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not less but more complete, if the sufferings of Christ were only semblable.
But the author of the fourth Gospel has not so learned Christ. He believes in a High Priest that
made perfect through suffering,” and who was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," and believing in the nearness of the “only-begotten Son” to the Father, he has learned from Paul to see in the sacrifice of that Son-in the giving him to die for the world while it was yet sinful- a wondrous manifestation of the love of God.* If the suffering was not real the sacrifice was not great, either on the part of the Father or of the Son.
So, then, the Docetic heresy is a departure from the Pauline doctrine, while the “ Johannine” teaching is but another phase of Paulinism.
In one respect it is a development of Paulinism, especially in the denunciation of unbelievers. Paul, while preaching salvation by faith, being yet obliged to confront the fact that Israel, as a whole, is in unbelief, cannot admit that they are lost, but only that their salvation is deferred.
But one who has been educated in the belief of the necessity of faith in Christ in order to salvation, and who has been taught that this faith is a necessary preliminary to righteousness, is apt to take the further step of imputing special unrighteousness to those who do not believe. Hence it is easy for such a one to slide into denouncing unbelief and unbelievers.
* Rom. v. 8; viii. 32.
of Rom. xi. I, II, 25, 26, etc.
That the ideas put forth in the fourth Gospel should have been held, and that they should have dominated many minds in certain sections (say) of Eastern Christianity, is no marvel ; but how, it may be asked, can we account for their having been thrown into the form of a biography of Jesus, and thus made to utter themselves through him-that is to say, How could a Christian, in the first half of the second century, write a fallacious history, a pretended history of the sayings and doings of Jesus, in order to persuade the Church that her doctrines respecting his person and work were, at the first, distinctly taught by himself?
As we do not believe the author of the fourth Gospel was guilty of conscious deception, the question resolves itself into the following :-How could the author have believed that Jesus uttered the speeches which he puts into his mouth, when he must have known that they were purely his own compositions ? How could he ? that, then, is the question.
It must be remembered that the ideas were not the author's own, in the sense of his having originated them. He was reared in an atmosphere of Paulinism, and what he afterwards obtained from other sources was found so congenial as freely to be assimilated by him. Each new view confirmed every other, so that he felt himself in possession of a compact and homogeneous mass of revealed truth. He did not imagine that these doctrines of the Incarnate Logos, etc., were discoveries of his own, but that they were truths of divine revelation, the heritage of the Church-truths
which must have been distinctly uttered by the Incarnate Wisdom himself, when, having been made flesh, he dwelt among us.
The truths of the great salvation must have had their beginning in having been "spoken by the Lord," and so were confirmed unto us by them that heard him.*
It is true, he finds many Christians who are, like the epistolary James, silent respecting the ascriptions which are so prominent in his own mind. Doubtless it often seemed strange to him that so inany should persistently ignore them. But he hears of certain books which profess to record the life and teachings of the Master himself, written, perhaps, twenty or even forty years before he wrote, and possibly some twenty years before he saw them; these he obtains and reads, and it is easy to imagine how astonished and disappointed he must have felt at the perusal of the Synoptic and other Gospels, as one by one he gets them for the purpose.
He does not anywhere find what to him is alone the Gospel—that all men, Gentiles as well as Jews, may be justified by faith in the Messiahship and resurrection of Jesus, because of his atonement; nothing of the love of God in giving His Son to die for the world ; nothing of the Christ having been the only begotten Son of God before the worlds were framed.
But what does he find ? Simply a prophet, who is to become the Christ at his reappearance. Merely a man (for the doctrine of the Incarnation does not appear in the teachings of Jesus), a righteous man, and one who works miracles as great as were wrought by Moses or Elijah; but yet simply a man, on whom at his baptism a great measure of the spirit descended. A baptism, too, of repentance for the remission of sins ! One who does not even declare himself the Christ till at the very close of his earthly career, and then not by way of teaching, it being forced from him, as it were, by judicial process.
* Heb. ii. 3.
Then John the “Baptist," too, inspired prophet as he was, must have understood the greatness of the Christ—his true office as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world—and must equally have known him to be no other than Jesus, yet he is represented as ignorant of the fact; he does not know whether Jesus is the Christ or not.
And the Christ, our Paschal Lamb, is represented as having himself eaten the Passover, and as not having been slain till the day after. Surely, this cannot be; God must have caused that the true Passover should have been slain on the appointed day.*
* We believe most critics are persuaded that the fourth evangelist had before him the other three; Professor Plumptre, however, thought the objections to this theory "altogether insuperable.” “It is surely enough," he wrote (1866), “to refer to the perplexing differences between his narrative and that of the other three Gospels as to the day and hour of crucifixion. It is altogether incredible that he should, either unconsciously or deliberately, have left these difficulties unexplained, if he had the other records before him ” (“Christ and Christendom," p. 73). But it is possible to believe (and, perhaps, to some impossible not to believe) that the great number and glaring nature of the differences So when the Pauline Christian of whom we have been writing ponders these and other variations from what he feels sure must have been the facts, to what conclusion does he come? We may conceive him asking about the Gospels, and demanding who wrote these histories, these professed narrations respecting Christ and his gospel. They are anonymous.
And he is convinced that though they may contain much that is true, yet, in regard to many chief matters, whoever wrote them, they cannot be true. Evidently (to him) the men who handed these down as the sum and substance of the life and teachings of Jesus were men, as they are described in the books themselves, " without understanding.” They have ignored the main features of the gospel, and have dwelt on many trivial matters. The books, as transcripts of the life of Christ, are altogether unworthy of him. Did the writers know their own ignorance? Presumably not, or they would have prayed for the Spirit to bring to their remembrance the most weighty things that Jesus had said to them ;* or if, as was most likely,
, the writers were not the original apostles, still they could have prayed for the Spirit to teach them what Jesus had said and done. They were blind and knew it not, or surely they would have sought and obtained
together form a total which could not have existed by mere accident, which could only have been the result of a deliberate rejection of the Synoptic narrative in every such case of difference ; and that it was, in fact, a strong conviction of the untruth of his predecessors' statements that caused the fourth evangelist to issue counter statements.
* See John xiv. 26.