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THE DOCTRINE OF SIN.
$ 71.- Introduction.
WHILE Specific Christian Doctrine, as the Second Part of
the entire system of Christian faith, presupposes the first Fundamental Part or Apologetics, its function is to consider the way in which the consummation, on account of the actual occurrence of sin, is carried out by means of redemption.
1. The result of the First Part of Christian Doctrine or Apologetics in its constructive or speculative part is, that the idea of revelation and of humanity culminates in the idea of the absolute God-man. The result of the historic part of Apologetics ? is, that this and nothing else is the goal of preChristian religious history, both heathen and Jewish, and that Jesus of Nazareth is seen and proved to be the Son of God and Son of Man, in whom the longing of the nations finds its fulfilment, and divine revelation and humanity find their consummation; and further, that this perfect religion possesses the power and the means to perpetuate itself, a result materially served by its being fixed in sacred writings, which form the original record of the founding of Christianity. This end of Apologetics : "Jesus Christ, attested documentarily in Holy Scripture, is the God-man,” becomes in the next place the beginning or principle of Christian Dogmatics in the strict
It also falls to the province of the latter to elaborate the doctrine of Christ's Person and Work, whereas it was enough for Apologetics to limit itself to a general view, which can only be called the germ of the Dogmatic doctrine of Christ's Person and Work.
1 Vol. ii. SS 62, 63.
Observation.—Just as primitive Christendom mainly looked forward to the end, the consummation (because a Redeemer worthy of confidence can only be one who carries in himself the power of consummation), in order retrogressively from this point to make itself more and more master of the particular contents of faith, so the First Part followed this tendency which is innate in faith. But as succeeding ages advanced to the consideration of particular dogmas, so also have we now to proceed to details.
2. Decisive on this subject is the fact that the manifestation of Christ's Person and His Work, although not exclusively motived, are essentially modified, by sin. The Christian Church knows itself to be a Church redeemed by Christ from sin. It knows Christ not merely as a Perfecter (a point which Apologetics has to place in the foreground), but as One who came to perfect it solely by means of redemption. But the most intimate connection obtains between the two views, and by His divine-human nature, such as was sketched in its barest outlines in the First Fundamental Part, a general definition has already been given of the relation He will sustain to sin. But the actual filling up of this outline belongs to specific Dogmatics. The latter has, therefore, in the first place to discuss the fact, .by which it is proved that the perfecting of humanity was only possible through reconciliation and redemption, not immediately or in the way of immanent development, i.e. it has first of all to treat of Ponerology. It is true that sin itself, as regards its possibility, was necessarily verified in the doctrine of man's original capacity, and therefore in the First Part. But this does not involve its realization, and least of all the fearful character of its realization.—Apologetics, indeed, in its historic part has already passed over into the sphere of realization, but only under the point of view and with the aim of showing in a general way, that the idea of Godmanhood, acknowledged in the constructive part to be necessary, was the impelling power in pre-Christian religious history, there paved the way for its realization, and was perfectly realized in Jesus of Nazareth. Our present business is to exhibit the relation in which Christ, who came into existence despite sin by a volition of God's transcendent, almighty love, stands to sin, in order to make it clear how He came on account of sin, and for the purpose of destroying the existing state of sin. Only such an exposition can give us the more concrete image of His historic manifestation and work.
3. Accordingly, the Doctrine of Sin will have its place as an Introduction to the Second Specific Part, especially to the exposition of Christology; for sin is the most immediate condition of this form of Incarnation or Godmanhood, which intervened for our reconciliation and redemption in reference to sin. But Ponerology divides into Three Heads. The First has to treat of the nature of evil, and in the first place of its idea in general, then of its partition into the two forms: actual and inherent evil, by which the different stages of evil are brought about. At the same time, this will lead to the consideration of evil as a generic offence.—The Second Head considers evil as to its origin, where the leading hypotheses, bearing on its explanation or derivation, must come under discussion.—The Third Head treats of evil in its relation to the divine government of the world. It is a disturbance of that government, an ill both in itself and in its effects, nay, ill absolutely. God's gracious and just government of the world counteracts it by pronouncing men guilty and punishing them. But the divine government cannot rest content with this. With the will of punitive justice there is also conjoined the sacred will of grace, or the determination to effect reconciliation and vanquish evil.
4. The First Head will not merely treat of the idea of evil in the sense of an abnormal possibility, in which light it was considered in Apologetics ; but the following exposition has to start from the idea of evil as one that has become actual fact, but in such a way as amid the multiplicity of its forms to seek the unity of its principle or the essence of evil, that by which evil is evil. It is possible to understand this without affirming or knowing anything definite beforehand respecting its ultimate origin, because the two things are
1 [Actuelles und zuständliches Böse. In the following pages, for brevity's sake, evil stands for moral evil, Böse ; Uebel is represented by ill, misfortune, physical evil. ]
different, and definition is not derivation,-a point certainly often overlooked. The order of treatment indicated commends itself all the more, as it is only when the elements entering into the nature of evil are clearly understood that anything certain can be affirmed respecting its origin. On the other hand, it is important to reach clear affirmations respecting the origin of evil, and consequently not to stop at the bare fact of its existence, because mistaken conceptions of its origin would react on the definition of its nature. After thus glancing backwards at the origin of evil, in the Third Head we must look forward to the relation of the divine government to evil, and the connection of the divine world-order therewith.