The Christian Faith - Vol. 1

The Christian Faith - Vol. 1

The Christian Faith - Vol. 1

The Christian Faith - Vol. 1

Excerpt

The Christian Faith, presented systematically according to the fundamental doctrines of the Evangelical Church occupies in the history of theology a position analogous to that of Kant’s critiques of reason in philosophy. It is the position and not the matter or manner of treatment that is similar, but nevertheless Friedrich Schleiermacher may justifiably be called the Kant of modern Protestantism, for it is his critical reflection on theological issues that sets the basic problems for the succeeding nineteenth century and the greater part of the twentieth. By no means all of Schleiermacher’s fame and influence rest upon his systematic theology alone, for long before its appearance he had established his name as an apologist with the volume of essays entitled On Religion, speeches to its cultured despisers, written for his friends of the Romantic circle in Berlin at the close of the eighteenth century. But it is this last work of his maturity that gives to one of the most colorful and attractive churchmen of modern times an indisputable place in the development of Christian thought, and in keeping with this position The Christian Faith has never ceased to stimulate theological controversy in the Protestant world since its first publication in 1821/22 (revised edition upon which the English translation is based, 1830).

As so frequently happens in the storms of critical opinion that mark the arrival of a new intellectual climate in religious thought and theology proper, the source of the disturbance has not always been kept clearly in view. Despite the fact that Schleiermacher’s name necessarily appears in every survey of modern religious thought, the interpretation of his mind is often beclouded and obscured by the passionate distrust that his central theme is capable of awakening. For Schleiermacher is the prototype of the theologian who takes seriously the Enlightenment and especially its discovery of religion as an historical, human phenomenon, and The Christian Faith is his classic effort to reconcile the empirical, descriptive . . .

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