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ART. I. Professor Shedd's Dogmatic Theology.
George B. Stevens, Yale University. II. Mr. Percival Lowell's Misconception of the Character of the Jap
Rikizo Nakashima, Yale University. III. An Omitted Chapter of “Robert Elsmere.”
W. C. Stiles, Richmond, Maine. IV. How Color-Law Affects Our Homes.
F. Wayland Fellowes, New Haven. V. Philo, and his latest Interpreter. F. C. Porter, Yale University.
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DOGMATIC THEOLOGY. By WILLIAM G. T. SHEDD, D.D., Roosevelt Professor of Systematic Theology in
l'nion Theological Seminary. 2 vols. 8vo, $7.00. "No intellectual pursuit in the whole history of this country has had the benefit of so-well reasoned and well fortified a presentation as has our American Calvinism in Dr, Shedd's volumes."-BOSTON BEACON.
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whatever be the branch of knowledge he WHAT IS THE BIBLE ?
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Dogmatic Theology. By W. G. T. SHEDD, D.D., Professor of
Systematic Theology in Union Theological Seminary, New York. Two vols. Charles Scribner's Sons. New York, 1888. 8vo, pp. 546, 803. THERE are two classes of inquiries which every work on Systematic Theology which appears in our time must meet. One relates to the Biblical, the other to the philosophical groundwork of the system. Biblical criticism will no longer pass unchallenged the use of proof-texts which do not legitimately establish the propositions maintained, nor will the philosophical spirit of our time accept the metaphysics of theology without close inquiry as to its rational grounds. We have before us the latest product of American Doctrinal Theology, in two portly volumes. The author is distinguished by his previous contributions to theological literature and by his long period of service
as Professor in two of our foremost theological institutions. He is well known as a leading representative of the type of theology of which Augustine and Calvin are the great historic exponents. He avows his adherence (Pref., pp. vi. vii.) to it as against the more modern modes of thought in theology, declaring his conviction that in former ages “there were some men who thought more deeply, and came nearer to the center of truth upon some subjects, than any modern minds."
Whatever may be thought of the opinions advocated, it will not be doubted that the author's labors are characterized by deep seriousness and intense conviction regarding the themes treated. The sense of the importance of the great problems of Christian Theology which pervades Dr. Shedd's volumes, entitles the spirit and purpose of his treatise to the respect of all who dissent from his opinions. The doctrinal position of the author makes it especially desirable to consider some of the Biblical and philosophical phases of his system. This it shall be our aim to do, trusting that the selection of points of special present interest here and there will not be taken as indicating what we might say of other parts of the work.
The chapter on “Bibliology” whose main topics are Revelation and Inspiration first enlists our attention. Revelation is distinguished as general or unwritten, and special or written. The former kind of revelation is fallible because of human depravity and limitations in appropriating it (p. 66). In the case of written revelation freedom from error is secured by inspiration. Those who are the organs of special revelation are also inspired to express and record the revelation infallibly (pp. 70, 71). One might ask why the distinction between unwritten and written should make all the difference between fallible and infallible revelation. If fallible and depraved men are in both cases made the organs of divine revelation, how is it that the imperfections of the media should in all cases of unwritten revelation so affect the result as to render it fallible and in no case so affect the written result in any manner or degree? Might not one, in conceivable and perhaps in actual cases, be as infallibly inspired to speak or to act as to write? In these assumed distinctions, of which it is almost too little to say that no proof is given, lie the germs of the author's whole theory of the Bible.
Inspiration and infallibility must be confined and limited to the Book. It must therefore be carefully denied at the outset that they can pertain to any person for any purpose except for that of writing a part of the Bible. All this is done by simple a priori dogmatic definition.
The author's view is that inspiration secures inerrancy. this Biblical history, chronology, and geography, differs from corresponding matter in uninspired literature, by being unmixed with error” (p. 69). Inspired men may obtain their information either by divine revelation or in ordinary ways, but “inspiration insures freedom from error in presenting the truth which has been obtained” (p. 70). In this connection it is said that “inspiration goes no further than this,” i. e., no further than to guard from error, but on page 85 it is stated that inspiration differs from regeneration, “in that the aim (of inspiration) is not to impart holiness, but information.” “This shows that inspiration is only intellectual illumination." "They (the Biblical writers) had a perfect knowledge on the points respecting which they were inspired” (p. 85). Passing the point that to inspiration is assigned, in these two different connections, widely differing range and functions, the matter of chief interest is to see by what arguments the absolute freedom from error on the part of the Scripture writers, even extending to perfect chronology and geography, is supported.
After the Westminster Confession is cited in evidence, seven passages of Scripture are cited as “proofs of the infallibility of the Scriptures” (p. 73). They are: II Tim. iii. 16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
Those who are skeptical as to Dr. Shedd's theory will make at least three abatements from the force of this passage for the author's purpose: (1) That the passage should be translated as in the R. V.: “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching,” etc., where the profitableness of scripture is the main quality affirmed and where no declaration of the scope of inspiration is necessarily found. (2) That, at most, the statement can in strictness refer only to the Old Testament.
(3) That it predicates inspiration of the Scriptures and not infallibility and hence has no bearing on the particular theory of inspiration required to be proved. The second "proof” is: Heb.