Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), often called the father of modern theology, was a German philosopher and one of the greatest Protestant theologians of the 19th century. He is often regarded as the father of modern hermeneutics, i.e. the science of interpreting the Bible, and known for his many other works in the area of systematic theology. Otto Weber states that, "Retrospectively, the dogmatics of the 19th century can be understood essentially as the direct, indirect, or negatively received influence of the theology of Friedrich Daniel Schleiermacher, one of the most powerful personalities in all of church history, in some ways comparable with Augustine." ^^
- 1 Biographical sketch
- 2 Theology
- 3 Selected works
- 4 Further reading
- 5 Notes
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
Born in Breslaw, Germany in 1768, Schleiermacher was the son of a Prussain army chaplain. At age nine his father came into contact with Pietism and entered into a devotional lifestyle. Friedrich was sent at age 15 to a boarding school run by the Moravian Brethren, a pious evangelical group that traced its roots back to Jan Huss. ^^. While at boarding school Schleiermacher began to question his faith to which the Moravians did not care to give an answer.
As time went on Schleiermacher left to study at the University of Halle. Upon his fathers advice he studied Immanuel Kant who at this point in time was "causing a storm throughout the intellectual world." In 1790 he became a Reformed minister and later moved to Berlin in 1796 to be a hospital chaplain. While there he met Friedrich Schlegel with whom it was decided to attempt a translation of the works of Plato in the German language. ^^
In 1799 Schleiermacher published On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers. "It defended religion against its Enlightenment critics. Religion, he argued, was not a philosophy, nor abstract metaphysical thought, nor natural science, nor adherence to dogmatic formulae, but the "sense and taste for the infinite" consisting primarily in feeling; belief and action are secondary. Knowledge of the soul and knowledge of God are inseparablea concept that had been presented more than 1000 years earlier by St. Augustine. His thought thus has a subjective focus, but it should not on that account be deemed sheer "subjectivism." Schleiermacher's careful analysis of religious feelings always has in view, at least by implication, the infinite and eternal reality to which these feelings are responses. The Speeches are sometimes held to be pantheist in tone, but he did not identify the world with the "infinite and eternal." Rather, he held that it is always in and through one's experience of the whole interconnecting realm of the finite that there comes a sense of dependence upon the infinite ground of all things." ^^
After the invasion of Napolean in 1806 Schleiermacher left and moved back to Berlin. In 1810 he became the dean of theology at the University of Berlin and in 1815 became the rector of the University. ^^ However, it was in 1821 that Schleiermacher wrote The Christian Faith with a revision written in 1830. This book was based on his Speeches (1799). "The Speeches provided the agenda for the new conception of religion; The Christian Faith sets forth that new conception." ^^ Modern systematic theologies have followed his model ever since.
Although Schleiermacher received attention for his published works, he achieved his greatest fame as a pastor. Jonathan Hill describes him as a "brilliant, charismatic speaker" ^^ and his ability to preach to the hearts and minds of his listeners was evident as many traveled great distances to hear him preach. His proudest achievement came as he was awarded the Order of the Red Eagle by the king of Prussia.
Schleiermacher died in 1834. "His coffin, carried by twelve of his students, was followed through the streets of Berlin by a line of mourners over a mile long, among whom were he king and crown prince; and thousands crowded the streets to watch." ^^ Schleiermacher opened up the possibilities of Christian thought to blossom and develop in ways previously unimagined.
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- The Christian Faith. 182021, 2nd ed. 18301; translated by H. R. MacKintosh, edited by J. S. Stewart. T&T Clark, 1999.
- On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers, 1799. Translated by Richard Crouter, Cambridge University Press, 1996; translated by John Oman, Westminster John Knox Press, 1994; Kessinger Publishing, 2008.
- Hermeneutics and Criticism and Other Writings. Translated by Andrew Bowie, Cambridge University Press, 1998.
- Brief Outline of the Study of Theology. Wipf & Stock, 2007.
- Terrence N. Tice, Schleiermacher. Abingdon Pillars of Theology. Abingdon, 2006.
- Jacqueline Maria, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Friedrich Schleiermacher. Cambridge, 2005. Excerpt
- Richard Crouter, Friedrich Schleiermacher: Between Enlightenment and Romanticism. Cambridge, 2006.
- Matthias Gockel, Barth and Schleiermacher on the Doctrine of Election: A Systematic-Theological Comparison. Oxford, 2007.
- ? Foundations of Dogmatics, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981-83), 1:135-36.
- ? Jonathan Hill, The History of Christian Thought (IVP, 2003), p. 226.
- ? Hill, p. 228.
- ? Friedrich Schleiermacher
- ? Hill, p. 230.
- ? Hill, p. 231.
- ? Hill, p. 231.
- ? Hill, p. 232.