Imágenes de páginas





THEOLOGY'S EMINENT DOMAIN. LET our first point be a distinction between science and the sciences." Science may be defined as the knowledge of facts plus the knowledge of the laws according to which the facts coexist, interact and follow one another. “The sciences,” on the other hand, are the several groups into which, for lack of the power of universal grasp, man has sorted out his knowledge; for we know in parts as well as in part. Theologians have always claimed for their study, that it is scientific in its character; but supposing the claim conceded, does it necessarily follow that theology is one of the sciences ? By no means. Theology must be scientific or it is nothing; and yet theology is not a science. There is no paradox here. Theology is scientific, not because theology is a science, but because theology is science, and nothing less. Theology is, by strict definition, the knowledge of the things of God. But if God is, then there is nothing, whether in the seen or the unseen universe, that does not stand related to Him. Hence, for the theologian, I speak not now of others, for the theologian himself, theology ought to be nothing else than the science of sciences, the universal science necessarily including all special forms of knowledge " as the sea her waves.

The intelligent theologian of the present, instead of looking askance at the natural sciences, so-called, wondering what ugly thrust they next meditate, will boldly claim them all as his feudatories and set himself to exacting service at their hands. Astronomy, Geology, Physics and the rest,—what ought they to be to the rightminded Christian thinker, but only so many helps towards the better understanding of that first sentence of the Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth”? Theology is not a segment of the circle of the sciences; it is the point above the circle from which the whole area is swept.

For many years an unseemly conflict has been waging,-I will not be so inexact as to say between science and religion, but between certain scholars of repute—as to the possibility of our having any theology at all. In this controversy, the theologians, as I venture to suggest, have made the double mistake of claiming for themselves at once too little and too much. They have claimed for themselves too much, whenever they have asserted a right to block, by an appeal to authority, whether ecclesiastical or scriptural, the freest possible inquiry into the secrets of the universe. They have claimed for themselves too little, in so far as they have failed to insist with sufficient emphasis upon the right of theology to eminent domain. To be content with anything less than supremacy is fatal to theology. She signs her own death-warrant when she writes herself down as one among many sciences; when she confesses that there are any lines of enquiry that have no interest for her. It is the blunder of timidity for her to undertake to compound with her assailants for decent recognition as a poor relation. Let her rise to her full stature, and without fear assert her just prerogatives of motherhood and queenship.

But, in these days, assertion unsupported does not re-seat banished monarchs on their thrones. We must look into the question of right. What is it that essentially differences theology from any one special science among the many ? Is it that theologians employ a logical method unlike that in common use among scientific enquirers ? Some have thought so. It is not uncommon to hear it said that since theological reasoning is deductive and scientific reasoning inductive, misunderstandings between the users of the two processes are inevitable. But surely this is a most hasty judgment, for nothing can be more easily shown than that the two classes of reasoners employ both methods interchangeably, as the occasion may require. The discovery of

« AnteriorContinuar »