Development a word denoting primarily unfolding, unwrapping; hence, secondarily, a process of growth or expansion. It has recently come into extensive use both in philosophy and in theology. In philosophy, it is part of the Pantheistic doctrine not simply that all existing forms of life have been
developed from simpler forms, but also that the Infinite, as well as the finite, passes from one stage of life to another by unending development. "The whole fabric of ancient and modern Pantheism rests upon the petitio principii that the doctrine of evolution has the same legitimate application within the sphere of the Infinite and Eternal that it has within that of the finite and temporal, a postulate that annihilates the distinction between the two. The idea of undeveloped being has no rational meaning except in reference to the created and the conditional" (Shedd, History of Christian Doctrine, 1:13).
1. As applied to history, the doctrine of development, as stated by its ablest advocates, is that all created existences obey a law of evolution from the potential germ given by the Creator; and that this law applies to the race of man as well as to individuals of the race. As a tree is developed from its seed, so the human body, the human mind, the human race, grow, according to the law of their organic life. Under this view, "history is no longer viewed as a mere inorganic mass of names, dates, and facts, but as spirit and life, and therefore as process, motion, development, passing through various stages, ever rising to some higher state, yet identical with itself, so that its end is but the full unfolding of its beginning. This makes Church history, then, appear as an organism, starting from the person of Christ, the creator and progenitor of a new race; perpetually spreading both outwardly and inwardly; maintaining a steady conflict with sin and error without and within; continually beset with difficulties and obstructions; yet, under the unfailing guidance of Providence, infallibly working an appointed end. This idea of organic development combines what was true in the notion of something permanent and unchangeable in Church history, as held by both the Catholic and the Old-Protestant orthodoxy, with the element of truth in the Rationalistic conception of motion and flow; and on such ground alone is it possible to understand fully and clearly the temporal life of Christianity. A permanent principle, without motion, stiffens into stagnation; motion, without a principle of permanence, is a process of dissolution. In neither case can there properly be any living:history. The conception of such history is, that while it incessantly changes its form, never for a moment standing still, yet through all its changes it remains true to its own essence; never outrages itself; incorporates into each succeeding stage of growth the results of the preceding, and thus never loses anything which was ever-of real value" (Schaff, Apostolic Church, § 34). Certain guards are necessary to prevent the Christian theory of development from passing into the Pantheistic view. They are stated by Dr. Shedd (History of Christian Doctrine, § 3, 4) substantially as follows:
1. The pantheists substitute development for creation. Development supposes existing materials; creation, on the other hand, is from nothing, and presupposes no materials. All germs, according to Christian theism, are created by God. Mere development (which is simply the unfolding of something previously folded up) cannot account for the origin of anything. "The significant fact in natural history, not yet invalidated by the most torturing experiments of baffled theorists, that one species never expands into another, proves that though a process of development can be accounted for out of the latent potentiality at the base, the latter can be accounted for only by recurring to the creative power of God. The expansion of a vegetable seed, even if carried on through all the cycles upon cycles of the geological system, never transmutes it into the egg of animal life; and this only verifies the self-evident proposition that nothing can come forth that has never been put in" (Shedd, Hist. of Christian Doctrine, § 3). The second caution is always to discriminate the idea of a development from that of an improvement. It depends upon the nature of the germ whether the evolution shall be from good to, better, or from bad to worse. By the abuse of freewill in the spiritual sphere the normal development may be displaced; but original righteousness was not developed into original sin. Man, endowed with freewill, created sin, so to speak, under the permission of God. Abstractly, then, development may be synonymous with corruption and decline, as well as with improvement.
But, even with all these guards and cautions, the doctrine of development, when applied within the sphere of moral action, is a perilous one. Any theory of the history of man which leaves out of the case his free agency, must end either in Fatalism or in Pantheism. Dr. T. H. Skinner, Jr., in the Baptist Quarterly Review for January, 1868. while vindicating Dr. Shedd's theory of development from the charge of Pantheism, endeavors to' show that it runs into Fatalism. "Dr. Shedd does not discriminate development from necessity. From the scheme of realistic development, neither a true and just human responsibility, nor a true divine moral government of free agents, can be educed." If it be true, as Dr. Shedd says, that the same law of organic sequence prevails in the sphere of mind and of freedom that works in the kingdom of matter and necessity, then necessity rules the one sphere as it does the other, and rules under the same law.
2. As applied to doctrine, the Christian view of development is that there has been a gradual progression in the manifestation of the divine plan to man, both in revelation and in history. This doctrine is well set forth and illustrated, so far as the N.T. is concerned, in Bernard's Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament (Bampton Lecture for 1866; Boston, Gould & Lincoln, 1867). The Bible, beginning with Genesis, gives the exposition, not of a revelation completed, but of a revelation in progress, and expanding into greater fullness and clearness from the beginning until its final completion in the Apocalypse, at the close of the Canon. After this, the Church has never held to any advance in divine teaching; all growth, subsequent to the apostolical age, has been growth in man's apprehension of divine truth, not in God's revelation of it. The Holy Spirit is still a divine guide to all seekers after truth; not in the way of new revelation, however, but of "reminding" men of the truth once given, and of illuminating the truly believing inquirer in his search into the meaning of revelation. The body of Christian truth, both fact and doctrine, is revealed and recorded, once for all, in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; and these Scriptures constitute, in every age, the norm of doctrine, and the criterion by which all new exhibitions of doctrine are to be tested. No new truth can be developed any more than a new man can be created. But it is very clear that there may be, and has been, development of Christian doctrine in the sense of clearer apprehension of it on the part of the Church. The science of theology implies the application of human reason to the given facts and doctrines of Christianity; first, the application of reason to Scripture (exegesis), to find out what its doctrines are; and, secondly, the use of reason in coordinating these doctrines into scientific form (system). It will be observed that the "development of doctrine," as thus stated, is very different from the theory that the Bible gives only the "germs" of doctrine, out of which, by a necessary organic law, the doctrines themselves are "developed." This image of a germ" is very apt to mislead. Even if a doctrine were a living thing such as a germ is, "it is to be remembered that even a germ is developed by attracting and assimilating to itself many foreign elements which are around it. It is by additions from without, and different from itself, that it grows" (Donaldson, History of Christian Literature, 1:5).
In doctrine, however, as in history, development is not always synonymous with improvement. Human apprehension of divine truth is sometimes wrong, as well as sometimes right; and the history of doctrines, while implying development in its very idea, yet includes variations of rise and fall in human statements of the one divine truth. A right theory "of the development of Christian theology by no means implies that each later age must necessarily have a fuller and deeper knowledge of divine things than its predecessors, either as spread abroad through the body of the Church, or as centered in its chief teachers. Were this a consequence of this theory, this alone would be fatal to it, the very reverse having notoriously been often the case. But even in science, which is so much less dependent on moral influences, and with which the varieties of character and feeling have so little to do, the progress has never been uniform and uninterrupted; while in poetry, in the arts, in philosophy, where the understanding is greatly swayed by moral affections, and derives a main part of its sustenance and energy from them, man's course has been so irregular that nothing like a law of it has been ascertained. So, too, must it needs be in theology, where the subject matter is divine truth, which cannot be received intellectually unless it be also received morally, to the pure reception of which all corrupt feelings of our nature are opposed, and which they are perpetually attempting to sophisticate and distort. Thus it has often come to pass that the inheritance left us by one age has been squandered, or wasted, or forfeited by its successor, so that it by no means follows from the theory of the development of Christian truth that even the later system of theology must be the better. For the world is always wrestling to draw men away from the truth, and will often prevail, as Jacob did over the angel; and when faith is at a low ebb, when the visible, and the immediate, and material predominate in men's hearts and minds over the invisible, the ideal, and the spiritual, theology must needs dwindle and decay. But when there is a revival of faith, if this revival coincides with, or is succeeded by a period of energetic thought, a deeper or clearer insight will be gained in certain portions of truth, especially appropriate to the circumstances and exigencies of the age, and which have not yet been set forth in their fullness. Thus, to cite the two most memorable examples, the true doctrine of the Trinity was brought out more distinctly in the fourth century, that of justification by faith in the sixteenth, the prevalence of error acting in both instances as a motive and spur to the clearer demarcation and exposition of the truth. At the same time, through man's aptness to overleap himself, and to exaggerate the importance of whatever may be engaging him at the moment, an age which has been allowed to behold a fresh truth may too easily depreciate and let slip the truths which its ancestors have bequeathed to it, which proneness has ever been a main source of heresy. Thus, on all sides, we are continually reminded of our inherent weakness, and how that weakness is ever the most mischievous when we are beguiled into fancying ourselves strong; and while we are hereby exhorted to be diligent in studying the whole history of the Church, and the writings of her chief teachers in every age, lest we drop and lose any portion of the precious riches which they have been allowed to win for mankind, we are still more strongly admonished to compare every proposition, and every scheme of propositions — every proposition, both as it stands by itself, and in its relation to the other parts of Christian truth — with the only canon of truth, the written Word of God" (Hare, Mission of the Comforter, note G).
In what has been called the extreme subjective school of German theology, there is a false doctrine of development, which is stated as follows in Chambers's Encyclopoedia (s.v. Development): "According to this school, Christian doctrine is nothing else than the expression of the Christian consciousness at any time. Scripture maintains no permanent or authoritative relation to it. It is all progress — a continued flux, without any normal standard or expression. Scripture may be its primary expression, but it may leave its fountain-head, and in the course of time issue in developments not necessarily bound to Scripture. But, according to the view above set forth, Scripture remains the absolute and complete revelation of Christian doctrine, which is continually unfolded, but never exhausted by inquiry-beyond which right reason and truth never travel. The Christian revelation not only admits of, but demands constant criticism, as the means of unfolding more comprehensively and perfectly its contents, but it remains in itself the consummate expression of all spiritual truth; and it is this very peculiarity of the Christian revelation that makes its contents capable of continual and ever fresh development. It is just because its substance is divine that its doctrinal expressions never cease to interest and to answer to the necessities of successive times. Other religions, while capable of development, reach a point where they cease to have any further living meaning, and pass on the one hand into mere popular mythology, or into an esoteric priestly tradition. They become transmuted into poetry or some ordinary product of philosophical speculation. Civilization overtakes and supplants them. But it is of the distinguishing divine character of Christianity that its doctrines possess a vital ever-renewing power, capable of adaptation to the highest forms of human civilization, and full of enlightenment and guidance to the most advanced intelligence. The development of Christian doctrine, therefore, is not merely a subject of curious and important study in the past, but of great and significant influence for the present and the future."
3. Certain Romanist writers have recently made use of the doctrine of development to vindicate the theology of that Church. They hold that the Scriptures do not contain the entire revelation of God to man, but that revelation is receiving additions, and gradually becoming complete, by the successive decisions of the Church. This view has been set forth by Mohler, and with special skill by J. H. Newman (Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine [N. Y. 1853, 8vo]). Its ground is that the revelation given in the Bible was intentionally incomplete, and forms an inchoate and imperfect system of truth, needing for its completion a gradual development under infallible guidance, and that the present system of doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church is the ripened result of this development, so far as made. See also Dollinger, Christenthum und Kirche, 1860, p. 162. The doctrine has not met with general favor in the Roman Catholic Church, as it is in conflict with the established reliance of that Church upon tradition, and upon what is called "Catholic consent." One of the ablest of modern Romanist writers, Brownson, has written powerfully against the development theory (in his Quart. Review). Extremes meet; the Rationalistic theory agrees with the Romanist (in Mr. Newman's view of it) in representing the system of Christianity delivered in the New Testament as defective and imperfect. The Council of Trent declared (sess. iv) as follows: 'The sacred and holy, oecumenical and general Council of Trent, keeping always in view the removal of errors and the preservation in the Church of the purity of the Gospel, which Gospel, before promised through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures, was first orally published by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and then commanded to be preached by his apostles to every creature, as the fountain both of every saving truth and discipline of morals; and perceiving that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; [the council] following the examples of the orthodox fathers, receives and venerates with equal affection of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament, seeing that one God is the author of both, as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated either by Christ's own word of mouth or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved by a continuous succession in the Catholic Church." Mr. Newman's book was ably answered by W. Archer Butler, Letters on Romanism (Cambridge, 1854, 8vo). The following remarks of Julius Charles Hare (Mission of the Comforter, note G) are in point: "Some of the German apologists for Romanism, having perceived, as could not but happen in a country where learning and criticism have found a home, that the old plea of a positive, unwritten tradition in the Church was utterly untenable as a ground for the doctrinal and practical innovations of later times, have fancied that they might render their Church a service by taking up the popular and modern theory of the development of mankind-a theory which has been carried into the most outrageous extravagances in the contemporary schools of philosophy, as it has also been in France by the St. Simonians. This theory has been used by others to show that Christianity itself is a transient religion, belonging to a by-gone period and almost obsolete; they have tried to employ it in defense of the Church of Rome. Herein, however, it was impossible for them to succeed. That Church, whose constant effort, since the time when it cut itself off from the living body of Christ, has been to check, to repress, to cramp, to fetter the mind, could not find support in a theory which implies the freedom of the mind; nor can any Church, unless it recognises, both doctrinally and practically, that the property of truth is to set the mind free."
4. The following section was prepared for this Cyclopaedia by the late Dr. Harbaugh just before his death. We print it as he left it, though it involves a little repetition of what has been given above.
Development. — This word, related primarily to the sphere of organic life in the natural world, has also come to perform important service in science, especially in psychology, philosophy, theology, and history. In the earlier stages of science generally, the data and phenomena were classified and arranged according to the outward peculiarities which they presented. In time, however, and especially under the influence of Christianity, as the key to the deepest life of the world, scientific thinking felt itself urged to a deeper apprehension of all kinds of phenomena. The mechanical and outward in systematizing accordingly had to give way to the determining power of mere inward principles.
Thus it has come to pass that while science, so far as it has been apprehended and advanced by non-Christian thinking, has been, for the most part, satisfied with the word progress, science grounded in the distinctively Christian principle has found the word development indispensable. The word, as thus used, presupposes a distinctive theory of the essence of Christianity, and so also of the Church, its history and its dogmas, as well as of affiliated sciences, such as psychology and philosophy. It finds inadequate the view of the essence of Christianity which resolves it into the idea of doctrine, as in Supranaturalism; so also the view which makes it only an ethical force, law, or rule of life, as set forth in the school of Kant and by Rationalism; and so, moreover, the conception that it is, in its essential character, a mere power of redemption operative in the sphere of religious feeling, according to Schleiermacher and the Mystics. Admitting and appreciating all these as secondary and dependent, it holds that Christianity is primarily and essentially a life — the divine-human life of its founder, Jesus Christ — which becomes the deepest life of renewed humanity, of history, and of science (see Ullman, Distinctive Character and Essence of Christianity). Life being essentially organic, it must have the word development to indicate that unfolding from a germlike inward principle which is the distinctive characteristic of organic life. To the genetic processes involved in the activities of life it applies the word development. "This idea of an organic, steadily improving development of humanity, according to a wise, unalterable plan of Providence, is properly as old as Christianity, meets us in many passages of the New Testament (Mt 13:31-32; Eph 4:12-16; Col 2:19; 2Pe 3:18), and in occasional remarks of the early fathers, such as Tertullian and Augustine; and was brought out in the 18th century with peculiar emphasis and freshness by the genial Herder, in his 'Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Humanity' (784), so highly valued by the gifted historian of Switzerland, John von Muller" (see Herder's Sanimtliche Werke, zur Philippians und Gesch. Theil 3, § 74 sq.). "The more mature and philosophical conception of it, however, and the impulse which it gave to a deeper and a livelier study of history, are due especially to the philosophy of Schelling, and, still more, of Hegel. With Hegel, all life and thought is properly development, or a process of organic growth, which he calls Aufhebung — that is, in the threefold sense of this philosophical term so much used by him,
(1.) an abolition of the previous imperfect form (an aufheben, in the sense of tollere);
(2.) a preservation of the essence (conservare); and
(3.) an elevation of it to a higher stage of existence (elevare)" (Dr. Schaff's History of the Apost. Church, p. 90, 91).
The conception of development has, however, also been carried out of its proper Christian sense, and perverted to the service of anti-Christian systems of thought. Thus Pantheism, laying hold upon some insufficiently guarded point in the Hegelian theory, has employed it in its scheme. The one school of Hegel, denying with him the existence of a personal God, as the creator of all principles of created life, proposes to account for all animated existence by a theory of development starting in matter, ideas, or thought (all of which, however, it leaves vague and floating), holding that nature through successive upward gradations ultimately reaches self- consciousness in the human spirit, and thus also God himself comes to exist in the form of the general human consciousness, the world idea, the self- manifestation of the idea of God,' who is at once the manifestation and the moment of the process of the development and actualization of his substance as the absolute spirit" (Herzog, Real-Encyklop. v. 629). Nor has Rationalism failed to seize upon and pervert the Christian conception of development for its use. Leaving out of view and ignoring the nature of Christianity as a life, it acknowledges no life-principle in Christianity; consequently breaks with all genetic, traditionary, or historical processes, and proposes a progress of moral enlightenment which shall advance beyond Christ, the Church, and Revelation. Its processes and progress, which it calls development, starting in revolution, can present only a history of deterioration and corruption. The Christian idea of development, properly used, leaves no room for suchlike revolution and negative progress. Substantially' into this snare Prof. Bush has fallen, in the otherwise just and valuable discussion by which he introduces his work on the Resurrection (Anastasis, the Introduction, p. 13-29). The Roman Catholic convert, John Henry Newman, has also a theory of development, which, however, seems to be rather a development in the sphere of ideas than of facts of life; hence it is rather mechanical and philosophical than organic and Christian. It moves more in the region of subjective mental processes than in the objective essential life of Christianity. It is consequently of little actual account either as a polemic against the Protestant idea of development, or as fixing on a firmer and more consistent basis the dogmas of the Roman faith, over into which he passed while his work (which actually marked his transition) was going through the press (Essay on the Developmnent of Christian Doctrine). The Roman theory can conceive of no development except in the way of progress that needs as such to be outwardly measured by referring itself to an outward infallible authority in the pope. But "such development requires no 'infallible earthly head' for its direction and conduct, just as little as a living, oak needs to be built up by line and compass. An authority of this sort, supposed to supersede the free working of the intelligence and will of the Church itself, would be the source of petrifaction and stagnation only, not of development. This implies freedom, ethical activity, life poised upon itself as a principle and center. It is just the stability system which in every shape turns into mechanism and leads to popery" (Nevin, Mercersburg Review, 1:513, 514).
See, besides the works cited in the course of this article, Trench, Hulsean Lectures, 1845-46, lecture v; Lord's Theological and Literary Journal, April, 1854, art. vi; Hampden, Bampton Lectures for 1832, lect. viii; Soames, Latin Church during Anglo-Saxon Times, chap. xii; Craik, Old and New (N. Y. 1860), p. 226 sq.; Schaff, What is Church History (Philadel. 1846, 12mo); English Review, various articles in vols. iv, vi, ix, xi; Cunningham, Historical Theology, 1:210 sq.; American Presb. and Theol. Review, Oct. 1867, art. iv; Donaldson, Critical History of the first three Centuries.