The Divinity of Christ – An Argument: Translator’s Preface

cover of the ebook 'The Divinity of Christ: An Argument', by Bishop Louis-Victor-Emile BougaudThe design of the author in the great work of which the present volume forms but a fragment – a work completed in five volumes – is to exhibit Christianity in a point of view suited to the present time. The Abbé Bougaud does not purpose to write an apology for the Christian Religion, but to state it simply as a fact, to describe its polity, and to unfold its creed. He considers there is more ignorance of truth than antagonism to it; and that those who outwardly are the most bitter opponents of Christianity, desire in their in-most hearts to find it.

Christianity then requires to be known. It requires to be exhibited to the world under a form which will arrest the attention of the present age. The method employed in its defense by a Pascal or a Bossuet is not suited to our day.

The first volume of “Le Christianisme et les Temps présents” demonstrates the necessity of a religion. Then comes the question – what religion? More than eighteen centuries have elapsed since a Man lived and died in Jerusalem who has ever since claimed the homage of mankind. Is this Man God? If He is, if He has founded a religion we must accept it. Natural religion will no longer suffice.

Is Jesus Christ God? The whole question resolves itself into this. The answer to the question is to be found in the contemplation of the life and death, of the doctrine and virtues of Jesus Christ: and this forms the subject of the second volume.

A scientific study of the human beauty of the mind, the heart, and the character of Jesus Christ has been reserved for our age; and has absorbed the attention of Protestants and Catholics alike, and formed a theme for the eloquence of unbelievers.

Whilst yet in its very infancy this study has awakened a sort of enthusiasm for the Person of Jesus Christ, even in men who have not the faith. It will specially commend itself to those who, in Cardinal Newman’s words, “wish to justify with their intellect all that they believe with their heart; who cannot separate their ideas of religion from its revealed Object, but who have an aching dissatisfaction within them, that they should be apprehending Him so feebly, when they would fain (as it were) see and touch Him as well as hear. When, then, they have logical grounds presented to them for holding that the recorded picture of our Lord is its own evidence, that it carries with it its own reality and authority, that His ‘revelatio’ is ‘revelata’, in the very act of being a ‘revelatio’, it is as if He Himself said to them, as He once said to His disciples, ‘It is I, be not afraid:’ and the clouds at once clear off, and the waters subside, and the land is gained for which they are looking out.”

The translation embraces only the author’s statement of his argument, its premises and its conclusions. This argument is presented to the English reader, in the hope that it will be received as a valuable contribution to the literature on the Divinity of Jesus Christ. It is recommended in a special manner to the Agnostics, inasmuch as it professes to keep strictly within the bounds of human observation and human reason.

– taken from The Divinity of Christ, by Bishop Emile Bougaud