause of justification, so is justification the instrumental cause of sanctification. The vinculum which binds justification and sanctification together is not that they are both effects of faith—so that he who believes must have both—because faith is the prius of both alike. Nor is it even that both are obtained in Christ, so that he who has Christ, who is made to us both righteousness and sanctification, must have both because Christ is the common source of both. It is true that he who has faith has and must have both; and it is true that he who has Christ has and must have both. But they do not come out of faith or from Christ in the same way. Justification comes through faith; sanctification through justification, and only mediately, through justification, through faith. So that the order is invariable, faith, justification, sanctification; not arbitrarily, but in the nature of the case.

For the main matter, however, Jellinghaus’ expositions of the Scriptural material are not only true, but both obvious and important. It is not exact to say that the New Testament makes no conceptional distinction between justification and sanctification. But it is true to say that it is absolutely impatient of their separation from one another, and uniformly represents them as belonging together and entering as constituent parts into the one, unitary salvation which is received by faith. The significance of Jellinghaus’ exposition of the Scriptural material is that by it it is made perfectly clear that no support from the New Testament can be obtained for separating them and representing them as two distinct benefits which may be obtained apart from each other by separate acts of faith.

Jellinghaus cannot quite make up his mind, however, to renounce altogether the notion of a “second blessing.” With the form in which he received this notion from his Higher Life teachers, of course, he has definitely broken. He cannot teach that we first receive justification by faith, and then afterwards receive sanctification by a different faith. He knows very well that justification and sanctification cannot, according to the New Testament, be thus separated. But from his own standpoint—of the “mediating theology”—he was prepared to look upon sanctification as obtained immediately by faith and not solely through the medium of justification; and on that ground he endeavors to save the notion, at least, of the “second blessing,” by representing the distinction between the first and the second blessing as turning, not on the distinction between justification and sanctification, but on that between partial and complete sanctification. Justification and sanctification are, of course, received together, that is, some sanctification. But there is room for more sanctification. Why not say that complete sanctification remains to be obtained through a new act of faith directed to it specifically? Of course, this is just as incongruous with the fundamental postulate of the “mediating theology” as the distinction which has been discarded in its favor. According to this postulate, when we enter into “mystical union” with Christ, we receive in Him all that He is and has, all at once. He is ours and all that is in Him is ours. It may be possible to make room for a progressive realization in life of the great riches which we receive all at once in Him in principle. But for a new beginning, made by a new act of faith, scarcely. There is no room for those who are already in Christ, sharers in all that He is and has, once more, by a new act, to enter into Christ and to obtain as a second benefit from Him something entirely new.

Jellinghaus finds himself, therefore, in almost as great difficulties in validating his new doctrine of the “second blessing,” according to which it is an increase in sanctification at a definite time and in response to a definite act of faith, as he would have been in, had he retained the old doctrine, according to which the “second blessing” of sanctification was contrasted with the “first blessing” of justification. We can scarcely blame him in these circumstances that, in his exposition of his doctrine of the “second blessing,” he moves along a somewhat winding path. Sometimes he seems to reduce it to merely a doctrine of progressive sanctification. Sometimes, in order to regain its distinctiveness as a “second blessing,” he appears to be almost ready to make it merely a subjective experience—the growing Christian’s sudden realization of what has been happening to him really in unbroken progress. Sometimes he seems even half inclined to confine it to badly taught Christians, in order to obtain room for a decisive change for the better; those who begin badly naturally may have to begin over again. But in the end he comes back to what seems to be a decided reaffirmation of the experience, though in a considerably attenuated form.

In one of the earlier instances of his discussion of the possibility of a sudden advance in the Christian’s experience the matter is approached through an exposition of conversion. There is a divine side and a human side to conversion; and so far as it is a human work, it admits of degrees, because both the repentance and the faith which constitute this side of it are capable of continuous deepening. From this point of view a Christian may find himself repenting and believing over and over again.

“Inasmuch as every increase of faith includes within itself a deepening of repentance, the phrase ‘daily repentance’ may be employed in a good sense, when what is meant by daily repentance is not an expectation of daily repeated falls into known sins and a weak complaining regret for them, and such a continuous condition of spiritual weakness and lamentation is not held to be necessary.19 Even the child of God who is converted and is walking in sanctification should always perceive afresh and with increasing clearness how guilty, sinful and impotent to all good he is in himself, and what grace and power he has in Jesus. Yes, when the defects of his Christian life are really made clear by God’s Spirit to a Christian and then he finds in faith greater unsuspected grace and gracious power in Jesus, it is to him often as if he were newly converted. From this it may be explained that many Christians have erroneously called by the name of a ‘second conversion’ their experience, after long stumbling, of fuller sanctification in the power of Christ’s blood through their fuller surrender to and fuller faith in Jesus as the Deliverer from all sins and as the compassionately leading Good Shepherd” (pp. 287 f.).

Here an experience presenting itself to the consciousness as revolutionary is explained as only a step in the normal advance of the Christian in the experience of grace. Similarly, we read at another place:

“This laying aside of sin and of the old man, as we have said, should begin in conversion, and every converted Christian has a right to hold himself to be dead to sin and crucified with Christ; but nevertheless the fact is apparent that even in the Apostolic age the majority of believers had need of an exhortation to do this. When, however, the apostles lay such a requirement on believers, they are not exhorting them to a half and gradual, but to an immediate and complete laying aside of sin. For what one will not do in this matter completely and at once, that he never does rightly and with effect. It is, however, self-evident that no matter how thorough and decisive the renunciation is, there remains a place for a progressive deepening: for when the degree of light on sin increases and new sins are discovered, these new sins also must be discarded and they can be laid aside only instance by instance. Where a clear knowledge of Christ’s power of deliverance exists, therefore, in the beginning of conversion, and where a faithful conflict is carried on in the power of the blood of Christ—there a more spasmodic, sudden renunciation in the Christian’s walk will be less in evidence. Therefore the more clearly the power of the blood of Christ to deliver is preached to souls from the beginning, and grasped by them, the more seldom will these sudden transitions, similar to ‘second conversions,’ occur in the life of Christians. (Just as absolutely sudden conversions are less to be expected in the case of those who grow up in good Christian nurture.) When anything like a ‘second conversion’ shows itself in the life of a Christian, it is likely either that there was no accurate knowledge of the right way of salvation possessed in the beginning, or that the converted Christian had fallen into hazardous inner unfaithfulnesses and falterings. This suddenness in the renunciation of sins and deeper sanctification which is so offensive to many would occur more infrequently if the preaching of sanctification in Jesus were clearer” (pp. 499 f.).

Here certainly the “second blessing” (note the application in the last sentence) is represented not as the normal experience of the heroes of faith, but as an abnormality due either to the insufficient knowledge or to the unfaithful life of the average Christian, which may be expected to be made rarer by faithful preaching.

Of course, in these circumstances, it cannot be taught that the “second blessing” is necessary, if we are to have all that Christ has in Himself for His people. We read without surprise:

“It is quite possible, in the case of a Christian soul, that his surrender to Christ in his conversion should be so decisive and complete, and remain so true to his increasing knowledge in the course of his Christian life, and should grow so constantly, that there is no room for a temporally distinct, renewed surrender which essentially and instantaneously changes the inner condition. There is needed only a steady growth of surrender, since no partial disobedience and no partial retrogression is found here. When surrender and trust have been complete from conversion and have grown evenly side by side and soundly—then a distinct, renewed surrender, which would change the inward condition essentially and suddenly for the better, and notably advance it, would not be possible, precisely because it would be already existent” (p. 507).20

“We are not then to assume,” we read on the next page, “that according to the Bible, a second temporally distinct event of a complete surrender must occur in the case of every believing Christian.” But it is immediately added: “But according to actual experience, it is true that in the case of most believing Christians a lack of complete faith-surrender and a partial walking in self-seeking or self-sufficiency, or self-tormenting, or world-serving, shows itself in the case of most believing Christians not long after conversion and the first warmth of love.” This hardly means anything else than that the need of the “second blessing” is due to the failure of the Christian to receive or use the first blessing aright: it is not an essentially different transaction communicating an essentially different blessing, but only a reparation for past failure. It therefore does not surprise us to find Jellinghaus writing as follows:

“Some have maintained in England and America, and very lately in Germany too, that a converted man does not become a complete Christian and does not become a really blessed, powerful instrument for God’s Kingdom, until he has received suddenly and consciously a second baptism with the Holy Spirit. In this there is only so much true as that a great multitude of men of God have suddenly experienced, after their conversion, a new deep baptism with the Holy Spirit; many of them at a time when the cleansing power of the blood of Christ and the greatness of the love of Christ had come brightly before their eyes in knowledge and experience. But the New Testament nowhere requires a second sudden baptism with the Holy Spirit for all believers. In the case of the most, the deeper filling with the Holy Ghost comes gradually, with sufferings, humiliations and marvelous answers to prayer and deliverances, through the deeper experience of the powers of Christ’s death and resurrection.—He who teaches that every Christian must have the experience of the eradication of his sinful nature, and of his sinlessness, through a second baptism of the Holy Spirit, is an anti-Biblical fanatic and a victim of delusion” (p. 71).

This is in principle to discard the whole idea of the “second blessing” as taught by W. E. Boardman and the Smiths, to say nothing of John Wesley standing in the background.21

At the very end of his book22 Jellinghaus devotes a page to repeating all this, led thereto by the emergence of what he himself recognizes as the most serious difficulty in the way of the contention that believers must believe again in order to become fully sanctified. This is that we read nowhere in the New Testament that believers are to receive the sanctifying power of the death and resurrection of Christ only by a second surrender. The New Testament writers always refer the duty, the right, the power, to die to sin, to the communion in the death and resurrection of Christ which has been entered into at conversion. Jellinghaus does not think of denying that this is the fact; and he feels constrained to add: “According to the Bible, there is no justification and regeneration which does not already include in itself the essential beginning of all sanctification.” That is to say, in brief, the faith which justifies sanctifies—at least in the beginnings of sanctification, beginnings which include in themselves the promise and potency of all sanctification. In these circumstances he feels it necessary to add further that it cannot be denied that it is possible (unfortunately he underscores the “possible”) “for a Christian at once at justification and regeneration so to enter into communion in the death- and the resurrection-life of Jesus, that he has a power of victory over external and internal sins in Christ or”—he adds—“that he at least so grows gradually into it that there is no question of a particular second point of time for a fuller sanctification.” He is compelled to go even further than this, and to say that not only is such an experience possible (with the underscored “possible”), but it is in certain circumstances the normal history of the soul. If the soul has been fortunate enough to enjoy from the beginning—the beginning of its life or of its Christian experience—correct instruction with respect to the way of salvation, and has given faithful and unwavering obedience throughout (perhaps we are not to read this as an impossible condition)—why, this is the normal course. He says:

“This must be set forth clearly and plainly, that we may not fall into un-Biblical artificialities and repel those who know their Bibles. A sharp separation of two distinct sorts of sanctification, we do not find in the Bible. It cannot be taught on Biblical grounds that we must all first be justified and regenerated, and then we must all later, at a definite time and by a sudden, definite transaction, be sanctified in complete fashion” (p. 692).

We are sorry that Jellinghaus holds back a little even in this declaration. The Bible not only does not teach that we must “all” be first justified and then by a distinct act of faith “all” be sanctified. It does not teach that any will be so dealt with. What it teaches is that justification and sanctification are but successive steps, inseparably joined together by an immanent bond, in the realization of the one salvation which is received by faith. Jellinghaus does not quite come to this point of view. He says it is possible for a man to be sanctified at the same time that he is justified, if—. He is thinking of sanctification not as the necessary issue of justification, included in principle in it, but as some sort of a separate entity, which the Scriptures join with it invariably, it is true, but which is not in the nature of the case its inevitable consequent. And therefore he at once qualifies even this admission—for it is after all an admission with him. “However true that is,” he adds, “we may not, according to the teaching of the New Testament, and according to Christian experience, maintain that every justified man manifests and must manifest already in his life the whole sanctifying power of the death and resurrection of Christ.”

That is, however, precisely what we must maintain—if we are to be true to the New Testament; that is to say, of course, if we mean it in the New Testament sense. For the words have a certain ambiguity buried in them, and Jellinghaus means them in the wrong sense, in the sense, that is, that sanctification in its completeness is received all at once at the very moment of justification. “We dare not say,” he explains, “that justification and actual sanctification fall absolutely together; that he who is fully justified is sanctified in the full measure in which this is possible on earth; that he who has experienced the sanctifying power of the death and blood of Christ only in a partial way is also not yet fully justified.” And then he appeals to New Testament passages in which those who are assumed to be justified are exhorted to advance in their Christian walk! Of course we dare not say anything of this sort, for sanctification is a progressive thing, as is already allowed indeed when it is pointed out that the New Testament exhorts Christians to advance in their Christian walk. Temptation to say anything of the sort can assail those only who conceive of sanctification as some kind of limited entity which can be received all at once. It is because Jellinghaus so conceives it that he is unable to accept, without qualification, what he himself recognizes as Bible teaching.

If it seems to us that the shadow of the “second blessing” to which alone Jellinghaus can cling after this is hardly worth clinging to, especially at the cost he is compelled to pay for it, that is probably because we underestimate the constraint he was under, arising from his doctrine of perfection, to preserve at least some shadow of it. His interest, it is true, does not center immediately in the “second blessing.” But it does center in what he calls, in the title of his book, “full, present salvation through Christ.” He wishes to teach that we may enter by faith alone into the immediate enjoyment of the whole salvation that is in Christ Jesus. Suddenness of entrance into this full salvation belongs accordingly to the essence of his doctrine. Jesus would not seem to him a complete Deliverer if we had to wait for the deliverance received in Him to be gradually accomplished in us through a long process of growth, especially if this prolonged itself throughout life. At least our experience of salvation must be at once complete on faith. That indeed is already involved in the postulate of his “mediating theology,” and this is the reason of his strong insistence that sanctification too, as well as justification, must be conceived as objectively perfect and ready for us in Christ, to be taken over from Him by faith alone.

The postulates of his “mediating theology” would interpose no obstacle, it is true, to supposing that this full sanctification, objectively complete, ready for us in Christ, is taken over in the same act of faith by which we receive justification. Rather, they are really patient to no other supposition; and he finds himself in straits on this account as he seeks to save for himself even the shadow of the “second blessing” which he preserves. The Scriptures to which he appeals to justify his doctrine of the immediate reception of complete sanctification by faith, also connect this reception of complete sanctification with the same act of faith by which we receive justification. But there were powerful motives operating to prevent Jellinghaus from following in this either the postulates of his fundamental theology or the implication of his Scriptures. It is too clear to be denied, that the Scriptures are full of exhortations to men, assumed to be justified, to make advances in their holy walk, and therefore cannot mean to teach that every justified man is by the very act by which he received his justification also at once fully sanctified. It is also too clear to be denied that, in point of experience, not all who must be presumed to be justified are fully sanctified—unless we are prepared to refuse to recognize as a Christian at all any one who is not obviously perfect—a position to the intolerableness of which Jellinghaus shows himself to be keenly sensitive.

The assumption of such an attitude towards the Christian body at large would, moreover, abolish the chief religious motive which is urged in justification of the doctrine of immediate sanctification by faith—the need of encouragement for men who, having believed, yet find themselves still undelivered from sinning, and who are ready therefore to despair of salvation itself. These men need to be assured that, despite appearances, they have not believed in vain, that their faith avails for deliverance from the guilt of sin, and the way is open still for them now to believe again for deliverance from its power. Under the stress of such considerations, that he might maintain his fundamental doctrine of immediate sanctification by faith, Jellinghaus was under necessity to preserve at least a shadow of the doctrine of the “second blessing.”


In the former portion of this article it has been pointed out that the task which Jellinghaus set himself was, essentially, to adjust the Higher Life doctrine which he had received from Pearsall Smith to his own fundamental thinking, which ran on the lines of the so-called “mediating theology.” We have seen that the primary effect was to destroy, in principle, the notion of the “second blessing,” which formed the pivot of Smith’s teaching; and that a semblance of this doctrine was preserved only in the interests of the idea of immediate sanctification by faith, which Jellinghaus found it necessary in one way or another to maintain.

It is quite true that his doctrine of the nature of the immediate sanctification, which we receive by faith alone, has itself also suffered somewhat from his endeavor to give it a form which may at least seem to be tolerable, in the face alike of intractable Scriptures and plain facts. He is very careful, for example, not to lift the idea of sanctification—of the “perfection” which he supposes is received immediately by faith—too high. In endeavoring to define it moderately he sometimes no doubt employs language of it, which, if taken strictly, would lead us nowhither. For instance, at one place he says:

“The Christian should and can become pure and remain pure from all sins and all impurity of a kind (welche geeignet ist) to interrupt his inner communion with God and his peace with Jesus” (p. 621).23

Of course there is no sin of conduct and no sinfulness of disposition, of whatever sort, kind, or degree, the proper effect of which is not to interrupt our communion with God and our peace with Jesus. If it does not actually interrupt our communion with God and our peace with Jesus, that can only be because our communion with God and our peace with Jesus have their ground not in our own holiness, but in Christ Himself—rest, in accordance with 1 John 2 on what Jesus has done for us and is doing in us, and not on any works or attainments of our own. The effect of Jellinghaus’ statement is to declare that there are some sins which God will tolerate in His children and some which He will not. This seems to reintroduce the exploded distinction between mortal and venial sins, and appears to license Christians to commit a certain class of sins. In order to learn what degree of sinfulness God tolerates in His children, that is to say, what is the quality of their “perfection,” however, we must go elsewhere.

We are as little advanced in our understanding of the matter when a “perfect” Christian is defined as “a Christian to whom God’s Word ascribes a pure heart and holiness.”24 For, as Jellinghaus himself reminds us, God’s Word ascribes a pure heart and holiness to all Christians indifferently. They are all addressed as “saints” and spoken of as “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” A “saint” in Scripture is not an eminent believer—a twofold believer, a believer who has believed twice—but any believer at all. This is reinforced by the fact that the Bible seldom addresses or speaks of believers as “sinners,” as we have grown accustomed to do.25 Accordingly Jellinghaus has a certain unwillingness to use the word “perfection” only of a higher class among Christians.

“All Christians from their regeneration onward can be perfect in their kind, and it therefore creates confusion when a last, highest, concluding stage of perfection is so spoken of” (p. 705).

“The word means what we now designate by the expressions ‘entirely Christian,’ ‘rightly Christian,’ ‘rightly standing,’ ‘decisive Christian,’ ‘truly Christian.’ As we speak without hesitation of complete, true, decisive, rightly standing Christians, we need not hesitate to say, according to the Bible, that Christians can and ought to be ‘perfect’ ” (p. 707).

He is not denying here that there are “stages” of Christian attainment or that there is such a thing as the “second blessing.” He is only arguing that “perfection” is not a word to be frightened at, and that all Christians may and ought to be “perfect.” He wishes, however, to be discreet in the use of language and in the definition of conditions. And therefore he says:

“It is thoroughly Biblical to say that Christians ought and can be perfect, entire, holy, sanctified, and unblamable. But it does not at all follow that, according to the Bible, we may speak of entire sanctification, perfect holiness, complete sanctity. By uniting these words into one notion an entirely new sense arises, which does not lie in the separate words. I can call a king ‘a complete king,’ and ‘a wise king,’ and ‘a righteous king’ without intending to maintain that the king is ‘altogether wise’ and ‘wholly righteous.’ Similarly I can, according to the Bible, say of Christians, that they are entire, perfect, holy, pure and unblamable. But I cannot on that account appeal to the Bible when I speak of ‘perfect holiness’ and ‘entire sanctification’ and ‘complete purity’ ” (p. 709).

Again, and more to our point:

“It is said of Christians in the Bible that they should and can be perfect, but it is not declared of the holiness or the purity of Christians that it is perfect and unsurpassable. We are not justified, then, according to the Bible in speaking of ‘complete sanctification’ and ‘perfect holiness’ with respect to Christians sanctified in the higher sense, as, after the example of Charles Wesley, many otherwise excellent theologians in England and America do. The Bible declares plainly that ‘holiness’ and ‘perfection’ belong to the complete or rightly standing Christian, this side of the grave. But that does not give us the right to speak of perfect holiness or complete holiness or even only of complete sanctification. This is to go beyond the Biblical modes of expression” (p. 709).

He is speaking here of those who have received the “second blessing.” They are “perfect,” but the notion of “perfection” must not be pressed too far. That is all that we learn from this discussion.

When we come to inquire what the condition thus called “perfection” precisely is, we are not left, however, without some very extended descriptions of it. It lies in the nature of the case that these should be introduced in connection with discussions of the relation of Christians to sin. There is a section, for example, on the “necessary marks of regeneration, justification, conversion, and the state of grace.”26 The chief of these marks is found not in faith but in a holy life. We read, however, in exposition of this holy life such statements as the following:

“The most important mark of regeneration for the Christian himself and also for outsiders is decisive renunciation of all and every conscious sin” (p. 327).

“Whoever of set purpose and wilfully commits sin and yet would fain be in favor with God wretchedly deceives himself in contradiction to God’s clear Word” (p. 328).

All commission of wilful sin is avoidable; the power to avoid it comes with faith.

“He who is regenerated and depends on Christ in faith, has also not merely the ‘good will’ to desert sin, but also in Christ the power to avoid all plain, gross sin. The true Christian has the will to be obedient to Christ and also is obedient to Him; Paul therefore often designates the whole of Christianity as the obedience of faith. For there is no faith and no surrender of faith in Christ without obedience of faith. We must certainly have some doubts with respect to all those Christians who of course wish to be obedient in general but say in some particular matters, in opposition to God’s will, ‘I cannot do that,’ or ‘God cannot demand that sacrifice of me’ ” (p. 328).

It surely needs no argument to prove that defiant sinning is inconsistent with a Christian profession. That there are some sins which may be committed by a Christian, however, without forfeiture of his status as a Christian, does not seem to be denied. It is indeed already allowed, when what is said is that “conscious” sinning—naturally at once corrected into “premeditated and wilful” sinning, which, by the way, is not at all the same thing—cannot be thought of in a Christian’s case.

A distinction is intimated here. And this distinction is pursued. We read:

“Many now have maintained that a regenerated man must necessarily be free also from the sins of weakness and of thoughtlessness, and from the inner stains that arise from the sinful passions of hate, jealousy, covetousness, timidity, lewdness, frivolity and pride” (p. 329).

This is not the contention which Jellinghaus himself makes. He says:

“Assuredly this is the aim and privilege of the regenerated man—that he should have victory over these things too.…

“But [he is constrained to add] it contradicts a whole multitude of Bible passages and also Christian experience when this is set forth as a necessary mark of life from God and of living faith.

“The same John [he says, that is, the same John who seems to say that a Christian does not sin at all] says in 1 John 2:2, ‘If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father.’ Paul says, in the same passage in which he asserts as unconditioned fact ‘that those who do such things (that is, live in conscious open sin) shall not inherit the kingdom of God,’ of the weak condition of many Galatians (Gal. 5:15–24), ‘For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh: these are contrary one to the other, that ye do not what ye wish.’ ”

If there are sins, then, which a Christian cannot commit, there are others which he may possibly commit, and we must not deceive ourselves or judge others harshly in this matter.

“That this distinction between conscious, intentional sins which are committed and not resisted, and unconscious sins and sins of weakness which are hated and resisted, and by which men are overtaken, is often not kept clearly in mind is true. It is important, however, that this distinction should always be made, in order that souls may not deceive themselves, and brethren may not be rashly and unjustly judged” (p. 329).

But the warning is added:

“Let every Christian bear well in mind that so soon as he no longer hates, repents, resists his sins of weakness and steadily more and more conquers them in Christ, they become to him condemning sins of wickedness” (p. 330).

Much the same ground is gone over again later in the volume, when the topic of “the victory over sin” is formally taken up.27 A beginning is made here with a survey of “the several senses of the word ‘sin.’ ” The word is used first, we are told, in the sense of “conscious, intentional transgression of God’s commandment, or of conscious sins with malice.” Sin in this sense, we are told, is “wholly incompatible with Christian faith and a state of grace”; “a man who commits such a sin either never has been a believing Christian or has fallen out of the state of grace.”28 Such a statement is, of course, wholly without warrant, and we are not surprised to find Jellinghaus at once addressing himself to mitigating it. He says, among other things, that the Bible does not permit us to brand as “a conscious sin in the full sense, every sin with reference to which the man has some feeling that he is doing wrong”—and instances Peter’s denial as an example in point! It emerges then, after all, that “conscious” sins are not absolutely incompatible with a state of grace, and we are glad to read a few pages farther on a wise warning against making too much of the element of clear consciousness in sinning:

“Accordingly it would be very dangerous to take the notion of sin too narrowly and to make the Christian consciousness and the conscience the sole judge of the sinfulness or rightness of conduct: it would be decisively contrary to true humility and self-knowledge should we deny that God sees badness and evil in us and our actions (1 Cor. 4:4, Luke 12:47, the fifth and sixth petitions of the Lord’s prayer, Matt. 6:12–15), which we do not see. Most ‘unconscious sins’ can be traced back to our original sin, inasmuch as the human power of discrimination with reference to God’s will and between good and evil is much weakened by it and man finds himself prone to evil. Other unconscious sins are the result of a ‘little faith’ which is displeasing to God. We must therefore humble ourselves and ask God’s forgiveness for these our hidden faults and offences also. It is often, too, previous indifference, lukewarmness, failure in love which is responsible for a Christian’s doing something, without noting it, that is sinful. Therefore the Roman Catholic maxim, Invincibilis ignorantia excusat a toto (invincible ignorance completely excuses), is not altogether true. It is a more important and a truer evangelical maxim that we are to find sin not merely in individual evil deeds, but in the evil dispositions of the heart. He who sees sin only in individual deeds, falls easily into work-righteousness and self-deception” (pp. 609 f.).

Nevertheless the distinction between “conscious” and “unconscious” sins is so far clung to as that, whereas conscious sinning is pronounced incompatible with Christian faith, it is allowed that no Christian can be free from unconscious sinning while here on earth.

“For [it is explained] so long as the Christian is not perfectly pure and good in his own nature and is not omniscient, he will fall into error and will, with the best intention, through error act wrongly” (p. 610).

Nor is this all that is to be said. There is another category of sin still to be reckoned with. We read further:

“If we should understand, however, still more broadly by sin, ‘lack of conformity with the perfect holiness and purity of God,’ it is clear that the Christian can never be without sin in this world—yes, that all that he does, even though he does it out of a pure heart and a hearty love to God and man, would be sin or infected with sin.”

On this statement we must pause a moment, for it is a very remarkable statement—in the sense which Jellinghaus puts on it. For he is not speaking of “original sin” here, and the condition of man as fallen in Adam and a member of a sin-infected race. He is speaking of the natural constitution of man. “In this sense of holy,” he says—meaning in the sense of “holy” implied in the definition of sin as “lack of conformity with the perfect holiness and purity of God”—“pure and perfect as God, Adam was not sinless even before the fall”—an assertion which he lamely supports by an appeal to 1 Cor. 15:45–47, whence, he says, it follows “that Adam did not yet possess the spiritual nature and the spiritual mind of the perfected righteous man, and was therefore no doubt guiltless but still defective”—a perfect nest of confusions. “The Bible, however,” he adds, “never uses the word ‘sin’ in this sense”; and that is true if what he means is that the Bible never uses it in a sense which confuses it with the incomplete; and he adds equally truly that to give “sin” this sense would be “to erase the sharp contradiction between sin and righteousness.”

It is not so clear, however, that the Bible does not use “sin” in the sense of any “want of conformity with the perfect holiness and purity of God.” In point of fact, on the contrary, that is just the sense in which the Bible does statedly use the word, though it does not understand itself as thereby convicting man as man as sinner, but only as convicting man as fallen as sinner. Jellinghaus does indeed declare29 that it is made clear that the Bible “does not use the word ‘sin’ in this sense”—the sense, namely, of any “want of conformity with the perfect holiness and purity of God”—by this, “that it maintains that the Christian can walk righteously, holily, perfectly, umblamably, and not sin.” But here he has overreached himself in his eagerness to make a point in favor of his Perfectionism. This representation of the condition of the Christian relative to sin is obviously just as inconsistent with a universal inherent sinfulness of mankind referred to its fall in Adam, as if it were referred to its nature as created by God. And Jellinghaus does not deny that man is fallen in Adam, or that, as fallen in Adam, he is inherently sinful with a sinfulness which infects him up to the grave, so that, therefore, on this account also, no man can be free from sin so long as he lives in this world.

That the fact of “original sin” could slip out of Jellinghaus’ thought at this point of the discussion is no doubt evidence that it played no great part in his conception of the Christian’s condition in this world. He does not think of such a thing as denying the fact of “original sin” or its infection of men throughout the whole duration of their lives on earth, even as Christians. On the contrary, he gives formal recognition to these facts.30 He speaks freely of man’s “sinful nature,” calling it “the flesh,” and describing it as “an evil fundamental nature (Naturgrund).” He declares repeatedly that this “evil fundamental nature” is not eradicated in the Christian but remains in him up to the end. He speaks of it indeed as suppressed in its activities, so that it lies as it were inert and “dead” in the background of the Christian’s life. And thus he makes a place for his declaration that the Christian can be in a sense without sin, that is to say, without sinning.

“Sin in this sense ought to be crucified in the Christian and brought by Christ’s blood into the condition of death, and should be held in that state, so that it cannot reign and cannot make the heart unclean, and therefore the Christian is also actually in this sense ‘free from sin,’ and sins not (Rom. 6). [But he feels bound to add at once with strong emphasis:] But it is still there in the fundamental nature (Naturgrund), up to the grave, in the case of the most sanctified” (p. 607).

If it were not there, he goes on to say, those sanctified in this high degree could never fall into sin again, and their children would be born sinless.

Though crucified in Christ and slain on His cross, then, sin remains very much alive. It does not affect the Christian’s activities as he walks in his holy life—and yet it lies there in the background so far affecting him that it is due to it that he can sin again, and that he does sin if he ever sins again. Our complex soul-body nature “cannot be sanctified this side of the grave in the fashion that the seed of sin in it is forever eradicated and offers no longer a handle for sin.”31 “Yes, the flesh remains in Christians unholy”;32 “the old man and the flesh are no doubt crucified by their connection by faith with the crucified one, but are not eradicated nor destroyed”;33 “the flesh with its lusts is no doubt crucified in the believer, but is still existent and in a certain sense living and always capable of being resuscitated.”34 But Christ stands between us and this, our fundamental evil nature, and makes it as if it were not our inner selves but a dead thing encysted within us.

“If the old man and the flesh are actually thus crucified and thus buried with Christ through faith in the Holy Spirit as the gospel plainly testifies (Rom. 6:6), then the Christian has the right to look upon the old man and the flesh as something external, from which he is actually divided and separated by the cross of Christ so long as he abides in Jesus. He may confidently believe that Jesus’ blood is nearer to him than the old man; yes, that Jesus’ blood and cross stand between him and the old man as a no doubt transparent but trusty shield” (p. 625).

We perceive, then, that while a true “Perfectionism” is taught by Jellinghaus, the perfection which he teaches is, in the first place, a perfection only of acts, not of nature. In their fundamental nature (Naturgrund) the perfect remain sinful. In the next place this perfection of acts is not an objective perfection. The perfect man is perfect only by his own subjective standard which is always imperfect and always changing.

“He would not be unblamable and holy before God, if God would try and judge him and his works out of Christ according to the law of holiness that belongs to angels” (p. 639).35

Still further, the perfection of the perfect man is not such that even his own conscience does not accuse him. He does things which even he himself feels to be wrong, and must judge his own conduct, as he ought to judge that of others, benevolently.36 Nor is his perfection such that he is free from sins of weakness, inadvertence, hastiness, ignorance, even if these sins are rooted in bad habits or bad judgment or bad conditions which have been created by his own former sins.

“If we must say, according to the Scriptures, that the Christian can have a clean heart and need not sin, we must nevertheless say also and emphasize in the clearest manner, that the Christian is not delivered by complete faith and complete surrender to Christ’s sanctifying power, from all sins of ignorance, and omissions of good things which come afterwards into his consciousness; and not from errors and wrong actions which arise out of defective knowledge and insight” (p. 634).

It is even possible for the perfect man to be very imperfect in his life-manifestation in the just view of his fellow-men. There is many a man who makes a poor showing before his fellows—burdened as he is with inherited prejudices, narrowness of associations, weak memory, poor training, and handicapped by sickness or shattered nerves—who will be very differently judged in the forum of Heaven; which seems to say it is only by an exercise of mercy towards him that God can count him acceptable.

“The Christian who abides in Jesus and follows the Good Shepherd steadily, is holy, irreproachable, blameless, in the eyes of his merciful Father in Christ Jesus, who requires of him, His weak child, nothing that surpasses his powers. He is, however, not irreproachable, unblamable, faultless and perfect in the eyes of his fellow-men—especially in his characteristics as pupil, maid, soldier, craftsman, artist, teacher, theologian, and the like. Men can see much that is incompetent, wrong and faulty in his works” (p. 639).

It goes without saying, of course, that moral perfection and technical perfection are different things; and we are not unwilling to allow also—as we are often exhorted to allow—up to a certain point, that moral perfection and religious perfection are not quite the same thing. But Jellinghaus is not appealing to these distinctions here; he wishes us to understand that a man may be perfect in the sight of God (who judges in full view of all the circumstances), in whom his neighbors must recognize much that is imperfect not only from the technical, but from the ethical, and not only from the ethical, but from the religious, point of view. Perfection with him is so little a matter of exact conformity to a perfect moral and religious standard that it is consistent with not only a fundamental evil nature lying in wait in the background of life, but with a multitude of actual sins, committed in ignorance, or inadvertence or haste, or out of ingrained prejudices or fixed habits of conduct, even when the commission of them is not unaccompanied with some sense of wrong-doing.37 It must be admitted that Jellinghaus deals very tenderly with the imperfections of the perfect. And we think it must be admitted also that the model from which he has painted his portrait of the perfect man was drawn rather from the ranks of what most of us would speak of merely as sincere Christians.

Jellinghaus himself, however, insists that the portrait he has painted is that of the perfect man. We are not playing with words here. We have pointed out that Jellinghaus explains that the term “perfect” is used in the Scriptures in a sense equivalent to what we would mean if we spoke of a “sincere” Christian. But Jellinghaus defines for himself the sense in which he is arguing that perfection is within the reach of Christians in this world. And the characteristic on which he insists—despite the amount of sinning which he in the end allows to his perfect Christian—is precisely “that they are free from sin,” that they “do not sin.” We have just38 quoted a sentence from him in which he declares39 that the Bible “maintains that the Christian can walk righteously, holily, perfectly, unblamably, and not sin.” And we might quote any number more to the same effect. Precisely what he contends for, he tells us, is that “a continuous abiding in Christ and continuous victory over sin”40—that “continuous preservation from sin in Christ”41—is possible for us all. And this he must contend for if he is to save anything for his “second blessing” at all, since he allows that it brings not a new gift, sanctification in contrast with justification, but a new stage of the gift of sanctification already received in the first stage in and with justification. Naturally he makes use of the parallel between the two transactions, after the custom of the Higher Life writers, in order to commend and explain the second. He begins his discussion of “sanctification and victory through the blood of Jesus,” for example, with this parallel. Jesus as a Deliverer present in the Word “has taken away our guilt” on simple faith.

“Similarly, or almost identically, is it with the victory over the sins of weakness of the believer and with the attainment and preservation of a clean heart. If Christ has really broken the power of sin in the cross and in the resurrection, and if He has become a complete, accessible Deliverer from all sins, so that sin, flesh, old man, world, death, devil are vanquished foes with Him, and for everyone who takes refuge with Him and will die to sin with Him and in His power—then a sure victory and energetic walk in sanctification even now is to be hoped for for believers, and looked for in faith with assurance. If the Scriptures testify the fact that Christ is a complete Deliverer from ‘the power of sin and the anxieties of our own guidance,’ just as plainly and clearly as the fact of deliverance from the guilt of sin, then we can be even now sure in joyful trust, and experience, that not only is the Biblical doctrine of the forgiveness of sin a good tidings of free grace for the guilt-laden, but that also the Biblical doctrine of sanctification similarly offers us as a good tidings the free grace and gift of sanctification and victory obtained for us in Christ, to be believingly accepted and possessed now, no matter how weak we are in ourselves” (pp. 438 f.).


“It is with the deliverance also from the finer power of sin precisely as it is with the deliverance from the guilt of sin. Because Christ has fully wrought out deliverance from the guilt of sin and brings it Himself in the Word, therefore the sinner who comes to himself can ‘immediately’ (jetzt gleich) and ‘just as he is,’ receive in Christ ‘through faith,’ grace and forgiveness. Since now Christ has also wrought out deliverance from all the power of sin through His death and His resurrection, and is now a mighty emancipating Deliverer and Shepherd from all sins and ways of our own, the Christian who is hungering after righteousness can enter ‘immediately’ according to the measure of his knowledge into this victorious power and the peace-bringing leading of Christ, and persist in this present salvation, in this continuous Now of victory and peace. For in any case it is a matter of a continuous Now and a continuing deliverance, not of a once-for-all faith and a once-for-all victory” (p. 670).

The emphasis in this statement is on the immediacy of the effect; as we received forgiveness of sins at once on our first believing, so do we receive our full deliverance from the power of sin at once on this our second believing. But, along with this, emphasis is thrown on the continuousness of both the cause and the effect. Jesus saves us now—if I believe now; and the believer is to live in a continuous believing and consequent continuous salvation. This is, of course, the well known “moment by moment” doctrine of the Higher Life teachers.42

The main purpose of this teaching is to prevent us from supposing that the source of our holiness is in ourselves. But it has the additional effect of denying with great emphasis that the seat of our holiness—any of it, at any time—is in ourselves. It thus makes our holiness in all its extent purely a holiness of acts, never of nature. What we obtain by faith is Christ—as a Preserver from sinful acts. By continuous faith we obtain Him continuously—as Preserver from sinful acts; and only from those particular sinful acts with which we are for the moment threatened. We do not at any time obtain Him as Savior from all possible sins, but only as Savior from the particular sinful acts for protection from which we, from time to time, need Him. Thus we are never made “holy” in any substantial sense, so that we are ourselves holy beings. And also accordingly we are never made “holy” in any conclusive sense, so that, being holy in ourselves, naturally we continue holy. This is the way Jellinghaus expresses himself:

“They [believing Christians] are not called upon to appropriate to themselves all the powers of sanctification which are present in Jesus immediately (jetzt gleich) and to become immediately transfigured in an especially high degree into the image of Christ; but only to trust Christ as a victorious helper and to experience His help for the needs of sanctification of which they are presently conscious, and against the foes, outer and inner, which are at the moment making themselves felt. The believing Christian should in any case never seek to have in himself a store of sanctification, but rise every morning poor, in order to depend on the present gracious powers of his rich Deliverer. The sanctified Christian remains in himself poor, absolutely poor in power and wisdom, but he has confidence that Jesus leads him in His wisdom and continually grants him the necessary powers of grace for every necessary work and struggle” (pp. 671 f.).

We are, says Jellinghaus, like a poor relation living in a rich man’s house as a dependent, and receiving all he needs day by day from his benefactor, but never being made rich himself.

The purpose in view here is to emphasize our constant dependence on Christ. But this is done so unskilfully as to end in denying the possibility of our sanctification. We never are ourselves made holy; only our acts are provided for. We ask nothing and we get nothing beyond the meeting of our daily needs in sustaining our struggles on earth. As for ourselves, we remain unholy, apparently forever. We are told:

“Even the most sanctified Christian must confess of himself that in him, that is in his flesh, nothing good dwells” (p. 626).

That is to say that nothing in the way of betterment has happened to him himself. The illustration used is that a piece of iron, in itself cold and black, is in the fire hot and glowing.

“So, the Christian is in himself fleshly and can perform only works of the flesh; but in Jesus he is free from the dominion of the flesh and clean, and can also walk and behave like Jesus” (p. 626).

“Not in himself is the believer dead to sin, but in Christ; not in himself is he lively and powerful for the walk in holy love but in Christ, the saving and sanctifying head and leader” (p. 627).

But—is not hot iron hot and glowing in itself, and not merely “in the fire” by which it is made hot and glowing? There is a confusion here between the source and the seat of the heat.

“A Christian obtains [we read in a parallel passage] through regeneration or through a higher stage of sanctification not an independent holiness, not a freedom from the old man in his own strength, or such a strength of the new man that it can itself hold the flesh in death. The Christian can be pure only as a member of Christ our Head, as a branch of the vine. In himself every Christian is a branch of sinful humanity and is prone to sin. Only through implantation into Christ’s death and resurrection can he be and remain holy. Separated from Christ and His purifying blood (blood signifies the life of Christ given in death and resurrection), he is sinful and has sin” (pp. 456 ff., commenting on 1 John 1:8).

If this be true then salvation is impossible. We are never saved. We only seem to be saved, because Christ works through us the works of a saved soul. That is not the way John conceived it, or Christ. Naturally most painful results follow from such representations. For example, our aspirations are lowered. We are never to wish or seek to be holy ourselves, but are to be content with being enabled to meet in our unholiness the temptations of the day. We lose the elevating power of a high ideal. And we are to be satisfied with never being “well-pleasing to God.” Says Jellinghaus:

“When God is pleased with us, it is with what Christ works in us, not with what we in our own power and imagined goodness and wisdom do” (p. 672).

What the Scriptures teach is that we shall be more and more transformed into Christ’s image until at last, when we see Him as He is, we shall be like Him, and therefore in ourselves—as He has made us—well-pleasing to God.

There is expressly included in this doctrine a provision for a progressive sanctification, along the ordinary lines of the teaching of the Higher Life Movement in this matter. We have seen Jellinghaus in passages just quoted limiting the ability of the Christian to enter “immediately” into the victorious power and peace-bringing leading of Christ, by such phrases as “according to the measure of his knowledge,”43 and “for the needs of which he is presently conscious.”44 The Christian is freed from all the sinning which at the stage of Christian knowledge to which he has attained he knows to be sinning; and as his knowledge grows so his objective sanctification increases. It is apparently also repeatedly suggested that it depends entirely on the Christian’s own action whether or not he retains his hold on Christ and so continues in his sanctifying walk. Undoubtedly this is in accordance with Jellinghaus’ fundamental conception of the relation of the Christian to Christ and the way of salvation. He continually suggests that our standing in Christ depends absolutely on ourselves. Those that believe in Christ, he tells us for example,45 “have in Him forgiveness and righteousness, and also shall retain it so long as they abide in Christ.”

It is, he continues, like a king granting public amnesty in terms like these: He who appears within a year at a particular place, lays down his weapons, and swears fealty—to him then shall be handed an already prepared diploma of pardon, and he will remain pardoned so long as he maintains his loyalty. He tells us:

“Justification is, no doubt, a judicial sentence on God’s part external to us; but it is a judicial sentence which proceeds on a relation of faith to Christ which has been entered upon, a judicial sentence, which therefore also remains valid only so long as the man remains faithful in his faith in Christ” (p. 273).

Our continued justification depends therefore absolutely on our continued faith, and the implication is that this is left wholly in our hands. Justification cannot therefore be made to cover our future sins—the sin, for example, of failing faith. The predominant mode of expression confines it to past sins—and also, almost as if it were a concession somewhat grudgingly allowed, to our present sins. We read:

“We must hold in the most definite way that to him who believes in Christ, all sins are forgiven completely and wholly through the blood of Christ. Yes, we must even understand that not only all our past sins but our present sinfulness also is forgiven us, and for Christ’s sake will not be reckoned to us.… Luther says: ‘Let everyone learn to understand and believe that Christ has given Himself not only for little and conquered, but also for great and unconquered sins’ ” (p. 270).

Past and present sins—one would think that they would cover all actual sinning, and that would be enough. But Jellinghaus’ mind is disturbed about the sins yet future, and here he falters—justification does not cover all of them. It may perhaps be permitted to cover some of them—the less heinous of them, but not all. He writes:

“We may venture to say, then, that, when God justifies a believing soul, for Christ’s sake, He forgives his past sins, his present sinfulness and the still future sins of weakness (only no sins of malice aforethought or wanton, conscious indifference and unlovingness to Jesus and the brethren)” (p. 271).

This limitation of the scope of justification as regards future sins to “sins of weakness” is of course without Biblical warrant, and equally of course without intelligible meaning. Are we to suppose that the grosser sins, though unprovided for in prospect, nevertheless when actually committed fall at once within the scope of justification (which covers present sins) and are forgiven? They are not forgiven before they are committed; but as soon as they are committed they are forgiven? Whereas the milder sins do not wait for their forgiveness until they are committed, but are already forgiven in prospect?

What Jellinghaus is really laboring for here is to make room in some way for “falling from grace.” He is possessed with the fear that if he does not limit the scope of justification, at least with respect to the grosser future sins, he will give license to sin, which in the end means merely that he has more confidence in man’s efforts than in God’s grace. What he has succeeded in doing is only to destroy all possibility of assurance of salvation. Men are cast back on their own works, whether of faith or of conduct, for their hope of ultimate salvation. God’s justification is valid only if they maintain their faith and commit no sins of malice aforethought, or of conscious indifference, or unlovingness.

There is happily, however, another current of feeling which flows through Jellinghaus’ mind, disturbing the even flow of these disturbing sentiments. Christ, he tells us, has secured by His life, temptations, sufferings, death, and resurrection, this—

“that He is now, for all who give themselves to Him, a mighty, present Deliverer and Good Shepherd, who has the power not only to deliver them from the guilt and power of sin, but also to guide them surely in the way of God. This right and this might Jesus has possessed since He rose and was exalted—that He through the Holy Ghost can dwell and rule in His own” (p. 586).

In these words the negative and positive sides of Christ’s sanctifying work are both emphasized; He both delivers His people from the dominion of sin and leads them in the paths of holiness. And now, we continue:

“The power of their evil self-will is broken in believers through Christ’s death, so that they are ready and able to follow. And Jesus as the exalted one has also received believers as a possession given by the Father (John 10:29), so that no world-power and no nature-power can hinder Him in His leading of them: rather all things must work together for good to those that love and follow Jesus, and break out a way for them” (p. 587).

We read again:

“The apostles often bear witness to a firm conviction not only of the present state of grace of the Christians to whom they write, but also of their happy perseverance to the end” (p. 356).

And again:

“Precisely this chapter, Rom. 8, is full of the most glorious assurances not only of our present state of grace, but also of our abiding in the love of Christ up to the end” (p. 368).

Yet, he can say again in this general connection:

“Only conscious, deliberate sin and deliberate, witting desertion of the covenant of grace brings back again to the standpoint of an unconverted sinner” (p. 371).

Which affirms again the possibility of “falling from grace.” Obviously Jellinghaus is in this matter of a divided mind. He himself says, as a kind of conclusion to the whole matter:

“Both are taught in the Holy Scriptures—that a branch of Christ, therefore a converted man, can be cut off again on account of unfruitfulness—and that there is a personal assurance and sealing not only of the present state of grace but also of perseverance to the end, and of faithful abiding in Jesus” (p. 378).

Jellinghaus’ critics have found it difficult to make it clear to themselves precisely how he conceived sanctification to be received by faith and exactly what happens to the believer when he believes in Jesus as his complete Deliverer from the power of sin.46 What happens to the believer is that he ceases to sin; that is to say, to commit deliberate sins; ceases to sin, that is, in the sense in which Jellinghaus understands that even the sanctified cease from sinning. No change is wrought in the believer’s nature. Jellinghaus is quite vigorous in repudiating what he calls

“the unhappy error that after the reception of forgiveness of sins, we now, through an independent operation of the Holy Spirit, receive a new, independent, sanctified nature” (p. 480).

He speaks, it is true, of the cleansing of the heart, but by the heart in this connection he does not mean the nature, but only the inner springs of action; he is merely providing for the cessation of deliberate inward as well as outward sinning—our victory is over sinful desires as well as sinful transactions.47 Now, what Jellinghaus insists upon is that this transformation of heart and life (not nature) is the direct and immediate result of faith in Christ, or rather of Christ, laid hold of by faith. He that believes receives from Christ directly and immediately—these words must be taken in their strictest meaning—freedom from sinning, inward and outward. He says:

“According to the New Testament, Christ, the crucified and risen one, is the sole ground, means and power of sanctification” (p. 535).

In further explanation, he proceeds:

“Because God is holy, He wishes to restore men to holiness. It was therefore that He sent His Son on the holy sacrificial path through death to an heavenly altar. Jesus sanctified (consecrated) Himself for the men to be delivered in His sacrificial death in order that repentant men might consecrate themselves to die and live with Christ and so be sanctified in Him in the truth. Biblical sanctification is not a self-sanctification by means of self-mortification and self-improvement, or a transformation by means of mystical operations of the Holy Spirit, but it is participation in the death and resurrection power of Jesus, or in Jesus’ holiness.”

So much as this his “mediating theology” compelled him to say; but he does not make it very plain how we by thus laying hold of Him by faith become “partakers of Jesus’ holiness.” In the passage we have been quoting he treats the subject externally under the category of “consecration.” The altar sanctifies the gift, he tells; and we are thus sanctified, apparently by a kind of contact, by standing in the service of God. He only adds that in the New Testament view “this sanctification … must ever manifest itself as practical, or actual, cleansing and righteousness in the love of Christ”; that is, if we rightly understand it, the gift sanctified by the altar is made not merely sacred but holy—made holy because sacred, that it may be suitable for the service it renders.

This is of course to speak in figures. We seem to get somewhat closer to Jellinghaus’ notion of how we actually are sanctified by the reception of Christ, our Deliverer, in faith, in those passages—they are very numerous—in which he insists that sanctification is the immediate effect of “the blood of Christ” apprehended by faith, “blood” standing as the symbol of “the death-and-resurrection-powers” of Christ.48 By faith we participate in the dying and resurrection of our “organic head,” Christ, and therefore both die with Him to sin and rise again to holiness. In one of these passages,49 he more elaborately explains that sanctification is the co-product of three factors—the blood of Christ, the word of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Precisely how it is wrought by these three cooperating agents it is still not very easy to make clearly out. As the blood of Christ is communicated by the Word (the blood “im Worte” is a constant phrase) working by virtue of the Spirit inseparably connected with the Word (according to the constantly asserted Lutheran doctrine of the Word), it is natural to understand the idea intended to be conveyed to be that sanctification (it is, remember, a sanctification only of acts) is wrought directly by man’s own volition, under the influence of the Spirit, communicated by the Word concerning the cross and resurrection. We act holily because we are incited thereto by the Holy Spirit, operating in connection with the preached gospel.

This scarcely appears, it is true, to allow full validity to the constantly repeated assertion that “the blood” of Christ immediately and directly delivers from the power of sin;50 it appears rather to represent it as delivering from the power of sin only mediately and indirectly, namely, through the Word, the Spirit, and our own volitions acting under their influence. Nevertheless this seems to be essentially the manner in which the process of sanctification is conceived. The Word of God, or the gospel of Christ, the gospel of His blood—of His death and resurrection—testifying to the victory of Christ over sin and the devil, communicates to us, by the Spirit of God inseparably connected with it and always acting in, by and through it, the posse to refrain from sin and to do righteousness; we, in this communicated power walk now in newness of life, in Christ’s life, sharers with Him in His death to sin and resurrection to life. It is not out of our own nature that we do this—our own nature is evil and evil continually; it is out of “the blood of Christ,” communicated to us as a posse by the Spirit in the Word. The actio always remains, however, our own. Apparently it was thus that Jellinghaus brought together his fundamental Lutheran doctrine of the Word and the over-lying doctrine of the Mystical Union derived from the “mediating theology.”

For the latter also has something of importance to communicate. What this is we may learn from the following extract. He asks:

“How now are we, then, to understand this—that the Word of God and the truth sanctifies and vivifies us and makes us free from sin?”

And he answers:

“Is this to mean merely [this emphatic ‘merely’ is surely significant] that the teachings of the Bible make so deep an impression upon those who read and hear them that they are converted, and flee from sin, and love that which is heavenly? In that case [that is, if we think the effect is wrought merely by the natural power of the truth conveyed] the Word would give only a doctrine but not the power to regeneration and sanctification. In that case, the power to good and to victory would still come in the last analysis out of our good hearts. The Word of God and the gospel of Christ are on the contrary, such a life-giving and sanctifying power, because it is a witness of the great victory of Christ over sin and the devil, and because in the Word concerning Christ we trust in the present, mighty Deliverer. Where this Word and its declarations are now believed, there Christ is active, just because they declare true facts which authenticate themselves as true, so soon as we believe them and act accordingly” (p. 475).

In this passage the rationalistic doctrine, that the whole power of the preached gospel resides in the natural effect on our minds of the truths contained in it, is repudiated. But what is substituted for it seems not to be merely the Lutheran doctrine of a supernatural action of the Holy Spirit inseparably accompanying the Word—though that is reiteratedly provided for elsewhere—but the power of the great facts proclaimed in the Word, which, when understood, believed, and acted upon, authenticate themselves as true. To believe and rest upon these facts is to believe and rest upon Christ, the Deliverer, whose work of deliverance these facts portray. And when Christ is rested upon in faith, He is active in salvation. Our sanctification thus is an immediate, supernatural work of Christ, or, as it is currently expressed with no further meaning, of “His blood.” Precisely how Christ works it, however, remains in the vague mysticism of the “mediating theology.”

We may be advanced a little in apprehending how these two points of view—sanctification by the Holy Spirit working in the Word, and sanctification by the “blood of Christ” operating immediately on the heart—are harmonized, if we will attend to the rather extended discussions of the manner in which what Jellinghaus calls regeneration is wrought. For regeneration with him, we will remember, is the sanctification which believers receive at their first believing, and differs from the sanctification which they receive at their second believing in nothing except in its relative incompleteness. Arguing now with reference to it that it does not come gradually, but all at once, he writes as follows:

“If regeneration were a self-improvement by faith’s own power under the assistance of Christ, it would necessarily be always a very slow work. Now regeneration or the state of regeneration occurs only through Christ and in Christ and exists only in Christ, and so it can take place at once, if the sinner truly surrenders himself in trust to Christ and his sin-sick soul rests on the Crucified and Risen One. Therefore pardon, justification, sanctification and regeneration are in the Bible almost always brought into connection with the blood, that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus, for only through Christ’s death and resurrection is this miracle made possible. Being regenerated means being in faith in the blood of Christ, being and becoming in the blood of Christ the Son of God justified, vivified, purified, and sanctified” (p. 303).

If in this closing definition the state of regeneration (Wiedergeborensein) appears to be identified with the state of faith—he who is “in faith in the blood of Christ” is in the state of regeneration, apparently with nothing further to say—that impression must be corrected by the declaration that regeneration is after all a “miracle,” wrought by the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is understood, in other words, definitely as a supernatural effect. But now, we continue:

“Accordingly regeneration takes place precisely like justification, above all through Christ’s cleansing and sanctifying blood, and not through the Word and the Holy Spirit alone.… By the Word … alone Jesus cannot produce regeneration; His blood (His life given in atoning death and resurrection) itself must come really into the heart, in order to vivify it and make it new. Only when the Spirit and the blood of Jesus come to actuality in the heart through faith, along with the Word, and we have died and risen with Christ, is the new birth and the new life in Christ present. If regeneration took place only through the Word and the Spirit, we could still think it an independent new life of our own in the soul, and we should be brought into the perplexity (in which so many find themselves in this question concerning regeneration)51 of supposing ourselves bound to seek a new nature in ourselves; and, not finding it, we should fall into despair and doubt. As our regeneration and our new birth and our new life lie, however, in the blood of Jesus or in the crucified and risen Deliverer-Head, we have simply to take and hold in faith the new birth or the new life in and with Christ, our Life. We need not anxiously seek a new nature in ourselves; for since our new nature does not exist independently of our connection in faith with Christ, we shall never find in us anything that satisfies.… The state of regeneration is ‘being in Christ’ or ‘being crucified and risen with Christ’ or ‘being in the blood of Jesus.’ It can therefore also be said that Christ, the Crucified and Risen One is through our surrender in faith in the Holy Spirit, our life and our regeneration.… Though it is often said in the Bible that regeneration takes place through faith, that is not to be understood as if faith itself was the cause of regeneration, or even was the regeneration itself. Regeneration takes place through faith only in the sense that through faith, the Word and the Holy Spirit and Christ’s death and resurrection come in us to life-giving activity and also abide in us only through faith. My faith is not my regeneration, but my faith has laid hold of Christ, the Crucified and Risen One, the Beginning of the New Creation, the sure Guide, Shepherd and King, through the word of the Holy Ghost, as eternal life and the author of my childship to God, and holds fast to Him. The producing cause of justification, regeneration, conversion and sanctification is Christ’s word, spirit, blood; faith is, on the other hand, only its receptive cause” (pp. 304–306).

It all comes back, then, to this, that regeneration—and with it sanctification—is being in Christ, the Holy One, and sharing, because we are in Him, in His holiness. Faith is the bond that unites us to Christ, and therefore it is through faith that we are in Him and have His holiness. Nothing is really explained beyond that; but the vagueness belongs not especially to Jellinghaus himself, but to the mysticism of the “mediating theology,” whose conceptions he is here only repeating.

Two children clearly are striving together in the womb of Jellinghaus’ mind. He is doing what he can to transmit faithfully the Higher Life doctrine he received so enthusiastically at Oxford. But his fundamental theology does not run on its lines. The result is that the Higher Life doctrine is profoundly modified. All its framework remains. We still hear of immediate deliverance from the power of sin by faith alone. We still hear of the second blessing, of cessation of sinning, of complete sanctification now. But the old language does not carry with it the old fulness of meaning. Everything is reduced, and the real constructive force, working under the modified explanations, proceeds not from the Higher Life conception but from the “mediating theology.” Jellinghaus’ “Perfectionism” thus is a more moderate “Perfectionism” than that of his Higher Life teachers. It remains, nevertheless, though a moderate “Perfectionism,” yet a real “Perfectionism.” It is therefore no more really acceptable than theirs. We need not, however, stay to point out in detail its inherent impossibilities. Jellinghaus has himself passed judgment on it; and, not content with passing judgment on it, he has actually executed it. Let it rest in the grave to which he has himself consigned it.

1 From The Princeton Theological Review, xvii. 1919, pp. 533–584. cf. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Perfectionism, Part One, vol. 7, 1–52.

2 “The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation,” iii. E. T. 1900, pp. 251, 292. This work will be cited hereafter simply by pages. The quotations, however, it must be added, are sometimes from the German (edition 4, 1895), and hence do not follow the English Translation verbatim.

3 “Albrecht Ritschls Leben,” i. 1892, p. 350.

4 So he frequently says; e.g. p. 513.

5 P. 283.

6 P. 514.

7 “Die Ritschl’sche Theologie,” 1891, pp. 68, 79.

8 P. 337.

9 P. 248.

10 P. 283.

11 P. 292.

12 P. 283.

13 P. 337.

14 Pfleiderer, “Development of Theology,” 1890, p. 187.

15 “Lehrbuch der evangelischen Dogmatik,” 1892, pp. 320, 325.

16 “Die Ritschl’sche Theologie,” 1891, pp. 66, 67.

17 “Les origines historiques de la théologie de Ritschl,” 1893, p. 151.

18 “Grundriss der Ritschlschen Dogmatik,” 1903, p. 34.

19 J. Wendland, “Albrecht Ritschl und seine Schüler,” 1899, pp. 107–108.

20 Cf. a somewhat instructive column in Hastings’ “Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics,” x. 513b (H. G. Wood, article on “Puritanism”), and observe the violence with which R. H. Coats (“Types of English Piety,” 1912, p. 140) assaults Evangelicals because by them “blithe and happy children are scowled on in their play as being radically evil,” on the ground of an innocent observation of David Brainerd’s which does not go beyond Pfleiderer’s.

21 P. 378.

22 “Development of Theology,” p. 187.

23 P. 378; “Unterricht in der christlichen Religion,” §28 (ed. 3, p. 26).

24 “Unterricht,” § 28.

25 P. 380.

26 P. 383. This teaching is fundamentally indistinguishable from that of the old Rationalism (Charles Hodge, “Systematic Theology,” ii. p. 239, par. 3) and continually finds new representatives, as e.g. Miss E. M. Caillard, “Progressive Revelation,” p. 77, who thinks the Fall accounted for by the fact that the self-conscious will was “newly-born and feeble,” while the “animal appetites and impulses were stronger in proportion, and the will succumbed before them, becoming their slave, instead of their master.”

27 § 28; E. T. in “The Theology of Albrecht Ritschl” by Albert Temple Swing, 1901, p. 204.

28 Nitzsch, as cited, p. 320; Wendland, as cited, pp. 107, 108.

29 P. 380: “ein scheinbar unvermeidliches Erzeugniss des menschlichen Willens unter den gegebenen Bedingungen seiner Entwickelung.”

30 “The Ritschlian Theology,” 1899, p. 300; contrast James Orr, “Ritschlianism,” 1903, p. 99, note 2.

31 P. 383.

32 “Unterricht,” § 27 (ed. 3, p. 25); E. T. p. 203.

33 Pp. 377, 378.

34 “Leben,” ii. pp. 199–200: “die Sünde sei überhaupt nur Unwissenheit.”

35 “Dass lediglich Gott die vergebbare Sünde als Unwissenheit beurtheilt.”

36 P. 383.

37 Pp. 379 ff.

38 Pfleiderer, “Die Ritschl’sche Theologie,” 1891, p. 68, very properly says: “It is noteworthy that Ritschl in his theory of sin, places himself wholly on the ground of the Greek intellectualism which is elsewhere so sharply condemned by him. It was Socrates, of course, who identified the evil with ignorance and therefore logically represented virtue as teachable.” We shall see that to Ritschl, too, as sin is ignorance, so knowledge is the only remedy for sin.

39 We are using here the language of Orr, “The Ritschlian Theology,” 1897, p. 145. When Orr says; “Sin, in his view, not only originates in will, but consists only in acts of will,” he must be interpreted in consistency with what is said in the text, and “acts of will” must include “intentions, habitual inclinations and dispositions” (“Unterricht,” § 27).

40 This is in accordance with Ritschl’s general doctrine of the will—e.g. pp. 336–337: “The will, in the individual actions which are traced back to it as their ground, does not have phenomena which can exist or not exist without change in its nature; but through these actions, according to their tendency, the will acquires its kind and develops itself to a good or to a bad character.”

41 Pp. 348–349.

42 P. 383.

43 Pp. 379–383.

44 §§ 27 ff.

45 § 31.

46 § 30.

47 As cited, p. 306.

48 “Albrecht Ritschl und seine Schüler,” 1899, p. 104.

49 P. 21: “von einem Ansich der Seele.” D. W. Simon (in his E. T. of Stählin’s “Kant, Lotze, and Ritschl,” p. 168, note 2) proposes to render the awkward term Ansichsein by the equally awkward equivalent “inseity.”

50 “Die Ritschl’sche Theologie,” pp. 10 ff.

51 We are always directed to Fr. Traub, Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, 1894, p. 101, for a reply to Pfleiderer’s strictures here. But Traub does not meet Pfleiderer’s criticisms; he only asserts the right of Ritschl to his views.

52 Op. cit., contents of chap. V. sect. iii. cited by Orr, “Ritschlianism,” p. 84.

53 Op. cit., p. 62.

54 Pp. 466 f.

55 For an admirable summary statement of the matter see Orr, “The Ritschlian Theology,” pp. 61–65.

56 Op. cit., p. 343. The defence which von Kügelgen (op. cit., p. 137) offers for Ritschl is only an admission—the “Trinity” means the successive manifestations of Love in several modes of operation: “With reference to the ‘denial of the dogma of the Trinity’ (so Haack) this reproach is invalidated, since the Holy Trinity, of course not simultaneously, but certainly successively, comes to manifestation in the self-revelation of God as will of love through the man Jesus, and in divine self-communication as power of God through the Holy Spirit,—wherefore naturally the immanent side of the Trinity gives way to the economical side on the ground of religious value-judgment.”

57 “Die theologische Schule Albrecht Ritschls,” 1897, p. 293.

58 C. von Kügelgen, as cited, pp. 114 ff., seeks to defend Ritschl against the charge—as made by Grau—that he reduces the Holy Spirit “to a function of knowledge.” He is effectively answered by Leonhard Stählin in the Neue Kirchliche Zeitschrift for 1898 (ix. p. 506). “In spite of all his employment of the terminology which belongs to the church doctrine of the Trinity,” says Stählin, “Ritschl remains a Unitarian.”

59 Pp. 533 f.

60 P. 533.

61 Pp. 605 f.

62 Cf. the statement on p. 471. “The Spirit of God is the knowledge which God has of Himself, as of His self-end. The Holy Spirit denotes in the New Testament the Spirit of God so far as He is the ground of the knowledge of God and of the specific religious-moral life in the community.”

63 Near the close of this passage in the earlier editions (ed. 1, p. 534; ed. 2, pp. 561 f.) there were some words which have dropped out in the rewriting of the passage for the third edition, of such clearness that they naturally were much quoted by earlier writers (e.g. Hermann Weiss, Theologische Studien und Kritiken, 1881, p. 412; Fr. Luther, “Die Theologie Ritschl’s,” 1887, p. 27). It runs in ed. 2 as follows: “The Holy Spirit designates, metaphysically speaking, a Formbestimmtheit like justification, reconciliation and childship to God.” Weiss comments: “The Holy Spirit is therefore in no way anything real or substantial, but is simply the specific form of the Christian consciousness, so far as this cherishes precisely as consciousness the specific thought of God as Father, bringing it into practice, as guiding thought, over against the conceptions and moods which arise out of the world,—as dominating motive over against the natural instincts.”

64 P. 605.

65 Op. cit., pp. 338 f.

66 P. 607.

67 Cf. “Unterricht,” § 5, note 3 (E. T. pp. 174 f.):—“The parables (Mark 4), which set forth the mysteries of the kingdom in figures of the growth of grain, etc., always signify by ‘fruit’ a human product, springing out of an individual activity called forth by the divine ‘seed,’ i.e., by the impulse of the divine word of revelation.” The sole divine element is the “word of revelation.” In “Justification and Reconciliation,” iii. p. 175, Ritschl seeks to defend his doctrine of justification from the charge of Pelagianism; but his only weapon is a not altogether unjustified tu quoque. What interests us here is that here again he repudiates the conception of an action on the human spirit by the Holy Ghost as the account of the rise of faith in the soul. There is no such thing as a “soul” in the sense of a kind of Natur, that is, except as the activities of feeling, knowing, willing themselves; and grace does not act in this fashion, on a passive recipient. When it is said that the Holy Spirit acts upon us, what is meant, according to “Unterricht,” § 46 (E. T. p. 226) is that “the impulse to right conduct,” etc., “have their criterion in the knowledge of God as our Father which is given us in Christianity.”

68 Op. cit., pp. 339, 344. Also by Gustav Ecke, “Die theologische Schule Albrecht Ritschls,” 1897, p. 63.

69 “Leben,” ii. p. 227.

70 Op. cit., p. 340.

71 P. 341.

72 P. 349.

73 As cited, p. 64.

74 “Die Ritschl’sche Theologie,” 1888, p. 21.

75 Fr. Luther, “Die Theologie Ritschl’s,” 1887, pp. 27–28.

76 Accordingly Fr. Luther remarks a little later (p. 29): “It is the Kingdom of God which, by the ethical communion established in it, calls out the religious-moral renewal of the heart; this is not done by the Holy Spirit.”

77 P. 577.

78 P. 383.

79 P. 577.

80 Cf. e.g. p. 529: “A material, mechanical change of the sinner is altogether unthinkable,” in which “the sinner is made righteous mechanically—that is, say, through the infusion of love,” instancing the Roman Catholic doctrine.

81 As cited, p. 391.

82 P. 529.

83 P. 599.

84 Pp. 136 f.

85 “Unterricht,” § 47, note 1.

86 Cf. H. Weiss, as cited, pp. 399 ff. Weiss remarks (p. 400) on Ritschl’s failure to make a clear distinction between objectively belonging to the community and subjectively believing. “We have to do here,” he comments (p. 403), “with an underestimate of sin, so far as it involves not merely a relation of guilt … but a perversion of the will and real corruption of the whole personal life in man. Therefore it is scarcely a question of a decisive conversion, and faith is conceived in the end entirely as a moral act of man’s own. The religious facts present in the community, through which the individual receives his call to the Kingdom of God, suffice to call it out.”

87 P. 577.

88 As cited, p. 404, end. His vouchers are pp. 529, 567.

89 As cited, pp. 387 ff. Cf. Friedrich Nippold, “Die theologische Einzelschule,” 1893, erste und zweite Abtheilung, p. 266, who says that Ritschl’s passionate aversion to all mysticism “brought his idea of God into undeniable approximation to deism.” This, he says, along with his Moralism, enters into his approximation to the older Rationalism.

90 As cited, pp. 6–70. Schoen adds (p. 70, note 2): “W. Herrmann only draws the logical conclusion from these affirmations when he says: ‘The idea of a real relation (Verkehr) of the Christian with God is not Christian’ (Verkehr des Christen mit Gott, 1886, p. 8).”

91 “Theologie und Metaphysik,” 1881, p. 47.

92 P. 608.

93 “Albrecht Ritschl und seine Schüler,” 1899, p. 79.

94 “The Christian Faith,” 1913, pp. 690 f.

95 “The Ritschlian Theology,” 1899, p. 149.

96 As cited, pp. 143 f.

97 As cited, pp. 149–150. Cf. Orr’s effective rejoinder to Garvie, “Ritschlianism,” pp. 83, 84.

98 Theologische Studien und Kritiken, 1881, pp. 414 f.

99 Jahrbücher für protestantische Theologie, xv. 1889, pp. 338 f.

100 Similarly Nippold, as cited, p. 265, represents Ritschl as seeking to escape from Rationalism by rejecting all natural knowledge of God and representing the Christian community as the sole mediator of reconciliation. But, he adds, this is merely formal; in the matter of teaching “he comes near enough to the old Rationalism” to explain the polemical attitude to him of the orthodox and the only half-acceptance of the liberals. He talks of Christ no doubt as if he possessed in Him at least one supernatural datum; but from Him onward all is explained on a naturalistic, empirical-psychological basis. “All dogmatic predications dissolve in a complex of subjective-psychological notions, value-judgments and acts of will.”

101 As cited, pp. 114 f.

102 “Kant, Lotze, and Ritschl,” p. 221, at the close of a couple of pages of telling criticism of Ritschl’s meager Christology. Similarly, J. Wendland, as cited, p. 116, points out that apart from his use of “the extravagant” expression “Godhead” of Christ and the peculiar ideal of piety which Ritschl has brought to expression in his Christology, his estimate of Jesus does not differ from that of the “Liberal Theology”—as for example that of Pfleiderer.

103 C. von Kügelgen, as cited, pp. 64 ff. supplies a very favorable example. His contention is that with his ontology of spiritual being and his epistemological views, Ritschl could say only what he says. See also William Adams Brown, “The Essence of Christianity,” 1902, pp. 260–261. Ritschl here is in effect made a mystic.

104 P. 451.

105 “Aber die Combination zwischen ihm und Gott seinem Vater ist eben keine Erklärung wissenschaftlicher Art.”

106 E.g. pp. 470, 471.

107 As cited, p. 207.

108 As cited, p. 84.

109 P. 451.

110 As cited, pp. 214–215.

111 On what Ritschl understood by the Resurrection of Christ see the careful statements of Orr, “The Ritschlian Theology,” pp. 92, 202 f., and “Ritschlianism,” pp. 96 ff.

112 “Theologie und Metaphysik,” p. 29.

113 “Ritschlianism,” p. 46. “How Christ should arrive at this knowledge of God,” remarks Orr, “should possess these extraordinary endowments, should stand in this unique relation to God and to His purpose,—in short, should be the Person that He is, and should stand in the relation to God and man that He does—is a mystery into which we are not permitted to pry.”

114 Cf. Stählin, as cited, p. 314.

115 As cited, p. 65.

116 P. 386.

117 P. 387.

118 Pp. 2, 561 ff.

119 P. 387.

120 “Ueber das Bleibende im Glauben an Christus,” 1880, p. 14.

121 P. 387.

122 “Mittheilungen,” iv. 1891, p. 109.

123 “The Essence of Christianity,” 1902, p. 227.

124 “The Christian View of God and the World,” 1893, p. 31; see also “The Ritschlian Theology,” p. 93. Cf. Wendland, as cited, p. 61, who gives the passages from which Ritschl’s doctrine may be drawn: “Justification and Reconcilation,” E. T. iii. pp. 616–617; “Instruction,” § 17, E. T. pp. 188–189; J. d. Th., 1861, pp. 429 ff.; Hist. Zeitschr., viii. 1862, pp. 97 ff.

125 As cited, pp. 63 ff.

126 Pp. 22 f.

127 P. 607.

128 As cited, p. 133.

129 “Justification and Reconciliation,” i. p. 546.

130 Schoen, as cited, p. 140.

131 As cited, pp. 7 ff. Much of the contents of these closing paragraphs is drawn from this discussion.

132 Cf. the good remarks of Julius Leopold Schultze in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, ix. 1898, p. 214.

133 As cited, pp. 277, 326.

134 “Drei akademische Reden,” 1887, p. 18.

135 This is the procedure of W. Herrmann and A. Harnack when dealing with the doctrines of the Reformation. For the general notion see the Harvard Theological Review, October 1914, pp. 538 ff.

1 From The Princeton Theological Review, xviii. 1920, pp. 44–102. cf. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Perfectionism, Part One, vol. 7, 53–113.

2 P. 386: “Beyond doubt Jesus experienced and declared to His disciples a religious relation to God not before known, and purposed to bring His disciples into the same religious world-view and self-estimate, and under this condition into the universal task of the Kingdom of God which He knew to be set for His disciples as for Himself.”

3 To be perfectly accurate we should note here that Ritschl is willing to allow that sin may become witting—in the case of the finally reprobate. As Pfleiderer (“Die Ritschl’sche Theologie,” p. 69) puts it: “All sin, with the exception of the always only problematical definitive hardening, is in God’s judgment only ignorance.”

4 As cited, pp. 69, 70.

5 As cited, p. 75.

6 P. 322.

7 Op. cit., p. 307.

8 As cited, p. 310.

9 Pp. 358 f.

10 Cf. Orr, “The Ritschlian Theology,” p. 147: “It is this experience of separation from God which, on Ritschl’s showing, is the real core or essence of the punishment of sin, so far as, ex concessis, the punitive idea (which rests on the rejected theory of ‘rights’) is to be admitted into Christianity at all.” In Ritschl’s system there is no place for real punishment of sin. “If there is no wrath of God against sin,” expounds Garvie (as cited, p. 310), “there can be no punishment by God of sin. This conclusion Ritschl expressly draws.”

11 P. 365.

12 As cited, p. 265.

13 As cited, pp. 325 f.

14 Orr has made the matter perfectly plain, “The Christian View of God and the World,” 1893, p. 199; “The Ritschlian Theology,” pp. 146 ff., 267 f.; and especially “Ritschlianism,” pp. 99 ff. The strictures on Orr’s representations made by A. T. Swing, “The Theology of Albrecht Ritschl,” 1901, pp. 125 ff., Orr has himself dealt with adequately. Those by J. K. Mozley, “Ritschlianism,” 1909, pp. 218 ff., are no more successful.

15 On the technical subject of “assurance” Ritschl speaks at large on p. 652. He who manifests the characteristic features of the believer—faith in God’s providence, humility, patience, prayer, “combined as they are in normal fashion with the disposition to obey the moral law and with good action in one’s calling”—has sufficient evidence that he is in a state of salvation. This admits of no other meaning than that our assurance of reconciliation is an inference from the observed fruits of reconciliation—including our moral state. Accordingly Ritschl tells us in the summary statement (p. 670) that “the believer experiences his personal assurance of reconciliation” in the exercise of the Christian virtues. This is a position, however, which he does not seem always to preserve.

16 There is a certain analogy between Ritschl’s representation that men are not under the wrath of God, but need only to lay aside their distrust of God and realize that they have nothing to fear from Him to be “saved,” and a wide-spread type of preaching which declares all men by nature “sons of God,” and “salvation” to consist in coming to understand and live according to this high character. “It is the true philosophy of history,” says Phillips Brooks, “that man is the child of God, forever drawn to his Father, beaten back by base waves of passion, sure to come to Him in the end.” The analogy is not completely destroyed when a universal redemption is thought of as the ground of man’s favorable condition as already forgiven and requiring only subjectively to realize this forgiveness—which constitutes his salvation. It is unnecessary to point out how wide-spread this notion is: it is intrinsic in all doctrines of a “universal atonement” where the atoning fact is found in the work of Christ and not in an act of man’s. A curious example of it is mentioned by L. Ihmels, “Die tägliche Vergebung der Sünden,” 1901, pp. 39 f. in “the Bornholm movement,” for which see also Herzog-Hauck, “Realencyklopädie,” sub nom.

17 P. 60. “The removal of guilt and the consciousness of guilt would be in contradiction to the validity of the law of truth for God, as also for the conscience of the sinner.”

18 P. 544.

19 P. 545.

20 Pp. 63, 64.

21 As cited, p. 44.

22 The reference is to Fr. H. R. Frank, “Ueber die kirchliche Bedeutung der Theologie A. Ritschl’s,” ed. 2, 1888, p. 14: “It corresponds with Ritschl’s conception of sin, that in order to the reconciliation of man with God there is no need of an atonement by propitiation. ‘When God forgives or pardons sin, He exerts His will in the direction that the contradiction, expressed in guilt, in which sinners stand to Him, shall not prevent that communion of man with Him which He purposes on higher grounds’ (p. 64). ‘On higher grounds’—because the establishment of the Kingdom of God is His self-end and forgiveness of sins is needed for it.” Pursuing his theme Frank points out that in Ritschl’s conception of God, no less than of sin, nothing else than this could be expected of him. “Now then,” asks Frank a few pages later (p. 18), “how are we to comfort a soul that has fallen into sin and is burdened in his conscience in the presence of God? We must say to him: Dear friend, you have a wrong idea of God. God has no need of punishment and atonement. On higher grounds, namely, that He may realize the purpose of the world, which is at the same time His own purpose, He pardons sin. Be at peace, dear soul, and do not disturb yourself with such mediaeval (cf. Ritschl, Drei akademische Reden, p. 28) notions.”

23 Fr. H. R. Frank, “Ueber die kirchliche Bedeutung der Theologie A. Ritschl’s,” ed. 2, 1888, p. 31.

24 Hence Fr. Luther (Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, ii. 1891, p. 479) very properly says that “according to Ritschl it is nature and not grace which is the source of the moral activities of life.”

25 P. 535, paragraph 2.

26 P. 546. When von Kügelgen, as cited, pp. 94 f., declares that the reproach that with Ritschl “justification has no telic relation (Abzweckung) to the production of morally good conduct or of works”—as Lipsius represents—is unjust, he can be justified only so far as this.

27 Pp. 495 ff.

28 P. 11.

29 P. 13.

30 P. 14.

31 P. 527.

32 P. 521. “What we gain … is not a simple subsumption of the ethical under the religious aspect of Christianity.”

33 As cited, p. 138; cf. p. 136.

34 William Adams Brown is quite right therefore when he tells us (“Christian Theology in Outline,” 1906, p. 413) that “perfection” “as understood by Ritschl … is a name which describes the qualities which enter into the Christian ideal, however incomplete may be their quantitative realization in the individual.” “Thus,” Brown illustrates, “a man whose life is characterized by the qualities of faith, humility, patience and fidelity to his calling is perfect in Ritschl’s sense of the term; since he is living in the right relation to God, however conscious he may be of occasional lapses from his own standard.” And then he adds: “So defined, Christian perfection is only a name for that assurance which should characterize all true Christian living, and which is possible in every walk of life. It is the rejection of the Catholic doctrine of a double standard by which the possibility of perfection is confined to those who give themselves to the monastic life.” We shall see subsequently that there is more to be said: Ritschl was not satisfied with a perfection of relation or a perfectio partium.

35 The religious elements of Christian perfection all go together and cannot exist except in their combination. Ritschl says (“Die christliche Vollkommenheit,” Rae’s translation, pp. 148 f.) that “they are so constituted, that none of them can come up without the other; they are the various reflections shed by the religious certainty of reconciliation with God through Christ.”

36 Quoted by Garvie, as cited, p. 356.

37 P. 652.

38 Letter to Marcus, January 16, 1874, “Leben,” ii. p. 156.

39 This lecture was of course, “Die christliche Vollkommenheit: ein Vortrag,” 1875.

40 “Leben,” ii. p. 156.

41 “Leben,” ii. pp. 152–155.

42 “Leben,” ii. p. 148.

43 Pp. 168 ff. (177).

44 P. 335.

45 Pp. 389, 463, 551, 574; and see especially the letter to Diestel of May 24, 1873, printed in the “Leben” (ii. pp. 149 f.).

46 We have only, he says, (Lecture on “Christian Perfection,” E. T. Bibliotheca Sacra, October, 1878, p. 665) to “group these thoughts a little more systematically … and to combine ‘reverence for God’ and ‘trust in him’ into the one idea of ‘humility’ ”; to “substitute also ‘faith in God and submission to his providence’ for ‘the expectation of God’s help and the contempt of death and the world’ ”; and “add to these supplication and thanks to God in prayer; and lastly, faithfulness to the public demands of morality.” That is to say, we have only to rewrite the statement from a fundamentally different point of view and to make it witness to a completely different conception.

47 “Confessio Augustana,” xxvii. 49, 50 (Schaff’s “Creeds of Christendom,” iii. 1878, p. 57).

48 P. 647.

49 It is a characteristic phrase of Luther’s: “Christianus non est in facto sed in fieri.” Similarly Calvin (on Eph. 1:16 f., 1548), “The knowledge of the faithful is never so clear that their eyes are without blearing and free from all obscurity.” Our warfare, says Calvin (“Institutes,” I. xiv. 13) “is terminated only by death”; then only (§ 18) is our victory perfected, “our flesh having been put off, according to which we are yet subject to infirmity.” So Luther (“Lectures on Romans” of 1515) declares of the truly righteous that “they sigh, until they are completely cured of concupiscence, a release which takes place at death.”

50 Cf. the discussion, pp. 487 ff. He discusses Luther’s and Melanchthon’s views in pp. 167 ff., and Calvin’s, pp. 184 ff. They all, he says, were clear that both justification and sanctification follow on saving faith, but not clear as to the exact relation in which they stand to one another.

51 Cf. p. 147 where he recognizes that both Melanchthon and Calvin teach that the believer “sees in his ability to perform good works an evidence of God’s special pardon”—which certainly connects sanctification with justification.

52 This is the way Doumergue speaks of it (“La Réformation et la Révolution,” 1919, p. 35): “Then Luther, and with more logic still, Calvin, proclaimed the great idea of ‘vocation’—an idea and a word which are found in all the languages of the Protestant peoples … and which are lacking in the languages of the peoples of antiquity and in the culture of the middle ages.”

53 For example, the immediately divine appointment of each man’s calling; cf. Doumergue, as cited: “Vocation is the call of God addressed to each man, whoever he may be, to charge him with a special work, no matter what. And the calls, and consequently those called, are equal among themselves. The burgomaster is God’s burgomaster, the physician God’s physician, the merchant God’s merchant, the laborer God’s laborer. Every vocation, liberal as we say, or manual, the most humble, the most lowly, or the most noble, the most glorious, according to appearances, is of divine right.” Among all the wise things which Ritschl says about our vocation (cf. pp. 444, 666), he cannot quite rise to this wisest of all.

54 Edward Young, “Centaur,” p. 6 (“Works,” 1757, iv. p. 108): “That dread Being we dare oppose.” Cf. O. W. Holmes, “Army Hymn”: “God of all nations! Sovereign Lord! In Thy dread name we draw the sword.”

55 “Die christliche Vollkommenheit,” 1889, p. 8 (E. T. Bibliotheca Sacra, October, 1878, p. 665).

56 Pp. 641 ff.; “Instruction”: § 54, 55, 78 ff. Orr (“The Ritschlian Theology,” p. 177) says: “Petitionary prayer is … generally excluded, and we are taught to regard prayer as chiefly thanksgiving.” That expresses the fact. Ecke (as cited, p. 303), Haug, Lamm, omit the qualifications. Von Kügelgen (as cited, p. 127) comes to Ritschl’s defence but without effect. From all that appears, the answer to our petitions is “limited by the reservation that the petition must accord with God’s providence over us” (“Instruction,” § 55); which appears to mean that we receive nothing we ask for which we would not have received had we not asked. Even Garvie (as cited, p. 354) allows this. He condemns Ritschl’s “limitation of prayer to thanksgiving” or the “practical exclusion of petition from it,” and adds that in these circumstances that “faith in God’s fatherly Providence, of which Ritschl makes so much,” means “little more than acceptance of whatever God may choose to send us, without any expectation whatever that our desires will in any way be taken into account.” Garvie is writing from a standpoint which would subject God to man; but he recognizes here that Ritschl’s doctrine of prayer renders specific answers to petitions impossible.

57 George Macdonald, who is not often right, is right when he says (“Robert Falconer,” p. 166): “She had taught him to look up—that there was a God. He would put it to the test. Not that he doubted it yet: he only doubted whether there was a hearing God. But was not that worse? It was, I think. For it is of far more consequence what kind of a God, than whether a God or not.” Of course Ritschl does not represent his far-off, silent God as a direct object of human affection. What believers love is their fellow-believers, and it is only in them that they love God, or, we may add, the exalted Christ. “For,” says Otto Ritschl, describing his father’s ethical teaching (“Leben,” i. 1892, p. 354), “in the Johannean declarations it is ‘the suppressed mediating thought that God as the unseen cannot be the immediate object of human action. Accordingly neither can Christ, as the Lord who has become unseen, be the direct object of love-expression.’ ” So in the “Instruction,” § 6, Ritschl says: “Love to God has no sphere of activity outside of love to one’s brother.”

58 Pp. 495 ff. Maerker subjects Ritschl’s doctrine of “eternal life” to a careful examination in an article in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift for 1898 (ix. pp. 117–138), entitled “Lehrt Albrecht Ritschl ein ewiges Leben?”

59 Von Kügelgen (as cited, p. 94) points out that Ritschl identified “eternal life” not with an extramundane consummation (Vollendung) but with intramundane Christian perfection (Vollkommenheit).

60 P. 556. Cf. the phrases on p. 518: “reconciliation with God, or liberation from the world, or eternal life.” These phrases are synonymous.

61 As cited, p. 131.

62 P. 609.

63 P. 617.

64 P. 622.

65 As cited, pp. 228 ff.; cf. Orr, “The Ritschlian Theology,” pp. 176 f.

66 As cited, pp. 350 f. Cf. the words cited in note 56.

67 P. 652. On January 1, 1874, Diestel, endeavoring to make a forecast from as yet incomplete materials of what would be the upshot of Ritschl’s great work, suggests that it will be that the essence of Christianity consists in faith in God’s providence. Ritschl agrees. See “Leben,” ii. p. 154.

68 Pp. 618 ff.

69 P. 618: “For observation of the fortunes of others would afford just as much, or even more, ground for shaking as for supporting our own conviction.”

70 Pp. 622, 623.

71 It is rather a pungent question which J. L. Schultze raises (Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, ix. 1898, pp. 238 f.) when he asks: Do all Christians actually show the characteristics here depicted? How many possess the energy of will here made characteristic of all? Paul himself seemed able to live on such a plane only through Divine help. “If, however, this direct converse with God is replaced, as with Ritschl, by a mere conviction mediated by the Christian community—if thus then the possibility of continual renewal from the source is cut off—why then, this feeling of perfection becomes nothing but an artificial fiction. Energetic characters may persuade themselves that they possess it”—but the generality?

72 Pp. 181, 625.

73 Von Kügelgen, as cited, pp. 121 ff., defends Ritschl’s attitude.

74 As cited, p. 8.

75 See especially on Ritschl’s conception of the Kingdom of God the very clear and satisfactory summary statement of Orr, “The Ritschlian Theology,” pp. 119 ff.

76 P. 284: “In order to preserve the true articulation of the Christian view of the world, it is necessary clearly to distinguish between viewing the followers of Christ, first, under the conception of the Kingdom of God, and secondly, under the conception of the worshipping community, or the Church. This distinction depends on the difference which exists between moral and devotional action.…”

77 Pp. 610 ff. Cf. p. 285: “The same believers in Christ constitute the Kingdom of God in so far as, forgetting distinctions of sex, rank, or nationality, they act reciprocally from love, and thus call into existence that fellowship of moral disposition and moral blessings which extends, through all possible gradations, to the limits of the human race.”

78 Cf. p. 163: “…the Reformation principle that justification becomes matter of experience through the discharge of moral tasks, while these are to be discharged in the labors of one’s vocation.”

79 P. 662.

80 P. 661.

81 “Albrecht Ritschl and his School,” 1915, p. 132.

82 Cf. p. 651: “The destination of men for perfection in Christianity may likewise be seen in the exhortation to rejoice amid all the changes of life which, in the New Testament, accompanies instruction in the Christian faith (ii. pp. 344, 350). For joy is the sense of perfection.”

83 “Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung,” ed. 3, ii. 1889, § 39, pp. 365 ff.

84 Op. cit., p. 370.

85 This, of course, can be said even by Ritschl only after he has explained away such passages as Rom. 7:14–25, Gal. 5:17, not to speak of multitudes of others which he does not notice.

86 Op. cit., p. 378.

87 “Der Christ und die Sünde bei Paulus,” 1897.

88 Wernle, growing older and somewhat wiser, found it necessary to correct the extremities of his teaching: see the Theologische Literaturzeitung, xxxiv. 1909, coll. 586 ff.

89 Pp. 323.

90 P. 662: “Now the notion of good works, which find their standard in the statutory law, is the expression of a task which not only is impracticable on the presupposition of the continuance of sinfulness, but in and for itself cannot be thought in connection with the characteristic of perfection.” “Therefore it is not merely sin, as evil will or as indifference, which thwarts the quantitatively perfect fulfilment of the moral law, but this is in itself impossible in comparison with the statutory form of the law.”

91 P. 666.

92 P. 666.

93 P. 666.

94 P. 666.

95 P. 667.

96 See especially the discussion on p. 526 where we are told that “the moral law is complete only in the reticulation of those judgments of duty which determine the necessary form of good action in each particular case,” and further that “the principle of autonomy not only holds good within the circle of general moral law as such, but we act autonomously in each particular province of life.…” Cf. p. 650: “The saints who strive to act in the fear of God and to follow God’s ways, come to know the duties incumbent on them through their disposition and not through a statutory law.” We must not be misled by the superficial resemblance of language like this to the Christian doctrines of the leading of the Spirit and the writing by Him of the law of God on the heart. Ritschl knows no Holy Spirit, no immediate work of God on the heart, and indeed, no heart for God to work on. What Ritschl is doing is only adapting to his own purposes Kant’s doctrine of autonomous morality, which was Kant’s protest against the view of vulgar Rationalism that sin arises only from the deliberate transgression of known external law.

97 P. 670.

98 Ritschl strangely thinks these two things inconsistent, and blames the Second Helvetic Confession for bringing them together (p. 523). At bottom Ritschl confuses knowledge and power. He speaks as if action cannot be voluntary if directed by law—which would be as much as to say that voluntary action is necessarily lawless. That, no doubt, is much his notion of “freedom.” The writing of the law on the heart does not abolish the law which is thus written on the heart. No doubt the writing of the law on the heart may be construed to mean the implantation of an independent instinct for what is contained in the law. Something like that is, apart from its “mysticism,” what Ritschl supposes, not indeed to have been done to Christians, but fairly to represent what the native powers of Christians, as moral men, are capable of. The Christian will, says he (p. 526), “is guided by a free knowledge of the moral law, through which it perpetually produces that law.”

99 Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, ii. 1891, p. 485; cf. also his exposition in his book, “Die Theologie Ritschl’s,” 1887, pp. 40 f.

100 P. 526.

101 P. 667.

102 “Etwas im Gemeinschaftsleben Erworbenes” (“Ueber das Gewissen,” 1876, p. 20). On Ritschl’s doctrine of conscience see the illuminating comment of Pfleiderer, “Die Ritschl’sche Theologie,” 1891, pp. 77 ff.

103 Pp. 667, 668.

104 Vol. i. E. T. p. 387.

105 P. 664.

106 Pp. 125 f.

107 P. 131.

108 As cited, p. 358.

109 As cited, p. 232.

110 Bibliotheca Sacra, October, 1878, pp. 656 ff.

111 Zeitschrift für kirchliche Wissenschaft und kirchliches Leben, viii. 1887, pp. 95 ff.

112 As cited, p. 109.

113 As cited, p. 110. Similarly E. Cremer, “Über die christliche Vollkommenheit,” 1899, pp. 21, 22: “Because the forgiveness of sins is God’s whole salvation, perfect salvation—faith, which apprehends it in Christ, is perfection.” “It is intelligible now why faith in Christ is perfection; it is because the forgiveness of sins is God’s whole salvation, in which God’s saving work reaches its goal; believers are perfect because Christ’s saving work is perfect.” “By designating the believer as perfect, it is emphasized that in Christ we have in the forgiveness of sins all that we need from God.”

114 The sources for Ritschl’s doctrine of perfection are especially his “Die christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung,” ii. ed. 3, 1889, §§ 39–40,. 365 ff.; iii. ed. 4, 1895, chap. ix. pp. 575 ff., and E. T. 1900, pp. 609 ff.; his lecture “Die christliche Vollkommenheit,” ed. 2, 1889, and English translations in The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, 1875, pp. 137 ff., by John Rae, and in the Bibliotheca Sacra, 1878, pp. 656 ff., by E. Craigmile; and his pamphlet “Unterricht in der christlichen Religion,” 1875, ed. 3, 1886, and E. T. 1901, in “The Theology of Albrecht Ritschl” by Albert T. Swing, pp. 169 ff. See also the relevant passages in O. Ritschl, “Albrecht Ritschls Leben,” 1892, 1896; G. Mielke, “Das System Albrecht Ritschl’s, dargestellt, nicht kritisirt,” 1894, pp. 50 ff.; J. Thikötter, “Darstellung und Beurtheilung der Theologie Albrecht Ritschl’s,” 1883, pp. 48 ff.; C. von Kügelgen, “Grundriss der Ritschlschen Dogmatik,” ed. 2, 1903, pp. 120 ff.

The following are some of the more notable discussions of Ritschl’s doctrine of perfection:—John Rae, “The Protestant Doctrine of Evangelical Perfection,” in The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, 1876, pp. 88–107; R. Tifling, “Ueber christliche Vollkommenheit nach Ritschl,” in the Mittheilungen und Nachrichten für die evangelische Kirche in Russland, 1878, pp. 341–362; H. Münchmeyer, “Darstellung und Beleuchtung der Lehre Ritschl’s von der christlichen Vollkommenheit,” in the Zeitschrift für kirchliche Wissenschaft und kirchliches Leben, 1887, pp. 95 ff.; Fr. Luther, “Die Theologie Ritschls,” 1887, pp. 31 ff., and also “Über christliche Sittlichkeit nach lutherisch-kirchlicher Lehre und nach den Aufstellungen der neuen Schule,” in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, 1891, pp. 469 ff., 619 ff., 712 ff.; Fr. H. R. Frank, “Ueber die kirchliche Bedeutung der Theologie A. Ritschl’s,” ed. 2, 1888, pp. 21 ff., and also “Geschichte und Kritik der neueren Theologie,” 1894, ed. 4, 1908, pp. 350 ff.; H. Weiss, “Über das Wesen des persönlischen Christenstandes” in the Theologische Studien und Kritiken, 1881, pp. 377 ff.; J. Köstlin, “Religion nach dem Neuen Testament,” in the Theologische Studien und Kritiken, 1888, pp. 7 ff.; P. Graue, “Der Moralismus der Ritschl’schen Theologie,” in the Jahrbücher für protestantische Theologie, 1889, pp. 321 ff.; E. Vischer, “Albrecht Ritschls Anschauung von evangelischem Glauben und Leben,” 1900; R. Wegener, “A. Ritschls Idee des Reiches Gottes im Licht der Geschichte kritisch untersucht,” 1897, along with J. Weiss, “Die Idee des Reiches Gottes in der Theologie,” 1901, chap. vi. pp. 110 ff., and J. L. Schultze, “Die Ritschlsche Theologie eine Teleologie,” in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, 1898, pp. 211 ff.; E. Cremer, “Über die christliche Vollkommenheit,” 1899, pp. 7 ff.; Beyreiss, “Die christliche Vollkommenheit,” in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, 1901, pp. 526 ff.; Karl Schmidt, “Zur Lehre von der christlichen Vollkommenheit,” in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, 1905, pp. 724 ff.

1 Armesünderchristentum. The term has become practically a technical term to express the particular attitude of the Christian towards sin in the teaching and life of the Church of the Reformation.

2 From The Princeton Theological Review, xviii. 1920, pp. 269–336. cf. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Perfectionism, Part One, vol. 7, 111–177.

3 Accordingly the first of Luther’s Ninety-five Theses runs: “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in teaching, ‘Repent,’ etc., intended penitence to be the whole life of believers.” Cf. The Princeton Theological Review, October, 1917, pp. 511 f.

4 “Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte,” iii. 1890, p. 59 (ed. 4, iii. p. 66; E. T. v. 1899, p. 66), “getrösteter Sündenschmerz.” Cf. The Princeton Theological Review, January, 1905, pp. 97 ff.

5 “Ad Gal. I 338 (1534).” The three quotations from Luther which follow are taken from J. Gottschick’s article, “Propter Christum,” in the Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, vii. 1897, pp. 378–384.

6 “Werke,” Erlangen ed., ii. pp. 197 f.

7 xviii. pp. 294 ff. (1582).

8 Ἁμαρτίας, Luke 11:4; ὀφειλήματα, Matt. 6:12; “trespasses” in the Anglican “Book of Common Prayer”; “debts” in the Presbyterian “Book of Common Worship.” The meaning is the same in every case, and the constant repetition of the Lord’s Prayer in either form is a constant confession of continual sinning. It is admitted on all hands that Jesus did not look upon His followers as men who had ceased to sin. For recent statements from writers who would not allow as much of Paul see Weinel, “Biblische Theologie des Neuen Testaments,” 1913, p. 189; and especially H. Windisch, “Taufe und Sünde,” 1908, p. 534: “Miserable-sinnerism even finds support in the Bible also. Jesus, for example, by the side of the Methodist notion of conversion which He employs; by the side of the strict requirement of cleansing; recognizes the continuance of sinning and quite like all Lutheran Christians assures His disciples of the divine clemency.” So also P. Wernle, “Der Christ und die Sünde bei Paulus,” 1897, p. 127, where we are told that Paul has gone far beyond Jesus, has nothing to say of no one being good, or of prayer for forgiveness, and brings the pneumatic closer to God. “It may be said that Paul thought worse of men and better of Christians than Jesus. Both the theory of original sin and the theory of the ‘flesh’ are alien to Jesus, but so is the doctrine that the Christian no longer sins.”

9 See Th. Hardeland, “Der kleine Katechismus D. Martini Lutheri,” 1889, p. 186; cf. H. Scholz in Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, vi. 1896, p. 471.

10 Hardeland, as cited, p. 137 (155 f.), and 185; P. Schaff, “The Creeds of Christendom,” iii. 1878, pp. 80, 83.

11 Schaff, as cited, p. 88.

12 H. Scholz, as cited, p. 472.

13 “Kirchenbuch für Evangelisch-Lutherische Gemeinden, herausgegeben von der Allgemeinen Versammlung der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche in Nord Amerika,” 1908, p. 4.

14 “The Common Service for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations,” 1907, pp. 1–2: “Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee, that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word, and deed. Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Thy grace, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

15 We quote from the old English translation first printed at Geneva, 1556, as reprinted by Horatius Bonar, “Catechisms of the Scottish Reformation,” 1866, p. 66.

16 P. 26.

17 Pp. 31 f.

18 Q. 13.

19 Q. 32.

20 Q. 62.

21 Q. 114.

22 Q. 56. We use the old Scotch translation, Edinburgh, 1615 (Bonar, as cited, p. 132).

23 Q. 126. (Bonar, as cited, pp. 160 f.).

24 Bonar, as cited, pp. 210, 232.

25 “La Liturgie Wallonne,” 1890, p. 17.

26 “The Liturgy, or Forms of Divine Service, of the French Protestant Church, of Charleston, S. C.” Translated from the Liturgy of the Churches of Neufchatel and Vallangin: editions of 1737 and 1772.… 1853, pp. 7, 8.

27 Paovres pecheurs in Calvin’s form (Baum, Cunity, and Reuss, “Opera Calvini,” vi. 173): the form misérables pécheurs appears to have come in during the eighteenth century.

28 “Conceived and born in iniquity and corruption”—Calvin.

29 “Prone to evil, incapable of all good”—Calvin.

30 “Without end and without cessation”—Calvin.

31 Schaff, as cited, p. 805.

32 Zinzendorf’s doctrine of the “miserable sinner” is admirably stated by Bernhard Becker, “Zinzendorf und sein Christentum,” ed. 2, 1900, pp. 296–298. See also H. Scholz, in Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, vi. 1896, pp. 463–468.

33 J. and W. Grimm, “Deutsches Wörterbuch,” i. 1854, p. 555: “The imprisoned and condemned criminal was called der arme Gefangne, der arme Sünder.” Heath’s “German and English Dictionary,” 1906, p. 582: “armer Sünder, condemned criminal awaiting execution.”

34 Becker, as cited, p. 300, where Zinzendorf’s judgment on Perfectionism is briefly but clearly stated.

35 Scholz, in Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, vi. 1896, p. 465.

36 Busskampfspraxis. What is meant is the tendency to treat the self in accordance with the divine judgment which is recognized as impending over it. There is a really informing article on the Busskampf, in C. Meusel’s “Kirchliches Handlexikon,” i. 1887, pp. 618 f. See also Schiele and Zscharnack, “Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart,” i. 1909, col. 1486.

37 “Private Thoughts on Religion,” by the Rev. Thomas Adam: ed. Poughkeepsie, 1814, pp. 22 ff. There are many other editions.

38 “These entries from his private diary, which were meant for no eyes but his own, bring before us a man of no common power of analytic and speculative thought. With an intrepidity and integrity of self-scrutiny perhaps unexampled, he writes down problems started, and questionings raised, and conflicts gone through; whilst his ordinarily flaccid style grows pungent and strong. Ever since their publication these ‘Private Thoughts’ have exercised a strange fascination over intellects at opposite poles. Coleridge’s copy of the little volume (1795) … remains to attest, by its abounding markings, the spell it laid upon him, while such men as Bishop Heber, Dr. Thomas Chalmers, and John Stuart Mill, and others, have paid tribute to the searching power of the ‘thoughts.’ ” A. B. Grosart, in Leslie Stephen’s “Dictionary of National Biography,” i. 1885, pp. 89, 90.

39 “Private Thoughts on Religion,” as cited, p. 72

40 P. 74.

41 P. 218.

42 P. 212.

43 P. 71.

44 P. 129. In the same spirit with these quotations, but with perhaps even greater poignancy of rhetorical expression is this declaration of Alexander Whyte’s (“Bunyan Characters,” iii. 1895, p. 136): “Our guilt is so great that we dare not think of it.… It crushes our minds with a perfect stupor of horror, when for a moment we try to imagine a day of judgment when we shall be judged for all the deeds that we have done in the body. Heart-beat after heart-beat, breath after breath, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, and all full of sin; all nothing but sin from our mother’s womb to our grave.”

45 P. 103.

46 P. 99.

47 P. 180.

48 P. 179.

49 P. 209.

50 P. 216.

51 P. 219.

52 P. 242.

53 P. 234.

54 P. 247.

55 P. 225.

56 P. 231.

57 Pp. 223 f.

58 P. 220.

59 P. 225.

60 P. 253.

61 “Die christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung,” ii. ed. 1, pp. 363 ff.; ed. 3, 1889, §§ 39 f., pp. 365 ff.

62 As cited, p. 365.

63 P. 370.

64 P. 373.

65 P. 372.

66 P. 378.

67 “Der Christ und die Sünde bei Paulus,” 1897, Preface.

68 As cited, p. 126. A certain ambiguity attaches to the word “sinless.” Even Wernle does not quite venture to assert that Paul supposes himself to be free from a sinful nature; but only from sinful acts. Commenting on Gal. 2:20, he says he does not fully understand it (p. 19), and then proceeds to say that we cannot on its ground attribute to Paul “a consciousness of sinlessness.” He is speaking here of the inner nature, not of external acts, and therefore at once explains his meaning to be that “the feeling of perfection which filled Paul in so high a manner has yet its limitations in the reality of the ‘flesh,’ and the delay of the ‘consummation,’ that is, of ‘the world to come.’ ” Jacobi (“Neutestamentliche Ethik,” 1899, p. 324) appears to have misunderstood him here to be speaking of the perfection of act—which Wernle does attribute to Paul.

69 As cited, p. 124; cf. p. 106.

70 Theologische Literaturzeitung, xxii. 1897, col. 517.

71 Scholz, at pp. 11, 19, 53; Karl, at p. 86; Holtzmann at pp. 2, 21, 61, 87. Schmiedel’s “Glaube und Dogma beim Apostel Paulus” (Theologische Zeitschrift aus der Schweitz, 1893, pp. 211–230), which seems likely to be the work referred to by Grafe, does not appear to be cited by Wernle; but he cites Schmiedel’s Commentary on the Epistles to the Corinthians (pp. 48, 71). He cannot be reproached with lack of attention to “the most recent literature.”

72 “Beiträge zum Verständnis der soteriologischen Erfahrungen und Spekulationen des Apostels Paulus,” 1896; also, “Johanneische Studien: I. Der erste Johannesbrief,” 1898.

73 Cf. H. J. Holtzmann, “Lehrbuch der Neutestamentlichen Theologie,” ed. 2, 1911, ii. p. 166, note 3.

74 “Der Christ und die Sünde bei Paulus,” p. 86.

75 What is new in I John (over against Paul) is the indwelling of God as well as of Christ or the Pneuma (“Johanneische Studien,” p. iv.). But this indwelling of God is not an independent indwelling but is through that of Christ (p. 99).

76 “Johanneische Studien,” pp. 101, 103.

77 Ibid., p. 103.

78 “Beiträge,” p. 48.

79 Ibid., p. 30.

80 P. 59.

81 P. 71.

82 P. 51.

83 P. 52.

84 P. 53.

85 P. 30.

86 Pp. 96 f.

87 P. 14.

88 P. 24.

89 Pp. 17 ff.

90 P. 17.

91 Pp. 26 f.

92 P. 16.

93 P. 50.

94 Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, vi. 1896, pp. 463–491.

95 Scholz had himself come out of Moravian circles and it was no doubt natural to him to turn first to Zinzendorf.

96 P. 463.

97 P. 465.

98 P. 472.

99 P. 482.

100 Cf. The Princeton Theological Review, xviii. 1920, pp. 98 ff. (i.e. pp. 102 ff. of this volume).

101 P. 483.

102 P. 465.

103 P. 476.

104 Pp. 476 f.

105 P. 477.

106 Pp. 475 f.

107 P. 479.

108 It may be worth while to remind ourselves that almost as good a case could be made for Paul’s “perfection” before as after his conversion. He never was a “sinful” man in the coarse sense. “He had been a highly moral Pharisee, and lived the strictest of lives,” as we are reminded by P. Gardner (“The Religious Experience of Saint Paul,” 1911, p. 22). He tells us himself that “as regards the righteousness which was in the law he was blameless.” He does not accuse himself of the vices which he names as having stained the lives of some of his Gentile converts. If he seems in a passage like Tit. 3:3 to include himself in the description, may we not say (reasons Gardner) that the “we” is ambiguous and must we not in any case deny Titus to Paul? And is not Eph. 2:3 open to the same doubt? The bearing of the fundamental fact that Paul was in any case a “good” man ought not to be neglected in interpreting his words. The alternatives are not either “good” or “wicked,” but either “good” or “perfect.”

109 “Der Christ und die Sünde bei Paulus,” 1897. The preface is dated February, 1897. Scholz’s essay was printed in the last Heft of the Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche for 1896 and appeared probably in November. Karl’s dedication is dated January, 1896.

110 Pp. v.; 3 f.

111 He uses Thessalonians, Galatians, Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, and Colossians (omitting Ephesians and the Pastorals). Karl uses only the four great epistles and Philippians.

112 This is the way he states his problem in a general and positive form (p. 3): “The problem of the Christian life, as the Reformation raised it, and as Ritschl has posited it afresh, is this: how the Christian can be a joyful child of God, in spite of sin.” The Reformation answer, By trusting our sins to Christ, he says is wrong. Paul’s answer (as he reads Paul), By the immediate perfecting of the soul in baptism, is also wrong. Ritschl’s answer is, By treating sinning as negligible and going on and doing your duty in your station in life. That seems in general Wernle’s answer.

113 Cf. e.g. p. 79: “For the right understanding of the Epistle to the Galatians, two factors are of decisive importance: his theory of the Christian life is the theory of a missionary; and its root is enthusiasm.”

114 Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, xli. 1898, pp. 161 ff., article “Paulus vor dem Richterstuhle eines Ritschlianers (Paul Wernle).” “The ‘hard doctrinairism,’ ” says Hilgenfeld in closing—referring to Wernle’s characterization of Paul’s teaching—“is clearly to be recognized not in Paul of Tarsus but in Paul Wernle of Basel, who missed Ritschl’s doctrine that we know nothing of sin outside the Christian community in Paul, and cannot find his way in the higher ideas of the Paul who reasons of sin and grace” (p. 171).

115 Protestantische Monatshefte, i. 1897, pp. 376–378, review of Wernle’s book. “Is there no other explanation of these contrasting declarations, that the Christian is free from sin and that he is not so, except the crassest self-contradiction?” “Wernle himself knows very well … ‘that his ideas are carefully ordered and stand in a close inner connection.’ ” It is in truth not Paul who is self-contradictory, but Wernle himself.

116 P. 101.

117 P. 124.

118 P. 126.

119 P. 127.

120 P. 126.

121 P. 94.

122 Pp. 94 f.

123 Pp. 95 f.

124 P. 54.

125 P. 97.

126 P. 99.

127 P. 100.

128 Ritschl, “Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung,” ii. pp. 343–355.

129 Pp. 57 f.

130 P. 103.

131 Pp. 103 ff.

132 It is doubtless unnecessary to point out that this is not the fact. The question Paul raised was not whether the Christian still sins, but whether the Christian ought still to sin. What follows in Wernle’s argument is therefore from the start without force.

133 Pp. 59 f.

134 “Robert Pearsall Smith und der Perfektionismus,” 2tes Tausend, 1915, p. 12.

135 Pp. 114 f.

136 P. 117.

137 Pp. 75 f.

138 P. 109.

139 “Taufe und Sünde im ältesten Christentum bis auf Origines,” 1908, p. 2.

140 “Robert Pearsall Smith und der Perfektionismus,” ii. 1915, p. 3.

141 “Theologie des Neuen Testaments,” 1910, p. 420, note.

142 “Die Anfänge unserer Religion,” 1901; ed. 2, 1904, pp. 250, 252 f.

143 As cited.

144 Theologische Literaturzeitung, xxxiv. 1909, coll. 589 f.

1 From The Princeton Theological Review, xviii. 1920, pp. 399–459; cf. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Perfectionism, Part One, vol. 7, 177–236.

2 H. J. Holtzmann, in the “Theologischer Jahresbericht,” xvii. 1898, p. 170 and xviii. 1899, p. 187, gives references to the several reviews mentioned.

3 “Die christliche Lehre von der Sünde: I. Die biblische Lehre,” 1897, pp. 100–122.

4 P. 122.

5 Pp. 119 ff.

6 P. 110.

7 P. 111.

8 P. 112.

9 P. 113.

10 P. 119.

11 P. 114.

12 Pp. 116–117.

13 The reference is to Lütgert, “Sündlosigkeit und Vollkommenheit,” 1897, pp. 38 ff.

14 P. 117.

15 P. 118.

16 P. 119.

17 “Paulus, sein Leben und Wirken,” ii. 1904, pp. 98 ff.

18 P. 100.

19 P. 101.

20 P. 102. He supports himself in this on Gottschick, Jacoby and Titius, as cited elsewhere, and repels Max Meyer’s criticism.

21 “Die Entwicklung der christlichen Religion innerhalb des Neuen Testaments,” 1908, pp. 88 ff.

22 P. 89.

23 P. 91.

24 Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, vii. 1897, pp. 398–460, article on “Paulinismus und Reformation.” Compare with it another article by Gottschick in the immediately preceding number of the same magazine (pp. 352–384) entitled “Propter Christum. Ein Beitrag zum Verständnis der Versöhnungslehrp Luthers.”

25 P. 403.

26 Pp. 414 ff.

27 P. 418.

28 P. 420: “In one matter, to be sure, Wernle is right, although his theory of the sinlessness of the Christian is not discernible in Paul: Paul did not reflect on sin as a thing which adheres to the Christian life permanently and normally and destroys its joyousness, and therefore needs a neutralizer through a continuously renewed forgiveness. And neither did he, when sin encountered him in the community, point the sinners to the grace of God and comfort them with forgiveness. The difference between him and the Reformers appears particularly characteristically in Rom. 8:1. There is given to him—the connection compels this view—by the experience of emancipation from the law of sin and death by the Spirit of life in Christ, the consciousness of no longer being subject to any sort of ‘condemnation’—whereas the Reformers explain the passage in such a manner that this consciousness is rather to spring from God’s objective gracious judgment.” Gottschick is confusing here the proof of “no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus,” with its ground; or to speak broadly, assurance with salvation itself. He accordingly shows some hesitation in an attached note.

29 Pp. 428 ff.

30 P. 405.

31 Pp. 413 f.

32 P. 429.

33 P. 426.

34 “Opera” (Erlangen ed.), xix. 48 [47 f.], cited by Gottschick, p. 438.

35 xviii. 188, cited p. 440.

36 Pp. 438, 448.

37 Pp. 438–440.

38 Pp. 448 f.

39 “Neutestamentliche Ethik,” 1899, pp. 320 ff., 396 ff.

40 “Zur Paulinischen Ethik,” in the “Abhandlungen Alex. von Oettingen gewidmet,” 1898, pp. 220–244.

41 “Die Ethik des Apostels Paulus,” Erste Hälfte, 1904. Also “Das Gebet bei Paulus,” 1905.

42 P. 325.

43 P. 325.

44 Pp. 326 f.

45 Pp. 396 f.

46 P. 397.

47 P. 398.

48 “Die Neutestamentliche Lehre von der Seligkeit,” iii. 1900, pp. 17 ff.

49 P. 44.

50 P. 45.

51 Vol. iv. pp. 180 f.

52 P. 182.

53 Vol. ii. pp. 76 ff.

54 P. 81.

55 P. 77.

56 P. 80.

57 Pp. 81 f.

58 P. 84.

59 “Über die Christliche Vollkommenheit,” 1899. Compare also L. Clasen, Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, x. 1900, pp. 439 ff., and Beyreis, Neue Kirchliche Zeitschrift, xii. 1901, pp. 507 ff., 621 ff.

60 P. 40.

61 P. 21.

62 P. 21.

63 P. 22.

64 P. 37.

65 P. 22.

66 Pp. 22–23.

67 P. 40.

68 Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, xvi. 1905, pp. 719–771.

69 “Die Sünde des Christen nach Pauli Briefen an die Korinther und Römer,” 1902.

70 “Der Apostel Paulus als armer Sünder. Ein Beitrag zur paulinischen Hamartologie,” 1903.

71 “Die Sünde des Christen,” p. 77.

72 P. 78, appealing for support to Lütgert, “Sündlosigkeit und Vollkommenheit,” 1897, pp. 38 ff., and Beck, “Vorlesungen über christliche Ethik,” 1892, i. pp. 244–252.

73 P. 76.

74 P. 77.

75 Pp. 64 f.

76 P. 77.

77 P. 47.

78 Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, vii. 1897, p. 446.

79 Cf. the good note by T. C. Edwards on 1 Cor. 1:8: “It by no means implies that a Christian can be, as Meyer says, morally defective at the day of judgment (cf. 1 Thess. 5:23). Rather it implies that the end of this aeon will be determined by moral reasons. The course of history is a moral development, and the cosmical development depends on that of the individual Christian.”

80 P. 78.

81 P. 79.

82 P. 65.

83 P. 70.

84 P. 71.

85 P. 80.

86 P. 33.

87 P. 35.

88 P. 37.

89 Pp. 54 f.

90 “Die paulinische Rechtfertigungslehre,” 1899, p. 366.

91 P. 56.

92 See also Mühlau, as cited, p. 231. On the other hand Windisch, as cited, p. 156, holds with H. A. W. Meyer.

93 “Der Apostel Paulus als armer Sünder,” 1903, pp. 31 f.

94 Theologische Literaturzeitung, xxix. 1904, col. 203.

95 “Der Apostel Paulus als armer Sünder,” p. 58.

96 P. 41.

97 P. 20.

98 Pp. 43, 44.

99 P. 51.

100 “Das Gebet um tägliche Vergebung der Sünden in der Heilsverkündigung Jesu und in den Briefen des Apostels Paulus,” 1902.

101 P. 10.

102 The reference is to Wernle, as cited, p. 53, to which is added Gunkel, “Wirkungen des Heiligen Geistes,”2 1899, p. 61.

103 P. 62.

104 P. 89.

105 P. 90.

106 P. 105.

107 “Die tägliche Vergebung der Sünden: Vortrag gehalten auf der X. Allgemeinen lutherischen Konferenz zu Lund,” 1901.

108 P. 34.

109 P. 8. Ihmels says he takes these words from the lips of one of the leaders of the Sanctification Movement, meaning R. Pearsall Smith (“Reden,” p. 99).

110 P. 9.

111 P. 16.

112 P. 29.

113 Pp. 12, 13.

114 P. 20.

115 E.g. pp. 16, 36.

116 Pp. 22 f.

117 Published in the Allgemeine Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirchenzeitung, xxxvii. 1904 (June 24), coll. 610 ff.

118 “Das Urchristenthum, seine Schriften und Lehren,” (1887) 1902.

119 An English translation was published in 1906, and the following references are to it.

120 From the beginning of his occupation with the teaching of Paul (“Der Paulinismus,” 1873, E. T. 1877) Pfleiderer had attributed to him a mystical doctrine (which he calls a Mysticism of Faith), discovering the chief of its expressions in the “in Christ” which was afterwards to be exploited by A. Deissmann (see “Der Paulinismus,” pp. 197 ff.). On the early form of his doctrine of the Spirit the same reference will suffice, to which may nevertheless be added “The Influence of the Apostle Paul,” 1885, pp. 69 ff. In these early expositions of the “in Christ” and the “Spirit” is to be found the germ of all that Pfleiderer teaches in 1902.

121 Pp. 404 ff.

122 P. 390.

123 P. 391.

124 Pp. 404 f.

125 P. 407.

126 P. 390.

127 Pp. 234 f. This whole passage is in the second edition added bodily to the statement in the first edition (1887), which closes on a different note.

1 From The Princeton Theological Review, xviii. 1920, pp. 545–610; cf. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Perfectionism, Part One, vol. 7, 237–301.

2 “Taufe und Sünde im ältesten Christentum bis auf Origines. Ein Beitrag zur altchristlichen Dogmengeschichte,” 1908. The book, published when he was twenty-seven years old, was Windisch’s first book; at least it was preceded only by his Doctor’s dissertation on “The Theodicy of … Justin,” 1906.

3 Theologische Literaturzeitung, xxxiv. 1909, col. 589.

4 Coll. 587–588.

5 P. 507.

6 P. 509.

7 Pp. 524 ff.

8 Cf. p. 508: “Paul and John are the typical and irrefutable witnesses for the dogma that the Christian is freed from sin (entsündigt).”

9 P. 534.

10 P. 219.

11 Pp. 180–182.

12 Theologische Literaturzeitung, xxxiv. 1909, col. 588.

13 Pp. 167 f.

14 P. 174.

15 P. 199.

16 P. 200.

17 Cf. Winer’s “Grammar of New Testament Greek,” Thayer’s translation, 1872, p. 314. In John 14:15, Keep my commandments does not mean keep them once for all; neither does, John 15:4, Abide in me, refer to a single act; nor, 1 John 5:21, Keep yourselves from idols, refer to a single separation of ourselves from idols; nor, Mark 16:15, Go and preach, refer to the delivery of a single sermon. The verb in every petition of the Lord’s Prayer is an aorist, the suitable tense, as Gildersleeve says, for “instant prayer.”

18 P. 190.

19 Pp. 191–192.

20 P. 192.

21 Jülicher’s Commentary on Romans is published in J. Weiss, “Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments.” The section on Rom. 13:11–14 is identically the same in the first and second editions (1907, 1908). The failure of Jülicher to support Windisch at this point is the more significant because they occupy common ground in the contention that Paul holds that Christians are sinless. Commenting on Rom. 4:15, for example, Jülicher represents Paul as meaning that “where the law is not—in the blessed present (3:21, 26)—there is also no transgression and accordingly no excitation of the divine wrath.” And then he adds: “An extremely characteristic declaration of the ideal glory in which Paul saw the condition of humanity—no more punishment because no sin.” E. Kühl (in loco) very sharply, from his own point of view, corrects Jülicher for this certainly very unjustified exposition and inference. It is probably enough to say that the meaning of the declaration that “where law is not there is no transgression either”—which is no doubt a general proposition—is here that the promised inheritance was in no sense conditioned on law; it was a promise of pure grace and rested on the righteousness of faith.

22 P. 150.

23 “Die Neutestamentliche Lehre von der Seligkeit,” ii. 1900, p. 83.

24 “Paulus, sein Leben und Wirken,” ii. 1904, p. 102.

25 P. 139.

26 P. 140.

27 P. 151.

28 P. 217.

29 P. 218.

30 Pp. 180–182.

31 P. 181.

32 P. 182.

33 Windisch cites for this interpretation M. R. Engel, “Der Kampf um Römer, Kapitel 7,” 1902, to which he adds F. Mühlau and L. Ihmels. This does not, however, exhaust the important names even in the “miserable-sinner” controversy. Add Max Meyer, E. Cremer, J. Haussleiter, Paul Feine, and even C. Clemen, O. Pfleiderer, A. Deissmann. Juncker leaves the matter undecided.

34 Pp. 220 ff.

35 P. 222.

36 P. 158.

37 Pp. 524, 529–531.

38 P. 101.

39 P. 102.

40 Pp. 213 f.

41 P. 215.

42 P. 188.

43 On the rather vexed question of the relation of “judgment according to works” to “justification” see the excellent lecture by E. Kühl, “Rechtfertigung auf Grund Glaubens und Gericht nach den Werken bei Paulus,” 1904, and also the page or two (including a quotation from Chalmers) in J. Buchanan, “The Doctrine of Justification,” 1867, pp. 237 ff. Compare further Paul Feine’s discussion, “Theologie des Neuen Testaments,” 1910, pp. 308 ff., where the literature is given, to which add James Moffat, in Hastings’ “Dictionary of the Apostolic Church,” ii. 1918, pp. 391 f., and G. P. Wetter, “Der Vergeltungsgedanke bei Paulus,” 1912.

44 P. 213.

45 P. 518.

46 P. 526.

47 Pp. 525–526.

48 P. 525.

49 “Der Christ und die Sünde bei Paulus,” 1897, p. 3.

50 P. 508.

51 P. 277.

52 P. 258.

53 See Huther here: on 1 John 1:9, in H. A. W. Meyer’s “Commentary on the New Testament.”

54 See R. Law, “The Tests of Life: A Study of the First Epistle of St. John,” 1909, pp. 130, 165 ff.

55 Consult Winer-Thayer, “Grammar of the … New Testament,” 1872, p. 293, and H. A. W. Meyer, “Commentary,” on 1 Cor. 7:11.

56 Pp. 259 f.

57 P. 260.

58 P. 270.

59 Pp. 266 f.

60 P. 279.

61 P. 292: “The Christians who all sin much.”

62 P. 288.

63 P. 290: cf. v. 20.

64 P. 286.

65 P. 240.

66 P. 294.

67 P. 312.

68 P. 254.

69 “Die Christliche Freiheit nach der Verkündigung des Apostels Paulus,” 1902, pp. 21 f.; also “Paul and Jesus,” 1909, p. 124.

70 “Jesus der Herr,” 1916, pp. 47 ff.

71 P. 48.

72 “Kyrios Christos,” 1913, pp. 155 f.

73 “Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart,” iv. 1913, coll. 1295 f.

74 “Charis,” 1913, p. 46.

75 “St. Paul,” 1911, E. T. 1912, p. 156.

76 “Paul,” 1905, E. T. 1907, pp. 102 ff.

77 “Biblische Theologie des Neuen Testaments: Die Religion Jesu und des Urchristentums,” ed. 2, 1913.

78 H. J. Holtzmann, “Lehrbuch der Neutestamentlichen Theologie,” ed. 2, 1911; Paul Feine, “Theologie des Neuen Testaments,” 1910.

79 P. 189.

80 Pp. 374 ff.

81 P. 374.

82 Pp. 628 ff.

83 Ed. 1, ii. pp. 151 ff.

84 Ed. 2, ii. pp. 166 f.

85 P. 420; cf. note.

86 P. 417, note.

87 P. 420.

88 P. 421.

89 P. 422.

90 P. 684.

91 Pp. 697 f.

92 P. 698.

93 “Paul: The Man, the Missionary, and the Teacher,” 1898, pp. 366 f., note.

94 The Expositor, Seventh Series, x. 1910, pp. 63–80. The essay had previously appeared in Dutch—“Zonde en Doop,” in the Theologisch Tijdschrift, xliii. 1909, pp. 538–554. The same material is presented by H. Weinel, “Biblische Theologie des Neuen Testaments,” ed. 2, 1913, pp. 628, 629.

95 “The Religion and Theology of Paul,” 1917, pp. 151 ff.

96 Pp. 152–153.

97 P. 152.

98 P. 154.

99 Pp. 160–162.

100 It may be reassuring to note that James Moffat in a brief review of Wernle rejects his whole point of view (Hastings’ “Dictionary of the Apostolic Church,” ii. 1918, p. 380b).

101 “Wiedergeburt und Heiligung mit Bezug auf die gegenwärtigen Strömungen des religiösen Lebens,” 1908, pp. 5–7.

102 “Gereformeerde Dogmatiek,” ed. 2, iv. 1911, pp. 281 ff. (ed. 1, iii. 1898, pp. 559 ff.).

103 Schiele und Zscharnack, “Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart,” iv. 1913, col. 1296.

104 “Die Theologie Ritschl’s,” 1887, pp. 38 f.

105 Cf., for example, Bindemann, “Das Gebet um tägliche Vergebung der Sünden,” 1902, p. 12; Ihmels, “Die tägliche Vergebung der Sünden,” 1901, pp. 7–8; Feine, as cited, p. 420, note.

106 “Die christliche Lehre von der Sünde,” i. 1897, p. 111.

107 As cited, p. 2.

108 Pp. 531 ff.

109 P. 533.

1 From Bibliotheca Sacra, lxxvi. 1919, pp. 1–40; cf. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Perfectionism, Part One, vol. 7 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 303–341.

2 Paul Fleisch has gathered the material from the sources, and written the history of the movement, very sympathetically, in his “Die moderne Gemeinschaftsbewegung in Deutschland,” 1st ed., 1903, pp. 159; 2d ed., 1906, pp. 304; 3d ed., 1912, pp. 605, published as “Erster Band: Die Geschichte der deutschen Gemeinschaftsbewegung bis zum Auftreten des Zungenredens (1875–1907).” The second volume appeared in 1914: “Zweiter Band: Die deutsche Gemeinschaftsbewegung seit Auftreten des Zungenredens. I. Teil: Die Zungenbewegung in Deutschland.” See also his “Die gegenwärtige Krisis in der modernen Gemeinschaftsbewegung,” 1905, pp. 48, and his “Die innere Entwicklung der deutsche Gemeinschaftsbewegung in der Jahren 1906, 1907,” 1908. Also his “Zur Geschichte der Heiligungsbewegung: Erstes Heft: Die Heiligungsbewegung von Wesley bis Boardman,” 1910, pp. 134. This last book does not seem to have been as yet completed. It is a meritorious work, but does not rest on such first-hand information as do the others. On Fleisch’s standing as the fundamental historian of the movement, see Gelshorn (Die Christliche Welt, xix. 1905, col. 854) and Theodor Sippell (ibid., xxviii. 1914, col. 235). For the understanding of the Fellowships in general and their influence on the Church life of Germany, consult the section on “Die Entfaltung der evangelischen Frömmigkeit im religiösen Gemeinschaftsleben,” in G. Ecke’s “Die evangelischen Landeskirchen Deutschlands im neunzehnten Jahrhundert,” 1904, pp. 297–346.

3 With some hesitation we employ the word “Fellowship” to represent the German Gemeinschafts- in the compounds Gemeinschaftsbewegung, -christenthum, -kreise, -leute, -pflege, and the like; and that carries with it the use of “Fellowship” to represent the simple noun Gemeinschaft. Kerr Duncan Macmillan, in his excellent brief account of the movement (“Protestantism in Germany,” 1917, pp. 242 ff., 270), uses the term “Community Movement.” Franklin Johnson, describing it from the report in the “Kirchliches Jahrbuch” for 1907 (“The New Evangelistic Movement in the German Church,” in The Review and Expositor, vii. 1910, pp. 345–355), calls it the “Associations-Movement.” Both of these seem awkward; and “Conventicle Movement,” which of course inevitably suggests itself, also appears unacceptable. We need a word which, like the German Gemeinschaft, is “both a concrete collective and a (abstract) term of relation” (C. F. Arnold, “Gemeinschaft der Heiligen und Heiligungs-Gemeinschaften,” 1909, p. 4), and which is free from inappropriate associations in English. We are encouraged to adopt “Fellowship” by its employment by the competent writer of the “Foreign Outlook” in the Methodist Review (xciii. 1911, pp. 477–479: “The ‘Fellowship Movement’ in German Protestantism”).

4 Die Christliche Welt, xxii. 1908, coll. 244–246.

5 Kleinen Leute.

6 Der Deutsche Verband für evangelische Gemeinschaftspflege und Evangelisation.

7 Berufsarbeiter.

8 Cf. the vivid account of how much in evidence the Fellowship Movement is in Germany, which is given by Martin Schian in the opening pages of his “Die moderne Gemeinschaftsbewegung,” 1909. In almost every considerable town in Germany we see houses of importance bearing the inscription “Fellowship House “or “Christian Fellowship within the National Church.” Thousands of Fellowship Christians gather every summer at the Conferences. Great tents are set up in the summer on vacant lots in cities and towns, whither every evening through four weeks hundreds—on Sundays thousands—flock for popular services. Every conceivable kind of subsidiary organization is employed to advance the cause. “It is no longer,” he says, “a thing in a corner.”

9 Op. cit., p. 22; cf. also his article in Die Christliche Welt, xxii. 1908, coll. 953 ff., and the remarks of Arthur Bonus, coll. 1064 ff.

10 What is said in this paragraph is said by Paul Drews and Arthur Bonus in the articles already cited.

11 Cf., for this paragraph, H. Jarck, art. “Gemeinschaftsbewegung,” in Herzog-Hauck, “Realencyklopädie,” xxiii. 1913, p. 529.

12 Luther’s “Werke für das Christliche Haus” (ed. by Buchwald et al.), vii. p. 160; cf. K. D. Macmillan, op. cit., p. 50.

13 Quoted by Jarck (loc. cit.) from Kühn, “Das Christliche Gemeinschaftswesen,” 1897, p. 15.

14 The term Gemeinschaft, in its technical use to describe the local Fellowship, is defined by Paul Fleisch, the chief historian of the Movement (“Die moderne Gemeinschaftsbewegung in Deutschland,” ed. 2, p. 2), as a “voluntary association of Christians in a given locality for regular meetings for the purpose of mutual edification, apart from controlling connection with the ecclesiastical authorities and government.” That would do fairly well as a definition of the early Wesleyan Societies. Sippell (loc. cit., col. 102) points to the practice of the Puritans of about 1600 as an earlier example. Having spoken of the Separatists, he continues: “Those Puritans who remained in the Church gave out the watchword—‘Not separation from the State Church but union of the earnest Christians and organization of them into local fellowships within the external frame of the State Church.’ These were fundamentally local Fellowships independent of one another and scripturally organized, which were looked upon as the true Church of Christ. This new ideal of organization, maintaining externally connection with the State Church, was later transplanted by Amesius to Holland and thence deeply influenced the young Pietism.” On this showing, the modern German Fellowships derive straight from the English Puritans through the intermediate steps of the Reformed Churches of the Continent and the Pietists.

15 “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” ed. 4, 1898, p. 250.

16 Die Heiligungsbewegung.

17 Hermann Benser, “Das moderne Gemeinschaftschristentum,” 1910, p. 10, and art. “Gemeinschaftschristentum,” in Schiele und Zscharnack, “Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart,” ii. 1910, col. 1264; also The Methodist Review, xciii. 1911, p. 477.

18 Op. cit., p. 33.

19 Cf. Jarck, loc. cit., pp. 528–529.

20 Benser (op. cit., p. 5): “The movement proceeding from Smith brought three results. It straightened among the decided Pietists unity in the Spirit; it pointed to evangelization as succor for the unchurched masses; and it raised the banner of sanctification by faith alone.” So also in Schiele und Zscharnack, op. cit., col. 1264.

21 Jarck (loc. cit., p. 529, bottom) can speak, for example, of “evangelization of the unconverted masses,” “in contrast with the Fellowships which bring the converted together.”

22 Schian (op. cit., p. 5) accordingly contrasts Smith with Finney and Moody by the circumstance that “his method was characterized partially by his having in view less the awakening of the unconverted than the sanctification of the already converted.” Johannes Jüngst (“Amerikanischer Methodismus, in Deutschland,” 1875, p. 54) tells us that he often began his addresses by explaining that he “had two messages, the one for the unconverted, the other for the children of God.” “Nevertheless,” he adds, “the awakening influence on the unconverted retired somewhat before a kind of inner mission for believing Christians, whom he wished to urge onward.”

23 Cf. P. Kahlenbeck, Herzog-Hauck, op. cit., v. 1898, pp. 664f.: “In the years 1873 to 1875 the American evangelist, Moody … and his assistant, Sankey … preached in Great Britain and Ireland in surprisingly successful Revival Meetings. About the same time with the news of their results there came another revivalist-preacher across the ocean to Germany, Pearsall Smith, who addressed himself, however, more to those who were already believers, seeking to lead them to complete consecration to the Lord, and thus to ‘sinlessness’.”

24 Jüngst, in a valuable account of Smith’s work in Germany, which is the more instructive because absolutely contemporaneous, puts on Smith’s lips the following explanation of his relations to the Churches (op. cit., p. 87): “I belong to no Church at all. I wish to serve all Churches, to call in all of them the unrepentant to conversion, the converted to sanctification, not to loosen but to strengthen the bond between the members and the ministers in the several Churches; I work for Christ only and His kingdom, and am far removed from working for an individual denomination, and must wonder that people in Germany will not at once understand my complete ecclesiastical impartiality.” Remarking on an earlier page (p. 84) that “the Methodists are obviously making Smith’s affair their own,” Jüngst recognizes that the answer may be made to him: “But Smith does not make their affair his, and that makes a great difference. Ecclesiastically, he stands in absolute objectivity. He carries this so far in Germany that he never lodges with the members of any particular church fellowship, but in the hotel, in order to give offence to none, whether they belong to the Evangelical Church, to the free congregations, or to the Methodists.” Jüngst adds that this behavior is well advised, “if the movement is intended to hold open the hope of a wide extension in all Christian circles.” He permits himself to pass into conjectures as to its possible outcome, which are very interesting in view of the actual event. Just as Methodism ultimately crystallized into a new denomination (pp. 88 f.), “the possibility is by no means excluded that the Oxford movement too may be segregated and consolidated by an energetic and constructive hand into a new ecclesiastical communion. Since, however, Smith expressly emphasizes his unwillingness to serve any existing Church, or to form a new communion, the more probable result will be that in addition to a revival and warming up of the several Churches, the real fruits of the movement will be garnered by that communion which is most closely related to the methods and the teaching of Smith. This is, however, the Methodists, who have greeted and accompanied his appearance with loud acclamations. Their doctrine, in essence defended by Smith, could in Germany emerge from the small Methodistic circles and make an impression on Evangelical congregations on a large scale, only if on the one side it were advocated by a personality as consecrated and were presented in a clothing, ecclesiastically speaking, as colorless, as in Smith’s instance is the case.”

25 Jüngst (op. cit.) gives abundant proof of this.

26 Observe the objectivity with which it is spoken of, for example, in The Methodist Review, xciii. 1911, p. 477: “If German churchmen look with some misgivings on Methodism and other ‘sects’ in the Fatherland, they show a far deeper anxiety concerning the influence of the Fellowship Movement (Gemeinschaftsbewegung). For this movement aims to transform the type of doctrine and of life within the church itself. And withal it is characterized, at least in some places, by great extravagances and generally by a very narrow outlook.” The statements in this extract are perfectly true.

27 Already, at the Oxford Meeting, public intimation was given by him of his purpose to “carry on God’s work on the Continent.” (“Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874,” p. 281.)

28 He published in 1874 his book on the new doctrine, “De Quoi il s’agit?”

29 Cf. his book, “Tien dagen te Brighton,” 1875.

30 “Briefe über die Versammlung zu Brighton,” 1876. For estimates of this book, cf. Jellinghaus, op. cit., p. 722, and Fr. Winkler, “Robert Pearsall Smith und der Perfektionismus,” 1915, p. 17. Cf. Reiff-Hesse, “Die Oxforder Bewegung und ihre Bedeutung für unsere Zeit,” 1875.

31 Edited by Theodore Monod. It lived only from 1875 to 1879, when it was absorbed into the Bulletin de la mission intérieure.

32 “Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874,” p. 338.

33 Jellinghaus, in the Preface to the first edition of his “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” 1880, says explicitly: “Against our expectation and without our seeking, the dear R. P. Smith was invited to Berlin, and (although he spoke through an interpreter and is in any event a man of no special oratorical gift) made, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a deep impression on many hundreds of souls in many cities of Germany, such as I suppose no one ever did before in so few weeks.”

34 Schian (op. cit., p. 5) puts the striking paradox of things thus: “He who would reckon himself to none of the existing Churches was invited and toasted by the strictest ecclesiastics of the German Church”—and the movement he founded was a strictly unecclesiastical one.

35 Op. cit., p. 52.

36 Op. cit., pp. 3–4.

37 Op. cit., pp. 66, 67.

38 Jellinghaus, writing in 1880, says its circulation was then about 8,000.

39 Op. cit., pp. 84, 85.

40 C. F. Arnold’s characterization, from the extremely churchly standpoint, runs as follows (op. cit., p. 32): “In the Gnadau branch the Darbyite undercurrent was held down for a long time by the Württembergers, and up to von Oertzen’s death (1894) moderation ruled. After that, however, Graf Pückler, supported by Graf Bernstorff and Pastor Paul, introduced a driving propaganda.… Therefore the German Committee for Evangelical Fellowship-work and Evangelization was formed in 1894. In 1901 Graf Pückler sought a greater independence for the Fellowships.… Since 1902 a centrifugal movement has no doubt made itself noticeable; but an organization has been created which stretches from East Prussia to Westphalia and from Schleswig-Holstein to Nassau.”

41 C. F. Arnold (op. cit., p. 31) describes the characteristics of the Blankenburg branch of the Fellowship Movement. Anarchistic Darbyite tendencies rule. The last of the nine articles of the Evangelical Alliance which declares the preaching office, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper permanent elements in the church, is rejected. The state church is asserted to give to the Emperor what belongs to God. Luther sowed to the flesh when he founded a state church. All theology is worthless. The fundamental doctrine is that of the collection of the Bride-Church, that is, extreme chiliasm. The leaders are von Knobelsdorff, von Viebahn, Stockmayer, Kühn, Rubanowitsch.

42 As the term Methodismus has been flung at the Fellowship Christianity as a term of reproach, it has naturally been repelled, and thus a debate has grown up as to its applicability. Jellinghaus (op. cit., ed. 4, pp. 78 ff.) protests against the use of the term and declares that there is nothing, strictly speaking, Methodistic about the movement and the term as employed of it is only a cloak of ignorance. In England, he says, the movement is called “the Keswick Movement”; but, as that term would convey no meaning to German ears, he proposes to call it “the Salvationist (heilistisch) Movement,” because what the movement proclaims is salvation—the possession of salvation, the assurance of salvation, the present enjoyment of salvation—through joyful acceptance of the Savior, and of free, complete, and present salvation. Jellinghaus’ critics content themselves with crying out upon the linguistic enormity of the term heilistisch. He, however, having the courage of his convictions, goes on to coin a corresponding substantive and calls the movement (p. 176) “our new Biblical Salvationism (Heilismus).” Friedrich Simon (Die Christliche Welt, xxii. 1908, col. 1144), while denying any historical ground for calling the Fellowship Movement “Methodistic,” yet wishes to take the sting out of the term by declaring that what is called “Methodistic” in the Fellowship Movement was already recognized by Schleiermacher as natural and right, and that whoever would deny a right in the National Church to “ ‘Methodistically’ colored piety,” in even the narrow sense, forgets the historical nexus between Luther and Spener and Zinzendorf and Wesley, and must logically turn his back on “missions,” which have their roots in Pietism and Moravianism, and strike out of the Hymn Book and Liturgy no inconsiderable amount of their contents.—In point of fact, of course, “Methodism,” in its narrow sense as the designation of the movement inaugurated by Wesley, does lie in the background of the entire movement. Smith’s doctrine of the Higher Life is historically only a modification of the Wesleyan doctrine of “Christian Perfection,” and the Evangelistic methods employed by him and conveyed by him to the Fellowship Movement were historically derived from Methodist practice. Karl Sell (Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, xvi. 1906, p. 375) is not far from putting his finger on the exact point of importance when he says that the great matter in which Methodism differs from the Pietism of which the Fellowship Movement is a modification under the impulse of the Evangelization Movement, lies precisely in “Methodism’s ardor for saving souls, and that quickly, in a moment.” The reality and the strength of the Methodist spirit in the Fellowship Movement is manifested in its participation in this Methodist “suddenness”—Smith’s famous jetzt—“Jesus saves me now.” The two most outstanding features of the movement are its twin insistence on sudden conversion and sudden sanctification. What it has stood for in the Christian life of Germany is salvation at once on faith; complete salvation at once on faith; complete salvation at once without any delay for preparation for it and without any delay for working it out. Everybody can accept salvation at once, and at once on accepting it can possess all that is contained in it. This is really the underlying idea that gives their form to both Wesleyanism and the Fellowship Movement—although both the one and the other broke its force by separating justification and sanctification from each other. They wished to apply the epithets instantanea, perfecta, plena, certa, which the Old Protestantism employed of the supervention of justification on faith, to sanctification also. But they did not quite like to take the whole plunge and make every Christian absolutely perfect from the moment of believing. They both, therefore, were driven into inconsequent dealings with the relation of sanctification to justification, and with the contents of the idea of sanctification itself—designed to mitigate the extremity of the fundamental principle in its application. Meanwhile it is clear that the Fellowship Movement is not only historically, through Smith, a daughter of Methodism in the narrow sense of the word; but that it shares the most fundamental conceptions of Methodism, and from them gains its own peculiarity.

43 So Jüngst (op. cit., p. 79) tells us.

44 “Pastor” Paul was earlier pastor at Ravenstein in Pomerania, and then, as a leader in the Gnadau Conference, organized the Fellowship Movement in Pomerania. He was very prominent in the Pentecost Movement (1907); and making Steglitz, near Berlin, his home, went out thence as an apostle of the Pentecost Movement, bearing up and down Germany in his own person the gifts of grace.

45 This is not the place to describe this movement in detail. It is treated more or less fully, of course, in all accounts of the Fellowship Movement. See especially Paul Fleisch, “Die innere Entwickclung,” usw. See also E. Edel, “Die Pfingstbewegung im Lichte der kirchliche Geschichte,” Brieg, E. Captuller, 1910, pp. 122; B. Kühn, “Die Pfingstbewegung im Lichte der Heiligen Schrift und ihrer eignen Geschichte,” Gotha, Ott (1913?) pp. 105. The matter is excellently treated by Paul Drews in Die Christliche Welt, xxii. 1908, coll. 271 ff., 290 ff., who cites the most important primary German literature; E. Buchner’s article in Die Christliche Welt (xxv. 1911, coll. 29 ff.) gives personal experiences with the German phenomena. F. G. Henke (The American Journal of Theology, xiii. 1909, pp. 193 ff.) gives some account of the non-German history, with references to the primary literature. See also the literature mentioned in H. Bavinck, “Gereformeerde Dogmatiek” (2d ed.), iii. p. 568, note.

46 Schian (op. cit., p. 16) relates what “Pastor” Paul did with “the tongues.” “A special curiosity in the region of speaking with tongues is described by Pastor Paul, who has in his own little monthly magazine reported with stenographic exactness his experiences in this field. He has not only spoken with tongues, but also—think of it! in meaningless syllables which he could not himself interpret!—has sung them hours at a time. Afterwards he himself subjected his own tongues—speeches to careful investigation, and sought to translate them, and then endeavored even to sing some well-known religious songs ‘in tongues.’ ‘Every song, whose melody was well enough known to me, I could sing in tongues, and all of them every time rhymed wonderfully.’ When they rhymed thus: ‘ea tschu ra ta—u ra torida—tschu ri kanka—oli tanka,’ he rejoiced. ‘There is more rhyme in it than in the German words,’ he said.”

47 Op. cit., pp. 13, 14.

48 Cf. The Methodist Review, xciii. 1911, p. 478.

49 Cf. Sippell (loc. cit., col. 178), who, pointing out that Methodism has always been liable to fanaticism, adds: “A sad instance of this is our present-day Pentecost Movement, which, carrying the doctrine of Wesley further, distinguishes between the complete purification from sin and a later-occurring baptism of the Spirit, with reception of special gifts of grace—speaking with tongues, healing the sick and the like.” Only, this development did not need to wait for the German Pentecost people to make it.

50 Cf. his booklet, “Erklärungen über meine Lehrirrungen,” 1912.

51 Loc. cit., col. 235.

52 Op. cit., ed. 4, pp. 436–437.

53 Benser (op. cit., p. 41) assigns him his place thus: “Differences in types of piety are produced by national character, by individual dispositions, often not spiritually purified, or by an especially strong development of a single trait of piety. The national character asserts itself especially in Württemberg and in the East-German provinces. The Swabian character tends to make Fellowship Christians who build up a sterling piety with inner sensibility and prefer to remain in retirement rather than to appear in public. On the other hand the East-German character, which tends in other matters also to extreme conceptions, works in the Fellowship Christianity also towards affording glad hospitality to all sensational, out-of-the-common notions. Individual traits of character have made Pastor Paul a fanatical Christian, with aspirations stretching beyond all earthly limits.” “Pastor” Paul belongs to the East-German stock.

54 Allgemeine Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirchenzeitung, xxxvii. 1904, col. 606. Jellinghaus might very well, perhaps, have had Otto Stockmayer himself in view, had he attended closely to what he already had said in his address to the Gnadau Conference of 1896 on “Die Christliche Vollkommenheit,” which Jellinghaus (p. 705, note) praises as not only admirable, but thoroughly Biblical. In that address (p. 27 of the reprint) he declares that the consciousness that God intends to bring us into likeness to the Lamb will save us from being satisfied with any half-way perfection: “I can be a member of the Bride only with a holiness which can abide the eye of God, the angels and the devils,” because what comes from God can stand in the sight of God. He afterwards became notorious as the advocate of the possibility and duty of attaining this perfect holiness on earth. “His favorite idea,” says a writer in Die Christliche Welt (xix. 1905, col. 877, note), “is the establishment of a small congregation of the elect, in whom sanctification takes place even unto victory over death, and makes the coming of Christ possible.” Cf. Th. Hardeland, Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, ix. 1898, p. 59.

55 Cf. Gelshorn, Die Christliche Welt, xix. 1905, coll. 895 f.: “On the subject of sanctification conceptions within the Fellowship Movement differ, it must be confessed, very widely, and it is Jellinghaus who shows here to advantage—because of his moderation and prudence. While others, such as Pückler, Brookes and Paul sharply distinguish sanctification, in point of time, from justification, and expect it from a special baptism of the Spirit subsequently to an already accomplished justification, thinking of it therefore more in the form of a sudden violent irruption (Durchbruch) while the man remains completely passive; according to Jellinghaus the beginning of sanctification comes with justification, and the filling with the Holy Ghost is a matter inclusive of the voluntary element of faithfulness and advance in personal surrender to Christ more and more to completion. Accordingly, also, Jellinghaus holds himself far from the folly of Perfectionism which in Paul has its keenest advocate—Paul who in public meetings has declared that he no more commits any sin. According to Jellinghaus the actual holiness of every converted man consists in his holding himself free from every conscious or intentional transgression of the divine law.”

56 We are quoting it from the Allgemeine Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirchenzeitung, xxxvii. 1904, col. 532.

57 The Allgemeine Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirchenzeitung quotes, along with this report of “Pastor” Paul’s description of his experiences, a warning comment printed by Adolf Stöcker in the pages of the journal, Reformation: “Of course,” he says, “I do not doubt the veracity of Brother Paul in a single word. But I am full of doubt whether it is wholesome to describe in detail and justify such experiences. As personal experiences they stand far above the self-judgment of the greatest men of faith in Holy Writ. David confesses in Ps. 19:13, ‘Who can discern his errors? Cleanse Thou me from hidden faults.’ And Paul denies of himself that he is already perfect. Pastor Paul, if he feels himself freed from all propensity to sin, is perfect. We have to do, therefore, in his case with a super-Biblical standpoint. Even John in the third chapter of his First Epistle does not go so far.… That there lies in Pastor Paul’s self-declaration a great danger for himself and for the readers of his journal is certain. I recall with great sorrow Pearsall Smith, Idel, and Fries, and many others who spoke precisely like Brother Paul, and afterwards made shipwreck. God preserve Evangelical Christianity from such self-deceptions and breakdowns!”

58 Cf. the report of the meeting of the Conference in the Allgemeine Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirchenzeitung, xxxvii. 1904, col. 576; also Herzog-Hauck, loc. cit., p. 536; Benser, op. cit., p. 36; P. Gennrich, “Wiedergeburt und Heiligung,” 1908, pp. 50 ff.

59 The language is here derived from Paul’s explanation in Heiligung, February, 1906, pp. 12, 14, as cited by P. Gennrich, op. cit., p. 50.

60 In this discussion we are dependent on Gennrich, op. cit.

61 Paul, Reich Christi, 1905, pp. 135 f., 144; Heiligung, February, 1906, p. 14.

62 Reich Christi, 1905, pp. 130 f.

63 Sündenlosigkeit.

64 Reich Christi, 1905, pp. 140, 143.

65 Op. cit., p. 51.

66 Reich Christi, p. 130.

67 Op. cit., pp. 52–53.

68 Reich Christi, 1904, p. 367, cited by Gennrich, op. cit., pp. 44, 45.

69 Op. cit., pp. 44, 45.

70 Jarck, loc. cit., p. 542.

71 “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” 1880, 1886, 1890, 1898, 1903.

72 Cf. the accounts of Jarck, loc. cit., pp. 530–531, and Sippell, loc. cit., coll. 100 f.

73 Jellinghaus had never been blind to this aspect of the movement: only, he had treated it heretofore as an accident and not its essence. In the height of his advocacy of the movement he could write as follows (op. cit., ed. 4, pp. 434–435): “Although R. P. Smith declared often, ‘I desire communion in the sufferings of Christ rather than in the joys of Christ,’ yet the Biblical verities of painful co-suffering with Christ, of the sufferings of priestly-minded Christians (such as Paul describes 2 Cor. 3–5; Rom. 8; Phil. 3; Col. 1:24)—especially of the life of persecution of the members of Christ, and of their strivings unto blood under affliction, scorn and inward mortification, retired too much into the background. Many spoke as if men were already living in the millennium, and very inadequately recognized the mighty power of anti-Christianity and therefore insufficiently also the struggle against it as a priestly task of the saints (Heb. 12:4).” In the preceding pages (pp. 433 f.) he makes some criticisms also of Smith’s methods.

74 “Erklärungen über meine Lehrirrungen,” 1912, Verlag of Prack & Co., Lichtenrode, pp. 51.

75 Among these should be especially mentioned Ernst Heinatsch, “Die Krisis der Heiligungsbegriffes in der Gemeinschaftsbewegung der Gegenwart,” 1913. While still defending Jellinghaus’ former teaching, Heinatsch seeks to separate it from its inseparable Wesleyan content and from its logical issue in the Perfectionism of “Pastor” Paul. An earlier book from outside the Fellowship circles, Ernst Rietschel’s “Lutherische Rechtfertigungslehre oder moderne Heiligungslehre?,” 1909, should be read in this connection. Rietschel argues that Jellinghaus has taken the wrong way to correct the later Lutheran dogmaticians: we must not borrow from the Wesleyans but return to Luther.

1 From The Biblical Review, iv. 1919, pp. 376–406, and 561–590: published by The Biblical Seminary in New York; cf. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Perfectionism, Part One, vol. 7, 343–399.

2 “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” 1880, 1886, 1890, 1898, 1903.

3 “Erklärungen über meine Lehrirrungen,” 1912.

4 Of course it is very possible to avoid the appearance of this, as Hermann Benser does in his “Das moderne Gemeinschaftschristentum,” 1910, pp. 24 ff., as also in his article on the same subject in Schiele und Zscharnack, “Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart,” ii. 1910, coll. 1267 f., by writing ostensibly on the Piety of Fellowship Christianity. It comes, however, to the same thing in the end. Cf. Th. Hardeland’s admirable exposition in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, ix. 1898, pp. 42 ff.

5 “Das völlige gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” (1880) 1903; “Der Römerbrief,” 1903; “Die I. Joh. Epistel,” 1899; “Sieg und Leben,” 1906; “Leben aus Gott,” “Erklärungen über meine Lehrirrungen,” 1912. He edited also from 1899 Mitteilungen aus der Bibelschule.

6 Valuable expositions and criticisms of Jellinghaus’ theology will be found in: Th. Hardeland, “Die Evangelisation mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die Heiligungsbewegung” in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, ix. 1898, pp. 53 ff.; L. Clasen, “Heiligung im Glauben; mit Rücksicht auf die heutige Heiligungsbewegung,” in the Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, x. 1900, pp. 457 ff.; and P. Gennrich, “Wiedergeburt und Heiligung mit Bezug auf die gegenwärtigen Strömungen des religiösen Lebens,” 1908. The former two use the second, the last the fifth edition of Jellinghaus’ book. Cf. also Ernst Rietschel, “Lutherische Rechtfertigungslehre oder moderne Heiligungslehre?” 1909; and Paul Fleisch’s series of books on the “Gemeinschaftsbewegung.”

7 Born at Schlüsselburg near Minden in Württemberg; became missionary in India in 1865; pastor at Rädnitz near Grossen on the Oder in 1873; pastor at Gütergotz, near Potsdam, in 1881; made Emeritus in 1894. He founded in 1885 the first Bible school of the Fellowship Movement and trained in it many workers; he also published, from 1899 on, Mitteilungen aus der Bibelschule.

8 For example, p. 144: “The same word concerning Christ that brings Christ to our hearts, works also the power to faith in us through the Holy Spirit who dwells in it, so that everyone who will can believe in Christ”—that is, every hearer of the gospel who will, not everyone absolutely.

9 Those who wish to see this doctrine expressed in a form indistinguishable from Jellinghaus’ may profitably read the essay on “The Work of Jesus Christ,” in F. Godet’s “Studies on the New Testament,” E. T. ed. 5, 1883, pp. 148–200, to which Jellinghaus elsewhere makes admiring allusions. It was published in 1873, nearly a year before the Oxford Meeting of 1874.

10 Jellinghaus’ doctrine of sacrifice belongs to the class of “symbolical” theories, grounded on the hypothesis of Baer. There is no “juristically substitutive, bloody penal death”; the significance of the rite lies not in the idea of “expiation,” but in that of “drawing near.” The chief matters are the “altar” and the “blood,” the symbols respectively of the presence of God and the life of the offerer. The offerer approaches God, but being himself impure, comes into His presence through a substituted pure life. This is somehow supposed, by an organic union with the victim, to purify him.

11 Die Christliche Welt, xix. 1905, coll. 890 ff.

12 “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” 1898, p. 20.

13 Op. cit., p. 21.

14 The terms erlösen, Erlösung, Erlöser, have, in Jellinghaus, no connotation of “redemption” in the proper sense of that term—as indeed Lösegeld itself has no connotation of “ransoming.” They are all confined strictly by him to the general idea of “deliverance.”

15 Unless otherwise indicated, the quotations, given with page numbers only, are from the fourth edition of “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum.”

16 Cf. the parallel statement, pp. 376 f., note.

17 Part II. chap. vii. pp. 557 ff.

18 He does, however, adduce Acts 15:9 in this sense elsewhere. For Acts 26:18, see p. 567.

19 In contact as he was with a Pietistic community, Jellinghaus was much exercised over the Pietistic idea of the Christian life as a “daily repentance,” the exact antipodes of his notion that we receive by faith immediately full sanctification—which leaves no room for daily sins to be repented of. He says (p. 123) that “it is utterly un-Biblical to assume that every believing Christian falls into known sins daily and therefore must repent daily.” He says it is unendurable that Christians should pray: “Forgive us the many unconscious and conscious sins which we have done this day.” “That is,” he asserts, “in the case of really converted Christians, who commit no sin with knowledge and intention, and to whom the saying belongs, ‘Rather die than to sin consciously,’ a highly unthinking mode of speech” (p. 126). He is thrown into a flutter by every suggestion that Christians “sin daily” or that the mark of the Christian is continuous repentance. We are to repent once for all (p. 122) and after that—not sin. In what sense he is willing to admit the propriety of “daily repentance” the passages quoted in the text show.

20 “In the Bible,” it is immediately added, not without significance, “most is said of the first surrender at conversion.”

21 The phrase “baptism with the Holy Spirit,” means with Jellinghaus just regeneration; e.g. p. 312, “the baptism with the Holy Spirit, that is, regeneration.” He does not admit the propriety of its use of a new experience superinduced on regeneration and sanctification, as, for example, “Pastor” Paul used it.

22 Pp. 691 f.

23 “Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” ed. 4, p. 621. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations with page numbers are from this work.

24 E.g. p. 640.

25 P. 601. The exceptions are such as in 1 Tim. 1:15, where Paul speaks of himself as the “chief” of sinners—referring, Jellinghaus alleges, solely to his past; and James 4:8 and 5:20, which certainly refer to the present.

26 Pp. 325 ff.

27 Pp. 600 ff.

28 Pp. 602 f.

29 P. 611.

30 Pp. 606 f.

31 P. 625.

32 Pp. 300 f.

33 P. 627.

34 P. 633.

35 Cf. p. 627, where we are told that the believer “knows that the dominion of sin reaches further than his consciousness of sin.” “Therefore it is,” he adds, “also a wrong expression to speak of ‘complete holiness and perfect purity, of a work free from sin and sinless, or even of the sinless perfection’ of the wholly consecrated Christian: for, according to the declarations of the apostles there is no such thing as an objectively ‘complete holiness and purity’ of the Christian.”

36 Cf. p. 614, for example, where we are told that 1 John 3:19–21 assures us of the fact that “even souls which are sanctified in a high measure, like those to whom John writes, are often entangled in things of which they are not sure whether they are brought by them into guilt and separation from God”; and then it is added: “Sanctified Christians often are burdened by a more or less clear feeling of guilt because of some particular matter, or because of their whole condition.”

37 L. Clasen, Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, x. 1900, p. 472, very naturally remarks that there is an appearance “that Jellinghaus himself has no real confidence in his ‘possibility of not sinning.’ ” His “no longer sinning” in point of fact means little more than the ordinary “no longer living under the dominion of sin” (p. 471).

38 Above, p. 380.

39 P. 611.

40 P. 390.

41 P. 676.

42 A parallel passage will be found on p. 233.

43 P. 670.

44 P. 671.

45 P. 265.

46 What P. Gennrich (“Wiedergeburt und Heiligung,” 1908, pp. 34 ff.) objects to is really the strong supernaturalism of Jellinghaus’ teaching. It outrages him that Jellinghaus should say: “We are just as little to produce the Christian nature and sanctification as we produced the Adam-nature itself” (“Das völlige, gegenwärtige Heil durch Christum,” ed. 5, p. 465; ed. 4, p. 468). It certainly is difficult nevertheless to understand precisely how “the blood of Christ,” received by an act of faith, produces immediately a sanctification which is not of nature but of act. All that the mystical writers like Jellinghaus say in explanation is that Christ by faith in Him becomes our “organic Head,” and we as His members receive all that He has and is, and therefore are in Him free from sinning. This, however, explains nothing.

47 Pp. 617, 625.

48 A careful statement by Martin Schian of what Jellinghaus means by “the blood of Jesus” will be found in Schiele und Zscharnack’s “Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart,” i. 1909, col. 1701: “Through a theory of sacrifice derived from the Old Testament he opens the way to the fundamental proposition that Christ’s blood means not only the death of Jesus but also the resurrected life of Jesus: in the blood of Jesus there are not merely the death-powers of Jesus, but also the eternal life-, love-, truth-, righteousness- and sanctification-giving resurrection-powers of Jesus.… Christ’s blood is in the end nothing but a combination of the powers lying in the death and resurrection; but in other passages the blood appears apparently as something distinct by the side of the death and resurrection: it is almost a saving-power for itself.”

49 Pp. 474 ff.

50 There is an amazing instance of the use of this notion in an extremely physical sense in a footnote on p. 554.

51 There is an echo here of an old debate in the Fellowship circles. Cf. Gelshorn, Die Christliche Welt, xix. 1905, col. 855.

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