Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst

Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst
(1768-1834)
   Known as the 'Father of Liberal Theology' for his method of accommodating theology to the culture of the late Enlightenment, Schleiermacher taught at the University of Berlin alongside Hegel, with whom he had a bitter rivalry. His early work On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (1799) is a forceful interpretation of Christianity within romantic categories that, critics claimed, veers close to pantheism. Schleiermacher's radical method and conclusions were based both on his desire to accommodate theology as well as on his belief that Kant had undermined the notion that theology could be based on cognitive revelation. Within his magnum opus, Christian Theology, Schleiermacher sought to reestablish theology based on a non-cognitive aesthetic 'sense of absolute dependence'. On this view, Scripture is not the revealed word of God but human reflection on religious experience, a basic assumption that underlies liberal theology today. Schleiermacher raised trenchant criticisms against the coherence of Chalcedonian Christology, opting instead to explain the incarnation in virtue of the human person of Christ's having been uniquely open to the sense of absolute dependence. This reinterpretation set the standard for many subsequent liberal Christologies. Schleiermacher was also a Plato scholar and made important contributions to the foundations of modern hermeneutics.
   Further reading: Schleiermacher 1922, 1958 and 1984-; Williams, Robert R. 1978

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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