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Early Years of Christianity: The Apostolic Era.
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CHAPTER III.

THE DOCTRINE OF ST. JOHN.549549Schmid maintains that the Apostle's doctrine should be sought only in the prologue to the gospel and in the epistles, not in the gospel itself, because the latter gives us not the theology of the Apostle, but the teaching of the Master. We feel no such hesitation, for while we admit that John faithfully reproduces that divine teaching, it is evident that in the choice made by him of the words which he preserved, there is the clear impress of his own individuality. (See, for the doctrine of John, Schmid, work quoted, pp. 359-395; Neander, "Pflanz.," 874; Reuss, "Christian Theology of the Apostolic Age," ii, 276; Lechler, "Das apostolische und nachapostolische Zeitalter," 95; Fromman, "Der Johannische Lehrbegriff," 1857, See also the works quoted from Baur and Schwegler.)

PAUL is, in his statement of doctrine, as in his life, the man of contrasts and antitheses. He aims to show how deep is the gulf between human nature and God, that he may the more exalt the grace which has bridged the chasm; and he traces vigorously the line of demarkation between the old covenant and the new. It is not so with John. Having attained gradually, and without any sudden shock, the highest elevation of Christian truth, he starts from the summit and gently comes down again. He does not even pause to establish the superiority of the Gospel over the law. With him that is a settled point, an admitted principle from which he deduces the consequences. John does not commence, like Paul, with man and his misery, but with God and his perfection. His doctrine, by this character of sustained elevation, and by the part assigned in it to love and to the direct intuition of divine things, bears the impress of mysticism, but of a mysticism which is essentially moral, in which the great laws of conscience are always maintained, and which is as far removed from oriental pantheism as from Pharisaic legalism.


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