Rut no ' downfall or ' collapse ' and no ' need of redemption ' came within its scheme, because the objection brought against it 1 y its opponents was in fact just; Rationalism lacked understanding of what 'sin is.1 Here morality is not the soil from which grows cither the need of ' redemption ' and deliverance or the need for that other unique good which is likewise
I Cf. the testimony of Theodore Parkw Hrtgjily a man of far from crudc nn r.tal development as to his own experience, given hv \\\ Ju meB, I'arittifs, p. si ;
' '1 liey I :c. the heathen of classical antiquity) #erc conscious of wrath, of cruelty, maricC, drunki'iini i s, lust, sloth, cowardice, and ether actual vices, and struggled ami got rid of tl.<• defoin. ties; but they wen- not conscious of " enmity against f!od " and didn't sit down and whine and groan against non-existent tril. I have done wror.p tilings enough, in ] y life, and do them now: I miss the mark, draw how, and try a^ain. 1 ut . . . I knuw tlere is much "hialth in me"; and in my body, even now, t', ere dwcllefil many a g<od thing, spite of consumption and Saint I\iul.'
II there is nothing crude about such a statemint. it is at any rate ti'l "/¡rial. The depth« of the non-tntional consciuUonets must be stirred to tnd with Ansi'.m ' quanti ponderiB hit peccatum'.
altogether anil specifically numinous in character, ' covering and ' atonementThere would perhaps be less disputing as to the warrant and value of these latter in Christian doctrine if dogmatic theology itself had not transferred them from their mystical sphere into that of rational ethics and attenuated them into moral concepts. They were thus taken from a sphere where they have an authentic and necessary place to one where their validity is most disputable.
We meet the ' moment' of ' covering ' in specially clear form in the religion of Yahweh, in its rites and the emotion they excite ; but it is contained also, though more obscurely, in many other religions. It comprises, first, a manifestation of the numinous awe, viz. the feeling that the 'profane' creature cannot forthwith approach the numen, but has need of a covering or shield against the opyrj of the numen. Such a 'covering' is then a ' consecration ', i. e. a procedure that renders the approacher himself ' numinous ', frees him from his ' profane ' being and fits him for intercourse with the numen. The means of * consecration ', however—' means of grace ' in the proper sense—are derived from, or conferred and appointed by, the numen itself, which bestows something of its own quality to make man capable of communion witli it. And this act is something very different from the ' annulment of mistrust', the phrase in which Ritschl seeks to rationalize these relations between God and man.
' Atonement', following our view, is a ' sheltering ' or ' covering ', but a profounder form of it. It springs directly from the idea of numinous value or worth and numinous disvalue or unworth as soon as these have been developed. Mere awe, mere need of shelter from the ' tremendum', has here been elevated to the feeling that man in his ' profanencss ' is not ivorfhy to stand in the presence of the holy one, and that his own entire personal unworthiness might defile even holiness itself. This is obviously the case in the vision of the call of Isaiah ; and the same note recurs, less emphatically but quite unmistakably, in the story of the centurion of Capernaum (St. Luke vii. 1-10), and his words: ' I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof'. Here we have both the light thrill of awe before the
' tremeniliun ' of the numcn and also, and more especially, the feeling of this unique disvalue or unworth of the profane confronted by the numen, which suggests to the man that even holiness itself may he tainted and tarnished by his presence.
Here, then, comes in the felt necessity and longing for ' atonement', and all the more strongly when the close presence of the numen, intercourse with it, and enduring possession of it, becomes an object of craving, is even desired as the summum bonum. It amounts to a longing to transcend this sundering unworthiness, given with the self's existence as 'creature ' and profane natural being. It is an element in the religious consciousness, v hich, so far from vanishing in the measure in which religion is deepened and heightened, grows on the contrary continually stronger and more marked. Belonging, as it does, wholly to the non-rational side of religion, it may remain latent while, in the course of religious evolution, the rational side at first unfolds and assumes vigorous and defhrte form ; it may retire for a time behind other elements and apparently die away, but only to return more powerfully and insistently than before. And again it may grow to be the sole, one-sided, exclusive interest, a cry that drowns all other notes, so that the religious consciousness is distorted and disfigured ; as may readily happen where through long periods of time the rational aspects of religion have been fostered unduly and at the cost of the non-rational.
The special character of this consciousness of need for atonement may perhaps be brought home more clearly by an analogy from our ' natural' emotional life ; but at the same time it is important that the leligious feeling we are con-•¡dering should itself be kept distinct from its analogue, as the two are frequently confounded. The analogy is with the feeling arising from moral transgression. There, too, we practise a kind of self-depreciation which is clear and familiar and perfectly intelligible to us, when we esteem ourselves guilty of a bad action and the action itself as morally e\il. 'the evil of the action weighs u/wn us and deprives us of our self-respect. We accuse ourselves and remorse sets in. But along-ide this self-depreciation stands a second one, which while it may have reference to the same action as the other yet avails itself of definitely different categories. The same perverse action that before weighed upon us now 'pollutes us; we do not accuse ourselves, we are defiled in our own eyes. And the characteristic form of emotional reaction is no longer remorse but loathing. The man feels a need, to express which he has recourse to images of washing and cleansing. The two kinds of self-depreciation proceed on parallel lines and may relate to the same action; but none the less it is obvious that they are, inwardly and in their essence, determinately different. Now the second of them has a plain analogy with the need for ' atonementand so can fairly be drawn upon for its elucidation ; while at the same time it is yet nothing more than an analogy from another sphere, viz. that of morality.
No religion has brought the mystery of the need for atonement or expiation to so complete, so profound, or so powerful expression as Christianity. And in this, too, it shows its superiority over others. It is a more perfect religion and more perfectly religion than they, in so far as what is potential in religion in general becomes in Christianity a pure actuality. And the distrust and suspicion which so widely obtains with regard to this mystery is only to be explained from the general custom—for which our theoretical cult of homiletics, liturgy, and catechism is largely responsible—of taking into account only the rational side of religion. Yet this atonement mystery is a ' moment' which no Christian teaching that purports to represent the religious experience of the Christian and biblical tradition can afford to surrender. The teacher will have to make explicit, by an analysis of the Christian religious experience, how the ' very numen', by imparting itself to the worshipper, becomes itself the means of ' atonement'. And in this regard it does not matter so very much what the decisions of the commentators are as to what, if anything, Paul or Peter wrote on the subject of expiation and atonement, or whether, indeed, there is any ' scriptural authority' for the thing at all. Were there in scripture no word written about it, it might still be written to-day from our own experience. But it would indeed be extraordinary if it had not long ago been written of. For the God of the New Testament is not less holy than the God of the Old Testament, but more holy. The interval between the creature and Ilim is not diminished but made absolute ; the unworthiness of the profane in contrast to Him is not extenuated but enhanced. That God none the less admits access to Himself and intimacy with Himself is not a mere matter of course; it is a grace beyond our power to apprehend, a prodigious paradox. To take this paradox out of Christianity is to make it shallow and superficial beyond recognition. But if this is so, the intuitions concerning, and the need felt for, 'Covering' and 'Atonement' result immediately. And the divinely appointed means of God's self-revelation, where experienced and appraised as such—' the Word ',' the Spirit', ' the Ferson of Christ',—become that to which the man 'flees', in which he finds refuge, and in which he ' locks' himself, in order that, consecrated and cleansed of his 'profaneness' thereby, he may come into the presence of Holiness itself.
That these ideas are viewed with a certain distrust may be traced to two causes. One is, that what is a specifically religious element is distortingly moralized. If we start from mere morality and in relation to a God understood as being the personification of the moral order endowed witli love, then all these things are wholly inapplicable and a source of genuine difficulty. But we are concerned with religious (not merely moral) intuitions, and it is impossible to dispute how right or wrong they are with a man whose interest is wholly in morality and not in religion, and who is therefore quite incapable of appreciating them. \\ hoever, on the other hand, penetrates to the unique centre of the religious experience, so that it starts awake in his own consciousness, finds that the truth of these intuitions is experienced directly, as toon as he penetrates into their depths.
The other ground of distrust is that usually in our theological systems an attempt is made to develop conceptual theories of these ideas, which are all pure intuitions,emotional rather than conceptual in character. They are thus made objects of speculation, and the final outcome is the quasi-mathematical ' Doctrine of Imputation' and its drastic ascription to the credit of the ' sinner ' of the ' merit' of Christ, not to mention the learned inquiry whether this transaction involves an ' analytic ' or a ' synthetic ' judgement of God. * * * *
Let us look back once more from the point we have reached over the course our inquiry has so far taken. As the subtitle of this book suggests, we were to investigate the nonrational element in the idea of the divine. The words ' nonrational ' and 1 irrational' are to-day used almost at random. The non-rational is sought over the most widely different regions, and writers generally shirk the trouble of putting down precisely wrhat they intend by the term, giving it often the most multifarious meanings or applying it with such vague generality that it admits of the most diverse interpretations. Pure fact in contrast to law, the empirical in contrast to reason, the contingent in contrast to the necessary, the psychological in contrast to transcendental fact, that which is known a posteriori in contrast to that which is determinable a priori; power, will, and arbitrary choice in contrast to reason, knowledge, and determination by value ; impulse, instinct, and the obscure forces of the subconscious in contrast to insight, reflection, and intelligible plan ; mystical depths and stirrings in the soul, surmise, presentiment, intuition, prophecy, and finally the ' occult' powers also; or, in general, the uneasy stress and universal fermentation of the time, with its groping after the thing never yet heard or seen in poetry or the plastic arts—all these and more may claim the names ' nonrational ' irrationaland according to circumstances arc extolled or condemned as modern ' irrationalism Whoever makes use of the word ' non-rational' to-day ought to say what he actually means by it. This we did in our introductory chapter. We began with the ' rational' in the idea of God and the divine, moaning by the term that in it which is clearly to be grasped by our power of conceiving, and enters the domain of familiar and definable conceptions. We went on to maintain that beneath this sphere of clarity and lucidity lies a hidden depth, inaccessible to our conceptual thought, winch we in so far call the ' noil rational'.
The meaning of the two contrasted terms may he made plainer by an illustration. A deep joy may (ill our minds without any clear realization upon our part of its source and the object to which it refers, though some such objective reference there must always be. Iiut as attention is directed to it the obscure object becomes clearly identified in precise conceptual terms. Such an object cannot, then, be called, in our sense of the word, ' non-rational'. But it is quite otherwise with religious 'bliss' and its essentially numinous aspect, the ' fa«cinans'. Not the most concentrated attention can elucidate the object to which this state of mind refers, bringing it out of the impenetrable obscurity of feeling into the don. 140 of the conceptual understanding. It remains purely a felt experience, only to be indicated symbolically by 'ideograms'. That is what wo mean by saying, it is non-rational.
And tlie same is true of all the moments of the numinous experience. The consciousness of a ' v. holly other' evades precise formulation iTi words, and we have to employ symbolic phrases which si ein sometimes sheer paradox, that is, irrational not merely non-rational in import. So with religious awe an 1 reverence. In ordinary fear and in moral reverence I can indicate in conceptual terms what it is that 1 fear or revere ; injury, e.g. or ruin in the one case,heroism or strength of character in the other. But the object of religious awe or reverence— the tremenilum and uugnstum, cannot be fully determined conceptually: it ii non-rational, as is the beauty of a musical composition, which no less eludes complete conceptual analysis.
Confronted by the fact of the non-rational thus interpreted we cannot be sat: .icd wish a mere bare statement, which would open the door to all the \ ague an 1 arbitrary phraseology of an emotionalist irrationalism. Wo are bound to try, by means of the most precise and unambiguous symbolic and figurative perms that we can lind, to discriminate the different elements of the experience so far as we can in a way that can claim general validity.
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