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Problems of Immanence: studies critical and constructive   By: (1869-)

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PROBLEMS OF IMMANENCE

STUDIES CRITICAL AND CONSTRUCTIVE

BY

J. WARSCHAUER, M.A., D.Phil.

AUTHOR OF "THE NEW EVANGEL," "JESUS: SEVEN QUESTIONS," ETC.

"SEE THAT THERE IS NO ONE WHO MAKES YOU HIS PREY BY MEANS OF HIS THEOSOPHY, WHICH IS A VAIN DECEIT AFTER THE TRADITIONS OF MEN, AFTER THE ELEMENTS OF THE WORLD AND NOT AFTER CHRIST." Col. ii. 8. ( Dr. Moffatt's Translation. )

LONDON

JAMES CLARKE & CO. 13 & 14 FLEET STREET

1909

{5}

PREFACE

About a year ago certain tendencies in the popular discussion of the doctrine of Divine Immanence suggested to the present writer the idea of a brief sketch or article, to be published under the title, "The Truth of Transcendence." On further reflection, however, a somewhat more extended treatment of so important a subject seemed desirable, and this has been attempted in the following chapters. When the doctrine of immanence began, as it has been of late, to be reasserted in a somewhat pronounced manner, most of those who were best able to judge felt conscious of certain dangers likely to arise through misinterpretation and over emphasis; that those anticipations have been abundantly realised, no careful student of recent developments will dispute, and the present book is intended both to call attention to these dangers and to bring out the distinction between the truth of immanence and what to the author seem perversions of that truth.

In the meantime, while these pages were passing through the press, there has appeared a new work from the brilliant pen of Professor William James,[1] some sentences from which might to a large extent be taken as indicating {6} the standpoint of the volume now submitted to the reader:

"God," in the religious life of ordinary men is the name not of the whole of things, heaven forbid, but only of the ideal tendency in things, believed in as a superhuman person who calls us to co operate in His purposes, and who furthers ours if they are worthy. He works in an external environment, has limits, and has enemies. When John Mill said that the notion of God's omnipotence must be given up, if God is to be kept as a religious object, he was surely accurately right; yet, so prevalent is the lazy Monism that idly haunts the regions of God's name, that so simple and truthful a saying was generally treated as a paradox; God, it was said, could not be finite. I believe that the only God worthy of the name must be finite.

It is precisely the theory which identifies God with "the whole of things" which will be combated in the following discussions; it is precisely "the lazy Monism that idly haunts the regions of God's name" to which they offer a plain and direct challenge. At the same time such a phrase as that in which Professor James speaks of God as working "in an external environment" would seem unduly to under emphasise the fact of immanence; and it may be said at once that the theory of Divine finitude put forward by the present writer will be seen to differ from that of John Stuart Mill, as the idea of self limitation differs from that of a limitation ab extra in other words, as Theism differs from Deism.

It is perhaps a little remarkable that the fundamental antinomies which arise from the assumption of the actual infinity of God should not have been more frequently dealt with; or rather, that thinkers postulating that infinity {7} as a basal axiom should have been comparatively blind to its logical implications. For if God is infinite, then He is all; and if He is all, what becomes of human individuality, or how are human initiative and responsibility so much as thinkable? Benjamin Jowett, in his Essay on Predestination and Freewill, glanced at this problem in passing, and the remarks he made upon it more than fifty years ago, if somewhat tentative, are well worth consideration to day:

"God is infinite." But in what sense? . . . Press the idea of the infinite to its utmost extent, till it is alone in the universe, or rather is the universe itself, in this heaven of abstraction, nevertheless, a cloud begins to appear; a limitation casts its shadow over the formless void... Continue reading book >>




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