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Dogmatic theology is that part of theology which treats of the theoretical truths of faith concerning God and His works ( dogmata fidei ), whereas moral theology has for its subject-matter the practical truths of morality ( dogmata morum ). At times, apologetics or fundamental theology is called "general dogmatic theology", dogmatic theology proper being distinguished from it as "special dogmatic theology". However, according to present-day usage, apologetics is no longer treated as part of dogmatic theology but has attained the rank of an independent science, being generally regarded as the introduction to and foundation of dogmatic theology. The present article shall deal first with those questions which are fundamental to dogmatic theology and then briefly review its historical development due to the acumen and indefatigable industry with which the theologians of every civilized country and of every century have cultivated and promoted this science.
I. DEFINITION AND NATURE OF DOGMATIC THEOLOGY
To define dogmatic theology, it will be best to start from the general notion of theology. Considered etymologically, theology (Gr. Theologia, i.e. peri Theou logos ) means objectively the science treating of God, subjectively, the scientific knowledge of God and Divine things. If defined as the science concerning God ( doctrina de Deo ), the name of theology applies as well to the philosophical knowledge of God, which is cast into scientific form in natural theology or theodicy. However, unless theodicy is free from errors, it cannot lay claim to the name of theology. For this reason, pagan mythology and pagan doctrines about the gods, must at once be set aside as false theology. The theology of heretics also, so far as it contains grave errors, must be excluded. In a higher and more perfect sense we call theology that science of God and Divine things which, objectively, is based on supernatural revelation, and subjectively, is viewed in the light of Christian faith. Theology thus broadens out into Christian doctrine ( doctrina fidei ) and embraces not only the particular doctrines of God's existence, essence, and triune personality, but all the truths revealed by God. The Patristic era did not, as a rule, take theology in this wide sense. For the earlier Fathers, strictly limiting the term theology to doctrine about God, distinguished it from the doctrine of His external activity, especially from the Incarnation and Redemption, which they included under the name of the "Divine economy ". Now, if God is not only the primary object but also the first principle of Christian theology, then its ultimate end likewise must be God ; that is to say it must teach, effect, and promote union with God through religion Consequently, it lies in the very essence of theology to be the doctrine not only of God and of faith, but also of religion ( doctrina religionis ). It is this triple function which gave rise to the old adage of the School: Theologia Deum docet, a Deo docetur, ad Deum ducit (Theology teaches of God, is taught by God, and leads to God ).
However, neither supernatural theology in general nor dogmatic theology in particular is sufficiently specified by its material object or its end, since natural theology also treats of God and Divine things and shows that union with God is a religious duty. What essentially distinguishes the two sciences is the so-called formal principle or formal object. Supernatural theology considers God and Divine things solely in the supernatural light of external revelation and internal faith, analyzes them scientifically, proves them and penetrates as far as possible into their meaning. From this it follows that theology comprehends all those and only those doctrines which are to be found in the sources of faith, namely Scripture and Tradition, and which the infallible Church proposes to us. Now, among these revealed truths there are many which reason, by its own natural power, can discover, comprehend, and demonstrate, especially those that pertain to natural theology and ethics. These truths, however accessible to unaided reason, receive a theological colouring only by being at the same time supernaturally revealed and accepted on the ground of God's infallible authority. The act of faith being nothing else than the unconditional surrender of human reason to the sovereign authority of the self-revealing God, it is plain that Catholic theology is not a purely philosophical science like mathematics or metaphysics ; it must rather, of its very nature be an authoritative science, basing its teachings, especially of the mysteries of faith, on the authority of Divine revelation and the infallible Church established by Christ; for it is the Divine mission of the Church to preserve intact the entire deposit of faith ( depositum fidei ), to preach and explain it authoritatively. There are, it is true, many non-Catholics and even some Catholics who are irritated at seeing Catholic theology bow before an external authority. They take offence at conciliar decrees, papal decisions ex cathedra , the censure of theological opinions, the index of forbidden books, the Syllabus, the oath against Modernism. Yet all these ecclesiastical regulations flow naturally and logically from the formal principle of Christian theology: the existence of Divine revelation and the right of the Church to demand, in the name of Christ, an unwavering belief in certain truths concerning faith and morals. To reject the authority of the Church would be equivalent to abandoning supernatural revelation, and contemning God himself, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, since He is Truth itself, and who speaks through the mouth of the Church. Consequently, theology as a science, if it would avoid the danger of error, must ever remain under the tutelage and guidance of the Church. To a Catholic, theology without the Church is as absurd as theology without God. Dogmatic theology, then, may be defined as the scientific exposition of the entire theoretical doctrine concerning God Himself and His external activity, based on the dogmas of the Church.
II. DOGMATIC THEOLOGY AS A SCIENCE
Considering that theology depends essentially on the Church, a serious difficulty arises at once. How, one may ask, can theology claim to be a science in the genuine sense of the word? If the aim and result of theological investigation is settled in advance by an authority that attributes to itself infallibility and will brook no contradiction, if the line of march is, as it were, clearly mapped out and strictly prescribed, how can there be any question of true science or of scientific freedom? Are not the dogmatic proofs, supposed to demonstrate an infallible dogma, after all mere dialectical play, sham science, reasoning made to order? Prejudice against Catholic theology, prevalent in the world at large, is beginning to bear fruit; in many countries the theological faculties, still existing in the state universities, are looked upon as so much useless ballast, and the demand is being made to relegate them to the episcopal seminaries, where they can no longer injure the intellectual freedom of the people. The downright unfairness of this attitude is obvious when one considers that the universities sprang up and developed in the shadow of the Church and of Catholic theology; and that, moreover, the exaggeration of scientific freedom may prove fatal to the profane sciences as well. Unless it presuppose certain truths, which can no more be demonstrated than many mysteries of faith, science can achieve nothing; and unless it recognize the limits that are set to investigation, the boasted freedom will degenerate into lawless and arbitrary anarchy. As the logician starts from notions, the jurist from legal texts, the historian from facts, the chemist from material substances as things which demand no proof in his case, so the theologian receives his material from the hands of the Church and deals with it according to the rules which the scientist applies in his own branch.
The view, moreover, that scientific research is absolutely free and independent of all authority is fanciful and distorted. To the freedom of science, the authority of the individual conscience, and of human society as well, sets an impassable limit. Even the civil power would have to exercise its authority in the form of punishment if a university professor, presuming on the freedom of scientific thought and research, should teach openly that burglary, murder, adultery, revolution, and anarchy are permissible. We may concede that the Catholic theologian, being subject to ecclesiastical authority, is more closely bound than the professor of the secular sciences. Yet the difference is one of degree only, inasmuch as every science and every investigator is bound by the moral and religious duty of subordination. Some Scholastics, it is true, e.g. Durandus and Vasquez, denied to Christian theology a strictly scientific character, on the ground that the content of faith is obscure and incapable of demonstration. But their argument does not carry conviction. At most it proves that dogmatic science is not of the same kind and order as the profane sciences. What is essential to any science is not internal evidence, but merely certainty of its first principles.
There are many profane sciences which borrow unproved from a superior science their highest principles; these are the so-called lemmata , subsidiary propositions, which serve as premises for further conclusions. The theologian does the same. He, too, borrows the first principles of his science from the higher knowledge of God without proving them. Every subaltern science supposes of course in the superior discipline the power to give a strict demonstration of the assumed premises. But all scientific axioms rest ultimately on metaphysics, and metaphysics itself is unable to prove strictly all its principles all it can do is to defend them against attack. It is plain then that every science without exception rests on axioms and postulates which, though certain, yet admit of no demonstration. The mathematician is aware that the existence of geometry, the surest and most palpable of all sciences, depends entirely on the soundness of the postulate of parallels. Nevertheless, this very postulate is far from being demonstrable. In fact, since no convincing proof of it was forthcoming, there has arisen since the time of Gauss a more general, non-Euclidean geometry, of which the Euclidean is only a special case. Why, then, should Catholic theology, because of its postulates, lemmata , and mysteries, be denied the name of a science ? Apart from the domain of dogma proper, the theologian may approach the numerous controversial questions and more intricate problems with the same freedom as is enjoyed by any other scientist. One thing, however, must never be lost sight of. No science is at liberty to upset theorems which have been established once and for all; they must be regarded as unshaken dogmas upon which the entire structure is based. Similarly, the articles of faith must not be looked upon by the theologian as troublesome barriers, but as beacon-lights that warn the mariner, show him the true course, and preserve him from shipwreck.
III. METHODS OF DOGMATIC THEOLOGY
Whereas other sciences, as, for instance, theodicy, begin with proving the existence of God, it lies beyond the scope of theology to discover dogmatic truths. The subject-matter with which the student of theology has to deal is offered to him in the deposit of faith and, reduced to its briefest form, is to be found in the Catechism. If the theologian is content with deriving the dogmas from the sources of faith and with explaining them, he is occupied with "positive" theology. Guided by the doctrinal authority of the Church, he calls history and criticism to his aid to find in Scripture and Tradition the genuine unalloyed truth. If to this positive element is joined a polemic tendency, we have "controversial" theology, which was carried to its highest perfection in the seventeenth century by Cardinal Bellarmine. Positive theology must prove its theses by conclusive arguments drawn from Scripture and Tradition ; hence it is closely related to exegesis and history. As exegete, the theologian must first of all accept the inspiration of the Bible as the Word of God. But even when elucidating its meaning, he will always bear in mind the unanimous interpretation of the Fathers, the hermeneutical principles of the Church, and the directions of the Holy See. In his character as historian, the theologian must not lay aside his belief in the supernatural origin of Christianity and in the Divine institution of the Church, if he is to give a true and objective account of tradition, of the history of dogma, and of patrology. For, just as the Bible , being the Word of God, was written under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost , so Tradition was, and is, guided in a special manner by God, Who preserves it from being curtailed, mutilated, or falsified.
Consequently, he who from the outset declares the Bible to be an ordinary book, miracles and prophecies impossible and old-fashioned, the Church a great institution for deadening thought, the Fathers of the Churchpious prattlers, is quite incapable, even from a purely scientific standpoint, of understanding God's momentous dispensations to mankind. From this we may conclude how unecclesiastical and at the same time how unscientific are those historians who prefer to explain the works of the Fathers without due regard for ecclesiastical tradition, which was the mental environment in which they lived and breathed. For it is only when we discover the living link which bound them to the Apostolic Tradition of which they are witnesses, that we shall understand their writings and establish the heterodoxy of some passages, as for instance, the Origenistic apocatastasis in the writings of Gregory of Nyssa. When Pius X, by his Motu Proprio of 1 Sept., 1910, solemnly obliged all priests to adhere to these principles, he did more than recall to our minds the time-hallowed rules of Christian faith ; he freed history and criticism from those baneful excrescences which impeded the growth of true science.
When the dogmatic material with the help of the historical method has been derived from its sources, another momentous task awaits the theologian: the philosophical appreciation, the speculative examination and elucidation of the material brought to light. This is the purpose of the "scholastic" method from which " scholastic theology " takes its name.
The scope of the scholastic method is fourfold:
- to open up completely the content of dogma and to analyze it by means of dialectics;
- to establish a logical connection between the various dogmas and to unite them in a well-knit system;
- to derive new truths, called "theological conclusions" from the premises by syllogistic reasoning;
- to find reasons, analogies, congruous arguments for the dogmas ;
But above all to show that the mysteries of faith, though beyond the reach of reason, are not contrary to its laws but can be made acceptable to our intellect. It is evident that the ultimate purpose of these philosophical speculations cannot be to resolve dogma finally into mere natural truths, or to strip the mysteries of their supernatural character, but to explain the truths of faith, to provide for them a philosophical basis, to bring them nearer to the human mind. Faith must ever remain the solid rock-bottom on which reason builds up, and faith in its turn strives after understanding ( fides quoerens intellectum ). Hence the famous axiom of St. Anselm of Canterbury : Credo ut inlellegam . However highly one may esteem the results of positive theology, one thing is certain: the scientific character of dogmatic theology does not rest so much on the exactness of its exegetical and historical proofs as on the philosophical grasp of the content of dogma. But in attempting this task, the theologian cannot look for aid to modern philosophy with its endless confusion, but to the glorious past of his own science. What else are the modern systems of philosophy, sceptical criticism, Positivism, Pantheism, Monism, etc., than ancient errors cast into new moulds? Rightly does Catholic theology cling to the only true and eternal philosophy of common sense, which was established by Divine Providence in the Socratic School, carried to its highest perfection by Plato and Aristotle, purified from the minutest traces of error by the Scholastics of the thirteenth century.
This is the Aristotelo-scholastic philosophy, which has gained an ever stronger foothold in ecclesiastical institutions of learning. Guided by sound pedagogical principles, Popes Leo XIII and Pius X officially prescribed this philosophy as a preparation for the study of theology, and recommended it as a model method for the speculative treatment of dogma. While in his famous Encyclical "Pascendi" of 8 Sept., 1907, Pius X praises positive theology and frankly recognizes its necessity, yet he sounds a note of warning not to become so absorbed in it as to neglect scholastic theology, which alone can impart a scientific grasp of dogma. These papal rescripts were probably inspired by the sad experience that any other than Scholastic philosophy, instead of elucidating and clarifying, only falsifies and destroys dogma, as is clearly shown by the history of Nominalism, the philosophy of the Renaissance, Hermesianism, Güntherianism, and Modernism. The development also of Protestant theology, which, entering into close union with modern philosophy, swayed to and fro between the extremes of faith and unfaith and did not even recoil from Pantheism, is a warning example for the Catholic theologian. This does not mean that Catholic theology has received no stimulus whatever from modern philosophy since the days of Kant (d. 1804). As a matter of fact, the critical tendency has quickened the critico-historical sense of Catholic theologians in regard to method and demonstration, has given more breadth and depth to their statement of problems, and has shown fully the value of the "theoretical doubt " as the starting-point of every scientific investigation. All these advances, as far as they mark real progress, have exerted a salutary influence on theology also. But they can never repair the material damages caused to sacred science, when, abandoning St. Thomas Aquinas, it went hand in hand with Kant and other champions of our age. But since the Aristotelo-scholastic philosophy also is capable of continual development, there is reason to expect for the future a progressive improvement of speculative theology.
Another method of arriving at the truths of faith is mysticism, which appeals rather to the heart and the feelings than to the intellect, and sensibly imparts a knowledge of Divine things through pious meditation. As long as mysticism keeps in touch with scholasticism and does not exclude the intellect completely, it is entitled to existence for the simple reason that faith lays hold on the whole man, and penetrates his thoughts, desires, and sentiments. The greatest mystics, as Hugh of St. Victor, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Bonaventure, were at the same time distinguished Scholastics. A heart that has preserved the faith and simplicity of its childhood, takes delight even now in the writings of Henry Suso (d. 1365). But whenever mysticism emancipates itself from the guidance of reason and makes light of the doctrinal authority of the Church, it readily falls a prey to Pantheism and pseudo-mysticism, which are the bane of all true religion. Meister Eckhart, whose propositions were condemned by Pope John XXII in 1329, is a warning example. There is little in the present trend of thought that would be favourable to mysticism. The scepticism which has poisoned the minds of our generation, the uncontrolled greed for wealth, the feverish haste in commercial enterprises, even the dulling habit of reading the daily papers -- all these are only too apt to disturb the serene atmosphere of Divine contemplation, and play havoc with the interior life, the necessary conditions under which alone the tender flower of mystical piety can blossom. Modernism claims to possess in its immediate and immanent sense of God a congenial soil for the growth of mysticism ; this soil, however, does not receive its waters from the undefiled fountain-head of Catholic piety, but from the cisterns of Liberal Protestant pseudo-mysticism, which are tainted, either confessedly or secretly, by Pantheism.School or Church closed? - Here's FREE help!
IV. RELATION OF DOGMATIC THEOLOGY TO OTHER DISCIPLINES
At first, it was a thing altogether unknown to have different theological branches as independent sciences. Dogmatic theology was the only discipline, and comprised apologetics, dogmatic and moral theology, and canon law. This internal unity was also marked externally by the comprehensive name of science of faith ( scientia fidei ), or sacred science ( scientia sacra ). First to assert its independence was canon law, which, together with dogmatic theology, was the chief study in the medieval universities. But since the underlying principles of canon law, as the Divine constitution of the Church, the hierarchy, the power of ordinations, etc., were at the same time doctrines of faith to be proved in dogmatic theology, there was little danger that the internal connection with and dependence on the principal science would be broken. Far longer did the union between dogmatic and moral theology endure. They were treated in the medieval "Books of Sentences" and theological "Summæ" as one science. It was not until the seventeenth century, and then only for practical reasons, that moral theology was separated from the main body of Catholic dogma. Nor did this division degenerate into a formal separation of two strictly co-ordinated disciplines. Moral theology has always been conscious that the revealed laws of morality are as much articles of faith as the theoretical dogmas, and that the entire Christian life is based on the three theological virtues, which are part of the dogmatic doctrine on justification. Hence the superior rank of dogmatic theology, which is not only the centre around which the other disciplines are grouped, but also the main stem from which they branch out. But the necessity of a further division of labour as well as the example of non-Catholic methods led to the independent development of other disciplines: apologetics, exegesis, church history.
The relation existing between apologetics, or fundamental theology as it has been called of late, and dogmatic theology is not that of a general to a particular science ; it is rather the relation of the vestibule to the temple or of the foundation to its superstructure. For both the method and the purpose of demonstration differ totally in the two branches. Whereas apologetics, intent upon laying the foundation of the Christian or Catholic religion, uses historical and philosophical arguments, dogmatic theology on the other hand makes use of Scripture and Tradition to prove the Divine character of the different dogmas. Doubt could only exist as to whether the discussion of the sources of faith, the rule of faith, the Church, the primacy, faith and reason, belongs to apologetics or to dogmatic theology. While a dogmatic treatment of these important questions has its advantages, yet from the practical standpoint and for reasons peculiar to the subject, they should be separated from dogmatic theology and referred to apologetics. The practical reason is that the existing denominational differences demand a more thorough apologetic treatment of these problems; and again, the subject-matter itself contains nothing else than the preliminary and fundamental questions of dogmatic theology properly so called. A branch of the greatest importance, ever since the Reformation, is exegesis with its allied disciplines, because that science establishes the meaning of the texts necessary for the Scriptural argument. As the Biblical sciences necessarily suppose the dogma of the inspiration of the Bible and the Divine institution of the Church, which alone, through the assistance of the Holy Ghost, is the rightful owner and authoritative interpreter of the Bible , it is manifest that exegesis, though enjoying full liberty in all other respects, must never lose its connection with dogmatic theology. Not even church history, though using the same critical methods as profane history, is altogether independent of dogmatic theology. As its object is to set forth the history of God's kingdom upon earth, it cannot repudiate or slight either the Divinity of Christ or the Divine foundation of the Church without forfeiting its claim to be regarded as a theological science. The same applies to other historic sciences, as the history of dogma, of councils, of heresies, patrology, symbolics, and Christian archæology. Pastoral theology, which embraces liturgy, homiletics, and catechetics, proceeded from, and bears close relationship to, moral theology ; its dependence on dogmatic theology needs, therefore, no further proof.
The relation between dogmatic theology and philosophy deserves special attention. To begin with, even when they treat the same subject, as God and the soul, there is a fundamental difference between the two sciences. For, as was said above, the formal principles of the two are totally different. But, this fundamental difference must not be exaggerated to the point of asserting, with the Renaissance philosophers and the Modernists, that something false in philosophy may be true in theology, and vice versa, The theory of the "twofold truth " in theology and history, which is only a variant of the same false principle, is therefore expressly abjured in the anti-Modernist oath. But no less fatal would be the other extreme of identifying theology with philosophy, as was attempted by the Gnostics, later by Scotus Eriugena (d. about 877), Raymond Lullus (d. 1315), Pico della Mirandola (d. 1463), and by the modern Rationalists. To counteract this bold scheme, the Vatican Council (Sess. III, cap. iv) solemnly declared that the two sciences differ essentially not only in their cognitive principle (faith, reason ) and their object ( dogma, rational truth ), but also in their motive (Divine authority, evidence) and their ultimate end ( beatific vision, natural knowledge of God ). But what is the precise relation between these sciences ? The origin and dignity of revealed theology forbid us to assign to philosophy a superior or even a co-ordinate rank. Already Aristotle and Philo of Alexandria, in determining the relation of philosophy to that part of metaphysics which is directly concerned with God, pronounced philosophy to be the "handmaid" of natural theology. When philosophy came into contact with revelation, this subordination was still more emphasized and was finally crystallized in the principle: Philosophia est ancilla theologioe . But neither the Church nor the theologians who insisted on this axiom, ever intended thereby to encroach on the freedom, independence, and dignity of philosophy, to curtail its rights, or to lower it to the position of a mere slave of theology. Their mutual relations are far more honourable. Theology may be conceived as a queen, philosophy as a noble lady of the court who performs for her mistress the most worthy and valuable services, and without whose assistance the queen would be left in a very helpless and embarrassing position. That the Church, in examining the various systems, should select the philosophy which harmonized with her own revealed doctrine and proved itself to be the only true philosophy by acknowledging a personal God, the immortality of the soul, and the moral law, was so natural and obvious that it required no apology. Such a philosophy, however, existed among the pagans of old, and was carried to an eminent degree of perfection by Aristotle.
V. DIVISION AND CONTENT OF DOGMATIC THEOLOGY
Not only for non-Catholics, but also for Catholic laymen it may be of interest to take a brief survey of the questions and problems generally discussed in dogmatic theology.A. God (De Deo uno et trino)
As God is the central idea around which all theology turns, dogmatic theology must begin with the doctrine of God, essentially one, Whose existence, essence, and attributes are to be investigated, While the arguments, strictly so called, for the existence of God are given in philosophy or in apologetics, dogmatic theology insists upon the revealed doctrine that God may be known from creation by reason alone, that is, without external revelation or internal illumination by grace. From this it follows at once that Atheism must be branded as heresy and that Agnosticism may not plead mitigating circumstances. Nor can Traditionalism and Ontologism be reconciled with the dogma of the natural knowableness of God. For if, as the Traditionalists assert, the consciousness of God's existence, found in all races and ages, is due solely to the oral tradition of our forefathers and ultimately to the revelation granted in Paradise, the knowledge of God derived from the visible creation is at once discounted. The same must be said of the Ontologists, who fancy that our mind enjoys an intuitive vision of God's essence, and is thus made certain of His existence. Likewise, to assume with Descartes an inborn idea of God ( idea Dei innata ) is out of the question; consequently, the knowableness of God by mere reason, means in the last analysis that His existence can be demonstrated, as the anti-Modernist oath prescribed by Pius X expressly affirms. But this method of arriving at a knowledge of God is toilsome; for it must proceed by way of denying imperfection in God and of ascribing to Him in higher excellence ( eminenter ) whatever perfections are found in creatures; nor does the light of revelation and of faith elevate our knowledge to an essentially higher plane. Hence all our knowledge of God on this earth implies painful deficiencies which will not be filled except by the beatific vision.
The metaphysical essence of God is generally said to be self-existence, which means, however, the fullness of being (Gr. autousia ), and not merely the negation of origin ( ens a se--ens non ab alio ). The so-called positive aseity of Prof. Schell, meaning that God realizes and produces Himself must be as uncompromisingly rejected as the Pantheistic confusion of ens a se with the impersonal ens universale . The relation existing between God's essence and His attributes may not be called a real distinction (theoretical Realism, Gilbert de La Porrée), nor yet a purely logical distinction of the mind ( Nominalism ). Intermediary between these two objectionable extremes is the formal distinction of the Scotists. But the virtual distinction of the Thomists deserves preference in every regard, because it alone does not jeopardize the simplicity of the Divine Being. If self-existence is the fundamental attribute of God, both the attributes of being and of operation must proceed from it as from their root. The first class includes infinity, simplicity, substantiality, omnipotence, immutability, eternity, and immensity; to the second category belong omniscience and the Divine will. Besides, many theologians distinguish from both these categories the so-called moral attributes: veracity, fidelity, wisdom, sanctity, bounty, beauty, mercy, and justice. Monotheism is best treated in connection with God's simplicity and unity. The most difficult problems are those which concern God's knowledge, especially His foreknowledge of free future actions. For it is here that both Thomists and Molinists throw out their anchors to gain a secure hold for their respective systems of grace, the former for their proemotio physica , the latter for their scientia media . In treating of the Divine will, theologians insist on God's freedom in His external activity, and when discussing the problem of evil, they prove that God can intend sin neither as an end nor as a means to an end, but merely permits it for reasons both holy and wise. while some theologians use this chapter to treat of God's salvific will and the allied questions of predestination and reprobation, others refer these subjects to the chapter on grace.
Being the cornerstone of the Christian religion, the doctrine of the Trinity is thoroughly and extensively discussed, all the more because the Liberal theology of the Protestants has relapsed into the ancient error of the Antitrinitarians. The dogma of God's threefold personality, traces of which may be found in the Old Testament , can be conclusively proved from the New Testament and Tradition. The combat which the Fathers waged against Monarchianism, Sabellianism, and Subordinationism (Arius, Macedonius) aids considerably in shedding light on the mystery. Great importance attaches to the logos-doctrine of St. John; but as to its relation to the logos of the Stoic Neoplatonists, the Jewish Philonians, and the early Fathers, many points are still in an unsettled condition. The reason why there are three Persons is the twofold procession immanent in the Godhead : the procession of the Son from the Father by generation, and the procession of the Holy Ghost from both the Father and the Son by spiration. In view of the Greek schism , the dogmatic justification of the addition of the Filioque in the Creed must be scientifically established. A philosophical understanding of the dogma of the Trinity was attempted by the Fathers, especially by St. Augustine. The most important result was the cognition that the Divine generation must be conceived as a spiritual procession from the intellect, and the Divine spiration as a procession from the will or from love. Active and passive generation, together with active and passive spiration, lead to the doctrine of the four relations, of which, however, only three constitute persons, to wit, active and passive generation (Father, Son), and passive spiration (Holy Ghost). The reason why active spiration does not result in a distinct (fourth) person, is because it is one and the same common function of the Father and the Son. The philosophy of this mystery includes also the doctrine of the Divine properties, notions, appropriations, and missions. Finally, with the doctrine of circuminsession which summarizes the whole theology of the Trinity, the treatment of this dogma is brought to a fitting conclusion.B. Creation (De Deo creante)
The first act of God's external ac
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