Scholastic Theology a term used to designate that peculiar phase of theological development which lies between the patristic age and the age of the Reformation. The apostolic age had founded Christianity as a regenerative principle in human society; the patristic age had crystallized the teachings of Christianity as ecclesiastically sanctioned dogmas. The scholastic age now developed and defended and harmonized the dogmas which already were authoritatively accepted and taught by the Church.
The patristic age died away at about the close of the 6th century. The age from the 6th to the 11th century is a period of transition from the patristic to the scholastic age. The scholastic age proper extends from the age of Anselm (died 1109) to the outbreak of the Reformation. In the scholastic age we may readily distinguish three phases — the period of inception and youth; the period of greatest strength and glory; and the period of decline and dissolution.
On the threshold of scholastic theology stands unquestionably the celebrated archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm. He was the first to recognize distinctly the central principle of scholastic theology and to reduce it to masterly application. This principle is the unquestioning acceptance of the traditionally and officially sanctioned body of orthodox doctrine, and the earnest defense of the same by all the resources of logic and reason. The scholastic theologians were therefore not patres, generators, of dogmas, but only doctores, teachers and defenders; and they were not doctores in general, but only doctores ecclesioe. They taught not merely in the Church, but for the Church and in defense of the Church. Their central task was to conciliate, or at least to cast a bridge over the gulf which lies between, faith and knowledge. The instrument which they chiefly used was formal logic- syllogistic argumentation. Anselm plainly sets before himself a twofold task to safeguard theology from the charge of inculcating an absolutely blind and irrational faith, and to reprove the presumption of a too haughty and self-confiding reason. The first error — the too servilely traditionalistic tendency — had characterized the period since the decline of the patristic age. The second error was represented by some of the early scholastic philosophers, such as Roscelin. But in his attempt to find a system midway between these extremes, Anselm does not himself escape unconsciously vibrating, at times, into one and then into the other. At one time he makes knowledge positively dependent upon faith; at another he goes so far as to assume that reason can of itself demonstrate the absolute necessity of each and every dogma of the whole faith of the Church. In this he unconsciously accepts the very essence of rationalism; and yet nothing is further from his main tendency than an excessive reliance upon mere reason. On the contrary, he is so thoroughly in bondage to the merely formal dogmas of orthodoxy that he is unable to reach any independent appreciation of either the simple word of Scripture or the direct intuitions of the moral consciousness. As a general result his writings are characterized largely by an unsatisfactory logical formalism. Philosophically, Anselm is a Platonic realist.
The same antithesis between faith and knowledge which occupied Anselm's attention reappears after his time. But while with Anselm the traditional, philosophical, and ethical elements were held in comparative equipoise, with some of his successors the center of gravity was seriously lost. This is particularly the case with Bernard of Clairvaux and Abelard. Of the two, Bernard (died 1153) was by far the more churchly minded. He looked upon the speculations of Abelard as daring innovations; he was a man of faith rather than of science; he bowed with awe before the body of Christian dogmas as held by the historical Church; and yet he was not a mere unthinking traditionalist. But he endeavored to appropriate the traditional system with a vital and intelligent faith. His spirit, however, is of a mystical rather than of a philosophical cast. The intellect cannot take by storm the mysteries of salvation; it is only by means of ecstatic contemplation that distant glimpses of their meaning can be obtained. What the soul sees in its mystic soarings are true foresights of what will lie open before us in our state of eternal bliss. This position of Bernard led him into violent personal opposition to his great contemporary Abelard.
Abelard (died 1142) had devoted himself at first to dialectics, i.e. philosophy, and had adhered primarily to the nominalists and subsequently to the realists; and those opposite standpoints are frequently clearly recognizable in his writings. Indeed, it is probable that Abelard himself never came to a clear decision between the two systems. His general position, however, seems to have been that which held the universalia in re, and which is best designated by the term conceptualism. On devoting himself to theology, Abelard subjected the whole series of dogmas to a vigorous philosophical treatment, endeavoring to commend them to the understanding by a clear presentation of their harmony with reason. He seriously complains of a failure to do this on the part of his predecessors, and insists that the exacting of faith in doctrines before the reasonableness of the doctrines has been explained can only lead to credulity and superstition. Such a course also deprives the Christian subject of the means of convincing the doubter and of refuting the opponent. Moreover, it rests upon an unwise rejecting of the benefits of worldly science growing out of an ungrounded fear of its misuse. But Abelard is not a thorough rationalist; he does not make intellectual processes the generator of faith. He holds simply that philosophical arguments may facilitate the acceptance of Christian doctrine, while the final producer of converting faith is the influence of the Holy Spirit. He further holds that no true and full knowledge can arise without the help of personal faith. Nevertheless, it is the plain duty of the believer to strive after a scientific comprehension of that which the Church presents as a system of formal doctrine. But Abelard differs from Anselm in this — that while Anselm assumes at once the absolute truth of the official system of orthodox doctrines, and tests all philosophy by the touchstone of formal dogmas, Abelard, on the contrary, regards the official doctrines as simply a human development of what exists in germ in the Holy Scriptures, while these Scriptures themselves, together with the primitive creeds, are the real source and norm of all Christian truth. In his work Sic et Non, Abelard presents a series of contradictory authorities on the several dogmas with this express purpose — to show that the Church fathers are to be read, not cum credendi necessitate, sed cum judicandi libertate. He even gave much offense by insisting that the Bible itself is not to be fully appreciated without a discriminating exercise of the understanding. His general tendency was to embrace the natural and the supernatural in a single view, and to establish a bond of unity between all systems of religious faith. His standpoint was that of a formal supernaturalism with a noticeable tendency to material rationalism. The polemical conflicts in which his life was involved prevented him from coming to any very clear self consistency of system. They also led him, in some cases, to aim rather at a momentary dialectical triumph than at a solid development of Christian truth.
The sharp antitheses of tendency between the mysticism of Bernard and the dialectics of Abelard led to mediatory efforts. Prominent here is the school of the St. Victors. Hugo St. Victor (died cir. 1140) held to the Anselmic position that Scripture and tradition are the objective, and faith the subjective, norm of theological science; but he deviates from Anselm in making a broad distinction between alia ex ratione, alia secundum rationemn, alia supra rationem, and alia contra rationem, i.e. between necessaria, probabilia, mirabilia, and incredibilia. What falls under the first and the fourth head is not an object of faith, but only what falls under the second and third. Under the second head fall the so called doctrines of natural religion. Here faith is helped by reason (ratione adjuvatur), as also reason is perfected by faith (ratio fide perficitur). Under the third head fall the specifically Christian doctrines of Scripture and tradition. Here ratio does not help faith, because the object is beyond its range, though it may offer grounds for revering the faith which grasps that which is above it. Thus Hugo St. Victor rejects the endeavor of Anselm to demonstrate the rationabilis necessitas of the orthodox dogmas, and concedes only our philosophical ability to strengthen the probabilitas of the dicta of natural religion. And this is essentially the role which reason plays in all subsequent mediaeval theology. The motive of Hugo in thus restricting the role of reason was (1) to put a check to the subtle and fruitless freaks of dialectics, and (2) to assure room for full play for his own mystical system. His real position was this: inasmuch as scholastic dialectics is unable to attain to absolute truth, therefore there must be a process of immediate intuition whereby the absolute truth is directly laid hold upon with the certainty of actual vision. He further held that there are progressive degrees in which this truth is grasped, depending upon the progress of our subjective sanctification through personal communion with God. In carrying out his system Hugo is guilty of unconsciously transgressing the bounds he had set up for reason, for he subjects the official form of doctrine to no little free criticism; and he endeavors to make clear to reason the grounds of the revealed system of truth. This is simply what was to be expected; for Hugo was to some considerable degree a genius of really productive power. His mystical system as a whole had, however, more indirect than direct influence on his age; it served as a powerful check to the mad freaks of uncurbed dialectics. He has greater significance as the first systematizer of the whole body of Christian doctrine. In his Summa Sententiarum he treats successively of all the dogmas of the Church, sustaining them by citations from Scripture and from the fathers, adducing, then, the various objections of opponents, and finally deciding each case according to Scripture and tradition. His work De Sacramentis, though of more speculative power than the Summa, has been much less read. And though his Summa was subsequently largely displaced by the Summa of Peter Lombard, yet the work of Hugo exerted a very important influence upon later scholastics, particularly upon Lombard himself and upon Thomas Aquinas, but very especially upon theologians of a mystical tendency, such as Bonaventura and Gerson.
The contemplative or mystical element of Hugo is carried much further by his pupil Richard St. Victor (died 1173). According to Richard there are six kinds of contemplation. "We know,
1, by the imagination (the sensible impressions made by creation);
2, by reason (perception of law and order in creation);
3, in reason according to imagination (symbolical knowledge of nature as a mirror of the spiritual);
4, in reason and according to reason (the internal referred to the internal without a sensible image);
5, above and not against reason (rational knowledge carried to a higher stage by revelation);
6, above and (apparently) against reason (as, e.g., the mystery of the Trinity).
In discussing the Trinity, Richard makes large use of the trias of power, wisdom, and love; but he lays greatest stress upon the latter, to which he ascribes the generation of the Son. There is nothing more perfect than love. But love (amor), in order to be charity (caritas), must have for its object not itself, but something else. Hence in order to charity there must be a plurality of persons. But love towards creatures is not sufficient, for God can fully love only that which is worthy of the highest love. Hence the divine love must have a divine object (the Son). But even this is not the highest love, for love is essentially social. The two who love each other must desire that a third party be as fully loved by each as each loves the other; hence the Father and Son agree in loving a third (the Spirit). And since this love to the third party, in order to be perfect, must have a perfect object, hence this third party is equal to the other two. Each is equally divine, and there is no superiority of the one to the other (see Hagenbach, Hist. of Doct. 1, 420, 467). Richard agreed with Hugo in regarding theology as the central science, and as the mother of all other sciences.
But the drift of the age was averse to the deep and rich speculations of the St. Victors; it tended rather to concentrate all intellectual acumen upon the logical defense of the formal orthodoxy of the official Church. Hence it led mainly to the production of collections of dogmatic authorities (summoe sententiarum). The first real collector of such "sentences," sententiarius,
was Hugo St. Victor, though the germs and forerunners of them are found as far back as in Vincent of Lerinum (died cir. 450), Gennadius of Marseilles (died cir. 493), and in Isidore of Seville; but it is only with Hugo that the process becomes of a really scientific character. The one motive of these real sententiarii is to bring dialectics into close service to orthodoxy. Thus they are not mere slavish compilers of the dicta of the fathers, on the one hand, nor rash speculators, on the other; but they hold the midway between them.
Among the earliest successors of Hugo was Robert Pulleyn, in his Sententiarum Libri Octo. He was archdeacon of Rochester, teacher in Paris and Oxford, and finally cardinal (died 1150). His chief polemical endeavor was to counteract the too daring speculations of Abelard; but Robert was far surpassed by the great magister sententiarum, Peter Lombard (died 1164). Of his Sententiarum Libri Quattuor, Hase says, "It was not so much on account of the ingenuity and depth displayed in the work as because of the position of the author in the Church, and his success in harmonizing antagonisms, as also because of the remarkable perspicuity of his work, that it became the manual of the 12th century and the model of the 13th." The chief themes of his work are the Trinity, creation, the incarnation, and the sacraments. As a whole, it is a synopsis of the whole movement of scholastic theology. "With it," says Baur, "really commences the systematization of scholasticism, the endless commenting upon the sentences of the masters." It initiated the movement of tiresome questioning and answering; of laying down theses and antitheses, arguments and counter arguments; of dividing and splitting up the matter of doctrines ad infinitum. Lombard was very successful in keeping the mean way between the blind copyists of tradition (scrutatores) and the rash reasoners (garruli ratiocinatores). He uses reason in the modest role of removing the seeming contradictions in Scripture and tradition. These differences he states very frankly, somewhat in the manner of Abelard's Sic et Nons but with a much more intent endeavor to reconcile them. He purposely avoids all ambitious philosophizing, as this seemed to him to jeopardize the dignity and independence of theology. On the whole, therefore, the tendency of Lombard was towards the enslaving of speculation in the ruts of formal tradition. This influence was felt even by writers of much greater originality, and such as had entirely broken with the whole method of the sententiarii, as e.g. Thomas Aquinas.
Close upon the steps of Lombard followed the gifted Peter of Poitiers; and from him on there follow a whole series of commentators upon Lombard, prominent among whom are Alexander Hales, Duns Scotus, and Occam.
But the way opened by Lombard was not docilely followed in by all. Alanus of Ryssel (died 1202), in his Ars Cath. Fidei, presents the successive doctrines of the Church as a series of logical steps, endeavoring to develop the one directly from the other. "Heretics and skeptics," says he, "cannot be won over by citations of authorities, therefore we must urge upon them rational arguments." But he wisely adds: "Hae vero rationes si homines ad credendum inducant, non tamen ad fidem capessendam plene sufficiunt." In this his position is related to that of Anselm. Lombard was also opposed for his use of Aristotelian logic. Walter St. Victor accuses him of drawing his whole inspiration from this secular fountain (uno spiritu Aristotelico afflatus). So also Joachim of Floris. A still more prominent voice against the great current of scholastic theology was that of John of Salisbury. He accused it of fruitlessness, absurdity, and presumption. It sacrificed the essence for the form, the truth for logic; but his critical ability was not supplemented by an adequate productive power. Hence he was unable materially to check the general drift towards scholastic subtleties.
Scholastic theology reached its highest development in the 13th century. Many circumstances contributed to this, especially the more full access to the writings of Aristotle, which was occasioned by the fall of Constantinople (1204). These writings, falling into the hands of a number of well-trained men, served to give theology a much wider and richer scope than it had as yet taken. The whole series of fundamental questions was now elaborately examined afresh. Among the problems discussed were, the sources of our knowledge of theology; the nature and necessity of revelation in contrast with reason and philosophy; the relation of faith to knowledge; whether theology is a science proper; whether it is a theoretical or a practical science; what is its proper object (materia de qua) in its contrast with philosophy; wherein Christianity per se differs from other religions, etc. The form which theology now assumed was partly that of commentaries upon the sentences of Lombard, and partly that of more original production. It is distinguished, on the one hand, for the immense increase of matter treated of (ethical and dogmatical, metaphysical and physical), and, on the other, by the perfection of the scholastic method, according to which, on every successive point, the authorities and reasons are cited pro et contra and a resolutio or conclusio duly drawn. The whole is followed by a refutation in detail of all contrary views. Yet upon the basis of this uniformity there is manifested a large range of individual peculiarity. This sprang in part from the individual genius of the theologians, but also largely from their personal rivalry; and particularly from the rivalry and hostility that existed between the great monastic orders of Dominicans and Franciscans. and between the schools of the realists and the nominalists. Another characteristic of this climax period of scholasticism consists in the fact that it for the first time brought the whole body of specifically Catholic doctrine to its complete formal expression.
First in time, of the scholastic theologians of this period, is Alexander Hales (died 1245). He won the title of Doctor Irrefragabilis. His Summa Universoe Theologioe shows great breadth of thought; it makes large use of Aristotle, is very methodical in form, and treats of all the fundamental questions; but it introduces a vast amount of irrelevant matter, and, in its attempt to meet every possible point, raises many trivial and even foolish questions. As a whole it lacks real speculative power. It also favors some of the extreme inferences of Roman doctrine, such as the thesaurus gratioe and the immaculata conceptio passiva Virginis Marioe, and it betrays an occasional Pelagianizing tendency.
Hales is, in many respects, surpassed by the noted Dominican Albertus Magnus (died 1280). He made a much larger use of Aristotle. His commentaries on Aristotle and on Lombard and his Summa Theologioe exhibit an astounding universality of knowledge. His familiarity with mathematics and with the whole body of the natural science of the age won for him the repute of a magician. It is with injustice that some have styled him the Simia Aristotelis. He does not simply ape Aristotle, he merely makes free use of his materials; but he also combines therewith not a few of the conceptions of Plato and of the Neo-Platonists. It is true, he does not control his physical facts by an adequate criticism, and he fails to give full development to his speculations. But speculative power he really has, and from the midst of the mass of his chaotic materials there frequently dart forth surprising anticipations of great laws which subsequent scientists have fully developed — a fact which Alexander Humboldt has cheerfully conceded. As to Albert's specifically theological standpoint, he holds that theology is a practical science (scientia de his quoe ad salutem pertinent), treating of God and of his works. It is a science, however, not in the interest of science, but in the interest of eternal bliss. It has for its subject matter the objective fides catholica, which faith rests originally upon a
supermundana illuminatio. This illuminatio he attributes not only to prophets and apostles, but also to the fathers. He recognizes the two forms of faith — faith as the objective matter to be believed, and faith as a subjective activity of the individual; and upon this latter he bases the capability of attaining to real Christian knowledge. He regards revelation and reason, theology and philosophy, as absolutely in harmony, notwithstanding any seeming conflicts, for they both rest upon experience — theology upon our experience of the supernatural, and philosophy upon our experience of the natural; and the supernatural and the natural, though essentially different, rest both upon the harmonious plan and will of the one God. The supernaturalism of Albertus Magnus stands in close connection with his Platonizing derivation of all creatures, by a descending emanation, from the absolute God. Supernatural grace is needed by the creature per se, and irrespective of sin. Without this grace man, even had he not sinned, could not have lifted himself up out of his finiteness into likeness to the infinite God.
But Albertus Magnus did not fully develop his supernaturalism in all its bearings; this was done by his distinguished scholar, the greatest and most influential of all the scholastic theologians, Thomas Aquinas (died 1274). Thomas Aquinas was very successful in vindicating to theology the character of a true science. He set before man as his highest good, as the goal of his blessedness, the vision of God (visio Dei). But this supermundane goal lies beyond the scope of creatural ability, for the natural cannot reach up to the divine. The highest that reason can attain to is a mere mediate knowledge of God through and from his works; and this is the furthest limit to which any of the old philosophers reached. These general religious notions form a sort of proeambula fidei. They can be reached, thought Aquinas, by way of logical demonstration; e.g. that there is a God, that God is one, etc. But to the supernatural end of man, as presented in Christianity, we can attain only through supernatural revelation. The seal, the witness, of this revelation are the miracles which attend it. Theology is the science which is based on revelation and guided by the light of faith; whereas the other sciences are based on nature and guided by the light of reason. The fact that theology has for its object a something that is to be accepted on authority — viz. faith — does not hinder it from being a science. All other sciences do the same thing; they accept their subject matter as an objective reality without proof, and then develop themselves therefrom as from an axiom. The axioms of theology are the dogmas of the Church. From these it evolves and proves additional truths and consequences. This gives Aquinas's view of the relation of reason to faith. Reason cannot prove the articles of faith, for the latter spring from revelation, which is above reason. But rational and theological truths cannot possibly be in conflict, for they both come from God — the one indirectly and the other directly. Yet they do not overlap each other; they stand in different spheres. The rational truths do not reach up to the theological (deficiunt ab eis); they are only a proeambula to them. Natural reason serves, therefore, as a preparation for faith; but Thomas Aquinas elsewhere in his system robs reason of even this conceded service, for he really attributes the so called truths of natural reason to former half- remembered revelations, and regards them as implicitly containing the whole series of Christian dogmas. Another service (so teaches Aquinas) which reason renders to faith is to elucidate the doctrines of faith by means of natural analogies. The possibility of this rests on the fact that all natural objects retain a certain faint resemblance to their Author. Still another use of reason lies in convincing our adversaries. The singularis modus convincendi adversarios is really ex auctoritate Scripturoe divinitus confirmata miraculis. If the adversary concedes a part of the Christian system, his remaining errors may be removed by developing the implications of the partial truths which he does accept. If he rejects the whole, there remains no other resource than an indirect procedure, viz. by evolving the absurdities which are implied in his errors.
The form which Aquinas thus impressed upon theology was of the greatest influence upon all subsequent theological thought. It retained its sway in German orthodoxy down to the time of Schleiermacher. In the rest of Christendom, Catholic and Protestant, it largely prevails even to the present. Its essential feature is the sharp distinction made between that religious knowledge which is attainable by reason and that which we owe to revelation, as also the designating of revealed truth as supra sed non contra rationem. It is within the range of this narrow field that Aquinas usually confines his thoughts. At times, however, he breaks forth in what might have proved very fertile speculations but for the hampering effects of his self-imposed yoke. Occasionally, however, he makes a real sophist's use of this yoke, calling in abruptly the help of mere ecclesiastical authority to veil the absurd consequences to which some of the official definitions of doctrine seemed to lead. In philosophical respects Thomas Aquinas was equally attracted by the opposed systems of Aristotle and Plato. He seems to have oscillated not a little between the central differences of these systems — the realistic ideas of Plato and the universalia in re of Aristotle. Under this influence he sometimes assigns too high a role to natural reason (e.g. to demonstrate the existence of God), and at others he almost robs it of any power whatever (e.g. when he attributes the truths of natural religion to forgotten revelations). In his ontology Aquinas leans somewhat to the emanation of his master, Albertus Magnus. He does not clearly distinguish between will and nature in God; and his system, as a whole, is deterministic in its implications. In form it is an ideal of artistic construction. It is, however, not merely its form, but also and chiefly the rich fullness of its matter, which secured to it its long ascendency over the theological activity of the Church.
Contemporary with Aquinas was the gifted and eloquent Bonaventura (died 1274). He is peculiar for the completeness with which he combined the scholastical element with the mystical. His masters were Aristotle and the St. Victors. Less speculatively original than Aquinas, he is distinguished by a moderation which preserves him from dogmatic extremes, and by a warm religious element which lends to his pages an enduring attraction. This latter element saves him from the trivial subtleties into which his contemporaries so generally fell, and induces him to give great prominence to the simple practical elements of scriptural piety. Well did he merit the encomium of Gerson: "Recedit a curiositate quantum potest, non immiscens positiones extraneas, vel doctrinas terminis philosophicis obumbratas more multorum, sed dum studet illuminationi intellectus, totum refert ad pietatem et ad religiositatem affectus." Hence to Bonaventura theology, though speculative as to its object, is yet predominantly a merely practical science. As to his mysticism, it does not materially affect the form of his theology; rather is it simply an attending complement serving to supplement the inadequacy of the formally logical element. As a whole, his influence, though permanent, was not so immediately effective as that of Raymund Lull (died 1315). Lull's Ars Generalis was a laudable endeavor to simplify and to render more practically effective the whole arsenal of scholastic resources. The enthusiasm with which he undertook to frame a system which would absolutely annihilate the scepticism of the Averrhoists, and demonstrate Christianity with the evidence of a simple syllogistic inference, is only to be compared with the kindred ambition of Wolf in the 18th century. But the results did not justify his hopes. And though he had a long series of enthusiastic disciples, his logical rationalism failed to produce any long-lasting benefits.
But the figure which stands as a worthy rival of Thomas Aquinas, and whose subtleties brought scholastic theology not only to its meridian of glory, but also to that stage of excessive development which broke the way for its decline, is the Franciscan monk Duns Scotus (died 1308). Scotus was unquestionably an original, creative genius. He impressed upon the course of theological development a specifically new character. He was not merely a personal rival of Aquinas, but he was an independent master. He shared, with the other scholastics, the conviction of the absolute truth of the official orthodoxy of the Church. He differed from Aquinas in making a less impassable gulf between faith and knowledge. He reduced the claims of philosophy, and in the same measure enlarged the scope of theology. With him theology is the science of man in his relations to God, and of God in his relations to the universe. He comes to a clearer conception and a larger use of man as an image of God than is previously met with. From the fact that man is in the likeness of God follows the consequence that man is able to know God, and that the intuitions of essential truth lie in germ in the very nature of the soul. Upon the path of man's likeness to God, Duns Scotus was led to a more clear distinguishing of will from nature in God than had previously been done, as also to the assigning to God's freedom a very large role. The creation of the universe was not a matter of pantheistic necessity, but was the result of a special divine volition. God might even have made the world other than as it is, and he might have given to man a different moral law. He might also have adopted a different plan of salvation. Thus, while teaching the great truth of the divine freedom and combating the determinism of Aquinas, Scotus did not guard the divine freedom against irrational arbitrariness by representing it as finding its norm of action in the divine wisdom. This great defect in Scotus's system led directly to the defeat of the most earnest endeavor of his life — viz. to settle Christian science upon an absolutely solid foundation; for it sapped the rational ground of the universe, and thus planted in theology a germ of universal scepticism. The reason of this failure lay not in a lack of ability in Scotus, but in the fundamental mistake of the whole body of scholastic theologians, viz. in the uncritical assumption of the absolute correctness of the formal dogmas of the official Church. This assumption shut them off at once from any adequate appreciation of the two true sources of all theology and philosophy, viz. Scripture and experience.
It was by developing the consequences of the scholastic method to their dangerous extremes that Duns Scotus has the merit of having at the same time raised scholastic theology to its fullest glory and also given an impulse towards its dissolution. Earliest among those who became conscious of the radical defectiveness of the whole scholastic method was Roger Bacon (died 1294). Bacon declaimed, in an almost Protestant spirit, against the enslavement of theology to human authorities, and pointed towards the Scriptures and experience as the real fountains of truth. But his influence towards the decline of scholasticism had a less potent effect to that end than the further development of scholasticism itself.
Of this third stage in the scholastic movement we can mention but the most prominent features. First of note stands the acute and independent minded Durand of St. Pourcain (died 1333). Durand held an eclectic relation to the opposed systems of Aquinas and Scotus. He was a nominalist like Scotus, but his nominalism had a realistic background. With Aquinas, he held that man is by nature incapable of knowing the laws of God. The intuitions and generalizations of the human mind have only subjective validity. The true knowledge of God can be derived only from the Scriptures, as officially interpreted by Rome. Theology aims not at the knowledge of the nature of God, but only at such a practical knowledge of God as leads to salvation. Theology relates to the will, and is hence a purely practical science. Faith cannot be begotten by arguments, but is a simple virtue; and its meritoriousness is in proportion to its difficulty. Durand denies even that the light of the Spirit shows us the evidence of Gospel truth. This also would destroy the merit of faith. He agrees with Aquinas in exalting the transcendental position of God in regard to man, and with Scotus in giving arbitrary play to the divine will and grace. The outcome of his whole system was to discourage the activity of human reason, and to promote a spirit of unquestioning submissiveness to the official Church. It denied all worth to philosophy, and reduced theology to a mere method of practice.
This attitude of theology was now more fully developed by Occam (died 1347). A disciple of Scotus, he yet varies from him in many points. He boldly opposed some of the claims of the popes, and substituted nominalism for the prevalent scholastic realism. This was a necessary logical outcome. Scholastic realism had utterly failed to resolve the truths of philosophy and theology into any unitary substratum of general knowledge. Hence its sole resource in order to attain to unity of thought was to give up all effort at knowing things per se, and to reduce our highest intuitions and ideas to mere creations of our own subjectivity, destitute of objective value. Our highest ideas are mere fictiones, abstractiones. This nominalism was so strong with Occam that it gave to his whole system a positively skeptical tendency. Thenceforth nominalism reigns almost without rival in the waning life of scholastic theology.
After the time of Occam the development of theology becomes fitful and sporadic. The influence of Scotus led to a constantly more pronounced Pelagianism. The influence of Aquinas occasioned various attempts at a revival of Augustinian determinism. In a few cases, e.g. Wycliffe and Huss, it became a herald of the Reformation. The last scholastic proper, Gabriel Biel (died 1495), made earnest but fruitless endeavors to prop up the tottering superstructure of the old system. Further attempts in the same direction — by Raimund of Sabunde, Nicolas de Cusa, Gerson, and others of a less scholastic character — were equally unsuccessful, and served only to show the need of a thorough reformation of the whole body of theology.
The latest phenomena in theological science immediately before the Reformation were these three: An effort to revive an earnest Christian mysticism (Gerson and others); a revival of an Aristotelianism of a skeptical tendency (Pomponatius); and a syncretistic and fanciful Neo- Platonism (Ficinus, Picus Mirandula). Of these three, the first was necessarily impotent in its main endeavor, as it still held fast to the old scholastic foundation, while the second and third served only, by their skeptical and pagan tendencies, to give a final thrust at the entire effete system.
The so called ante-Reformers — Wycliffe, Huss, Jerome, Savonarola, Wessel — still linger under the dominion of scholastic forms and traditions. It was only the radically revolutionary spirit of the Reformers themselves that gave to scholastic theology its definitive death blow. But even subsequently to this point there have appeared not a few (though unimportant) scholastics, scholastici post scholasticismum. Luther himself confesses his indebtedness to scholasticism: "Ego scholasticos non clausis oculis lego, non rejicio omnia eorum, sed non probo omnia." So also Melancthon. And it is only the shallowness of rationalism or the bigotry of ignorance that can declaim (as is often done) against the worthlessness of scholastic theology as a whole. Philosophers like Leibnitz, Hegel, Ritter, Cousin, Remusat, and Haureau, and theologians like Engelhardt, Rettberg, Liebner, Hasse, Gass, Neander, and Baur, have spoken in a very different tone; and have contributed, in some degree, to acquaint modern times with a part of the rich treasures of thought and speculation which it contains. The dry, superficial 18th century mocked at the scholastics from the simple reason of its ignorance and its incapacity to appreciate them. The revival of theological originality since the time of Schleiermacher and the contemporary new birth of art in the romantic schools of Germany and France have awakened a very different state of mind. Even Semler has frankly declared that many a modern theologian who has abused the scholastics would not have been able to serve them as a mere amanuensis.
Faint reproductions of the scholastic period of Catholic theology have appeared in Protestantism. The 17th century was for the Lutheran and Reformed churches a really scholastic age. The systematic theologians of that century stood in the same relation to the fathers of Protestantism as the mediaeval scholastics to the patres of Catholicism. So is it with each of the most insignificant sects of Protestantism. Whenever any Church begins to let the writings of any of its eminent ministers stand between it and a free and direct interpretation of the Scriptures in the light of intuition and experience, that moment it enters into its scholastic stage. See Neander, Church Hist. vol. 4; Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctrines; and especially Herzog, Real-Encyklop. (J.P.L.)