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Tennant, F. R.


The Concept of Sin 1913


Mackintosh, H. R.

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Theologifcke Literaturzeitung 1913 Nr. 26.


daher fein Claqueure behalten, fo ungenügend auch feine
wiffenfchaftliche Begründung des Unglaubens ift' (S. 111).

Bafel. Johannes Wendland.

Tennant, F.R., D.D., B.Sc: TheConceptof Sin. (IV, 282 S.)
8°. Cambridge, University Press 1912. s. 4.6

Dr. Tennant believes that we need to Substitute a
plurality of concepts, developmental not static, for the
rigid idea of sin with which Theology has usually opera-
ted. Sin is one thing, imperfection another, and no
imperfection is sinful which is not at the same time voli-
tional. We must break away from Pauls ,unhappy app-
lication of the term „sin" to guilty and guiltless conduct
alike' (43), and get back (or forward) to a concept purely
ethical in character. Ethical acts are those, and those
only, which involve personal accountability. No such
thing exists as unconscious or unintentional sin. A valu-
able chapter dealing with the material of sin leads up
to the position that ,man is conscious before he is self-
conscious, impulsively appetitive before he is volitional,
and volitional before he is moral1 (155), so that natural
and organic propensities furnish the raw material out of
which the will constructs sin. Next comes a füll and
very acute treatment of sin and temptation. Dr. Tennant
proceeds to argue that to do justice to facts we must l
guard ourselves against ,the psychologist's fallacy', and
insists on studying action exclusively as it appears at
the time of commission to the experiencing subject, not j
as it may be regarded by an observer or later by the
subject himself. Clear insight here delivers us, he holds, ]
from the temptation to base the concept and doctrine of
sin upon the individual's sin-conciousness, which may be
morbidly inflamed, and finally yields the perception that |
,the only absolute and unerring criterion of accountability
is that supplied by the all-seeing mind of God' (224).
The only legitimate course is to reckon sin and guilt as
correlative and co-extensive.

In point of psychological penetration this is undoub- ;
tedly the füllest, as well as the most enlightening, dis- j
cussion of its subject in recent years. The treatment of
freedom in chapter 6 is a model of careful inquiry. But
Dr. Tennant's ,logically perfect' concept of sin will not
be accepted by those who hold with Paul and Augustine,
not to speak of numerous modern students of society,
that men are ethically as well as physically implicated
in the unity of the race, and that we flout experience
by negating either the constitutional or the volitional as-
pect of sin. To predicate of sin both these aspects may
be paradoxical. Better a paradox, however, than clearness
attained by leaving out one half of experimental fact.

Edinburgh. H. R. Mackintosh.

Spencer, Frederick A. M., M. A.: The Meaning of Christi-

anity. (420 S.) 8°. London, T. F. Unwin 1912. s. 7.6

This interesting but diffuse book covers in its own
way most of the ground assigned to Dogmatic and Phi-
losophy of Religion. The autkor, who takes a critical
attitude in Biblical science, and knows modern research,
holds also that creeds ,should not limit theological specu-
lation, but indicate problems with which we have to deal'
(14). He attaches much importance to the three-fold
distmctiön of consciousness as perceptual, conceptual or
mental, and spiritual — the last-named being at its highest j
abundant and continuous love in which human souls and i
God are in close communion. His interest in science j
leads him into occasional irrelevances, such as quasi-
astronomical hypotheses of a wholly unverifiable kind.
In Christology he appears at first to be making for ex-
tremely revolutionary conclusions, like those of the He-
gelian left, but his final results exhibit an eager and j
impressive desire to preserve as far as possible the reli-

gious values of the ecclesiastical doctrine. There is much
good Biblical Theology interspersed in the argument, a
favourable specialen being his treatment of the NT con-
ception of the Spirit. Original sin, according to Spencer,
has dififerent degrees and kinds, as well as different causes.
The chapter headed ,The Atonement' is mainly a dis-
cussion of Conversion, and it is more than doubtful if
the author would acknowledge that we can distinguish
between what God did to save us and our experience of
being saved. Thus he speaks of the atonement which St.
Paul .underwent' (236). Universal restoration is held to
furnish the best Solution of the problem of evil. Through-
out, the Gospel is regarded less as a Divine gift in Jesus
than as a call to identify oneself with the spirit of self-
sacrifice manifest in Him. Eschatology, on the whole,
forms the amplest and most original section. The stand-
point is determined largely by evolutionary science, and
room is made for the pre-existence of souls and numerous

The impression left by the book is of a curiously
mixed character. There is knowledge, shrewd Observation,
wide reading, freshness, fancy, an attractive temper and
ple3sant style. But also there are stränge lapses of dis-
cretion, and both language and ideas are employed loosely.
Erratic questions are thrown out at random. Odd sugge-
stions are made and abandoned, as that mesmerism throws
light on the influence with which consecration imbues
the sacramental elements (290). Reformation doctrine is
mis-stated. Nor should a man of Mr. Spencers ability
have permitted himself a sentence on p. 377, to the effect
that probably, ,owing to the normally more Christian
tendency of womanhood, the physical body of eternal life
will develop out of the present female body'. What has
this to do with the meaning of Christianityf

Edinburgh. H. R. Mackintosh.

Ammundsen, Valdemar: Sören Kierkegaards ungdom. Hans
slaegt og hans religiöse udvikling. (VI, 134 S. m. 1 Tafel,
gr. 8°. Kopenhagen, G. E. C. Gad 1912.).

Vorliegende Arbeit dürfte, praktifch angefehen, für
abfchließend gelten, was das Quellenmaterial felbft anbelangt
. Aber auch in der Deutung und Gruppierung
desfelben fcheint Verf. Glück gehabt zu haben: trotz
aller Detailarbeit verliehen wir, wo er hinaus will, und
verfolgen die Entwicklung des erften, bisher wenig beachteten
Dramas in K.s Leben. Wir skizzieren es hier
kurz, umfomehr, als das in dänifcher Sprache gefchriebene
Buch deutfchen Lefern fchwer zugänglich ift.

Das Unglück S. K.s fing mit feinem Vater an: nicht
bloß hatte der alte K. als junger Knabe Gott geflucht
und feine Seelenruhe für immer verfcherzt, fondern viel
fpäter noch hatte er, ein Vierzigjähriger, eine fittliche
Schuld mehr landläufiger Art auf fich geladen. Das
fürchterliche Erdbeben' in K.s Leben bezieht fich wohl
auf die Entdeckung diefer beiden Begebenheiten. Er
wurde an feinem Vater, zugleich aber auch am Chriflen-
tum irre (S. 118). Das war im Frühjahr 1836. Von da an
ging es, auch fittlich, mit ihm bergab, und was er fpäter
von fich gefagt, er fei ,auf dem Wege der Verlorenheit'
gewefen, muß alfo doch nicht bildlich aufgefaßt werden.
Im Mai 1836 fiel er am tiefften, und fo folgte darauf
eine langwierige Wiederaufrichtung. Äußerlich war er
noch immer, und für lange Zeit, der leichtfertige, etwas
wunderliche Gefelle, innerlich aber ging er in hartem
Kampf und mit eiferner Konfequenz den bitteren Weg
der Reue. Der führte ihn zu einer religiöfen Krife, die
einer Bekehrung gleichkommt, und im Frühjahr 1838
finden wir zum erften Mal einen Ausbruch überftrömenden
religiöfen Jubels in feinen hinterlaffenen Papieren.

Hier fchließt A.s Arbeit. Mehreres in K.s Leben
erfcheint jetzt beffer erklärlich, alfo befonders, daß er
feine Verlobung aufhob und daß er nie Geiftlicher wurde.