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original form of the book, without finding myself compelled to carry out changes in essential points. I have thankfully studied the investigations, published by Dilthey in the Archiv f. Gesch. d. Philosophic, Vols. V. to VII., on the reformed system of doctrine in its relation to Humanism and the "natural system." He has examined the reformed conceptions in connections in which they have hitherto been seldom or only superficially considered, and he has, therefore, essentially advanced a knowledge of them.
Among the many objections to the plan of this work, and the critical standards observed in it, four are especially of importance. It has been said that in this account the development of Dogma is judged by the gospel, but that we do not learn clearly what the gospel is. It has further been maintained that the History of Dogma is depicted as a pathological process. Again, the plan of Book III., headed "The threefold outcome of Dogma," has been attacked. And, lastly, it has been declared that, although the account marks a scientific advance, it yet bears too subjective or churchly a stamp, and does not correspond to the strictest claims of historical objectivity.
As to the first objection, I believe that I have given a fuller account of my conception of the gospel than has been yet done in any text-book of the History of Dogma. But I gladly give here a brief epitome of my view. The preaching of Jesus contains three great main sections. Firstly, the message of the approaching Kingdom of God or of the future salvation; secondly, the proclamation of the actual state of things and of thoughts, such as are given in Matthew VI. 25-34; VII. 7-11; IX. 2; X. 28-33, etc- (see Vol. I., p. 74 f.); thirdly, the new righteousness (the new law). The middle section connected with Matthew XI. 25-30, and therefore also combined with the primitive Christian testimony regarding Jesus as Lord and Saviour, I hold, from strictly historical and objective grounds, to be the true main section, the gospel in the gospel, and to it I subordinate the other portions. That Christ himself expressed it under cover of Eschatology I know as well (Vol. I., p. 58) as the antiquarians who have so keen an eye for the everlasting yesterday.
As to the second objection I am at a loss. After the new religion had entered the Roman Empire, and had combined with it in the form of the universal Catholic Church, the History of Dogma shows an advance and a rise in all its main features down to the Reformation. I have described it in this sense from Origen to Athanasius, Augustine, Bernard, and Francis, to mystic Scholasticism and to Luther. It is to me a mystery how far the history should nevertheless have been depicted as a "process of disease." Of course superstitions accumulated, as in every history of religion, but within this incrustation the individual ever became stronger, the sense for the gospel more active, and the feeling for what was holy and moral more refined and pure. But as regards the development from the beginnings of the evangelic message in the Empire down to the rise of the Catholic Church, I have not permitted myself to speculate how splendid it would have been if everything had happened differently from what it did. On the other hand, I grant that I have not been able to join in praising the formation of that tradition and theology which has lowered immediate religion to one that is mediated, and has burdened faith with complicated theological and philosophical formulas. Just as little could it occur to me to extol the rise of that ecclesiastical rule that chiefly means obedience, when it speaks of faith. But in this there is no "pathology"; the formations that arose overcame Gnosticism.
My critics have not convinced me that the conception followed by me in reference to the final offshoots of the History of Dogma is unhistorical. But I readily admit that the History of Dogma can also be treated as history of ecclesiastical theology, and that in this way the account can bring it down to the present time. Little is to be gained by disputing about such questions in an either-or fashion. If we regard Protestantism as a new principle which has superseded the absolute authority of Dogmas, then, in dealing with the History of Dogma, we must disregard Protestant forms of doctrine, however closely they may approximate to ancient Dogma. But if we look upon it as a particular reform of Western Catholicism, we shall have to admit its doctrinal formations into that history. Only, even in that case, we must not forget that the Evangelical Churches, tried by the notion of a church which prevailed for 1300 years, are no churches. From this the rest follows of itself.
Finally, as regards the last objection, I may apply chiefly to my account a verdict recently passed by a younger fellowworker :—" The History of Dogma of to-day is, when regarded as science, a half thing." Certainly it is in its beginnings, and it falls far short of perfection. It must become still more circumspect and reserved; but I should fear, lest it be so purified in the crucible of this youngest adept—who meantime, however, is still a member of the numerous company of those who only give advice—that nothing of consequence would remain, or only that hollow gospel, "religion is history," which he professes to have derived from the teaching of four great prophets, from whom he could have learnt better. We are all alike sensible of the labours and controversies which he would evade; but it is one of the surprises that are rare even in theology, that one of our number should be trying in all seriousness to divide the child between the contending mothers, and that by a method which would necessarily once more perpetuate the dispute that preceded the division. The ecclesiastics among Protestants, although they arrogate to themselves the monopoly of "Christian" theology on the title-pages of their books, will never give up the claim to history and science; they will, therefore, always feel it their duty to come to terms with the "other" theology. Nor will scientific theology ever forget that it is the conscience of the Evangelical Church, and as such has to impose demands on the Church which it serves in freedom.
Berlin, nth July, 1897.