Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/484

This page needs to be proofread.




GoDLEWflKt, Afonummta ecelesiastica Pftropolitana (3 vols., St.' Pclcreburg. I'.Hte-!)); Elrnchu.i omnium rccirsiarum ci uuivcrsi tlcri aTchidiacaton Mohi/lonensis pro anno Domini lOWcotutcriplus (St- Petersburg, 1910).

Joseph Lins.

Mohler, .Ioiianm Adam, theologian, b. at Igers- lieiin (Wurtfinbcrg), 6 April, 1796; d. at Munich, 12 April, is:is. The piflcil youth first studied in the iiynuKLsiuni at Mcrficiitliciiu, iiiul tlicii:it(c'Md(Ml till' IvccuiM III l';ihv:nif;i'ii, where he iipplied himself priin:'irilv to philnsophieal studies. In ISl.^) he tunuMl to t he st iidy of theology, and,:iftcr leiivint; t he I henlof;- ieal eolleni' at I'Mlwaiifien, \v<'nt. to Tubinf;<'n to con- tinue his studies in the university there under tlu; learned professors Drey and Hirseher. In 1818 he entered the seminary at Hottenhur); on the Neckar, was ordained priest on 18 September, 1810, and W!i3 sent a,s curate in charge to W'eilderstadt and then to KiedlinKen. In 1821 he became Ripitnil. (tutor) in the Wilhelrastiftat Tubingen, and for more than a year devoted himself almost exclusively to eliissical literature, particularly to earlier Greek history and philosophy. In this way he acquired the keenness and clearness of judgment, delicacy of diction, skill in exposition, and fine sense of the a-sthetic which distinguish all his writings and dis- courses. Soon, the theological faculty at Ttibingen offered him a place ius tutor (PrivaUlozenl) in church history, to prepare for which he visited the leading and Austrian universities, meeting there the best-known Catholic and Protestant theologians and pedagogues — Niemeyer, Gesenius, Planek, Sehleier- inacher, Marheineke, and in particular Neander, who mafle a powerful impression on the young man. Thus ef|uipi)ed, he began his lectures, and soon published his first book under the title "Die Einheit in der Kirche oder das Prinzip des Katholizismus, dargestellt im Geiste der Kirchenviiter der drei ersten Jahrhunderte" (Tiibingen, 1S25). It was hailed with enthusiasm, and gave brilliant evidence of the profo\md knowledge and the remarkable penetration of the young scholar. He was indeed a child of his time, and betrayed certain Fcbronian views and some sympathy with the pseudo -reformism of the day, which the Hermesians later cast up to him, and which he often regretted. His book, nevertheless, was not merely a highly intellectual, but also a highly moral act, and that for many readers, like Chateaubriand's "Genie du christianisme". Through the whole work there breathes, as it were, a new spirit, "which eeems to herald a rejuvenescence of the Church and of theological science". There is here no shallowness or special pleading: one hears the accents of fresh, living, full Christianity, such as the author's profound stufly of the church Fathers had revealed to him. For him the church unity is twofold in charac- ter: a unity of spirit and a unity of body. The for- mer is, first, the mystical unity in the Holy Spirit, which binds all the faithful in one communion; then the mental unity of doctrine, i. e., the comprehensive expression of the Christian mind in opposition to the manifold forms of heresy, and finally unity in multiplic- ity, i.e., the preservation of individuality within the unity of all the f.iithful. The unity of the body of the Church reveals itself first in the bishop, in whom is visible the unity of the diocese; to this correspond the wider circles of the metropolitan system and the coun- cil of the entire episcopate, and finally the Roman primacy, whose gradual development Mohler illus- trates from the history of Christian antiquity and of the Middle Ages. Immediately after the appearance of his book Mohler was offered a place in the Univer- sity of Freiburg; he refused it, and as a result was appointed extraordinary professor at Tiibingen in 1826. .\fter he had, two years later, declined another ofTer from Breslau, he became at Tubingen ordinary professor in the theological faculty, which conferred

on him the Doctorate of Theology. Not long before, he liad published his .second work: "Athanasius der Grosse uiid die Kirche seiner Zeit im Kampfe mit dem .\rianismus" (Mainz, 1827). It is a jileasing and lively portrait of the great Bishop of Alexandria, the ehamjiion of orthodoxy amid the great ecclesiastical conllic'ts of the fourth century. He portrays him as the hero of his time, with a character that contrasts favourably with the gloomy attitude of Arius and the vacillating weakness of iMisebius of ( 'asarea. About the same time (Tubingen theologisehe (^uartalschrift, 1S27-S) he depii-led in a similar maslerlv way one of the great figures of the Middle Ages, St. Anselm of Canlerburv, as monk, .scholar, and defender of ecclesi- astical liberty.

His study of ecclesiastical life in early and me- dieval times led naturally to an examination of the distinctive differences between Catholicism and Prot<'siantism. The results of his investigation he published in " Betrachtungen iiber den Zustand der Kirche im fiinfzehnten und zu Anfang des sechzehnten Jahrhunderts " (Gesammelte Schriften, II, 1-34). He concludes that the Reformation, really necessary in the sixteenth century, did not take place in the riglit way, but took on rather the character of an entiri'ly revolutionary movement, by which the lraiii|uil development of the medieval Church, with all its good elements, was disturbed and an end put to eeclesiaslieal unity. In connexion with these in- vestigations he began — as he had seen done in the North German universities and as his Protestant col- league at Tubingen, Professor Baur, had done — lec- tures on the antithesis between Protestantism and Catholicism, or, as is usually said, on symbolism. By this term are meant, in this connexion, the distinctive notes of a given ecclesiastical communion, also cer- tain set formula;, legally consecrated, and in a general way expressive of Christian faith or of certain fimfla- mental dogmatic ideas; or again, especially since the Reformation (or rather since the seventeenth or eigh- teenth centuries), the confessions of faith that consti- tute the form or rule of belief for the faithful of any re- ligious denomination. In this way symbolism, being the science of creeds, is a theological science that com- pares one religious .system with another on the basis of their creeds, and thus demonstrates the truth or falsity of a particular creed. While symbolism — or, as it is now usually called, comparative symbolism — has not long been recognized as a special theological science, there are traces of it even in earliest Christian times. The Reformation created the conditions amid which it grew to maturity; and its first representative was prob- ably the Protestant professor, LeonhardR("elitenbach, in his "Encyclopaidiasymbolica" (Leipzig, l(il2). It is true that, in his opinion, the office of symbolism was merely to make one acquainted with one's own symbolic books, without paying any attention to those of another denomination. The founder of scientific symbolism in its modern sense was the Gottingen pro- fes.sor Planck in his "Abriss einer historischen und vergleichenden Darstellung der dogmatischen Sy- steme unserer verschiedenen christlichen Hauptpar- theien" (Gottingen, 1796), the first effort at a real comprehension of all Christian creeds in their dis- tinctive characteristics. Marheineke went farther in his "Christliche Symbolik oder historisch-kritische und dogmatisehe komparative Darstellung des kath- olischen, lutherischen, reformierten, und socinian- ischen Lehrbegriffes" (Heidelberg, 1810-13). Planck and Marheineke have found imitators, though of less importance, who continue down to the most recent times to treat this from the Protestant standpoint.

For Catholics such studies had naturally had less attraction. When a student at Tiibingen, Mohler had heard lectures on symbolism, and had later met many Protestant theologians. He was the first Cath- olic writer to develop this idea, and became the