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Jewish patriotism of St Paul, who rested upon God's promises in the Old Testament in spite of facts. In the year 70 A.D. came the awful end of the Jewish state and sanctuary. That was looked upon as a divine judgment. Henceforth there could be no doubt as to God's new ways.
THE PAULINE THEOLOGY.
THE PAULINE GNOSIS.
All his pro
St Paul developed his soteriology as well as his anti-Jewish apologetic in the midst of his missionary labours and for purely practical purposes. In order to win over the Gentiles, Jesus had to be presented to them in a wider, more comprehensive, and intelligible system; and furthermore, this system had to be defended against the attack of the Jews and Jewish Christians. It may even be safely maintained that St Paul scarcely ever speculated in the interests of pure knowledge and abstract truth. positions—even the most abstruse-served the practical purposes of missionary life, and were never put forward without reference to them. But for all that it is a fact that through St Paul speculative thought and knowledge became a power in Christianity. The relation of Jesus to the problem of knowledge was a totally different one. The whole of His teaching is marked by the entire absence of every kind of speculation and an emphasis on the all-importance of action. If He boasts of the knowledge of God He means the understanding of the divine will in
opposition to the science of the Rabbis, and this is so simple that it is within the reach of every child and unlearned person. The first step in the development of a Christian theology is marked by the appearance of teachers in the Church at Jerusalem. But it was St Paul who first really created the science of the Church. Through him a very high degree of importance comes to be assigned to knowledge and science in Christianity. Great systems, albeit at first of an apologetic nature, are built up. We have lines of argument often of the most complex form. It comes to be an integral portion of the Christian ideal that a Christian should be rich in the word of God and in knowledge of every kind. Thereby the way
is paved for an immense change in the nature of Christianity. It takes its first timid and tentative steps on the bridge that leads over to philosophyi.e. ecclesiastical philosophy, of course.
The reason for this change is certainly to be found in great measure in the previous theological training of St Paul, but we cannot forget either the great alteration that has taken place in the historical position. As
as Christianity is definitely separated from Judaism and faces Judaism and heathenism alike in an independent position, an entirely new task is incumbent upon it, viz. the enlightenment of Jews and Gentiles. In St Paul we are still in that stage where Greek philosophy is almost totally ignored, that is, as a power of culture which might be a possible rival. The science that is developed by him is still essentially Jewish Old Testament science.
What is the meaning of 'gnosis ’ in St Paul's case ? It has three characteristic features. (1) It is some
thing higher than 'pistis,’ faith, which is always presupposed as a necessary first step to knowledge, but is surpassed by it. The clearest statement of this fact is to be found in the opening chapters of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. First the folly of the Cross, the preaching of faith, then the divine wisdom of gnosis, which teaches us to understand folly itself as wisdom. (2) It is the possession of a few and not of all. The “ word of wisdom ” and the “word of knowledge” are counted by St Paul as especial gifts of the Spirit which are granted to single individuals. “Not all men have knowledge." True, the ultimate goal is that all Christians should come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, but now for the present the difference between them that have knowledge and the ignorant exists. (3) It proceeds from the Spirit. St Paul sets this forth especially in 1 Cor. ii. Through the Spirit God has revealed wisdom to us. We have received the Spirit which is of God in order therewith to understand what God has granted to us. The last of these three characteristic features is the most important. It sets up a sharp dividing line between human science and knowledge in the sense which St Paul attaches to the word. The origin of the two is entirely distinct. The source of the one is to be sought in the reason; it is a result of human activity; it is therefore weak and faulty. The latter is the result of divine revelation, and is therefore stamped as true from the very first. The very forms of expression of the two sciences—the human and the divineare different. The one speaks in the words of human wisdom current in the schools, the other in spiritual
words as of spiritual things. But not only do they differ in the manner of communication ; difference of origin implies, furthermore, that the earthly philosophy does not – nay, cannot — understand the spiritual wisdom ; for this ‘gnosis' is unfathomable save by the Spirit ; while, on the other hand, he that is spiritually-wise is able to understand everything, although he himself is not understood by anyone.
In these sentences, pregnant with such important consequences, the difference between ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical science is for the first time definitely established. They are related as reason to revelation, as the human to the divine. But what is the Spirit of which St Paul speaks? It is simply the Spirit of the Church or the sect, the sum of the impressions, words, feelings, impulses and thoughts which are produced in the Church, and which prevail in it as being both holy and necessary. In a word, it is the Christian consciousness as it grew up from the seed sown by Jesus, and as it was further transmitted in His sect. That which would be counted divine must pass muster before it as the final court of appeal. Whatever in anywise contradicted it would not be counted as revealed truth. But the Christian consciousness itself is placed beyond the bounds of discussion : it is perfectly sure of itself; it is ultimate and supreme. A proud and even justifiable Christian self-esteem developed this theory, but created therein a kind of supernatural coat-of-mail for itself which was at last bound to exercise a chilling and benumbing reflex action. This theory preserves the peculiarity and sovereignty of the Christian religion
that is its everlasting merit — but it does this