What is the foundation of liberal Protestantism? Wracked by doubt and challenged by questions raised by the Enlightenment, Friedrich Schleiermacher attempted to develop a system of theology that would free theology from shifts in philosophy. What he created was a theological system that replaced Scripture and the historical creeds with human experience and emotion. Schleiermacher, known as the Father of Liberal Theology, argued that the “essence of religion is the feeling of absolute dependence.” Jesus was unique, he said, because he was keenly aware of this utter dependence. It is the church’s job to live this utter dependence and communicate it with the world. The work of theology is to explore the experiences and feelings of living out this utter dependence. Theology, for Schleiermacher, should be descriptive, not prescriptive.
The Friedrich Schleiermacher Collection offers the core works of Schleiermacher’s theology. Jump to important and controversial passages using Noet’s powerful search tools. Examine Kant’s influence on Schleiermacher’s theology by comparing them side by side. Important terms are linked with the rest of your library, so you can cross-reference with a click.
Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) was born in Breslau, Silesia, Prussia. His father was a Reformed chaplain in the Prussian army. Schleiermacher attended a Moravian school and eventually went to the University of Halle. He graduated from Halle in 1794 and began to tutor the children of an aristocratic family. He left after two years and took up a chaplaincy at a hospital in Berlin. While in Berlin, Schleiermacher was influenced by the Romantic movement, particularly the emphasis on imagination and emotion. He read the works of Baruch Spinoza, Plato, Immanuel Kant, Fichte, and Schelling. In 1802 he became the pastor of a congregation in Stolp, Pomerania. He left in 1804 to accept a position as preacher and professor of theology at the University of Halle. In 1807, he accepted an offer to become pastor of Trinity Church in Berlin. While there, he helped found the University of Berlin and accepted a chair of theology. He also became the secretary of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Schleiermacher’s advocacy of the unification of the Reformed and Lutheran branches of the German church led to the Prussian Union of Churches in 1817. Schleiermacher wrote his magnum opus, Der christliche Glaube nach den Grundsätzen der evangelischen Kirche (The Christian Faith according to the Principles of the Protestant Church), in 1821 and revised it in 1831.