Mere Christendom?

Mar Johanan, the Nestorian bishop, when solicited by high-churchmen to separate himself from non-prelatical Christians, exclaimed, ‘All who love the Lord Jesus Christ are my brethren.’ Above all the narrow, meagre patriotism on earth is the large, free, ecumenical patriotism of those who embrace in their love and fealty the whole body of the baptized. All who are baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, recognizing the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, the incarnation of the Son and his priestly sacrifice, whether they be Greeks, or Arminians, or Romanists, or Lutherans, or Calvinists, or the simple souls who do not know what to call themselves, are our brethren. Baptism is our common countersign. It is the common rallying standard at the head of our several columns. It is our common battle-flag, which we carry forward across the enemy’s line and nail aloft in the heights crowned with victory. We will be confined in our love and allegiance by no party lines. We follow and serve one common Lord. Hence there can be only ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism,’ and hence only one indivisible, inalienable ‘sacramental host of God’s elect'” (A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology: Lectures on Doctrine, p. 338; underlining mine).

I note that not all who identify as Calvinist or Reformed would agree with A.A. Hodge’s broad and elastic countersigns. Recall A.A. Hodge’s father’s comment about the pantheizing Schleiermacher:

“[to] whomsoever Christ is God, St. John assures us, Christ is a Saviour.” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, p. 440 footnote)

So would Charles and A.A. Hodge voice joint-agreement that Schleiermacher is a truly regenerate brother who loves the Biblical Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility? 

“Grace [be] with all those that love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility” (Ephesians 6:24).

Evidently Charles Hodge thought Schleiermacher’s belief that “Christ is God” was sufficiently “large, free, [and] ecumenical” enough for him to be embraced as an unadulterated and uncorrupted  lover of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 “Schleiermacher’s system ignores the doctrine of the Trinity. With him God in the world, is the Father; God in Christ, the Son; God in the Church, the Spirit. All personal preëxistence of Christ is thus necessarily excluded. The Scriptures and the Church teach that the eternal Son of God, who was with the Father from eternity; who made the worlds; who could say, ‘Before Abraham was I am,’ became man, being born of a woman, yet without sin. This Schleiermacher denies. There was no Son of God, before the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Then only, Christ began to be as a distinct person; He had no preëxistence beyond that which is common to all men” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Volume 2, p. 445).

Charles Hodge was a relatively astute theologian when measured by a carnal and unbelieving standard. This sort of spiritual fornication is so brazen that I wonder if Hodge really knew better. 

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Not that Charles Hodge was especially or particularly subtle in his speaking peace when there was no peace to Schleiermacher (cf. Jeremiah 6:13-15), but Hodge is clearly one that God the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul warned against.

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