Leyden, School Of, Theologians of The

Leyden, School of, Theologians Of The, is the name given to that class of Dutch theologians who follow in the wake of the rationalistic professors of the University of Leyden (founded in 1575) and of whom J.H. Scholten (in 1840 professor in Franeker, since 1843 in Leyden) and his pupils are at present the main interpreters. The Leyden school is in reality nothing more nor less than a Dutch Tübingen school. In his younger days Scholten belonged to the orthodox school, and at one time (1856) even went forth to battle against the negative criticism of Baur and his Tübingen confreres; but in 1864 he came out boldly in defense of the very man and principles he had previously warred against, and in a short time became the principal leader in the movement of modern Dutch theologians "to establish a connection between the faith of the Reformers and our own... to unite the old traditions with the new opinions" (the Rationalism of the Tübingen theologians). "Man," the Leyden school teaches, "arrives at a knowledge of the truth by the holy Scriptures, but they must not be understood as containing the only revelation from God; he also reveals himself to the world through the hearts of all believers. The Bible is the source of the original religion. There is a difference between the Scriptures and the word of God. The latter is what God reveals in the human spirit concerning his will and himself. The writing down of the communication is purely human; therefore the Bible cannot be called a revelation.... To prove the certainty of the facts of revelation historical criticism must be called in." Unfortunately, however, with them "historical criticism" means nothing else than the application of that negative criticism of the German Rationalists De Wette, Ewald, and Hitzig, and they dispose of the "historical by asserting (e.g. Kuenen) that we cannot go further back than the middle of the 8th century before Christ, or the time of Hosea and Amos; that "all the preceding times are enveloped in hopeless myth. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the founders of Israel, are not persons, but personifications. They are purely ideal figures, for modern 'historical' inquiry teaches us that races are not derived from one progenitor, but many. The development and preservation of Israel — its whole history were the result of purely national causes." Christianity itself, they came naturally enough, from such grounds, to regard as "neither superhuman nor supernatural. It is the highest point of the development of human nature itself, and in this sense it is natural and human in the highest acceptation of those terms. It is the mission of science to put man in a condition to comprehend the divine volume presented by Christianity." But what the idea of the modern theologians of Holland is on the relation of science to faith we may well learn from Prof. Opzoomer, of Utrecht University (The Truth anc its Sources of Knowledge, page 43): "Science is not to appear before the bar of faith, but faith before that of science; for it is not the credibility of knowledge, but of faith, that is to be proved.... Science needs no justification.... The believer, on the contrary, must justify his faith, and that before the bar of science. Thus, as a matter of course, the final decision and the supreme power rest with science." Great indeed is the science of Opzoomer, and in like ratio is the insignificance of the thing he calls faith. His manner of rejecting miracles is the old threadbare argument of Hume. "Modern science is established on the experience acquired by the observance of nature. What experience teaches is the touchstone for testing the historical value of the accounts that reach us from past ages." Again, and more positively: "It is the duty of the historian to reject every narrative which is in manifest contradiction with everything known to him concerning the time of its alleged occurrence.... Nothing in all nature gives probability to the supposition that moral and religious greatness can be established by dominion over natural phenomena" (The Nature of Knowledge, pages 31, 33). "We know nothing of the supernatural; to us there is not a single miracle" (The Spirit of the new Tendency, page 28). "Experience — it, and it alone! What is beyond it is from an evil source. For our knowledge there is but one way — the way of observation" (Free Science, page 26). Perhaps we can do no better than insert here a resume by Dr. Hurst of the object of the Dutch modern theologians, as follows: " 1. History must be reconstructed; for every miracle must disappear from the Biblical narrative, since philosophy teaches that there can be no miracles. 2. Philosophy must be liberated from the so-called divine revelation, because the history of the present time, or experience, teaches that there can be nothing supernatural; hence there never was. Thus the argument whirls in a hopeless circle; history demonstrates from (untrue) philosophy, and philosophy from (untrue) history, that there is no such thing as miracle, nor even anything supernatural! Can we wonder at the sorry plight of the modern theologians which Pierson (formerly pastor of the Walloon Church in Rotterdam, now professor at Heidelberg University) divulges on the very first page of his Mirror of the Times: We do not conceal the fact that our theology is involved in ceaseless vacillation?" Besides Scholten we have Kuenen, the great exegetical scholar, and Ravenhoff, the ecclesiastical historian, both professors at Leyden, actively engaged in promoting the interests of these Rationalistic opinions, and, unfortunately enough for Christianity in Holland, it must be confessed that at present no Dutch theologians exert more influence over the young theologians of that country than professor Scholten and his associates just mentioned. See Dr. Hurst in the Meth. Quart. Rev. 1871 (April), page 250 sq.; and his Hist. of Rationalism, page 368 sq.; Scholten, De Leer der Hervormde Kerk in hare grondbeginselen nit de bronnen voorgesteld en beordeeld. (1848; 2d ed. 1850; 4th ed. 1861); and his article on "Modern Materialism and its Causes" in Progress of Religious Thought in the Protest. Ch. of France (Lond. 1861), page 10 sq. SEE REFORMED (DUTCH) CHURCH. (J.H.W.)

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